White Sox Add Veterans Jesse Crain and Geovany Soto

Jesse Crain

The Chicago White Sox continued their offseason overhaul today by signing reliever Jesse Crain and catcher Geovany Soto to minor league deals.

Both veterans receive an invite to big league camp as part of their pacts with Chicago.

Crain, 33, had the best run of his career with the White Sox from 2011-2013. In that three-year stretch he posted a 2.10 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 205 ERA+, and a 10.6 K/9 rate over 156 games.

The right-hander was absolutely ridiculous in 2013 posting a .74 ERA, 1.145 WHIP, 575 ERA+, and a 46/11 K/BB ratio in 36.2 innings. The performance earned him a spot on his first All-Star team. Unfortunately, Crain wouldn’t participate as he was injured and on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain that he’d suffered in early July.

Despite being on the disabled list, the White Sox traded Crain to the Tampa Bay Rays on July 29, 2013; but he never pitched for the club.

Last offseason he signed a one-year deal with the Houston Astros – under the pretense that he would close for the club – but he began the season on the 60-day DL and never played a single game for the Astros.

If healthy, Crain could earn a spot in a Sox bullpen that is already crowded with right-handed relievers including: new closer David Robertson, Zach Putnam, Javy Guerra, Jake Petricka, Daniel Webb, and Maikel Cleto.

Geovany SotoSoto, 32, has regressed heavily from his early glory days with the cross-town Cubs that saw him take home Rookie of the Year honors and make his only All-Star team in 2008.

That season, Soto hit .285/.364/.504 with 35 doubles, 23 home runs, and 86 RBI in 494 at-bats.

In recent years, however, Soto has lost both his ability to hit for power and his penchant for consistently getting on-base. The loss of these two skills has accelerated his transition into a veteran backup catcher.

Over the last three seasons, Soto has “hit” a combined .219/.291/.381 with a grand total of 27 doubles, 21 home runs, 72 RBI, and 73 runs scored in 567 total at-bats.

If he makes the club out of spring training, he’ll backup Tyler Flowers who hasn’t hit much better than Soto in the big leagues, but does have tremendous power potential.

The White Sox have had a very busy offseason adding Adam LaRoche, Jeff Samardzija, Robertson, Melky Cabrera, and Emilio Bonifacio; and while neither of today’s signings are on par with those acquisitions, both – especially a healthy Crain – could play a role in the White Sox chances of reclaiming the American League Central.

Posted in AL Central, American League, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago White Sox, David Robertson, Emilio Bonifacio, Free Agency, Geovany Soto, Injuries, Jeff Samardzija, Jesse Crain, Melky Cabrera, MLB | Leave a comment

Blue Jays and Orioles Reportedly Nearing a Swap of Dan Duquette for a Top Pitching Prospect

Dan Duquette

Dan Duquette has been responsible for a number of huge acquisitions throughout his career and it’s looking like he might have another one up his sleeve in Baltimore.

Unfortunately, he won’t be around to reap the rewards of this addition, as he’ll likely be going the other way in the trade.

The Toronto Blue Jays have been searching for a new CEO to replace Paul Beeston for months and – in keeping with the recent trend of hiring successful general managers to high-ranking corporate positions – Duquette has been at the top of their list.

Earlier this month, Baltimore owner Peter Angelos flatly denied that Duquette might be leaving his post as executive vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles to take the promotion north of the border.

It’s understandable why Angelos would feel that way.

Duquette is under contract through 2018 and he’s played a huge role in turning around the franchise after years spent staring up at the competition. The Orioles have been to the playoffs twice during Duquette’s three seasons at the helm and appear poised to compete again in 2015.

Throughout the process Duquette has remained silent on the issue, but it’s widely-believed that he would love to take the job and Angelos is standing in his way.

The situation has seemingly reached a boiling point as Major League Baseball has actually intervened in the proceedings to help facilitate the deal for Toronto.

Now we’re getting wind that a deal could be in the works for Duquette to leave Baltimore, but not without compensation from Toronto.

And it’s looking as though that compensation could be significant:

Jeff Hoffman straight-up for Dan Duquette, huh?

I’m not going to lie, I’d be hard-pressed to think of anyone else on Baltimore’s current 25-man roster that could land Hoffman straight-up in a trade. Manny Machado, maybe? Dylan Bundy, maybe? That’s it…two maybes is as close as I can get.

Needless to say, that’s a pretty solid return for Baltimore and a tremendous coup for whomever may end up taking Duquette’s job in Baltimore.

Hoffman, 22, was taken ninth overall pick in last year’s amateur draft. He would have gone higher, but he was recovering from Tommy John surgery at the time.

Yes, you read that correctly, he was taken in the top ten despite having just undergone a ligament reconstruction. He’s that good.

He is currently ranked as the Blue Jays’ number three prospect by Baseball America and is widely-believed to have front of the rotation potential.

Prior to undergoing surgery Hoffman had mid-90s velocity and could routinely amp it up to 98 mph when necessary. His curveball and changeup are both viewed as plus-pitches by scouts and he has a slider that is still a work in progress, but can be devastating when he’s locked in.

Oh and if that wasn’t enough, he’s received rave reviews for his ability to command his vast arsenal of overpowering pitches.

If Hoffman is – in fact – the return for Duquette, we won’t officially know for months as he’s unable to be traded as anything more than a “player to be named later” given that he was just drafted in July.

The Duquette-to-Toronto saga has drawn on long enough for most fans and, undoubtedly, for both clubs as well.

I think it’s safe to say, that with spring training just weeks away, it needs to be wrapped up soon, one way or another.

Posted in AL East, American League, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Dan Duquette, Jeff Hoffman, MLB, MLB Trades, Peter Angelos, Toronto Blue Jays, Trade Rumors | Leave a comment

Atlanta Braves Reunite with Kelly Johnson

Kelly Johnson

The Atlanta Braves signed former first-round draft pick Kelly Johnson to a minor league deal with an invite to big league camp.

Johnson, 32, is coming off the worst season of his career where he hit .215/.296/.362 with 14 doubles, seven home runs, and 27 RBI in 106 games split between the Yankees, Red Sox, and Orioles.

It’s debatable how much Johnson has left in the tank after back-to-back dismal seasons, but Atlanta will give him an opportunity to win a super utility role in spring training if he’s able to find a spark with his bat.

Johnson is a few years removed from being one of the game’s better power threats at second base; from 2010 and 2012, Johnson averaged 27 doubles, 21 home runs, 61 RBI, and 14 stolen bases while posting an aggregate .245/.330/.428 batting line.

He’s long been a flawed player and his productivity has fallen off considerably over the past two seasons, but he’s a reliable defender at second base and has spent time at first base, third base, left field, and right field in recent seasons, adding to his value as a bench option.

Johnson was the 38th overall pick for the Braves in the 2000 amateur draft and he made his big league debut with the club in 2005 as a left fielder. A spring elbow injury and eventual Tommy John surgery cost Johnson the entire 2006 season.

He returned to the Majors in 2007 as a newly-minted second baseman and was a regular in Atlanta for the next two seasons before losing playing time in 2009 and departing as a free agent that winter.

The veteran has bounced around considerably since then, spending time in Arizona, Toronto, Tampa Bay, New York, Boston, and Baltimore.

A glance at the Braves projected depth chart doesn’t make it entirely clear if he has a path to regular playing time, but the Braves don’t expect to contend next season, so there’s zero reason not to give him regular at-bats if he has a big spring.

Despite his recent decline, Johnson still figures to be a nice addition to a very depleted club due to his power potential and versatility in the field.

Posted in Atlanta Braves, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Free Agency, Kelly Johnson, MLB, National League, NL East | 1 Comment

Johan Santana’s Latest Comeback Bid Halted by Shoulder Pain

Johan Santana

Johan Santana’s comeback has hit another speed bump.

Last week we covered Santana’s return to the mound for the Navegantes del Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Santana looked good, pitching two perfect innings against and facing a number of big league hitters in the process. The appearance reportedly drew the interest of a number of Major League clubs.

Unfortunately, LVBP.com is reporting that Santana felt lingering pain in the front of his left shoulder shortly thereafter and the club skipped his scheduled start on Sunday.

Magallanes was hoping he’d be able to take the hill this coming Thursday, but Santana continues to feel lingering discomfort.

As such, the club has opted instead to play it safe and shut him down for the remainder of the Venezuelan Winter League playoffs.

He underwent an MRI that revealed no structural damage to the shoulder, but his comeback bid is – for the moment – over.

If Santana can get – and stay – healthy, there’s a still a good chance someone will take a low-cost, minor league flier on the 35-year-old; but it’s looking less and less like Santana’s body, specifically his twice surgically-repaired shoulder, can hold up to the strain of pitching.

Prior to the injury, Santana was reportedly throwing upper-80s heat with his fastball and using his changeup with no limitations.

He’ll never been the Santana of old, but his two flawless innings last week showed that he’s still got the fire and the guile to get the job done against big league hitters; but his body just doesn’t appear to be willing or able to allow him that opportunity.

As a long-time fan of Santana, I’m hopeful that this will be nothing more than a temporary setback for the two-time Cy Young winner; but for now, it’s looking as though this might be the end of the road.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Free Agency, Injuries, Johan Santana, MLB | Leave a comment

Houston Astros Sign Outfielder Colby Rasmus

Colby Rasmus

The Astros and free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus have agreed on a one-year, $8 million deal for the 2015 season.

The signing comes just one day after Houston traded center fielder Dexter Fowler to the Chicago Cubs in exchange for infielder Luis Valbuena and pitcher Dan Straily.

Rasmus, 28, a career center fielder, would seemingly be Fowler’s replacement up the middle; allowing the club to keep burgeoning superstar George Springer in right field and sending former top prospect Jake Marisnick to the bench or back to the minors.

The move furthers the idea that the Astros are looking to be competitive, if not heavily-flawed, in 2015.

Rasmus is the latest addition to a lineup that will likely lead the league in home runs and could potentially set records for team strikeouts.

Last season, Rasmus hit 18 home runs while striking out 124 times in just 346 at-bats.

Here’s a quick look at the list of free-swinging mashers already on Houston’s roster and their HR/K numbers from 2014:


Needless to say, this team will be equal parts exciting and frustrating to watch in 2015.

In addition to big power and big strikeouts, Rasmus also brings an almost enigmatic quality to Houston.

Throughout his career he has posted two fantastic seasons in 2010 when he posted an .859 OPS, a 132 OPS+, and 3.6 WAR as a 22-year-old and in 2013 he put up an .840 OPS, 127 OPS+, and 4.6 WAR as a 26-year-old.

Surrounding those two seasons, however, is a lot of mediocrity and unfulfilled promise from a former first round draft pick. Consequently, it seems prudent to mention that he was drafted in St. Louis when current Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow was the Cardinals scouting director.

Lunhow and the Astros are clearly banking on a big bounce-back season for Rasmus.

It may be a tall order as we’re talking about a six-year veteran who has a career .246/.313/.438 batting line in more than 3,000 plate appearances and nearly 800 games at the big league level.

Rasmus probably isn’t as bad as he was last year, but he’s also not as good as he was in 2010 or 2013. The real Rasmus lies somewhere in between and is rapidly becoming a borderline everyday player.

Most defensive metrics agree that he looks stretched in center field and may be destined for a corner outfield slot moving forward.

It’s looking more and more likely that, at just 28-years-old, Rasmus may be at a crossroads in his career.

He’ll join the Astros and their island of misfit toys – seemingly the one place in baseball where his strikeouts won’t be a problem – and by season’s end, we’ll witness one of two outcomes.

He will have re-established his value in time to cash-in on the open market as a slugging center fielder or he’ll once again find himself a free agent deep into the depths of January, potentially searching for jobs as a fourth outfielder.

Posted in AL West, American League, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Colby Rasmus, Free Agency, Houston Astros, MLB | Leave a comment

Trade Complete: Yovani Gallardo to Rangers, Trio of Prospects to Brewers

Yovani Gallardo

It took a while, but Yovani Gallardo is officially headed to Texas.

We reported Sunday evening about the developing deal between the Rangers and Brewers to send the long-time Milwaukee ace to Texas; but any additional details were few and far between.

Earlier this morning Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the two clubs had a deal in place and the trade was pending medical review.

Now that the trade is official, we have a much clearer picture of how things shake out for both clubs.

The Rangers receive Gallardo and $4 million cash to cover part of his $13 million salary in 2015. He’ll be a free-agent for the first time at the end of the season, but Texas is hopeful they’ll be able to retain him long-term.

Gallardo, 28, will help solidify a rotation that was one of the worst in baseball a year ago. He’s been durable and consistent over the past six years and will form a strong front three alongside incumbents Yu Darvish and Derek Holland.

The Brewers save $9 million in salary and acquire three prospects including pitchers Marcos Diplan and Corey Knebel and middle infielder Luis Sardinas.

Marcos DiplanDiplan, 18, is a high-ceiling right-hander who was signed out of the Dominican in July 2013 for $1.3 million. At the time of his signing he was a highly-ranked international prospect ranked No. 8 by MLB.com and ranked No. 6 by Baseball America.

He has a fastball that consistently sits in the 90-93 mph range and can ramp it up to 95 mph when necessary. He is also regarded for an above average curveball and an average – but improving – changeup.

Over 13 starts in the Domnican Summer League he went 7-2 with a 1.54 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and a 57/36 K/BB ratio in 64.1 innings. He has a big league arm, but control is currently an area of improvement for Diplan and the Brewers.

It’s believed that Diplan has the highest-upside of any of the prospects coming to Milwaukee in the trade.

Corey KnebelKnebel, 23, was a first-round draft pick for the Detroit Tigers in 2013, but came over to Texas last summer in the Joakim Soria trade. He entered the 2014 season as Detroit’s No. 7 prospect according to Baseball America.

The right-hander boasts electric stuff with a fastball that sits 94-96 mph and touches 98 mph with regularity and a curveball that is – in a word – redonkulous. He has a below-average changeup and his control is viewed as a work in progress, but he’s believed to be a potential shutdown closer in the near future.

He absolutely dominated in the minor leagues going from Single-A to Triple-A in two years with a cumulative 1.65 ERA, .090 WHIP, 18 saves, and a 104/32 K/BB ratio in 76.1 innings pitched.

The one red flag with Knebel is that he was shut down late last season with a sprained UCL. It did not require surgery and the Brewers were clearly happy with what they saw when they examined the medical notes, but it’s still a cause for concern with a young hard-throwing reliever.

Luis SardinasSardinas, 21, was just ranked by Baseball America as the Rangers seventh best prospect for the second year in a row. He was ranked as a top 100 prospect by both MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus in each of the past two seasons.

Sardinas has good speed on the bases, but little to no power. He struggled badly in 2014 split between Double-A, Triple-A, and the Rangers; but he’s been much younger than the competition at every stop in his minor league career.

He can play shortstop or second base and was rated the best defensive infielder in the Texas farm system. It’s debatable whether he’ll hit enough to warrant an everyday role or if he’ll be more of a utility guy going forward.

Sardinas is blocked at the big league level by Jurickson Profar, Rougned Odor, and Elvis Andrus and was expendable for the Rangers.

In addition to the three young prospects coming back in the deal, Milwaukee now has financial flexibility to consider adding another starter via trade or free agency.

The rumor last night was that moving Gallardo might open the club up to acquiring free agent James Shields; a rumor that was spurred by the fact that the Brewers will clear nearly $50 million from the books by season’s end.

Today, Jon Morosi of FoxSports is speculating that Washington’s acquisition of Max Scherzer could make Jordan Zimmermann an ideal trade target – and long-term extension candidate – for the Brewers.

While there is still plenty of off-season left for the Brewers to make a splash; for the Rangers this is likely the big move of winter.

Gallardo will bolster the rotation and Texas will hope to avoid the injury bug that torpedoed their hopes of competing a year ago.

What Milwaukee does next will play a big part in evaluating this deal, but on the surface this looks like a pretty solid move for both clubs.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Corey Knebel, Marcos Diplan, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, MLB Trades, Texas Rangers, Trade Rumors, Yovani Gallardo | 2 Comments

Pitch Clock Coming to Minor League Baseball

The Pitchclock Cometh

Earlier this week, it was reported that Major League Baseball is currently in the process of instituting a pitch clock to be used in Minor League games.

Personally, I hate this.

I get that a lot of people think this is a good idea, and don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to have an opinion; but they’re all wrong.

I can’t understand why baseball is bending to the “games are too long” crowd in such a significant way.

When I walk into a stadium what I am seeing is a full concourse and a bunch of people enjoying the experience that an MLB ballpark creates. They come for the game, beer, and the camaraderie of their wife, kid, or buddy one seat away.

In reality, a baseball game isn’t all that much longer than any “clock maintained” professional sport.

In fact, it’s been widely studied that baseball actually has more actual game action than your typical cash cow football game. Unfortunately, what baseball doesn’t have is a good supply of replay content – there’s a reason the coliseum existed, people like bodies smashing into bodies.

Over the years I’ve come up with a list of other reasons why football reigns supreme in this country with the general audience, but this is neither the time nor the place, I will cover that in a different post.

…back to the pitch clock.

As a former, average, high school pitcher, I can relate to the difficulty a pitcher may have in releasing a ball in a mere 20 seconds from retrieval.

Think about all of the sequences going on once the pitcher gets the ball even if the batter must keep his foot in the batter’s box:

1) Batter and base runners getting signs from coaches or the dugout. Since they’re not set, you can’t deliver the ball.

2) Catcher sets defense with signs. This may not occur every play, but when it does it will affect pitch delivery time.

3) Hitter gets set in batter’s box. The pitcher allows him to get comfortable. There’s a 90 MPH hard ball about to be hurled in his direction. This is appropriate.

4) Catcher gives signs which are being monitored by whomever could be on second base, which requires a strategic set of continually changing signs, which requires shake-offs. This is a game of cat and mouse. Baseball is strategic and intricate and it’s what makes it great.

5) Once the pitcher agrees on a pitch, he must come to a full stop prior to pitching. In many cases there is someone on base that he must monitor – even the best pitchers allow more than one base runner per inning. If you rush this portion of the process stolen bases will go up.

Do I think making a pitch is attainable within 20 seconds? Yes.

However, there are other concerns. What about coaching challenges, rule clarifications, play clarifications, pitch clarifications (high, low, inside, out), etc. How does this affect the clock? If it doesn’t affect it, does that mean the clock is subjective?

The punishment for delivering a late pitch is reportedly charging the pitcher with a ball. This seems silly. You mean Major League Baseball is willing to provide a reward for accomplishing nothing?

Listen, if all that’s coming from a pitch count is a better way to monitor game speed and give umpires a better way to react to that speed, fine; but don’t let it impact the game.

Let the players who are paid handsomely control the outcome, not a clock.

I’ve said it many times, baseball isn’t football, which is likely it’s best asset.

Stop trying to make it so similar.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Ranting | 2 Comments

Update: Max Scherzer’s Deal with Washington Reportedly Worth $210 Million

Max Scherzer

Mad Max is getting some mad money.

The financial details of Max Scherzer’s seven-year pact with the Washington Nationals are finally rolling in and they are…unique.

The contract is still – as we reported earlier – a seven-year pact, but it’s worth considerably more than the $180 million figure that was floated this morning.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports is reporting that part of the new total includes a $50 signing bonus that will be paid out over the lifetime of the contract.

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports is reporting that, in total, Scherzer will earn $210 million.

We’ll pause for a moment to take you to this very important GIF of Scherzer at his home:

Max Scherzer

Okay, so that’s a ton of money, yet this is still being lauded as a very good deal for the Nationals.

…so what’s the catch?

Half of that money is deferred for an additional seven years after the life of the initial contract, meaning Scherzer will make $15 million a season until 2028, long after he’s retired.

Structuring the deal this way allows Scherzer and his agent, Scott Boras to say they landed the $200+ million contract they were seeking all along.

It also gives the Nationals a huge competitive advantage as they’ll only be paying Scherzer $15 million a year – considerably less than most front-line starters – which will allow them additional financial flexibility to retain many of their impending free agents.

In this scenario, everyone wins.

Scherzer gets paid quite handsomely and will be making a ridiculous salary long after he’s hung up the spikes.

Meanwhile, the Nationals are now in a financial position to keep their juggernaut pitching staff together and retain the bulk of their impending free agents to build a legitimate super team for the foreseeable future.

…and somewhere James Shields is laughing maniacally.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Free Agency, James Shields, Max Scherzer, MLB, Scott Boras, Washington Nationals | 1 Comment

Cubs to Acquire Dexter Fowler from Astros

Dexter Fowler

The Cubs are acquiring outfielder Dexter Fowler from the Houston Astros.

In exchange for Fowler, the Astros will receive Luis Valbuena and Dan Straily.

Fowler, 28, posted a very typical .276/.375/.399 batting line with eight home runs, 21 doubles, and 11 stolen bases in his first season in Houston in 2014.

He has played primarily center field in the big leagues, but defensive metrics have never liked his defense and it’s possible he’ll move to a corner in Chicago.

The club already has a full-cast of outfielders including Jorge Soler, Chris Coghlan, Chris Denorfia and Arismendy Alcantara. Although Alcantara is just 23-years-old and struggled mightily in 2014. He may start the year in the minors with Fowler getting the first crack at the center field job.

Fowler is in his final season of arbitration eligibility and on Friday he filed for $10.8 million, with the Astros countering at $8.5 million. Fowler’s rising cost coupled with the presence of George Springer, Jake Marisnick, and recent acquisition Evan Gattis made him expendable in Houston.

Valbuena, 29, is coming off his best year in the big leagues where he posted a .776 OPS with 16 home runs and 33 doubles in 149 games. He’s a career .229/.313/.374 hitter who – prior to 2014 – had never played more than 108 games in a season.

He should compete with former top-prospect Matt Dominguez for the third base job. Dominguez has yet to hit at the big league level and Valbuena, a flawed player in his own right, could easily replace him at the hot corner for Houston.

Straily, 26, was acquired from the Athletics last year in the Jeff Samardzija deal and failed to impress in limited action with Chicago last season. He had a good minor league track record, but has yet to translate that success into the big leagues.

In Houston, Straily figures to serve as rotation depth and a potential long-man out of the club’s retooled bullpen. He has five years of control remaining before he’s eligible for free agency, so Houston will have plenty of time to find the right role for him.

In Chicago, Fowler amounts to a solid veteran presence in a very young lineup. He consistently gets on-base and should provide enough power and speed help solidify the top-half of the Cubs lineup in 2015.

He likely serves as a one-year placeholder with more prospects on the way and uber-prospect Kris Bryant often mentioned as a candidate to move to left field when he reaches the big leagues.

The Cubs acquisition of Jon Lester in December signaled that the club had sped up the rebuilding process and was ready to compete.

Adding Fowler allows for some of the prospects to get more seasoning while giving the big league club a solid shot in the arm for the upcoming season.

Posted in Arismendy Alcantara, Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago Cubs, Dan Straily, Dexter Fowler, Houston Astros, Jorge Soler, Kris Bryant, Luis Valbuena, MLB, MLB Trades, Trade Rumors | 1 Comment

Mr. Scherzer Goes to Washington

Max Scherzer - Washington's Newest Ace

It is official; Max Scherzer has reached an agreement with the Washington Nationals.

The deal comes amid rampant speculation Sunday evening that the two-time All-Star was nearing a deal with the Nationals.

At the time we knew Scherzer had a seven-year offer on the table, but there were no dollar figures and it was rumored that a “mystery team” was still in the mix for the right-hander’s services.

Concerns about a “mystery team” swooping in to mess up the Nationals plans were put to rest shortly after midnight when the club reportedly made things official.

William Ladson of MLB.com confirmed the news via Twitter:

Shortly thereafter, Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports chimed in to confirm that the deal was worth north of $180 million.

The contract surpasses the six-year, $155 million pact that Jon Lester agreed to with the Chicago Cubs last month and becomes the highest contract ever doled out to a free-agent starting pitcher.

In terms of overall value; it would seem the deal matches – and will inevitably surpass – the 2013 extension Justin Verlander signed with the Tigers, which added five years and $140 million onto the right-hander’s existing deal, essentially turning it into a similar seven-year, $180 million pact.

Scherzer’s deal would, however, still fall shy of Clayton Kershaw’s record seven-year, $215 million extension that he signed a year ago.

The final financial details have yet to be released, but it’s speculated that Scherzer’s agent Scott Boras was able to negotiate enough incentives, bonuses, and other contract wizardry to give the 2013 Cy Young winner a legitimate chance at reaching the $200 million he was seeking when he hit free agency.

The deal also proves that Scherzer was wise to bet on himself last spring when he reportedly turned down a six-year, $144 million extension offer from Detroit; trusting that he would make significantly more on the open market.

Scherzer, 30, has been one of baseball’s best pitchers over the last two seasons going 39-8 with a 3.02 ERA, 135 ERA+, 2.79 FIP, 1.07 WHIP, and a 492/119 K/BB ratio in 434.2 innings.

Throughout his seven-year career, split between Arizona and Detroit, he has a 3.58 ERA, 117 ERA+, 3.39 FIP, and a 1.22 WHIP while average 9.6 K/9 and nearly 200 innings per season.

He’ll join a starting rotation that was already one of the National League’s best and includes Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Tanner Roark.

The Nationals are already the reigning NL East champions and are clearly poised to repeat with the addition of Scherzer creating a rotation that could be one of — if not the — greatest of all-time.

It’s speculated that the club will need to make a trade to accommodate for Scherzer’s salary. The club has a lot of impending free agents including Zimmermann, Fister, shortstop Ian Desmond, and outfielder Denard Span.

As Jon Morosi of FoxSports indicates, there is also some rumblings that the club could switch gears and look to move Strasburg – likely for a much larger return – and attempt to retain some of the other impending free agents.

Expect a lot more action coming out of Washington before spring training kicks off next month.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Cy Young, Denard Span, Doug Fister, Free Agency, Gio Gonzalez, Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Max Scherzer, MLB, National League, NL East, Scott Boras, Stephen Strasburg, Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals | 2 Comments

AFC Championship Game Recap

Bill Belichick

Posted in AFC Championship, Bill Belichick, Football, Indianapolis Colts, Julian Edelman, LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots, NFL, Rob Gronkowski, Super Bowl, Tom Brady | 1 Comment

NFC Championship Game Recap

NFC Championship Game

Full-Disclosure: I didn’t start watching the NFC Championship Game until there were roughly five minutes left.

I turned the game on just as Russell Wilson was throwing his fourth pick of the day and everyone was patting Green Bay on the back for returning to the Super Bowl.

As such, my rundown of the NFC Championship Game really only covers what I saw, which is fine, because it was absolutely amazing.

Continue reading

Posted in Aaron Rodgers, Football, Green Bay Packers, Jermaine Kearse, Marshawn Lynch, Mason Crosby, NFC Championship, NFL, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl | Leave a comment

Max Scherzer Reportedly Nearing Seven-Year Deal

Max Scherzer

The Max Scherzer sweepstakes may soon reach a conclusion.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that Scherzer has a seven-year offer on the table and the Washington Nationals are believed to be in the mix, with at least one other club still lurking in the weeds.

This is the first time that the Nationals have crept into talk about Scherzer, but it’s worth noting that general manager Mike Rizzo originally drafted Scherzer when he worked for the Diamondbacks and has made many unexpected pitching additions in recent years.

Washington’s payroll currently sits at $133.4 million, but shortstop Ian Desmond, outfielder Denard Span, and starting pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister are all slated to hit free agency at the end of the upcoming season. Their departures would free up nearly $48 million. The addition of Scherzer would almost certainly lead to the club trading a starting pitcher.

Scherzer, 30, is a two-time All-Star who went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.175 WHIP, and a 252/63 K/BB ratio in 220.1 innings last season with Detroit.

The right-hander took home the Cy Young award in 2013 and finished fifth in voting in 2014.

Jon Lester set the high-water mark earlier this off-season when he signed a six-year, $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs. Scherzer is expected to eclipse that in terms of both years and total dollars.

Scherzer reportedly rejected a six-year, $144 million extension offer from the Tigers last spring and has been seeking to make $200+ million as a free agent this off-season.

It’s too soon to consider this a done deal, especially with a reported mystery team still in play and super agent Scott Boras pulling the strings for Scherzer’s negotiations.

We’ll have more information when Scherzer finally puts pen to paper.

Update: It seems that the “mystery team” might not be a factor as the Nationals reportedly are closing in on a deal quite quickly with Scherzer, but no one is quite ready to call it official.

…more as it develops.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Detroit Tigers, Free Agency, Max Scherzer, MLB, Scott Boras, Washington Nationals | 2 Comments

Developing: Yovani Gallardo Reportedly Headed to Texas

Yovani Gallardo

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports is reporting that the Texas Rangers are close to acquiring veteran right-hander Yovani Gallardo from the Milwaukee Brewers.

There is currently no word about who would be coming back to Milwaukee in the deal, but it has been reported that former top prospect Jurickson Profar is not part of the deal.

The Rangers rotation was one of the worst in Major League Baseball last year thanks to a slew of injuries and ineffectiveness. Gallardo would go a long way toward remedying those issues.

Gallardo, 28, has averaged just shy of 200 innings pitched and 200 strikeouts per season since 2009. That kind of durability and firepower were greatly lacking on the Rangers staff a year ago.

He brings far more than just the ability to eat innings, however, as he boasts a career 3.69 ERA, 1.303 WHIP, and 2.59 K/BB ratio. He is coming off an uneven season that saw him post his lowest win total (8) and K/9 (6.8), but his best ERA (3.51) and BB/9 (2.5) of his career.

Gallardo - RangersHe’s not an ace, but he would be a very solid number two or three starter at the front of the Texas rotation alongside Yu Darvish and Derek Holland.

Gallardo is set to make $13 million in 2015 after Milwaukee exercised his club option last October. He will become a free agent for the first time at the end of the upcoming season.

The trade would also reunite Gallardo with Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux who was his pitching coach when he first broke into the big leagues with Milwaukee.

As for the Brewers, the timing of this move seems odd given that the club was competitive for much of last season and seemed poised to compete for a pennant once again with Ryan Braun reportedly healthy for the first time in nearly two seasons.

It’s possible that the Brewers looked around the recently reloaded NL Central and realized they weren’t set to compete in 2015. If that’s the case, a decision to shed salary and add a young piece or two that will be around beyond next season makes sense.

Under that scenario, and assuming they don’t add another arm, the trade would leave the Brewers looking at a rotation of Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta, Mike Fiers, and Jimmy Nelson.

That rotation is good, but not great; and certainly not likely to compete in the NL Central.

The second school of thought, however, is that this move is a precursor to something much bigger for Milwaukee.

Rosenthal and Joel Sherman of the New York Post are speculating that it could be a setup to make a run at a certain free agent starter who has seen his market fail to develop this winter.

That’s nearly $50 million the Brewers are slated to clear from their payroll after this season and, as Rosenthal mentions, Milwaukee swept in late to land Lohse after draft pick compensation killed his market too.

If the Brewers are able to land a top prospect and turn Gallardo into James Shields or, potentially even Max Scherzer, this would be a shrewd move and further the arms race in the NL Central.

More on this story as it unfolds and we learn who is going to back to Milwaukee in the swap.

Posted in Baseball, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Derek Holland, James Shields, Jurickson Profar, Max Scherzer, Milwaukee Brewers, MLB, MLB Trades, NL Central, Texas Rangers, Trade Rumors, Yovani Gallardo, Yu Darvish | 1 Comment

MLB Arbitration Rundown


If you were anywhere near Twitter yesterday, your feed was probably inundated with arbitration updates.

That’s because Friday marked the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary figures; each submitting what they think the individual player is worth for the upcoming season.

In most cases, the player and the club avoid arbitration altogether and agree to a new contract to avoid any petty disagreements that run the risk of lingering between the player and management long after the arbitration process has been completed.

There were plenty of examples of teams and players skipping the process this year and agreeing to one-year contracts on Friday; including a record-setting deal between the Tigers and David Price.

Those who didn’t agree on new deals are now in an awkward waiting game. Arbitration hearings begin next month, but both sides can hammer out a contract at any point before the hearing.

If the player and team don’t work out a deal, then a three-person arbitration panel will choose either the salary submitted by the player or the salary submitted by the team based on their arguments. Naturally, you can see where this might breed discontent between the two sides.

As such, we can expect a number of additional deals to pop-up in the coming weeks before the hearings are slated to begin.

Here’s a quick and dirty recap of Friday’s arbitration action from around Major League Baseball.

Listed first are the players who avoided arbitration with their new 2015 salary in parenthesis, in order from largest to smallest. Second, are the players and teams who have filed for arbitration with the players submitted salary, followed by the team’s submitted salary in parenthesis, again from largest to smallest.

All numbers come courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors’ Arbitration Tracker:

Arizona Diamondbacks
Avoided: Jeremy Hellickson ($4.275M)
Filed: Mark Trumbo ($6.9M | $5.3M) & Addison Reed ($5.6M | $4.7M)

Atlanta Braves
Avoided: None
Filed: Mike Minor ($5.6M | $5.1M)

Baltimore Orioles
Avoided: Chris Davis ($12M), Matt Wieters ($8.3M), Chris Tillman ($4.315M), Brian Matusz ($3.2M)
Filed: Bud Norris ($10.25M | $7.5M), Alejandro De Aza ($5.65M | $5M), Steve Pearce ($5.4M | $2M), Zach Britton ($4.2M | $2.2M), Miguel Gonzalez ($3.95M | $2.5M), Ryan Flaherty ($1.5M | $900,000)

Boston Red Sox
Avoided: Rick Porcello ($12.5M) & Junichi Tazawa ($2.25M)
Filed: Wade Miley ($4.3M | $3.4M)

Chicago Cubs
Avoided: Travis Wood ($5.686M), Luis Valbuena ($4.2M), Jake Arrieta ($3.63M), Chris Coghlan ($2.505M), Welington Castillo ($2.1M)
Filed: Pedro Strop ($3M | $2M)

Chicago White Sox
Avoided: Jeff Samardzija ($9.8M) & Tyler Flowers ($2.675M)
Filed: None

Cincinnati Reds
Avoided: Mike Leake ($9.775M &, Zack Cozart ($2.35M)
Filed: Aroldis Chapman ($8.7M | $6.65M), Todd Frazier ($5.7M | $3.9M), Devin Mesoraco ($3.6M | $2.45M)

Cleveland Indians
Avoided: Brandon Moss ($6.5M), Bryan Shaw ($1.55M), Josh Tomlin ($1.5M)
Filed: None

Colorado Rockies
Avoided: Jhoulys Chacin ($5.5M), Rex Brothers ($1.4M), Michael McKenry ($1.0876M)
Filed: Adam Ottavino ($1.475M | $1M)

Detroit Tigers
Avoided: David Price (record $19.75M), Alfredo Simon ($5.55M), OF J.D. Martinez ($3M)
Filed: Al Alburquerque ($2.05M | $1.375M)

Houston Astros
Avoided: Jason Castro ($4M), Tony Sipp ($2.4M), Hank Conger ($1.075M)
Filed: Dexter Fowler ($10.8M | $8.5M) & Marwin Gonzalez ($1.4M | $900,000)

Kansas City Royals
Avoided: Tim Collins $1.475M) & Louis Coleman ($725,000)
Filed: Greg Holland ($9M | $6.65M), Eric Hosmer ($6.7M | $4.6M), Lorenzo Cain ($3.6M | $2M), Mike Moustakas ($3.1M | $1.85M), Danny Duffy ($3M | $1.75M), Kelvin Herrera ($1.9M | $1.15M)

Los Angeles Angels
Avoided: Fernando Salas ($1.375M) & Collin Cowgill ($995,000)
Filed: David Freese ($7.6M | $5.25M), Matt Joyce ($5.2M | $4.2M), Garrett Richards ($3.8M | $2.4M)

Los Angeles Dodgers
Avoided: Kenley Jansen ($7.425M), Justin Turner ($2.5M), Juan Nicasio ($2.3M)
Filed: None

Miami Marlins
Avoided: Steve Cishek ($6.65M), Henderson Alvarez ($4M), Dee Gordon ($2.5M), Aaron Crow ($1.975M)
Filed: None

Milwaukee Brewers
Avoided: Gerardo Parra ($6.2375M)
Filed: None

Minnesota Twins
Avoided: Trevor Plouffe ($4.8M), Tommy Milone ($2.775M), Casey Fien ($1.375M), Eduardo Nunez ($1.025M)
Filed: Brian Duensing ($3.1M | $2.4M) & Jordan Schafer ($1.7M | $1.4M)

New York Mets
Avoided: Daniel Murphy ($8M), Dillon Gee ($5.3M), Ruben Tejada ($1.88M)
Filed: Lucas Duda ($4.7M | $3.75M) & Jenrry Mejia ($3M | $2.1M)

New York Yankees
Avoided: Nathan Eovaldi ($3.3M), Michael Pineda ($2.1M), David Carpenter ($1.275M)
Filed: None

Oakland Athletics
Avoided: Josh Reddick ($4.1M), Brett Lawrie ($1.925M), Sam Fuld ($1.75M), Ryan Cook ($1.4M)
Filed: Tyler Clippard ($8.85M | $7.775M), Jarrod Parker ($1.7M | $850,000), IF Eric Sogard ($1.425M | $900,000), Fernando Abad ($1.225M | $850,000)

Philadelphia Phillies
Avoided: Ben Revere ($4.1M) & Dom Brown ($2.6M)
Filed: None

Pittsburgh Pirates
Avoided: Mark Melancon ($5.4M), Antonio Bastardo ($3.1M), Josh Harrison ($2.8M), Travis Snider ($2.1M), Sean Rodriguez ($1.9M), Tony Watson ($1.75M), Chris Stewart ($1.225 milion), Jared Hughes ($1.075M), Francisco Cervelli ($987,500)
Filed: Neil Walker ($9M | $8M), Pedro Alvarez ($5.75M | $5.25M), Vance Worley ($2.45M | $2M)

San Diego Padres
Avoided: Ian Kennedy ($9.85M), Tyson Ross ($5.25M), Andrew Cashner ($4.05M), Shawn Kelley ($2.835M), Alexi Amarista (two years, $2.5M), Yonder Alonso ($1.65M), Dale Thayer ($1.375M)
Filed: None

San Francisco Giants
Avoided: Yusmeiro Petit ($2.1M)
Filed: Casey McGehee ($5.4M | $4M), Brandon Belt ($4.5M | $3M), Gregor Blanco ($4M | $3.3M), Brandon Crawford ($3.95M | $2.4M)

Seattle Mariners
Avoided: Austin Jackson ($7.7M), Logan Morrison ($2.725M), Dustin Ackley ($2.6M), Justin Ruggiano ($2.505M), Charlie Furbush ($1.3M)
Filed: Tom Wilhelmsen ($2.2M | $1.4M)

St. Louis Cardinals
Avoided: Lance Lynn (three year, $22M)
Filed: Jon Jay ($5M | $4.1M)

Tampa Bay Rays
Avoided: Alex Cobb ($4M), Jake McGee ($3.55M), John Jaso ($3.175M), Desmond Jennings ($3.1M), Kevin Jepsen ($3.025M), Drew Smyly ($2.65M), Rene Rivera ($1.2M), Logan Forsythe ($1.1M)
Filed: None

Texas Rangers
Avoided: Ross Detwiler ($3.45M)
Filed: Mitch Moreland ($3.35M | $2.75M)

Toronto Blue Jays
Avoided: Marco Estrada ($3.9M) & Michael Saunders ($2.875M)
Filed: Josh Donaldson ($5.75M | $4.3M) & Danny Valencia ($1.675M | $1.25M)

Washington Nationals
Avoided: Doug Fister ($11.4M), Stephen Strasburg ($7.4M), Drew Storen ($5.7M)
Filed: Jerry Blevins ($2.4M | $2.2M)

Posted in Arbitration, Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Baseball, Boston Red Sox, Cheap Seat Chronicles, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Cleveland Indians, Colorado Rockies, David Price, Detroit Tigers, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, MLB, New York Mets, New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals | 1 Comment