Yorvit Torrealba Rumors

New York Notes: Wilpon, Sabathia, Torrealba

There seems to be no shortage of on- and off-field baseball news coming out of the Big Apple these days. Here's some of the latest out of New York …

  • High-ranking baseball people are concerned about whether the Wilpons will be able to keep the Mets in the wake of the ongoing Madoff fallout, writes Jon Heyman of SI.com. MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, a "friend and ally" of Wilpon's, according to Heyman, will give Wilpon a long leash in sorting through the mess, but some are doubting whether the Wilpons can withstand a loss worth half or even a quarter of the $1 billion that Madoff trustee Irving Picard is seeking.
  • The Yankees may actually benefit if CC Sabathia opts out of his contract after 2011, writes Joe Sheehan of SI.com. Typically, opt-out clauses are considered player-friendly, but because of Sabathia's injury risk due to his body type and age between 2012-15, the Yanks might do well to let Sabathia walk and spend the money elsewhere, according to Sheehan, especially with some promising pitching prospects on the way up. One interesting hypothetical posed by Sheehan: Let Sabathia walk, move Mark Teixeira to full-time DH duties and sign potential free agent Albert Pujols.
  • The Mets won their grievance case with catcher Yorvit Torrealba, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. An arbitrator ruled that the Mets were within their rights to call off a three-year, $14.4MM agreement they had reached with Torrealba following the 2007 season upon conducting a physical which caused them "concerns" about the condition of Torrealba's throwing shoulder.

Catching Rumors: Mets, Rockies, Martin

Victor Martinez, John Buck and, now, Yorvit Torrealba have agreed to deals with new teams. Here's the latest on the market for backstops:

  • The Rockies talked to Torrealba's agent, but only had interest in a one-year deal, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
  • The Mets also had interest in Torrealba, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter).
  • Jon Heyman of SI.com says (on Twitter) that the White Sox would happily bring A.J. Pierzynski back. They didn't offer him arbitration because they didn't want to pay him more than $6.75MM in 2011.
  • Matt Colleran, the agent for Russell Martin, told Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times that the sides have exchanged ideas about reaching a deal before Thursday's non-tender deadline instead of going to arbitraiton. The Dodgers seem reluctant to give the non-tender candidate a significant raise after a disappointing season that Martin finished on the disabled list. Colleran told MLBTR last week that Martin's late-season hip injury did not damage his labrum.

Rangers, Torrealba Agree To Two-Year Deal

The Rangers agreed to sign Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year, $6.25MM deal that will pay the catcher $3MM in 2011 and $3.25MM in 2012. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram first reported the deal (on Twitter) and Anthony Andro of the Star-Telegram reported the terms of the contract (on Twitter).

Torrealba and his representatives at MDR Sports moved on from the Padres, who offered him arbitration, but not a multi-year deal. San Diego will rely on Nick Hundley to take on a bigger role and obtain a supplementary first round draft pick for losing Torrealba, a Type B free agent.

Torrealba hit .271/.343/.378 in 363 plate appearances last year. He batted more in 2010 than in any year except 2007, the lone season of his career in which he caught 100-plus games. The former Giant and Rockie has a .708 OPS in parts of ten big league seasons.  Tip of the cap to MLBTR's Mark Polishuk, who correctly predicted on November 10th that Torrealba would land with the Rangers.

It seems likely that free agent Bengie Molina will sign elsewhere and that Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden will be candidates to back Torrealba up. Rod Barajas, Gerald Laird, Miguel Olivo, A.J. Pierzynski and Jason Varitek are among the catchers still available on the free agent market.

Poll: Top Free Agent Catcher

Assuming you consider Victor Martinez a part-time catcher, part-time first baseman, and part-time designated hitter, John Buck was the best free agent catcher available this offseason. He hit .281/.314/.489 with 20 homers for the Blue Jays last year, but he's since signed a hefty three-year deal with the Marlins. As always, the number of teams looking for a quality backstop far exceed the number that are actually available, but there's still a few out there.

Miguel Olivo is a lock for double-digit homers year in and year out, and the same can be said for Rod Barajas. Both have thrown out a high percentage of would-be base stealers historically. Yorvit Torrealba has a .346 OBP over the last two years, a mark just eight other catchers can top. Jason Varitek hit for a ton of power (.473 SLG) in limited action this year. Then there's A.J. Pierzynski. He's started no fewer than 124 games behind the plate in five of the last six years, and his .284 AVG since 2008 can be topped by only three other catchers.

The Dodgers, Rangers, and Padres are known to be seeking help behind the plate, and it's safe to assume that the Mariners and Red Sox will hunt for upgrades as well. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Yankees, Rockies, Mets, or Orioles tried to improve their backup catcher situation either.

Who is the best catcher still available on the free agent market?

Click here to vote, and here to see the results. Thanks in advance.

National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

11 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.

Odds & Ends: Padres, Choo, Willis, Guillen

Links for Monday night. with just one day remaining for teams to determine whether to offer arbitration to their ranked free agents…

Torrealba Cutting Ties With Padres

The Padres view Nick Hundley as their starting catcher of the future, and Yorvit Torrealba isn't looking to take a diminshed role or salary. While the 32-year-old had already declined his side of a $3.5MM mutual option, he further confirmed his bachelorhood in a phone interview with Carlos Alberto Gonzalez of Lider en Deportes (link in Spanish) yesterday, saying:

"It's not very likely that I'll continue with the Padres, because they want to reduce payroll and they're offering me much less than I had hoped; in fact, they want to give me less than I made this year."

And it's not just his own case that soured Torrealba on the Padres. He also questioned the team's approach to its star players, saying, "It seems like they want to get rid of Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell." In the short term, Torrealba said his agent will be at the winter meetings this week trying to wrangle a two-year deal, preferably from a National League team. His former team the Rockies are the only NL team he noted as having called him thus far, while from the American League he has received queries from the Mariners, Rangers, and Red Sox.

In platoon duty with the Rockies and Padres over the last two years, Torrealba has shown he can still get on base at around a .350 clip and respectably control the running game. He threw out 37% of would-be base stealers last season in just under 800 innings, his best marks in both categories since 2007 and 2006, respectively. Torrealba generally shows more power against right-handed pitching, but his OBP has actually been higher against left-handers in three of the last four seasons, and his .698 OPS against lefties this season was higher than a number of higher-profile regulars, including fellow free agent A.J. Pierzynski.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes sees Torrealba taking over first-string catching duties from Russell Martin in Los Angeles, though a reuinion of the Torrealba/Chris Iannetta platoon that put the Rockies near the top in catcher OPS leaguewide in 2008 and 2009 could also be interesting. However, if the catcher has his eyes on something closer to a full-time role than he had in San Diego, one of the AL squads he mentioned could be his best bet. On the Padres' side, they have one more week to offer Torrealba arbitration and potentially earn another draft pick if the catcher—who is a type B free agent—follows through and signs elsewhere.

Padres Rumors: Gonzalez, Torrealba, Eckstein

The Padres exercised their 2011 option for Adrian Gonzalez today and saw Yorvit Torrealba and Jon Garland turn down their sides of their respective mutual options. Here's the latest on those three players, plus other updates on the Padres' offseason plans:

  • The Padres will meet with the agent for Gonzalez, John Boggs, this week, according to Dan Hayes of the North County Times (on Twitter). Presumably the meeting will help the sides determine whether a long-term deal is possible. It certainly doesn't seem likely.
  • Torrealba told Hayes that he'd love to return to San Diego, but is seeking a two-year deal (Twitter links).  The catcher is a Type B free agent, so the Padres could get a draft pick if they offer arbitration and Torrealba turns it down to sign elsewhere.
  • David Eckstein, a free agent, probably won't return to the Padres in 2011, according to MLB.com's Corey Brock.
  • Brock points out that Jon Garland will likely make more on the open market than he would have with the Padres (Twitter link).

Torrealba Declines Mutual Option

Catcher Yorvit Torrealba has declined his side of his mutual option with the Padres, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.  The option, which was for $3.5MM, still pays a $500K buyout to Torrealba.

Torrealba, 32, hit .271/.343/.378 this year in 363 plate appearances for the Padres.  He caught 795.6 innings, with Nick Hundley taking the rest.  Torrealba threw out 37% of baserunners, his best mark since '06.  He's a solid regular in a free agent market with about eight of them.  Torrealba is a Type B free agent, so the Padres could get a draft pick if they offer arbitration and he turns it down and signs elsewhere.

Marlins Rumors: Uggla, Catchers, Managers

The Marlins don’t have a permanent manager and Dan Uggla is nearing free agency so Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill have some franchise-defining decisions to make this offseason. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has the details:

  • Dan Uggla’s representation has asked for a deal worth about five years and $58MM, but the Marlins are offering fewer years and less money. They’d prefer to work out a three-year deal and are offering just over $8MM per season. Uggla, who will be eligible for free agency after 2011, makes nearly that much this year and he’ll earn a raise through arbitration next year, so the Marlins don’t appear to be offering much of a deal.
  • The Marlins say they would like to add a top catcher and they’ll consider alternatives to John Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Yorvit Torrealba, Bengie Molina, John Buck and Miguel Olivo will be considerations for Florida if they hit the open market, but Victor Martinez probably won’t be a fit. The Marlins could also have interest in Jason Varitek and Rod Barajas as part-time options.
  • Rafael Soriano’s expected salary demands have priced him out of the Marlins’ plans.
  • The Marlins will consider Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, Padres first base coach Rick Renteria and Padres bench coach Ted Simmons as they search for their next manager. Interim manager Edwin Rodriguez could keep his job and it doesn’t seem likely that the team will resume talks with Bobby Valentine, who was once considered the frontrunner for the gig.
  • The Marlins would have interest in Ozzie Guillen if he were available, but the White Sox skipper is under contract in Chicago next year. However, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that Guillen wants assurances that the White Sox want him to be their long-term manager. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf would prefer to keep Guillen around than search for a new manager, so Guillen could get the security he’s looking for.