Tommy Hunter Rumors
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:
Injuries have limited Jhoulys Chacin, Doug Fister, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson and Neftali Feliz. All of these pitchers are on the disabled list, none of them are on pace to complete 150 innings, and three of them -- Estrada, Fister and Chacin -- remain winless.
Phil Humber and Tommy Hunter have stayed healthy, but they’re off to disappointing starts that include losing records and ERAs above 5.50. The homer-prone Hunter is pitching at Triple-A, and could soon be recalled. The collective bargaining recognizes special accomplishments, and Humber's perfect game definitely qualifies, so his representatives at Moye Sports Associates could play it up should the sides go to a hearing. Yet there's no clear conversion rate in place to help value Humber's perfecto.
Brian Matusz and Ross Detwiler both spent considerable time in the minor leagues last year, but they've responded with solid seasons to date. Both will head to arbitration with losing records, however, and Matusz's career ERA sits at 5.32.
Bud Norris, Ian Kennedy, Tommy Hanson, Mat Latos and, to a lesser extent, Mike Leake all entered the season with the bulk innings totals that often lead to generous salaries in arbitration. All five pitchers continue piling up innings, though Leake, Latos and Norris have ERAs above 4.50. The pitchers in this group figure to be compared against one another over and over this coming winter.
Former top prospects Jeff Samardzija and James McDonald (pictured) are enjoying breakout seasons. Both right-handers have career-best walk rates and are averaging one strikeout per inning. If they can keep this up -- or at least come reasonably close to doing so -- their paychecks will reflect the improvements in 2013 and beyond. Unfortunately for Samardzija, starters Rick Porcello and David Price didn't seem to be able to use their generous pre-arbitration salaries to boost their arbitration earnings this past offseason, so his current $2.64MM salary probably won't help much.
It's early enough for the fortunes of these pitchers to change dramatically. Feliz could return to the bullpen, Fister could replicate last year's second half success, or Samardzija could regress. But, ten-plus starts into the season, these pitchers' platform seasons have started taking shape.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire. Stats via Baseball-Reference.com. Note that Derek Holland and Jonathon Niese signed extensions covering what would have been their first arb years. Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg and Daniel Hudson are expected to fall just shy of super two eligibility, though that's not official.
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.