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The Red Sox made their annual announcement of front office personnel changes today, and among the most significant changes is the creation of a department of behavioral health, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox will hire Dr. Richard Ginsburg as the department head, and he will pair with former Major Leaguer Bob Tewksbury, who served as a mental skills coach with Boston from 2005-13. Tewksbury left the club for a year to work with the MLBPA, and Speier writes that his absence was noticed by young players such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts as they struggled to transition to everyday roles. Said GM Ben Cherington of the new department: “We’re trying to take care of the body as well as we possibly can… Health extends past the body, but it’s all related. … We’re really just trying to help players be as healthy as they possibly can be, physically and mentally.”
More from the AL East…
- The Red Sox may have to sell low on Bradley Jr., as they did with Will Middlebrooks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Boston will likely trade Bradley or another outfielder before Opening Day due to the fact that they have a logjam in the outfield. Mastrodonato opines that Bradley absolutely has the upside to be an everyday center fielder in the field and at the plate — his defense is already considered among the best in baseball — and worries about the danger of moving him only to see him take off with another club. He likens Bradley to Carlos Gomez, who was slow to develop but has always possessed a good glove and is now a perennial MVP candidate in the NL. Bradley may not have that type of power, but Cherington has told Mastrodonato this offseason that he thinks there are other clubs that will perceive Bradley as an everyday outfielder, and the Sox feel he has that ability as well.
- Though the Orioles have not approached right-hander Tommy Hunter about an extension, the setup man tells Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore that he’s certainly open to a long-term deal to remain with the club. Hunter’s agent, Mike Moye, just wrapped up negotiation on a contract to avoid arbitration for the final time, settling on a $4.65MM salary for 2015. Hunter is one of 11 Orioles that can hit the open market next winter, and while he says he’d love to see the group stay together, he acknowledged that that the business element of the game prevents that before adding, “Let’s win this year, and worry about everything else after.”
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com penned a column with multiple Orioles notes, including the fact that the Orioles had definite interest in acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Rays before he was dealt to Oakland. However, the Rays brought up names such as Dylan Bundy and Chance Sisco in talks, neither of whom GM Dan Duquette was willing to surrender.
- Kubatko also notes that the Orioles don’t appear to have interest in a reunion with Johan Santana, and there’s nothing hot between the O’s and Colby Rasmus at this time. Baltimore’s interest hasn’t waned, but they’re maintaining the same level and don’t appear willing to go beyond their comfort zone to add him to the roster.
- The Yankees are wise to have looked at the big picture this offseason rather than focusing on the immediate, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Historically speaking, the Yankees have lived largely in the present, doling out large contracts with little regard for the potential negatives at the end of a deal. However, despite needs in the rotation, the Yankees have stayed out of the Max Scherzer market and haven’t been seriously connected to James Shields or Cole Hamels. Rather, the club is prioritizing defense and a strong bullpen. While their 2015 outlook may not have improved much, Castrovince writes, the team is in a better place in the long-term due to exercising caution.
- Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith hosted a Blue Jays chat with readers today and covered a wide variety of hot stove topics. To name a few, Ben noted that he doesn’t foresee a reunion with Casey Janssen, that he expects Dioner Navarro to open the season with the club and that he believes the team will end up acquiring a new closer prior to Spring Training.
The Orioles have avoided arbitration with Tommy Hunter, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The righty will earn $4.65MM next year, just a quarter million over the projection of MLBTR/Matt Swartz.
Hunter, 28, presented something of an odd arb case in his final year of eligibility. After entering the year as Baltimore’s closer, with a $3MM salary, Hunter notched 11 saves but failed to keep the job. Nevertheless, he ended the season with 60 2/3 innings of 2.97 ERA pitching, with 6.7 K/9 against just 1.8 BB/9. And he racked up 12 holds to add to the counting stat tally.
After opening his career in a starting role with the Rangers, thus bolstering his earlier arb cases with wins and innings, Hunter transitioned to the bullpen. He has remained purely a reliever over the last two campaigns with the O’s, and certainly figures to continue in that capacity in his upcoming age-28 season.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
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The Orioles announced that they've avoided arbitration with right-hander Tommy Hunter (Twitter link). The sides agreed to a one-year contract worth $1.82MM, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).
Hunter, 26, had been arbitration eligible for the first time. The Moye Sports Associates client posted a 5.45 ERA in 133 2/3 innings as a starter and reliever for Baltimore in 2012. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz correctly ancipated that Hunter's salary would fall in the $1.8MM range.
Baltimore has seven remaining arb eligible players, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows: Chris Davis, Jason Hammel, Jim Johnson, Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day, Troy Patton and Matt Wieters. The Orioles are nearing a deal with Matusz.
Clayton Kershaw's salary jumped from $500K to $7.5MM this year, and it wasn't just because of his Cy Young performance. Kershaw qualified for arbitration for the first time in his career over the winter, so he obtained the right to establish his salary by comparing his production to that of his peers.
Though $7MM raises are reserved for elite performers like Kershaw, many first-time eligible starting pitchers will see their salaries rise from $500K or so to $2-4.5MM this coming offseason. A player’s case depends in large part on his career numbers, but his most recent season, or platform year, matters a great deal.
Advanced statistics like xFIP, wins above replacement and swinging strike rate don't generally figure in to arbitration cases. Instead, traditional stats such as innings, starts, wins and ERA determine players' salaries.
With one third of the season now complete, let’s check in on the prominent starting pitchers on track to be first-time arbitration eligible this coming offseason:
The American League Central welcomed a handful of new players this week – most notably right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. Yet many other trades didn't materialize. Here are the details on some deals that could have impacted the division…
- The Tigers tried to acquire Tommy Hunter from the Rangers before the Orioles obtained him in the Koji Uehara deal yesterday, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Tigers did acquire Doug Fister for their rotation.
- The Brewers called on every good left-handed relief option out there, including White Sox southpaw Matt Thornton, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- The Twins talked to the Blue Jays about re-acquiring Jon Rauch, but talks went nowhere, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- The Indians discussed as many as 75 players leading up to the deadline, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (on Twitter).
- Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is not available, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- The Orioles aren't seeing offers they like for Jeremy Guthrie and will likely hang onto him, while adding the newly-acquired Tommy Hunter to the rotation, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli (on Twitter).
After weeks of searching, GM Jon Daniels has acquired some help for his bullpen. The Rangers acquired Koji Uehara and $2MM from the Orioles for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter in a move the Orioles confirmed this evening.
Uehara, 36, has a 1.72 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 47 innings this year. He earns $3MM and has a $4MM option for '12 that vests with another 12 appearances. He'll be a welcome addition to the back of manager Ron Washington's bullpen. Dan Mennella has all the fantasy angles covered at CloserNews.
Davis, 25, has a .250/.299/.403 line in 77 Major League plate appearances this year. He has destroyed Triple-A pitching this year, hitting 24 homers and posting a .368/.405/.824 line in 210 plate appearances. Davis, who struggles to hit lefties, has a .248/.300/.454 career line in parts of four seasons.
Hunter has appeared in eight games this year and has a 2.93 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 so far (he was on the disabled list from late March to the beginning of July). The 25-year-old former first rounder has also logged 30 2/3 minor league innings this season and he has a 4.99 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 for the Rangers' top two affiliates. Hunter was a member of the Rangers' rotation last year, when he started 22 regular season games and three in the playoffs.
Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun first reported the move. Jon Heyman of SI.com and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News added detail.
The Rangers would have had to send five of their top young players to Kansas City to obtain Zack Greinke, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The Royals were asking for Tommy Hunter, Derek Holland, Michael Kirkman, Jurickson Profar and Engel Beltre.
Holland posted a 4.08 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 last year in his age-23 season, Hunter posted a 3.73 ERA in 128 innings in 2010 and is under team control for five more years and Profar, Beltre and Kirkman ranked 2nd, 5th and 6th, respectively, on Baseball America's preseason list of top Rangers prospects.
The Royals ultimately obtained Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Jeremy Jeffress, and Jake Odorizzi from the Brewers for Greinke, Yuniesky Betancourt and $2MM. Now that Greinke has a cracked rib, the Rangers are probably glad they held onto their players.
Earlier today, it was reported that the Brewers have inquired about Kevin Millwood's availability. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy says that while that may very well be true, it hasn't been anytime recently. According to McCalvy, Rangers GM Jon Daniels says he hasn't spoken with Brewers GM Doug Melvin in weeks.
Despite a lack of active talks, McCalvy states that the Rangers remain a possible trade target for the Brewers, even if Millwood isn't involved, due to their depth of options at starting pitching. While many teams would like to try to pull Tommy Hunter or Derek Holland away though, the Rangers would be more inclined to deal someone like Brandon McCarthy, writes McCalvy.
Whether or not Milwaukee is a match for Texas is yet to be seen. Texas would like to add a right-handed bat, but the best Milwaukee will be able to offer is Corey Hart, who is coming off a disappointing 2009 season. The Rangers interest in Hart may be dependent on whether or not free agent Marlon Byrd finds himself back in Texas next season.
McCalvy feels that the Rangers are likely to hold onto Millwood this winter and build their rotation around him and Scott Feldman. It's not hard, however, to see the logic behind dealing a 35-year-old coming off his best season since 2005. And, as McCalvy points out, the Brewers have been linked to Millwood in the past.