Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
- The Mets offered Drew a salary in the neighborhood of $9.5MM, the same amount Drew made last year, but Drew rejected it. The Mets remain the team with the most need for Drew's talents.
- The Red Sox have not made a new offer to Drew since Ryan Dempster decided to take 2014 off and forfeit his $13.25MM salary for the year.
- The Pirates have "spoken about Drew," but are currently more concerned with finding an upgrade at first base. They currently have youngster Jordy Mercer penciled in at shortstop, and would have to sacrifice the No. 24 overall pick in the draft to sign Drew.
- The Blue Jays could look to Drew for help at second base.
- Heyman also notes that the qualifying offer, which has dramatically reduced the market for Drew, Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz and other free agents, also has mostly helped big-payroll teams, as the Yankees and Red Sox have extended nearly half of all qualifying offers.
The 25-year-old Hendriks has been unable to put it together in three Major League stints, as evidenced by his bloated 6.06 ERA in 156 innings. He's averaged 5.8 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in those 156 frames to go along with a below-average 40.4 percent ground-ball rate.
However, the Australian hurler was once a well-regarded prospect in the Twins system, ranking sixth and seventh on the Baseball America's Top 10 Twins prospects lists from 2010-11. Hendriks has a 3.61 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 254 career innings at Triple-A and a career 2.99 ERA in the minors as a whole. He's been claimed off waivers by the Cubs and Orioles already this offseason, making the Blue Jays his fourth organization since being designated for assignment by Minnesota.
As for Morel, he too is a former AL Central top prospect. Morel cracked Baseball America's Top 100 list as a White Sox farmhand prior to the 2011 season but has slashed just .229/.276/.333 batting line in 669 Major League plate appearances. A bulging disk in his back has played a large part in the offense decline for the 26-year-old, who in 2010 batted .322/.359/.480 across two minor league levels. He's drawn praise for his glove at third base, though Toronto was reportedly going to use him at second base.
An opt-out clause is the ultimate safety net for an MLB player. Typically employed with deals of least five guaranteed years, an opt-out clause is inserted in the middle of the term and allows the player to abandon the rest of his contract and become a free agent.
Alex Rodriguez started the opt-out trend with his monster free agent deal with the Rangers in December 2000, and in total, ten players have received opt-out clauses. Six of those clauses have come due, and only one of those players, Vernon Wells, didn't secure additional money at the time. C.C. Sabathia leveraged his ability to opt out to add one year and $30MM to an already record-setting deal. The others -- A-Rod, J.D. Drew, A.J. Burnett, and Rafael Soriano -- got to take another lucrative bite at the apple of free agency.
A Deal-Making Idea
On the night before the 2005 Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, agent Darek Braunecker had a client in A.J. Burnett who he felt was on an island in terms of being the best pitcher available. It was at that point Braunecker conceived of the idea of asking for an opt-out clause in Burnett's deal. "I wanted to create something that might add additional value to the deal as opposed to just the monetary component of it," explained Braunecker in a January conversation.
Burnett's five-year, $55MM deal with the Blue Jays came together quickly once the team agreed to include an opt-out clause after the third year. "Quite honestly, it was a deal-maker for us," said Braunecker. "I presented the idea to [Blue Jays GM] J.P. [Ricciardi] and told him that we had another club that had already agreed to that provision, and that if he was willing to do it that he would have a deal. So, really, no pushback to speak of. He obviously had to get approval from [club president] Paul Godfrey, and Paul gave his blessing on it almost immediately and that's essentially what concluded those negotiations." Braunecker added, "It really wasn't much of a challenge, to be honest with you."
Three years later, agent Greg Genske had the enjoyment of negotiating on behalf of the offseason's best available starting pitcher, C.C. Sabathia, and eventually landed a record-setting seven-year, $161MM deal with an opt-out clause after the third year. There seems to be some disagreement about who proposed the clause. Back in 2008, Matt Gagne of the New York Daily News quoted Yankees GM Brian Cashman saying, "I offered it. They never asked for it. They never said they were afraid of New York, I never heard that....Just in case it was an issue, I went to their house and I said, 'I think you're going to love it here. But let me just throw this out there.'" Genske disputed Cashman's account, telling me in January this year, "That's not true at all. That was a negotiated item that was difficult to get the Yankees to agree to. It was the last item agreed to."
The sheer rarity of opt-out clauses suggests they're not something teams are readily offering up. Only ten opt-out clauses have been given out in total, though two of them came in January this year for Excel Sports Management clients Clayton Kershaw and Masahiro Tanaka. According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, 52 MLB contracts have been worth $100MM or more. Only seven of those included opt-out clauses. Asked if he's surprised we've seen so many top of the market deals without opt-out clauses, Genske replied, "I don't think I'm surprised. It certainly is a big deal for a club. If a club's going to commit themselves to those kinds of dollars, then they don't get the benefit of the upside fully if the player has the right to opt out. I certainly understand clubs' resistance to do it."
Agents Seek Another Bite At The Apple
For an agent, the motivation for an opt-out clause is obvious, and Genske says he'd ask for an opt-out for any top-tier free agent where he has the maximum amount of leverage. "It's pretty unique that a player is going to put in all of the effort and all of the work to get to free agency, and have that ultimate leverage, and I think the opt-out provision is simply a player maintaining that control over their career that they've earned," says Genske. Braunecker offered his thoughts, saying, "An opt-out adds almost unquantifiable value to a deal because the player gains a whole lot of leverage in the life of the deal as opposed to after the expiration of the deal."
Indeed, the player can't lose with an opt-out clause. The shot at free agency amounts to what one executive who worked on a deal with an opt-out described as "another bite at the apple, a chance to keep up with the market in case the market continues to run while he's performing over the course of time." Look at the results of those extra bites so far. Dodgers GM Paul DePodesta negotiated J.D. Drew's five-year, $55MM deal with agent Scott Boras in December 2004, and DePodesta's successor Ned Colletti seemed displeased and surprised when Drew opted out two years later. Drew abandoned his remaining three years and $33MM and landed a five-year, $70MM deal with the Red Sox.
Alex Rodriguez opted out of the largest deal in baseball history seven years in, only to top that with a $275MM contract with the Yankees. Boras' terrible choice to announce A-Rod's decision during the final game of the 2007 World Series aside, the player abandoning three years and $72MM came as no surprise by that point. Burnett's decision came due after the '08 campaign. As Braunecker notes, timing was everything, and Burnett's 231 strikeouts in 221 1/3 innings for the Jays in '08 compelled him to discard the remaining two years and $24MM on his contract. He ultimately landed a five-year, $82.5MM contract with the Yankees. Though C.C. Sabathia did not technically opt out of the four years and $92MM remaining on his deal after 2011, the leverage of the fast-approaching clause allowed Genske to add one year and $30MM to the deal.
Rafael Soriano's Yankees contract, signed in January 2011, was an odd situation. Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner and president Randy Levine did the deal with Boras, as GM Brian Cashman was opposed to the signing partially because signing the reliever required forfeiture of a draft pick. Boras used the situation to demand opt-out clauses for Soriano after the first and second seasons of a three-year, $35MM deal. Soriano chose not to opt out of two years and $25MM after a disappointing 2011 season. After an excellent 2012, however, he took a $1.5MM buyout over a remaining one year and $14MM, signing a two-year, $28MM deal with deferred money with the Nationals. Only Boras has achieved multiple opt-outs within one contract, with Elvis Andrus' 2013 eight-year, $120MM extension from last year allowing the shortstop to opt out after four or five years.
Genske client Vernon Wells had three years and $63MM remaining when his clause came up. After a disappointing 2011 campaign with the Angels, Wells made the obvious decision not to opt out. Most MLB contracts are guaranteed, so the opt-out clause didn't end up adding value for Wells.
The next opt-out due is Zack Greinke's after 2015, at which point he'll have $71MM remaining over three years. He'll get the chance for another bite of the apple at age 32. The remainder of Greinke's contract will equate to a $23.67MM average annual value. Regardless of whether he can top that healthy AAV, he could extend his security by seeking a four or five-year deal.
Besides another shot at free agency, you will hear mention of other motivations. Explained Genske, "Certainly with CC too, it was in part a comfort issue, being a California guy who envisioned going back to California who was going to go to New York, he wasn't sure how he'd like it. It turned out great, he likes it, but there was some uncertainty there which kind of necessitated the opt-out."
Braunecker expressed a similar geographic concern in Burnett's opt-out clause, but also questioned the direction of the Blue Jays. "I wasn't completely certain particularly with Toronto where that organization was headed, and so rather than him being there for five years I wanted to give him the opportunity to shorten the deal in the event that he got up there in the event he didn't like it, living in Canada as opposed to the U.S., and also just I wasn't 100% certain which direction they were headed with things."
Why Teams Agree To Opt-Out Clauses
"Let's face it: free agent players are not coming to Toronto. That's just the way it is," professed former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi. "Everything is great about Toronto, but it's still foreign to a lot of players. It's not so much the players, it's their families. When players are on the free agent market, the families have a big say in what happens, so a lot of them say they'd really rather not go to another country to play." Ricciardi said he found he needed to do three things to bring a top free agent to Toronto: "overpay, overcommit, and be creative." For A.J. Burnett, that meant a five-year deal when many suitors stopped at four, a strong salary of $11MM a year, and an opt-out clause.
Ricciardi expressed a sentiment we heard from multiple executives, explaining, "Maybe it's just simplistic on my part, but I don't mind the opt-out. It's not that big a deal for me in the sense that if it comes down to either having the player or not having the player, I'd rather have the player." Burnett ended up compiling a 3.94 ERA across 522 2/3 innings for the Blue Jays from 2006-08 before opting out. Ricciardi was pleased with the outcome, saying, "We got probably his three best combined years, so for us it was great." A team can potentially duck a player's decline phase, which is the baggage that comes with a typical long-term deal.
Look at the Yankees and Sabathia. In the first three years of his deal, he provided the team with a 3.18 ERA in 705 regular season innings, finishing no lower than fourth in the Cy Young voting from 2009-11. Had Sabathia signed elsewhere after 2011, the Yankees would have missed out on a strong 2012 campaign, but also would have avoided owing him a large amount of money for his age 32-35 seasons. Ricciardi summed it up best: "I guess the old adage that you'd rather trade a guy a year too early than a year too late, maybe that applies with the opt-out."
A Potential Trend
Is the opt-out clause a growing trend in baseball? From 2000-08, there were five opt-out clauses. There were none in 2009-10, and then five from 2011 to present. Of the last five, two were done by Boras and three by Excel Sports Management. Excel's deals were for starting pitchers Greinke, Kershaw, and Tanaka, with two of those hurlers landing with the Dodgers.
Opt-out clauses seem more likely for large market teams, with the Yankees, Dodgers, and Rangers accounting for eight of the ten. Ricciardi, who went against the grain by doing opt-out clauses with mid-level payrolls, feels large market teams don't have to be as desperate. "I think if you're the Yankees and the Red Sox, there's a little bit more finances behind you, and you probably don't have to be as risk-taking in the sense of being open-minded about having stuff like this." So far, the Yankees have given opt-out clauses to Sabathia, Soriano, and Tanaka, and also traded for A-Rod. The Red Sox have never given a player an opt-out clause, so there's more to it than market size. Sometimes the decision is philosophical. The Cubs, for example, refused to offer the clause to Tanaka out of concern that he could leave shortly after their window of contention opens, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Alex Rodriguez earned the first opt-out clause through a combination of nearly every factor that can drive a contract into uncharted waters. He was a superstar at a premium position, he was atypically young at 25, he was the best available free agent, and he had a precedent-setting agent in Boras. In 2008, a 28-year Sabathia brought many of the same factors together; he was "the top free agent on the market and had all the leverage in the world," according to Genske. Kershaw had A-Rod's youth and superstar talent, plus the precedent of teammate Greinke, creating enough leverage to get an opt-out a year prior to free agency. Other times, being the best available free agent is the key driver of the opt-out clause, which applied to Burnett, Greinke, Tanaka, and Soriano. Certainly youth played a role with Tanaka and Andrus.
These days, an opt-out clause is part of every agent's arsenal for premium clients who meet some of the above criteria, and that might not have been the case a decade ago. Still, asking is not the same as receiving, and huge contracts for Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, Joey Votto, Prince Fielder, and many others lack an opt-out clause. While it's difficult to picture a Mike Trout megadeal without an opt-out, the opportunity for a player to take another bite at the apple midway through a long-term contract is likely to remain a rarity in MLB.
ALSO FROM MLB TRADE RUMORS:
- Examining The Homer Bailey Extension
- Freddie Freeman And The Changing Extension Market
- Scouting Masahiro Tanaka
- Minor League Free Agents Finding Major League Deals
- Follow MLB Trade Rumors on Twitter
Photo courtesy of Greg M. Cooper of USA Today Sports Images.
THURSDAY, 8:58pm: Add the A's to the list of teams with interest in Diaz, per the latest from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Slusser writes that Oakland had interest in Diaz last year and has maintained that interest, with one official telling her, "We've gathered all the information we can."
The A's don't plan on holding a tryout for Diaz, as the Cardinals did.
Slusser points out that the need for Oakland may not be as strong as it is for other clubs due to the fact that top prospect Addison Russell is a shortstop by trade, and current big league shortstop Jed Lowrie is one of the team's better hitters. Of course, Lowrie is eligible for free agency at season's end.
1:32pm: The Blue Jays worked out Diaz last week, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, though he notes that there was no indication that the sides were approaching a deal.
Though they may appear at first glance to be a potential landing spot, the Mets are not in on Diaz, reports MLB.com's Anthony DiComo via Twitter.
12:32pm: Diaz and fellow Cuban Odrisamer Despaigne (a right-handed pitcher) continue to make their way around Florida for various showcases, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. (They had previously appeared in Arizona for teams that hold their springs there.) The pair is expected to appear in front of the Yankees today, says Sanchez.
8:57am: Other teams participating in talks with Diaz include the Giants, Blue Jays, Yankees, Braves, Phillies, and Mariners, Strauss reports in a follow-up piece.
Torres indicated that his client would focus his decision on maximizing dollars and opportunity. "We know he's going to be in the major leagues," said Torres. "It's only a matter of time. His preference is shortstop, but he's played second and third and I'm sure would be comfortable playing whatever position is necessary."
WEDNESDAY: After a private workout in front of top Cardinals brass today, Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz is expected to receive an offer from St. Louis within 24 hours, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Diaz, who is represented by Jaime Torres, has drawn wide interest around the league, but Strauss says that the Cardinals are believed to be among the four clubs that have shown the most interest.
Echoing an earlier report from MLBDailyDish.com's Chris Cotillo (via Twitter) that a signing could come in two or three days, Torres told Strauss that his client is "prepared to move very quickly" in reaching agreement. Diaz is eligible to receive formal offers starting today. Though he is awaiting authorization to play in full-squad spring outings, Diaz has been cleared to play in B games.
The 23-year-old worked out only at short for the Cards, though he has performed on both sides of the bag in front of other clubs. "He's a player we've had interest in for awhile and the next natural step in the process was to put him in front of our people in this setting," said GM John Mozeliak. Of course, the club has already made two significant additions to its infield, signing Jhonny Peralta and Mark Ellis to join a middle-infield mix that already included Kolten Wong and Pete Kozma.
The Blue Jays look increasingly likely to end the offseason without making much noise, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto seemed primed to make some decisive changes, but has given out just one guaranteed MLB deal through free agency. Here are some notes on the club, featuring plenty of comments directly from GM Alex Anthopoulos:
- As recent reports have indicated, Toronto is increasingly unlikely to add a new arm. "As we sit here today with what the current cost would be," Anthopoulos said today, "we feel better with what we have here internally."
- Anthopoulos had indicated that Toronto could be in the market for one or even two starters after a disappointing 2013. But, he said, the club gained confidence in the current slate of rotation options as time went on, reports MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "As the offseason has progressed, we've felt better about the internal options, especially the young guys," explained Anthopoulos.
- Though he has consistently stated that overpaying for a pitcher is not preferable, Anthopoulos acknowledges he did just that in addressing the team's catching situation, reports John Lott of the National Post. The Jays inked Dioner Navarro to a two-year, $8MM deal to become the club's new backstop. "I would have preferred to do one year and lower dollars," Anthopolous said, explaining that the club felt change was necessary at that position. But the GM feels that the pitching scenario is different: "We wanted to add to the rotation depth, but again, with where some of the prices were, whether it was years or dollars, or some of the acquisition costs in some of the trades, I wouldn't have felt good doing a scrum, sitting here saying, 'well, we did it, we don't believe in the acquisition costs, we just did it because we felt we had to do it, but we don't feel good about it.' You need to feel good about those moves if you make them."
- Likewise, Anthopoulos said that the Jays are probably not going to make any moves at second, the other major area of apparent need, Chisholm reports on Twitter. "I would think it's unlikely that we add someone there," said the GM, "but I would say that we'll still continue to have some dialogue trade-wise."
For the last year or two, Nick Markakis has been vocal about how important it would be to spend his entire career with one organization, and the outfielder tells Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun how he hopes his contract year will help carry the Orioles to a championship and, potentially, convince the team to keep him in the fold. "In a perfect world, I'd like to [stay here],'' Markakis said. "A lot of people play this game for the wrong reasons. A lot of people play it where the money is. I get a bigger satisfaction being with the same team your whole career....To be able to do that would be a pretty cool experience. It would be something special to me." The O's have a $17.5MM option on Markakis for 2015 that seems a bit too expensive to exercise even if Markakis does rebound from his career-low numbers last season, though the two sides could work out another multiyear deal.
Here's more from around the AL East...
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that while he didn't plan on having a payroll in the $80MM range for the coming season, the opportunity was there for the Rays to sign Grant Balfour and re-sign James Loney.
- Sternberg noted that extending a star like David Price is "more difficult now than it was in the past, given the numbers. There's been inflation.'' That said, Sternberg also "wouldn't say it's likely" that this is Price's last year in Tampa. "You just can't make decisions like that this far in advance, and we're trying to give the team as big of a chance as we can this year without sacrificing our future as well," Sternberg said. "There's the opportuniuty of other players, there's the expense that's involved in it, but we're...a little enamored with the possibilities of what we can do, and what he brings."
- The Blue Jays haven't made many roster moves this winter but GM Alex Anthopoulos tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that he expects the Jays to improve simply by avoiding some of the injuries and misfortune that plagued the club last season. “Sometimes you sit there and say, ‘We won 74 games, when everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong,’” Anthopoulos said. “So this year, what happens if we just have a little bit of luck? I can understand the skepticism about our team, absolutely, coming off the year we’re coming off. But I just don’t think it’s a stretch to expect improvement out of a lot of these guys this year, simply because the floor was so low.”
- The Blue Jays' second base options project to generate only 0.4 WAR in 2014, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello notes, and he explores a few trade possibilities that could upgrade Toronto at the keystone position.
- With the Red Sox enjoying huge revenues and big drops in payroll obligations in 2015 and 2016, ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes argues that the time is right to extend David Ortiz. The slugger's contract negotiations have generated some bad publicity in recent years, so Edes suggests that Ortiz could receive a club option in perpetuity, a la Tim Wakefield's contract with the Sox.
- Red Sox limited partner Michael Gordon isn't a well-known figure to most fans, but WEEI.com's Alex Speier profiles the man who has quietly become a more influential voice within the team's ownership group over the last few years.
The Blue Jays are unlikely to sign a free agent starting pitcher, reports ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Of greatest consequence, perhaps, Stark says that the team is not likely to land top remaining hurler Ervin Santana.
Though Toronto has long been seen as one of the strongest buyers in the remaining market, Stark explains that the club is steadfastly refusing to increase its offers to meet players' demands, as the Orioles did to sign Ubaldo Jimenez. One source said that the Jays would not sign Santana unless he "fall[s] in their lap."
Instead, GM Alex Anthopoulos is expected to allow several of the organization's young arms to compete for a rotation slot. The top Toronto baseball man said that, while the team would "love to add a starter to maintain [the team's] depth," it remained "comfortable with what we have." Anthopoulos continued: "If the right guy were to come along at the right price, we're definitely open-minded to the idea of adding one more starting pitcher."
As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported today (Twitter links), some of the four remaining draft-compensation free agents may prefer to wait until after the draft to sign than agree to a sub-market deal. Dierkes notes that the high-risk strategy would threaten their former clubs with not receiving a compensation pick, which could increase the impetus for re-signings. It took until March 25th for the last compensation-bound player (Kyle Lohse) to reach agreement in 2013.
Of course, while carrying compensation is a hindrance, players only come to know its burdens after turning down a sizeable, one-year qualifying offer from their former club (this year, for $14.1MM). For many other free agents, an offer of any kind is all they are really looking for. Established big leaguer Tim Byrdak, now 40, is among them. He posted an image of a handwritten flyer on his Twitter account earlier today, advertising himself to GMs as a "high mileage but very serviceable," "late model LHR" that "comes with warranty" (via ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin).
Here are some more notes on an increasingly sparse market:
- Though a return of Johan Santana to the Twins was beginning to look like a foregone conclusion, writes LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune, several other clubs have recently expressed interest in the 34-year-old. Minnesota is certainly still in the hunt, with assistant GM Rob Antony telling Neal that he was waiting to hear back from Santana's agent in their latest round of talks. Noting that the Orioles have also seen the two-time Cy Young recipient throw of late, Neal says that Santana could be planning a showcase of sorts to allow more clubs to see his progress as he recovers from a second significant shoulder procedure.
- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said today that the club made strong runs at Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez before they signed elsewhere, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. "There were a couple of [trades] in the works that ended up falling through," said Gibbons, "and then with the free agents, there's a little bit of a bidding war out there, it's not automatic that you're going to get those guys." Gibbons declined to comment on current free agent starter Ervin Santana, other than to say that the club likes his arm.
- Do not expect Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos to go beyond the team's internal valuation to sign Santana, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Griffin argues that the Orioles' signing of Jimenez to a Garza-like contract -- while giving up a first-round pick to do so -- has undermined the Jays' apparent plan to wait out the market for compensation-bound starters and leverage the club's protected first-round choices.
- Former Nationals and Twins righty Shairon Martis is weighing two minor league offers along with the possibility of playing abroad, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Though he made his debut in 2008, the native of Curacao is still just 26 years of age.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- The Mets announced that they've inked right-hander Buddy Carlyle to a minor league deal. The 36-year-old last appeared in the Majors in 2011 with the Yankees and has a career 5.58 ERA in 253 1/3 innings. Carlyle, who did not receive an invitation to Major League Spring Training, spent 2013 with the Blue Jays' Triple-A affiliate and posted strong numbers: a 3.86 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 56 innings of relief.
- Speaking of the Blue Jays, their Triple-A affiliate announced that it outfielder Brett Carroll has been signed to a minor league deal. Carroll didn't receive an invite to big league Spring Training. The 31-year-old was set to play for the Atlantic League's Lancaster Barnstormers as recently as last week but will now head to Buffalo instead. Carroll slashed .222/.328/.404 in 89 games for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in 2013. He last appeared in the Majors with the Nats in 2012.
After a quiet offseason for the Orioles, the team pounced in mid-February, officially announcing a three-year deal for righty Suk-min Yoon yesterday but more significantly (from a financial standpoint, at least) agreeing to a four-year, $50MM contract with Ubaldo Jimenez. Baltimore surrendered the No. 17 pick in this year's draft to issue the largest contract for a pitcher in franchise history. Some early reactions and fallout in the wake of the Jimenez pact...
- Deep down, the Indians never really wanted Jimenez back in Cleveland, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. While the team admired Jimenez's work ethic and felt he was a positive presence in the clubhouse, they didn't feel his wild performance swings were worth the trouble. Hoynes points out that it's a bonus that Baltimore landed Jimenez, because their forfeiture of the No. 17 pick allows Cleveland to move from No. 22 overall to the No. 21 overall pick in the first round.
- ESPN's Keith Law writes that despite the associated risk, the contract is a win for the Orioles (ESPN Insider required and recommended). He feels the $12.5MM annual value can end up being a bargain for a pitcher that at times shows three pitches which grade as a 60 or better on the 20-80 scale. Additionally, it allows Kevin Gausman to work on the consistency of his slider in the minors, which he will need in order to thrive as a Major League starter.
- Law's colleague Buster Olney reports that the Orioles upped their offer from three to four years under the belief that the Red Sox and Blue Jays were both aggressively pursuing Jimenez. However, his sources indicate that neither club actually made an offer (Insider required). Olney points out some risks, such as Jimenez's struggles in limiting the running game, and he also opines that the O's should be more willing to lose further draft picks by pursuing Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales and perhaps even Stephen Drew.
- MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli runs down what the Jimenez signing means for other pitchers in the organization. Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez are locks (health-permitting), she writes, but Yoon, Bud Norris and out-of-options Zach Britton will battle for the fifth slot. Gausman is almost certainly ticketed for the minors, she writes. Ghiroli also reports that manager Buck Showalter said he prefers an everyday DH and that the best deals often happen in late spring, suggesting that someone such as Morales could be a fit after all.
- The Jimenez signing should help to discredit the feeling that Orioles owner Peter Angelos is not willing to spend to win, writes the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck.
- The Sun's Eduardo A. Encina writes that the Orioles' recent international signings made it slightly easier for executive vice president Dan Duquette to surrender the No. 17 pick, as he felt the club added some additional high-upside talent with those moves.
- Jimenez turned his career around by relying less on his fastball and more on his offspeed stuff -- most notably his splitter, writes Eno Sarris of Fangraphs. Jimenez entered the 2013 season having thrown his split just three percent of the time over his career but threw it 14 percent of the time in 2013 with a 17 percent swing-and-miss rate, which helped offset his diminished velocity. If that trend continues, the $12.5MM annual value can be a bargain, Sarris concludes.
- The Orioles and Jimenez have been working on this deal for a long time, but things came together quickly yesterday when Baltimore conceded and added a fourth year, writes MASNsport.com's Roch Kubatko.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that with Jimenez and Matt Garza each landing four-year, $50MM contracts, Ervin Santana's agents now have a great deal of pressure in trying to match that figure. Sherman also spoke to an executive who called Jimenez the "ultimate crapshoot," noting that Baltimore could be getting a star or a bust. That same exec wondered if Jimenez will struggle facing more patient lineups in the AL East (Twitter links).