January 2013

Quick Hits: Saunders, White Sox, Konerko, Prospects

Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar tops MLB.com's list of the top 100 prospects in baseball for 2013.  Profar has been the subject of many trade rumors this winter but the Rangers are unwilling to move him, for good reason given his high ceiling.  Of the six prospects atop MLB.com's list, two (Wil Myers and Travis d'Arnaud) were dealt to new teams this offseason and another (Taijuan Walker) would have been on the move were it not for Justin Upton's no-trade clause.

Here are some items from around the Majors…

  • Joe Saunders has been offered a two-year deal worth roughly $15MM from an unknown team, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports, though his sources aren't directly involved in the negotiations.  The Orioles aren't the mystery team, as Baltimore would prefer to sign Saunders to a one-year deal with a team option for the second year.  Connolly says the O's are still interested in Saunders despite their recent agreement with Jair Jurrjens.  Besides the O's, the Mariners and Twins have also been linked to Saunders this winter, and the Twins have offered Saunders a one-year deal.
  • The White Sox are still looking for a left-handed hitter, MLB.com Scott Merkin tweets.  Such a player is likely to be a platooner or bench depth at this point in the offseason.
  • Paul Konerko tells CSN Chicago's Chuck Garfien that his on-field performance won't be the key factor if he decides to retire after the 2013 season.  "Don't look at the numbers, that if things are going well [in 2013], that necessarily means I would play [after this season]. And the reverse of that is true, too," Konerko said.  It was almost a year ago that Konerko told Garfien that he was pondering retirement once his contract is up.
  • It's hard to find ace-level pitching available in a trade, but Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal cites Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy and Jarrod Parker as pitchers who could be on the block should their teams fall out of contention next season.  Parker may seem like a premature trade target but MacPherson notes that "the Athletics have a history of trading young pitchers for even younger pitchers."
  • The Rangers have signed the most international prospects that appear in Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook, B-A's Ben Badler writes.  Fifteen international players originally signed by the Rangers are ranked either among their own top 30 prospects or in the top-30 lists of other teams, as determined by Baseball America.  At the bottom of the list are the Astros, who have just two international signings ranked.

Poll: Michael Bourn’s Next Contract

Michael Bourn entered the offseason as one of the most sought-after free agents in baseball, considered by all authorities (including MLBTR's Tim Dierkes) to be one of the top players available this winter. February is just a few days away, however, and not only is Bourn still unsigned, but he's lacking in obvious suitors that have both the need and the available finances to make a deal. 

Bourn's and agent Scott Boras' demands for a contract in the neighbourhood of five years/$75MM haven't helped open up the market, nor has the fact that signing Bourn would cost a team a high draft pick due to Bourn's rejection of the Braves' qualifying offer.  While the Mets may appeal to MLB in an attempt to sign Bourn and still keep their 11th overall draft choice, it seems unlikely that the league will acquiesce.

Besides the compensatory details, it may be that teams are simply unwilling to commit that much money to a 30-year-old player whose value lies in his speed (257 steals over the last five years) and defense (a +22.5 UZR/150 in center field in 2012), no matter how much Bourn may excel in those categories.  The Mariners, for example, have been linked to Bourn this winter but it is believed that Seattle isn't keen to sign another speed-and-defense oriented free agent given how the Chone Figgins signing backfired on the club.  MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith listed a number of possible suitors for Bourn last month, a list from which we can probably remove at least the Phillies, Indians, Yankees, Braves and Dodgers in the wake of subsequent moves. 

You would think that Bourn's demands would drop given such a seemingly limited market…but this is Scott Boras we're talking about, an agent who has made a career out of getting his clients big deals when none seem available.  That said, Boras could also explore a shorter-term or so-called "pillow contract" for Bourn so the outfielder can re-visit the free market next winter.  Will Bourn take a short-term deal, lower his asking price, or will Boras pull another rabbit out of his hat?

NL East Links: Marrero, Prado, Silverio

A few notable NL East players and teams are mentioned in Paul Swydan's ESPN Insider piece (subscription required) about "certain players who get overlooked by their own teams."  Swydan suggests that the Phillies may have lost faith in Domonic Brown and could trade him to a team like the Twins, while the Mets could explore acquiring Casper Wells, who is struggling for playing time in Seattle.

Here are some links from around the NL East…

  • Chris Marrero could become trade bait for the Nationals during Spring Training, opines MLB.com's Bill Ladson.  The Nats took Marrero with the 15th overall pick of the 2006 draft but the first baseman has struggled to stay healthy and looks to be blocked at first base behind Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore.  Marrero, 24, has hit .284/.353/.452 with 86 homers in 2791 minor league plate appearances and received 117 PAs at the Major League level with Washington in 2011.
  • The Braves "had gained a strong sense this would have been [Martin Prado's] final season in Atlanta" after difficult arbitration negotiations and Prado's demands for a $12MM average annual salary in a multiyear deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman writes.  This made him expendable enough to be traded to the Diamondbacks in last week's deal for Justin Upton.
  • It was just over a year ago that outfielder Alfredo Silverio was severely injured in a car accident that sidelined him for the entire 2012 season.  Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald chronicles how Silverio has recovered and is now trying to catch on with the Marlins after being selected off the Dodgers' roster in the Rule 5 Draft.  Silverio, 25, hit .292/.326/.479 in 2385 minor league plate appearances in the Dodgers' system, topping out at an .883 OPS at Double-A in 2011.
  • Over at Roto Authority, MLBTR's fantasy baseball affiliate, I recently looked which of two NL East pitchers (Roy Halladay and Kris Medlen) was a better fantasy bet for the 2013 season.

AL West Notes: Moss, Jaso, Angels, Astros

The Angels have hired Omar Vizquel as a roving infield instructor in their organization, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (Twitter link).  Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, said last summer that he was hoping to get into coaching or managing once he retired from playing.  Vizquel hung up the cleats after a 24-year career that saw him amass 2877 career hits, good for 40th on the all-time list.

Here's the latest from around the AL West…

  • Athletics GM Billy Beane tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the A's have no interest in trading Brandon Moss.  Cafardo opines that Moss' left-handed bat and his ability to play both first and the outfield makes him an "ideal" fit for the Red Sox.
  • The Mariners didn't find much interest in John Jaso at the trade deadline last summer and shopped the catcher for much of the offseason, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  The M's attempted to deal Jaso to the Pirates in exchange for Garrett Jones and explored sending the catcher to Arizona as part of a possible Justin Upton trade before finally sending Jaso to the Athletics as part of a three-way deal with the Nationals.
  • Also from Baker, he opines that the Mariners have the money and the minor league depth to afford signing Michael Bourn and withstand losing the #12 overall draft pick as compensation.
  • The Angels' minor league system projects as one of the worst in the game and MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez looks at how it happened, including such factors as the team's lack of international scouting and lackluster 2010 draft.  One bright side for L.A. is that their farm system is currently shallow because so many homegrown prospects have made their way to the Angels' big league roster.
  • The Astros are approaching their rebuild in the right way, writes Jeff Moore of The Hardball Times, by off-loading all veteran talent from their Major League roster and adding much-needed depth to their farm system.
  • In division news from earlier today, the Mariners reached an agreement with Kelly Shoppach, the Angels avoided arbitration with Kevin Jepsen and we posted a collection of Rangers notes.

Brian Schneider Announces Retirement

Veteran catcher Brian Schneider has announced his retirement from baseball, Mandy Housenick of The Morning Call reports.  Schneider, 36, was a free agent after his one-year, $800K contract with the Phillies expired after last season.

A fifth-round pick of the Expos in the 1995 amateur draft, Schneider spent his entire 13-year Major League career in the NL East, playing for the Expos, Nationals, Mets and Phillies.  He posted a career slash line of .247/.320/.369 in 3570 plate appearances with 67 home runs and twice (2003-04) led the National League in caught-stealing percentage.  According to Baseball Reference, Schneider made a little over $22.42MM over his career.

Rangers Notes: Cruz, Gonzalez, Ryan

In the wake of Nelson Cruz's connection to a Miami-based clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to several MLB players, the Rangers released an official response (transcribed by ESPN Dallas) saying that they were contacted about the story by the Miami New Times last week and then themselves contacted Major League Baseball.  Beyond these details, the club had "no further comment" about the allegations.

Here are some more items out of Arlington…

  • If Cruz ends up having to serve a 50-game suspension, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett doesn't think the Rangers would respond by signing Michael Bourn.  Texas isn't interested in signing Bourn to the four- or five-year deal that he desires but could possibly explore a shorter-term agreement if Bourn lowers his demands.  If lieu of a new acquisition, Durrett notes that the Rangers could use internal options to replace Cruz, such as moving Mike Olt, Ian Kinsler or Mitch Moreland to the outfield.
  • The Rangers had a "preliminary chat" with the Rockies about Carlos Gonzalez, MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby reports, but the talks didn't lead anywhere since the Rangers weren't willing to give up Olt or Jurickson Profar.  Several teams asked Colorado about Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings but were told the outfielder wasn't available.
  • Also from Ringolsby's piece, Rangers president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels were satisfied with the team's fairly low-key offseason, despite missing out on signing Zack Greinke and losing Josh Hamilton to the Angels.  "You have to guard against overreacting to something someone else did or not getting the players you anticipated," said Ryan. "When things don't work out the way you hoped, you have to step back, digest the circumstances, and figure out what to do to keep moving forward."

Arbitration Deals: Daniel Murphy, Kevin Jepsen

We'll keep track of today's arbitration agreements under $3MM right here..

  • The Mets have avoided arbitration with Daniel Murphy by agreeing to a one-year contract worth $2.925MM, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports (Twitter links).  The final total is a bit less than the midpoint between the figures exchanged by the two sides; Murphy asked for $3.4MM, the Mets offered $2.55MM.  This was Murphy's first year of arbitration eligibility.  Murphy, an ACES client, was the last of three arb-eligible Mets players to agree to a deal, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows.
  • The Angels and reliever Kevin Jepsen have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1,181,250.  The contract includes awards-based bonuses, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).  Beverly Hills Sports Council represents Jepsen. The deal now means that the Angels have wrapped up all of their arb eligible players this offseason, as the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker shows.

Minor Moves: Lopez, Waldrop, Zagurski, Dickerson

We'll track the day's minor moves here…

  • The Padres have signed left-hander Arturo Lopez to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports (Twitter link).  Lopez made four relief appearances for the Padres in 2009 and has also pitched in the Mets' and Dodgers' farm systems.  The 29-year-old southpaw has spent the last two seasons pitching in the Mexican League.
  • The Pirates signed right-hander Kyle Waldrop to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (via Twitter).  Waldrop appeared in 24 games as a reliever for the Twins over the last two seasons and posted a 3.62 ERA over 32 1/3 career innings.  Waldrop was outrighted off Minnesota's 40-man roster in October.
  • The Pirates also signed left-hander Mike Zagurski to a minor league deal that contains an invite to Spring Training.  The deal was announced by the team in December.  Zagurski made 45 appearances out of the bullpen for the Diamondbacks in 2012, posting a 5.54 ERA, an 8.2 K/9 and a 1.79 K/BB over 37 1/3 innings.
  • The Orioles announced that they signed outfielder Chris Dickerson to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to Spring Training (Twitter link). The 30-year-old appeared in 25 games for the Yankees in 2012, playing all three outfield positions. He spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he posted a .316/.417/.515 batting line in 321 plate appearances.

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post

Quick Hits: Rodriguez, Red Sox, Mets

Links from around MLB on a day that a number of prominent players were linked to a supplier of performance enhancing drugs

  • Earlier today ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggested the Yankees will deal with Alex Rodriguez in a calculated manner following the news that the third baseman has been linked to the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. Olney's colleagues Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand have since reported that the Yankees are trying to void Rodriguez's contract, which is valued at $114MM over the course of the next five seasons.
  • Boston manager John Farrell suggested the Red Sox could add depth at first base in the near future, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports. "I think we'll probably have some additions before camp opens up in that area," Farrell said. Check out Speier's piece for a position-by-position breakdown of the Red Sox.
  • The Mets are still in the market for relief help and could even pursue a closer, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Mets signed right-hander Scott Atchison to a minor league deal today. For the latest on closers around the league follow @closernews throughout the fantasy baseball season.
  • Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said he hasn't ruled out making another modest signing or two, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports.

Yankees Working To Void Alex Rodriguez’s Contract

The Yankees are exploring multiple avenues to void their contract with Alex Rodriguez, several baseball sources told ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand.  Rodriguez was among several MLB stars who were linked to a PED clinic in Miami, Florida.  Even if the charges turn out to be true, however, the Bombers may have little chance of getting out from under his contract.

The three-time American League MVP is owed $114MM over the next five seasons.  An industry source says the Yankees "are looking at about 20 different things," including whether A-Rod breached the contract by taking medical treatment from an outside doctor without the team's authorization, and the possibility that he may have broken the law by purchasing controlled substances from the clinic.

If the Yankees do take action to 86 the remainder of the third baseman's deal, they can't do anything until the MLB investigation is concluded, according to a source.  For his part, Rodriguez has issued a statement denying the allegations.