- Free agent right-hander Rich Harden is drawing interest from teams that would use him either as a starter or a reliever, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Harden posted 9.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 82 2/3 innings as a starter for the Athletics in 2011.
- The Twins continue eyeing affordable right-handed relievers and have been in touch with the agent for Dan Wheeler, according to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. Wheeler, who has also drawn some interest from the Pirates, sits below a couple of pitchers on the Twins’ list.
- The Pirates have had discussions with free agent left-hander Paul Maholm, but it remains highly unlikely that he'll return to Pittsburgh, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Mat Latos trade improved a Padres farm system that already ranked among the game’s best, Jim Callis of Baseball America wrote in this week’s edition of Ask BA.
- One MLB executive suggested to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Cubs and Blue Jays may prefer to pass on Prince Fielder, since Joey Votto projects to hit free agency two years from now when both Chicago and Toronto could have stronger teams (Twitter link).
- Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com provides contract details for Mets relievers Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, who both agreed to terms during the Winter Meetings.
The Mets have agreed to a one-year deal with Jon Rauch, pending a physical, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio first reported (on Twitter) that a deal has been reached, and also tweets that he hears that it's worth $3.5MM plus performance bonuses.
Earlier today, we had heard that the Mets' search for bullpen help was intensifying, with multiple reports suggesting they could be getting close to an agreement. GM Sandy Alderson also indicated that the club was more likely to sign two moderately-priced relievers rather than one more expensive player. According to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (on Twitter), the Mets continue to work on adding another free agent reliever and completing a multi-player trade.
The Blue Jays, who offered arbitration to the Type B free agent, will receive a compensation draft pick in exchange for losing Rauch.
Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (via Twitter) and Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (via Twitter) also contributed to breaking the story, while Bryan Grosnick examines the fantasy implications at CloserNews.com.
The Mets are closing in on a deal with free agent reliever Jon Rauch, according to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (via Twitter). Adam Rubin of ESPN New York tweeted earlier that the two sides were making progress and had "good talks."
If the Mets reach an agreement with Rauch, the Blue Jays, who offered arbitration to the Type B free agent, would receive a compensation draft pick.
Originally published on December 6th at 7:40pm.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson is searching for a closer, but that’s by no means his team's lone offseason need. Here’s the latest, as the Mets work to build their first playoff team since 2006…
- Free agent relievers Jon Rauch and Brad Lidge are “strong” on the Mets’ radar, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter).
- The Mets inquired on Andrew Bailey, but they don’t seem to be willing to meet Oakland’s asking price, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). The Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mariners and Reds are also interested in the former AL Rookie of the Year.
- Though previous Mets administrations liked Orlando Hudson and he’s now “very available,” the Mets aren’t currently interested, according to Sherman (Twitter link). The Padres owe Hudson $5.5MM in 2012 and the team has an $8MM option for 2013 ($2MM buyout).
10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.
Updated team decisions:
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Frank Francisco (B), Kelly Johnson (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick), Jose Molina (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter). They declined to offer Shawn Camp (B) arbitration.
- The Red Sox announced that they offered David Ortiz (A) and Dan Wheeler (B) arbitration. They declined to offer Jason Varitek (B) arbitration. Jonathan Papelbon (A) already signed with the Phillies.
- The Yankees offered Freddy Garcia (B) arbitration according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch (on Twitter).
- The Royals offered Bruce Chen (B) arbitration, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- The White Sox announced they've offered arbitration to Mark Buehrle (B) and not Juan Pierre (B).
- The Athletics announced David DeJesus (B) and Josh Willingham (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) were offered arbitration.
- The Rangers announced C.J. Wilson (A) will be offered arbitration. Modified Type B free agent Darren Oliver does not require an offer.
- The Orioles announced they will not offer arbitration to Vladimir Guerrero (B).
- Twins GM Terry Ryan said today on a conference call that he will offer arbitration to Michael Cuddyer (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) and Jason Kubel (B), and noted that no arbitration offer is necessary for modified Type B free agent Matt Capps.
Teams with decisions still due:
Blue Jays reporter Alex Anthopoulos spoke with reporters today; here's the latest. All links go to the Twitter accounts of Shi Davidi and Gregor Chisholm.
- Anthopoulos says any employee interviewing for another job isn't part of current planning, implying that Tony LaCava is out of the loop as he interviews for the Orioles' GM gig.
- While the Blue Jays have the flexibility to acquire a designated hitter, Anthopoulos says it's "very low on our priority list." My David Ortiz prediction isn't looking so hot; make your pick in our new free agent prediction contest.
- Anthopoulos expects most of Edwin Encarnacion's at-bats to come at DH, though Encarnacion is playing left field in winter ball and in spring to add flexibility. The Blue Jays exercised their $3.5MM club option on Encarnacion yesterday.
- The Jays have not closed the door on re-signing reliever Jon Rauch after declining his $3.75MM club option yesterday.
The Blue Jays announced that they exercised their 2012 option for Edwin Encarnacion and declined their option for Jon Rauch. Encarnacion obtains a $3.5MM salary instead of a $500K buyout and Rauch obtains a $250K buyout instead of a $3.75MM salary.
Encarnacion, 28, posted a .272/.334/.453 line and hit 17 home runs in 2011. I explained at the beginning of September that the Blue Jays were likely to pick up his option because of his strong final four months.
Rauch, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 52 innings for Toronto in 2011, finishing the season on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee cartilage tear. Although he is a Type B free agent, an offer of arbitration from the Blue Jays seems unlikely.
The upcoming class of free agents figures to present an interesting study in the way teams are evaluating relievers these days. After Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, many of the most recognizable names are closers or relievers who have previously closed.
Modern analysis suggests it's foolish to invest heavily in relief pitchers due to their limited contributions and volatility in year-to-year production. But someone has to get those crucial late-inning outs, and the temptation for a team that thinks it's a contender to throw a lot of money at a guy who's coming off a year in which he posted a minuscule ERA or eye-popping strikeout rate is often too great.
Undoubtedly, suitors will use a variety of criteria to evaluate free-agent closers, one of which will be usage. Because usage can encompass so many things — innings, appearances, pitches, "high-stress" pitches, and so on — it's tough to say which is the most accurate reflection of a pitcher's workload; of course, this debate continues on for starters, too.
During the season, with the launch of CloserNews.com, we began keeping an eye on relievers who had pitched on three (and four) consecutive days, as that seems to be the breaking point for when most relievers must be rested. We've tallied that up here in a spreadsheet, along with a few other measures (standard and otherwise) of reliever usage, for the upcoming class of free-agent closers.
The objective here isn't to make any bold proclamations based on who threw the most innings; I may as well pen the inevitable mea culpa right now if it were. Rather, there are some interesting tidbits of note here, a few things to file away as these relievers ready themselves for free agency and teams prepare to bid.
- Heath Bell and Francisco Cordero were the only two of this group to pitch on four consecutive days in 2011. Bell is the only one to do it twice.
- Bell's abundance of pitches certainly seems to correspond with his dip in strikeout rate (7.32 K/9 in 2011 vs. 9.22 for career). Looks like he was having trouble putting away hitters, at least relative to his past performances.
- Francisco Rodriguez paced the group by pitching on three consecutive days six times.
- Heavy usage is not unusual for K-Rod, though. He's pitched fewer than 65 innings only once in his nine full big league seasons, the red herring due to an off-field incident in 2010.
- Info was culled from Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.
This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.
Updated 8-30-11 at 10:56pm
- Aaron Harang, Padres - Harang's ERA is a respectable 3.92 with 6.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
- Dontrelle Willis, Reds – Willis has bounced back with the Reds, posting a 4.10 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, and 56.8% groundball rate in 52 2/3 innings.
- Carlos Zambrano, Cubs – Zambrano cleared waivers prior to being placed on the disqualified list. He has a short fuse, lousy stats, and over $22MM remaining on his contract through next year.
- Rodrigo Lopez, Cubs – Not surprising to see the journeyman clear waivers.
- Chris Capuano, Mets – Capuano owns a 3.74 SIERA as of August 14th and earns only $1.5MM plus incentives, so it's hard to see why a few teams didn't place claims.
- Bronson Arroyo, Reds – His peripheral stats haven't changed much, but Arroyo has a 5.31 ERA as of August 15th. $15MM of his $35MM contract is deferred through 2021 without interest. The deferrals are voided if he's traded, however. At any rate, expect Arroyo to stay put.
- Bruce Chen, Royals – Chen has his moments, but it's not surprising to see him clear waivers.
- Jason Vargas, Mariners – Like many of the starters here, Vargas' fastball wouldn't break a window. But he has less than a million bucks left on his contract this year and is under team control through 2013. He'd fit nicely at the back end of several rotations.
- Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals – His three starts this season were his first in over two years, so it's understandable that contenders wouldn't jump to claim him.
- Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals – Booted to the bullpen last month, the 29-year-old flyballing southpaw has posted strong strikeout rates in recent years but can't hold a rotation job.
- Ted Lilly, Dodgers – He always has strong strikeout-to-walk numbers, but is prone to the longball. With over 82% of his $33MM contract remaining ($27MM+), it's no surprise he cleared waivers.
- Joe Nathan, Twins - Nathan won't be traded, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- Chad Qualls, Padres – Qualls is enjoying a bounce-back season, though his strikeout rate dipped to 5.3 K/9 this year.
- Bill Bray, Reds – Bray has been decent this year, and a little tougher against lefties. He'll be arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason.
- Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers – A dominant reliever last year, Kuo has dealt with a back injury and anxiety disorder as his control has eluded him.
- Huston Street, Rockies – Between a recent triceps injury and the $9MM+ owed to him through 2012, Street was expected to clear.
- Brian Fuentes, Athletics – He's owed over $6MM through next year, and has been mediocre for the A's.
- Jon Rauch, Blue Jays – Rauch is affordable, but he's on the DL for an appendectomy and wasn't great before that.
- Mike Gonzalez, Orioles – Gonzalez has been dominant in August, and against lefties. The problem is that he's still owed almost a million bucks.
- Kevin Gregg, Orioles – Gregg might be the worst reliever holding down a closer's job, and he's owed at least $6.4MM through next year.
- John Grabow, Cubs – He's been ineffective even against lefties, and he has over $700K remaining.
- D.J. Carrasco, Mets – The Mets signed Carrasco to a two-year deal in December – their biggest acquisition of the offseason - but optioned him to Triple-A in April. He stayed there until mid-June.
- Aramis Ramirez, Cubs – In July, Ramirez's agent said that his client would consider an August deal but he has since had a change of heart. The Cubs hold an option on Ramirez's deal worth $16MM.
- Alfonso Soriano, Cubs – This one was also obvious. SI's Jon Heyman notes on Twitter that the Cubs are willing to pay a "major, major chunk" of the $58.35MM owed to the left fielder through 2014.
- Lance Berkman, Cardinals – Berkman has said he hopes to re-sign with St. Louis after the season, when he hits free agency. Still, it's a surprise to see him clear waivers.
- Ryan Theriot, Cardinals - Theriot earns $3.3MM this year and will be a non-tender candidate after the season.
- David Wright, Mets - It's surprising that Wright cleared waivers, but it doesn't mean the Mets have interest in dealing him. Wright earns $15MM next year and can void a $16MM club option for 2013 if traded.
- Conor Jackson, Athletics – Olney notes that the Red Sox asked about the light-hitting 1B/LF/RF, but there doesn't seem to be any traction there.
- David DeJesus, Athletics – DeJesus has had a rough year but could at least be useful against right-handed pitching.
- Hideki Matsui, Athletics – The Athletics have several waiver trade candidates, and Matsui's hot second half and low salary (owed less than $2MM the rest of the season) could make him a popular target.
- Jason Bay, Mets – With Bay being owed at least $38.8MM through 2013, this was expected. It's only been 12 games, but Bay is at least having his first good month of 2011.
- Willie Harris, Mets – The versatile Harris has less than $200K left on his contract.
- Angel Pagan, Mets – It's been a dismal year for Pagan, who may be in line for a non-tender after the season.
- Carlos Lee, Astros – No surprise here, as the 35-year-old is hitting .263/.321/.417 and is owed almost $23MM through next year. El Caballo's ten-and-five rights kick in after the season.
- Johnny Damon, Rays – Damon blocked an August trade last summer and 12 months later he's a candidate to be traded once again.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.
The American League Central welcomed a handful of new players this week – most notably right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. Yet many other trades didn't materialize. Here are the details on some deals that could have impacted the division…
- The Tigers tried to acquire Tommy Hunter from the Rangers before the Orioles obtained him in the Koji Uehara deal yesterday, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Tigers did acquire Doug Fister for their rotation.
- The Brewers called on every good left-handed relief option out there, including White Sox southpaw Matt Thornton, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- The Twins talked to the Blue Jays about re-acquiring Jon Rauch, but talks went nowhere, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
- The Indians discussed as many as 75 players leading up to the deadline, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (on Twitter).