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A.J. Pierzynski Rumors
ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with Twins first baseman Joe Mauer about the transition from catching everyday to becoming a regular first baseman. Stark also spoke with several instructors around Twins camp, including Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and three-time All-Star Terry Steinbach, about the changes facing Mauer and what can be expected of him going forward. Stark puts Mauer's transition into some surprising historical context, noting that Joe Torre is the only player in Major League history to log 300+ games at another position after catching his 900th game. Mauer has some experience at first, having started 54 games there over the past few seasons, but admits that those games aren't the same: "You know, the last few seasons, when I’d get out there, it was kind of a day off from catching, and it was kind of like, go out there and do your best. But now, it’s your job. So you’d better do it right."
Here are some more Twins links for your Thursday afternoon…
- Agent Damon Lapa, who represents second baseman Brian Dozier and right-hander Kevin Correia, is expected to be in Twins camp this weekend and will have informal extension discussions with assistant GM Rob Antony, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In a second tweet, Berardino quotes Dozier, who broke out in 2013 with a 3.8 rWAR/2.8 fWAR season, as saying: "The Twins have done it before. Those can benefit both sides. We're still open to the idea."
- While Spring Training has been kind to Chris Parmelee in the past, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger notes that this time around is quite a bit different for the former first-round pick. Parmelee is out of options and knows that with Mauer penciled in as the everyday first baseman and the corner outfield spots likely full, his role on the club could be diminished. Parmelee was one of the players that Tim Dierkes and I examined in today's post on AL Central players that are out of options.
- While much was made of the Twins' pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter, Antony tells Berardino that A.J. Pierzynski was "no doubt" the team's No. 1 catching target this offseason. Pierzynski himself said back in December that the Twins made him a two-year offer. Antony said he wouldn't rule out pursuing Pierzynski in the future and has no hard feelings that he didn't take Minnesota's recent offer: "I understand; he got a chance to join the world champs. A.J. is a competitor. I don't think it was an easy decision. He told a lot of people that: 'God, I would have loved to come back to Minnesota. This was a tough decision to make.'"
The latest out of the AL East as today's Winter Meetings news heats up…
- ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that the Rays are interested in Mitch Moreland of the Rangers and notes that a swap of Moreland and Matt Joyce is a possibility. That scenario hasn't gained much traction to this point, however, according to Stark (Twitter links).
- MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli was among the reporters to speak with Orioles manager Buck Showalter, and she reports that the O's aren't interested in Raul Ibanez but do have some interest in Gavin Floyd (Twitter link).
- Top Yankees prospects such as Tyler Austin, Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams have seen their stock fall precipitously in the past year, diminishing New York's ability to make trades, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. One Cubs official told Sherman, "The Yankees have no upper-level talent," when asked about potential trades between the two clubs.
- Also from Sherman's piece, right-hander Tommy Kahnle and lefty Fred Lewis are candidates to be selected in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. Kahnle was among the Yankees' most sought-after players in July trade talks but was left off the 40-man roster.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe spoke with A.J. Pierzynski, who told him that the Twins offered him a two-year deal to return to Minnesota, but he couldn't pass up on the opportunity to play for the Red Sox (Twitter link).
- Joh Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle spoke with a high-ranking Yankees official who told him there haven't been any discussions between the Yanks and Giants about New York's outfielders at the Winter Meetings (Twitter link).
The Red Sox have prioritized landing a catcher on a short-term deal this offseason so as not to block the paths of prospects Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, and they accomplished that goal by landing A.J. Pierzynski. Boston officially announced a one-year deal for Pierzynski today. Pierzynski, who is represented by agent Steve Hilliard of Octagon, will reportedly receive an $8.25MM guarantee on his one-year pact.
Terms are not yet known on Pierzynski's contract, but it's fair to suggest he could find two years with Carlos Ruiz getting three and Dioner Navarro getting two. Pierzynski, 37 later this month, signed a one-year deal with the Rangers last offseason and went on to hit .272/.297/.425 with 17 home runs in 529 plate appearances. As MLBTR's Steve Adams mentioned in Pierzynski's free agent profile, he offers good power for the position and has displayed perhaps the best durability behind the dish in baseball. Pierzynski will be paired with David Ross in Boston. The contract represents the first free agent deal of the offseason for the World Champion Red Sox, who still need to address first base at the least with Mike Napoli a free agent. The Twins and Blue Jays were reportedly among the other teams showing interest in Pierzynski this offseason.
Pierzynski is already the seventh catcher to sign a Major League deal, following Brian McCann (Yankees), Carlos Ruiz (Phillies), Dioner Navarro (Blue Jays), Jose Molina (Rays), Brayan Pena (Reds), and Francisco Pena (Royals). Saltalamacchia now appears the only starting option on the free agent market, though it's possible the newly non-tendered J.P. Arencibia could get significant playing time with a new team in 2014. In addition, the Reds seem likely to trade Ryan Hanigan.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the agreement. Sean McAdam of Comcast Sports Net New England reported that it was a one-year deal (via Twitter), and ESPN's Buster Olney reported the $8.25MM value (also on Twitter).
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Justin Morneau sounded certain in stating that he will one day return to the Twins in some capacity but acknowledged that it's not likely to be in 2014, writes Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Said Morneau: "There’s no saying I won’t be back in the future. You never know what the opportunity is going to be, whether it’s as a player, later, or as a coach, or someone who comes down to spring training. Whatever it is, it’s a different chapter, but [Minnesota] is something that will stick with me forever." Morneau made his first Twin Cities public appearance since being traded over the weekend, signing autographs and thanking fans for donating to a drive that raised more than 3,000 coats for the Salvation Army. Morneau told Miller that he's spoken recently with longtime teammate and friend Michael Cuddyer, who put in a good word for the Rockies. More on the Twins…
- The Twins have asked their newest acquisition, Ricky Nolasco, about his former catcher John Buck, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Twins have reportedly moved on from the Jarrod Saltalamacchia sweepstakes and will deploy Josmil Pinto as their primary catcher in 2014.
- Though Minnesota had just three arbitration eligible players this offseason (all of whom were tendered contracts), they could have as many as nine next winter, writes Berardino. Berardino looks at the potential arbitration classes for the next three offseasons, noting of course that not every player included on his lists will accumulate the necessary service time to reach arbitration.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted yesterday that age was a big factor for the Twins in signing Phil Hughes to a surprising three-year, $24MM contract. The Twins are hopeful that they can fix Hughes up and thereby make him an important piece of improved teams in 2015-16 while he's still in his prime years.
- The Twins were "a close second" in the bidding for A.J. Pierzynski, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (on Twitter). Pierzynski agreed to a one-year, $8.25MM contract with the Red Sox earlier today.
As many of the same teams appear to be in on both A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and several signings having left these two at the top of this year's remaining free agent catching crop, let's look at a few notes on the two backstops:
- The Twins are no longer pursuing Pierzynski, a major league official told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Minnesota has been heavily rumored to be chasing a veteran backstop after deciding to shift Joe Mauer to first. Recently, we had heard that the Twins were "making progress" on bringing Pierzynski back to Minnesota, but that appears no longer to be the case.
- Minnesota has also been rumored to be looking at Saltalamacchia, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that they are still in the mix. The other two front-runners for Salty are the Marlins and Red Sox, according to Jackson.
- Indeed, Miami recently made an offer to Saltalamacchia, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The terms of the offer are not known. As Rosenthal notes, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com previously reported that the Red Sox offered Saltalamacchia a two-year deal to return to Boston.
The Red Sox won a World Series last year thanks to their daring offseason gameplan. Will they break away from those habits going forward? “So far, I don’t think it’s been all that different,” Lucchino told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. “We still value the draft picks enormously and our behavior has shown that we still prefer shorter- to longer-term contracts and a presumption against really long-term contracts. A lot of things we did last year proved to be successful at least in the short term, and I think we’ll behave accordingly going forward.” Here's more from today's column..
- Trade talks for Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija have been going on and he could be on the move, but the Cubs’ preference would be to re-sign Samardzija and lock him in beyond 2015 and build their future around him, according to a major league source. The Cubs will continue to work on both fronts until an extension is reached or an extension proves to be improbable.
- The Rays, unsurprisingly, have gotten a number of inquiries on David Price. However, none of them have been strong enough to make Tampa Bay give serious consideration to parting with him.
- Moving Matt Kemp would require the Dodgers to eat some of the $128MM he's owed over the next six years. If L.A. knocks that down to $80-90MM, the market is expected to open up.
- The notion that A.J. Pierzynski is bad for a team is way off-base, according to one longtime teammate who said, “He may rub people the wrong way on other teams, but if he’s your teammate, he’s great. He’s tough, loyal, can call a game, and he can hit. I wish we had him back.”
- Daniel Bard's control issues have followed him into winter ball. The Cubs are expected to keep working with Bard, however, as they can give him a longer leash than the Red Sox did.
- Most teams, including the Brewers, want Corey Hart on a one-year deal. However, because there are a number of teams in on him, he might get two.
The Twins are "making progress" in their push to reunite with catcher A.J. Pierzynski, LaVelle 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.
The Tigers have interest in Brian Wilson as well as Joe Nathan, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. Wilson was terrific in 2013 after making his return from Tommy John surgery in late August, allowing one run in 13 2/3 late-season innings with the Dodgers and also pitching well in the playoffs. In late October, MLBTR's Steve Adams predicted Wilson would get a one-year, $8.5MM deal in free agency. Here's more from around the AL Central.
- The Royals would sacrifice their 2014 first-round pick for the right free agent, the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton reports. After winning 86 games in 2013, the Royals have the No. 19 pick in next year's draft. "It’s part of the evaluation process," says GM Dayton Moore. "[I]f a player really makes sense and can help us win, we’re not going to be overly concerned with that." Dutton notes that Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson, all of whom rejected qualifying offers, might be possibilities, since the Royals are looking for extra power in the outfield.
- The Twins are interested in signing catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who played in Minnesota from 1998 through 2003, writes CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. With Joe Mauer moving to first base, the Twins have an opening at catcher. Heyman reports that they would like to sign Pierzynski for one year, and it's probably unlikely any team would sign the soon-to-be-37-year-old Pierzynski for more than one year. Steve Adams predicts Pierzynski is in line for a one-year, $6.5MM deal.
The latest from the AL Central..
- Free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf had breakfast together at the GM Meetings in Orlando, Florida, but Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter) cautions not to read into it.
- The Indians aren't optimistic about their chances of re-signing Scott Kazmir this winter, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Tribe would be interested in a one-year deal for the left-hander but believe he's certain to have multi-year offers after resurrecting his career in Cleveland this past year, posting a 4.04 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
- The Royals would like to reunite with Carlos Beltran but they fear being outbid by large market clubs like the Yankees, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wonders if the Twins might give Bronson Arroyo a three-year deal to anchor their rotation. Meanwhile, sources tell Rosenthal the Giants are among the teams considering Arroyo, but they would prefer to strike a quick, affordable two-year deal for a No. 4 starter.
- The White Sox like Curtis Granderson, but they may feel that he's not worth the type of contract that he will command or losing a second-round pick, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
- Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer looks at some of the Indians' internal candidates that could help fill the void if Ubaldo Jimenez goes elsewhere. “I think Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, and Zach McAllister are capable of doing that,” said pitching coach Mickey Callaway. “But we need them to stay healthy and log innings like Ubaldo did the last two years.”
- Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press examines Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays as a possible trade target for the Twins.
- Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs tackles the question of whether the Tigers should trade Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello this winter. Yesterday, we learned that Detroit is open to dealing one or the other.
The Royals are among the clubs with interest in free agent pitcher Phil Hughes, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland knows Hughes well from his time spent with the Yankees and is a fan of his. A return to New York isn't in the cards as both sides recognize that a change of scenery would be best. The latest from the AL Central…
- With Ervin Santana looking for a $100MM contract, the Royals are prepared to move on to look for other pitching options, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes. Besides Hughes, the Royals also have interest in Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson. "We want a bat, but in our meetings, the main thing we talk about is finding someone to put between [James] Shields and [Jeremy] Guthrie," one Royals official said.
- In regards to those bats, Dutton says the Royals have interest in bringing Carlos Beltran back to Kansas City and maybe signing Rafael Furcal as a second baseman. Furcal may have enough suitors to remain at shortstop if he wants.
- A Twins source tells 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson that "we can only hope" on the possibility of A.J. Pierzynski signing with the team. Wolfson notes that Pierzynski might be more apt to sign with a contender, however. The Twins are rumored to be taking an interest in the catching market since Joe Mauer will be a full-time first baseman in 2014.
- With Rick Porcello reportedly being shopped, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wonders the Tigers and Twins could swing an intra-division trade.
- In his latest piece on fixing the Twins, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN looks at how much money Minnesota can spend this winter and how they can best allocate it.
- While the top catching option available (Brian McCann) could land a nine-figure deal, the White Sox appear to match up with free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Chicago would like an improvement behind the plate after neither Tyler Flowers nor Josh Phegley impressed last season.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post