Andre Ethier Rumors

Red Sox Exploring Trade Market For Center Field Help

While nothing appears imminent at this time, an industry source tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford that the Red Sox are exploring the trade market for outfielders — particularly those that can provide some help in center field to remove some pressure from the struggling Jackie Bradley Jr.

One name that often surfaces on the rumor circuit when mentioning outfield trade candidates is the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier, but Bradford reports that he is not someone the Red Sox are interested in at this time. Including the remainder of the 2014 season and the $2.5MM buyout on his vesting option for the 2018 campaign, Ethier is still owed more than $66MM total.

Publicly, as Bradford notes, Cherington said to media members yesterday that it’s “a little bit early to think about trades because teams are not really of that mindset yet,” but that doesn’t mean the team is stating the same thing behind closed doors, of course. Bradley is batting just .193/.280/.283 and has fanned in 30 percent of his plate appearances. Shane Victorino, one logical alternative, is on the disabled list for the second time in 2014 already. And Grady Sizemore, who has played left field more than center field, is hitting just .221/.291/.353.

Cherington touched on the topic of Mookie Betts in the outfield during yesterday’s media session but said the top second base prospect is merely  “starting to be exposed to the outfield,” and the GM doesn’t think that will be an option for the team at this point of the season. Betts is hitting .363/.451/.568 with six homers and 22 steals through 48 games at Double-A Portland, but he’s played just seven games in center field this season — the first seven of his pro career.


Dodgers Notes: Kemp, Ethier, Tanaka, Uribe, Wright

Matt Kemp may eventually get dealt this offseason, but it doesn't look like the Dodgers and Red Sox will reach an agreement involving the outfielder. We heard earlier this afternoon that Boston's talks for Kemp were unlikely to get serious, and Rob Bradford of WEEI.com backs that up, writing that there's "nothing to" the rumors of Boston's interest. Here's more on the Dodgers:

  • While Kemp probably won't be headed to the Red Sox, the Dodgers remain in discussions with four teams on trade possibilities involving him or Andre Ethier, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
  • The Dodgers will be interested in Masahiro Tanaka if and when he's posted, but that interest may be more lukewarm than exepected, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Shaikin hears from two sources familiar with the team's thinking that L.A. won't pursue Tanaka with the sort of "win-at-all-costs mentality" that marked the club's pursuit of Hyun-jin Ryu a year ago.
  • Having not heard back yet from free agent infielder Juan Uribe, the Dodgers are preparing to move on from him, reports Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. GM Ned Coletti indicated that the team could shift its focus to acquiring a third baseman via trade.
  • Jamey Wright is on the Dodgers' radar as a potential long man, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.

Orioles Rumors: Ibanez, Ethier, Kemp, Roberts

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed to Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that he has interest in Raul Ibanez and Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, but says that he won't be in the mix for Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka or Kendrys Morales.  The O's will be out looking for a left-handed hitting left fielder or DH as well as pitching (link).  Here's more out of Baltimore..

  • The Orioles checked on the availability of Ethier and fellow Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, but there were issues with the amount of salary that the Dodgers were willing to absorb, an industry source told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
  • While he didn't shut the door on re-signing second baseman Brian Roberts, Duquette told reporters, including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, he is pleased with his options at the position, especially Ryan Flaherty.  
  • The O's will announce their signing of Ryan Webb today, but they're still in the hunt for a closer, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).  Webb agreed to a two-year, $4.5MM deal with Baltimore last week.


NL West Notes: Uribe, Ibanez, Young, Morse, Ichiro

In an Insider post (subscription required), Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio names eight players who could be traded during the Winter Meetings. The Rays' David Price tops the list with Bowden's possible destinations starting with the Dodgers. The Dodgers also have two of their own on the list: outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Here's more on the Boys in Blue and the rest of the NL West: 

  • Re-signing Juan Uribe figures to be at or near the top of the Dodgers' to-do list at the Winter Meetings, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Uribe is not seeking a three-year contract and the holdup with the Dodgers is either their desire for a one-year deal or money, tweets ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted confirmation of an earlier report the Rockies are interested in Raul Ibanez, but cautioned nothing is serious at this point. Renck also noted Michael Young is on the club's radar for a bench role.  
  • The Rockies are also becoming more serious about Michael Morse along with the Giants, Marlins, and Rangers, reports the New York Post's Joel Sherman (Twitter links).
  • There's been speculation the Giants could be a fit for Ichiro Suzuki, but Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets he doesn't believe that's the case.
  • The demands of the trade market will determine what course Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers takes during the Winter Meetings, reports azcentral.com's Nick Piecoro. "Most people are asking for quite a bit right now, I'm not real excited about what I'd have to give up in the trade market," Towers said. "I'm hoping maybe the price starts to come down. If not, then I'll turn to more free agents."
  • Left-hander Erick Threets is looking to play in Asia, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. The 32-year-old spent 2013 with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League pitching to a 7.04 ERA, 5.9 K/9, and 7.5 BB/9 in 23 innings covering 27 relief outings. Threets' last MLB affiliation was with the Dodgers' Triple-A team 2012 and his last appearance in a big league game was in 2010 for the White Sox

NL West Links: Johnson, Hawkins, Rockies, Dodgers

Josh Johnson reached out to the Giants and Padres to let them know they were his first choices for a new team, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (all Twitter links).  Both teams play close to Johnson's home in Las Vegas and also have pitcher-friendly ballparks that are ideal for a hurler looking to rebuild his value on a one-year contract.  Schulman isn't sure if the Giants made Johnson an offer, though Johnson's chances of joining the club have likely dimmed now that San Francisco has signed Tim Hudson.  Starting pitching isn't an offseason priority for the Padres, though a healthy and in-form Johnson projects as the ace of San Diego's rotation.

Here are some more items from around the NL West…

  • The Rockies' one-year, $2.5MM agreement with LaTroy Hawkins "blew away" the Mets' offer to the veteran reliever, a source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.  Colorado also outbid the Braves, who didn't need Hawkins in either a closing or setup role, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
  • Now that the Rockies have signed Hawkins, Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link) opines that the club needs to pursue the likes of Edward Mujica, Joe Smith or Jose Veras to further upgrade their shaky bullpen.  Renck also looks at how the Hawkins signing impacts Rex Brothers' role as Colorado's "closer of the future."
  • Also from Renck (Sulia link), the Rockies and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa haven't begun talks on a contract extension.  De La Rosa's current deal is up after the 2014 season and Renck reported last month that both sides have interest in continuing their relationship.  The southpaw also tells Renck that he is recovered from the thumb injury that bothered him down the stretch last season.
  • The Dodgers have received "moderate to moderate-plus" trade interest in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, an official tells Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown.  We heard last week that the Dodgers were open to offers for Kemp, Ethier or Carl Crawford in order to free up payroll space and a spot in the outfield.  Brown's piece outlines the Dodgers' offseason priorities, beginning with Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
  • Juan Uribe is looking for a three-year contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  The Dodgers are interested in bringing Uribe back but not at that length, which Heyman admits is "probably a stretch."  Indeed, Tim Dierkes said that Uribe would be weighing one- or two-year offers in MLBTR's free agent profile of the third baseman.
  • The Dodgers would be better off trading to upgrade their rotation than signing a free agent hurler, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon opines.  "With the exception of [Masahiro] Tanaka, it’s an exceptionally flawed market for free agent starting pitchers and it seems like the Dodgers are more than aware of that. Much as they’d like to improve their rotation, they might be better served to sit this one out," Saxon writes.
  • In other NL West news from earlier today, we collected some more Giants news items and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that the Dodgers signed Brendan Harris to a minor league deal.

Rangers More Interested In Choo Than Ellsbury

The Rangers are considering a run at Shin-Soo Choo, but they've apparently scratched the other top free agent outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, off of their list, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Choo fits the bill for Texas if they don't re-sign Nelson Cruz, but a Rangers connected person suggested they aren't likely to secure him if "rumored prices" are accurate.  The Rangers aren't as intrigued by Ellsbury at this time because they are happy with center fielder Leonys Martin.

It's not clear which rumors Heyman's source was referring to, but it has been said that agent Scott Boras has previous deals for Jayson Werth (seven-year, $126MM deal) and Carl Crawford ($142MM over seven years) in mind for clients Choo and Ellsbury.

There are options beyond the free agent market, however.  Heyman notes that the Rangers have also talked to Dodgers about Andre Ethier and Crawford in addition to Matt Kemp.  It has been said that one of the Dodgers' surplus outfielders might be made available this offseason.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels appears to be casting a wide net in terms of free agent possibilities, but if the team is truly pleased with Martin in center field, the Rangers likely only have one space available.  Alex Rios, acquired in August in exchange for infielder Leury Garcia, is under team control for 2014 and figures to patrol right field in Arlington.  However, as a gifted outfield defender, he Rios could likely play any of the three outfield spots, which gives Daniels some flexibility in deciding who to target.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


NL West Notes: Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Hudson, Ruiz

On this date 25 years ago, the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser was an unanimous selection as the National League Cy Young Award winner becoming the only player to be named the Cy Young, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP in the same season. 1988 was the benchmark in Hershiser's career highlighted by his still-standing MLB record of pitching 59 consecutive scoreless innings. The "Bulldog" also set career-highs in wins (23), strikeouts (190), innings pitched (267.0), complete games (15), and shutouts (8). Here are today's news and notes from the NL West:

  • The Padres appear to be set in terms of rotation depth, Corey Brock of MLB.com writes. They aren't likely to target a starter this offseason unless it's a player that could sit at the top of a rotation or provide long-term value. Such a move would likely be via trade, Brock says, adding that the club's main focus will be on finding left-handed offense.
  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle profiles Giants pitching prospect Kyle Crick, who has drawn comparisons to Matt Cain. While the 20-year-old Crick may have the highest ceiling among Giants pitching prospects, he's not likely to help the major league club in 2014, as he finished the year at High-A San Jose. 
  • The Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck comments on a report from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that the Dodgers are listening on Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. Shopping the veteran outfielders is the right move as the club explores extensions for Hanley Ramirez and Clayton Kershaw, Dilbeck says. However, he adds that the salaries and injury histories of the three make a deal unlikely.
  • The Rockies have reached out to Tim Hudson, but they will have to overpay in either dollars or years to pique his interest, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. MLBTR's Steve Adams predicts a one-year, $9MM contract for Hudson (#31 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list), but Renck believes the right-hander may be able to secure a two-year deal with as many as 15 teams in pursuit.
  • Within the same article, Renck reports the Rockies will make an offer to free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, but it's unclear whether they are willing to go beyond two years.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Mets Notes: Choo, Dodgers, Saunders, Trades

We learned of a few Mets items earlier today and a couple of minor league signings for the club.  Here's some more news from Citi Field…

  • Robinson Cano is the only player the Mets value as a $100MM-plus player this offseason, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  Since they won't be in on Cano, the Mets may also not be able to afford Shin-Soo Choo due to agent Scott Boras' nine-figure contract demands.
  • A Mets source tells Heyman that none of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier are currently part of the team's offseason plans.  We heard earlier today that the Dodgers were open to dealing any of the three veteran outfielders and the Mets have been linked to Ethier in the past.
  • Joe Saunders is a good fit for the Mets as a relatively inexpensive veteran innings-eater, several rival talent evaluators tell Mike Puma of the New York Post.  A pitcher like Saunders would help the Mets rotation in the short term while still allowing the team to spend larger dollars on hitters.
  • The Mets could "aggressively shop" Daniel Murphy this winter, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo writes as part of a reader mailbag.  The Mets could be looking to sell high on Murphy as team COO Jeff Wilpon didn't mention the second baseman when discussing players guaranteed roster spots for 2014.  In other mailbag topics, DiComo also doesn't see the Mets spending big on a single player like Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury, and he outlines the club's shortstop depth issue (though re-acquiring Jose Reyes is not a solution).

Martino On Granderson, Beltran, Mets, Yankees

Andy Martino shares some hot stove news in a pair of articles for the New York Daily News…

  • Curtis Granderson has drawn "preliminary interest" from the Mets, two sources tell Martino, though the depth of that interest will depend on how Granderson's market develops.  "When it comes to New York, this much is fair to say: [Granderson] is more likely to be a Met than a Yankee in 2014," Martino writes.
  • Carlos Beltran "would love to come back to New York, but I think he’d like Boston, too,” a friend of the veteran slugger tells Martino.  Both the Yankees and Red Sox have been rumored to be interested in Beltran's services.
  • The Mets have considered Andre Ethier as a trade option since at least last December, while the Dodgers have been open to dealing the outfielder since at least summer of 2012, rival executives say.  That timing is odd given that the Dodgers only signed Ethier to his current five-year, $85MM contract in June 2012.  There is no chance, Martino writes, that the Mets would move Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard for Ethier, though Martino speculates that the team could be more open to moving right-handed pitching prospect Rafael Montero.
  • Kevin Youkilis "is 100% healthy" and recovered from back surgery, agent Joe Bick says.
  • Joe Nathan is expected to draw strong interest this winter but agent Dave Pepe said he had "nothing to report" thus far about his client's free agency.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts that Nathan will find a two-year, $26MM contract this offseason.

Dodgers Open To Trading Kemp, Ethier, Crawford

The Dodgers have made outfielders Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford available, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  While the Dodgers may not yet be actively shopping any of the trio, the message they're putting out to other clubs is, “If you’re interested in one of them, make us an offer." 

All three men are signed to expensive multiyear deals so L.A. would certainly have to cover some that money in any deal, a rival executive tells Rosenthal.  The executive bluntly says that "none" of the players are particularly desirable since they carry question marks about their durability (Kemp and Crawford), production (Ethier) and age (Crawford is 32).

Rosenthal reported in September that the Dodgers were looking to clear space in the outfield by moving one of these four or even rookie phenom Yasiel Puig.  While Puig would easily draw the biggest trade return, Rosenthal sees no chance that he'd be moved, plus L.A. has another young outfielder in Joc Pederson waiting in the minors.

Kemp posted MVP-type numbers in 2011 but has become almost an afterthought due to two injury-plagued years.  Kemp hit only .270/.328/.395 in 290 PA for the Dodgers in 2013 and is owed $128MM through the 2019 season, but if L.A. agrees to eat a significant piece of that contract, Kemp's pedigree would surely draw attention on the trade market.  Health, obviously, is the major concern about Kemp's future — I'd speculate that a Kemp deal could include a clause adjusting how much salary the Dodgers would cover in relation to how many games Kemp were to play in 2014 or beyond.

Ethier looked like he would be on the move earlier this season due to the lack of space in the Los Angeles outfield and a seeming issue with manager Don Mattingly.  The Mets were seen as a logical fit for Ethier given their need for a big outfield bat, and if they don't choose to address that need with a major free agent signing, Ethier could be an option (as could Kemp and Crawford, for that matter).  Ethier's inability to his left-handed pitching, however, could send the Mets and other teams looking elsewhere in search of a more reliable everyday option.

Crawford revived his career in 2013 following two disastrous seasons in Boston but still posted modest numbers (.283/.329/.407 in 469 PA, plus 15-for-19 in stolen base attempts) given his salary.  The veteran's speed-based game may be on the decline given his age and hamstring problems and thus could have the lowest trade value of the three.