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Andruw Jones Rumors
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman touched on many topics in his latest “Inside Baseball” column, and since we’ve already focused on Heyman’s notes about the Brewers, let’s look at some of his other hot stove info from around the league…
- The Astros will be looking to add one or even two starting pitchers, though Cole Hamels is “too pricey” for them, according to one team source. MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently explored the case for Houston going after the Phillies southpaw, and 42.44% of MLBTR readers polled thought that the Astros should indeed pursue Hamels.
- Rival executives aren’t bothered by Hamels’ sub-par performance this season since all of this trade speculation is assumed to be impacting his work. Executives “seem to be split on” whether the Phillies are making the right move in holding out for a blue chip prospect or two in exchange for Hamels, or if they should just be looking to get his big salary off the books for a lower return of young talent.
- A.J. Hinch’s deal with the Astros is a three-year contract with a club option for 2018. The exact dollar figure isn’t known but Heyman reports that the average annual value is less than $1MM, which could end up being a bargain given how Houston has thus far played under Hinch’s management.
- While Zack Greinke is expected to opt out of his contract at the end of the season, Heyman doubts he’ll leave the Dodgers since they certainly have the money to sign him to a new deal.
- One scout suggests that Javier Baez might need “a change of scenery” to get back on track. Baez struck out a whopping 95 times in 229 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, and only has a .755 OPS at the Triple-A level this year. Baez is only a year removed from being considered an elite-level prospect, so while it seems early to consider trading him, Chicago is already deep in young middle infield talent.
- The Rangers are willing to deal Shin-Soo Choo, rival executives believe. This is no surprise given Choo’s huge contract and underwhelming performance in Texas, though obviously those same issues will make dealing him a tall order. Heyman notes that the Yankees were interested in Choo when he was a free agent two winters ago, though even if Choo turns it around, I’m not sure I see New York taking on a big contract when they already have a pretty full outfield.
- The Cardinals “will rue the day they made that trade” of Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins for Jason Heyward and Jorden Walden, in the words of one scout. Heyman feels this is a bit of a stretch, even though Miller has been outstanding for the Braves and Heyward has struggled for the Cards (and Walden is on the DL).
- Veteran Andruw Jones isn’t yet planning to retire, though he won’t play in 2015. Jones has played in Japan for the last two seasons and expressed interest in a return to Major League Baseball this winter, drawing interest from at least two teams, including the Indians. According to Heyman, Jones turned down minor league contract offers from multiple teams.
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.
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%).
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Some links as Tuesday turns into Wednesday…
- The Red Sox have not yet made catcher and captain Jason Varitek a contract offer, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Boston added Kelly Shoppach to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway on Tuesday, a move that likely spelled the end of Varitek's time with the Sox.
- There are clubs with interest in trading for both Gio Gonzalez and Andrew Bailey and others with interest in both Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado, but Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the Athletics and Braves are likely to deal their players separately to maximize the return. Rosenthal and Morosi note that the Braves and Orioles have discussed a deal that included both Jurrjens and Prado.
- Interest in free agent closer Francisco Cordero has slowed down, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). His market could hinge on how clubs fill their other roster holes.
- The Pirates still have interest in first baseman Derrek Lee even after trading for Casey McGehee, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman (on Twitter). Bringing Lee back at first base would allow them to use McGehee at the hot corner with Pedro Alvarez.
- Heyman hears that the Angels put a deadline on their ten-year, $254MM offer to Albert Pujols (Twitter link). The deal did seem to come together very quickly Wednesday night into Thursday morning last week.
- The Rockies do have some money to spend according to Heyman (on Twitter). In addition to Carlos Beltran and Michael Cuddyer, they also have interest in Hiroki Kuroda, Joe Saunders, and various trade targets.
- Morosi says (on Twitter) that Andruw Jones could also be an option for the Rockies if Beltran and Cuddyer sign elsewhere.
- The Cardinals' interest in pitching upgrades is "understated," reports Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (on Twitter). Both Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook remain on the trade block.
- The Yokohama Bay Stars have released right-hander Hiroki Sanada so that he may pursue a deal in MLB according to a report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. No teams bid on Sanada when he was posted last week.
- The Astros and Rays are possibilities for Ivan Rodriguez, according to Heyman (on Twitter). Though the Mets have discussed Rodriguez, they’re leaning toward relying on Mike Nickeas as their backup to starter Josh Thole.
- MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner says the Joint Drug Agreement should provide Ryan Braun with privacy and fair proceedings. “I urge all to reserve judgment on this matter until the JDA's process has played itself out," Weiner said in a statement.
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