Tommy Hunter Rumors

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

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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Orioles, Tommy Hunter Avoid Arbitration

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.


Platform Years For First-Time Eligible Starters

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.

James McDonald (Pirates) - PW

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:

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AL Central Notes: Hunter, Thornton, Rauch, Indians

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…


Orioles Notes: Jones, Guthrie, Hunter

The Orioles sent Koji Uehara to Texas and are close to sending Derrek Lee to Pittsburgh. Here's the latest news out of Baltimore on the last night before this year's trade deadline…

  • 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).

Rangers Acquire Koji Uehara For Davis, Hunter

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.


Greinke Would Have Cost Texas Five Players

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.


No Active Millwood Talk For Brewers

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.