Atlanta Braves Rumors
Andrew Friedman doesn't think the Rays' search for a first baseman will last beyond another week, the club's executive VP told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). "There were some suggestions...of movement" between the Rays and James Loney on Thursday, Topkin reports, and Loney remains the Rays' top choice, though at less than his three-year, $27MM asking price. If Loney signs elsewhere, Topkin expects the Rays to acquire a first baseman in a trade rather than in free agency.
Here are some more items from around baseball as we conclude the 2013 Winter Meetings...
- This might be the optimal time for the Braves to trade Craig Kimbrel, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required). Kimbrel is about to get much more expensive now that he's eligible for arbitration, to the point that Kimbrel's incredible statistics "broke" the arbitration projection model used by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Rumors connecting Rickie Weeks to the Blue Jays, Braves and Marlins during the Winter Meetings were all false, Brewers GM Doug Melvin tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).
- Ryan Kalish "is in the final stages" of signing with a new team, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Kalish was non-tendered by the Red Sox earlier this month. The outfielder missed the entire 2013 season recovering from shoulder and neck surgeries.
- Several teams, including the Red Sox, have been scouting right-hander Ryan Madson, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The Rockies were also recently linked to Madson, who has missed two full seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- ESPN's Paul Swydan (Insider subscription required) lists four teams who could be helped by the inexpensive additions of Kevin Youkilis, Brian Roberts, Johan Santana and Jeff Francis, respectively. Swydan also wrote about how Clint Barmes could help the Mets, but Barmes re-signed with the Pirates earlier today.
- Diamondbacks president/CEO Derrick Hall discussed his team's desire for a top starting pitcher, the recent Mark Trumbo deal and several other topics during a live chat with fans on MLB.com.
- The Pirates, Orioles and Indians could be risking their recent success with their hesitation to spend, USA Today's Bob Nightengale opines.
- Several team executives and scouts joined ESPN's Jayson Stark in listing the winners and losers of the offseason thus far, with a pair of teams (the Mariners and Yankees) somewhat in between, in the "winners with an asterisk" category.
Trading Jonathan Papelbon wouldn't solve much for the Phillies at this point, opines Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com. Seidman runs down a possible scenario in which the Phillies ate $6MM to move Papelbon, noting that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would then still try to sign a replacement. Names like Grant Balfour and Joaquin Benoit could cost upwards of $10MM per season anyhow, meaning the Phillies may not even save much money should that scenario play out. Papelbon will have more value to teams at the trade deadline when fewer quality options are available, writes Seidman. Here's more from the NL East...
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that the Braves have approached some of their young stars about extensions over the past two years but felt they'd have to overpay to get something done.
- O'Brien also runs down the Braves needs on the heels of a quiet Winter Meetings, noting that they're optimistic about re-signing Eric O'Flaherty. Atlanta is still pursuing a veteran bench bat -- O'Brien mentions Eric Chavez -- and are still interested in Jeff Samardzija. The Braves may be considered the favorites to land Samardzija at this point, says O'Brien, noting that payroll constraints will likely preclude them from pursuing David Price.
- After adding to their rotation, bench and bullpen, the Nationals will now turn their focus to extending Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Should the Nats be unable to extend Zimmermann, they may be forced to consider trading him this time next season, one source told Kilgore.
- Nate McLouth spoke to former teammate Adam LaRoche (whom he called one of his favorite teammates ever) and asked what the Nationals clubhouse was like before deciding to sign there, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. McLouth doesn't hold ill will toward the Orioles for not retaining him.
The Braves have reached agreement on a one-year, $1.49MM deal with Jordan Walden to avoid arbitration, according to Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 Twin Cities (via Twitter). Walden was projected to earn $1.5MM by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Walden, 26, came to the Braves in a November 2012 deal that shipped Tommy Hanson to the Angels. The right-hander had a 2.47 ERA and limited opponents to a .194 batting average in 47 appearances from April through August, but stumbled in the final months of the season. Walden's final line was a 3.45 ERA with 10.3 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
Walden is represented by Don Mitchell of Gaylord Sports Management, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.
Since being ruled ineligible due to providing a false birthdate over the summer, Cuban shortstop prospect Aledmys Diaz has interest from a list of teams including the Braves, Cardinals, Dodgers, Giants, Orioles, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees, agent Jamie Torres tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. "There are some very good players out right now and more are coming," Torres said. "Let's put it this way: I can predict that a few of the Cuban players that sign between now and Spring Training are going to contribute in the big leagues in the 2014 season and their contribution is going to be significant." More from around baseball..
- Omar Infante has been looking for a four-year deal and is drawing some interest from clubs who see him as a left fielder or third baseman, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Yesterday it was reported that Infante is seeking a deal with an $8MM+ average annual value.
- Some agents and teams are convinced that the three-year, $30MM deal the Astros gave free agent pitcher Scott Feldman has been a wrench in talks for others since agents feel obligated to also shoot for that type of "lottery ticket" contract, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- Free agent Raul Ibanez is considering offers from multiple contenders, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Earlier today, Stark reported that Ibanez could be headed to the Angels.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he'll hold on to Ike Davis if no one comes to the table with a strong enough offer, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. "Let me emphasize one thing: We're not in the business of giving players away," Alderson said. "We don't expect to get in that business."
- The Tigers are in on Ervin Santana, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). The Twins, meanwhile, aren't in the mix because of the draft pick compensation tied to him.
- Agent Scott Boras says he would talk to Orioles owner Peter Angelos about extensions for Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, writes CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff.
- The Twins continue to talk to free agent pitcher Mike Pelfrey, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). It's unclear whether a deal with Pelfrey would preclude a signing of fellow free agent hurler Bronson Arroyo, but MInnesota has flexibility.
- One GM tells Peter Gammons of Gammons Daily (Twitter link) that he can't see Kendrys Morales signing until after the draft.
- White Sox General Manager Rick Hahn says his team still has several potential options ahead less than 24 hours after acquiring center fielder Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks in a three-team deal, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. One rival exec believes the White Sox would like to trade outfielder Dayan Viciedo, who is now part of a crowded house with the addition of Eaton. Another baseball source said the White Sox have looked into the possibility of trading away second baseman Gordon Beckham.
- The free agent market for second basemen seems to be impacted by the availability of Howie Kendrick, Brandon Phillips, and others, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.
The Mets made a big splash this afternoon when they inked veteran starter Bartolo Colon to a two-year deal. Here's the latest out of the NL East..
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter links) asked Nationals GM Mike Rizzo if he'd consider trading Jordan Zimmermann. The Nats have tried to extend Zimmerman twice and, like David Price of the Rays, he has two years of club control remaining. “We’d certainly love to get something done with him. But like any premium guy on your team, if here is something that can’t be done, then you would think about a trade. But that’s the furthest thing from our minds,” Rizzo said.
- Colon's age and history allowed the Mets to land him at a reasonable price, tweets Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors. In Tim's view, it's easy to see him returning $20MM+ of value over the next two years.
- Jerry Blevins found out that he was traded from the Athletics to the Nationals around noon time, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (on Twitter). He was initially shocked because, unlike our readers, he did not pay attention to any of the trade rumors going on.
- The Braves were interested in Roy Halladay before he chose to retire and would like to add a veteran starter on a short-term deal, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
- Mets officials met with Ervin Santana's people, but that appears unlikely in the wake of the Colon signing, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Phillies didn't meet with Bronson Arroyo yet and while that doesn't necessarily preclude a deal, others are more serious about him, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Braves have signed right-hander Yunesky Maya to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, tweets Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deports. The 32-year-old Cuban hurler never lived up to expectations with the Nationals, posting just a 4.17 ERA in 464 minor league innings and a 5.80 ERA in 59 frames at the big league level. Elsewhere in the NL East...
- The Nationals have discussed Jerry Blevins with the Athletics, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. However, James Wagner of the Washington Post adds that it was the Nats who reached out to the A's, and Oakland is said to be happy with its bullpen (Twitter link).
- Former manager Davey Johnson rarely utilized infield shifts, but Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com writes that defensive shifts will be a point of emphasis under new manager Matt Williams. Kolko quotes Williams as saying his club will have defensive meetings every day.
- Despite tendering John Mayberry a contract, the Phillies are seeking an upgrade over the soon-to-be 30-year-old as they look to add a right-handed bat with better defense in cente field, reports Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Marlins have checked in on Delmon Young, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, who notes that Rosenthal has previously reported that Young has worked out at first base (Twitter link).
The Marlins appear to be exploring trade options for players besides Logan Morrison as the third day of the Winter Meetings gets underway in Orlando. A source tells Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (Twitter link) that the Fish are listening to offers for Justin Ruggiano, while MLB.com's Mark Bowman (Twitter link) hears that the club may soon move Greg Dobbs.
Ruggiano, 31, recorded an impressive .313/.374/.535 slash line in 320 plate appearances in 2012, but slipped to a more pedestrian .222/.298/.396 in an expanded role in 2013. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter. Dobbs' production was also on the decline this past season, as his .603 OPS was about 100 points lower than his rate over previous two seasons with the Marlins. Bowman suggests that the veteran utilityman may be a fit for the Braves.
The Red Sox would benefit most strongly if Masahiro Tanaka were to not be posted, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. If Tanaka were to stay in Japan, not only would he not go to the Yankees, but prices for other starters (such as Ervin Santana and Matt Garza) would rise, and so would the value of the Red Sox's own pitchers, such as John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy. Also, if Tanaka were to be posted next offseason, the Red Sox might actually bid for him. Right now, they don't have a need. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Blue Jays have offered outfielder Colby Rasmus to two teams in exchange for starting pitching, the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott writes.
- If Corey Hart doesn't re-sign with the Brewers, the team could quickly deal for Ike Davis of the Mets, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Hart could make a decision tonight about where to sign.
- The Mets have had discussions with the Legacy Agency, which represents Freddy Garcia and Cesar Izturis, today, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (via Twitter). Puma notes the Mets could sign either player.
- The Braves are on the lookout for a hitter for their bench, and Eric Chavez could be their top free agent option, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. They also continue to stay in touch with reliever Eric O'Flaherty.
Free agent starting pitcher Jason Hammel has had interest from the Cubs, Pirates, Royals and Braves, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets. Hammel posted a 4.97 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 139 1/3 innings in an injury-plagued season for the Orioles last season. Hammel has also recently been connected with the Rockies, Orioles, Indians and other teams.
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported yesterday that, while Hammel wouldn't mind a three-year deal, he would prefer a one-year deal over two years. A one-year deal would allow him to build value before seeking a multi-year deal next offseason.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that at least seven teams are interested in free agent third baseman Eric Chavez. According to Heyman, the Rangers, Rays, Pirates, Braves, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Yankees have all checked in on Chavez, though New York's recent signing of Kelly Johnson may close that door.
Chavez's agent, Scott Leventhal, told Heyman that Chavez isn't set on any one league or team but has an open mind. Chavez, who recently turned 36, followed up 2012's .281/.348/.496 batting line with the Yankees with a remarkably similar .281/.332/.476 batting line in Arizona this past season.
Chavez has a reputation as a fragile commodity (with good reason) and missed time with a pair of DL stints in 2013: one for an oblique strain and one for a knee strain. He played just 80 games for Arizona in 2013 and 113 games for New York in 2012. Once regarded as an elite defender at third base, Chavez has seen his defensive ratings slip late in his career due to a combination of age and injury.