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Zach Duke got $15 million from the White Sox

Zach Duke signed a three-year/$15 million contract with the White Sox yesterday based on his insane/improbable emergence as a relief ace with the Brewers last year. Neil Weinberg at Beyond the Box Score was apparently fascinated by Duke’s breakout season last year and so he takes a look today at the value of one good year vs. a career of mediocrity.

It’s obviously only one season’s worth of innings from a reliever, but it’s about 60 fantastic innings not heavily distorted by a platoon. He faced a roughly equal number of righties and lefties and had pretty similar results. I’m not going to sit here and argue that the thousand innings that came before should get thrown out or that he’s a true talent relief ace based on one year of data, but he’s demonstrated the ability to perform at a high level with no BABIP luck, HR/FB% magic, or really well targeted appearances against weak lefties. He legitimately pitched well for those 60 innings.

Having watched Zach Duke pitch so much from 2005-2010, I find this all fascinating and a little unbelievable. Good for you, Zach Duke!

goodbye blue sky

Farewell and thank you, Russell Martin

Now that it’s more or less official that Russell Martin won’t be a Pirate in 2015, I have some mixed feelings. I don’t know how much money the Pirates offered Martin and I suspect that we won’t really know for sure (their negotiations with starting pitchers will be much more difficult if agents know how […]

Russell Martin signs with Blue Jays, Braves trade Jason Heyward to Cardinals for Shelby Miller

According Peter Gammons, Russell Martin has signed a five-year deal with the Blue Jays for “McCann money,” which means that he’s probably getting close to the $75 million he reportedly set out to get at the beginning of the off-season.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals and Braves announced that they’ve completed a four-player swap that involves Shelby Miller going to the Braves and Jason Heyward going to the Cardinals.

These are two disparate events, and I have quite a bit to say about them, but I have a lot of lab work to do today. I’ll have more later. My initial analysis is: I hate everything.

Cervelli and Girardi

Pirates trade Justin Wilson for Francisco Cervelli (updated)

With the free agent market for catchers awfully thin this year, I think that mostly everyone assumed that the Pirates would try to turn to the trade market to replace Russell Martin (who hasn’t left yet, but come on, Victor Martinez got four years today, Martin’s gonna basically fill his own check out at this […]

Everyone rejects their qualifying offer (again)

From MLB.com:

As Monday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline for free agents to accept qualifying offers passed, the news became official: Once again, every player extended an offer rejected the deal.

In three years under the current system, 34 players have been extended a qualifying offer.

This year, 12 players were offered the one-year, $15.3 million deal, the average annual salary of baseball’s top 125 contracts. If they choose to sign elsewhere, the offering teams will receive a compensation pick in the 2015 First-Year Player Draft. Any team that signs one of those players will have to surrender a Draft pick as compensation.

I included that third paragraph because I think it’s useful to remind everyone that this isn’t the old system in which the Pirates get the actual first round pick of the team that theoretically signs Martin or Liriano away; they get a compensation pick in the sandwich round between the first and second rounds. Those picks for the Pirates will likely be in the 30-35 range. Of course, the Pirates are free to re-sign one or both of the players, though given today’s report that Russell Martin wants $75-80 million, well, yeah, I’m not changing my “0% chance” estimate.

This was pretty much what was expected, of course, and we’d already heard news that both Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano were likely to reject their offers. I’d say that it’s officially time for the Hot Stove League to begin, but the Mets got the jump on everyone this afternoon by signing Michael Cuddyer away from the Rockies before the qualifying offer deadline even passed. Hold on to your butts!

Russell Martin will decline his qualifying offer

Jon Heyman reports Russell Martin will turn down his qualifying offer in a confusing sentence with so many commas and em dashes that he might as well write a Pittsburgh Pirate blog with a name cribbed from a rhetorical Simon and Garfunkel question:

Russell Martin, extremely popular on the free-agent market after his big year, will officially reject the Pirates qualifying offer for 2015 by Monday’s deadline — no surprise considering word is, he’s already got four-year possibilities and may even get five.

I know that we’re all putting on our strong, “Maybe the Pirates will bring Russell Martin Back” faces, but honestly, I told Mike Grau on his radio show yesterday that I thought the Pirates chances of bringing him back were more or less 0% and I’m going to stick with that. He’s one of baseball’s  best catchers in a free agent market in which he’s basically the only catcher available. He’s gonna get paid.

bats in the dugout

Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker win Silver Slugger Awards

Whoever it is that announces Silver Slugger Awards (Major League Baseball? Louisville Slugger? Some PR guy with a Twitter account?) announced them today and the Pirates have two winners this year: Neil Walker and Andrew McCutchen. I don’t have an incredible amount of insight to add to stories like this one: there are a lot […]

Heyman: Russell Martin wants five years, Pirates going to “unusual lengths”

There’s not a whole lot of new news here, but Jon Heyman gives us the first Russell Martin update of the off-season:

Pittsburgh, which extended the $15.3 million qualifying offer that he will surely turn down, is said to be quite interested in bringing back Martin to the point of going to unusual lengths for them to try to make it happen. The Pirates, as was reported here, made a multiyear proposal during this his walk season, and while such a late try was a long-shot, it is believed to have been a serious effort on their part.

He adds that the Cubs and Dodgers are likely going to be big players for Martin, the Blue Jays are interested, and that Martin’s agent is presumably looking for a five-year deal since that’s what Brian McCann, Yadier Molina, and Miguel Montero all got in recent years.

So, to recap: a lot of teams want Martin, including the Pirates, and the deal he signs is going to be for many years and many dollars, which probably doesn’t bode well for the Pirates.

abacus

The off-season: Focusing on pitching and catching

Major League Baseball’s free agency period officially opened today at midnight (or maybe yesterday at 5 PM, or maybe at 2:09 AM, I don’t really know specifically when it happened) and while the Pirates are likely to be mostly inactive until they hear from Russell Martin and Francisco Liriano on their qualifying offers — I […]

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