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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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Stewart | Cleveland Indians | Detroit Tigers | Don Kelly | Donnie Murphy | Eric Stults | Fernando Rodriguez | Frank Herrmann | George Kottaras | Jonny Venters | Kevin Frandsen | Nolan Reimold | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ramiro Pena | Ross Ohlendorf | San Diego Padres | Steve Pearce | Tim Stauffer | Transactions | Tyler Flowers | Washington Nationals
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.
When players with significant Major League experience settle for minor league contracts, it's commonplace for these deals to contain opt-out clauses. If the player hasn't been added to the 25-man roster by a certain point, he can exercise the clause and seek employment with another organization. Such clauses aren't always made publicly available, but here's a list of some of the pitchers who have known opt-out dates that are nearing…
- Chien-Ming Wang, Yankees: Wang can opt out of his contract on May 31. In five starts spanning 31 2/3 innings at Triple-A thus far, the 33-year-old has a 2.84 ERA, 4.3 K/9 and 1.1 BB/9. The Yankees have said they don't feel Wang's minor league success will translate to the Majors just yet, as they want him to rely more on his breaking pitches than just his sinker.
- Tim Stauffer, Padres: Stauffer can opt out of his deal "around June 1," according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He appeared in just one game for San Diego before needing season-ending surgery but posted a 3.24 ERA in 341 1/3 innings for the Friars from 2009-11. So far in Triple-A, the 30-year-old has a 3.16 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 42 2/3 innings.
- Sean O'Sullivan, Padres: Currently Stauffer's rotation-mate, O'Sullivan has the same opt-out clause in his contract (near June 1) despite being just 25 years of age. O'Sullivan has a 4.19 ERA, 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 43 innings for Triple-A Tucson. He's had a rough time in the Majors, however, as evidenced by his 6.13 ERA in 193 2/3 big league innings.
- Jeremy Bonderman, Mariners: Bonderman's opt-out date is June 1, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Still just 30 years of age, Bonderman has been solid for Triple-A Tacoma. He's pitched to a 3.70 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in eight starts spanning 48 2/3 innings. Olney feels Bonderman will opt out if he's not called up in the next couple of weeks, and I'm inclined to agree.
- Jair Jurrjens, Orioles: Jurrjens has an opt-out date of June 15. After a drastic fall from grace in the Braves organization, the 27-year-old has looked sharp at Triple-A Norfolk in 2013. He's compiled a 2.62 ERA, 5.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in seven starts spanning 44 2/3 innings.
All of the pitchers listed here have pitched well enough that they could make a case for helping a Major League team with a struggling rotation. It seems likely that by mid-June, each could force his way onto a Major League roster, even if it's with a new organization. If you see a notable omission with a known opt-out date, speak up in the comments section.
Commissioner Bud Selig says he wants his stewardship of the game to be judged by the value of MLB's franchises, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. He called the Dodgers' sale "stunning," and said that "every franchise is worth a lot more today … because the game is healthy." Selig also weighed in on the DH, saying that "some cataclysmic event" would be needed to keep the bat out of National League pitchers' hands. Here are some more notes from around the National League:
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes is taking a hard look at the club's farm system to find a solution to the team's pitching woes, writes Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. According to Fangraphs, the Padres' rotation has put up negative 1.4 WAR thus far, a full .5 WAR worse than the second-to-last Astros staff. Jenkins says that the front office's "unwillingness or failure" to supplement the team's less-than-promising rotation over the offseason is to blame for the club's present difficulties.
- Two in-house options for San Diego are minor league arms Tim Stauffer and Sean O'Sullivan, both of whom possess similar out clauses in their contracts, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Center says that both pitchers can opt out around June 1 if they have not been elevated to the Padres' big league roster.
- The emergence of catcher Evan Gattis could ultimately have an impact on the Braves' plans behind the dish, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The team has benefitted enormously from his performance as stalwart Brian McCann works his way back from injury. But as Bowman says, the first-place Braves have every reason to try and work McCann back into his starting role, and still have Gerald Laird locked up for this year and next. On the other hand, with the Braves already unlikely to re-sign McCann after this season, Gattis's continued performance could make that decision much easier for the team.
- Meanwhile, Bowman says the Braves were interested in locking up outfielder Jason Heyward and first baseman Freddie Freeman during the offseason. Despite the team's efforts to initiate talks, however, they were rebuffed by the young stars. Heyward currently stands to reach free agency in 2016, with Freeman following him in 2017.
- Cubs starter Matt Garza suffered yet another setback, failing to make his first rehab start after suffering from what Cubs manager Dale Sveum called a "dead arm," writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribute. Garza is, however, scheduled for long toss tomorrow and should be set up for a comeback start soon, David Furones writes for MLB.com. Of course, the Cubs would like not only to benefit from Garza's work on the mound, but to begin his audition for teams looking for rotation help at the trade deadline. In addition to the already-noted Chase Utley, Garza is one of several players that ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Insider) to keep an eye on as trade season approaches. Others include Mets catcher John Buck and Indians reliever Chris Perez.
The Padres will officially announce they've signed Tim Stauffer to a minor league deal today, Corey Brock of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). The right-hander is a client of Shapiro, Robinson, & Associates.
Stauffer pitched in just one game in 2012, when elbow injuries led to season-ending flexor tendon surgery. He recently told Brock he feels "close to being ready" after undergoing an operation on his elbow last August 31st. Stauffer estimated that he's only two weeks behind other pitchers at this stage.
The 30-year-old posted a 3.73 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 185 2/3 innings in 2011, his last full MLB season. That led to a raise and a $3.2MM salary in 2012, but the Padres removed him from their 40-man roster this past October and he elected free agency. The Padres were the lone team linked to Stauffer on MLBTR this winter.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune is back with his regular chat with fans about the Padres, and here are some of the relevant hot stove items…
- The Padres have been talking to right-hander Brett Myers, according to Myers' agent. San Diego would use Myers as a starting pitcher, which is Myers' preferred role after spending 2012 coming out of the bullpen for the Astros and White Sox.
- The Tigers are reconsidering trading Rick Porcello, who has drawn attention from the Padres and several other clubs since Detroit re-signed Anibal Sanchez. If Porcello is available, Center feels it would take more than a rumored trade package of Luke Gregerson and Jesus Guzman for the Padres to acquire the right-hander.
- It's a "gamble on both sides" for Chase Headley and the Padres that there are apparently no extension talks taking place between the club and the third baseman. Headley is under team control for two more years, but a repeat of his 2012 numbers could make him too expensive for the Padres to lock up.
- Everth Cabrera has drawn trade interest but most clubs (including the Padres) aren't sure if he is capable of being an everyday shortstop. Center notes that San Diego has been shopping "several" of its middle infielders this winter.
- The Padres are "actively seeking" starting pitching but aren't going to be forced into making a bad signing just for the sake of adding an arm to the rotation.
- Between Porcello, Shaun Marcum and Joe Saunders, Center lists Marcum as the most likely of the trio to be a Padre in 2013, followed by Saunders and Porcello in that order.
- The Padres won't be adding another outfielder as they already have several options on the roster.
- Center doesn't expect the Padres to have a $100MM payroll within the next few years, even adding an "if ever" to the idea.
- The Padres want to bring back Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer on minor league contracts. The two pitchers elected to become free agents in October following injury-plagued 2012 seasons.
- Center hasn't heard of the Padres having any interest in Carlos Zambrano.
Moseley was enjoying a career-best year in 2011 (3.30 ERA in 20 starts) before missing the last two months of the season after dislocating his left shoulder while swinging a bat. The injury bug followed Moseley to this season, as he was limited to just one start in 2012 after undergoing surgery on his throwing shoulder.
Stauffer posted a 1.87 ERA as a starter and reliever in 2010 and enjoyed a solid full-time return to the rotation in 2011, when he was the Padres' Opening Day starter and posted a 3.73 ERA, a 2.42 K/BB ratio and a 6.2 K/9 in 31 starts. Like Moseley, Stauffer was limited to just one start in 2012 due to injury, in this case elbow problems that required surgery in August. Stauffer tells the Union-Tribune (Twitter link) that he would like to return to San Diego, though it would have to be on a minor league contract.
Both pitchers were entering their third year of arbitration eligibility and both were seen as likely non-tender candidates by MLB.com's Tim Dierkes in his look at the Padres' arb-eligible players. Matt Swartz projected Moseley to earn $2MM in 2013 while Stauffer was on pace to earn $3.2MM.