Yasel Puig Rumors
Making his first start in a Rockies uniform tonight, recently-signed Jon Garland made such an impression with his groundball-inducing ways that the club tweeted his groundout to flyout ratio (2.5:1) through five innings.
- Garland has substantial incentives in his contract with the Rockies that could raise its total value to $3.1MM, explains Troy Renck of the Denver Post. In addition to his base $500k deal, which will fully vest if he stays on the 25-man roster for 45 days, Garland can earn up to $1.35MM for innings pitched (the pay starts at 105 IP and increases up to 195 IP) and up to $1.25MM for starts made (with the incentives kicking in at 20 starts and continuing to 32 starts).
- The Rockies are expected to consider the possibility of inking righty Aaron Cook, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweeted earlier today. Cook, who was released earlier today by the Phillies, is (like Garland) known as a groundball artist.
- In spite of being sent to Double-A today by the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig has been so impressive that he may enable the club to effectively buy even more young talent from other clubs, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. As Rosenthal explains, if L.A. is able to replace either Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier with Puig, they could then offer to pay for much of the balance of the contracts of those expensive veterans to extract quality prospects from a trade partner. According to an unnamed rival executive, "It's smart actually -- the only way to really build a farm system under the new rules. And you can only do it if you've got big dollars."
- The Kyle Lohse signing was a substantial investment for the Brewers at three years and $33MM, but owner Mark Attanasio says that it will not prevent the club from "being able to make another move," reports Rosenthal. In particular, Attanasio expects to be in a position to re-sign first-baseman Corey Hart, who falls just outside the top 10 anticipated 2014 free agents in MLBTR's TIm Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings. While the Brewers sought to add to their rotation without losing a draft pick when they made an offer to Ryan Dempster before he joined the Red Sox for two years and $26.5MM, Attanasio explained that, "at the time we made the Dempster decision, we thought Kyle would go at a higher price." Finally, Rosenthal notes that Lohse can earn three separate paydays totalling an additional $1MM for reaching 190 innings pitched over each of the next three seasons.
- Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has been a popular topic of trade speculation, with the presumption being that Chicago would try to get whatever prospects and/or salary relief it could. Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times wonders, however, whether Soriano is now too valuable for the team to consider dealing. For his part, Soriano raves about the team's new front office and coaching staff, explaining how they changed the culture from one in which he felt singled out for the team's failings to one in which, "if we lost, we lost like a team; if we won, we won like a team."
The latest from ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required)...
- Cuban slugger Yasiel Puig is forcing the Dodgers' hand with his monster performance in Spring Training, Olney writes. While the team clearly has no place for him to play given the presence of Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the buzz he's generating and intrigue from scouts could force the team to consider him for a quick promotion to complement Ethier and/or Crawford against left-handed pitching.
- Olney wonders why the Yankees appear willing to take on $13MM of Vernon Wells' salary in the trade that has reportedly been agreed to, but wouldn't spend that money on Russell Martin earlier in the offseason: "Instead of having a good defender at a premium defensive position, they have now invested that money in a corner outfielder who has been in decline the last couple of seasons and wasn't even used as a regular player for much of 2012."
- One possible explanation, as Olney notes, is the salary relief the Yankees will get from Mark Teixeira's injury. The World Baseball Classic is paying the team $7-8MM to cover the injury sustained by Teixeira as he prepared for the event.
- Similarly, the WBC is picking up the tab for the Dodgers on the injury sustained by Hanley Ramirez in the Championship game.
In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required), Buster Olney lists the Angels renewing Mike Trout's contract for $510K as one of the biggest issues facing baseball today. Craig Landis, the agent for the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up, said the renewal "falls well short of a 'fair' contract." Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register agrees considering Joe Blanton will receive a $500K bonus from the Angels if he throws 200 innings and the team gave a $250K signing bonus to free agent reliever Sean Burnett. Olney, however, writes it makes almost no sense for Trout to refuse to sign his contract tender and have a negotiation flare-up so early in his career because he will reap millions from the system later on. For his part, the 21-year-old is quoted by Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) as saying, "I've got to keep putting up numbers. My time will come." Elsewhere from MLB's West Divisions:
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports the Angels don't expect any of this will ruffle enough feathers to sour Trout's desire to sign an extension and cites similar situations involving Adam Jones, Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, David Wright, and Jered Weaver.
- The Diamondbacks renewed Wade Miley's contract for $500,500, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The left-hander earned All-Star honors last year while finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio the team has not closed the door on former closer Brian Wilson (Twitter link).
- The Dodgers will have questions to answer in left field and the leadoff spot because Carl Crawford will likely not be ready to open the season, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Manager Don Mattingly will use a variety of in-house options including Cuban import Yasel Puig.
- If non-roster invitee third baseman Nolan Arenado continues his torrid play during camp and shows he's ready, it could allow the Rockies to use their depth at third base to acquire more pitching, tweets the Denver Post's Troy Renck.
- Cody Ross was disappointed by the lack of interest from West Coast teams during his free agency this offseason until the Diamondbacks called "out of nowhere," reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "My wife and I were jumping up and down," said Ross, a Phoenix resident. "We were so excited to live at home and play at home and be around a good bunch of guys and great coaches, and a front office that’s committed to winning."
- Earlier today, we learned Hunter Pence would rather sign a long-term contract with the Giants rather than test free agency.
There's been no shortage of signings on this, the first day of 2012's international signing period, but there's also plenty of chatter around the league. Here's some links for your perusal...
- In the latest edition of Ask BA, Jim Callis relays some Yasel Puig-related notes from his colleague Ben Badler. Giving the caveat that it's difficult to compare the 21-year-old Puig to 15- and 16-year-olds, Badler notes that he'd only have ranked Puig 11th on his Top 20 international free agents. Beyond that, Badler says that the consensus from his talks with teams was that Puig would've gone in the third round of the 2012 Amateur Draft. Puig signed a seven-year, $42MM deal with the Dodgers just prior to July 2, narrowly avoiding the new CBA's spending limitations.
- Badler tweets that the Rangers could be a fit for Wendell Rijo now that the Yankees have used up most of their $2.9MM cap. Badler ranked Rijo 10th on his Top 20.
- Despite Badler's comment, Rangers GM Jon Daniels told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that his club isn't likely to be active on the international front because they're awaiting resolution on the Jairo Beras situation (Twitter link).
- Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters (including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart) that his team is prepared to spend on international players in the coming days. Luhnow though, is more excited for the 2013-2014 classes, when bonus pools will be based on the previous year's standings. "...that's when things will be more interesting, and you'll see more unique strategies like we saw in the Draft this year," said Luhnow.
- Badler doesn't think the Royals will be shy with signing someone they like, despite not having been active yet (Twitter link).
The Dodgers have a history of signing and developing impact players from Latin America, but their once-impressive methods of acquiring talent faded under the ownership of Frank McCourt. Now they're back at it.
The Dodgers announced today that they have signed 21-year-old outfielder Yasel Puig to a seven-year Major League contract. The contract, which is worth $42MM, reflects renewed commitment to success in Latin America, GM Ned Colletti says.
"This signing shows ownership’s commitment to re-engage in the region and dedicate ourselves to getting stronger in this area,” Colletti said. “We feel that Puig can be an outstanding Major League player for the organization.”
Puig can void his contract and go to arbitration once he accumulates three years of MLB service, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports (Twitter links). The Dodgers don't appear to have been the high bidder, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. They never saw Puig play in a game, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets.
The Dodgers, now under the ownership of Guggenheim Sports Management, had publicly stated their intention to bid aggressively on the best available Latin American players. Puig, a 6'3" outfielder from Cuba, fits the description. He agrees to terms two days after being granted free agency and four days before baseball's collective bargaining agreement imposes spending restrictions on teams. Starting July 2, teams will work with a $2.9MM annual budget for international prospects.
Agent Jaime Torres represents Puig, who appears to be in line for a record contract. The outfielder has two seasons of experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He’s more polished than Jorge Soler of the Cubs but less seasoned than Yoenis Cespedes of the Athletics, according to Sanchez. The Cubs and White Sox both appear to have expressed interest in signing Puig.
Reports on Puig have been modest, Ben Badler of Baseball America reported this week. Teams are working off of limited information, as most scouts haven't seen much of the prospect since last summer.
The 2011 amateur draft has officially produced its first Major Leaguer, as Trevor Bauer made his debut for the Diamondbacks tonight against the Braves. The third overall pick from 2011 was shaky in his first start in the Show (two runs on five hits and three walks over four innings and 74 pitches) but Bauer escaped with a no-decision.
Here are some more items from the D'Backs and elsewhere in the NL West...
- David Hernandez's two-year extension with the Diamondbacks is worth $3.5MM, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Hernandez received a $250K signing bonus, and the right-hander will earn $1.25MM in 2013 and $2MM in 2014.
- The Dodgers' seven-year, $42MM deal with Cuban prospect Yasel Puig has stunned many international scouting directors, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Puig's signing has caused a "huge disparity of opinion around the game," tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, who cites one scout that rated Puig as worth just a $500K contract.
- Dodgers president Stan Kasten tells Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times that the team is prepared to make "big" moves at the trade deadline and are willing to increase payroll. Kasten said he would prefer to take on more salary if it meant the Dodgers wouldn't have to trade a promising minor leaguer.
- The Rockies should try to deal Michael Cuddyer while he still has trade value, opines Fangraphs' Chris Cwik. Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd recently said he isn't going to move Cuddyer, though other teams have called about the veteran outfielder.
- Aubrey Huff told reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle) that he hasn't thought about retiring despite his difficult 2012 season. The Giants veteran hasn't produced at the plate, battled an anxiety disorder and is currently on the DL after spraining his knee while celebrating Matt Cain's perfect game.
- Billionaire Steve Cohen dropped out of the bidding to buy the Padres once the price reached $800MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Cohen is a Mets minority owner and was one of the top contenders to buy the Dodgers.
The Mets and Athletics could match up for a potential trade involving Grant Balfour, ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggests (on Twitter). Balfour, a midseason trade candidate, is pitching well and the Mets could use bullpen help. Here are today's links...
- Olney runs through some of the available and potentially available trade candidates for Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti, explaining that the options out there are less than perfect. The Dodgers have started calling around the league about potential offensive upgrades, but players like Jeff Francoeur, Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano have their shortcomings.
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law suggests the Dodgers’ investment in Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig “is a bizarre overreaction to the upcoming international spending cap.” The Dodgers and the outfielder agreed to terms on a seven-year, $42MM contract earlier today.
- Chad Qualls, who was designated for assignment this morning, has asked Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to trade him, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).
- The Nationals have been relying on Bryce Harper in center field, but they’re still telling teams they’re looking for a long-term answer at the position, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
Count the Cubs and White Sox among the teams who are interested in signing Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig, reports Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. Both franchises have extensive experience with players hailing from Cuba.
The 21-year-old was officially declared a free agent on Tuesday and now has until July 2 to sign with a team to avoid new financial limitations put in place for international players. For the Cubs, signing international free agents out of Cuba is nothing new as the team recently agreed to terms with outfielder Jorge Soler on a nine-year, $30MM deal. On the South Side, the White Sox have a long-term relationship with Puig's agent, Jaime Torres, who has negotiated deals with the team in the past for players such as Jose Contreras and Alexei Ramirez.
Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig has officially been declared a free agent, sources tell Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, and could have a deal finalized with a Major League team by Friday.
Puig can now meet with teams to discuss parameters of deals but cannot finalize a contract until he is unblocked by the U.S. Department of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, Sanchez reports. That is not expected to be an issue, though, "in accordance with the new guidelines that create a general license authorizing Major League teams to do business" with a Cuban prospect who has established residency somewhere else.
The 20-year-old has been working to establish free agency so as to beat the new collective bargaining agreement's July 2 deadline, which stipulates that teams may only sign international prospects for up to $2.9MM without penalty after that date. Puig is thought to be seeking a contract similar to the ones signed by Yoenis Cespedes with the A's and Jorge Soler with the Cubs.
9:55pm: Sanchez provides another pair of updates (via Twitter), reporting that Puig has established residency in Mexico and MLB's investigation of the papers is believed to be complete. An issue with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is keeping Puig from free agency. It is expected to be resolved by July 2, and possibly even as soon as tomorrow.
June 25, 6:40pm: Sanchez tweets that Puig has not yet filed his Mexican residency papers to Major League Baseball. Those papers will need to be authenticated before Puig can be granted free agency, and the authentication process can take a week or longer according to Sanchez.
June 19: Cuban outfielder Yasel Puig aims to become a free agent soon so that he can sign with an MLB team by July 2, when the spending restrictions in baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement take effect, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports. Puig has defected from Cuba and is in the process of establishing permanent residency in Mexico. Agent Jaime Torres says he hopes MLB will declare the 21-year-old a free agent once his residency has been established.
"We should all be on the same page by July 2nd in order to have the clubs evaluate him and sign a contract before the new rule kicks in," Torres told Sanchez.
Torres has tentatively scheduled a showcase for scouts in Mexico City later this week. Puig, a 6'3" 210 pound outfielder, has two seasons of experience in Cuba’s Serie Nacional. He’s more polished than Jorge Soler but less seasoned than Yoenis Cespedes, according to Sanchez. If MLB declares Puig a free agent in the coming days, he’ll be able to sign before July 2 and maximize his earnings.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.