The decision was probably not a difficult one for the Yankees. Robertson continued his strong work in his first season as the replacement for Mariano Rivera, posting a 3.08 ERA with an excellent 13.4 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 64 1/3 innings. Even given the qualifying offer, he’ll be the most desirable player on the closer market, particularly given his relative youth — he’ll be 30 in April. MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicted that Robertson would receive a four-year, $52MM deal this offseason.
Archives for October 2014
The Rangers announced that they have officially declined their $13.5MM club option on outfielder Alex Rios in favor of a $1MM buyout. Additionally, the team has outrighted infielder Ed Lucas and right-handers Nathan Adcock and Alfredo Figaro to Triple-A Round Rock. Adcock has elected minor league free agency.
The Rangers informed Rios earlier this month that they would not pick up his $13.5MM option. Instead, Rios will receive a $2MM buyout. The corner outfielder posted a .280/.311/.398 line in 521 plate appearances this season.
The Rangers claimed Lucas from the Marlins earlier this month after he hit .251/.283/.296 in 189 plate appearances while playing six infield and outfield positions in Miami. The 26-year-old Adcock spent much of the season with Triple-A Round Rock, posting a 2.95 ERA with 9.3 K/9 but with 4.6 BB/9. The Rangers claimed Figaro from the Brewers in October after the 30-year-old posted a 3.71 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 70 1/3 innings for Triple-A Nashville.
The Brewers have exercised their half of a $14MM mutual option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Ramirez and his agents at Kinzer Management will now have three days to decide whether to accept their half or decline in favor of free agency.
Should Ramirez exercise his half, he’d be locked into a one-year, $14MM deal to return to the Brewers. If he forfeits that salary, the Brewers could still make him a one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer. The team has obviously expressed a willingness to pay him $14M, so it stands to reason that the additional $1.3MM wouldn’t be too much of a detriment, especially considering the fact that it would secure them a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round of the 2015 draft should Ramirez decline the offer and sign elsewhere.
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently penned a free agent profile on Ramirez noting that he believes Ramirez can find a two-year, $30MM contract on the open market without a qualifying offer attached but may have to settle for a lesser annual value and take something along the lines of a two-year, $26MM deal if the Brewers make the QO.
One other option, as Tim covered in the profile, would be for the two sides to work out a compromise over the next 72 hours and draw up a new two-year deal at a slightly lesser rate than the QO or the current $14MM sum. Tim speculated that the same $26MM price tag might make sense for both sides, and I’m inclined to agree.
Ramirez, 36, batted .285/.330/.427 with 15 homers in 133 games (531 plate appearances) this season, though he did struggle in the season’s second half. Nevertheless, 2014 marked the 11th time in the past 12 seasons that Ramirez has posted an OPS+ of 100 or better. He averaged a 134 OPS+ from 2011-13, suggesting that he can still produce at a very high offensive level even as he ages.
The Rays announced that they have exercised their one-year, $7.5MM club option on Ben Zobrist.
The move was perhaps one of the easiest calls for any team with an option over a player, as the 33-year-old Zobrist again turned in an excellent campaign and proved to be a tremendously valuable asset for Tampa. In 654 plate appearances for the Rays, Zobrist slashed .272/.354/.395 at second base and in the outfield corners, and he even chipped in at shortstop and in center field as well.
The upcoming season will mark Tampa’s final year of control over Zobrist, who early in the 2010 season signed a four-year, $18MM contract extension that contained a pair of club options. Zobrist earned $7MM in 2014 — the first of the two option years — and will earn $7.5MM this year, bringing his total earnings on the deal to $30MM over six years. He’s averaged a staggering 5.4 fWAR and 5.8 rWAR per season over the life of that deal.
It will be interesting to see how the Rays approach Zobrist over the next calendar year. He drew considerable interest at the trade deadline and would figure to do so again this offseason were new president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman willing to make Zobrist available. However, doing so would put a significant dent in the team’s hopes of contending next season. They could at some point approach him about an extension as well, or look to shop him next July should they again fall out of contention. Of course, Tampa could also just retain Zobrist through season’s end next year and extend him a qualifying offer, thereby guaranteeing themselves at east a compensatory draft pick following what would likely be another season of excellent production.
The Cubs have announced the firing of manager Rick Renteria. The move doesn’t come as a large surprise, given recent reports that the team has agreed to terms with Joe Maddon to become their new manager. Renteria had completed just one season of the three-year contract he signed to become the Cubs’ manager last offseason.
Within the press release announcing the move, Cubs president Theo Epstein made the following statement:
“Today we made the difficult decision to replace Rick Renteria as manager of the Chicago Cubs. On behalf of Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer, I thank Rick for his dedication and commitment, and for making the Cubs a better organization.
Rick’s sterling reputation should only be enhanced by his season as Cubs manager. We challenged Rick to create an environment in which our young players could develop and thrive at the big league level, and he succeeded. Working with the youngest team in the league and an imperfect roster, Rick had the club playing hard and improving throughout the season. His passion, character, optimism and work ethic showed up every single day.
Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith.
Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon – who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us – had become a free agent. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.
While there was no clear playbook for how to handle this type of situation, we knew we had to be transparent with Rick before engaging with Joe. Jed flew to San Diego last Friday and told Rick in person of our intention to talk to Joe about the managerial job. Subsequently, Jed and I provided updates to Rick via telephone and today informed him that we will indeed make a change.
We offered Rick a choice of other positions with the Cubs, but he is of course free to leave the organization and pursue opportunities elsewhere. … We have clung to two important ideals during our three years in Chicago. The first is to always be loyal to our mission of building the Cubs into a championship organization that can sustain success. The second is to be transparent with our fans. As painful as the last week was at times, we believe we stayed true to these two ideals in handling a sensitive situation. To our fans: we hope you understand, and we appreciate your continued support of the Cubs.”
The Blue Jays announced that they have signed veteran left-hander Jeff Francis to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league Spring Training. Francis is a client of Frontline Athlete Management.
Francis, 34 in January, split the 2014 season between the Reds, Athletics and Yankees, totaling 20 innings of work. He allowed 13 runs in that time for a 5.85 ERA, though he did post a strong 15-to-3 K/BB ratio as well.
Originally the ninth overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Rockies, the Canadian-born Francis has totaled a 4.95 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 1269 career innings between the Rockies, Royals, Red, A’s and Yankees. He’ll give the Jays some rotation depth to stash at Triple-A and could also serve as a relief option, as he did with the Rockies last season and in 11 of his 12 appearances in 2014.
Centeno, 24, received 43 plate appearances with the Mets from 2013-14 and batted .225/.279/.225. In 439 plate appearances at the Triple-A level, the Puerto Rican backstop has a much more palatable .298/.345/.355 batting line. Baseball America ranked Centeno as the Mets’ No. 28 prospect following the 2013 season and named him the best defensive catcher in the Pacific Coast League this past season.
The Tigers announced that they have extended one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer to impending free agents Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez. Additionally, the team announced that utility man Don Kelly and right-hander Evan Reed have been outrighted off the 40-man roster. The Tigers also announced that they have selected the contract of outfielder Wynton Bernard, adding him to the 40-man roster.
That Scherzer and Martinez — two of the top 10 free agents in the Majors — received qualifying offers comes as little surprise. Each should be in high demand this offseason, and by extending the QO, the Tigers assure themselves of receiving a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round for each player, should he sign elsewhere as a free agent.
The 34-year-old Kelly has been with the Tigers in a utility capacity since 2009 and has posted a .234/.297/.340 in 1157 plate appearances with Detroit in that time. Kelly has seen time at every position on the diamond, including catcher and pitcher, in his career, although his lone experience at shortstop came with the Pirates in 2007 — his only Major League stint that came in a uniform other than that of the Detroit Tigers.
Reed, 28, pitched to a 4.18 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 32 1/3 innings for the Tigers this season, and he posted similar numbers in 24 1/3 inning sample size a year prior. That Reed would clear waivers is a mild surprise, given his 96 mph average fastball velocity and fairly solid 3.78 FIP, 3.89 xFIP and 3.51 SIERA marks in addition to his 4.20 ERA. He can become a minor league free agent now by refusing his outright assignment.
The Orioles have claimed left-handed pitcher Pat McCoy off waivers from Detroit, according to a press release from the Tigers.
McCoy, who turned 26 in August, made his big league debut for the Tigers this season, notching a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings. However, his ERA is a bit misleading, as the southpaw walked 13 batters against 11 strikeouts in that time and also allowed an alarming 21 hits.
Formerly a 10th-round pick of the Nationals, McCoy signed a minor league deal with Detroit last offseason and enjoyed a nice campaign in the minors before getting his first call to the bigs. Splitting the season between Double-A and Triple-A, McCoy pitched to a 3.00 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 45 innings of work.
The Blue Jays have claimed outfielder Andy Dirks off waivers, the Tigers announced via press release.
Dirks, 28, was expected to serve as Detroit’s primary left fielder this season in a platoon with Rajai Davis, but a back injury required surgery and wound up costing him the entire year. Dirks has a solid career slash line of .276/.332/.413, and he grades out as an excellent defender in left field, having compiled 16 Defensive Runs Saved and an UZR/150 mark of +5.1 in 1569 innings in left field.
With Melky Cabrera and Colby Rasmus both hitting the open market, Dirks makes for a very nice add to the team’s outfield depth if he can return to health in 2015 and beyond. He’s projected to earn $1.63MM in his first time through arbitration this offseason, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and he can be controlled through 2017 via the arb process.