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Adrian Gonzalez Rumors
Another round of interleague play begins tonight, so let’s take a look at some players who switched leagues last winter and are off to hot starts in 2011. Here are a few of the players thriving in new leagues – and what it cost to acquire them:
- Cliff Lee – It cost $120MM in guaranteed money and a first round pick for the Phillies to reacquire Lee. He has a 3.84 ERA with a 68K/13BB ratio through 58 2/3 innings.
- Adam Dunn – After a slow start, Dunn has been hitting like his usual self this month and now has a .203/.321/.368 line. He cost the White Sox $56MM and the 23rd overall selection in this year's draft.
- J.J. Putz – Putz, one of many relievers to sign multiyear deals last winter, is living up to Arizona's $10MM investment. He has a 2.12 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through 17 innings of work.
- Lance Berkman – Berkman wasn't out of the National League for long and he must be happy he's back. Though currently sidelined, the 35-year-old has a .349/.455/.683 line and is among the league leaders in many offensive categories. Well worth the Cards’ $8MM investment.
- Russell Martin – Easily one of the offseason's best bargains, Martin has a .268/.371/.480 line. Not only did he cost just $4MM, he's under team control in 2012.
- Jeff Francis – Francis has a 4.83 ERA with a 27K/10BB ratio through 54 innings and he cost just $2MM.
- Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzalez has a .314/.370/.560 line back in the American League, but he didn’t come cheap. The Padres obtained top pitching prospect Casey Kelly, former first rounder Reymond Fuentes and Anthony Rizzo, who is tearing through the Pacific Coast League. Rizzo has a .371/.443/.702 line through 174 plate appearances and it won't be long before he's making an impact at Petco Park.
- Shaun Marcum – Marcum is pitching better than ever for the Brewers and the Blue Jays are no doubt pleased with what 21-year-old Brett Lawrie’s doing to Triple-A pitching. The #40 prospect in the game, according to Baseball America, Lawrie has a .335/.395/.607 line with nine homers and as many steals.
- Matt Garza – Garza leads the National League with 11.0 K/9 and has a 3.72 ERA through 55 2/3 innings, though it took Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Robinson Chirinos, Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer to acquire him. We've all heard about Fuld’s hot start and Guyer homered in his first MLB game.
Some news items as Matt Kemp is once again a walkoff hero for the Dodgers…
- Ryan Braun and his agent, Nez Balelo, initially approached the Brewers about the long-term extension Braun signed with the team today, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “We didn’t have to do this and he didn’t have to do this,” said GM Doug Melvin. “Very rarely does it happen where a player understands a franchise and where he’s at, and where he wants to be in the future."
- ESPN's Keith Law discusses the Braun extension, Joe Mauer's future at catcher and several draft prospects in a chat with fans.
- Kyle Lohse is finally living up to his contract and helping the Cardinals' rotation survive without Adam Wainwright, writes Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- Ryan Franklin's recent criticism of St. Louis fans might ensure that this is his last year with the Cardinals, says ESPN Insider's Doug Mittler.
- How does Brandon Wood compare to other disappointing prospects? Baseball America's Ben Badler investigates (BA subscription required).
- Adrian Gonzalez talks to Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune about how the slugger is adjusting to the heightened expectations that come with playing for the Red Sox.
- Baseball America's Matt Eddy has this week's compilation of minor league transactions.
The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays today, so they have now won three consecutive games for the first time all season. Here's the latest on the Red Sox:
- Cork Gaines of Business Insider notes that the Red Sox saved $4.6MM by waiting until last week to extend Adrian Gonzalez. Because of the luxury tax, it would have been expensive for Boston to announce Gonzalez's extension much earlier.
- The Red Sox have only signed only player for more money than the $154MM they committed to Gonzalez: Manny Ramirez signed for $160MM as a free agent in 2000. Earlier today, Jim Callis of Baseball America dug up some old scouting reports on Ramirez, whose bat stood out, even as a high schooler.
- Manny went 13th overall to the Indians in the 1991 draft, which I took a closer look at last week.
- Marco Scutaro told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that he doesn't mind sitting more while the red-hot Jed Lowrie plays regularly. Lowrie and Jose Iglesias could push Scutaro out of Boston within the next year, but the Red Sox are likely glad to have him on the roster at this point.
- Be sure to check out Tim Dierkes' review of Boston's offseason.
Links for Sunday, as Grady Sizemore homers versus the Orioles in his return to the Indians' lineup….
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports explains why Adrian Gonzalez's contract extension makes sense for the Red Sox.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker takes a look back at his favorite offseason trades.
- The Padres have hired former Major League outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds as a professional scout, writes MLB.com's Corey Brock. Hammonds was the #4 overall pick in the 1992 draft by the Orioles and represented the Rockies in the 2000 All-Star Game in his best season.
- The Rays may add a bat to replace Manny Ramirez, but it likely won't happen anytime soon, reports Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Not only will the trade market develop as the season progresses, but the Rays should also have a better idea in a couple months whether they'll be buyers or sellers.
- The Brewers have signed Luis Figueroa to a minor league deal, tweets SI.com's Jon Heyman. The infielder has only seen 16 big league plate appearances, most recently in 2007, but hit .319/.354/.429 in nearly 500 Triple-A PAs last season.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider link) wonders if Jack Zduriencik and Felix Hernandez will be a part of the Mariners' next winning team.
- Adrian Gonzalez's extension with the Red Sox is another example of baseball's stars gravitating to a handful of high-payroll teams, writes Tim Sullivan of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer fields questions about Sizemore, Nick Johnson, and potential contract extensions in an Indians mailbag.
- The Rangers' rotation is holding its own without Cliff Lee so far, says Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.
The Red Sox finalized a contract extension with Adrian Gonzalez today, and while the deal was long-awaited, its completion still generated discussion about how the contract impacts Gonzalez, the Red Sox and some of the game's other top first basemen. Some of the more notable items…
- John Boggs, Gonzalez's agent, talks to WEEI.com's Alex Speier about the history of the negotations between the slugger and the Red Sox, how the deal was almost scuttled in December before Gonzalez was traded from the Padres, and how Boggs "aged a hundred years" when Gonzalez was hit by a C.C. Sabathia pitch last Sunday.
- In a separate post, Speier looks at Gonzalez's extension in the context of the biggest contracts ever. Boston officials note that the Sox have been willing to spend big on players before signing Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The Red Sox were prepared to commit over $20MM per season to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
- In a video report for FOXSports.com, Jon Paul Morosi said Gonzalez's deal "ratchets up the pressure" on Albert Pujols if the Cardinals slugger hopes to get a milestone free agent deal this winter. If Gonzalez has a better season than Pujols, then it will harder for Pujols and his agents to justify asking for a larger contract than the deal the Red Sox gave the younger Gonzalez.
- Morosi also says "it's possible" Boston could still be in the market for Pujols or Prince Fielder as a DH, as the Sox would part ways with David Ortiz. Pujols and Fielder have both said they want to continue playing first base, but Morosi notes that Victor Martinez and Adam Dunn said the same thing last winter before becoming the primary DH option for the Tigers and White Sox, respectively.
- The theory exists that Gonzalez and the Sox had this extension worked out months ago but waited until now to announce it so the club could avoid paying a luxury tax penalty. Morosi speculates that the new collective bargaining agreement might contain a later deadline than Opening Day for the luxury tax calculations since "the spirit of the law isn't being honored here."
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post
Gonzalez gets a $6MM signing bonus, $21MM per year from 2012-16 and $21.5MM in 2017 and 2018, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter links). The contract includes a partial no-trade clause, according to Olney. Gonzalez can block deals to two teams, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Those teams are prohibited from acquiring Gonzalez and flipping him to the Yankees.
It's the second nine-figure contract the Red Sox have agreed to since December (Carl Crawford signed for $142MM) and the second-biggest guarantee in franchise history. Only Manny Ramirez ($160MM, eight years) signed for more guaranteed money.
The Red Sox progressed toward an agreement with Gonzalez's agent, John Boggs, after acquiring the first baseman from the Padres in a December trade. The sides didn't finalize a deal and talks continued earlier in the spring. As Alex Speier of WEEI.com pointed out in December, the Red Sox may have waited to announce the deal because they save on the luxury tax by waiting.
Gonzalez underwent shoulder surgery in October, so the delay also gave Boston time to evaluate his health. The 28-year-old has a .268/.362/.439 line in 41 plate appearances so far, though his career line is a more robust .284/.368/.506.
The extension means Gonzalez won't hit free agency after the season, when Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder are expected to test the open market for the first time in their respective careers. Ryan Howard, who signed an extension with the Phillies last April, would have been eligible after 2011 as well.
The Red Sox should complete a seven-year extension worth $154MM or so with Adrian Gonzalez at some point in the next ten days, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reminds us. On a lighter note, Olney points out that Boston appears to be functioning despite a winless week for the Red Sox. Here are the rest of Olney’s rumors.
- Starlin Castro has “made the adjustment” to the big leagues and is no longer phased to be playing at the highest level, Cubs GM Jim Hendry says.
- Another young shortstop, Alcides Escobar of the Royals, may be the best defensive shortstop in the American League, according to at least one scout.
- Angels fans may not like hearing it, but one evaluator says that in sending Mike Napoli elsewhere they “traded a player who would've given them similar production to what they'll get out of Vernon Wells , except it'll cost them about $75 million more."
- Instead of delaying Michael Pineda’s service time and/or arbitration, the Mariners called him up to start the season in Seattle. "He earned the right to be on the club," GM Jack Zduriencik said. "We actually talked about calling him up last September."
Rangers GM Jon Daniels was in his first offseason on the job five years ago, though he made what is arguably his second most memorable trade to date. In December 2005, Daniels agreed to trade Adrian Gonzalez to the Padres as part of a three-player package for Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka. Gonzalez was only 23 at the time, but he had just completed his third year in Triple-A, hitting .338/.399/.561. Mark Teixeira, then 25, was coming off an All-Star season that saw him hit .301/.379/.575 with 43 homers. There didn't appear to be room for both.
Daniels spoke to WEEI.com's Alex Speier about the trade, admitting that they made the move to bolster their short-term playoff chances.
"Our error in that was not so much our evaluation of Adrian," Daniels said. "Our biggest miss in that situation was really our evaluation of our club, where we were competitively and in the division. We thought that there was a window there in ’05-’06 to really push. We won 89 games [in 2004], were a .500 club in ’05, hadn’t made too many changes. Our [front office] group came in in ’05. We probably tried to step on the gas before we were ready. Not probably – we did.”
Daniels added that other teams had inquired about Gonzalez before the trade went down, but Texas didn't project him to be the star-caliber player he's become. As funny as it sounds now, Daniels said the question then "was how much power" Adrian would provide. In the five years since the trade, only eight players have hit more homers than Gonzalez, who's been stuck in Petco Park. "Clearly, had we known [how good he'd become], we would have found a way to make it work," said Daniels.
Every GM that's been on the job long enough has horror stories. Brian Cashman traded a young Mike Lowell for three pitching prospects that contributed next to nothing at the big league level. Theo Epstein acquired an awful half-season of Eric Gagne for three young players, including David Murphy, who drove in the game-winning run against Epstein's Red Sox yesterday. Shin-Soo Choo was traded for Ben Broussard. The list goes on and on. Daniels made up for it less than two years later, when he made his best deal to date by acquiring five young players for Teixeira and Ron Mahay. That deal netted closer Neftali Feliz, shortstop Elvis Andrus, starting pitcher Matt Harrison, and catcher turned trade chip Jarrod Saltalamacchia. No one can win them all, but you'd like the losses to not include a player of Gonzalez's caliber.
Daisuke Matsuzaka joins a growing list of Japanese players who have made donations to fund disaster relief in their homeland. Dice-K donated $1MM to the Japanese Red Cross Society though the Red Sox Foundation, according to Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Here are a few other Sox-related notes:
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider-only link) expects the Red Sox and Adrian Gonzalez to get an extension done for the slugger in the second week of the season, sometime during the club's first homestand. Olney points out that it might be in Gonzalez's best interest to nudge the Sox toward finalizing a deal sooner rather than later, since his market value could be hurt by an injury.
- Boston optioned a handful of players to the minors today, including Scott Atchison and Ryan Kalish, as Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes.
- While the Sox still have a few pitchers whose Opening Day fates are in limbo, it doesn't sound like Tim Wakefield is among them. WEEI's Alex Speier has quotes from Terry Francona discussing how the skipper hopes to maximize Wakefield's effectiveness this year.
There are still no signs that the Padres are willing to trade Heath Bell before Opening Day, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Padres have started discussing an extension with their closer, who hopes to continue his career in San Diego. Here are the rest of Rosenthal’s rumors, including more on the Padres:
- The Mariners made a strong push for Adrian Gonzalez last Spring Training, according to Rosenthal.
- The Marlins aren’t likely to look outside of the organization for help if they demote Matt Dominguez, according to Rosenthal. Florida’s front office does not have much payroll flexibility.
- The Padres and A’s are looking for backup infielders who can play short. We heard over the weekend that the Padres are looking at Alberto Gonzalez and Robert Andino. Luis Hernandez of the Mets is also drawing trade interest, possibly from Oakland and San Diego.