November 2013

Twins ‘Making Progress’ On Pierzynski, Targeting Pelfrey

The Twins are "making progress" in their push to reunite with catcher A.J. PierzynskiLaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports, citing an anonymous source. Neal reported the news in his article on the Twins' three-year, $24MM deal agreement with Phil Hughes.

Pierzynski hit .272/.297/.425 in 2013 with the Rangers, a line that featured his typical solid power but a career-low in OBP. The Twins, however, are said to value the catcher for his winning background and the edge he'd bring to a team that has lost an average of 97 games over the past three seasons. Perzynski's also durable, appearing in at least 128 games every year since 2002.

In the same article, Neal relates that the Twins may also try to re-sign Mike Pelfrey, who struggled to the tune of a 5.19 ERA in 152 2/3 innings in 2013 in his first campaign after Tommy John surgery. The club reportedly offered a two-year deal in the $10MM range to the 29-year-old righty, who's previously indicated interest in re-upping with Minnesota, though Neal says it's not clear if that deal is still on offer.

Cano Asking Yankees For Nine Years, $250-$260MM

11:00pm: Cano asked for a nine-year deal at $28MM per year, reports ESPN's Buster Olney, a $252MM total that would match Alex Rodriguez's first free agent contract.  He also wants a tenth year vesting option at $29MM.  Olney says the Yankees are in the $170MM range, leaving a gap of around $80MM. 

8:18pm: Robinson Cano requested a nine-year deal in the $250-$260MM range in his most recent offer to the Yankees, a source tells Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The offer came in a meeting last week.

The Yankees have reportedly offered Cano a deal in the range of seven years and $168MM, which Davidoff notes would still make the second baseman among the highest-paid players in baseball. In addition, a second source says the much-discussed 10-year, $310MM offer floated by Cano's camp hasn't been in play since Cano became a free agent. Nevertheless, the two sides presently appear to be approximately $100MM apart. The Yankees are scheduled to meet again with Cano, who is represented by Jay-Z and CAA's Brodie Van Wagenen, on Monday.

Davidoff writes that the Yankees maintain they won't wait for Cano as they hold discussions with free agents such as Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew. The team also remains interested in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. If the Yankees hit their budget limit without signing Cano, club officials say, they'll either move on or force Cano to agree to a much smaller deal than what's now under discussion.

Other potential destinations include the Tigers, the Mariners, the Rangers and the Nationals, and the Mets have met with Cano's representatives, Davidoff writes. However, he adds that no teams have publicly indicated significant interest in the infielder.

Mets To Meet With Bronson Arroyo

9:14pm: A source tells Newsday's David Lennon (via Twitter) that the Mets do not have plans to meet with Arroyo. The Mets appear to be "on the fence" about the durable starter, Lennon says.

4:22pm: Mets GM Sandy Alderson will meet with free-agent starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo in Florida this week, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports. Arroyo reportedly wants a three-year deal, but might ultimately settle for two years and a vesting option, a source tells Rubin. Earlier in the offseason, Alderson met with shortstop Jhonny Peralta and outfielder Chris Young. Peralta ended up signing with the Cardinals, but the Mets landed Young on a one-year deal.

Earlier this week, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reported that the Mets were in hot pursuit of Arroyo. The Twins also remain heavily interested, even after reaching a four-year agreement with Ricky Nolasco, and the Angels might also be a possibility. Arroyo, who in 2013 pitched at least 199 innings for the ninth consecutive season, should be able to help stabilize some team's shaky rotation.

AL East Notes: Red Sox, O’s, Rays

Andrew Bailey is a non-tender candidate for the Red Sox after undergoing shoulder surgery, but the reliever tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal that he considers himself a member of the team until he hears otherwise. "Until something is on the table, you try not to think about it," Bailey says. "I'd love to be back with Boston." Here's the latest from the AL East:

  • Rich Dubroff of Comcast Sports Net sifts through offseason possibilities for the Orioles, writing that with the Winter Meetings ahead, Baltimore has been more involved in discussions this year than in winters past. Closer Jim Johnson, who's projected to earn $10.8MM in arbitration by MLBTR's Matt Swartz, appears to be a logical trade candidate if the Orioles sign a higher-tier free agent, according to Dubroff.
  • Orioles Executive Vice-President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette says recent acquisition Johnny Monell could compete for the club's backup catcher job or at DH, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Roch Kubatko of tweets that the O's have four catchers on their 40-man roster after adding Monell.
  • The Rays are likely to turn their attention to their first base job after addressing needs at catcher and in the bullpen, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times says. Trade targets such as Ike Davis of the Mets and Mark Trumbo of the Angels remain available, while players like Justin Morneau or Mark Reynolds could be targets in free agency.
  • Regarding a potential trade of David Price, Topkin writes that the Rays appear to be comfortable listening to what clubs are saying as they go about addressing other offseason issues.

Orioles Acquire Johnny Monell

The Giants announced that they have traded catcher Johnny Monell to the Orioles for cash considerations, according to a tweet from Andrew Baggarly of Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

Monell has spent his entire career in the Giants' minor league system, but was designated for assignment earlier this week. In seven minor league seasons, the left-handed batter has posted a .267/.351/.456 line. He's accumulated just nine plate appearances at the major league level.

Quick Hits: Beltran, Furcal, Mets, Twins, Ellis, Santana

The Royals are very interested in Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees remain the favorites to sign him, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. "I think at this point it would be an upset if he didn’t end up there," one executive tells Sherman. The Yankees have thus far been unwilling to give Beltran a three-year deal, but they could eventually land him by giving him three years or by paying heavily for two. Regardless of the Yankees' current issues, the perception of the Yanks as a winning organization matters to Beltran, even though they won fewer games than Kansas City did last year. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • Sherman writes that the Mets are no longer interested in free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery, because of concerns about his health. The Mets are looking for an upgrade over Ruben Tejada at shortstop.
  • Furcal himself says that the Mets, Red Sox, Marlins, Pirates, Nationals, Rockies and other teams have shown interest in him, reports Enrique Rojas of (link in Spanish).
  • After failing to find common ground on a contract extension, the Padres would listen to offers for Chase Headley, Sherman reports. The question is how he should be valued — Headley hit .286/.376/.498 in a terrific 2012 season, then came back to earth with a .250/.347/.400 season in 2013.
  • Even after landing Ricky Nolasco, the Twins will continue to strongly pursue free agents and trade possibilities, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN tweets. The Twins have been connected to any number of starting pitchers, including Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes and trade targets Homer Bailey and Jeremy Hellickson. They've also been tied to catchers like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski.
  • The Twins aren't the only suitors for Hughes, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Royals are also making "a strong push" for the former Yankees righty. Hughes is expected to receive a two-year deal, with the Mariners and Angels potentially being involved along with the Royals and Twins. Berardino also points out that Hughes' agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, also represents Jason Vargas, who recently signed a four-year deal with Kansas City.
  • The Royals need a second baseman, and a team official recently told the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton that the Royals think Mark Ellis "has something left" (via Twitter). Ellis, 36, hit just .270/.323/.351 last season with the Dodgers, but he's a consistently-above-average defensive player.
  • Carlos Santana of the Indians would like to play in the field more, but the Indians already have good options at catcher in Yan Gomes and at first base in Nick Swisher. Instead, then, Santana would like to try third base, and Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the Indians are interested in the possibility, in part because Santana is taking initiative rather than complaining. (He's working out at third at the Indians' Dominican facility.) Whether Santana can field at third base is an open question — he hasn't played more than a handful of games at the position since 2006, when he was in the Dodgers' minor-league system. If the Indians have any confidence he can play there, though, they might be less inclined to pursue a righty-hitting third-base type this offseason. Lefty-hitting Lonnie Chisenhall, who struggled last season, currently sits atop the Indians' depth chart at third.

Royals Remain Strongly Interested In Carlos Beltran

The Royals have serious interest in free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran and appear willing to offer their former star a three-year deal, the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton reports. Last week, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman wrote that the Royals "could become real threats" to sign Beltran. "We’d love to have him in," a Royals official tells Dutton. "One thing about Carlos Beltran is he’s a money player. He’s an RBI guy. He produces."

The Royals will have lots of competition for Beltran, whose other suitors might include the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Rangers, and Mariners. And after the signing of Jason Vargas, the Royals already appear to have little money to spare. Dutton reports, however, that the Royals might be able to find space in their payroll for Beltran, perhaps by making other transactions to reduce salary. If the Royals were to sign Beltran, for example, one possibility might be to trade DH Billy Butler, who is set to make $8MM in 2014 (with an option and a $1MM buyout for 2015).

In any case, the Royals are looking for a hitter, and one reason for their focus on Beltran is that the trade market isn't particularly promising. "[W]hen you look at the landscape, I’m not sure there are many clubs out there that are willing to trade impact bats," says GM Dayton Moore. "There just are not that many, and a lot of people are looking for the same thing."

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Padres Expected To Deal For Lefty Bat And/Or Reliever

The Padres are expected to acquire a lefty hitter and/or lefty reliever within the next two weeks, Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. "By the time the Winter Meetings end, we will have done something," says GM Josh Byrnes. "We’re lined up on a few trade ideas over the next couple weeks." The Winter Meetings will take place from December 9-12.

The Padres currently have Josh Johnson, Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy penciled into the first four spots of their rotation. Center suggests that, while the Padres aren't likely to trade a prospect like Max Fried or Matt Wisler, they could deal Burch Smith, Robbie Erlin or Eric Stults to acquire a left-handed hitter. Center notes, however, that the Padres are very much aware of the recent spate of injuries to their starting pitchers.

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Red Sox Preparing Alternatives To Own Free Agents

The Red Sox are still waiting for free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to decide whether to accept Boston's free agent offers, but they're nearing the point when they might move forward, Rob Bradford of reports. The Red Sox haven't set deadlines for any of their free agents to accept offers, but a source tells Bradford that the Sox are "certainly working on other options, also." The Red Sox told at least one player that they would soon need to make plans to potentially acquire another player to take his place.

Ellsbury, Napoli and Drew all rejected qualifying offers from Boston, and the Red Sox have since made new offers to all three players. Saltalamacchia did not receive a qualifying offer, but the Red Sox did offer him a two-year deal at an annual amount below the $14.1MM qualifying offer figure.

Olney On Starters, Mariners, Anderson, Mets, Rockies

As we continue to work our way through what has been a slow holiday weekend, here are a few interesting notes from's Buster Olney:

  • Starting pitching demand may not be sufficient to drive up the salaries of Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Matt Garza, argues Olney. Each member of that trio is rumored to be seeking a major, long-term deal. But as Olney observes, several factors — including the wait for Masahiro Tanaka, possible trade availability of some major arms, and imperfect track record of all three hurlers — could conspire to limit their market.
  • One team that "seems bound" to land one of that threesome, according to Olney (via Twitter), is the Mariners
  • Ticking through each team in baseball to gauge possible interest in one of these upper-middle-class starters, Olney includes a few interesting notes on some clubs. For instance, Olney twice notes that the Athletics' Brett Anderson is available via trade and could well be dealt if Oakland brings back Bartolo Colon or another short-term starter. He has previously reported that the Royals might be interested in buying low on Anderson.
  • The Mets, meanwhile, "have been looking more at second-tier and third-tier free agents." That fits the most recent rumors out of New York, though it is sure to disappoint those who expect the club to ink at least one major free agent. As I discussed in my offseason outlook for the Mets, the club has professed to have $40MM in payroll space for next year, and so far has committed less than a fifth of that by signing Chris Young.
  • Likewise, according to Olney, the Rockies are putting out word that they do not have a lot to spend in free agency. Of course, the club reportedly made legitimate runs at both Jose Dariel Abreu and Brian McCann, though it could be that it was only willing to spend big on certain players.