Andre Ethier Rumors

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.


Cafardo On Price, BoSox, Granderson, Loney, Dodgers

While David Price has resigned himself to being traded, the Rays appear to be trying to figure out ways to make their ace the focal point of their pitching staff for many years to come, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo notes, however, the Rays' front office realizes it could be a losing battle, so a trade is likely with nearly half of baseball rumored to be interested in the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. "It's a big name, a big-time pitcher," one National League GM told Cafardo. "Even if you feel you don't need that level of pitcher, you look into it because he's so special and such a game changer. You do more than kick the tires. You try to make something happen, and I think you'll see teams that don't even need him step up." Here's more from Cafardo's column:

  • The Red Sox will likely trade one of their veteran starters to make room for their young arms. Cafardo suggests Jon Lester and Jake Peavy could be available while Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront are also vulnerable.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury is a perfect fit for the Mariners and Carlos Beltran likewise for the Orioles.
  • Curtis Granderson will likely receive a qualifying offer from the Yankees and there's a strong possibility he would take it because he could post his biggest numbers at Yankee Stadium.
  • The Dodgers will make Andre Ethier and/or Matt Kemp available this winter. Kemp will come with injury concerns, but that shouldn't prevent a team from taking a chance on his talent.
  • James Loney has rebuilt his value with a strong season in Tampa (.299/.348/.430 with a 2.1 oWAR in 158 games and 598 plate appearances). Loney could find a market with the Rangers, if the Rays don't re-sign the free agent first baseman.
  • Reds pitching coach Bryan Price appears to be the front-runner to replace Dusty Baker as manager in Cincinnati while Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr is in a strong position to take over from Davey Johnson, unless ownership wants a bigger name as its new manager.

Rosenthal On CarGo, Dodgers, Price, Mujica

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new video up outlining potential hot stove moves this offseason. Let's take a look:

  • The Rockies' ownership doesn't have much interest in trading Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, though Gonzalez would be more likely to be traded if the club does decide to make a move. The Rangers, with their stocks of young pitching and middle infielders, could be a partner. If on offer in such a deal, Jurickson Profar could handle second base for the Rockies, and could shift to shortstop if the team eventually moves Tulo off of the position. We heard last week that the Mets have interest in CarGo.
  • The Dodgers are expected to trade one of their "big four" – Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Yasiel Puig – according to rival executives speaking with Rosenthal. Puig is, of course, the least likely to be moved.
  • The Rays are expected to consider trading David Price over the winter, with Rosenthal again suggesting the Rangers as a team to keep an eye on, noting that Texas had two scouts on hand to watch a recent Price start in Minnesota. The Cubs could also be interested, though their farm system is stronger in position players than it is in pitchers.
  • One major league exec suggests that the pressures of impending free agency and closing for a contender have affected the CardinalsEdward Mujica. A longtime setup man, Mujica was suddenly positioned on the verge of a "major payday" after taking on the Cards' closer role, Rosenthal says.

West Notes: Angels, Nathan, Diamondbacks, Wilson

The Angels are "open for business," Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. That means deals for Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick and others could be on the table. It remains to be seen what the Angels might be able to do with less than three days before the deadline, but Kendrick would be a particularly attractive trade candidate — his consistently high batting averages and solid defense make him a dependably productive player, and he's under contract through 2015 at a reasonable cost, making a bit over $9MM both in 2014 and 2015. Aybar isn't having as good a year as Kendrick, but he might make an interesting buy-low candidate. If the Angels are open to selling other players, reliever Scott Downs, who becomes a free agent after this season, would also be an obvious possibility, as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman suggested yesterday. Here are more notes from the West divisions.

  • With a 13-game deficit in the AL West and with Albert Pujols on the disabled list, however, the Angels have "nothing to sell," ESPN's Jim Bowden says (Insider-only). Several of their top players, like Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo, aren't candidates to be dealt, and much of the rest of their roster has been disappointing, which is why they're 13 games back to begin with. That leaves a handful of relievers as the Angels' only viable trade pieces.
  • If the Rangers want to trade Joe Nathan, the Dodgers are the only suitor that makes much sense, Bowden writes (Twitter links). Boston or Detroit could be possible destinations, but Bowden guesses that the Rangers won't relish the possibility of dealing Nathan to the Red Sox or Tigers and then having to face him in the playoffs. Instead, they could send him to L.A., possibly in a deal involving Andre Ethier.
  • The Diamondbacks are looking for a second bullpen lefty, FOXSportsArizona.com's Jack Magruder tweets.
  • Five teams, four of them from the National League, are interested in former Giants closer Brian Wilson, who's returning from Tommy John surgery, tweets Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown.

Stark On Astros, Ethier, Brewers, Papelbon, Stanton

The latest column from ESPN's Jayson Stark is jam-packed with trade-related information.  Highlights:

  • One National League executive predicted that the Cubs' Matt Garza will be the first pitcher traded; he's thought to be eminently available, as the Cubs are not comfortable with his asking price on a potential new contract.  The Padres and Dodgers are among the teams pursuing Garza, reported Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports earlier today.
  • The Astros are looking for volume in any deal they make, one NL exec told Stark.  Bud Norris is an obvious trade chip for Jeff Luhnow and company, while I imagine Carlos Pena, Jose Veras, Erik Bedard, Lucas Harrell, Wesley Wright, Ronny Cedeno, and others can be had as well.
  • The Dodgers are not actively dangling right fielder Andre Ethier.  What's more, the team still views itself as a buyer despite being eight games out.  They may be interested in adding a third baseman they can control for multiple years, implies Stark.
  • Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche could be dealt, hears Stark, in a scenario where Ryan Zimmerman moves to first base, Anthony Rendon moves back to third base, and Danny Espinosa gets healthy.  LaRoche's name is not out there at present, however.
  • The Brewers will "gladly listen" on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, as well as any position player other than Jean Segura, Carlos Gomez, and Ryan Braun.  I wonder if that means names such as Jonathan Lucroy and Norichika Aoki will be in play next month.
  • Execs who spoke to Stark seem divided on whether the Brewers want to trade Yovani Gallardo, with one saying, "To be honest, I think they would love to move him."  Click here for thoughts from Brewers GM Doug Melvin on the situation.
  • The Phillies are talking to the Red Sox and Tigers about closer Jonathan Papelbon right now, one exec tells Stark, even if they say otherwise.
  • Officials of three teams that have talked to the Marlins about slugger Giancarlo Stanton are convinced owner Jeffrey Loria won't trade him this summer.  In an April poll of over 13,000 MLBTR readers, over 40% thought Stanton would be dealt this summer.
  • Other teams say the Tigers are willing to surrender top prospects Nick Castellanos or Avisail Garcia if necessary.  The team is focused on finding a closer.
  • The Braves are "all over the bullpen market," which jives with a couple of other reports today.
  • The Giants "have taken on a whole new fervor in the last week in their hunt for another starter."  They've been connected often to Nolasco, but there are around 20 viable candidates out there of varying quality.  The Orioles could make a move before the All-Star break, hears Stark, and they seem to be prioritizing starters over relievers.