Tim Byrdak Rumors

NL East Notes: Braves, Nationals, Hairston, Byrdak

The Phillies and Braves will be buyers this month, the Mets appear to be sellers, the Nationals will be 'buyers and sellers' and the Marlins are fielding inquiries on their players. Here's the latest on the NL East…

Mets Are Shopping K-Rod, Byrdak, Isringhausen

The Mets are making it clear to other teams that they're looking to move relievers Francisco Rodriguez, Tim Byrdak, and Jason Isringhausen, two sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.

"They are really trying to move Isringhausen, and also Byrdak and K-Rod (before the trade deadline)," said one of the sources. "Those guys have pitched well, and they could help somebody."

Their actions, Martino writes, do not yet indicate that they're giving up on this season.  The club could trade a reliever or two and still claim to be serious about this year.  However, it does seem that they will look to sell and build towards the future.

Rodriguez's situation is complicated by his 2012 contract option, which vests if he finishes 55 games.  At present, K-Rod is on pace to finish 61 games this year.  The right-hander will earn $17.5MM in '12 if his option kicks in but can be bought out for just $3.5MM if he falls short of the mark.

Tim Byrdak Has An App For That

Let's face it: our constant desire for baseball transaction news is insatiable, but there isn't much logic to it. Whether our favorite team signs a left-handed reliever in December or January will have little effect on the upcoming season.

But a person with a vested interest in offseason signings is, naturally, the player himself. A guaranteed Major League deal as opposed to a simple invitation to Spring Training is the difference between someone asking you to move to a new city with a guaranteed income and asking you to come for a few weeks to play a lottery ticket.

So it should come as no surprise that Mets reliever Tim Byrdak, who has pitched for five Major League teams and numerous minor league outfits, has the MLB Trade Rumors app on his iPhone. Every rumor, whether involving him or one of his lefty specialist brethren, has the potential to completely shake up his life and uproot his family.

"You do everything you can to keep your job, and I felt like I put up pretty strong numbers," Byrdak said as we chatted in front of his locker last week. Byrdak noted that he'd pitched through a sports hernia last year, though his results against lefties (a .644 OPS, 8.0 K/9, 3.0 BB/9) hardly suffered as a result.

"I thought we'd have more of an opportunity to secure a big-league job," Byrdak continued. "So you have to keep watching the wire, MLB Trade Rumors, all these sites to see who is going where, who has interest in guys. So it became a pretty valuable tool for me to keep an eye on other lefties that were still on the market, and how that market was developing."

What may seem like a minor post to a reader about a team's interest in a middle reliever is seismic to someone like Byrdak, and he found it hard to avoid getting frustrated by some of the things he read.

"There were a couple [of times]," Byrdak said. "You would hear from a couple of different teams, and you thought you'd be starting the negotiation process. People have asked me, 'How come I don't play for the White Sox' [Byrdak is from nearby Oak Forest, IL], and I tell them, 'Well, you know, they've never offered me a job."

Apparently, the White Sox did express some interest, raising Byrdak's hopes of a homecoming.

"They said last year, they were going to offer me a minor league deal, but we didn't know what they were going to do with [Chris Sale], what they were going to do with [Matt] Thornton – was he going to close for them – and then all of the sudden, out of nowhere, I read on MLB Trade Rumors that they signed Will Ohman to a two-year deal.

"So there were times that you'd be talking to a team, and then you'd read that they had interest in somebody else, and it was kind of a shock."

After three seasons with Houston, Byrdak worked hard not to worry too much about the process all winter. But he acknowledged the difficulty in being unable to tell his family just how their next few months would unfold.

"The whole adversity of it was the wait-and-see," Byrdak explained. "You want to do everything you can to prepare for the season. But it's nice to have, in the back of your mind, knowing where you're going to be. It was different for me and for my family."

Over the course of the offseason, Byrdak had a number of other minor league offers. Ultimately, after waiting for a Major League deal that never came, he signed with the Mets on January 21, and made the team with a strong spring.

"I read somewhere, Chad Durbin said the same thing, that you've got to take what was out there," Byrdak said. "There wasn't a big-league job out there for us to get. I'm a guy who usually is coming into camp – you're in shape – but it's about getting your arm strength, getting everything together without the pressure. It was different this year. You have to compete, put up zeroes as early and often as you can."

Now with a Major League roster spot secured, Byrdak plans to use the 2011 season as proof to the 29 other teams that he deserved more security.

"You want to prove to all of those teams that they were wrong," Byrdak said. "It's a little extra incentive to go out there and have the best year you can."

And if Byrdak excels for the Mets in 2011, that article he seeks – Byrdak Signs Long-Term Deal – could pop right up on MLB Trade Rumors. You may read it and have little reaction. But in the Byrdak household, the response will be huge.

East Notes: Joba, Wieters, O’s, Damon, Durbin

Some items from the AL and NL East as the eastern clubs dive into Grapefruit League action…

  • Joba Chamberlain won't be a Yankee by this time in 2012, predicts Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.
  • Matt Wieters is listed as one of "the most disappointing prospects of all time" by Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus.  "His glove and the dream of what might have been will keep him around for years, but stardom now seems spectacularly unlikely," Goldman writes.  Given that Wieters is entering just his third Major League season and hasn't turned 25 yet, this ranking seems awfully premature.
  • The Orioles' farm system lacks depth, especially in comparison to its AL East rivals, writes FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.  "The team’s offseason moves…represent nothing more than a Band-Aid," Rosenthal says, noting that the O's "are practically a zero" when it comes to international scouting.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined these issues in his offseason-in-review piece about Baltimore earlier today.
  • Johnny Damon tells Ken Davidoff of Newsday that his free agent discussions with the Yankees this past winter involved a scenario that would have seen Damon make three starts per week for New York.  Damon turned the deal down since the lack of playing time would have hurt his quest for 3000 hits. 
  • Damon also tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link) that had he known the Tigers weren't going to bring him back, he would have gone to the Red Sox when Boston claimed him on waivers last August.
  • The Phillies made Chad Durbin a $2MM offer in December, considerably more than the $800K deal Durbin eventually signed with Cleveland, reports MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.  Once Philadelphia signed Cliff Lee, however, the team pulled back the contract and instead offered just a minor league deal.  "When Cliff signed, it took any ability to go back there on a Major League deal off the table," Durbin told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  Durbin doesn't have any hard feelings towards the Phillies over the move: "You know, I'd take Cliff Lee over Chad Durbin."
  • Anthony DiComo of MLB.com looks at the twists and turns of Tim Byrdak's baseball career.  The veteran left-hander is trying to make the Mets' Opening Day roster after signing a minor league deal with the team in January.

Mets To Sign Tim Byrdak

The Mets have agreed to sign left-handed reliever Tim Byrdak to a minor league deal, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter). Mike Silva of the New York Baseball Digest first reported the deal.

Byrdak posted a 3.49 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 38 2/3 innings for the Astros last year before they outrighted him off of their 40-man roster in November. Byrdak has a career ground ball rate of 40.9%, but that figure dropped to 28.6% in 2010, the 37-year-old's ninth big league season.

Earlier this week, Mets manager Terry Collins said he'd like to add another left-handed reliever to complement newcomer Taylor Tankersley.

Mets Negotiating With Tim Byrdak

The Mets and left-hander Tim Byrdak have "mutual interest" in each other and have been discussing a contract, according to Mike Silva of the New York Baseball Digest.  Silva thinks a deal could be finalized within "the next couple of days."

We heard earlier today that the Mets were looking for southpaw relief help, and Byrdak fits that bill, holding left-handed batters to a .202/.296/.380 line in his nine Major League seasons.  Byrdak, 37, has a 3.46 ERA over the last four seasons but also averaged five walks per nine innings in that stretch; it's actually an upgrade from his career 5.5 BB/9 rate.  Byrdak spent the last three seasons with the Astros, who released the southpaw in November.

Astros Outright Chacin, Byrdak; Sign Corporan

MONDAY, 10:31am: The Astros have released Byrdak, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

WEDNESDAY, 1:26pm: The Astros outrighted Tim Byrdak, Gustavo Chacin and Matt Nevarez off of the 40-man roster, according to a team press release. Byrdak and Chacin were both arbitration eligible, but MLBTR had identified them as non-tender candidates earlier in the month. Nevarez will be assigned to the Astros’ Triple-A Oklahoma City roster; Byrdak and Chacin can become free agents.

Byrdak, a 37-year-old lefty, posted a 3.49 ERA in 64 relief appearances (38 2/3 innings) with 6.8 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9. Chacin, also a left-hander, posted a 4.70 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 38 1/3 innings of work. It was his first appearance in the major leagues since 2007, when he was still with the Blue Jays.

The team also signed catcher Carlos Corporan to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training. The 26-year-old has just one major league plate appearance to his name (he singled), but he has a .251/.306/.377 line in over 2,000 minor league plate appearances.

Odds & Ends: Byrdak, Rangers, Storen

Sunday night links..

  • The Astros have agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM with pitcher Tim Byrdak, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.  The dollar figure is the midpoint between Houston's offer and Byrdak's submission.  The agreement leaves Wandy Rodriguez as the team's last remaining arbitration eligible player.
  • Boston's international scouting efforts are starting to yield some results, writes Daniel Barbarisi of The Providence Journal.  Of the twelve minor leaguers at this year's rookie development program, six of them were foreign-born.
  • Jon Heyman of SI (via Twitter) hears that Chuck Greenberg's group will pay $570MM for the Texas Rangers, though he notes that is unconfirmed.
  • While all eyes are on Stephen Strasburg in Washington, right-hander Drew Storen is trying to make the Opening Day roster, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com.  The Nationals used their other first-round selection, tenth overall, to select Storen in the 2009 draft.

Astros, Hunter Pence Avoid Arbitration

The Astros have avoided arbitration with Hunter Pence, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.5MM, tweets Alyson Footer of MLB.com.  The signing leaves Houston with two remaining arbitration-eligible players: Wandy Rodriguez and Tim Byrdak.

Pence received his first All-Star selection in 2009, hitting .282/.346/.472 with 25 homers. He also played a solid right field, recording a UZR/150 of 5.3.

This was the 26-year-old outfielders' first time being arb-eligible.  The two parties met in the middle as Pence submitted a figure of $4.1MM and Houston submitted $3.1MM.

Odds & Ends: Tatis, Astros, Ludwick, A’s

Some links for Friday…

  • Buster Olney of ESPN tweets that the Nationals have put Josh Willingham on the market once again.  If they move the soon-to-be 31-year-old, it could clear the way for Adam Dunn to be moved to the outfield.  Willingham recently avoided arbitration with the Nats, agreeing to a one-year, $4.6MM pact.
  • Mike Puma of the New York Post hears that the Mets could bring Fernando Tatis back if they don't re-sign Carlos Delgado. However, the Mets have not contacted Tatis' agent.
  • The Astros appear unwilling to talk multi-year deals with arbitration-eligible players Wandy Rodriguez, Hunter Pence and Tim Byrdak, according to Ed Price of AOL FanHouse (via Twitter).
  • The Cards and Ryan Ludwick avoided arbitration and agreed on a one-year $5.45MM deal for 2010, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • A's prospect Grant Desme is retiring from baseball to "pursue the priesthood," according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Baseball America ranked Desme the club's eighth-best prospect this offseason.
  • Craig Brown of Royals Authority doesn't see why the Royals signed Scott Podsednik if they were going to add Rick Ankiel, too.
  • Tyler Hissey ranks the remaining free agents. Check out our comprehensive free agent list right here.
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears that the Mariners have been working on possible deals involving Jose Lopez.
  • Olney says Jim Thome is talking with a few teams.
  • Could the Brewers lock Prince Fielder up to a deal that keeps the first baseman in Milwaukee after the 2011 season? MLB.com's Adam McCalvy asked Brewers GM Doug Melvin if the club might extend Fielder soon and Melvin said: "I don't know the answer to that."
  • Meanwhile, another big left-handed slugger is just looking for a job. Jim Thome remains available, but White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen tells MLB.com's Scott Merkin that he's happy to rotate players in and out of the DH spot this year.
  • The Pirates, who are likely done making major moves this offseason, project to have an Opening Day payroll of $35.65MM, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog tweets that the Mets are close to making a deal.
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says he's going to "tweak and add" before the season starts, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.