Trevor Plouffe Rumors

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

(more…)


AL Central Rumors: Twins, Plouffe, Downs, White Sox

After signing a one-year deal worth $4MM that includes a club option for 2015, Scott Downs says he's on board with the White Sox's plan. “The talks that I had about rebuilding, about going young, about needing some extra veteran leadership in the clubhouse and on the field — it all appealed to me,” Downs said on a conference call, according to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. “I want to win and be a part of something special and I think we have that here.

  • Twins GM Terry Ryan says that even at a projected payroll of about $84MM, the club won't have to unload salary to add another piece, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (Twitter link).
  • Ryan also said that as they get ready to take care of their arbitration cases, he's not discussing multi-year deals with Trevor Plouffe, Anthony Swarzak, or Brian Duensing (Twitter links).  “I’m not saying it’s an impossibility,” Ryan said, “but we are not talking to any of the three about a multi-year deal."
  • The White Sox's level of interest in Masahiro Tanaka remains to be seen, but whatever interest is there has certainly been sparked by the level playing field, Hayes writes.

Berardino’s Latest On The Twins

Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press related the fruits of a phone conversation with Twins GM Terry Ryan in a series of tweets earlier today. Let's take a look:

  • Ryan says that despite reports, the Twins haven't made decisions on whether to tender contracts to Trevor PlouffeBrian Duensing or Anthony Swarzak, the club's three arbitration-eligible players. His comment on Plouffe in particular appears to contradict an interview from late October. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined the three arbitration cases in his recent Arbitration Eligibles entry on the Twins.
  • Nothing has been finalized on a reunion with veteran scout Larry Corrigan, whose contract with the Angels expired at the end of October, Ryan adds. We'd previously heard that Corrigan would have a role with the Twins in 2014.
  • The GM wouldn't offer comment on whether there's been contact between the Twins and Justin Morneau, saying doing so wouldn't benefit either side.
  • Ryan was similarly opaque on the Twins' interest in Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, telling Berardino that "there's supposedly a workout." Mike Radcliff, the team's vice president of player personnel, previously told Berardino that the Twins have "watched [Yoon] forever."
  • In an article for the Pioneer Press website, Berardino reports that free agent Jason Kubel could be interested in returning to the Twins in 2014. Though the team's biggest holes are in the rotation, Berardino opines that Minnesota also needs help on offense after finishing with just 614 runs in 2013. Kubel, now 31, gave the Twins five consecutive seasons of above-average offense from 2007 to 2011, but slumped badly in 2013 for the Diamondbacks and Indians, hitting just .216/.293/.317 in 290 plate appearances.


Ryan On Free Agents, Tenders, Pelfrey, Pitching

Twins GM Terry Ryan discussed a number of topics with 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson on Wednesday, including the following hot stove-related items…

  • The Twins have a protected first round draft pick but Ryan said he'd be comfortable in surrendering the club's second round selection to sign a free agent who had declined a qualifying offer, provided that he felt the free agent was a good fit.
  • Likewise, if the Twins identify a player on the trade market that would upgrade their club and could be had at the right price, Ryan would be open to dealing prospects to make a big splash like the Royals did last offseason to acquire James Shields.  "If you find some of that pitching, it makes you look a lot better in a hurry. So, you'd have to give it some consideration. But it'd have to make a lot of sense. No doubt," Ryan said.
  • Ryan has "flexibility with payroll" and isn't afraid to spend on a player his front office thinks is the right guy.  "We have people who put their neck out and are committed to whoever the player is or the pitcher is, you move forward. If it costs you some money, we go to where we're comfortable," Ryan said.
  • Trevor Plouffe will be tendered a contract, Ryan confirmed.  He declined to comment on Anthony Swarzak or Brian Duensing (both of whom are also eligible for arbitration), but Wolfson reports that "league sources are convinced" that both pitchers will be tendered contracts.
  • There is "probably not" any chance of the Twins re-signing Mike Pelfrey before he hits the free agent market, as Ryan suggested Pelfrey and agent Scott Boras will want to test the market.  Pelfrey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 to throw 152 2/3 innings for the Twins last season and he posted a 5.19 ERA that peripherals stats indicated should've been lower.  Pelfrey has said he would be interested in returning to Minnesota and MLBTR's Steve Adams suggests Pelfrey could be had on another one-year contract.

Twins Notes: Carroll, Morneau, Plouffe

The Twins have won just three of the 14 games they've played this month and figure to be sellers following the All-Star break. Brighter days could be ahead in the near future, however, thanks to top prospects such as Byron Buxton, who was profiled by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports earlier today. Passan writes that Buxton's introversion can help him to avoid some of the negative perception that has surrounded Bryce Harper and Yasiel Puig, likening him to Mike Trout in that regard. Here's more on the Twins…

  • Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports that Jamey Carroll is being sought after, but the Twins shouldn't expect much of a return. A prospect in the mold of Eduardo Escobar (a utility infielder whom the Twins received in last year's Francisco Liriano deal) is all they could hope for (Twitter links).
  • Justin Morneau had his agent at SFX reach out to the Twins last week to see if they had interest in working out an extension but was told by the team that they preferred to wait and see what happened at the trade deadline, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Morneau added that after July, it would be difficult not to hear what other teams had to say, with his first venture into free agency so near.
  • From that same piece, Miller notes that Chris Parmelee was "stunned" by his demotion to Triple-A Rochester over the weekend. The Twins demoted Parmelee, Escobar and Oswaldo Arcia but only announced two call-ups. In another piece, Miller writes that it's likely due to the fact that Chris Colabello is slated to play in the Triple-A All-Star game this week, and the team is waiting until after that event to make the announcement.
  • Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff told Wolfson that Trevor Plouffe's versatility will come into play when Miguel Sano is ready for the Major Leagues. Plouffe has homered 34 times over his last 729 plate appearances in establishing himself as Minnesota's primary third baseman but will likely be displaced by Sano. Of Sano's defensive improvements, Radcliff said, "He can play third base. That's not an issue anymore."

AL Central Links: Plouffe, Flowers, White Sox

It's been relatively quiet for the American League Central so far today, but here are some late-night rumblings surrounding the division…

  • The Twins are closing in on adding someone to give Trevor Plouffe competition at third base, writes 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey. Twins GM Terry Ryan said that piece could be in place before the end of the Winter Meetings. Mackey writes that it's probably a solid glove at a reasonable salary, given the Twins' desire to spend nearly all of their offseason budget on the rotation.
  • White Sox GM Rick Hahn says the team is still actively pursuing A.J. Pierzynski, but he's comfortable with Tyler Flowers opening the season as the everyday catcher (Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reporting). Hahn says he'd be confident with Flowers and Hector Gimenez as the team's backstop tandem in 2013.
  • Flowers was quite frank when talking to reporters, including Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com. He said flatly that he hopes Pierzynski will not be retained, though he hopes the best for his former teammate. Said Flowers: “I have no intentions of being a backup catcher the rest of my career. My career is getting shorter and shorter everyday that goes by. So I feel like I’d like the chance to be a starter.”
  • Earlier today it was reported that Joe Blanton, Kevin Correia and Brett Myers are on the Twins' radar.

Twins Looking To Add Three Starting Pitchers

The Twins wrapped up their organizational meetings late last week, and Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com has the highlights. Mackey writes that the Twins' front office officials are embarrassed by the past two seasons, and that the majority of the team's offseason budget will be spent on starting pitching.

Mackey goes on to say that while the Twins' goal is to add three starters to what was a dreadful rotation in 2012, the team hasn't necessarily ruled out pursuing top arms like Zack Greinke. It's more likely that they'll pursue a handful of solid starters that can be counted on for quality starts and to spare the bullpen, however.

Of players on the current roster, only Scott Diamond will be penciled in for a rotation spot in 2013. The Twins are hopeful that Nick Blackburn will rediscover himself to provide some form of value next season, but his $5.5MM salary won't guarantee that he earns a chance. Blackburn was removed from the 40-man roster earlier this season.

In addition to free agency, trades will very much be in play for general manager Terry Ryan. Mackey writes that no one, aside from Joe Mauer (who has a full no-trade clause), will be off limits on the trade market.

The Twins also aren't convinced that Trevor Plouffe, who cracked 24 homers in 2012, is the answer at third base, but it sounds like that situation has taken a backseat to improving the rotation.

Only the Rockies had a worse collective ERA than the 5.40 mark posted by Twins' starters this season. According to Fangraphs, the Twins' rotation was worth a meager 3.1 wins above replacement — easily the worst mark in all of baseball. Diamond was the team's lone bright spot, as the 25-year-old broke out with a 3.54 ERA in 173 innings.

In addition to Greinke, the free agent market includes names like Anibal Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum and Ryan Dempster. Jake Peavy and Dan Haren are also expected to become free agents after their options are declined. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently featured the Twins in his Offseason Outlook series.


Quick Hits: Clemens, Plouffe, Drew, Ortiz

On this date 20 years ago the Mets sent right-hander David Cone to the Blue Jays for 24-year-old second baseman Jeff Kent. Cone helped Toronto win the first of two consecutive World Series titles and Kent went on to become a borderline Hall of Famer (though he spent his most productive seasons in San Francisco). Here are today’s links as we await the next major trade of the 2012 season…

  • Alan Blondin of the Houston Chronicle writes that Roger Clemens called his recent performance for the Sugar Land Skeeters a favor to Skeeters manager Gary Gaetti. Clemens told Blondin he doesn't have plans for further pitching performances, but cautioned, "That could change in a couple days." 
  • Twins general manager Terry Ryan feels that now is the time for Trevor Plouffe to step up and establish himself as the team's long-term answer at third base, writes Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. Mackey quotes Ryan as saying Plouffe "[has] the rest of the year" to show the Twins that third base isn't a position they need to address.
  • Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that they don’t regret trading Stephen Drew to Oakland, even though Willie Bloomquist experienced a setback in his return from a back injury. “No. We wanted to see what [Jake] Elmore was capable of doing,” Towers said. “He’s held his own, I think, defensively out there.”
  • David Ortiz, a free agent this offseason, wants to re-sign with the Red Sox, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “This is what I know and this is something I want to be part of,” Ortiz said.
  • The Athletics and Astros have improved their farm systems considerably in the last year, Jim Callis of Baseball America writes in this week’s edition of Ask BA.
  • The Blue Jays should have publicly told the Red Sox that manager John Farrell is off-limits long ago, Shi Davidi writes at Sportsnet.ca. The Blue Jays have failed to limit speculation about the possibility of Farrell returning to Boston, Davidi writes. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has said the Blue Jays won’t announce an extension with Farrell, even if the sides agree to one.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Twins, Cuddyer, Cardinals, Phillies

Some links on this Sunday afternoon..

  • In an interview with "Sunday Morning SportsTalk," Twins GM Terry Ryan indicated that Trevor Plouffe will likely play in the outfield and DH in 2012, writes Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com.  Mackey (via Twitter) sees this as a sign that Michael Cuddyer won't be back in Minnesota.
  • Regardless of what Albert Pujols decides to do this winter, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak doesn't envision making major changes to the team's core, writes Joe Strauss of the Post-Dispatch.
  • The Phillies can’t keep adding and retaining the biggest, most expensive stars, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The club's signing of Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50MM deal could hamper them both in the short-term and long-term.
  • The Dodgers can fetch a record price tag of $1 billion can be expected for the organization, Dodger Stadium and the surrounding real estate, writes Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com.  One of the biggest reasons for the team's value is all of the undeveloped real estate surrounding Dodger Stadium, which sits on 275 acres of land that is largely used for parking.

Stark On Orioles, Lee, Padres, Stanton, Angels

Major league executives told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark which starters they would most want to have for the next ten years. Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum didn't make the cut, but Felix Hernandez, Josh Johnson, Ubaldo Jimenez, David Price, Brett Anderson and Jon Lester did. Here are Stark's latest rumors, as the trade market starts taking shape:

  • Two teams say that the Orioles would listen on Kevin Millwood right now.
  • A rival executive says the Orioles are "sniffing around for a shortstop." Stark hears rumors that they have interest in Twins prospect Trevor Plouffe
  • The Mariners won't seriously consider trading Cliff Lee before they're sure they can't salvage their season.
  • There's increasing pessimism that the Astros will be able to obtain salary relief and prospects for Roy Oswalt.
  • Teams are giving up on acquiring Adrian Gonzalez this summer, since the Padres continue to win.
  • Two officials believe Heath Bell could be traded even if the Padres stay in contention. Check out this post from earlier in the week for more on Bell's trade value.
  • Tom Gorzelanny could be on the market in a couple weeks when John Grabow comes off the DL.
  • Stark hears that the Marlins will call Mike Stanton up next week. The Marlins are being cautious, since they want to prevent Stanton from obtaining super two status and teams believe the cut-off will be later than ever this year.
  • Stark's sources don't expect the Angels to start searching for a bat to replace Kendry Morales for a few weeks. When they begin looking for offense, they're expected to look for someone who is about to hit free agency or a versatile player who can defend around the diamond. Kendry Morales is under team control through 2013, so Prince Fielder wouldn't be a fit for the Angels.