Hot Stove Rumor Roundup: Extra Free Agents!

Good morning Mets fans, and welcome to the offseason! We will be posting rumor roundups on a regular basis, covering all potential contracts, major transactions, and other general developments as teams set out to prepare for the 2019 season.

Yesterday, saw a series of option decisions, with a number of notable players hitting the free agent market, some via team decisions and others aspiring for more friendly contracts. One of the names on this list (which is included at the end) may be familiar to many Mets fans.

Pirates Decline Harrison’s 2019 Option

The Pirates have decided not to pick up a $10.5M option on utility infielder Josh Harrison for the 2019 season, as first tweeted by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. Pittsburgh will instead drop $1M on a buyout, most likely ending Harrison’s Steel City tenure on a whimper. Primarily manning second base this past year, the 31-year old hit just .250/.293/.363 in just 97 games. His .656 OPS was his lowest since 2012 – his first full season.

A familiar name for many Mets fans, Harrison’s name was bandied about alongside those of Eduardo Nunez, Mike Moustakas, and the incumbent Todd Frazier just this past winter as Sandy Alderson set out to find an anchor for third base. While Frazier definitely had his share of struggles, Harrison’s 73 wRC+ was the lowest among the four, as were his ISO (.113), wOBA (.285), and defensive runs above average (-0.8).

The Athletic had at one time in January posited that the Mets could have netted Harrison in a trade with All-Star outfielder Andrew McCutchen in exchange for a package headlined by Brandon Nimmo. Of course, the cards did not fall this way, and perhaps it’s for the best, seeing as Harrison’s value has definitely fallen closer to that of a versatility chip rather than an everyday player in New York.

Nationals Wrapping Up Deal with Rosenthal

No, not Ken Rosenthal… Bob Nightengale of USA Today. He’s the first to report that the Washington Nationals are on the verge of inking former closer Trevor Rosenthal to a one-year deal.

Rosenthal, 28, had recently hosted a showcase in which his fastball touched 98 mph, and is just three years removed from an electric All-Star campaign as closer with the St. Louis Cardinals in which he posted a 2.10 ERA with 48 saves in 68 appearances. He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entirety of the 2018 season, but even in his most recent stretch of work, has quite the pedigree: A 2.17 FIP, 3.40 ERA, 1.196 WHIP, and 14.3 K/9, which were unfortunately soured by walk problems and the meteoric, albeit short-lived rise of new closer Seung-hwan Oh. St. Louis released Rosenthal following the 2017 season.

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Rosenthal would be guaranteed $7M, a $7M option for the 2020 season (should he make 50 appearances and/or finish 30 games), and about $14M in incentives should the righty stay healthy through each season. All things considered, the Nationals are definitely biting off a lot as they attempt to revamp their bullpen, but Rosenthal’s upside – as demonstrated not-so-long-ago – could reap serious benefits.

Declined Options

Gerardo Parra (31), Colorado Rockies – Despite coming off another respectable offensive campaign (.284/.342/.372), Parra will not get to play out the final year of his three-year deal with the Rockies. Colorado will eat $1.5M in a buyout, thus saving some of the $12.5M Parra would have been owed (per Associated Press).

Jason Hammel (36), Kansas City Royals – Hammel’s rough tenure in the Royals’ pitching staff comes to an end, as the team announced that it has declined his $12M option in favor of a $2M buyout. The righty posted a 5.56 ERA and 2-10 record in 18 starts before being knocked from the rotation in July. His 7.76 bullpen ERA through 26.2 innings wasn’t splendid, either.

Jordan Lyles (28), Milwaukee Brewers – Lyles put together a solid 3.31 ERA and 2.49 FIP in 16.1 innings of relief after being claimed from the San Diego Padres, but was left off the postseason roster and, given he would be owed $3.5M the following season, may have been on the expendable side. His option was thus declined (first reported by Robert Murray of The Athletic).

Mike Moustakas (30), Milwaukee Brewers – Moustakas posted a .774 OPS – his lowest since 2014 – but nonetheless declined his half of the mutual option in Milwaukee, taking a $1M buyout with him to the free agent market (per club announcement). He would have made $15M next season had he opted in.

Joakim Soria (34), Milwaukee Brewers – Soria worked 66 games while putting together his best season in terms of strikeouts and WHIP since 2014. He rejected his part of a $10M option (also per club announcement), but is no guarantee to enjoy such fruits next year, especially with this group of relief free agents.

Jung Ho Kang (31), Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates passed on a $5.5M option that would have kept Kang in the building for at least another year before arbitration came into the picture (Adam Berry of MLB). The South Korean infielder hasn’t seen big-league action since the 2016 season due to a variety of legal issues back home ranging from DUIs to sexual assault allegations.

Denard Span (34), Seattle Mariners – The Mariners declined the $12M clause, instead eating $4M in a buyout (Ryan Divish, Seattle Times). Span hit .272/.329/.435 in 94 games, but doesn’t seem to factor into Seattle’s future plans – at least not to the extent that he would be owed another $8M.

Yangervis Solarte (31), Toronto Blue Jays – His $5.5M option has been declined by the organization (per club announcement), though he technically remains on the team’s 40-man roster as an arbitration-eligible player since he has only five years of service time under his belt. Toronto, however, seems unlikely to go down that road, considering Solarte hit just (.226/.277/.378) with 17 homers in 122 games between third and second.

Exercised Options/Retained Players

David Price (33), Boston Red Sox – Price would have walked away from $31M as well as $32M annually over the following three seasons had he opted out of his contract (first reported by Chris Cotillo of MassOnline)

Brandon Kintzler (34), Chicago Cubs – While the Cubs declined their end of the $10M option, Kintzler accepted his end of a $5M buy-in to remain with the team rather than test free agency (Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago). A 5.66 FIP, 2.000 WHIP, and 4.5 BB/9 in 25 appearances may not net $5M anywhere else.

Jose Quintana (30), Chicago Cubs – The 30-year old lefty will make $10.5M next year at the back of the Cubs’ rotation after the team exercised his option (club announcement). He posted a 4.03 WHIP and 4.43 FIP last season with a career-high 3.5 BB/9, but cracked 170 innings and 30 starts for the sixth straight season.

Leonys Martin (30), Cleveland Indians – Martin put up a career-best .747 OPS last season in a starting role for the Detroit Tigers before Cleveland picked him up at the deadline. A bacterial infection cut his season short, but in avoiding arbitration with Martin, the Indians are willing to bet $3M that he will play an important role in 2019 (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports).

Wily Peralta (29), Kansas City Royals – Having emerged as a potential option as closer with the Royals, the team has “reworked” a deal that will pay the righty $2.5M, including a $7M option for the 2020 season should he build off his success (3.67 ERA with 14 saves, but also 6.0 BB/9). The announcement was first broken by (Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports).

Jeremy Jeffress (30), Milwaukee Brewers – A 1.29 ERA and 3.3 K/BB ratio across 73 games made for a no-brainer. Jeffress will make $3.175M next season with the club picking up his option (Adam McCalvy, MLB).

Brett Gardner (35), New York Yankees – Gardner accepted a paycut of $5M after the Yankees declined the $12.5M team option on his contract (Mark Feinsand of MLB). The new deal will keep him in the Bronx for one more year, one in which he hopes to turn the tide on a bleak 2018 campaign that saw him hit just .236/.322/.368.

Fernando Rodney (41), Oakland Athletics – The option is worth $5.25M due to performance bonuses (Jane Lee of MLB). Rodney, despite averaging 5.7 BB/9 in 22 games with Oakland last year, still managed 68 total appearances while sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball. He may not be as prone to a decline as people may be led to believe.

Justin Smoak (32), Toronto Blue Jays – Smoak will make $8M next season after cracking an .800 OPS for the second straight year (Jon Morosi of MLB). He had accumulated $13M total through his first four seasons in Toronto dating back to 2015.

About Jack Hendon 141 Articles
Jack Hendon (@jack_hendon99 on Twitter) is a sophomore at Haverford College, special assistant/statistician for the baseball team, prospective English major and psychology minor, and contributor to MetsMerized Online. He was seven when he saw Carlos Beltran take strike three in the 2006 NLCS, and since then has concentrated his love for the Mets through writing about particular fan memories, while also devoting time to recapping games, analyzing pitchers, and heckling (when appropriate) at Citi Field. LGM!