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Sean Marshall Rumors
While it may seem curious to some that the Royals are adding relief arms such as Franklin Morales because of the perceived strength of their bullpen, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star writes that the bullpen isn’t as deep as the team would like. The Royals are hoping for a return to form from Luke Hochevar, but he’s less than a year removed from Tommy John surgery. Tim Collins and Louis Coleman each posted FIP marks of 4.80 or higher with poor strikeout-to-walk ratios, and other candidates such as Rule 5 pick Jandel Gustave, journeyman Joe Paterson and reclamation projects Ryan Madson and Joe Blanton offer little certainty. While 2014 top pick and late-season bullpen weapon Brandon Finnegan is an option, the club still wants to develop him as a starter, which likely means more time in the minors.
Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…
- Finnegan, for his part, tells McCullough that he would prefer to open the season with the Royals as a reliever than go back to the minor leagues as a starting pitcher (Twitter link). Of course, it’s not surprising that he’d prefer to remain with the Major League club any way that he can, however, as McCullough points out, it’s also not his decision. Certainly, Finnegan’s long-term value to the club would be increased were he able to make it as a starting pitcher, and he may not have to wait that long for a shot, as Jeremy Guthrie can become a free agent next winter.
- While some players will admit that a trade suits them best when their path to playing time becomes obscured, Welington Castillo tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he hopes to remain with the Cubs even after their acquisitions of Miguel Montero and David Ross (Twitter link). Castillo looks to be an expensive and perhaps superfluous third catcher at this stage, and there have been some indications that the 27-year-old may find himself with a new team before Opening Day.
- Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette argues that the Pirates should have found a way to avoid arbitration with Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Vance Worley rather than ending up in hearings that resulted in a savings of a mere $50K. While Cook is accurate that the money saved was minimal, GM Neal Huntington explained via email that the team’s goal was “to simply explain why the club’s submitted salary is a more accurate salary for the player based on other comparable past and current players than the player’s submitted salary.” I’d add that teams feel a sense of responsibility to the rest of the league to manage arbitration salaries, as the arbitration process is based largely on statistical comparables.
- Reds lefty Sean Marshall has had a minor setback in recovery from his June shoulder surgery and isn’t throwing from the mound yet, he tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. However, Marshall is pleased with how his offseason has progressed and isn’t concerned about having to slow things down a bit. The 32-year-old has pitched just 24 1/3 innings since signing a three-year, $16.5MM extension with Cincinnati, though he was among the game’s elite left-handed relievers the three seasons prior (2010-12).
The Cubs announced their finalized coaching staff for the 2015 season today, which included a pair of new additions: hitting coach John Mallee and first base/outfield coach Doug Dascenzo. Mallee spent the 2010-11 seasons as the Marlins’ hitting coach and the 2013-14 seasons as the hitting coach for the Astros. He also spent eight seasons with the Marlins as a minor league hitting instructor and brings to the table 19 overall years of pro baseball experience. Dascenzo spent the 2014 season as Atlanta’s third base coach and has previously spent 13 seasons in the Padres’ minor league system as a manager or coach. The rest of the coaching staff will return, though first base coach Eric Hinske will shift from first base coach to assistant hitting coach.
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- Reds lefty Sean Marshall tells MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that he’s progressing well in his rehab from June shoulder surgery. While he still has some range of motion work to do, Marshall says that he feels like he “has a whole new shoulder” and is aiming a return in Spring Training of next year. The 32-year-old has been limited to just 31 appearances over the past two seasons and is entering the final season of a three-year, $16.5MM contract.
- In a second piece, Sheldon also spoke with Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto, who has a $10MM club option this offseason that the team is a lock to exercise. Cueto said that despite the small nature of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, he enjoys pitching there and wants to remain with the Reds. As manager Bryan Price noted to Sheldon, however, it’s unlikely that the team can afford to retain Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Alfredo Simon, all of whom are free agents following the 2015 season. As Sheldon points out, Cueto is by far the most attractive trade chip of the bunch, and the Reds may not be able to afford his price tag if they look to go the extension route. They could, of course, also take another shot at contending next season and either trade Cueto in July if they fall out of the race or make a qualifying offer at season’s end if they do contend.
- Top international prospect Gilbert Lara, signed by the Brewers for a $3.2MM bonus this summer, has selected Len Strelitz and Nick Chanock of the Wasserman Media Group as his agents, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
1:15pm: While talks aren't dead, concerns over Marshall's health could ultimately kill the deal, tweets Renck. The Rockies were "aggressively" pursuing the lefty as recently as last night, he adds.
TUESDAY, 12:39pm: The Rockies and Reds discussed Sean Marshall at length last night, and a trade appeared close at one point, according to Renck. However, those talks have idled for the time being. It's not clear whether the Reds would have included any salary relief to help offset the remaining $12MM on Marshall's deal, Renck adds.
MONDAY: As they search for relief help, the Rockies appear to have shifted their focus from the free agent market to trade talks, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. According to Renck, Colorado is "pushing hard" to acquire a hard-throwing relief pitcher to add to the back end of its bullpen.
Renck noted earlier today that Joaquin Benoit and Grant Balfour were among the free agent power arms that interested the Rockies, but the price tags on those players and other top relievers will likely be too high for Colorado.
The Rockies' current plan is for LaTroy Hawkins to close games, so the club is looking for another arm to complement Rex Brothers in a setup role. Renck mentions Royals pitchers Wade Davis, Tim Collins, Aaron Crow and Luke Hochevar as possible fits, though Kansas City is far from the only team willing to move relievers.
Here are a few notes from around baseball's Central divisions:
- With the Reds welcoming the division-rival Cubs for a three-game set on the same day that Cincinnati reliever Sean Marshall made another DL trip, Hal McCoy of the Dayton Times looked back on the December 2011 deal between these clubs that put Marshall in the Reds' pen. Travis Wood, the primary piece going to Chicago in that trade, is off to a sparkling start to the year with a 2.24 ERA over 60 1/3 innings. While he has posted a pedestrian 5.8 K/9 to go with 2.8 BB/9, Wood has managed a stellar .928 WHIP this season, good for seventh best among starters, tied with Shelby Miller. (Of course, that mark owes to the lefty's exceedingly low .193 BABIP-against. He sports a career mark of .262; league average currently sits at .292.) Marshall, meanwhile, continues to be effective when he is healthy: he sports an ERA of just over 2.50 over his two seasons in Cincinnati. It is worth noting, as well, that the Reds' rotation is in fine shape thus far without Wood: Cinci starters own the second-best collective ERA in baseball, after the Cardinals.
- Even if the Cubs have played better than their record, the team is looking up in the standings at a host of strong ballclubs. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that the club is already feeling the mid-summer trade deadline, though it remains a ways away. Manager Dale Sveum acknowledged that, while the team is still "trying to put things together where you pull off some streaks … to give yourself a chance to give yourself hope," the team "all know[s] that if we don't, there can be changes." Wittenmyer says that a number of players could be on the trading block, including starters Scott Feldman and Matt Garza, relivers Kevin Gregg and James Russell, and outfielder David DeJesus.
- The Cubs' major offseason acquisition, pitcher Edwin Jackson, has been a disappointment among an otherwise solid rotation. Nevertheless, the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan reports, Jackson is in no danger of losing his starting role. Sveum said that the team is "going to stick with him," in part due to Jackson's four-year, $52MM deal. Said Sveum: "You've got a commitment there and you've got to stick with the commitment."
- Twins first bagger Justin Morneau, a soon-to-be free agent, has not engaged in any extension talks with his team, a source tells Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com. As Morneau finishes off his six-year, $80MM deal with Minnesota, he has failed to restore the power that landed him that contract. Morneau slashed .345/.437/.628 over an injury-shortened 2010 season, but registered a .267/.333/.440 line last year and currently sits at .312/.353/.416 over 190 plate appearances this season.
- Marshall will earn $4.5MM in 2013, $5.5MM in 2014, and $6.5MM in 2015 according to the AP (via John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer on Twitter). The southpaw can earn $1MM more per year if he closes for the Reds.
- “We’re obviously very excited about it,” said Reds GM Walt Jocketty to reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon) about Marshall's deal. “When we made the trade for him, we made it intending to extend him. We felt confident we would do that. We wanted to approach it sooner than later.”
- The Pirates are still willing to work out a long-term extension with Andrew McCutchen, reports Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. McCutchen's camp is looking for something close to the $51MM given to Justin Upton while the club is coming in around $10MM below that.
- Jeff Francis told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that his final decision came between the Reds and Mets (Twitter link). The southpaw signed a minor league deal with Cincinnati last month.
- "We saw this coming years ago," said Pirates team president Frank Coonelly to Biertempfel when asked about the new draft spending restrictions. "We pushed money up to make sure we'd be taking advantage of opportunities we had last year and the year before."
The Reds announced a three-year extension with lefty reliever Sean Marshall, which runs through 2015. The contract is worth $16.5MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal notes there's $2MM in performance bonuses each year, $1MM for games started and $1MM for games finished. The 29-year-old has yet to throw a pitch for his new team, having been acquired from the Cubs in a December trade. Marshall, a client of Meister Sports Management, was already under control through 2012 due to a previous two-year deal.
With the new contract, Reds GM Walt Jocketty prevents one of the game's best relievers from reaching free agency after the season. Since converting to relief full-time in 2010, the lanky southpaw owns a 2.45 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9 over 150 1/3 innings, allowing just four home runs in that span. Marshall's $16.5MM contract does not represent a discount, matching the high bar set for non-closing relievers by Joaquin Benoit, who signed as a free agent with the Tigers in November 2010.
As MLBTR's extension tracker shows, in recent times five other non-closer relievers have signed extensions heading into contract years: Ryan Madson of the Phillies, Rafael Soriano of the Braves, Dan Wheeler of the Rays, Matt Belisle of the Rockies, and Casey Janssen of the Blue Jays. That's not to say Marshall won't end up closing if Madson departs the Reds after the season; we'll be monitoring the situation on Twitter @closernews.
For a look at the remaining relievers in the 2012-13 free agent class, check out our list here.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
MONDAY, 10:09am: Fay says Marshall will talk about the extension later today. For now, the lefty commented, "I can't say anything. But I'm very happy."
SUNDAY, 2:11pm: John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets that GM Walt Jocketty also confirmed a deal is close and that the two sides want it done before games start.
MLB.com's Mark Sheldon adds that Jocketty says the deal could be done soon:
“We are talking to him,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on Sunday. “It could be done soon. When we traded for him, it was also looking to sign him for the long term.”
11:49am: Marshall confirmed the report, saying that a deal could be worked out by tomorrow, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).
11:16am: The Reds and Sean Marshall are making progress on a multiyear extension and a deal could be announced early this week, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The left-hander is set to become a free agent after this season.
Marshall, 29, is set to earn $3.1MM in 2012 in the final season of a two-year deal he signed with the Cubs. MLBTR's Dan Mennella recently looked at what it would take for the Reds to sign him to a new deal and noted that Meister Sports Management will likely use the three-year, $15MM deal lefty Scott Downs signed with the Angels as a starting point.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Cubs agreed to send Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins for Chris Volstad today. The Cubs take on nearly all of Zambrano’s salary, but in doing so they obtain Volstad, a valuable ground ball pitcher who has consistently made his starts since joining the Marlins’ rotation in 2008. He’s arbitration eligible this offseason and under team control through 2014. Before the trade, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein joined 720 WGN in Chicago for an extended interview. Here are some highlights:
- Epstein said Matt Garza is a “top of the rotation type” starter. In general, players like Garza can become long-term assets by signing extensions or becoming trade chips, Epstein said. David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com hears that the Cubs continue asking "for [the] moon" in trade talks about Garza (Twitter link).
- Rules limiting amateur spending in the new collective bargaining agreement won’t necessarily slow the Cubs down. "It just means we have to be better and more accurate with our drafting than the competition," Epstein said.
- Epstein said he'd be greatly disappointed if the Cubs don't re-sign Kerry Wood. Wood signed a below-market $1.5MM deal last offseason but is said to want a market value deal this winter.
- The Cubs expect to start Bryan LaHair at first base. The 29-year-old posted a .331/.405/.664 line with 38 home runs at Triple-A in 2011. He also posted an .885 OPS in 69 plate appearances with the big league club.
- Epstein addressed Zambrano, saying "change needs to happen and change will happen." Not long after the interview, the Cubs agreed to send the right-hander to Miami.
- Epstein explained that some disappointing players can recover from poor seasons to produce again. "It's a game played by human beings and the ability to bounce back is very real," Epstein said.
- The Cubs value Sean Marshall, but felt it made sense to trade him for players who can contribute beyond 2012 (Travis Wood and two prospects), especially since Marshall isn't likely to be tied to draft pick compensation next offseason.
- The Cubs are "very committed" to Carlos Marmol as their closer.
While Cubs closer Carlos Marmol grabbed attention the past couple years for his staggering strikeout rate and spectacularly excruciating blown saves, North Siders fans and fantasy owners in holds leagues alike will tell you that left-hander Sean Marshall was something of an underappreciated gem in Chicago's bullpen.
Indeed, after struggling as a starter early in his career, Marshall, 29, has settled in nicely as a reliever, serving as a dominant setup man in his two seasons spent exclusively in the bullpen. Last year was his finest, as the southpaw posted a 2.26 ERA, 9.40 K/9, 2.02 BB/9, 57.5% groundball rate and compiled 2.8 WAR. Apparently, the Cubs' division rivals took note, as Marshall changed uniforms within the NL Central in December, joining the Reds in a seemingly out-of-nowhere trade that sent Travis Wood back to the Cubs.
Marshall is set to earn $3.1MM in 2012 and is scheduled to hit free agency after the season, although Reds GM Walt Jocketty indicated that Marshall's foray into the open market may never come to fruition: "No guarantees, but we're going to try to sign him." Interestingly, Jocketty also said the Reds have not yet deterimed Marshall's role and left open the possibility of the left-hander closing, contingent upon whether they sign someone else to handle the ninth.
While we could debate the merits of strict bullpen distinctions such as "setup men" and "closers," the fact is that pitchers in those respective groups are usually compensated differently. So the uncertainty regarding Marshall's role and the Reds' interest in, or ability to, procure a so-called closer may be more than a minor footnote to the trade, at least with respect to Marshall's next contract.
If Marshall and his representatives at Meister Sports Management are amenable to signing an extension now – and reading the tea leaves from Jocketty's comments, they might be – they'll likely use the three-year, $15MM deal lefty Scott Downs signed with the Angels last offseason as a starting point in negotiations. And in light of the big contracts relievers have been securing this offseason, an annual average salary of $5MM is probably modest, so it could be bumped up from there.
The bird-in-hand philosophy could probably make Marshall a wealthy man before he even throws a pitch in 2012, but if he wants to leave open the possibility of getting paid like a closer, he could opt to play out his contract year. This would be an especially risky tack for a reliever, who are notoriously volatile from year to year, but could prove lucrative if Marshall is thrust into closing, approximates his 2011 numbers and hits free agency as a 30-year-old coming off a season in which he sewed up 35 or 40 saves.
While there are a few conditions that have to fall into place in that scenario for Marshall before we get ahead of ourselves, it's worth noting that Ryan Madson basically followed a similar arc and positioned himself for a windfall heading into this offseason.
The Reds acquired shutdown lefty Sean Marshall from the Cubs for three young players earlier today, and they also claimed righty Josh Judy off waivers. GM Walt Jocketty spoke to reporters about the moves and more this afternoon, so let's recap…
- The two sides first talked about a potential Marshall trade during the GM meetings in November, reports Bruce Miles of The Daily Herald (Twitter links). Jocketty joked that his team couldn't figure out how to hit Marshall, so they decided to trade for him.
- "No guarantees, but we're going to try to sign him," said Jocketty when asked about a long-term contract for Marshall according to John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter). The southpaw can become a free agent after the 2012 season.
- Jocketty said if they don't sign a closer, it's a "possibility" that they'll use Marshall in that role according to Fay (on Twitter). He acknowledged that they are still talking to Francisco Cordero about a possible return.
- “After the first of the year, we’ll take a look at some things," said Jockett to reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon). "We still want to address our bench, maybe left field and see what we can do.”
- Within Sheldon's piece, he also reports that the Andrew Brackman signing is not yet official, but it should be done any day now. "I’m not sure what’s holding it up to be honest," said the GM.