The deadline for signing players without exchanging figures is at 1pm Eastern Time. Here's the first batch of signings from this morning:
Jays Agree With Escobar on a 1-Year Deal
They picked him up in July when Yunel Escobar was being run out of Atlanta on a rail. The Blue Jays today rewarded their starting shortstop with a one year contract that will pay him $2.9 million in 2011, a 566.7% raise over the $435,000 he made last season. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star tweeted the news earlier this morning.
Escobar struggled terribly with the Braves to start 2010, earning him a one-way ticket north of the border. His numbers picked up in Toronto, but his combined 2010 batting line of .256/.337/.318 was a far cry from the normally excellent power numbers he had produced in his three preceding seasons. Just 28, he should be in his prime hitting years.
Padres Sign a Pair
San Diego agreed on deals with the two players likely to top their salary ladder this season as both Ryan Ludwick (per Ken Rosenthal) and Heath Bell (per Jon Heyman) to one year contracts for what will be their final season of arbitration eligibility. Ludwick will get $6.775 million in 2010, up 24.3% from 2010. Bell's raise is 87.5% up from the $4 million he earned in 2010. He'll get $7.5 million to close games for the Padres.
Bell came to the Padres in an offseason deal with the Mets in 2006, and inherited the closer's job in 2009. Since then he has been a dominant ninth inning presence, locking down 89 saves with a 2.32 ERA and 10.6 strikeouts per nine innings spanning 139.2 innings. He faces free agency in the 2011 offseason. Though he has stated a desire to stay in San Diego, he will likely command too much money on the open market to remain with the Cost-conscious Padres.
Ludwick enters his final year before free agency at age 32, casting some doubt on how much he can command next year on the market. He slipped in each of the last two seasons from his All-Star 2008 season. And that decline helped him out of St. Louis and into Petco, a notorious pitcher's park. His numbers in San Diego were abysmal - .211/.301/.330 in 239 plate appearances. While that qualifies as a small sample size it does not bode well for 2011.
Indians Avoid Arbitration with Perez
Indians beat writer Paul Hoynes tweeted the news about Chris Perez's new contract. Cleveland's young closer will get $2.225 million next year. This was his first crack at arbitration and he qualified as a Super 2, which made his ascension to the ninth-inning job well-timed indeed. He pocketed $423,800 in 2010, making this deal a 425% raise.
Perez made 63 appearances for Cleveland with 23 saves and 9 holds. His 1.71 ERA was backed up by solid peripherals, including 61 strikeouts in 63 innings. His hit rate was particularly low at 5.7 per nine innings, and possibly the result of a significantly better than league average BAbip of .231. That may indicate a likelihood of regression.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
Follow Joe Tetreault on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook