Wade Davis Rumors
Wade Davis signed a multiyear extension with the Rays last week, though he's just one season into his MLB career. The deal is not without risk for Davis, since he could pitch like Ubaldo Jimenez and become a bargain for Tampa Bay, or for the Rays since Davis could get hurt, depriving them of a pitcher they need.
Here's a list of pitchers who could sign deals like the four-year, $12.6MM contract Tampa Bay completed with Davis. Like the Rays righty, these pitchers are on track to hit arbitration after 2012 and free agency after 2015 unless otherwise noted (age in parentheses):
- Mat Latos, Padres (23) - Latos was flat-out phenomenal last year and would be positioned to ask for more than Davis obtained with his record deal. The skill is there, so if the Padres believe in his health (he's now on the DL) and maturity, Latos would be an extension candidate.
- Wade LeBlanc, Padres (26) - LeBlanc, now in the minor leagues, is older than Latos and without the same front-of-the-rotation potential. His numbers, though comparable to the ones Davis has, don't scream 'lock me up,' so a deal seems unlikely.
- Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (23) - The Rockies were aggressive with extensions this offseason, locking up Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki, and others. Chacin, who struck out a batter per inning in 2010, wouldn't cost nearly as much as his more experienced teammates.
- Mike Leake, Reds (23) - If one organization was as extension happy as the Rockies this offseason it was the Reds. Leake struggled down the stretch last year and just barely made Cincinnati's rotation. They'll likely let the 2009 first rounder prove himself before committing eight figures to him.
- Jon Niese, Mets (24) - Niese has comparable numbers to Davis, with slightly more strikeouts per inning (7.4 K/9) and a higher ERA (4.33).
- Brian Matusz, Orioles (24) - Matusz compares to Davis statistically, but he could establish himself as a front-of-the-rotation starter with a breakout 2011 season, so he may be reluctant to lock himself in to pre-set salaries.
- Mitch Talbot, Indians (27) - Talbot has poor walk (4.3 BB/9) and strikeout (5.0 K/9) numbers so far in his career, so he doesn't seem like a likely extension candidate. The Indians did extend Fausto Carmona, who doesn't get many strikeouts, but they may prefer to let Talbot prove himself further before committing to him.
- Brett Cecil, Blue Jays (24) and Madison Bumgarner, Giants (21) both impressed in 2010. They're possible super two players, which means they may go to arbitration four times, once more than the starters above. If either Cecil or Bumgarner signed an extension, it wouldn't be completely parallel to the Davis deal.
It's possible that none of these pitchers will sign extensions, since long-term contracts for starters with fewer than two years of service time are uncommon. Some players don't mind going year to year in anticipation of big arbitration paydays and many teams prefer not to commit eight-figure deals to relatively unproven pitchers.
But some small market clubs, like the Athletics, Indians and Rays, have successfully completed a number of multiyear contracts for emerging pitchers. Teams looking to spend now and save later could take note and approach their best sophomore arms about long-term deals.
The Rays acknowledge that they took a significant risk when they invested $12.6MM in a pitcher who has appeared in just 35 big league games. Wade Davis signed for more guaranteed money than any pitcher in his service class (one-plus years), but he took on a different kind of risk.
Davis’ agent, B.B. Abbott, acknowledges that there’s a chance his client will earn millions less than he would have obtained by going year to year and hitting free agency after 2015. It could amount to a $6-8MM discount for the Rays, but Abbott says it's a worthwhile tradeoff for Davis, who gets guaranteed money and security.
"I don't think anyone can definitively tell you that it's the wrong deal or a bad deal or a good deal," Abbott told MLBTR. "It was just the right deal for Wade and the right deal for the team."
It's a contract that will allow Davis to enter free agency in time for a major free agent payday. Even if the Rays exercise their three team options, Davis will hit the open market as a 32-year-old with $35.1MM in his bank account. He was flattered that the Rays considered him worthy of such substantial investment after just one full season.
"It doesn’t seem to happen a whole lot in baseball, so it’s a huge compliment and something that I’m looking forward to," Davis said on a conference call earlier today.
The Rays made a similar investment in James Shields after the 2007 season and though 2010 was disappointing, he has put together three consecutive 200-inning seasons under his current contract. Shields was one of the main points of reference for the Davis deal, along with Brett Anderson, who had the record for one-plus pitchers ($12.5MM guarantee) until Davis signed. Chad Billingsley, who just signed an extension of his own, and Matt Garza were other comparable pitchers relevant to the negotiations between Davis, Abbott and the Rays.
Wade Davis has appeared in 35 big league games and today the Rays signed him to a deal that could pay him over $35MM. Davis gets a $12.6MM guarantee from an organization that will spend just $41MM on its entire roster this year, so Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman fully acknowledges he's taking a risk. But the Rays didn't want to pass up the opportunity to sign a core player long-term.
"I think the one thing that we’ve really demonstrated over the years is how important these investments are for our organization," Friedman said via conference call. "We’ve been aggressive at that core that we can keep in place for a number of years and hopefully sustain success in this division."
Friedman locked up current Rays Evan Longoria, James Shields and Ben Zobrist to similar club option-heavy deals to provide the team with flexibility. The since-departed Carlos Pena and Scott Kazmir also signed extensions with the Rays since Friedman took over baseball operations in 2006.
The Rays wanted to add Davis to the list of players they've signed long-term, partly because they like his ability and his character. However, talent and dedication don't eliminate the risk inherent in signing a rookie pitcher to a multiyear deal.
"There’s no question that the injury rate is much higher with a pitcher than a position players and that fairly intuitive," Friedman said. "That’s why it’s so important for us in the sense of how well we know our guys - what their makeup is, the work ethic, how driven they are and it’s something that Wade fits into very, very well on all those fronts."
There’s another reason the Rays signed Davis long-term, though it’s impossible to quantify. Friedman says multiyear deals allow players to focus entirely on baseball and not on the money they may or may not make through arbitration or free agency. Davis, who considered the deal carefully before signing, agrees.
"The biggest thing for me is to be able to relax and I think it’s like that with anybody when they’re able to relax on the baseball field and just go all out out there," Davis said.
The Rays announced that they agreed to a four-year extension with Wade Davis that's worth at least $12.6MM and could be worth up to $35.1MM. Jet Sports Management represents the right-hander.
The 2011-14 seasons are guaranteed and the Rays hold options for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons. The options span Davis’ final arbitration year and his first two years of free agency while the guaranteed years span Davis' final two pre-arbitration seasons and his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility.
Agent B.B. Abbott told MLBTR that Davis earns $1MM in 2011, $1.5MM in 2012, $2.8MM in 2013 and $4.8MM in 2014. The Rays then have options worth $7MM (2015), $8MM (2016) and $10MM (2017) or a buyout worth $2.5MM.
Davis, 25, posted a 4.07 ERA with a 39.2% ground ball rate, 6.1 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 168 innings last year, finishing fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year balloting.
The option-heavy extension mirrors those signed by Ben Zobrist (2 club options), James Shields (3 club options) and Evan Longoria (3 club options). Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman clearly likes the flexibility that multiple club options provide and so far he has been willing to commit to certain players early to obtain it.
Some links on a Sunday evening:
- SI.com's Jon Heyman tweets that Chip Hale will be on Terry Collins' coaching staff after losing out on the Mets' managerial job. Meanwhile, Andy Martino of The New York Daily News tweets that both Mookie Wilson and Dave Wallace will "definitely be considered" for the coaching staff as well.
- ESPN's Adam Rubin offers up ten tidbits about new Mets' manager Terry Collins.
- Omar Minaya is in no hurry to accept one of the many offers he's received, writes ESPN's Enrique Rojas. The former Mets GM says he's received offers for various positions from several teams, including some to be an assistant general manager.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tells us that the Pirates are set to hire four coaches for Clint Hurdle's new staff: Ray Searage as the pitching coach, Gregg Ritche as the hitting coach, Jeff Bannister as the third base coach, and Nick Leyva as the bench coach.
- Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times feels that the Rays will hang onto B.J. Upton this offseason and likely won't trade a pitcher (candidates include James Shields, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann, or Wade Davis) until July, unless the offers get "crazy good" once Cliff Lee signs. He does believe, though, that Jason Bartlett will be traded by Spring Training.
- Bartlett's availability will likely have a negative impact on the market for Marco Scutaro, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.
- Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer looks at Ruben Amaro's five best and five worst moves, and says the jury is still out on the Philly GM.
Rays big leaguers B.J. Upton, Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, and Wade Davis are drawing heavy interest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the team's "preference is to use their prospect depth to land a hitter." The Rays specifically feel that they can't match Upton's defensive skills with internal options.
The Rays' farm system is among the best in the game, so they can easily make prospect-only deals. Even if you take Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson out of the mix, Tim Beckham, Matt Moore, Alex Colome, and Matt Sweeney were considered top 100 prospects heading into the season. It's quite possible the Rays go even further down their prospect list. Look at the Angels - they just acquired Dan Haren without surrendering any top 100 guys.
As usual, the Rays have kept their targets close to the vest. Few players have been connected to them in recent weeks aside from Jayson Werth, and Yahoo's Tim Brown tweeted three days ago that a Rays source seriously doubts they get the Phillies outfielder.
Roy Oswalt is making the most of his no-trade clause and it's slowing the Phillies down as they attempt to acquire him. Two people familiar with the discussions tell ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that Oswalt is asking that his 2012 option be picked up by any team that trades for him. The Phillies don't mind the idea of paying Oswalt $6MM this year and $16MM next year, but they are not comfortable guaranteeing the right-hander $16MM in 2012.
J.A. Happ would likely head to Houston in an Oswalt trade, probably along with some prospects from the lower minors. For now, the Phillies are pursuing Dan Haren and Ben Sheets, but are not actively pursuing Jeremy Guthrie, Fausto Carmona or Ricky Nolasco.
The Phillies are talking to a number of teams about Jayson Werth, but are demanding a lot in return. They asked the Rays for B.J. Upton or Wade Davis, and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is not willing to take on any of the $2.8MM remaining on Werth's deal.
In this week's installment of his Baseball Notes feature, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discusses the 2006 deal that sent Bronson Arroyo to Cincinnati for Wily Mo Pena. "I'm sure it's not one [trade] that Theo has on his mantle at home," Arroyo jokes, before going on to say that he'd love to stay with the Reds past this season. The team holds an $11MM 2011 option ($2MM buyout) for Arroyo. Here are Cafardo's other notes of interest:
- The Brewers and the Rangers, before they acquired Cliff Lee, were among the teams "sniffing around" Fausto Carmona.
- Cafardo wouldn't be shocked if the Rays were willing to discuss trading Matt Garza, with Jeremy Hellickson waiting in the wings (2.21 ERA in 105.2 Triple-A innings). In exchange for an impact bat, the Rays appear more inclined to deal major league players than prospects. A National League scout tells Cafardo that the team has been "very willing to include B.J. Upton in trade talks" and may even think about moving Wade Davis, if the price was right.
- The Rays also have some interest in Ted Lilly, who could be a fit for the Twins and Tigers as well.
- Cafardo thinks the Red Sox should pursue Evan Meek if the Pirates make him available.
- Lou Piniella's agent Alan Nero says that the Cubs' skipper will definitely finish out the season, but isn't sure about Piniella's future past this year.
Some items from around the majors on Thursday...
- Minnesota has signed two draft picks, the highest of which is ninth-rounder Kyle Knudson, reports MLB.com's Kelly Thesier.
- Washington GM Mike Rizzo says that there are no written or handshake agreements with Scott Boras about how many innings Stephen Strasburg will pitch this season, reports MASN's Ben Goessling.
- Matt LaPorta, who hit three homers for Triple-A Columbus last night, won't be called back to the majors until the Indians can guarantee him regular playing time, reports Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. This may not happen until Russell Branyan or Austin Kearns is traded.
- If Derrek Lee is on the market, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News suggests that the Giants should try to acquire the slugging first baseman. Baggarly mentions the rumors connecting Lee to the Angels, but thinks Lee might prefer to stay in the NL and play in his native Northern California.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock says (via Twitter) that in regards to any Padres trades for batting help, "there's nothing imminent in the works" at the moment.
- Texas has a "serious interest" in A.J. Pierzynski, reports Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com, but are hamstrung by their financial issues.
- The Royals have signed seven of their draft picks, according to a team press release. The highest of these picks is right-hander Eric Cantrell, taken in the seventh round.
- Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Tribune reports that the White Sox have signed third-round compensation pick Thomas Royse, a right-handed starter from of the University of Louisville.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com tweets a scout's take on Seattle's possible trading stance: "Jack Z [Zduriencik] likes draft picks, so if the (trade) offers aren't great, they may not move."
- Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com looks at how Houston's unwillingness to pay their draft picks has been a factor in the organization's barren minor league system.
- Tommy Rancel of DRaysBay.com thinks it's too early for Rays fans to panic about Wade Davis.
Let's finish off our series with the toughest division in baseball...
- Blue Jays: The Jays already traded away most of their top pieces, but they still have three desirable relievers in Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and Kevin Gregg. All three can become free agents after the season. There might be some interest in first baseman Lyle Overbay, who will also hit the open market after the season.
- Orioles: Considering how poorly he pitched before landing on the DL, I'm sure a large part of the Baltimore faithful wouldn't mind seeing Mike Gonzalez go. Alas, that won't happen anytime soon. There always seems to be interest in Luke Scott, who still has two more years of team control left. If they decide to sell at mid-season, Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie could find their way onto the block.
- Rays: The Rays are a player development machine, and they have enough young players to get get pretty much anyone they want. They have enough depth that they could trade one of Reid Brignac or Sean Rodriguez plus one of Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, or Jeremy Hellickson and not miss a beat. If they fall out of it and decide to sell, it doesn't get much better than Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, and Carlos Pena. I believe the term is "stacked."
- Red Sox: Boston has held onto Clay Buchholz for this long, but with his name appearing so frequently on the rumor circuit, it really wouldn't be surprising if they moved him for a big time player. They might still be able to find a taker for Mike Lowell, and there would be interest in Manny Delcarmen if he were made available. They did lose a valuable chip when Junichi Tazawa went down with Tommy John surgery.
- Yankees: They seem unwilling to trade either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, so their best chip is the semi-blocked Jesus Montero. Of course, the Yankees have the ability to absorb even the ugliest of contracts, so maybe we should consider that their biggest trade chip.