Tony Sipp Rumors

Arbitration Roundup: 54 Players Exchange Figures

With today’s flurry of activities in the books, 144 players have agreed to deals to avoid arbitration for a total spend of $433MM. But that leaves 54 players who have exchanged figures and have ground left to cover before their 2015 salaries are settled. That number is up from last year’s tally of 39, and may point to the possibility that we will see more hearings than the three in 2014 (which was itself up from zero the year before).

MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker is a great resource for seeing where things stand. It is fully sortable and even allows you to link to the results of a search. (The MLBTR/Matt Swartz arbitration projections are also quite handy, of course.) Using the tracker, I compiled some broad notes on where things stand in the arbitration process this year.

Remember, deals avoiding arbitration can still be reached even after the exchange of numbers. Hearings will be scheduled between February 1st and 21st, so there is plenty of time for the sides to come together before making their cases.

That being said, some teams are known for their “file and trial” approach to arb-eligible players, meaning that they refuse to negotiate after the exchange deadline and go to a hearing if agreement has not been reached. Among those clubs (the Brewers, Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays, Braves, Reds, and White Sox, per the most recent reporting), there are several open cases remaining: Mat Latos and Michael Dunn (Marlins), Josh Donaldson and Danny Valencia (Blue Jays), Mike Minor (Braves), and Aroldis Chapman, Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier (Reds).

Meanwhile, some other clubs have historically employed the “file and trial” approach on a modified or case-by-case basis: the Pirates, Nationals, and Indians. Among those clubs, the Pirates (Neil Walker, Vance Worley) and Nationals (Jerry Blevins) have open cases, though all of them feature relatively tight spreads.

And there are some other interesting cases to keep an eye on as well. Consider:

  • The Orioles and Royals not only faced off in last year’s American League Championship Series, but find themselves staring at by far the most unresolved cases (six and eight, respectively). They are also the only teams with eight-figure gaps between their submissions and those of their players ($10.85MM and $10MM, respectively).
  • Among the Orioles players, two stand out for the significant relative gulf separating team and player. Zach Britton, who excelled after taking over as the closer last year, filed at $4.2MM while the team countered at $2.2MM, leaving a $2MM gap that is worth nearly 91% of the club’s offer. Even more remarkably, the O’s will need to bridge a $3.4MM gap ($5.4MM versus $2MM) with surprise star Steve Pearce. That spread is 1.7 times the value of the team’s offer and easily beats the largest difference last year (Logan Morrison and the Mariners, 127.3%).
  • Of course, it is worth remembering that first-year arb salaries have added impact because they set a baseline for future earnings. (Each successive year’s salary is essentially calculated as an earned raise from that starting point.) For the Reds, the outcome of their cases with Frazier ($5.7MM vs. $3.9MM) and Mesoraco ($3.6MM vs. $2.45MM) could have huge ramifications for whether the team will be able to afford to keep (and possibly extend) that pair of strong performers.
  • Likewise, the Angels face an important showdown with Garrett Richards, a Super Two whose starting point will factor into three more seasons of payouts. As a high-upside starter, he has sky high earning potential, so any savings will be most welcome to the team. The current spread is $3.8MM versus $2.4MM, a $1.4MM difference that equates to 58.3% of the team’s filing price.
  • Interestingly, the biggest gap in absolute terms belong to Pearce and the Orioles at $3.4MM. After that come Bud Norris and the Orioles ($2.75MM), David Freese and the Angels ($2.35MM), Greg Holland and the Royals ($2.35MM), Dexter Fowler and the Astros ($2.3MM), Eric Hosmer and the Royals ($2.1MM), and Aroldis Chapman and the Reds ($2.05MM).

Of course, plenty of deals already got done today. Here are some of the more notable among them:

  • David Price agreed to a $19.75MM salary with the Tigers that stands as the single highest arbitration payday ever, by a fair margin.
  • Interestingly, the Rays agreed to rather similar, sub-projection deals with all seven of their arb-eligible players. Discounts on Swartz’s expectations ranged from 3.23% to 13.21%. In total, the club shaved $1.525MM off of its tab.
  • The opposite was true of the Tigers, who spent a total of $1.4MM over the projections on just three players. Of course, since one of those players was Price, the commitment landed just 5.2% over the projected total.
  • Detroit’s overages pale in comparison to those of the Cubs, who handed out several of the deals that beat the projections by the widest relative margin and ended up over $2.5MM (14.5%) over their projected spend.
  • The MLBTR/Swartz model badly whiffed (over 50% off) on just three players, all of whom earned well over the projections: Chris Coghlan of the Cubs (78.9%), Carlos Carrasco of the Indians (66.9%) Tony Sipp of the Astros (60%).
  • On the low side, the worst miss (or the biggest discount, depending on one’s perspective) was Mark Melancon of the Pirates, who fell $2.2MM and 28.9% shy of his projected earnings. Danny Espinosa (Nationals) and Chris Tillman (Orioles) were the only two other players to fall 20% or more below their projections. Of course, in the cases of both Melancon and Tillman, Swartz accurately predicted that they would fall short of the model.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
  • The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
  • Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
  • Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
  • The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
  • Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
  • Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
  • Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
  • Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
  • Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
  • Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.

(more…)


Nationals Notes: Astros, Hill, Prado, Iglesias

It’s difficult to tell whether the Nationals could be very busy or stand pat before the trade deadine, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes.  It seems like the Nats are at least exploring a number of options, as Kilgore reports…

  • The Nationals have asked the Astros about available relievers, and Houston had scouts watching the Nats’ Triple-A and Class A affiliates over the weekend.  Left-hander Tony Sipp best fits the Nationals’ needs, Kilgore surmises, since Washington is thin on southpaw relief options.
  • The Nationals haven’t talked to the Diamondbacks about Aaron Hill or Martin Prado.  Either player could fill the hole at second base created by Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury (Anthony Rendon moved to third), or Prado could simply play third and Rendon could return to second.  Kilgore isn’t sure the Nats want to pay Hill the $26MM he’s owed through 2016, however, though Hill loved playing for manager Matt Williams when Williams was a D’Backs coach.  Arizona is reportedly shopping Hill but “barely listening” to inquiries about Prado.
  • With Jose Iglesias possibly on the trade block in Detroit, Kilgore thinks the Nats could be interested given the team’s desire to add a young shortstop as depth if Ian Desmond can’t be extended.  The Tigers had a scout watching the Nationals’ Class A team recently, Kilgore notes, though that isn’t necessarily related to Iglesias.
  • Speaking of scouting assignments, the Rangers had an evaluator watching a recent game between the Nationals’ and Braves’ Triple-A teams.  The two NL East rivals are both known to be looking for relief pitching.
  • Washington had scouts watching two recent Red Sox series, and Kilgore figures that they were checking out relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller.  Earlier today, Peter Gammons reported that the Nats were interested in Miller.


West Notes: Aiken, Qualls, Sipp, Kemp, Padres, D’backs

Nick J. Faleris of Baseball Prospectus provides a thorough account of the Brady Aiken failed signing from both his perspective and that of the Astros. Anyone with interest will want to give it a full read; I’m still working through the lengthy (but entirely worthwhile) piece myself.

Here’s the latest from the game’s western divisions:

  • The Astros are unlikely to deal away any of the club’s young starting pitching but are definitely listening on relievers Chad Qualls and Tony Sipp, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. In particular, the Tigers have asked about Qualls, who has served as the Houston closer of late, according to Heyman. Meanwhile, there has not been much discussion of other Astros veterans such as Scott Feldman, Dexter Fowler, and Jason Castro.
  • Though some around the league believe the Dodgers are highly motivated to deal former star Matt Kemp, the Red Sox were not left with that impression after making an inquiry, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. At least three other American League teams have also asked about Kemp’s availability, including the IndiansMariners, and Rangers, but Rosenthal says that none have made trade proposals. Cleveland and Texas both appear unlikely partners, while Seattle could have an outside chance of adding him. Though moving Kemp poses many difficult questions for the Dodgers, Rosenthal says that the veteran is “at odds” with manager Don Mattingly.
  • Taking a look at a Padres club that has already dealt away several veterans, Rosenthal writes that the team should also move outfielder Chris Denorfia. But key pitchers Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit are under control for 2015, and Rosenthal opines that the team’s new GM ought to make the call on them.
  • A new GM is, of course, at or near the Padres‘ priority list, and the club is indeed nearing a conclusion of its search. Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the club will finish up its second round of interviews on Thursday and hopes to have a new GM installed within two to three weeks.
  • The Diamondbacks have exhibited a startling tendency, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic: former pitchers have succeeded elsewhere while newly-acquired arms have struggled. Piecoro lists Brandon McCarthy, Kennedy, Tyler Skaggs, and Trevor Bauer as examples of the former phenomenon, with Trevor Cahill, Randall Delgado, and Addison Reed representing the latter. For his part, GM Kevin Towers says it is not a result of anything the organization is doing differently: “It’s not anything that we’re doing in the minor leagues or development or up here that prevents guys from having success,” he said. “Especially young guys, they usually get better with time and experience in the big leagues. The reason why guys get better [elsewhere] isn’t because we don’t have good instructors here. I believe in our staff and in our farm system and the people we have down there.”

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.