Oakland Athletics – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-01-23T03:41:11Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Athletics Claim Parker Bridwell]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=145597 2019-01-22T22:03:18Z 2019-01-22T21:02:23Z The Athletics have claimed righty Parker Bridwell off waivers from the Angels, per a club announcement. He had recently been designated for assignment by the Halos for the second time this offseason.

The 27-year-old Bridwell will give the A’s some much-needed rotation depth. Oakland will be without top starter Sean Manaea for the 2019 season following shoulder surgery, and the A’s have also seen 2018 starters Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson all hit free agency. Right-hander Mike Fiers, too, was briefly a free agent after being non-tendered by Oakland, but he’s since returned on a new two-year contract.

Bridwell struggled through a nightmare season in 2018, pitching just 6 2/3 innings at the Major League level while being clobbered for 13 runs on 14 hits — including five home runs. His Triple-A work wasn’t much better, as injuries limited him to 28 innings and he yielded nearly a run per inning pitched.

However, Bridwell is also only a season removed from 121 innings of 3.64 ERA ball with the 2017 Angels. Bridwell’s meager 5.4 K/9 and near-80 percent strand rate that season called his ability to sustain that success into question, but the A’s are thin on rotation options at the moment and Bridwell now figures to factor squarely into that mix.  He’s out of minor league options, so assuming he sticks on Oakland’s 40-man roster into Spring Training, he’ll need to break camp with the team or else once again be exposed to waivers.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Kyler Murray Declares For NFL Draft]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144510 2019-01-14T20:53:26Z 2019-01-14T20:53:26Z Athletics outfield prospect and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray announced today that he has formally declared for the NFL Draft. While this is a largely procedural move that was widely anticipated and does not preclude him from opting to continue as a professional baseball player, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Murray “has informed the Oakland A’s of his intention to follow his heart to the NFL” (Twitter link).

It’s not feasible for Murray to endure the rigors of playing quarterback in the NFL and then also playing baseball in the spring and summer; reports from the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser and Henry Schulman indicated last week that there was no scenario in which Murray would play both sports professionally. Schefter tweets today that Murray’s mind “has been made up,” though there is of course still time for a late change of heart.

The Athletics have reportedly been discussing signing Murray to a Major League contract and adding him to the 40-man roster as a means of swaying him away from a football career. While ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported last night that the league would not stand in the way of Murray signing a Major League deal so quickly despite the fact that the collective bargaining agreement ruled out MLB contracts for draftees back in 2012, Schefter’s reports today suggest that Murray isn’t all that likely to be swayed. He does technically still have a few weeks to decide, and the Athletics, it seems, can continue to negotiate with agent Scott Boras in the meantime.

As I noted last week when looking at the situation, if Murray is drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, he stands to earn more than double the $4.66MM signing bonus that the Athletics gave him when selecting him with the ninth overall pick in last year’s MLB Draft. Last year’s No. 32 pick in the NFL Draft, Lamar Jackson, signed for nearly $9.5MM and will earn every bit of that sum; beyond that, he quickly ascended to a starter’s role in the NFL. On the flip side, even after signing a theoretical Major League deal, Murray would still need to spend at the very least one to two seasons developing in front of sparse minor league crowds before reaching the big leagues.

Should Murray pursue his career in football, Slusser and Schulman reported last week that the Athletics will not receive a compensatory pick in this June’s draft. Murray would have to return that $4.66MM bonus to Oakland, though he’d quite likely be setting himself up to earn substantially more money in the very near future.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Kyler Murray, Athletics]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144324 2019-01-14T20:51:10Z 2019-01-14T02:30:56Z 8:30pm: Murray and his camp haven’t made any salary demands in talks with the Athletics, Slusser reports (Twitter link).

5:35pm: Kyler Murray has until tomorrow to declare his eligibility for the NFL Draft, and a contingent from the A’s front office (including Billy Beane and David Forst) is meeting with the two-sport star and his camp today to try and convince him to remain in the Athletics’ farm system rather than pursue a pro football career.  The situation could result in a unique resolution between the two sides and the league itself, as ESPN.com’s Jeff Passan is reporting (Twitter links) that if the A’s and Murray can agree to a Major League contract that would guarantee Murray more money for sticking with baseball, Major League Baseball wouldn’t object.

As Passan explains in follow-up tweets, league rules prevent a team from signing a drafted player to an MLB contract straight out of the draft.  In Murray’s case, he has already signed a minor league deal last summer, which included a $4.6MM bonus as the ninth overall selection in the 2018 draft.  Since Murray is already technically under contract, no league rules would be broken if Oakland was to sign him to a Major League contract now and add him to its 40-man roster.  As Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times notes (Twitter link), Major League Baseball wouldn’t believe that Murray and the A’s were in violation of the draft pool system with this new contract unless the league felt such a handshake agreement for more money was made last summer, before Murray was originally signed.

The eye-popping news comes in the wake of reports from earlier today from WFAA’s Mike Leslie, who heard from a source that Murray wanted $15MM in new money to forego the NFL for the Athletics.  While Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle hears that the $15MM figure is “too high,” she notes that the A’s and Murray’s representatives from the Boras Corporation “are working on trying something creative to accommodate” a new agreement.

Since being drafted by the A’s last summer, Murray’s star has risen following a season that saw the quarterback win the Heisman Trophy and lead Oklahoma to a slot in the College Football Playoff.  Slusser and Henry Schulman of the Chronicle reported earlier this week that Murray was now leaning towards declaring for the NFL Draft, as he’d gain more money beyond $4.66MM (which would be given back to the A’s) as a potential first-round pick, and Murray could potentially be on an NFL field as soon as September, rather than facing at least a few seasons in the minors before cracking the Athletics’ Major League roster.

Perhaps with a nod to Murray’s higher profile, Major League Baseball sent some marketing executives to today’s meeting between Murray and the A’s front office, MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports.  As Passan put it, the league’s willingness to permit a Major League contract this early in Murray’s pro baseball career is indicative of how “special a situation” MLB considers Murray’s case to be, as “Murray in MLB would be a coup.”

It stands to reason that other teams could raise objections to a new Murray contract, though the circumstances are unique enough that it isn’t likely to lead to a future flurry of teams trying to find loopholes around the draft pool system.  One rival general manager tells The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal that “Everyone knows this isn’t circumvention….I actually hope the A’s can get it done. It would be good for the game for Murray to play baseball.”

The other interesting wrinkle about a new contract is that it would tweak Murray’s timeline to the majors.  If Murray is placed on the 40-man roster, 2019 would become his first option year, so he’d be out of options following the 2022 season.  That leaves the A’s with less time to access Murray’s prospect potential, though the club clearly sees that as a preferred scenario to losing Murray (and wasting a first-round pick) entirely should he opt for the NFL.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[A’s Reportedly Expect Kyler Murray To Enter NFL Draft]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=143578 2019-01-13T18:19:25Z 2019-01-13T15:35:18Z JAN. 13: Athletics executive vice president Billy Beane is among those meeting with Murray today in hopes of convincing him to choose baseball over football, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. General manager David Forst is also on hand, per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, who adds a decision isn’t expected to come Sunday.

JAN. 9: The Athletics are expecting Kyler Murray, the No. 9 overall pick in last year’s MLB draft but also the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for Oklahoma, to declare for the NFL draft this Sunday, Susan Slusser and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle report.

Entering the draft doesn’t necessarily mean that Murray will forgo his commitment to the Athletics, but Slusser and Schulman report that one source indicated to them that Murray is indeed leaning toward selecting football as his profession rather than baseball. Should Murray go that route rather than pursuing his career as an outfielder in the Athletics organization, the A’s would get his $4.66MM signing bonus back, but they wouldn’t receive a compensatory selection in the 2019 draft. That reality, as noted by Baseball America’s Teddy Cahill at the time (Twitter link), made the selection of Murray one of the riskier draft picks in recent memory.

While many onlookers note that Major League Baseball’s guaranteed salary structure should be more enticing to Murray (or any player), that’s somewhat of a presumptuous argument. At present, the only thing guaranteed to Murray in his baseball career is that $4.66MM bonus. That’s obviously a life-changing sum of money, but Murray’s next notable payday in baseball would be nowhere in sight. He’d need to play for next to nothing for at least two seasons in the minors as he worked his way toward the Majors, then spend at least his first three seasons making roughly the league minimum before even reaching arbitration — barring an early career extension (which the A’s haven’t handed out recently and which Murray’s agent, Scott Boras, typically avoids).

Even an optimistic and aggressive timeline for Murray reaching arbitration would put him at least a half-decade away from realizing his first significant post-draft payday in baseball, and it’s far from a guarantee that he’d ever be the type of player to command significant arbitration salaries or a significant multi-year contract in free agency.

Conversely, the No. 32 overall selection in last year’s NFL draft, Lamar Jackson, signed a four-year, $9,471,648 contract with the Ravens and quickly ascended to the starter’s role in Baltimore. Certainly, there are more than pure financial considerations at play, but assuming he’s a first-round selection in the NFL draft, Murray can look at Jackson’s near-$9.5MM guarantee as a rough baseline for what he’d be promised. (In reality, it’d be slightly higher, as draft bonuses in the NFL increase incrementally each year just as they do in baseball.) As for fans hoping to see this generation’s version of Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, the report from Slusser and Schulman flatly indicates that there’s “no possibility” of Murray playing both sports.

If Murray does ultimately choose the NFL over MLB, the Athletics would still retain his baseball rights in the event that he ever chose a change in career path (as was the case with the Rockies and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, though the Yankees now control Wilson’s rights following a 2017 trade). But, it’d be a discouraging blow for the A’s, who surely envisioned the sizable commitment they made to Murray as having a legitimate chance of persuading him to pursue a baseball career.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: American League]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=143898 2019-01-12T20:28:12Z 2019-01-12T20:19:32Z The deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures passed at 1pm ET yesterday, meaning over the next few hours, there will be a landslide of settlements on one-year deals to avoid an arbitration hearing. We’ll track today’s minor settlements from the American League in this post. Once all of the day’s settlements have filtered in, I’ll organize them by division to make them a bit easier to parse.

It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of teams have adopted a “file and trial” approach to arbitration, meaning that once arbitration figures are exchanged with a player, negotiations on a one-year deal will cease. The two parties may still discuss a multi-year deal after that point, but the majority of players who exchange figures with their team today will head to an arbitration hearing.

As always, all salary projections referenced within this post are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and we’ll also be updating our 2019 Arbitration Tracker throughout the day…

Today’s Updates

  • Yankees 1B Greg Bird will make $1.2 MM next season, per Bob Nightengale on Twitter.
  • The controversial Roberto Osuna will make $6.5MM next season, per Feinsand. Teammate Jake Marisnick, who again scuffled in ’18 after a promising 2017, will make $2.2125MM.
  • Per Mark Feinsand on Twitter, A’s lefty Sean Manaea $3.15MM in what’s sure to be an injury-marred 2019.
  • Hard-throwing reliever Mychal Givens will make $2.15MM, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter), with additional incentives for making the All-Star team or placing in the Top-3 for the Rivera/Hoffman Reliever of the Year Awards, added MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).
  • The Mariners agreed on a $1.95MM deal with outfielder Domingo Santana, per MLB.com’s Greg Johns (via Twitter). Santana is the second and last of the Mariners’ arbitration-eligible players.
  • The Angels agreed to contracts with a pair of players yesterday, per Maria Torres of the LA Times (via Twitter). Reliever Hansel Robles signed for $1.4MM. Robles threw 36 1/3 innings of 2.97 ERA baseball after the Angels claimed him off waivers from the Mets in June. Luis Garcia, acquired via trade from the Phillies this winter, signed for $1.675MM.
  • The Tigers and reliever Shane Greene settled on $4MM, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
  • The Yankees reached an agreement with Sonny Gray for $7.5MM, per Nightengale. Gray, of course, has been involved trade rumors most of the winter, but for the time being, he stands to play a role in the Yankee pen while providing insurance for the rotation.
  • Didi Gregorius has also come to an agreement with the Yankees on a one-year, $11.75MM deal in his final season before free agency, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links).
  • New Yankee James Paxton signed for $8.575, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Paxton is under contract for the 2020 season as well.
  • The Houston Astros came to an agreement with Collin McHugh for $5.8MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). McHugh could be moving back into the rotation after a stellar season in the pen, either way this will be his final season of arb eligibility before hitting the open market.
  • Jonathan Villar comes away with $4.825MM for what will be his first full season in Baltimore, per Nightengale (via Twitter).

Earlier Updates

Read more

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Unresolved 2019 Arbitration Cases]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144177 2019-01-12T15:29:32Z 2019-01-12T15:15:14Z Yesterday’s arbitration deadline wasn’t a firm date for agreeing to terms. Rather, it was the end of the period to negotiate before submitting numbers for possible hearings. Negotiations can continue thereafter, but teams and players will now have to defend their submission numbers if they can’t bridge the gap before a hearing. Baseball arb panels simply pick one side’s number; that aspect of the process is designed to force the parties to the bargaining table.

[RELATED: MLBTR Arbitration Projections; MLBTR Arbitration Tracker]

Here’s what we know thus far about the still-unresolved cases:

Today’s Updates

  • The Yankees have yet to come to a deal with ace starter Luis Severino, and they may be heading to arbitration. The Yanks have submitted their bid at $4.4MM, while Severino has asked for $5.25MM, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
  • Tommy Pham and the Rays have submitted their numbers for arbitration, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter). Pham filed at $4.1MM while the Rays submitted a bid of $3.5MM. Pham has had no problem expressing his honest opinion about the Rays fanbase of late, and it will be interesting to see if he gets an equal portion of honest feedback in return in his arbitration hearing.
  • The Oakland A’s and their closer Blake Treinen have both submitted their numbers, with the team coming in at $5.6MM while Treinen files for $6.4MM, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s not a shock to see these sides far apart, given Treinen’s remarkable 2018 and how far above his usual standard of production last season’s numbers fell.
  • Washington Nationals filed at $1.725MM for newcomer Kyle Barraclough, who counters at $2MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). The former Marlin was acquired in an uncommonly early offseason trade that sent international bonus pool money the Marlins’ way.
  • The Diamondbacks have only one player they did not reach an agreement with, lefty reliever T.J. McFarland. The Dbacks submitted a bid of $1.275MM, while McFarland is asking for $1.675MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter).
  • Alex Wood submitted $9.65MM for his 2019 salary, while his new club the Cincinnati Reds countered at $8.7MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Wood will be a free agent at season’s end.
  • The Detroit Tigers reached agreements with all of their arbitration eligible players except for right-handed starter Michael Fulmer. Fulmer comes in at $3.4MM with the team countering at $2.8MM, the difference being 600K, per Nightengale (via Twitter).
  • Ryan Tepera has filed for $1.8MM while the Blue Jays submitted their bid at $1.525MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Tepera has been a reliable bullpen arm for the Jays through his first four seasons. He has two more seasons of arbitration remaining, set to reach free agency in advance of the 2022 season.
  • Reserve outfielder Michael A. Taylor and the Washington Nationals are a 250K apart, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Seems like a rather small sum to quibble over in the grand scheme of things, but every cent counts right now in Washington, it seems. Taylor submitted a bid of $3.5MM, with the Nats countering at $3.25MM.

Earlier Updates

  • Rockies star Nolan Arenado is headed for a record arb salary, unsurprisingly. The question is by how much. He has filed at a whopping $30MM, with the club countering at $24MM, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Even the lower figure would represent a record. It doesn’t seem as if the sides will go to a high-stakes hearing on this one; Jeff Passan of ESPN.com tweets that the odds are good they’ll find common ground. MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz projected Arenado to earn $26.1MM, though he also explained that it’s not hard to see that number swaying in either direction based upon a close examination of the (few relevant) comps.
  • Despite a monster 2018 season, Phillies righty Aaron Nola isn’t seeking to set a record first-year arb starter salary. (That belongs to Dallas Keuchel, at $7.25MM, when he was coming off of a Cy Young season.) Nola did file at a hefty $6.75MM, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (via Twitter), while the club entered just $4.5MM. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. The Keuchel salary represented a sea change for young starters, but few others have tested the process since. MLBTR’s projection system spit out a $6.6MM figure for Nola.
  • Righty Gerrit Cole filed at $13.5MM, while the Astros countered at $11.425MM, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link). Teammates Carlos Correa and Chris Devenski have also yet to agree to terms. MLBTR projected Cole to earn $13.1MM in his final arb season, Correa to check in at $5.1MM in his first arb year, and Devenski to take home $1.4MM his first time through the process.
  • Indians righty Trevor Bauer is seeking a $13MM payday, while the club will argue instead for $11MM, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). The Cleveland org has long utilized a file-and-trial approach on a case-by-case basis. It’s not totally clear whether that’ll be the approach here, but as Hoynes notes, the sides did go to a hearing already last year. (Bauer won.) MLBTR projected a $11.6MM payday; Swartz also explained why he thought the model was likely in the right ballpark for Bauer in a detailed post.
  • Passan provides a list of other players who have yet to agree to terms and who could therefore still end up before a panel. There are fifteen in total, including those already noted above as well as Kyle Barraclough and Michael Taylor (Nationals), Michael Fulmer (Tigers), T.J. McFarland (Diamondbacks), Tommy Pham (Rays), Luis Severino (Yankees), Ryan Tepera (Blue Jays), Blake Treinen (Athletics), and Alex Wood (Reds).
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George Miller <![CDATA[Athletics, Khris Davis Avoid Arbitration]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=144093 2019-01-11T19:34:59Z 2019-01-11T19:13:22Z Khris Davis and the Athletics have reached an agreement on a one-year deal worth $16.5MM, tweets Jon Heyman of Fancred. Davis had previously been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to receive $18.1MM. Davis, 31, is entering his final season of arbitration eligibility before he may enter free agency next winter. Davis enjoyed a career year in 2018, slugging a Major League-leading 48 home runs and serving as a catalyst for a surprising A’s team that won 97 games and earned a trip to the AL Wild Card game.

Not only is Davis’s contract notable because of its overall dollar value but also because the salary comes in significantly below the figure projected for Davis earlier in the winter. For an Athletics team that entered 2018 with the Majors’ lowest payroll, the $1.6MM difference between Davis’s actual and projected salary certainly holds some importance. In a competitive American League, the Athletics still find themselves seeking out free agents to bolster an injury-battered pitching staff; indeed, the club, which has garnered a reputation as savvy market shoppers, will have an additional $1.6MM at their disposal compared to initial projections. While that money alone won’t buy one of the big names still without a contract, it will grant Oakland some invaluable flexibility as the team seeks to make a second consecutive postseason appearance.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=143737 2019-01-11T02:52:05Z 2019-01-11T02:51:58Z The deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures is tomorrow afternoon at 1pm ET. With the vast majority of teams now adopting a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration — that is, halting negotiations on one-year contracts once figures have been exchanged and simply going to a hearing at that point — there will be a deluge of arbitration agreements in the next 24 hours. It’s a minor deadline day in terms of newsworthiness — outside of the largest cases, at least — as few arbitration cases will have a significant impact on their team’s overall payroll picture. From a broader perspective, though, the exchange of arb figures is perhaps more notable. With most or all of their arbitration cases out of the way, teams can focus more heavily on the trade and free-agent markets.

As always, it’s interesting to refer back to MLBTR’s annual arbitration projections. Here are the day’s deals:

  • The Tigers will pay Shane Greene $4MM for the coming campaign, Murray tweets. Entering his second year of eligibility, the 30-year-old had projected at $4.8MM, owing largely to his strong tally of 32 saves. Despite appealing K/BB numbers, though, Greene finished the season with an unsightly 5.12 ERA.
  • Righty Nick Tropeano settled with the Angels at $1.075MM. (That’s also via Murray, on Twitter.) That falls well shy of his $1.6MM projection. The first-year arb-eligible hurler was not terribly effective in his 14 starts last year and has just over two hundred career frames in the big leagues, due in no small part to a long rehab owing to Tommy John surgery.

Earlier Updates

  • Newly acquired outfielder Domingo Santana will earn $1.95MM in his first season with the Mariners, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. That’s just a touch below the $2.0MM that MLBTR & Matt Swartz had projected. The 26-year-old Santana swatted thirty long balls and had a productive overall 2017 season, but only received 235 plate appearances in the ensuing campaign — over which he hit five home runs and carried a .265/.328/.412 slash — before being dealt to Seattle.
  • The Angels are on the hook for $1,901,000 to rehabbing righty J.C. Ramirez, Robert Murray of The Athletic tweets. Ramirez will receive a nominal raise on his 2018 salary after requiring Tommy John surgery after just two starts.
  • Phillies righty Hector Neris has settled at $1.8MM, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter links). He had projected at $2.0MM but will settle for a bit less in his first season of arb eligibility. Right-handed starter Jerad Eickhoff, meanwhile, is slated to receive $975K. His projected first-year salary was much higher, at $1.7MM, but Eickhoff presented a tough case since he missed virtually all of his platform season with arm troubles.
  • Southpaw Ryan Buchter has agreed with the Athletics on a $1.4MM deal, Nightengale of reports on Twitter. That lands just a smidge over his $1.3MM projection. Soon to turn 32, Buchter worked to a sub-3.00 for the third-straight season in 2018, but only threw 39 1/3 innings while working as a lefty specialist.
  • Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree will receive a $1,312,500 salary next year, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter link). Starter Steven Wright checks in just a shade higher, at $1.375MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Both players had projected in this range, with Swartz pegging $1.2MM for the former and $1.4MM for the latter. It’s Hembree’s first time through the process and Wright’s second.
  • First-time arb-eligible righty Scott Oberg settled with the Rockies for $1.3MM, according to Nightengale (via Twitter). It’s $100K over the projected rate for the 28-year-old hurler, who turned in far and away his most productive MLB season in 2018.
  • The Yankees have a $1.2MM deal in place with first baseman Greg Bird, Nightengale was first to tweet. Though he had projected a bit higher, at $1.5MM, Bird’s relatively robust number of home runs (31 total in 659 career plate appearances) were threatened to be overshadowed in a hypothetical hearing by his rough overall stats over the past two seasons. He’ll need to earn his way back into a larger share of playing time in 2019.
  • Infielder Travis Jankowski will earn $1.165MM with the Padres, per Murray (via Twitter). He projected at a heftier $1.4MM, but the Super Two qualifier will still earn a nice raise after his best season in the big leagues. Jankowski will be looking to crack 400 plate appearances for the first time in the season to come.
  • The Nationals have agreed to a $1MM contract with righty Joe Ross, Murray also tweets. Though Ross projected at $1.5MM for his first season of eligibility, that was based largely upon the innings he accumulated over the prior three seasons. Ross made it back from Tommy John surgery in time for only three outings in 2018.
  • A pair of backstops have also put pen to paper on new salaries. Curt Casali will earn $950K with the Reds, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). John Ryan Murphy has a $900K agreement with the Diamondbacks, the elder Nightengale tweets. Casali, a Super Two, had projected for a $1.3MM salary, while Murphy projected at $1.1MM in his first arb year.
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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[A's Have Checked In On Brett Anderson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142856 2019-01-07T05:50:12Z 2019-01-07T05:50:12Z
  • The Athletics have been in touch with Brett Anderson about a possible reunion in 2019, NBC Sports Bay Area’s Ben Ross writes.  Multiple other teams have also shown interest in Anderson, so it isn’t certain if the veteran left-hander will have to settle for another minor league contract or if he’ll be able to land a Major League deal.  Pitching for the A’s on a minors pact in 2018, Anderson delivered his typical low-strikeout, high-grounder performance, posting a 4.48 ERA, 3.62 K/BB rate, 5.27 K/9, and 55.6% grounder rate over 80 1/3 innings.  Anderson’s season was shortened by two DL stints due to shoulder issues and a forearm strain, and these latest entries to the southpaw’s lengthy injury history could also certainly impact his chances at a guaranteed MLB contract.  Anderson would hardly be a sure thing for the A’s, though the team is looking for all the rotation depth it can muster given the inexperience and injury-related question marks surrounding most of the names on the rotation depth chart.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Athletics Offered Anibal Sanchez Three-Year Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=142719 2019-01-06T04:09:41Z 2019-01-06T01:37:50Z
  • Before righty Anibal Sanchez signed a two-year, $19MM guarantee with the Nationals last month, the Athletics made him a three-year offer, according to Rosenthal. It’s unclear how much the A’s were willing to pay Sanchez, but Rosenthal points out that the proximity of Washington, D.C., to the the 34-year-old’s South Florida home helped tip the scale in the Nationals’ favor. Further, the Nats train in West Palm Beach, Fla., while the A’s are headquartered in Mesa, Ariz. Based on his bounce-back 2018 in Atlanta, Sanchez would’ve provided a much-needed upgrade in Oakland, which hasn’t improved its rotation this offseason.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[3 Remaining Needs: AL West]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141862 2018-12-30T14:59:14Z 2018-12-30T14:59:14Z In the latest edition of MLBTR’s “3 Remaining Needs” series, we’ll focus on the American League West, which boasted two playoff teams and an 89-win third-place finisher in 2018. It appears the division will once again feature, at most, three playoff contenders in 2019, as two of its clubs are in rebuilding phases.

    [Previous installments: NL East, NL Central]

    Houston Astros

    • Add at least one more starter. With Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Collin McHugh set to occupy 60 percent of the Astros’ rotation in 2019, they’re obviously in better shape than most teams. Still, it’s clear the Astros are worse off than they were last season, when Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr. followed Verlander and Cole to comprise one of the majors’ most formidable rotations. Keuchel is now in free agency, where he may land a richer deal than the Astros are willing to fork over; Morton already left for the Rays on the open market; and McCullers will miss most or all of next season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That leaves Josh James, who turned heads as a rookie in 2018, and Framber Valdez as the Astros’ projected No. 4 and No. 5 starters going into next season. Down in the minors, the Astros have a super prospect in 6-foot-7 righty Forrest Whitley, a 21-year-old who could debut in 2019, though he has only thrown 41 innings above Single-A thus far. All that said, there’s room for at least one veteran pickup via trade or free agency.
    • Upgrade behind the plate, if possible. As with their rotation, the Astros aren’t in poor shape here. They signed the offensively solid Robinson Chirinos in free agency, and he’s slated to complement defensive wiz Max Stassi in a decent behind-the-plate tandem. Chirinos is a weak defender who’s only under contract for a year, though, while Stassi’s offense plummeted off a cliff after a hot April and May last season. Given the pair’s limitations, it’s possible the Astros will attempt to jettison the out-of-options Stassi in favor of someone better. They’ve continued to show interest in Miami’s J.T. Realmuto, the premier catcher in the game last season, but the Marlins’ asking price has been prohibitive to this point. Free agency also has one terrific option, Yasmani Grandal, whom Houston showed interest in early in the offseason. Things have been quiet since then, though.
    • Pick up a left-handed reliever. In spite of Joe Smith’s ruptured Achilles, Houston’s still stacked with proven right-handed relievers. It’s not as fortunate from the other side, however, as the only southpaw bullpen options on its 40-man roster are Cionel Perez (11 1/3 major league innings) and Reymin Guduan (19 1/3). Maybe one or both of those hard-throwing hurlers will break out next year, but in the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to have some veteran insurance. The Astros don’t have to break the bank on the top lefty reliever in free agency, Zach Britton, although they have chased him in the past. Rather, they could go for one of the many cheaper veterans available.

    Oakland Athletics

    • Improve the rotation. The Athletics went bargain hunting for starters in 2018, signing Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Edwin Jackson to low-cost deals. Surprisingly, all three moves paid dividends, and each of those veterans helped the injury-depleted A’s amass 97 wins and earn a wild-card berth. Cahill is now with the division-rival Angels, while Anderson and Jackson are free agents, leaving multiple glaring weaknesses in the A’s rotation. The team did re-sign Mike Fiers in free agency, but he’s not the most exciting choice, and the rest of its projected rotation includes pitchers who are either unproven or underwhelming. The A’s could certainly deploy the “opener” on a regular basis next season, as they did to positive results in 2018, yet there would still be space for actual starting additions. In true A’s fashion, they’re probably not going to make a big-money splash in free agency, but there are enough affordable veterans out there who could emerge as the Cahill, Anderson or Jackson of next year’s team.
    • Get another catcher. If you’re an A’s fan, it’s unlikely you’re eager to watch the Chris HerrmannJosh Phegley duo in action. Those two own a combined lifetime wRC+ of 139, and neither have been defensive stalwarts. Oakland’s arguably a fit for Realmuto or Grandal, though there’s no indication the team has pursued either to this point. More realistically, a free agent such as Martin Maldonado could make sense as Jonathan Lucroy’s successor. Maldonado’s not much of a hitter, but as a longtime defensive standout, A’s pitchers would likely benefit from his presence.
    • Find left-handed relief depth. The lone lefty in the A’s bullpen is an excellent one, Ryan Buchter. There are no lefty options to be found after him, though, so the club could stand to buy itself some more aid. As noted above in the Astros section, reasonably priced free-agent possibilities abound.

    Seattle Mariners

    • Keep shedding costly veterans. The Mariners were nearly a 90-win team last season, but their success in the standings didn’t convince general manager Jerry Dipoto that they were true contenders. As a result, Dipoto has undertaken an aggressive “re-imagining” campaign that has seen the Mariners part with Robinson Cano, Edwin Diaz, James Paxton, Jean Segura, Carlos Santana (acquired for Segura), Mike Zunino, Alex Colome, Juan Nicasio and Ben Gamel in a bevy of trades. There are more trade candidates on hand, too, including just-acquired veterans Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce and Anthony Swarzak, not to mention holdovers Dee Gordon, Mike Leake and Kyle Seager. Admittedly, it would be a major challenge to move all (or even most) of those players, but at least a couple are real candidates to don different uniforms come 2019. Meanwhile, if it wants to continue upgrading its formerly atrocious farm system, Seattle wouldn’t have any trouble finding takers for the likes of Mitch Haniger, Mallex Smith or Marco Gonzales. It appears they’ll remain in place, however, with Dipoto hoping they’ll be key parts of the next contending Mariners team.
    • Pursue more starters and relievers. With Paxton gone, Leake and Gonzales are the only M’s starters who are good bets to perform respectably in 2019. It’s not a certainty either will be on the team then, though, nor is it clear what the club will get from Felix Hernandez, Wade LeBlanc or prized prospect Justus Sheffield (acquired for Paxton). Because Seattle’s unlikely to contend next season, it’s not going to spring for someone like Keuchel in free agency, but Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi is a worthwhile target. Dipoto has made it known he’s a fan of the 27-year-old Kikuchi, who figures to sign a deal long enough to make him a factor on Seattle’s next good team – if the GM’s plan works, of course. Regardless of whether Kikuchi becomes the latest Japanese star to join the Mariners, it would be wise for them to pursue other vet arms – both starters and relievers. They could search for their next LeBlanc, who was unexpectedly effective in 2018 after signing a cheap, major league deal, and perhaps flip the player(s) at the deadline for more prospects. Safeco Field is a good place for a pitcher to improve his stock, after all.
    • Bolster bench depth. The M’s projected bench for 2019 includes David Freitas, Ryon Healy and Kristopher Negron, with minor leaguers Dan Vogelbach, Joey Curletta, Kaleb Cowart, Dylan Moore, John Andreoli and Braden Bishop also in the 40-man fold. Aside from the mediocre Healy, there’s not an established major leaguer in the bunch. On one hand, there’s an argument Seattle should mostly stick with that group and see if anyone is capable of grabbing a role in the majors. On the other, it wouldn’t hurt to bring in vets on minor league deals or perhaps cheap MLB pacts, potentially giving the M’s more players to flip for youth during the season.

    Los Angeles Angels

    • Continue searching for starters. Having added Cahill and Matt Harvey in free agency, it’s possible the Angels’ heavy lifting is done in their rotation. It probably shouldn’t be, though, as neither of the Angels’ new additions are all that trustworthy. Elsewhere in their rotation, there’s hope for Andrew Heaney, Tyler Skaggs and Jaime Barria, but they also come with question marks. If the Angels are going to make an aggressive push toward contention during Mike Trout’s final two years of control, Keuchel or Kikuchi may give them the front-end starter they don’t seem to have at the moment (the injured Shohei Ohtani excluded). Keuchel would be especially pricey, though, and it’s unknown whether owner Arte Moreno wants to spend much higher than the team’s projected Opening Day payroll of $167MM.
    • Address the bullpen. The Angels are reportedly interested in free agent David Robertson, who’d be a quality pickup for a team in need of shutdown innings late in games. He’s far from the only free-agent reliever capable of boosting the Halos, though. While most of the top free-agent relievers are righties, the team should also have its eye on lefties. After trading Jose Alvarez this month, the sole southpaw reliever on the Angels’ 40-man is Williams Jerez, who struggled mightily across 15 major league innings in 2018.
    • Buy infield insurance. The Angels are golden at shortstop with Andrelton Simmons, but the rest of their infield picture looks somewhat bleak. What if Zack Cozart scuffles again after an injury-shortened 2018? What if David Fletcher doesn’t hit enough to hold down a starting job? What if the newly signed Justin Bour puts up a second straight disappointing offensive season? Those are all valid questions the Halos have to consider, meaning they should be monitoring the market with the fear that their infield plans (Simmons aside) could go awry next season. They’re reportedly interested in free agent Josh Harrison, who’d provide a nice fallback option at both second and third. Fellow free agent Marwin Gonzalez, who can play every infield position and both corner outfield spots, would make even more sense. However, he may be out of the Angels’ price range.

    Texas Rangers

    • Land more pitching. The rebuilding Rangers may trade their top starter, Mike Minor, but even if they keep him, there’s room to add to their rotation. The club already made one noteworthy pickup in Lance Lynn, whom it signed to a three-year, $30MM contract this month. With Lynn in the mix, the Rangers are likely now pushing for Kikuchi, who could slot in near the top of their rotation for several years. Besides Kikuchi, Texas should be focusing on low-cost stopgaps who can eat innings and allow young hurlers such as Jonathan Hernandez, Taylor Hearn, Brock Burke and Joe Palumbo to get more seasoning in the minors. Assuming Minor goes, Lynn would be the Rangers’ only decent bet to handle a heavy workload next season. Edinson Volquez and Drew Smyly may join Lynn in that regard, but it’s hard to be overly optimistic considering the recent arm problems which have stalled their careers. Similarly, despite the presence of lights-out closer Jose Leclerc, bullishness likely isn’t merited with Texas’ bullpen. As a non-contender, the team shouldn’t be splurging on any free-agent relievers, but it’s a logical landing spot for affordable veterans who could potentially become trade candidates during the season. The Rangers have already inked two such arms in Jesse Chavez (two years, $8MM), whom they signed last winter, traded over the summer and brought back this offseason, and Jeanmar Gomez (minor league deal).
    • Consider trading Leclerc and others. Although he enjoyed his best season in 2018, the Rangers just traded 25-year-old infielder Jurickson Profar because they didn’t believe he’d stick around for the long haul. Perhaps we’ll see even more deals along those lines from general manager Jon Daniels prior to next season. The Rangers may not have a more appealing trade chip than the 25-year-old Leclerc, whose value is likely at its zenith. Texas may try to extend Leclerc as a result, but there’s a legitimate case the team should trade him this offseason. The Rangers aren’t ready to win, and a shutdown closer isn’t a must-have piece for a team in that position. Leclerc’s controllable for the next four years, including one more pre-arb campaign, and would probably net a bounty in return. The likes of Minor, Nomar Mazara, Joey Gallo and Shin-Soo Choo also shouldn’t be untouchable, though they would bring back more modest packages than Leclerc. The club may simply hold Mazara and Gallo – who are under control for three and four more years, respectively – as opposed to selling low. The two were closer to average than spectacular in 2018, but youth is on the duo’s side (Gallo’s 25, Mazara’s 23), meaning one or both could emerge as long-term core members in Arlington. At 36 and with two years left on his deal, Choo’s time with the Rangers is waning. Choo can still produce offensively, but as an expensive DH/corner outfielder who’s on the wrong end of the aging curve, he’d probably be impossible to trade without taking back another team’s undesirable contract in return. That may not be worth the trouble for the Rangers.
    • Address third base. After the revered Adrian Beltre retired last month, third base temporarily belonged to Profar. Now that Profar’s gone, the Rangers’ No. 1 option at the hot corner looks to be Patrick Wisdom, whom they acquired from the Cardinals during the Winter Meetings. A first-round pick of the Redbirds back in 2012, Wisdom finally debuted in the majors last year and held his own, albeit over just 58 plate appearances. Maybe the 27-year-old will take the opportunity in Texas and run with it, but in the meantime, it appears the club will add a veteran fallback. Harrison and Matt Davidson are among the players who have been connected to the Rangers in the rumor mill.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[A's Notes: Manaea, Pitching]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141539 2018-12-25T05:03:37Z 2018-12-25T05:03:37Z
  • The Athletics are going “to be opportunistic and patient” in their search for starting pitching, Billy Beane told reporters (including the San Francisco Chronicle’s John Shea).  Though Mike Fiers just re-signed with the team, more work is necessary to bolster a rotation that is loaded with inexperience and injury questions.  Since the A’s can’t spend at the top of the pitching market, “waiting it out is probably the way we’re going to look at it,” Beane said, so the club will see if it can grab an arm or two once prices start to drop later in the offseason.
  • Beane also provided some news on Sean Manaea’s status, saying that the left-hander could be back in action “perhaps around the All-Star break.”  This represents another positive development in Manaea’s timeline, as the young southpaw was initially projected to miss the entire 2019 season after undergoing shoulder surgery last September.  Immediately after the procedure, however, manager Bob Melvin was cautiously optimistic that Manaea could return late in 2019.  It’ll still be a while before we have a solid idea about how long Manaea will be out, and the Athletics are also sure to be as cautious as possible with the 26-year-old.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Athletics Sign Mike Fiers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141312 2018-12-25T01:31:34Z 2018-12-25T01:31:30Z 7:31PM: Fiers will earn $14.1MM in total, according to Janie McCauley of the Associated Press (Twitter link).  The deal breaks down as $6MM in 2019, and $8.1MM in 2020.

    Dec. 24, 1:02PM: The A’s have announced the deal (via Twitter).

    Dec. 22:The Oakland Athletics are close to re-signing Michael Fiers, per the MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Fiers will earn between $14MM and $15MM over a two-year span (Twitter links). The deal is pending a physical.

    The dollar amount makes sense for both sides, considering Fiers was non-tendered by the A’s at season’s end while being projected to earn $9.7MM through arbitration. With this agreement, the A’s save themselves a couple million on their 2019 payroll while getting a second season of control, and Fiers gets more guaranteed money.

    Fiers came to Oakland in August in exchange for two PTBNL, who turned into LHP Logan Shore and RHP Nolan Blackwood. He then contributed reliable innings for the A’s down the stretch as they struggled to keep rotation arms healthy en route to a surprising 97-win season. Pitching in the spacious arenas of Detroit and Oakland last season, Fiers tallied his best year as a pro: a 12-8 record with a 3.56 ERA across 172 innings.

    Fiers threw more sliders than ever in 2018, a pitch he has steadily woven into his repertoire since 2015. The increase in slider usage corresponded with a similar decrease in sinker usage, leading to elevated launch angles and more flyballs (43.2 FB%) – all of which could signal sustainability for Fiers’ 2018 success. His peripherals don’t scream drastic transformation, though he did lower his walk rate to a career-low 1.94 BB/9.

    Morosi recently reported Fiers was being courted by the Reds, Nationals, Rangers and Giants, all of whom would have been a poorer fit for Fiers, save perhaps the Giants, given his past home run issues. The Oakland Coliseum seems a good fit for the 33-year-old, who is at his best when keeping the ball in the air, but at his worst when unable to keep the ball in the yard.

    Fiers ill join an unstable cadre of rotation arms in Oakland, with Daniel Mengden, Frankie Montas, Aaron Brooks, Paul Blackburn and Chris Bassitt being the in-house options for what’s sure to be another ragtag crew.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[AL Notes: Rays, A’s, Angels]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141501 2018-12-25T02:47:08Z 2018-12-24T20:38:23Z The Rays’ primary motivation in inserting themselves into the Athletics’ recent acquisition of Jurickson Profar was likely opening a spot on their 40-man roster, writes ESPN’s Keith Law (subscription link). In return for sending Brock Burke and Kyle Bird to Texas, the Rays received homer-prone reliever Emilio Pagan from Oakland and the Rangers’ draft pick in Competitive Balance Round A. Additional picks are always welcome, but the most important aspect of this draft pick is the slot value it adds to the Rays’ bonus pool. The pick comes with a slot value of between $1.6MM and $2MM, a valuable sum that extends beyond the pick itself. By boosting their bonus pool, the Rays have more flexibility should they want to go over slot, which is one way to snag a potential star. Given the Rays deep pool of young talent at the MLB level right now, they can afford to turn some of that excess prospect depth into further prospect wealth down the road.

    A few other notes from around the American League…

    • For the Athletics’ part in the above deal, Law notes they took advantage of their own area of depth, the bullpen, to get their new starting second baseman. The signing of Joakim Soria more than makes up for the loss of Pagan, and in Profar they now have an inexpensive, versatile player who may still have some upside. Functionally, he’s not all that different from the guy he’ll be replacing, Jed Lowrie, who was brought in as a similarly high-upside, low-cost, versatile option when they went out and got him from another division rival via trade (Houston).
    • The Angels have had a tough time building a winner around Mike Trout, but they’ve suffered their share of bad luck too, particularly in the rotation, per Jonah Keri of cbssports.com. The history of injuries to promising rotation arms is disheartening: Garrett Richards with knee issues in 2014 leading up to Tommy John surgery, Matt Shoemaker getting hit in the head with a line drive near the end of a promising 2016 season, Tyler Skaggs with Tommy John in 2016, Andrew Heaney’s various ailments that kept him sidelined for most of 2016 and 2017, and of course, Shohei Ohtani’s latest injury – and that’s before even touching on the bullpen. Keri documents the poor performances of acquired position players as further misfortune suffered under Arte Moreno’s leadership: Albert Pujols, Vernon Wells, Zack Cozart and Josh Hamilton all disappointed relative to their pre-Angels production. It does begin to feel like the Angels are cursed, and yet poor major league scouting could also be the culprit in many of these cases. The recent deals for Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill, then, nicely sidestepped the issues above by building pitching depth on short-term deals, and Keri suggests a furthering of that strategy by pursuing buy low candidates like Sonny GrayJulio Teheran or even Yasmani Grandal, should his asking price come down.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Could Luzardo Crack A's Opening Day Roster?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=141483 2018-12-24T05:56:38Z 2018-12-24T05:56:38Z
  • Left-handed pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo is drawing raves from both inside and outside the Athletics organization, the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser writes, leading to increased speculation that he could begin the season on Oakland’s Major League roster.  The 21-year-old Luzardo jumped from high A-ball to Triple-A in 2018, posting a combined 2.88 ERA, 10.6 K/9, and 4.3 K/BB rate over 109 1/3 total innings.  Those numbers did include a 7.31 ERA over 16 Triple-A frames, however, and two rival scouts felt Luzardo needed a bit more minor league seasoning.  (Left unsaid were any service time considerations the A’s might have about gaining an extra year of team control over the top prospect.)  On the other hand, Luzardo’s widely-praised poise and makeup makes him seem like a good candidate to at least mentally handle the jump to the big leagues, and his talent could also be too much to ignore.  “I don’t see any way he can’t break [camp] with us,” special assistant Grady Fuson said, also favorably comparing Luzardo to several past Athletics arms.  “He’s one of the best things to come along here in a while.  If you take our own history, he has better stuff than [Mark] Mulder. He’s got better heat than [Barry] Zito. You could kind of compare him to Gio Gonzalez at the same point, but with much, much better command.”
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