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Tim Stauffer Rumors
JUNE 17: The Twins have released Stauffer, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link).
JUNE 10: The Twins have designated right-hander Tim Stauffer for assignment, tweets MLB.com’s Betsy Helfand. Right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take Stauffer’s spot in the bullpen for Thursday’s contest.
After a long stint of relatively successful but injury-marred seasons with the Padres, Stauffer became a free agent for the first time this past winter. He signed a one-year, $2.2MM contract with the Twins and was said to have a shot at a rotation slot in Spring Training, but the expectation was that he’d slot into the team’s bullpen, which he indeed wound up doing.
However, the 33-year-old Stauffer has not been able to replicate the success he found with the Padres. In 15 innings with the Twins, Stauffer has surrendered an alarming 13 runs (11 earned), issuing seven walks against just six strikeouts. Stauffer missed time this season with an intercostal strain, which may or may not have something to do with the fact that his average fastball velocity declined from 90.6 mph in 2014 to 88.7 mph in 2015.
Tonkin, 25, has been up and down with the Twins over the past three seasons. The 6’7″ hurler has ranked among the Twins’ Top 30 prospects in three offseasons, per Baseball America, but he’s yet to receive an extended look as a member of the bullpen. It would seem that this may be that opportunity for him, however. Tonkin has averaged 93.9 mph on his fastball and pitched to a 3.76 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 45 percent ground-ball rate in 38 1/3 big league innings dating back to 2013. His Triple-A numbers are markedly better, as he’s posted a 3.22 ERA with 9.9 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings there.
Former AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito is throwing for “select group” of teams on Tuesday, agent Scott Boras tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). Zito, who sat out the 2014 season, is eyeing a return to the game and hopes to sign with a team before Spring Training. He last followed up a respectable 2012 season with a dismal 2013 campaign, pitching to a 5.74 ERA with 5.8 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 133 1/3 innings for the Giants.
Here are a few more pitching notes from around the game:
- Ronald Belisario‘s contract with the Rays can max out at $1.8MM if he reaches all of his incentives, tweets CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. Belisario inked a minor league pact with the Rays over the weekend just days after a similar deal with the Blue Jays fell through. The right-hander will compete for a spot in Tampa’s bullpen this spring.
- The Twins are open to adding some relief help, according to previous reports, but Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the team isn’t showing interest in righty David Aardsma at this time. The former Mariners closer, who enjoyed a strong season with the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in 2014, will audition for clubs next Monday.
- Speaking of the Twins‘ bullpen, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger did his best to sort out the many candidates in his latest Twins Inbox column. In addition to his take on who is most likely to comprise Minnesota’s relief corps in 2015, Bollinger notes that offseason signee Tim Stauffer will get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation, despite the fact that most believed he was signed as a bullpen addition.
Though he receives only a $2.2MM guarantee, recently-signed Twins righty Tim Stauffer can earn significantly more through incentives, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Stauffer can max out his deal at a total of $3.95MM ($1.75MM bonus) if he makes 55 appearances in the coming season. He can earn $250K bonuses upon his 15th, 18th, 21st, 24th, and 27th appearances, land $100K for the 45th time he takes the hill, and nab another $250K at number fifty-five.
Here’s more from the central divisions:
- The Brewers and Indians are among the teams on the market for late-inning relief help, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. Neither team intends to “spend big,” however, Rosenthal adds. Several established pen arms remain available through free agency.
- We heard yesterday that righty Scott Baker had interest from five clubs that were offering minor league deals. The Reds are one of the teams pursuing the veteran, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, whereas the Twins are not involved.
- The White Sox could still cut Dayan Viciedo loose this spring after agreeing to avoid arbitration, writes SB Nation’s Jim Margalus, but the club would still be on the hook for a portion of his $4.4MM salary. Margalus breaks down recent instances of such scenarios, but explains that the actual cost to teams (as well as the presence or results of any grievance proceedings) remains largely unknown publicly. At this point, a spot as a bench bat seems the likeliest outcome, though a trade is still possible.
The Twins announced that they have signed right-hander Tim Stauffer to a one-year, $2.2MM contract. To make room on the 40-man roster, Eric Fryer has been outrighted to Triple-A. Additionally, Minnesota announced that Chris Parmelee, who had been designated for assignment to clear room for Ervin Santana, was outrighted to Triple-A as well.
The 32-year-old Stauffer, a client of agent Ron Shapiro (who also represents Joe Mauer), has spent his entire career to date with the Padres since being selected fourth overall in the 2003 draft. Though he hasn’t necessarily lived up to expectations that might be associated with his draft selection, Stauffer has quietly notched a 3.37 ERA in 480 1/3 innings dating back to the 2009 season. He’s battled injury problems a bit in his career, undergoing surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder and to repair a flexor strain in his right arm, but Stauffer has a clean bill of health over the past two seasons.
In that time, he’s worked almost exclusively as a reliever with mostly positive results. Since 2013, he’s notched a 3.63 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate. Estimators such as FIP (3.30), xFIP (3.23) and SIERA (3.04) praise his work in those two campaigns.
Presumably, Stauffer will be working as a reliever for new manager Paul Molitor, though he certainly has proven that he can step into the rotation to make a spot start, should the need arise. (He posted a 3.73 ERA in 185 1/3 innings for the Padres back in 2011 and started three games in 2014.) He’ll join Casey Fien as a right-handed bridge to All-Star closer Glen Perkins.
Former Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who left the organization after he was not selected as a finalist for their managerial opening, has joined the Cubs‘ coaching staff, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Martinez will assume the familiar role of serving as Joe Maddon’s bench coach, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. That the well-respected Martinez wasn’t named a finalist in Tampa’s managerial search surprised many. He’s previously interviewed for other managerial gigs and is widely considered to be have a chance to manage in the Majors someday. Heyman also notes that Brandon Hyde, who was expected to serve as bench coach on what was a full Cubs staff, will be re-assigned, but the team is expected to move him to a significant role.
A few more notes from around the National League…
- The Braves announced today that former Padres vice president/assistant general manager Chad MacDonald will join the front office as a special assistant to president of baseball operations John Hart. MacDonald, according to the release, will be involved in all facets of Atlanta’s scouting efforts, including international, amateur and professional scouting. He’s previously served as the Mets’ director of scouting and both the assistant director of scouting and director of international scouting for the Diamondbacks.
- Interest in Justin Upton has increased since the Braves signed Nick Markakis, Heyman tweets. ESPN’s Jayson Stark hears that the Braves have fielded more than a dozen calls on Upton, who is considered by many to be the best available bat on the trade market (Twitter link). Atlanta is still in no hurry to move Upton, Stark adds.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, meanwhile, tweets that it’s still possible the Braves will trade Evan Gattis and hang onto Upton in order to at least position themselves to collect a draft pick should Upton depart following the 2015 season.
- The Giants‘ priorities at the Winter Meetings (and beyond) are third base and starting pitching, tweets Rosenthal. The team is in need of a left fielder but feels that Juan Perez, Gregor Blanco and Travis Ishikawa are all capable of handling the position. They’re not ruling out signing a free agent outfielder, but that priority has taken a back seat to the rotation and the hot corner.
- The Padres are one of a number of to reach out to free agent righty Tim Stauffer, tweets Jeff Saunders of the San Diego Union Tribune. The 32-year-old Stauffer, formerly the fourth overall pick in the draft, posted a 3.50 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 64 1/3 innings (three starts, 41 relief appearances) for the Friars this past season. Friar has worked as a reliever in recent seasons but hurled 185 2/3 innings of 3.73 ERA ball for San Diego back in 2011.
Padres assistant general manager Josh Stein recently sat down with Chris Bauer of PadresPublic.com for a lengthy and insightful interview that’s worth reading not only for Friars fans, but for anyone interested in player evaluation, scouting and the ever-growing role of analytics in front offices. Stein discusses the building of the Padres’ player information database and the importance of blending live scouting, video and statistical data. “Player evaluation ultimately is a decision,” said Stein. “Like any decision you make, you’re going to have a number of pieces of information to take into account. … Some of those pieces of information will be easier to explain with words based on an experience and some will be easier to quantify with numbers.”
Here’s more from the NL West…
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer press speculates that if the D’Backs hire Dave Stewart as their GM — which appears to be a near-certainty — and look outside the organization for a new manager, Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach would be a logical candidate (Twitter link). As Berardino notes, the 52-year-old Steinbach has a longstanding relationship with both Stewart and D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa. Steinbach, a three-time All-Star as a player, was Stewart’s catcher in the late 80s and early 90s on an A’s team that was, of course, managed by La Russa.
- Rafael Betancourt is already planning on playing in 2015, and the Rockies are open to having him back, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. Harding spoke with Rockies skipper Walt Weiss about the possibility of bringing Betancourt back as a free agent, who said that Betancourt’s makeup alone makes him a desirable target. Betancourt, who will turn 40 next April, spent four-and-a-half seasons with Colorado from 2009-13, compiling a strong 3.08 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 57 saves. He spent 2014 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery with the Rockies after signing a minor league deal.
- Tim Stauffer would like to return to a starting role in 2015, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock, and as such, he knows that there’s a good chance that his 11-year tenure with the Padres is coming to an end. The 32-year-old Stauffer was selected fourth overall in 2003, and while his career hasn’t been as high-profile as his draft slot would indicate, he’s quietly tallied a 3.38 ERA over 477 Major League innings dating back to 2009. A pair of surgeries have cost him some innings since establishing himself as a capable big league arm, which, paired with San Diego’s glut of pitching, has led to a bullpen role for him over the past two seasons.
With tonight’s non-tender deadline looming, several players figure to not only be tendered contracts but agree to their 2014 salaries prior to 11pm CT. We’ll run down the players to avoid arbitration with their respective clubs in this post, and remember that you can track the progress on all arbitration eligible players by using MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker. For a reminder on the projected salaries for each of these players, check out Matt Swartz’s projections in MLBTR’s Arbitration Eligibles series.
- The Nationals announced they’ve avoided arbitration with righty Ross Ohlendorf, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Ohlendorf’s deal will guarantee him $1.25MM and can reach $3MM via incentives that can be achieved as a starter or reliever, per the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with utility infielder Donnie Murphy, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com (via Twitter), agreeing to a one-year, $825K pact that includes incentives.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Steve Pearce for $850K, tweets Rosenthal.
- The Padres have reached terms with pitcher Eric Stults on a $2.75MM deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He had been projected by Swartz to earn $3MM through arbitration. Unlike most arbitration deals, tweets Rosenthal, this one will be guaranteed. Also getting a guaranteed deal from the Padres, per Rosenthal, is righty Tim Stauffer at $1.6MM.
- The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher Tyler Flowers with a $950k contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Athletics have avoided arbitration with righty Fernando Rodriguez, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Rodriguez, who is represented by Metis Sports Management, LLC, will earn $600K plus award bonuses, MLBTR has learned. The A’s will tender contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, Slusser notes via Twitter.
- The Indians have avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood, the club announced. Each player will earn $560k, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, which falls below their respective projections from MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.
- Newly-acquired catcher George Kottaras has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.075MM deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The contract includes incentives, according to Heyman. A left-handed batter, Kottaras managed only a .180 batting average last year, but got on base at a .349 clip in addition to posting a .370 slugging mark in his 126 plate appearances.
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nolan Reimold, sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (link to Twitter). The 30-year-old will get a one-year, $1.025MM deal that includes incentives. Reimold lost most of the last two seasons to injury, but has a career .252/.327/.439 slash in 1,056 plate appearances dating back to 2009. His salary will be guaranteed, tweets Connolly.
- The Phillies have avoided arbitration with infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen will receive a one-year, $900k deal that includes performance incentives. Last year, Frandsen had a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 plate appearances. The deal is guaranteed, Rosenthal tweets.
- The Braves announced that they have avoided arbitration with infielder Ramiro Pena and left-hander Jonny Venters (Twitter link). Pena, 28, batted a solid .278/.330/.443 in 107 PAs this season before shoulder surgery ended his season. Venters’ contract was first reported two weeks ago and is said to be worth $1.625MM.
- MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with Don Kelly by agreeing to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2014. Kelly will turn 34 in February and batted .222/.309/.343 in 2013 — all numbers that are nearly mirrored by his career .229/.290/.344 batting line. He is represented by LSW Baseball.
- The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Barbarisi reports that the trade sending Stewart to Pittsburgh was actually in place on Friday but was also contingent on Stewart agreeing to a new contract with the Pirates. Stewart, a client of James A. Kuzmich, PLLC, agreed to his new contract today, thereby finalizing the trade. He projected to earn $1MM, per Swartz.
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Let's take a look around the National League …
- Pitcher Tim Stauffer was called up by the Padres, meaning that the team will not risk losing him to a June 1 opt-out clause, notes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Returning for the second time in his career from major arm surgery, Stauffer was thrown right into the fire and worked 1 2/3 effective innings last night against the Nationals.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. believes his club has the pieces in place to be much better offensively and is not looking for outside help at the moment, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. "I don't see us making any trades any time soon," Amaro said. "There's too many teams that are in it, not enough teams that are out of it." Amaro is preaching patience with struggling hitters like Delmon Young and Ryan Howard: "Right now we have to be patient to see if Delmon starts swinging it. And Ryan [Howard] is going to have to start swinging it. If those guys do then we'll be OK. If they don't we'll have to figure out what we're going to do." As Salisbury notes, the Phillies rank near the bottom of baseball in most major offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.304, 25th); OPS (.683, 26th); and runs scored (3.61, 27th).
- Prospective free agent Matt Garza will make his season debut for the Cubs this Tuesday, tweets Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. Garza, who last checked in at eighth on Tim Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, will be an interesting player to watch over the coming weeks. Depending upon his performance and the intentions of the Cubs, he could be an extension candidate, prime mid-season trade bait, and/or a major 2014 free agent target.
- To make room in the rotation for Garza, Miles further notes, the Cubs will bump Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen. The right-hander, who is in the first half of a two-year, $10MM deal with the Cubs, has struggled since a promising start to the 2013 campaign. After allowing just five earned runs and logging 29 1/3 innings in his first four starts, Villanueva has conceded eighteen earned runs and lasted only 23 1/3 innings over his next four outings. Pitching from the pen, Villanueva is much less likely to profile as a potential trade candidate for the Cubs.
- In spite of a nice 2012 season in which he slashed .263/.299/.504 and hit 20 home runs over 398 plate appearances for the Mets, outfielder Scott Hairston says that the team never formally offered him a contract this offseason. As Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports, Hairston felt that New York "wanted to go in a different direction," leading him to look elsewhere for a multi-year deal and regular playing time. He ultimately landed a two-year deal with the Cubs that guarantees him $5MM. Now, both player and team seem to be regretting how things turned out: the Mets outfield has been terrible, and Hairston has struggled in limited action for Chicago with a .125/.154/.354 line over just 52 plate appearances.
Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that the Padres have selected the contract of Tim Stauffer and designated right-hander Thad Weber for assignment (Twitter link). In a related move, Carlos Quentin has been placed on the paternity list.
The 28-year-old Weber allowed just two runs in nine innings for the Friars this season, though he walked five and struck out only six in that time. The Padres claimed him off waivers from the Tigers last August. Weber has just 13 innings of big league experience and averages 89.8 mph on his fastball. He does have a stellar 68.2 percent ground-ball rate in that admittedly tiny sample.
Stauffer, 30, was a key member of the Padres' pitching staff from 2009-11. After a strong year-plus in the bullpen, he shifted to the rotation for the end of the 2010 season and all of the 2011 campaign. He made one start in 2012 before elbow surgery cut his season short. From 2009-12, the former No. 4 overall pick in the draft had a 3.27 ERA, 6.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 346 1/3 innings of work.
Stauffer signed a minor league contract this offseason after being waiver in the fall. His deal had an opt-out clause around June 1, so the Padres were nearing a decision on him. Stauffer had a 3.16 ERA through 42 2/3 innings at Triple-A Tucson this season.
Baseball is seeing the emergence of numerous quality young shortstops at the same time, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider subscription required). Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Andrelton Simmons, Brandon Crawford, and Starlin Castro are among the young shortstops already making an impact in the big leagues. All play on National League clubs. One of these players (Castro) has already been locked up long-term, while another (Segura) is an early extension target for his club. It will be interesting to see whether and when the rest of this deep group of middle infielders are approached about extensions. Elsewhere in the National League …
- The Cardinals, one of baseball's most storied franchises, are perhaps its best-run present organization, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Prioritizing continuity and foregoing excuses, the Cards are respected in the front office, field staff, and active roster. Sherman explains that the Cardinals' success in acquiring and developing players has been accompanied by a consistent philosophy of professionalism. This has allowed the team to weather significant injuries without missing a beat. As former manager Tony LaRussa describes it: "The Cardinals are winning because they have done things right for years to be in a position to be successful. Don't get me wrong, the Cardinals' talent level is really good, but their team chemistry is off the charts."
- Former Phillies' prospect Michael Bourn fully bloomed after leaving the club, but thought he might return as a free agent this past offseason. As MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes, when Bourn's asking price looked too steep, the Phils went after another center fielder in Ben Revere. By the time Bourn's price had dropped, then, the position was filled, and Bourn signed with the Indians. From his perspective, Bourn says: "I think I might have been on their hit list. I don't know how high or what their target was, or if they were worried about what Scott [Boras] was going to do. There are a lot of teams that say they want you to be part of their organization, but you don't know if they really do. … Yeah, I guess the Phillies were interested a little bit. But that's not how it went down."
- With long-term deals locking up cornerstone infielders Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs could turn their attention to spending on pitching, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Of course, the club intends to fill two rotation spots with Jeff Samardzija and Edwin Jackson for the foreseeable future. While Wittenmyer says that extension talks have not been planned with starter Matt Garza, the soon-to-be free agent says he would be amenable. Garza, of course, has yet to appear this season. Likewise, rotation member Travis Wood says he would love to make his career in Chicago. Though he says "that's out of my hands," Wood has done everything he can this year to lock down a spot going forward. If nothing else, he is setting himself up nicely for his first season of arbitration eligibility. As manager Dale Sveum noted, and Wittenmyer documented, Wood has posted a 3.50 ERA and logged 192 2/3 innings over his last 31 starts (extending into last year).
- The Padres have several players in their minor league system whose contracts contain out clauses that are approaching, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Pitcher Tim Stauffer can elect free agency on June 1, while fellow righty Sean O'Sullivan's date is June 15. It was previously believed that both pitchers had opt-out dates around June 1. Other players with June 15 opt-out dates are catcher Rene Rivera and outfielder Travis Buck. Each has made a reasonable case in Triple-A that they can contribute. Stauffer has pitched to a 3.16 ERA in 42 2/3 innings. O'Sullivan's ERA is 4.19 across 43 innings, but he has put up 8.2 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. Meanwhile, Rivera has a .375/.430/.477 line in 101 plate appearances, and Buck has hit .275/.321/.480 in 112 appearances.