MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 7

After running down a busy week of transactions, Jeff is joined by Steve Adams to discuss where their free agent predictions stand after the early market moves (1:30), and goes on to recommend some resources for assessing the payroll obligations that will set the parameters for teams in the winter to come (29:10).

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The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.


West Notes: Giants, Baldoquin, Hultzen

Every NL West team has undergone significant front office changes in the last few months except the Giants, whose GM, Brian Sabean, has been on the job since 1996, writes ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. New Rockies GM Jeff Bridich and Padres GM A.J. Preller were college freshmen when Sabean was hired. Bridich, Preller, Dave Stewart of the Diamondbacks, and Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi of the Dodgers will now attempt to build franchises that work as smoothly as the Giants’ has lately. “Our goal starting now is to have continuity as far as we can see out,” says Friedman. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • The Angels‘ pact with Cuban infield prospect Roberto Baldoquin was surprising, but MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes that it made sense in part because, since trading Jean Segura, the Angels didn’t have a young infielder to take over once Howie Kendrick, David Freese or Erick Aybar departed. Also, the Angels won’t be able to sign any player subject to international bonus pools for more than $300K in the next two signing periods, but that isn’t a huge factor for them, since they rarely do that anyway.
  • The Mariners have been granted an extra option on pitcher Danny Hultzen, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. Hultzen missed the 2014 season after having shoulder surgery. Hultzen exhausted his option seasons early because the Mariners signed him to a big-league contract after selecting him second overall in the 2011 draft. He has pitched sparingly since 2012, his first pro season. He should be healthy in 2015, although Dutton notes that the Mariners are likely to carefully monitor his workload.

Pablo Sandoval Rumors: Saturday

Here’s the latest on free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, with the day’s latest stories at the top.

  • Preller and the Padres made a “very serious” offer to Sandoval, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes.
  • The Blue Jays have not had contact with Sandoval’s camp in the last two days, suggesting that they are not a key bidder for Sandoval at this time, Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca writes.
  • The Giants have received no indication that they trail the Red Sox in the race to land Sandoval, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
  • Echoing Rosenthal, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that the Giants still believe they’re in contention to re-sign Sandoval. Cafardo wrote yesterday that the Red Sox had extended Sandoval a five-year, $95MM offer.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller, meanwhile, was in Miami on Friday to meet with Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes. He is expected to fly to the Dominican Republic today to meet with Yasmany Tomas‘ representation. Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Padres would make a formal offer to Sandoval on Friday. The Padres have joined the Giants and Red Sox as the key contenders to sign Sandoval, and the Braves as one of the key teams in the bidding for Tomas.


Central Notes: Swisher, Hunter, Reds, Blanco

Nick Swisher‘s contract with the Indians now fits on a long list of contracts teams would love to unload, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Swisher hasn’t been productive in his contract so far and he has two years and $30MM left, plus a vesting option for 2017. Pluto guesses that Swisher will end up back in Cleveland in 2015 despite recent trade rumors. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • GM Walt Jocketty says the Reds aren’t really close” on any significant moves, the Enquirer’s John Fay reports. Jocketty also would not confirm whether the club has interest in free agent outfielder Torii Hunter, the way he did with Nori Aoki and Michael Morse. “I don’t want to got into that,” says Jocketty. “When I talked about Aoki, I got hounded by the media. Let’s put this way: We’re talking to a lot of agents, and (Hunter) is a pretty good player.” The Blue Jays, Royals, Twins and other teams have recently been connected to Hunter.
  • The Cubs have hired Henry Blanco away from the Diamondbacks, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets. Blanco will serve as the quality assurance coach under new manager Joe Maddon. Blanco, of course, was a catcher for the Cubs from 2005 through 2008. He joined with the Diamondbacks after retiring as a player prior to the 2014 season.

Minor Moves: Buck Britton, Carlos Triunfel

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Dodgers have signed infielder Buck Britton to a minor league deal, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Britton, the brother of Orioles reliever Zach, had spent the previous seven years in Baltimore’s system. Last season, the 28-year-old hit .289/.345/.453 in 505 plate appearances split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, primarily playing second base and third base.
  • The Giants have signed infielder Carlos Triunfel and lefty Braulio Lara to minor-league deals, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Triunfel hit just .223/.256/.330 for hitter-friendly Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014, mostly playing the two middle infield positions. The Dodgers outrighted him in September. The 25-year-old Lara posted a 5.77 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings of relief in a 2014 season spent in the upper minors of the Rays’ system.

Twins Win Bidding For Hyeon-jong Yang

The Twins have won the bidding for Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang and are nearing agreement on a deal, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Kia Tigers posted Yang earlier this week. The Twins have a 30-day negotiating window with Yang.

Yang, who will be 27 in March, posted a 4.25 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 165 innings in Korea in 2014. Those numbers don’t sound that impressive at first, but each team scores an average of 5.63 runs per game in the offense-heavy KBO, far higher than in the Majors, and Yang’s season earned him the KBO’s equivalent of the Cy Young award. Yang is viewed as a mid-rotation starter with No. 2 starter upside, the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand reports. Yang has a smooth delivery and throws 92-95 MPH.

Feinsand had named the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Astros as teams that could have interest in Yang. The Red Sox also reportedly had interest. The Padres recently won the bidding for another KBO pitcher, Kwang-hyun Kim, for $2MM, although the top bid for Yang was expected to cost more.

The Twins were expected to pursue starting pitching this offseason, and Yang should give them an option to accompany Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson and Ricky Nolasco. Twins starters posted a league-worst 5.06 ERA in 2014.


Week In Review: 11/15/14 – 11/21/14

Here’s a look back at this week at MLBTR, a week in which teams set their rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.

Key Moves

Signed / Agreed To Terms

Traded

Avoided Arbitration

Exercised Team Option

Designated For Assignment

Claimed

Outrighted

Released

Key Minor League Signings

  • Mariners - P Misael Silverio (link)

Other


Full Story | Comments | Categories: Week In Review

Wily Mo Pena Becomes Free Agent; Twins Interested

Wily Mo Pena, previously with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan, has become a free agent, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Berardino further notes that there is mutual interest between Pena and the Twins.

MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes reported in September that Pena would look for a deal with a US team, noting at the time that three clubs were interested. The huge 1B/OF hit 32 homers in Japan last season, batting .255/.344/.486 for Orix after playing two seasons for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks. The 32-year-old Pena, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2011, struggled in parts of eight seasons in the states despite his prodigious power. After a strong season in Japan, though, big-league teams could view him as a potential option to improve their lineups, perhaps particularly at DH and against lefties.


Braves Release Venters, Designate Pena

FRIDAY: Atlanta has released Venters, per the MLB.com transactions page.

WEDNESDAY: The Braves have designated left-hander Jonny Venters and infielder Ramiro Pena for assignment, according to the team’s transactions page. Additionally, the team has added Brandon Cunniff, Yean Carlos Gil, Kyle Kubitza, Williams Perez, Mauricio Cabrera and top prospect Jose Peraza to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.

The 29-year-old Venters was an elite setup man with Atlanta from 2010-12 but underwent Tommy John surgery — the second of his career — that kept him out for all of the 2013 season. Venters rehabbed the injury through August of this season before learning that he had re-torn the ligament. In September, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that Venters would undergo a third Tommy John and attempt to make a comeback. Venters has a 2.23 ERA in three career seasons to go along with an average of 10.1 strikeouts and 4.3 walks per nine innings pitched.

Pena, 29, batted .245/.304/.347 in 165 plate appearances for the Braves this season — a decline from the .278/.330/.443 line he posted in 107 PA the previous year. Pena has more than four years of big league service as a utility player with the Yankees and Braves. He’s a career .244/.288/.330 hitter in 610 PAs at the big league level.

Both Venters and Pena were arbitration eligible. Venters would have earned either the same $1.6MM he made in 2014 or slightly less, had he gone through arb, while MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected Pena to earn $900K.


Minor Moves: Satin, Kensing, Romak, Orioles, Billings, Avery

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…

Earlier Updates

  • The D’Backs have agreed to terms on a minor league deal and a Spring Training invite with infielder/outfielder Jamie Romak, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweeted today. The 29-year-old Romak, a client of Taurus Sports’ David Sloane, made his big league debut with the Dodgers in 2014 and collected his first hit in the Majors. The former fourth-rounder is a lifetime .258/.324/.474 hitter at Triple-A.
  • The Orioles announced the signings of infielder Paul Janish, right-hander Terry Doyle and outfielder Quincy Latimore to minor league contracts and invitations to big league Spring Training. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo was the first to tweet Janish’s agreement, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com had previously reported that the team was working on a deal with him. Janish is the only one of the bunch that comes with MLB experience; the 32-year-old defensive specialist is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 1206 plate appearances between the Reds and Braves.
  • The Nationals announced that they have signed right-hander Bruce Billings to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 29-year-old Billings pitched four innings for the Yankees last season and split the season between the Yankees and Dodgers organizations. Overall, the veteran posted a 5.27 ERA with 6. K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 95 2/3 innings.
  • Outfielder Xavier Avery has inked a minor league deal with the Tigers and will receive a Spring Training invite as well, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. The 24-year-old Avery spent last season with the Mariners after being acquired from the Orioles in the 2013 Mike Morse trade. Avery hit .275/.344/.413 with 10 homers and 31 steals, appearing at all three outfield spots for Seattle’s Triple-A affiliate in 2014.

Red Sox Offer Sandoval Five Years, $95MM; Padres Offer Expected Today

As of late last night, the Padres, Red Sox and Giants were said to be the three primary suitors for Pablo Sandoval, with the White Sox and Blue Jays reportedly more on the periphery. As the Panda draws nearer to a decision, we’ll run down the latest rumors from today in this post…

  • The Red Sox have made Sandoval a five-year, $95MM offer, per a report from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The status of other offers is less certain, with Cafardo noting that it is not known whether a sixth year option has been put on the table by another club and saying only that Boston may have the highest offer out.
  • The Padres will make a formal offer to Sandoval today, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). A report last night indicated that the Pads, along with the Red Sox and Giants, were all interested in Sandoval at somewhere in the $90-95MM range over five years.

International Notes: Emery, Moncada, Hernandez, Quiala

The Yankees have inked Colombian outfielder Bryan Emery, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America, which means both that all of BA’s top thirty international free agents have signed and that ten have gone to New York. Emery will take home a $500K bonus, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. That adds on to an already remarkable level of spending for the Bronx Bombers, who will of course have to match their commitment to Emery in penalties.

Here’s more from the international scene:

  • There was some thought that the Angels‘ bonus pool-busting signing of Roberto Baldoquin may have been a prelude to a bigger outlay on Yoan Moncada. But there is “not a chance” that the team will pursue high-budget players such as Moncada or Yasmany Tomas, a source tells Dylan Hernandez of MLB.com (Twitter link).
  • Like the Halos, the Red Sox have already reached the maximum level of international penalties. The club is performing “due diligence” on Moncada, amateur international scouting director Eddie Romero tells Alex Speier of WEEI.comIt was a good opportunity just to lay eyes on him, to see him physically for the first time. He’s in tremendous shape, tremendous shape,” said Romero. “We’ll do our due diligence there and see where it goes.”
  • Jorge Hernandez and Yoanys Quiala, both pitchers out of Cuba, have each been declared free agents by MLB, according to a tweet from Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports. They are considered “good young talents,” per Arangure.

White Sox To Sign Adam LaRoche

The White Sox have signed first baseman Adam LaRoche to a two-year, $25MM deal, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. LaRoche is a client of Relativity Sports’ Mike Milchin.

Adam LaRoche

Left-handed power has been a priority for the Sox this offseason, and LaRoche will bring just that to the table, having averaged 26 homers per year over the past three seasons to go along with a solid .256/.346/.458 batting line in that same span. LaRoche will team up with American League Rookie of the Year Jose Abreu to create a formidable punch in the middle of manager Robin Ventura’s order. He’s regarded as a plus defender at first base, although he may see some more time at designated hitter with Abreu also figuring to log significant innings at first.

LaRoche has spent the past four seasons with the Nationals but will now move to a much more hitter-friendly environment in the form of U.S. Cellular Field, which should only serve to boost his already solid power marks. However, LaRoche does come with a sizable platoon split, having batted just .201/.269/.325 against southpaws over the past two seasons after a more promising line of .268/.319/.506 in his excellent 2012 season, when he finished sixth in the NL MVP voting.

The 35-year-old LaRoche reportedly had a two-year, $20MM offer from the Marlins and has also been connected to the Padres, but he’ll instead head to the south side of Chicago where GM Rick Hahn is acting quickly to build a team that has eyes on contention in the near future. (In a free agent profile for LaRoche, I was a bit more bullish, pegging him for $30MM over this same two-year term.) In addition to Abreu, the Sox have a pair of nice young outfielders in Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia, and the rotation is fronted by a stellar combination of Chris Sale and Jose QuintanaCarlos Rodon, the No. 3 pick in this year’s draft, looms as a possible addition to that duo.

LaRoche is the second major free agent signing for Hahn and his lieutenants this week, as the Sox also inked southpaw reliever Zach Duke to a three-year, $15MM contract on the heels of a dominant season that can be largely credited to altering his delivery. Chicago still figures to add at least one more relief arm and could entertain trades for shortstop Alexei Ramirez, as has been rumored of late, but Hahn’s aggressiveness signals a clear goal of putting a contending group on the field in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Free Agent Notes: Robertson, Lester, Hunter, Scherzer

While Andrew Miller is said to have multiple three-year offers in hand already, the other top reliever on this year’s market, David Robertson, just may end up finding someone to meet his reported asking price of “Jonathan Papelbon money.” Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com spoke with four executives, each of whom believed that Robertson would receive his desired four years and at least come close to Papelbon’s average annual salary. An NL exec said he thought Robertson would meet his goal, while an AL exec said that though his first instinct was “no,” after seeing how the market has played out early on, he’s changed his thinking. A second NL exec and an AL scout said they could see at least four years and $40MM, with the scout saying it could go higher, because it only takes one team to push up that value.

Here’s more on some of the top free agents of the offseason…

  • Jon Lester will meet with at least two more teams next week, a source tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Lester met with the Red Sox, Cubs and Braves this week. The Sox reportedly made a six-year offer in the $110-120MM range and are willing to negotiate further. The Braves reportedly have yet to extend a formal offer.
  • The Twins have a “real shot” to sign Torii Hunter, tweets La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN hears the same (Twitter link), adding that the pitch to Hunter from manager Paul Molitor is that Hunter can come back to Minnesota and provide the same type of mentoring to their young players that Molitor and the late Kirby Puckett provided Hunter when he was a minor leaguer. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets that Hunter would be taking a significant paycut to return to Minnesota, however.
  • Elsewhere in the Hunter market, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Orioles and Giants are keeping Hunter as a back-burner option in case their initial free agent pursuits don’t play out as they hope (Twitter links). In addition to those two teams, the Twins and the Royals, Crasnick hears that the Mariners have kicked the tires on Hunter.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski appeared on MLB Network Radio with Jim Bowden today and said that while he couldn’t rule out the return of ace Max Scherzer, he feels the chances were better last spring (Twitter link). The Tigers, of course, made Scherzer a six-year, $144MM extension offer, which he rejected.

Rays Managerial Finalists Are Wakamatsu, Cash, Ibanez

The Rays have whittled their list of managerial candidates down to three and will select either Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu, Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash or Raul Ibanez to serve as their next skipper, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (on Twitter). Earlier today, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reported that the Rays would narrow the field to three candidates at some point today.

Wakamatsu has served as a big league manager before, managing the Mariners from 2009-10. He’s oft-cited as a candidate to receive another crack at managing a team and has drawn interest from multiple clubs in managerial searches since his dismissal from Seattle.

Cash, 37 in December, had an eight-year career as a catcher with the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, Astros and Rays. He was under strong consideration in the recent managerial searches for the Rangers and Astros as well.

Ibanez, 42, was a surprise entrant on the Rays’ initial list of 10, considering the fact that he was active on a Major League roster through season’s end. The 19-year veteran is a career .272/.335/.465 hitter with 305 homers and is known to be a positive influence in the clubhouse. Though his playing career continued through 2014, he’s only nine years younger than Wakamatsu and is actually nearly six years older than Cash.

That these are the finalists means the Rays had to make the tough decision not to advance bench coach Dave Martinez, their top internal candidate, into the final round. Martinez has long drawn praise around the game and interviewed for several other managerial positions but come up short each time. In a press release confirming the finalists, president of baseball operations Matt Silverman made the following statement: “The decision on Dave Martinez was especially difficult. He’s played a key role in our organization’s evolution, and he’s done all he can to put himself in position to be a manager. In the end, we determined that our clubhouse would best benefit from a new voice that will add to our already strong and cohesive culture.”

Topkin tweets that each of the finalists will be brought in for an interview the week of Dec. 1, so there will be no manager in place by Thanksgiving, but that should give the team time to make a decision prior to the Winter Meetings, which run from Dec. 7-11 in San Diego this year.