January 16, 2017
Ain't Settling for Anything Less Than Everything
Cardinals anticipate first arbitration hearing since 1999
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak is test-driving a new strategy with his arbitration-eligible players. According to his comments made at the annual Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up event over the weekend, those who did not settle with the team prior to the Friday deadline will go to an arbitration hearing. It’s a relatively common tact that the front office has considered for a few years now, and Mozeliak claimed that the hard-nosed approach was intended to encourage players to work through salary negotiations by Friday’s deadline.
Right-handers Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez will be affected by Mozeliak’s strategy, as both pitchers have yet to reach a settlement with the team. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports Wacha’s salary request at $3.2 million, which was countered by the Cardinals’ $2.8 million offer. Martinez has a bit more at stake, as he filed at $4.25 million and was met with only $3.9 million in return.
If the Cardinals hold fast to their decision and refuse to settle with either player before the hearings, as Mozeliak suggests they will, this will be the first time they enter into arbitration hearings in 18 years. In 1999, left-hander Darren Oliver and his agent, Scott Boras, lost to the Cardinals in a hearing that awarded the pitcher $3.55 million. Records compiled by SABR committee chairman Doug Pappas reveal that the Cardinals have only gone to 15 arbitration hearings since 1974; out of 15 attempts, they won nine.
Breslow set for January showcase
Craig Breslow is preparing for an indoor showcase on January 23, which Peter Gammons estimates will draw 12-20 teams, including the Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, and Red Sox. An unnamed source referenced in Gammons’ report speculates that a dozen or so clubs could make offers to the left-hander, provided that everything goes according to plan.
Breslow, 36, pitched just 14 major-league innings with the Marlins in 2016. He was subsequently signed to a short-lived minor-league deal with the Rangers, one that ended in mid-August after the lefty struggled through three appearances with Triple-A Round Rock. At the big-league level, his overall value has been in a free fall since 2012, with abysmal home run and strikeout rates and a DRA that fluctuates between 4.00 and 8.00.
According to Gammons, the veteran reliever has been using a Raspodo device, which is designed to track “total spin, spin efficiency, tilt axis, and velocity.” Breslow reportedly used the pitch-tracking technology to improve his breaking ball and arm angle, and has been comparing notes with fellow veteran lefty Rich Hill as well. While his age and track record still work against him, Breslow’s low cost and reinvention of his pitching mechanics should attract interest.
Retirement may be in the cards for Crawford
Carl Crawford is reportedly leaning toward retirement. At least, that’s the word from an unidentified Dodgers official, who told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo that the 35-year-old has “pretty much called it a career.”
The veteran outfielder lasted just 30 games with the Dodgers in 2016 before the club designated him for assignment in June. He maintained a career-worst .175 TAv, good for just -0.7 WARP. Despite providing the club with a cumulative 5.0 WARP through his first two seasons in Los Angeles, Crawford’s production suffered a steep decline in 2015 and 2016, thanks in part to a rash of back and thigh injuries. All told, he spent more time on the disabled list (111 days) than on the field (99 days) over the last two years.
Complicating the situation are the terms of Crawford’s contract, which still has $35 million left from the mammoth seven-year, $142 million signing orchestrated by the Red Sox in 2010. It’s worth noting that Crawford has not publicly confirmed or denied any plans for 2017, and previous reports even suggest that he might be open to a comeback attempt with the Rays or Astros.