Dodgers Reportedly Close to Signing Brandon McCarthy

It looks like Brandon McCarthy is poised to sign a four-year deal with the Dodgers.

He would be part of a very imposing rotation alongside Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Andrew Heaney.

More on this one when it’s official.

Posted in Brandon McCarthy, Los Angeles Dodgers | Leave a comment

Red Sox to Acquire Wade Miley from Diamondbacks

Wade MileyIt’s not quite the same as signing Jon Lester, but it will have to do for now.

The Boston Red Sox have agreed on the framework of a deal to send pitchers Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster along with a yet-to-be-determined prospect to the Arizona Diamondbacks for lefty starter Wade Miley.

Miley, 28, is a ground ball machine – he has a career 48.6% ground ball rate – a trait that figures to serve him well moving to the American League East.

In four big league seasons, Miley has a 3.79 ERA, 1.323 WHIP, 499/196 K/BB in 638.2 career innings. The last three seasons he’s pitched 201.1, 202.2, and 194.2 innings. The Red Sox were looking to add a durable innings-eater and they appear to have found one in Miley.

Miley is entering arbitration for the first time this offseason and he’s projected to earn $4.3 million. He is under team control through 2017.

Miley figures to be one of many moves the Red Sox make between now and spring training to bolster their rotation.

De La Rosa and Webster have now been packaged together twice. The pair originally came to Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett/Nick Punto trade in 2012.

Both have shown the ability to shutdown hitters in the minors and occasional glimpses of that talent at the big league level, but neither was able to put it together enough to earn a long-term job with the Red Sox. Hopefully, they’ll both have better luck in the desert.

Once Boston and Arizona agree on the third player going to the Diamondbacks in the deal, we’ll update this post.

Posted in AL East, American League, Arizona Diamondbacks, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Cheap Seat Chronicles, MLB, MLB Trades, MLB Winter Meetings, Trade Rumors, Wade Miley | 2 Comments

Dee Gordon & Dan Haren to Marlins, Andrew Heaney to Dodgers in Seven-Player Trade

Dee Gordon & Dan Haren

That didn’t take long at all.

Yesterday, we reported that the Dodgers had made second baseman Dee Gordon available in trade talks. When the club acquired shortstop Jimmy Rollins earlier this today, we speculated that the move seemed to setup a Gordon trade.

Mere hours later, Gordon is reportedly headed to Miami along with right-handed starter Dan Haren and infielder Miguel Rojas. The Dodgers are receiving a quartet of players in return, headlined by left-handed starter Andrew Heaney.

The other three players headed to Los Angeles are utility fielder Enrique “Kike” Hernandez, right-handed starter Chris Hatcher, and catcher Austin Barnes.

I’ve been looking at this trade from a number of angles, but ultimately it appears to be an absolute steal for Los Angeles.

The Dodgers were clearly selling high on Gordon and dumping salary with Haren, but somehow they managed to land a legitimate long-term prospect in Heaney, despite having zero leverage in trade talks.

This was an absolutely brilliant deal by president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman.

Gordon, 26, made his first All-Star team in 2014 while hitting .289/.326/.378 on the season. He led all of baseball with 12 triples and 64 stolen bases.

After a hot start, he trailed off considerably as the year progressed and hit just .279/.289/.335 over the season’s final two months.

Prior to 2014, Gordon had hit .256/.301/.312 in 621 at-bats spread over three seasons while playing slightly below-average defense at second base and shortstop.

He is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and is projected to earn $2.5 million next season. Gordon is team-controlled through 2018, but gained an extra year of arbitration eligibility as a “Super Two” player.

While Gordon seems to be a one-year wonder that the Dodgers sold high on, the other part of the deal headed to Miami, Dan Haren, is a wildcard and that’s setting aside his less-than-stellar performance over the past three seasons.

Haren, 34, said earlier this offseason that he would likely retire if he couldn’t pitch in Los Angeles. It’s currently being reported that the Marlins will receive financial compensation if Haren does choose to retire.

Rojas, 25, can play shortstop, third base, and second base so he brings some versatility, but he’s put up a .238/.305/.297 slash line in nine minor league seasons and posted an equally uninspiring .464 OPS in 149 at-bats with the Dodgers last season. He’s likely viewed as organizational depth.

The Marlins are clearly banking on Gordon to replicate last year’s stats and are hoping Haren is willing to move back east. The Dodgers, however, legitimately hit the jackpot in snagging Heaney for next-to-nothing.Andrew Heaney

Heaney, 23, was rated the Marlins number one prospect by Baseball America prior to last season. Among all prospects, he was ranked #29 by MLB.com and #30 by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus.

He was roughed up in seven appearances with the Marlins, but posted an impressive 2.77 ERA, 1.140 WHIP, and 262/68 K/BB in 259.2 innings over three seasons in the minor leagues. The Southpaw figures to be a big part of the Dodgers rotation for a long time.

The other players headed to Los Angeles in the deal all bring potential upside as well, furthering the belief that Miami has already “lost” this trade.

Hernandez, 23, was originally acquired from the Astros in July as part of the Jarred Cosart deal. He made his big league debut this past year hitting .248/.321/.421 in 121 at-bats between Houston and Miami. He could factor into the second base situation in LA, but his versatility allows him to play elsewhere as needed.

Hatcher, 29, had a breakout season in his fourth year in the big leagues posting a 3.38 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, and 60/12 K/BB in 56 innings of work. He figures to be an inexpensive addition to one of baseball’s best paid bullpens.

Barnes, 24, has hit .298/.390/.431 over four minor league seasons and finished up 2014 with a .913 OPS at Double-A. While most of his time is spent behind the plate, he’s proven versatile by playing second and third base as well.

Ultimately, this deal looks like a highway robbery for the Dodgers. The club will save roughly $12.5 million in 2015 by moving Gordon and Haren; and they acquired a top prospect and three very useful pieces in return.

The Dodgers are quickly putting themselves out ahead of the pack in the National League West and it looks like there is plenty more to be done; this trade, coupled with today’s trade for Jimmy Rollins, and rumors surrounding Matt Kemp, Jake Peavy, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley suggest that the Dodgers are far from done tinkering with this roster.

Expect a flurry of action as Winter Meetings wrap-up on Thursday.

Posted in Andrew Heaney, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Dan Haren, Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, MLB, MLB Trades, MLB Winter Meetings, National League, NL East, NL West, Trade Rumors | 4 Comments

Dodgers Acquire Shortstop Jimmy Rollins from Phillies

Jimmy Rollins

The Dodgers have acquired long-time Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Confirmation of the deal comes from ESPN’s Buster Olney after the trade came together quickly this afternoon, seemingly spurred by comments from Rollins indicating that he would approve a trade to Los Angeles.

Having spent his entire 15-year career with the Phillies, Rollins had earned ten-and-five rights giving him full no-trade protection. It is believed that he already vetoed a trade to the Mets earlier this offseason.

Rollins, 36, has one year and $11 million remaining on the four-year, $44 million contract he signed with the Phillies prior to the 2012 season.

Rollins has a career .267/.327/.424 slash line with 216 homers and 453 stolen bases in more than 2,000 games with the Phillies. He departs as the franchise’s all-time hits leader with 2,306.

He comes to the Dodgers on the heels of his best season since 2011, hitting .243/.323/.394 with 17 homers and 28 stolen bases in 538 at-bats.

In addition to a still-potent bat, Rollins has both scouts and advanced metrics in agreement that he’s still one of the better defensive shortstops in the game.

Los Angeles was in the market for a shortstop after losing Hanley Ramirez to the Red Sox in free agency, but it was believed the club would fill the vacancy internally.

Following Rollins’ comments this afternoon, it seems that the opportunity to acquire the 2007 National League MVP and three-time All-Star was clearly too good to pass up.

In addition to still being a valuable asset on the field, Rollins also serves as a stopgap that allows the Dodgers to give top prospect Corey Seager another year in the minors before he takes over as the club’s everyday shortstop in 2016.

The arrival of Rollins may expedite a potential trade of speedster Dee Gordon to allow for internal candidates Alex Guerrero, Erisbel Arruebarrena, Darwin Barney, or Justin Turner to take over at second base.

As for Rollins, the Dodgers obvious vacancy at shortstop and potential to win a World Series likely played a role in his approving the trade and leaving the Phillies after 15 seasons.

Rollins, perhaps more than any other member of the club, appeared poised to stick around until the end of his deal. His departure would seem to signal that the Phillies front office waving the white flag and finally succumbing to the need to tear down and rebuild the club’s roster.

Following a tremendous run from 2006-2011 that saw Philadelphia win five consecutive National League East championships, two NL pennants, and one World Series; the Phillies have regressed hard as an aging core and injuries saw the club fall to third, fourth, and fifth place in the NL East from 2012-2014.

Between now and spring training, we can expect general manager Ruben Amaro to look for avenues to move starters Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, outfielders Marlon Byrd, Ben Revere, and Dominic Brown, closer Jonathan Papelbon, catcher Carlos Ruiz, and infielders Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. All of whom have big contracts and/or the potential to bring back much needed prospects in a trade.

It’s not known who the Phillies will receive in exchange for Rollins at this time.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Jimmy Rollins, Los Angeles Dodgers, MLB, MLB Trades, MLB Winter Meetings, Philadelphia Phillies, Trade Rumors | 3 Comments

Twins Expand Search for Pitching, but Still Missing the Mark

Twins Pitching Options

The Twins came into the Winter Meetings in search of starting pitching…yet again.

Finally, after sitting idly by for the better part of the first two and a half days of the Winter Meetings, it is beginning to look like the Twins may actually walk away from San Diego with another arm for the rotation.

Earlier today, we reported that the club is interested in Ervin Santana and willing to surrender a second round draft pick to acquire him.

It’s also being reported that the club has shown interest in right-handers Kyle Kendrick and Edinson Volquez.

Neither option is overly inspiring for Twins fans that have watched the club make similar stopgap signings in recent years with names like Jason Marquis, Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey, and Ricky Nolasco immediately coming to mind.

Volquez, 31, is coming off one of the better seasons of his career after going 13-7 with a 3.04 ERA, 1.230 WHIP, and 140/71 K/BB in 192.2 innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Those numbers were good enough to net Volquez 2.5 WAR, the second best number of his career after the 4.8 he posted during his breakout year in 2008.

Prior to that, however, Volquez was mostly a train wreck in stints with the Reds, Padres, and Dodgers. From 2009-2013 Volquez posted a mediocre 4.94 ERA, 1.509 WHIP, 4.9 BB/9, and lead the National League in walks with 105 allowed in 2012. He followed that up by leading the league in earned runs with 108 in 2013. That stretch was good enough for -2.0 WAR. It’s hard to imagine a move to the American League would do him any favors.

Making matters worse, Volquez is reportedly looking to parlay his bounce-back season into a two-year, $20 million deal. That’s not crazy money, but it’s more than the Twins can afford to spend on a potential dumpster fire.

Kendrick, 30, is not coming off a great season. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to say he’s ever even had a very good season. In an eight-year career with the Philadelphia Phillies, he’s put up a 4.42 ERA, 1.367 WHIP, and a 1.93 K/BB ratio.

In a word: pass.

The club was previously linked to some actual big league pitchers including Francisco Liriano before he re-signed with the Pirates and Justin Masterson’s name has been tossed around, but it’s looking more and more like Masterson will have plenty of offers to choose from and the Twins aren’t considered a likely destination.

There have been rumblings about the Twins going after a reclamation project-type pitcher like Brett Anderson, Brandon Beachy, or Kris Medlen in hopes of a low-cost, high-reward outcome.

Currently, there’s been nothing more than speculation and reported interest, but no action.

The club reportedly met with Creative Arts Agency – the agency that represents Jake Peavy – at the general manager meetings in November to discuss the veteran right-handed starter signing with Minnesota, but – unsurprisingly – nothing came out of that conversation. At 33-years-old and coming off back-to-back World Series titles with Boston and San Francisco, respectively, it’s hard to imagine Peavy views the rebuilding Twins as a legitimate destination.

As it stands, the Twins have made one addition to the club this offseason when they brought back 39-year-old Torii Hunter on a one-year, $10.5 million deal to lazily jog after flyballs and sell some tickets based solely on nostalgia serve as a vocal leader and mentor to a young clubhouse.

The Twins weren’t expected to compete in 2015 no matter what happened in San Diego, but their lack of interest in adding any legitimate talent coupled with the vast improvement of others teams in the American League Central only solidifies the fact that the future in Minnesota – while very bright – is still a long ways off in the distance.

Posted in AL Central, American League, Baseball, Brandon Beachy, Brett Anderson, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Edinson Volquez, Ervin Santana, Francisco Liriano, Free Agency, Jake Peavy, Jason Marquis, Justin Masterson, Kevin Correia, Kris Medlen, Kyle Kendrick, Mike Pelfrey, Minnesota Twins, MLB, MLB Trades, Ranting, Ricky Nolasco, Torii Hunter, Trade Rumors | Leave a comment

Jon Lester’s Contract with the Cubs Could be Worth $180M

Jon Lester

Earlier today we reported that free agent starter Jon Lester had agreed on a six-year, $155 million with the Chicago Cubs.

While the basic structure of the deal is correct, the baseball world is just learning about the additional details and incentives of the contract.

Needless to say, if you thought $155 million was a lot of money for Lester, you may want to sit down for this.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Lester’s deal with the Cubs could be worth an additional $25 million before the end of the deal.

In addition to a boatload of cash, Lester’s agents wrangled a full no-trade clause and a $25 million vesting option for 2021 with a $10 million buyout.

Sources indicate that the 2021 option vests if he pitches 200+ innings in 2020 or 400+ combined innings in 2019 and 2020.

Lester has surpassed the 200 inning plateau in six of his seven years as a full-time starter, just missing the mark with 191.2 innings in 2011. If he can stay healthy into his mid-thirties, it shouldn’t be a struggle for Lester to hit the vesting option.

If Lester’s 2021 option vests that turns this into a seven-year, $180 million contract, which would blow the San Francisco Giants hypothetical seven-year, $168 million offer out of the water.

At the very least, even if the Cubs buyout Lester’s option year, he’s guaranteed $165 million.

Holy. Crap.

I guess now it’s your move, Max Scherzer.

Note: An earlier version of this post indicated that Lester could make up to $210 million between bonuses and incentives. This was based on incorrect reports that Lester’s $30 million signing bonus was on top of the $155 million that had already been reported. That information was incorrect. The $30 million signing bonus is part of the $155 million total. Lester receives $20 million up front and another $10 million spread over the life of the contract. The content of this article has been updated to reflect the new information.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago Cubs, Free Agency, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, MLB, MLB Winter Meetings, National League, NL Central | Leave a comment

Minnesota Twins Showing Interest in Ervin Santana

Ervin Santana

The Minnesota Twins are rarely big players in free agency, but they may be preparing to make a splash.

La Velle E. Neal III is reporting that the Twins are showing interest in free agent starter Ervin Santana:

Yes, the Twins are in on Ervin Santana.

The Twins have been in contact this week with Santana’s agent and apparently are prepared to give up a second round pick as compensation if they can work out a deal.

Santana is expected to attract plenty of interest. He was 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA last season with the Braves and has a track record of being durable. He would definitely upgrade the Twins’ rotation.

Santana, 31, is said to be seeking a five-year deal. The expectation is that he’s looking to earn close to $14 million per season.

Tim Dierkes at MLBTradeRumors projected a four-year, $56 million deal for Santana earlier this offseason, so Santana’s numbers seem right in line with his perceived value.

The Twins were linked to Santana last offseason and reportedly made a three-year offer that he turned down in favor of a one-year, $14.1 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.

Santana has an uninspiring career record of 119-100 with a 4.17 ERA, 1.283 WHIP, and a 2.56 K/BB ratio.

He has, however, been much better since leaving Los Angeles after the 2012 season posting a 23-20 record, with a 3.58 ERA, 1.221 WHIP, and 340/114 K/BB in 407 innings between the Royals and Braves.

More on this as it develops.

Posted in AL Central, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Ervin Santana, Free Agency, Minnesota Twins, MLB, MLB Winter Meetings | 1 Comment