Aaron Harang Rumors

Quick Hits: Zduriencik, Red Sox, Dodgers

Jack Zduriencik is still the right person to serve as the Mariners' GM, Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times contends. Brewer points to a strong farm system (which includes the likes of Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton) as evidence that Zduriencik's plan is working. The Mariners have only had one winning season since Zduriencik was hired, however. "I can't say that I'm happy, can't say that I'm satisfied at all," Zduriencik said. "Because, at the end, it's about the finished product at the big-league level and all of these kids becoming what you want them to become." The M's finished 75-87 in 2012. Here are more notes from around the majors.

  • The Red Sox clubhouse feels "eleventy-billion times better" than it did in 2012, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. The team's decision to replace Bobby Valentine with John Farrell is part of that, Tomase argues, but so is the fact that new additions Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Joel Hanrahan, David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew weren't around during the Red Sox's ugly 2012 season.
  • Napoli will be an impact hitter for the Red Sox in 2013 because he will no longer catch, Michael Silverman argues, also in the Boston Herald. "Now there’s more of a flow to everything," Napoli says. "It’s a tough position — catching and good-hitting catchers are tough to find. It’s just a grind — a grind that I do miss, but I don’t miss." Napoli caught in 72 games for the Rangers last year, but the Red Sox signed him to an incentive-laden one-year deal for 2013 with the plan that he would play first base, where, Silverman writes, he has looked "nimble and sure-handed" this spring.
  • The Dodgers "do not appear close" to trading one of their starting pitchers, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Since the Dodgers cannot ship Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano or Ted Lilly to the minors without those players' consent, teams may simply wait for the Dodgers, who don't have roster space for all their starting pitching, to become more desperate. The Orioles, Brewers and Pirates "have expressed interest" in the Dodgers' surplus arms, Shaikin notes, but the Rangers are not a likely trade partner.

Quick Hits: Rivera, Jeter, Orioles, Harang

GM Brian Cashman explains how the Yankees nearly traded Mariano Rivera for shortstop Felix Fermin in spring of 1996, as noted by Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. To describe the deal as "franchise-altering" would be an enormous understatement, since it would have affected not only Rivera but also then-rookie Derek Jeter.

Cashman, then an assistant GM, says that then-owner George Steinbrenner was concerned about entrusting Jeter with the starting shortstop job, and "it was a fight to convince The Boss to stand down" and avoid trading Rivera or Bob Wickman to the Mariners for Fermin. "And it wasn't because we knew what we had in Mo or Wickman," Cashman says. "It was, we had committed to go with young Jeter, and thankfully we didn't do that deal." As it turned out, Jeter won the 1996 AL Rookie of the Year award, Rivera finished third in Cy Young balloting, and the Yankees won their first World Series title since 1978. The Mariners, meanwhile, released Fermin in April, and he only ended up posting 19 more plate appearances in the majors. Here are more notes from throughout baseball.


Brewers, Orioles Eyeing Harang

Scouts from the Brewers and Orioles watched as Aaron Harang pitched in a minor league game today, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Harang, who doesn’t have a clear role on the Dodgers’ pitching staff at this point, pitched three scoreless innings. The 34-year-old appears to be a likely trade candidate given his team’s pitching depth.

Harang started 31 games for the Dodgers last year, posting a 3.61 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in 179 2/3 innings. The 34-year-old will earn $7MM in 2013 and his contract includes a $7MM mutual option with a $2MM buyout for 2014. 

The Brewers and Orioles have relatively young rotations that include considerable uncertainty, so it’s not surprising to see these clubs linked to Harang. Both Milwaukee and Baltimore expressed interest in free agent starters this winter but ultimately stuck with mostly internal options. Teams such as the Indians, Twins, Pirates and Mets were linked to Harang earlier this offseason.



Los Angeles Notes: Dodgers, Harang, Angels

Mike Hampton, a left-handed starter who accumulated 148 wins over 16 big league seasons, is returning to baseball as a pitching coach in the Angels minor league system.  MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes that Hampton will join the staff of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers.  Here's more on the Halos, as well as their NL counterparts in Los Angeles:

  • Manager Don Mattingly did not see Aaron Harang as an option for the Dodgers' bullpen even before the righty's rough outing today, and that could make Harang a trade candidate, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports. “Harang doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that pitches out of the pen,” says Mattingly. “To me he’s more of a guy that paints. He keeps you in the game. He’s just not that guy that’s going in and overpower you.”  After the acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, the Dodgers have a surplus of starting pitching.  
  • Mattingly could see other starters (like Chris Capuano, who has also been pushed down the rotation depth chart), in bullpen roles, A.J. Cassavell of MLB.com explains.
  • With Harang and the rest of the Dodgers' rotation candidates (excluding Ryu) out of minor-league options, and with the bullpen seemingly an unlikely landing spot, the veteran seems aware that his time in Los Angeles could soon end, reports Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times "There's all sorts of scenarios out there right now, and if guys are traded, we're all starters," said Harang.  He went on to explain that he had to maintain the mental approach of a starter: "If we do get sent somewhere else and they want us to be a starter, we can't have the mind-set of, 'Oh I'm going to be a reliever now.' "
  • Former Nationals closer Chad Cordero, on the comeback trail with the Angels after nearly two years away from the game, aspires to return to closing, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com writes. Cordero's infant daughter died in 2010, and the Blue Jays released him in May 2011. Cordero, who's still only 30, last pitched in the majors with the Mariners in 2010.
  • While there is some history for pre-arbitration players coming off of outstanding years to receive salaries substantially greater than league minimum, Mike Trout has little leverage, writes Jeff Fletcher of The Orange County Register.  Fletcher goes on to note that "there doesn't seem to be much incentive on either side" to explore a long-term extension at the moment, with the Angels having "enough money that they can afford to wait on Trout" to ensure that "he is as good as his first year showed."  For his part, Trout stated that he is "not even thinking about that now."

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


Dodgers Notes: Capuano, Harang, Mattingly, Beckett

Yesterday, we learned that Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw doesn't want to have extension talks during the season.  It could cost the Dodgers upwards of $200MM to lock him up for the long term, but we know that the Dodgers aren't shy about spending.  Here's more out of Los Angeles..

  • Starter Chris Capuano hasn't asked for a trade even though he's one of eight starting pitchers looking for a rotation spot and may not make the cut, writes MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.  The veteran knows that he may wind up being moved thanks to the starter surplus but also won't rule out a move to the bullpen in order to stay in Los Angeles.  Aaron Harang, who is in a similar spot, says that he hasn't considered becoming a reliever in 2013.
  • Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly says that he won't let his contract status become a distraction for him in 2013, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.  Mattingly is entering the third and final season of his deal and his request at the end of last year to have his 2014 option be guaranteed was declined.
  • Mid-season acquisition Josh Beckett says that despite what someone believe, he enjoyed his time in Boston, Richard Justice of MLB.com writes.  At the same time, he is looking forward to being a part of the reloaded Dodgers.

Rosenthal On Lohse, Prado, Porcello, Padres

The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

  • Though Brewers owner Mark Attanasio recently said “there’s always a chance” that Kyle Lohse could end up in Milwaukee, Rosenthal suggests the free agent right-hander will likely sign elsewhere. The Brewers are reluctant to surrender the 17th overall selection in the upcoming draft in addition to the corresponding slot money. Lohse, the top starter remaining in free agency, has been linked to draft pick compensation since he turned down the Cardinals’ qualifying offer. 
  • Martin Prado’s bat might seem suited for second base, but Aaron Hill is already established at the position. It won’t be an issue, since the Diamondbacks want to keep both Prado and Hill, according to Rosenthal. Both players are clients of The Legacy Agency.
  • Rick Porcello could benefit from pitching in front of a better infield defense, and he remains a potential trade target given Detroit’s starting pitching depth. However, some teams are concerned about Porcello’s low strikeout rate, struggles against left-handers and $5.1MM salary. If Porcello has a big year, he could obtain a substantial raise through arbitration leading up to the 2014 season.
  • The Padres are likely to pass on Porcello for more affordable starters. Rosenthal suggests San Diego could look to trade for pitchers such as Aaron Harang and Luke Hochevar in Spring Training.

Rosenthal On Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies

The Orioles showed serious interest in Justin Upton before talks with the Diamondbacks sputtered, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. Here are some more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • Rosenthal hears from one executive who expects the Padres to make another significant move. However, the Padres like their group of young starting pitchers and aren’t inclined to make a strong play for one of the remaining free agent starters. San Diego could still trade for a pitcher such as Rick Porcello, Luke Hochevar or Aaron Harang.
  • Talks about a deal involving Upton and Chase Headley didn’t progress, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Orioles continue seeking starting pitching and Joe Saunders remains a target. The Orioles also checked in on Porcello, according to Rosenthal.
  • Though the Orioles spoke with Lance Berkman before he signed with the Rangers, they weren’t interested in spending big for the switch-hitting DH.
  • Jeff Karstens, Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Jair Jurrjens are among the possibilities the Rockies are considering. The Rockies wouldn’t offer all of those pitchers Major League deals, however.
  • Rosenthal suggests free agent reliever Rafael Soriano could be a longshot for the Rockies. Colorado would have to surrender its second round draft pick to sign the Scott Boras client.
  • The Phillies continue seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder, Rosenthal reports. They’re still considering free agent Scott Hairston and trade candidates Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. It’s possible the Phillies will go with platoons in both corner outfield positions.

Mets Interested In Young, Marcum, Capuano, Harang

The Mets are exploring trades and contacting free agents as they look to add depth to a rotation that no longer includes R.A. Dickey, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. The Mets have reached out to many free agent starters, including Chris Young and Shaun Marcum. Davidoff reported yesterday that the Mets are also interested in free agents Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano.

The Mets have interest in Dodgers starters Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, Davidoff reports (Twitter link). The Dodgers figure to trade at least one starting pitcher after signing Zack Greinke, so Capuano or Harang could be dealt. The Mets have engaged the Dodgers in trade talks about their starting pitching depth, according to the Post.

GM Sandy Alderson continues searching for a right-handed hitting outfielder, Davidoff writes. The Mets would prefer to add an outfielder capable of playing right field so they can move Lucas Duda to left. Scott Hairston and Cody Ross are potential targets for the Mets. However signing those players could be challenging, since the Mets have approximately $10MM to spend.


Rosenthal On Dodgers, Angels, Pirates, Indians

Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that all signs point to the Mets trading knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.  Here's more from Rosenthal's column..

  • Dodgers starters Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano are even more in play with the Pirates, Mariners, Twins, Blue Jays, and Indians among the teams checking in, major league sources tell Jon Paul Morosi.  The club began shopping Harang and Capuano at the winter meetings, anticipating that they would add at least two other starters, which turned out to be Zack Greinke and Ryu Hyun-Jin.
  • One rival executive predicts that the Angels will keep Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo while moving Vernon Wells.  The outfielder holds a no-trade clause and is owed $21MM in each of the next two seasons but probably can't bring the Angels the pitcher they need.
  • Joel Hanrahan has been linked to both the Tigers and Dodgers, but both clubs are wary of his salary, according to sources.  Hanrahan is projected to make $6.9MM in arbitration next season.
  • A source says that the Indians' four-player return for Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald won't deter them from moving right-hander Justin Masterson, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, or closer Chris Perez in the right deal,  Rival teams say the Tribe insisted upon major leaguers/major league ready pieces for Choo and they would presumably seek the same in return for their other veterans.

NL West Notes: Greinke, Dodgers, Padres

The defending World Series champions play in the NL West, but the Giants are not the ones making the biggest headlines. Here’s the latest from the division, starting in Los Angeles…

  • Barring something unexpected, the Dodgers are finished in the starting pitching market according to Olney (on Twitter).
  • Zack Greinke signed for $147MM over six years, and he could earn even more money by opting out three seasons from now, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains. The Dodgers awarded Greinke the opt-out as a compromise, as the right-hander initially sought a seven-year deal with a no-trade clause, Rosenthal reports.
  • One evaluator told ESPN.com's Buster Olney that the Giants are still a better team than the Dodgers despite Los Angeles' aggressive spending. The Dodgers have questions on the left side of the infield and might be vulnerable against left-handed pitching, Olney writes.
  • The Dodgers have discussed Kevin Youkilis and Anibal Sanchez, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. Sanchez may be more of a longshot given the Dodgers' internal rotation options. The team appears to have interest in dealing Aaron Harang, but Chris Capuano has drawn more trade interest, Knobler reports.
  • The Dodgers have talked to the Pirates about Capuano, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).
  • Rosenthal wonders if the Padres could be a fit for Edwin Jackson, but concludes that San Diego probably won’t sign the free agent right-hander if he’s positioned to command a four or five-year deal (Twitter links). Padres executives Josh Byrnes and A.J. Hinch previously worked with Jackson in Arizona.