Scott Downs Rumors
10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Scott Downs (A) Jason Frasor (A) Kevin Gregg (B) Miguel Olivo (B), according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm (on Twitter).
- The Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano (A), Jesse Crain (B) and Orlando Hudson (B) and declined to offer arbitration to Matt Guerrier (A), Brian Fuentes (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Rays offered arbitration to Grant Balfour (A), Carl Crawford (A), Rafael Soriano (A), Randy Choate (B), Brad Hawpe (B) and Chad Qualls (B), according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. They did not offer Dan Wheeler (A) or Carlos Pena (B) arbitration. It seems possible that Hawpe has agreed in advance to turn down arbitration.
- The Orioles won't offer arbitration to Koji Uehara (B) or Kevin Millwood (B), according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links).
- The Angels declined to offer Hideki Matsui (B) arbitration, the team announced.
- The Rangers offered arbitration to Cliff Lee (A) and Frank Francisco (A), but not to Vladimir Guerrero (A) and Bengie Molina (A), according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- The Yankees will offer arbitration to Javier Vazquez (B), but not to any of their other free agents, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday on Twitter. Andy Pettitte (A), Derek Jeter (A), Mariano Rivera (A), Lance Berkman (B) and Kerry Wood (B) were the team's other ranked free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the Yankees would offer Vazquez arbitration and noted that the right-hander has agreed to reject the offer, a common gentleman's agreement that can take place with Type B free agents. Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger first reported on Twitter that the Yankees would not offer Jeter arbitration.
- The Red Sox offered arbitration to Adrian Beltre (A), Victor Martinez (A) and Felipe Lopez (B), but not to Mike Lowell (B) or Jason Varitek (B), according to the team.
- The White Sox offered arbitration to Paul Konerko (A) and J.J. Putz (B), but not to A.J. Pierzynski (A) or Manny Ramirez (A) according to the team (on Twitter).
- As expected, the Tigers announced that they will not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, including Scott Boras clients Magglio Ordonez (A), Johnny Damon (B), and Gerald Laird (B).
Earlier this evening I took a look at the free agent stock of reliever Scott Downs, arguably the best non-closer still available on the open market. Joaquin Benoit broke the ice this past week when he accepted the Tigers' contract offer of three years and $16.5MM, presumably giving Downs and his camp a comparable they can use as a basis for their demands.
There are obvious differences between the two relievers, of course. Downs is just about a year older than Benoit but his health history is considerably better. He also has a much longer track record when it comes to being a top shelf reliever, and being left-handed certainly doesn't hurt. It's reasonable to think that Downs could command a larger contract than Benoit, but it's been quite some time since a reliever landed a deal that big. Time for the poll...
Will Downs land a contract larger than Benoit's?
Left-handed relievers are always in high demand regardless of the time of year, and this offseason Scott Downs is the best the free agent market has to offer. Let's examine the former Blue Jay's stock...
- Downs isn't just a lefty specialist, he's perfectly capable of facing right-handed batters as well. Over the last three seasons, he's held righties to a .238/.325/.329 batting line (removing intentional walks) compared to .198/.264/.316 vs. LHB.
- He's already proven to be more than capable against the tough lineups that inhabit the AL East.
- Downs has experience in a variety of roles, so he's an option to both close or set-up.
- Downs will turn 35 in Spring Training, so a three-year deal will carry him through age 37.
- He's been on the disabled list three times since 2008 with foot and ankle issues, and he also missed the last two-plus weeks of the 2009 season with a hamstring issue.
- Downs is a Type-A free agent that will certainly be offered arbitration, so it'll cost a high draft pick to sign him.
Joaquin Benoit's three-year, $16.5MM deal might have set the market for Downs, who's the best non-Rafael Soriano reliever on the market. The Red Sox are expected to show interest though the Yankees are reportedly not willing to surrender the draft pick. A reliever of Downs' quality fits with all 30 clubs, but only a few may be willing to offer multiple years at potentially closer money to sign him. Tim projected him to sign with Boston, and the smart money is on Downs joining a contender's bullpen.
Links for Sunday....
- Dan Hayes of The North County Times says that Chase Headley's impending raise as a Super Two player is giving the Padres some payroll-related headaches. He adds that GM Jed Hoyer mentioned that this offseason will be similar to last, in that most of the team's signings will occur in January and February.
- MLB.com's John Schlegel looks ahead to some of the big trades we might see this winter.
- Yahoo's Tim Brown tweets that the Diamondbacks are expected to hire Billy Ryan from the commissioner's office to be Kevin Towers' second in command.
- The Angels' catching depth will likely be a hot topic at the upcoming GM meetings, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- While the Cardinals have a few positions that could be addressed, John Mozeliak will likely prioritize a shortstop upgrade this winter, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- In his latest ESPN.com blog entry (Insider required), Buster Olney explains why Scott Downs' Type A status shouldn't limit his opportunities.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provides an extensive list of possible trade candidates in his preview of the offseason market.
- There are a few red flags to consider when weighing the Mets' managerial candidates, says Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.
- DEA agents intercepted a package containing "nearly 50" pre-loaded syringes of HGH that was sent to Jose Guillen's San Francisco address in September, according to a New York Daily News report. The writers' sources say that MLB is "actively pursuing information about the shipment," since a violation of the league's drug policy could result in discipline for Guillen.
One talent evaluator told ESPN.com's Buster Olney that Aubrey Huff posted impressive numbers in 2010 because he “got better as a player." Huff has set himself up for a nice payday and he isn’t the only Giants free agent who stands to cash in this offseason, as Olney explains:
- One GM says players like Juan Uribe, who can hit 20 homers and play in the middle infield, are becoming harder to find. “Five years ago, you could find a lot of guys who could do what he does,” the GM said. “But not now.”
- Olney surveyed scouts and executives about the A’s-Royals trade and everyone said it was a good deal for both clubs.
- Rival teams believe the Rays are willing to trade B.J. Upton. What’s more, Tampa Bay wouldn’t have to be overwhelmed to agree to a deal.
- The Yankees are interested in John Buck, but the catcher could likely command a two-year deal (possibly from the Red Sox) and it seems unlikely that the Yankees would offer more than a one-year contract.
- In a series of tweets, Olney explains that the Blue Jays may only obtain a second or third round pick for losing Type A free agent Scott Downs (they will also get a compensation pick if they offer arbitration). There's a chance that Downs' new team will sign another free agent with a higher ranking, which would prevent Toronto from getting a first rounder.
Rangers officials have told friends that they expect the Yankees to offer Cliff Lee so many years that other teams will have to back off, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But team president Nolan Ryan is expected to push aggressively for Lee's return, so it's far too early to rule Texas out. Here's the latest on the Yankees and the Mets:
- Carlos Beltran says he'd prefer to play center field, but is open to playing right, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo (on Twitter). Beltran also told reporters he would consider waiving his no-trade clause.
- Sherman predicts the Yankees will sign Lee to a five-year $125MM deal. The imagined contract would pay Lee $23MM for five seasons with a sixth year option for $25MM ($10MM buyout).
- The Yankees say they're extremely unlikely to pursue a free agent catcher, since they want to give their young catching a real chance to emerge in 2011 as Jorge Posada transitions to DH.
- Mark Simon of ESPNNewYork.com looks back at some recent contracts to prove that locking up pitchers to long-term deals is risky.
- The Yankees don't want to surrender a draft pick to sign a Type A free agent like Scott Downs, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter).
- It's unlikely that the Yankees will agree to a deal with Derek Jeter next week, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.
- There's been a lot of Moneyball talk about the Mets front office, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports believes Sandy Alderson, J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta are not about ideology. "This is about picking the right players and all of the different ways it can be done."
- Alderson interviewed Clint Hurdle and Don Wakamatsu at Citi Field yesterday, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Next up, the GM will interview Mets Triple-A manager Ken Oberkfell in the Dominican Republic.
- Omir Santos and Mike Hessman are free agents after refusing minor league assignments, according to Rubin (on Twitter).
Let's round up the highlights from Nick Cafardo's Sunday column for the Boston Globe....
- One AL executive tells Cafardo that he's never seen so many candidates interviewed for managerial openings: "It’s amazing to me that you wouldn’t know within, say, two or three candidates who you want. But I guess in some cases the GM’s job is also on the line if he picks the wrong guy."
- Matt Stairs would like to play for at least one more season. While he says he'd like to return to Boston, he concedes that he'd probably play "anywhere."
- An NL scout was positive about A.J. Pierzynski, suggesting that he'll be one of the most attractive catching options on the free agent market, behind Victor Martinez and John Buck. "With A.J., you know he’s not going to throw people out," said the scout. "But there’s nothing wrong with his receiving and he can still hit. I know the fire he has can rub people the wrong way, but I think that’s great for a team."
- Brandon Inge has a good chance of landing a starting role this winter, given the lack of free agent third base options after Adrian Beltre. However, Cafardo wonders if Inge could eventually become a Bill Hall-esque utility player, given his ability to play a few different positions.
- Possible bullpen targets for the Red Sox include Joaquin Benoit, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, and Brian Fuentes.
- A market appears to be developing for Lance Berkman. Teams like the Rockies, Orioles, Mets, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks could have interest.
- Carlos Delgado underwent another hip procedure two and a half weeks ago, but is rehabbing the hip and feels like he'll be able to play in 2011.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with reporters for an extended media session today, speaking about a wide range of topics. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian brings us the highlights...
- Anthopoulos acknowledged Lyle Overbay's strong finish to the season, but the team's approach for first base is unchanged. They will explore trades and the free agent market with no guarantee that Overbay will return.
- Aaron Hill offered to change positions (third base) if it will help the team. The Jays have until Opening Day of next season to make a decision on the 2012 ($8MM), 2013 ($8MM), and 2014 ($10MM) options in Hill's contract. If they wait until after next season, the 2014 option is voided.
- There is a chance that Edwin Encarnacion will be non-tendered given the raise he's likely to receive through arbitration. Encarnacion earned $4.75MM in 2010 and will be arb eligible for the final time before free agency.
- The Jays are prepared to go to arbitration with 54 HR man Jose Bautista. He earned $2.4MM this year and his salary is likely to jump into the $7-9MM range after his monster season. Bastian doesn't think the two sides will work out a long-term deal this winter.
- Fred Lewis was unhappy when his playing time diminished late in the season. If he's not in the team's plans as a bench player next year, a non-tender could be in order.
- Even with Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, and Jason Frasor all eligible to become free agents in a few weeks, Anthopoulos doesn't consider having veterans in the bullpen a top priority.
- He'd like to add more balance to a lineup that relied primarily on the long ball this season. The Jays led MLB by a large margin with 257 homers, but they finished just ninth with 755 runs scored because of a pedestrian .312 OBP.
- The possibility of keeping catcher John Buck will be explored, but Anthopoulos said he's earned a long-term deal and a starting job, something that might not work with top prospect J.P. Arencibia having nothing left to prove in the minors.
- The Blue Jays are not operating with a specific payroll; the GM has the ability to adjust the finances as he sees fit. That gives them more flexibility when looking at free agent and trade scenarios.
- There are no more front office hirings in the immediate future, but one thing they're considering is someone with more of a computer and statistical analysis background.
- Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press adds that Anthopoulos acknowledged the inherent riskiness of trades, but he still considers it the best way to improve the team and is willing to deal prospects for established big leaguers (Twitter links).
Potential free agents sit down with MLBTR.
The numbers Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs and Jason Frasor have posted this year will look pretty good on the backs of their respective baseball cards. Gregg has a career high 35 saves with a 3.38 ERA and 9.3 K/9; Downs has a 2.73 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9; Frasor has a 3.75 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9. But Downs says he looks for something else when evaluating his season.
“Staying healthy,” Downs said. “That’s the main thing. Staying healthy since it’s such a grind. It’s six months out of the year and your body goes through so much, so I think if you just prepare yourself mentally the best you can, if you stay together physically, things will take care of themselves.”
Gregg also evaluates his season primarily based on health.
“Being able to go out there all the time,” Gregg said. “That’s the biggest thing - being available to help out the team. And statistics, they all work out at the end of the year, but being available for the team sometimes is more important than the other stuff.”
The other stuff has worked out fairly well for all three potential free agents, but Frasor thinks he could have pitched better.
“It’s been kind of a roller coaster year actually, and it’s definitely finishing better than it started,” he said. “Looking back, I think I’ve done some of the dumbest things I’ve done, [made] some of the worst pitches. I made some terrible decisions along the way [and] I’ve really gotten burned. But I like my stuff right now and my arm feels good, so it’s been a good year as far as that’s concerned, but it didn’t start out good by any means. It wasn’t pretty.”
Frasor walked nearly a batter per inning in April and posted an 8.38 ERA through the season’s first month, but he recovered from his turbulent start and put together a fine year. With a week remaining in the regular season, he tentatively calls 2010 a success.
“If you had asked me a month ago, no, I’d have said ‘no, it’s not a success,’ but in a lot of ways it is,” Frasor said. “I don’t want to say too much because a lot can happen in this last week, I mean I could give up two grand slams in this last week and then everything’s totally messed up, but as of right now, I’m OK.”
Good health and solid performances aren’t the only things unifying the relievers; all three could become free agents this winter. They are well-acquainted with the rumor mill, so it’s no surprise that the trio takes a laid-back stance to their upcoming free agency. Frasor, who will hit the open market for the first time, says he’s open-minded about his future.
“I’m really not that picky, as long as I’m not back in the New York Penn League or Korea or something,” Frasor said. “I love Toronto, been here for seven years, I have a lot of roots here, so I’m open to coming back.”
Frasor pitched in the New York Penn League when he was a member of the Tigers organization, but that was way back in 1999. Now, he intends to relax once the season ends instead of worrying about his next team. Like Frasor, Downs plans to wait a while before thinking much more about his future.
“Once the World Series is over, I think I’ll sit down with my family, sit down with the people who I need to talk to and hopefully we’ll figure it out from there,” Downs said.
And the longtime Blue Jay would like to stay in Toronto if the organization wants him back.
“Hopefully there’s a team out there and I would love to come back here,” Downs said. “I’ve been here, like Frasor said, we’ve been together for six years and this is the home away from home for both of us and to say that we wouldn’t want to come back here would be lying. It’s a great city; it’s a great organization.”
Both Frasor and Downs currently project as Type A free agents, so they could see offers of arbitration from the Blue Jays. The team would stand to gain top draft picks if the pitchers turn down arbitration and sign elsewhere, so there’s reason to believe the Blue Jays will think hard about making such offers.
When GM Alex Anthopoulos held on to Downs, Frasor, Gregg, John Buck and Lyle Overbay at the July 31st trade deadline, he maintained that the team would consider offering arbitration to departing free agents. The players could accept the offers and return to Toronto on one-year deals, but they could just as easily seek multi-year contracts, since they’re playing well and have stayed healthy so far.
Gregg currently projects to be a Type B free agent, but he won’t necessarily hit the open market. The Blue Jays have two options for the right-hander (one for 2011 and one for 2011-12), so his future depends on the Blue Jays’ decision.
“I’m assuming at some point I’ll sit down with Alex [Anthopoulos] and we’ll talk about next year and what is to come,” Gregg said. “But it’s kind of nice because I don’t have to think about it. I’ve just got to wait for him to make his decision, the organization to make their decision before I’ve got to deal with anything.”
Gregg is prepared to hit the open market again and he looks ahead to the possibility without being excited or apprehensive. At this point, he says free agency is just a part of the job.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Been through it already, so I know what to expect, which makes it easier, but it’s a process to go through. You’ve got a lot of conversations to go through and sometimes that gets pretty monotonous, but you deal with it as it comes.”
This offseason, Gregg, Downs and Frasor are likely to see their share of offers. And, fingers crossed, none of the three will end up pitching in the New York Penn League any time soon.
In his latest column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo looks at the career earnings for some of the biggest names in baseball, with an eye toward the offseason. Cafardo wonders if players in good situations like Adrian Beltre and Paul Konerko would give their respective clubs a slight discount, or if they'll pursue the most money possible on the open market. Here are some other highlights from Cafardo's piece:
- Konerko negotiated his last contract primarily with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, and Cafardo wouldn't be surprised to see Reinsdorf step in again to keep Konerko in Chicago.
- Although they don't love his defense behind the plate, the Marlins are a team that will be interested in signing Victor Martinez this winter.
- A National League scout could see Tim Wakefield succeeding on the mound in the NL for another couple years, but questions whether Wakefield would be able to hit and run the bases, as the Senior Circuit requires. Cafardo indicates that the 44-year-old is frustrated with his role in Boston.
- Cafardo predicts that the Red Sox will sign Scott Downs this winter.
- As of Friday, Kevin Towers had only had one conversation with D'Backs president Derrick Hall about the team's GM opening, according to a source. It was on Friday that we heard Towers was the frontrunner for the Arizona job.