Taylor Tankersley Rumors

Mets To Sign Taylor Tankersley

The Mets have signed left-handed reliever Taylor Tankersley to a minor league deal, the team announced. Dave Gershman of the SPANdemonium blog first reported the agreement, which includes a Spring Training invitation, and MLBTR confirmed the deal.

The team's search for a lefty out of the bullpen began in earnest after losing Hisanori Takahashi and Pedro Feliciano in free agency.  At times the Mets have been linked to some of the stronger left-handed relievers on the market such as Brian Fuentes, but for the most part they have targeted more affordable options this winter.

Tankersley, 28, missed all of the 2009 major league season with an elbow injury.  After seeing limited action as a lefty specialist in 2010, he rejected a minor league assignment and was granted free agency in October.  In four seasons with the Marlins, Tankersley had a 4.58 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9.  The reliever is represented by Tom O'Connell.

Five Potential Bargain Lefties For 2011

Teams are perpetually searching for effective left-handed relievers, so here are five southpaws who could become useful pieces at a bargain price next year. Some of the pitchers below are inching closer to 40, but Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver proved this year that there's no age limit for lefty specialists. The list focuses on pitchers who will likely sign for a couple million dollars at most, so I haven't included Hisanori Takahashi, Scott Downs and others:

  • Randy Choate – The 35-year-old hits the open market as your prototypical 'left-handed one out guy.' He made 85 appearances in 2010, but logged just 44.3 innings. His numbers are strong (8.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 4.23 ERA) and suggest he could play anywhere, but teams that play in homer-friendly parks such as the D'Backs, Rockies and Brewers may take note of Choate's ability to keep the ball on the ground. His 60% ground ball rate ranked 15th among big league relievers with at least 20 innings.
  • Will Ohman – Ohman, 33, recovered from a poor 2009 season and posted a 3.21 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 between the O's and Marlins. He's going to walk hitters, but he can still get lefties out.
  • Ron Mahay – Mahay turns 40 in June, but that didn't stop him from posting a 3.44 ERA this year and striking out three times as many batters as he walked. He's not in position to demand a multi-year deal, but he could help someone's bullpen in 2011.
  • Taylor Tankersley – The 27-year-old is the least predictable of the options listed, but possibly the most intriguing. Tankersley, a former first rounder, has struck out nearly a batter per inning in his big league career and has held lefties to a .223/.313/.372 line. There are drawbacks – he missed the 2009 season with a stress fracture in his pitching elbow and has trouble against righties – but Tankersley would be a good fit for the Pirates, Mets or Mariners at the right price. Why those clubs? As a fly ball pitcher, he probably fits best in a park that limits home runs and as an unproven pitcher, he fits best on a non-contender. That makes Pittsburgh, New York and Seattle potential fits.
  • Brian Tallet – Unlike the pitchers above, Tallet won't necessarily hit the free agent market, but the 33-year-old is a non-tender candidate so he may be available by early December. Tallet, another fly ball pitcher, limited lefties to a stellar .176/.228/.343 line this year with a 28/6 K/BB ratio.

Dennys Reyes' 2010 numbers look OK, but don't let that 3.55 ERA fool you. Reyes posted a 0.54 ERA through May and a 5.91 ERA afterwards. He can induce grounders, but he walks more than one batter per two innings pitched.

Tankersley, Others Hit Free Agency

Taylor Tankersley and a number of others with big league experience recently hit free agency, as Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports. Joining the left-hander on the open market are Bobby Scales (Cubs), Justin Lehr (Reds), Paul Phillips (Rockies), Juan Rincon (Rockies), Hector Luna (Marlins), Anderson Hernandez (Astros), Adam Stern (Brewers), Denny Bautista (Giants), Brandon Medders (Giants), Willie Eyre (Rangers) and Sean Henn (Blue Jays).

Tankersley, the Marlins' first round pick in the 2004 draft, succeeded early in his career, but has since struggled. Still just 27, Tankersley brings a career 8.8 K/9 to the free agent market and could become a lefty specialist. He missed all of 2009 with a stress fracture in his elbow, but it wouldn't be surprising to see a team like the Diamondbacks take a flier on the former prospect.

Bautista, who turns 28 this weekend, is another interesting arm. He posted a 3.74 ERA with the Giants this year and struck out (11.8 K/9) and walked (7.2 BB/9) tons of batters in 33.2 innings. The right-hander has always walked lots of hitters, but his mid-90s fastball and ability to induce strikeouts may tempt teams looking to buy low on live arms.

Odds & Ends: Halladay, Dodgers, De La Rosa

Links for Thursday, as we await another day of playoff games. It will be nearly impossible to match the show Roy Halladay put on in his playoff debut last night, but October baseball is always worth following…

  • Former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he was surprised not to see better offers for Halladay when the right-hander was on the market last year. "We kept sitting there saying, ‘This is Roy Freaking Halladay! Do people know?’ Not only will you have him for this year, but you’ll have him for next year."
  • Dodgers executive De Jon Watson told Tom Krasovic of AOL FanHouse that Zach Lee and James Baldwin are two farmhands to watch. The 2010 draftees are impressing their new organization with their play so far. (Baldwin, the son of former MLB pitcher James Baldwin, is an outfielder.)
  • Krasovic also says the Rockies “likely will lose” Jorge de la Rosa to free agency this winter. GM Dan O’Dowd recently said re-signing the left-hander is an offseason priority for the team.
  • The Marlins outrighted Brett Carroll, Hector Luna, Mike Rivera, Taylor Tankersley and Tim Wood, which means those five players are no longer on the team’s 40-man roster.

Marlins Renew Three

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Marlins renewed the contracts of three pre-arbitration players: Matt Lindstrom, Taylor Tankersley, and Cameron Maybin.  The renewals mean the sides were not able to reach contract agreements, though the players have no real bargaining power anyway.

Stark’s Latest: Dunn, Tankersley, Sherrill

ESPN has a new Trade Deadline blog going; here’s the link.  Jayson Stark already has two entries up, found here and here.  Let’s dig in!

  • The Yankees have explored the idea of acquiring Adam Dunn, though they’re reluctant to meet the Reds’ demands.
  • The Marlins are proposing the idea of swapping lefty Taylor Tankersley for a more experienced one like Brian Fuentes or George Sherrill.  So far, nothing’s cooking.  Tankersley, 25, was demoted to Triple A earlier this month after being bitten by the home run bug.  He dealt with shoulder tendinitis in early ’07.
  • The Rockies instead have their eye on Florida’s Ryan Tucker, a young Double A righty with a mid-90s heater and a 1.41 ERA.  I don’t see that happening.  Stark says they want to push the bidding closer to the deadline though.
  • The Orioles are apparently trying to pry Alcides Escobar or Mat Gamel from the Brewers for Sherrill, but as you know they’re not biting.