With no teams showing much interest in paying $10 million per year and giving up a draft pick for a closer, agent Scott Boras is hoping the Tigers have a change of heart and bid for Rafael Soriano.
MLB.com’s Jason Beck has the quotes:
“I think the Tigers’ position is one where they’re trying to put together their best team and they haven’t made those decisions yet,” Boras said.
Even before being specifically asked about the Tigers, Boras tried to shoot down the concept of a contender going with a rookie in the closer’s role, as the Tigers are thinking of doing with Bruce Rondon.
“The evidence says that there are many young players in our game that are 20, 21 that can hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs and they’re extraordinary talents. Or win 15 games. But there’s never been closers that can come in and get 30 saves,” Boras said. “I think you count on one hand the number of closers under the age of 23 that have ever gone to the big leagues and at a young age put together 30 saves, let alone pitch in the postseason and be effective.”
Of course, Boras rarely shoots his mouth off without already having looked up the facts ahead of time. Just two pitchers under the age of 23 have ever saved 30 games in the majors: Huston Street (37 in 2006) and Neftali Feliz (40 in 2010). Seven more have saved 30 games at age 23 (not including Feliz a second time).
That said, I’d certainly put forth the argument that the reason there are so few 30-save relievers that young is because teams are so conservative about keeping veterans in the closer’s role. Whether a young player hits 30 homers is something that player controls. Saves are a manufactured stat, and there are no shortage of 22- and 23-year-old relievers that have been good enough to save 30 games.
The Angels are staying busy Wednesday, picking up Joe Blanton on a two-year, $15 million contract to add to their rotation.
The deal includes an option for 2015, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Blanton went 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA for the Phillies and Dodgers last season, though he did post a fine 166/34 K/BB ratio in the process. He’s a pretty good fit in a big Angels Stadium that hasn’t been yielding a lot of home runs of late.
Blanton will presumably be the fourth starter in a rotation that also includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hanson, with one more pitcher still to be signed. With Blanton making $7.5 million and Hanson due about $4 million in arbitration, the Angels should still have at least $8 million-$12 million left to spend on a No. 3 starter with Dan Haren and Ervin Santana having departed and Zack Greinke almost sure to join them.
Assuming the Angels do land that additional starter, then Garrett Richards will head back to Triple-A for more seasoning.
Things are no longer quiet with Michael Bourn’s market; Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that the Phillies are “past the tire-kicking stage” with the speedy center fielder.
Bourn to the Phillies became a popular rumor as soon as Shane Victorino was dealt to the Dodgers during the season, opening up a big hole in center field. Bourn opened his career with the Phillies before being dealt to Houston for Brad Lidge five years ago.
The Mariners appear to be the other team in on Bourn at the moment. Expectations are that he’ll want a deal bigger than the five-year, $75.25 million contract that B.J. Upton received from the Braves last month. The Phillies were one of the teams trying for Upton, but it’s believed they were offering less than $12 million per year.
Bourn, who turns 30 this month, hit .274/.348/.391 with nine homers and 42 steals for the Braves last season. He’s won two Gold Gloves for his play in center field, and he was deserving of another this year.
Both the Indians and Yankees have met with the agent for non-tendered infielder Mark Reynolds in Nashville.
Those two teams are also known to be interested in Kevin Youkilis, who lost one lessor suitor when his old team, the White Sox, signed Jeff Keppinger today. Youkilis has also been mentioned in connection with the Dodgers and Philies, but the Indians and Yankees seem like his best bets for now.
The Indians would likely use Youkilis at first base, though they’d have the option of putting him at third if Lonnie Chisenhall struggles. The Yankees want Youkilis as a stopgap third baseman with Alex Rodriguez out for two or three months.
Youkilis’ close relationship with Terry Francona from their days in Boston could come into play with the Indians. Also, Youkilis is from Cincinnati.
As for Reynolds, he offers 30-homer power, but he’s a poor defender at third base, and he’d likely be more valuable playing first, as he did for the Orioles last season. He’d probably come cheaper than Youkilis, and unlike Youkilis, he doesn’t look like a candidate for a multiyear deal.
Left-hander Andrew Oliver, considered one of the bright lights in the Detroit farm system a couple of years ago, was shipped off to Pittsburgh for minor league catcher Ramon Cabrera on Wednesday.
Oliver, a 2009 second-round pick out of Oklahoma State, was rushed to the majors in 2010, only to go 0-4 with a 7.36 ERA in five starts. He also made two starts for the Tigers in 2011, but he spent all of 2012 in Triple-A, going 5-9 with a 4.88 ERA and a 112/88 K/BB ratio in 118 innings. The Tigers tried him as a reliever at the very end of the year, and while he did strike out 20 in 16 2/3 innings, he also walked 12.
Cabrera, the son of former Diamondbacks first baseman and Japan League superstar Alex Cabrera, hit .279/.342/.367 in 384 at-bats for Double-A Altoona last season. The 23-year-old is considered below average defensively and it seems unlikely that his bat would play well anywhere other than catcher, so his chances of having a future in the majors hinges on him improving behind the plate. He could return to Double-A or move up to Triple-A with the Tigers.
There hasn’t been any word yet on whether the Pirates intend to use Oliver as a starter or a reliever, but given that he’s primarily a two-pitch guy with his fastball and slider, the bullpen would make the most sense for him.