Steve Cishek Rumors
Yesterday, MLBTR's Matt Swartz detailed why he projects Giancarlo Stanton will earn $4.8MM in arbitration this offseason. It's a number that could fluctuate, as Swartz notes that Stanton's salary could range between $4-6MM and that he could earn more from a new team if he's traded, as his new club would likely want to avoid "breaking rapport with an ugly negotiation." Here's some more on the team from South Beach...
- Logan Morrison is receiving a lot of trade interest, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi report (Twitter links). Morrison was Miami's most asked-about player at the GM Meetings besides Stanton, and while no deal is close, the Marlins are listening to offers. Morrison is projected to earn a modest $1.7MM in his first time through the arbitration process and hit .242/.333/.375 in 333 PA last season.
- The Marlins are interested in re-signing right-hander Chad Qualls, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports. Qualls posted a 2.61 ERA, 2.58 K/BB, and 7.1 K/9 in 62 relief innings last season, and the veteran reliever "is weighing all of his options" in free agency.
- Also from Frisaro, closer Steve Cishek is "not available as a trade piece." The Marlins were adamant about keeping Cishek last summer and it appears their stance has not changed, even though Cishek will get expensive as a Super Two player. Cishek is projected to earn $3.2MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player this offseason.
- Michael Hill, the Marlins' president of baseball operations, told The Miami Herald's Clark Spencer that his club would prefer to acquire experienced players who still have three or more years of team control remaining. That Major League experience is key, Hill said: "We want talent, but we’ve done our prospect deals. We’re trying to get better and acquire players that help us now, and in the future."
- Hill also seemed to hint that Justin Ruggiano could be a trade chip this offseason.
- The Marlins weren't very close to signing Jose Dariel Abreu, Spencer reports. Miami "dropped out of the bidding early" after they "made a legitimate initial offer" for the Cuban slugger. Abreu eventually signed a six-year, $68MM deal with the White Sox.
Over the next few months, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.
The league is full of young closers nowadays, and they all seem to be entering their first year of arbitration at the same time. There are seven different pitchers with at least 16 saves in 2013 who are entering arbitration for the first time, nearly a quarter of the entire league’s closers. Craig Kimbrel has already been discussed in a previous article and his case is far stronger than any of the other pitchers. Aroldis Chapman has a pretty unique case, if not a better one, because he has been an elite closer for two years and will be opting out of a large contract to go through arbitration. Mark Melancon is different than the others as well, because he only really was a closer in the second half of this season, and only due to injury. However, there are a number of similarities between Ernesto Frieri, Steve Cishek, Greg Holland, and Kenley Jansen, and this article will be about the cases for each of them. The model only sees arbitration salaries of $3.4MM for Frieri and $3.2MM for Cishek, while it sees $4.9MM for Holland and $4.8MM For Jansen. In this article, I will explain why the model is making these predictions and discuss whether the actual salaries will diverge this much.
For relievers, the primary determinants of their arbitration salaries are the number of saves they had in their platform season, and the number of saves they had before their platform season, as well as the number of holds in their platform season and pre-platform season. To a lesser extent, platform-year ERA and pre-platform year ERA are important as well, and innings and strikeouts all play a key role too.
Holland has the most platform year saves of the group, with 47 this past year, on top of the 20 pre-platform saves he had. This number along with his 1.21 ERA explains why he had the largest salary projection of this group at $4.9MM. Although Jansen had fewer saves than the others with 28, his 1.88 ERA was better than Cishek’s 2.33 and far better than Frieri’s 3.80 this past season. Combining that with his 2.22 ERA pre-platform (better than the other three) and his 16 holds, and Jansen is projected nearly as high as Holland, with a $4.8MM estimate. Jansen’s 34 pre-platform saves were also the highest of the four, and his 21 pre-platform holds stood only behind Holland’s 27.
Frieri did have 37 saves in 2013 and 23 more beforehand, which is definitely a good case. Although his 3.80 ERA is high for a closer, his 98 strikeouts are way more than Cishek’s 74, but less than Holland’s 103 and Jansen’s 111. Cishek had 34 saves in 2013 with 18 pre-platform. Frieri is projected to get $3.4MM and Cishek is projected for $3.2MM.
The record for closers entering their first year of eligibility still belongs to Jonathan Papelbon at $6.25MM (until Kimbrel breaks this record). His 41 platform year saves and 72 pre-platform saves puts him well ahead of this group. Even Bobby Jenks’ 30 platform year saves were augmented by his 87 pre-platform year saves, putting him ahead of this group when he got a $5.6MM salary back in 2009.
Looking for pitchers who had similar pre-platform saves as well as platform saves is important, since anyone with three years of closing will have earned more than this group of four will. Holland’s 47 platform year save count and 20 pre-platform year save count are a pretty unique pairing, so it will tough to find a perfect comparable. Everyone with over 40 saves in recent memory during their platform years had more pre-platform year saves.
Brian Wilson’s 38 platform-year saves and 48 pre-platform year saves make for an interesting comparable. In 2010, he earned $4.46MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Of course, his 2.74 ERA is far worse than Holland’s 1.21, so there seems to be a good chance that Holland could top this salary. On the other hand, if pre-platform year saves becomes important, than perhaps J.J. Putz’s 2007 numbers of 36 platform-year saves and 10 pre-platform year saves could be a floor—but he only earned $2.7MM. Given how stale that number is at this point, I don’t see Putz’s name coming up in negotiations. I think that Holland will have a hard time arguing for anywhere over $5MM, which is what John Axford earned last year after accumulating 35 platform year saves and 71 pre-platform year saves, so I think that the $4.9MM estimate is probably about right for him.
For Jansen, his 28 pre-platform saves are on the low side, but his 16 holds, 1.88 ERA, and 111 strikeouts augment his case. He also 34 pre-platform year saves and his 2.22 ERA and 236 strikeouts before his platform year are a strength as well, in addition to the 21 holds he had already accumulated. Andrew Bailey’s 2012 arbitration salary of $3.9MM could come up as a comparable for him. He had 24 saves in his platform-year but 51 in his pre-platform year, so he could be argued to be a ceiling for Jansen based on the pre-platform save total. However, his 3.24 platform-year ERA is far behind Jansen’s 1.88 and Jansen’s holds could help make up for the gap in pre-platform saves. Especially given the fact that Bailey had only 41 strikeouts in his platform season, I could see $3.9MM being a floor for Jansen.
Another potential comparable could be Chad Cordero, who received $4.15MM back in 2007. Although this is a stale number at this point, the 29 saves that Cordero had in his platform year are similar to Jansen’s 28, and even though his 62 pre-platform year saves beat Jansen, his 3.19 ERA and 69 strikeouts fall short of him. Furthmore, Jansen’s holds are really unique for a guy who has mostly been a closer and give him a small leg up on other names that keep coming up. In the end, something in the $4.8MM neighborhood could be a good bet, though I could see him ending up with less than this if platform year saves become too large of a factor.
Looking for comparables for Frieri is tricky if the high ERA comes into play. Even though he accumulated 37 saves in 2013, the 3.80 ERA that went along with them is abnormally high for a closer. In recent years, few such pitchers have met their criteria. Axford had a 4.68 ERA going into last year’s negotiations, which yielded him $5MM, but given that he had 71 pre-platform saves, that would dwarf Frieri’s 23, despite the similar number of saves during their platform years. Chad Cordero’s name might make some sense as well, when he earned $4.15MM in 2007, but his 62 pre-platform year saves are also too many to make for a good comparable and an ERA of 3.19 isn’t so bad either.
Another name that could come up in the negotiations over Frieri’s salary is Juan Carlos Oviedo, who had a 4.06 ERA in 2009. He only had 26 saves though and no pre-platform saves. These factors got him only a $2MM salary, which probably is way below what Frieri will receive. Brian Wilson keeps coming up as a ceiling for Frieri. He had 38 platfrom year saves and 48 pre-platfrom year saves, so he has Frieri on the pre-platform year saves, and his 2.74 ERA is much better as well. His $4.46MM salary will almost definitely exceed Frieri’s.
It’s hard to pick anyone who makes sense in between these numbers so really anywhere from $2MM to 4.4MM seems possible for Frieri. Of course, I suspect he’ll be somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, so I think that the $3.4MM projection is about right.
Cishek had 34 saves last year, but with only 18 pre-platform saves, he probably has a weaker case than these other closers. Pre-platform year saves matter a lot for first-time eligible closers, so looking for his comparables will entail limiting this. Akinori Otsuka seems to line up in some ways, but his projection is very stale. Back in 2007, he earned $3MM after recording 32 saves and a 2.11 ERA, but he only had 3 saves prior to his platform year. Since Cishek’s ERA was 2.33, it could be that $3MM becomes a floor for Cishek. On the other hand, David Aardsma received $2.75MM in 2010 after recording 38 saves, but those were the first of his career. Given his 18 career holds are similar to Cishek’s 16, and his 2.52 ERA is also near Cishek’s, I could see the Marlins trying to hold down Cishek’s salary by suggesting this comparable.
Of course, if Cishek can downplay the importance of pre-platform saves, he may be able to sneak Brian Wilson’s $4.46MM salary into the argument. Wilson had 38 platform year saves, which is similar to Cishek’s 34, and his 2.74 ERA was higher than Cishek’s 2.33. However, I suspect the 48 pre-platform saves will make it hard to make this argument. Cishek coming in near $3.2MM as he is projected, just above Otsuka’s $3MM and Aardma’s $2.75MM seems likely.
Overall, despite the uncertainty and the difficulties in finding perfect comparables, it seems like the model is probably about right on all four of these guys. Although they each may be used as comparables for each other if one or two sign earlier than the others, drawing their salaries closer together based on the similarities between their platform year and pre-platform year saves, I suspect that the large gap in ERA and strikeouts ends up pushing them further apart, as well as Holland’s standout headline of 47 saves.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Marlins were featured as part of MLBTR's Arbitration Eligibles series two days ago, and according to Matt Swartz's projection model, Steve Cishek is set to earn $3.2MM in his first year of eligibility. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro wonders if such a number could make Cishek a trade candidate, as "the organization is probably asking itself if it needs a $3.2MM closer at this point." Cishek will get more expensive in the future, as he will receive an extra arb year as a Super Two player. Still, Miami has shown that it wants to keep Cishek, as the club turned down all trade offers for the stopper last summer before the deadline.
Here are some more items from around the NL East...
- Marlon Byrd would love to return to the Mets this winter, the Pirates outfielder tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. After Byrd was traded to the Buccos in August, Byrd talked to Mets GM Sandy Alderson and told him "thank you for the opportunity at the beginning of the year and thank you for the opportunity to play for a winner. I told him, ‘If you want me back, I would love to come back.’ ” Byrd credits the Mets for giving him an opportunity to revive his career after serving a 50-game PED suspension last year.
- Brad Ausmus has been mentioned as a candidate for the Nationals' manager job, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. The Nats haven't yet asked the Padres for permission to interview Ausmus, who is an assistant to baseball operations in San Diego. Kilgore notes that the Nationals still seem to be in the early stages of their search, as bench coach Randy Knorr and Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams have yet to be contacted about interviews.
- The Phillies under Ruben Amaro have been known for making big offseason splashes but thanks to the team's existing large payroll commitments, "this will be the offseason of the value play," writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. Murphy lists five key elements to the Phils' winter plans, including noting that the club "can't have any untouchables."
- In other Phillies news from earlier today, they outrighted four players off their 40-man roster and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at Philadelphia's arbitration-eligible players,
The Marlins have improved greatly over the course of the season, as evidenced by their 22-17 record since May 31. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes that the team attributes the success to a young core coming together and isn't likely to sell significant pieces to jeopardize that core.
According to Frisaro, Giancarlo Stanton, Logan Morrison, Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn are all considered building blocks and are likely to stay put with the Fish. All of that could change if the Marlins are overwhelmed by a team willing to overpay, but even a package for Cishek would have to start with a team's No. 1 prospect, according to Frisaro. As it stands, the 27-year-old closer is not available.
Ryan Webb and Chad Qualls may still be dealt, as could position players Placido Polanco, Greg Dobbs and Justin Ruggiano. That quintet of veterans has less team control than the untouchables listed by Frisaro, and those players likely aren't seen as core members of the team going forward. It's likely that the Marlins' biggest July trade has already occurred in the form of the Ricky Nolasco trade. The Marlins, according to Frisaro, may be more active on the August waiver trade front than before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
While a deal sounds unlikely, the team has still received plenty of hits on Stanton as well as its many bullpen arms. Ruggiano has also drawn some interest from teams like the Rangers and Yankees, although he's another player the team isn't in a rush to trade.
Former Colorado Rockie Ryan Spilborghs has been blogging for The Denver Post about his experiences playing for the Seibu Lions in Japan this season, and he weighs in on the issue of PEDs in his latest post. While Spilborghs doesn't approve of PED use, he suggests that baseball's long season can push players too far without giving them enough time to recover. A better model may be the schedule adopted by Japan's NPB league, which has teams playing 144 games in about 180 days, Spilborghs says.
Some more notes from around the senior circuit...
- Ike Davis will rejoin the Mets on Friday for their matchup with the Brewers, a source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Davis was demoted on June 10 after hitting just .161/.242/.258 in 207 plate appearances, but work with Triple-A coaches to address a hitch in Davis' swing was apparently successful, as the first baseman has compiled a .293/.424/.667 line with the Las Vegas 51s. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes speculated in a May post that Davis could be a non-tender candidate this offseason.
- The Dodgers are expected to activate outfielder Carl Crawford from the DL as soon as Friday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Los Angeles will soon be faced with a long-anticipated glut of regular outfielders, with Crawford joining Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and sensation Yasiel Puig on the active roster. Manager Don Mattingly acknowledges that it will be a "sticky" situation to manage. It remains to be seen whether the Dodgers will consider moving Andre Ethier, who was given a five-year, $85MM extension just over a year ago.
- While Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers has been the subject of trade dialogue, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that the righty is determined not to let the rumors affect him. "We all hear things. I'm not going to lie. ... But basically I just leave it at that. I hear them, and then don't think about it too much." Gallardo did acknowledge, however, that he had become aware of some of the teams on his no-trade list.
- Though the loss of Jesse Crain to the DL dampens the reliever market, a number of potentially available NL hurlers could help bolster a contender's bullpen, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes. The Cubs' Kevin Gregg has earned 14 saves in 15 opportunities, while the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez is a perfect seven for seven in save chances and could help the Tigers, Rosenthal says. John Axford, Milwaukee's former closer, could also be a useful piece.
- The Marlins could offer Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, or Ryan Webb, as they have power arms in the pipeline and "never mind trading relievers," according to Rosenthal. Both Cishek and Dunn have been effective for the Fish and become eligible for arbitration after this season. Miami could have a tougher time finding a taker for Webb, however, as he's shown discouraging strikeout and walk trends.
- Rosenthal is also less high on the Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon, noting his high salary and declining strikeout rate, and the Brewers' Michael Gonzalez, a lefty who opponents have managed a .746 OPS against despite his high K/9 rate.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Marlins are receiving quite a bit of interest in their bullpen, with left-hander Mike Dunn and righties Steve Cishek, Ryan Webb and Chad Qualls all drawing interest.
While the Fish have hardly enjoyed a successful season, their bullpen has been reasonably effective, ranking 17th with a 3.73 ERA and 16th with a 3.68 FIP. The veteran Qualls is a free agent at season's end, but the rest of the Marlins relievers figure to have higher costs due to the extra team control that they have.
The 28-year-old Dunn is controlled through 2016 and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season. Cishek, 27, is controlled through 2017 and is also arb-eligible for the first time this offseason. Webb is controlled through the 2015 season and is eligible for arbitration a second time this winter. He is making $975K this season.
The Marlins have been said to be open to dealing Webb, but their preference is to hang onto Dunn and Cishek. Of course, Ricky Nolasco has been the Marlins' hottest trade chip, with three teams currently rumored to be in heavy pursuit of the 30-year-old right-hander.
NIck Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked 30 people from around baseball who they would build their team around, regardless of age or experience. The leading vote-getter was Yadier Molina, with Buster Posey in second place. Here's more from today's column..
- There's a lot of uncertainty in the Twins' organization surrounding Justin Morneau. People wonder what happened to his power, which hurts his trade value. The Twins are a very loyal organization so they certainly won't give him away. If a deal for a prospect comes up, however, they would likely let him go.
- When closer Chris Perez is back in action he may be a piece the Indians would look to move. Despite his troubles, he would draw interest considering the shortage of available closers out there. “If a team can get him and he’s amped up because of a change of scenery, that’s all they’re looking for,” said one special assistant to an American League GM. “It’s all about getting bang for your buck during those two months-plus after you acquire him, if you don’t have to give up a lot of inventory to get him.”
- Speaking of closers, the Marlins' Steve Cishek is garnering attention and the Red Sox seem to have interest. However, clubs will have to consider whether he can handle the adjustment of going to a bigger market like Boston or Detroit.
- One National League GM believes that the Red Sox will have to give up on Daniel Bard at some point if things don't turn around. Because of his natural talent, a lot of teams would line up to trade for him in hopes that a change of scenery would turn him around.
- The Phillies declared last week that Jonathan Papelbon was not available, but Cafardo cautions not to believe it, especially in the wake of his public criticism of teammates.
- Nationals right-hander Drew Storen is an interesting alternative for a team looking for a closer. Storen was the Nationals’ closer two years ago but hasn't been as sharp in 2013 as he was in years past.
- Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco could be the first pitcher dealt as we near the deadline, even ahead of Bud Norris. Cafardo says not to be shocked if teams like the Orioles or Giants make a move on him sooner rather than later.
- One scout who saw Manny Ramirez in Taiwan said, “He can still hit with the best of them.” That doesn't mean that a team will be bold enough to sign him, however.
The Marlins are open to trading Ricky Nolasco and could also move right-hander Ryan Webb for the right offer, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports. Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn are not on the market, however, as the Fish had told clubs that the two relievers aren't for sale.
Nolasco's name has come up in rumors at each of the last two July trade deadlines and the buzz continued this past winter during the Marlins' fire sale. Matt Sosnick, Nolasco's agent, said in December that his client would have preferred to be traded elsewhere though Nolasco never officially asked to be dealt. Nolasco is currently enjoying one of the best seasons of his eight-year career, as the right-hander has a 3.61 ERA, 3.35 K/BB ratio and 7.3 K/9 through 13 starts.
A source tells Frisaro that the Marlins would receive a mid-level prospect in return for Nolasco, a fair return given that Nolasco is due to hit free agency this winter. Nolasco is hitting the open market a little later than most (he'll be 31 years old on Opening Day 2014) but he could get a lot of attention this winter given how many injury questions surround most of the other top free agent arms.
Webb, 27, has a 3.30 ERA in 30 innings out of Miami's bullpen this season despite some unimpressive (6.00 K/9, 4.8 BB/9) peripheral numbers. Webb has a 3.43 ERA in 225 2/3 career innings and has been tough on right-handed hitters, holding righty bats to a .248/.307/.286 line over his career. Webb is eligible for arbitration for the second time after this season and came to the Marlins (along with Edward Mujica) from the Padres in November 2010 in the deal that sent Cameron Maybin to San Diego.
Cishek and Dunn will both be arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason. Cishek has had a few shaky outings en route to a 4.50 ERA in 24 innings, though he has held onto the closer's role and recorded five saves. Cishek drew a lot of interest from other teams in March and would probably be ticketed for a non-closing job with a new team. Dunn, a southpaw, has a 3.08 ERA, 8.5 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 26 1/3 IP this season, all slightly down from his career averages of 3.68 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9.
Ken Rosenthal's new video for FOX Sports offers a variety of trade tidbits on the Cubs, Brewers and Marlins.
- Matt Garza of the Cubs makes an intriguing trade candidate, but Rosenthal says that one can't rule out the possibility that the Cubs will keep Garza and extend him a qualifying offer at the end of the season, hoping to collect draft-pick compensation. Scott Feldman might also be traded, but Rosenthal notes that his peripherals indicate he has been lucky so far.
- Alfonso Soriano has only one year left on his eight-year, $136MM contract, which could make him a more attractive trade target than in years past, Rosenthal notes, but Soriano also has a no-trade clause, allowing him to control his destination.
- The Brewers, meanwhile, have fewer trade options, Rosenthal argues. Corey Hart is hurt, Rickie Weeks is in the midst of a poor season, and Aramis Ramirez is owed $16MM in 2014 and has a $4MM buyout on his mutual option the following season. The Brewers will be "reluctant" to trade Yovani Gallardo, whose contract carries him through next season and gives the Brewers an option on his services in 2015.
- The Marlins have received calls on relievers Steve Cishek, Ryan Webb and Mike Dunn, Rosenthal reports.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe ranks all 30 managers in the major leagues. In Cafardo's view, you're doing something right if you're managing in MLB, so there are no negative comments for any of the skippers. Buck Showalter takes third place for his work with the surprise Orioles last season. Rays manager Joe Maddon takes second for his innovative ways. The top spot, however, goes to the Giants' Bruce Bochy. Here's more from Cafardo..
- We learned last week that the Rangers are scouting Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees and one AL scout believes that the Bombers believe they have gone as far as they can with the right-hander. “They would deal him in a heartbeat and then fill in with one of their starters in the bullpen,” said the scout. “If Texas would give up Mike Olt, a deal could get done there.”
- The Marlins' Steve Cishek is drawing considerable interest from teams looking for a reliever. One scout says that the side-arming sinker baller is likely on most wishlists around baseball.
- The Royals are open to moving Luke Hochevar (albeit, for a higher-than-expected price) but they're also willing to trade projected No. 5 starter Bruce Chen.
- The Phillies' Yuniesky Betancourt has improved his visibility and it wouldn't be shocking to see a team deal for him before Opening Day. The shortstop has a March 24th opt out date and he is on the Cardinals' list as they look to replace Rafael Furcal.
- Cafardo believes that there is an obvious trade to be made involving Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello and the Red Sox's Andrew Bailey. However, Boston's rotation is full right now and they already have Allen Webster waiting in the wings.
- One National League GM says that teams will be kicking themselves for missing out on Kyle Lohse, despite the draft pick compensation that he will cost. “That’s the way it’s going to go,” said the GM, “but you also don’t want to overpay for a pitcher who has been hanging around that long. If you can’t get him at your price, then you look foolish paying what he was asking two months ago.” In Cafardo's view, the Rangers are still the most logical destination.
- Manny Acta, who is now serving as an analyst for ESPN, has said that he hopes to get back into managing. However, he says that he's not interested in becoming a GM.