- A.J. Burnett Expected To Miss Four Weeks With Flexor Strain
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Ubaldo Jimenez Rumors
Ubaldo Jimenez‘s first year with the Orioles was a struggle, but with three years left on his contract, the O’s are hoping for better in 2015, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com writes. Jimenez walked 5.5 batters per nine innings en route to a 4.81 ERA after signing a four-year, $50MM deal last February. The Orioles have tried to trade him, but other teams don’t to take on the rest of his contract. Still, Dubroff notes that Jimenez struck out the side in his last appearance of the year and pitched decently in two starts immediately before that (albeit with too many walks), and Orioles manager Buck Showalter sounds hopeful about Jimenez for next season. “I’m going to be surprised if he doesn’t come in and be ready to pitch like he’s capable of consistently,” says Showalter. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Trading Cole Hamels could result in a Cliff Lee-type trade for the Phillies, but they still need to take the risk, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. The Phillies as currently constituted aren’t strong enough to win with Hamels, so they need to take a chance by trading him for multiple players who can help them win later. Zolecki adds that it’s unlikely the Phillies would deal Domonic Brown or Ben Revere at this point, since the team needs outfielders and both players are relatively young.
- Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller should be able to handle the late innings in the Yankees‘ new-look bullpen, and there are a number of options for middle relief, Mark Townsend of Yahoo! Sports writes. The newly acquired David Carpenter could play a key role in the sixth and seventh innings, with Adam Warren and Justin Wilson also helping out in important spots. (One would think lefty Chasen Shreve, who pitched brilliantly in the Atlanta system last year, could be a good matchup option at some point as well.) All that depth means the Yankees don’t have to lean too hard on reclamation projects Andrew Bailey and Esmil Rogers.
MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian and Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group cleared out their inbox this weekend answering readers’ questions about possible moves for the Indians this offseason. Here are the highlights:
- Bastian downplays a Nick Swisher–Ubaldo Jimenez swap of bad contracts. Cleveland could afford the move (Jimenez is due $38.75MM through 2017 while Swisher is owed $30MM through 2016 with a 2017 vesting option worth $14MM), but Bastian feels the odds of Swisher rebounding in 2015 is a better bet than three years of Jimenez.
- If the Indians are looking to shed a bad contract, Hoynes thinks Michael Bourn would be easier to trade, but adds that doesn’t mean Cleveland wants to deal him.
- Bastian and Hoynes both agree the Indians have interest in Justin Masterson on a one-year pillow contract, but feel the right-hander will find a multi-year pact elsewhere.
- Trading for Cole Hamels is an interesting thought, according to Bastian, because the left-hander is cheaper ($90MM through 2018) than the top free agent rotation arms on the market and the Indians have the type of prospects the Phillies covet. Ultimately, though, Bastian sees Hamels’ annual salary and the potential prospects lost will be too steep of a price for the franchise to pay.
- While noting manager Terry Francona’s penchant for strong bullpens, Hoynes doesn’t see the Indians investing in any of the high profile free agent relievers, especially with Zach McAllister waiting in the wings.
- Does Francona’s new contract extension contain the same opt-out clause allowing him to leave if President Mark Shapiro or GM Chris Antonetti are fired? Antonetti did not provide details when asked that question, but Hoynes imagines the opt-out provision is included in the extension.
- Bastian expects right-handers Carlos Carrasco and Trevor Bauer to have break out seasons for the Indians in 2015.
Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com provides an interesting round-up on the latest out of Baltimore. Among the highlights:
- Baltimore remains interested in bringing back Delmon Young, but are not willing to meet his demand for two years at present. Given his strong work last year in a bench role, it is not surprising that he would test the interest in a multi-year guarantee. Though Young has never quite lived up to expectations, of course, he is just 29 and put up a .779 OPS last year and actually posted reverse platoon splits in so doing.
- The O’s have been approached by multiple clubs regarding struggling righty Ubaldo Jimenez. The Braves asked about the possibility of a swap involving B.J. Upton, but Kubatko says that is “not happening.”
- While there has been some indication that the Orioles would consider non-tendering outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Kubatko says that the team has “every intention” of keeping him in the fold. He could serve as a platoon option in left, notes Kubatko, though of course his projected $5.9MM arbitration earnings will make that a fairly expensive choice.
- After announcing a host of minor league signings yesterday, Baltimore has interest in adding infielders Paul Janish and Rey Navarro as well. Kubatko writes that the 24-year-old Navarro, a switch-hitting shortstop, is expected to draw significant interest around the game.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new notes column posted looking at a number of situations around the league. Here are some quick highlights…
- The Mariners are on the hunt for a right-handed bat, but they prefer Nelson Cruz to signing Hanley Ramirez or trading for Matt Kemp. Justin Upton is also somewhere on their wish list and is potentially available. Rosenthal writes that the Mariners “are going to do something” of significance to address that search.
- The Phillies are doing background work on the makeup of Red Sox prospects Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts and Matt Barnes, Rosenthal hears, fueling some speculation about a Cole Hamels trade. Rosenthal says the Sox are disinclined to move Vazquez or Blake Swihart, however, and previous reports have indicated that the team is loath to consider parting with Betts. As others have noted, Rosenthal feels that Hamels would likely require the Red Sox to exercise his 2019 option ($20MM) in advance, bringing the total he is owed to $110MM over the next five years.
- The Padres are continuing to listen to offers for Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, with Kennedy being the most likely of the three to go. Kennedy is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $10.3MM in 2015, and the Royals are interested in the right-hander. Rosenthal also speculatively lists the Rangers as a club to watch in the Kennedy market.
- A reunion between Nick Markakis and the Orioles seemed like a foregone conclusion at one point, but the two sides still aren’t close to a deal and talks are said to be merely “inching along.” Rosenthal wonders what’s taking so long but does note that the O’s are considering Yasmany Tomas and still working with Cruz as well, so it seems fair to speculate that having three options in the corner outfield is slowing the Markakis progress. As Rosenthal notes, the longer the wait, the more likely it is that Markakis explores other options more seriously.
- Since the publication of that column, Rosenthal has tweeted that the Orioles might be willing to move Bud Norris, who is projected by Swartz to earn $8.7MM in 2015. Norris is a free agent next season but pitched well in 2014, posting a 3.65 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 165 1/3 innings. Rosenthal also hears that the O’s have gotten “moderate” interest in Ubaldo Jimenez, although with $38.75MM remaining on his contract, I’d imagine he could only be swapped for another bad contract.
Full Story | 85 Comments | Categories: Andrew Cashner | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Bud Norris | Christian Vazquez | Cole Hamels | Hanley Ramirez | Ian Kennedy | Justin Upton | Kansas City Royals | Matt Barnes | Matt Kemp | Mookie Betts | Nelson Cruz | Newsstand | Nick Markakis | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | Seattle Mariners | Tyson Ross | Ubaldo Jimenez | Yasmany Tomas
The Indians are kicking the tires on a familiar name, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports they’ve reached out to Justin Masterson about a potential return. The Indians are likely interested in Masterson only on a one-year deal, which, as Hoynes notes, may be the preferred option for Masterson anyway. Masterson pitched through a number of injuries last season, and if he’s healthy in 2015, he could be a prime rebound candidate and position himself for a much nicer deal on the open market in 2015-16.
More from Hoynes and more from the AL Central…
- Hoynes also refutes previous reports that the Indians would have some interest in buying low on Ubaldo Jimenez. Though Jimenez had one of his best seasons in Cleveland under pitching coach Mickey Callaway, the organization isn’t interested in trying to fix the inconsistent righty.
- Both Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are non-tender candidates for the Royals, but Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (via Twitter) that the team is still considering tendering each a contract due to a lack of MLB-ready replacement options.
- In his latest Twins Inbox, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports that the Twins began their search for a pitching coach with at least 30 names and seem likely to go outside the organization to fill the role. He also discusses potential free agent targets for the Twins, noting that the team is expected to pursue second-tier starting pitcher options such as Brandon McCarthy and Jason Hammel or bounceback candidates such as Masterson and Brett Anderson. Bollinger also expects the Twins to sign a corner outfielder, though he notes Torii Hunter‘s desire to play for a contender basically rules out a return to Minnesota.
The Nationals made Ian Desmond a seven-year, $107MM extension offer last year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, though that also included contract deferrals that would have reduced its true value. Negotiations are expected to pick back up in the months to come, per Kilgore, and that offer will presumably be the starting point. Desmond, who put up another strong year and is now one year away from the open market, is one key piece of the team’s increasingly pressing long-term strategic questions.
Here’s the latest out of the division:
- The Marlins‘ interest in the starting pitching market is fairly diverse, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Possible trade targets range from buy-low (Ubaldo Jimenez) to buy-high (Johnny Cueto), and interest on the free agent markets includes Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana. The unifying force here is probably the expected ability of these varying arms to provide innings; as I noted yesterday, the Fish hope to add a solid, veteran presence to their staff.
- Spencer also spoke with the Miami brass about Giancarlo Stanton, and discusses the team’s reasoning for trying to build a winner around him now, even if an extension cannot ultimately be worked out. “We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
- There are “a lot of good fits” for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is likely to be traded, sources tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia is seeing interest in Ben Revere as well.
- Of course, the flashier chip for the Phils is lefty Cole Hamels. As Salisbury reports, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “the free agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes,” referring to the possibility of striking a deal. “[A]t some point the dominores will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us,” said Amaro, who notes that there is no need to deal Hamels since he “traverses the timeline” of contention that the club has in mind.
- Hamels would prefer to be dealt, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale provides additional teams to which Hamels cannot decline a trade (on top of the previously-reported Cubs): the Yankees and Rangers are the two A.L. clubs, with the Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, and Padres among the National League teams.
- The Braves increasingly sound inclined to aim for the near future, and we’ve already heard several prominent names listed as possible trade candidates. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman provides two more, via Twitter: reliever Jordan Walden (who projects to earn $3MM in arbitration) and young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
- Braves president of baseball operations John Hart says the sides will “need to get creative” to work out a deal to keep Kris Medlen, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While the team has every hope of keeping the righty, his second Tommy John procedure and $5.8MM projected arb price tag do not make for a straightforward situation given the team’s tight payroll. Sherman suggests that a significantly lower guarantee, combined with incentives and a 2016 option, could be palatable for both sides. It seems that Medlen would be able to do better, however, were he to force the Braves’ hand: he would either be tendered a contract, or hit the open market with plenty of suitors given his upside.
Full Story | 32 Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Ben Revere | Chicago Cubs | Cole Hamels | Ervin Santana | Free Agent Market | Giancarlo Stanton | Ian Desmond | Johnny Cueto | Jordan Walden | Kris Medlen | Kyle Kendrick | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals | Texas Rangers | Tommy La Stella | Ubaldo Jimenez | Washington Nationals
Jimenez signed a four-year, $50MM free agent deal with the O’s last offseason but his tenure in Baltimore got off to a tough start. The veteran righty posted a 4.81 ERA and a career-high 5.5 BB/9 over 125 1/3 IP, a performance that saw him get dropped from the O’s rotation in August. Jimenez wasn’t used during the ALDS and wasn’t even on Baltimore’s ALCS roster, and his troubled season also included a month on the DL with an ankle injury.
Needless to say, the Orioles would be selling low on Jimenez. Suitors could be hard to find given the three years and $38.75MM remaining on the righty’s contract, though the O’s could eat some money in a trade or look to swap Jimenez for another unfavorable contract. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman speculates that the Indians, one of Jimenez’s former teams, could be a possibility given that they’re looking for rotation depth. Jimenez posted a 3.30 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.43 K/BB rate over 182 2/3 IP for the Tribe in 2013, a solid season that paved the way for his four-year free agent deal.
It is not often that things line up quite so cleanly as this, but after a roller-coaster offseason, three of the market's top starters all landed quite similar overall guarantees. It would be too much, perhaps, to argue that the market valued them identically; after all, each signed at different points in an always-changing market, agreed to various terms that impact the overall value of their contracts, and had differing situations with regard to qualifying offers. Nevertheless, it seems fair to suggest that Ricky Nolasco, Matt Garza, and Ubaldo Jimenez were each valued in rough proportion to one another.
Yet each pitcher brings a very different set of risks and benefits to their new deals. (Player name links are to MLBTR's Free Agent profile series; deal links are to reported signing, which includes contract details.)
Ricky Nolasco (age 31; received four years, $49MM from Twins) — Nolasco is durable and solid, having made at least 31 starts in each of the last three regular seasons while consistently maintaining a walk rate hovering just above 2.0 BB/9. While his overall results have been less than stellar, Nolasco has tended to post much better ratings by advanced metrics than ERA, and finally saw the results to match last year. Has he been unlucky, or does he just give up a lot of solid contact? Either way, Minnesota has put its money into a pitcher who has about as good a record of durability as could be hoped.
RISK: disconnect between advanced metrics and results
Matt Garza (age 30; received four years, $50MM from Brewers) — Garza has been consistently above-average … when healthy. Striking out batters consistenly in the range of about eight per nine, and holding down walks to less than three per nine since maturing as a pitcher, Garza's results are hard to argue with. (He has not ended a season with an ERA above 4.00 since his rookie year.) But a string of injuries held him to 103 2/3 innings in 2012 and 155 1/3 in 2012. If healthy, there is every reason to believe that Garza will continue to be an excellent (albeit not dominant) starter, but therein lies the rub.
BENEFIT: reliably above-average performance
Ubaldo Jimenez (age 30; received four years, $50MM from Orioles) — Unlike either of the previous two hurlers, Jimenez has at times been amongst the most dominant starters in the game. He has been an unquestioned ace over complete seasons (earlier in his career, with Colorado) and parts of seasons (the second half of last year, with Cleveland). In between, however, Jimenez has posted some genuinely unsightly stat lines. While his 2011 campaign may have taken a downturn due to some bad luck, he was terrible in most respects over the entirety of 2012, as he lost both his control and his ability to register strikeouts. Like Nolasco, Jimenez has been supremely durable. But if his new club can count on at least 180 innings, of what quality will they be? Jimenez showed flashes of both good and bad last year, and it remains to be seen which side defines his tenure in Baltimore. [Note: Orioles also gave up a first-round draft choice to sign Jimenez.]
BENEFIT: durability, upside
So, MLBTR readers: putting aside the particulars of their new teams' situations, which of these three similarly-priced investments do you think was money best spent?
Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has ranked the ten best and worst transactions of the offseason. The number one spot on both lists goes to the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Nationals and returned Robbie Ray, Steve Lombardozzi, and Ian Krol to the Tigers. Cameron argues that the deal is "the most lopsided trade we've seen in years," and notes that many observers are at a loss to understand it from Detroit's perspective. While the return for Fister certainly seems light, I tried to make some sense of the swap back in December, writing that the deal was a part (albeit a questionable one) of a massive overhaul of the club's future commitments that saved as much as $150MM in down-the-line salary while maintaining most of its present on-field quality.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski endeavored to explain the trade from his perspective in an interesting interview with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He made clear that the team decided to deal one of its veterans for a good, young arm. "You can see that young pitching right now is very difficult to acquire," said Dombrowski. "We had a list of about 15 pitchers that we would consider in various deals. [Ray] was one of the 15. The other 14 people said no. And [the Nationals] said no at first." Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed that the club was hesitant to part with Ray, even with Fister being dangled, saying that was "why the trade took 2 1/2 weeks to consummate."
- Dombrowski rejected the claims made by other executives that they had not known of Fister's availability, saying instead that he encountered a hesitant market. "That couldn't be further from the truth," he said. "We had our list of around 15 guys. We went to every one of those clubs: 'Would you trade this guy? Would you trade that guy?' And none of them would trade one." When the deal started to take shape, Dombrowski said he decided to grab Ray while he could. "We thought: Do we make this deal now, which we like? Or do we wait and see what else becomes available? But then does Washington do something else? Does [the trade] end up not taking place?" As I wrote at the time, the timing of things seemed to play an important role in how the deal came together; indeed, the Tigers went on to sign Joe Nathan the very next day, adding a two-year commitment at slightly more than Fister figures to earn in that stretch.
- The groundwork for the Orioles' signing of Ubaldo Jimenez was laid at the Winter Meetings when the starter and his agent met with new pitching coach Dave Wallace, executive VP Dan Duquette, and others, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. "Right there, I knew," said Jimenez. "They're really humble, really down-to-earth guys, and I knew it was going to be special to be in this organization. RIght there, I was like, 'Pretty much, this is the team I want to be with.' It's going to be a big part of my future for me and my family. The city is great and they have a competitive team. Those guys in the clubhouse look like they are great guys." Jimenez backed up his expressions of commitment by revealing that he would move his whole family — including his parents and sister — to Baltimore, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.
- Though he is heartened by the club's moves and remains happy in Baltimore, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy says that he has heard nothing about an extension beyond what has been reported publicly, writes Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore. "Even after FanFest, I thought something was going to happen right away because I think you guys were asking Dan [Duquette]," said Hardy. "He came up to me and said something about how we're going to start talking extension, but really nothing has happened. I don't know. Maybe they were waiting to do some of these other moves or something." Hardy, who could test the market next year, says that he is still interested in a new deal: "If they come to me with an extension, we'll definitely be open with trying to work that out."
- Meanwhile, righty Kevin Correia of the Twins says that he would be interested in continuing to pitch in Minnesota when his two-year, $10MM deal expires after the season, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. But, said Correia, he has not had any talks about an extension to date. "They had a pretty busy offseason with the pitching staff, so we haven't really talked," he said. "I enjoy playing here. We talked to the effect of how my experience was here, how I enjoyed the team and the coaching staff and everything, but that's about as far as we've gotten." Correia, 33, does not offer much upside but delivered solid results for the Twins last year, logging 185 1/3 innings of 4.18 ERA ball. Of course, as Berardino notes, with three new starters under contract and several prospect arms expected to reach the bigs in short order, the veteran may not fit into the club's plans after this year and could become a mid-season trade piece.
FRIDAY: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets the year-to-year breakdown of Jimenez's deal: he will earn $11.25MM in 2014, $12.25MM in 2015, $13MM in 2016 and $13.5MM in 2017. Each year of the contract contains $2.25MM in deferred salary without interest. Sherman also reports that Jimenez's pact contains $3.2MM worth of incentives, as he can earn $400K each season for starting 32 games and also for pitching 200 innings (Twitter links).
WEDNESDAY: The Orioles have officially announced the signing of Jimenez.
MONDAY: Looking to add talent at the top of their rotation, the Orioles have agreed to sign free agent starter Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50MM deal, pending a physical. Some of those dollars will be deferred, but Jimenez nevertheless becomes Baltimore's most notable free agent addition in recent memory.
The 30-year-old Jimenez, a client of Relativity Baseball, brings substantial upside along with a somewhat rocky history of production. As MLBTR's Steve Adams detailed in his profile of Jimenez before the start of the off-season, the durable righty has at times been amongst the most valuable starters in the game.
Earlier in his career, Jimenez was one of few pitchers to turn in dominant campaigns while throwing half of his starts in Coors Field, putting up 3.47 and 2.88 ERA seasons for the Rockies in 2009-10. Jimenez struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings last year, the best mark of his career, while tossing 182 2/3 innings of 3.30 ball in his last campaign with the Indians.
Just one year prior, however, Jimenez netted just a 5.40 ERA for Cleveland. He has never managed to limit walks, allowing 4.1 free passes per nine over his career. And Jimenez's stellar early-career ground-ball induction skills have waned of late. Last year, he checked in with a 43.5% ground ball rate, which fell below league average.
To some extent, Jimenez's 2013 season encapsulates his career: at times frustrating, at times immaculate. He sported a 4.56 ERA in the first half of the year, only to turn it on with a sparkling 1.82 mark over the back end. Regardless of performance, Jimenez comes with a strong record of injury-free innings, having notched at least 31 starts and 176 2/3 innings in each of the last six seasons. And though he no longer brings upper-90s heat, Jimenez has been equally successful against batters of both sides, allowing a career .689 OPS to righties and .709 mark to lefties.
For Baltimore, Jimenez represents the second addition to a rotation corps that contained several question marks. The former Indian will slot into of a rotation that projects to include Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, and Miguel Gonzalez. The team also recently inked Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon to a three-year, $5.75MM deal that would escalate significantly in value if he serves as a starter. He could battle with Bud Norris and a host of others for the fifth slot.
Jimenez represents the largest commitment by the O's to date in the 2013-14 free agent period. And for a club that has never promised a free agent starter more than three years, Jimenez perhaps becomes the team's most significant-ever free agent pitching acquisition. Indeed, his $50MM promise lands amongst the highest free agent contracts ever handed out by the club, which previously promised Miguel Tejada $72MM and Albert Belle $65MM on the open market, and the most substantial of recent years. (The club has promised big dollars through extensions to outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.)
Because Jimenez turned down a qualifying offer, the Orioles will part with their first-round choice (17th overall) in the upcoming 2014 amateur draft in order to add him to their roster. Meanwhile, the Indians officially pick up a compensation pick in the sandwich round as compensation.
Adams had predicted a three-year deal for Jimenez before the season, noting that a fourth year was possible. Promising an additional year became necessary, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, due to interest from multiple other AL East clubs, including the Blue Jays. The Red Sox also had interest, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter). Though neither of those clubs made offers, according to Olney, it appears that their presence in talks contributed to the final price tag.
With Jimenez off of the market, only one free agent pitcher (Ervin Santana) remains among the top fifty free agents (per MLBTR's Tim Dierkes). Among the teams still potentially interested in a starter, most have been linked to Jimenez and Santana, leaving the latter to satisfy any desire for a top-tier option. The Blue Jays and Mariners have, perhaps, been the most heavily rumored clubs to be dabbling in this portion of the market, though numerous others are said to have some level of interest.
With his four-year, $50MM deal, Jimenez joins several other arms to score deals of like magnitude. As MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows, Matt Garza (four years, $50MM) and Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49MM) both landed at that level this year, while Edwin Jackson (four years, $52MM) did the same one year ago. It would seem fair to characterize all of these starters as having their share of benefits and drawbacks, though it could be that Jimenez offers the greatest upside of any.
MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko first reported that the sides were nearing agreement on a four-year deal. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement (via Twitter). The total money and deferred payment were first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links).
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.