Tony Gwynn Jr. Rumors

Dodgers, Tony Gwynn Jr. Sign Two-Year Deal

The Dodgers announced that they signed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a two-year deal. Gwynn will earn $850K in 2012 and $1.15MM in 2013 for a total of $2MM, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (on Twitter).

Gwynn, 29, posted a .256/.308/.353 line in 340 plate appearances this past season, playing all three outfield positions. The non-tender candidate had been projected to earn $1.1MM through arbitration in 2012. Gwynn is a Legacy Sports client.


Ned Colletti Talks Offseason

Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times has a slew of information from Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti regarding the team's offseason plans. Colletti feels that his team's pitching and defense have been sufficient, but that the offense is lacking and needs to be bolstered:

"I say the most dramatic way we can improve the offense, that would be the way we would go," Colletti said.

Obviously, that could be an allusion to Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, but the Dodgers' uncertain ownership and financial situations make a signing of that magnitude a stretch. Dilbeck points out that Colletti has never signed a player to a $100MM+ deal, and that Kevin Brown is the only player in Dodgers' history to receive such a contract. At the same time, however, Dilbeck also notes that the Dodgers do have $25MM in contracts coming off the books, so a run at one of the Top 2 free agents isn't necessarily unfathomable.

In the likely event that neither player comes to the Dodgers, Colletti says that James Loney is someone they'd "love to have back." Loney's overall numbers don't appear all that productive, but he's batting .355/.435/.653 with seven homers in his last 37 games. A strong finish could persuade the Dodgers to bring him back, although doing so would require giving him a raise on this year's $4.875MM salary — a risk given Loney's mostly underwhelming numbers.

Colletti also mentions re-signing Hiroki Kuroda as a priority; even if they were to retain Kuroda though, they'd require a fifth starter. Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland can both be candidates, and of course the free agent market figures to offer plenty of low-budget reclamation projects that could be brought in to fill that role as well.

Beyond that, role players such as Tony Gwynn Jr., Casey Blake, Aaron Miles, and Juan Rivera may all return "in the right situation." For what it's worth, Gwynn told Dilbeck's colleague Jim Peltz that he hopes to return to the Dodgers next season.


Non-Tenders Contributing With New Teams

Every winter teams non-tender players when they would rather risk losing them to another team than go through the potentially expensive arbitration process. Most non-tenders don’t come back to haunt their former clubs, but they definitely have the potential to do so.

Teams non-tendered over 50 players last offseason and a handful of them have added value for new organizations. Here’s a breakdown of which 2010 non-tenders are contributing in 2011:

Outfielders

  • Tony Gwynn Jr., Dodgers (non-tendered by Padres) – Gwynn has a .255/.312/.333 line with 15 stolen bases in 252 plate appearances for the Dodgers and has played all three outfield positions.
  • Scott Hairston, Mets (non-tendered by Padres) – Hairston has a robust .264/.331/.527 line with seven homers in a part-time role for the Mets.

Infielders

  • Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays (technically non-tendered by Athletics) – Encarnacion has a .277/.326/.446 line this year, including an .894 OPS since June 1st.

Catchers

  • Ronny Paulino, Mets (non-tendered by Marlins) – Paulino has been a serviceable part-time backstop for the Mets, posting a .293/.328/.374 line in 187 trips to the plate.
  • Russell Martin, Yankees (non-tendered by Dodgers) – Martin has 12 homers and a .228/.324/.383 line in 349 plate appearances. He's tenth among all MLB catchers with 2.1 wins above replacement.

Right-Handed Relievers

  • Matt Albers, Red Sox (non-tendered by Orioles) – The right-hander has a 2.31 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 46 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Albers is easily having his best season yet and all he cost was $875K. He's under team control through 2013.
  • Todd Coffey, Nationals (non-tendered by Brewers) – The big righty has a 4.40 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 45 innings so far in 2011. The numbers are solid, but not so good that the Brewers have much to second-guess themselves on.
  • Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox (non-tendered by Yankees) – Aceves has a 3.18 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 76 1/3 innings as a swingman for the Red Sox this year. Considering the injuries the Boston pitching staff has sustained, you could argue that Aceves has been one of their best offseason additions.
  • Jose Veras, Pirates (non-tendered by Marlins) – Veras has a 3.19 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings this year and has been a key weapon in Clint Hurdle's bullpen.
  • Dustin Moseley, Padres (non-tendered by Yankees) – Moseley has a 3.30 ERA with 4.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 20 starts. Now on the DL, Moseley has completed a career-high 120 innings.
  • Taylor Buchholz, Mets (technically non-tendered by Red Sox) – When healthy, Buchholz has been effective, posting a 3.12 ERA with a 26K/7BB ratio in 26 innings. He has been on the disabled list since June.
  • Joel Peralta, Rays (non-tendered by Nationals) – The 35-year-old leads the American League in appearances (55) and has a 3.68 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 after 51 1/3 innings in Tampa Bay.

Left-Handed Relievers

  • George Sherrill, Braves (non-tendered by Dodgers) – Sherrill has a 3.38 ERA with a 36K/11BB ratio in 32 innings for his new club. He has mostly faced left-handed hitters.


Dodgers Notes: Zach Lee, Mattingly, McCourt

Some news as the Dodgers start a weekend series in San Diego…

  • Zach Lee, the Dodgers' first-round pick in the 2010 amateur draft, made his pro debut tonight for the Class A Great Lakes Loons of the Midwest League, reports Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times.  Lee allowed two hits and three walks in four scoreless innings for the Loons, striking out five.  Lee was recently ranked as the 89th-best prospect in the game by Baseball America.
  • From that same item, Dilbeck reports that the Dodgers have brought back Preston Mattingly, son of manager Don Mattingly.  The younger Mattingly was drafted 31st overall by L.A. in the 2006 amateur draft, traded to the Indians in September and released by the Tribe last week.
  • Major League Baseball has not yet reached a decision about Frank McCourt's proposed new TV deal with Fox, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  SI's Jon Heyman reported earlier that MLB wasn't going to approve a $200MM loan from the network to McCourt, but that was in reference to a seperate proposal that Bud Selig rejected last month.
  • Tony Gwynn Jr. talks to ESPNLosAngeles.com's Tony Jackson about how he's enjoying playing for the Dodgers and how disappointed he was to be non-tendered by San Diego over the winter.
  • Matt Kemp is off to a strong start, and ESPNLosAngeles.com's Ramona Shelburne looks at some of the little things the center fielder is doing to rebound from a disappointing 2010 season.

Quick Hits: Weeks, Dodgers, Cuddyer, Mets

On this day 20 years ago, the Atlanta Braves signed Falcons cornerback Deion Sanders as a free agent. Though he struggled in his first year as a Brave, 'Prime Time' was a key contributor for the National League champs in 1992; he hit .304/.346/.495 with 26 stolen bases in 325 regular season plate appearances and added eight hits and five steals in four World Series games. Sanders ended up leaving both Atlanta franchises in 1994, but not before he racked up 75 stolen bases and ten touchdowns for the Braves and Falcons respectively. Here are Sunday's links:


Dodgers Sign Tony Gwynn Jr.

The Dodgers signed Tony Gwynn Jr. to a one-year major league deal, according to Tom Krasovic of AOLFanHouse (on Twitter). The contract will pay Gwynn $675K, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (Twitter link). The Padres non-tendered the 28-year-old last week, making him a free agent. Gwynn batted just .204/.304/.287 in 339 plate appearances last year, but he can play strong defense.

He'll likely back up Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in center and right, respectively. The Dodgers could still explore a deal for a right-handed hitting complement to left fielder Jay Gibbons.

The Dodgers can retain Gwynn for a few years if they want, since he won't have enough service time to hit free agency until after the 2013 season. Legacy Sports represents the outfielder.


National League Non-Tenders

This post will list all the National League players non-tendered today, but the best place to track all 200+ arbitration eligible players is our new non-tender tracker.


Padres Notes: Denorfia, Gwynn, Hairston

The Padres have agreed to terms with Chris Denorfia on a one-year deal worth $800K, but two of San Diego's other outfielders may find themselves on the open market before long. MLB.com's Corey Brock hears that the Padres will non-tender Tony Gwynn Jr. and Scott Hairston (Twitter links).

Both Gwynn and Hairston showed up on Tim Dierkes' revised list of non-tender candidates after they were identified as such earlier in the year. Check out our new non-tender tracker here.


Matching The Team To The Stadium

Fenway Park has the Green Monster, Coors Field has the humidor, and Minute Maid Park has the Crawford Boxes. Lots of stadiums have quirks or tendencies that favor certain kinds of players and big league executives are well aware of it. MLB GMs say they prefer to have players whose skill sets match their parks, but that's just one consideration when constructing a roster.

The Tigers, for example, play 81 games per season in spacious Comerica Park, so GM Dave Dombrowski says he looks for outfielders who can cover lots of ground whenever possible.

"Fortunately we have an outstanding defensive center fielder now in Austin Jackson," Dombrowski told MLBTR last week in Orlando. "But you know you have to have an outstanding center fielder in Comerica Park who can really go get the ball or it’ll hurt you a great deal."

Jackson, Brennan Boesch and Ryan Raburn will be in the Tigers organization in 2011, but longtime right fielder Magglio Ordonez is a free agent, so the Tigers may look to acquire a corner outfielder via trade or free agency. If they do, Comerica Park will be a factor.

"Even your corner outfielders, it’s hard to get just a guy who is a stationary type guy because our outfield’s big, so we take it into consideration quite a bit,” Dombrowski said.

Like Comerica Park, San Diego's Petco Park has a larger than average outfield. And Padres GM Jed Hoyer acquired former Tigers prospect Cameron Maybin partly because his athleticism should make the club better defensively.

"Having a big station to station team that plays poor defense doesn’t seem like a recipe for success given the ballparks we play in,” Hoyer said.

No team adds or subtracts players purely because of their ballpark and the Padres are no exception. But because of the unbalanced schedule, Hoyer is intent on fielding a team that can cover lots of ground at Petco.

"We play 81 games there, we play nine in AT&T Park, we play nine in Dodger Stadium, the outfield in Coors Field is huge so you start adding it up and the number of games we play in big fields is a lot and we need to be fast," Hoyer said.

Similarly, some teams in homer-friendly ballparks are inclined to acquire pitchers who keep the ball on the ground. Camden Yards has been one of baseball's five friendliest home run environments for four years running, according to ESPN's park factors, and the Orioles front office knows how their home stadium plays. As president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail points out, you can't hit a ground ball out of the park.

"We do pay attention to [ground ball rate], we definitely factor it in," MacPhail said. "All things being equal it’s a positive, but it’s not a sole driver in terms of what we do."

If the O's really did make decisions completely based on ground ball rate, they would not have signed Koji Uehara, who was effective in 2010 despite allowing 2.5 times as many fly balls as ground balls. Instead, park factors are one element of the team's decision-making process.

"If we think we can find the right guy even if he doesn’t have that [ground ball] number that would be ideal, we’ll [consider him],” MacPhail said.


Hoyer Talks San Diego Outfielders, Relievers

Last year this time, Jed Hoyer was two weeks into his tenure as Padres GM. Now, he's attending the Orlando GM Meetings with a better sense of his club and a surplus of outfielders. He told MLBTR that he likes having outfield depth, but Cameron Maybin, Ryan Ludwick, Kyle Blanks, Will Venable, Scott Hairston, Chris Denorfia, Aaron Cunningham and Tony Gwynn won't all end up on next season's Opening Day roster and Hoyer did acknowledge that a trade is possible.

"Whenever you have surplus, if a team asks about a guy, you're always going to be willing to listen," Hoyer said.

The Padres like Venable in right and Maybin in center. Tony Gwynn's 2011 role has been unclear since the Marlins sent Maybin to San Diego. He is a non-tender candidate (like LudwickHairston and Denorfia) but Hoyer says Gwynn could be covering even more ground than usual at Petco Park next year.

"He's a guy we can use in all three outfield spots and going forward that's probably how we think of him," Hoyer said.

The Maybin trade left the Padres short on relievers, but don't expect immediate additions to the San Diego 'pen. The Padres are likely to replace the recently-traded Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica with other relievers later in the winter. As expected, Hoyer says the Padres will do a lot of their "damage" late in the offseason.