Tyler Flowers Rumors

Players To Avoid Arbitration

With tonight’s non-tender deadline looming, several players figure to not only be tendered contracts but agree to their 2014 salaries prior to 11pm CT. We’ll run down the players to avoid arbitration with their respective clubs in this post, and remember that you can track the progress on all arbitration eligible players by using MLBTR’s 2014 Arbitration Tracker. For a reminder on the projected salaries for each of these players, check out Matt Swartz’s projections in MLBTR’s Arbitration Eligibles series.

  • The Nationals announced they’ve avoided arbitration with righty Ross Ohlendorf, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Ohlendorf’s deal will guarantee him $1.25MM and can reach $3MM via incentives that can be achieved as a starter or reliever, per the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with utility infielder Donnie Murphy, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com (via Twitter), agreeing to a one-year, $825K pact that includes incentives.
  • The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Steve Pearce for $850K, tweets Rosenthal.
  • The Padres have reached terms with pitcher Eric Stults on a $2.75MM deal to avoid arbitration, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He had been projected by Swartz to earn $3MM through arbitration. Unlike most arbitration deals, tweets Rosenthal, this one will be guaranteed.  Also getting a guaranteed deal from the Padres, per Rosenthal, is righty Tim Stauffer at $1.6MM.
  • The White Sox have avoided arbitration with catcher Tyler Flowers with a $950k contract, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • The Athletics have avoided arbitration with righty Fernando Rodriguez, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Rodriguez, who is represented by Metis Sports Management, LLC, will earn $600K plus award bonuses, MLBTR has learned.  The A’s will tender contracts to its remaining arb-eligible players, Slusser notes via Twitter.
  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with relievers Frank Herrmann and Blake Wood, the club announced. Each player will earn $560k, tweets Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, which falls below their respective projections from MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.
  • Newly-acquired catcher George Kottaras has reached agreement on a one-year, $1.075MM deal to avoid arbitration with the Cubs, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The contract includes incentives, according to Heyman. A left-handed batter, Kottaras managed only a .180 batting average last year, but got on base at a .349 clip in addition to posting a .370 slugging mark in his 126 plate appearances.
  • The Orioles have avoided arbitration with outfielder Nolan Reimold, sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (link to Twitter). The 30-year-old will get a one-year, $1.025MM deal that includes incentives. Reimold lost most of the last two seasons to injury, but has a career .252/.327/.439 slash in 1,056 plate appearances dating back to 2009. His salary will be guaranteed, tweets Connolly.
  • The Phillies have avoided arbitration with infielder Kevin Frandsen, the club announced. Frandsen will receive a one-year, $900k deal that includes performance incentives. Last year, Frandsen had a .234/.296/.341 slash line in 278 plate appearances. The deal is guaranteed, Rosenthal tweets.
  • The Braves announced that they have avoided arbitration with infielder Ramiro Pena and left-hander Jonny Venters (Twitter link). Pena, 28, batted a solid .278/.330/.443 in 107 PAs this season before shoulder surgery ended his season. Venters’ contract was first reported two weeks ago and is said to be worth $1.625MM.
  • MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with Don Kelly by agreeing to a one-year, $1MM contract for 2014. Kelly will turn 34 in February and batted .222/.309/.343 in 2013 — all numbers that are nearly mirrored by his career .229/.290/.344 batting line. He is represented by LSW Baseball.
  • The Pirates have avoided arbitration with Chris Stewart, according to Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal (on Twitter). Barbarisi reports that the trade sending Stewart to Pittsburgh was actually in place on Friday but was also contingent on Stewart agreeing to a new contract with the Pirates. Stewart, a client of James A. Kuzmich, PLLC, agreed to his new contract today, thereby finalizing the trade. He projected to earn $1MM, per Swartz.

NL Notes: Rockies, Flowers, Thatcher, Barney

The Dodgers have a thrown a wrench into the free agent outfield market by listening to trade offers for Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio in an Insider post (subscription required). Scott Boras is also a complicating factor, according to Bowden, because he represents the two top free agent outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo (#2 and #3, respectively, on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list). Bowden theorizes the other top-tier free agent outfielders may wait to sign in order to see how Boras sets the market for Ellsbury and Choo. In today's news and notes from the National League:

  • Rockies owner Dick Monfort provided Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post with a detailed line-by-line budget for his franchise. Monfort explains how revenue from the new national TV contract is absorbed by payments on the club's MLB credit line, player raises, and projected revenue losses for not having home dates with the Yankees and Red Sox. Monfort estimates being able to reinvest only $4-5MM of the new TV money into the on-the-field product.    
  • Renck, via Sulia, agrees with the assessment of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes that the Ricky Nolasco contract resembles Edwin Jackson's. Renck believes the Rockies would have been paralyzed under their self-imposed budget constraints had they signed Nolasco, so their best option for a rotation upgrade is through a trade.
  • The Mets will have interest in catcher Tyler Flowers, if he is non-tendered by the White Sox, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma. Mets executives have liked Flowers in the past and see him as a potential backup to Travis d'Arnaud. Flowers, however, told Scott Merkin of MLB.com "(t)here have been a couple of conversations" with the White Sox about reaching an agreement to avoid arbitration. "I put it at 51-49 in favor of staying because of the contractual conversation we've had before," Flowers said. "They've reached out to me to try to see where each other is at. If they didn't care at all, they would have done nothing and non-tendered me."
  • It would be a surprise if the Diamondbacks non-tender left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher because free agent bullpen arms aren't cheap, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Thatcher struggled after Arizona acquired him from San Diego in the Ian Kennedy trade to the tune of a 6.75 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 5.8 BB/9, and 11.6 H/9 in 9 1/3 innings (22 appearances).  
  • The Cubs will likely tender second baseman Darwin Barney, despite a career-worst season at the plate (.208/.266/.303 in 501 plate appearances), because the only realistic in-house replacement is Luis Valbuena, reasons MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM arbitration salary for Barney and $1.5MM for Valbuena, who is playing second base in the Venezuelan Winter League.
  • The Cardinals made the right move in signing Jhonny Peralta because they were able to upgrade a position of need while retaining their prized young arms, opines MLB.com's Richard Justice

AL Central Notes: Iglesias, Peralta, Flowers, Jimenez, Santana

Join me for a quick trip around the American League's Central Division, where the Tigers seem to have finally opened an insurmountable lead over the pesky Indians.

  • With the Tigers visiting Fenway for the first time since acquiring Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox, GM Dave Dombrowski left no doubt that the club views the 23-year-old Cuban as its shortstop of the future, reports Jerry Spar of WEEI.com. “He’s an outstanding defensive shortstop," said Dombrowski. "He really changes the middle of the diamond. We have a lot of good pitchers, and some of them live with the ground ball, and so his range helps us appreciably — so quick out there." While defense was never the question with Iglesias, Dombrowski says that he does enough well in the rest of the game to stick as a starter. “He’s also hit well enough. … He does a lot of little things for us as far as bunting, he can move the ball around, he can steal a base. … He’s going to be our shortstop for years to come.”
  • Of course, as MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently explained, the fate of suspended Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta is tied inextricably to that of Iglesias, who was acquired to replace him. Dombrowski's comments certainly seem to indicate that he views Iglesias as a better fit for the short and long term, leaving no apparent role for the free agent-to-be Peralta.
  • White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers will undergo exploratory shoulder surgery and be out of commission for about three to six months, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com (via Twitter). The South Siders' catching situation will be interesting to watch over the off-season. Flowers struggled this year with persistent shoulder issues, and 25-year-old Josh Phegley has failed to impress in his first big league showcase (.211/.221/.331 in 147 plate appearances). The club did just call up 22-year-old Miguel Gonzalez, a defense-first backstop who .254/.326/.349 in 190 plate appearances at Double-A and Triple-A this year. Once a top-10 prospect, Gonzalez's star has faded with his bat over the last several seasons. Fortunately for Chicago, all of these players will be making league mnimum next year.
  • The Indians will soon face a decision on Ubaldo Jimenez's $8MM mutual 2014 option, notes Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Jimenez entered the season with a 5.32 ERA for the Indians since being acquired from the Rockies at the 2011 trade deadline, but appears to have righted the ship somewhat in 2013, posting a 3.95 ERA and career-best 9.1 K/9 in 141 1/3 innings. Pluto speculates that the Indians will pick up their end of the option, but that Jimenez will decline and become a free agent. Back in March, MLBTR's Steve Adams took a look back at the deal that brought Jimenez to Cleveland, when it seemed the 2014 option would be a complete no-brainer for the Indians to exercise.
  • The Royals, too, are looking ahead at starting pitching questions over the coming off-season. As Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports, the club figures to stay the course with its young field position players, with GM Dayton Moore explaining that the team's core of "talented young players on the field" place the club "in the beginning stages of a window where this team can win consistently for a period of time." The rotation, on the other hand, will see the surprisingly excellent Ervin Santana and veteran Bruce Chen enter free agency. Dutton says that the club's decisionmaking process on those two starting slots will depend on a variety of factors, such as the organization's view of Danny Duffy and Wade Davis and the timetable for top prospects Yordano Ventura and Kyle Zimmer. It is unlikely, according to Dutton, that the team will outbid the market on Santana. "We want him here, but it’s difficult to predict," said Moore.


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.

Mets Links: Trades, Flowers, Duda, Davis, Dickey

The latest on the Mets…

  • Mike Puma of The New York Post reports that Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler are the team's only untouchables in trade talks. GM Sandy Alderson is expected to explore trades more than free agents this winter, and they have "some interest" in White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers.
  • Lucas Duda had surgery yesterday after fracturing his wrist moving furniture, and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says that could take Ike Davis completely off the trade market. Duda was the club's backup plan at first base, though he is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
  • David Lennon of Newsday says (on Twitter) that it would be very tough for the Mets to trade R.A. Dickey from a public relations perspective even if the two sides can't work out a long-term deal.
  • John Harper of The New York Daily News writes that Alderson has plenty to prove following his first two years on the job. Outside of the Wheeler trade, Harper says his moves haven't worked out too well.

Cafardo On Rays, Mathis, Flowers, Red Sox

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opens this week's Sunday Notes column by taking a look at how the Rays have succeeded this year depite losing many key players in the offseason. Cafardo points out that the AL East looks like a "very flawed division" so far, meaning the Rays could once again be bunched up with the Yankees and Red Sox in the standings. Here are some other notes from Cafardo:

  • Jason Varitek praised the defensive abilites of Jeff Mathis, who may be a trade candidate: "He’s a very athletic catcher. He has a good arm. He creates a good situation for his pitching staff. You can tell the pitchers really enjoy throwing to him. He’s fun to watch back there because he does things so easily. He’s one of the best."
  • Tyler Flowers, the catcher for the White Sox' Triple-A club in Charlotte, could be available and was scouted by the Red Sox and a handful of other teams in Spring Training.
  • Red Sox minor leaguer Josh Reddick has "generated a lot of chatter among scouts," according to Cafardo, who speculates the outfielder would draw plenty of interest if Boston made him available. One scout on Reddick: "He’s a major league player and he’d be playing for a lot of teams in the big leagues right now."
  • Former Red Sox and White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk would like a chance to instruct young players for either organization, but says he's never received a serious offer to do so.

The Astros’ Catching Options

Jason Castro's 2011 season came to a quick end when the news broke that Castro had suffered a torn ACL in his right knee.  The injury leaves the Astros with Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles as their top internal options behind the plate, and it's possible that Houston is content to stick with this duo.  Quintero is a solid defender, if nothing else, and Towles is just a couple of years removed from being considered a top prospect himself, so the Astros might be willing to give Towles one last chance to prove himself at the Major League level.

As with any notable injury, however, the hot stove is already heating up with speculation about who Houston could pursue if the team looked outside its organization.  Brian McTaggart of MLB.com and David Golebiewski of Fangraphs have both already chimed in on the situation, so let's take a look at their possible candidates…

  • Ryan Doumit.  Pittsburgh is known to be shopping the veteran, and willing to eat some of his $5.1MM salary for the right talent in return.  MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, however, wonders if the Astros would really give up anything of value for just one year of Doumit.
  • A.J. Ellis.  He isn't exactly a proven veteran, but Ellis could be available.  Ellis and Dioner Navarro are battling to be Rod Barajas' backup in Los Angeles.
  • Jesus Flores.  The Nationals could be the most fitting trade partner here, given the number of catchers on their roster.  Flores has looked healthy in Spring Training and could probably be obtained at a low cost.
  • Tyler Flowers.  His future with the White Sox suddenly became blurry following a mediocre 2010 season in Triple-A and A.J. Pierzynski's new two-year contract with the club.  Flowers is just 25, however, and was ranked by Baseball America as the 60th-best prospect in the game heading into last season.  It's very unlikely that Chicago has already given up on Flowers.
  • Bengie Molina.  Unlike these other players, Molina is a free agent, and would cost Houston nothing but money.  We heard last month that Molina was on the fence about returning next season since he couldn't find a team that would offer him regular playing time.
  • Brian Schneider.  McTaggart observes that Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. have collaborated before, most notably on the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia last summer.  Schneider and Carlos Ruiz make a nice lefty-righty platoon, however, and it's unlikely the Philles would want to break that combination up. 
  • Kelly ShoppachJohn Jaso is pencilled into the starting job in Tampa Bay, so the Rays could listen to offers for their veteran backup, who makes $3MM in 2011.

McTaggart also notes the Yankees' minor league depth at catcher, but says they're an unlikely trade partner since the Astros would be looking for a Major League-ready catcher.  Besides, New York is dealing with their own injury problems behind the plate, as Francisco Cervelli will be sidelined with a broken foot.


The White Sox And A.J. Pierzynski

Not long ago, it seemed unlikely that the White Sox would have room for A.J. Pierzynski after 2010. They had Tyler Flowers, a minor league catcher who ranked among baseball's best prospects. Flowers, 24, was coming off his second consecutive season with a .900 OPS and seemed ready to hit in the majors.

But Flowers has slumped in Triple A this year and Pierzynski has posted the lowest on base and slugging percentages of his career. The White Sox appeared to have two sure things just five months ago, but now a lot of that certainty has vanished. Despite his slump, Flowers is hitting .220/.334/.434 with 16 homers in Triple A, so the White Sox don't have to fret too much. Their catching prospect can still hit – he has just struggled to produce like he did earlier in his minor league career, when he posted an .800 OPS everywhere he went.

Flowers still hasn't made the transition from heir apparent to everyday player, so GM Kenny Williams will likely want a veteran catcher on the roster going into 2011. The Indians (Carlos Santana) and Giants (Buster Posey) both cautiously ushered young catchers into the majors this year and the White Sox could aim to do something similar. Santana and Posey hit so well in the minors that their teams created space in the majors and called them up by mid-season. 

Pierzynski is still just 33 and he hit well in 2009, but this year he's hitting just .265/.297/.381. He was consistently productive in Chicago from 2005-09 and it's doubtful that the White Sox are going to weigh five so-so months over five full seasons when they decide whether they're interested in re-signing Pierzynski this offseason.

If the White Sox offer Pierzynski, a projected Type A free agent, arbitration, he could accept and return to Chicago on a one-year deal. If he turned it down and signed elsewhere, the White Sox would obtain two high picks in next year's draft.

The White Sox may let Pierzynski walk and rely on Flowers and a veteran catcher, as we would have predicted before the season. But if they don't want to hand the starting catcher's job to a rookie whose minor league numbers are fading, the White Sox can always offer Pierzynski arbitration and deal with the consequences if and when Flowers hits his way to the majors.


Adam Dunn Rumors: Tuesday

New teams inquired about Nationals slugger Adam Dunn within the past day, tweets Ed Price of AOL FanHouseFOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi tweets that the Nats are more likely to trade Dunn than Josh Willingham, while ESPN's Jayson Stark hears that Washington might trade one but not both. 

Check back throughout the day for updates, as the Nationals discuss possible deals with other teams and consider keeping their first baseman in Washington long-term:

  • Dunn wants a four-year deal, but would consider a three-year offer if the Nationals make him one, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Dunn explained to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he does his best to ignore trade rumors and understands the business side of the game.
  • The Nationals want Daniel Hudson plus one of Jordan Danks, Tyler Flowers or Brent Morel for Dunn, a source told Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago. The Nationals offered Dunn for Gordon Beckham, but the White Sox turned the proposal down.
  • Another source told Levine that six teams are bidding for Dunn: The White Sox, Angels, Tigers, Rangers and two NL clubs. As you can see below, the Rockies and Giants have been linked to Dunn, but it’s not certain that those two teams are pursuing him now.
  • The Rays like Dunn, but don't want to push him into a DH role, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As much as the Rays likes Dunn's bat, they don't want to risk conflict with the slugger. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Nationals asked the Rays for Matt Garza last week. Despite those demands, the Rays will keep an eye on Dunn and Jayson Werth this week, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
  • The Giants also expressed interest in Dunn, according to Knobler.
  • Sherman says the Rockies talked about Dunn, but don't like his poor defense.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals have yet to offer Dunn an extension in any form, so the trade market is likely to heat up.  Rosenthal and colleague Jon Paul Morosi name the White Sox as the most serious suitor, and add that the Tigers, Rangers, and Yankees maintain interest. 


White Sox Willing To Move Top Prospects In A Trade

According to MLB.com's Scott Merkin, notable Chicago minor leaguers such as Jordan Danks, Tyler Flowers, Dan Hudson or Dayan Viciedo could possibly be dealt if the right acquisition becomes available.  White Sox GM Kenny Williams spoke to the media on Wednesday and hinted that now that the Sox have played themselves back into contention, he wouldn't hesitate to trade part of the team's future for further success this season.

"Well, if there's an opportunity to win a World Series, you got to do what you got to do sometimes — within reason," Williams said. "But it's got to be, you have to have a real opportunity. I think we have an opportunity."

Chicago's apparent trading strategy, if they do indeed make a deal, would be to move largely unproven talents rather than players who have already had an impact in the majors.  Merkin notes that the likes of Gordon Beckham, John Danks and Gavin Floyd are all but untouchable for the near future.

Of those prospects, a Flowers trade would probably have the most impact on Chicago's major league roster.  It had been widely assumed that A.J. Pierzynski would be allowed to leave after his contract expires this winter, since Flowers would then step in behind the plate for the Sox in 2011.  (Indeed, there were even rumors that Pierzynski would be traded before his ten-and-five rights kicked in on June 14.)  If Flowers was dealt, however, the White Sox might well look to re-sign their veteran catcher over other soon-to-be free agents like John Buck or Bengie Molina.

In a separate piece, Merkin highlights how surprising it is that the Sox are now considered to be buyers at the trade deadline given that the club looked to be out of the race just a few weeks ago.  Chicago has been linked to Adam Dunn and other left-handed bats, though Williams told Merkin that the team might also stand pat.  Such a decision wouldn't sit well with the Chicago media and fanbase, but it's prudent of Williams to wait and see if his team really is as good as they've seemed of late before dealing a key prospect.