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St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
Minor league coaches and instructors earn relatively meager salaries, reports Fangraphs’ David Laurila. The minimum salary for one club is $30K while multiple sources pegged the top end (for long-time managers and coordinators) between $150-175K. One source told Laurila the Marlins pay poorly while the Braves are among the most generous (“That’s why Miami has a lot of turnover and Atlanta doesn’t.“). Another reason Laurila cites for the low pay is the number of people who want those minor league positions with one front office executive saying his club receives between 300 and 400 resumes per year.
Here’s the latest news and notes from the National League:
- The Cardinals have the payroll flexibility and the prospects to either extend a player like Jason Heyward or acquire a high-profile contract like that of Cole Hamels, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Within the same article, Goold notes GM John Mozeliak has fielded calls this winter on out-of-options players like infielder Pete Kozma and left-hander Sam Freeman.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he is not concerned about being on the hot seat as he enters the final year of his contract. “I know I’ve got a contract this year and I’ll try to do the best I can. I can’t control what happens with that. I just plan to get the guys playing well, and hopefully we’ll get off to a good start again and we’ll see what happens.“
- Despite the dramatic overhaul of their roster, the Padres have plenty of questions to address this spring, Jeff Sanders of U-T San Diego writes.
- Nick Groke of The Denver Post takes a position-by-position look at the Rockies in 2015. This offseason, the Rockies put a heavy emphasis on improving their depth across the board.
Entering 2015, the Royals possess baseball’s best defense, writes Anthony Castrovince of Sports On Earth. With stalwarts like Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, and Alcides Escobar, the club can count on preventing dozens of runs next season. On the bench lurks speedy defensive whiz Jarrod Dyson to help track down fly balls. Rounding out Castrovince’s top five defenses are the Orioles, Reds, Yankees, and Cardinals.
- Baseball is fighting for relevance, writes Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic. While football can claim a larger fandom than baseball, it’s not the job of Commissioner Rob Manfred to reverse that trend. Instead, the league needs to improve its relevance with youth. A lot of attention has fixated on minor tweaks to the game like a faster pace of play. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall has some more novel ideas for improving the fan experience. He suggests letting the home team take batting practice second to improve player-fan interactions. He also proposes using pre-game fielding practice as a stage for displays of athleticism.
- The Red Sox have a revamped lineup, new rotation, deeper bullpen, and a $200MM payroll, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The rotation is viewed as a weakness because nobody stands out as a potential ace. However, manager John Farrell believes the current unit will be sufficient. The lineup should provide plenty of fire power and the defense can also help to bail out the rotation. If the rotation is revealed to be a weakness, the club has plenty of prospects to acquire reinforcements.
- The Astros are looking to win in the present season for the first time in the Jeff Luhnow era, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The club is setting a target for a .500 finish, which does appear to be a viable goal. With several 2014 breakouts and more impactful prospects on the way, Houston appears to be turning the corner on their rebuild. Luhnow points to building chemistry as one important piece of the puzzle. Several roster decisions will be made this spring, most notably in the outfield where Robbie Grossman and Alex Presley will be fighting for jobs.
Let’s round up a few stray notes from the day:
- After avoiding arbitration with Matt Joyce today, the Angels appear set to enter the spring with a MLB payroll of a shade under $145MM, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes. That is about $10MM shy of last year’s starting point, leaving the team with additional luxury tax space (Gonzalez estimates a $174MM payroll for those purposes) that the club will be willing to put towards any needs that become apparent over the course of the season.
- Potentially joining the Halos with interesting summer plans are the Phillies, who are increasingly likely to hold onto ace Cole Hamels, as Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. reiterated previous statements that he expects Hamels to enter camp with the team, adding that he “expect[s] him to be our Opening Day starter.” The Padres, Rangers, Dodgers, and Cardinals are all said to have been in touch recently on Hamels, but while all are clear of Hamels’s no-trade protection, they also each have good reasons not to be aggressive.
- Hector Olivera‘s representatives have indicated that he will put on his final open showcase this coming Wednesday, Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets. That obviously could be a prelude to an intensification of his market, particularly with Spring Training fast approach. As Badler notes, Olivera is still not a free agent, but is expected to be so declared in short order.
1:57pm: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has the full breakdown of the deal (Twitter link). In addition to his $3.5MM salary for 2015, Jay received a $1.25MM signing bonus. On top of that, he’ll earn $6.225MM in 2016, making for a $10.975MM total.
1:50pm: Jay’s contract is a two-year, $10.975MM deal, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). The exact breakdown isn’t quite clear, though Goold notes that Jay’s base salary in 2015 is $3.5MM, and he also received a yet-undisclosed signing bonus (which is already included in the $10.975MM sum).
1:37pm: The Cardinals announced today that they’ve signed center fielder Jon Jay to a two-year contract, thereby avoiding arbitration (Twitter link). As can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, Jay had filed for a $5MM salary, while the Redbirds countered with a $4.1MM offer. With a two-year deal now in place, Jay’s salaries are locked in until he is eligible for free agency following the 2016 campaign.
Jay, a client of CAA Sports’ Nez Balelo, had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4.5MM in 2015, which was roughly the midpoint of the figures exchanged by the two sides. The 29-year-old (30 in March) enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2014, hitting .303/.372/.378 in 468 plate appearances with above-average defense in center, per Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved.
The offensive output is more or less indicative of what one can expect from Jay in a typical season; Jay has never hit below .276 or above .305, and his OBP has fallen between .344 and .373 each season as well. The former second-rounder can be counted on for plus marks in both average and OBP with below-average power on a yearly basis. Previously, Jay has been a threat to steal as well, though after swiping 19 bags in 2012, he stole just 10 in 2013 and six in 2014.
While Jay is largely consistent at the plate, he is less so in the outfield, where defensive metrics fluctuate on his performance from year to year (with the net result being roughly average). Jay struggled defensively in the 2013 postseason, which was one likely reason that the Cardinals felt the need to acquire Peter Bourjos from the Angels last offseason. One of baseball’s most gifted defenders, Bourjos cut into Jay’s playing time a bit early in the season before Jay reclaimed the everyday role. He’s ticketed for everyday duty in center field again in 2015, which prompted some to speculate on the availability of Bourjos earlier this winter. However at this point, it seems that both center fielders will be in camp with St. Louis.
The market for James Shields is picking up steam, to say the least, with multiple reports indicating that he could decide upon a team before this weekend comes to a close. As of yesterday, the Marlins were still said to be in talks for Shields, with the Cubs “kicking the tires.” The Padres were indirectly connected to Shields, as reports had them seeking a top-end starter, though Shields was not mentioned by name.
Here are today’s Shields-related items…
- “The Padres…have to be considered favorites for” Shields, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. The fact that Shields lives in San Diego could indeed give the Padres the edge, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes.
- While the Padres are indeed “among the favorites” for Shields, Heyman reports that “a few other teams, including at least one surprise” are in contact with Shields’ camp. A person connected to the Cubs tells Heyman that Chicago could get involved in Shields’ market if his price falls significantly; the Cubs’ interest in Shields was first reported yesterday.
- The Blue Jays are “kicking the tires” on Shields, which is a surprise to Heyman given their payroll limitations. This isn’t the first time Toronto has been linked to Shields, though it remains to be seen if the Jays can create the financial space to sign Shields even at a lowered price tag.
- The Dodgers are currently focused on international stars Yoan Moncada and Hector Olivera and not Shields, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. Many have speculated that the Dodgers could make a play based not only on their deep pockets but on the presence of former Rays GM Andrew Friedman atop the new L.A. baseball operations department.
- Multiple sources have told Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald that they do not expect the Marlins to sign Shields. One source characterized the chances as “zero percent.” For what it’s worth, others have also reported the chances as “zero,” only to have rumors of talks between the two sides resurface. Ultimately, however, it seems that the Fish are long shots. Shields’ reported desire to play for a team on the West Coast and the Marlins’ limited payroll are both detrimental factors.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been told by sources in recent weeks that the Cardinals “are not a team with interest.” As Goold outlines, the Cardinals may be wary not only of forfeiting a draft pick but of forfeiting the portion of their draft bonus pool that would go along with it. Based on last year’s slot figures, signing Shields would cost St. Louis 28.3 percent of its bonus pool.
We learned last night that the market for James Shields was taking shape, with multiple offers on the table and an expectation that the righty would be signed by the end of the week. Today figures to deliver plenty more reporting on the best remaining free agent, and we’ll keep tabs on it here.
- The Cubs have entered the fray and are “kicking the tires” on Shields, reports David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com. Kaplan, too, hears that Shields is expected to choose a team by the end of the week, and the Cubs are among those he is considering. Kaplan tweets that the Cubs have been waiting to see where the Shields market ended up before getting too involved. He adds that Shields has interest in Chicago, with his relationship with manager Joe Maddon being a factor.
- Shields’s agent, Page Odle, has indicated to some clubs that his client is “getting close to resolution,” according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (via Twitter).
- While it remains unclear exactly where they stand, the Marlins “remain in talks” involving Shields, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. As he writes, the club is more interested in a three-year deal than in going to four, with its pursuit complicated by payroll projections and the undecided situation of Dan Haren.
- If Miami is in, several other at-least-hypothetical landing spots appear to be out: The Cardinals prefer to plug Carlos Martinez in the rotation rather than signing Shields, tweets Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Rangers have not modified their intentions to avoid major free agent pitching investments, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan (via Twitter). And the always-unpredictable Athletics are not involved, per a tweet from Heyman.
- Two more west coast teams, the Giants and Angels, are also not currently in the running, Heyman reports (Twitter links). San Francisco had been in conversations in the four-year, $80MM range with Shields earlier in the offseason, per an Olney tweet, but ended up pursuing (and signing) Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong when they were rebuffed.
Reports this evening suggest that the wheels are now turning for free agent righty James Shields. With multiple offers in hand, says Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter), the veteran is expected to sign by the end of the week.
As I wrote yesterday, while Shields and agent Page Odle face a difficult task of maximizing value in the month of February, time remains for his market to re-develop. It appears that could now be taking place, with the list of suitors potentially growing this evening.
The Cardinals have now “shown interest” in Shields, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. While the St. Louis brass has insisted that the club feels good about its rotation depth, there are enough areas of concern that another arm could make good sense — particularly one of Shields’s quality.
Meanwhile, a rival general manager says that he believes the Yankees are “actively pursuing” Shields, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. New York certainly could justify buttressing its starting five: it probably has an even greater need to upgrade at the back end and protect against uncertainty in the projected rotation than do the Cards. On the other hand, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that he hears the team is not changing its decision not to pursue top-of-the-market starters.
It certainly appears that both clubs have the financial wherewithal to make such a move. St. Louis has been judicious with committing future assets and maintains good forward-looking payroll flexibility. And New York can never be counted out from dipping into its coffers when opportunity arises.
As for other possibilities, the Padres are also believed to have engaged in recent discussions with the Shields camp, Morosi tweets. Another busy club, the White Sox, are almost certainly set to enter the spring with their current array of talent, GM Rick Hahn tells Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter).
While both of these clubs have been mentioned as possible landing spots for Shields at various points in the past, it was never entirely clear whether that was based on analysis or real internal consideration. These latest reports appear to push the needle toward the latter. Obviously, the entry of either or both would be excellent news for Shields’s leverage.
The Cardinals have acquired catcher Michael Ohlman from the Orioles in exchange for cash considerations, the clubs announced. Ohlman had been designated for assignment by Baltimore.
Added to the 40-man roster in the fall of 2013, the 24-year-old Ohlman played last year at Double-A, the highest level of the minors that he has reached. He slashed a disappointing .236/.310/.318 in 454 plate appearances, failing to follow up on his .934-OPS 2013 at the High-A level. A big-bonus 11th-round pick back in 2008, Ohlman had his share of ups and downs even before his rough 2014, as Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper detailed last March.
Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins had varying reactions to being traded to the Braves in the Jason Heyward deal, Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Miller, who learned he’d been dealt before learning which team had traded for him, was apprehensive at first, but ultimately happy to learn that he was heading to Atlanta. Jenkins, a former Cardinals first-round pick, was “upset” to be leaving that organization, although he eventually came around to the idea that the Braves must really want him to acquire him in a trade for a player of Heyward’s caliber. Both Miller and Jenkins credit Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright with helping them as pitchers. Miller says Wainwright encouraged him to throw a sinker (although it wasn’t until Justin Masterson showed him a grip he liked that he actually started using it). Jenkins, meanwhile, credits Wainwright with helping him with his delivery. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Free agent outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. is hoping to find a new team for 2015, his agent told MLB Network Radio (via a tweet from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports). Gwynn, 32, hit .154/.262/.190 in 127 plate appearances with the Phillies in 2014, also appearing in 20 games (and hitting significantly better) for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Gwynn isn’t likely to provide much offense, but he’s provided good defensive and baserunning value in the past.
- In March, free agent infielder Marco Scutaro will know more about whether he can continue his career after having back surgery, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in a piece we’ve linked to elsewhere today. The Giants released Scutaro last week even though he still had one year left on his three-year, $20MM deal. He had fusion surgery in December.
Recent Brewers signee Neal Cotts tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he came close to hanging up his spikes before the Rangers offered him a deal for the 2013 season. After two fairly productive seasons in Texas, Cotts chose Milwaukee in part due to proximity to his home in Chicago.
Here are some notes on still-active bullpen situations around the game:
- The Red Sox have indicated a willingness over the last few days to deal righty Edward Mujica, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Mujica, 30, signed a two-year deal to head to Boston last year after a strong 2013 with the Cardinals, but struggled mightily out of the gate. He rebounded with a big second half, however, throwing 25 1/3 innings of 1.78 ERA ball over the second half. All said, Mujica ended the year having allowed 3.90 earned per nine and having compiled a 3.70 FIP that was nearly identical to his fielding-independent mark from the season prior.
- After adding Cotts, the Brewers will keep looking for a veteran, late-inning arm, potentially one with closing experience, assistant GM Gord Ash tells Haudricourt. The club is “juggling a lot of balls right now,” says Ash, who added that talks with the Phillies on Jonathan Papelbon are not dead even if nothing is imminent. Ash also indicated that the team was considering former closer Francisco Rodriguez, but noted that the club is not in on Rafael Soriano or Joba Chamberlain. Milwaukee also seems to have its eye out for a bargain, with Ash noting that the club is open to doing a minor league deal at any time.
- A few of the other names still on the market do have some interest even though they have yet to ink a contract, according to SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links). After a solid 2014, southpaw Joe Beimel has interest from three clubs, including the incumbent Mariners, while fellow lefty Joe Thatcher has drawn attention from a handful of teams.