A.J. Pierzynski Rumors
It's been relatively quiet for the American League Central so far today, but here are some late-night rumblings surrounding the division...
- The Twins are closing in on adding someone to give Trevor Plouffe competition at third base, writes 1500 ESPN's Phil Mackey. Twins GM Terry Ryan said that piece could be in place before the end of the Winter Meetings. Mackey writes that it's probably a solid glove at a reasonable salary, given the Twins' desire to spend nearly all of their offseason budget on the rotation.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn says the team is still actively pursuing A.J. Pierzynski, but he's comfortable with Tyler Flowers opening the season as the everyday catcher (Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reporting). Hahn says he'd be confident with Flowers and Hector Gimenez as the team's backstop tandem in 2013.
- Flowers was quite frank when talking to reporters, including Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com. He said flatly that he hopes Pierzynski will not be retained, though he hopes the best for his former teammate. Said Flowers: “I have no intentions of being a backup catcher the rest of my career. My career is getting shorter and shorter everyday that goes by. So I feel like I’d like the chance to be a starter.”
- Earlier today it was reported that Joe Blanton, Kevin Correia and Brett Myers are on the Twins' radar.
- At or near the top of Sandy Alderson's shopping list during the Winter Meetings is a catcher who can share the job with Josh Thole or even take it outright, says Mike Puma of the New York Post. If the team were to sign a free agent, the most likely scenario would be a right-handed hitter like Miguel Olivo, who could platoon with Thole. A.J. Pierzynski figures to be out of the Mets' price range, says Puma.
- The Mets have been underwhelmed by the offers they've received for R.A. Dickey so far, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino adds in a second tweet that the Mets genuinely don't seem to know whether they'll trade Dickey or extend him.
- While Mets GM Sandy Alderson acknowledges that Dickey's situation needs to be resolved, he says that resolution doesn't necessarily need to happen during the Winter Meetings, according to Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger.
- The Mets are a team whose direction this offseason has yet to be determined, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney in his Insider-only blog.
- One minority owner of the Mets has been accused of fraud, as a New York Times report details.
- The Yankees don't sound very interested in Mike Napoli or Pierzynski, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- The Mariners aren’t seriously interested in A.J. Pierzynski and the Yankees weren’t looking too closely at the free agent catcher before Martin agreed to sign in Pittsburgh, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). Heyman hears Pierzynski to the Dodgers is “not happening.” Heyman suggested yesterday that the Dodgers could have interest in Pierzynski.
- The Rockies seem confident that Ramon Hernandez will rebound in 2013, so they might not have interest in pursuing veteran catching depth, Troy Renck of the Denver Post writes (on Twitter).
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.