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The White Sox and Brewers have had the best and worst offseasons, respectively, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The White Sox were aggressive but conservative in spending their financial flexibility and did well by not surrendering any top prospects to acquire Jeff Samardzija. The Brewers, meanwhile, are not good enough to compete in the NL Central now or in the near future and should have either made a big play for a free agent like James Shields or turned over the roster on a grander scale than just trading Yovani Gallardo.
Elsewhere in baseball:
- If the Marlins are unable to further upgrade their rotation, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro advocates the club signing Francisco Rodriguez, not to supplant closer Steve Cishek but to solidify the back end of their bullpen. Frisaro tweeted the Marlins could apply their arbitration savings of $1.265MM (achieved with the Mike Dunn extension and in winning the Mat Latos arbitration hearing) towards signing Rodriguez. Earlier today, Frisaro reported the Marlins have contacted K-Rod’s agent, Scott Boras.
- GM Jeff Bridich sees the free agent signing of Kyle Kendrick and the acquisition of David Hale as updgrading the Rockies‘ rotation, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. “I certainly feel like the depth has been addressed to a certain degree,” Bridich said. “We were involved in both free agency and trades. Again, we have a good sense of what Kyle Kendrick is and what he can do. I think he has proven himself. With the acquisition of somebody like Hale … I think there is upside there.“
- MLB.com’s Terence Moore profiles Dusty Baker, who would “like to have another chance to manage, because the only thing lacking in my career is” a World Series ring, but is content if he never receives that opportunity.
- Cuban infielder Alejandro Ortiz has petitioned for free agency and is expected to hit the market soon, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. The 24-year-old, who possesses speed and a good glove, played five seasons in Serie Nacional, so he is exempt from counting against a team’s international signing bonus pool.
The A’s hosted their annual FanFest today with a sellout crowd of over 15,000. Here are the highlights:
- The A’s experienced plenty of turnover this offseason (nine trades involving 27 players) and the holdovers are starting to see the method in GM Billy Beane’s madness. “Initially when the trades are going on, you’re going, ‘Come on, seriously? Another All-Star caliber player is leaving us?’” said Coco Crisp (as quoted by Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). “But as things progressed, I started to see things come together, and I understand it from a business standpoint and for the future. Some of the players we got have the potential to be great players and we have another team out to prove ourselves. I think it’s going to work out good.“
- Also from Slusser, Beane has a plan if his offseason maneuvers don’t work. “If one of these (trades) doesn’t work, we’ll make another one because that’s what we do. We’re not going to wait around.“
- Beane apparently isn’t waiting around for James Shields. Slusser has heard rumblings the A’s might be one of the teams still in play for Shields, but she has been assured they are not.
- MLB.com’s Jane Lee updated the status of a trio of injured pitchers in a pair of reports. Sean Doolittle received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection to alleviate inflammation and irritation in his left shoulder. “Everything so far has gone really smoothly,” Doolittle said. “We’re optimistic, but we haven’t set a timetable because, based on what the doctors and trainers have said, every issue is kind of different. With PRP, it’s all about how your body reacts to it.” Doolittle has entered the beginning stages of a strengthening program, but manager Bob Melvin admits there is a good chance his closer will miss the early part of the season.
- A’s Assistant GM David Forst and Melvin both reiterated the probable timetable for starters Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin to return is June, barring any setbacks from their Tommy John surgeries.
- Slusser reports the A’s continue to monitor Cuban infielders Yoan Moncada and Hector Olivera, but doubts the team has the payroll for Moncada having never spent more than $66MM on a player and does not see Olivera receiving an offer greater than the four-year, $36MM deal signed by Yoenis Cespedes.
The Astros nearly signed Ryan Vogelsong, but after Vogelsong took his physical with the Astros, he went another direction and re-signed with the Giants. Vogelsong later said he “really wasn’t comfortable with what was going on” with the Astros, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle notes. Vogelsong’s agent, Dave Meier, later said Vogelsong simply meant he wasn’t comfortable with the fact that negotiations were falling apart. Vogelsong also later added that his wife wanted to stay in San Francisco. As Drellich notes, though, Vogelsong’s phrasing was odd, and it’s unclear exactly why the two parties weren’t able to agree on a deal. “[E]verything that’s happened to me this offseason — and one of these days I’ll tell you guys all about it, when we’re all sitting around having a couple beers 10 years from now when I’m done playing — and you’ll go, ‘There’s no way that happened,’ and I’ll say ‘Yup,’ and you’ll understand what I’m talking about,” Vogelsong says. Here’s more from the West divisions.
- The Mariners could still re-sign outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a minor-league deal, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “He wants to give it a shot,” says assistant general manager Jeff Kingston. “Full disclosure, there are some veteran non-roster players we’re still talking to, and we probably will add a few more here before the start of camp.” The 31-year-old Gutierrez hit .248/.273/.503 in 2013, hitting a remarkable ten home runs in 151 plate appearances, but he missed the 2014 season with gastrointestinal issues.
- Athletics closer Sean Doolittle has a slight rotator cuff tear in his throwing shoulder, MLB.com’s Jane Lee notes. He is not expected to be ready to pitch to start the season (Twitter links). Doolittle dominated for the A’s in 2014, posting a 2.73 ERA with a ridiculous 12.8 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings. The newly acquired Tyler Clippard, who had 32 saves with the Nationals in 2012, could perhaps get save opportunities for however long Doolittle is out.
The Athletics have signed left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle to a five-year contract extension with a pair of options, the club announced (via Twitter). The deal covers the current season and runs through 2018, after which time Oakland will have a pair of options for the 2019 and 2020 campaigns. Doolittle is represented by Jason Cook.
Doolittle’s contract is complicated, to say the least, as it is heavily dependent on whether or not Doolittle, who entered the season with one year, 122 days of Major League service time, qualifies as a Super Two player after the season (last year’s cutoff was exactly 1.122). Should he miss Super Two status, Doolittle is guaranteed a total of $10.5MM with club options valued at $6MM in 2019 and $6.5MM in 2020 — both with a $500K buyout. Under that scenario, Doolittle will receive $750K in 2015, $1.55MM in 2016, $2.6MM in 2017 and $4.35MM in 2018.
Should he qualify as a Super Two player, Doolittle will earn $1.4MM in 2015, $2.45MM in 2016, $3.65MM in 2017 and $5MM in 2018. In addition to the Super Two conditions, Doolittle’s contract also contains incentives based on games finished that could boost the deal’s value to $30MM. Should he finish 100 games between 2018-19, his 2020 option will become a mutual option. Additionally, Doolittle also received a $150K signing bonus and a $600K salary for 2014 — neither of which is impacted by his Super Two status.
Doolittle, 27, is entering his third year of MLB action and came into the year with 1.122 years of MLB service. Take with the 41st-overall pick out of the University of Virginia (where he was a two-way player) back in 2007, Doolittle started his professional career as a first baseman. He switched to the hill after knee problems, and wasted little time in getting to the bigs.
Since cracking the A’s pen in 2012, Doolittle has thrown 125 innings of 3.10 ERA ball. The fireballing southpaw has racked up 9.3 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 over that stretch, though he has averaged only a 32.7% ground-ball rate. (Advanced metrics have pegged his big league time at 2.56 FIP, 3.41 xFIP, and 2.76 SIERA.) Primarily a fastball pitcher, Doolittle has gone to his curve more frequently this year. Given his late turn back to pitching, it could be that the A’s see more room for him to grow; Doolittle was a starter in college.
While it is hard to pass any judgment on the extension without knowing its financial terms, it is obviously a surprisingly lengthy pact for a reliever. Obviously, the possibility of Doolittle driving up his arbitration cost by accumulating saves could be a consideration here. It would be surprising if Oakland did not achieve a significant discount in return for guaranteeing future salary for a reliever with such little service time.
Regardless how much it is worth, this contract lands in relatively uncharted territory. MLBTR’s Extension Tracker reveals only three reliever extensions of four-year durations, and none that have gone to five. Of course, given that the 2014 season is already underway, it is probably best to view Doolittle’s new deal as a four-year pact. Of those prior deals, two were for established closers (Craig Kimbrel and Joe Nathan) with significantly more service time and very different situations. The other — the four-year, $8.025MM deal (plus two options) signed by Manny Corpas and the Rockies when he had 1.076 years of service — appears to be the only clear comparable. (Corpas was coming off of a 19-save, 2.08 ERA campaign in his age-24 season.)
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Steve Adams contributed to this post.
It's been a busy day for baseball's Western divisions, with the Mariners agreeing to sign Corey Hart and acquiring Logan Morrison as well as the A's trading Jerry Blevins to the Nationals. Here's more out of each division…
- Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes has switched agencies, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweeted last night. Formerly a client of Excel Sports Management, Hoes will now be represented by the MVP Sports Group.
- The Nationals asked the Athletics about Sean Doolittle before acquiring Blevins, but Oakland didn't want to part with Doolittle, according to MLB.com's Jane Lee (on Twitter).
- The A's are excited about Drew Pomeranz as a potential replacement for Blevins, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that Oakland's interest was piqued by a handful of strong relief appearances by Pomeranz at the end of the season.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies still want to add another bat, but relief help appears to be their priority. Colorado's prefernce is to add a left-handed arm, which is why they were so interested in Sean Marshall earlier in the week (Twitter links).
- Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius has drawn some interest from the Yankees, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The D-Backs reportedly could use their shortstop surplus to land a starting pitcher, but the Yankees are in the market for starters themselves and don't seem to be a good fit in that regard.