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- East Notes: Ibanez, Phillies, Mathis
- Blue Jays To Exercise J.A. Happ’s Option
- Central Notes: Maddon, Dirks, Giambi, Indians
- Alex Rios Hires Scott Boras
- Dodgers Decline Option On Chad Billingsley
- West Notes: Sandoval, Lewis, Ethier, Angels
- AL East Links: Chavez, Yankees, Breslow, Jays
- Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese
- Rockies Exercise LaTroy Hawkins’ Option
- Mets Outright Satin, Rice, Eveland, Carlyle
- Cubs Hire Joe Maddon As Manager
- Yankees To Extend Qualifying Offer To David Robertson
- Rangers Decline Rios’ Option; Outright Adcock, Lucas, Figaro
- Brewers Exercise Mutual Option On Aramis Ramirez
- Rays Exercise Ben Zobrist’s Option
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Scott Feldman Rumors
Feldman, 31, is in the first season of a front-loaded three-year, $30MM contract. He’s earning $12MM in 2014 before earning $10MM in 2015 and $8MM in 2016, making his contract slightly more desirable to interested parties. He’s owed roughly $2.36MM through the end of the current season, bringing the total that he is owed to about $20.36MM. Though he missed a brief period with biceps tendinitis, Feldman has been reasonably healthy and effective in his inaugural season with the Astros. The former Ranger has posted a 4.37 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate.
Colon, who is 10 years older than Feldman, has posted better numbers despite his age, and he is the more affordable of the two pitchers. The former AL Cy Young winner signed a two-year, $20MM contract with the Mets in the offseason that pays him $9MM in 2014 and $11MM in 2015. Colon is owed $1.77MM for the remainder of the season, bringing his total commitment to $12.77MM. His first season with the Mets has gone well, as he’s pitched to a 3.82 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 1.2 BB/9 and 38.7 percent ground-ball rate in 167 1/3 innings. Colon is currently in the Dominican Republic to attend the funeral of his mother.
The team most commonly associated with the starting pitching market at this time is the Angels, who have lost both Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs to season-ending surgery this month (Skaggs’ Tommy John surgery will sideline him for 2015 as well). However, the Dodgers also have a need in the rotation due to injuries, and some have speculated that the Pirates could benefit from a rotation upgrade as well.
The Angels have watched the Athletics add Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester — and now Geovany Soto — to an already-strong club, but they don’t feel a compulsion to make similar moves, Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times writes. “You have to make sure you tend your own garden,” says Angels GM Jerry Dipoto. “Don’t worry about what they’re doing. Do what you know will help our team get better.” The Angels will be without Garrett Richards and Tyler Skaggs for the rest of the season, but Dipoto points out that acquiring a starter to replace someone like Richards is different from acquiring a backup catcher, as the Athletics did today. The Angels did recently add Gordon Beckham in a trade with the White Sox. Here’s more from the AL West.
- Derek Holland has missed all of this season due to a knee injury, but he’s excited to return to the Rangers in the near future, writes Christian Corona of MLB.com. “There’s no doubt I’m ready. That’s for sure. It’s just now, are they ready for me to come back?” says Holland. “I’ll take whatever they give me. I’m happy to be playing after what I’ve been through.” Holland has recently had back spasms, which could be a complicating factor, although he now says his back isn’t bothering him. Either way, his return will surely be a day of relief for the Rangers, whose season has been destroyed by injuries to Holland, Prince Fielder, Jurickson Profar, Matt Harrison, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando and numerous others.
- With Soto’s departure, the Rangers promoted rookie Tomas Telis, and giving them a preview of what the position might look like for them in 2015, ESPN Dallas’ Calvin Watkins writes. Telis will back up Robinson Chirinos for now, and the Rangers will decide which of them will start next season. “[Telis has] really taken a step forward with his game,” says GM Jon Daniels. “I want to take a look at both those guys.” Top prospect Jorge Alfaro still looks like the Rangers’ catcher of the future, but for now, he’s at Double-A Frisco.
- Scott Feldman isn’t concerned that the Astros placed him on revocable waivers, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle writes. “I don’t think it’s something to worry about,” Feldman says. “It’s part of the game. If they put me on waivers and somebody wants me it will probably be a win-win.” Feldman adds that he’s also happy to stay with the Astros. Feldman is in the first season of a three-year, $30MM contract, so it’s unclear whether someone will claim him. If they want to, they’ll have to do it by tomorrow. The Angels and Tigers might be possibilities, as Peter Gammons noted earlier today.
Bartolo Colon is reportedly on revocable waivers at the moment (his waiver period expires tomorrow), but he is of course just one of many names to be in that situation. We’ll keep track of the players that are reported to be on revocable waivers today in this post…
- Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons reports that the Astros placed Scott Feldman and Chad Qualls on revocable waivers yesterday, meaning their waiver periods will expire tomorrow (Twitter link). The Angels and Tigers will both monitor the situation, he notes, referring to Anaheim’s need for rotation help and Detroit’s bullpen needs. Feldman is owed roughly $22.4MM through 2016 as part of a front-loaded three-year, $30MM pact. He’s posted a 4.37 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 44.9 percent ground-ball rate this season. His salary commitment, like Cahill, gives him a realistic chance of falling to the Angels, in my view.
- Qualls has been excellent out of the Houston bullpen, notching a 3.07 ERA with 7.8 K/9, 1.0 BB/9 and a 56.7 percent ground-ball rate in 44 innings this year. He’s owed about $3.78MM through 2015 on his current contract. That sum includes the remainder of this season’s $2.7MM salary, next year’s $3MM guarantee and the $250K buyout on a $3.5MM option for the 2016 season.
- The Diamondbacks appear to be putting a large chunk of their roster through waivers this weekend, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that Trevor Cahill, Oliver Perez, Cliff Pennington, Addison Reed and Brad Ziegler are all on revocable waivers. At first glance, Cahill would appear to be a sure thing to clear, given his $12MM salary in 2015 and the fact that he already cleared outright waivers earlier this year after struggling. However, Cahill has a 3.43 ERA in 42 innings since returning from Triple-A, and it’s fair to speculate about an injury-ravaged team like the Angels placing a claim with the hopes that he can sustain the turnaround. Cahill is guaranteed about $13.7MM through the end of the 2015 season, but his contract also contains a pair of reasonable club options (reasonable, of course, assuming he is effective). His team can exercise a $13MM option ($300K buyout) for 2016 and a $13.5MM option ($500K buyout) for 2017.
- As Rosenthal notes, virtually every reliever being placed on waivers is being claimed. Even non-contending clubs could look to claim any of Arizona’s three relief arms known to be on waivers, as each is controlled beyond 2014. Perez will probably generate the most interest given his strong results and the modest $2.8MM remaining on his deal. Reed’s save totals will inflate his price tag in arbitration, while the D’Backs have reportedly shown no interest in parting with Ziegler all summer.
- Teams may be wary of claiming Pennington, who is owed $639K through season’s end, due to his injury troubles in 2014 and his history of modest offensive contributions. He’s arb-eligible following the season, but he’s a non-tender candidate after earning $3.25MM this season.
For a more complete explanation of how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR’s August Trades primer. You can also check out MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers to see who is eligible to be traded to any team.
The Angels have had a run of terrible luck in the second half, losing both Tyler Skaggs (Tommy John surgery) and Garrett Richards (torn left patellar tendon) for the remainder of the 2014 season (Skaggs will miss most or all of 2015 as well). Following the news of Richards’ diagnosis yesterday, GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters he would be on the lookout for further pitching help. As quoted by MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez (Twitter links): “Between now and Sept. 1, we’ll try to be as open as we can be. And after Sept. 1, hopefully what we’re missing in Garrett Richards we’re able to somewhat make up for in volume and depth.”
Here’s the latest on Anaheim’s search for pitching and other Angels-related matters…
- The Angels have been connected to Bartolo Colon in the wake of these injuries, but Peter Gammons reports (Twitter links) that he’s heard Astros right-hander Scott Feldman‘s name in connection with the Halos as well. However, neither right-hander had been put on waivers as of earlier this morning, and Gammons notes that it might be difficult for the Angels to land a pitcher on waivers because, as one baseball source explained to him, the Orioles and Yankees “are claiming everyone.”
- Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times looks at the diverse background of educations in the Athletics‘ front office and how those varying personalities fuel the team’s analytical approaches. Baxter spoke with assistant GMs David Forst and Farhan Zaidi for the piece, with Zaidi noting: “It cultivates a lot of debate in our office, just having diverse educational backgrounds and having people that aren’t necessarily guys who have spent their whole careers in the industry … As a group we are less prone to just let assumptions stand and let opinions go unopposed.”
- Robinson Cano is hitting .329/.397/.469 and has been worth five-plus wins above replacement this season, but Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times writes that his on-field work isn’t the only way he contributes to the Mariners. Divish spoke with skipper Lloyd McClendon and outfielder Dustin Ackley about Cano’s positive and relaxed personality and the impact that his demeanor has on the team.
Scott Feldman was surprised when the Astros pursued him this season, but the team was persistent, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. "I thought that they were more like in a rebuilding, just-going-to-let-all-these-young-guys-play mode," says Feldman. "And then after I talked to [manager Bo Porter] on the phone, he explained to me, 'No, no, we're done with that. We're trying to win.'" Feldman is now the Astros' higest-paid player, and they're counting on him to provide an example for younger players like Jarred Cosart. Here are more notes on the Astros.
- The qualifying offer played a role in the Astros' decisions this offseason, GM Jeff Luhnow says in a wide-ranging interview with MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo. The Astros' top overall pick is, obviously, protected, but they also wanted to keep what is now the No. 37 overall pick, a competitive-balance selection they got when they traded Bud Norris to the Orioles.
- Nonetheless, Cotillo writes that Luhnow isn't as eager as some commentators to change the qualifying-offer system, which is a key reason Stephen Drew, Kendrys Morales and Ervin Santana remain on the free-agent market. "Players in order to be in that position have to turn down what a lot of people would consider pretty generous, life-changing money," says Luhnow, referring to the $14.1MM qualifying offer. "The intent of the rule is an improvement over what was there before. … Everyone had this conversation last year, then [Kyle] Lohse got signed and we went back to normal, so we'll see what happens."
JAN. 10: Feldman's deal is front-loaded, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The right-hander will earn $12MM in 2014, $10MM in 2015 and $8MM in 2016.
DEC. 6: Though several of their starters turned in a strong finish to the 2013 campaign, the Astros' rotation still ranked 28th in ERA and 27th in innings pitched. Looking to add an experienced arm to help solidify an unstable group of starters, Houston announced a three-year deal for right-hander Scott Feldman that is reportedly worth $30MM. It's been a busy few days for Feldman's agent, Matt Brown, as he also represents Curtis Granderson, who just agreed to a four-year, $60MM deal with the Mets.
Feldman rebounded from a series of injuries with the Rangers to post a solid season between the Cubs and Orioles in 2013. The 30-year-old posted a 3.86 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 49.6 percent ground-ball rate in 181 2/3 innings.
Feldman's contract represents both a significant raise for the pitcher — he earned $6MM in 2013 — and a significant change in philosophy for the Astros. Houston trimmed payroll in 2013 to the point where Erik Bedard's $1.15MM salary made him the only Astro with a salary north of $1MM. By signing Feldman and acquiring Dexter Fowler and his $7.35MM salary earlier this week, the Astros are making good on their promise to fans that they will spend money this offseason.
Feldman will join a promising young rotation that includes Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock (who improved significantly in the season's final two months). Houston also has promising prospects on the way in the form of Mike Foltynewicz and 2013 No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel. Beyond those already impressive names, the Astros will once again pick No. 1 overall in 2014, meaning that another highly touted arm could be added to the mix. North Carolina State left-hander Carlos Rodon currently projects as the consensus No.1 overall pick. Feldman was traded midseason and therefore wasn't eligible to receive a qualifying offer, meaning the Astros will not surrender a draft pick to land his services.
Feldman's contract is somewhat comparable to that of other mid-tier starters such as Jason Vargas and Phil Hughes. Though he was unable to secure the fourth year that Vargas commanded, Feldman also netted a higher annual value despite a more inconsistent track record. He and Brown were able to top my prediction of two years and a vesting option.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports was the first to report the agreement and terms of the deal (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
If the Rays do end up trading David Price, it won't be their first trade of a young starter. The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin revisits four trades of relatively high-profile deals — those of James Shields, Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir and Edwin Jackson. The Rays got useful players in all four. The Shields deal, of course, produced AL Rookie of the Year winner Wil Myers, and the Garza deal returned Chris Archer. Kazmir brought back utilityman Sean Rodriguez, while the Rays got Matt Joyce back for Jackson. Fans will likely use the Shields deal (which could continue to pay dividends for the Rays as Jake Odorizzi emerges) as a barometer for a potential Price trade, whether that's fair or not. As FanGraphs' Dave Cameron recently pointed out, the Shields trade shouldn't set the market for deals involving frontline starting pitchers. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Phillies are looking for a starting pitcher, and they pursued Scott Feldman and Ryan Vogelsong before those two players signed with other teams, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. (The Phils extended a two-year offer of about $15MM to Feldman before he ultimately signed with the Astros, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.) Salisbury notes that the Phillies' interest in Feldman and Vogelsong is indicative of the sort of mid-grade starter they'll continue to pursue — don't expect them to make a splash.
- In the wake of the signing of Curtis Granderson, the Mets could redouble their efforts to trade Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, writes Newsday's Marc Carig. Since there isn't much besides Stephen Drew (who should be relatively expensive) on the free-agent shortstop market, and since the Mets' budget will only allow them to spend about an extra $13MM, Carig writes that the Mets are likely to try to find a shortstop via trade.
The Orioles have been connected to some of the offseason's major free agent names but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun isn't sure that the O's will be players for Shin-Soo Choo, Ubaldo Jimenez or Nelson Cruz. Choo will be too costly and Jimenez will demand too many years, while Connolly has "not found anyone in the organization that endorses Cruz as a viable option" and lists several reasons why Cruz isn't a fit in Baltimore. Here's some more from Camden Yards…
- Jim Johnson asked the Orioles for a four-year contract worth $45MM-$50MM in extension talks earlier this winter, sources tell MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. An extension would've been one way for the O's to keep Johnson at a lower price rather than pay him a projected $10.8MM in arbitration, though obviously Johnson didn't have a bargain in mind with his demands. The Orioles traded Johnson to the Athletics for Jemile Weeks on Tuesday.
- The Orioles didn't attend Randy Wolf's workout and don't appear to have any interest in the veteran southpaw, Kubatko reports. Wolf pitched in five games for Baltimore at the end of the 2012 season and then underwent Tommy John surgery that October, sidelining him for all of 2013.
- Scott Feldman told Dan Connolly that he was "about 90 percent sure" the Orioles didn't make him a former offer. “It’s really hard to get disappointed with the situation I am in, but I was at least expecting a little bit of interest from them. But it’s not like I’m mad or anything,” Feldman said in the wake of his three-year, $30MM deal with the Astros. That third guaranteed year was likely the breaking point for the Orioles, as they had been rumored to only be interested in giving Feldman two years and an option, at most. MLBTR's Steve Adams has more from Feldman's conference call.
- The Orioles have considered making Bud Norris their closer to replace Johnson, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. This move would only be a "fallback option," Encina notes. While the O's may yet add a starter and need to make room in their rotation, shifting an innings-eater like Norris to the bullpen would be a curious move, in my opinion. Also from Encina's piece, Brian Matusz will be stretched out and given an opportunity to win a rotation job during Spring Training.
- Adam Jones' six-year, $85.5MM extension signed in May 2012 looks like a better bargain in the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's deal with the Yankees, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com opines.
- In Baltimore news from earlier today, the Orioles signed outfielder Francisco Peguero and right-hander Ryan Webb.
Earlier today, the Astros announced that they have reached agreement with free agent pitcher Scott Feldman on a three-year deal that is believed to be worth $30MM. Right around this time last year – on November 27th, to be exact – Feldman inked a one-year, $6MM deal with the Cubs. This afternoon, I asked Feldman if signing early in the offseason is a priority for him or if it's merely coincidental.
"Well, my lucky number is 27…I don't know, whatever happens, happens. I pretty much stay out of it so I just rely on my agent for that kind of stuff and he just kind of fills me in on whatever goes on," the 30-year-old said, while adding that he was happy to have the deal done in advance of Christmas.
Feldman is no stranger to changing uniforms – he was with three teams (Rangers, Cubs, Orioles) in an 18 month period. With his new three-year deal, Feldman presumably gets to take his coat off and stay for a while. Somewhat surprisingly, the hurler says that securing a longer pact wasn't really a priority for him.
"I think I just wanted a fair deal and to be somewhere that i want to be and I just feel very blessed and fortunate. I think this whole organization is headed in the right direction. I'm just fortunate to be somewhere where they want me," said Feldman on today's conference call.
Even though the Astros have won just 106 games across the last two seasons, Feldman spoke glowingly of the club's future. With that said, I asked Feldman when he sees the Astros taking a massive step forward towards contention.
"That's a good question. I don't think anyone can say for sure when that day is going to come. It's just going to happen and you cant really predict the future but i will say from talking with [Bo Porter] here on the phone before I signed, he was very optimistic and he kind of told me that with the young talent that is going through here and all that, the future is going to be very bright. I can't say for sure when it's going to be, but I think everyone here has the same goal," Feldman said. "We've seen crazier things happen. The Red Sox go from last place to winning the World Series, so anything can happen."
Feldman enjoyed a rebound campaign in a season split between the Cubs and Orioles. The 30-year-old posted a combined 3.86 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a strong 49.6 percent ground-ball rate in 181 2/3 innings. Feldman's career has been one of ups and downs as he dealt with injuries throughout his tenure with the Rangers, but he's typically been a solid arm on the field when healthy.
He and agent Matt Brown of Pro Prospects, Inc. undoubtedly have to be pleased with the way the free agent market for starting pitching has developed to date. Tim Hudson inked a two-year, $23MM contract despite the fact that he didn't pitch the final two months of the season and is entering his age-39 season. Jason Vargas, who also missed two months with injury, signed a surprising four-year contract, and the Twins overlooked Phil Hughes' lofty ERA in issuing a three-year, $24MM pact. Clearly, the price for starting pitching is high this season, which should bode well for Feldman and Brown.
Just over a week ago, it was reported that there was mutual interest between Feldman and the Orioles (who have been said to have interest in retaining him on more than one occasion) and that Feldman could sign a two-year deal with an option. That report came prior to the Hughes signing, however.