Scott Downs Rumors

Indians Sign Scott Downs

The Indians have announced that they’ve signed lefty reliever Scott Downs to a minor league deal with a spring training invite. Downs will make $800K plus incentives if he makes the team, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets.

Downs pitched 38 innings last season for the White Sox and Royals, posting a 4.97 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 while suffering through diminished velocity — Downs was never a hard thrower, but his average fastball fell to 86.9 MPH in 2014. Downs had success as recently as the previous year, when he had a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 for the Angels and Braves. In his 13-year career, the 38-year-old has also pitched for the Cubs, Expos and Blue Jays.


2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. As we near the end of the season, here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options …

  • Nick Punto, Athletics: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. Though Forst did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, the health route is no longer available. Punto was only activated yesterday — ten days into the September active roster expansion — after going on the DL on August 3rd. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks, Brewers: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would have needed to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He has just 255 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Weeks will also fall shy of reaching 400 PAs, which would have entitled him to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins, Phillies: Rollins’ option vested earlier this year when he reached 1,100 plate appearances over 2013-14. (He has also made 600 trips to bat in 2014, an independent basis for triggering the provision.) That clause, however, also required that he not finish the year on the disabled list, and Rollins left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Word is that Rollins should be able to return, but with just three weeks left even a minor setback could well end his season. Nevertheless, Philadelphia would need to go out of its way to place him on the DL at this point, with active rosters expanded. And, in any event, the option would still vest if a mutually agreed-upon doctor deemed Rollins ready to start the 2015 season.
  • Dan Haren, Dodgers: Haren needs 180 innings to trigger a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. Heading into his scheduled outing this evening, he has already notched 162 frames. Haren should be in line for at least three more starts (including tonight’s) before the end of the month, and maybe another depending upon how the club approaches the last few games of the year. Having averaged 5.79 innings per start on the year, it will be incumbent on Haren to pitch his way to the option — especially in the midst of a playoff race and backed by a well-stocked bullpen.
  • Mike Adams, Phillies: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 would have vested with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s obviously not going to get there with just 17 2/3 innings in the tank. Adams has thrown just 42 2/3 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that the team will pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles. He should, however, be an attractive buy-low candidate given his general success when on the field.
  • Rafael Soriano, Nationals: Soriano’s $14MM club option vests with 120 games finished over 2013-14. While that always seemed a longshot, any realistic hope was snuffed out when Soriano lost his closing gig to Drew Storen, the man he replaced when he signed on with Washington. Whether or not Soriano makes it back into the 9th inning role over the next few weeks, he now sits at 104 games finished over the last two seasons, making it all but impossible for him to trigger the vesting provision. With the Nationals all but certain to decline their club option on Soriano, he should make for an interesting free agent to watch.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old has made it back for only 10 1/3 innings in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that (unreported) threshold.
  • Sean Burnett, Angels: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs, White Sox: Downs had a $4MM vesting option that would have vested with 55 appearances, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in June (via Twitter). Though he appeared to be headed in that direction earlier in the year, the White Sox cut bait with Downs and his then-6.08 ERA. He owns a 3.55 mark over 12 2/3 innings with the Royals — who signed him to a separate, minor-league deal — and has now thrown in 53 games, but the vesting clause is now a moot point.

Royals To Sign Scott Downs

The Royals have signed left-hander Scott Downs, according to Andy McCullough of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter).  The White Sox released Downs late last week after previously designating him for assignment.

Over 23 2/3 innings for the White Sox, Downs recorded a 6.08 ERA with a better-than-usual 8.4 K/9 clip with an alarmingly high 5.7 BB/9 mark. Still, ERA estimators are kinder to Downs, as he owns a 3.69 FIP, 4.07 xFIP, and 3.96 SIERA.  Downs has held opposing left-handed hitters to a .225/.309/.367 mark; his real issue has been with righties, who own a .296/.415/.364 triple-slash against him.

Downs is represented by CAA Sports, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.



White Sox To Release Scott Downs

The White Sox have requested waivers on left-hander Scott Downs for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com.  The White Sox designated Downs for assignment late last month.

Over 23 2/3 innings for the White Sox, Downs recorded a 6.08 ERA with a better-than-usual 8.4 K/9 clip but an alarmingly high 5.7 BB/9 mark.  Still, ERA estimators are kinder to Downs, as he owns a 3.69 FIP, 4.07 xFIP, and 3.96 SIERA.

While his 58.5% strand rate is one mark that looks prime for regression, that is also perhaps a reflection of the fact that he has been less than successful in his LOOGY role. On the other hand, Downs has held opposing left-handed hitters to a .225/.309/.367 mark; his real issue has been with righties, who own a .296/.415/.364 triple-slash against him.


White Sox Designate Scott Downs For Assignment

The White Sox have designated veteran lefty Scott Downs for assignment, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweeted last night that a move was likely, as Downs bid farewell to his teammates.

As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported recently, Downs’ contract included a $4.25MM option that would vest with 55 appearances. After last night’s outing, the 38-year-old had already thrown in 38 games. That appearance, however, was also the second in two days in which he allowed an earned run without registering an out, and he left the evening with a 6.08 ERA over 23 2/3 innings.

Though he is striking out hitters at a better-than-usual 8.4 K/9 clip, Downs has posted a career-worst 5.7 BB/9 mark. Nevertheless, ERA estimators are somewhat more favorably disposed to Downs’s work on the year, as he owns a 3.69 FIP, 4.07 xFIP, and 3.96 SIERA. While his 58.5% strand rate is one mark that looks prime for regression, that is also perhaps a reflection of the fact that he has been less than successful in his LOOGY role. On the other hand, Downs has held opposing left-handed hitters to a .225/.309/.367 mark; his real issue has been with righties, who own a .296/.415/.364 triple-slash against him.


AL Notes: Downs, Angels, Blue Jays, Rays

Here’s the latest out of the American League:

  • White Sox reliever Scott Downs would see his 2015 option vest if he appears in 55 games this year and does not end the season on the DL, reports MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes (via Twitter). The 39-year-old southpaw has seen action in 35 contests (after tonight’s outing), meaning that he has just 20 left to go to trigger the $4.25MM option. MLBTR’s Steve Adams looked yesterday at vesting option situations around the league.
  • The Angels bullpen has not only been unreliable, but currently lacks a lefty, writes ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). The club may well look to a trade market that Olney says “should be comparatively flush” with attractive bullpen arms.
  • You won’t see the Blue Jays in October if GM Alex Anthopoulos stands pat this summer, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star.  With Juan Francisco‘s offensive struggles (.586 OPS in the month of June), Griffin wants to see Toronto go out and get a second baseman that can play every day.  Among the second baseman that might be available in July, he says, are Nick Franklin of the Mariners, Ramon Santiago of the Reds, Darwin Barney of the Cubs, and Ramiro Pena of the Braves.
  • Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times says the Rays need to start selling.  With the club mired in last place, Shelton says it needs to move David Price, Ben Zobrist, Matt Joyce, and anything not nailed down. Meanwhile, a host of teams with a heavier-than-usual scouting presence for Price’s start tonight included the Blue JaysCardinalsGiantsIndians, and Yankees, tweets the Times’ Marc Topkin.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


2015 Vesting Options Update

The state of next year’s free agent class will be impacted by whether or not players with vesting options in their contracts achieve the necessary playing time to trigger those conditional options. Here’s a rundown of these players and their progress toward triggering their options…

  • Nick Punto: Punto has a $2.75MM club option that will automatically vest if he spends fewer than 30 days on the disabled list, assistant GM David Forst told reporters at the time of the signing. He did add that there are other ways for Punto’s option to vest, though for the time being, he’s on pace to see his option vest simply due to the fact that he’s avoided the DL entirely. If the option doesn’t vest, the A’s have the choice of picking him up at $2.75MM or buying him out for $250K.
  • Rickie Weeks: Weeks has an $11.5MM option that won’t be vesting, as he would need to total 600 PA in 2014 or 1,200 PA in 2013-14 and finish the season healthy. He’s being platooned heavily with Scooter Gennett and has just 112 PAs on the season, so he’ll fall well shy of that mark. Should he reach 400 PAs (which only seems likely in the event of Gennett injury), Weeks would be entitled to a $1MM buyout of his option.
  • Jimmy Rollins: Rollins’ option vests if he reaches 600 PA in 2014 or if he totals 1,100 options from 2013-14 and finishes the season on the active roster. He’s 141 PA shy of that combined 1,100 number, meaning he’s highly likely to end up with an $11MM guarantee for 2015.
  • Dan Haren: If Haren pitches 180 innings or more in 2014, he triggers a $10MM player option for the 2015 season. He’s averaging just over six innings per start, so he’s on pace to clear that mark given 30-31 starts. However, if he finishes the season anywhere near his current 3.54 ERA, he may prefer to test the open market in search of a multi-year deal.
  • Mike Adams: Adams’ $6MM club option for 2015 vests with 60 innings pitched in 2014, but he’s once again on the disabled list for the Phillies and has thrown just 17 innings. Adams has thrown 42 innings in his season-and-a-half with the Phils, and it seems highly unlikely that they would pick him up at $6MM given his injury troubles.
  • Rafael Soriano: Soriano’s $14MM club option will vest if he finishes 120 games combined in 2013-14. He’s currently at 81 games finished on the season, meaning he’d need to finish a rather unlikely 39 of his team’s final 92 games (42 percent) this season. Should the option vest, half of his salary will be deferred and paid in annual installments from 2018-25.
  • Kyuji Fujikawa: The Cubs hoped that Fujikawa, one of the best relievers in Japanese history, would help to fortify their bullpen when they signed him to a two-year, $9.5MM contract in the 2012-13 offseason. Instead, both player and team received a hefty dose of bad luck when Fujikawa needed Tommy John surgery after just 12 innings last season. He has a vesting option based on games finished, but the 33-year-old hasn’t pitched in 2014 and surely won’t be crossing that threshold.
  • Sean Burnett: Burnett’s $4.5MM club option vests if he appears in a total of 110 games between 2013-14, but like Fujikawa, he’s been plagued by injury and has no chance of that happening. Burnett has appeared in just 16 games total over the past two seasons and underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this month. The Halos will certainly be paying the $500K buyout on his club option.
  • Scott Downs: Downs has a $4MM vesting option, and while the specifics haven’t been reported, Ken Rosenthal noted at the time of the deal that it would vest were Downs to pitch “a normal workload.” He’s headed in that direction, as he’s on pace for his highest innings total since 2011. Downs has pitched to a 5.48 ERA in his 23 innings, so the White Sox may not wish to see that option vest. Then again, he has a 3.95 ERA dating back to May 3, so he’s shown some signs of improvement.

White Sox Sign Scott Downs

JANUARY 2: The White Sox have officially announced the signing of Downs (Twitter link).

DECEMBER 19, 12:37pm: Downs' deal is worth $3.75MM with a $250K buyout on year two, making it $4MM guaranteed, tweets Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com.  The vesting option for 2015 is worth $4.25MM.

11:04am: The White Sox are set to sign lefty reliever Scott Downs, according to M. Blake Harrison (on Twitter). The two sides are in agreement on a one-year, $4MM contract that is pending a physical, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Downs' deal contains a vesting option that could bring the deal to two years and roughly $8MM, he adds. According to Rosenthal, the option will vest if Downs pitches a normal workload.

The 37-year-old Downs posted a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 64.3 percent ground-ball rate in 43 1/3 innings between the Angels and Braves in 2013. This past season represented the final year of a three-year, $15MM pact between the Angels and Downs. The Halos traded him to Atlanta in July in exchange for right-hander Cory Rasmus.

Though Downs was typically strong against both right- and left-handed hitters into his mid-30s, he's developed a notable platoon split over the past two seasons. From 2012-13, right-handed batters have hit Downs at a .285/.371/.416 clip.

The White Sox have seen their bullpen depth depleted greatly over the past six months. The team traded Matt Thornton to the Red Sox in July and saw him sign with the Yankees as a free agent. Jesse Crain was traded to the Rays and is now a free agent, and they also traded closer Addison Reed to the Diamondbacks in exchange for top third base prospect Matt Davidson.

Rosenthal's colleague, Jon Paul Morosi, reported earlier this morning that the two sides were nearing a deal.


White Sox Nearing Deal With Scott Downs

The White Sox are nearing a deal with free agent lefty Scott Downs, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Downs is represented by agent Greg Landry of CAA Sports.

The 37-year-old Downs posted a 2.49 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 64.3 percent ground-ball rate in 43 1/3 innings between the Angels and Braves in 2013. This past season represented the final year of a three-year, $15MM pact between the Angels and Downs. The Halos traded him to Atlanta in July in exchange for right-hander Cory Rasmus.


Relief Rumors: Lefties, Axford, Papelbon, Benoit, Guerrier, Rays

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the top left-handed relievers on the market — J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Eric O'Flaherty and Scott Downs — should begin to start coming off the board in the next 24 to 48 hours. It's already been reported that O'Flaherty is in talks with the Braves about a return to Atlanta. Here's the latest on the market for relievers…

  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post tweets that there's a sense that the Nationals will land a left-handed reliever today.
  • The Orioles have had talks with John Axford, tweets Morosi. They're also said to be the current favorites for Grant Balfour.
  • A rival executive estimated that the Phillies would have to eat about 40 to 50 percent of Jonathan Papelbon's remaining salary to trade him, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Papelbon is owed $13MM in each of the next two seasons and has a vesting option for a fifth year.
  • The Rockies have had discussions with Joaquin Benoit but are a ways apart in terms of salary, Morosi reports. Talks between the two sides are fading, as Benoit appears likely to seek a more lucrative deal elsewhere (Twitter links).
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer tweeted yesterday that when the dust settles from the Winter Meetings, Matt Guerrier's name could be a of interest to the Indians.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that even after re-signing Juan Carlos Oviedo and acquiring Heath Bell, the Rays are still looking to improve their bullpen. One option could be injured lefty Jordan Norberto, who underwent Tommy John surgery last season.