AL East Notes: Ross, Sox, Yanks, McCarthy, ARod, Rays

If he hangs up his spikes, as he is said to be weighingRed Sox catcher David Ross should have plenty of avenues for non-playing jobs in the game, tweets Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. A former GM tells Mastrodonato that he considers Ross a close friend and would be more than happy to find a position for him.

Here’s more from Boston and the rest of the AL East:

  • As the offseason begins for the Red Sox, GM Ben Cherington reiterated that the team needs to add depth in the rotation and in the lineup, as MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports. In particular, the club will emphasize left-handed-hitting options around the diamond.
  • Apart from Brett Gardner, the Yankees generally lack attractive veteran contracts that could be dealt in a rebuilding scenario, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But while that makes little sense, neither would it be beneficial to spend top dollar on the high-end free agent market, argues Sherman. Instead, New York should continue to wield its financial muscle to make more incremental gains that maintain financial and roster flexibility — much as the team did on the trade deadline this year.
  • One player who could meet that description is starter Brandon McCarthy. As Roger Rubin of the New York Daily news reports, the big righty is very open to a return to New York but is not exactly waiting with baited breath. “When the phone rings we’ll find out for sure,” said McCarthy, who added that he is willing to be aggressive in selling his services. “You don’t have to be the biggest name to be the first domino to fall,” he said. “You could be at the beginning or the end and at some slot in the middle. I’ve been focused on what I am doing, but soon it could be time to weigh what’s going on. I feel if I got the right offer, I’d be willing to sign early in the process.”
  • Yankees manager Joe Girardi says that he needs to see how Alex Rodriguez looks on the field before determining his role next year, as George A. King III of the New York Post reports. But Girardi says that his expectation is that Rodriguez will take a regular role at third: “Do we expect him to be a player on our team? Absolutely. Do we expect him to play third base? Yes. In fairness you have to see where he is at. I can’t tell you what will happen, but we expect him to be our third baseman.”
  • For the Rays, manager Joe Maddon hopes to stay on past 2015 but is in no rush to add onto his contract, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reports. Meanwhile, both utilityman Ben Zobrist and reliever Joel Peralta hope the team will exercise its options over them for the coming year, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. That is a foregone conclusion for Zobrist, of course, but Peralta ($2.5MM option with no buyout) is a more difficult call as he enters his age-39 season. His 4.41 ERA over 63 1/3 frames does not look very appealing, but Peralta did post a 3.40 FIP, 3.11 xFIP, and 2.54 SIERA on the back of 10.5 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.

NL Notes: Burnett, Hamels, Niese, Mets, Padres, Johnson

Here’s the latest from the National League:

  • Phillies starter A.J. Burnett seems more likely to retire (and forgo his $12.75MM player option) than many people believe, observes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com in an offseason preview piece. Meanwhile, the club will listen on Cole Hamels but continue to demand a ransom in return, while Philadelphia could be more open to dealing not only veteran Marlon Byrd but also arb-eligible outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. As Salisbury notes, the rotation has plenty of question marks and openings.
  • While Salisbury says he believes the Phillies will ultimately hang onto the 30-year-old Hamels, for better or worse, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki argues that the organization must view Hamels (and his fellow core veterans) from a pure baseball perspective. Attendance is plummeting in spite of the continued presence of numerous pieces of the team’s run of success, he notes, and the only way to rebuild the fan base is through winning.
  • Neutral talent evaluators believe that lefty Jon Niese is the Mets‘ best trade chip among the club’s veteran starters, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Niese, 27, threw to a 3.40 ERA over 187 2/3 frames in 2014. He is owed $16MM over the next two seasons and has a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, with respective $500K buyouts) thereafter.
  • The Mets are expected to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. That move is still not official, however, and New York is in the early stages of assessing who they might bring in.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller is about to get his first taste of open market action from the seat of power, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Preller said that he anticipates a lot of trade attention on the team’s slate of arms, and indicated that he would be open to discussing any players if there’s a way to improve the club.
  • One interesting player who remains under the Padres‘ control is starter Josh Johnson, whose injury-shortened year left the club with a $4MM team option. Preller said that he hopes to have Johnson in the fold next year, though left unclear whether the team is interested in a straight exercise of the option. “With Josh, he’s a guy that everyone has a positive feel for,” said Preller. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him.”

NL Central Notes: Weeks, K-Rod, Pirates, Polanco

Rickie Weeks doesn’t think that he’ll be back with the Brewers next season, he tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Weeks, who has an $11.5MM club option that won’t be exercised, didn’t request a final appearance with the team in the season’s last game. “I told the manager if the time permitted itself during the game to put me out there, OK. If not, so be it,” he said. “Life still goes on. It’s not like this is the end of all (things). I’m the type of person that I move on. That’s the way it is. I don’t think I’m going to be here next year. It’s just for me to go out there and move forward with my life.”

Some more NL Central items as the playoffs loom…

  • Francisco Rodriguez also spoke to Haudricourt about his future, and unlike Weeks, who seems resigned to being elsewhere, K-Rod hopes to return to the Brewers in 2015. “I definitely know where I want to be,” he said. “I want to be here. But it is not my decision.” As Haudricourt points out, Milwaukee’s trade for Jonathan Broxton and his $9MM salary next season could give Broxton the inside track for the closer’s gig and push K-Rod out of the picture. The team additionally saw a breakout performance from Jeremy Jeffress and expects to have Jim Henderson returning to health.
  • MLB.com’s Tom Singer spoke with Pirates general manager Neal Huntington about the team’s lack of an impact trade this summer in a recent Q&A. Huntington wasn’t sure whether it was more satisfying to get to the postseason on the back of some well-executed trades (such as last year’s acquisition of Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau) or to get there by trusting his internal options. “This July 31 (non-waiver Trade Deadline) we wanted to, we were willing to, give up prospects as we did last August. We worked hard to find the right deal, large and small, and we couldn’t find the right impact coming in the door to match the impact that would’ve been going out the door.”
  • Huntington also touched on the timeline of Gregory Polanco‘s promotion to the Majors, noting that he wishes Neil Walker wouldn’t have gotten hurt. Had Walker remained healthy, Josh Harrison wouldn’t have had to shift to second base — a move that necessitated the promotion of Polanco, according to Huntington. “I hated [promoting Polanco]. I really did,” said Huntington. As the GM explained, the team thought Polanco was “borderline ready,” but he also stated: “There’s a reason why that Triple-A level exists, why most guys who have had success at the Major League level have experienced Triple-A beyond 250 at-bats.” Polanco got off to a blistering start in his first two weeks but has batted just .204/.275/.324 since and started just three games in September.


Projected Super Two Cutoff

The projected cutoff for Super Two status for this offseason’s arbitration class is looking like it’s going to come in at two years, 133 days of Major League service (written as 2.133), MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes hears (Twitter links). However, as he notes, there’s no official ruling on what this year’s cutoff will be. Before getting too much further into the fallout of this figure, let’s provide a quick refresher on what, exactly, Super Two status entails.

Players with at least three but less than six years of Major League service are considered arbitration eligible. Additionally, a player with at least two years but less than three is eligible for arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and ranks in the top 22 percent in total service in the two-to-three-years service class; these players are referred to as “Super Two” players. The current collective bargaining agreement, which went into effect December 12th, 2011, raised that Super Two cutoff percentage from 17 percent to 22 percent, and that 22 percent of players will be eligible for arbitration four times instead of the standard three times. Also bear in mind that for MLB purposes, 172 days is the equivalent of one year of Major League service time.

For some context on this year’s cutoff, here’s a look at the cutoffs from the previous five years:

  • 2013: 2.122
  • 2012: 2.139
  • 2011: 2.146
  • 2010: 2.122
  • 2009: 2.139

Astros infielder Marwin Gonzalez, who will finish with exactly 2.133 years of service, will be the last from the two-to-three-year service class to qualify for the distinction if this cutoff holds. One additional fallout for the White Sox is that the salaries of Jose Quintana will escalate. The southpaw signed a five-year, $21MM contract prior to this season, but his contract contains a clause that causes the guarantee to grow to $26.5MM if he qualifies as a Super Two. Quintana had projected to earn $1MM in 2015, $3.8MM in 2016, $6MM in 2017 and $8.35MM in 2018 with $10.5MM club options for 2019 and 2020 (each with a $1MM buyout). Those salaries will rise to $3.4MM, $5.4MM, $7MM and $8.85MM, respectively. The options will remain unchanged.

Others who looked like candidates early in the season, such as Eduardo Escobar of the Twins, Drew Hutchison of the Blue Jays and DJ LeMahieu of the Rockies would fall just shy of the distinction. (Each of those candidates was identified as a possible Super Two player in our last look at the projected Super Two cutoff back in April.)


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Mariners Designate Corey Hart For Assignment

The Mariners have re-instated Jesus Montero to their 40-man roster and designated pending free agent Corey Hart for assignment in order to make room, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune (Twitter link).

Because Hart is a pending free agent, the move is a largely procedural one; he’d have been off the team’s 40-man roster following the postseason anyway and wasn’t a candidate for a qualifying offer base on a down season. The former Brewer batted just .203/.271/.319 in his lone season with the Mariners — a clear disappointment for a team that was undoubtedly hoping to have secured something closer to the .279/.343/.514 batting line he posted from 2010-12 in Milwaukee. Anything close to that production would’ve made his $6MM base salary a bargain, but Hart was a known risk after missing all of 2013 due to a pair of knee surgeries.


Astros Hire A.J. Hinch As Manager

5:36pm: The Astros have officially announced Hinch as their new manager. In a prepared statement within a press release, GM Jeff Luhnow offered the following praise for Hinch:

“I am extremely excited to bring in A.J. as our new manage. Throughout our process, we searched for a person with previous Major League experience, who could effectively lead our young, growing nucleus of talented players. I have no doubt that A.J. is the right person to do that. He brings experience as a Major League player, Major League manager and player development executive. His skillsets and leadership abilities will be enormous assets in our clubhouse and to our entire organization.”

3:31pm: The Astros have called a press conference to make a “significant announcement” at 5:30pm CT today, and MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart hears from a source that it will be to name the team’s new manager (Twitter link). Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link) that A.J. Hinch is “close” to becoming the Astros’ manager, so it seems likely that Hinch will be announced in that role two hours from now. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick had tweeted earlier in the day that Hinch was still in the running as the search was narrowing.

Hinch, 40, served as the Diamondbacks’ manager for parts of the 2009-10 seasons, leading the team to an 89-123 record after being hired despite his young age (34 at the time) and the fact that he hadn’t managed at any previous level. More recently, Hinch has served as the vice president of professional scouting for the Padres — a position he left earlier this summer. Hinch was one of three men, along with assistant GMs Omar Minaya and Fred Uhlman Jr., to fill in making baseball operations decisions for the Padres following the dismissal of GM Josh Byrnes earlier this year. A Stanford graduate, Hinch has been called a “numbers guy” by some, so the match with the analytics-driven Astros isn’t a total surprise.

In addition to his time as a manager and in the front office, Hinch played in parts of eight Major League seasons between the Athletics, Royals, Tigers and Phillies. A catcher by trade, Hinch batted .219/.280/.356 with 32 homers in 1075 big league plate appearances from 1998-2004.

The Astros dismissed Bo Porter from the managerial position earlier this month and have leaned on former minor league manager Tom Lawless as the club’s interim manager. Lawless, along with Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo, former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez were all said to have interviewed for the position at one point.


Reactions To And Fallout From Ron Gardenhire’s Dismissal

The Twins shook up the organization earlier today by announcing that Ron Gardenhire would be replaced as manager. Gardenhire was one of the game’s longest-tenured managers (13 years), and perhaps more incredibly, his departure will ignite the Twins’ first managerial search since 1986. I’d expect both Paul Molitor and Terry Steinbach to be among the team’s internal candidates, though the search will of course feature some outside candidates as well.

Here are some reactions to the move…

  • Brian Dozier tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he was “shocked” by the news of Gardenhire’s dismissal. “Everybody in that clubhouse had so much respect and love for Gardy,” said Dozier. “It’s pretty saddening.” Trevor Plouffe tweets that he has “nothing but the utmost respect” for Gardenhire and the rest of the staff.
  • Berardino spoke to a source close to longtime American League Central rival Ozzie Guillen and was told that Guillen would have a great deal of interest in managing the Twins (Twitter links). The source described Guillen as “very interested” and “very hungry,” noting that he knows the AL Central and wants to get back into the game.
  • Berardino also tweets that a person with direct knowledge of the situation tells him that Molitor would “possibly” have interest in the manager’s role if offered to him, but that isn’t a slam dunk.
  • Ryan called the move the toughest decision he’s had to make in his tenure as a general manager at today’s press conference, noting that he considers Gardenhire to be his brother more than his manager. Ryan also noted that the contracts of the team’s coaching staff run through Dec. 31, so those contracts are in limbo until the new manager can make a decision. Gardenhire said at the conference that he isn’t burned out at all and would consider another managerial opportunity if he felt it were right for him and his family (All Twitter links to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger).
  • In a full article, Neal writes that a source tells him Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo and White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing are both names to watch. Neal speculates that other names such as Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo and Rays bench coach Dave Martinez could surface as well. Neal also speculates, much like Berardino and others have recently, that Twins bench coach Terry Steinbach could be a fit in Arizona due to his ties to Tony La Russa and new GM Dave Stewart.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times opines that if and when the Cubs decide they want a “next level” manager for their rebuilding process, Gardenhire should be the first phone call placed by president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer (Twitter link).
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports feels that Gardenhire should’ve been given a chance to oversee the next wave of young talent in the Twins organization, but he’s not surprised to see the team seek a new voice following another 90-loss season. He notes that Gardenhire could immediately pursue another managerial job, with current openings with the D’Backs, Rangers and Astros. He also notes that it’s possible the Brewers will fire Ron Roenicke, so Gardenhire could fit there also.

Twins Remove Ron Gardenhire From Manager Role

3:15pm: Gardenhire has been offered a different position within the organization, Ryan said at today’s press conference. Gardenhire says that he hasn’t decided whether or not he would have interest.

1:05pm: La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports that the “entire coaching staff is not being brought back,” though he does note that because the new manager will get to choose his staff, some of the current coaches could find their way onto next year’s staff (Twitter links). Presumably, that would happen if the Twins were to hire an internal candidate such as Paul Molitor or Terry Steinbach, both of whom were coaches on this year’s staff.

12:08pm: The Twins have fired longtime manager Ron Gardenhire, the team announced.  The 2010 AL Manager of the Year will be replaced following four straight seasons of 90+ losses, and the Twins will immediately begin looking for Gardenhire’s replacement.  The status of the other members of the Minnesota coaching staff will be determined by both the new manager and by Twins GM Terry Ryan.

Gardenhire, 56, has been with the Twins organization since 1988, first aMLB: Minnesota Twins at Detroit Tigerss a minor league manager and then for 11 years as the team’s third base coach.  He took over from Tom Kelly prior to the 2002 season and enjoyed immediate success, leading the Twins to three straight AL Central titles.  “Gardy” managed three more AL Central winners from 2006-10, though in all six of his postseason appearances, only won one playoff series.

The last four seasons have been a different story for both Gardenhire and the Twins, as the team struggled to a 265-383 record and finished in last place in three of those four years.  Poor roster construction and a lack of minor league depth was generally blamed for Minnesota’s problems rather than Gardenhire, though even in the winning years, he took some criticism for his lineup construction.

Gardenhire has an 1068-1039 record over his career, and given his strong pedigree and reputation around baseball, one would think he’d be an instant candidate for other managerial openings around the game.  The Rangers, Diamondbacks and Astros are currently looking for new managers.

This will be the first managerial search in over a generation for the Twins — since September 1986, Kelly and Gardenhire have been the club’s only two skippers.  USA Today’s Bob Nightengale predicts that either Terry Steinbach or Paul Molitor (both current members of the Twins coaching staff) will be the next manager.  Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo could also be an external candidate, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets.

Gardenhire’s firing was reported by Patrick Reusse of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (Twitter link).  Earlier in the day, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweeted that “the word is not good” on Gardenhire’s status with the club, though the report was unconfirmed at the time.

Photo courtesy of Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports Images


Multiple Teams Change Minor League Affiliations

As Baseball America’s Josh Leventhal writes, yesterday marked a two-week period where Major League clubs are free to negotiate with available minor league organizations. Major League clubs sign player development contracts with minor league organizations much like players will sign contracts with teams. As such, Leventhal notes that the “affiliation shuffle” is akin to free agency for minor league teams. Leventhal’s article provides more insight behind many of the moves and offers quite a bit of detail for those who are curious to read more about this process.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll see multiple teams sign deals with new affiliates, and MLBTR will keep track of them here for those that are interested …

Class-A Advanced

  • The Braves announced that they have moved their Class-A Advanced affiliate from Lynchburg, Va. to Zebulon, N.C. (formerly an Indians affiliate) after agreeing to a two-year PDC. They will inherit the Carolina Mudcats moniker.

Earlier Updates

  • Daytona (formerly the Cubs’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Reds.
  • GM Jon Daniels says the Rangers will move their High-A affiliate from Myrtle Beach to High Desert, FOX Sports Southwest’s Anthony Andro tweets.
  • The Cubs announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Daytona to Myrtle Beach (previously occupied by the Rangers).
  • The Indians announced that they will be moving their High-A affiliate from Carolina to Lynchburg (previously occupied by the Braves).

Double-A

  • The Twins announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from New Britain to Chattanooga (previously occupied by the Dodgers) after agreeing to a four-year term.
  • The Dodgers announced that they will be moving their Double-A affiliate from Chattanooga to Tulsa (previously occupied by the Rockies).
  • New Britain (formerly the Twins’ affiliate) has announced that that it has reached a PDC with the Rockies.

Triple-A

  • The Giants announced that they have reached a two-year PDC with Triple-A Sacramento (formerly occupied by the Athletics).
  • The Brewers announced that they have reached a two-year PDC with Triple-A Colorado Spring (formerly occupied by the Rockies)
  • Fresno (formerly the Giants’ affiliate) has announced that it has reached a PDC with the Astros.
  • The Athletics have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Sacramento to Nashville (previously occupied by the Brewers).
  • The Dodgers have announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Albuquerque to Oklahoma City (previously occupied by the Astros).
  • The Rockies announced that they will be moving their Triple-A affiliate from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque (previously occupied by the Dodgers).
  • The Brewers have announced that their Triple-A affiliation with Nashville has been terminated by the Sounds.

Changes Coming To Reds’ Front Office

The Reds are prepared to “undergo an overhaul” to their front office, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  Several changes are coming to the organization, the first of which is vice president and assistant GM Bob Miller leaving the team.

Miller’s departure seems to be an amicable one, as FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweets that Miller is leaving to start his own business.  Miller, who has been working in baseball for over 30 years, originally joined the Reds in 2006 as the director of baseball administration and was promoted to VP and assistant GM later in the year.

Whatever changes are coming to Cincinnati’s front office, they won’t involve the man in charge, Walt Jocketty.  The general manager just signed a two-year extension to continue running the club through the 2016 season.


Yankees Outright Josh Outman

Here are today’s minor transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Yankees have outrighted southpaw Josh Outman off the 40-man roster, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reports (via Twitter).  Outman was designated for assignment last week.  The left-hander posted a 2.86 ERA and 8.3 K/9 over 28 1/3 IP with Cleveland and New York this season, though he battled control issues, walking 16 batters in those 28 1/3 innings.  Outman has a 4.43 ERA over 274 1/3 career innings during six Major League seasons with the Yankees, Indians, Rockies and A’s.
  • With Outman’s situation now resolved, that leaves the Orioles’ Preston Guilmet as the only player currently in “DFA limbo,” according to the MLB Trade Rumors DFA Tracker.

AL Central Notes: Konerko, Hahn, Giambi, Moore

Paul Konerko‘s 18-year career officially ended yesterday, as he left the field for a defensive replacement before the sixth inning and received a lengthy ovation from the fans at U.S. Cellular Field (video link).  Konerko retires with a career .279/.354/.486 slash line, 439 homers, a 2005 World Series ring and an ALCS MVP Award from that same championship season.  ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes that Konerko’s career path is unique in baseball history, as he spent his first two seasons in brief stints with the Dodgers and Reds before spending his final 16 years with the White Sox.  We at MLBTR congratulate Konerko on his excellent career and wish him all the best in retirement.

Here’s some more from around the AL Central…

  • Rick Hahn thinks the White Sox can contend in 2015, the general manager told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes).  The central goal is to keep adding to the team’s core, Hahn said, though extra payroll space will make an expensive short-term contract possible if the team feels such a deal will help put them over the top.  “I think we are pleased with a lot of the progress we’ve made in the last 15 months, but we’re by no means, first satisfied, nor operating under the belief that we’re by any means finished, in terms of assembling a core and a unit that can contend on annual basis,” Hahn said.
  • Indians slugger Jason Giambi isn’t thinking about whether or not he’ll play in 2015, for now just focusing on spending time with his family in the offseason, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian writes.  Giambi will turn 44 in January and has played an even 20 seasons in the majors.  If he does hang up his cleats, it seems likely that a coaching job awaits Giambi, quite possibly with the Tribe; the slugger said in April 2013 that he’d already turned down several coaching offers in order to keep playing for as long as he could.
  • The blockbuster trade that bought James Shields and Wade Davis to the Royals in exchange for a prospect package headlined by Wil Myers is “everything that we hoped it would be,” Royals GM Dayton Moore told MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel.  “When you make deals, you hope and expect them to work for both organizations. I think it’s turned out that way. It strengthened our pitching to a point where we were able to play competitive baseball from the first day to the last.”  Shields is a free agent this winter and is unlikely to be re-signed by Kansas City, though Davis (who just completed one of the great relief seasons in baseball history) is controllable via team options through 2017.

Red Sox Notes: Lester, Nava, Betts, Ross

Team chairman Tom Werner and COO Sam Kennedy have no regrets over how the Red Sox handled their extension talks with Jon Lester, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports, even though the lack of progress led to Lester being traded to Oakland at the deadline.  Kennedy felt that there wasn’t anything to regret since the negotiations were amicable on both sides, though Werner wished more talks had taken place.  “I don’t want to go back too much, but let me just say that we expected a little more dialogue back and forth than happened.  But I’ll take our share of responsibility in that,” Werner said.  Both executives said the Sox would look to rebuild the rotation for 2015, and Kennedy hinted that the team’s alleged distaste for long-term deals for pitchers in their 30′s isn’t necessarily as rigid as believed.

Here’s some more from Fenway Park…

  • Daniel Nava received some trade interest from the Giants at the July deadline, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports.  This is just my speculation, but I wonder if San Francisco could pursue Nava again this offseason if Mike Morse isn’t re-signed.  The Tigers and Royals were also rumored to be in on Nava last summer.
  • Cafardo’s piece breaks down the Red Sox roster and examines who the team should consider trading.  Mookie Betts, for instance, seems to be “the Red Sox prospect teams want most in a deal” according to conversations with rival scouts, yet Cafardo feels Betts’ talent and versatility makes him too valuable a piece to move.
  • David Ross isn’t sure if he’ll be back in Boston next season or even if his career could be over, the veteran catcher told reporters (including John Tomase of the Boston Herald) yesterday.  Ross will be 38 on Opening Day 2015 and he’s been a non-factor at the plate for the last two seasons, though his defense and ability to mentor pitchers and young players in general is greatly respected.  John Farrell said Ross is under consideration to return to the Sox next year, and Ross could make sense as a veteran backup to Christian Vazquez.

Yankees Links: Ichiro, Offseason, Hardy, Jeter

When asked if he’d return to the Yankees in 2015, Ichiro Suzuki told reporters (including NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty) via an interpreter, “That might be a question you shouldn’t ask right now.”  Suzuki said he intends to continue his career, though other comments hinting at some clubhouse drama seem to imply that his time in the pinstripes could be over.  “Obviously there’s a lot of things that go on that the fans and the media can’t see, that goes on inside (the club),” Suzuki said.  “But what I can say is that the experiences I had this year, those experiences are going to help me in the future. It’ll be somewhat of a support for me because of the experiences I had this year.”

Here’s some more Yankees news…

  • While the Yankees will keep an eye on free agents Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields, “the early industry vibe is the Yankees aren’t going to spend big money this winter,” George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  It makes sense that the Yankees would take a step back after spending over $550MM on player salaries last offseason, though by the Yankees’ standards, what they consider “not big money” could still result in a significant cash outlay.
  • Also from King, free agent shortstop J.J. Hardy is “the early favorite” to take over the shortstop job in the Bronx next season.  Hardy will draw a lot of attention on the open market, though there’s also a chance he could stay in Baltimore — MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski made the point in August that the O’s could see Hardy as a long-term answer at shortstop if Manny Machado‘s injuries prevent him from eventually switching positions.
  • Was Derek Jeter‘s 10-year, $189MM deal actually a bargain for the Yankees?  CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa believes it was, given Jeter’s consistent production from 2001-10 and his immense off-the-field value to the organization in boosting everything from TV ratings to merchandise sales.  Jeter’s deal also has a case as the best completed $100MM+ contract in baseball history — Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez topped Jeter in terms of WAR, but Jeter’s role as a franchise icon may trump those three in terms of overall value to his team.