Willie Bloomquist Rumors
The D'Backs announced that they exercised their sides of the mutual options for Henry Blanco and Willie Bloomquist, while declining their team options for Zach Duke and Aaron Hill (Twitter link). However, Bloomquist has declined his side of the mutual option and would like to work out a longer deal, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert (on Twitter).
Blanco's option is worth $1.15MM and includes a $250K buyout. It's not yet clear whether he'll return to Arizona for a second season. In 112 plate appearances in 2011, the 14-year veteran posted a .250/.330/.540 line with eight home runs. Bloomquist's option was worth $1.1MM. The 33-year-old played left field, shortstop and second base in 2011, while posting a .266/.317/.340 battling line in 381 plate appearances.
Hill posted an .878 OPS with the D'Backs after struggling in Toronto for a combined season line of .246/.299/.356. Though the D'Backs would like him back, his $8MM option was too much for GM Kevin Towers' liking. Hill's contract also included an $8MM team option for 2013. Duke posted a 4.93 ERA with 3.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 76 2/3 innings, so there was no doubt that the team would decline its $5.5MM club option in favor of the $750K buyout.
- Dan Hayes of the North County Times cites a Padres team source who doubts that Aaron Harang will be back with the team in 2012 (Twitter link). Hayes says that right now, it's not clear if Harang's $5MM mutual option was rejected by either side yet.
- The Diamondbacks are expected to exercise their half of the mutual options they hold on Willie Bloomquist and Henry Blanco, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
- Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times notes that the Dodgers lead the Majors with 10 pending free agents. Dilbeck says that the club is looking to go young behind the plate next year, and doesn't expect to offer arbitration to Type B free agent Rod Barajas.
Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers spoke to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic yesterday. Highlights:
- Towers would like to bring back second baseman Aaron Hill, but not at his option prices of $8MM for each of the 2012 and '13 seasons. The 29-year-old hit .315/.386/.492 in 142 plate appearances for Arizona, his first stint in the National League. He's represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council, as our Agency Database shows.
- Towers is "leaning toward" exercising Willie Bloomquist's $1.1MM mutual option and will "probably" pick up a $1.15MM mutual option on catcher Henry Blanco. Piecoro expects both players back, so these might be rare cases where both sides exercise their end of mutual options.
- The GM is undecided on whether to tender a contract to lefty Joe Saunders, depending on whether he thinks the team's young starters are ready. Saunders is due a raise on this year's $5.5MM salary, which we'll dig into later this week here at MLBTR. Towers believes the team has the payroll space for both Hill and Saunders, if that's the route he chooses. I think Saunders will be tendered a contract, since he'd have some trade value.
- Left fielder Gerardo Parra's possible Super Two status is "too close to call right now," said Towers. As of August 23rd, a source told me the cutoff appeared to be two years and 145 days of service, which is the exact amount Parra has.
- Towers seeks a bat to complement first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and Piecoro thinks that might mean re-signing Lyle Overbay.
- Towers feels that the Diamondbacks' pitching staff is in "pretty good shape." The GM doesn't see "big, big" offseason needs, though he won't rule out a run at the "right kind of marquee guy."
The tightest division race in the National League is happening out west, where the Diamondbacks have taken a two-game lead over the Giants on the strength of five straight wins. ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider link) likens Arizona to a No. 14 seed in an NCAA tournament, holding a lead late in the game and gaining confidence that they can pull off an upset. Here are this morning's notes from around the NL West:
- The D'Backs didn't go out and acquire a replacement for Stephen Drew when he fractured his ankle, and Willie Bloomquist is making the decision look good, writes Olney. Since Drew's injury, Bloomquist is hitting .295/.349/.423 as the team's regular shortstop.
- J.C. Romero tells Troy Renck of the Denver Post that his friend LaTroy Hawkins had good things to say about the Rockies' organization, which pushed the lefty toward Colorado. Romero will throw a bullpen and take a physical today, and could be added to the Rockies' roster if both go well.
- Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times wonders what's next for the Dodgers' Casey Blake, who is "not the least interested in calling it a career" and "has no desire in going out on some injury-riddled, less-than-fulfilling season," according to Dilbeck.
- The Athletics have called up two former members of NL West clubs, both of whom were involved in trades earlier this season, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Brandon Allen, formerly of the Diamondbacks, and Bruce Billings, acquired from the Rockies in the Mark Ellis deal, will join the A's for today's game.
Updates to a few recently completed contracts...
- John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer has the breakdown of Joey Votto's new contact with the Reds. The reigning NL MVP will earn $5.5MM in 2011 and $9.5MM in 2012 before jumping up to $17MM in 2013. His $6MM signing bonus will be paid out between now and 2014.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that Takashi Saito has a clause in his contract stipulating that the Brewers must release him after the 2011 season. That prevents the team from offering him arbitration if he qualifies as a Type-A free agent.
- Jim Thome's deal with the Twins includes a boatload of incentives, reports Joe Christensen of The Star Triibune. The slugger will earn $200K for 200 plate appearances, and $300K each for 300, 350, and 400 plate appearances.
- Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com tweets that Willie Bloomquist's contract with the Diamondbacks will pay him $900K in 2011. It also includes a mutual option for 2012 worth $1.1MM.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that Austin Kearns' contract with the Indians contains incentives tied to plate appearances. He'll earn $50K each for 400, 425, 475, and 500 plate appearances.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark put together a list of the offseason's most creative contract clauses.
The D'Backs have agreed to sign Willie Bloomquist to a one-year, $1.05MM deal, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Agent Scott Boras negotiated the deal, which includes a mutual option for 2012.
Bloomquist has played every position but pitcher and catcher in each of the past two seasons. The 33-year-old spent 2010 with the Royals and Reds, posting a .267/.299/.380 line in 199 plate appearances. Bloomquist stole 25 bases a year ago, so he has some speed.
The utility player will likely fill out the D'Backs' bench and complete their offseason shopping. The club could add a starter on a minor league deal, but most of GM Kevin Towers' work is now done.
Bloomquist's arrival will make it harder for Tony Abreu to crack the team's Opening Day roster, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic pointed out earlier today. Abreu will likely compete with Cole Gillespie, Ryan Roberts, Brandon Allen and Wily Mo Pena for a roster spot this spring.
The Diamondbacks are "trying for" free agent Willie Bloomquist, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. It seemed like the Snakes were done their winter shopping last month, but it looks like they're still in the market for a utilityman; beyond Bloomquist, the D'Backs were reportedly interested in Kevin Frandsen before Frandsen signed with San Diego.
Bloomquist, 33, posted a .679 OPS in 199 plate appearances with the Royals and Reds in 2010, a shade higher than his .653 career OPS. Bloomquist has never been renowned for his bat, but rather his ability to play virtually anywhere on the diamond. He played at least one game at every position except pitcher and catcher in each of the last two seasons. Bloomquist would give Arizona some veteran depth, and he could possibly work his way into the club's planned Geoff Blum/Melvin Mora platoon at third base.
Bloomquist, 33 this month, said at the end of the season that he wanted to play every day in 2011. He batted .267/.299/.380, so it seems doubtful that teams would see him as a regular. Instead, clubs will presumably ask Bloomquist to move all around the diamond as he did last year, when he played all four infield positions and all three outfield positions.
Miles, 33, batted .281/.311/.317 for the Cardinals last year. He played short, second and third and even pitched two scoreless innings (lowering his career ERA to 3.60).
The Reds have had preliminary talks about re-signing Cairo, who batted .290/.353/.410 in 226 plate appearances last year. The 15-year veteran played five positions for Cincinnati.
Jayson Werth is days away from free agency, so if the Phillies intend to re-sign their right fielder, they'll have to bid directly against other interested teams. There's a real chance Werth signs elsewhere this winter, so the Phillies are thinking ahead. Manager Charlie Manuel has acknowledged that he may pair Domonic Brown up with a more experienced player who can handle southpaws and play right field.
Brown, just 23, had no trouble hitting minor league pitching this year (.327/.391/.589 line) but he bats from the left side and the Phillies could ease him into the big leagues by limiting his exposure to left-handed pitching. Here are eight outfielders the Phillies may consider as platoon partners for Brown:
- Jeff Francoeur, 26 years old, non-tender candidate - Frenchy has his faults, but the 26-year-old can handle lefties. He has a .299/.343/.481 line against them in his career.
- Matt Diaz, 32 years old, non-tender candidate - Diaz has a .335/.373/.533 line against lefties in his career.
- Juan Rivera, 32 years old, trade candidate - The Angels will have to part with an outfielder if they sign Werth or Carl Crawford. Rivera, who spent most of the 2010 season in left field, has a career .288/.333/.499 line against lefties.
- Jose Guillen, 34 years old, free agent - He struggled against lefties this year, but boasts a .270/.327/.460 line against them in his career.
- Xavier Nady, 31 years old, free agent - Nady, who struggled through the 2010 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, has a .297/.367/.451 line against lefties in his career.
- Andruw Jones, 33, free agent - Jones would likely be able to find more playing time elsewhere, so he's not a natural fit in Philly, but his career (.261/.361/.501) and 2010 (.256/.373/.558) numbers against left-handers must have the Phillies salivating.
- Milton Bradley, 32, trade candidate - Again, Bradley seems like an unlikely target for the Phillies, but he has a .300/.382/.488 line against left-handers in his career and could be available.
- Willie Bloomquist, 32, free agent - He has a .272/.334/.366 line against lefties in his career - not much pop, but he's far more versatile than the players above. Bloomquist played all three outfield positions and all four infield positions this year, so Manuel could use him elsewhere if Brown wins the job outright.
- Austin Kearns, 30, free agent - Kearns has a career .261/.383/.416 line against lefties and may have trouble finding an everyday job.
- Ben Francisco, 29, on the Phillies - Francisco has a .267/.347/.460 career line against left-handers.
Diaz and Francoeur handle lefties well and can play right field, so they would be good fits for the Phils if they are indeed non-tendered. Rivera, Nady, Bloomquist and Kearns would also be legitimate options and none of the players listed figure to cost more than a few million on a one-year deal, so the Phillies are well-positioned to recover if Werth leaves and they consider alternatives to Francisco. Their biggest challenge will be helping Brown improve upon the .210/.257/.355 line he posted in 70 plate appearances this summer.
The Reds acquired Willie Bloomquist from Kansas City for a player to be named later or cash, according to a Royals press release. The 32-year-old utility man has played all three outfield positions and all four infield positions this year, so the Reds are getting one of the more versatile players in the game. He hasn't hit much, however, and his season line now sits at .265/.296/.388.
Bloomquist hits free agency after the season, when his two-year $3.1MM contract expires. He won't be a ranked free agent, so the Royals aren't missing out on the chance to obtain draft pick compensation. Since Bloomquist was acquired in September, he will be ineligible for Cincinnati's postseason roster.