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- Angels, A’s Talked Reddick Before Dipoto Resignation
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Scott Feldman Rumors
The Pirates might now be better than any other organization at fixing pitchers, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. That begins with Francisco Liriano, who started Game 3 of the NLDS against the Cardinals tonight, but it also includes Charlie Morton, who will start Game 4, along with Jason Grilli, Mark Melancon, and Jeanmar Gomez. Liriano originally agreed to a two-year deal with the Pirates, but when Liriano broke his non-pitching arm while surprising his kids last Christmas, that contract was adjusted to guarantee just $1MM. Liriano's injury caused him to miss the beginning of the season, but it also allowed the Pirates to take their time adjusting his delivery. "The changes that he made — we couldn't have done that if he'd been in big league camp," says Jim Benedict, a special assistant to GM Neal Huntington. "But because he spent so much time in extended spring training, he had time to get his delivery right and build his arm up slowly." The adjustments they made turned Liriano into a top-flight starter, and gave the Pirates one of the biggest free agent bargains of the offseason. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Despite the Dodgers' extremely strong finish to the season, they still haven't picked up manager Don Mattingly's 2014 option, and that's leading to speculation about Mattingly's future, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes. Outwardly, the Dodgers have shown strong support for Mattingly, but one source tells Heyman that the Dodgers might need to beat the Braves in the NLDS for Mattingly to be asked to return.
- As far as GM Dave Dombrowski knows, Jim Leyland "wants to keep going" as the Tigers' manager, Dombrowski tells MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom. The Tigers have retained Leyland on a series of one-year deals, and that will likely continue, but, Dombrowski says, "He knows if he wants to manage, he can just keep managing."
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette says his club needs to improve its on-base percentage and pitching, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The team will likely concentrate on retaining and developing its own pitching, however, rather than trying to work the free agent market. They would particularly like to see their pitchers throw more innings. "That would be the goal: to make the most of the players on our current roster and encourage them to train in a way in the offseason to help them accomplish that," says Duquette. The Orioles would also like to re-sign Scott Feldman.
We learned earlier this morning that two recent Orioles players — Taylor Teagarden and Jairo Asencio — will hit the open market and could be playing elsewhere in 2014. Of course, neither of those players figured prominently in the club's plans. Here are a few notes of somewhat greater importance to the Baltimore franchise:
- Trade deadline acquisition Francisco Rodriguez never really fit in with the club, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Dubroff says the O's will not bring back Roriguez, who was the last to show up and first to leave the clubhouse and never found a prominent role in manager Buck Showalter's pen. The O's largely got what they hoped for with Rodriguez: he posted 11.5 K/9 against just 2.0 BB/9 in 22 innings, though his ERA ended up at a middling 4.50. But he was used in just seven games that the team ultimately won, making the price (prospect Nick Delmonico) seem tough to swallow in retrospect.
- One of the Orioles' other big mid-year adds was starter Scott Feldman, who could be re-signed as a free agent. To do so, says MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko, the club may need to be willing to offer a three-year deal. (MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged three years and $25MM as Feldman's ceiling, but opined that he is likelier to end up in the neighborhood of two years and $17MM.) Whether or not Feldman is pitching in Camden Yards next year, Kubatko says that the trade by which he was acquired was a good one. Though Pedro Strop and Jake Arrieta have both enhanced their value since going to the Cubs in that deal, says Kubatko, the former couldn't be trusted in the late innings and lacked options, while the latter clearly needed a change of scenery to get his career back on track.
- Another candidate for the 2014 Baltimore rotation could be the under-the-radar T.J. McFarland, says MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski. The O's have now established control over the Rule 5 pick after carrying him on their active roster for all of 2013. McFarland, a 24-year-old lefty, ended the year with a 4.22 ERA in 74 2/3 innings, the vast majority of which came in relief. But the former Indians farmhand spent his entire minor league career in the rotation, and will throw in Venezuela over the winter to add innings in the hopes of competing for a starting gig with Baltimore next season.
The Rays and Rangers will square off in a one-game playoff to determine the second American League Wild Card team tonight and finalize the postseason picture. Should the Rays come up short, it will mark the first time since 2006 in which the AL East has not been represented by two teams in the postseason (the Yankees, Twins, Tigers and A's were playoff teams that year). Here's more on the AL East…
- There has been increasing speculation about whether or not Yankees manager Joe Girardi will return to the team in 2014 given his expiring contract, and ESPN's Buster Olney hears that the Yanks will have to significantly increase Girardi's $3MM salary in order to retain him (Twitter link).
- There's mutual interest between Scott Feldman and the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko thinks the O's will re-sign their midseason acquisition unless another team vastly overpays for him on the free agent market.
- Within that piece, Kubatko also notes that free agent Jason Hammel's tenure with the Orioles is likely finished. He adds that if our own Tim Dierkes' two-year, $10MM projection for Nate McLouth is accurate, then McLouth is as good as gone, too.
- The Blue Jays' payroll won't be moving back in 2014, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters yesterday, including MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. Anthopoulos stated that the team was more likely to address its holes via trade than free agency, noting that this year's free agent crop is once again looking weak. Chisholm lists second base and starting catcher as areas of focus, and he also notes that Toronto is searching for at least one middle-of-the-rotation starter.
Orioles fans and fans all around the game were disheartened to see what looked to be a severe knee injury for ultra-talented third baseman Manny Machado in yesterday's loss to the Rays. Machado had an MRI today, and manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli, that he's optimistic and confident Machado will be able to play with the team early next season. According to Ghiroli, the radiologist's early opinion of the MRI is that the injury wasn't as severe as it initially looked. Injuries were the story of the game for the O's, who also saw Alexi Casilla suffer a likely concussion after an outfield collision. Casilla, a soon-to-be free agent, is likely done for the season, according to Ghiroli. Here's more on the AL East…
- Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) looks at the pending free agents who have boosted their value the most with strong 2013 seasons. Law feels that Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the Red Sox is the most likely candidate to sign an extension that will "shocK everybody" this offseason due to the scarcity of quality catching options. Law also lists Orioles' hurler Scott Feldman, noting he has a much-improved curveball and could sign a contract in the range of three years and $20-25MM. Last week, I predicted Feldman would sign for two years and $17MM, with Jeremy Guthrie's three-year, $25MM deal being his ceiling.
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looks at the left field position for the Blue Jays, which could be a position of need this winter if they decline the option on Adam Lind or trade him, putting Melky Cabrera in the DH spot. After breaking down the internal options, BN-S looks at external options which include re-signing Rajai Davis and making a play for the likes of David DeJesus or Corey Hart.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun shares the story of Orioles reliever Darren O'Day and his unorthodox background. O'Day, 31 in October, has a 2.19 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 67 relief appearances this season.
- Brian Roberts knows that his time with the Orioles may be coming to an end, and he's trying to embrace the remaining time he has with the team, writes Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. Roberts adds that he hopes 2013 isn't the end of his tenure in Baltimore but admits that he has o idea if he's in the team's future plans.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Orioles' playoff hopes are hanging by a thread after taking a four-game sweep in Tampa Bay but the greater concern to the team is the status of Manny Machado. In the seventh inning of Monday's 5-4 loss, Machado was running to first on an infield hit and suffered an ugly-looking left knee injury that caused him to be stretchered off the field. Machado will undergo an MRI in Baltimore tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage. If that wasn't enough bad news for the O's, Alexi Casilla is being examined for concussion symptoms after colliding with Nick Markakis on a fly ball.
Here are some items out of Baltimore and Washington…
- The Orioles should make a point to re-sign Scott Feldman this offseason, CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff opines. Feldman has pitched well since joining the O's and at a price of around two years/$17MM (originally cited by MLBTR's Steve Adams in his Free Agent Profile of Feldman), it's a good value for a team that has a lot of question marks in the rotation heading into 2014.
- Dan Haren doesn't figure he'll return to the Nationals next season and he's considered retirement, but the veteran righty tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he wants to keep pitching in 2014. "Retirement has crossed my mind a few times this year, but with the way the year has gone — and the ups and downs — I feel I have something left that could help a team win. I want to give it at least another year and go from there," Haren said. Haren has a 4.87 ERA over 30 games (29 starts) with Washington this season but he has a 3.57 ERA over his last 15 outings since returning from a DL stint. He said he'd prefer to pitch for a west coast team to be closer to his family.
- Randy Knorr, the Nationals' bench coach and top internal candidate to replace Davey Johnson as manager next season, is profiled by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Scott Feldman didn't exactly take a conventional path to his first free agent contract. As a 23-year-old in 2006, he enjoyed a solid rookie campaign in the Rangers' bullpen only to struggle through his sophomore campaign in the same role. Texas responded by giving him 25 starts in 2008, which produced an ERA over 5.00, but Feldman posted a 4.08 ERA in 189 2/3 innings in 2009. His ERA spiked back over 5.00 in 2010, and microfracture surgery on his knee caused him to miss most of the 2011 season. When he returned, the rotation was stacked, and Feldman went back to relief work. Well, for a half-season anyhow. After a 3.94 ERA as a reliever in 2011, he made another 21 starts in 2012 but saw his ERA creep north of 5.00 again.
Unfazed by his inconsistency and likely noting his more promising peripheral stats, the Cubs picked Feldman up on a low-risk, one-year deal worth $6MM (plus incentives) this past offseason.
Through all of Feldman's ups and downs, two things have remained constant: he has good command and he generates ground balls. Feldman's highest single-season BB/9 mark dating back to 2008 is 3.3, and he's posted a mark of 2.9 overall since that time (in 811 innings). He's never posted a ground-ball rate below 42 percent. His career mark of 47.3 is above the league average, and he's been even better in 2013, generating grounders at a 50.7 percent clip.
Feldman's career ERA of 4.56 is a near mirror image of his 4.45 FIP, 4.41 xFIP and 4.50 SIERA. An ERA in the mid-4.00s is a very reasonable expectation for Feldman, and his past three seasons of work have produced a 3.91 FIP, 3.91 xFIP and 3.95 SIERA, so there's plenty of room for optimism. The similarities between his FIP and xFIP are easily explainable — Feldman allows homers at roughly a league-average rate (10.4 percent career HR/FB). All of his work has come for teams in hitter-friendly home parks (the Rangers, Cubs and Orioles), demonstrating that he can succeed in difficult settings.
Feldman will be 31 years old in February, making him one of the younger starters available on the market. He won't be tied to draft pick compensation, as he's ineligible to receive a qualifying offer after being traded midseason.
Feldman had Tommy John surgery as a minor leaguer back in 2003 but hasn't had any arm-related health issues since. It can be argued that he has little mileage on his arm compared to similarly aged free agents; he's thrown 900 2/3 Major League innings to date.
Feldman has never been a flamethrower, but his 90 mph average on his four-seamer and 88 mph average on his cutter this season are both career-lows. As a ground-ball pitcher, he doesn't miss many bats — his swinging-strike will rate sit between six and eight percent in any given season — nor does he generate many strikeouts. His K/9 rate of 6.5 this season is actually an improvement over his 5.6 career mark but still lower than the league average for starting pitchers (7.2).
The inconsistent track record that I alluded to before also makes his durability a relative question mark. Feldman has never tossed more than 189 2/3 innings in a season, and he's only topped 30 starts in a season on one occasion. As it stands, he's on pace to make exactly 30 starts this season, but he won't set a new career-high for innings pitched without hurling a pair of complete games in his final two starts.
Feldman, whose father is a retired FBI agent, is an avid supporter of the Wounded Warrior project. He and his wife have also hosted charity softball events in Dallas to raise money for wounded military members and participated in fundraisers and blanket drives for anti-domestic violence organizations. Highly competitive by nature, Feldman has a fairly quiet personality and is very popular among teammates. He embodies the "every fifth day" mentality, as he always wants to take the ball, even in the face of soreness and injury.
Feldman isn't going to be one of the very top starters on the free agent market, and as such he may wait until after some of the bigger names have signed to ink a deal of his own. That waiting game is a delicate balance, however, as pitchers like Joe Saunders and Brett Myers can attest to. Each waited until after the New Year to sign and settled for a one-year deal last offseason while comparable arms like Brandon McCarthy, Kevin Correia and Joe Blanton signed in December and received two guaranteed years.
Feldman's ground-ball tendencies won't scare off teams in small parks, and unlike the Matt Garzas and Masahiro Tanakas of the world, Feldman probably won't be priced out of any team's range. He could be appealing to a large number of teams looking for a quality arm to slot into the middle or back of their rotations.
It's tough to foresee Feldman earning himself three guaranteed years on the open market given his inconsistent innings totals, but his 2013 can't be ignored. He's posted a 3.49 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 50.7 percent ground-ball rate to this point, which should be enough to land a two-year deal at a slightly higher rate than the $7MM he'll bring home this year after hitting his incentives. Perhaps his agent, Matt Brown of Pro Prospects Inc., could compromise by pushing for an easily attainable vesting option for a third year based on innings pitched.
Ultimately, Jeremy Guthrie's three-year, $25MM contract from last year could be his ceiling, but I predict that Feldman will sign a two-year, $17MM contract with a vesting option for a third season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Of the six trades made during the first week of July, the Cubs were involved in four of them. The most recent trade occurred last night, as the Cubs shipped right-handed bench bat Scott Hairston to the Nationals for pitching prospect Ivan Pineyro. The Cubs are expected to continue stockpiling young players this month in more trades. The latest on the team:
- The Dodgers and Indians both believe Matt Garza will be traded and have been "heavily scouting" the right-hander, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports. The Giants and Rangers are also scouting Garza's start tonight (Twitter links). The Dodgers' continued involvement is interesting given their recent acquisition of Ricky Nolasco, though it's probably no surprise that the Dodgers are again targeting as many notable players as possible.
- The Cubs have been quick to trade players after signing them as free agents in the Theo Epstein/Jed Hoyer era, but Hoyer said today on a conference call he doesn't think free agents will shy away from the team for that reason. "I would hope that we cease being sellers on an annual basis," Hoyer explained, also noting that each situation is taken on an individual basis and, for example, "A lot of places weren’t willing to guarantee [Scott Feldman] a rotation spot coming off a so-so year in Texas." MLB.com's Carrie Muskat has the full quotes on her blog.
- Garza perhaps the best available starting pitcher, has "opened a lot of eyes the way he's thrown the last four, fives times out," said Hoyer. Garza, a 29-year-old in his contract year, has allowed only three runs over his last 30 innings and takes on the White Sox tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.
- Both the Cubs and Nationals will receive a player to be named later in the Hairston trade, but Hoyer told reporters that component "will not affect the balance of the deal."
- Third baseman Kris Bryant is one of five first-rounders who remains unsigned; the Cubs drafted him second overall. Hoyer was reluctant to provide an update on negotiations with adviser Scott Boras, but said, "We’re confident we’ll get it done. We’ll make it an exceptionally fair offer. If Kris wants to be a Cub and be a professional baseball player, I’m confident we’ll get a deal done. Sometimes it takes a deadline to make a deal, and we have a deadline coming up shortly. In a lot of ways, I think it’s a plus at this point." Draft guru Jim Callis of Baseball America expects all five first-rounders to sign by Friday's deadline.
- 18-year-old Taiwanese righty JenHo Tseng, ranked #29 on Jesse Sanchez's top 30 international prospect list for MLB.com, is "known for his upright, quick delivery and a fastball that has reached 95 mph." The Cubs have emerged as the favorite for Tseng, tweets Sanchez, and he's expected to command at least $1.5MM. Assuming Eloy Jimenez's $2.8MM deal with the Cubs is finalized, and the Cubs add Tseng at around $1.5MM, they appear a lock to exceed their bonus pool by more than 10% even if they max it out by acquiring more pool space. As explained by Ben Badler of Baseball America, the penalty for going 10-15% over the pool is a 100% tax on the overage and, more importantly, a $500K per player cap in the 2014-15 spending period. 15% or more means a $250K cap.
Earlier today, the Orioles acquired Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger from the Cubs in exchange for Jake Arrieta, Pedro Strop and two international bonus slots. Here are some reactions and related news to the first significant trade of this year's trading season…
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports that Arrieta has two year and 99 days of service time, meaning that the Cubs can avoid Super Two status if he accumulates less than 53 days of service time this season (Twitter link). If Arrieta picks up fewer than 73 days of service time, he will be controllable through the 2017 season.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs provides an excellent, in-depth analysis of the trade, noting that Feldman should net the Orioles an extra 1.0-1.5 wins above replacement, which is a critical upgrade over their internal rotation options. From the Cubs' point of view, Arrieta is a nice gamble, but the deal is really about the long-term future, Cameron writes. He agrees with the assessment of Baseball America's Ben Badler that the Cubs are clearly stockpiling international money to add top international prospect Eloy Jimenez after signing Gleyber Torres earlier today.
- Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio that he didn't want to trade prospects whose capabilities are unknown at this point. The O's parted with Arrieta and Strop because they believe they know what those arms are capable of (Twitter link).
- The Padres tried to acquire Arrieta, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but it sounds like the Cubs fully intend on hanging onto him rather than including him in other deals.
- The Red Sox weren't in on Feldman, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.co (on Twitter). Feldman could have appealed to Boston had the rotation faded as the trade deadline drew nearer, but they weren't interested at this time.
- Cubs closer Kevin Gregg told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he couldn't believe the Cubs were able to acquire both Arrieta and Strop in the trade. Gregg offered high praise for the talent of both players, noting that a change of scenery could help Strop. Manager Dale Sveum expressed excitement to Muskat about acquiring a power arm like Strop that was part of baseball's best bullpen in 2012.
The first domino of trade season has dropped, as the Orioles acquired righty Scott Feldman and catcher Steve Clevenger from the Cubs today for righty Jake Arrieta, reliever Pedro Strop, and international bonus pool money, according ESPN's Keith Law. The Orioles sent international bonus slots 3 and 4 to the Cubs, according to the team. That amounts to an additional $388,100 for the Cubs, who started with an international bonus pool of $4,557,200 and picked up another $784,700 from the Astros while sending $209,700 to the Dodgers. This is the first MLB trade involving international bonus pool money. After being involved in three international bonus pool-related trades today, the Cubs added $963,100 to their pool.
The Cubs signed Feldman, 30, to a one-year, $6MM deal in November. He was a prime candidate to be flipped by the 35-45 Cubs, since a qualifying offer in the $14MM range would likely have been too steep after the season. He's now ineligible for such an offer. Feldman owns a 3.46 ERA, 6.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.99 HR/9, and 50.7% groundball rate in 91 innings this year. "Feldman is a proven starter with postseason experience who should help stabilize our rotation for the second half," Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said in a statement. Those nine postseason relief appearances came in 2011 with the Rangers, Feldman's organization since being drafted in '03 prior to signing with the Cubs. He joins an Orioles rotation that ranks 13th in the American League with a 4.79 ERA and currently features Jason Hammel, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, and, when healthy, Wei-Yin Chen. Duquette told reporters including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli that he doesn't see any more outside moves.
Arrieta, 27, was due for a change of scenery. The Orioles drafted him out of Texas Christian University in the fifth round in 2007, and he never realized the promise that had him ranked as the 67th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the '09 season. In 358 innings in his Orioles career spanning 2010-13, Arrieta posted a 5.46 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, and 1.21 HR/9. A strong Spring Training this year netted him the Orioles' fourth starter job, but he was demoted to Triple-A by late April. After shaking off shoulder tenderness, he has bounced up and down since. Arrieta's last two Triple-A outings, presumably scouted by the Cubs, have gone well. He works around 95 miles per hour and BA once said he had the potential for three plus pitches, so the Cubs have an interesting arm with which to work. He'll head to Triple-A Iowa for the Cubs. Arrieta currently has two years and 99 days of Major League service time, so he needs 53 days to be eligible for Super Two status after the season and 73 to be eligible for free agency after 2016 rather than '17.
Strop, 28, will join the Cubs' big league bullpen. His poor control caught up to him this year, as he has a 7.25 ERA, 9.7 K/9, 6.0 BB/9, 1.61 HR/9, and 48.4% groundball rate in 22 1/3 innings. He hit the DL in late May with a lower back strain, returning June 8th. Strop was signed out of the Dominican Republic by the Rockies in '02, and signed with the Rangers after being released in '08. He made his big league debut with Texas, later joining the Orioles in 2011 to complete the Mike Gonzalez deal. Strop works around 96 miles per hour, so the Cubs received a pair of power arm projects in this trade.
Clevenger, 27, was born and raised in Baltimore, and his agent told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports the trade is "almost a dream come true." He'll head to Triple-A Norfolk for now. He hit .327/.426/.596 in his short time with the Cubs' Triple-A team this year, spending time on the 60-day DL with an oblique strain. He made the Cubs' Opening Day roster but suffered the injury in mid-April. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish first reported that Clevenger appeared to be on the move.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a lengthy new article discussing All-Stars, some of the game's top young hitters and a plethora of hot stove info. Here are some highlights…
- Rival executives around the league are critical of the Mariners for rushing their top prospects, but Rosenthal notes that Nick Franklin has been more than up to the challenge, and Brad Miller earned his promotion with his minor league performance. Regarding the struggling Mike Zunino, GM Jack Zduriencik told Rosenthal: "We planned all along to get Mike to Seattle at some point in July … He wasn't expected to be a big contributor offensively if it was now, July, September … but he has held his own, and what he is receiving now will set him up for 2014 and beyond."
- Multiple scouts have questioned the work ethic of the Brewers' players, with one telling Rosenthal "there's a lot of quit on that team." Rosenthal writes that it isn't manager Ron Roenicke's fault that Ryan Braun, Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez have been injured, but the negative reports could be an "ominous sign" for Roenicke. Rosenthal tweets a correction, noting that Roenicke is signed through 2014, not through 2013 as he initially reported.
- The Yankees aren't planning a fire sale, but if they did, they'd have some of the most attractive trade chips in the game. The Yankees could part with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes, however, and Rosenthal adds Curtis Granderson's name to the mix, assuming the injured outfielder gets healthy in time.
- The Rays aren't looking to add a starting pitcher with both David Price and Alex Cobb likely to return in the near future. If the Rays make any moves at all, they'll be for impact players regardless of position.
- The Cubs are "all but certain" to trade pending free agents Matt Garza, Kevin Gregg and Scott Feldman, but they're not in a rush to deal Nate Schierholtz and David DeJesus, both of whom are controlled beyond 2013.