A.J. Pierzynski Rumors
Several player agents tell Larry Stone of the Seattle Times that the Mariners' chances of attracting free agent hitters have improved now that Safeco Field's fences are being moved in. That said, while the shorter fences will help, "players look at all of those factors, but in the end, it still comes down to where they can get the best contract. And it always will," one agent says.
Here are some items from a very busy day in baseball....
- The Dodgers met with Zack Greinke on Thursday, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.
- In an interview with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities radio (via Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN), Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said his team will likely pursue free agents over trades at the Winter Meetings. "We probably don't have a lot of pieces that we do have to trade for starting pitching [with Denard Span now gone]," Antony said. "We'll probably be a little more aggressive and spend our time at the winter meetings talking to agents rather than clubs."
- Russell Martin said the Yankees told him they didn't have the money available to match Pittsburgh's two-year/$17MM offer, reports David Waldstein of the New York Times. The Yankees didn't make Martin an offer and have yet to make any offers to position players this offseason, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (both links are to Twitter).
- The Yankees aren't likely to pursue either A.J. Pierzynski or Mike Napoli, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York.
- The Pirates considered pursuing Napoli but didn't think he could stay healthy and effective as a full-time catcher in the NL, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Royals offered Ryan Dempster a two-year, $26MM contract but are no longer bidding on the Canadian right-hander now that his price tag has risen, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. At least six teams besides Kansas City have been connected to Dempster this offseason.
- Also from Dutton, the Royals offered Scott Feldman a one-year, $4.5MM deal before the righty agreed to a one-year, $6MM contract with the Cubs earlier this week.
- MLB.com's John Schlegel lists 10 potential bargain signings on the free agent market.
- The week's minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Mel Antonen (Twitter link) that negotiations with Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders have been a "little slow" to develop.
White Sox GM Rick Hahn covered a number of topics during a conference call with reporters today. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune has the highlights...
- Hahn has been talking to the representatives for A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis, and believes the markets for both players will come into focus once other catchers and third basemen sign contracts. The free agent catching market lost a notable name today when Russell Martin agreed to a two-year/$17MM deal with the Pirates.
- The White Sox are prepared to address their hole at third base if Youkilis leaves, though they could do that via an internal option. "While figuring out what we're going to do at third base is a priority, it’s not necessarily one that’s going to mandate an acquisition from outside the organization," Hahn said.
- Gordon Beckham told Gonzales last week that the club hadn't approached him about becoming a third baseman, and Hahn didn't seem overly enthusiastic about the idea though he didn't rule it out.
- In regards to the White Sox payroll, "There is a little bit of room as we sit here today to maneuver, but to do anything described as major, we’d have to make another move elsewhere to free up some cash," Hahn said.
- Most teams contacting Chicago about trades have asked about their pitchers, so if the team did make a deal, Hahn said the Sox would likely move one of their arms. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported earlier tonight that Gavin Floyd the biggest trade candidate if the White Sox can find a cheaper pitcher to replace him in the rotation.
The Dodgers could potentially make a play for free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. L.A. general manager Ned Colletti almost signed Pierzynski as a free agent two years ago before the catcher re-signed with the White Sox, though the chances of Pierzynski signing with the Dodgers now is seen as "a remote possibility, at best" by some Dodgers people.
Pierzynski had new career highs in homers (27) and OPS (.827) in 2012, putting the veteran in good shape for a multiyear contract even though he turns 36 in December. While Pierzynski and the White Sox share some mutual interest in a new contract, it seems as if the two sides are ready to move on as Chicago has young catcher Tyler Flowers ready to take over behind the plate. That said, Pierzynski's departure also seemed imminent after the 2010 season before he re-upped with the White Sox.
If the Dodgers were to sign Pierzynski, it could make a trade candidate of current Los Angeles catcher A.J. Ellis, who had an impressive .270/.373/.414 slash line in 505 plate appearances last season. Ellis could become Pierzynski's backup, relegating incumbent backup Tim Federowicz back to the minors, but Ellis could also bring back a nice return in a trade given the thin catching market.
- It appears A.J. Pierzynski will play for a team other than the White Sox in 2013, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. While the sides are both interested in working out a new free agent contract, factors such as payroll space, timing and Tyler Flowers could mean Pierzynski signs elsewhere.
- The Rangers are considering Russell Martin, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). With Napoli on the open market, the Rangers are looking to free agency for potential replacements. Rival executives expect the Rangers to non-tender Geovany Soto, Olney reports. Back in August I explained why Soto could be non-tendered this offseason.
- Check out MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker for a detailed look at available catchers.
Here's the latest out of the Windy City from both the White Sox and the Cubs...
- The Sox are talking to Kevin Youkilis about returning to fill their hole at third base, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Phillies and Indians are also in the mix for Youkilis, who had his $13MM option for 2013 bought out by the White Sox for $1MM.
- Four rival executives name Gordon Beckham, Alejandro De Aza, Gavin Floyd and Dayan Viciedo as players the White Sox would be open to trading, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. If the Sox were looking for salary relief, two executives say that trading Alex Rios and the $26MM remaining on his contract will be much easier after Rios' strong 2012 season, though neither exec is certain that Rios is available.
- A.J. Pierzynski tells Dan Hayes that he is much more prepared for free agency now than he was in 2010. Pierzynski said he would like to return to the White Sox or possibly play for the Rays in his home state of Florida, though his childhood dream of playing for the Braves is unlikely with Brian McCann on board.
- The Cubs have reached out to Jeff Samardzija about a multiyear extension, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Samardzija, who enjoyed a breakout year in 2012 in his first season as a starting pitcher, is arb-eligible for the first time this winter and is under team control through 2015.
- The proposed trade between the Angels and Cubs and would've brought Dan Haren to Chicago indeed fell through due to the Cubs' concerns about Haren's recent injury history, reports CSNChicago.com's David Kaplan.
- Haren denied that he was injured in an e-mail to Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. “I’ve never missed any time because of injury other than the three weeks this year because of my back," Haren said. "When I came back, I had to be cleared by doctors, so obviously, I was healthy."
Here are some notes from around the AL Central...
- The White Sox won't make any qualifying offers to any of their remaining free agents, GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including Jim Margalus of the South Side Sox blog). Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Pierzynski and Brett Myers all weren't expected to receive the $13.3MM qualifying offers, though Hahn told all three players he would be interested in bringing them back to Chicago next season.
- In an interview with The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 radio, Hahn re-stated his interest in Youkilis. "He knows there is no confusion in his mind about our desire to bring him back. So we're going to stay on that, stay in communication," Hahn said. "It's not a great time to be a club in the free-agent market looking for a third baseman, the player pool is not real deep, so I expect Kevin will be popular, but we're going to be in on that until the end, I think."
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Don Kelly that the team was interested in re-signing him to a minor league contract, Kelly tells George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. Kelly elected to become a free agent when the Tigers outrighted him off the 40-man roster yesterday.
- With Jose Valverde on his way out of Detroit, Dombrowski and Jim Leyland hinted that rookie Bruce Rondon could be the Tigers' closer next season, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. The Venezuelan right-hander turns 22 in December and has a 2.53 ERA with 213 strikeouts in 196 minor league innings, though Rondon has only eight innings of experience above the Double-A level.
- The Royals' acquisition of Ervin Santana is "not a great trade," writes Rany Jazayerli of the Rany On The Royals blog, but he ultimately likes the move since it shows Kansas City is willing to make aggressive moves to upgrade their rotation and, even if Santana doesn't pan out, the Royals are only committed to him for one season.
The Rockies have six known candidates for their managerial vacancy in Jason Giambi, bench coach Tom Runnells, former shortstop Walt Weiss, Jerry Manuel, former Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, and current Diamondbacks bench coach Matt Williams. While they have expressed interest in Giants bench coach Ron Wotus, a major league source told Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post that the list is not likely to be expanded beyond those six. The source didn't completely rule out the possibility of more names being added, though Wotus hasn't had an interview scheduled with the club. Here's more from around baseball..
- In a conference call with reporters, White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn said that the short length of Jake Peavy's deal was "absolutely key" in getting the deal done, writes Jim Margalus of South Side Sox. Hahn went on to reiterate that he hopes to have Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Pierzynski, and Brett Myers back with the club in 2013.
- After acquiring reliever Heath Bell and shortstop Cliff Pennington, the Diamondbacks don't have a lot of free agent needs this winter, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. General Manager Kevin Towers will now look to add a starting pitcher, left-handed reliever, and possibly a third baseman. Towers obviously isn't averse to trading and could go that route rather than looking to the open market.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker runs down this year's NPB free agents with possible major league interest. Relievers Kyuji Fujikawa and Hideki Okajima are already well-known but shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima and second baseman Kensuke Tanaka could also make the jump this winter. The Yankees won the rights to sign Nakajima last year but were unable to come to terms with him on a deal. Tanaka appears to be a prototypical small-ball player and is reportedly willing to take a minor league deal.
- Reds pitching coach Bryan Price has withdrawn his name from consideration for the Marlins' managerial vacancy, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Links for Saturday evening...
- Chris Kamka of CSNChicago.com looked at the best and worst trades Kenny Williams made as GM of the White Sox. Williams was recently promoted to vice president with Rick Hahn taking over as GM.
- CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff listed the five best top draft picks in Orioles' history, meaning 1978 second rounder Cal Ripken Jr. was ineligible.
- White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski says that he hasn't heard from the club as he is set to hit the open market, but a club source says Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf had lunch with Pierzynski after the season, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn says that he is going to take his time in talks with Pierzynski, Jake Peavy, or Kevin Youkilis.
- The Orioles are set to cut ties with former first-round pick Billy Rowell as he approaches minor league free agency, an industry source tells Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. Rowell, the ninth-overall selection in the 2006 draft, signed for a $2.1MM bonus but failed to advance beyond Double-A in his time with the O's.
- The Dodgers have hired Patrick Guerrero as their Latin American coordinator, a baseball source tells Ben Badler of Baseball America. Guerrero was let go by the Mariners earlier this month along with vice president of international scouting Bob Engle.
- Giants president Larry Baer isn't threatened by the prospect of the Dodgers spending wildly this winter, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Orioles are still waiting for Cuban defector Henry Urrutia to be able to report to Sarasota, Florida after signing with the club in July, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. The O's gave the 25-year-old outfielder a $778K signing bonus and he could begin his professional career at Double-A.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
Rick Hahn was officially introduced as the new White Sox general manager at a press conference today and addressed some hot stove topics with the media (including Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago and Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune).
- Hahn projected that the 2013 White Sox payroll should be "right in the same neighborhood" of the team's $97.67MM payroll from last season.
- The team has had "good talks back and forth already" with Jake Peavy's representatives. The Sox hold a $22MM option on Peavy for 2013 that they're expected to buy out for $4MM, and while Hahn left the door open for Peavy to return, the price tag may be too high. "I know Jake’s preference – which he hasn’t been shy about – is to be back here in Chicago," Hahn said. "And that’s always a good place to start. But there does come a point where there are certain opportunities elsewhere that don’t make sense for us to try to chase.”
- Hahn has spoken with A.J. Pierzynski's agent though there is "a good dialogue" between the two sides, Hahn noted that the team won't know their chances of bringing the veteran catcher back until the market develops.
- "Given the sort of shallowness of this year’s free agent market and the fact that there are some clubs with some money to spend, I’m not overly optimistic that we’re going to be huge players in free agency," Hahn said. “But at the same time, we’re going to be out there looking for values and certainly continue to talk to our guys and see if we can’t fit them in for next year, too.”
- While Hahn was considered for some other GM openings with other teams in recent years, "I don't feel I ever seriously got on the doorstep of leaving," he said (via Gonzales' Twitter account). Hahn was known to be a candidate for the Cubs' general manager opening last winter.
The White Sox will soon promote their top two baseball executives, Kenny Williams and Rick Hahn, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com confirmed today. Williams will become the team’s president and Hahn will be the general manager and the team’s primary baseball decision maker, as expected. Here’s the latest on three of the organization’s free agents...
- Catcher A.J. Pierzynski loves playing for the White Sox and is close with owner Jerry Reinsdorf. A two-year, $16MM contract could work for both sides, Heyman suggests.
- The White Sox will decline Jake Peavy’s $22MM option, but they hope to agree to terms on a new deal to keep the right-hander in Chicago, Heyman reports. Though there will be lots of competition for Peavy, Heyman guesses the White Sox will be able to re-sign him as long as they make a competitive offer.
- The White Sox plan to decline Kevin Youkilis’ $13MM option for 2013, Heyman reports. However, they loved having the third baseman on the roster this year, so Heyman suggests they’ll try to work out a two-year contract, perhaps in the $15MM range.