DEC. 16: FanRag’s Jon Heyman and the New York Post’s Joel Sherman both hear that Ziegler is close to a decision (Twitter links). Sherman notes that the Yankees and Mets haven’t been in serious contact with Ziegler’s camp since the Winter Meetings, so he’s likely headed elsewhere. Heyman relays word of a team that has yet to be linked to Ziegler remaining in the mix. (The “mystery team” strikes again!)
Cotillo adds a bit more context to the scenario, tweeting that Ziegler is hoping to come a decision by the end of the day.
DEC. 15, 8:20pm: The question at this point seems to be whether an organization will move up to a full, three-year guarantee, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports (Twitter links). If it’s a two-year arrangement, the final guarantee is expected to end up at around $17MM, he adds.
2:49pm: Right-hander Brad Ziegler is weighing multiple offers and could make a decision in the near future, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Ziegler seemingly has multi-year offers on the table — not a surprise in this relief market — and could end up with either a two-year deal (plus an option) or three years, he adds.
Ziegler, who turned 37 in October, is coming off a pair of brilliant seasons split between the Diamondbacks and Red Sox during which he recorded a pristine 2.05 ERA with 6.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a gaudy 68.1 percent ground-ball rate. The side-arming righty isn’t the typical late-inning power arm that racks up strikeouts while overwhelming opponents — his fastball, in fact, averaged just 83.9 mph in the past two seasons — but his knack for inducing weak contact and keeping the ball on the ground has made him one of baseball’s most successful relievers since debuting as a late-blooming 28-year-old rookie back in 2008.
Over the life of his nine-year Major League career, Ziegler has never posted a single-season ERA higher than 3.49, and he’s kept his ERA under the 3.00 threshold in six of those nine years. Despite a lack of velocity and missed bats, he’s managed to consistently excel, as evidenced by his lifetime 2.44 ERA in the Majors. He figures to land a high-leverage relief spot when he does sign — possibly as a closer — and he’s no stranger to such roles, having amassed 85 saves and 120 holds to this point in his career.
The Diamondbacks, Marlins, Yankees, Rockies and Mets have all been connected to Ziegler to varying levels, although the Yankees and Mets reportedly would need to shed some salary in order to add another free agent to the roster (or, at least, have confidence that they’ll be able to do so). The Rockies, of course, just added southpaw Mike Dunn on a three-year deal earlier today, so it’s not clear if they’ll have continued interest in adding a reliever, and reports have characterized both the D-backs and Red Sox as unlikely landing spots for Ziegler. Still, given the significant number of clubs in the market for bullpen help, it seems likely that Ziegler will be able to command a strong two-year pact, at minimum. Cotillo’s tweet may suggest that no team has been willing to guarantee the third year just yet or that Ziegler has a three-year offer from a club that isn’t a clear-cut contender, although that’s just my own speculation/inference.