Today's minor moves..
- Former MLB slugger Wily Mo Pena has signed in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The 31-year-old drew interest from Japan and in the states before agreeing to the $1.5MM pact. Pena spent parts of eight seasons playing for the Reds, Nationals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Seattle Mariners before signing a two-year, $5MM contract with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks following the 2011 season.
- The Reds Triple-A affiliate announced that they have re-signed catcher Corky Miller. Miller saw 17 games of action for Cincinnati last season but spent the bulk of the year in Louisville where he slashed .200/.295/.333 in 157 PAs.
SATURDAY: The Yankees have issued a press release announcing Kuroda's re-signing.
FRIDAY: The Yankees and Hiroki Kuroda finalized a one-year, $16MM contract last night that will allow the right-hander to earn up to $500K worth of incentives, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Kuroda, a client of Octagon's Steve Hilliard, will earn $250K for reaching the 190-inning and 210-inning milestones, according to Sherman.
Kuroda will turn 39 years old in February and was reported to be weighing a return to Japan or a return to a Southern California team in order to be closer to his family, who currently reside in that area due to Kuroda's days with the Dodgers. Kuroda turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees in November, getting tagged with the potential cost of a draft pick had he signed with a different MLB team. Instead, Kuroda will return to New York for a third season. Over the past two years, Kuroda has posted a 3.31 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 421 innings in Yankee pinstripes. Kuroda earned $15MM in 2013, so a $16MM salary represents a slight raise, as predicted in MLBTR's September free agent profile.
The Kuroda signing restores some much-needed depth to the Yankees' rotation, which had only C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova penciled in. With Robinson Cano agreeing to a contract with the Mariners today, the Yankees are now flush with payroll flexibility to bid on the best remaining starters. Masahiro Tanaka will likely be the top target if posted, while traditional free agents Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, and Ubaldo Jimenez remain on the board. The Yankees have already committed $254MM to free agent position players this offseason, most notably $153MM to Jacoby Ellsbury and $85MM to Brian McCann.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
SATURDAY: The Dodgers officially announced Wilson's signing via press release.
THURSDAY, 9:19pm: Wilson has passed his physical, so the deal is now official, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets.
1:39pm: The Dodgers have reached an agreement with reliever Brian Wilson, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown. It's a one-year, $10MM deal with a second year player option. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter) that the option's value is $9MM, meaning that Wilson is guaranteed at least $19MM on this two-year pact. Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that Wilson has another $700K of incentives built into each year of the deal.
Though Wilson will be receiving closer money from the Dodgers, he's fine with setting up Kenley Jansen if that's how it works out, notes Brown. Paying Wilson closer money can be offset by the fact that Jansen will be paid more like a setup man, as he projects to earn $4.8MM in arbitration this offseason, per MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
Wilson signed a $1MM, Major League contract with the Dodgers on July 30th last year after a long recovery from April 2012 Tommy John surgery. He returned in late August in dominant fashion, yielding just one run with a 21-to-6 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings between the regular season and the playoffs. His strong showing put him in line for a significant payday on the free agent market, and there was widespread interest in the bearded flamethrower. The Tigers, Mariners and Rockies were among the other teams interested in Wilson.
Wilson's player option is a nice safeguard for he and his agents at the MVP Sports Group. Should he thrive in Los Angeles as he did over his brief tenure there in 2013, he will hit the open market in the 2014-15 offseason as perhaps the top closer on the free agent market, positioning himself for a significant payday entering his age-33 season. Should he fall to injury or suffer a down season, he can simply elect to take a $9MM payday and look to cash in heading into his age-34 season, which we've seen numerous relievers do. Wilson's $10MM guarantee is slightly more than the one-year, $8.5MM guarantee that MLBTR's Steve Adams pegged him for in his free agent profile of Wilson back in late October.
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
SATURDAY: The deal is official, with the club issuing a press release announcing Mujica's signing. As the Red Sox note, the team's 40-man roster is now at full capacity. Mujica's contract includes up to $1MM in incentives based upon games finished, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
THURSDAY: The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a two-year, $9.5MM contract with right-hander Edward Mujica, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Mujica, who is represented by Octagon, will take a physical today, according to Passan.
Mujica, 29, possesses some of the best command of any pitcher in the Majors. He issued just five walks in 64 2/3 innings this season to go along with 46 strikeouts and a 2.78 ERA. Mujica entered the season buried on St. Louis' bullpen depth chart but ascended to the role of closer. Jason Motte underwent Tommy John surgery, Mitchell Boggs flopped and the Cardinals elected to deploy rookie Trevor Rosenthal in a setup role. The end result was Mujica notching 37 saves for the Redbirds, though he wilted down the stretch and was a complete non-factor in the playoffs.
Mujica's late-season swoon likely cost him several million dollars, as did a free agent market stuffed with closer types of relievers. Mujica, Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Chris Perez, Kevin Gregg and Jose Veras all saved 20-plus games in 2013. The market also features plenty of former closers in the form of John Axford, Brian Wilson and Andrew Bailey (Axford and Bailey were non-tendered), further presenting teams with late-inning alternatives that helped to suppress Mujica's price tag.
Mujica will join a Red Sox bullpen that figures to be once again anchored by Koji Uehara. Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and a presumably healthy Andrew Miller should join Mujica in bridging the gap to Uehara as the BoSox look to capture a second consecutive World Series title.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Orioles officially announced today, via press release, that they have reached a Major League deal with outfielder Francisco Peguero. Peguero, who is represented by Dan Rosquete and Elliott Vallin of Boston Sports Counsel, will earn $550K next season with Baltimore, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
Peguero, 25, was non-tendered by the Giants earlier in the week. He's batted .200/.217/.289 in a pair of brief Major League stints (46 plate appearances) but has fared better in the minor leagues. Peguero is a career .288/.318/.399 hitter in 764 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, though those numbers are likely dampened a bit by a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery.
Rosquete and Vallin did a nice job securing a Major League deal for their client given his scant MLB experience. The Orioles have been aggressive in securing players of this nature, having also given MLB deals to Kelvin De La Cruz and Edgmer Escalona. Indeed, Baltimore could be a nice landing spot for Peguero. As Kubatko reports, executive vice president Dan Duquette said that Peguero has big league talent. "He just needs an opportunity," said Duquette. "I'm glad we could add him to the organization."
Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball America ranked Peguero eighth among Giants prospects, noting that he had perhaps the best combination of power and speed in the Giants' system. BA called Peguero a "hyper-aggressive" hitter, likening his approach to that of his now-former teammate, Pablo Sandoval. BA also noted that he has the tools to profile as a regular in the Majors if he can improve his recognition of the strike zone.
10:31pm: The contract doesn't contain an opt-out clause, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets.
12:34pm: For what it's worth, the Mariners have released the following statement: “We are not able to confirm any news regarding Robinson Cano at this time. If and when an agreement is completed and finalized, we will announce.”
11:15am: Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that Cano receives a full no-trade clause as part of his deal.
9:57am: The Mariners and Robinson Cano are in agreement on a 10-year, $240MM contract, according to Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (Spanish link). The contract, negotiated by CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen and Jay-Z of Roc Nation Sports, will tie Albert Pujols for the third-largest deal in Major League history. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) first reported that the two sides were nearing agreement.
Reports from earlier today indicated that talks between Cano and the Mariners had crumbled after Jay-Z suddenly upped his demands back to $252MM when the Mariners were prepared to offer $225MM over nine years. The two sides appear to have reached a middle ground, with Cano's camp dropping by $12MM or so and the Mariners agreeing to add a tenth season at $15MM. Seattle's first-round draft pick is protected, meaning that GM Jack Zduriencik will only have to forfeit his second-round pick in order to bring Cano to the Emerald City.
Cano, who turned 31 in October, batted .314/.383/.516 with 27 home runs in 2013 and has averaged a batting line of .314/.369/.530 and 28 home runs over the previous five seasons. Paired with plus defense at second base, Cano has been worth an average of 6.8 (Baseball-Reference) or 5.8 (Fangraphs) wins above replacement. He's also one of baseball's most durable players, having missed just 14 games over the past seven seasons.
By joining the Mariners, Cano likely displaces one of Brad Miller or Nick Franklin. Miller impressed by batting .265/.318/.418 with eight homers in 335 plate apperances and playing solid defense at shortstop as a 24-year-old rookie in 2013. Though Franklin entered the season with more prospect hype, he wilted down the stretch and finished with just a .225/.303/.382 batting line. The 22-year-old Franklin spent nearly all of his time at second base this season (he played just 20 innings at shortstop), so it would seem that he is more likely to be the one who is displaced by Seattle's blockbuster addition.
MLBTR's Jeff Todd recently examined the future payroll obligations of all 30 Major League teams -- a study that showed the Mariners to be one of the best-equipped teams to accommodate a mega-deal of this nature. The only other players that the Mariners have signed beyond the 2014 season are ace Felix Hernandez and utility man Willie Bloomquist, who is a free agent following a 2015 campaign in which he earns $3MM. Despite the historic nature of this deal, the M's still have an annual commitment of roughly $50MM in the 2016-19 seasons -- the years in which the Cano and Hernandez contracts overlap. That should leave some room for further long-term additions this winter.
For the Yankees, the departure of Cano leaves a gaping hole at second base. They've added a bit of insurance in the form of Kelly Johnson but will almost certainly require a further upgrade. Omar Infante is the top free agent option, but the trade market presents additional options. Howie Kendrick and Brandon Phillips are said to be available, and the somewhat ironic scenario of a Franklin-to-New York trade at least seems conceivable. Cano's enormous sum is just $2MM more than the combined $238MM that the Yankees paid to sign Brian McCann (five years, $85MM) and Jacoby Ellsbury (seven years, $153MM). I noted the similarity in that $238MM spend and the rumored $240MM figure for Cano on Twitter yesterday, and Jeff Todd chimed, in noting that the Yankees have diversified their risk and committed fewer years for the same amount of money.
In my free agent profile for Cano, I projected a nine-year, $234MM contract. Cano, Jay-Z and Brodie Van Wagenen of CAA Sports deserve tremendous praise for securing a contract that ties for the third-largest of all-time and topping most pundits' expectations. Cano's deal serves as a reminder that even when a top free agent appears to have few suitors, the market will typically materialize for that free agent eventually, leading to a larger contract than appears likely at the onset of the offseason.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here are today's minor moves and outright assignments from around the league...
- Eric Thames will play for the NC Dinos of the Korean Professional Baseball League in 2014, his agent tells Venezuelan reporter Ormuz Sojo (hat tip to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle). Thames posted a .799 OPS in 420 minor league PA in 2013, mostly at the Triple-A level for the Mariners' and Orioles' top affiliates, and was claimed off waivers by the Astros in September. Thames hit .250/.296/.431 with 21 homers in 684 PA with Toronto and Seattle in 2011-12.
- The White Sox have outrighted outfielder Blake Tekotte and infielder Mike McDade, reducing their 40-man roster to 37, according to Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). The 26-year-old Tekotte hit .226/.306/.355 with one homer (his first in the Majors) in 36 PAs for the Sox in 2013. He hit .236/.319/.389 in 338 Triple-A PAs. McDade, 24, batted .250/.313/.371 in 428 PAs between the Triple-A affiliates for the Indians and ChiSox in 2013.
The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Mike Napoli, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (Twitter link). The contract is a two-year deal worth $32MM, according to CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam (via Twitter). The slugger confirmed his return on his own Twitter feed, saying "The beard is coming back to Boston!!!" Napoli is represented by Brian Grieper.
Napoli's contact falls short of the three-year, $42MM deal that MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted he would receive this winter, though obviously Napoli's clear desire to remain with the World Series champions impacted his decision. Counting his $13MM salary from 2013 (in both base salary and incentives), Napoli will end up receiving $45MM between 2013-15 --- well above the $39MM he was originally set to earn from Boston before he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both of his hips, which caused the Sox to pull their multiyear offer and extend just the one-year pact.
The 32-year-old silenced all questions about his health by hitting .259/.360/.482 with 23 homers in 578 PA for the Sox last season, also posting big numbers in the ALCS during Boston's championship run. Napoli turned down a one-year, $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Red Sox earlier this winter and thus would've netted the club a compensation draft pick had he signed elsewhere, but now the club will have its starting first baseman back in the fold after already losing Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in free agency this offseason.
Earlier today, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Napoli had received an offer from another club but his preference was to remain in Boston. The Marlins, Rangers, and Mariners were all rumored to be interested in Napoli's services. Texas was believed to have made Napoli a larger offer, Bradford and Alex Speier report, though sources later told them that the Rangers never made a formal offer. Napoli also turned down at least one three-year offer, according to Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith, but Napoli preferred to remain with the Sox and accepted their smaller deal.
Photo courtesy of Robert Deutsch/USA Today Sports Images
6:02pm: McLouth's club option for 2016 is worth $6.5MM, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports.
3:58pm: The Nationals and McLouth agreed to a two-year, $10.75MM contract with a third-year option, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link).
Rosenthal goes on to note that while McLouth will technically be the Nats' fourth outfielder behind Bryce Harper, Denard Span and Jayson Werth, but he will get "significant" at-bats. McLouth will serve as insurance for all three outfield positions, but he could also see a more regular role if recent rumors that Span could be available prove to be true.
The 32-year-old McLouth batted .258/.329/.399 with 12 homers and a career-best 30 stolen bases for the Orioles last season. Curiously, McLouth swiped 24 bases in 28 attempts in the season's first half but only attempted nine steals in the entire second half. He's significantly better against right-handed pitching, as he batted just .209/.283/.357 against fellow lefties in 2013.
McLouth's career looked to be on a downward trajectory after he struggled in Atlanta and was released midseason upon his return to the Pirates organization. However, he latched on with the Orioles, and over a span of 201 games with Baltimore, he slashed .261/.333/.409. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes correctly pegged that McLouth would sign a two-year deal this offseason in his free agent profile, pegging him for a $10MM guarantee.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Yankees have signed Kelly Johnson to a one-year contract, the team announced today. Terms of the deal weren't made public but ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the deal is for exactly $3MM (Twitter link), giving Johnson a small raise from the $2.45MM he earned with Tampa Bay in 2013. Johnson is represented by Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX Baseball), according to the MLBTR Agency Database.
Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013. He currently stands as the Yankees' top option to replace Robinson Cano at second base, and if New York signs another second baseman, Johnson also serves as an insurance policy for Alex Rodriguez at third. Johnson, 32 in February, owns a career slash line of .253/.335/.427 across eight seasons with the Braves, D'Backs, Blue Jays, and Rays. Over the last three seasons, however, he has slashed just .226/.307/.395.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to report the agreement had been reached and that Johnson would be paid in the $3MM-range, while Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post.