Scott Olsen Rumors

Odds & Ends: Phillies, Nationals, Mariners

There's no such thing as an offseason- just different kinds of on-seasons.

Mike Rizzo Chat At The Washington Post

Chico Harlan of the Washington Post chatted with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, and posted the full Q&A on his blog.  A few hot stove highlights:

  • Starter Scott Olsen had surgery in July to repair a small labrum tear in his pitching shoulder.  Having earned $2.8MM this year, the Nats would have to pay him at least $2.24MM in 2010 if they tender him a contract.  Rizzo said he's getting health reports on Olsen daily and the team will use the coming months to decide whether to non-tender him.
  • Rizzo says closer Mike MacDougal has "done a great job."  MacDougal represents another of the Nationals' many arbitration cases; he could earn $3MM+ in 2010.
  • The Nationals consider Jesus Flores (shoulder surgery) the everyday catcher in 2010, but still may bring in another backstop for insurance.
  • Rizzo seems satisfied with Elijah Dukes as the regular right fielder.

Why Are So Many Pitchers Still Unsigned?

We are nearing Memorial Day, and many pitchers whose resumes would normally have landed them at least a minor-league deal by now remain unsigned.

  • Pedro Martinez is still homeless. While the complication may be in part due to Pedro's salary demands, it is surprising that nobody has signed him. Yes, his ERA was an unsightly 5.61 in 2008, but his 2007 stint was far better-2.57 ERA in 28 innings. His 87 strikeouts against 44 walks in 109 innings also suggests a pitcher who can help a team on the back end of a rotation. Given that it is Pedro Martinez, there is upside well beyond that, of course.
  • Odalis Perez remains strangely unsigned after his even stranger signing that wasn't with Washington this spring. Perez turns 32 on June 7, and had a perfectly average 2008, with a 4.34 ERA in 159 2/3 innings. Obviously, those numbers could help any number of teams.
  • Paul Byrd did what he always does in 2008-posted an ERA in the mid 4s (4.60 to be exact), struck out around four per nine innings, and kept his team in the game. Yet Byrd has yet to sign with anyone, either.

The lack of movement on these pitchers can't be due to overwhelming performances by all the starters currently employed. After all, there's Jamie Moyer and his 8.15 ERA, Carlos Silva and his 8.48 ERA, Oliver Perez and his 9.97 ERA… plenty of others at sixes and sevens, from Scott Olsen to Scott Kazmir. (Even as I type this, Moyer is giving up another home run. No, really.)

My suspicion is that teams view Martinez, Perez or Byrd as band-aid solutions. And that would be fine, normally. After all, band-aids have a rich tradition of stopping people from bleeding.

But the trade market for pitchers has the most top targets it's had in years. The Padres are already 10 games out, and Jake Peavy will likely hit the market. If Cincinnati fades, Aaron Harang could be available. If Toronto falls back to earth- and the smart money still has them finishing fourth- Roy Halladay could be someone else's ace by August. And Cleveland's Cliff Lee will be a prominent target as well.

There are even second-tier options that can help teams now and in the future, from Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie to Seattle's Erik Bedard.  And in the current economic climate, teams that fall out of the race may have even greater incentive to shed salary as soon as possible.

So it may well be that for veteran free agents, the market will only pick up once the trade deadline has come and gone. And with so many targets out there, once the deadline deals are made July 31, there may not be any place for Martinez, Perez or Byrd to land.

Stark On Olsen, Willingham, Millwood, Peavy

ESPN's Jayson Stark has a new column up.

  • Stark looks at a few trades that didn't happen.  Aside from the Angels' run at Aaron Harang at the end of Spring Training, they also talked to the Nationals about Scott Olsen.  Stark says Dustin Moseley, Shane Loux, and Jason Bulger were three names kicked around in the Olsen talks.
  • Earlier this spring, the Rays inquired on Washington's Josh Willingham,  apparently dangling Jason HammelWillingham is currently unhappy about being on the Nationals' bench, a situation that probably would not have improved in Tampa Bay.
  • Kevin Millwood could be attractive midseason trade bait, if his Opening Day start was any indication.  Millwood's contract allows the club to decline his $12MM 2010 option unless he pitches 180 innings this year.  He also has a limited no-trade clause.
  • Stark talked to an executive of a team that has Jake Peavy on its radar.  This exec noted that teams did not overpay in deals for Rich Harden and Johan Santana, so the Padres may not be able to demand a ridiculous bounty for Peavy.

Nats Avoid Arb With Scott Olsen

7:08pm: The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan gathered a quote from Olsen just moments after he OK’d the deal:

"Well obviously I was happy. I think where we settled at was a very fair number in terms of if you look at where everybody else sort of slotted in. I’ve never been through the arbitration process before, so it came down to two days before we were gonna go to trial. I don’t think a whole lot of people ever do want to go to the hearing, especially player-wise, because the team wins 60-percent of the time."

5:44pm:  According to Alden Gonzalez of, the Nationals have agreed to terms with left-hander Scott Olsen on a one-year, $2.8MM contract.

Olsen, acquired from the Marlins back in November, requested $3.5MM when arbitration figures were due.  The Nats countered with a $2.5MM bid.  Olsen, 25, went 8-11 with a 4.20 ERA last season and was one of just 18 National League pitchers to eclipse the 200-inning plateau.

The Nationals still have hearings pending with Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham.

Shawn Hill Wins Arb Case

According to Chico Harlan of the Washington Post, Nationals pitcher Shawn Hill has won his arbitration case, and will be paid $775,000 in 2009.

The Nationals had offered $500,000.

Left on Washington’s list of arbitration-eligible players to settle with are Ryan Zimmerman, Scott Olsen, and Josh Willingham.

Heyman On Manny, Varitek, Madson, Swisher’s Jon Heyman has a new column up…

  • Heyman says half the teams in baseball may still have a big deal left in them, with roughly 100 free agents remaining.
  • Manny Ramirez continues to wait patiently; Heyman guesses the Dodgers go to three years for him.  They’d be bidding against themselves, unless Manny has an offer we don’t know about.
  • When John Henry asked Jason Varitek why he didn’t accept their offer of arbitration, Varitek responded that he didn’t believe it would’ve guaranteed him a spot on the team.
  • Heyman finds it odd that first-year arb closers are getting more money than starters.
  • Scott Boras was in favor of Ryan Madson taking the Phillies’ three-year, $12MM offer based on Madson’s personal/familial circumstances.
  • The Yankees are finding more interest in Nick Swisher than Xavier Nady.
  • Heyman has the Ricketts family as the favorite to buy the Cubs.
  • Heyman suggests Bobby Abreu‘s defense gets a bad rap.  The plus/minus system, however, says the right fielder is among the worst in the game.
  • The Nationals and Marlins share the Rays’ policy of not negotiating once arbitration figures are submitted.  The Nats are apparently willing to bend and may keep talking with Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham (each about a million bucks apart).

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Pedro, Sabathia, Peavy

A look at what is being written about the hot stove in the Blogosphere…

  • Fire Brand of the American League looks at the ramifications of the Coco Crisp trade and what could happen if the Red Sox acquire Mark Teixeira and are unable to move Mike Lowell.
  • Baseball Opinion says the Crisp deal leaves the Royals with a crowded outfield and a depleted bullpen and wonders if Mark Teahen or David DeJesus will be the next to go.
  • Nationals Pride sees the Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham trade as a good start towards building a team with a core of young veterans that will be in place when the prospects are ready to contribute.
  • The ‘Burgh Blues would like to see the Pirates go after Pedro Martinez, noting his close relationship with Joe Kerrigan and Denny Bautista.
  • Sox and Pinstripes is worried about a potential signing of A.J. Burnett by the Red Sox and would prefer Derek Lowe.
  • BaseBlog has a "tale of the tape" comparing C.C. Sabathia’s 2008 season to Johan Santana’s 2007 season.
  • Goat Riders of the Apocalypse wonders if the Cubs are better off with Jake Peavy and Kosuke Fukudome versus Jason Marquis and a high-priced free agent right fielder.
  • DC Sports Plus takes a closer look at 79 minor league free agents, focusing on former major leaguers, former top prospects and left-handed relief pitchers.
  • Padres Revolution offers up a list of the 10 best trades brokered by Kevin Towers.

Cork Gaines writes for If you have a suggestion for this feature, Cork can be reached here.

Olsen/Willingham Trade Roundup

It’s official – the Marlins traded Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham to the Nationals for Emilio Bonifacio, Jake Smolinksi, and P.J. Dean.  Let’s round up commentary on the surprising deal.

Nats Trade For Olsen, Willingham

9:44pm: Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel was assured this evening that Dan Uggla will not be traded this winter.  Additonally, Mike Berardino says the Marlins won’t be signing Ivan Rodriguez for a second stint.

6:34pm: According to ESPN’s Peter Gammons, the Nationals acquired Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham from the Marlins for second baseman Emilio Bonifacio and two minor league players, pitcher P.J. Dean and shortstop Jake Smolinski.

Bonifacio was the prospect the Diamondbacks traded straight up for Jon Rauch.  He fits into the "speed and defense" plan.  Smolinski was ranked 11th among Nationals prospects heading into the season according to Baseball America.  They consider him a polished hitter with gap power.  Dean was ranked 30th, but he projects well and could become a mid-rotation starter according to BA.

I have to say, I thought the Marlins would get more for these two players.  There’s not really a sure thing in the bunch.  Did Jim Bowden pull a heist, or was this the true market value of these two players?  Olsen’s peripheral stats weren’t great this year, while Willingham has back problems.

Tim Dierkes also contributed to this post.