- The Padres will likely discuss an extension with Chase Headley during the GM meetings, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). As Heyman notes, there is "no evidence [the] sides have ever been close to" an agreement. Headley is set for free agency following the 2014 season and while his name has surfaced in trade talks, the current belief is that the Padres will keep him and hope he can return to form following a disappointing 2013 season.
- An informal poll of six scouts reveals clear preferences for Adam Eaton over A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings over Didi Gregorius, The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro writes. The Diamondbacks could deal one of their young center fielders or shortstops for help in other areas this offseason, though one scout notes that Arizona would be left with solid players no matter who they dealt.
- It's a little unusual that Clayton Kershaw hasn't signed a huge extension with the Dodgers yet, though ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon notes that if Kershaw isn't comfortable signing for a decade or longer, that could be in the Dodgers' best long-term interest.
- It has been rumored that the Dodgers could trade from their surplus of outfielders this offseason but GM Ned Colletti told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that they have a lot of question marks, health-wise. Colletti pointed to last season's pitching injuries as an example of how you can never have enough roster depth: "We went to Spring Training with eight starting pitchers and everybody said we needed to trade some of them. Pretty soon we didn't have enough. We'll see what happens. We have to have big league coverage."
- Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers have an interest in bringing back Juan Uribe on a short-term contract. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts Uribe will find a two-year, $12MM deal in free agency but that even could be a bit long given that Hanley Ramirez might be moved to third if Alexander Guerrero works out best as a shortstop rather than as a second baseman.
- Ryan Vogelsong has received interest from multiple teams and there's no guarantee he'll re-sign with the Giants, MLB.com's Chris Haft writes. Haft also explores some other free agent options as part of the mailbag piece.
The Padres will look for a lefty reliever and a left-handed hitter this offseason, GM Josh Byrnes says (via ESPN's Jim Bowden on Twitter). In addition, the Padres hope to get better health from their players next season. The Padres have recently been connected to Mark Trumbo, who is right-handed. There are a few good lefty relief options on the free agent market, J.P. Howell, Manny Parra and former Padre Oliver Perez among them. Here are more notes from the West divisions.
- The Giants officially declined Ryan Vogelsong's 2014 option today, and while that doesn't mean he won't return, both sides are exploring other possibilities, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. "I don’t think today necessarily eliminated the chances of him coming back," says assistant GM Bobby Evans. "But it does put a step back in the process, obviously, as he looks at other options. He could find something very appealing, or we could find something that doesn’t filter back to him." There are currently no talks between the two parties.
- After declining his end of a $9MM mutual option for 2014, Joe Nathan says he doesn't expect to be back with the Rangers, writes Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. The veteran closer acknowledged that he's seeking a two-year deal and doesn't sense much interest from Texas. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes sees Nathan landing something in the neighborhood of a two-year, $26MM deal this winter.
- Major League Baseball intimated to Oakland Coliseum officials that they will help the Athletics move across the bay and play at the rival Giants' AT&T Park in San Francisco if they don't come to terms on a new short-term lease for the team, sources tell Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross of the San Francisco Chronicle. Coliseum brass are pushing for a long-term lease renewal, while the A's want some flexibility in the event that they can get a ballpark deal done in San Jose.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
MONDAY: The Giants have officially declined Vogelsong's option, Baggarly tweets.
SUNDAY: The Giants have informed right-hander Ryan Vogelsong his $6.5MM club option will not be exercised but negotiations have begun on a restructured contract, sources tell Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. Vogelsong will receive a $300K buyout.
The Giants are interested in bringing back Vogelsong, according to Baggarly, but for a smaller guaranteed salary with incentives based on innings and/or starts. Vogelsong missed nearly three months with a broken pinky on his throwing hand and struggled to a 5.73 ERA, 5.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, and 10.8 H/9 in 103 2/3 innings over 19 starts. Baggarly theorizes the savings from Vogelsong could be reinvested into re-signing lefty specialist Javier Lopez.
The Giants are expected to officially announce its decision on Vogelsong tomorrow.
Dee Gordon is running out of both time and positions to play in his quest to prove that he belongs at the Major League level, writes Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times. The Dodgers moved Gordon from shortstop to second base this season, and while reviews said he wasn't as much of a liability at second base, they're now working him out in center field as well. The Dodgers aren't willing to give up on Gordon yet, says Dilbeck, but his best shot at sticking in L.A. looks to be in a utility capacity. Here's more from the NL West…
- In a separate piece, Dilbeck opines that the Dodgers need to have a contingency plan in place at second base, as it's too risky to assume that recently signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero is ready to immediately dive into the Majors. He notes that Gordon could start there, but that plan would also have a great deal of uncertainty.
- Rockies senior vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett made an appearance with Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio this morning. Asked by Bowden how he would react if the Cardinals came knocking with an "overwhelming" offer for superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Geivett said he'd have to listen but added, "we're not doing anything with Tulo." Geivett went on to add that his top three priorities this offseason are starting pitching, a late-inning impact reliever and a corner bat (Twitter links).
- MLB.com's Chris Haft spoke with Ryan Vogelsong's agent, Dave Meier, who said that his client's preference is to remain with the Giants. According to Haft, the Giants will shop for a starting pitcher this offseason, but adding two starters will be difficult. The Giants have until tomorrow to decide whether or not to exercise a $6.5MM option on Vogelsong or pay him a $300K buyout.
Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com participated in a live chat with fans today and shared a number of Giants-related hot stove items…
- The Giants "went hard after" Jose Dariel Abreu and offered the Cuban slugger a contract that paid him roughly the same average annual value of his six-year, $68MM deal with the White Sox. The catch was that the Giants' offer wasn't six years long as they didn't want to make that long a commitment to a player that is projected by many scouts to be a future designated hitter.
- Ryan Vogelsong's $6.5MM option won't be picked up by the Giants but Baggarly thinks the veteran righty will re-sign on a cheaper one-year deal with incentives.
- There is mutual interest between the Giants and Javier Lopez, and the money saved by declining Vogelsong's option could help the club afford the veteran southpaw.
- The Giants are "probably not" realistic players for Masahiro Tanaka, as Baggarly figures that his posting price will exceed what the Giants are willing to offer, plus big spenders like the Dodgers and Yankees are in the mix. Baggarly reported in August that San Francisco had an interest in the Japanese righty.
- Brandon Belt could be approached about a contract extension in Spring Training but the Giants will just work out a one-year deal in the meantime to cover Belt's first year of arbitration eligibility. MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Belt to earn $2.4MM in 2014 and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes suggests that Allen Craig's extension could be a model for a Belt extension, though with some adjustments since Belt is a Super Two player.
- The Giants are looking only for "reliable innings guys" in their rotation so the likes of Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson will only draw the club's interest if they're healthy.
- Though the Giants are looking for a right-handed power bat and might trade prospects to get one, the club is unlikely to move the likes of Kyle Crick, Edwin Escobar or Adalberto Mejia.
- When it comes to left field, the Giants may prioritize defense. Baggarly expects San Francisco to look for a left fielder in a trade rather than free agency.
- Baggarly hasn't heard Scott Kazmir's name mentioned as a possibility in San Francisco.
- Mark Trumbo "has his admirers in the [Giants] front office." While the Angels are known to be willing to move Trumbo for young pitching talent, I'm not sure the Giants are a good trade partner given that they're looking for arms themselves.
- Given Marco Scutaro's age, Brandon Phillips "makes a lot of sense" for the Giants. Baggarly makes it clear that he's only speculating, however. Phillips is rumored to be on the shopping block but Reds GM Walt Jocketty recently denied that he's talked about Phillips with other teams.
- The Giants are very unlikely to surrender their first round (14th overall) draft pick to sign a free agent who has rejected a qualifying offer. This could have a major impact on the chances of the team pursuing Bronson Arroyo, who could be extended a qualifying offer by the Reds. Baggarly feels that Arroyo and Dan Haren are the free agent pitchers who are most likely to be San Francisco targets.
- Recent Pablo Sandoval trade rumors are "total scuttlebutt," in Baggarly's opinion.
Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery on July 30, Jason Marquis isn't ready to end his career at age 35. The veteran right-hander told MLB.com's Corey Brock that he is making good progress in rehab and intends to pitch in 2014, though the nature of his injury will keep him on the DL for at least the first two months of the season. Marquis will be a free agent this winter and it's possible a team (maybe even the Padres, his current club) will sign him to a low-risk minor league contract come April or May.
Here's some news as we dive into the final six days of the regular season…
- Though Antonio Bastardo is currently serving a 50-game suspension for PED use, the Phillies are likely to tender him a contract this offseason, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The southpaw had a 2.32 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 42 2/3 relief innings for the Phils this year and has posted a 3.13 ERA, 11.7 K/9 and 2.71 K/BB ratio in 152 2/3 IP since the start of the 2011 season. Bastardo earned $1.4MM this season (though he lost approximately $420K of his salary to suspension) and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter.
- Ryan Vogelsong tells Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News that he is hoping the Giants pick up its $6.5MM club option on his services for 2014. "If I was pitching better right now, it's probably not even a question," Vogelsong said. "But I feel I still have a lot to bring to the game and this team. It's no secret I love it here. I want to be back and hope they pick it up." Vogelsong has struggled through an injury-plagued season that saw the righty post a 5.90 ERA in 18 starts.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman saw Andy Pettitte's retirement coming and he tells Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger that this time, Pettitte is leaving for good. “I’ve known for a while that this was going to be it,” Cashman said. “I know that I won’t be able to convince him like I’ve done in the past."
- Dillon Gee and Jonathan Niese could be trade chips for the Mets this winter as the team looks to add batting help, but Michael Baron of Metsblog.com thinks the two pitchers could stay put for at least another year until the Mets determine how long Matt Harvey will be sidelined.
Closer is "the most overvalued position in baseball," Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes, an opinion shared by no less an authority than Hall-of-Famer closer Dennis Eckersley. Kepner notes that teams often err in signing closers to expensive contracts and then end up using replacement closers that were already on their rosters in the first place. “I don’t want to take away anything from what I did, but it’s not as tough as you think," Eckersley said. “You could groom somebody to do it who’s on the staff, if you manage it the right way."
While the agents of this year's free agent stoppers compose their counter-arguments, here are some more news items from around baseball…
- Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts isn't planning any major payroll increases in the near future, telling Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that, "You can’t just throw money at the problem. We have to build the organization from the ground up. And that’s what we’re doing right now."
- Chris Perez will be shopped by the Indians this offseason, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer predicts, and Pluto thinks Perez will be pitching elsewhere in 2014. Perez will earn a raise from his current $7.3MM salary in the arbitration process and Pluto feels the Tribe will want to move him rather than pay the closer that much. Perez's solid season could help his trade value, as Pluto notes that the Indians found only an "iffy" market for Perez when they attempted to deal him last winter.
- "In a strict, WAR sense, [Kendrys Morales] may not compute to be worth $14 million or more per season. But the real cost the Mariners will have to weigh is what it would be like without him," The Seattle Times' Geoff Baker writes. While Morales has slumped lately, Baker argues that the M's are still short of big bats and thus need to at least extend Morales a qualifying offer.
- Paul Konerko answered a simple "No" to questions about any decisions on his playing future, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. We heard yesterday that Konerko was telling friends he wanted to keep playing in 2014, but the White Sox captain reiterated his stance that he would wait until a later date to make a decision.
- Fangraphs' Dave Cameron looks at which free agent hitters should or shouldn't receive qualifying offers from their current teams this winter.
- Neal Huntington would win a fictitious "MLB Comeback Executive of the Year" award, MLB.com's Tom Singer writes. The criticism faced by the Pirates GM has turned to praise as his recent moves have the Bucs on the cusp of their first playoff berth since 1992.
- Despite Ryan Vogelsong's tough season, Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter) thinks the Giants will pick up his $6.5MM team option for 2014 if the righty remains healthy. Vogelsong has a 5.49 ERA in 14 starts, but entering tonight's action, Vogelsong had posted a 2.93 ERA over five starts since returning from the disabled list.
No MLB team finalized more extensions this offseason than the Giants, who locked up five of their top players. General manager Brian Sabean committed more than $200MM in future salaries in the four-month period from the beginning of January to the beginning of April. The extensions promised to solidify the team’s rotation long-term and cap the future earnings of a pair of arbitration eligible All-Stars.
For the most part, the extensions have worked for the team. Tim Lincecum's disappointing season is the largest blemish on an otherwise encouraging set of contracts for San Francisco.
Lincecum, whose early-career accomplishments assured him of a substantial raise, signed a two-year, $40.5MM contract extension to cover his final two arbitration years. Though he has pitched better lately, his ERA sits at 5.30 in what has been the most disappointing season of his MLB career. It’d be understandable if the Giants are relieved Lincecum didn’t accept their $100MM extension offer before the season. In that context, $40.5MM isn’t so expensive. Still, if the team had gone year to year with Lincecum, he wouldn’t have been locked in for a $22MM salary in 2013; a non-tender would have been possible.
Three other Giants starters have exceeded expectations since signing multiyear deals. Vogelsong, who signed a two-year, $8.3MM contract in January, is repeating last year's success. He has a 2.85 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 on his way toward a career high in innings pitched. Vogelsong would have been a free agent after the 2012 season if the Giants hadn't locked him up. They'll surely be glad to have him back for just $5MM in 2013 (the extension also includes a 2014 club option).
Like Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner has replicated his 2011 success. The 23-year-old left-hander has inserted himself into the NL Cy Young Award race by posting a 2.83 ERA with five times as many strikeouts as walks in 171 2/3 innings this year. He obtained a record deal for pitchers with one-plus years of MLB service (five-years, $35MM), so it’s not as though Bumgarner obtained anything less than full value back in April. But this deal could hardly be going better for the Giants.
Matt Cain also obtained a record-setting contract this spring. He obtained a five-year, $112.5MM contract that established a record for right-handed pitchers. He's earning Cy Young Award consideration again after pitching a perfect game and posting a 2.83 ERA in 174 2/3 innings. If Cain had reached the free agent market this offseason, he would be the most sought-after pitcher available. The Giants could have re-signed him, of course, but not without spending considerably more than they did in April.
Lastly, Pablo Sandoval's play has justified his new three-year, $17.15MM contract — at least when he's been on the field. Although he spent time on the disabled list with a strained hamstring and a fractured hamate bone, he does have an .821 OPS in 294 plate appearances. This extension had limited upside for the Giants in the first place, since it didn’t buy out any free agent years or include any club options.
For now the Giants are presumably focused on maintaining their division lead over the Dodgers and Diamondbacks. A few months from now, once the most chaotic part of the offseason has ended, Sabean and the rest of the San Francisco front office will encounter a familiar challenge: it'll be time to consider extensions for a new set of players led by All-Star catcher Buster Posey.
Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
THURSDAY: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has the breakdown (on Twitter). Vogelsong will earn $3MM in 2012, $5MM in 2013, and then a $6.5MM club option with a $300K buyout for 2014 comes into play. The total guarantee is $8.3MM.
WEDNESDAY: The Giants and Ryan Vogelsong have agreed to a two-year contract with an option for 2014, reports Mychael Urban of 95.7 FM The Game (via Twitter). The deal is worth a total of $8MM, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The Associated Press reports that the deal is worth $8.3MM (via ESPN). The team announced the agreement in a press release, noting that the club holds the third-year option.
Vogelsong, 34, was entering his final season of arbitration eligibility, so the contract will delay free agency by at least a year. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected a $2.5MM salary for the right-hander for 2012, though we heard during the Winter Meetings that the Giants intended to work out a multiyear deal.
Vogelsong pitched in the bigs last season for the first time in five years, enjoying a remarkable comeback. His 2.71 ERA in 30 appearances (28 starts) earned him an All-Star berth and even a Cy Young vote. The righty was originally drafted by the Giants, and was traded to the Pirates in 2001 in a deadline deal that sent Jason Schmidt to San Francisco. Over the next decade, Vogelsong underwent Tommy John surgery, pitched in Japan, and signed multiple minor league deals before finding success last year with the Giants.
12:37pm: It'd be a fairly easy call for the Giants to non-tender Keppinger, reports Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. Baggarly also notes that the Giants intend to work out a multiyear deal with starter Ryan Vogelsong, who would be eligible for free agency after 2012. For more on the Giants' huge arbitration class, read up here.
11:34am: The Giants are trying to trade infielder Jeff Keppinger, outfielder Andres Torres, and reliever Ramon Ramirez, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. They're planning to keep lefty Jeremy Affeldt. ESPN's Buster Olney says there's a strong feeling by other teams Torres will be non-tendered. If so, the Giants may not be able to get much for him. Torres was the second-most valuable center fielder in baseball in 2010, based on FanGraphs' wins above replacement.
Keppinger, Torres, and Ramirez are all arbitration eligible, and MLBTR projects salaries in the $2.3-2.7MM range for each.