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Alex Rodriguez Rumors
Though Bernie Williams hasn’t played in a Major League game since 2006, the longtime Yankees outfielder won’t officially hang up his glove until Friday, when he’ll sign his retirement papers prior to the Mets/Yankees game at Yankee Stadium. Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes that Williams is also scheduled to have his #51 retired by the Yankees later this season and be honored with a plaque in Monument Park. Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring, the team announced. Navarro has been frequently mentioned as a trade candidate since the Jays signed Russell Martin, and Navarro has himself said that he’d prefer an everyday role elsewhere, though he’s committed to the Jays. The veteran has received semi-regular playing time this season as Mark Buehrle‘s personal catcher and part-time DH duty.
- With Alex Rodriguez closing in on his 660th career home run and the $6MM contract bonus associated with tying Willie Mays’ mark, Ken Davidoff and Joel Sherman of the New York Post look at how the impending dispute between A-Rod and the Yankees will play out. It’s possible the arbitration hearing to decide the matter wouldn’t take place until the offseason, Davidoff/Sherman write, as “there is no reason to speed this case along, especially because neither the Yankees nor A-Rod seem anxious to mess with the positive vibe around the controversial slugger.”
- Outfielder Ramon Flores enjoyed a big Spring Training and he’s tearing up Triple-A pitching, yet as Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog writes, the Yankees don’t currently have a spot for him at the Major League level. New York would have to trade someone to create even a bench spot for Flores, and dealing Flores himself might not net a big return since he has no MLB experience.
- Hanley Ramirez has looked defensively shaky in his new left field role, yet Red Sox manager John Farrell told WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that he doesn’t plan on removing Ramirez for a better fielder in late-game situations. “I want to show him the confidence to bring him along….I think the benefit of not taking him out far outweighs, at least at this point and time, taking him out because of his continued growth and us showing faith in him in left field,” Farrell said. Needless to say, the Sox have a lot invested in Ramirez’s development as a left fielder since (at least for this season) they have nowhere else in the field to play him; Pablo Sandoval (3B), Xander Bogaerts (SS), David Ortiz (DH) and Mike Napoli (1B) are locked in at other possible positions.
We checked into the west earlier tonight; now, let’s look at the latest from the east:
- The Yankees are prepared to go to arbitration to avoid paying Alex Rodriguez any home run marketing bonuses, Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News report. Rodriguez is seeing plenty of plate appearances, and it is probably only a matter of time before the issue is triggered. New York will simply not declare any triggering home runs as milestones (click here for an explanation of how the contract works), leaving it up to Rodriguez and the union whether to file a grievance.
- The Red Sox‘ prescient pursuit of Mookie Betts in the 2011 draft is at least partially attributable to the concept of neuroscouting, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. To some extent, it seems, the club is still working to assess the merits of its neurological program, as well as to delineate between its scouting and development components. GM Ben Cherington explains the intuition that justifies the effort: “If you have that strength, then you might improve that. Hopefully we think we can improve it. But the player who starts with the advantage still probably has the advantage.”
- At the big league level, Cherington is trying to return the Red Sox to the depth it had in 2013, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. Protecting against (or avoiding) injury and underperformance are key goals, of course, and depth — as well as the intelligent deployment of it — can help to maximize productivity.
- The Braves‘ offseason was dedicated rather clearly to shedding salary and adding young pitching, with the notable exception of the signing of Nick Markakis. David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution looks at the reasoning, explaining that the team was motivated both by near-term and mid-term goals. At its most basic, there was simply a hole in right field that needed to be filled. But the organization also wanted to add a steady, veteran presence to the lineup and clubhouse over the next few years. “This guy’s a great leader and a great player,” said assistant GM John Coppolella. “We thought he fit us really well. We had a lot of inside information from Dave Trembley, who managed him when (Markakis) was a kid with the Orioles. … There isn’t anything wrong with this player, anything that he doesn’t do well. He’s a very good player who fits not only what we’re going through now as we try to remodel, but as we start getting to the playoffs and getting to the World Series, he will be a key part of that as well.”
The Yankees feel they have a strong case that the team should not be obligated to pay Alex Rodriguez for a series of home run milestone bonuses included in his deal with the club, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Rodriguez’s contract provides that he can earn $6MM for reaching each of five career home run tallies, starting with his 660th, but the club is said to have begun developing a legal strategy to avoid any such pay-outs.
The reason for the club’s confidence is apparent in the new details on those clauses provided in Heyman’s report. Rather than simply promising Rodriguez the sum if and when he hits the necessary home run, the language provides that the club need not “exercise its right to designate” a home run as a milestone if that “decision is made in good faith and in accordance with the intent of the parties.”
As I explained in detail a while back, it already was at least plausible to think that the Yankees could craft an argument that the marketing bonus pay-outs should be invalidated. That the actual deal language seems to contemplate scenarios where a bonus would not be paid would appear to lend significant credence to such an attempt. Of course, Rodriguez is also promised another $61MM for the next three seasons.
Of course, as Heyman notes, this matter is not likely to be resolved quietly unless the sides agree to some sort of settlement. Particularly given the contract’s reference to the “intent of the parties,” any kind of formal dispute would seem quite likely to involve testimony from Rodriguez, his agent at the time of the deal, Scott Boras, and top Yankees brass. Indeed, Heyman indicates that Rodriguez’s camp has already sought to engaged Boras regarding obtaining his testimony, with the super-agent rebuffing those initial advances. And, of course, the MLBPA would again be in a difficult position but would almost certainly seek to uphold the marketing provisions.
Adding to the complexities is the fact that Rodriguez apparently is not currently retaining an agent. Sources tell Heyman that Rodriguez has “parted ways” with Dan Lozano, the representative he had hired to replace Boras.
Red Sox manager John Farrell says the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Farrell added that Victorino is “full go,” indicating that only a setback could change those plans. With Hanley Ramirez the obvious starter in left field, that could mean Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will compete for the center field job. Others like Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt, and Daniel Nava appear thoroughly blocked in the outfield. Here’s more from the AL East.
- Dustin Pedroia is healthy and ready to go, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. My take: a healthy Pedroia means that Betts and Holt are also blocked in the infield. Should everybody remain healthy, some kind of trade looks all but inevitable. Several players like Betts, Castillo, and Holt still have options, so the club can stow some major league quality talent at Triple-A if necessary.
- The Rays lost great talent this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Executive Andrew Friedman tops the list of 13 impactful losses. His departure is mitigated by the presence of Matt Silverman. Rounding out the top five poignant losses include Ben Zobrist, Joe Maddon, Joel Peralta, and bench coach Dave Martinez.
- Blue Jays top draft pick Max Pentecost has undergone shoulder surgery, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure. Pentecost, a catcher, is expected to resume throwing in about three months.
- The Blue Jays continue to be faced with three big questions, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. They include the identity of their closer, second baseman, and fifth starter. Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez are expected to compete for ninth inning duties, although Sanchez could factor in the rotation battle too. Other candidates to start include Marco Estrada and prospect Daniel Norris. Second base will probably go to Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins, or prospect Devon Travis.
- The Yankees are right to allow beleaguered veteran Alex Rodriguez to attend camp, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It’s surprising to see other writers suggest the club swallow the $61MM remaining on Rodriguez’s contract without at least giving him a chance to provide some value. If he fails to remain healthy, the club can also recoup part of the money via insurance.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aaron Sanchez | Alex Rodriguez | Allen Craig | Boston Red Sox | Brett Cecil | Brock Holt | Daniel Nava | Daniel Norris | Dustin Pedroia | Maicer Izturis | Marco Estrada | Max Pentecost | Mookie Betts | New York Yankees | Rusney Castillo | Shane Victorino | Tampa Bay Rays | Toronto Blue Jays
It’s been a busy day around the AL East, as the Blue Jays made a pair of minor league signings, Dan Duquette spoke about his situation and other Orioles topics, and we collected some Rays notes. Here’s some more from around the division…
- The MLBPA would support Alex Rodriguez if the Yankees attempt to withhold his $6MM contract bonus for tying Willie Mays on the all-time homer list, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports. “The union would challenge any breach of contract with the union,” a source close to the MLBPA tells Martin. “A player can’t be punished again for something he’s already been punished for.” The MLBPA’s argument is that A-Rod is being further penalized for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal, while the Yankees intend to argue that the homer bonuses are based around marketing and Rodriguez’s diminished reputation around baseball has negated any celebration of the milestone.
- “In some ways, the importance of ‘No. 1 starters’ has been devalued by the sheer quality of arms, in general, in today’s run-squelching environment, and mid-inning matchup play has increased the prominence of the bullpens,” MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince writes in an examination of how the Red Sox may not need a proven ace atop their rotation. Boston could model itself after the Orioles, whose recent success has been based around defense, relief pitching and big hitting rather than a superb rotation. On the other hand, Castrovince notes that the Sox could make a move for an ace at midseason if necessary, or any of the Boston rotation could still emerge as a true frontline starter as the season develops.
- The Orioles are “leaning toward” extending a Spring Training invitation to left-hander Mark Hendrickson, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. The 40-year-old Hendrickson pitched for the O’s from 2009-11 and hasn’t appeared in the majors since, spending 2013 with the Orioles’ Triple-A team and 2014 in independent ball. Kubatko notes that the Orioles are interested in hiring Hendrickson as a pitching coach within the organization when he eventually retires.
Former Red Sox starter Bill Monbouquette passed away Sunday at age 78. The Massachusetts native tossed nearly 2,000 MLB frames, most of them with Boston, and notched a no-hitter in 1962. He was a three-time American League All-Star. MLBTR extends its sympathies to his family and friends.
Here are some recent notes from the AL East:
- We’ve already heard it suggested that the Yankees could seek to invalidate Alex Rodriguez‘s home run milestone bonus clause, and ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand now reports that the team is indeed attempting to craft a legal strategy to that end. If you are interested in thinking about what kinds of arguments the club might come up with, I addressed this very question in a series of posts last year regarding legal theories and remedies that teams could conceivably pursue against players suspended for PED use. The third part, in particular, covered A-Rod’s situation, while Part II (and, to a lesser extent, Part I) include useful background information.
- The Blue Jays and Orioles now seem destined to return to the status quo in their front offices, at least for the coming season, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that both sides made missteps in the recent run of Dan Duquette-to-Toronto rumors.
- For his part, once-and-still Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston says that he is glad to still be with the team and that it is time to move on, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Beeston added that he believes the ownership group would approve additional payroll if the club’s baseball leadership requests it.
- As for the Orioles, it is time for Duquette and the organization to begin the process of re-establishing trust and normalcy, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The sides were never close to agreeing on compensation, Connolly adds, and Baltimore is still keeping open the possibility of filing tampering charges against Toronto.
Mets majority owner Fred Wilpon is the new chairman of MLB’s finance committee, a move that was met with raised eyebrows given that he was a victim of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. However, that’s not a concern to commissioner Rob Manfred, as Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes. “I understand the whole Madoff thing,” Manfred said, “but before and since, Fred Wilpon was an extraordinarily successful businessman. The committee — the finance and compensation committee — really deals with two issues, principally: executive compensation, which he’s more than capable of dealing with, and a central office budget. Obviously, to be a successful businessman, you have to know how to budget.” More from the AL and NL East..
- The Rays are still likely to add a middle infielder and outfielder David DeJesus is still likely to be traded, but one or both pursuits could carry into spring training, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. DeJesus is owed $5MM this year with a $1MM buyout on a 2016 option, which makes him a reasonably priced target but also does not leave him with a ton of trade value.
- Alex Rodriguez offered to meet face-to-face with Yankees executives to apologize for his role in the Biogenesis scandal and clear the air before players report to Tampa next month, according to Teri Thompson, Bill Madden, and Michael O’Keeffe of the Daily News. However, the Yanks declined the invitation, which seems to indicate that the team is not ready to forgive and forget. Sources tell the Daily News trio that the next battle will be over the performance clauses in A-Rod’s deal which call for him to earn $6MM each time he ties a career home run milestone. Rodriguez needs just six more to tie Willie Mays’ 660 homers and earn a $6MM bonus.
- Some people have expressed concern about the Mets‘ shortstop position after the team was unable to find an upgrade this winter. However, Wilmer Flores insists that he’s ready and capable of filling the role. “I’m not going to say I don’t hear things,” Flores said, according to Marc Carig of Newsday. “But I try not to because I know what I can do, man. Honestly, I know what I can do.”
The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.
In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:
- It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
- The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
- Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
- Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
- Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Rodriguez | Baltimore Orioles | Ben Zobrist | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Dan Uggla | James Shields | Jonathan Papelbon | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | New York Yankees | Norichika Aoki | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
The Silver Shield Foundation, a charity established by the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, will pay for the education of the two children of slain NYPD officer Rafael Ramos, reports Bill Madden and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News. The foundation was started by Steinbrenner and former Olympian Jim Fuchs 32 years ago and, among other services (per the foundation’s website), pays for the education of the children of all members of the Fire Department of the City of New York; Police Department of the City of New York; Port Authority of New York/New Jersey Police Department; New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut State Police; police departments of Nassau and Suffolk Counties; and all police departments in Connecticut who died in the line of duty, as well as 700 children who lost a parent on September 11, 2001. Ramos was killed yesterday with his partner Wenjian Liu (who didn’t have any children) by a lone gunman in Brooklyn.
Here’s the latest news and notes from the American League East:
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has taken some huge gambles with his offseason moves (getting younger and stockpiling power arms) which belie the organization’s long held win-now, World Series or bust philosophy, opines Madden in a separate article.
- Scott Boras tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be ready by Opening Day. Earlier today, Cafardo reported there is no urgency on either side in negotiating an extension.
- The Rays‘ search for offense in the wake of the Wil Myers trade is limited to what remains of the outfield free agent market or obtaining a player whose team will eat almost all the salary on a bad contract, writes the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin. Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard, and B.J. Upton fit the latter category, according to Topkin.
In his latest ESPN Insider-only blog (subscription required), Buster Olney looks at the latest chapter in the Alex Rodriguez saga — a report from the Miami Herald indicating that Rodriguez admitted his PED use to the DEA in January — and opines that the Yankees need to do everything in their power to be free of him. Olney wonders if the Yankees could release or suspend him and invoke the player conduct clause in their standard contract in an effort to legally absolve themselves of the remaining $61MM commitment in light of his confession. Industry perception, Olney writes, is that the conduct clause is superseded by the language in the CBA, but no one has ever really made a challenge using the player conduct clause. And, he writes, the worst-case scenario would be paying him the remainder of his salary while getting nothing in return — an outcome which could happen even with Rodriguez in uniform. Of course, it’s not a given that Rodriguez doesn’t have some productivity left in his bat, but it’s hard to fault Olney for doubting the possible contributions of a 39-year-old who has appeared in just 265 games since Opening Day 2011.
More from Olney’s piece…
- Hanley Ramirez‘s strong desire to play shortstop — or the infield in general — will be a detriment to his free agent stock, Olney writes. He suggests that Ramirez announce to teams right now that he is willing to play a corner outfield position, shortstop or third base next season in order to create the strongest market possible for his services. Olney rightly points out that the idea of Ramirez in a corner outfield spot would broaden his appeal to numerous clubs and help to create a bidding war for his services. It doesn’t seem that Ramirez is changing his plans anytime soon, however. As Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times pointed out today (Twitter link), Ramirez has changed his Twitter bio to read “MLB Shortstop.”
- Olney has gotten indications that the Mets will be aggressive with at least one free agent signing and one trade this offseason, and he lists the familiar matchup of the Cubs as an ideal trade partner. Starlin Castro‘s name arises as a speculative target for Olney, though he adds that the price tag could be prohibitive: Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler.
- The Giants are interested in working out a new deal with right-hander Jake Peavy following his excellent work for the Giants after their July acquisition. Peavy struggled in the playoffs, but his regular-season work in San Francisco was excellent: a 2.17 ERA (3.03 FIP/3.91 SIERA) with 6.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 78 2/3 innings (12 starts).