It was pretty clever of Jeff Luhnow to turn Brett Myers into a closer this year, so as to up his trade value at the deadline (everyone wants bullpen help). But to do that, he had to rework Myers’ vesting option language in his contract from one appropriate for a starter to one appropriate for a reliever.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the new vesting option makes it almost certain that Myers is going to go someplace at the deadline, and possibly more cheaply than anticipated:
The Astros reworked Myers’ vesting option when they converted him from a starter to closer in spring training. Under his initial deal, he needed to make only 25 starts and not be on the DL at the end of the season to guarantee his $10 million option for 2013.
The exact number of games that Myers needs to finish for his option to vest under the reworked terms is not known, but the degree of difficulty is comparable to what it was for him as a starter, according to a major-league source. The best estimate, then, is that the number is between 40 and 50.
And as Rosenthal notes, Myers is on pace to finish 57 games. This means that, like K-Rod last year, Myers likely has setup man duties in his future on a contender so no one will have to pay that unit* to him in 2013.
*I like to use the term “unit” to refer to $10 million. I was told by a former client that this is what the newly rich — particularly Texas oilmen of the 1970s — called $10 million anyway. As in “I got my first unit in 1977, right after we struck on that land east of Fort Stockton …” and so forth. I want to believe this is true, though I sometimes suspect I was being put on.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.