Scott Feldman Rumors
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.
Robinson Cano denied asking the Yankees for a $300MM deal back in the summer, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, but just because Cano didn't utter the words himself does not mean that his representatives did not float that number. That was just the "midseason request," however, Martino explains. Now that the star second baseman has reached the open market, his camp has re-set its asking price and is scheduled to meet with the Bronx brass again on Monday. Here's more from the American League East:
- The Orioles are quietly waiting for the free agent starting pitching market to fall into place, writes Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. We've heard before that the club is quite interested in returning Scott Feldman, who was acquired in mid-year from the Cubs, and Encina guesses he'll take two years and $16-18MM to land. In his detailed breakdown of Feldman, MLBTR's Steve Adams projected his value at two years and $17MM, plus a vesting option. Other arms that might draw attention from Baltimore, according to Encina, are Bronson Arroyo and even A.J. Burnett, if he decides to look around the market.
- Shortstop Stephen Drew is still a great fit for a Red Sox infield that currently features Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks on the left side, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. If Drew can't get a club to give up a pick to sign him to a multi-year deal, Boston could swoop back into the mix and try to land him on another one-year contract, perhaps with an implicit promise not to extend another qualifying offer, Tomase suggests.
Middle relievers like Javier Lopez and Joe Smith have commanded eight-figure multiyear contracts in free agency, so teams looking for less-expensive relief help could turn to the Blue Jays as trade partners later this offseason, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi writes. "My early sense of the relief market is that it could be a very lucrative one for the players, and I think the value of our players and our relievers is actually going to climb," Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos recently said. Toronto has a surplus of bullpen arms ranging from closer candidates like Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos or Brett Cecil to out-of-options swingmen like Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond.
Here's the latest from around the AL East...
- The Blue Jays' payroll won't be affected by Rogers' recent $5.2 billion purchase of NHL television rights for its cable networks, Rogers Media president Keith Pelley told Jeff Blair on The Fan 590 Radio (partial transcript from Sportsnet.ca's Jeff Simmons).
- Scott Feldman could accept a two-year contract with an option on a third year, sources tell MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. There is mutual interest between Feldman and the Orioles, and since the team isn't willing to give him more than two years, the option year could be a nice compromise. Feldman recently said that his market was slow in developing, though around half the teams in baseball had checked in with his agent. Besides the Orioles, the Twins and Yankees have also been linked to Feldman in rumors.
- Also from Kubatko, "not everyone in the [Orioles] organization is convinced that [Jim] Johnson will be on the Opening Day roster next year." The O's are known to be listening to offers for their closer, though as Kubatko notes, listening on Johnson is different from openly shopping him.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier does a position-by-position breakdown of the Red Sox depth, noting that the club's strong bench and minor league reinforcements were a big reason for Boston's success in 2013.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, we collected some Yankees items as part of a New York Links post.
A look at the latest on the Twins..
- The Twins have made a two-year offer to Mike Pelfrey, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, there's still a gap in salary that needs to be bridged. Pelfrey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 to post a 5.19 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a career-low 43.2 percent ground-ball rate in 152 2/3 innings. Pelfrey's FIP (3.99) and xFIP (4.54) both suggest that his ERA could have been lower were it not for a .337 BABIP and 67.2 percent strand rate.
- More from Heyman, who writes that the Twins have inquired on top starters like Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez as well as several others lower on the free agent list, including Phil Hughes and Scott Feldman. The club has been most heavily linked to guys like Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, and Matt Garza to date. Minnesota starting pitchers combined for a league worst 5.26 ERA in 2013.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN previews the Winter Meetings agenda for the Twins. Minnesota has Nolasco atop their free agent wish list, but they'll move on if it's not at the right price. They also like Arroyo and a source says he's seeking a three-year deal in the $27-$30MM range.
- The Twins have told agents that they don't plan on sacrificing their second-round pick in June's amateur draft to sign a free agent, despite a public declaration stating otherwise, Wolfson writes. That would mean that Santana and Jimenez aren't in their plans. Santana's reps already have meetings set up with teams in Orlando and the Twins, as of this morning, are not on that list.
- On the trade front, the Twins are fond of Homer Bailey, according to Wolfson. Wayne Krivsky, special assistant to GM, knows Bailey well from his days with the Reds. Krivsky took over as Cincinnati's GM two years after Bailey was drafted and was in that role when Bailey made his big league debut.
- A Twins official "scoffed at" the idea of trading for Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello but was more receptive to the idea of a Jeremy Hellickson acquisition when asked by Wolfson about both each right-hander.
Now that Tim Hudson has signed with the Giants, executives around baseball think the pitching market will begin to open up, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. One GM predicts Josh Johnson will be the next hurler to sign, and there has been no shortage of interest in the right-hander, as agent Matt Sosnick claimed that he'd spoken to nearly every team about his client. The Rangers and Royals have both been linked to Johnson, and the pitcher himself reached out to the Padres and Giants to express his interest.
Here's the latest about some of the offseason's available starters...
- One team that doesn't appear to be in the mix for Johnson are the Blue Jays, his most recent club. The Jays haven't made any progress with Johnson, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports, and there aren't any signs that they're even continuing negotiations. Johnson was open to returning to Toronto though his contract demands seem to be higher than the Jays are willing to pay.
- Bronson Arroyo listed the Giants, Twins, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.
- The Braves offered Hudson a two-year contract earlier this week but it wasn't enough, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Braves' previous offer to Hudson was a one-year deal worth less than $9MM (his annual salary in each of the previous four seasons) which clearly wasn't enough with so many other teams in the mix. O'Brien says the Braves could add another veteran to replace Hudson.
- The Athletics were second in the Hudson race behind the Giants, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). That's a bit of a surprise for the low-payroll A's but Hudson would've made sense on a short-term deal, plus he has long-time ties to the franchise.
- If the A's had signed Hudson, they would've ended their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Hudson would "probably more trustworthy" an option than Colon in the Oakland rotation, though the A's still have interest in re-signing Colon at a "price they deem reasonable."
- In an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Scott Feldman said his agent had heard from "15 teams or so" but "it's been a slow-developing market so far" (Twitter links).
- The Twins still haven't made a formal offer to Ricky Nolasco, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets. This is no change from the last update about Nolasco and the Twins, though the club is definitely interested in the free agent righty.