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Ted Lilly Rumors
It's only been a couple of months since Ted Lilly decided that his pitching days were over and announced his retirement, but he didn't stay out of the game for long. The Cubs announced today, via press release, that Lilly will join their front office as a special assistant to president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.
Per the release, Lilly will work with young players in Spring Training, visit the team's minor league affiliates over the course of the regular season, evaluate amateur players leading up to the draft and also perform professional scouting assignments.
Lilly spent parts of four seasons with the Cubs from 2007-10, posting a 3.70 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 705 2/3 innings. At the time of his retirement, Lilly called his years with the Cubs the best of his career, noting how grateful he was to have had the opportunity to experience the postseason with a winning team in a "great city."
FRIDAY, 3:26pm: Lilly's agent Larry O'Brien confirmed to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) that his client is retiring.
WEDNESDAY: 1:23pm: Left-hander Ted Lilly's comeback attempt has stalled due to persistent shoulder and back pain, and the 15-year veteran is set to announce his retirement from professional baseball, he told Andreina Salas Guzman Venezuelan news outlet El Universal (Spanish link).
"My body in general is telling me that I can't take any more," Lilly told Guzman. "I feel like I don't have the ability to continue at the Major League level."
Lilly, 37, recently had nerve endings in the right side of his neck cauterized in an attempt to alleviate neck pain that had been hampering his ability to pitch. That procedure seems to have been effective, as he told Guzman his neck feels ok, but he's far from pain free: "It's principally the pain in my back and shoulder. I'm having problems there. I feel like I can't return to being the pitcher I was a few years ago."
Lilly told Guzman that he's disappointed and feels "awful," as he never expected to be forced into retirement when initially traveling to Venezuela for winter ball. He looks back on his first two years with the Cubs fondly, noting that he pitched well and was on a good team in a "great city," calling those seasons the best of his career. Though he tells Guzman that he enjoys teaching baseball and won't rule out coaching in the future, his immediate plans are to spend time with his family, and he won't be seeking a coaching job anytime soon.
Lilly's career will come to a close with a 130-113 record, a 4.14 ERA and 1,681 strikeouts in 1982 2/3 innings of Major League action. Originally a 23rd-round pick of the Dodgers back in 1996, Lilly spent parts of 15 seasons with the Expos, Yankees, Athletics, Blue Jays, Cubs and Dodgers. He earned more than $80MM over the course of his big league career, according to Baseball Reference. Congratulations on an impressive career, and best of luck in life after baseball, Ted.
Thanks to MLBTR's Nick Collias for the translation of Guzman's article.
Persistent neck pain limited Ted Lilly to just 23 Major League innings this season, but the left-hander is playing winter ball in Venezuela with an eye toward getting back to the Majors in 2014, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
Lilly's agent, Larry O'Brien, told Nicholson-Smith that his client visited a cervical spine specialist and had the nerve endings on the right side of his neck cauterized. "The procedure has given him relief," O'Brien told Nicholson-Smith.
Lilly, 38 in January, is aiming for 35-40 innings this winter. The 15-year veteran totaled just 71 2/3 innings over the final two seasons of his three-year, $33MM contract with the Dodgers. He totaled a 3.74 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 975 innings between the Cubs and Dodgers from 2007-11 — his age 31-35 seasons.
Lilly got off to a strong start in 2012, pitching to a 1.79 ERA through his first seven starts. In his eighth and final start, however, he yielded eight runs in 3 1/3 innings. He missed the remainder of the season with shoulder pain before undergoing surgery on his left labrum in September that year. Lilly returned in 2013 to post a 5.09 ERA in his 23 innings. Lilly has a long history of injuries, as he's only topped 200 innings twice in his career, but signing him would come with little to no risk for a team in need of rotation depth and a veteran presence.
5:44pm: Upon reviewing Lilly's medical history, the Giants decided to hold off on pursuing a minor league contract at this time, MLBTR has learned. As we had mentioned earlier, his agreement had been pending a physical.
1:45pm: The Giants have signed lefty Ted Lilly, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. MLBTR has confirmed the minor league deal, which is pending a physical. Lilly, 37, was designated for assignment by the Dodgers last month and released a few days ago. The Dodgers are on the hook for the remaining $3.7MM or so on his contract, less the prorated portion of the league minimum of Lilly returns to the Majors with San Francisco. Lilly is represented by Larry O'Brien of Full Circle Sports Management.
Lilly joined the Dodgers from the Cubs at the 2010 trade deadline. In October that year, he signed a below-market three-year, $33MM deal in lieu of exploring free agency again. He was solid in 2011, but missed most of 2012 due to shoulder pain, culminating in September surgery. This April, the Dodgers faced a rotation surplus after signing Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, and got into a standoff with Lilly when he refused a minor league assignment. Lilly eventually made a couple of starts that month when Chris Capuano went down, but went on to have separate DL stints for rib cage and neck injuries prior to his release.
The Giants make sense for Lilly in that he's a California native, though with Ryan Vogelsong slated to come off the DL Friday, the Giants don't appear to have a rotation spot for the southpaw unless they trade Tim Lincecum or move Chad Gaudin or Barry Zito to the bullpen. A relief role is also possible for Lilly, however.
AUGUST 4: The Dodgers have requested unconditional release waivers on Lilly, a source told Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Lilly will become a free agent, if he goes unclaimed during the 48-hour waiver period.
JULY 25: The Dodgers have designated veteran left-hander Ted Lilly for assignment to clear a roster spot for utility player Elian Herrera, the team announced on Twitter. Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles adds (via Twitter) that the move comes as a result of a disagreement on whether or not Lilly would head to the minor leagues to adjust to a relief role.
Lilly, 37, is in the final season of a three-year, $33MM pact that he signed with the Dodgers prior to the 2011 campaign. He's battled injuries for much of the past two seasons, as evidenced by four separate DL stints since the onset of the 2012 season. He had shoulder surgery last September and has thrown just 23 innings for the Dodgers thus far in 2013. He hasn't pitched at the Major League level since June 4.
Lilly's role with the team has been in question all season, following last season's August acquisition of Josh Beckett and the offseason signings of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Much was made of the Dodgers' surplus of starting pitchers prior to the season, as Lilly, Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano all appeared to have lost their rotation spots due to the aforementioned acquisitions. Now, only Capuano is left with the big league club, while Beckett and Chad Billingsley have been lost to season-ending injuries.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Agent Jamie Murphy of TWC Sports, in an interview on Buster Olney's Baseball Tonight podcast on ESPN, says that client-stealing by other agents isn't particularly prevalent in baseball. When players do change agents, Murphy says, it's mostly "for the right reasons," such as, for example, a player changing from an inexperienced agent to a more experienced one. Murphy represents Nick Markakis, Mark Ellis and David Aardsma. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Ted Lilly will start for the Dodgers next Wednesday, with Chris Capuano heading to the disabled list with a calf strain, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News writes. The Dodgers had a brief standoff with Lilly last weekend when the lefty refused a minor-league rehab assignment. That flareup was resolved, but it still wasn't clear whether the Dodgers might trade Lilly. But with Zack Greinke and Capuano on the DL and Aaron Harang gone via trade, the Dodgers' quandary about what to do with Lilly appears to be resolved, at least for now.
- Former Mets GM Omar Minaya credits former scouting director Rudy Terrasas with advocating for Matt Harvey when New York picked him No. 7 overall in the 2010 draft, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. "Rudy Terrasas was the one who brought him to my attention. Rudy deserves a lot of the credit for this one," Minaya says. "The thing that impressed me most about Harvey was the way he sustained velocity. He was throwing 96, 97 late in the game. He’s doing that now, and he had that when I saw him in college." Harvey has pitched brilliantly so far this season, posting an 0.82 ERA while striking out 25 batters and walking six in his first 22 innings.
5:55pm: Lilly has agreed to make another minor league rehab start, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Presumably, this will buy the Dodgers a bit of time to make a decision, but the clock is still ticking.
7:44am: The Dodgers are at a standoff with lefty Ted Lilly after the 14-year veteran refused a minor league assignment Saturday, reported MLB.com's Ken Gurnick yesterday. The team must activate him, designate him for assignment, release him, or trade him.
"We laid out a plan and Teddy doesn't want to be part of the plan. It's out of my hands. We didn't feel he was ready to pitch at the Major League level. For me, it's a baseball decision. It's nothing personal in any way, shape or form. We're giving him our baseball thoughts, what we think is best for him and the team," manager Don Mattingly told Gurnick.
Mattingly did say using Lilly in relief is a possibility, though the team (and perhaps the pitcher) is not enamored of the idea.
Lilly began the 2012 season on the disabled list with a neck injury, and in May hit the DL again with shoulder inflammation. That ended his season, and he had shoulder surgery in September. Still recovering, he began this year on the DL as well. He's made two minor league rehab starts, allowing five earned runs in six innings in each. The Dodgers recently moved Chris Capuano to their rotation to replace the injured Zack Greinke.
The Dodgers created a rotation surplus this winter in signing Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but they received little for Aaron Harang earlier this month and Lilly has been similarly devalued. Lilly is earning $12MM this year, so the Dodgers would again have to pick up a significant portion to move him. They could certainly buy some time by sticking him in the bullpen, though doing so repeatedly with veteran starters is not a great way to do business. In the long-term, this Harang/Capuano/Lilly situation could dissuade some mid-level players from signing with the Dodgers.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
The Brewers' Kyle Lohse visited with his old team in the Cardinals' clubhouse on Saturday, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reports. Lohse signed with the Brewers after a long offseason that began with Lohse and his agent, Scott Boras, declining the Cardinals' qualifying offer. There wasn't much of a market for Lohse after that, mostly because the team that signed him would have to sacrifice a draft pick. He finally signed a three-year, $33MM deal with the Brewers. Lohse reflects on the twisting path that led him to Milwaukee: "[Declining the Cardinals' qualifying offer] makes me look bad, [because] that's a lot of money. But is it fair value for what I had done? No," says Lohse. "Even going back on it, I'd still do the same thing. You have to go out and take your chances. Now, going forward, I don't know what other people in my situation are going to do." Here are more notes from the National League:
- Ted Lilly's status with the Dodgers is in question, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes. The Dodgers asked Lilly to make two more rehab starts, but Lilly declined, feeling he is ready for the majors. The Dodgers don't currently have a job available for him on their crowded pitching staff, however. The Dodgers would reportedly like to trade Lilly, who they owe $12MM in 2013.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson denies recent rumors connecting his team to the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Balasis of MetsMerized Online reports. Alderson says his team has not had talks with the Marlins since early spring. Alderson also says the Mets will not trade catcher John Buck.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that baseball could eventually return to Montreal. While it has always been known as a hockey town, Montreal has been responsible for such great baseball talent as Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Gary Carter, “Le Grand Orange,” Rusty Staub, Tim Raines, Marquis Grissom, Cliff Floyd, Randy Johnson, Dennis Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Larry Walker, Andres Galarraga, Moises Alou, Vladimir Guerrero, and Tim Wallach. The city is looking into the possibility of giving Expos fans something to cheer about again and they claim that the strength of the Canadian dollar coupled with revenue sharing can help make it work. Here's more from Cafardo..
- Pitcher Bud Norris improved his stock after he beat the Rangers on Opening Day and he should bring the Astros a good haul between now and the trade deadline. One longtime National League adviser believes that the Rangers might be the team to scoop him up.
- After unloading Aaron Harang in yesterday's trade with the Rockies, the Dodgers would still love to find a taker for Ted Lilly, who earns $12MM this year. However, there has been little to no interest in the veteran so far.
- There aren't many people who think that the recently re-signed Jose Valverde can be the Tigers' closer, but could add to their mix in the bullpen. One AL evaluator feels that they have to move and get themselves a proven closer in a hurry.
- Kip Wells, soon to be 36, is available and throwing 93 miles per hour, according to his agent, Burton Rocks. The veteran reliever made seven starts over the summer for the Padres last season.
Here's the latest from the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo:
- Pitcher Bud Norris of the Astros has "drawn interest from at least six teams," but Houston does not appear interested in trading him.
- The Yankees have had discussions about Lyle Overbay, who could platoon with Juan Rivera at first base in Mark Teixeira's absence. Overbay is currently with the Red Sox, but he has an out clause in his contract that he can trigger on Tuesday.
- The Red Sox aren't inclined to deal reliever Clayton Mortensen, even though he is out of options.
- The Orioles, Brewers, Indians, White Sox, and Mets have all had "internal discussions" about surplus Dodgers starters Chris Capuano, Ted Lilly and Aaron Harang, and scouts feel that the Dodgers will ultimately trade at least one of them.
- The White Sox are looking for another starter because John Danks, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, has struggled this spring, allowing 21 runs in 11 innings.