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The Cubs have the prospect depth necessary to acquire David Price from the Rays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and acquiring Price (and then extending him past 2015) is just the kind of big move Rosenthal feels the Cubs need to get them into contention sooner rather than later. Price is intrigued by the idea of playing in Chicago, friends of the southpaw say, and Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson was Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt.
Here’s some hot stove buzz from Rosenthal’s latest piece…
- The Athletics are getting calls about left-hander Tommy Milone, who lost his rotation job when Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. The 27-year-old Milone is controlled through 2017 and has a 3.84 ERA, 3.23 K/BB rate and 6.5 K/9 over 468 2/3 career innings, though his significant home/road splits could make some teams wary about his effectiveness outside of Oakland. The A’s aren’t too keen to move Milone since they value having rotation depth.
- The Phillies are willing to eat some money on their major veteran contracts in order “to effectively buy prospects” in trades, though with teams so hesitant to move their young talent, Philadelphia might be better served by just pursuing salary relief.
- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon “is generating little interest,” sources tell Rosenthal.
- Many of the would-be best trade chips on the White Sox aren’t producing, which could make it tough for the Pale Hose to make deadline deals. Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza, for instance, look more like non-tender candidates than valuable acquisitions in the view of one rival executive. John Danks might be the most attractive trade candidate on the Chicago roster, while the Sox might wait until the winter to explore dealing Alexei Ramirez when the trade market is more open.
- The Blue Jays‘ search for offense could be mitigated by the impending returns of Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie from the DL within the next week or two. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said yesterday that he was still looking to add a bat before the trade deadline.
- Eugenio Suarez has played well enough at shortstop that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski doesn’t think his team will look for an upgrade at the position before the deadline. Rosenthal notes that Suarez’s presence could create a bit of a logjam next season when Jose Iglesias returns from injury.
- The Tigers do have a need for more lineup balance, as the team is short on left-handed hitters.
- With so little prospect depth, Rosenthal thinks the Yankees‘ best trade strategy would be to offer salary relief for large contracts. In hindsight, Rosenthal writes, the Yankees might’ve been better off trading Robinson Cano for prospects last summer, even though being a deadline seller is unheard of for the always-contending Yankees.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alejandro De Aza | Alexei Ramirez | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | David Price | Detroit Tigers | Eugenio Suarez | Gordon Beckham | John Danks | Jonathan Papelbon | New York Yankees | Newsstand | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Tampa Bay Rays | Tommy Milone | Toronto Blue Jays
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton could wind up with the Red Sox. Marlins GM Dan Jennings swears up and down that Stanton isn't going anywhere and even if he was for sale, Boston would be one of many clubs in pursuit. If things suddenly changed and the Fish made Stanton available, Cafardo wonders if a package of Will Middlebrooks or Garin Cecchini plus Matt Barnes, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts could get a deal done. More from today's column:
- The Twins have some interest in White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who is getting interest even though he's not everything a club would want in a center fielder, leadoff type. Last season, De Aza slashed .264/.323/.405 with 17 homers in 675 plate appearances.
- Major league sources say the Tigers are still willing to listen to offers on Rick Porcello. While he has shown promise, Detroit would like a hurler with more consistency.
- The bidding for Ervin Santana has reportedly come down to the Orioles and Blue Jays. Cafardo hears the Rockies were also in it for some of the day while the Phillies did their due diligence but did not appear to be in the hunt.
- Bud Norris could be an alternative if Tommy Hunter can’t do the job as Orioles closer, but he also has trade interest and could have some appeal in the NL. For budgetary reasons, the O's probably wouldn't go for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, but it's possible if the Angelos family believes that they have a chance to win it all.
- One Red Sox player says that he's not crying for free agent Stephen Drew. “Why not accept a $14.1 million qualifying offer for one year?” the player said. “Is that a bad deal? That’s a lot of money. Stephen would be here playing with us by now if he’d done that.”
- Scouts are watching Orioles pitcher Zach Britton closely as he is out of options. Still only 26, Britton is still a pitcher scouts think they can salvage. The O's are aware of his value and the interest other clubs have, but could stash him in the bullpen if they can’t get good value for him.
Many have been quick to call Justin Masterson's reported three-year extension proposal to the Indians a bargain, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs takes a step back and wonders how benevolent Masterson is really being. Cameron admits that he, too, initially considered a three-year, $45MM or four-year, $60MM deal to be a huge value, but he looks at the cognitive bias of "anchoring," in which we subconsciously turn an initial price for one item into an anchor price for others. Cameron argues that rather than comparing Masterson to the statistically similar Homer Bailey, who signed away five free agent years for $95MM, we should look at Masterson's expected value over the next three to four years. Doing so presents the case that Masterson's offer is fair, but hardly a tremendous discount for Cleveland. He adds that the Indians aren't a club that can afford to pay market value for too many wins, so it may not be as much of a no-brainer as many initially believed.
More from the AL Central…
- While he's yet to determine if the Twins have placed a call, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN knows that White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza has quite a few fans in Minnesota's front office (Twitter link). De Aza would seem a peculiar fit for the Twins in my opinion, given the fact that he has just two years of team control and Minnesota has a number of young outfielders and outfield prospects.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that while he didn't look like a catcher trying to play third base in practice, that's exactly how Carlos Santana has looked thus far in Cactus League games. Hoynes describes his play as "stiff and uncomfortable," though he notes that Santana has had few chances to this point and could improve by playing consecutive games at the position. For the time being, it appears to be good news for Lonnie Chisenhall, as if Santana doesn't man third, he would DH and serve as a backup at first, catcher and occasionally third.
- Left-hander Blaine Hardy has gone from being released by the Royals last year to a minor league flier for the Tigers to a leading candidate to join Detroit's bullpen this season, writes James Schmel of MLive.com. Hardy posted a 1.67 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 between Double-A and Triple-A last season, serving as both a starter and reliever. He's allowed one hit in five innings this spring, catching the eye of manager Brad Ausmus and establishing himself as one of the top candidates to fill a long reliever role at the big league level.
It's still relatively early on in Spring Training, but the White Sox have already begun getting calls on outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). The two are battling for the everyday job in left field, as it 2013 trade acquisitions Adam Eaton and Avisail Garcia are likely to man center field and right field, respectively.
De Aza is the more established player of the two but also comes with less team control. Set to turn 30 in early April, De Aza has batted .279/.343/.420 in 357 games with the White Sox since being claimed off waivers from the Marlins in 2009. The lefty swinger belted a career-high 17 homers last season and has stolen 46 bases over the past two seasons. Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as an average defender in the outfield, though Defensive Runs Saved feels he's somewhat below average. He has extensive experience in center field and also played 426 innings in left field for the Sox last season. De Aza is under team control for two more seasons and will earn $4.25MM in 2014.
Viciedo is the younger and more powerful of the two, but comes with question marks about his defense and on-base skills. Viciedo, who turns 25 on Monday, mashed 25 homers in his first full season with the Sox in 2012, posting a .255/.300/.444 triple-slash line. However, he wasn't able to match that power level in 2013, as he hit just 14 homers with a .265/.304/.426 slash line. UZR/150 pegs him at -5.5 over his career in left field, while DRS has him at -3. Both metrics agree that his glove worsened in 2013. As a Super Two player, he'll earn $2.8MM in 2014 and is controllable through the 2017 season.
De Aza would seem to be a natural fit with the Tigers, who recently learned that they'll be without Andy Dirks for roughly three months due to back surgery. His left-handed bat would pair well with Rajai Davis to form a left field platoon, which was supposed to be the role filled by Dirks. With an extra year of team control, he could potentially fill Torii Hunter's spot in 2015 if Hunter signs elsewhere and the Tigers don't find a suitable replacement on the free agent or trade market. Of course, this is all purely speculation on my part, and the White Sox and Tigers may prefer not to swing a trade within their own division. Other teams that could use an upgrade in the outfield include the Orioles, Mariners and Pirates, to name a few.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Al Alburquerque | Alejandro De Aza | Alexi Ogando | Alfredo Simon | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Bobby Parnell | Boston Red Sox | Brandon Moss | Brett Cecil | Brian Duensing | Brian Matusz | Chicago Cubs | Chris Johnson | Cincinnati Reds | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Craig Gentry | Detroit Tigers | Dillon Gee | Drew Storen | Drew Stubbs | Emilio Bonifacio | Eric Hosmer | Ernesto Frieri | Esmil Rogers | Gaby Sanchez | Gordon Beckham | Gregor Blanco | Houston Astros | Ivan Nova | Jake McGee | James Russell | Jason Castro | Jeremy Hellickson | Jerry Blevins | Jesus Guzman | Joe Thatcher | John Mayberry Jr. | Jon Jay | Jonathan Herrera | Jordan Schafer | Jose Lobaton | Juan Francisco | Juan Nicasio | Junichi Tazawa | Kansas City Royals | Kyle Blanks | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Luis Valbuena | Marc Rzepczynski | Mark Melancon | Matt Joyce | Miami Marlins | Mike Dunn | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Neftali Feliz | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Pedro Alvarez | Pedro Strop | Peter Bourjos | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Sean Rodriguez | Shawn Kelley | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Tommy Hunter | Tony Abreu | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Trevor Plouffe | Troy Patton | Vin Mazzaro | Washington Nationals | Wilson Ramos | Yusmeiro Petit
Let's run through some late-night Central links …
- A Twins official tells LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune that the club is "not sure" about whether it will sign another starter after agreeing to terms on a new deal with Mike Pelfrey. "Maybe if it makes sense," the official said. "We still have some things to address." Minnesota reportedly has strong interest in Bronson Arroyo.
- While the Indians have been quiet so far this winter, the club's biggest moves last offseason didn't come until after the Winter Meetings, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes in a reader mailbag column. The Nick Swisher deal was announced in January, while Michael Bourn wasn't signed until February.
- White Sox Manager Robin Ventura says he's excited to see what new acquisitions Adam Eaton and Jose Dariel Abreu bring to the club's lineup, which should look different in 2014, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. GM Rick Hahn has indicated the Sox still need to decide whether to try and swap outfielders Alejandro De Aza and Dayan Viciedo for help at third base and catcher.
- Charlie Morton tells Jim Lachimia of MLB.com that his confidence in the Pirates organization was the biggest factor in agreeing to sign a three-year, $21MM extension earlier this week.
- Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review doesn't expect the Pirates to open 2014 with Gaby Sanchez as their full-time first baseman, noting his struggles with right-handed pitching (career .700 OPS). While some fans have been frustrated to watch the Pirates stand pat as names such as Mike Morse and James Loney come off the board, Starkey says the club's front office has earned trust after its recent run of success with free agent signings.
Here are some quick notes from around the Central divisions.
- Bronson Arroyo's agent, Terry Bross, says he expects the Reds to make an offer to re-sign his client, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. That leads Rosenthal to wonder whether the Reds might deal a starter, even though GM Walt Jocketty has said they would not trade Homer Bailey, who will be a free agent after the season (Twitter links).
- The Twins do not have a pending offer to Arroyo or Johan Santana, tweets 1500ESPN's Darren Wolfson. They have made an offer to re-sign starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger tweets. Pelfrey posted a 5.19 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for the Twins in 2013.
- The Cardinals, who have already acquired Jhonny Peralta and Peter Bourjos, aren't likely to be big players in the Winter Meetings, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch tweets. "We’re fishing is in the shallow end," GM John Mozeliak says.
- Now that they've acquired Adam Eaton, the White Sox will listen to offers on fellow outfielder Alejandro De Aza, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). The Giants have already asked about De Aza, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The Indians would like to re-sign pitcher Tyler Cloyd to a minor-league deal, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets.
The White Sox will have a lot of holes to fill this offseason, and Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the they're expected to push hard for free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson. The connection makes sense not only based on team needs but because Granderson is an Illinois native who played college ball at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Granderson recently donated a new baseball facility to UIC, and that facility is roughly three miles from U.S. Cellular Field, writes Van Schouwen.
Granderson, who turns 33 next March, played in just 61 games this season due to a pair of fluke injuries. He suffered a fractured forearm when he was hit by a pitch in his first Spring Training plate appearance, and another HBP broke his pinkie finger in just his eighth game of the regular season. That fracture wound up requiring surgery that would sideline Granderson until Aug. 2.
When on the field, Granderson hit .229/.317/.407 — a noticeable decline the robust .247/.342/.522 he slashed from 2011-12. However, hand and forearm injuries have been known to diminish offensive output upon initial return, and it's not as if U.S. Cellular Field is a pitcher-friendly stadium that would cause Granderson's power to greatly decline. White Sox GM Rick Hahn would have good reason to believe that Granderson could return to form were he to sign with the South-Siders this winter.
A serious pursuit of Granderson would likely mean that the Sox view Alejandro De Aza as a fourth outfielder or as trade bait, notes Van Schouwen. I would imagine that coming off a .264/.323/.405 season with 17 homers and 20 steals, Hahn would be able to find some interest, even if advanced defensive metrics didn't care for De Aza's glove work.
Granderson will be one of the main beneficiaries of Hunter Pence's lofty five-year, $90MM extension this offseason. Not only did Pence's deal set a high precedent for corner outfielders, it also removed one of Granderson's main competitors from the free agent market before the season even ended. Granderson and agent Matt Brown will still have to contend with the likes of Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran and perhaps Nelson Cruz, who is expected to receive a qualifying offer from the Rangers. I profiled Granderson's free agent case last month and estimated that he could fetch three years and $45MM based on his track record, though that was before Pence's contract was signed. Granderson said recently that his preference is to stay with the Yankees, but it remains to be seen if they will make a serious push to retain him as they attempt to lower payroll.
Also within Van Schouwen's piece, he reminds us that the Sox are keeping tabs on Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu. Former GM and current VP Kenny Williams was on-hand for the 26-year-old first baseman's two-day showcase in the Dominican Republic. Abreu would fit Hahn's desire for "long-term, sustainable success," but he's being pursued by numerous clubs and is expected to command a hefty price tag.
The price tag will be key in the pursuit of both free agents, as Van Schouwen's source admitted: "[Granderson's] a Chicago kid with a name on the back of the jersey to create a buzz. Are they going to come up with the cash? I don’t see that happening."
One thing the White Sox do have going in their favor is their protected pick in the 2014 draft. The Sox, who select third overall in 2014, would only have to forfeit their second-round selection to sign Granderson. That could make them more willing to spend than teams who would be forced to surrender their top pick.
For some fascinating reading this Saturday morning, check out Jonah Keri of Grantland's in-depth base-stealing discussion with Coco Crisp. I found the portion involving southpaw tells to be particularly interesting (look for the clip of Crisp stealing off of Brian Matus). Back to the transactional side of the game, here are a few assorted links:
- Former Mariners and Reds outfielder Wladimir Balentien has turned into a star in Japan, where he is currently sitting three long balls back of the single-season record of 55 first reached by the legendary Sadaharu Oh back in 1964. With a slugging percentage north of .800, the 29-year-old might have drawn big league interest. Balentien, however, is in the first year of a three-year, $7.5MM deal with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows that does not contain an opt-out clause, according to a recent report from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
- High-priced Mets reliever Frank Francisco is moving through the minor leagues on a rehab assignment, but may nevertheless be released upon his activation, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rather than attempting to salvage some value from Francisco's cringe-worthy two-year, $12MM contract, the Mets — who obviously will not secure a post-season berth regardless — seem determined not to allow Francisco to put on a free agency showcase in a Mets uniform.
- Addressing a reader question, MLB.com's Scott Merkin took a look at the futures of shortstop Alexei Ramirez and outfielder Alejandro De Aza with the club. Merkin says that Ramirez — whose contract includes $19.5MM for the next two years and a $10MM ($1MM buyout) club option for 2016 — would bring a "solid return" in a trade but figures to stick in Chicago. With his home run tallies dwindling to a trickle, Ramirez's deal does not seem to be any kind of bargain, though perhaps positional scarcity around the league increases its value.
- As for De Aza, Merkin argues that poor baserunning and defense make him more likely to find himself out of the team's plans, especially as he is set to earn a raise on his $2.075MM salary as he enters his second year of arbitration eligibility. While De Aza looks at first glance to be a solid regular at low cost, there seems to be an interesting split on the value of his contribution this year. Fangraphs credits De Aza with 2.2 WAR on the season, while Baseball-Reference pegs him at just .1 WAR based on an exceedingly poor defensive rating. In 2011 and 2012, both sites viewed him as an approximately 2.5 win player. Whatever his actual value, the Sox would presumably be able to get a reasonable return if they made De Aza available via trade.
- The Angels are working towards a long-term deal with the city of Anaheim, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The current proposal would allow the team to drop the appendage "of Anaheim" from its name, and and would see the Angels pay to renovate Angels Stadium in exchange for beneficial land lease and development rights surrounding the ballpark.
11:10pm: The Rangers are not currently pursuing De Aza, Morosi tweets.
7:17pm: The Rangers have also set their sights on Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, and Mariners designated hitter Kendrys Morales to fill a need for a right-handed bat, baseball sources tell Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram. Unlike Rios, Pence and Morales are only signed through the remainder of this season. It's also worth noting that while the White Sox are sure to be sellers, that's not the case with San Francisco or Seattle.
4:01pm: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Rangers are also interested in Alejandro De Aza. The 29-year-old De Aza is hitting .275/.332/.437 with 12 homers and 11 steals. He is controlled through the 2015 season and will be arbitration-eligible for the second time this offseason after earning $2.08MM in 2013.
Since the Garza trade, reports have indicated that the Rangers are in the market to add another hitter (Todd Wills of ESPNDallas.com reporting). Rios is of particular interest to the Rangers because of their fear that Nelson Cruz could receive a suspension similar to the one Ryan Braun received on Monday. Rios would also provide GM Jon Daniels with a solution to right field in 2014, should Cruz sign elsewhere as a free agent.
Rios, 32, is batting .278/.333/.442 with 12 homers and 21 stolen bases on the season to go along with solid defense in right field. He's capable of playing center in a pinch (he hasn't played there regularly since 2011) and is earning $12.5MM in both 2013 and 2014. His contract also contains a club option for $13.5MM with a $1MM buyout. He's also drawn interest from the Red Sox and the Pirates, among other teams.