So a friend reached out early Tuesday and told me that there would likely be transactions over the next handful of days. It was said that the A’s, Braves, Blue Jays and Brewers were all set to be active.
I asked for details, such as whether the teams would be involved in trades together. Details were declined.
I didn’t share because details are important. Then on Wednesday the Braves traded Evan Gattis to the Astros and the A’s traded Yunel Escobar to the Nationals and my curiosity was certainly piqued.
I pressed for anything else specific to the Brewers and was told to be patient. Well…I’ll do my best. Now you can be impatient with me.
Misery loves company.
Multiple reports and confirmations (including one by the Brewers) have come out this early Sunday afternoon which have the Milwaukee Brewers trading RHP Marco Estrada away.
Estrada, 31, gave up a league high 29 home runs in 2014 splitting time between the starting rotation and bullpen. He was much more effective as a relief pitcher in 2014, something that’s a bit of a disconnect from earlier in his career. Estrada was originally acquired by the Brewers off of waivers from the Washington Nationals after the 2009 season. Estrada made $3.325 million in 2014 and in his upcoming third time being arbitration eligible, he was set to receive a significant enough raise that he may have ended up as a non-tender candidate. That’s because the Brewers didn’t have a spot for him in the starting rotation where he’s a bargain. He’s quite pricey as a long-reliever.
He will finish his Brewers career with a 23-25 record in 139 games (70 starts). He’s amassed a 4.11 ERA in 521.0 innings pitched.
Doug Melvin struck a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, who he has dealt with in the past. In return, the Brewers have acquired 1B Adam Lind.
Lind, also 31, has had an up-and-down career in Toronto, the only organization he’s known as a professional since being drafted in the 3rd round of 2004. Lind debuted as a 22-year-old in 2006.
In 2014, Lind spent some time in the minor leagues to get his groove back, more or less. In his 96 games on Toronto’s roster, Lind slashed .321/.381/.479 in 318 plate appearances. That includes an incredibly hefty platoon split though. In 2014 he his .354/.409/.533 against right-handed pitching (which is the majority as we all know) but an incredibly different .061/.161/.061 in 37 plate appearances. That’s four walks, just two hits (both singles), and 11 strikeouts.
The Brewers are hardly strangers to platooning. They carried season-long platoon at both first and second base last season and due to some injury concerns, they basically played with one in left field down the stretch as well. They might be committing to Scooter Gennett full-time at the keystone in 2015 (though I think they’ll wind up in a soft platoon at best), so it would allow them room to have another first base platoon next season. Looking at the numbers, they almost have to. New hitting coach Darnell Coles can only do so much, after all.
Lind will makes $7.5 million in 2015. His contract carries a 2016 option as well valued at $8 million with a $500 thousand buyout.
If you’re otherwise unable to keep up on news as it happens throughout the day (via social media, or however), allow me to catch you up on the all the roster news coming out of One Brewers Way over the past several days.
(I’ve tweeted all of this as it happened, but this is a quick summary so it’s all in one place.)
- October 27th
- 3B Luis Jiménez claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
- October 30th
- Five players filed for, and were granted, free agency
- Zach Duke
- Tom Gorzelanny
- Lyle Overbay
- Mark Reynolds
- Francisco Rodriguez
- A report came out that the 2015 contract option on Yovani Gallardo had been exercised
- Five players filed for, and were granted, free agency
- October 31st
- Brewers confirm picking up Gallardo’s option
- Rickie Weeks officially became a free agent when the team declined the 2015 option on his contract
- Brewers officially exercised their half of the mutual 2015 option on the contract of Aramis Ramirez
- Ramirez officially has three (3) days — read Monday — to decide whether he will opt in as well or decline the option to become a free agent
- C Juan Centeno claimed off waivers from the New York Mets
Quick thoughts (because you can get a list anywhere):
Jiménez sounds like a great glove with some power who carries a higher average than Reynolds. Truly feels like Doug Melvin found a player worth replacing the veteran with.
Speaking of the free agents, the Brewers could look to bring back either Duke or Gorzelanny (though likely not both) but there’s certainly a tenable position that with Duke’s performance and Gorzelanny’s recent health concerns that they choose to let both sign contracts elsewhere. I’d lean toward them re-signing Duke of the two, though Gorzelanny could be cheaper. Overbay has said publicly that he’s leaning toward retirement. As for Reynolds, when he was simply passed over down the stretch last season, it felt like he dropped out of favor. He was streakier at the plate than I think the Brewers anticipated.
Gallardo’s option getting picked up makes all the sense in the world. I covered that move specifically here before it was confirmed Friday morning.
Rickie Weeks leaving Milwaukee is truly a notable moment. He’s been in the franchise for a long time, and was really the first of the high draft picks which ultimately led to winning seasons and playoff runs. While he never did realize the level of a #2 overall draft pick due mainly to injuries, he was the consummate professional in his time in Milwaukee. I wish him consistent success wherever his career takes him next.
Wanting to bring Ramirez back makes sense to a degree as the Brewers haven’t yet developed an internal replacement at third base. Should he decline his option to seek a multi-year deal elsewhere, the Brewers could turn to Jiménez or another internal option like Jason Rogers who played there in 2014 for the first time since college, or even, assuming he stays as has been rumored, Taylor Green? (Yes, that’s how thin the hot corner has been for the Brewers.)
Finally, as for Centeno, I haven’t had much of a chance to read up on him but I did see that he was a tremendous defensive season in 2013 in the minors though he reportedly regressed this past season. He hit pretty well in the minors in 2014 though. Without another catcher on the 40-man roster outside of the MLB level duo of Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado, it’s nice to have someone readily available who also has minor league options remaining.
Anyway, there’s your end of October round up of the Brewers roster moves over the past few days. Also noteworthy in roster news is that the Washington Nationals declined their option on 1B Adam LaRoche, making him a free agent. He could be a top target in free agency for Doug Melvin
According to Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com, the Milwaukee Brewers exercised their 2015 contract option on starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo.
Yovani Gallardo’s option has been officially picked up by the Brewers.
— timdierkes (@timdierkes) October 30, 2014
The option, worth $13 million, had a buyout of a mere $600 thousand, but it was universally agreed that the Brewers would not be able to find similar production on the free agent market for that kind of cost.
Gallardo’s strikeout numbers have dropped the last couple of years, but he’s remained a relatively consistent performer by many other metrics including FIP, WHIP, innings pitched, home run rate, and more. The senior member of Milwaukee’s rotation also posted the best full-season ERA of his career at 3.51, over half a run lower than 2013. Gallardo also posted his lowest BB/9 (2.5) at the MLB level.
The Brewers now appear to have four of their five rotation spots secured for 2015 in Gallardo, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, and Wily Peralta. Jimmy Nelson and Mike Fiers would seem to be in line to compete for the fifth job and almost certainly other options will be considered come camp. But if everyone stays healthy, four jobs appear set.
There is also the matter of the holes on the team, most notably at first base where both Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay are free agents. Overbay, who said on MLB Network radio that he’s leaning toward retirement, isn’t likely to return. Neither, it would seem, is Mark Reynolds who played quality defense but was either hitting home runs in bunches or hitting nothing at all. If the Brewers decided that there is value in moving an affordable asset to shore up a bigger hole, it’s conceivable that the Brewers could install Fiers and Nelson in their rotation or return to Marco Estrada who is arbitration eligible.
The point is that by picking up Gallardo’s contract option, the Brewers will be picking up other options as well, metaphorically speaking.
The Milwaukee Brewers signed free agent right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez to a one-year contract today.
The announcement was made by President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.
Rodriguez, 32, is 41-36 with a 2.70 ERA and 304 saves in 730 relief appearances with LA of Anaheim (2002-08), New York-NL (2009-11), Milwaukee (2011-13) and Baltimore (2013). His 304 career saves are tied for 21st on the all-time Major League list (with Jeff Montgomery). His 62 saves with the Angels in 2008 are a Major League single-season record. Rodriguez is 7-8 with a 3.15 ERA and 13 saves in 134 games as a Brewer.
He was originally acquired by Milwaukee from New York-NL on July 12, 2011, along with cash, in exchange for two players to be named (pitchers Daniel Herrera and Adrian Rosario). He was traded by Milwaukee to Baltimore last season on July 23 in exchange for third baseman Nicky Delmonico.
To make room for Rodriguez on the 40-man roster, the Brewers designated right-handed pitcher Donovan Hand for assignment.
Just catching up on a couple of recent news items that I haven’t been able to get on the blog yet what with Brewers On Deck over the weekend and “Brewers By the (Jersey) Numbers” now underway as well.
Brewers Sign Orr
First, it was announced on Monday that the Brewers have signed minor-league free agent Pete Orr to an appropriate minor-league contract.
Orr, 34, is a veteran of 14 professional seasons including parts of eight seasons in the big leagues. He brings a solid glove, some positional versatility (there’s that word again), and a mental attitude that can be lacking at times from a locker room.
The Brewers will be Orr’s fourth franchise following stops in Atlanta (who signed him as an amateur free agent in 1999), Washington, and most recently Philadelphia. Orr plays primarily second base with some third base defensively, but he saw time as recently as last season in the outfield and has played shortstop along the way in his career a time or two (though not at the MLB level since eight games back in 2008).
This isn’t a “blow the doors off” type of move, but a solid, reliable, veteran defender like Peterson Thomas Gordon Orr continues to find a job because there is value in what he brings to the ballpark in his toolbox. He won’t make the 25-man roster out of the gates at the end of Spring Training, but he’ll work hard every day and be ready in the event that the Brewers need his particular set of skills.
Orr bats left-handed and is listed at 6’1″ tall, weighing 195 pounds. And did I mention he’s Canadian? Because of course he is. To that end, he has played for Team Canada in every World Baseball Classic tournament that has been held (2006, 2009, 2013).
Garza’s Contract Broken Down
Thanks first to Joel Sherman, Twitter found out about the contract breakdown of the free agent deal Matt Garza signed with the Brewers over the weekend. It’s fairly standard for the first four years, but it then becomes quite brilliant in regards to the 5th-year option which was worked into the pact.
First, the 2014-2017 years: Garza is guaranteed a $12.5 million salary each season. Of that, $2 million is deferred (interest free) each year respectively into seasons 2018-2021. Garza has the opportunity to make up to $1 million each season in immediate incentives as well. There are two incentives that he can hit each of which trigger their own $500k bonus. The first incentive is 190.0 innings pitched. The second incentive is making 30 starts. Those are reachable incentives if Garza is healthy. They even allow for the leveraging of one standard trip to the disabled list each year in which Garza could potentially miss three big league starts. To make both incentives together, Garza needs to average 6.1 IP over 30 starts. Again, doable.
Now then, the 2018 option is dependent on a multitude of factors both over the four guaranteed years of the contract and also specifics related to the 2017 season. The option can be worth up to $13 million if it vests. If it does not vest, there would be one of two different team options that would be put in place instead. They are, respectively, a $5 million team option or a $1 million team option. I’ll explain them all in the following sections.
Here are the requirements Garza must satifsy for the 2018 option to vest at a value of $13 million. And keep in mind that he must satisfy all requirements.
- He must make 110 total regular season starts in the Major Leagues between the beginning of the 2014 season and the end of the 2017 season.
- He must pitch at least 115.0 innings during the 2017 regular season.
- He must not finish the 2017 regular season on the disabled list.
So there, again, you can see that if Garza is healthy and contributing over the life of his contract, his option will vest and he’ll get his fifth guaranteed year. That would be when he is 34 years old. He would be paid $15 million in 2018 in this scenario. That includes the $13 million in value from the vested option and the first $2 million in deferral payments.
Should Garza fail to meet any one of those three requirements, there is a team option that replaces the vesting option. That option would be valued at $5 million (and although there is usually a buyout amount including, that wasn’t reported that I saw). However, should Garza spend 130 days or more on the disabled list during any single season (which is 180 days long), not only would be certainly not satisfy the vesting option requirements, but the team option that replaces the vesting option in that scenario is a mere $1 million in value.
It’s a smart way to hedge against the possibility of injury with a pitcher who has had some health issues during his career. For example, should Garza suffer an injury which carries with it significant rehab time (torn shoulder capsule, labrum tear, Tommy John surgery, Achilles rupture, etc), then the Brewers maintain the leverage of getting four healthy seasons out of this contract. And if Garza is healthy for the first four years and earns the vesting option, then the Brewers will have gotten those four years of production up front with the opportunity for a fifth.
Hopefully that isn’t too complex to understand, but even if it is I think it explains the delay from when I first reported that they were nearing an agreement last week Thursday to when the contract was announced and subsequently officially approved the following Sunday.
We all know the timeline by now.
The news broke that Matt Garza and the Brewers were nearing agreement on a deal. It was reported that the contract, one for $52 million over four years, was agreed to in principle with physical examination pending.
Then the delays started happening and the Brewers commented publicly about being in negotiations with Garza but denying that a deal was agreed to.
The speculation began whether it could be related to Garza’s injury history and therefore the medical review that pesky physical. Gord Ash inadvertantly added to that conspiracy theory when he declined comment about whether the delay was related to that physical.
Then we thought perhaps the physical was just delayed and Garza hadn’t taken it yet. But then the reports about how he had indeed taken it came out along with assurances that the delay wasn’t medically related.
The only other thing I could think of was that it then had something to do with the contract language so I reached out to a source who confirmed that it was at least part of the situation if it wasn’t all of the snag.
The issue, according to a source, is that the Brewers and Garza are haggling over the distribution of the contract. In other words, how much is paid in which seasons.
They agree on the length and overall value (which they met in the middle on, I’m also told, as the Brewers originally hoped to pay 4yr/$48MM and Garza wanted 4yr/$56MM), but they haven’t yet come to an accord on how the money will be paid out.
Garza is asking for a mostly even average value (which precisely would be $13 million per year) and the Brewers are looking to backload the deal somewhat in order to pay more of it when it’s more affordable. That of course being when the contracts of highly-compensated players like Rickie Weeks and Aramis Ramirez should be off the books.
This hang up in negotiations was described to me as “overcome-able” but deals have also fallen apart over less so nothing is official until the contract is formally announced.
Assuming that this is actually at least part of the issue, I’ll be paying attention to which side “won” though once the year-by-year breakdown of the contract is revealed.