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.
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
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
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.
Free Agent Agrees to Four-Year Deal
The Milwaukee Brewers signed free agent right-handed starter Matt Garza to a four-year contract with a vesting option for the 2018 season today. The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
“Matt is an established top-of-the-rotation pitcher who provides our staff with experience and quality depth,” said Melvin.
Garza, 30, is 67-67 with a 3.84 ERA in 194 games (191 starts) during eight Major League seasons with Minnesota (2006-07), Tampa Bay (2008-10), Chicago-NL (2011-13) and Texas (2013). After missing nearly the first two months of 2013 due to injury (side/back), he returned to post a 10-6 record with a 3.82 ERA in 24 starts between the Cubs (11gs) and Rangers (13gs) last season.
Garza was named 2008 American League Championship Series Most Valuable Player (2gs, 2-0, 1.38 ERA vs. Boston) and threw the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay Rays history on July 26, 2010 vs. Detroit. He is 2-1 with a 3.48 ERA in five career postseason starts (31ip, 12er).
Garza will wear uniform number 22. Outfielder Logan Schafer, who previously wore the number, will now wear number 1.
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.
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.
Overbay 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.
Arbitration season in Major League Baseball officially began this week with the eligible players filing for the same back on Tuesday. In all, 146 players filed for arbitration. With 30 MLB clubs, that works out to an average of nearly five players per team. Following a trade and some other transactions, the Brewers came in beneath the average with just two players: pitcher Marco Estrada and corner infielder Juan Francisco.
Following Tuesday’s filing deadline was a deadline of Friday at noon CT before official figures would need to be exchanged between Estrada, Francisco and the Brewers.
It was reported earlier this week that the Brewers were optimistic about avoiding the exchange of salary amounts. To do that meant agreeing on at least a one-year contract with both Estrada and Francisco before noon Friday.
That work got done and it was formally announced just after noon that both deals were signed.
Joel Sherman tweeted the following contract figures for both players.
#Brewers avoid arb with Marco Estrada ( $3,325M, $100,000 available in IP bonuses), Juan Francisco ($1.35M).
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 17, 2014
Marco Estrada: $3.325 million base salary with $100 thousand in available bonuses based on innings pitched.
Juan Francisco: $1.35 million base.
Tom Haudricourt then added information about Francisco saying that he too had available incentives, but didn’t specify for what nor how lucrative they are.
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:
Mark Reynolds gets $2M salary plus 500K performance bonuses assuming in majors. Near lock to make brewers, may start at 1B.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 17, 2014
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.
It was announced Wednesday afternoon that the Brewers have signed a veteran left-handed pitcher to a minor-league contract with an official invitation to big league camp.
That pitcher should be well-remembered by Brewers fans as he made 159 starts over six full seasons as a Pittsburgh Pirate to begin his career. Now 30, the Brewers will be his fifth professional organization following additional stops in Arizona, Washington, and Cincinnati.
He is Zach Duke.
A full look will be coming in “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” once he gets a number assigned, but here’s a quick take on last season at least.
Duke didn’t exactly have success in Washington over 12 appearances in 2013, posting an ERA of 8.71 with a 1.887 WHIP in 20.2 innings pitched. Following his release by Washington and subsequent free agent signing by the Cincinnati Reds, Duke posted a 0.84 ERA and 0.938 WHIP in 10.2 IP over 14 games.
Small sample sizes both, but certaily worth paying attention to.
You can follow Zach Duke on Twitter: @zach_duke
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
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)
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
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.
The Milwaukee Brewers today selected three players in the Rule 5 Draft at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
Left-handed pitcher Wei-Chung Wang was selected in the first round of the Major League phase off the Triple-A Indianapolis roster of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wang, 21, went 1-3 with a 3.23 ERA in 12 games (11 starts) for the Rookie Gulf Coast League Pirates last season. He struck out 42 batters compared to just 4 walks in 47.1 innings pitched and held opponents to a .209 batting average. A native of Taitung City, Taiwan, Wang was originally signed by Pittsburgh as a non-drafted free agent on October 3, 2011.
Center fielder Kevin Mattison was selected in the first round of the Triple-A phase off the Double-A Jacksonville roster of the Miami Marlins. Mattison, 28, batted .216 with 7 HR, 31 RBI and 18 stolen bases with Triple-A New Orleans last season. He was originally drafted by the Marlins in the 28th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
Third baseman Vinnie Catricala was selected in the second round of the Triple-A phase off the Double-A Midland roster of the Oakland Athletics. Catricala, 25, was traded from Seattle to Oakland on June 9, 2013. He batted a combined .235 with 7 HR and 47 RBI in 109 games between Double-A Jackson and Double-A Midland last season. Catricala, who was drafted by Seattle in the 10th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Hawaii, was named the Mariners’ Minor League Player of the Year in 2011.
The Brewers did not lose a player in the Rule 5 Draft.