Albert Pujols Rumors
Some links to tide you over until tonight's first pitch...
- The Mariners would have traded Michael Pineda to the Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie and another prospect,Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. One executive tells Elliott that “Toronto said no at Lawrie.”
- Angels first baseman Albert Pujols told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he's not going to lose his edge, even after signing a massive free agent contract. "I always have that chip on my shoulder, no matter what kind of success I've had," Pujols said. He added that he wouldn't be hurt if the Cardinals assigned his former number 5 to another player.
- Major League Baseball is on the cusp of a new era, Tom Verducci of SI.com writes. The sport is doing well thanks to extended labor peace and growing TV revenues.
- Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen expects big things from his third baseman, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post writes. "Hanley Ramirez has a chance to be MVP in this league," Guillen said.
Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke to GQ's Nathaniel Penn about a number of the team's recent moves (and non-moves) in this Q&A piece...
- Moreno isn't worried that he'll be paying Albert Pujols $30MM per season after he turns 40. “If he's healthy enough and he's playing for us, then I'm gonna just say, ‘Merry Christmas to all baseball fans,' because we get to see one of the best players of our generation coming to bat," Moreno said. The owner also noted that his wife played a role in the Pujols negotiations, as both she and Pujols' wife have ties to the Kansas City area.
- The Angels didn't investigate rumors that Pujols is older than his listed age. "Somebody starts checking on your age you start wondering, 'Do we really want to have a relationship like this?'", Moreno said.
- The Angels never bid on Carl Crawford during the 2010-11 offseason. Moreno stood by his criticism of Crawford's seven-year/$142MM contract with Boston since "I don't think anybody...was in the vicinity of that offer." In Pujols' case, however, the team felt comfortable signing him to a massive contract since the Halos had lots of new funds coming in via their new TV deal.
- "Still, I don't think in a perfect world we really thought Albert was going to be available," Moreno said. "They just won a championship in St. Louis, he had been there eleven years, and you think they're gonna make a deal."
- Moreno wasn't keen to discuss the firing of former GM Tony Reagins, saying "I just think what happens is over a period of time you don't think you're going in the direction you want to go." Moreno did hint that Reagins was fired due to the combination of the Halos missing the playoffs for the last two seasons and the thus-far disasterous results of team's deal for Vernon Wells.
- Speaking of that deal, Moreno said his team's baseball staff felt Mike Napoli's throwing arm wouldn't hold up for an entire season of catching and he was about to get too expensive for the team's liking through arbitration. Moreno praised Rangers manager Ron Washington's handling of Napoli and also noted "the book's not closed on Vernon, you know."
- The Angels didn't bid on Yu Darvish and Moreno said was never approached by his baseball staff about the Japanese right-hander, guessing it was due to the size of the required posting bid.
Here's the latest from the Big A...
- With the closer market quickly shrinking, Francisco Cordero could "fall in [the] Angels' laps," reports ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon.
- Albert Pujols will have trouble living up to his massive contract on the field, but Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times examines how Pujols' arrival has impacted ticket sales, merchandise sales and the overall value of the franchise.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez looks at what it might cost the Halos to lock up Dan Haren and Ervin Santana to contract extensions. The team has options on both pitchers ($15.5MM for Haren, $13MM for Santana) for 2013. Haren will be 32 in September and, as durable as Haren has been, I'd argue the Angels should wait until this season is through before exploring an extension. A source tells Gonzalez that the Angels haven't discussed a new contract with Santana yet.
- Also from Gonzalez, he reports that GM Jerry Dipoto declined to comment on the status of Erick Aybar's extension talks. LAA has already signed one infielder (Howie Kendrick) to a multiyear deal this week.
Time for some links from baseball's two West divisions...
- "I think so," said Dodgers GM Ned Colletti when asked if he was done with his free agent shopping, reports Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). They re-signed Mike MacDougal to a one-year deal today, the tenth free agent they've signed this winter.
- The Rangers continue to have dialogue about long-term contract extensions with core players like Ian Kinsler and Derek Holland, reports Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. "Our general feeling is to try not to negotiate during the year, but we've made exceptions," said GM Jon Daniels.
- Daniels also refused to comment about the Rangers' talks with Yu Darvish, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. "It's best for us to lay low," said the GM. "The less noise around that, the better."
- Athletics GM Billy Beane told MLB.com's Jane Lee that he has some interest in a few free agent outfielders, and he's also exploring trade possibilities (Twitter link). Bullpen help is another possibility, says Joe Stiglich of The Bay Area News Group (on Twitter).
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said they are "still keeping our ears open" regarding veteran starters even after signing Hisashi Iwakuma, reports Shannon Drayer of MyNorthwest.com (on Twitter).
- ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Twitter) that the union calculated the value of Albert Pujols' contract with the Angels at $246,841,811. Ronald Blum of the AP has a breakdown of the perks in the contract, such as a suite on road trips.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post has the details of Wil Nieves' minor league contract with the Rockies (on Twitter). The backstop will earn $700K in the majors and $14K per month in the minors. He's also been invited to Spring Training.
Going forward, Angels owner Arte Moreno has made it clear that he wants to leave baseball decisions up to the baseball department as opposed to manager Mike Scioscia. Here's a look at what the Halos might do next..
- The Angels are considering free agent closer Ryan Madson, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, in order to stay under the cap, the club would likely have to backload his contract. Madson's market has thinned out somewhat and nearly 32% of MLBTR readers polled believe that the right-hander will sign with the Angels.
- Speaking of backloaded deals, Heyman has more details on Albert Pujols' ten-year contract. Yesterday we learned that Pujols will earn $12MM in 2012 and $16MM in 2013. Heyman adds that the slugger will make $23MM, $24MM, $25MM, $26MM, $27MM, $28MM, $29MM and $30MM in the following years, according to sources.
- Every indication from the Halos suggests that they're willing to hold on to Mark Trumbo and Kendry Morales right now, but eventually they will have to move somebody, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. If Trumbo can play third base, Alberto Callaspo or Maicer Izturis could be expendable.
Between the Angels' big signings, the Rangers winning the Yu Darvish bidding, the Athletics' rebuilding, the Mariners' dabbling in the Prince Fielder derby and even the news that the Astros are coming in 2013, no division has generated more news than the AL West this offseason. Here's the latest...
- Albert Pujols will earn base salaries of $12MM in 2012 and $16MM in 2013, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Pujols' 10-year, $254MM contract with the Angels was backloaded so the Halos could afford to sign C.J. Wilson. As a result, Pujols will receive more than $30MM per year in the latter years of his deal. The contract's total value could be worth as much as $265MM should Pujols reach various incentive and milestone bonuses.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com names the contract between Pujols and the Angels as the transaction of the year. The trade that sent Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski to St. Louis for Colby Rasmus gets an honorable mention, as does the Tigers' trade for Doug Fister and the Phillies' trade for Hunter Pence.
- Athletics right-hander Grant Balfour is receiving trade interest, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The Australian has a 2.85 ERA and 266 strikeouts in 243 innings over the last four seasons and, if he remains with the A's, is a candidate to replace Andrew Bailey as Oakland's closer in 2012.
- The Rangers have re-signed Matt Kata to a minor league deal, reports Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The infielder spent last year with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate, posting an .832 OPS in 447 plate appearances. Kata has a career line of .239/.290/.370 in parts of five Major League seasons and last appeared in the majors with the Astros in 2009.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post
- Clubs have already started calling the Padres about Anthony Rizzo, and the Rays and Cubs are among those interested according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Rizzo could be on the market after Yonder Alonso joined San Diego in the Latos trade.
- Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports provided the details of the incentives in Albert Pujols' contract with the Angels (Twitter link). The slugger will get $3MM for his 3,000th career hit and $7MM for his 763rd career home run, which would break the all-time record. The soon-to-be 32-year-old currently has 2,073 hits and 445 homers.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti has restructured his front office slightly, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Vance Lovelace was promoted to director of professional personnel after serving as special assistant to the GM and director of pro scouting. Rick Ragazzo replaces Lovelace as director of pro scouting after serving as a special assistant to the GM.
- The Dodgers are still fighting with Hartford Life Insurance Co. over Paul Shuey's $3.25MM salary for the 2004 season, reports Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times. The team sued the insurance company in 2006, saying they didn't honor their claim when the right-hander did not pitch that season due to injury.
The Cardinals not only won the World Series, but they've also been named Baseball America's 2011 Organization Of The Year. This is the first time the St. Louis organization has taken top honors since Baseball America instituted the award in 1982.
Here's some other news from around the NL Central....
- The Pirates are talking to southpaw Jo-Jo Reyes about a minor league contract, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Twitter link). Reyes posted a 5.57 ERA in 29 games with the Blue Jays and Orioles in 2011 and was non-tendered by the O's earlier this week.
- The Astros will give several of their young arms a shot at the closer's job in Spring Training, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Houston also has Brandon Lyon returning to provide some veteran closing experience. Stay tuned to Closer News for the latest on the Astros' late-game situation.
- Yadier Molina's contract is up after 2012 and Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wonders if Molina's friendship with Albert Pujols could make the catcher less inclined to re-sign with the Cardinals. Molina would be one of the most-sought after members of the 2013 free agent class if he and the Cards don't agree on a new deal. Miklasz suggests the Angels could target Molina this winter if he hits free agency, but I'd think such a move would only happen if Chris Iannetta is a big disappointment behind the plate in Anaheim.
- Tony La Russa tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Pujols was "conflicted' about leaving the Cardinals to sign with the Angels. "I know it was a painful decision and it pains him now," La Russa said. "He deserves what he got. He earned it. There's no bad guy here." La Russa also felt the situation was "unavoidable" and that Pujols "was disappointed there wasn't more enthusiasm from the Cardinals" when the Angels and Marlins made big pushes to sign the superstar at the Winter Meetings.
Some links as Tuesday turns into Wednesday...
- The Red Sox have not yet made catcher and captain Jason Varitek a contract offer, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Boston added Kelly Shoppach to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway on Tuesday, a move that likely spelled the end of Varitek's time with the Sox.
- There are clubs with interest in trading for both Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey and others with interest in both Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado, but Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the Athletics and Braves are likely to deal their players separately to maximize the return. Rosenthal and Morosi note that the Braves and Orioles have discussed a deal that included both Jurrjens and Prado.
- Interest in free agent closer Francisco Cordero has slowed down, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). His market could hinge on how clubs fill their other roster holes.
- The Pirates still have interest in first baseman Derrek Lee even after trading for Casey McGehee, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (on Twitter). Bringing Lee back at first base would allow them to use McGehee at the hot corner with Pedro Alvarez.
- Heyman hears that the Angels put a deadline on their ten-year, $254MM offer to Albert Pujols (Twitter link). The deal did seem to come together very quickly Wednesday night into Thursday morning last week.
- The Rockies do have some money to spend according to Heyman (on Twitter). In addition to Carlos Beltran and Michael Cuddyer, they also have interest in Hiroki Kuroda, Joe Saunders, and various trade targets.
- Morosi says (on Twitter) that Andruw Jones could also be an option for the Rockies if Beltran and Cuddyer sign elsewhere.
- The Cardinals' interest in pitching upgrades is "understated," reports Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Both Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook remain on the trade block.
- The Yokohama Bay Stars have released right-hander Hiroki Sanada so that he may pursue a deal in MLB according to a report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. No teams bid on Sanada when he was posted last week.
- The Astros and Rays are possibilities for Ivan Rodriguez, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Though the Mets have discussed Rodriguez, they’re leaning toward relying on Mike Nickeas as their backup to starter Josh Thole.
- MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner says the Joint Drug Agreement should provide Ryan Braun with privacy and fair proceedings. “I urge all to reserve judgment on this matter until the JDA's process has played itself out," Weiner said in a statement.
"The city of St. Louis has absolutely been deceived," said Albert Pujols' wife Deidre today on the Greg & Sandi show this morning on 99.1 Joy FM in St. Louis (thanks to Drew Silva for the link). Deidre's thoughts on her husband's offseason...
- Deidre was confused that the Cardinals said they wanted Albert to be a Cardinal for life but only offered a five-year deal. She feels she and Albert have been given an unfair trial by the public, based on "deceiving numbers" in the media. She explained, "The offer that people have seen on television...had that offer been the one that was given to us with guarantee, we would have a bird on our back. It wasn't a guaranteed situation." Deidre also confirmed they turned down a larger offer in taking $254MM from the Angels. Marlins president David Samson told reporters they were at ten years and "a hair over $200MM," so it's unclear which team offered more than $254MM, if any.
- The Cardinals' ten-year, $210MM offer to Pujols included $30MM deferred without interest, tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Deidre may have been referring to the Cardinals' initial bid of five years and $130MM.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak commented on the negotiations to KFNS St. Louis. He also agreed that it's safe to assume his team will not be in on Prince Fielder.