Andruw Jones Rumors

Latest On Indians’ Search For Reliever, Right-Handed Bat

FEB. 3, 7:35pm: Team president Mark Shapiro views the notion of adding a right-handed bat as “kind of wishful thinking,” as he tells FanSided blog Wahoo’s on First (Twitter link).

9:15am: Ryan Ludwick, Reed Johnson and Andruw Jones (who was said to be interested in a comeback this weekend) are all options for Cleveland, Heyman tweets. It’s certainly a surprise — to yours truly, at least — to see Cleveland linked to more outfield bats, given the glut of options the team already possesses.

However, Raburn is guaranteed just $2.6MM after hitting .195/.263/.333 against lefties last season, so perhaps Cleveland is comfortable looking for an upgrade due to his modest financial commitment. The team could conceivably move him or Murphy, who recently was candid in saying that while he’s willing to accept reduced playing time, he’d be open to a trade rather than a scenario where he receives 150 or so at-bats over the life of the season.

FEB. 2: It’s been a largely quiet offseason in Cleveland, but the Indians are still on the lookout for a right-handed bat and some relief help, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

The easiest spot to envision a right-handed bat entering the mix for playing time in Cleveland would be on the left side of the infield, where Lonnie Chisenhall has long had platoon issues (though he improved against lefties in a small 2014 sample). To a lesser extent, there could be a need at shortstop, given Jose Ramirez‘s inexperience, but the Indians likely feel comfortable with him and the eventual arrival of top prospect Francisco Lindor. Cleveland has little need for additional outfielders, given the presence of Michael Brantley, Michael Bourn, Brandon Moss, Nick Swisher, David Murphy and Ryan Raburn. They may, in fact, be better off seeking to trade one of the outfielders already on the roster.

The free agent market offers little in the way of a bat that could help in the infield. Rickie Weeks could be an option at third base (certainly not at short, however) if he is amenable to shifting across the diamond. Aside from Weeks, names like Donnie Murphy, Jayson Nix and Jonathan Herrera offer little upside with the bat but could be moved around the infield while regulars rest or deal with injuries.

Cleveland could also turn an eye toward the trade market. Some speculative names that come to mind include Matt Dominguez (now that Houston has traded for Luis Valbuena), Logan Forsythe or perhaps Eduardo Nunez, though none are particularly exciting names. Going further out on a limb, Cleveland could gauge Atlanta’s interest in a swap of bad contracts sending Swisher (and cash) for Chris Johnson. Replacing Swisher’s contract with that of Johnson would spread out the negative value over a three-year term as opposed to Swisher’s remaining two-year commitment, thereby creating some much-needed 2016 flexibility (a need I examined months ago in Cleveland’s Offseason Outlook). Johnson also crushes left-handed pitching and could therefore form a powerful, albeit defensively challenged platoon at third base with Chisenhall.

As for relievers, there are a number of names remaining on the market. I took a look at the remaining names with above-average velocity this morning, although Cleveland likely doesn’t have interest in reunions with Chris Perez or John Axford. Still, there are some experienced late-inning arms coming off mostly solid seasons, including Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano. Should Cleveland want to gamble a bit, it could by low on a formerly successful late-inning reliever such as Matt Lindstrom, David Aardsma, Brian Wilson or Matt Albers. Trades could also be explored on this front as well; one recent name added to the relief trade market was Edward Mujica.


Andruw Jones Drawing Interest

After two seasons in Japan, Andruw Jones could be headed back to major league baseball.  Agent Scott Boras tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that there are at least two teams with interest in the veteran as a DH and/or right-handed platoon player.

The 37-year-old (38 in April) last appeared in the Majors with the Yankees in 2011-12. After a strong .247/.356/.495 batting line in his first season with the Bombers, Jones slipped to .197/.294/.408 in 2012, prompting him to sign in NPB the following offseason. In parts of 17 Major League seasons, Jones batted .254/.337/.486 with 434 home runs and won 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1998-2007.

Over the last two seasons with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Jones has slashed .232/.392/.441 with 50 homers combined.  This past season Jones managed to tamper down his strikeout rate a tad (27.2% to 24.1%) while improving his already solid walk rate (17.3% to 20.3%).


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Andruw Jones Re-Signs With Rakuten Golden Eagles

Former Major League All-Star Andruw Jones has re-signed a one-year deal with Nippon Professional Baseball's Rakuten Golden Eagles, according to a report from Nikkan Sports (Japanese link). Rakuten has since announced the deal's value at 400 million Yen, or roughly $3.8MM. Jones is represented by agent Scott Boras.

Jones played for the Golden Eagles last season alongside new Marlins third baseman Casey McGehee and the offseason's hottest commodity, Masahiro Tanaka. In 604 plate appearances with Rakuten, Jones batted .243/.391/.454 with 26 home runs. He struck out in more than 27 percent of his plate appearances but also walked at a whopping 17.3 percent clip (in addition to getting hit by 15 pitches).

The 36-year-old last appeared in the Majors with the Yankees in 2011-12. After a strong .247/.356/.495 batting line in his first season with the Bombers, Jones slipped to .197/.294/.408 in 2012, prompting him to sign in NPB the following offseason. In parts of 17 Major League seasons, Jones batted .254/.337/.486 with 434 home runs and won 10 consecutive Gold Glove awards from 1998-2007.

MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports that Jones drew interest from two Major League clubs but elected to return to Japan. Jones will play the 2014 season alongside fellow former All-Star Kevin Youkilis, who signed a one-year deal with Rakuten this offseason as well.



Rakuten Eagles To Sign Andruw Jones

SUNDAY: The Rakuten Eagles have officially announced the signing of Jones, reports the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).

TUESDAY: Andruw Jones has agreed to play in Japan for the Rakuten Eagles, according to an Associated Press report (via ESPN.com). Nikkan Sports reported the agreement four days ago (via Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker). Jones, a client of the Boras Corporation, will earn $3.5MM or so assuming he passes his physical, according to Nikkan Sports.

Jones played for the Yankees in 2012, hitting 14 home runs and posting a .197/.294/.408 batting line in 269 plate appearances. The 35-year-old played both corner outfield positions and earned a $2MM salary. A right-handed hitter known for his success against left-handed pitching (.258/.357/.496 career batting line), Jones hit ten of his 14 home runs against southpaws in 2012.

The 17-year MLB veteran has 434 career home runs, ten Gold Gloves and five All-Star appearances. Though his production declined after he turned 30, Jones has still been worth 59.5 wins above replacement and could be considered a Hall of Fame candidate.


AL East Notes: Lovullo, Rodriguez, Lowe

John Farrell has officially joined the Red Sox after many months of intense speculation. Here are some links, starting in Boston with Farrell’s new team…

  • Blue Jays first base coach Torey Lovullo is a strong candidate to join Farrell with the Red Sox, perhaps as the team's bench coach, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. We heard lots about the possibilities for Lovullo yesterday.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman acknowledged that Alex Rodriguez is not a superstar, but said he's still an "above-average" player, Peter Botte of the New York Daily News reports. The GM repeated that a deal involving Rodriguez seems "unrealistic." The 37-year-old has five years and $114MM remaining on a contract that includes no-trade protection.
  • Derek Lowe, who pitched out of the bullpen for the Yankees down the stretch, says he would like to start again in 2013, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Lowe hits free agency this offseason and probably won't interest the Yankees as a starter in the estimation of Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues.
  • Andruw Jones, who also hits free agency this offseason, said he intends to play for four more years, according to King.

Yankees Agree To Sign Andruw Jones

The Yankees and Andruw Jones have agreed to a one-year deal with a $2MM base salary and $1.4MM in incentives, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). The deal is pending a physical. The Yankees have a full 40-man roster and will need to clear a spot once the signing becomes official.

Jones, 34, hit .247/.356/.495 with 13 homers for the Yankees last year, doing most of his damage against left-handed pitchers: .286/.384/.540 with eight homers. He figures to again serve as the team's fourth outfielder, spelling the lefty hitting Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner against the AL East's tough southpaws. Jones is a Scott Boras client.


Yankees Notes: A-Rod, Nakajima, Chavez, Andruw

Today the Yankees agreed to a minor league deal with lefty Hideki Okajima.   He's made 31 appearances against them over the years as a member of the Red Sox.  Other Yankees news…

  • Third baseman Alex Rodriguez recently traveled to Germany for an experimental therapy called Orthokine on his right knee, reported Mike Puma of the New York Post.  Orthokine is similar to Platelet Rich Plasma therapy, which reliever Takashi Saito had done several years ago.  The procedure, which was recommended by Kobe Bryant, came with the blessing of the Yankees and the commissioner's office.  Puma explains, "Orthokine involves taking blood from the patient’s arm and spinning it in a centrifuge, a machine used in laboratories to spin objects around a fixed axis. The serum is then injected into the affected area."  Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters the procedure was done on Rodriguez's left shoulder as well.  For more on the topic, check out this article from Teri Thompson and Christian Red of the New York Daily News.
  • Cashman appears to be waiting for a resolution on the Hiroyuki Nakajima situation before pursuing Eric Chavez any further, tweets MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.  Hoch says the Nakajima situation will be resolved next week.  The Yankees won the exclusive right to negotiate with Nakajima with a bid around $2MM earlier this month.
  • Hoch notes that the Yankees are still talking about re-signing Andruw Jones but Cashman says he has nothing to report right now.

Quick Hits: Oswalt, Andruw, Dobbs, Cuddyer

A few notes to pass along as Tuesday becomes Wednesday …

  • The Red Sox haven't ruled out signing Roy Oswalt, tweets Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, although sources say the right-hander is not a priority for them. Earlier today we heard that interest in Oswalt has spiked significantly since he's been telling teams he's willing to sign for a one-year deal.
  • It seemed inevitable that Yankees would re-sign Andruw Jones earlier this offseason, but Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports the camps have not made much progress and that the outfielder is garnering interest from other teams, including the Red Sox.
  • The Nationals are among the final three suitors for free agent pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs, a source tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com, who adds that the Marlins are reported to be in the mix, as well.
  • Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer told reporters, including Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities radio, that he and the Twins never had discussions about re-signing once they reached agreement with Josh Willingham (Twitter link).
  • The Braves thought they may have been close to trading Jair Jurrjens to the Reds last weekend until Cincinnati instead acquired Mat Latos from the Padres, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman in a mailbag.
  • In an interesting thinkpiece at Baseball Prospectus, Ben Lindbergh examines why it's becoming increasingly difficult for a GM to stand out from his peers.

Quick Hits: Varitek, A’s, Braves, Cordero, Lee, Pujols

Some links as Tuesday turns into Wednesday…


Sherman On Darvish, Buehrle, Fielder, Jones

Joel Sherman of the New York Post shares a few Yankees items and more from around baseball…

  • The Yankees have a number of concerns about Yu Darvish and team officials "sounded pessimistic about making a significant posting bid, if they submit one at all."  Given how the Yankees have been linked to Darvish for months, it's hard to believe they won't be bidding on the star pitcher, so this could well be some misdirection on the Bombers' part.
  • The Yankees were interested in Mark Buehrle but wouldn't offer the veteran more than a two-year contract.  This clearly wasn't going to get it done given the large market for Buehrle, who signed a four-year, $58MM pact with the Marlins.
  • After "canvassing executives," Sherman finds the consensus is that Prince Fielder will sign with the Cubs.  The belief is that Theo Epstein won't pass up the chance to acquire a slugger like Fielder given the lack of power hitters coming onto the market, and Epstein wants to make "a statement sign" in his first year in Chicago.
  • Andruw Jones is likely to re-sign with the Yankees but the team will see if they can address starting pitching before taking care of their backups.  Jones, for his part, plans to compete for a starting job this spring.