Your pre-arbitration filing deadline signing scoreboard, Part III

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First we had Part I, then we had Part II, and now we have even more signings!  We will not be undersold!

  • Carl Pavano, Twins, $7 million.  Heyman says he “wouldn’t give that guy a penny.”  Maybe $7 million is a lot, but aren’t there such a thing as average starting pitchers in Heyman’s world?
  • Russell Martin, Dodgers, $5.05 million. Not a big raise for Martin, but it’s not like he had the best year ever.
  • Jered Weaver, Angels, $4.265 million. It’s hard to express in English, but I’m sure the Germans have some awesome, multi-syllabic word that perfectly expresses the notion of “a player who feels like he has been around forever due to the fact that he was a highly touted prospect, yet who is inexplicably still in his arbitration years.” 
  • Peter Moylan, Braves, $1.15 million. Dude missed almost all of 2008 following elbow surgery and then Bobby Cox throws him out there 87 times.  Either his arm is made of rubber or Bobby Cox thinks he’s two different guys.
  • Matt Garza, Rays, $3.35 million. Anyone else see a Sid Fernandez career for this guy?  As was the case with El Sid, whenever I see him he looks dominant, but they you look at his numbers at the end of the year and he’s just like, eh. Good pitcher, but if he could harness the awesomeness of which he is occasionally capable he’d be somethin’ else.
  • David Aardsma, Mariners, $2.75 million. Milton Bradley says that as long as Aardsma plays the right way, comes to spring training ready to
    work and ready to be part of the team that they have–good guys put their
    nose to the ground and bust their butts–they’ll even take Aardsma.
  • Michael Bourn, Matt Lindstrom, and Humberto Quintero, Astros for $2.4 million, $1.625 million and $750,000, respectively. Bourn was the only one of the three NL Gold Glovers who actually deserved it last year.
  • Jason Hammel, Rockies, $1.9 million. Jason Marquis gets $15 million over two years. The guy who the Rockies actually trusted to pitch in the playoffs is paid under $2 million for a year. Viva the free market.
  • Kevin Kouzmanoff, Athletics, money not yet reported. Obviously the A’s knew they had to pay him when they dealt for him, but doesn’t doing this deal a mere couple of days after the trade feel like putting a new water pump in a car you just friggin’ bought?
  • J.P. Howell, Rays, $1.8 million. Hey, J.P., I know you’re not the closer anymore, but please take this raise as a parting gift.
  • Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet, Blue Jays, $2.65 million and $ 2 million, respectively.  I continue to be upset that Alex Anthopoulos didn’t get to kick ass and take names in arbitration like he said he was going to.
  • Delmon Young, Twins, $2.6MM with $25,000 bonuses each for 575 and 600 plate appearances. You gotta figure that if he doesn’t step up and assert himself this year that he’s non-tender bait for next year.
  • Alex Gordon and Robinson Tejeda, Royals, terms are top secret. They could tell you, but then they’d have to kill you.
  • Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks $3.4 million. He’s the Ashlee Simpson of the Drew brothers. Wait, I forgot about Tim Drew.  Let’s start over: Tim is Magda Gabor, J.D. is Zsa Zsa, and Stephen is Eva. 
  • John Danks, White Sox,  $3.45 million, and all of the Slim-Fast he can drink. Forget that. I got my Danks and Jenks mixed up.  Again.
  • Pedro Feliciano, Mets $2.9 million with $100K in performance bonuses. He’s used so much, however that he’s probably the cheapest pitcher in baseball on a pro-rata basis.  If the Mets are out of it this year they should try to break Mike Marshall’s record with the guy.
  • Chris Ray, Rangers, $975,000. Ray saved 33 games once upon a time, but a 7.27 ERA and Tommy John surgery in the rear window will cut down on your market price.
  • Jeremy Accardo, Blue Jays, $1.08 million.  Accardo is like that old barn on a road trip. I feel like I’ve reported this deal four of five times already today, but according to my map I’m still heading in the right direction;
  • Rafael Perez, Indians, $795,000. Another member of the 7.00+ ERA club. I actually saw him pitch here in Columbus last year. I’m sure I’ll get plenty of chances this year too.
  • Luke Scott, Orioles, $4.05 million. I like Luke Scott. I kind of hope he turns into Matt Stairs and hangs around forever.
  • Jeff Baker, Mike Fontenot, Koyie Hill, Angel Guzman and Tom Gorzelanny, Cubs, for $975,000 $1million, $700,000, $825,000 and $800,000, respectively. Man, the Cubs were busy this morning. Kind of makes me wish I was in the room at the same time. I bet I’d have a good shot of slipping a contract with my name on it in front of Jim Hendry and walking away with $800K. 
  • Zach Duke, Pirates, terms unknown. And Duke comes from Parts Unknown. Used to wrestle with a mask back in his high school days. True story.
  • Mark Lowe, Mariners $1.15 million.  At some point in the last hour I became convinced that people just started making up names of baseball players and tweeted phony deals for them. Neat idea. I think I’m going to jump on the Twitter and make up one myself.

A far-fetched sounding drug test scam

NES TSIONA, ISRAEL - JANUARY 22:  A laboratory technician checks human blood samples before placing the glass tubes on an automated testing line at the Maccabi Health Services HMO central laboratory January 22, 2006 in Nes Tsiona which is located in central Israel. The laboratory, which operates a fully automated system complete with advanced robotics, can test more than 50,000 blood samples a day. The lab is considered one of the most modern of its kind in the western world.  (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
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Kevin Draper at Deadspin is passing along a story — and that’s not me editorializing; he’s admitting that it’s unconfirmed gossip at the moment — about a major league player paying a teammate $2.5 million to take the fall for him on a drug test. The story came via a tip from someone who, apparently, had a conversation about the drug test scam with a college baseball player who knew the players allegedly involved in the scam.

Here is how the conversation was recounted:

College Baseball Player: [MLB player’s star teammate] paid him to take his blood test. $2.5 million dollars.

Bar Patron: How does that even work?

College Baseball Player: [MLB player] and [MLB player’s star teammate] were getting tested the same day. They traded samples.

Deadspin says that the story is “probably bulls**t” but that some preliminary investigating they’ve done doesn’t disprove it and, to some extent corroborates it. How it’s been supported or not is left unclear and Deadspin couches all of this in a request for more information if anyone has any. Which, OK, fine.

I’ll offer that, on the surface, this seems like a bit more than mere “bulls**t.” It sounds structurally impossible. If it’s a blood test for HGH as the excerpt suggests, the samples are tested back in the lab to make sure they match up with previous samples. Meaning: the lab processing the sample knows if it’s your blood or not. If it’s a urine test, as Deadspin thinks it may have been, I’m not sure how samples could be switched given that urine tests are directly observed by testing officials. Yes, they watch you pee. They’d likely prevent you from peeing right next to your bro teammate, but even if you did, they’d see you exchange little plastic containers of urine with him.

I’m not going to say that this is 100% bull because we can’t really know for sure, but the scenario as described sounds highly unlikely, approaching the impossible. If someone had a story about bribing a sample taker with $2.5 million well, hey, maybe we’re getting somewhere, because that would get you over some procedural hurdles. For now, though, this all sounds like someone passing along a tall tale.

If it is true? Hoo boy, that’d be fun. At least for people like me who write about this stuff.

The deeper implications of the A.J. Ellis trade

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers heads to the dugout at the end of the first inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium on May 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The trade of a light-hitting backup catcher is normally about as inconsequential as it gets. The trade of A.J. Ellis by the Dodgers to the Phillies, however, is anything but that. Indeed, it may be the public manifestation of long-simmering, well, maybe “feud” is too strong a word, but a definite butting of heads between the team’s front office and its best player.

While almost all of the clubhouse drama in Los Angeles has surrounded a talented but aggravating corner outfielder currently toiling in the minors, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times wrote last night that the Ellis trade could very well be seen as the front office’s shot across Clayton Kershaw‘s bow:

Kershaw’s preference of Ellis was the subject of a longstanding tug-of-war between Kershaw and the front office, which wanted Yasmani Grandal behind the plate as much as possible . . . Some players interpreted the trade as a message from the front office.

This isn’t Kershaw’s team. It’s not Corey Seager’s team or Adrian Gonzalez’s, either.

It’s Friedman’s.

The notion that Kershaw likes to pitch to Ellis is pretty well-known, but the idea that it was so strong a preference that it created a dispute as to whether he has final say over a roster spot is news, at least to people who aren’t around the Dodgers all the time. Hernandez is a good columnist and is particularly well-plugged in to the Dodgers after many years of being their beat writer for the Times. He wouldn’t throw the notion of there being something of a power struggle in this regard out there all willy-nilly in order to stir the pot or something. I don’t doubt for a second that something bigger than most of us have seen is going on here.

As for the trade itself: yeah, it’s pretty debatable as to whether it makes any kind of sense. Carlos Ruiz is likely an upgrade over Ellis, but it’s a pretty marginal upgrade when you consider how few plate appearances the Dodgers backup catcher will make for the rest of the year. It’s especially marginal if you assume, as Hernandez and others assume, likely with reason, that the loss of Ellis is going to harm morale. At least in the short term before they get to know Ruiz well (worth noting, though, that he comes pretty highly recommended from Kershaw-caliber aces for all the same reasons Ellis does). I can see a lot of reasons not to make that deal even for an extra hit or two a week that Ruiz may give you over Ellis.

All of which speaks to what we don’t know. What we don’t know about the mind of Andrew Friedman and whether or not there is something more going on here than is immediately apparent. About the relationship between him and Kershaw and, for that matter, him and the rest of the team that would cause him to make a deal that plays as poorly with his own players as this one does. It could be something about Ellis. It could be something about Friedman’s relationship with Kershaw. It could be something totally unrelated to any of that, such as offseason plans and the roster in 2017 (Ruiz has a team option for next year, Ellis is a pending free agent). Unless or until Friedman speaks or a reporter gets someone to shed more light on this, there will continue to be questions.

In the meantime, I’ll grant that there are certainly different rules which apply to superstars than mere mortals, but veto power over a trade and/or playing time for other players isn’t typically one of them. If, as Hernandez suggests, there was a sense that Kershaw and Friedman didn’t see eye-to-eye on that and it wasn’t otherwise being resolved, it makes Friedman’s move somewhat more understandable.