- The Rockies have signed utilityman Shawn O’Malley to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league camp, Bob Dutton of Baseball America reports on Twitter. The switch-hitting, 29-year-old O’Malley has collected 305 major league plate appearances since debuting in 2014, batting a combined .231/.315/.317 with the Angels and Mariners and playing all over the diamond (every outfield spot, second base, shortstop and third). An appendectomy and arthroscopic shoulder surgery helped keep O’Malley out of the majors last year and limit him to 120 PAs between Seattle’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.
Dec. 16: Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports breaks down Shaw’s contract in a tweet, noting that the right-hander will earn $7.5MM in 2018, $8.5MM in 2019, and $9MM in 2020. The contract comes with a $9MM vesting option for 2021, which will vest if Shaw either makes 60 appearances or finishes 40 games in 2020. Alternatively, the option vests if he makes 110 appearances combined from 2019-2020. If Shaw doesn’t hit those marks, however, the option has a $2MM buyout. The deal also offers the righty $4MM in incentives.
Dec. 15: The Rockies have formally announced the signing of Shaw to a three-year deal.
Dec. 13: Shaw is expected to command a $27MM guarantee over three years, Heyman tweets.
Dec. 12: The Rockies have agreed to a deal with free agent righty Bryan Shaw, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports (Twitter link). Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported earlier tonight (Twitter links) that talks between the two sides are “advanced” and “nearly done.” The deal is a three-year contract that will pay Shaw in the area of $9MM per season, according to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, who also tweeted earlier today that teams believed Shaw and fellow right-hander Tommy Hunter already had agreements in place. Shaw is a client of Rowley Sports Management.
Shaw has posted strong numbers during his seven seasons with the D’Backs and Indians, with a career 3.13 ERA, 2.64 K/BB rate and 8.0 K/9 over 446 1/3 relief innings. The durable righty has never spent any time on the disabled list and leads all pitchers with 442 appearances between 2013-17. He owns a 50.6% career ground ball rate, which will serve him well at Coors Field, though Shaw has also been known to have been hurt by the home run ball. His 0.6 HR/9 in 2017 was his lowest such number in the last four seasons, however.
Shaw has 11 saves in his career but has never really worked as a closer, rather primarily serving as Cody Allen’s setup man in Cleveland. It would seem as if the Rockies may also intend to use Shaw in a setup role, as the team has been connected to such established closers as Wade Davis and former Rockie Greg Holland on the rumor mill. Bullpen reinforcement was a stated goal for Colorado this winter, with Holland, Pat Neshek (who has signed with the Phillies), and Jake McGee all hitting the free agent market.
Several teams had interest in Shaw this winter, and he was weighing multiple three-year offers, including one from the Mets. Newsday’s Marc Carig recently speculated that Shaw could have waiting to see if he landed a deal from a team (like the Rockies) that holds its Spring Training in Arizona, where Shaw and his family have a home.
MLB Trade Rumors ranked Shaw 25th on our list of the winter’s Top 50 Free Agents, predicting him for a three-year deal worth $21MM. Landing a deal with a rough average annual value of $9MM is a nice get for Shaw’s representatives, and another sign of how heavily teams are valuing relief pitching this winter. Neshek’s two-year deal with the Phillies guarantees him $16.25MM, while Brandon Morrow found two years and $21MM from the Cubs and Luke Gregerson two years and $11MM from the Cardinals.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Rockies have officially agreed to bring back free agent lefty Jake McGee with a three-year deal that guarantees $27MM. McGee is represented by Wasserman.
McGee’s guarantee comes in the form of consecutive salaries of $7MM, $8.5MM, and $9.5MM. He’s then promised a $2MM buyout on a 2021 vesting/club option that’s priced at $9MM. The extra year vests if McGee appears in sixty games in 2020, finishes forty games in that year, or makes 110 total appearances over the 2019-20 campaigns. There’s also a health requirement for the option to vest, though details remain unclear. It seems the contract also contemplates incentives of up to $4MM annually; while the milestones aren’t known, that leaves some earning upside in McGee’s pocket.
It’s not surprising to see a multi-year deal with a strong guarantee based both on McGee’s quality efforts in 2017 and an aggressive market for relievers thus far. McGee will become the latest in a line of high-quality relievers to come off the board and joins right-hander Bryan Shaw at the back of the Colorado bullpen nw that their deals are finalized.
The 31-year-old McGee struggled in his initial season with the Rockies (2016) after coming over from the Rays in the Corey Dickerson swap, but he largely righted the ship with a solid 2017 season. In 57 1/3 innings, the hard-throwing McGee posted a respectable 3.61 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 and a 40.5 percent ground-ball rate.
McGee’s 37 percent hard-contact rate is certainly higher than one would like to see, though it’s worth pointing out that much of that hard contact came on grounders; Statcast indicates that McGee’s average exit velocity on balls in the air was among the lowest in baseball (as is borne out in his 0.63 HR/9 rate), but he ranked considerably higher in terms of exit velocity on grounders.
It’s been an up-and-down ride for McGee both in terms of health and bottom-line results since he established himself as a big league regular back in 2012. But the overall body of work is impressive, as he’s logged a combined 3.06 ERA with 10.4 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 329 2/3 innings over that six-year span.
At present, it’s not clear how the Rockies view the back of their bullpen taking shape. McGee has served as a closer in the past and could be asked to take the ball in the ninth inning most often for the Rox in 2018 and beyond. Shaw, who also has agreed to a three-year deal, is no stranger to high-leverage innings himself, having served as an eighth-inning setup man in Cleveland for several years.
Colorado GM Jeff Bridich and his staff may not yet be done adding to the bullpen, either. The Rockies have been linked to Zach Britton, Wade Davis and Greg Holland over the past few weeks, and while they’ve certainly spent aggressively to bring McGee and Shaw into the fold, they’re still somewhere in the vicinity of the payroll mark at which they opened the 2017 campaign. If ownership is willing to spend a bit more with a playoff berth in the rear-view mirror, the Rox could yet make further additions to the ’pen or elsewhere on the roster.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the signing (via Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic had tweeted that rivals anticipated the move. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter links) and Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (links to Twitter) had contract details.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
11:48am: The sides are “just talking” and are not nearing agreement, a source tells MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
11:27am: The Rockies are “closing in” on a pact to re-sign closer Greg Holland, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). If completed, the deal would leave Colorado with a stunning three-part free agent relief haul from these Winter Meetings.
Within the last twenty hours or so, the Rox have reportedly lined up pacts with righty Bryan Shaw (link) and lefty Jake McGee (link). If all of these deals are finalized, those two hurlers would represent high-quality setup options, with Holland slated to lock up victories for the team.
Clearly, the Rockies’ brief taste of the posteason in 2017 has left the club hungry for more. With a host of young starters and a lot of talent on the position-player side, Colorado turned to the pen as a priority — especially after spending relatively little to add Chris Iannetta behind the dish, rather than committing to a bigger outlay to bring back Jonathan Lucroy.
Creating this would-be late-inning triumvirate won’t come cheap. Details on a possible Holland deal aren’t known, but he’s expected to out-earn the other two handily. And Shaw and McGee appear each to have commanded three-year commitments of about $27MM apiece. Needless to say, the Rockies figure to have quite a pricey relief corps.
While the organization is still in need of bolstering the first-base mix and could tinker in a few other areas, it’s possible it’ll depart the Winter Meetings with most of the boxes checked — and without having parted with any young talent. The Rockies may also reasonably anticipate finding solid value at first, since Coors Field ought to be quite a draw for the many sluggers still floating around the open market.
It seems as though the Rockies are “strong contenders” to re-sign Mark Reynolds, who played first base for the club in the majority of their 2016-2017 games. The insight comes via a tweet from Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, who also notes that the Royals are looking at Reynolds as a backup plan in case Gold Glove-winner Eric Hosmer signs elsewhere.
The 34-year-old Reynolds has been worth about one win above replacement over the course of 1,034 plate appearances with the Rockies. His .274/.354/.471 batting line with the club has earned him a 103 wRC+ mark during that time, while his defense grades out as slightly below average.
Reynolds has long been known for his all-or-nothing approach at the plate. The right-handed slugger has blasted 281 career home runs, and they go a long way. In fact, his average home run distance was the longest in all of baseball at 419 feet (minimum 15 home runs). However, his whopping 1,806 career strikeouts already rank 18th-most all-time among MLB players. He’s got a 15.6% swinging strike rate for his career; for reference, that’s the number a 2017 league-average hitter would have posted if he faced Cy Young-winner Corey Kluber in every at-bat of the season. Reynolds has toned down the strikeouts a bit in recent years, but he’s still a good bet to whiff around 30% of the time.
Reynolds, then, would be a stark contrast to the type of player the Royals have generally rostered in recent years: high-contact, low-strikeout players with good baserunning ability. Then again, the Royals may enter a rebuilding phase if they can’t re-sign any of their veteran free agents (including Hosmer), and Reynolds would be among the cheaper first base options on the free agent market. You can see where Reynolds’ skills rank among the top eight free agent first basemen here.
As for the Rockies, they’ve been linked to Carlos Santana during the winter meetings, but it’s been said that their top priorities are not at first base. As such, it makes sense that they’re a strong contender for the inexpensive Reynolds.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich poured cold water on some speculation surrounding his team, telling Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (all Twitter links) and other reporters that the Rox aren’t involved in trade talks for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna. Bridich also said that the club doesn’t have the payroll capability to shop at the very top of the free agent market for players like J.D. Martinez or Eric Hosmer. One player Colorado is involved with is Wade Davis, as Bridich confirmed that the team is still talking to the free agent closer.
2:47pm: Other clubs with some level of interest include the Astros, Orioles, and Rockies, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Colorado GM Jeff Bridich has previously indicated a desire to “continue conversations” with CarGo, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post tweeted yesterday, though he did not commit to anything beyond that.
12:46pm: Though Carlos Gonzalez hasn’t drawn a huge amount of headlines coming off a down season in the final campaign of his seven-year deal with the Rockies, he’s generating a fair bit of interest from clubs looking to take a flyer on the former MVP candidate, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Gonzalez is likely to sign a short-term deal to rebuild his value, and Crasnick notes that the A’s, Blue Jays, Rays, Giants and Royals are among the clubs that are “believed” to be keeping tabs on him.
Gonzalez, 32, struggled to a ghastly .221/.299/.338 slash in the season’s first half before erupting with a .314/.390/.531 slash, 21 doubles and eight homers in the second half. That surge was fueled largely by a mammoth spike in CarGo’s BABIP (.390 following the All-Star break). While that level isn’t sustainable over a full season, the fact that Gonzalez’s hard-contact rate spiked by nearly eight percent from the first half to the second half suggests that there was more than mere good fortune at play in his late rebound.
Defensively, Gonzalez hasn’t graded out as an elite right fielder by any means in recent years, but he’s been a bit above average per Defensive Runs Saved and a bit below average in the estimation of Ultimate Zone Rating. Statcast rated him one out above average in the outfield this past season.
Of the teams listed, the A’s are a bit of a surprise, given their desire to add a controllable right-handed-hitting corner bat. However, they do have outfield space to spare, and Gonzalez could be a nice value play for them on a short-term deal. From a hitter’s standpoint, the Coliseum isn’t necessarily a great place to go try to put up big numbers, though Gonzalez is plenty familiar with the setting from his days in Oakland early in his career.
The Rays are an even more curious fit given their payroll crunch, though if the team sheds a significant amount of salary and looks to rebuild, they could reallocate some resources to a one-year pact for Gonzalez with the intent to flip him at the nonwaiver deadline. It’s a similar story in Kansas City, where they have space in the outfield but are reportedly on the path to a rebuild.
The Jays have been eyeing left-handed bats and some outfield help, so there’s certainly a reasonable match there. San Francisco, of course, just missed out on Giancarlo Stanton and will be looking to bolster its offense in other manners now. Depending on the price point at which Gonzalez and agent Scott Boras ultimately settle, other teams could well jump into the mix and hope to sign the Gonzalez that hit 65 homers from 2015-16 as opposed to the one that struggled in 2017 and 2014.
TODAY: The Rockies and Blue Jays are also among the interested teams, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).
YESTERDAY, 7:45pm: The Marlins are telling teams Ozuna would be easier to acquire than outfield mate Christian Yelich, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. That’s not surprising, as the 26-year-old Yelich is controllable by way of a team-friendly contract through 2022 and carries a more consistent track record than Ozuna.
7:01pm: Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna is drawing interest from six to eight clubs, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Along with the Cardinals, whose interest was already known entering Monday, the Giants and Nationals are among the teams in on Ozuna, per Frisaro. The Athletics are also still considering Ozuna, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Slussser first reported their interest in Ozuna in early November.
Two of these clubs – the Cardinals and Giants – have spent a large portion of the offseason engaging with the Marlins about right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, and they even had deals in place to land the 2017 NL MVP. But Stanton nixed those trades before accepting a deal to the Yankees over the weekend, sending the Cards and Giants scrambling for other options. Ozuna makes for an appealing Plan B, then, as he’s coming off a season in which he slashed a career-best .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and a 4.8 fWAR over 679 plate appearances.
In terms of production, last year was an outlier for Ozuna relative to the rest of his career – which began when he debuted in 2013 – but he has still accounted for at least 2.5 fWAR in three of four full seasons. At worst, Ozuna seems to be a solid regular, and the 27-year-old doesn’t come with an onerous, Stanton-esque contract. He’s controllable for two more years via arbitration and will earn a projected $10.9MM in 2018. That’s certainly an affordable figure, though it should also help the Marlins land a quality return for him. They’re obviously educated on both the Cardinals’ and Giants’ farm systems thanks to the Stanton talks.
The Nationals, meanwhile, share a division with the Marlins, but that shouldn’t necessarily serve as a deterrent to a payroll-cutting Miami team whose primary goal in an Ozuna trade should be to bolster its weak system. Washington’s prospect pool is only the majors’ 18th best, per Baseball America (the outlet ranks the Cards’ 13th and the Giants’ 27th), but it seems that’s primarily because of a lack of depth. The top of the Nationals’ system is impressive, according to BA, and that could help pave the way for an Ozuna swap.
With the Nationals at risk of losing Bryce Harper to free agency in a year, Ozuna might somewhat help cover for his potential exit in 2019. In the meantime, the Nats could perhaps use a left fielder to complement Harper in right and Adam Eaton in center. They do, however, have other in-house options in Michael A. Taylor and Brian Goodwin. Taylor was particularly strong in 2017, yet the Nats may not be content with him functioning as a regular in 2018, if their interest in Ozuna is any indication.
TUESDAY, 7:42am: Santana and his representatives are weighing offers from several teams, Hoynes reports, though it isn’t certain if he is close to accepting a deal.
MONDAY, 5:04pm: The Padres have indeed discussed Santana, but “it seems they’re still focused on” Hosmer, according to Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
1:51pm: The Rockies are also showing some interest in Santana, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets. Colorado has a clear opening at first base, though the team has indicated its top priorities lie elsewhere.
10:27am: Cleveland’s top extension offer to Santana was three years and $36MM, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets, and the organization would “likely go higher” now that he’s on the open market.
SUNDAY, 9:00pm: The Indians made Santana a contract offer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes reports. While the offer wasn’t taken, the Tribe have been informed that they will get a chance to counter any offer Santana receives from another team that he considered acceptable.
6:32pm: Carlos Santana is already drawing quite a bit of interest this offseason, and Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer adds the Rangers and Padres to the list of other teams (including the Phillies, Red Sox, and Mariners) already linked to Santana on the rumor mill.
Texas is known to be focusing on adding pitching this winter, though the team’s offense also lacked some of the well-rounded attack of past years. Santana would clearly be a big upgrade in the first base/DH hole left behind by free agent Mike Napoli, who struggled last year in a sub-replacement level season. Santana’s arrival would bolster the Rangers’ lineup against the possible departure of Adrian Beltre after the 2018 season.
Installing Santana at first base would have a ripple effect throughout the Rangers’ lineup. Joey Gallo would have to return to left field, with Nomar Mazara shifting to right and Shin-Soo Choo being limited to DH duties. Top prospect Willie Calhoun had been mentioned as a possible candidate for regular DH or corner outfield duty, though Texas might want to give him a bit more seasoning rather than expect Calhoun to immediately contribute to a team that hopes to contend.
Previous reports seemed to downplay San Diego’s possible interest in Santana, though it could be that the Padres have since considered Santana for what seems to be an increasing desire to sign a first baseman. The Padres have also had interest in Eric Hosmer, with the logic being that the 28-year-old Hosmer is young enough to still be productive in a few years when San Diego is theoretically finished with its rebuild. Santana, by contrast, turns 32 in April, and while the slugger hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down, he wouldn’t have the luxury of the occasional DH rest day while playing for a National League team.
Adding a first baseman would necessitate shifting Wil Myers into a corner outfield role, though the Padres may see that as an acceptable tradeoff for adding offense. The Padres finished at or near the bottom of most major offensive categories last year, so a proven above-average hitter like Santana (who hit .259/.363/.455 with 23 homers over 667 PA last year and has posted a 123 wRC+ over his career) would add some much-needed pop to the lineup.
Santana rejected the Indians’ qualifying offer, and thus the Rangers and Padres would each need to surrender some compensation to sign the first baseman. Texas would give up their second-highest draft pick and $500K of international signing bonus money, while San Diego would only have to surrender its third-highest draft pick.