St. Louis Cardinals Rumors
The projected number one free agent starter for next offseason is off the market. The Cardinals officially signed righty Adam Wainwright to a five-year, $97.5MM extension that covers the 2014-2018 seasons and includes a no-trade clause. Wainwright, 31, is represented by Steve Hammond of Aegis Sports Management. He was set to enter free agency next year as the top pitcher available on MLBTR's Tim Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings. "I can't wait to make you proud of this contract," Wainwright told Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt, Jr. during his press conference today, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Cards were reportedly working on an extension with their All-Star hurler at various points throughout the spring, with both team and player reportedly preferring to leave Florida with a new deal in place. Wainwright's new deal falls short of the six-year, $127.5MM extension signed by Matt Cain with the Giants a year ago as well as Zack Greinke's six-year, $147MM deal with the Dodgers achieved in free agency. Aside from the shorter term, Wainwright's average annual value of $19.5MM is short of Cain ($21.25MM) and Greinke ($24.5MM). One potential reason for the difference in the extended pitchers: Wainwright's extension begins with his age 31 season, while Cain's began with his age 27 campaign. It should be noted that with Cain's deal, it was actually five years and $112.5MM in new money, since he was already under contract for 2012. Greinke's contract, of course, was signed after open bidding.
Wainwright notched a 3.94 ERA, including 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9, over 198 2/3 innings with the Cards in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. He posted a 3.51 ERA from May 6th onward. As Rosenthal notes in his full article discussing the extension, Wainwright has pitched to a career 3.15 ERA in the majors. He began his big league career as a successful reliever in '06. In March 2008, Wainwright inked a four-year, $15MM extension with the Cardinals, and the team chose to exercise a dual club option covering the 2012 and '13 seasons.
With the contracts of Chris Carpenter and Jake Westbrook set to expire after this season, Wainwright will be the elder statesman of the rotation. He's signed through 2018, and Jaime Garcia potentially through 2017. Lance Lynn is under team control through 2017, and promising youngsters such as Shelby Miller and Trevor Rosenthal through 2018. Well-regarded prospects Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha are also waiting in the wings.
As Dierkes' power rankings reflect, Josh Johnson is now the projected top free agent starter after this season, followed by Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, and Matt Garza. There's a lot of uncertainty in that bunch.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first broke the story. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.
The Cardinals and ace Adam Wainwright are still working towards reaching agreement on a contract extension as spring training comes to a close. Sources familiar with both sides of the conversation expressed a sense of optimism to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that a deal will be struck before Opening Day.
The two sides took a break from extension talks earlier in the offseason when Wainwright was seeking more years than the Cards were willing to offer. However, they have come back to the table in recent weeks and reports have generally been positive regarding the discussions.
An extension for the 31-year-old figures to be the most lucrative one ever given to a pitcher by the Cardinals. Deals given to right-handed starters Matt Cain (six years, $127.5MM) and Zack Greinke (six years, $147MM) could provide a framework for a deal.
Wainwright posted a 3.94 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 198 2/3 innings last season after returning from Tommy John surgery.
MONDAY: The Blue Jays, Orioles, Twins, Indians, Cubs, Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers and Mets all have scouts on hand for Young's start against the Astros today, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). However, as he's quick to note, that doesn't necessarily mean that each team is there to scout Young specifically.
For what it's worth, Young was terrific in his outing, scattering two hits, a walk and an unearned run over four innings to go along with a pair of strikeouts.
SUNDAY, 2:10pm: The Pirates are intrigued by Young, tweets the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel. However, Biertempfel wonders whether the Pirates can assure Young he'd be on roster the whole year and, if not, whether or not Young would be interested.
11:25am: The minor league deal that Chris Young signed with the Nationals last month contains an opt-out clause that he can exercise today. However, Young is scheduled to pitch in a Grapefruit League game tomorrow. Dan Kolko of MASNsports tweets that Young is planning on making that start tomorrow and then making a decision. Young says he has received interest from other teams, and it was reported on Friday that Young likely won't make the roster.
The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore adds that the Nationals hope to retain Young and view him as the clear favorite for a rotation spot if one of their starting five were to suffer an injury. Young is interested in staying in the organization in the event that he can't find a Major League job elsewhere.
The 33-year-old Young posted a 4.15 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 115 innings for the Mets last season. However, teams in smaller ballparks will likely be wary of Young's alarming 58.2 percent fly-ball rate. Among pitchers with 100 innings or more, Young's fly-ball rate was far and away the highest in baseball, while his 22.3 percent ground-ball rate was far and away the lowest.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
"It was a very difficult decision," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. "He played great for us. We had some other guys feel great, and we’re comfortable with where we are as far as those players are concerned."
Those players would be Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen. Agent Alex Esteban told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Betancourt requested his release by exercising his out clause and there are three teams who are interested in his client (Twitter link). Gelb tweeted the Phillies tried to trade Betancourt, but other teams walked away.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets both the Yankees and Cardinals are "poking around" Betancourt. The mention of the Yankees is interesting, as GM Brian Cashman told Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News earlier today that he won't be looking outside the organization for a shortstop despite Derek Jeter's ailing ankle (Twitter link). The Giants and Brewers are in the market for an utility infielder and could be interested in Betancourt, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via Twitter.
Betancourt hit just .228/.256/.400 with seven home runs in 228 plate appearances for the Royals last season. The 31-year-old is in the midst of an incredibly strong Spring Training collecting 21 hits in 47 at-bats en route to a .447/.451/.574 batting line with a 1.025 OPS in 51 plate appearances.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Justin Verlander says he won't engage in contract talks with the Tigers during the regular season, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. "Once this last start comes around, I want to concentrate on the start of the season,'' Verlander says. There are no signs from the Tigers that an extension is imminent. Verlander isn't slated to become a free agent until after 2014, but Heyman suggests that Verlander might be less inclined to sign a long-term deal with one year to go before free agency. Here are more notes from the two Central divisions.
- If the Twins were to allow manager Ron Gardenhire to leave, he'd be "unemployed for about 10 minutes," Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues. Gardenhire is in the last year of his contract, and the Twins lost 96 games last season and 99 in 2011.
- GM John Mozeliak and the Cardinals are "primed for long-term success," Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says. The Cards can both strive to win in the present and count on winning in the future, thanks to a strong core and future payroll flexibility.
- The Cubs could be on the lookout for a spare infielder, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports. Manager Dale Sveum likes the recently-released Chone Figgins, saying Figgins "is one who would be interesting because he switch hits and plays the outfield." But don't count on the Cubs acquiring him, since Sveum would rather have a lefty hitter with power.
Some news from around the NL Central...
- The Cubs haven't been in contact with Chone Figgins, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reports. Figgins was released by the Marlins earlier this week and, as Rogers notes, is one of the few veteran options available if the Cubs want to bring in a third baseman.
- Ronny Cedeno has cleared waivers after being released by the Cardinals three days ago, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter).
- Chris Cwik of CBSSports.com analyzes the cost of an Adam Wainwright extension with the Cardinals and figures Wainwright will end up being paid between $21-$23.5MM per season. Talks are ongoing between Wainwright and the Cards and the ace right-hander feels positive that an extension will be settled before Opening Day. Wainwright is eligible for free agency after this season.
- Jonathan Sanchez can opt out of his minor league deal with the Pirates on Sunday if he hasn't been added to the club's Major League roster, but the Bucs have until Tuesday to respond, MLB.com's Tom Singer reports. Sanchez's one-year contract will guarantee him $1.375MM if he makes the roster.
- Also from Singer, he opines that the Pirates' trade for John McDonald is the kind of veteran acquisition a team makes when it believes it will contend. Otherwise, Singer wonders why Pittsburgh would add McDonald to an already-deep middle infield mix.
Cubs starting pitcher and extension candidate Jeff Samardzija struggled on the hill at times tonight, but showed a new way to add value by launching his second long ball of the spring and adding another base hit (along with a sacrifice bunt). Indeed, Samardzija's work on offense was so impressive that he was allowed to take his final plate appearance before being lifted for a reliever in the bottom of the inning. Elsewhere in the National League ...
- With the first four spots in the Padres rotation all but locked down by Edinson Volquez, Clayton Richard, Jason Marquis, and Eric Stults, the club could be eyeing outside options for starter number five, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. Brock notes that in-house options include Tyson Ross, Andrew Cashner, Tim Stauffer, and Freddy Garcia. San Diego was also recently linked to the Tigers' Rick Porcello. GM Josh Byrnes was not shy in acknowledging his interest: "Our scouts are out there, and we're talking to a few clubs."
- Extension discussions between the Cardinals and starter Adam Wainwright still appear to be moving in a positive direction, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Said Wainwright: "I think both sides feel confident something could get done." We learned earlier today that talks were progressing.
- An extension agreement between the Giants and star catcher Buster Posey could take many forms, which serves to complicate negotiations, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Giants and Posey will likely discuss "a three-year deal that buys out arbitration, a different mid-range deal that cuts into free agency and the so-called 'megadeal' that locks Posey into San Francisco for a decade."
- Infielder Ryan Theriot remains unsigned after playing last year with the world-champion Giants, and San Francisco GM Brian Sabean says that the club has "lost contact" with the 33-year-old, reports Schulman. Theriot remains interested in playing, but so far has not received an offer that is "exactly what I'm looking for playing-time-wise." If the right opportunity does not come along, the easy-going Theriot seems to be at peace with moving on from the game to spend time with his young family.
6:53pm: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski vehemently denied that he had proposed any deals involving Porcello, including any offers to the Padres, reports Lynn Henning of The Detroit News. Dombrowski acknowledged that his "phone has been ringing a lot," and added that "this is the best I've ever seen [Porcello] throw the baseball."
12:07pm: The Padres have turned down two offers from the Tigers, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (on Twitter). The Padres declined to take Porcello for Huston Street or Luke Gregerson, a Tigers source told Bowden.
THURSDAY, 8:33am: The Cardinals are checking out Porcello, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter).
WEDNESDAY: The Rangers and Padres are the teams most actively discussing potential Rick Porcello trades with the Tigers, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report. The Orioles have also scouted the right-hander.
Despite the strong interest, rival teams wonder if the Tigers will actually trade Porcello. Instead of making a deal, the Tigers could choose to keep Porcello and use Drew Smyly in the bullpen or as a starter at Triple-A Toledo. The FOX writers report that the Tigers will not move Porcello unless they obtain a strong return.
The Padres made an “aggressive” offer last week and the Tigers rejected it, Rosenthal and Morosi report. Talks with the Rangers are not advanced at this point. The Tigers appear to like shortstop prospect Leury Garcia and right-handed pitching prospect Nick Tepesch. Detroit would want a third player added to the package, but the Rangers are reluctant to move even Tepesch.
The Red Sox could have interest in Porcello, yet they don’t want to reduce their bullpen depth, the FOX duo reports. The Orioles aren’t inclined to pursue Porcello aggressively, as they have many young starting pitchers of their own.
The Tigers also seek a right-handed hitting outfielder. They have talked about re-acquiring Casper Wells from the Mariners, Rosenthal and Morosi report. The Tigers traded Wells to Seattle midway through the 2011 season in the deal that sent Doug Fister to Detroit.
The Cardinals continue talking to the representative for Adam Wainwright about a long-term extension. Agent Steve Hammond recently met with Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. and general manager John Mozeliak to discuss a multiyear deal, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Hammond said he hopes the sides built momentum during a lengthy meeting.
"We want to get something done before Spring Training ends, and that’s our goal," Hammond told Goold. "They have communicated clearly that they want to keep Adam here, and we’ve communicated that he wants to be here. We have to keep working on that."
The sides intend to stay in touch during the coming days. They took a break from extension talks earlier in the offseason, when Wainwright wanted more years than the Cardinals were offering. The Cardinals seem willing to pay Wainwright like a top-of-the-rotation starter, Goold writes.
Wainwright returned from Tommy John surgery to post a 3.94 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 198 2/3 regular season innings in 2012. The 31-year-old will hit free agency next offseason if he doesn’t sign a long-term deal with the Cardinals.
Matt Cain (six years, $127.5MM) and Zack Greinke (six years, $147MM) and are among the right-handed starters whose contracts could provide a framework for Wainwright’s next deal. Earlier this month, Wainwright spoke to MLBTR contributor B.J. Rains about his relationship with Hammond.
Perhaps no player in the game brings as much focus and preparation to his at-bats as Joey Votto, ESPN's Buster Olney details in this must-read profile of the Reds first baseman (Insider subscription required). "It's all about reframing the challenge," Votto said. "I've
stopped caring about runs and RBIs. I care more about how high a
percentage of productive at-bats I can have, how consistently tough and
competitive I can be for the opposing pitcher. That's my goal every
single time I go up there."
Here's the latest from around the NL Central...
- A swap of Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar for Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras "has not been discussed," one of the involved GMs tells Peter Gammons of the MLB Network (Twitter link). Needless to say, such a deal would be a blockbuster; Profar and Taveras rank first and third, respectively, on Baseball America's preseason ranking of the sport's 100 best prospects. Gammons wonders if Profar-for-Taveras would be on the table "if [Scott] Boras didn't represent [Elvis] Andrus," thus making it uncertain if Andrus would sign an extension to remain in Texas.
- Few teams would benefit from signing Kyle Lohse as much as the Brewers, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opines. The Brewers have been adamant about going with younger pitchers and not spending big on veteran starters, but Haudricourt wonders if Lohse could be an option given how some of Milwaukee's current rotation members have struggled during Spring Training.
- Mark Rogers, one of those struggling pitchers, is out of options and the Brewers are looking at several different ways to avoid losing him on waivers, Haudricourt writes.
- Jose Tabata needs to produce to remain with the Pirates, as Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outlines how Tabata is out of options and, if he doesn't make the roster, could be a good trade chip due to his team-friendly contract. Click here for a full list of every player who is out of options this spring.
- From earlier today, the Cardinals released Ronny Cedeno and we heard the Tigers weren't interested in Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol.