Tampa Bay Rays Rumors
The Rays acquired lefty Jeff Beliveau from the Rangers for cash considerations, according to a team press release. Jeff Niemann was placed on the 60-day DL to create a 40-man roster spot for Beliveau, noted Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
Beliveau had been designated for assignment by the Rangers on April 8th, upon their acquisition of catcher Robinson Chirinos from Tampa Bay. Beliveau is not the player to be named later that the Rangers owe the Rays for Chirinos, tweets Topkin.
Beliveau, 26, posted a 3.89 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, and 0.82 HR/9 in 44 relief innings for the Cubs' Triple-A affiliate last year, making his big league debut in July.
Sixty-six years ago today, Jackie Robinson broke baseball's color barrier when he made his Major League debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After an 0-for-3 debut, Robinson went on to hit .297/.383/.427 with 12 home runs, a league-leading 29 stolen bases and won Rookie of the Year honors. As MLB.com's Richard Justice writes, the movie "42" introduces Robinson to a new generation of Americans and helps to immortalize the legacy of one of America's most courageous figures: "Robinson paid an incomprehensible price in the pain he endured and the responsibility he carried," writes Justice.
Baseball as we know it would not be the same were it not for Robinson's courage, talent and perseverance. Here's a look at some news from around the league on Jackie Robinson day...
- In his latest MLB.com mailbag, T.R. Sullivan writes that the Elvis Andrus extension, while risky for the Rangers, is still beneficial to the team. He credits Scott Boras for "astutely putting risk" on Texas.
- Within that same piece, Sullivan writes that the Rangers would trade a package of prospects highlighted by Jurickson Profar "in the blink of an eye" if it meant landing David Price from the Rays or Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America feels that Mark Appel has plenty of leverage in the upcoming draft and will likely sign a bonus in the $6MM neighborhood. As Callis notes, teams can't risk offering something like a $5MM "take it or leave it" offer and signing the rest of their picks. Doing so could ultimately lead to paying over slot to sign Appel, costing them future picks. It's in the best interest of whoever drafts Appel to sign him first, and doing so could prove highly expensive.
- Callis also notes that Appel and Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray have established themselves as the clear-cut top two prospects in the draft.
- Major League Baseball is making progress on its investigation of the Biogenesis scandal, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, it appears MLB is looking for "a smoking gun" before taking what could be its only chance to question players such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun who have been connected to the Miami clinic. Heyman confirms that MLB has purchased Biogenesis documentation, but notes that the MLBPA will be sure to question documents that were produced after a cash transaction.
Here's a look at this week's edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- One problem with figuring out a contract extension for Jeff Samardzija is that there are really no comparables for him. He has only two years of arbitration before coming a free agent but he's also only had one season as a full-time starter. The Cubs want to keep him and Samardzija likes Chicago but he's already made about $17MM over the course of his career. He could develop into a big time ace over the next couple of years and might be willing to gamble a bit for a massive payday on the open market.
- The Cardinals repeatedly got trade requests on Allen Craig, Matt Adams, and Oscar Taveras last offseason, but going forward they should be able to accommodate all three rather easily. They're already using Craig in the outfield at times to work Adams in at first base and rest either Carlos Beltran or Matt Holliday. Next year, Beltran could be gone as a potential free agent and Taveras will be ready to take his place. At that time, the Cards can work the same type of rotation with the three players.
- The Rays could trade David Price at the deadline in the unlikely event that they fall out of contention, but its more likely that they make their move next offseason when he's coming off of a $10MM+ salary with two years of arbitration remaining. It's possible that the club could afford Price for one more year through 2014 with each team's national TV revenue will going from $25MM this season to about $52MM next year. The problem with that is, the closer he gets to free agency, the lower his trade value will be.
- Davey Johnson says its a given that he won't manage the Nationals next season but he also says that he's not anywhere close to wanting a farewell tour. He might be 70, but he also wants to stay in baseball and keep his options open. After the Dodgers fired him in 2000, he went on to eventually manage different teams (Netherlands and the U.S.) in international play, and could do the same once he's done with the Nats.
Matt Harvey has been one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball this season, and the Mets hurler appeared on the Baseball Tonight podcast with ESPN's Buster Olney to discuss how he could have signed with the Angels out of high school (Harvey appears near the 28:50 mark of this audio link). Here's more from the Eastern divisions...
- Tim Wakefield is joining the Red Sox as a special instructor and the honorary chairman of the Red Sox Foundation, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).
- We're less than two weeks into the season, but Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times points out that's long enough for the Rays to delay Wil Myers' free agency by a season if they wish to call him up. The team will need to wait until June to prevent him from reaching Super Two status, however.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that Ben Zobrist is one of the two best players in the game, dating back to 2009, according to WAR. Rosenthal spoke with Baseball-Reference.com founder Sean Forman and Zobrist himself about the statistic.
- The Marlins TV ratings are at an all-time low, according to Clark Spencer and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Spencer writes that the ratings may see an uptick every five days when rookie Jose Fernandez starts, but the fans are simply too bored with the team to care most days.
- Denard Span and B.J. Upton of the Nationals and Braves, respectively, will be on the same field for the first of many times in the coming seasons on Friday, writes Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. Comak writes that there's a chance that this outcome could've come about with the pair's jerseys being flipped, had the offseason played out a bit differently.
The Rays have made a name for themselves as a club that gets the most out of limited resources. So, when they commit $100MM, as they did with Evan Longoria’s six-year extension in November, it’s not too surprising to see Longoria himself refer to the figure as “an insane number.” The 23rd most lucrative extension in baseball history dwarfs the three-year, $28.5MM extension Tampa Bay gave Scott Kazmir in 2008, the team’s second highest entry on that all-time list. The money also clearly establishes Longoria as the focal point for a team that faces uncertainty about whether it will make a similar commitment to David Price.
“Keeping David is the hot topic,” outfielder Sam Fuld told MLBTR. “Everybody’s aware that we do have the ability to keep him long-term, but it’s just a cost-benefit analysis of whether it’s worth doling out X amount of money for David and then having fewer dollars to spend on other guys.”
Ben Zobrist, who signed a four-year, $18MM extension in 2010, doesn’t subscribe to the idea that one high-dollar move necessarily precludes another. He, like Fuld and several other players who spoke to MLBTR this spring, ultimately views Longoria’s extension as a positive. Zobrist doesn’t think Rays management gave too much thought to Price when they were negotiating the deal for Longoria.
“Shoot, I don’t think that that’s what they were sitting around doing,” he said. “Like, hey, let’s do this, and not do this. I think they’re taking it one step at a time. With what we’ve got right now, and what our team’s looking like this year, our goal is to win a World Championship this year. They’ve got to make the best decisions they feel for our organization for this year and beyond. Evan was the step that they were able to make in the offseason, and I’m sure they’re trying to do more.”
Principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters last month that the team can “absolutely” re-sign Price, but he questioned what the Rays could afford to put around the left-hander if they did. Infielder Sean Rodriguez echoed those sentiments, and believes Longoria's deal is a sign of the team's financial mettle.
"When you see somebody that you’re willing to spend the money on and you want to use, whether it’s as the face of the franchise or what not, it says, yeah, we’re willing to spend the money if it’s somebody who’s going to contribute back to the team and we know it’s going to be beneficial for us to keep long term. Then we’ll do it," Rodriguez said. "That’s what they did with Longo. Hopefully they do that with 14 (Price).”
Even if it doesn't break the bank, Longoria’s deal comes with significant risks. Chief among them might be his durability after a partially torn left hamstring limited him to 74 games last season. Longoria will turn 37 in the final guaranteed year of the extension, and conventional wisdom suggests he’ll become increasingly injury prone as he ages. Manager Joe Maddon isn’t worried, though, based on his view that many players become less susceptible to nagging injuries over time as they continue to refine their workout programs and become further accustomed to the daily grind of the major league schedule. The manager also expressed his belief that a lavish contract doesn’t change a player’s approach, citing his five-category system for describing the attitudes of major league players.
“For the most part, I think it just truly puts them into that category five player — all I want to do is win,” Maddon said. "They’ve gone through the other stages of this game and now they can really focus on one thing. The attempt to make a lot of money is gone, and now it’s just about winning only. I think that’s what happens most of the time. You get past, ‘I belong here and now I want to make some dough,’ and they do. Now when they show up at the ballpark there’s only one agenda: winning the World Series.”
Maddon praised Longoria for the way he’s handled the extension, one in which he’s solidified his status as a team leader without fostering envy in a clubhouse otherwise filled with players on much cheaper deals. It’s apparent that there’s no undercurrent of jealousy among his teammates.
“He’s one of the best players in the game; he deserves what he got,” right-hander Jeremy Hellickson said. "We’re happy for him, and it doesn’t really affect us too much.”
Pitchers Alex Cobb and Jeff Niemann said they take comfort in knowing Longoria, who led all major league third basemen in UZR in his last full season, will be at the hot corner for years to come. Hitters said they also see a benefit when a star like Longoria signs for the long haul.
“It’s great; it’s refreshing to see a guy who just really cares about the franchise, and that’s sort of a rarity these days,” Fuld said. “It’s kind of uplifting to everybody else. It really helps us buy into the team idea, because given the trades, releases and uncertainty of the game, it’s difficult sometimes to look at the team aspect of things. It’s easy to individualize things and just worry about yourself, but when somebody makes what some would term a sacrifice, it really puts a lot in perspective and allows us to focus on the team.”
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
We'll keep track of today's minor moves from around the league right here...
- The Rays have acquired catcher Juan Apodaca from the Rangers in exchange for cah considerations, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Apodaca, 26, is a veteran of eight minor league seasons with the Dodgers, Red Sox, Indians and Cubs. He's currently on the DL at Triple-A Round Rock with a forearm strain, but owns a .251/.337/.368 minor league batting line. Topkin notes that this move is unrelated to the recent Robinson Chirinos trade.
Here's a look at the AL East as the Yankees get set to take on Cleveland tonight..
- Blue Jays pitcher Dave Bush has cleared waivers and has been outrighted to Triple-A, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (on Twitter). Bush was designated for assignment yesterday to make room for Mauro Gomez on the roster.
- The Rangers didn't want to give up Chris Davis to land Koji Uehara from the Orioles in 2011, former O's president Andy MacPhail told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Initially, Texas was only willing to part with right-hander Tommy Hunter to get a deal done, but Baltimore wanted Davis too. Last year with the Orioles, Davis hit .270/.326/.501 with 33 homers.
- The Rays' trade of Robinson Chirinos to the Rangers on Monday has left them thin at catcher in the upper levels of their minor league system, writes Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
Chirinos, 28, missed the entire 2012 season after suffering a concussion. In 2011, he hit .259/.343/.376 in 319 Triple-A plate appearances, a disappointing offensive season after a breakout 2010 factored into the Rays acquiring him from the Cubs as part of the Matt Garza trade. After 2010, Baseball America wrote that Chirinos "always had shown an ability to handle the bat and control the strike zone, and now he has developed power to all fields." They also praised his work behind the plate.
Much of what general managers do involves negotiation, but a handful of general managers use a strategy involving arbitration-eligible players that brings an early end to the customary give-and-take. As Tim Dierkes of MLBTR detailed in January, five teams take a stance known as “file to go” or “file and trial” with players who are up for arbitration. Four more clubs dabble in the practice of ending negotiations with players and their agents once the MLB-imposed deadline for the two sides to exchange figures arrives. That forces an arbitration hearing, and that's a venue in which Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman, a file-to-go proponent, has never lost.
Friedman is 5-0 in arbitration, and he won his first case, against catcher Josh Paul in 2006, just months after taking over Tampa Bay’s front office. It seems as though Friedman, with such a sterling record in the courtroom and with the successful turnaround of the small-market Rays on his resume, would relish every chance he gets to outfox his competitors. Yet he told MLBTR that part of the rationale for file to go is to curb the subtle maneuvering that takes place on both sides.
“There are a lot of reasons behind the policy, but the aspect that is most beneficial is that it keeps the discussions leading up to the deadline reasonable and grounded in the overarching point of the process,” he said. “At its heart, the process is meant to pay players fairly for what they’ve accomplished. No more, no less. When both sides are held to numbers that they’ve been artificially forced to swap, it adds a level of gamesmanship to the process that distracts from the real purpose of the whole exercise. Our goal is always to get to a fair settlement that rewards the player for what he’s done. Adding this extra layer only complicates that.”
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that one of the reasons he uses the strategy is to speed up negotiations in an effort to strike a deal before the deadline. It’s unclear whether file to go had a significant effect on the lack of arbitration hearings this year, but the policy hasn’t prevented the Rays from going to trial more often than any other American League team in the time since Friedman’s been in charge.
The Rays came close to going to an even greater number of hearings. They avoided arbitration with three out of four eligible players right before the deadline to exchange figures in 2010. That year, players union executive director Michael Weiner disputed Friedman’s theory that the union put pressure on agents of players negotiating with file-to-go teams.
“With respect to the file-to-go strategy, or the file-and-trial strategy, the union has long believed, and has expressed to the commissioner’s office, that that strategy stands the purpose of salary arbitration on its head,” Weiner told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “Years ago, many clubs took the view that it didn’t make sense to talk until after we exchanged numbers, and to say that we won’t talk if you exchange numbers in our view is not consistent with the way the system was designed to operate. But clubs are entitled to negotiate as they see fit.’’
Friedman told Topkin that, with two more teams adopting file to go in 2010, he thought the union wanted to stop the strategy from becoming more widely used. When Friedman spoke to MLBTR recently, he was quick to dispute the idea that file to go continues to grow across baseball, pointing out that a sizable majority of teams aren’t in the file-to-go camp.
Friedman and the Rays have had 15 potential arbitration cases come up in the last three years, but as our arbitration trackers show, they went to trial with only one of them, against Hendricks Sports client Jeff Niemann in 2012. Niemann was once more eligible for arbitration this past winter, but the two sides avoided a hearing and settled on a one-year, $3MM deal. That was a raise on Niemann's $2.75MM salary from last year, but still not as much as the $3.2MM he asked for going into his hearing in 2012.
Had Niemann gone to trial a second time, he could have followed a path similar to Paul, a Dick Moss client who lost in arbitration to the Rays in back-to-back seasons. When Paul hit free agency the following winter, he didn’t appear to hold a grudge and re-signed with Tampa Bay. Niemann didn’t address his arbitration when he spoke to MLBTR this spring, but he praised the Rays for their ability to develop a deep store of talent and gave no indication of any hard feelings. That’s just the sort of attitude Friedman hopes to foster with file to go.
“Simply put, we think that our policy gives both sides the best chance of getting to a number that each of them can feel good about,” Friedman said. “In essence, it adds a level of rationality to a process that, on occasion, can get emotional. It helps keep us grounded.”
The A's announced that they have acquired catcher Stephen Vogt from the Rays for a player to be named later or cash considerations. To make room for Vogt on the roster, Oakland designated right-hander Dan Otero for assignment.
Vogt, 28, saw time in 18 games for the Rays last season but spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A Durham where he hit .272/.350/.424 in 94 games. The catcher was the Rays' 12th round pick in the 2007 draft and has spent his entire career in the Tampa Bay organization until now.
Otero, also 28, will be changing teams for the third time this winter after going from the Giants to the Yankees to the A's in a pair of waiver moves. The right-hander made 12 relief appearances last season and pitched in 48 games in Triple-A where he posted a 2.90 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9.