Archive for the ‘ Hot Stove ’ Category

Hot Stove Report: Melvin Gets His Coveted Veteran Reliever

The Milwaukee Brewers signed free agent right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez to a one-year contract today.

The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

Rodriguez, 32, is 41-36 with a 2.70 ERA and 304 saves in 730 relief appearances with LA of Anaheim (2002-08), New York-NL (2009-11), Milwaukee (2011-13) and Baltimore (2013). His 304 career saves are tied for 21st on the all-time Major League list (with Jeff Montgomery). His 62 saves with the Angels in 2008 are a Major League single-season record.   Rodriguez is 7-8 with a 3.15 ERA and 13 saves in 134 games as a Brewer.

He was originally acquired by Milwaukee from New York-NL on July 12, 2011, along with cash, in exchange for two players to be named (pitchers Daniel Herrera and Adrian Rosario). He was traded by Milwaukee to Baltimore last season on July 23 in exchange for third baseman Nicky Delmonico.

To make room for Rodriguez on the 40-man roster, the Brewers designated right-handed pitcher Donovan Hand for assignment.

News and Notes: Brewers Sign Infielder, Garza Contract Breakdown

Just catching up on a couple of recent news items that I haven’t been able to get on the blog yet what with Brewers On Deck over the weekend and “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” now underway as well.

Brewers Sign Orr

PeteOrr

First, it was announced on Monday that the Brewers have signed minor-league free agent Pete Orr to an appropriate minor-league contract.

Orr, 34, is a veteran of 14 professional seasons including parts of eight seasons in the big leagues. He brings a solid glove, some positional versatility (there’s that word again), and a mental attitude that can be lacking at times from a locker room.

The Brewers will be Orr’s fourth franchise following stops in Atlanta (who signed him as an amateur free agent in 1999), Washington, and most recently Philadelphia. Orr plays primarily second base with some third base defensively, but he saw time as recently as last season in the outfield and has played shortstop along the way in his career a time or two (though not at the MLB level since eight games back in 2008).

This isn’t a “blow the doors off” type of move, but a solid, reliable, veteran defender like Peterson Thomas Gordon Orr continues to find a job because there is value in what he brings to the ballpark in his toolbox. He won’t make the 25-man roster out of the gates at the end of Spring Training, but he’ll work hard every day and be ready in the event that the Brewers need his particular set of skills.

Orr bats left-handed and is listed at 6’1″ tall, weighing 195 pounds. And did I mention he’s Canadian? Because of course he is. To that end, he has played for Team Canada in every World Baseball Classic tournament that has been held (2006, 2009, 2013).

Garza’s Contract Broken Down

MattGarza

Thanks first to Joel Sherman, Twitter found out about the contract breakdown of the free agent deal Matt Garza signed with the Brewers over the weekend. It’s fairly standard for the first four years, but it then becomes quite brilliant in regards to the 5th-year option which was worked into the pact.

First, the 2014-2017 years: Garza is guaranteed a $12.5 million salary each season. Of that, $2 million is deferred (interest free) each year respectively into seasons 2018-2021. Garza has the opportunity to make up to $1 million each season in immediate incentives as well. There are two incentives that he can hit each of which trigger their own $500k bonus. The first incentive is 190.0 innings pitched. The second incentive is making 30 starts. Those are reachable incentives if Garza is healthy. They even allow for the leveraging of one standard trip to the disabled list each year in which Garza could potentially miss three big league starts. To make both incentives together, Garza needs to average 6.1 IP over 30 starts. Again, doable.

Now then, the 2018 option is dependent on a multitude of factors both over the four guaranteed years of the contract and also specifics related to the 2017 season. The option can be worth up to $13 million if it vests. If it does not vest, there would be one of two different team options that would be put in place instead. They are, respectively, a $5 million team option or a $1 million team option. I’ll explain them all in the following sections.

Here are the requirements Garza must satifsy for the 2018 option to vest at a value of $13 million. And keep in mind that he must satisfy all requirements.

  • He must make 110 total regular season starts in the Major Leagues between the beginning of the 2014 season and the end of the 2017 season.
  • He must pitch at least 115.0 innings during the 2017 regular season.
  • He must not finish the 2017 regular season on the disabled list.

So there, again, you can see that if Garza is healthy and contributing over the life of his contract, his option will vest and he’ll get his fifth guaranteed year. That would be when he is 34 years old. He would be paid $15 million in 2018 in this scenario. That includes the $13 million in value from the vested option and the first $2 million in deferral payments.

Should Garza fail to meet any one of those three requirements, there is a team option that replaces the vesting option. That option would be valued at $5 million (and although there is usually a buyout amount including, that wasn’t reported that I saw). However, should Garza spend 130 days or more on the disabled list during any single season (which is 180 days long), not only would be certainly not satisfy the vesting option requirements, but the team option that replaces the vesting option in that scenario is a mere $1 million in value.

It’s a smart way to hedge against the possibility of injury with a pitcher who has had some health issues during his career. For example, should Garza suffer an injury which carries with it significant rehab time (torn shoulder capsule, labrum tear, Tommy John surgery, Achilles rupture, etc), then the Brewers maintain the leverage of getting four healthy seasons out of this contract. And if Garza is healthy for the first four years and earns the vesting option, then the Brewers will have gotten those four years of production up front with the opportunity for a fifth.

Hopefully that isn’t too complex to understand, but even if it is I think it explains the delay from when I first reported that they were nearing an agreement last week Thursday to when the contract was announced and subsequently officially approved the following Sunday.

Hot Stove Report: What’s Holding Up Garza’s Contract?

MattGarza

We all know the timeline by now.

The news broke that Matt Garza and the Brewers were nearing agreement on a deal. It was reported that the contract, one for $52 million over four years, was agreed to in principle with physical examination pending.

Then the delays started happening and the Brewers commented publicly about being in negotiations with Garza but denying that a deal was agreed to.

The speculation began whether it could be related to Garza’s injury history and therefore the medical review that pesky physical. Gord Ash inadvertantly added to that conspiracy theory when he declined comment about whether the delay was related to that physical.

Then we thought perhaps the physical was just delayed and Garza hadn’t taken it yet. But then the reports about how he had indeed taken it came out along with assurances that the delay wasn’t medically related.

The only other thing I could think of was that it then had something to do with the contract language so I reached out to a source who confirmed that it was at least part of the situation if it wasn’t all of the snag.

The issue, according to a source, is that the Brewers and Garza are haggling over the distribution of the contract. In other words, how much is paid in which seasons.

They agree on the length and overall value (which they met in the middle on, I’m also told, as the Brewers originally hoped to pay 4yr/$48MM and Garza wanted 4yr/$56MM), but they haven’t yet come to an accord on how the money will be paid out.

Garza is asking for a mostly even average value (which precisely would be $13 million per year) and the Brewers are looking to backload the deal somewhat in order to pay more of it when it’s more affordable. That of course being when the contracts of highly-compensated players like Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez should be off the books.

This hang up in negotiations was described to me as “overcome-able” but deals have also fallen apart over less so nothing is official until the contract is formally announced.

Assuming that this is actually at least part of the issue, I’ll be paying attention to which side “won” though once the year-by-year breakdown of the contract is revealed.

Hot Stove Report: Brewers Reportedly Closing in on Free Agent Starting Pitcher

Well this morning just got a whole lot less productive.

I received a message this morning that the Milwaukee Brewers were advancing in their negotiations with a free agent. Amazingly enough, it isn’t a first baseman on a minor-league deal. (Shocking, I know.)

On the contrary, in this case the player in question — again, according to the message from a source — indicated that the Brewers were working on signing a free agent starting pitcher.

His name?

Matt Garza.

I don’t have time to get into Garza’s 2013 or the rest of his career at this point. And his throwing problems when fielding ground balls are well-documented on the interwebs as well.

Here’s a link to his Baseball-Reference page: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/garzama01.shtml 

I’ll add details as I have the opportunity to do so.

***UPDATE (12:14 PM CT)***
Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal being negotiated is believed to be 4yr/$52 million.

***UPDATE 2 (12:19 PM CT)***
Rosenthal has confirmed the deal, pending a physical.

Hot Stove Report: Brewers Add to First Baseman Stable

Effectively on the heels of the Mark Reynolds signing, the Milwaukee Brewers announced Monday that they have signed another option for a growing competition for the job of “First Baseman” in 2014.

Much like the nWo in the defunct World Championship Wrestling, the Brewers’ faction of first basemen continues to rapidly expand. Joining the men already in the employ of Mark Attanasio et al (Juan Francisco, Sean Halton, Taylor Green, Hunter Morris, Jason Rogers, Mark Reynolds) will be another new face but also a familiar one.

The Brewers have signed their all-time franchise single-season doubles leader, and the man traded away to make room for some guy name Prince following the 2005 seasons: Lyle Overbay.

LyleOverbayOverbay played in 142 games in 2013 for the New York Yankees where he posted a slash line of .240/.295/.393 primarily at first base. While those numbers no longer excite on their own, Overbay is a left-handed bat which helps balance and could offer a more consistent if less spectacular platoon partner with a righty (a la Reynolds) than would Francisco. Overbay also is still plus defender even at the advanced age of 37 (which he’ll turn on the 28th of this month).

Doug Melvin has said that they’re expecting an open competition at first base when the team reports to Maryvale Baseball Park next month. Overbay, whom the Brewers missed out on signing last year after expressing interest following the loss of Hart and again with Gamel, took the Brewers up on their offer of a reunion this year.

We’ll see what he’s got back in the Cactus League.

Brewers Sign Reynolds

As previously reported last night, and subsequently announced this morning, the Milwaukee Brewers have signed free agent corner infielder Mark Reynolds.

The contract is technically a minor-league deal with an official invitation to big league camp at Maryvale (incidentally less than a month from now).

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports came through with the contract value this morning in a tweet:

It says Reynolds will earn $2 million in base salary with an additional $500 thousand available to earn based on incentives. That’s contingent, of course, on Reynolds being in the majors.

A closer look at Reynolds by me will come during my “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” series.

Hot Stove Report: Brewers Making Push to Sign Free Agent 1B

First mentioned on Twitter by Joe Polek, a radio personality who blogs about the Baltimore Orioles (among other interests), the Milwaukee Brewers were stepping up their pursuit of a certain free agent first baseman.

It’s a player who once called Baltimore home, which is where I would think Joe’s connection to his knowledgable source springs from.

Much more recently, both Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (and more importantly both MLB Network insiders), picked up on the advancing negotiations.

The player? 30-year-old, and veteran of seven Major League seasons, Mark Reynolds.

MarkReynolds

Here is Joe Polek’s original tweet…

Originally a 16th round draft pick, Reynolds broke into the big leagues back in 2007. He’s got a lot of power…when he hits the ball. That’s not always the easiest thing for Reynolds to do though as he owns four of the top 12 strikeouts seasons in Major League Baseball history, including three of the top six, two of the top three and the single-season record of 223 set in 2009 as an Arizona Diamondback.

Reynolds brings a low batting average, resultant pedestrian on-base percentage, from the right side of the plate…but that power sure is fun from a pure enjoyment standpoint.

(Then again, as Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus reminds us, with everything Reynolds has had to overcome in his career… It’s breathtaking. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19409 )

Most recently, Adam McCalvy says he’s confirmed with a source that Reynolds should be signed as the everyday first baseman for the Brewers.

But, for the sake of discussion, Ken Rosenthal is saying that he’ll have to earn that job as he’s hearing Reynolds will be signing a Minor League deal.

Brewers Sign Three

Word came down from various sources today that the Brewers recently made a handful of signings. No word on the exact day when the contracts were signed, but word first came down about all of them today.

Here’s a quick look at all three players, in alphabetical order by surname.

Brad Mills – LHP – 5’11”, 185lbs

BradMills

Not the former manager of the Astros, this Brad Mills is a former 4th round draft pick (2007, Toronto) out of the University of Arizona. Mills will be 29 years old by Opening Day and provides another left-handed relief option for manager Ron Roenicke to consider this spring.

Milwaukee will be Mills’ fourth MLB organization (Blue Jays, Angels, Rangers) and his fifth overall after finishing the 2013 season in Japan pitching for the Orix Buffaloes.

And check out this GIF to see what Mills looks like when he pitches, as with Orix last year.

Milan Post – C – 6’0″, 167lbs

(Height/Weight as listed in a November 2012 scouting video when Post was 18 years old)

milanpost

The news of Post’s signing came as somewhat of a surprise given that Baseball America originally had him signing a pro contract with another MLB club. However, in a post discovered by the sometimes unbelievable (like this morning) Jim Goulart, it translates out to Post having actually signed with Milwaukee.

Post expects to begin the season with the Rookie League Brewers.

Not knowing much about his game, here is the scouting video I referenced above so you can see a little of what he’s got going through drills.

R.J. Seidel – RHP – 6’5″, 225lbs

rj seidel

Seidel, 26, is a native of La Crosse, Wisconsin and the Brewers organization is the only one he’s ever known as a professional.

Originally a 16th round draft pick in 2006 out of La Crosse Central, Seidel’s first season was in 2007. After two full seasons with Double-A Huntsville, he finally reached Triple-A Nashville for the first time last season but was then a minor-league free agent at year’s end.

Seidel has both started and relieved, with almost an exact 50/50 split (171 games, 85 starts), and his results in those games speak to his being an “org guy” more than a likely contributor at the MLB level. Then again, this is the same organization that has given multiple big league starts to guys like Mike Burns. It’s safe to say Seidel can navigate a lineup better than ol’ Burnsy.

The Seidel and Mills news was broken by wunderkind Chris Cotillo. Seidel confirmed the news of his signing to me directly. The Brewers have not publicly confirmed any of the three signings as of this publishing.

Hot Stove Report: A Pair of Conversations

I woke up this morning to a text message saying that the Brewers met with the Atlanta Braves last night. Despite the previous talk this off-season about the Braves coveting Kyle Lohse, the part of the conversation I was alerted to dealt with another Brewer. That’s not to say there wasn’t more and differing topics on the table, but I was just told what I was told.

Then, later in the morning the same player was brought up in that the Brewers were discussing him with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The player in question is second baseman Rickie Weeks.

The Braves conversation was just that. The sides talked. No word on whether they made progress toward anything.

The conversation with the Blue Jays, however, got a little more specific. I was told that there was a trade discussion centering around Weeks and 1B Adam Lind. While I worked on corroborating that, a Twitter follower let me know that something similar was discussed on Canadian radio. That seemed to puff up to a three-team deal with Lind still coming to Milwaukee but Weeks heading to Kansas City and Billy Butler moving north of the border.

The Weeks part of that equation does make sense. If you recall the Royals expressed some interest in acquiring Weeks during this past season. Also, Ned Yost still manages in K.C. and we all know his affinity for Weeks.

This afternoon though, I was told that currently nothing is building with Toronto as they are reportedly posting a high asking price. To me that sounds like Toronto wants more than just a straight up swap, whether that be two-way or three.

Still, it’s telling that there would be conversations about the veteran second baseman during the Winter Meetings. It may not lead to a deal before the Brewers report to Maryvale, but as they say: feeding your grass before the snow falls often yields a lush lawn come springtime.

Video: Melvin and Roenicke From the Winter Meetings

Here is Brewers general manager Doug Melvin on Monday from Baseball’s Winter Meetings…

…and here is field manager Ron Roenicke from Orlando as well.

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