- The Rockies signed righty Scott McGough to a minors contract, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. McGough was a fifth-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2011 draft and was sent to the Marlins as part of the Hanley Ramirez trade in July 2012. The 28-year-old has a 3.48 ERA, 8.0 K/9 and 2.43 K/BB rate over 325 2/3 minor league innings (almost entirely as a reliever) with the Dodgers, Marlins and Orioles. McGough’s only MLB experience is a six-game stint with the Marlins in 2015.
The Orioles have added an arm in a swap with the Rockies, picking up righty Konner Wade in exchange for an unknown amount of international bonus pool money. Roch Kubatako of MASNSports.com first reported the prospective swap, with Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeting that it has in fact gone though.
Wade, who’ll soon turn 26, repeated Double-A last year and showed strides against his 2016 performance. Over 109 1/3 innings, split nearly evenly between starting and relieving, Wade pitched to a 4.28 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9.
It seems reasonable to expect that the O’s might ultimately consider Wade as a swingman option, though there’s also not much cause to believe he’ll factor in the team’s plans to open the 2018 season. Wade is eligible for the Rule 5 draft, and can no longer be protected, but that fact doesn’t seem to have dissuaded the Orioles from pursuing him — suggesting that the O’s don’t expect he’ll be taken.
- The Orioles nearly swung a trade last night with the Rockies, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. The organizations were discussing a deal in which Baltimore would pick up righty Konner Wade in exchange for international pool funds. Though nothing ended up getting done, Kubatko suggests it could still be a possibility. He also goes on to discuss the O’s decisions on protecting players from the Rule 5 draft, including a few names that could be targeted by other organizations.
As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…
- Heading onto the Blue Jays’ roster, per a club announcement, are righty Connor Greene, lefty Tom Pannone, first baseman Rowdy Tellez, and catchers Dan Jansen and Reese McGuire.
- The Rays have selected the contracts of righties Brent Honeywell, Diego Castillo, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose Mujica, lefty Ryan Yarbrough, first baseman/outfielder Jake Bauers, and outfielder Justin Williams, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
- The Diamondbacks placed lefty Jared Miller on the MLB roster, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports on Twitter.
- A list of six players is heading onto the Reds’ 40-man, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter): infielders Alex Blandino and Shed Long, outfielder Jose Siri, and righties Jose Lopez, Jesus Reyes, and Zack Weiss.
- The Padres and Brewers have joined the teams announcing their additions. For San Diego, lefties Jose Castillo and Brad Wieck are heading to the 40-man. Milwaukee has selected shortstop Mauricio Dubon, catcher Jacob Nottingham, and righties Marcos Diplan and Freddy Peralta.
- The Marlins and Yankees just struck a trade relating to their 40-man maneuvering, and each announced their selections shortly thereafter. Miami is placing outfielder Braxton Lee on the MLB roster along with righties Merandy Gonzalez, Pablo Lopez, and James Needy. New York, meanwhile, will select righties Albert Abreu, Domingo Acevedo, and Jonathan Loaisiga to the 40-man along with outfielder Billy McKinney and infielders Thairo Estrada and (last but not least) Gleyber Torres.
Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …
- The Cardinals and Rockies are among teams with interest in reliever Brandon Kintzler, whose experience as a closer has executives wondering if a club will sign him to handle that role, according to Morosi. Both the Cardinals and Rockies need more than ninth-inning help, as each team has seen multiple key relievers hit free agency this month. The 33-year-old Kintzler has overcome a paucity of strikeouts to ride a low-walk, high-grounder combination to success throughout his career, including in a 2017 campaign that saw the righty amass a career-high 29 saves between Minnesota and Washington (28 with the Twins).
THURSDAY: Officially, all nine players have rejected their qualifying offers and become free agents, the MLBPA has announced (h/t Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, on Twitter).
MONDAY: All nine of the free agents that received a one-year, $17.4MM qualifying offer will reject that offer in favor of free agency, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports writes. Each of Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb, Greg Holland and Carlos Santana will turn down that one-year opportunity in search of a multi-year pact in free agency.
In doing so, that group of nine will also subject themselves to draft-pick compensation and position their former clubs to recoup some value in next year’s amateur draft should they sign elsewhere. Last offseason’s new collective bargaining agreement altered the specifics of that compensation, tying the draft picks received and surrendered largely to the luxury tax threshold, revenue sharing and the size of the contract signed by the free agent in question.
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explained which draft picks each of the six teams that issued a qualifying offer would receive, should their free agents sign elsewhere, as well as which picks all 30 teams would be required to surrender if they are to sign a qualified free agent. Prior to that, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk provided a more comprehensive and in-depth overview of the new QO system, for those that are unfamiliar or would like a refresher on the finer details.
It’s been reported for quite some time that Kansas City will make a strong effort to retain Hosmer. Heyman added over the weekend that the Royals will also push to keep Moustakas but feel that Cain is almost certain to land elsewhere on the open market. The Rockies are known to have interest in re-upping with Holland on a multi-year deal, and Heyman notes within today’s column that the Rays “understand [Cobb] is out of their reach financially” and will sign elsewhere. He also adds that Davis seems to be likelier than Arrieta to return to Chicago.
It’s unlikely that there will be any formal announcements just yet. Among the changes to the QO system under the 2017-21 CBA was that QO recipients would have 10 days, rather than seven, to determine whether to accept or reject the offer. The deadline to issue QOs was last Monday, so the recipients still technically have until this coming Thursday to formally declare their intention. But, barring a last-minute freak injury it seems that each of the nine will go the widely expected route and enter free agency in search of the most substantial contracts in their respective careers.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich discussed his team’s offseason plans yesterday with reporters including MLB.com’s Thomas Harding and AJ Cassavell. Understandably enough, the focus was on the bullpen. While Bridich said the club is hoping its young relievers can “either retain roles or step up into new roles,” he acknowledged that outside acquisitions will be needed. Outgoing closer Greg Holland is certainly one possibility, says Bridich, but he says that his front office staff is “keeping our eyes and earns open to just about everything.”
MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here to read the other entries in this series.
The Rockies made their triumphant return to the postseason, but bowed out after dropping the Wild Card play-in game. Overcoming the Dodgers in the NL West will be a tall order, and the Rox face several roster questions.
- Ian Desmond, 1B/OF: $62MM through 2021 (includes buyout of club option for 2022)
- Nolan Arenado, 3B: $17.75MM through 2018 (also controllable via arbitration in 2019)
- Mike Dunn, RP: $15MM through 2019 (includes buyout of club option for 2020)
- Gerardo Parra, OF: $10MM through 2018
- Adam Ottavino, RP: $7MM through 2018
- Greg Holland, RP: $15MM player option (declined)
- Alexi Amarista, INF: $2.5MM club option (declined in favor of $150K buyout)
Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLBTR & Matt Swartz)
- DJ LeMahieu (5.128) – $8.8MM
- Charlie Blackmon (5.102) – $13.4MM
- Chad Bettis (3.096) – $1.5MM
- Chris Rusin (3.092) – $1.4MM
- Zac Rosscup (3.021) – $600K
- Non-tender candidates: Rosscup
- Amarista, Tyler Chatwood, Carlos Gonzalez, Holland, Ryan Hanigan, Jonathan Lucroy, Jake McGee, Pat Neshek, Mark Reynolds
There are some needs here, but also some resources. Colorado’s payroll has ramped up rather noticeably in the past three seasons, going from $97MM to $112MM and then up to $127MM. As things stand, the team’s 2018 guarantees plus anticipated arb costs add up to about $90MM. Thus, even if there’s no further boost — that’s still unclear — GM Jeff Bridich could have nearly $40MM of open payroll to play around with.
Where, then, do the needs lie? The most noticeable hole, perhaps, is at the back of the bullpen. Greg Holland proved a worthwhile free agent acquisition last winter, though incentives drove his one-year cost up to a healthy $15MM (from an initial $6MM salary). He gave up the chance at another $15MM payday and is expected to decline a $17.4MM qualifying offer, preferring instead to return to free agency. With live-armed lefty Jake McGee and midseason acquisition Pat Neshek also reaching the open market, the Rox will lose a large portion of the their late-inning firepower.
Colorado could pursue some or all of its own free agents, and perhaps it’s reasonable to anticipate that to a point. It certainly seems that both Holland and the team are fond of one another, but he’s going to cost a bundle and comes with all the risks one might imagine would accompany a soon-to-be 32-year-old reliever that recently underwent elbow surgery. The Rockies have a few power arms on hand, including Adam Ottavino and youngsters such as Carlos Estevez, but it’s difficult to imagine any being entrusted with the ninth inning. If Holland can’t be had, then, it’s possible to imagine Bridich checking into the trade market or shopping from among a variety of late-inning arms. Some free-agent hurlers have significant closing experience, such as Addison Reed and Steve Cishek, while others have arguably shown enough to deserve such an opportunity. Among the interesting names on the market are the veteran control artist Neshek, former Rockies hurler Juan Nicasio, and Brandon Morrow. Even if the club lands a big closer, it could consider those and other options as it seeks additional setup options. The team has two southpaws with Mike Dunn and Chris Rusin, but another righty late-inning arm would be welcome.
The fact that there are some openings shouldn’t be read as a suggestion that the pitching staff isn’t in a good place. In fact, the rotation looks solid enough that it could distribute some spare arms to the ’pen if the team enjoys good health fortune. Though Tyler Chatwood is on his way out, the Rockies have compiled a group of solid hurlers behind staff ace Jon Gray. German Marquez and Kyle Freeland, and Chad Bettis are all but certainties for rotation spots so long as they are healthy. Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman faded late, while Tyler Anderson struggled early and closed strong, but all three could compete for the final job out of camp. Those that fall shy will bolster the relief corps or remains stretched out at Triple-A for depth. It’s conceivable that the Rockies could add another veteran pitcher to this mix, but hardly necessary; it’s more likely, perhaps, that the club will sign a swingman type for the pen and/or add a veteran or two on low-commitment minors deals.
One way to squeeze value out of an existing pitching staff is to improve the catching situation, and that figures to be an area of focus for Colorado. Tony Wolters slid offensively last year, while Tom Murphy struggled through an injury-limited campaign. Mid-season acquisition Jonathan Lucroy shored things up once he arrived and looks to be a strong candidate for a return. Lucroy is already 31 years of age and comes with some questions after lagging at the plate and in the framing department in the first half of 2017. But he has been one of the game’s best receivers for some time now and rebounded upon his arrival in Colorado. Now, he’s a known quantity who would fill a clear need. Other open-market options include Alex Avila and Welington Castillo.
Otherwise, half of the lineup is fixed. Third baseman Nolan Arenado, shortstop Trevor Story, second baseman DJ LeMahieu, and center fielder Charlie Blackmon are all everyday players. The only offseason questions facing this group relate to the possibility of new contracts. Blackmon and LeMahieu are each entering their walk years, while Arenado is just one season behind them. It’s possible to imagine the Rockies exploring long-term arrangements with any of these players, but getting something done will likely require an uncomfortable contractual commitment — especially with Arenado and Blackmon, who are among the very most productive players in the game. The former is still just 26 and could reasonably point to the Giancarlo Stanton extension as a comp; the latter is already 31, thus limiting his contractual upside, but could legitimately seek a four-year promise at a premium rate of pay to forego a shot at free agency. Story, meanwhile, seems safe in his job for now but doesn’t look like an extension candidate at this point given his strikeout problems and the presence of the fast-rising Brendan Rodgers.
That brings us to the potential moving parts on the position-player side of things: first base, the corner outfield, and the bench. There are options here, though it’s also possible the Rockies will take a fairly simple path to rounding things out.
Ian Desmond was supposed to slot in at first last year, a quizzical decision from the start that only looked worse as the season wore on. Desmond struggled at the plate upon returning from injury and ultimately ceded first base to Mark Reynolds, who is now again a free agent. Ultimately, Desmond played mostly in the corner outfield, and it seems likely the versatile veteran will be penciled in there to open the year. Colorado can do little but hope that he follows the path of Gerardo Parra, who surged after a disappointing first season after joining the club as a free agent. Those two could serve to occupy a major portion of the time flanking Blackmon. Meanwhile, the Rockies have a slate of other outfield possibilities on hand. Left-handed hitters Raimel Tapia, Mike Tauchman, and David Dahl are all on the 40-man. Each has shown quite a bit of promise at times but also comes with questions of varying kind and degree. The righty-swinging Noel Cuevas was also just placed on the 40-man and could compete for a job.
Put it all together, and it’s certainly possible that the Rockies already have compiled their outfield unit. Viewed that way, the offseason path is simple: salute former star Carlos Gonzalez on his way out the door and think about a plan to account for the loss of first baseman Mark Reynolds, who provided sufficient production at a bargain rate in 2017. With Pat Valaika on hand to function as a utility option, there really isn’t much to do but settle first base.
At first, there are a multitude of options. Colorado could plan to rely upon youngster Ryan McMahon, who has little to prove at Triple-A. (He has also spent time at second and third, which increases his roster utility now and in the future.) The lefty hitter might be complemented with a right-handed-hitting addition, which could come in the person of Reynolds. Despite tallying thirty home runs, it is worth noting that the 34-year-old’s overall batting productivity remained in the realm of league average, as it has been for most of the past six seasons. With quite a few other slugger types floating around in free agency, Reynolds likely won’t require a major outlay to bring back. Alternatively, the club could look to players such as Mike Napoli or Danny Valencia to join McMahon.
That is the most straightforward and cost-effective way for things to go, but hardly the only one. It’s plenty arguable that the Rockies can and should pursue a more aggressive approach — particularly with an imposing Dodgers team still dominating the division. Colorado pursued Jose Abreu as a free agent and might see a lot to like in his contractual rights. Abreu is one of the game’s better hitters; while he’s not cheap with a projected $17.9MM arbitration salary in his second-to-last arb year, that’s a cost level that won’t break the bank. And the Rockies likely have sufficient prospect depth to entice the White Sox without bankrupting their future. You can probably squint and see high-priced free agent Eric Hosmer as a fit here, particularly given Colorado’s track record of seeking reputed high-character types, and free agency also comes with a variety of other quality first basemen (most notably, the switch-hitting Carlos Santana). Conceivably, the Rockies could also even revert to their original plans with Desmond, putting him in some sort of first base/super-utility role while adding a bigger corner outfield piece instead of a first baseman.
It’s possible to imagine quite a few scenarios, really. Investing in a veteran position player, for instance, might free the Rockies to utilize young position-player assets to acquire a quality young reliever. It’s an exciting time to be a Rockies fan — though that also means expectations will be high for Bridich and his staff.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Though Greg Holland turned down his $15MM player option and will also reject his $17.4MM qualifying offer, it’s not yet a foregone conclusion that his Denver days are in the past, writes FanRag’s Jon Heyman. The Rockies “believe that Holland is the right leader” for their young pitching staff and will seek to re-sign him to a more lucrative multi-year offer, per Heyman. They will, of course, face a fair bit of competition in that pursuit. Heyman lists the Cubs and Cardinals as teams that will possibly be in the market for Holland this offseason as well.
Six different teams made qualifying offers to free agents this winter. Assuming the nine players turn down the one-year, $17.4MM offer, here’s what each of those teams stands to gain in draft pick compensation.
The Cubs made qualifying offers to right-handers Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis. The Cubs were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor. Therefore, regardless of the size of the contracts Arrieta and Davis sign, the Cubs will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B, which takes place after the second round.
The Cardinals made a qualifying offer to starter Lance Lynn. Like the Cubs, they were neither a revenue sharing recipient nor a competitive balance tax payor. Regardless of the amount Lynn signs for, the Cardinals will receive draft pick compensation after Competitive Balance Round B.
The Royals made qualifying offers to center fielder Lorenzo Cain, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and third baseman Mike Moustakas. The Royals were a revenue sharing recipient. If any of their three free agents sign for a guarantee of $50MM or more, the Royals get draft pick compensation after the first round. For any of the three that signs for less than $50MM, the Royals get draft pick compensation after Comp Round B. MLBTR projects all three players to sign for well over $50MM, so the Royals should have a very favorable draft pool in 2018, potentially adding three picks in the top 35 or so if all three sign elsewhere.
The Rays made a qualifying offer to right-hander Alex Cobb. They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rockies, and Indians. However, Cobb is a borderline free agent when it comes to a $50MM contract, in our estimation. The team will be rooting for him to reach that threshold, as the Rays would then net a compensatory pick after the first round. If Cobb falls shy of that total guarantee, the Rays will receive an extra pick after Comp Round B.
The Rockies made a qualifying offer to closer Greg Holland. They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rays, and Indians. Holland, too, is a borderline $50MM free agent, though he certainly figures to aim higher than that in the early stages of free agency. If he reaches $50MM+, the Rox will get a pick after the first round. If not, they’ll receive a pick after Comp Round B.
The Indians made a qualifying offer to first baseman Carlos Santana. They were a revenue sharing recipient and are subject to the same rules as the Royals, Rays, and Rockies. Santana is another borderline $50MM free agent in our estimation, but it’s certainly possible he clears that threshold and nets Cleveland a pick after the first round.
So, the Cubs and Cardinals already know where their draft-pick compensation will land if their qualified free agents sign elsewhere: after Competitive Balance Round B, which currently starts with pick No. 76. The Royals, Rays, Rockies, and Indians will all be rooting for their free agents to sign for at least $50MM, granting them compensation after the first round, which begins with pick No. 31.