Trevor Hoffman Rumors
Closer is the ultimate role for a reliever, and many free agents choose based on whether they'll get ninth inning opportunities. For example, SI's Jon Heyman tweeted today that Trevor Hoffman "has interest in pitching another year if someone will let him close." Another example would be Jesse Crain, who last month told MLB.com's Kelly Thesier he'd love an opportunity to close. Looking at our free agent list, J.J. Putz, Frank Francisco, Brian Fuentes, Octavio Dotel, Kevin Gregg, Chad Qualls, Kerry Wood, Jon Rauch, Joaquin Benoit, and Koji Uehara could also be among those battling for closer jobs.
The lack of openings makes the supply of would-be closers greater than the demand. The Orioles, Rays, Blue Jays, White Sox, Angels, Braves, and Diamondbacks aren't locked in with closers, but half those clubs could go internal. Only the D'Backs and Angels appear poised to add an established closer. The trade and non-tender markets will only increase the supply with names like Heath Bell, Leo Nunez, David Aardsma, and Bobby Jenks. The Padres, Marlins, Mariners, and White Sox all have viable replacements on hand.
The Brewers introduced new manager Ron Roenicke at a press conference on Thursday, and GM Doug Melvin spoke to the media about the upcoming free agent period afterwards. Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel fills us in on the details...
- Melvin told right-hander Dave Bush that "he should test the market." Bush didn't take it as a sign that the team will not attempt to re-sign him however, he told Haudricourt that Melvin encouraged him to explore the market since it's his first time as a free agent.
- Melvin indicated that he had calls into the agents for Chris Capuano and Craig Counsell, and that it's possible he'll make them offers before other teams can jump in.
- There has been no indication that the team will try to bring Trevor Hoffman, Doug Davis, and/or Gregg Zaun back. The Brewers recently declined the club options for all three players.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that Milwaukee has re-signed right-hander Tim Dillard to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The 27 year old spent the season in Triple-A working on a new sidearm delivery.
The Brewers declined their 2011 options for Gregg Zaun, Trevor Hoffman and Doug Davis, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Milwaukee paid a total of $2MM in buyouts. Zaun got $250K instead of a $2.25MM salary; Hoffman got $750K instead of a $7MM salary and Davis got $1MM instead of a $6.5MM salary. All three moves were expected.
Zaun, who tore the labrum in his right shoulder this summer, has said he would like to play in 2011, but it probably won't be in Milwaukee. The Brewers have Jonathan Lucroy, George Kottaras and Mike Rivera behind the plate. Davis made just eight starts in 2010 because of injuries.
Hoffman picked up his 600th career save this year, but struggled early in the season, lost the closer's job to John Axford and pitched to a 5.89 ERA overall. In the highly unlikely event that the Brewers offer arbitration and Hoffman turns it down to sign elsewhere, the team would obtain a compensatory pick in next year's draft for losing a Type B free agent.
Earlier in the week, we heard that if Trevor Hoffman plays in 2011, he'd likely look for a situation where he has a chance to close, meaning his time in Milwaukee could be nearing an end. Hoffman said as much to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today, when asked about the possibility of the Brewers retaining him for next season.
"[John Axford] is their future," said Hoffman. "That’s just the way it is. It’s nothing bad, no ill feelings or anything. They have their future and it’s time for me to move on if I’m going to continue doing this at a certain capacity. If I’m going to continue playing, I don’t want to continue in this capacity. I’d like to see what’s out there, if there’s option to close somewhere."
The one-year contract that the 42-year-old signed with Milwaukee last October includes a $7MM mutual option ($750K buyout) for 2011. Even Hoffman knows that the Brewers won't exercise the option though, asking rhetorically: "Why would they pay $7 million for me to pitch in this role?"
After an extremely successful first year with the Brewers in 2009 (1.83 ERA, 37 saves), Hoffman struggled this season, losing the closer's job to Axford and recording a 5.89 ERA. However, most of the right-hander's disastrous outings came in the season's first two months; since June 3rd, he has posted a 2.67 ERA in 32 appearances. Those numbers could be enough for a team to take a flier on Hoffman next year, but even if he receives offers, the all-time saves leader doesn't know whether he'll be back.
"I might not get to that stage (of fielding offers)," Hoffman said. "I might make my decision before I ever get to that. It would have to be a fit like this. I don’t know how many fits are out there like this."
As the Padres face a big uphill battle in San Francisco this weekend, we look at some news items....
- Yu Darvish's likely posting fee could be around $25MM and the right-hander might look for a five-year deal from an MLB club, suggest sources of Matt Cerrone of Metsblog.com. The Mets, Yankees, Rangers and Braves are listed as four of the eight teams who have shown an interest in Darvish, and we know the Rays have watched him pitch as well.
- Pedro Feliciano's struggles against right-handed hitters will prevent the reliever from earning a big contract this winter, writes David Brown of Yahoo Sports. The fact that Feliciano is a Type A free agent will also hurt his cause, since teams will shy away from losing a draft pick to sign a limited relief pitcher.
- Rafael Soriano, Cody Ross, David DeJesus and Francisco Rodriguez are among several free agents or trade candidates that Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic thinks the D'Backs might consider acquiring.
- Bob Gebhard, the Diamondbacks' vice-president and special assistant to the GM, will survive the expected front office changes in Arizona this winter, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
- Nightengale also tweets that Tim Wallach is "picking up plenty of steam" in regards to the Toronto manager's job. The Rockies have granted hitting coach Don Baylor permission to interview for that same position, reports Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
- The Everett Daily Herald's Kirby Arnold lists several Mariners who might not be with the team next season, including Jose Lopez, David Aardsma and Casey Kotchman.
- Dodgers assistant GM Logan White told Baseball America's Jim Callis that he hasn't been fired by L.A., and is "working for the team until...told otherwise" (both Twitter links). Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus tweeted about "rumors starting to swirl" that White and the Dodgers were parting ways earlier in the day. White was one of several candidates interviewed for the Arizona general manager's job that eventually went to Kevin Towers.
- The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore lists five possible replacements for Adam Dunn if the Nationals don't re-sign the slugger.
- In a chat with fans on Thursday, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News predicted that the Rangers would announce contract extensions for manager Ron Washington and GM Jon Daniels within a week of Texas' final playoff game.
- Trevor Hoffman hasn't decided if he will play next year yet, but if he does, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy predicts Hoffman will look for "a situation in which he at least has a chance to be the closer."
Links for Sunday as Phil Hughes takes the mound against Boston..
- Brewers manager Ken Macha will have to wait to learn about his future, GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
- Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com writes that even a turnaround in playoff fortunes wouldn't have changed Dodgers skipper Joe Torre's mind about retiring.
- Mark Kotsay told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that he does not anticipate returning to the White Sox next season.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy writes that Prince Fielder may have played his last home game in a Brewers uniform today.
- Whether or not manager Ozzie Guillen returns to the White Sox will be one of the many factors that play into Paul Konerko's decision, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
- Adam McCalvy of MLB.com tweets that Trevor Hoffman earned an extra $250K today when he closed out the Brewers' home finale.
- Reliever Takashi Saito's career could be in jeopardy as he is hampered by shoulder tendinitis, writes Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson will have a say in whether soon-to-be free agent Brandon Webb returns to action this year, writes MLB.com's Andrew Pentis.
- Thomas Harding and Joey Nowak of MLB.com spoke to Rockies outfielder Jay Payton, who is happy to still be playing baseball at the age of 37.
- Cubs owner Tom Ricketts says the future looks bright in Chicago, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
Links for Wednesday, 50 years after the Milwaukee Braves signed Joe Torre as an amateur free agent...
- The Cubs intend to interview Ryne Sandberg and others for their managerial opening within ten days, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says baseball's revenue sharing system is not broken, but he would like to see MLB adopt a "laser-like focus" on developing a fairer system.
- Jason Varitek told reporters, including Alex Speier of WEEI that he intends to keep playing after next season.
- Tim Wakefield's base salary for 2011 rises from $1.5MM to $2MM if he finishes 3.1 innings tonight, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald points out on Twitter.
- Trevor Hoffman told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he'll wait until after the season to decide whether to retire (Twitter link).
- Hisanori Takahashi told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that he likes New York and wants to continue playing major league baseball. He just doesn't know if he’ll re-sign with the Mets this winter.
As Albert Pujols joins the 400-homer club, here are some items of note...
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams hinted that his club may be pursuing a lower-profile waiver wire target than Manny Ramirez, reports MLB.com's Scott Merkin. This target, however, is apparently not Trevor Hoffman. Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com writes that Williams denied a report saying that the Sox put in a claim on Hoffman, but were unable to work out a trade with the Brewers.
- The Orioles are "increasingly less likely" to call up left-hander Zach Britton in September, reports MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. Britton, ranked as the 63rd-best prospect in the game by Baseball America's preseason rankings, would only be in line to start every six or seven days given Baltimore's full staff and a number of September off-days. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun adds that Britton is already nearing his 2010 innings limit.
- The Cubs interviewed Eric Wedge today for their open manager's job, reports Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. Levine mentions that Fredi Gonzalez, Pat Listach and Ryne Sandberg are all slated for interviews, and Chicago GM Jim Hendry wants a new manager hired before the team's November organizational meetings.
- It's "unlikely at this point" that the Diamondbacks will be making any more trades, a team executive tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com.
- The Pirates were wise to get Jameson Taillon signed at an over-slot price rather than take their chances with two top-3 picks in the 2011 amateur draft, writes Chuck Finder of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Jeff Bagwell isn't sure if he wants to return as Houston's hitting coach next season, says MLB.com's Alyson Footer.
FRIDAY, 1:03am: Theo Epstein has discussed multiple possible trades with former Red Sox assistant GM and current Padres GM Jed Hoyer, according to Peter Abraham and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Globe duo believes Boston could have interest in a reliever like Joe Thatcher, and, given the team's excess of outfielders when Jacoby Ellsbury returns, they may match up with San Diego.
THURSDAY, 12:59pm: Though they're on his no-trade list, the Red Sox asked the Brewers about Trevor Hoffman, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal adds that the Brewers are not inclined to move Hoffman. Meanwhile they're getting calls on Carlos Villanueva and Todd Coffey.
12:05pm: The Red Sox are leaving no rock unturned in their search for relief help. They've explored Rafael Perez, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez, Matt Capps, Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood, David Aardsma, and Kyle Farnsworth, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo says Scott Downs looks unlikely unless the Blue Jays back down from their top prospect requests. On a related note, SI's Jon Heyman tweets that the Jays asked the Mets for outfield prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis and one other player for Downs and were denied.
Marshall is the interesting name here. The 27-year-old lefty has had a dominant year in relief, posting a 1.71 ERA, 10.4 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 in 52.6 innings with one home run allowed. He's been especially strong against lefties. Marshall is under team control through 2012 and would presumably be very difficult to pry loose from the Cubs. Gonzalez is another surprising name, since he's spent most of the season on the shelf with a shoulder injury and is still owed good money.
Cafardo adds that the Red Sox have been shopping reliever Ramon Ramirez, and offers the opinion that a National League team might want to take a look at him. Ramirez has a 4.57 ERA, 6.5 K/9, and 3.3 BB/9 in 41.3 innings with six home runs allowed and is a potential non-tender candidate after the season.
Links for Wednesday, as the Tigers get some infield depth from a division rival...
- The Rangers haven't ruled out acquiring Mike Lowell, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
- Agent Bean Stringfellow told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Blue Jays are not currently discussing an extension with Jose Bautista. It’s not at all surprising given how much else the Blue Jays have to sort out this week. Bautista said on the FAN 590 today that he would listen if the Blue Jays approached him with a multi-year deal after the season.
- The Cardinals are not interested in Clint Barmes, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter).
- Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier that the Red Sox will “look aggressively” for ways to improve at the trade deadline.
- Tommy Hanson explained to Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he chose the Boras Corp. because of the support the agency offers.
- Brett Myers is untouchable, a source tells Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). With respect to Justice and his source, it seems unfathomable that a 41-59 team wouldn't listen to offers on a player who can walk at the end of the season.
- Casey Fien cleared waivers and the Tigers outrighted him to Triple A, according to the team (via Twitter). Detroit designated Fien for assignment last weekend.
- Like Fien, Scott Moore cleared waivers and headed to Triple A, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The O's designated Moore for assignment last week.
- And another recent DFA, Justin Miller, was outrighted to Triple A Albuquerque, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (via Twitter).
- The Blue Jays have considered Kelly Johnson, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Aaron Hill recently told the Globe and Mail's Jeff Blair that he would play third if the Jays asked him to, so Johnson could theoretically play second in Toronto. Seems like a longshot to me.
- Kyle Farnsworth is available to manager Ned Yost (and GMs around the league) after leaving yesterday's game with a hamstring cramp, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- Trevor Hoffman can veto deals to 25 MLB teams, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. The all-time saves leader and his $7.5MM salary would likely clear waivers, so interested teams will probably be able to pursue him in August.
- One player told Morosi that he'd be "shocked" if the Brewers trade Prince Fielder this week.
- Mike Axisa counts down the Yankees' top five trade chips at River Ave. Blues.
- The Dodgers won't discuss prospect Dee Gordon with other teams, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter).