Author: Aaron Gleeman

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies

Phillies decline 2015 option on Mike Adams


After a pair of injury wrecked seasons the Phillies have declined their $6 million option on right-hander Mike Adams for 2015.

Signed to a two-year, $12 million contract after a five-year run as one of the elite setup men in baseball, Adams continued to pitch well for the Phillies but was limited to a total of 44 innings in two seasons.

He had a 3.50 ERA and 44/19 K/BB ratio in those 44 frames, so even at age 36 he should have plenty of interest from teams wanting to sign him to an incentive-laden one-year deal.

Flashback to 2010: Everyone was worried about Madison Bumgarner

Madison Bumgarner

Giants ace Madison Bumgarner is on top of the baseball world right now, but back in early 2010 there were a lot of people worried about the then-20-year-old prospect.

Bumgarner was a first-round draft pick and elite prospect, but during spring training in 2010 his velocity was way down into the mid-80s and he posted a 6.43 ERA with seven walks and zero strikeouts while competing for the final spot in the Giants’ rotation.

That got Bumgarner demoted back to the minors and the Giants gave the job to journeyman Todd Wellemeyer (who went on to go 3-5 with a 5.68 ERA).

Here’s what manager Bruce Bochy said at the time:

He’s 20 years old. We think a lot of him and he has a bright future. But we think there are still some things he needs to work on. … It’s fair to say he was just out of sync for the most part this spring. He didn’t have his good command this spring. Building arm strength is part of spring training.

Things were even worse in the minors, as Bumgarner allowed 11 runs on 21 hits in his first two starts while opponents batted .538. And then, suddenly, he was fixed.

Bumgarner put together a 12-start stretch at Triple-A in which he posted a 2.14 ERA and the Giants called him back up to the majors in mid-June. He never looked back, posting a 3.00 ERA in 18 starts as a rookie and then turning in four consecutive 200-inning, sub-3.50 ERA seasons culminating in his historic World Series performance.

At age 20 he was a big question mark. At age 25 he’s the World Series MVP.

Marlins will pick up Jeff Mathis’ option for 2015

Jeff Mathis AP

Jeff Mathis had his usual terrible season at the plate, hitting .200 with two homers and a .537 OPS in 64 games, but his defense continued to receive praise and the Marlins want him back.

Joe Frisaro of reports that the Marlins will exercise their $1.5 million option on Mathis for 2015, keeping the 31-year-old catcher around for a third season in Miami.

Mathis a career .196 hitter and has never topped a .650 OPS in nine seasons as a big leaguer, but pitchers and managers always seem to love his work behind the plate and he doesn’t figure to play much backing up Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Royals likely to decline Billy Butler’s option, but will he re-sign for less?

Kansas City Royals v Chicago White Sox

It’s not exactly a hot-button topic like whether or not the Giants will re-sign third baseman Pablo Sandoval, but the Royals face a similar decision on designated hitter Billy Butler.

Once upon a time Butler looked likely a long-term building block for the Royals, but now at age 28 his performance has slipped and the team seems likely to decline his $12.5 million option for 2015.

Butler is the longest-tenured Royal at eight seasons and was originally drafted by Kansas City in 2004, but he’s hit just .280 with a .396 slugging percentage and .746 OPS in 313 games since 2013 and for a player with zero defensive or baserunning value that’s simply not worth $12.5 million.

However, last night Butler made it clear that he wants to stay with the Royals no matter what happens regarding his 2015 option:

Even if they decline it, you can still talk. Nothing’s been said. I haven’t been told anything, nor should I. We were focused on the World Series. I bleed Royal blue, and I’m a proven major league player. If it’s not here, it’s somewhere else, but I’d rather it just be here. It’s just the way it is. We’re small market and business is business, but I feel like it’s a little bit more than that here.

Parting ways with Butler would give the Royals a chance to add a bigger power threat to the middle of the lineup. He’s topped 20 homers just once in the past five seasons and has a .449 career slugging percentage while frequently being among the league leaders in grounding into double plays. Of course, breaking up after a decade together can be tough and as recently as 2012 he hit .313 with 29 homers and an .882 OPS.

Royals planned to use Danny Duffy in the playoff rotation, but he was hurt

Danny Duffy

Danny Duffy was a non-factor for the Royals in the playoffs after throwing 149 innings with a 2.53 ERA during the regular season and now we know why: He was hurt.

Royals manager Ned Yost revealed to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that Duffy suffered a stress reaction in his rib cage during the regular season finale.

Yost apparently planned to start Duffy in Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Angels–“obviously, he definitely would have been one of our starters”–but the Royals’ training staff determined he could only be used for 2-3 innings at a time given the injury.

So instead Jason Vargas got the Game 1 assignment and then stayed in the rotation as the Royals’ fourth starter all postseason. Yost and the Royals kept Duffy’s status a secret because they wanted to potentially use him as an impact reliever, but in the rare times he took the mound the 25-year-old left-hander appeared to be in obvious discomfort.