Francisco Liriano turned down the Pirates’ qualifying offer, choosing the open market over a one-year, $15.3 million deal, and now Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that he’s looking for 3-4 years and $12 million per season.
The combination of draft pick compensation and Liriano’s up-and-down history may scare some teams off, but he had back-to-back strong seasons for the Pirates and is still just 31 years old.
Liriano started 55 games for Pittsburgh with a 3.20 ERA and 338 strikeouts in 323 innings while holding opponents to a .221 batting average and .628 OPS. Last offseason guys like Ubaldo Jimenez, Ricky Nolasco, and Matt Garza all got around $50 million, so it’d be tough to argue against Liriano being worth similar money.
Now that Billy Butler is headed to Oakland for a three-year, $30 million contract the Royals are looking for a replacement at designated hitter after he filled the role for the past eight seasons.
Replacing his 2014 production won’t be all that tough, as Butler set career-lows basically across the board by hitting just .271 with nine homers and a .702 OPS in 151 games. However, replacing his 2007-2013 production–which includes a .298 batting average and .823 OPS–will be a lot tougher.
Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals “have engaged in discussions” with free agents Michael Morse and Torii Hunter, and have also “pondered trading for” guys like Evan Gattis of the Braves and Ryan Howard of the Phillies.
Butler earned $8 million in 2014 and the Royals made him a free agent by declining his $12.5 million option for 2015. As a team Kansas City ranked ninth in the American League in scoring despite the league’s most stolen bases and second-highest batting average.
In news that helps explain why the Astros are reportedly open to trading Jason Castro, according to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle the catcher turned down their contract extension offer last offseason.
Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish says the Astros offered him $10 million in guaranteed money to cover his final two arbitration-eligible seasons in 2015 and 2016, plus two option years that would have covered his first two seasons of free agency. If both options would have been picked up, Castro would have earned around $25 million over four years.
Instead he turned down the extension and struggled this season while hitting just .222 with a .651 OPS in 126 games. Of course, even after a rough year Castro is projected to make around $4 million via arbitration and, if he bounces back to his 2013 production that got him to the All-Star game, he’d then be one season away from a big payday as a 29-year-old free agent.
Tim Hudson has one year remaining on his contract with the Giants and the 39-year-old right-hander said today that he plans to retire after the season.
Via the Associated Press, here’s what Hudson said during an event at his alma mater, Auburn University:
I have one more year left on my contract, so I’m pretty sure that’s going to be it after this season. I just started my workouts yesterday, which is kind of crazy to me. Just two weeks ago I was still playing and here I am having to get back ready for next season again.
I guess that’s the price you pay when you play that late into the season come playoff time. But I’m going to work my tail off this offseason to get ready to go on to spring training in as good a shape as I can be and hopefully finish (next) season strong. It’s been an unbelievable career for me.
Hudson, who threw 189 innings with a 3.57 ERA in 31 starts, added that winning the World Series this year brings him “some solid closure” to his career after previously never advancing past the first round of the playoffs.
He’ll make $12 million in 2015.
Outfielder Alex Presley and the Astros have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year contract. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle says it’ll be worth $1 million.
Presley was claimed off waivers from the Twins during spring training and hit .244 with six homers and a .628 OPS in 89 games.
His career numbers aren’t a whole lot better and Presley is stretched defensively in center field, but Houston likes him as a backup outfielder for 2015.