San Diego Padres Rumors
The Giants and Javier Lopez have finalized a three-year, $13MM contract, pending a physical, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the exam may not take place until next week. Here's more out of the NL West...
- Matt Kemp doesn't want to be traded, but he's accepted the fact that it's a possibility and rumors of potential deals aren't going away, agent Dave Stewart tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Mariners have been linked to Kemp, and Rosenthal adds that the Rangers spoke with the Dodgers at the GM Meetings as well, though they consider Kemp's contract too prohibitive. Kemp's preference, should he be traded, is too end up with a winning team, but Stewart made it clear that Kemp's desire is to spend his career in Dodger blue.
- Even though they have a deal in place for veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins to be their closer, the Rockies say the job of rebuilding their bullpen is not complete, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. "We don't look at it like our bullpen is closed," assistant GM Bill Geivett said. "It's only Nov. 19, and we've just made one move, so we are still looking for ways to improve our club." Joe Smith and Edward Mujica are among the options available, but they'll likely be seeking three-year comittments.
- A left-handed hitter remains the Padres' priority, tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com. A starting pitching upgrade wasn't at the top of the Pads' list this offseason, but Josh Johnson was a clear upgrade at the top of the rotation.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Padres announced that they have designated right-handed pitchers Brad Brach and Miles Mikolas, left-handed pitcher Jose De Paula, and outfielder Jaff Decker for assignment. The move creates room on the 40-man roster for right-handed pitchers Donn Roach and Keyvius Sampson, left-handed pitcher Juan Oramas, and the newly-acquired Josh Johnson.
Brach, 27, posted a 3.19 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9 in 33 outings last season for the Padres, following up on a year in which he logged 67 relief appearances. Mikolas and Decker also have big league service time to their credit.
San Diego's 40-man roster is now at capacity.
Here are today's minor transactions from around the league...
- The Yankees announced that they traded right-hander Ben Paullus to the Padres for utility man Dean Anna. Anna, who recently celebrated his 26th birthday, posted an .892 OPS in Triple-A last season. Paullus, 24, worked his way up to Advanced-A Tampa last season.
- Right-hander B.J. Hermsen has been outrighted from the Twins' 40-man roster, the team announced. The 23-year-old posted a 4.81 ERA In 86 Double-A innings this season, but his strikeout rate fell to just 3.7 per nine innings. The low whiff rate was likely to blame for the whopping 117 hits he allowed in those 86 frames.
- Minnesota also announced that it has signed outfielder Chris Rahl to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training. The 30-year-old spent 2013 with the Nats' Triple-A affiliate. Rahl is a .292/.325/.443 hitter in 700 Triple-A plate appearances and can play all three outfield spots.
- The Pirates announced the signing of five players to minor league deals, three of whom have big league experience. Right-handers Seth McClung, Josh Kinney and Collin Balester are all veterans of multiple seasons. The others -- right-handers Jay Jackson and Jake Brigham -- each split last season between Double-A and Triple-A.
- The Rangers announced that left-hander Edwar Cabrera has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A. Texas claimed the 26-year-old from the Rockies back in October. A shoulder injury cost him the entire 2013 season, but Cabrera has an impressive minor league resume: a 3.13 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 501 innings.
- The Astros have released right-hander John Ely, according to the team's transactions page. Ely underwent Tommy John surgery after just four innings of work at the Triple-A level in April. The 27-year-old has a 5.70 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 115 1/3 career big league innings, though he was excellent for the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate in 2012. Ely pitched to a 3.20 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 168 2/3 innings that season.
- The Nationals have signed right-hander Gabriel Alfaro to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. The 30-year-old has spent the past two seasons pitching for the Guerreros de Oaxaca in the Mexican League, compiling an impressive 2.58 ERA with 11.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and 52 saves in 129 innings as the team's closer.
The Padres finished the season with a six-man rotation and have talented arms on the mend from Tommy John surgery in the form of Cory Luebke and Joe Wieland, but that didn't stop GM Josh Byrnes from landing one of the highest-upside arms on the free agent market. The Padres announced on Wednesday that they have signed right-hander Josh Johnson to a one-year contract.
Johnson's deal is reportedly worth $8MM, and he can earn another $1.25MM if he makes 26 starts. The contract also contains a conditional option that offers the Padres some protection against his lengthy injury history; if Johnson fails to make seven starts next season, San Diego will gain a $4MM club option for the 2015 season.
The Pirates appear to have been the runners-up in the Johnson sweepstakes, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweets, and ESPN's Jerry Crasnick cites the Astros, Royals, and White Sox (Twitter link) among the other clubs that expressed interest in Johnson. Johnson had the Padres and Giants as his top two choices and turned down bigger one-year offers to sign with San Diego, a source told Crasnick.
Johnson had a rough 2013, making just 16 starts thanks to injury troubles. The soon-to-be 30-year-old pitched through tendonitis in his knee all season and spent time on the disabled list due to a forearm strain and triceps inflamation before undergoing surgery to remove bone spurs from his right elbow in early October. Johnson has only topped 200 innings in a season once and has only thrown more than 100 innings four times in a Major League season.
In his shortened 2013 campaign, Johnson posted a 6.20 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 81 1/3 innings. However, advanced stats such as xFIP (3.58) and SIERA (3.73) would indicate that bad luck played a role in Johnson's troubles. For his career, Johnson owns a 3.40 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9.
Johnson figures to join Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, Eric Stults, and Tyson Ross in San Diego's projected 2014 rotation, giving the Padres a very solid starting five in the increasingly competitive NL West. Joe Wieland, Cory Luebke, and Robbie Erlin also figure to be in the mix.
While Johnson and his health might not be a sure thing, the deal appears to be fairly low-risk at just one year and the $8MM price tag doesn't break the bank for San Diego. Tim predicted back in October that Johnson would net a one-year, $8MM deal in free agency.
Earlier today, Travis Sawchick of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Johnson narrowed down his choices to three or four teams, with the Pirates being among the clubs in the mix. Shortly thereafter, Tim learned that all of the interested teams were out of the National League with some likely on the West Coast.
Johnson is in San Diego for a physical today and the deal is expected to be announced Wednesday. The right-hander ranked 30th on Tim's Top 50 Free Agents list for 2014.
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com first reported the one-year, $8MM agreement. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes was the first to learn about the incentives (Twitter link), and Yahoo's Jeff Passan broke the news about the conditional $4MM option for 2015 (on Twitter).
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Padres have long held a competitive advantage in that San Diego is a desirable place to play baseball, specifically with a large, pitcher-friendly ballpark. They can often sign free agent starting pitchers without making the highest bid, as was the case with their one-year, $8MM deal for righty Josh Johnson.
Johnson was limited to 16 starts for the Blue Jays in 2013 due to triceps tightness and a forearm injury, which resulted in arthroscopic elbow surgery in early October. As explained in our free agent profile, Johnson has had only three healthy seasons in the last five, and the gold standard contract for a pitcher coming off an injury is Ben Sheets' $10MM deal with the Athletics nearly four years ago. It seems possible Johnson and agent Matt Sosnick could have gotten close to that $10MM mark had they focused on the highest bidder, but the pitcher preferred San Diego for personal reasons. The Padres got a discount approaching 20%, just for being the Padres.
Johnson was already a low-risk proposition, since he targeted a one-year deal from the outset as a means of rebuilding value and re-entering free agency after 2014. The Padres further lowered their risk a bit by acquiring a $4MM club option for 2015 in the event Johnson makes fewer than seven starts in 2014, according to Yahoo's Jeff Passan. We saw a more drastic version of this clause play out with the Red Sox and John Lackey, as Lackey's league minimum option went into effect when he missed significant time with surgery for a pre-existing elbow injury. Most likely, Johnson will make at least seven starts in 2014, as he has each season since 2007, when he had Tommy John surgery. If he doesn't, something serious will have gone wrong, and the Padres may not want to guarantee Johnson even $4MM for 2015. It would be nice to have the option, though.
Johnson hasn't had an ace-caliber, healthy season since 2010, which is why I think his upside is something closer to 2012's 3.81 ERA rather than the type of season that gets Cy Young votes. There's still considerable upside for the Padres in this deal, though, as Johnson's earnings top out at $9.25MM for 2014. The going rate for a #3-4 type starter is around $14MM, and Johnson certainly has that capability for the Padres.
The best part about signing Johnson for the Padres is that they are not relying on him. As Passan explains, they've got a surplus of starters with Ian Kennedy, Andrew Cashner, Eric Stults, Tyson Ross, and others, so if Johnson goes bust it won't ruin their chances of having a good rotation.
Josh Johnson reached out to the Giants and Padres to let them know they were his first choices for a new team, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (all Twitter links). Both teams play close to Johnson's home in Las Vegas and also have pitcher-friendly ballparks that are ideal for a hurler looking to rebuild his value on a one-year contract. Schulman isn't sure if the Giants made Johnson an offer, though Johnson's chances of joining the club have likely dimmed now that San Francisco has signed Tim Hudson. Starting pitching isn't an offseason priority for the Padres, though a healthy and in-form Johnson projects as the ace of San Diego's rotation.
Here are some more items from around the NL West...
- The Rockies' one-year, $2.5MM agreement with LaTroy Hawkins "blew away" the Mets' offer to the veteran reliever, a source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Colorado also outbid the Braves, who didn't need Hawkins in either a closing or setup role, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
- Now that the Rockies have signed Hawkins, Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link) opines that the club needs to pursue the likes of Edward Mujica, Joe Smith or Jose Veras to further upgrade their shaky bullpen. Renck also looks at how the Hawkins signing impacts Rex Brothers' role as Colorado's "closer of the future."
- Also from Renck (Sulia link), the Rockies and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa haven't begun talks on a contract extension. De La Rosa's current deal is up after the 2014 season and Renck reported last month that both sides have interest in continuing their relationship. The southpaw also tells Renck that he is recovered from the thumb injury that bothered him down the stretch last season.
- The Dodgers have received "moderate to moderate-plus" trade interest in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, an official tells Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown. We heard last week that the Dodgers were open to offers for Kemp, Ethier or Carl Crawford in order to free up payroll space and a spot in the outfield. Brown's piece outlines the Dodgers' offseason priorities, beginning with Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
- Juan Uribe is looking for a three-year contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). The Dodgers are interested in bringing Uribe back but not at that length, which Heyman admits is "probably a stretch." Indeed, Tim Dierkes said that Uribe would be weighing one- or two-year offers in MLBTR's free agent profile of the third baseman.
- The Dodgers would be better off trading to upgrade their rotation than signing a free agent hurler, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon opines. "With the exception of [Masahiro] Tanaka, it’s an exceptionally flawed market for free agent starting pitchers and it seems like the Dodgers are more than aware of that. Much as they’d like to improve their rotation, they might be better served to sit this one out," Saxon writes.
- In other NL West news from earlier today, we collected some more Giants news items and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that the Dodgers signed Brendan Harris to a minor league deal.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson runs down some potential replacements for departed Nationals third base coach Trent Jewett. Two of the names (Sam Perlozzo and Mike Quade) have both served as big league managers in the past. Here's more on the various coaching vacancies from around the league...
- The Padres have promoted Dave Roberts to bench coach and Jose Valentin will take over as the club's new first base coach, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports. Roberts had served as San Diego's first base coach for the past three seasons and has been with the organization since 2010. Valentin managed the Padres' Class A affiliate in Fort Wayne for the past two seasons.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times confirms multiple reports out of Venezuela that the Tigers have hired Omar Vizquel as their first base coach (Twitter link). Vizquel, 46, spent 2013 as a roving infield instructor with the Angels and last played in the bigs with Toronto in 2012. The owner of 11 Gold Gloves, Vizquel is widely regarded as one of the best defensive shortstops of all time. It's tough to imagine the Tigers finding a better mentor for Rookie of the Year runner-up Jose Iglesias.
- The Pirates announced that they have promoted Jeff Branson to hitting coach and added Jim Livesey the the Major League coaching staff. Branson, 46, has spent 12 seasons in the Pirates organization, serving five years as a minor league hitting coach and five as a minor league manager. In 2013, he worked with hitting coach Jay Bell on the Major League staff and assisted in the implementation of the team's hitting program. Livesey, 47, has 11 total years of experience in the Pirates' system. He took a five-year hiatus to coach in Japan in the middle of that stretch but has been the team's minor league hitting coordinator for the past three seasons.
The posting system standoff between MLB and Japan's NPB could temporarily benefit the Red Sox if Masahiro Tanaka is kept away from the Yankees, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The dispute over the posting system could drag on long enough for Tanaka to not make it over to the U.S. in 2014. The Bombers are going to improve one way or another and upgrade their rotation, but Tanaka is the one potential addition they consider to be an elite pitcher. Here's more from today's column..
- The Blue Jays need at least two starting pitchers and dealing Jose Bautista could land them one. “It’s a name we’re hearing through backchannels right now, but wouldn’t be surprised if he’s available,” said an NL general manager. Red Sox skipper John Farrell is a fan of Bautista from his days in Toronto, but it’s doubtful the Blue Jays would deal within the division, even though Boston has pitching to spare.
- Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval can be had in a deal, but his weight issues are of concern to clubs. The Giants have tried everything to get Sandoval to slim down and it's worked at some points, but not last season. Cafardo notes that Sandoval can also play first base and may have a market at either position.
- For Jacoby Ellsbury to re-sign with the Red Sox, he would have to be willing to accept a five-year deal that likely would not surpass $100MM. The Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, Tigers, Giants, and Phillies seem to have some level of interest, but whether they dive into the 6-8 year range at $20MM plus per year remains to be seen.
- The Orioles likely won’t deal Matt Wieters unless it’s in a blockbuster that would improve their pitching.
- Even though there’s been talk about an extension, there's growing sentiment that the Padres will trade Chase Headley this offseason to improve in a couple of different areas. New CEO Mike Dee says that he's willing to spend in order to strengthen the club long-term.
- Alfredo Aceves re-hired agent Tom O'Connell to represent him recently, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database. According to O'Connell, the pitcher called and apologized for firing him in the first place. There's now a "good possibility" that the pitcher will land with the Mets.
SUNDAY, 8:25am: Nolasco to the Padres is "not happening," tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com.
FRIDAY, 8:07pm: Add the Giants to the list of teams tabbed by an unnamed GM as possible suitors for Nolasco, Berardino tweets. Word yesterday was that San Francisco was not terribly motivated to pursue Nolasco since the club wasn't interested in giving him a fourth year.
7:34pm: The club has yet to make a formal offer to Nolasco, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who says that the Twins are "not as far along with Ricky Nolasco as multiple reports have indicated."
6:35pm: Minnesota is "on [Nolasco] hard," a rival GM tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Competitors for Nolasco's services include the Padres, that same GM noted.
7:55am: The Twins are making a strong push for Ricky Nolasco, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Yesterday afternoon, it was reported that Nolasco had a pair of four-year offers, although as recently as last night, reports out of the Twin Cities indicated that Minnesota had yet to make an offer.
ESPN's Buster Olney wrote yesterday that the Twins are highly active on the market for pitching this offseason and plan to add at least two solid veteran starters. They've also been one of the most aggressive teams in pursuit of Bronson Arroyo to this point.
Nolasco, 31 in December, finished the season with a 3.70 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate in 199 1/3 innings. He's not an ace, but he would be a boost to a Twins rotation that posted the worst ERA (5.26), K/9 (4.9) and innings total (871) in all of Major League Baseball last season. Nolasco comes with the added benefit of having been traded midseason, meaning he was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer and therefore won't cost a draft pick. His agent, Matt Sosnick, recently explained his strong relationship with the Twins and GM Terry Ryan to Parker Hageman of Twins Daily.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Major League Baseball is in a race against the clock to change the rules and eliminate home-plate collisions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest Insider-only column. MLB GMs were "100 percent" in favor when the issue of a rule-change was raised at the GM Meetings this week, says Olney. As one team lawyer pointed out to Olney, MLB has no choice but to scramble to get something in place for next season: "Everybody has said that there needs to be a change [in the rules], and if somebody gets hurt [in 2014] they could sue and claim that Major League Baseball knew there was a problem and didn’t do anything about it." Here are just a few of the highlights from Olney's highly informative piece:
- Ricky Nolasco already has a three-year offer in hand, and that same team has indicated that it may be willing to extend the offer to four years. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Olney that his client's preference is still to return to the Dodgers.
- Teams are racing to make their best offers to pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo, knowing that those arms might not require the potential four- and five-year deals that Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are targeting.
- The Twins have made it clear that they're looking to sign two good veteran arms, and in a separate tweet Olney notes that they're being very aggressive on the free agent market. In addition to their interest in Arroyo, it's possible that they're in on Nolasco, says Olney.
- The Royals have had internal discussions about adding Joba Chamberlain on a one-year deal, and as Olney points out, Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland was Chamberlain's pitching coach with the Yankees earlier in his career.
- The Royals would also like to sign Josh Johnson to a one-year deal in an attempt to recreate the magic of last year's Santana acquisition.
- Jhonny Peralta is looking for "huge" money, according to Olney's sources. Olney writes that Peralta is seeking "much" more than three years and $45MM. I predicted a three-year, $36MM pact for Peralta in my recent free agent profile of the former Tiger.
- The Padres haven't had any extension talks with Chase Headley this offseason, and as it stands right now, there are no plans to begin negotiations.