Vicente Padilla Rumors

Dodgers Rumors: Padilla, Varitek, Payroll

The Dodgers are spending aggressively this winter. Here's the latest on the players they are pursuing, the players they were pursuing and how they're doing all this pursuing:


Cubs Looking At Several Veteran Starters

The Cubs have five starters tentatively pencilled into their 2011 rotation, but given the number of question marks on that staff, it's understandable that the team is looking to add a veteran innings-eater to the fold.  ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill reports that Chicago has "shown interest" in Jeremy Bonderman, Aaron Harang, Kevin Millwood and Javier Vazquez, and also cites a Chicago Sun-Times item connecting the team to Vicente Padilla.  Churchill says the Cubs "kicked the tires on" Jon Garland before the right-hander signed with the Dodgers.

All five starters would make sense as low-cost additions; Vazquez has reportedly turned down a two-year, $20MM offer but it seems like he's more likely to end up in Florida or Washington than in Chicago.  The Cubs are probably looking for a short-term deal, and Garland's $5MM pact with L.A. would likely be a good comparison point.  That $5M salary (plus incentives and a 2012 vesting option) would likely be enough to land Millwood or Harang, and Bonderman would leap at that offer given his injury-riddled recent history. 

Padilla is coming off the most solid season of the group and could command a bit more money or a second year, though he made only 16 starts in 2010 due to various nagging injuries.  Churchill cites the Mets, Padres and Pirates as other teams that could use a starter that fits Padilla's profile.

Bonderman, Millwood and Vazquez all landed on Luke Adams' list of free agent pitchers that could benefit from a move to the NL, though pitching in a hitter-friendly park like Wrigley Field might not be what they had in mind.  As we saw with the Garland signing, teams that play in pitcher's parks will have an advantage in finding extra arms for their rotation, especially when it comes to a pitchers like Bonderman or Harang who are trying to rebuild value.

Speaking of rebuilding value, there's also a chance that the Cubs could look at a higher-ceiling starter such as Brandon WebbFanhouse's Ed Price hears from a source that Chicago is "seriously considering" Webb.  The former Cy Young Award winner has also drawn interest from several other teams, but the Cubs could be helped by the fact that Chicago is relatively close to Webb's home in Kentucky.


National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

11 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.



Odds & Ends: Dodgers, Boras, Francisco, Dunn

Links for Tuesday night, one year after the White Sox signed Omar Vizquel. One year later, the White Sox have already re-signed the 43-year-old infielder for 2011… 


Cafardo On Crawford, Lee, Upton, Dodgers

This week's Sunday Baseball Notes piece from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe is packed with juicy hot stove tidbits. According to one of Cafardo's major league sources, the Angels have had "serious talks" with Carl Crawford. The team's front office has been mum on the subject, but they've long been viewed as a strong potential suitor for the speedy outfielder. When five MLBTR writers predicted free agent destinations, all five guessed Crawford would sign with the Halos. Here are some of the other highlights from Cafardo's column:

  • "Word is" that the Yankees are currently willing to offer Cliff Lee about $115MM over five years. Cafardo says the Rangers are aiming to match whatever the bidding gets up to, while the Nationals are also still in the hunt. Earlier in the week, Nolan Ryan said he didn't expect Texas to be able to outbid the Yanks for Lee.
  • One National League scout said if he had limited trade chips to put toward a big bat, he'd acquire Adrian Gonzalez over Justin Upton. Gonzo is, as the scout notes, currently a "much better hitter," though he's also five years older than Upton and only under contract through 2011.
  • While Cafardo adds Kansas City to the list of teams who have "considerable interest" in Upton, we learned Friday that the 23-year-old can block a trade to the Royals.
  • The Dodgers would like to add a veteran "who can step up and be vocal when times are tough." Cafardo speculates that A.J. Pierzynski, Juan Uribe, or Johnny Damon could be a good fit.
  • The Dodgers are also considering signing a low-cost starter, and haven't ruled out bringing back Vicente Padilla.
  • "More and more teams" in need of middle infield help are eyeing Uribe.
  • The Nationals and Giants, in addition to the Orioles, have some interest in trading for Jason Bartlett. The Rays are looking for young bullpen help in return.
  • Mark Prior, attempting to make it back to the bigs, has three teams waiting on his decision, according to his agent, John Boggs.
  • Not all of the clubs who are showing interest in acquiring Marco Scutaro would necessarily use him at shortstop. The Dodgers could have interest in Scutaro as a second baseman, Cafardo says.

Dodgers & Angels Notes: Payroll, Crawford, Werth

Kevin Baxter and Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times bring us the latest from Tinseltown…

  • Pitching is the number one item on the Dodgers' shopping list this offseason. "Pitching is a priority — both starters and relievers," said GM Ned Colletti. "We're open-minded to both left-handers and right-handers."
  • Colletti declined to give an exact number, but he promised that payroll would rise from the $95MM or so they spent in 2010.
  • Ted Lilly might end up being the Dodgers' biggest pickup. They aren't likely to pursue Cliff Lee, and could instead turn to Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez, and Jake Westbrook. Jon Garland, Hiroki Kuroda, and Vicente Padilla might also become options if their prices drop as the offseason progresses.
  • Colletti also wants to add a left fielder, "full time or platoon," plus figure out his bench and catching situation. Russell Martin is a non-tender candidate, but they could look at Miguel Olivo.
  • There is nothing to indicate that the Dodgers will make a run at either Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth
  • "We're going to be active. Whether it's via free agency or trades," said Angels GM Tony Reagins. "We're going to look at the opportunities and be aggressive when the opportunity presents itself."
  • Owner Arte Moreno is expected to approve a 10% payroll increase, pushing it to about $135MM. The team already has close to $93MM committed to 2011 contracts, not including the arbitration eligible Jered Weaver, Howie Kendrick, and Erick Aybar.
  • The Times' scribes call Werth and Adrian Beltre "more economical Plan B options" to Crawford, relatively speaking of course. Both Werth and Beltre are Scott Boras clients however, and the Angels still have a bad taste in their mouths from the Mark Teixeira negotiations two winters ago.
  • Rafael Soriano might be an option after Fernando Rodney's terrible finish (6.08 ERA after Sept. 1st).

Dodgers Notes: Kemp, Ethier, Loney, Free Agents

It's been an eventful week for the Dodgers, with news that Don Mattingly will replace Joe Torre as the team's manager. Let's check out a few more updates out of Los Angeles, as the club prepares for the offseason….

  • GM Ned Colletti says he doesn't intend to drastically overhaul his roster this winter, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. "A year like this makes you look at every aspect of the team and makes you more apt to listen [to trade overtures]," Colletti said. "But it won't make me aggressively tear it up."
  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times thinks that Colletti would be right not to move Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier, but argues that the club should look into dealing James Loney. He also suggests that signing a free agent outfielder should be the Dodgers' "only big winter expenditure."
  • According to Gurnick, Colletti would like to add a productive left fielder to replace Manny Ramirez. It's unclear whether the Dodgers will have the resources to bid on players like Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.
  • Catcher and third base also may be areas that need to be addressed, says Gurnick. Rod Barajas will be a free agent, Russell Martin will be recovering from a broken hip, and Casey Blake could be shifted into a utility role.
  • The team is expected to try to retain free agents Ted Lilly, Jay Gibbons, and Barajas. They could also attempt to bring back Hiroki Kuroda and Vicente Padilla, depending on asking price and health.
  • A few longtime Yankees weighed in on Torre's decision to step down, as Chad Jennings of the Journal News writes.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Vicente Padilla

Vicente Padilla wrapped 2009 up in style, turning in two strong postseason starts after a big finish to the regular season in L.A. The result: a one-year $5.025MM deal. Padilla's about to hit free agency again, but he's out for the season, so he won't head into the offseason with the same momentum he did a year ago. Here's the outlook for the Dodgers righty:

The Pros

  • Padilla posted 8.0 K/9 with 2.3 BB/9 and a 4.07 ERA.
  • His average fastball velocity (92.4 mph) hasn't been this high since 2005.
  • He doesn't turn 33 until later this month, so he's still relatively young even though he has 12 years of big league experience.
  • The neck injury that has sidelined Padilla probably won't require surgery.
  • He is projected to be a Type B free agent, so he won't cost a draft pick.
  • Padilla's tenure in Texas ended badly a year ago, but he has since earned Joe Torre's trust, which reflects well.

The Cons

  • He'll miss the rest of the season with a bulging disk in his neck.
  • A forearm injury sidelined Padilla earlier in the season, so he made just 16 total starts in 2010.
  • Padilla didn't replicate the strong finish he had a year ago and posted a 10.13 ERA in his final three starts.

The Verdict

The Dodgers don't seem likely to offer arbitration, since they didn't make such offers to Padilla or any other free agents a year ago. Ted Lilly and Hiroki Kuroda are hitting free agency, too, so the Dodgers will be looking for starting pitching this winter. Some teams may shy away from Padilla because he missed so much time with injuries, but his strong performance should be enough to earn him $3-4MM on a one-year deal this offseason, whether it's with the Dodgers or not.


Torre Would Support Padilla’s Return

While Joe Torre's future with the Dodgers is still uncertain, he told the press that he would recommend bringing starter Vicente Padilla back next season, according to Richard Dean in a piece for MLB.com

"When we got him about a year ago, there were so many stories that followed him," said the 70-year-old skipper. "But he's been a good teammate.  I don't think there's anybody who doesn't like what he does. It's tough to find stuff like he has. When he gets out there he can still do it. He knows what he's doing. He has not been a [negative] issue baseball-wise. I like him."

Padilla hooked on with the Dodgers with two months remaining in 2009 and re-upped with the club over the winter, signing a one-year, $5.025MM deal.  The soon-to-be 33-year-old was released by Texas who reportedly considered him to be a bad teammate.  Torre's backing suggests that there has been no such issue in Los Angeles.

The righthander missed a great deal of time in 2010, turning in just 16 starts.  In 95 innings of work, he registered a 4.07 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9, numbers that are a step above his career averages.  Padilla was scheduled to return to action yesterday, giving him a chance to audition himself, but will instead be shut down for the year due to a neck injury.  He will be joined in free agency by fellow Dodgers starters Hiroki Kuroda and Ted Lilly.


The Dodgers’ 2011 Rotation

Los Angeles fans might be focused on the closer's position today, but as we look ahead to next season, the Dodgers will go into the offseason with three-fifths of their starting rotation on the free agent market.  Here's a tentative look ahead at what the Dodger rotation might look like (barring injuries or any other unforseen incidents) on the next Opening Day.

Firstly, let's look at the starters who are under the club's control.  Clayton Kershaw can be safely pencilled in as the Dodgers' number one starter next season, so if you hear any news about him this winter, it will likely be the Dodgers exploring long-term contract talks.  (Kershaw is eligible for arbitration after 2011.)

Chad Billingsley's name has been mentioned in trade rumors for everyone from Roy Halladay to Roy Oswalt, but the right-hander has remained in Dodger blue.  Billingsley has paid off the team's faith in him by developing into a solid starter: a 3.59 career ERA and a 2.05 K/BB ratio over five seasons.  He has even shown signs of harnessing his control issues by posting a career-low 3.2 BB/9 ratio thus far in 2010.  Billingsley is making $3.85MM this season and has two more arbitration years left, so he might be another target for a long-term deal. 

Looming over any contract talks for either pitcher (or any offseason move for the Dodgers) is the ongoing dispute over the Dodgers' ownership stemming from the divorce between Frank and Jamie McCourt.  One would think that L.A. would find enough money to lock up their two young starters, especially with the likes of Manny Ramirez's contract coming off the books.  The Dodgers have shown that they've been willing and able to spend a bit in the wake of the McCourt divorce, but if a sudden cash crunch pops up in the winter, it's possible that Billingsley could be swapped instead of given what could be substantial arbitration raises for the next two years.

That leaves the Dodgers' three pending free agent starters: Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly and Vicente Padilla.  If last year was any indication, L.A. won't offer salary arbitration to any of them, though it seems quite unlikely that Lilly or Kuroda would accept.  Lilly seems destined to test the market for a big deal and will no doubt get attention from several teams.  Given the Dodgers' payroll uncertainty, it seems safe to presume that Lilly will be pitching elsewhere in 2011.

Kuroda is approaching the end of the three-year, $35.3MM contract he signed with Los Angeles in 2007, and has been the definition of a solid middle-of-the-rotation pitcher since coming to the majors from Japan.  Kuroda will turn 36 in February and has a couple of DL stints to his name, which will probably keep him from getting a long-term deal.  It's easy to picture a number of teams bidding on the right-hander, so again, the Dodgers could be priced out of the market. 

Padilla has put up very good numbers (3.29 ERA, 8.2 K/9 ratio in 22 appearances) since signing with the Dodgers in August 2009, though his L.A. stint has been marred by a two-month stint on the DL this year with a forearm injury.  Padilla agreed to return to the Dodgers on a one-year, $5.025MM contract for this season, and given his love of pitching at Dodger Stadium, it's possible to see Padilla return on something akin to a two-year, $14MM deal, possibly with an option year and some incentive clauses.

What will the Dodgers do to fill these holes in the rotation?  Help could come from within in the form of John Ely, who threw eight quality starts out of 14 in Padilla's place this season and looked like he belonged in the majors.  Charlie Haeger and Carlos Monasterios also started games for L.A. this year, but Haeger pitched terribly and Monasterios projects better out of the bullpen.

Down on the farm, L.A.'s best pitching prospects seem at least a year or two away.  Right-hander Josh Lindblom (the Dodgers' second-round pick in the 2008 amateur draft) looked to be on the fast track to the majors after he zoomed from A-ball to Triple-A within two years, but Lindblom struggled badly (7.06 ERA) as a starter at Triple-A Albuquerque this year and was converted back into a reliever.

Two Dodger pitching prospects made Baseball America's midseason top 50 prospects list (right-handers Ethan Martin and Chris Withrow) though both are struggling with control issues.  Martin has a 5.7 BB/9 ratio and a 5.57 ERA in high-A ball this season, while Withrow (the #48-ranked prospect in BA's preseason list) has a 4.8 BB/9 ratio and a 5.84 ERA in Chattanooga.  With this relative lack of major league-ready arms coming up, it makes the deal of James McDonald for short-term rental Octavio Dotel at the trade deadline seem pretty curious.

Between the ownership issues and Joe Torre's possible retirement, there are still enough changes to come in Los Angeles that it's hard to predict exactly what the Dodgers will do with their rotation next season.  Barring any payroll increase, however, it seems likely that L.A. will look to low-cost veterans who might take a Padilla-esque short-term deal to revive themselves pitching at Chavez Ravine. 

In his examination of Cincinnati's 2011 rotation, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith noted that Aaron Harang is likely to have his option declined by the Reds in the winter.  A pitcher like Harang, who has struggled but still put up decent peripheral numbers over the last three seasons, could regain his All-Star form in moving from the Great American Ballpark to Dodger Stadium.  Free agent NL West veterans like Kevin Correia or Jeff Francis (who will likely have his $7MM option declined by the Rockies) could be possible Dodger targets as well.