Tommy Hanson Rumors
Earlier today, the Rangers officially announced their deal with pitcher Tommy Hanson. The contract will reportedly give Hanson the ability to earn as much as $3.6MM if everything goes his way but also minimizes the Rangers' risk in the event that he doesn't break through to the big league roster or find success on the varsity squad. Should things go well, Hanson is controllable through the 2015 season via arbitration. On this afternoon's conference call, I asked the former top prospect about the interest he received from other clubs and what led him to ultimately choose the Rangers.
"There were quite a few [other teams with interest] but I left that to my agent," said the 6'6" hurler. "The Rangers have a great team and we thought that was going to be the best fit for me with being able to go in and make the rotation and be a part of the team, so ultimately we thought that was the best opportunity for me."
General Manager Jon Daniels was also on the line and I asked him if Hanson would be the final significant addition for him between now and Opening Day.
"As of right now it is. We don't have any other offers out there and I think that there's no definite end to the offseason anymore. It's a 24/7/365 thing but we don't have anything else in the works right now at this point," said the GM.
Hanson has had to battle his way through injuries and issues with his mechanics in recent years, but the real adversity he has faced has come from his personal life. The pitcher suffered the tragic loss of his younger step-brother early in the 2013 season, and as he told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, he had an understandably difficult time coping with it. Hanson has had quite a bit to overcome, but both he and the Rangers are confident that he will recapture some of his past magic in 2014.
FRIDAY: The Rangers have officially announced Hanson's deal and placed lefty Joe Ortiz on the 60-day disabled list to clear a 40-man roster spot. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (via Twitter) that Hanson can earn as little as $125K (if he is released) or as much as $3.6MM (if he maxes out his incentives).
TUESDAY, 9:56pm: Hanson does get a major league contract, but it is a split deal that will provide a separate minor league salary, explains Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). In other words, Hanson -- who has an option remaining -- does not get a $2MM guarantee but will be paid at that rate for such time as he is on the MLB roster.
8:41am: Hanson's deal with the Rangers is actually a Major League deal, not a minor league contract, tweets Heyman. Hanson will earn $2MM (plus incentives) and is likely to be the team's fifth starter.
MONDAY, 8:08pm: Hanson would earn $2MM if he makes the roster, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and can also earn incentives.
Hanson and the Rangers were said to be nearing an agreement late last week. Texas had its fair share of first-hand looks at Hanson in 2013, as the right-hander made three appearances (two starts) against the Rangers in his lone season as a member of the division-rival Angels. Anaheim acquired Hanson from the Braves last offseason in exchange for setup man Jordan Walden.
Three or four years ago, few would have believed Hanson to be available for such a low price. The 6'6" Oklahoma native was ranked the game's No. 4 prospect (by Baseball America) heading into the 2009 season, and in his first three big league seasons (2009-11), Hanson posted a sterling 3.28 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 40.6 percent ground-ball rate. He looked to be well on his way to cementing himself as one of the game's best young pitchers, but that 2011 campaign was cut short by a shoulder injury.
Hanson would go on to suffer a concussion in a car accident the following spring, and he missed time with a back injury in 2012 as well. The result was a 4.48 ERA in 174 2/3 innings, but more troubling was his drop in velocity; Hanson's heater had fallen from an average of 92.7 mph in 2010 to just 89.7 mph in 2012. The Angels elected to gamble on his upside, acquiring him in exchange for an embattled right-hander of their own in Walden.
Things merely got worse for Hanson in the American League. In addition to his injury issues, Hanson suffered the tragic loss of his younger step-brother early in the 2013 season. He missed a full week on the bereavement list and then spent more time away from the game on the restricted list as he tried to cope with the shocking loss. As Hanson told the L.A. Times' Bill Shaikin:
"I was having mental issues with the death of my younger brother. I was just trying to get through it. I didn’t know how to handle it. That was the first time anything like that had ever happened to me. I didn’t know how to cope with it."
Hanson's struggles with the Angels culminated in a 5.42 ERA in 73 innings of work. The Halos non-tendered him in December rather than pay him a small raise in arbitration, and he'll now look to earn a spot in the Rangers' rotation in Spring Training. Texas could certainly use the depth with Matt Harrison coming off a season in which he threw just 10 2/3 innings and Derek Holland out until at least the All-Star break after undergoing microfracture surgery on his knee.
Because Hanson currently has just four years, 97 days of Major League service, the deal has added upside for the Rangers. Should he be able to rediscover his early-career magic in Arlington, the Rangers will control Hanson through 2015 season.
FRIDAY: The Rangers and Hanson are making progress on a deal, tweets Morosi.
THURSDAY: The Rangers are engaged in talks with free agent starter Tommy Hanson, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Morosi reported earlier today that Hanson had received multiple offers.
Hanson, 27, was non-tendered by the Angels just one year after being acquired from the Braves in exchange for Jordan Walden. The 6'6" righty has struggled over the last two years, posting a combined 4.76 ERA in 247 2/3 innings. But Hanson was quite productive over 2009-11, posting a 3.28 ERA in 460 1/3 innings. With just four years and 97 days of service time, any club signing Hanson would control him for at least one more season through arbitration.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has been a busy man today it seems, as his Twitter timeline is rife with updates on free agents in search of work. Here's the latest from Morosi, with all links pointing to his Twitter unless otherwise noted...
- One potential hangup in the Stephen Drew market could be the fact that Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz will be cleared to sign in two weeks. The 23-year-old was declared ineligible to sign after falsifying his age last year (Diaz claimed to be 23 then, in order to be eligible for MLB one year early). Morosi reminds that MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez listed (MLBTR link) the Red Sox and Yankees as two of eight clubs to have shown interest in Diaz back in December, and both have been linked to Drew.
- Morosi spoke with Tommy Hanson's agent, Greg Genske, and was told that Hanson has received multiple offers. Genske said Hanson is in a great place both mentally and physically, which could not be said last year as he dealt with the tragic death of his brother.
- Agent Craig Landis tells Morosi that his client, Jon Garland, is unlikely to pitch in 2014. Garland is not retiring and is willing to sign and pitch in the right circumstances, Landis told Morosi.
- Morosi also chatted with Landis regarding another of his clients -- lefty Joe Saunders. Saunders is fully healthy and plans to pitch this season, according to Landis. Saunders is coming off the worst season of his career, though his 4.23 xFIP was more than a full run lower than his 5.26 ERA. Saunders maintained his career strikeout rate, posted a career-best ground-ball rate but was plagued by a career-worst 14.5 percent homer-to-flyball ratio.
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of American League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.
- The Orioles announced they've non-tendered outfielder Jason Pridie and minor league starter Eddie Gamboa.
- The Rays will non-tender reliever Wesley Wright, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
- The Red Sox announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Ryan Kalish, Mike Salk of WEEI.com tweets.
- The White Sox will not tender a contract to pitcher Dylan Axelrod, tweets Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune.
- The Angels will non-tender pitcher Jerome Williams, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The club will also non-tender righty Tommy Hanson and third baseman Chris Nelson, tweets DiGiovanna. J.C. Gutierrez will also be non-tendered, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, though that seemed a given since that he had already been designated for assignment.
- The Indians have non-tendered outfielder Matt Carson, pitcher Tyler Cloyd, and catcher Lou Marson, the club announced.
- The Rays are non-tendering outfielder Sam Fuld, a source tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Fuld, who will turn 32 in a few weeks, could be a lefty-swinging bench piece for another club, though he slashed only .199/.270/.267 last year in 200 plate appearances for Tampa.
- GM Brian Cashman says that the Yankees will non-tender infielder Jayson Nix, tweets Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. The 31-year-old veteran appeared in 87 games for New York last season, putting up a .236/.308/.311 line in 303 plate appearances. The club will also non-tender reliever Matt Daley and infielder David Adams. New York confirmed the moves via press release.
- The Royals announced that they have non-tendered second baseman Chris Getz. The 30-year-old Getz has tried to hold down Kansas City's keystone spot for several years now but produced just a .246/.299/.314 batting line from 2012-13. Swartz had pegged Getz for a $1.3MM salary in 2014.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Athletics offered the same two-year, $22MM contract to Tim Hudson prior to his two-year, $23MM agreement with the Giants.
- That Kazmir signed for two years and $11MM annually speaks to the expectations of Bartolo Colon, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Colon feels he can get multiple years at a higher annual value, according to Passan.
- Kazmir's agreement firmly takes the Athletics out of the mix for Colon, a source confirmed to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).
- The Angels remain interested in Bronson Arroyo but the Dodgers aren't really in the mix, a source tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (on Twitter). However, the source adds that the market for the veteran hasn't really "heated up" yet.
- DiGiovanna adds that the Angels are expected to clear more than $10MM in payroll by non-tendering Tommy Hanson, Jerome Williams and Chris Nelson, which should allow them to pursue a free agent starting pitcher (Twitter links). DiGiovanna also mentions that Kevin Jepsen's status is still up in the air at this time and there's no decision on whether or not to tender him a contract.
- Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that one of the reasons Joe Smith signed his three-year deal with the Angels is that his wife works as a sports radio host in Orange County.
- In a harsh review of today's Willie Bloomquist signing by the Mariners, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and the U.S.S. Mariner writes that Bloomquist "is Nick Punto minus all the things that make Nick Punto valuable." As Cameron points out, they're comparable hitters but Punto provides more baserunning and defensive value. However, Seattle paid nearly double the price for Bloomquist that Oakland did for Punto.
The Max Scherzer trade rumors don't make much sense to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, who argues that a Tigers club built to win in 2014 can't afford to move an ace pitcher unless another team makes "an incredibly loony price" in a trade. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore hears from a source who flatly denies that Scherzer will be dealt, and Kilgore wonders if the Tigers' alleged willingness to trade may hint at concerns about Scherzer's future performance.
Here are some items about notable arms that could be had via trade or free agency this offseason...
- The Nationals have the minor league depth to acquire the likes of Scherzer or David Price, Kilgore writes. It could be more likely that the Nats pursue a younger pitcher who is under control for more years, a la the team's deal for Gio Gonzalez.
- Shelby Miller is "an under-the-radar potential [trade] target," a baseball official opines to Kilgore. Miller pitched just one postseason inning for the Cardinals due to concerns that he had a tired arm, though Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that were rumors that Miller was really being saved for a possible trade this winter. I'm not sure if I believe that theory; you'd think the Cards would've had all healthy arms on deck in pursuit of a World Series.
- The Cubs are interested in Masahiro Tanaka, GM Jed Hoyer told David Kaplan on WGN Radio's The David Kaplan Show (Twitter link). "He's going to help somebody and we will be in on him," Hoyer said.
- Matt Sosnick, Josh Johnson's agent, says he has talked to "nearly every team" about his client, including the Rangers, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reports. The Rangers appeal to Johnson due to their winning ways because he lives in nearby Oklahoma, though since Sosnick says Johnson would prefer "at least a pitching-neutral ballpark," Rangers Ballpark might be a hindrance.
- The Angels' signing of starter Chris Volstad could spell trouble for starters Jerome Williams and Tommy Hanson, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles TImes. Volstad is cheap and young, and DiGiovanna says that the club may not see much difference between him and the club's pricier, pre-existing options. In his breakdown of the Halos' arbitration-eligible players, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes calls Hanson a definite non-tender candidate, and says Williams could also be shown the door.
- ESPN's Jim Bowden speculates about six possible David Price trades (ESPN Insider subscription required).
MLBTR's Jeff Todd also contributed to this post
Mike Scioscia is as committed as ever to the Angels, the manager tells MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom. Scioscia discusses such topics as his relationship with GM Jerry Dipoto and owner Arte Moreno, his frustrations over the Angels' disappointing season and things he'd like to change on the team in 2014.
- The Angels will look to add starting pitching to next year's roster, with an eye towards obtaining young arms, if possible. "Really what we need is organizational starting pitching. We need starting-pitching depth; we need options from within," Dipoto said. "We need young, controllable starting pitching. Essentially guys that when something goes wrong at the Major League level -- inevitably an injury will occur, somebody's going to struggle for a period of time -- guys that can step in and guys that you can build toward. It's gold in the game."
- Third base will be an area of concern for the team this winter. "In an ideal world, we’ll come up with what we believe is a combination of players" to play the position, Dipoto said. Chris Nelson, Grant Green, Luis Jimenez and Andrew Romine are some of the Halos' current third base options.
- Dipoto will look to add bullpen depth but Ernesto Frieri is expected to continue closing.
- Dipoto offered no comment on any extension talks with Mike Trout, though "obviously, we'd like him to be here long-term." Craig Landis, Trout's agent, said yesterday that there have been no negotiations of a multiyear contract with the team. Trout is under team control through the 2017 season and Dipoto declined to comment on whether the team had altered its policy on pre-arbitration contracts given the controversy surrounding Trout's 2013 salary.
- Dipoto didn't comment on whether or not the Angels would non-tender Tommy Hanson or Jerome Williams. Hanson is a "slam-dunk" to be non-tendered, Gonzalez opines (Twitter links), but Williams is a tougher decision since he could return to Japan rather than re-sign with the Angels at a lower price, plus the team likes his "flexibility" as a swingman. Hanson is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility while Williams is entering his third.
In an article for ESPN.com, Jayson Stark collects opinions from around baseball on the new wild card game. While the arrangement motivates teams to win their divisions, Braves catcher Brian McCann, a veteran of last year's NL wild card contest, tells Stark that the game doesn't have a playoff atmosphere. "I just feel like, you play 162 games, you win 90-plus, and all of a sudden, it's one game and you're home?" McCann said. Stark's article also covers suggestions on how to address complaints with the one-game format. Here's more links from around the majors:
- For the Rangers, the season is increasingly looking like a troubling repeat of last year's collapse down the stretch. Looking ahead at possible free agent targets, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets that the team could pursue one of the top international free agents -- first baseman Jose Abreu and pitcher Masahiro Tanaka -- but not both. Brian McCann will be the team's primary target, however, Grant predicts in another tweet.
- The Angels' decision to give Friday's start to minor-leaguer Matt Shoemaker isn't an encouraging sign for Tommy Hanson or Joe Blanton, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes. Hanson was recalled from Triple-A on Monday, while Blanton has spent the last two months in the bullpen. Though manager Mike Scioscia indicated the club merely wanted to get a look at Shoemaker, DiGiovanna says there's a good chance that Blanton will be released before the 2014 season, while Hanson is a non-tender candidate.
- The Astros' Chris Carter is aware of his high strikeout total this season, which currently sits at 202 and is the highest in the majors, Gene Duffey writes in an article for MLB.com. "Everybody's talking about it, but I just try to have good at-bats," Carter said. "I want to be around .290. I want to be a complete hitter. I've got to get the strikeouts down and the average up." While Carter's batted just .221 this season, he leads the Astros with 67 walks.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn addressed his team's long-term plans in an interview with Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Two of the most significant items in the Sox's budget will be spending in the draft and international market, Hahn says. "Spending to our max in those two areas is important to the long-term sustaining of our success that we are trying to build to," the GM said. "Those will be kind of the first two items, and [they will be] significantly more than the past."
- Cubs righty Scott Baker says he'd like to return to the club next season, Manny Randhawa of MLB.com reports. "I think it's a wonderful place to play," Baker said. "I kind of feel like with these last few starts, there's less of a question mark about me next year than there was going into this year ... Hopefully, whether it's the Cubs or other teams, [they] feel the same way." Baker made just three starts for the Cubs in 2013 after spending most of the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Angels haven't lost more than two consecutive games since being swept by the Indians on Aug. 19-21. Since that time, the Halos are 18-6, boosting their overall record to 73-77. While that's hardly an impressive overall number, it likely bodes well for both GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia to finish on a high note. Both have seen their job security come into question over the past several months. Here's more on that pair and the rest of the Angels...
- Scioscia is expressing confidence to friends that he will return as the Halos' manager in 2014, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports within his latest column. Previous reports have indicated that either Scioscia or Dipoto will be replaced, and Rosenthal points out that firing Dipoto would be a trickier move from an organizational standpoint. Dipoto has made several hires in scouting and player development that would likely be replaced, and the same goes for assistant GM Scott Servais.
- Tommy Hanson could very well be non-tendered, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, but Hanson told Gonzalez that he's not thinking about the possibility of a non-tender this offseason. His focus is on putting together a strong finish to a disappointing year. Scioscia said he wouldn't guarantee Hanson, who re-joined the club yesterday, another start this season and wondered what happened to the Hanson who showed up in his first start off the disabled list: "The one game he came back off the DL, his stuff was eye-opening, and he hasn't repeated that." Hanson allowed one run on four hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings that day.
- More from Gonzalez, who wonders about the trade value of J.B. Shuck and Kole Calhoun as opposed to Peter Bourjos after another injury-shortened season, noting that he feels the Angels would sell high on Calhoun and Shuck (Twitter link). Calhoun would have considerably more vaule in a trade than Shuck, in my opinion.