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Diamondbacks pitchers and catcher report to Spring Training in just three days, but the team will make one last run at the free agent market, writes MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Among the free agents they're interested is right-hander Bronson Arroyo, team president Derrick Hall confirmed to Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. However, the team is interested in a two-year deal for the veteran righty, Hall told Buchanan (Twitter links), which may not be enough to entice Arroyo.
"We owe it to ourselves to at least see what the remaining free agents are looking for," Hall told Gilbert. Presumably, the Diamondbacks are set in terms of starting position players with Miguel Montero at catcher, Paul Goldschmidt at first base, Aaron Hill at second base, Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius at shortstop, Martin Prado at third base and some combination of Mark Trumbo, Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock and Cody Ross in the outfield. They could theoretically use more stability at shortstop, but a run at Stephen Drew doesn't seem likely after his previous tenure in Arizona ended poorly.
Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, A.J. Burnett and Arroyo are the consensus top arms on the market, and Gilbert reminds that GM Kevin Towers said at the Winter Meetings he wasn't planning on offering more than three years to any starting pitcher other than Masahiro Tanaka. Some have speculated that the smaller-than-anticipated payday for Matt Garza could knock down the price tags on Garza and Jimenez, though I personally don't expect their demands to drop below four years. Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon seems likely to fall into the Diamondbacks' price range, but they aren't one of the five teams said to be currently pursuing him as of this morning. The D-Backs are reportedly interested in Burnett but don't feel he will pitch on the West coast.
Here are Sunday's minor moves from around MLB:
- The Diamondbacks have signed right-hander Cesar Carrillo to a minor league contract, per the team's transactions page. Carrillo was the first player suspended in connection with the Biogenesis affair receiving a 100-game penalty last March while a member of the Tigers' minor league system. The 18th overall selection in the 2005 draft was released by Detroit upon completion of his suspension in August. The 29-year-old then signed with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League making nine starts (47 innings) and pitching to a 4.02 ERA, 4.2 K/9, and 5.9 BB/9.
- Per MLBTR's DFA Tracker, there are four players currently in DFA limbo: Emilio Bonifacio (Royals), Everett Teaford (Royals), Chaz Roe (Rangers), and Brayan Villarreal (Red Sox).
Now that A.J. Burnett has decided to pitch in 2014, the Diamondbacks would be interested in adding him to their rotation, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. However, the D-Backs don't feel that Burnett is interested in pitching for a team on the West coast, according to Piecoro, so there may not be mutual interest. More on the D-Backs and the rest of the NL West below…
- The Diamondbacks are beginning to kick the tires on Bronson Arroyo, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (on Twitter). Arroyo told ESPN's Jayson Stark earlier this week that he's yet to receive a formal offer from a club.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that his team is done pursuing free agent starting pitchers (Twitter link). The Giants seem likely to head into the season with Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson and one of Ryan Vogelsong or Yusmeiro Petit in the rotation.
- Schulman also spoke with Brandon Belt, who said he has no ill feelings toward the Giants for submitting a $1.55MM arbitration figure ($2.05MM lower than his own figure) and won't have any hard feelings if they go to a hearing and he listens to the team make a case against him (Sulia link). "I don't think they think little of me," said Belt. "I think that's what teams do. That's the business side of baseball. I think what both sides are trying to do is create a midpoint, maybe. … I know what I wasn't good at, so if I go in there it's not going to hurt my feelings any. If they have to tear me down a little bit, I'll be OK."
- New Dodgers second baseman Alexander Guerrero tells Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com that shortstop and second base are "completely different" and admits to struggling to adapt to a new culture. However, he called Los Angeles "beautiful" and voiced confidence that he'll be ready to handle second base come Opening Day. Saxon reports that the Dodgers are still looking to add one more infielder to their bench, likely to serve as insurance.
- Earlier in the week, Troy Renck of the Denver Post wrote that the Rockies have "mild" interest in Ervin Santana but aren't pursuing him at his current price and are also reluctant to surrender the 35th pick in this year's draft.
In his latest column over at FOXSports.com, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks' pursuit of top free agents Masahiro Tanaka, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran stemmed from the fact they'll soon be completing a new television deal with FOX Sports that will be worth at least $90MM per season for a span of 15 to 20 years (beginning in 2016). He notes that while comparing TV deals is difficult because of differing equity stakes negotiated by each team, but the contract should still top the Rangers' recent TV deal, which pays them $80MM per season. More highlights from Rosenthal…
- The Cubs' offer to Masahiro Tanaka did not include an opt-out clause, according to Rosenthal. Knowing that they might not compete until 2016, the Cubs were wary of including a clause that would allow him to opt out shortly after their next competitive club hit the field.
- Their recent signing of Matt Garza will allow the Brewers to move trade acquisition Will Smith (received in exchange for Norichika Aoki) to the bullpen. Milwaukee could still add another reliever this offseason, but they also want to take a look at Rule 5 lefty Wei-Chung Wang.
- After missing out on a Major League deal with the Orioles due to concerns over his back, Tyler Colvin is weighing a number of minor league offers.
- The Marlins and Rockies are both interested in former Reds right-hander Nick Masset, who has missed each of the past two seasons due to shoulder injuries.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checks in with GMs, players, writers, and scouts to help run down the best coaches in baseball. On his list of bench coaches who are managers in waiting: Brad Mills of the Indians, Torey Luvullo of the Red Sox, Larry Bowa of the Phillies, Tim Flannery of the Giants, and the Brewers' Jerry Narron. More from today's column..
- The Pirates probably won’t go after a pitcher if A.J. Burnett retires. Right now, Pittsburgh is looking for a full-time first baseman and would use the money that would have gone to the veteran toward that end. Cafardo also notes that the Orioles could be a "wild card" in the situation since Burnett lives in Baltimore.
- While the bids of the other teams are still unknown, one GM threw out the following figures in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes: Yankees $155MM, Cubs $120MM, Diamondbacks $120MM, Dodgers $119MM, White Sox $100MM, Astros $100MM.
- The Diamondbacks were head over heels for Tanaka, but the fact they weren’t on one of the coasts and they were in a smaller media market worked against them.
- Scott Boras doesn't represent David Ortiz, but he tells Cafardo that he feels for them. Boras sees some similarities between the Red Sox star and his own client Kendrys Morales. Morales is seen by most clubs as a DH rather than a first baseman which is hurting his value. Boras argues that Ortiz is the featured power hitter in Boston's lineup as a DH and believes that Morales can also provide value in that role.
- There had been some talk that Daisuke Matsuzaka might go back to Japan to pitch, but the possibility of breaking into the Mets’ rotation with Matt Harvey out intrigued Matsuzaka enough to fight for a spot.
- The Giants have been through a lot with Pablo Sandoval and even if he has a good season, this could be Pablo Sandoval's last in San Francisco. Sandoval will be a free agent following the 2014 season.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Burnett | Arizona Diamondbacks | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cleveland Indians | Daisuke Matsuzaka | Houston Astros | Kendrys Morales | Los Angeles Dodgers | Masahiro Tanaka | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Francisco Giants
The Rays and Athletics have done the most this offseason to solidify themselves as top teams, New York Daily News' Bill Madden writes. The Rays addressed all their major needs by re-signing James Loney and adding Grant Balfour and Ryan Hanigan. The Athletics replaced Balfour with Jim Johnson and Bartolo Colon with Scott Kazmir, and they further improved their bullpen with the additions of Luke Gregerson and Eric O'Flaherty. The Yankees also added plenty of talent, Madden notes, but they still have serious issues in their infield. Here are more notes from around baseball.
- The Padres, Braves and Mets are among the teams interested in Cuban catcher Yenier Bello, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez tweets. As MLBTR's Steve Adams recently noted, it's unclear what it might take to sign Bello, but he is not as highly-regarded a prospect as players like Jose Dariel Abreu and Yasiel Puig. Sanchez had previously connected Bello to the Dodgers, Cubs and Blue Jays.
- The Diamondbacks have interest in Cuban pitchers Odrisamer Despaigne and Raciel Iglesias, Sanchez tweets. Despaigne was recently cleared to sign with an MLB team.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo says he does not expect to give extensions to arbitration-eligible pitchers Doug Fister and Tyler Clippard, MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets.
- The Nats were briefly connected to free-agent closer Grant Balfour before Balfour signed by the Rays, and they probably would have traded Drew Storen if they'd managed to sign Balfour. But Storen isn't bothered by that idea, Ladson writes. "You don’t take it personally, it part of it. It’s flattering that other teams want you, too," says Storen. "You look at it from all angles. [The Nationals] are a great team. Obviously, I don’t want to go anywhere. It’s just part of the business. Nothing new."
Here are today's minor moves from around the league…
- The Indians have signed catcher Luke Carlin to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, according to the MLB transactions page. Carlin, 33, spent last year at Triple-A for the Angels. In 156 MLB plate appearances spread ove four seasons, Carlin has a .179/.263/.286 triple-slash.
- The Mariners have inked a minor league deal with righty Mark Rogers, who will receive a Spring Training invitation, the team announced. Rogers, 27, was the fifth overall pick of the 2004 draft and was once the game's 44th best prospect, according to Baseball America. He has been hampered by shoulder issues over his career, but has been strong (3.49 ERA, 9.6 K/9 vs. 3.1 BB/9) in his eleven big league appearances, nine of which were starts. Rogers recently spent time in the Venezuelan Winter League, registering a 5.16 ERA in 22 2/3 innings (with 17 strikeouts but 15 walks).
- The Red Sox have agreed to terms with Scott Cousins on a minor league deal, per ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). The outfielder is a career .179/.230/.285 hitter in 193 big league PAs but has authored a .276/.337/.422 triple-slash line in parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level. He spent 2013 in the Angels' system.
- Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports (via Twitter) that the Cubs have inked first baseman Lars Anderson to a minor league deal. The former Red Sox top prospect spent 2013 in the White Sox organization but batted just .194/.302/.251 before being released.
- Eddy also tweets that first baseman/DH Shelley Duncan inked a minor league pact with the Diamondbacks. Duncan belted 11 homers in three consecutive seasons for the Indians from 2010-12 but slashed just .182/.287/.309 in a cameo with the Rays in 2013. He boasts an .840 career OPS at the Triple-A level.
- More from Eddy, who tweets that the Dodgers have inked outfielder Trayvon Robinson, second baseman Ryan Adams and righty Mark Pope to minor league deals. Robinson is the most notable of the bunch, as the Dodgers originally drafted him and included him in the three-team Erik Bedard trade with the Red Sox and Mariners in 2011. Robinson, 26, has a .602 OPS in parts of two big league seasons but is a .266/.344/.454 hitter in Triple-A. Adams was a second-round pick by the Orioles in 2006 and has a career .770 OPS in the minors. Pope, a former fifth-rounder of the Padres, thrived in 51 2/3 innings in the independent Frontier League last season, prompting his return to affiliated ball.
- The Orioles have signed infielder/outfielder Scott Savastano to a minor league deal, tweets agent Joe Rosen. The 27-year-old has spent six years playing in the Mariners' minor league system where he's amassed a .282/.360/.406 batting line. The versatile Savastano has recent experience at first base, second base, third base, left field and right field.
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick offers an outstanding look at the ramifications of Masahiro Tanaka's seven-year, $155MM contract with the Yankees. According to Crasnick, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers did not hide his disappointment at the result in a conference call, but also said he didn't feel the process was flawed: "We don't feel cheated whatsoever. We don't feel as if we weren't provided the same opportunities as the Yankees. They just had a better offer, and that's where he chose to go. You move on." Here are some additonal highlights…
- Pirates president Frank Coonelly told Crasnick that he was surprised the media made him out as someone fighting for the rights of all small-market teams for suggesting the posting fee for Japanese players be subject to the luxury tax. "The posting fee, by definition, is part of the cost of signing a player," said Coonelly. "I've always believed it should be considered part of a club's payroll for competitive balance tax purposes. I wasn't speaking on behalf of small market clubs. I was simply speaking on behalf of one of 30 major-league clubs."
- One anonymous Major League executive told Crasnick that the new posting system completely goes against everything the league has done to keep the cost of player acquisition under control (e.g. draft slotting, capping international spending, the luxury tax). Said the executive: "This is antithetical to everything the teams have tried to do over the last 20 years. So why did they do it? They did it to target the Yankees and Dodgers, because everybody knew they would be interested in Tanaka. The idea of having a $20 million posting fee to allow other teams to compete was ridiculous."
- That same executive contended that the new posting system will help drive up the prices for Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and future free agent starters. Coonelly completely disagreed: "Mr. Tanaka's contract may be a good comparable for the next outstanding young 25-year-old professional pitcher who comes over for Japan after a 24-0 season. I can't see him being much of a comparable for anybody else."
- Crasnick also looks at the challenges that lie ahead in the international market, with one baseball official noting that should the next version of the posting system restructure the posting fee, it could lead to Japanese teams essentially selling players to MLB rather than trying to build competitive teams. Beyond that, Crasnick tackles the difference in how Latin American and Japanese free agents are treated by MLB. The entire article is well worth the read.
The Diamondbacks competed against some of MLB's largest markets for Masahiro Tanaka but ended up as one of the finalists for the Japanese righty. FOX Sports Southwest's Jack Magruder and MLB.com's Steve Gilbert have the details from managing partner Ken Kendrick, team president Derrick Hall and GM Kevin Towers on how the Snakes courted Tanaka. Though Tanaka ultimately signed with the Yankees, Kendrick feels the D'Backs "declared ourselves as committed to making a very significant offer to someone who can be a difference-maker to our club….The agent world understands that if we like a player, we will go after him. I don't think that's a bad thing."
Here's some more from around the NL West…
- Towers reiterated that the team would still look to add "a top-of-the-rotation type guy" if one became available, and the general manager noted that more trade possibilities could open up with Tanaka now off the market. That said, Towers and Hall said they were satisfied with their current pitching options and that their pursuit of Tanaka was a special case. Magruder reported earlier today that Arizona wasn't planning to pursue other free agent starters given their high price tags.
- The Diamondbacks' current TV rights contract expires after the 2015 season, and since the team expects to earn more TV money in its next deal, Hall felt the Snakes could afford to spend extra on Tanaka. "This is not money that we had this past year or in the past," Hall said. "It's an anticipated increase in revenues. It was banking on the fact that — and it's been out there — that our television situation is going to change dramatically. With that, we were able to spread our wings a bit."
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti and several team scouts attending a private workout with Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, Baseball America's Ben Badler reports. Badler profiled Castillo, a right-handed hitting outfielder with experience at second and third base, last month. The 26-year-old may be months away from signing with a team, as he still to go through all of the procedural work required of Cuban players to reach the majors.
- The Dodgers were "not anywhere close" in the bidding for Tanaka and were outbid by "a decent amount" by both the Yankees and Cubs, two sources tell Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. While the Dodgers were obviously impressed enough with Tanaka to offer him a $100MM+ contract, "they're not convinced Tanaka is all that," Shaikin writes. Since they didn't see Tanaka as a true ace and the Dodgers weren't desperate for pitching, they weren't willing to get into a bidding war.
- Along these same lines, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues that the Dodgers don't need to pursue the likes of Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo or other free agent starters since they could have a surplus of pitching if Chad Billingsley and Josh Beckett are healthy. Zach Lee and other minor league arms are also on hand for rotation depth.
- Veteran right-hander Brett Tomko threw for the Padres earlier this offseason, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Tomko is attempting a comeback and recently told MLBTR's Zach Links that he had spoken with at least 10 other Major League clubs, as well as a few Asian teams. For more on Tomko's comeback, check out Links' interview with the 40-year-old righty.
The Masahiro Tanaka saga has come to an end in record-setting fashion. Earlier today, Tanaka agreed to an enormous seven-year, $155MM contract with the Yankees that contains an opt-out clause after the fourth season. Tanaka's $155MM guarantee is the second-largest in history for a free agent pitcher (the largest for a right-hander) and is also the second-largest pitcher contract in history in terms of new money guaranteed. The Tanaka buzz is unlikely to die down in the next couple of days, as pundits dissect the contract and what it means for the Yankees and the free agent market. Here's a look at some of the early reactions to and fallout from the Yankees' staggering investment…
- New York GM Brian Cashman discussed the deal from the team's perspective in a conference call today, and MLBTR's Zach Links reported on the highlights.
- ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the Yankees' internal sense is that this concludes their pursuit of major free agents this offseason (Twitter link).
- It's little surprise that the team with the biggest need and one of the two biggest revenue bases from which to draw wound up landing Tanaka, writes ESPN's Keith Law (Insider required). Law feels that Tanaka will be one of the 20 to 25 best starters in Major League Baseball in 2014 and notes that the opt-out clause works to the Yankees' advantage, in a way.
- SB Nation's Rob Neyer writes that while Tanaka is a significant upgrade for the Yankees, it's hyperbolic to suggest that this signing will change the balance of power in the American League.
- The Cubs were the runner-up in the Tanaka sweepstakes, according to David Kaplan of CSN Chicago (Twitter link). Ultimately, the fact that they're not ready to win in 2014 ended their chances, he elaborates.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Yankees separated themselves, but not by a wide margin. The Dodgers, Cubs, White Sox, Astros and Diamondbacks were all involved in the end. According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, all teams that participated in the second round of bidding had to come in above the six-year, $120MM level.
- Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com reports that the seventh guaranteed year is what separated the Yankees from the rest of the pack (on Twitter). According to Kaplan (via Twitter), other factors "trumped the possibility of more money," including the influence of Ichiro Suzuki and Hiroki Kuroda and the attractiveness of playing for the game's highest-profile franchise.
- The Dodgers wanted Tanaka, but drew a financial line, reports Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. As Dilbeck explains, the team does have financial limitations that it intends to abide by. "We went as far as we thought we could go," said GM Ned Colletti.
- For the White Sox, GM Rick Hahn says that reports of the team's efforts to land Tanaka largely seemed "accurate," reports Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Ultimately, however, Hahn says that the money reached a level that the club was not comfortable reaching. The resources that the club would have used to sign Tanaka remain available for a similarly attractive opportunity in the future, Hahn said, but he does not see any in the current market. (Links to Twitter.)
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports that the Astros' offer to Tanaka exceeded $100MM. McTaggart adds that GM Jeff Luhnow, owner Jim Crane and seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens were among the Astros contingent that went to meet with Tanaka in Los Angeles.
- Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona was told that the Diamondbacks would not pursue other free-agent starters if they missed out on Tanaka, as the front office believes the asking prices to be too high (Twitter link).
- The Blue Jays were involved initially on Tanaka, but had "no way to compete" once it became clear that he would command seven years, reports John Lott of the National Post. Toronto had been willing to pay the $20MM fee, but was only interested in going to five years on the contract, Lott says. The team was also troubled by the opt-out clause, Lott tweets. Toronto figures to be among the most active teams on remaining free agent starters.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters, including MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez, that his team was never very involved with Tanaka and did not make a formal offer (Twitter link). As Gonzalez further explains, the Halos will instead either try to fit Matt Garza within the team's approximately $15MM of 2014 budget space or hunt for a good deal from amongst the cheaper open-market options.
- The Tanaka signing caps a nice run for Casey Close and the Excel Sports Management agency, notes Darren Heitner of Forbes. With an estimated 4% take, those two contracts would deliver a total of $14.8MM to the agency. Heitner notes also that Excel has worked out several notable deals with the Yankees in the past, given its representation of Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. With its latest run of big contracts, says Heitner, Excel will surely climb the Forbes agency valuation chart.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.