Transactions Rumors

Yankees Sign Brian Cashman To Three-Year Extension

The Yankees have announced a three-year contract extension for general manager Brian Cashman. The new contract runs through the 2017 season.

Brian Cashman

Cashman, 47, will return to a post which he has held since 1998 in spite of the fact that the Yankees missed the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time in his tenure in 2013-14. That two-year absence also marks the first time in which the Yankees have failed to reach the postseason in consecutive seasons since 1992-93. However, in spite of that fact, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported in late September that the two sides were working on a new contract.

While it’s perfectly fair to question the team’s decision to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in aging players, the Yankees can point to the fact that the signings of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and A.J. Burnett (now with the Phillies) led to a 2009 World Series championship. Of course, investments since that time have failed to pay off. The lauded Brian McCann signing of last offseason was a disappointment, and the additions of low-cost veterans Brian Roberts, Brendan Ryan, Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and Matt Thornton did not round out the roster as hoped. Jacoby Ellsbury made good on the first year of his seven-year, $153MM pact, and Masahiro Tanaka looked to be worth every penny of the $175MM total investment the Yankees made in order to secure his services prior to suffering a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament.

Midseason additions of Chase Headley, Martin Prado and, in particular, Brandon McCarthy each proved to be wise maneuvers that bolstered the team’s roster, even if the ultimate result did not pan out. Prado, who hit .316/.336/.541 for the Yankees, remains under team control for two more seasons, while McCarthy and Headley are free agents.

Cashman now faces the daunting task of trying to bring the Yankees back to the postseason in the near future despite having more than $168MM in payroll already committed to both the 2015 and 2016 rosters. That number does not include arbitration raises to players such as Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Shawn Kelley, Francisco Cervelli and David Phelps — each of which will further add to payroll and complicate the team’s short-term outlook.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Orioles Extend J.J. Hardy

OCT. 10: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun has the breakdown of Hardy’s contract (Twitter links). Hardy will earn $11.5MM in 2015, $12.5MM in 2016 and $14MM in 2017, per Connolly. He adds that the vesting option is valued at $14MM as well and comes with a $2MM buyout. The option will vest based on a certain number of plate appearances but will also automatically vest if Hardy is traded. Hardy can also earn up to $700K per season in performance incentives, according to Connolly, who also tweets that the deal does contain some deferred money.

OCT. 9: Shaking up the free agent market before it opens, and boldly looking to the future even as they prepare to open play in the ALCS, the Orioles have officially announced a three-year extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Baltimore Orioles

Hardy will receive $40MM over a guaranteed three year term, representing a $13.3MM average annual value, though that must be discounted somewhat to reflect the deal’s inclusion of $6.5MM in deferred money. Hardy also gets a fourth-year vesting option, based upon plate appearances.

With the new deal, Baltimore will keep its key cog up the middle under team control through at least 2017, his age-34 season. And the free agent market has now lost one of its most appealing everyday position players.

Looking first at Hardy, who just celebrated his 32nd birthday, one finds a player whose profile has changed, but who nevertheless remains consistently productive. Manager Buck Showalter is said to have had a hand in encouraging an early reunion of Hardy and the O’s, reflecting the veteran’s respected standing in the organization.

Since coming to Baltimore in a lopsided trade with the Twins, Hardy has been a steady three-to-four win player, whether one prefers fWAR or rWAR. But how he’s reached those overall levels of production have changed dramatically.

In his first (and best) year in Baltimore, Hardy racked up 30 home runs and a .491 slugging percentage. Over the next two seasons, he steadily contributed twenty or more long balls, but saw his overall power numbers drop. His glove remained sharp, however, and a declining strikeout percentage offered promise. But things swung in 2014, when Hardy suddenly suffered a power outage (he recovered to hit 9 bombs by season’s end, but ended with a career-low .104 ISO) and saw his strikeout rate leap to a career high of 18.3%.

Obviously, those offensive numbers have swung rather widely, with Hardy posting anything from a 78 to a 113 wRC+. But what has not changed much has been his glove. Indeed, in his two down years at the plate (2012 and 2014), Hardy’s even upped his game in the field — at least according to UZR and Defensive Runs Saved. This year, Hardy rated a close second to Andrelton Simmons in overall defensive value among shortstops.

For Baltimore, then, Hardy’s work up the middle sets the floor while his power bat provides the upside in his new extension. While it had been expected, and perhaps hoped, that Manny Machado would slide over from third after this season, that option waned after Machado suffered a second-straight season-ending knee injury. If he can return to health, however, he’ll join Hardy to form the game’s best left-side infield defense.

The deal is not without its risks for the O’s, but few are. And limiting the terms to three years, with the fourth coming via a vesting provision, does reduce the magnitude of the risk somewhat.

More importantly, perhaps, it may have been more challenging to retain Hardy — or find an able replacement — had the team not struck during a brief lull in the postseason action. After all, while, the upcoming free agent market includes several shortstops who have at times been every bit as good as Hardy, none — excepting Hanley Ramirez, who may not stay at the position — has been as consistent. Those that remain, including Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, and Stephen Drew, should benefit from Hardy’s absence, if only because they would have had to wait to sign until he found a home. But the Orioles were likely to find a veteran shortstop one way or another, so the real impact may be on clubs that were hoping to make a run at Hardy.

Ultimately, while Baltimore does not look to have achieved any huge bargain, the club probably saved money against what Hardy might have cost to take back from the open market. Though he would have had to deal with qualifying offer-related draft compensation, Hardy no doubt would have looked to land a new contract somewhere in the realm of Jhonny Peralta‘s four-year, $53MM pact from last year.

Jeremy Conn of 105.7 The Fan was first to report that an extension was close (Twitter link), while Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the deal’s parameters on Twitter. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com was first to tweet the final financial terms. MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (also via Twitter) reported that the deal was done. 


Outrighted: Tabata, Buck, Boesch

After being designated for assignment last week, Pirates outfielder Jose Tabata has been outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis and accepted the assignment, reports MLB.com’s Tom Singer. The move is not a surprise, as had Tabata rejected the assignment he would have forfeited the remaining $8.5MM on his contract.

Here are some more outright-related moves from around the league…

  • Both John Buck and Brennan Boesch have rejected outright assignments from the Angels in lieu of free agency, Angels director of communications Eric Kay announced (on Twitter). Buck, 34, picked up five plate appearances with the Halos this season after spending much of the season with the Mariners. The veteran batted .225/.289/.281 in 97 plate appearances overall on the year. Boesch, 29, hit .187/.203/.293 with a pair of home runs in 79 PA for the Angels. The duo was designated for assignment earlier this week when the Angels claimed Alfredo Marte and Roger Kieschnick on waivers.


Astros Decline Matt Albers’ Option, Outright Jesus Guzman And Rudy Owens

After letting Jorge De Leon go on a waiver claim, the Astros have cleared three additional roster spots with a series of moves today. As the club announced in a press release, it has declined its option over reliever Matt Albers and outrighted first baseman Jesus Guzman and lefty Rudy Owens. According to the team, Houston’s 40-man roster now has four vacancies, though it would appear from this list that it stands at 37 (with Albers still technically on the 60-day DL).

Albers, 31, will head back to the open market after an injury-shortened 2014 campaign. He allowed only one run in his ten frames on the year, striking out eight and walking three batters, but shoulder troubles ended his season. Houston had signed him to a one-year, $2.45MM deal that included the option. The Astros elected to pay a $200K buyout rather than taking on the $3MM option price.

Guzman, 30, continued to see his star fade after showing some promise earlier in his career with the Padres. He hit just .188/.272/.248 at the major league level. The 26-year-old Owens, meanwhile, had his first big league start but posted a 4.33 ERA in 135 innings at Triple-A, striking out 6.9 and walking 2.2 batters per nine.


Athletics Claim Jorge De Leon, Release Adam Dunn

The Athletics have claimed righty Jorge De Leon off waivers from the Astros, the team announced on Twitter. To clear 40-man space, Oakland released Adam Dunn.

Clearing Dunn from the roster was more a procedural mechanism than anything else at this point. The 34-year-old has indicated he is likely to retire at season’s end, and has already played out his contract. Over a short sample in Oakland, he put up a .634 OPS that dropped his season line to .219/.337/.415 over 511 plate appearances.

In De Leon, the A’s have picked up a hard-throwing reliever who has accrued minimal service time. The 27-year-old has thrown just 17 1/3 MLB innings, allowing ten earned runs and both striking out and walking ten batters. He was much better over 68 2/3 frames in the upper minors this year, however, posting a 3.01 ERA and posting 8.0 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9.


Ryan Dempster To Retire

Right-hander Ryan Dempster, who sat out the 2014 season due to physical issues and a desire to spend more time with his family, will not pursue a contract this offseason and will officially retire, reports Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter).

The 37-year-old Dempster was placed on the restricted list by the Red Sox following that decision, meaning that he forewent a sizable $13.25MM salary. At the time, Dempster told FOX’s Ken Rosenthal, “I don’t feel like I am capable of performing to the ability and standard that I am accustomed to. I feel it’s in the best interest of both the club but most importantly myself to step away from playing baseball at this time.” Over the summer, Dempster told the Chicago Tribune that he wasn’t ruling out a return to the playing field, but he didn’t miss playing at that point.

Dempster’s career will come to a close with a 4.35 ERA, 7.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 2387 Major League innings. The former third-round pick and British Columbia native experienced success both as a starter and as a reliever in his career. He made 351 big league starts and totaled 132 Major League victories, but he also spent three seasons as the Cubs’ closer and totaled 87 saves in his career.

The final season of Dempster’s career certainly wasn’t his finest, but it may be his fondest memory. Dempster posted a 4.57 ERA in 171 1/3 innings for the Red Sox that season and was rewarded with a 2013 World Series ring when all was said and done.

A two-time All-Star, Dempster also finished sixth in the 2008 National League Cy Young voting in a surprisingly dominant campaign as he transitioned from the bullpen back to the rotation. He totaled 206 2/3 innings that season, posting a 2.96 ERA and averaging 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings along the way.

Baseball-Reference.com values Dempster’s career at 22.6 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs pegs him at 27.5 WAR. In parts of 16 Major League seasons with the Marlins, Reds, Cubs, Rangers and Red Sox, Dempster earned more than $89MM, according to B-Ref. We at MLBTR wish Dempster the best of luck in his post-playing days.


Brian Wilson To Exercise Player Option

Brian Wilson has informed the Dodgers that he will exercise his player option for 2015, which will be worth $9.5MM, reports Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter links).

Brian Wilson

The bearded closer-turned-setup-man appeared in 61 games with the Dodgers this season, totaling 48 1/3 innings of 4.66 ERA ball. In what was his first full season back from his second Tommy John operation, Wilson’s fastball velocity dipped to an average of 92.1 mph, and is command faltered a bit, as he issued 5.4 walks per nine innings pitched. He did, however, maintain his stellar strikeout rate, averaging 10.1 punchouts per nine innings.

Wilson’s tenure with the Dodgers began late in the 2013 season when he inked a $1MM big league deal in August and enjoyed a successful late-season and postseason run with L.A. He allowed one run in 19 2/3 innings between the regular season and postseason, striking out 21 against just six walks. That performance earned him a one-year contract that guaranteed him $10MM in 2014 with a $9MM player option that contained incentives based on appearances.

Were Wilson to again test the open market, he’d have gone up against a strong class of setup men that featured the likes of Luke Gregerson, Andrew Miller and Pat Neshek in addition to a few closers who lost their grip on the ninth inning but pitched well in an eighth-inning role (e.g. Sergio Romo and Jason Grilli). Instead, he’ll return to a contending team’s bullpen with a strong salary relative to his peers. Presumably, Wilson will look to reestablish his command and restore his once-excellent ground-ball rate (his 38.1 percent mark in 2014 was 10 percent lower than his career mark) in hopes of cashing in on a larger multi-year deal next offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Minor Moves: Arencibia, Kouzmanoff

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • Catcher J.P. Arencibia and third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff have elected free agency rather than accepting outright assignments with the Rangers, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest reports on Twitter. The pair was set to reach free agency anyway, but will be eligible to test the market now rather than waiting until after the World Series.

Josh Beckett To Retire

Dodgers righty Josh Beckett said today that he will retire from the game, as MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. The 34-year-old was slated for surgery on his torn left hip labrum, but will not attempt to work back from the injury.

Beckett was having an excellent season before he was stricken with another significant injury. He owned a 2.88 ERA through 115 2/3 frames, striking out 8.3 and walking 3.0 batters per nine. Though his numbers were propped up somewhat by a .257 BABIP and 85.2% strand rate, Beckett’s stuff was good enough that he managed to record the first and only no-hitter of his career.

It has been a memorable career for Beckett, who won the 2003 World Series MVP with the Marlins at just 23 years of age. By that time, he had already established himself as one of the best young starters in baseball. But by the winter of 2005, he was headed to the Red Sox (along with Mike Lowell) in exchange for a package including future stars Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez.

Beckett had an up-and-down tenure in Boston. Over 2006-11, he averaged 185 innings a year with a 4.04 ERA and 8.2 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. But he mixed in three All-Star campaigns, including a 2007 effort (3.27 ERA over 204 2/3) in which he was the Cy Young runner-up.

Beckett ultimately signed two extensions with Boston: a three-year, $30MM deal that included a $12MM vesting option and a four-year, $68MM pact that ran through 2014. Of course, the latter contract did not end as might have been hoped at the time. After playing a central role in the public’s dissection of Boston’s 2011 meltdown, Beckett was off to a rough start in 2012 when his contract became part of the massive Red Sox-Dodgers mid-season trade.

Though he may have delivered more value back to Los Angeles than seemed likely at the time of that swap, Beckett continued to be inconsistent. He threw well down the stretch in 2012 before scuffling through an injury-plagued 2013.

Things ended on a high note, of course, and Beckett will leave the game having contributed 35.3 rWAR and 39.0 fWAR to his clubs. For that production, he earned over $116MM. MLBTR wishes Beckett the best of luck in whatever endeavors he chooses to pursue now that his playing days are over.


Minor Moves: O’Sullivan, Jackson, Paterson, Wilson, Bianchi

As outrights pick up pace across the league, here are the latest minor moves:

  • After outrighting him yesterday, the Phillies have released righty Sean O’Sullivan, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. O’Sullivan was set to become a minor league free agent anyway, so this just moves up his appearance on the open market.
  • After seeing three players fail to clear waivers today, the Diamondbacks did manage to get another trio through. Per the PCL transactions page, outfielder Brett Jackson, lefty Joe Paterson, and catcher Bobby Wilson have all cleared and been outrighted to Triple-A. Jackson, a 26-year-old former top prospect, had another disappointing season at Triple-A, posting a .208/.299/.350 line in 271 plate appearances. Paterson, 28, again posted solid numbers in Triple-A (2.95 ERA over 42 2/3 frames) but failed to return to the regular MLB pen role that he had in 2011. And Wilson, 31, saw his first MLB action since 2012 with the Angels, but spent most of his time putting together a .267/.324/.341 slash over 299 trips to the plate at Triple-A.
  • Also clearing waivers and being outrighted was Jeff Bianchi of the Brewers. Bianchi, who turned 28 on Sunday, struggled in limited MLB action this year. The utility infielder owns a lifetime .534 OPS through 402 plate appearances in the bigs. Over three seasons at Triple-A, he has posted a more attractive .299/.349/.428 line.