Scott Downs Rumors
5:32pm: GM Theo Epstein told reporters, including Alex Speier of WEEI.com that the Red Sox have made "a number" of offers to free agent relievers, some left-handed, some right-handed.
4:36pm: Like the Reds and Phillies, the Red Sox have some interest in Arthur Rhodes, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The lefty does not appear to be close to deciding on his next team.
2:24am: Signing Type A relievers and surrendering a draft pick is a risky proposition, as the swings in any reliever's performance from year-to-year can be wild, and they simply don't impact a large amount of innings over the course of a season.
WEEI.com's Alex Speier tells us that may not stop the Red Sox from pursuing Scott Downs, however, despite the fact that he'd cost Boston a first-round pick. Speier's source also says that the club wouldn't give up a pick to sign Grant Balfour to the multi-year deal he's seeking, and he cites multiple industry sources saying the club is interested in Matt Guerrier after the Twins declined to offer him arbitration.
As Speier points out, Downs has some of the most dominant numbers in history for a reliever during his age 31-34 seasons, and the Red Sox have taken note of the division rival's excellence. Since 2007, Downs has compiled a 2.36 ERA with a 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 over 236 2/3 innings, while being a stickler for home runs (0.5 HR/9). He's been a menace to left-handed hitters, but it's worth noting that the highest OPS right-handers have managed off him in that timeframe is .643.
Guerrier, 32, has appeared in 70 or more innings every year since his first full season in 2005, with the exception of 2006 -- when he came one out short of the mark. While his career peripherals (5.9 K/9, 45.7% GB%, 4.44 FIP) don't dazzle, Guerrier has managed to out-perform them year-in and year-out. He's led the league in appearances twice (2008 and 2009) and has a career ERA of 3.38 to his name to go along with solid control (2.8 BB/9).
Epstein said Monday that the Red Sox will acquire multiple relievers via trade or free agency, but as he points out in this quote relayed from Speier, teams may be waiting for some distance from the Joaquin Benoit signing:
“Sometimes when there’s a contract that exceeds expectations early, it can embolden players and agents within that subset of players who have a similar resume,” said Epstein. “Time will tell whether they get attached to that contract or it’s an outlier contract.”
The Red Sox haven't surrendered a draft pick to sign a reliever since 2004 with Keith Foulke, but Downs could change that trend, especially if the Red Sox end up receiving additional first-round and supplemental picks for the departures of Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, and Felipe Lopez.
- Chris Tillman's name has been mentioned in connection with the Mark Reynolds trade rumors, tweets Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic thinks the D'Backs "seem to like" David Hernandez more, but Hernandez would be just one piece of what's likely to be a pitcher-centric package (Twitter links).
- The O's are one of three teams known to be exploring a Reynolds deal, but they're the ones with "the heaviest interest" in the third baseman according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. The Blue Jays and Padres, in fact, "strongly deny" that they're even pursuing Reynolds.
- "Some progress has been made" between the Orioles and Koji Uehara, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The club has been keeping in touch with Uehara's agent and Zrebiec says team officials "feel pretty good" about their ability to re-sign the reliever.
- Zrebiec also notes that Baltimore has been in discussions about a number of free agent relievers and have contacted the representatives of Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain, Scott Downs, Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier and Kerry Wood. The O's "have at least one offer out" to one of these pitchers, Zrebiec says.
- Baltimore has contacted Bobby Jenks' agent, reports Zrebiec in another piece.
- From that same article, Zrebiec writes "the next person I speak to in the organization who feels the O’s have a shot at Konerko would be the first." The Orioles' interest in Konerko is "largely overblown" and most insiders feel Konerko will re-sign with the White Sox.
On this date in 1998, the Orioles signed Albert Belle to a five-year, $65MM deal. He batted .289/.374/.509 with Baltimore, but didn't play at all after the 2000 season. Here are today's links...
- Stop by at 2pm CDT for this week's chat.
- Oakland’s immediate goal is to sign Lance Berkman, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The A's met with Berkman and Adam Dunn yesterday.
- Rosenthal suggests the A’s likely want to hear back from Scott Boras and Adrian Beltre about the five-year, $64MM offer they reportedly made in November.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan asks Bud Selig to leave the playoffs alone and suggests the commissioner could improve the game by introducing more instant replay and asking major TV networks to show a more diverse selection of teams.
- Jim Edmonds is contemplating playing one more season, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
- The Phillies are more likely to pursue free agent left-handers who don't cost a draft pick, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). In other words, they'd rather not give up a pick to sign Scott Downs.
- Speaking of relievers, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun explains that the Orioles have interest in any competent veteran reliever and will kick the tires on most.
- The Mets re-signed former big leaguer Mike O'Connor according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (on Twitter). The 30-year-old left-hander last pitched in the majors for the 2008 Nationals, but he appeared in 51 games at Triple-A Buffalo in 2010, posting 8.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 for the top Mets affiliate.
- The Pirates made a competitive offer for Jorge de la Rosa before he agreed to a deal with the Rockies, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter).
- De La Rosa's agents approached the Padres about a potential deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. San Diego couldn't afford the lefty, though they were interested.
23 American League free agents were offered arbitration on November 23rd. Four of those - Joaquin Benoit, John Buck, Victor Martinez, and Javier Vazquez - already have new contract agreements. Current free agent Kevin Gregg has chosen to decline. The remaining 18 AL free agents offered arbitration will have their decisions noted here and in our tracker.
- Cliff Lee (A) declined the Rangers' offer, as expected.
- Miguel Olivo will decline the Blue Jays' offer, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Jason Frasor (A) will accept the team's offer, according to Mike Wilner of the FAN 590. Scott Downs (A) will decline the Blue Jays' offer, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported earlier that Jason Frasor would either sign a multiyear deal or accept arb (Twitter link).
- Adrian Beltre will decline arbitration from the Red Sox, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Felipe Lopez (B) will also decline an offer of arbitration, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford.
- Carl Pavano (A) has officially turned down arbitration, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter). Orlando Hudson (B) will decline the Twins' offer of arbitration, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune tweets of "strong indications" Jesse Crain (B) will also decline.
- A source tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that Paul Konerko (A) will decline arbitration (Twitter link). J.J. Putz (B) declined arbitration from the White Sox, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin (on Twitter).
- Chad Qualls (B) and Carl Crawford (A) have declined arbitration, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter). Grant Balfour (A) turned down arbitration, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). As anticipated, Randy Choate (B) declined the Rays' offer, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff. ESPN's Buster Olney predicted the decision earlier today. Rafael Soriano (A) will decline the Rays' arbitration offer, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Brad Hawpe (B) will decline the Rays' offer as well, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.
- Frank Francisco (A) will accept the Rangers' offer, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says the organization can afford to be more patient than last offseason, since his team's needs are less pressing than they were a year ago. Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, from MLB.com beat reporter Gregor Chisholm:
- Anthopoulos doesn’t know whether Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg and Miguel Olivo will accept arbitration, but he hopes to have the players back in Toronto for the 2011 season. Asked to predict the players’ decisions, Anthopoulos guessed they will decline the team’s offers.
- The club thought Adam Lind played respectably good defense at first base, but has yet to determine the 27-year-old’s position for 2011.
- The Blue Jays are open to acquiring a player with “baggage” under the right circumstances. "It depends, how significant is it? Would it affect other players?” Anthopoulos asked. “If it's the right player, and the right fit, the right talent, at the right price, then you have to be open to it."
- That's good news for fans hoping to see Manny Ramirez in Toronto. ESPN.com's Buster Olney can't envision any team guaranteeing Ramirez $5MM and expects the slugger to sign an incentive-laden deal.
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.