Vinnie Pestano Rumors

AL Central Notes: Indians, Jimenez, Masterson, Royals

After defeating reliever Vinnie Pestano in an arbitration hearing recently, Cleveland still has three more players scheduled to face a panel. One of them — outfielder Michael Brantley – is reportedly close to a long-term deal. Pestano discussed his feelings upon going through the process, as MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports. The reliever said he was surprised mostly by the team's use of statements he'd made to the press against him. "You're being honest and accountable and saying the right things and being there," Pestano said, "and then later you find your own words in the paper, and somebody is trying to use your words against you to drive your value down. Whether that played a big role in the decision, I don't know." Though not necessarily expressing ill-will towards the team, Pestano did indicate that the hearing would have a future impact. "I definitely think it'll affect how I see things going forward," said Pestano. "I don't really know if I can be as honest and up-front anymore. I've got three more years of arbitration left. I don't know what they'll pick to use against me next year or two years from now."

Here's more from the Indians and an American League Central competitor:

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Indians haven't been in touch with Ubaldo Jimenez or his agents at Relativity Baseball in "weeks." Cleveland is, however, said to have inquired on fellow righty Ervin Santana, who (like Jimenez) will require the sacrifice of a draft choice if he is signed by a new club.
  • MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (via Twitter) that Indians hurler Justin Masterson is willing to discuss an extension in Spring Training and may even consider talking with the team during the season, if necessary. Last we checked in, extension talks had been shelved while the sides focused on avoiding an arbitration hearing that remains scheduled for February 20th. 
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore says that the club's payroll will land around $90MM for the coming season, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. That tab falls beyond the club's "break-even point," says Moore, and thus constitutes a "gamble."

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Vinnie Pestano Loses Arbitration Case

Indians reliever Vinnie Pestano has lost his arbitration case, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Pestano, who was eligible for arbitration as a Super Two player, sought $1.45MM, but he will receive $975K. He is represented by PSI Sports Management.

Pestano posted a 4.08 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 5.3 BB/9 in 35 1/3 innings for Cleveland in 2013, and those numbers were significantly worse than those of his strong 2011 and 2012 seasons. The Indians blame an elbow injury Pestano suffered while pitching in the WBC in March, which led to changes in his mechanics.


Quick Hits: Epstein, Cespedes, Tanaka, Arb Hearings

Current Cubs president of baseball operations and former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein covered a range of subjects in a fascinating interview on WEEI's Hot Stove Show on Thursday (audio linktranscript). In addition to discussing the two clubs he has headed from a baseball ops perspective, Epstein emphasized the impact of changes to the CBA. The new system has both reduced teams' abilities to reap draft picks from outgoing free agents, Epstein said, and made it difficult to pay for hard-to-sign talent in later draft rounds. Here's more from around the league, including other notable talking points from Epstein:

  • Discussing his current club's reported pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, Epstein noted that the pitcher likely cost the Yankees more in real terms than the team's $175MM contract and release fee commitment, once the collective bargaining tax is accounted for. The signing, said Epstein, "reflects the dynamic that there are many, many teams with lots and lots of dollars to spend and very few places to spend them, very few players who represent sound investments for the dollars."
  • "There are lots of teams demanding talented, prime-age players, and supply is really a trickle," Epstein continued. "Fewer and fewer players of that ilk are reaching free agency. … You're going to see these prices that cause people to shake heads. … Because of the TV deals, the teams that have them have a lot of money and not a lot of attractive players to spend the money on." Indeed, as I explored earlier tonight, some teams' desires to use free cash to enhance the value of their player assets (i.e., control and contract rights) could result in increasingly robust contracts for some younger players that remain years away from free agency.
  • One player that seems suitable for an attractive, long-term investment is Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics. Fresh on the heels of today's extension of teammate Coco Crisp, Cespedes said that he, too, hopes to ink a new pact, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 28-year-old slugger, who still has two years remaining on the deal he signed out of Cuba, said that he hopes to play for the A's for his entire career. Of course, given his relative youth, upside, and high profile, Cespedes figures to command a much higher price than the $22.75MM over two years just given to Crisp. It remains to be seen whether the A's will be willing to dangle a sufficient guarantee to get a deal done.
  • Turning back to the aforementioned Tanaka, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio today (via ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand) that the club views its new acquisition as "a really solid, consistent number three starter." Cashman noted that, though the club scouted Tanaka extensively, uncertainty remains as to how he will transition to the big leagues. "If we get more than that," Cashman said, "all the better. He's got a great deal of ability."
  • Two arbitration hearings took place today, after none occurred last year. Andrew Cashner of the Padres and Vinnie Pestano of the Indians both made their cases to their respective panels. Cashner and the Padres are quite close in filing numbers ($2.4MM against $2.275MM), while Pestano ($1.45MM) and the Indians ($975K) left a larger absolute and relative sum to chance. 
  • Glancing in at MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, 16 cases remain unsettled as hearings begin to take place. By my count, just over $23MM remains at stake between the player filings ($79.325MM total) and team counters ($56.15MM). Only the Indians, with Justin Masterson, Michael Brantley, and Josh Tomlin (in addition to Pestano), have more than one outstanding arbitration case.


Mets Not Targeting Vinnie Pestano

11:58pm: Rubin was told by a Mets person there's nothing there regarding the team pursuing Pestano.

10:33am: In search of late-inning relief help, the Mets are targeting Indians right-hander Vinnie Pestano, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Though it's not clear whether the Mets have made an offer to Cleveland, New York has been pursuing Pestano at the Winter Meetings, says Rubin.

The Mets have also attempted to engage the Rays and Royals about bullpen pieces, but haven't made any progress on either front, according to Rubin. New York inquired about Joel Peralta, but found Tampa Bay's asking price too high. The Rays just re-signed Peralta to a multiyear deal a couple weeks ago.