Vinnie Pestano Rumors

Angels Avoid Arbitration With Vinnie Pestano

11:34am: Pestano’s deal is worth $1.15MM, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (on Twitter). MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had pegged him for a $1.2MM salary.

11:24am: The Angels announced that they have avoided arbitration with right-hander Vinnie Pestano by agreeing to a one-year contract for the 2015 season.

Pestano, a client of the Legacy Agency’s Greg Genske, was acquired by the Halos in August after the team claimed him from the Indians on revocable trade waivers. The 29-year-old had to be excited by the move, as it allowed him a chance to pitch in his hometown. Pestano, an Anaheim-area native, impressed in a short sample with the Angels, allowing just one run on five hits and four walks in 9 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts. Formerly a wipeout setup man for the Indians, his stock dropped in Cleveland prior to the trade. However, he still owns an excellent 2.83 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 191 big league innings.


AL Central Links: May, Milone, Pestano, Garcia

All signs point to the Twins promoting Trevor May to make Saturday’s start against the A’s, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The 24-year-old was acquired from the Phillies in 2012’s Ben Revere trade, and he’s seen his command steadily improve since joining the Twins organization. May’s ERA has dropped accordingly, and he’s currently sporting a 2.93 mark through 95 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season. With Vance Worley now in Pittsburgh, May is the lone piece remaining from that deal. Having averaged 10.5 K/9 in his minor league career, May could prove to be a valuable addition for a Twins team that’ has long been starved for power arms.

Here’s more on the Twins and the AL Central…

  • Recently extended catcher Kurt Suzuki influenced the Twins‘ decision to acquire Tommy Milone from the A’s, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Suzuki, who has caught Milone numerous times as a former member of the A’s, made pitch to manager Ron Gardenhire, pitching coach Rick Anderson and bench coach Terry Steinbach — all of which were presumably relayed to the front office.
  • Following today’s trade of Vinnie Pestano to the Angels, Indians GM Chris Antonetti offered the following statement to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link): “Vinnie was a very valuable member of the organization who made some great contributions to our bullpen throughout his time with us. As we’ve had [Major League] bullpen opportunities over the course of the last month, we’ve promoted other pitchers from [Triple-A] Columbus, so we thought it made sense to give Vinnie a fresh start with the Angels. In return, we acquired a young pitcher who we think has a chance to help our Major League team in the next few years.” For his part, Pestano is excited about the fresh start, particularly due to the fact that he is a SoCal native. In a classy series of thank you tweets to the Indians organization, Pestano, who was born in Newport Beach, noted that he couldn’t imagine a better destination for a trade.
  • MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes that Avisail Garcia‘s aggressive approach to his rehab from a shoulder injury has impressed the White Sox. Garcia’s injury was thought to be season-ending back in April, but an August return now looks possible. Merkin notes that the move could create an interesting roster decision, though GM Rick Hahn has noted that he will pursue August trades, so a roster spot could be created that way.

Angels Acquire Vinnie Pestano

6:43pm: Angels GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that Pestano was acquired after the Angels claimed him on waivers (Twitter link).

5:05pm: The Angels have added yet another reliever to their ranks by acquiring right-hander Vinnie Pestano from the Indians in exchange for minor league righty Michael Clevinger. Both teams have announced the trade.

Vinnie Pestano

The 29-year-old Pestano emerged as a lights-out setup man for the Indians in 2011-12, posting a combined 2.45 ERA with 10.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 40 percent ground-ball rate in 132 innings of work. Pestano’s excellent work was worth 4.4 rWAR and 2.5 fWAR in that time, suggesting that he was one of the game’s more valuable relief options.

Pestano fell on hard times a bit in 2013, however, as his BB/9 rate climbed north of 5.0, and his ERA spiked to 4.08. Things between him and the Indians organization appeared to be tense the following offseason, when Pestano lost an arbitration hearing after Cleveland used comments that Pestano himself made to the press against him in a trial. Pestano had told Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer“I’ve been battling all year. As soon as I think I’ve got something figured out, I go out there and the results are the same. It’s getting really frustrating. I’m still the same pitcher in my head, I’m just not throwing the same way I used to.”

Quotes like that one were fired back at Pestano in the arb hearing, which the reliever told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian that he didn’t appreciate: “That was the only thing that I didn’t care for. I definitely think it’ll affect how I see things going forward. 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.”

Pestano has once again been excellent in the minors this season, posting a 1.78 ERA with a strong 37-to-12 K/BB ratio in 30 1/3 innings for Triple-A Columbus. He joins a growing list of relievers acquired by Halos GM Jerry Dipoto this season, as Dipoto has also brought in Jason Grilli, Joe Thatcher and Huston Street. Because Pestano was on the Indians’ 40-man roster, he would either have had to clear waivers or have been claimed by the Angels in order to facilitate a trade. The Angels will be able to control Pestano, who is earning $975K this year, through at least the 2017 season. For the time being, he’ll head to Triple-A Salt Lake.

As for the Indians, they’ll receive Clevinger — a 23-year-old righty selected by the Angels in the fourth round of the 2011 draft. Clevinger tore through Class A this season, notching a 1.88 ERA in five starts before being promoted to Class-A Advanced. He’s struggled at that level, however, posting a 5.37 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 55 1/3 innings of work. Clevinger ranked 17th among Halos prospects entering the 2014 season, according to Baseball America, and MLB.com had him 10th among Angels farmhands on its midseason Top 20 list (though it should be noted that the Angels’ farm system is poorly regarded).

Clevinger underwent Tommy John surgery in 2012, at a time when it looked as if he could be emerging as Anaheim’s top pitching prospect, Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com note in their free report. BA notes that he features a 91-93 mph fastball that he can cut well, in addition to three offerings — a changeup, slider and curveball — that could become average offerings. Effort in his delivery leads some scouts to project him as a reliever, though BA notes that the Angels wanted to give him as long a look in the rotation as possible due to a lack of organizational depth.

Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register first reported the trade (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.



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.