- It’s unclear how many “untouchable” players the Orioles have, but second baseman Jonathan Schoop, outfielder Trey Mancini and reliever Mychal Givens are among them, an executive from outside the organization told Kubatko at the Winter Meetings. The lone player of those three who’s not under control for the long haul is Schoop, who has two arbitration-eligible years remaining. The Orioles will attempt to extend him sometime soon, Kubatko suggests. Mancini is controllable for the next half-decade, including two pre-arb campaigns, while Givens is under wraps for four more seasons (he’ll be eligible for arbitration in a year).
- While talking Manny Machado with the Cardinals, the Orioles showed interest in a trio of right-handers – Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty and Jordan Hicks – as well as catcher Carson Kelly, Kubatko relays. In acquiring Weaver and Flaherty, the Orioles would accomplish their goal of getting two major league-ready starters for their top player. Of course, it’s questionable whether the Cardinals would even part with one (let alone both) for a single year of Machado. Weaver held his own across 60 1/3 innings last season for the Cards, who may not be in position to lose another starter with free agent Lance Lynn likely set to depart, while Flaherty ranks as MLB.com’s 48th-best prospect.
- The Orioles are reportedly trying to acquire Royals left-hander Danny Duffy, but Kubatko throws cold water on the possibility. Baltimore is indeed interested in Duffy, but it’s unlikely a deal with Kansas City will come together, in part because the Royals aren’t “aggressively shopping” the soon-to-be 29-year-old, Kubatko hears.
- Although the Orioles are seeking a left-handed hitter, they don’t seem to have interest in free agent Jon Jay, per Kubatko. That differs from previous offseasons when Jay was on the O’s radar, he notes. Conversely, Baltimore could consider Preston Tucker, whom the Astros designated for assignment Friday.
Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette held an interesting discussion on 105.7 The Fan today, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com documents. Pitching is, of course, still the key to the winter. Duquette talked about his desire to add at least one lefty to the rotation. He also indicated a need to be “resourceful” in adding arms. There’s plenty more to unpack from the interview and it’s well worth reading through the full story. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Broadly, Duquette suggested there isn’t much appetite in the organization to embark upon a rebuild. “We still have a pretty good core group,” he said. “And I’ve got to tell you, that rebuilding, that’s not very much fun.” Duquette did credit other organizations for making good choices when they did undergo a full teardown, but said he’d rather deal with the challenges of remaining competitive year-in, year-out. “[F]rankly, I’d just as soon draft late and have a good ballclub and do as good as we can with the players that we have,” said Duquette. Many outside observers have suggested it’s time for the Orioles to think about prioritizing the future, particularly with a few key players entering their walk years. But the club is heavily invested in a few big names for the future — Chris Davis, in particular — and understandably is hesitant to give up a chance at putting together a competitive roster now even if it means foregoing an opportunity to gather up significant prospects. And it’s fair to note that a mid-season pivot is always a fallback possibility.
- One major element of the team’s long-term plans, of course, is star third baseman Manny Machado, who’s set to reach the open market at the end of the 2018 season. Duquette says that the O’s have to decide “this offseason” whether Machado is “going to be a long-term fixture in [the team’s] lineup.” Of course, even if the team decides to make a real effort at striking a big new contract, they’ll face an uphill battle to convince Machado to sign on for a palatable rate. The 25-year-old was not at his best in 2017, but still managed to hit more than thirty home runs for the third-straight season and is widely viewed as one of the game’s most talented overall players. Machado certainly does not need to give up his shot at the open market to secure significant earnings; he played for $11.5MM last year and MLBTR projects that he’ll cost $17.3MM through arbitration for the season to come.
- Closer Zach Britton was understandably a key topic of conversation, as his trade availability has arisen early in the offseason after the O’s explored talks over the summer. Duquette says he thinks it’s likely that Britton will remain with the organization to open the 2018 campaign, though he said “there’s a lot of interest in him” and acknowledged that the organization “was looking at some options around the trade deadline” involving Britton. All said, the take-away seems to be that Baltimore remains willing to discuss its star reliever but also isn’t exactly aching to move him. The central issues for the Orioles, with regard to Britton, seems to be resource allocation and risk. If he can return to his 2016 levels of dominance, he’d be a screaming bargain at his projected arb salary of $12.2MM. But his contract rights could be turned into other useful assets and his payroll space allocated to other areas of need. And it’s at least arguable that other organizations are better equipped to take on the uncertainty that arose during Britton’s injury-limited, less-than-stellar 2017 campaign.
- There was some chatter yesterday that the Orioles could be looking into a long-term deal with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who had a big 2017 campaign. But even as he cited one source that indicated contract talks had begun, MLB.com’s Jon Morosi shortly thereafter cited another to deny that “anything of substance” had yet occurred (Twitter links). Duquette further downplayed that idea, at least in the near term. While he credited Schoop and said the team would “love to have him for the best part of his career,” Duquette also said that a long-term deal is “a conversation for another day.” Of course, many extension talks occur during Spring Training, and this could still be a matter to be revisited, but it certainly sounds as if there are no immediate plans for a push. Schoop is yet another player who is about to receive a big arb payout — we project him at $9.1MM — which reduces the team’s leverage with two seasons to go until Schoop qualifies for free agency.
Earlier this week, Orioles general manager Dan Duquette seemed poised to market some of his veterans in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, but that no longer looks like the case. Even though the Orioles are 46-50 and 4.5 games out of a wild-card spot, Duquette told reporters Saturday that they’re planning to approach the deadline as buyers. “Whatever we do [at the trade deadline], we are going to try to help the club,” he said (via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, on Twitter). “I still like a lot of our core players. I don’t believe all the stuff that says we have half the club on the market, because we have a lot of baseball left to be played.” Specifically, the Orioles will attempt to upgrade a rotation that entered Saturday ranked in the majors’ bottom three in ERA (5.93) and fWAR (2.0). Duquette noted that “if we can get a little bit better starting pitching or add to the pitching we can make a run at this.”
A couple more notes from Baltimore:
- One of the few positives for the Orioles this year has been second baseman Jonathan Schoop, who has flashed improved plate discipline and slashed an excellent .303/.351/547 with 20 home runs in 388 PAs. The Orioles had interest in keeping him around for the long haul even before the season, as Duquette revealed that he discussed an extension with Schoop over the winter (Twitter link via Ghiroli). Whatever the asking price was then, it has certainly gone up between the 25-year-old’s 2017 performance and his dwindling team control. Schoop, who’s on a $3.475MM salary this season, has two more arbitration-eligible years before free agency.
- The Orioles may have a couple of trade chips in left-handers Alex Wells and Tanner Scott, both of whom have drawn interest, according to Duquette (Twitter link via Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com). A team called Duquette on Friday about the 20-year-old Wells, who has logged a 2.56 ERA, 6.97 K/9 and .88 BB/9 in 102 Single-A innings this season. He ranks as the Orioles’ 28th-best prospect at MLB.com, which places Scott 10th. “Teams covet” Scott, notes Connolly; although the 23-year-old has walked 5.98 batters per nine in 52 2/3 Double-A frames this season, he has posted an 11.45 K/9 and managed a stingy 2.05 ERA.
The deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures has come and gone, and there have been dozens of agreements broken throughout the league today. So many, in fact, that I’ve split the list up into a pair of league-specific posts to avoid having 100-something names in this list. You can see all the NL players here, and both of these will be updated as quickly as we’re able.
Many teams use the arbitration exchange as a hard deadline for negotiations on one-year deals — a “file and trial” approach which effectively means that once figures are exchanged, the only option they’ll pursue before a hearing is a multi-year deal. (The Mets and Orioles are both adopting that approach this year, and other teams to use that strategy in the past include Astros, Blue Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, White Sox, Pirates, Reds and Nationals.)
The most significant arb agreements of the day have been snapped off into their own posts already. We’ll continue adding the smaller-scale agreements from the American League right here (all projections referenced are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and all arbitration agreements and filings can be monitored in MLBTR’s 2017 Arbitration Tracker)…
- The Rangers have announced agreement on a deal to avoid arbitration with lefty Jake Diekman. With today’s deadline having passed, the sides did exchange figures — $3.1MM versus $1.9MM — but obviously were already nearing a number. The high-powered southpaw projected at $2.6MM, and will receive $2.55MM, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (via Twitter).
- The Mariners announced that they’ve avoided arb with all eight of their eligible players, which includes Jean Segura (reported last night), Danny Valencia, Jarrod Dyson, Leonys Martin, Drew Smyly, James Paxton, Evan Scribner, Nick Vincent. Numbers aren’t all in yet, but Valencia took home $5.55MM, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (on Twitter). Martin will earn $4.85MM, per Heyman. They were projected at $5.3MM and $6.3MM, respectively. Meanwhile, Dyson gets $2.8MM, Heyman tweets, which lands just over his $2.5MM projection. Smyly will receive $6.85MM — right at his $6.9MM projection — while Scribner gets $907,500, per MLB.com’s Greg Johns (via Twitter). Meanwhile, Paxton will land at $2.35MM and Vincent will receive $1.325MM, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (via Twitter), both of which fall shy of their respective projections ($2.7MM and $1.5MM).
- Catcher Martin Maldonado will receive $1.725MM from the Angels, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). That’s just over his $1.6MM projection.
- The Tigers announced that they settled with third baseman Nick Castellanos. He projected at $2.8MM, but will receive $3MM, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).
- Jeremy Jeffress and Jurickson Profar have each avoided arbitration with the Rangers, per Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegarm (via Twitter). Jeffress receives $2.1MM, while Profar will receive $1.005MM. Also of note, the Jeffress deal includes incentives that can add up to $250K in incentives, per Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). He’ll get $50K apiece upon reaching 55, 60, 65, and 70 innings. He had projected for a $2.9MM salary, but his legal issues late last year certainly dented his bargaining power.
- The Athletics have avoided arbitration with catcher/DH Stephen Vogt, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Vogt will receive $2.965MM, falling shy of his $3.7MM projection. Oakland has also reached agreement with starter Sonny Gray for $3.575MM, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter), which is just shy of his $3.7MM projection. Also, reliever Liam Hendriks has agreed to terms, per John Hickey of the Mercury News. He’ll get $1.1MM, per Heyman (via Twitter).
- Righty Adam Warren will get $2.29MM from the Yankees, per Baseball America’s Josh Norris (via Twitter). That’s just a shade under his $2.3MM projection. New York also announced deals with shortstop outfielder Aaron Hicks and lefty Tommy Layne, among other players whose arrangements were previously reported. Layne receives $1.075MM, per MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (via Twitter).
- The Orioles have avoided arbitration with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter links). He’ll receive $3.475MM, just over his projection of $3.4MM.
- Adding to their previously reported deals, the Red Sox have announced agreement with all but two of their arb-eligible players. Salaries were reported by MLB.com’s Ian Browne for the players avoiding arb: shortstop Xander Bogaerts gets $4.5MM ($5.7MM projection), utilityman Brock Holt receives $1.95MM ($1.7MM projection), righty Joe Kelly will earn $2.8MM ($2.6MM projection), catcher Sandy Leon takes home $1.3MM (the same as his projection), lefty Robbie Ross gets $1.825MM (just $25K over his projection), and new righty Tyler Thornburg will earn $2.05MM (just under his $2.2MM projection).
- Two moreplayers have avoided arbitration with the White Sox, per Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago (via Twitter). Among those not previously reported, starter Miguel Gonzalez gets $5.9MM and reliever Zach Putnam receives $1.175MM. That clearly indicates that Gonzalez and the Sox utilized his prior-years’ arb starting points, rather than his much lower earnings with the team last year. Putnam, meanwhile, had projected for $975K.
Orioles executive VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette has a long history of making significant roster moves late in the offseason, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. It certainly seems that the stage is set yet again for the O’s to round out their 2017 mix in the new year, as the team is still looking to fill a need in right field and perhaps add one more power bat to the lineup. Here’s the latest out of Baltimore:
- There’s nothing new to report on Mark Trumbo, who remains a seeming match to return to the O’s, but Kubatko notes that the club has remain engaged with lefty slugger Pedro Alvarez. Price will be a factor, of course, and it seems the organization may prefer to pursue some other opportunities before committing. But Alvarez would represent a solid platoon option at the DH slot and could conceivably even give the outfield a try, Kubatko suggests.
- Baltimore also remains willing to deal set-up man Brad Brach, Kubatko notes. The 30-year-old entrenched himself as a key part of the O’s pen last year, throwing at least 79 innings for the second consecutive season and locking down a 2.05 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Even after that impressive showing, MLBTR gives Brach a $2.9MM arb projection in his second season of eligibility, making him an affordable asset. Just what the Orioles are willing to consider with regard to a trade remains unclear; presumably, he’ll only be moved for a significant return.
- While the O’s have more prominent extension candidates, the team would be wise to explore a deal with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, Rich Dubroff opines for PressBoxOnline.com. With three years of control remaining, now may be the optimal time to find value, he suggests. Even if Schoop isn’t a superstar, he’s a significant power threat and only just turned 25. It’s worth noting, though, that Schoop is already projected to earn $3.4MM through arbitration, and also is set to protect his downside through an agreement with Fantex. Those earning opportunities could certainly impact his willingness to take a discount.
- The Orioles took a hard look at Nick Hundley before deciding instead to go with Welington Castillo behind the plate, Hundley tells MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter links). Hundley, who says he still views himself as a regular catching option, says that his camp “talked to the Orioles a lot” before Castillo became available.
- In other recent news out of Baltimore, the club has been mentioned as a possible suitor for Mike Napoli and Kubatko recently broke down the possibilities in right field.
In the Orioles’ season-ending press conference with media (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko) earlier this week, baseball operations executive VP Dan Duquette commented on the possibility of the club exploring extensions with several players, saying “I’m sure we’ll have time to take a look at that” during the offseason.
“All of those players have done a great job for us,” Duquette said, referring to Manny Machado, Chris Tillman and Jonathan Schoop. “We have explored extensions in the past, in fact a couple times each, with Tillman and Machado. We haven’t approached Jonathan Schoop on a long-term basis yet, but I’m sure we’ll have time to do that when it’s appropriate.”
As Duquette noted, this isn’t the first time the O’s have looked into extending its superstar third baseman or its staff ace. FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported in June that Machado and the Orioles had come close to a seven-year extension at some point in recent years, while the club negotiated with Tillman about a long-term deal prior to the 2015 season.
A Machado extension, of course, would almost certainly be one of the largest deals in baseball history. Machado has generated more fWAR than all but three other players in baseball over the last two seasons, thanks to his combination of both elite third base defense and outstanding hitting. At just 24 years of age, Machado will only be 26 when he hits free agency after the 2018 season, so the Orioles would need to pay well in excess of $200MM in order to lock up the young star into his free agent seasons. Extending Machado would break new financial ground for the O’s, though Baltimore has shown it is willing to spend big to extend or retain key position players like Adam Jones or Chris Davis.
Tillman is the most immediate concern since he can hit the open market after the 2017 season, though his price tag is less clear. He rebounded from a disappointing 2015 season to post a 3.77 ERA, 2.12 K/BB rate and 7.3 K/9 over 172 innings this year, though as per advanced metrics, there actually wasn’t much of a gap between the righty’s performance over the last two years. Tillman has produced between 1.8 and 2.4 fWAR in each of the last four seasons and averaged 190 innings per year in that span, though the Orioles are notoriously cautious (some could say over-cautious) when it comes to committing to pitchers in long-term deals. It could be that the Orioles would be more comfortable spending money on a pitcher they’re already quite familiar with, especially given that the club is already in such need of rotation help.
Schoop will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, so the Orioles aren’t necessarily in any rush to extend the second baseman. Schoop, who turns 25 next week, hit a career-high 25 homers but was a below-average (97 wRC+) offensive performer overall thanks to a .267/.298/.454 slash line over 647 plate appearances. Between Schoop’s high strikeout totals and lack of OBP, there could still be some question if he is indeed a long-term piece for the Orioles, though obviously there’s still room for growth for such a young player.
Duquette was also asked about the possibility of extending star closer Zach Britton, and Duquette merely responded that Britton is still two years away from free agency. Extending Britton now would be the definition of a buy-high move given that he is coming off one of the best seasons from any closer in baseball history, though an extension would also give Baltimore some cost certainty over Britton’s rising price tag. He is due a major raise from his 2016 salary of $6.75MM, and he still has two arb years left thanks to his Super Two designation. Committing huge dollars to any reliever can be a roll of the dice, so the Orioles could be willing to simply go year-to-year with Britton.
Fantex, Inc. announced today that it has entered into brand contracts with five Major Leaguers: Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco, Astros right-hander Collin McHugh, Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, Twins right-hander Tyler Duffey and Padres third baseman Yangervis Solarte (as noted on BusinessWire.com).
Fantex offers professional athletes an up-front, one-time payment in exchange for a portion of that player’s future earnings both on and off the field. Fantex then sells “shares” of that player to public investors for a set price (thus covering the up-front payment to the player), allowing those investors to turn a profit if said player crosses a certain threshold in his career earnings. Obviously, that creates risk for the investors, who stand to take a financial loss if the player fails to earn enough money in his career to justify the shareholders’ investment. Angels left-hander Andrew Heaney became the first player to enter into an agreement with Fantex last September, taking a $3.34MM up-front payment in exchange for 10 percent of his future earnings. (Notably, the league and the MLBPA each approved that agreement, and Fantex’s announcement seemingly suggests that the same is true of these five agreements.)
As for the new wave of Fantex additions, Schoop secured the largest sum, agreeing to an up-front payment of $4.91MM. Franco, meanwhile, will earn $4.35MM, while McHugh will take home $3.96MM, Solarte will take home $3.15MM and Duffey will earn $2.23MM. Notably, Solarte’s agreement is for 11 percent of his “brand,” while the other four (and Heaney) signed away 10 percent.
With six big leaguers now on board in addition to 14 athletes from other sports, it stands to reason that the number of professional baseball players willing to enter into such agreements will increase. It’s an interesting proposition for Major Leaguers — not entirely dissimilar from agreeing to an early contract extension; in essence, the players in question are taking a life-changing sum of money early in their career in exchange for limiting their earning capacity once they’ve navigated through their arbitration years and entered their free-agent seasons. Those same principles are all true of players that sign contract extensions, though the extent of the up-front sum and the long-term risk obviously vary.
Beyond the long-term impact on a player’s earnings, it also seems plausible that players who enter into agreements with Fantex could be less likely to sign long-term extensions with their current club. Extensions, after all, are most often signed to provide a player with his first fortune in exchange for giving the club a discount rate on would-be free-agent or arbitration seasons. Heaney, Franco, McHugh, Schoop, Duffey and Solarte, though, have each secured a sizable sum without altering their free agency timelines, thereby creating less urgency to sign an extension. (It should be noted, too, that players like Duffey and Solarte aren’t necessarily obvious extension candidates in the first place.) It seems reasonable to expect that some players and agents will view Fantex as a means of locking in that first payday while preserving the right to get to free agency at a younger age. In a market that places a premium on youth — as evidenced by contracts signed by Jason Heyward, Justin Upton, Mike Leake and others — that comes with significant benefit.
The payments from Fantex, of course, are smaller than the sums that we’ve seen players haul in via contract extensions, but the trade-off that Fantex players face early in free agency figures to be more minimal than the trade-off of their peers that sign extensions. For instance, Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner will reach six years of Major League service time this season, but he remains under control for three more seasons; he’s guaranteed $11.5MM in 2017 and has a pair of $12MM club options on each of the two subsequent seasons. Bumgarner’s contract guaranteed him $35MM ($57.5MM if each of those options is exercised), but he’ll earn a maximum of $35.5MM over what would have been his first three free-agent seasons — a fraction of what he could earn were all 30 teams allowed to bid on him. Bumgarner’s open-market annual value could be $25MM or more over the life of a six- or seven-year term. Ten percent of a theoretical $150-175MM contract is a smaller loss for the player than the difference between the free-agent seasons on an extension and the aforementioned market value.
I should note that this isn’t a knock on Bumgarner’s contract by any means — it was a record-setting deal for a pitcher in his service class and comes with the same potential risk/reward that many early extensions carry. Conversely, Jon Singleton locked in $10MM and has yet to see his big league career get off the ground. If Singleton never develops into an MLB-caliber hitter, he’ll receive significantly more than he would have by entering into a Fantex deal. Balancing that risk and reward is likely something with which players and their agents will wrestle if Fantex agreements continue to increase in popularity.
From a more general standpoint, there’s quite a bit we don’t know about the finer details of Fantex. The method by which each player’s up-front valuation is determined, for instance, isn’t known. Accurate reporting of off-field income (e.g. endorsements) would be paramount (and is presumably mandated within the contract agreements), and the unproven model in question seemingly only works if Fantex is able to raise enough investor funding to finance the initial payment to the player. This is all relatively new territory, though, and additional information pertaining to the new opportunity for pro athletes should become increasingly available in the months to come.
Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts has changed agencies, staying with his representative — Steve Veltman — as he moved to The Legacy Agency, as Robert Murray of Baseball Essential was first to report (via Twitter). He’s not alone, as players including Jonathan Schoop of the Orioles and Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks are also making the move, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports, with player rep Ed Cerulo accompanying Veltman to a new home.
Betts, still just 23, has emerged as one of the game’s most exciting young talents. He followed up a highly promising partial season in 2014 with an outstanding campaign last year in which he put up a .291/.341/.479 slash over 654 plate appearances with 18 home runs and 21 steals. Of course, Betts is also a high-quality and versatile fielder and excellent baserunner.
Boston has plenty of cheap control remaining, as Betts won’t even reach arbitration eligibility until 2018 and doesn’t stand to hit the open market until 2021. He certainly profiles as an extension candidate, though, and his new agency will quite possibly field interest from the Sox.
Other quality 1+ outfielders have signed lengthy deals — including, recently, Gregory Polanco ($35MM) and Christian Yelich ($49.57MM) — but it seems fair to expect that Betts would command a good bit more given the floor and ceiling he’s shown to this point. And the price will likely only rise, as his service clock continues to run and he pads the stat sheet.
Schoop and Ray also rate as promising young players, but have more to prove at this stage than Betts. Other big leaguers joining The Legacy Agency, per Rosenthal, include Cody Anderson and Rajai Davis (Indians), Trevor May (Twins), Kevin Siegrist (Cardinals), Carter Capps (Marlins), Jerad Eickhoff (Phillies), and Tony Wolters (Rockies). Several unnamed prospects are also changing agencies.
As always, you can find reported player representation in MLBTR’s Agency Database.
- Andrew Cashner wasn’t the only Padre to draw interest from the Orioles, as the O’s also discussed James Shields and Matt Kemp in talks with San Diego. Shields has been the subject of some trade speculation this winter but there hasn’t been much solid buzz around the veteran following his somewhat disappointing 2015 campaign. Shields allowed a career-high 17.6% homer rate last year despite pitching home games at Petco Park, which certainly would be a concern for a team playing in hitter-friendly Camden Yards. Shields can opt out of his contract after 2016, and if he chooses to remain in his current deal, he’s owed $44MM in 2017-18 (counting the buyout of his 2019 club option). That opt-out and Shields’ age make him a trickier trade candidate than Cashner, despite Shields’ stronger career track record and history of success in the AL East.
- Kemp, meanwhile, was also an Orioles target last winter before the outfielder was dealt from the Dodgers to the Padres. Kemp would provide the O’s with a bat beyond their rumored targets of Dexter Fowler, Pedro Alvarez and Jay Bruce, and he might come at a discounted price since San Diego would obviously have to eat a healthy chunk of the $86MM owed to Kemp through the 2019 season (the Dodgers are also paying $14MM of that total). Kemp’s hitting has been inconsistent over the last three seasons, however, and Baltimore’s outfield defense would take a big hit with either Kemp or Mark Trumbo getting regular playing time. As Kubatko puts it, Kemp is “still not coming to Baltimore,” so it may be that the O’s have moved on.
- Several teams have asked Baltimore about Jonathan Schoop but the O’s aren’t listening to offers involving the young second baseman.
- Minor league southpaw Chris Lee is also getting attention in trade talks, and while Lee doesn’t seem as untouchable as Schoop, Kubatko says the Orioles “would like to hold onto” the left-hander. Lee was recently ranked as the seventh-best prospect in Baltimore’s system by Baseball America after a 2015 that saw him make his Double-A debut. The Orioles acquired Lee from Houston last May for two international bonus slots.
- The Orioles are planning to watch Tim Lincecum’s upcoming throwing session once the date is finalized. The O’s were linked to Lincecum earlier this month and they’ll likely be one of several teams interested in seeing if the former two-time NL Cy Young Award winner is looking healthy.
- Beyond Lincecum, “the Orioles are pretty much open to any bounceback candidate coming off an injury,” Kubatko writes. This search would include Cliff Lee, though the O’s don’t seem to feel that the veteran southpaw wants to pitch in 2016.
Though R.A. Dickey’s short start yesterday in a hugely important Game 4 of the ALCS led to quite a bit of negativity among Blue Jays fans, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star opines that his $12MM club option for the 2016 season should still be exercised. Griffin points out that while the reactionary conclusion is to say the team should cut ties with the knuckeballer, that’s irrational. Dickey leads all Major League pitchers in innings dating back to 2012, and he was outstanding in the season’s second half, working to a 2.80 ERA over his final 15 starts. Dickey, in fact, logged a 3.11 ERA across his final 150 1/3 innings, dating back to June 2. Though his strikeout rate in that time (5.5 K/9) leaves plenty to be desired, he also averaged just 2.3 walks per nine innings. Two hundred league-average (or better) innings would be worth the $12MM total of his option, which really boils down to an $11MM decision, since the Jays have to pay him a $1MM buyout even if they’re cutting ties. At one year and $11MM, the Jays should keep Dickey around, especially with David Price, Marco Estrada and Mark Buehrle all potentially departing this winter as free agents.
More from the AL East…
- Rich Dubroff of CSNMidAtlantic.com feels that while the Orioles have a good deal of needs this offseason with several key free agents possibly departing and holes to plug in the rotation and bullpen, a long-term deal with second baseman Jonathan Schoop should still be on the team’s to-do list. As Dubroff points out, Schoop made offensive strides from a dismal 2014 campaign to 2015. Long one of the organization’s best prospects, Schoop batted .279/.306/.482, and while his plate discipline leaves plenty to be desired, he has quite a bit of pop for a middle infielder. I’ll add that while defensive metrics dinged Schoop this season after loving his glovework in 2014, he also missed nearly three months with a partially torn ligament in his knee, which likely hampered his range.
- Sticking with the Orioles, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the entire coaching staff will return for the 2016 season. Kubatko had previously written that all coaches other than pitching coach Dave Wallace were on board, but he’s now apparently agreed to terms as well.
- Roberto Osuna has been outstanding this year for the Blue Jays at just 20 years of age, but as Chris Mitchell writes for Fangraphs, it’s far from certain that he’ll build upon that early success. Relievers tend to decline more rapidly than do starters, and many other quality young arms have fizzled out early. There are some more promising examples, as pitchers like Huston Street and Jonathan Broxton have had fairly long and productive careers, and some in-progress careers (such as Drew Storen) that probably can’t yet be evaluated. But the overall historical record isn’t terribly promising. Of course, the comparison sample is small given Osuna’s remarkably young age, and he might well end up back in the rotation before long anyway.