Vladimir Guerrero Rumors
Since their inaugural season in 2000, the Long Island Ducks have had a knack for luring notable former major leaguers looking to continue their professional careers and get back to MLB. Earlier this year, the Atlantic League club signed Dontrelle Willis, Vladimir Guerrero, and Ramon Castro all inside of one week. I spoke with club President/General Manager Michael Pfaff about the team's operations and the latest on their current big names.
Vladimir Guerrero is still in the Dominican Republic, will he be joining the team this year?
We've been told that he's dealing with some family issues at this time. He was going to be here from the start of spring training, we signed him, we started the process of getting him here and his representative called and said that he had some family issues to take care of before he left for the summer. He didn't want to leave a situation that he didn't feel was buttoned up open for the summer. He wouldn't have felt comfortable here if he didn't have it all taken care of. We respect that. Family comes first. When Vlad gets here we have a spot for him and he's certainly entitled to do that.
Is there a chance that he might not join the team this year?
I really don't know. I can't speak for him, you'd have to ask him. I've only been told what I've been told by his agent. We've put him on the inactive list and we told his agent that when he arrives he'll have a spot waiting for him.
Why are you able to draw in so many big names to your team?
I think the [Atlantic League] in general has proven of the course over its 15-year history that it is the league of choice for players that are interested in continuing their professional careers at a high level and getting back to major league organizations. They've had the most success here, baseball is a small world, and players discuss amongst each other. Obviously, the players are teammates at some juncture in their careers and they talk about good places to play and the places that help their careers. Usually the Atlantic League is the choice for those guys.
It seems like the Ducks have had more success with signing those types of players though. Is that the case?
We've taken as many chances as any team in the league, I'll put it that way. We've provided opportunities for more than our share of big name major leaguers. I think if you look at the rosters of other teams in the league and compare them to the Ducks, you'll see roughly the same amount of former major leaguers over the past five years and 15 years as well, but yes,we've had more than our fair share of the bigger names. Whether it was guys in our past like Carlos Baerga, Edgardo Alfonzo, Carl Everett, Juan Gonzalez, Danny Graves, John Rocker...those experiences are part of our history and more recently we've had guys like Dontrelle Willis and people like him are utilizing this league as a platform. I think its been a win win for everyone really, the fans get get a great product at an affordable price and they can continue to do what they love.
What do you do to help draw MLB attention to the players that you have on your roster?
We have open lines of communication with major league ballclubs, the way that player purchases in this league work are that clubs call the league office and I think that is part of what separates us from other leagues that look to sign players that are free agents. In the Atlantic League, no one from the Yankees is going to call me and say we want your first baseman. They're going to call [Atlantic League Executive Director and former MLB GM] Joe Klein, they're going to call somebody that has no stake in it - not that the Ducks would stand in the way of it - but there's probably a team or two in another league that might. If a team has a vested interest in winning for their own organization, it might be different. In other leagues, teams kind of control the destination of the player.
In the Atlantic League, they call the league office, they call [Klein], he completes the purchase transaction of the contract and sometimes I'm the last to find out. They'll say "go find a new pitcher, or a first baseman, whatever the case may be, so and so got signed." I think that's probably the biggest challenge from a player personnel perspective, you lose your best players and have to fill them in with free agents; we don't have a feeder system in this league.
I think in terms of drawing scouts, the scouts watch this league via the internet as much as anything. When they see teams that are winning and having success, when they're in need of player and over the course of a few weeks they see him having success, they do come out and I think that all of the teams are conveniently located and compared to large major markets, Long Island is as large as it gets. Being part of the New York metropolitan market doesn't hurt us, we're conveniently located, we have a great facility, big league coaching staff, and over the course of 15 years we've shown that we're a great destination.
What are the advantages of signing with an independent ballclub rather than an affiliated one?
We're very very forthright with everyone who is interested in signing here. We have two goals from a player personnel perspective. Number one, we want to win. This is not a developmental league. We're not going to let someone throw 100 pitches because they need to get the work in. If you don't produce, you don't play. Our manager's job is to win with the best nine names in the lineup. Number two, we want to help players with their careers, help them continue their careers, and help them get back to the major leagues and want to help them accomplish their goals and objectives as individuals, but it's team first. We want to win and we also want to make sure that the individuals have success when they perform here.
It's really simple for us and I think that a lot of players have responded to that in a positive fashion because that's refreshing to a lot of guys. A lot of guys have been in minor league organizations, Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A, where it is a developmental league and developing talent for the big league teams, its not all about winning...We wont stand in anyone's way, we'll always promote the player and help them achieve their individual goals and objectives too.
When did the Ducks first get into the business of luring in big names?
The team started in 2000, I think there were major leaguers on that very first team, Chuck Carr was there, he was the center fielder from the Marlins. In 2001, Carlos Baerga came and he went back to the majors after playing here and was the perfect example. It was the Ducks' second year, he hit .315 with the Ducks and he was back at the big league level with the Boston Red Sox a year later. He would have been out of baseball without the Ducks and has always spoken highly of the Atlantic League. He was one of those guys who utilized the league and we've had those big league names continue to come here throughout our history.
Has the Ducks' reputation gotten to the point where the club doesn't have to recruit and big names just sort of gravitate to the team?
Its a lot different than it was ten years ago. There's no question In 2013, agents, players, and managers that are with or work with major league organizations know about the Atlantic League at this point. We've had more than 600 players signed to major league deals.
Let's look at it from the perspective of a major league organization. If you're running player development for a big league club, and you have a player that makes, say, 10K a month, and you want to give a younger guy an opportunity to see if he can perform at that level, you would have to keep that guy at 10K a month in Triple-A or spring training or extending spring to give your young guy a shot. Now, if he goes to an Atlantic League club, we really only have major league clubs to purchase our contract to repay the integrity of our contact. It's not to profit from it, its not a big revenue source for us, we make our money from ticket sales and such.
If you're a major league organization, and you go and you spend 4K to purchase that player, two months into the season, you would have paid that player 20K to have him. Not only did you give your younger payer an opportunity to prove himself, you've got 16K to spend elsewhere..Economically, we've benefited major league organizations, they see that using the Atlantic League as a place where they can pluck talent from.
Did you anticipate signing Dontrelle Willis, Ramon Castro, and Vladimir Guerrero in the same week?
Well we signed the nucleus of our ballclub and as we were getting closer to spring training, we were waiting on the catching position. In fact, I got quite a few tweets and emails and inquires like "Hey, are you going to sign a catcher?"...That was by design, we anticipated that a number of very talented catchers would be available late in spring training. Ralph Henriquez is a perfect example, he became available three or four days before we starting spring training and [Castro] was hot on his heels. IT happened quickly but its something we anticipated happening. We know that major league teams were carrying a lot of catchers in spring training and we knew that there would be highly talented catchers out there. Luckily, our patience paid off and Ramon and Ralph both become available late.
Castro obviously has a reputation as a very good player, especially in this market thanks to his time with the Mets. He handles a staff well and is a solid veteran leader but he also can take opposing pitchers deep, which is something that not a lot of catchers do often. So we were excited that he was available and it came together rather quickly once we talked to his representatives.
Dontrelle, I didn't anticipate [signing him]. His agent reached out to me and we discussed where he was and what he was trying to do. While that came together quickly, I was surprised that he didn't stick with a big league club. He's 31, a left-handed pitcher, he's had a tremendous about of success at the major league level. I didn't see him becoming available, but when he did become available, we jumped on it.
As far as [Vladimir Guerrero] goes, that's a situation that I monitored for a couple of months wondering what we he was going to do. If his desire to play was gone or not, his representatives indicated that it was not so I stayed in touch with them. The opportunity came to sign him and that's what we did...the timing of it all was a coincidence.
What players are drawing big league attention right now?
I think that Dontrelle has been an excellent teammate and has been vocal in the clubhouse in a big way...Ramon has done very well with the bat and at the plate. I think any team in need of catching would benefit from either one of our catchers. Ralph Henriquez, I know I mentioned him, he's a young switch-hitting catcher. It's very surprising to me that a team doesn't have room for him in their organization.
Our first baseman, Ryan Strieby, he's a 27-year-old with Triple-A experience...he has hit for power at all stops in his career and I'm surprised that he too doesn't have a spot in an organization. I also think that Dan Lyons is an excellent fielder, has proven himself as a clutch hitter, has a great attitude, and he's guy that goes out there every night and proves himself...I think that all the guys on our club are capable of playing at a high level and playing in affiliated baseball. Otherwise we wouldn't have signed them.
On this date in 2002, the Mets claimed a 26-year-old shortstop off waivers from the Brewers. He had just posted a .295/.382/.432 batting line in Triple-A Indianapolis a year prior, and would go on to make his Major League debut for the Mets that season. The infielder would bat just .216/.299/.351 in 129 plate appearances for the Mets over the next two years before being plucked off waivers again -- this time by the A's. Marco Scutaro would eventually cement himself as a late bloomer and ultimately help the Giants to a World Series title before inking a three-year, $20MM contract this offseason. Here are some links from around the league as we enter the season's first full weekend...
- Vladimir Guerrero turned down offers to play in Taiwan and in Quebec to sign with the Long Island Ducks, writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick goes on to explain that Guerrero's goal is to get back into Major League Baseball and chase the 500-homer plateau. He's currently 51 long balls shy with 449 in his career.
- There have been no serious extension talks between David Murphy and the Rangers, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Murphy plans to play out the season and think about his next deal in the offseason.
- Nolan Ryan will be at the Rangers home opener today, and he's taking a "wait-and-see" approach as he decides his future with the team, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that a rebound campaign from Red Sox lefty Jon Lester will likely result in a mega-deal that's comparable to some of the "silly money" deals doled out to starting pitchers around the game recently. Cafardo breaks down the track records of pitchers like Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and others and compares them to Lester.
Former All-Star slugger Vladimir Guerrero, now 38, has signed with the Independent Atlantic League's Long Island Ducks, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. It was previously rumored that Guerrero was in talks with independent league clubs after he sought unsuccessfully to score a minor league deal.
Guerrero has not appeared in the majors since his 2011 stint as the Orioles' DH. Then 36, Guerrero hit .290/.317/.416 for the O's in what was his worst season as a regular big leaguer. Over his MLB career, Vlad put up an impressive .318/.379/.553 line, including 449 long balls, in 9,059 plate appearances.
Former Expos outfielder Warren Cromartie is convinced that the city of Montreal would welcome baseball back with open arms, writes Bill Beacon of the Canadian Press. Cromartie is heading up the Montreal Baseball Project -- an organization that has been formed with the goal of bringing baseball back to Montreal. The $400K project will be completed by year's end and feature financial analysis, legal consultation and extensive market research among the city's population. Here's more from around the league for those of you in the mood for some late-night reading...
- Former Expo (and Angel, Ranger and Oriole) Vladimir Guerrero has an offer from the independent league Quebec Capitales, and he's been in contact with the Long Island Ducks as well, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (confirming an earlier tweet from Chris Cotillo).
- The Indians are hopeful of working out a trade with the Rangers to keep Rule 5 Draft pick Chris McGuiness, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
- The Yankees had preliminary discussions with Yuniesky Betancourt on Sunday but don't see a fit, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports (via Twitter).
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart breaks down Rick Ankiel's incentive structure with the Astros (on Twitter). Ankiel, who has a $750K base salary, will receive $75K for 200, 250 and 300 plate appearances. He'll then receive $100K for 350, 400 and 450 plate appearances. All told, he could earn $1.275MM. Ankiel, an Article XX(B) free agent, was named the team's everyday right fielder earlier today.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times expects the Angels to receive a low- to mid-level prospect from the Yankees when the reported Vernon Wells trade is finalized (Twitter link).
- Joey Nowak of MLB.com lists 12 notable out of options players who could be traded before the end of Spring Training.
12:30pm: Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 heard that Guerrero's representatives approached Twins GM Terry Ryan about a possible deal (Twitter link). However, the Twins said 'no thanks.'
8:52am: Vladimir Guerrero is attempting a comeback and is willing to accept a minor league deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The veteran, who is now represented by California Sports Management, released a promotional video this week.
The Yankees, Rosenthal adds (Twitter link) are not interested in the veteran's services. The 38-year-old last appeared in the majors with Baltimore in 2011. Last year, he signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays but asked for his release after 12 games in their system.
Guerrero was previously a client of Proformance. For agency info on more than 1,700 players, be sure to check out MLBTR's Agency Database.
Teams interested in acquiring starting pitching help surely noticed when the Cubs placed right-hander Ryan Dempster on the disabled list with right lat tightness today. Dempster, 35, is one of the top starters known to be available in trades. Here are today’s links...
- A quick sale of the Padres may not be possible at this point, writes Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. The three apparent finalists are all leading bid groups with multiple investors, which will require extensive background work once a sale is announced.
- Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com examines the trade stock of some of the Phillies biggest names in the event that their slide continues into late July.
- Blue Jays righty Kyle Drabek is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow, tweets Barry Davis of Sportsnet.ca. This will be the second time Drabek has been through Tommy John.
- Free agent designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero isn't close to signing, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- There's no indication the Tigers are interested in Jim Thome, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press reports. Thome, a "longtime tormentor" of the Tigers, bats left-handed, which means he’s not a perfect fit in Detroit. The Tigers are interested in acquiring a bat before the July 31st trade deadline and they'd prefer to add a right-handed hitter, Morosi reported yesterday.
- GM Brian Cashman told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that the Yankees haven't pursued contract extensions for Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson, but aim to keep both players long-term (Twitter link).
- Maury Brown explains that TV deals are boosting franchise values across MLB in a piece at Baseball Prospectus.
- The Cubs are shopping starter Ryan Dempster to multiple teams, including the Dodgers. Chicago is willing to include significant amounts of cash in any trade in hopes of landing better prospects. Dempster has 10-and-5 rights, however, and thus can veto any deal, although he's willing to move to a contender.
- The Orioles are pursuing starting pitching and scouted both Dempster and Matt Garza this week, although the Diamondbacks' Joe Saunders may be a better trade fit for Baltimore.
- The Blue Jays are asking around for pitching help, although they may end up sellers before the non-waiver trade deadline.
- The Astros are willing to listen on "virtually all of their players." Younger players like Jed Lowrie and third baseman Chris Johnson are all in play, although it would take a huge offer to pry away second baseman Jose Altuve.
- The Indians are unlikely to make a move for a DH type like Vladimir Guerrero or Manny Ramirez. Their bigger need is a player who can play left field -- perhaps someone like Carlos Quentin -- but they first need to figure out where they stand with Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, who are both injured.
- The Marlins will have trouble bolstering their weak offense because of a depleted farm system. With Emilio Bonifacio injured, their most obvious need is center field. The Twins' Denard Span and perhaps the Phillies' Shane Victorino are potential targets.
- The Angels no longer have room in the starting lineup for the injured Vernon Wells now that Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout have solidified the outfield, and one rival GM thinks Wells could be released when he's ready to return from the disabled list.
- The Tigers' interest in Guerrero is lukewarm, a source told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). It's not clear if Detroit will pursue him at this point. Bean Stringfellow, the veteran's agent, says his client is not retiring and plans to continue playing.
- Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine says that it's only human for Kevin Youkilis to be upset by trade rumors, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Earlier today, the third baseman confessed that this season hasn't been terribly fun for him.
- Yankees Triple-A catcher Francisco Cervelli could help several teams in the majors but continues to serve as the club's insurance policy, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The catcher told Heyman that he has no hard feelings against the Yankees.
- Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (via Twitter) sees supplementary first round selection Matt Smoral signing with the club for over-slot, but not for twice as much as the $1MM recommendation.
The Blue Jays have released Vladimir Guerrero at his request, the team announced. The 37-year-old outfielder issued the team an ultimatum earlier today, and they decided to release him rather than call him up the big leagues. Bean Stringfellow, Vlad's agent, said his client is not retiring and will seek employment elsewhere.
Soon after joining the Blue Jays' organization, Guerrero hit four homers in four games at Class A Dunedin. He was then promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he collected four hits last night after a slow start. Guerrero has 2,590 hits, 449 homers and a .318/.379/.553 line in 16 big league seasons. In 590 plate appearances with the Orioles last year, the nine-time All-Star posted a .290/.317/.416 line with 13 homers. He drew interest from the Diamondbacks, Indians and Marlins earlier this year.
11:34pm: The Blue Jays have informed Guerrero that they have no spot for him in the Majors and he will not be called up, reports Enrique Rojas on ESPN Radio Dominicana (via Twitter). Vlad will be allowed out of his contract to seek employment elsewhere.
10:16am: Agent Bean Stringfellow told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Guerrero "has not [opted out]. Not yet." The opt-out date is open, Rosenthal reports. There's no talk of Guerrero retiring, though. He's running and hitting well, according to his agent.
10:14am: Guerrero has given the Blue Jays an ultimatum, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com reports (Spanish link). He won't return to the minor leagues, even if the team decides not to call him up. Guerrero has returned home to Anaheim, Rojas reports.
9:54am: Vladimir Guerrero appears to have decided to give up his comeback, Mike Wilner of Sportsnet 590 the FAN reports (on Twitter). The Blue Jays signed the 37-year-old to a minor league contract worth $1.3MM in the Major Leagues last month.
Soon after joining the Blue Jays' organization, Guerrero hit four homers in four games at Class A Dunedin. He was then promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he collected four hits last night after a slow start. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has maintained that Guerrero won't necessarily make the club's active roster.
Guerrero has 2,590 hits, 449 homers and a .318/.379/.553 line in 16 big league seasons. In 590 plate appearances with the Orioles last year, the nine-time All-Star posted a .290/.317/.416 line with 13 homers. He drew interest from the Diamondbacks, Indians and Marlins earlier this year.
This post was originally published on June 12th.