Tony Sipp Rumors

Cafardo On Price, Cardinals, Hamels, Benoit

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Red Sox will succumb to fan pressure and re-sign Jon Lester.   Lester turned down a four-year, $70MM offer from the Red Sox in spring training and other clubs will almost certainly offer six- or seven-year deals if he reaches the open market.  Boston, of course, doesn’t want to go that far.  “If that’s your philosophy you can’t make exceptions or it will be viewed as a joke,” said one American League general manager. “If you vary from it, that sends a weak message to the baseball community, agents etc., when it comes with dealing with other players. I think the players themselves need to know where you stand as an organization, and if you keep deviating that sends the wrong message.”  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Mariners don’t mind dealing for Rays ace David Price without an agreement in place for a long-term deal, but that’s not the case for everyone. The Cardinals are interested in Price but would want a financial commitment, a major league source tells Cafardo.   Cafardo cautions not to rule out the Giants, who also have had interest in Ben Zobrist.
  • The Phillies have been discouraged by what they’re hearing from other teams on Cole Hamels.  The Phillies consider him their biggest trade chip, but will hold on to him if they don’t get what they consider a fair deal. The Red Sox sent their top pitching scout to watch the hurler before the break and the Phillies have scouted Boston’s major and minor league teams all season. One major league source said if the Phillies get a taker on the full contract and they get three top prospects, he’s gone, and Hamels, according to another major league source, wouldn’t mind.
  • Joaquin Benoit is one of the most sought after relievers on the market but a Padres official tells Cafardo that they won’t just give him away.
  • Chad Qualls has resurrected his career with the Astros and teams are calling on him, according to a major league source.  Houston left-hander Tony Sipp has also drawn interest.
  • A.J. Pierzynski, who cleared waivers Friday, has told agent Steve Hilliard that he would like to continue playing.

Astros Notes: Luhnow, Fowler, Castro, Rule 5

This trade deadline could be a quiet but a fascinating one for the Astros, as the team may still willing to move veteran players but not only for prospects, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  “We’re going to do anything that presents itself that will improve our club,” GM Jeff Luhnow said. “We’re not going to focus only on the next two months. We’re also not going to focus only on 2017 and beyond. We’re going to focus on any moves that we think can help in both the short term and the long term. That may be nothing; it may be several things.”

Here’s some more from Drellich’s broad overview of what the Astros could explore over the next two months…

  • Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro would’ve likely been trade candidates in past years given the Astros’ veteran-dealing strategy since Luhnow took over.  Now, however,  the GM says he wants both players to be Astros “for a while.  And they’re still under team control, and there are opportunities to keep them beyond team control.”
  • Fowler told Drellich that he hadn’t had any extension talks to keep him in Houston beyond the end of the 2015 season, when his current contract expires.
  • Castro’s trade value has dropped thanks to a poor season, though Houston is known to have explored dealing the catcher thanks to the team’s recently-leaked trade notes.  Castro is under team control through 2016 and the Astros have catching prospect Max Stassi at Triple-A.
  • Drellich thinks every member of the bullpen “feels moveable.”  Once some injured relievers return, Luhnow said “we would probably have surplus in the bullpen, and bullpen is one of those areas that clubs that feel like they’re in contention for a division or wild card oftentimes need some depth.  Something could happen there, but there’s nothing right now that seems obvious.”
  • Tony Sipp and Chad Qualls both figure to draw interest from other teams, though Drellich isn’t sure the Astros would trade Chad Qualls so soon after he signed a two-year deal with the club last winter.  Dealing a player relatively soon after a multiyear commitment could harm the team’s standing with future free agents.
  • On the minor league front, Houston has so many quality prospects that they can’t protect them all via the Rule 5 draft.  Some prospects may have to be traded if the organization doesn’t truly see them as long-term pieces.

Stark On Yankees, Brown, Astros, Papelbon, Dodgers

ESPN’s Jayson Stark hosted a chat with readers today and touched on a number of hot stove topics with the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline roughly a month away. Here are some highlights, though the entire thing is worth a read-through for those interested in next month’s deadline…

  • Stark has received no indications that the Yankees are shopping for a third baseman. He hears that they’re prioritizing the rotation over everything else at this time.
  • Domonic Brown‘s trade value is dropping by the day, says Stark. Scouts have been watching Brown (and the Phillies in general) over the past couple of weeks, and Philadelphia is trying to bill Brown as “a guy who did it once before so he can do it again.” However, Stark has a hard time seeing Brown fetching anything more than another change-of-scenery candidate.
  • Jeff Luhnow and the Astros view most relievers as interchangeable parts, making it likely that they’ll be very willing to move names like Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp next month.
  • Right-hander Ken Giles has impressed so much that Stark expects the Phillies to ratchet up their efforts to trade Jonathan Papelbon, and with Papelbon pitching better than he has in years, this is the perfect time to do it, he opines. Giles has thrown just seven innings for the Phils, but he’s averaged 97.1 mph on his heater with a 12-to-3 K/BB ratio and a ground-ball rate north of 55 percent.
  • The Dodgers have been telling teams that they won’t move Joc Pederson or Corey Seager this summer, according to Stark. If that’s indeed the case, that should take them out of the running for David Price (in my opinion).
  • Stark doesn’t get the sense that the Tigers are shopping for a closer, which meshes with yesterday’s comments from GM Dave Dombrowski. Detroit doesn’t think Joe Nathan is finished yet.


AL West Links: Rangers, Tepesch, Blanks, Sipp, McHugh

The surprising outbreak of injuries to Rangers pitchers has forced GM Jon Daniels to turn his attention from an underperforming offense to the gaping holes in the rotation, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Texas will rely on Colby Lewis, Nick Tepesch, Robbie Ross and Nick Martinez to fill in behind ace Yu Darvish for the time being, with Scott Baker representing an alternative as Joe Saunders and Derek Holland mend. Daniels’ preference is to remain in-house, writes Sullivan, who also briefly notes that the Rangers have scouted Kendrys Morales to help the offense, but don’t want to meet his asking price.

Here are some more links pertaining to the Rangers’ pitching woes and the rest of the AL West…

  • Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron compares injured Rangers lefty Martin Perez to his likely replacement — Nick Tepesch. Cameron points out that despite Perez’s prospect status and the perception that Tepesch doesn’t have as much ceiling, the two have had remarkably similar results in their short careers. Tepesch’s ERA looks worse due to a high BABIP with runner in scoring position, but aside from that, they compare favorably. While Tepesch’s numbers have come in a smaller sample, his recent work at Triple-A and his MLB track record cause the ZiPS and Steamer projection systems to project that he’ll be as good or better than Perez over the rest of the season.
  • Joe Stiglich of CSN Bay Area was among the reporters to speak with Athletics GM Billy Beane about his acquisition of Kyle Blanks. The A’s were looking for a right-handed bat that could capably play both first base and the outfield, and Beane feels that Blanks fits that bill “exactly,” adding that “there aren’t many out there.” As Stiglich notes, Tommy John surgery and shoulder surgery have slowed what once looked to be a promising career for Blanks. Said Beane: He was a pretty highly thought of prospect coming through the minors. It looked like he was going to be that guy in the majors until injuries derailed him.”
  • The Astros have gotten big contributions from lefty Tony Sipp and right-hander Collin McHugh in the season’s early stages, but Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that the team’s first attempts to acquire each player failed. The Astros pursued Sipp this offseason and made an offer before he elected to sign with the Padres, and GM Jeff Luhnow told Drellich he tried to acquire McHugh from the Mets and Rockies in trades last season.
  • Within that same piece, Luhnow discussed the early success of left-hander Dallas Keuchel, which has come as no surprise to him. Each member of the Astros front office made a “pick to click” during Spring Training this year, writes Drellich, and Luhnow’s was Keuchel, and the GM certainly makes it sound like Keuchel is viewed as a long-term rotation piece. He’s never been handed a job … I think after this year he will put himself in a position where that’s no longer a question.”

Astros Sign Tony Sipp

1:09pm: The Astros have officially announced the signing, adding that right-hander Jesse Crain has been transferred to the 60-day DL in order to create room on the 40-man roster, and right-hander Paul Clemens has been optioned to Triple-A to create room on the 25-man roster.

FRIDAY, 7:29am: Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports that Sipp’s deal will pay him “roughly” $700K if he hits all of the incentives (Twitter link).

THURSDAY: Left-hander Tony Sipp has asked for and been granted his release by the Padres so that he can sign a Major League contract with the Astros, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (on Twitter). Sipp, 30, is a client of the Bledsoe Brothers Athlete Agency.

Though Sipp’s ERA with San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate was a somewhat pedestrian 4.30, he posted an outstanding 21-to-2 K/BB ratio in his 14 2/3 innings of work at El Paso this season. He inked a minor league deal with the Friars this offseason and elected not to opt out of his deal when his first opt-out date (March 26) came up.

Sipp has significant Major League experience under his belt, as he’s pitched at least 37 2/3 innings in the big leagues in each of the past five seasons. In that time, he’s compiled a 3.84 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 4.6 BB/9 and a 29.9 percent ground-ball rate. Over the course of his five Major League seasons, Sipp has held opposing left-handed hitters to a .224 average and .306 OBP, but he’s been homer-prone against same-handed hitters, yielding a .426 slugging percentage and allowing a homer every 22.3 plate appearances.

Houston’s bullpen has struggled this season, posting the worst ERA (5.86) and FIP (5.11) in all of Major League Baseball. In particular, left-handed relievers Raul Valdes and Kevin Chapman have struggled, allowing eight earned runs and issuing 10 walks in just seven innings of work.


NL West Notes: Kershaw, Figgins, Sipp, Sandoval

Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from the Dodgers' North American opener against the Padres on Sunday, the club announced.  The left-hander is suffering from inflammation of the teres major muscle in his upper back and the Dodgers are understandably being very cautious with their ace, though Kershaw still intends to start the Dodgers' home opener against the Giants on April 4.  Kershaw also told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that he didn't believe his injury was caused either by his 102-pitch outing in the Dodgers' opener against the Diamondbacks or the long flights back and forth from Australia.

Here's some more from around the NL West…

  • Chone Figgins is thankful to be back on a Major League roster after his struggles of the last few seasons, which included missing the entire 2013 campaign, the utilityman tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.  Figgins signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in January and while he hasn't hit much in Spring Training, his on-base ability and positional versatility were enough for him to win a bench job.
  • Tony Sipp won't opt out of his contract with the Padres, MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo reports (via Twitter).  Sipp was told earlier in the week that he wouldn't make San Diego's Opening Day roster and he could've opted out of his minor league deal today, but will instead report to Triple-A.  The southpaw faces another opt-out date on June 1.
  • At least two years and $50MM separate Pablo Sandoval and the Giants in extension talks, and the large gap is indicative of how wary the Giants are about committing a long-term deal to Sandoval, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  Notable players like Curt Schilling, Carlos Lee and Delmon Young have signed contracts with weight clauses in the past, but the MLBPA "frowns on them, especially for marquee free agents."  Shea lists the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox as teams who could be looking for a third base upgrade next winter when Sandoval is a free agent, and Shea thinks Sandoval could find his price on the open market.

Padres To Sign Tony Sipp

9:41am: Sipp's deal includes opt-out dates of March 26 and June 1, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets.

8:31am: The Padres have agreed to terms with lefty reliever Tony Sipp on a minor-league deal. Sipp, 30, posted a 4.78 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2013. The Diamondbacks designated him for assignment in November. He had pitched the previous four seasons for the Indians before heading to Arizona in the three-team Shin-Soo Choo deal.

In addition to Sipp, the Padres have recently added Alex Torres (via a trade with the Rays) and Patrick Schuster (via the Rule 5 Draft) as potential lefty bullpen options. GM Josh Byrnes said in November that the Padres would attempt to add lefty relievers this offseason.


Padres Nearing Minor League Deal With Tony Sipp

The Padres are closing on a minor league deal with southpaw reliever Tony Sipp, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock (on Twitter). Yesterday, it was reported that Sipp, a Bledsoe Brothers client, was nearing a deal with an unknown club.

The 30-year-old Sipp has a career 3.84 ERA with 9.3 K/9, 4.6 BB/9 and a 29.9 percent ground-ball rate. After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Indians, Sipp was included in the three-team deal that sent Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds, Trevor Bauer and Drew Stubbs to the Indians and Didi Gregorius to the D-Backs.

In his lone season with the Snakes, he struggled to a career-worst 4.78 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. Sipp averaged more than five walks per nine innings last season and posted a minuscule 26 percent ground-ball rate, but he also whiffed 10 hitters per nine innings. Should Sipp make the team, his fly-ball tendencies would play significantly better in San Diego's Petco Park than they did in Arizona's Chase Field.

Padres GM Josh Byrnes said left-handed relief was a priority back at the GM Meetings in November, and he's since added Alex Torres in a trade with the Rays and Patrick Schuster via the Rule 5 Draft (acquiring him in a trade from the Astros). Sipp would further add to that depth.


Relief Notes: Perez, Sipp, Mets, Tigers

In the midst of a lack of rumors surrounding lefty Oliver Perez, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello outlines the 32-year-old as a potential bargain. While Perez's career once looked to be over, he's reinvented himself as a bullpen arm. Petriello points out that Perez's contact rate over the last two seasons is within one percent of Max Scherzer and Glen Perkins. Perez's swinging-strike rate is better than that of Clayton Kershaw or Michael Wacha and on par with Joe Nathan, and he pounds the strike zone at nearly the same rate as Hisashi Iwakuma. Petriello is quick to point out that these positive indicators don't guarantee success from Perez, but with Boone Logan and J.P. Howell signing lucrative multiyear deals, Perez could be a value add late in the offseason. Other relief market notes…

  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports (via Twitter) that left-hander Tony Sipp is moving closer to a deal with an unidentified team. The 30-year-old Sipp posted a 4.78 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2013 but elected free agency after Arizona designated him for assignment earlier in the offseason.
  • The Mets are still looking to add a reliever, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. New York is likely looking at someone on a low-base salary deal, but with multiple irons still in the fire, nothing is expected in the next couple of days.
  • George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press writes that if former top prospect Casey Crosby again makes it to the Majors with the Tigers, it will most likely be as a reliever and not a starter. "I think he’ll adapt to pitching out of the bullpen," Pithching coach Jeff Jones told Sipple. "I think he’ll do fine with that. A lot of times, you take guys who started all their lives and you put them in the bullpen and they just flourish."

Diamondbacks Designate Tony Sipp For Assignment

TODAY: Sipp has elected free agency, according to MLB.com's transactions page. Presumably, that means he cleared waivers and refused an outright assignment.

NOVEMBER 20th: The Diamondbacks announced that they have designated Tony Sipp for assignment.  The move will allow Arizona to select the contracts of outfielder Ender Inciarte and right-handed pitcher Bo Schultz from Triple-A Reno.

Sipp, 30, pitched to a 4.78 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 56 relief outings last season.  Across five big league seasons, four of which were spent in Cleveland, Sipp posted a 3.84 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9.  This marks the second time that Sipp has been designated for assignment by Arizona this year.  He was DFA'd by the D'Backs and subsequently optioned to Triple-A in August.