Williams, a 32-year-old righty, signed a one-year, $2.1MM deal with Houston before the season. He owns a 5.91 ERA through 45 2/3 innings with the club, all in relief. He does own superior peripherals (7.1 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9) than those that he carried as a starter in previous seasons, and some ERA estimators looked more favorably on his work (4.70 FIP, 4.09 xFIP, 3.72 SIERA).
WEDNESDAY, 7:12pm: Williams gets a $2.1MM guarantee and can make an additional $1MM in incentives, tweets Cotillo. The incentives are tied to both games pitched and innings pitched, Drellich reports (Twitter links), so Williams has a chance at extra money whether he's a starter or a reliever.
MONDAY, 2:00pm: Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the Astros signed Williams to be a starting pitcher.
1:40pm: The Astros have agreed to terms with right-hander Jerome Williams, pending a physical, according to MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). Williams is a client of Full Circle Sports Management.
Williams, 32, posted a 4.57 ERA in a career-high 169 1/3 innings for the Angels last season. The ground-ball specialist and veteran swingman made a career-high 25 starts, averaging 5.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 while posting a 47.1 percent ground-ball rate — a slight departure from his career mark of 48.6 percent. The Astros will look to improve Williams' bloated home-run rate and struggles to strand baserunners — two areas in which he's been considerably below the league average since making his return to the Majors with the Angels.
The Angels elected to non-tender the big righty rather than pay his projected arbitration salary of $3.9MM. Williams has five year, 49 days of service time, meaning he does not have any years of arbitraion eligibility left and will therefore be a free agent upon completion of his one-year contract with Houston.
The former supplemental-round pick (No. 39 overall by the Giants in 1999) didn't throw a pitch in the Majors from 2008-10 but resurfaced with the Halos in 2011 and has posted a 4.46 ERA in 351 innings in that time. During his hiatus from the Majors, Williams bounced around the minor leagues and found himself pitching in two different independent leagues before finding his way back to a big league mound.
With the Astros, he could serve as a swingman as he has with the Angels for the past three seasons, or he could compete for a spot in Houston's rotation. The Astros figure to have Scott Feldman, Jarred Cosart, Brett Oberholtzer and Brad Peacock in the rotation, with Dallas Keuchel, Lucas Harrell, Collin McHugh and Alex White among the names competing for the fifth spot (as examined over at SB Nation's Crawfish Boxes earlier this morning). Williams could open the season in the rotation and be shifted back to the bullpen should one of Houston's top prospects (e.g. Mark Appel or Mike Foltynewicz) force his way onto the big league staff.
There were no new developments today relating to Matt Garza, who looked to have a deal in place with the Brewers yesterday before an unidentified snag held things up. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel provided some updates from the inside, however, reporting that a source said negotiations were "ongoing." When asked whether there were any new developments, GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt "nothing yet."
Here are a few bits of information elsewhere on the current free agent pitching market:
- Bronson Arroyo and the Dodgers have had discussions since Masahiro Tanaka chose not to sign with Los Angeles, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The level of interest remains uncertain, Heyman notes.
- The Angels have "a bit" of interest in Arroyo but are also content to take their current group to Spring Training, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Angels acquired Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs this offseason to join Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Garrett Richards in the rotation.
- It's been a different type of offseason for the Angels this year, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, noting the patience and restraint the team has shown on the free agent market. Gonzalez notes that the Angels aren't interested in Matt Garza at the $13MM AAV he would receive in his near-deal with the Brewers, as it would push them up against the luxury tax threshold. He lists Arroyo, Jason Hammel, Chris Capuano, Scott Baker and Paul Maholm as potential rotation options that would leave some cushion between Anaheim's payroll and the luxury tax.
- With a lot of starters still available on the open market, there are plenty of teams that have yet to fill up their slate of rotation candidates. Joining the O's and Jays among the clubs that are looking for starters are both of Chicago's two franchises, according to Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com (via Twitter). Levine indicates that the Cubs are looking over the list of remaining free agents, but he does not say whether the White Sox have any interest in open-market players.
- MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets that Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik thinks the team is done making "major" additions, but tweaks are still possible. However, semantics could come into play heavily, as manager Lloyd McClendon said the team would still like to add a No. 3 starter, per ESPN 710's Shannon Drayer (Twitter link). New team president and COO Kevin Mather indicated today that the club would have the financial resources necessary to make more additions before the start of the season.
- There are five clubs vying for the services of Hammel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Hammel is expected to choose a landing spot within a week.
- Swingman Jerome Williams has offers on the table from at least three clubs, Cotillo tweets. He, too, appears to be nearing a decision point.
- Southpaw reliever Tim Byrdak will not be re-signing with the Mets, the reliever tweeted (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com). The 40-year-old indicated that the team decided against signing him.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
With the signings of Lyle Overbay and Mark Reynolds to minor league deals, the Brewers seem likely to spend roster spots on both of the veterans. "[First base] is a position where we may have to mix and match with Overbay, Reynolds, Juan Francisco," GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. "We've got numbers now to work with and guys can come into camp and be competitive. … I didn't think we'd be able to sign both Reynolds and Overbay, but sometimes the situation with two guys doing it, you might get some production."
Let's have a look at some notes on a few other free agents who are likely to end up with one-year or minor league deals:
- The Phillies are not pursuing Jerome Williams at present in spite of prior interest, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Philadelphia does, however, have an offer out to a swingman whose identity is not presently known, according to Cotillo. (Twitter links.)
- About a half-dozen teams are "in on" pitcher Chad Gaudin, who is expected to reach agreement soon, reports Cotillo (via Twitter). Last we checked in on Gaudin, the Phils were being floated as a possible landing spot.
- Red Sox scouts actually were in attendance to watch infielder Chone Figgins work out last week, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo had recently reported to the contrary. The 35-year-old signed with the Marlins last spring, but did not make it out of camp with the organization.
- Righty Brett Tomko, who is reportedly on the comeback trail at age 40, will throw for the Orioles on Friday, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. As MLBTR's Zach Links noted on Twitter, Tomko has received interest from multiple clubs and is said to be throwing in the low-90s.
The Rangers are "making progress" on a deal with pitcher Jerome Williams, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. Yesterday, a report indicated that, in the wake of the Derek Holland injury, the Rangers would look to add starting pitching depth, and Williams would certainly qualify. The righty posted a 4.57 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 169 1/3 innings for the Angels in 2013. Here are more notes from the American League.
- One reason the Red Sox signed A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal is that they did not want to sign a catcher to a long-term deal and block prospects Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez in the process, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. Pierzynski and Swihart were at the same autograph signing in Boston on Saturday, but it's not likely they'll ever play for the Red Sox together. Swihart hit .298/.366/.428 for Class A+ Salem last season, and he'll likely be at Double-A in 2014, probably with Vazquez at Triple-A. MLB.com ranks Swihart the Sox' No. 10 prospect, with Vazquez at No. 15.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, the independent Long Island Ducks have invited Alex Rodriguez to play for them in 2014, Mark Herrmann of Newsday reports. "While some MLB suspensions have been honored by the Atlantic League in the past, if Alex Rodriguez were unable to participate in the Major Leagues this season, we would be open to exploring giving him a chance to play, stay sharp and compete," says Ducks president and GM Michael Pfaff. Rodriguez plans to continue to fight his suspension, which prevents him from playing for the Yankees in 2014.
Here's the latest from Citi Field…
- Bartolo Colon's two-year, $20MM deal with the Mets breaks down as $9MM in 2014 and $11MM in 2015, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports. Rubin estimates that the Mets' 2014 payroll currently sits at roughly $85.9MM.
- The Mets discussed Jerome Williams earlier this offseason, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo tweets, though his name hasn't come up since Colon signed. Williams is hoping to find a full-time rotation job and the Mets can't guarantee him a regular turn. At least eight to 10 teams checked in on Williams after he was non-tendered by the Angels, and he already received a few offers during the Winter Meetings, with most of the interest coming from the AL West and AL Central.
- Since the Mets don't project to be contenders in 2014, ESPN's Buster Olney opines (Insider subscription required) that signing Stephen Drew doesn't make sense for the team, barring the unlikely event that Drew agrees to a team-friendly one-year deal.
- In other Mets-related news from earlier today, the Mets signed Taylor Teagarden to a minor league deal and Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he was in "ongoing discussions" with Mets GM Sandy Alderson about a trade involving a first baseman (namely, Ike Davis) but nothing has materialized.
Let's take a look at a few American League notes:
- A return of shortstop Stephen Drew to Red Sox seems more and more likely with each passing day, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Most of his potential landing spots appear to have alternative, in-house options that make it hard to justify a big contract and the sacrifice of a draft pick, says MacPherson: the Mets have Ruben Tejada, the Pirates have Jordy Mercer, the Twins have Pedro Florimon, and the Yankees have Derek Jeter.
- Former Angels swingman Jerome Williams expects to field offers over the next week or two, reports MLBTR's Zach Links, after having already received a few offers during the Winter Meetings. Primary interest in Williams has come from clubs in the AL West and Central. (Links to Twitter.) Williams was non-tendered when the Halos decided they did not want to pay a projected $3.9MM arbitration price tag, though we heard recently that he is expected to beat that figure on the open market.
- After being claimed off of waivers by the Angels in mid-October, southpaw reliever Robert Carson will look to harness his big arm and make a run at a MLB relief role, Mike DiGiovanna writes for Baseball America (subscription required). The club likes his live arm and makeup, according to farm director Bobby Scales, leading DiGiovanna to suggest that Carson could follow the path of Dane De La Rosa in combining raw ability with a change of scenery to have a big league impact for the Halos.
Things are starting to heat up again on Day Three of the Winter Meetings, so let's dive right in and round up a few early morning notes on a handful of starting pitchers….
- The Diamondbacks are targeting front-line starters, as we heard yesterday, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that, besides Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza is the team's top choice due to the lack of draft pick compensation.
- Bartolo Colon and agent Adam Katz continue to focus on a two-year deal rather than a one-year pact, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney. This isn't the first time we've heard about the righty's desire for a multiyear contract — the deals for Scott Kazmir and Tim Hudson have recently been cited as possible comparables for Colon.
- La Velle E. Neal III of The Star Tribune has a few updates on the Twins' search for starting pitching, including word that the club could be in on Garza and, if he becomes available, Tanaka. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities cautions (via Twitter) that there are no real developments on the Garza front, and that the Twins have spoken to agent multiple times and are familiar with his asking price.
- Jerome Williams represents a solid buy-low candidate, and is expected to top his projected $4MM arbitration salary on the open market, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes hears that as many as eight to 10 teams have checked in on Williams in the past 48 hours (Twitter link).
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of American League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.
- The Orioles announced they've non-tendered outfielder Jason Pridie and minor league starter Eddie Gamboa.
- The Rays will non-tender reliever Wesley Wright, tweets Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune.
- The Red Sox announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Ryan Kalish, Mike Salk of WEEI.com tweets.
- The White Sox will not tender a contract to pitcher Dylan Axelrod, tweets Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune.
- The Angels will non-tender pitcher Jerome Williams, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The club will also non-tender righty Tommy Hanson and third baseman Chris Nelson, tweets DiGiovanna. J.C. Gutierrez will also be non-tendered, tweets Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, though that seemed a given since that he had already been designated for assignment.
- The Indians have non-tendered outfielder Matt Carson, pitcher Tyler Cloyd, and catcher Lou Marson, the club announced.
- The Rays are non-tendering outfielder Sam Fuld, a source tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Fuld, who will turn 32 in a few weeks, could be a lefty-swinging bench piece for another club, though he slashed only .199/.270/.267 last year in 200 plate appearances for Tampa.
- GM Brian Cashman says that the Yankees will non-tender infielder Jayson Nix, tweets Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. The 31-year-old veteran appeared in 87 games for New York last season, putting up a .236/.308/.311 line in 303 plate appearances. The club will also non-tender reliever Matt Daley and infielder David Adams. New York confirmed the moves via press release.
- The Royals announced that they have non-tendered second baseman Chris Getz. The 30-year-old Getz has tried to hold down Kansas City's keystone spot for several years now but produced just a .246/.299/.314 batting line from 2012-13. Swartz had pegged Getz for a $1.3MM salary in 2014.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Athletics offered the same two-year, $22MM contract to Tim Hudson prior to his two-year, $23MM agreement with the Giants.
- That Kazmir signed for two years and $11MM annually speaks to the expectations of Bartolo Colon, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Colon feels he can get multiple years at a higher annual value, according to Passan.
- Kazmir's agreement firmly takes the Athletics out of the mix for Colon, a source confirmed to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link).
- The Angels remain interested in Bronson Arroyo but the Dodgers aren't really in the mix, a source tells Mike DiGiovanna of MLB.com (on Twitter). However, the source adds that the market for the veteran hasn't really "heated up" yet.
- DiGiovanna adds that the Angels are expected to clear more than $10MM in payroll by non-tendering Tommy Hanson, Jerome Williams and Chris Nelson, which should allow them to pursue a free agent starting pitcher (Twitter links). DiGiovanna also mentions that Kevin Jepsen's status is still up in the air at this time and there's no decision on whether or not to tender him a contract.
- Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that one of the reasons Joe Smith signed his three-year deal with the Angels is that his wife works as a sports radio host in Orange County.
- In a harsh review of today's Willie Bloomquist signing by the Mariners, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs and the U.S.S. Mariner writes that Bloomquist "is Nick Punto minus all the things that make Nick Punto valuable." As Cameron points out, they're comparable hitters but Punto provides more baserunning and defensive value. However, Seattle paid nearly double the price for Bloomquist that Oakland did for Punto.