Tag:Evan Brunell
Posted on: October 28, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 12:53 pm

Tigers pick up closer Valverde's option

ValverdeBy Evan Brunell

In a no-brainer move, the Tigers have exercised their $9 million club option on closer Jose Valverde.

Valverde saved every single opportunity he had in 2011, finishing with a club-recod 49 saves, besting Todd Jones' 42 in 2002. Anytime a team can re-up with a successful reliever for just one season, you have to do it. There's too much risk in long-term deals for relievers, and although the closer's market in free agency may have depressed Valverde's price due to the amount of closers hitting the market, Detroit still made the right call in picking up Valverde's deal. Now, if he has a poor season, the club can walk away after the year with no strings attached.

The club could still extend Valverde, perhaps giving him two to three years at a lesser annual salary. The righty posted a 2.24 ERA in 72 1/3 innings in his second season with Detroit. The 33-year-old is 58 saves away from 300 for his career.

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

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Posted on: October 28, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2011 5:04 pm

Angels tab Jerry Dipoto as new GM


By Evan Brunell

The Angels introduced Jerry Dipoto on Saturday as their new general manager, signing him to a three-year deal with two option years. The 43-year-old will be a full-time GM for the first time.

He's coming off a successful 2011 season in which he was senior vice president of scouting and player development for the Diamondbacks. Dipoto, widely regarded around the game, had been the interim GM for most of 2010 Arizona season, and was a strong candidate for the Orioles GM job as well. Owner Arte Moreno said Saturday that he will give the Angels fresh ideas, something the team desperately needs.

Dipoto altered the future of Arizona significantly when he traded Dan Haren last season. He traded Haren to the Angels for pitcher Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez, Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs. The inclusion of Saunders, a lefty best suited to the back of the rotation, was head-scratching and the fact Dipoto felt his win-loss record reflected his abilities as a pitcher was maddening. Saunders went 3-7 the rest of the way in 2010 despite a lower ERA for Arizona (4.25) than with Los Angeles (4.62). This season Saunders bounced back with a 3.69 ERA, but isn't expected to return to Arizona, as incumbent GM Kevin Towers feels he will be overpriced.

Dipoto was a former reliever with the Indians, Mets and Rockies before he joined the Red Sox in 2003. He followed Josh Byrnes to Arizona after a brief sojourn in Colorado. When Byrnes was fired early on in 2010, Dipoto took over until Towers was hired.

Dipoto also made another trade during his time as interim GM, masterfully outwitting White Sox GM Kenny Williams in agreeing to trade starter Edwin Jackson -- ineffective, with a pricey contract -- for fellow starter Dan Hudson. Hudson broke out as one of the game's better (and cheapest) starters this year. 

Dipoto will have a tough job on his hands in Los Angeles. The team has an up-and-coming list of players headed by Michael Trout, but is crippled financially. The Angels have one more year left of Torii Hunter at $18 million and Bobby Abreu at $9 million. And don't forget the $24 million owed Vernon Wells next season and the $74 million over the next three seasons. 

That's an awful outfield for Dipoto to navigate through, and one of his first tasks will be how to give these players a chance to succeed (or be traded) while keeping room open for Trout and fellow young outfielder Peter Bourjos. Dipoto will benefit from having Kendrys Morales back, who should be ready to return after being knocked out in May 2010 with injury. But that will only create more of a logjam as Mark Trumbo has earned more playing time after bashing 29 homers as a rookie.

Once the Angels can get through 2012 its payroll flexibility will open wide up -- just in time for what could be a historic free agent class -- and there will be a bumper crop of prospects for Dipoto to work with. Given his background in scouting and player development, he figures to put an emphasis on developing Los Angeles' farm system. The Diamondbacks, under DiPoto, bore fruit early on but entered a stagnant period that is only just improving.

It's unclear just how much power he will have in L.A., as owner Arte Moreno is very hands on and manager Mike Scioscia wields a ton of power. How Dipoto can integrate himself into the Angels will go a long way in determining whether the Angels' recent fallow run is a reloading or a rebuilding.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 10:39 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 10:41 pm

Twenty-seven players qualify for Super Two

By Evan Brunell

Twenty-seven players have earned the right to a fourth year of arbitration, as MLB Trade Rumors has discovered. Highlighted among the names is the Rays' David Price.

Arbitration normally kicks in only after a player's third year, and he goes through the process on a yearly basis until he reaches six years of service, qualifying for free agency. However, the top 17 percent of players who just missed three years and had at least 86 days of service time qualify for arbitration and are called "Super Twos." This year the cutoff is late at 2 years and 146 days, way up from last season's two years and 122 days.

Price qualifying hurts the Rays, who now will be paying him millions more than they would have if he had missed the cut. Other significant names include the Red Sox's Daniel Bard, the Nationals' Tyler Clippard and Jordan Zimmermann, Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler and  the Athletics' Gio Gonzalez.

Courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors, here is a list of all Super Two eligible players, as well as their dates of service:
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Category: MLB
Posted on: October 27, 2011 6:57 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 6:59 pm

Soriano won't opt out of contract with Yankees


By Evan Brunell

In what had to be one of the most obvious calls in a long time, reliever Rafael Soriano will not opt out of his contract with the Yankees.

"He adjusted to the [seventh- eighth-inning] role, liked being there with Mariano [Rivera] and he adjusted to New York City," agent Scott Boras told the New York Post of Soriano, who tried to pretend this movie was about liking his situation and not about money. "The player is happy there."

Soriano signed a three-year, $35 million deal with New York prior to last season after not finding a market for his closing services. Soriano and agent Scott Boras settled for closer's money, but a setup role under Mariano Rivera. As part of the deal, the righty received the right to opt out of the deal after each of the 2011 or 2012 seasons. Soriano earned $10 million in 2011, an $11 million salary due in 2012 and then a bump to $14 million in 2013, which is not that surprising given that incumbent closer Mariano Rivera's deal runs through 2012, which could leave Soriano as closer in 2013. If Soriano opted out, he would have received a $1.5 million buyout.

Maybe if the flamethrower had a season reminiscent of his 2010, when he was a dominating closer for the Rays, he would have opted out. Except that Soriano had an injury-plagued year and pitched just 39 2/3 innings, coughing up a 4.12 ERA. He wasn't the same person when he was on the mound, struggling with command which may dissipate now that he has time to heal from his injuries, but either way, he wasn't going to sniff anywhere near two years and $25 million on the open market, so he is making the obvious decision to stay in New York.

This move is about money, period. If Soriano was truly interested in remaining as a setup man, these options wouldn't have been built in, and he wouldn't have taken so long to sign with a team. But that's OK -- nothing wrong with a pitcher trying to score what will be the biggest payday of his career. And the Yankees do have some optimism moving forward for Soriano to reclaim his dominance and give the club a devastating one-two punch in 2012. Once Soriano returned on July 30 from right-shoulder inflammation, he threw 24 1/3 innings, posting a 3.33 ERA and with control numbers reflecting his previous effectiveness. Between Soriano and fellow setup man David Robertson -- who emerged following Soriano's injury -- the Yankees are in great shape. And Boras credits them with starting what might be an emerging trend, utilizing two closers in the game and noting how Milwaukee followed in a similar path by acquiring Francisco Rodriguez to supplement John Axford.

"I give the Yankees a lot of credit, they used the platform well," Boras said. "At first [clubs] will say we are overpaying. Then it's oh my [gosh], we are winning a lot of games."

Except this is more of a gambit by an agent to get setup men more money than it is teams utilizing two closers. Boras is doing his job and one could argue that setup men are even more valuable than closers. I'm one of those in that camp, as setup men can be used in high-pressure situations in virtually any inning and most setup men are allowed to pitch more than one inning more often than a closer. There is a reason ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona always called Boston setup man Daniel Bard his most valuable relief pitcher for years. But setup roles are exactly how Soriano and Rodriguez were utilized. Soriano received just two saves for the Yankees. One came on April 20 in a 6-2 Yankees win after Lance Pendleton failed at mopping up the game by allowing two batters. Rivera had pitched the day before, and three of the previous four games. The next save by Soriano came in the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 21, when New York's playoff chances were secure and Rivera closed the first game out.

Rodriguez didn't even get one save as a Brewer. These guys may have been closers, but they served in the very specific role of a setup man. These teams did not utilize two closers; two people splitting saves. It's the same arrangement that has worked so well in Boston, and Bard has never closed. He's been a setup man. That's the very reason why Soriano is returning to New York -- if he was valued as a quality closer, he would be a free agent.

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:42 pm

McCourt, MLB discuss settlement to sell Dodgers

McCourtBy Evan Brunell

The bankruptcy trial that could determine whether or not Frank McCourt continues as owner of the Dodgers was postponed for a month on Wednesday, opening the door to the possibility McCourt might agree to sell the team.

The Los Angeles Times reports says the reason why the trial, slated to start on Monday, Oct. 31, was delayed to Nov. 29 is because McCourt and MLB are discussing a possible settlement in which McCourt would agree to sell the team. It is not clear what McCourt will demand in return for a sale, but if he gets rid of all the properties he owns -- the team, Dodger Stadium and surrounding land, he could fetch over a billion dollars. He might need that just to break even, owing millions to creditors, his ex-wife in a divorce settlement and tax liabilities. It's possible McCourt could try to hang onto part of the team, but at this point, commissioner Bud Selig likely wants nothing to do with McCourt.

Prior to the trial, Selig said McCourt should sell a minority share, but since the trial has begun, he has wanted McCourt out. The two sides have been at war for quite some time, and there is no love lost between McCourt and Selig. It would be a major surprise if McCourt held onto the majority of the team, or even a nominal part. Selig also does not want McCourt to sell the team but keep the surrounding land and stadium.

Can't get enough of the Dodger Divorce saga and the troubles surrounding Dodgers owner Frank McCourt? Click here.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 10:10 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 10:12 pm

Blue Jays could make run at David Ortiz

OrtizBy Evan Brunell

Could Big Papi be headed north of the border?

The Boston Herald writes that the Blue Jays "will not rule out" going after David Ortiz.

The Red Sox slugger is a free agent, coming off a bounceback year that saw him crack 29 homers and hit .309/.398/.554. While Ortiz isn't expected to get a lucrative contract, especially at age 35, he should end up with a two-year deal worth around $20-$25 million in free agency. That is well within Toronto's budget, which is looking for a left-handed complement to Jose Bautista. Ortiz would certainly fit the bill and give the club some serious thump in advance of the team trying to make a move in the division.

Ortiz knows the Blue Jays manager, John Farrell, from his time in Boston as a pitching coach and has always enjoyed Rogers Centre, where the Jays call home. Excluding Boston's Fenway Park, the lefty has slugged more homers in Rogers Centre than any other stadium, going deep 29 times and slashing .270/.357/.597 in the park. However, again, Ortiz is 35 and that might not fit with Toronto, whose window of opportunity is likely at least one more year away. Plus, Papi would be stuck at DH and prevent Toronto from cycling other players through the position. In addition, it would mean that one of Adam Lind, Travis Snider and Eric Thames would be squeezed out of playing time.

After the Red Sox's historic collapse, Ortiz was quoted as saying he was tired of dealing with the drama in Boston, but later said he wanted to return to the team. It's likely that he will, and new GM Ben Cherington said that he wouldn't rule out Papi re-upping with Boston during the five-day window of exclusivity teams have with their free agents following the World Series.

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Posted on: October 26, 2011 8:23 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 8:35 pm

New Padres GM Byrnes won't let team suffer


By Evan Brunell

In a move that could decimate the Padres for years to come, new Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is razing the Padres front office, sniping Padres GM Jed Hoyer and his assistant, Jason MacLeod, who will fill similar roles in Chicago. San Diego will get a player to be named later as compensation, expected to be a low-level minor leaguer.

This move has been expected for a while, but now that it's finally official, we can look at the shockwaves of this deal in San Diego. Lost in all the hubbub over Theo Epstein joining the Cubs and the Red Sox promoting Epstein's protege, Ben Cherington, is the impact these moves have on San Diego. The club is losing two of its top executives to what is now a "dream team" structure in Chicago, after Epstein went looking for lieutenants he trusted once Boston refused to allow any executives to follow Epstein to Chicago. While the move was done with the blessing of Padres CEO Jeff Moorad, who now gets to elevate Josh Byrnes into the GM seat, it's a major change that could derail the club.

GM Carousel
Byrnes and Moorad have previous ties, when Moorad steered the ship in Arizona and brought Byrnes to town from Boston. The then-35-year-old was hired in 2005 (allowing Hoyer to rise to the assistant GM role with the Red Sox) and was given an eight-year extension prior to the 2008 season Under Byrnes' watch, the Diamondbacks did improve the from the season before, but that's pretty easy to do when the 2004 team lost 111 games. The team did go on to win a division title, but floundered for three seasons before Byrnes was cut loose partway through 2010.

The Diamondbacks' philosophy upon starting its franchise in 1998 was to go hard after top free agents and pay money for them to come to town. It paid off in 2001, with a World Series victory in a series that hasn't been matched since. However, all the deferred cash coming due to aging veterans hit the team hard, and Byrnes came in to try to turn it around. Under his watch, the D-Backs worked their way up from irrelevancy to winning the division title in 2007 with 90 victories. However, the club slumped after that season, all the way to last place in 2009 with 92 losses. When Arizona got 2010 off to a similarly poor start, that was it for Byrnes in town. In the meantime, the farm system suffered, as the club ranked No. 22 heading into 2011, according to Baseball America. However, as BA notes, 'Zona's system is rich in the low minors, which could eventually bear fruit. And of course, the Diamondbacks won the NL West in 2011, in no small part due to Byrnes' contributions.

Meanwhile, Hoyer and MacLeod have brought the Padres along rather nicely in the two years they had to replace Kevin Towers, who is now Diamondbacks GM. The Padres have a fantastic farm system, strengthened by the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to Boston and have made several savvy moves to boost the major-league team, such as plucking Cameron Maybin from the Marlins and seeing him develop into a quality centerfielder like he was supposed to. There's no question that losing Hoyer and MacLeod will hurt San Diego, but Moorad is extremely confident in Byrnes, who is still highly-regarded may even be better than before, having seen how things transpired in Arizona and learning from it

It's near impossible to speculate how well the Padres will do under Byrnes, but fans shouldn't despair. Byrnes understands how to work in a small market and will cultivate the farm system. Fortunately, the club has a well-established manager in Bud Black to oversee the team, so there won't be a risk of Byrnes making a mistake on who to lead the team on the field, having hired a green A.J. Hinch in Arizona and drawing the ire and scorn of many in the game (and yet, there's none for Robin Ventura...), with Hinch and the club showing a lack of fire that destroyed the team. (Hinch remains well-regarded and should manage again or become GM one day.)

Given how Byrnes and Hoyer come from similar schools of thought and worked under Epstein, it's unlikely Byrnes will rip up the processes that have been installed in San Diego over the last few years. Rather, he'll continue them, while putting his own stamp on the team. The rise of Arizona in 2007 and 2011 should make Pads fans confident in Byrnes, even though the loss of Hoyer hurts.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 4:34 pm

Twins decline Joe Nathan's option

NathanBy Evan Brunell

For all news, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

The Twins have declined closer Joe Nathan's $12.5 million option, the team announced.

Nathan will receive $2 million as part of his buyout. The righty made a solid return to the majors after missing all of 2011 thanks to Tommy John surgery. The 36-year-old had a 4.84 ERA in 44 2/3 innings, although he pitched more impressively than the ERA may indicate. He punched out 43 and walked 14, and there will be no shortage of teams that are interested in Nathan's services, either as a setup man or closer.

The Twins will be one of those teams, as GM Bill Smith said the club is interested in resigning Nathan. Given closer Matt Capps is also a free agent, there will be a spot for Nathan should he re-up with the team, which he has previously expressed an interest in doing so. After saving 14 of 17 games, he now has 261 saves for his career, with all but one coming with the Twins franchise.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com