Atlanta Braves Rumors
4:03pm: Venters' deal is worth $1.625MM, the same as he earned last season, a source tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (on Twitter).
4:47pm: The Braves have avoided arbitration with reliever Jonny Venters, agreeing to a one-year deal, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twiter). Financial terms of the deal are not yet known but Matt Swartz of MLBTR estimated that he would earn $1.625MM through arbitration.
Venters is recovering from his second Tommy John surgery and should be available to the club in April or May of 2014. Because of his injury woes, the reliever was a non-tender candidate, but Atlanta decided to bring him back in hopes that he can make a full recovery. The left-hander owns a career 2.23 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 across three seasons.
The Braves will be moving into a brand new stadium in time for the 2017 season, the team announced today. The new ballpark is located in Cobb County, about 14 miles northwest of Turner Field. The move will end the club's tenure at Turner Field after an even 20 seasons --- "the Ted" was originally built as the main venue for the 1996 Olympic Games and then converted into a ballpark for the start of the 1997 season.
Here are some more items from around the NL East...
- The Nationals are interested in free agent southpaw Boone Logan, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. Logan posted strong numbers out of the Yankees bullpen over the last four seasons and is expected to fully recover from recent surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow.
- Kilgore notes that Washington is expected to target left-handed relief this winter and besides Logan, the team could also check in on J.P. Howell or Manny Parra, as the Nats had interest in both pitchers last offseason.
- Also from Kilgore, an American League executive tells him that the Nationals would likely have to part with Anthony Rendon as the key piece of a David Price trade package.
- Marlins president David Samson discussed Giancarlo Stanton's contract and the Marlins' policy against no-trade clauses in an appearance on MLB Network Radio's Inside Pitch with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on SiriusXM. Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has a partial transcript of Samson's comments.
- If the Marlins are serious about convincing Stanton to stay over the long term, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says the club needs more stability in the dugout. Frisaro notes that in Stanton's short career, he has already played under five different managers and five different hitting coaches.
- Of their two first base options, the Mets would reportedly prefer to trade Ike Davis over Lucas Duda, though Andy Martino of the New York Daily News thinks Davis is a better option for the team going forward.
- From earlier today on MLBTR, Zach Links shared some more NL East notes, and we also posted team-centric collections of about the Phillies and the Mets.
13 free agents received qualifying offers a week ago, and I think they are all likely to decline by today's 4pm central time deadline. If these players sign Major League deals elsewhere, their old teams stand to gain a draft pick in each instance. The latest:
- Curtis Granderson is "100 percent" turning down the Yankees' qualifying offer, a person involved in the situation tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
- Kendrys Morales will turn down the Mariners' QO, people familiar with the situation tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- As expected, both Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew will allow the 5pm deadline to pass without accepting qualifying offers from the Red Sox, a baseball source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
- After an MRI on his hips showed no signs of further deterioration, Mike Napoli has decided to decline the Red Sox's qualifying offer, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- Starting pitcher Ervin Santana declined the Royals' qualifying offer, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Catcher Brian McCann will decline his qualifying offer from the Braves today, tweets MLB.com's Mark Bowman. This was an easy choice for McCann, who has a good chance at a five-year contract.
- Right fielder Nelson Cruz informed the Rangers he will decline his qualifying offer, tweeted Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier today.
- You can also keep track of all the qualifying offer decisions using MLBTR's free agent tracker.
There have been rumblings that the Red Sox have interest in signing Carlos Beltran, but the New York Post's Joel Sherman points out that there's a problem with that idea. Beltran's knee injuries mean he probably needs to move to the American League so he can play DH at least some of the time. But if he did so in Boston, he'd be getting in the way of David Ortiz. They could play Ortiz at first base a bit more frequently, but they would prefer not to given Ortiz's advanced age (and, presumably, his defensive deficiencies). They could also sign Beltran to play him for about 130 games a season in the outfield, but that raises the question of whether they would prefer to sign Beltran to a big-ticket contract to have him be, essentially, a part-time player. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Mets will meet with Scott Boras this week to discuss the possibility of signing Shin-Soo Choo and/or Stephen Drew, Newsday's David Lennon tweets. Lennon also notes that if the Mets acquire a new shortstop, one possibility for Ruben Tejada, who was disappointing in 2013, might be a move to second base. It's unclear what such a move might mean for Daniel Murphy, who was one of the Mets' better position players in 2013.
- If the Braves lose Tim Hudson via free agency, they could do worse than to look into John Lackey of the Red Sox, the Atlanta Journal Constitution's David O'Brien tweets. The Red Sox have Lackey signed for $15.25MM in 2014. They also have an option on his services for 2015 at a league-minimum salary, thanks to a contract clause that gave the Sox an extremely cheap option if Lackey's existing elbow injury caused him to miss significant time. After a strong season in 2013, two years and $15.75MM looks like a bargain, which means Lackey should have significant value if Boston chooses to deal him.
Matt Eddy at Baseball America has a nice writeup on recent minor league transactions, noting that the Braves use various pro scouting channels to amass cheap bullpen talent. Recent additions to the team's 40-man roster include 29-year-old Wirfin Obispo, who was signed as a minor league free agent in 2012 and reaches the upper 90s with his fastball. The Braves also added lefty Ryan Buchter, whom they acquired in 2011 in a trade for another minor league arm. Buchter, 26, was one of just four pure relievers in the minor leagues in 2013 to record 100 strikeouts. Here's more from baseball's Eastern divisions:
- Jim Salisbury of Comcast Sportsnet examines free agents Edward Mujica and Joaquin Benoit as potential eighth-inning options for the Phillies. The club may be looking for a setup man again after last winter's acquisition, Mike Adams, missed much of 2013 with shoulder surgery.
- Marc Carig of Newsday offers an early look at the Mets' strategy in free agency. With more than $40MM in payroll space opening up this offseason, the Mets could be major players, and a club official tells Carig that only Robinson Cano will be too expensive. With holes in the outfield, at shortstop and in the rotation, the team also figures to be active in trade discussions, Carig writes.
- David Wright is working to sell free agents on the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports. "I’ve talked to a few players, but I expect I’ll do more of it as we have a better idea of who we’re going after," Wright says. The star third baseman adds that he doesn't believe players are concerned about the club's financial situation, though Matt Harvey's Tommy John surgery has emerged as a topic.
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman tells the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin that the team remains in the early stages of its offseason planning. "I think every October and into early November we're overwhelmed and not feeling all that confident that we'll be able to execute on our plan, and this year is no different," Friedman says. The Rays are expected to listen on lefty David Price this offseason and must also address openings at first base, DH and closer.
- Writing for WEEI.com, Alex Speier says the Red Sox's decision not to extend Jarrod Saltalamacchia a qualifying offer likely stems from the fact that the team couldn't risk three players accepting the one-year, $14.1MM deal in the same offseason. The Sox ultimately opted to extend the offer to Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury, with Ellsbury expected to decline. Speier provides a breakdown of the Sox's 2014 payroll, concluding that Boston likely has around $32MM to spend.
With strong interest from several big-budget American League clubs, catcher Brian McCann is looking at a perfect free agent storm that could net him a deal reaching $100MM, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. Soon to be thirty years of age, McCann is represented by B.B. Abbott.
The primary basis for Heyman's report is the fact that four clubs with a history of inking nine-figure deals could be chasing McCann. Each of the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, and Rangers could make a major upgrade by adding the left-handed-swinging backstop, says Heyman. He also names the Rockies and Giants as possibly interested clubs, though both seem less likely to make a real run.
One executive did tell Heyman that McCann could end up with multiple offers in the same range of around five years and $80MM, forcing him simply to decide where he'd like to play. But Heyman argues that the market alignment makes a "blow-away offer" a distinct possibility.
Here's the latest on the Braves from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution...
- The Braves could move Dan Uggla if they can find a team willing to pay roughly a quarter of the $26MM remaining owed to the second baseman over the next two seasons Tyler Pastornicky, Tommy La Stella and Ramiro Pena would all compete for the 2B job in Spring Training, though I'd guess the Braves would want to bring in a more established second baseman.
- The Braves offered Tim Hudson a one-year deal that, even with incentives, was worth less than the $9MM than he earned in each of the previous four seasons. They never considered making Hudson a qualifying offer since the $14.1MM price was too rich for a 38-year-old coming off a severely broken ankle. While the Braves want Hudson back, they're just one of at least nine teams interested in the veteran righty and the healthy market could net Hudson a two-year, $24MM deal.
- O'Brien would "be shocked" if Brian McCann received a $100MM contract and thinks the catcher will receive something akin to a five-year, $75MM deal. Given the big-market clubs interested in McCann's services, there have been rumors that he would indeed fetch such a nine-figure contract.
- The Braves' payroll is expected to rise from $90MM to around $100MM, which isn't enough for the club to obtain a top-tier ace in free agency. To add a veteran to their young staff, O'Brien wonders if Atlanta could take a chance on a former ace like Roy Halladay if Hudson leaves.
- The team has been hesitant to trade top prospects in recent years and O'Brien doesn't see that changing, so the likes of Christian Bethancourt or Lucas Sims wouldn't be moved in a potential deal for David Price or Max Scherzer.
- There isn't any talk in the Braves organization of exploring trades involving Evan Gattis.
Tim Hudson had the surgical screw removed from his injured right ankle yesterday and should be cleared to run within a couple of weeks, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). Hudson's recovery is on schedule, according to O'Brien. Earlier in the week it was reported that Hudson has an offer to return to Atlanta, but as many as eight teams have already reached out. Here's the latest on the longtime Brave as he and agent Paul Cohen of TWC Sports test the free agent market...
- Despite already having six starters for five spots, the Red Sox "really want" Hudson, a person familiar with the team's thinking told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman adds that the Braves still value Hudson as a veteran in a surprisingly young clubhouse.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets that the interest is mutual between Hudson and the Red Sox. Hudson is close with catcher David Ross and wants to win a World Series ring before he retires, Passan adds.
- Executives have told Passan that Hudson could command as much as a two-year, $24MM contract on the free agent market (Twitter link). Hudson is benefiting from not being tied to draft pick compensation, but a deal of that size would still shatter most pundits' expectations.
Here are today's outright assignments and minor moves from around the league...
- Outfielder Aaron Cunningham has agreed to a minor league deal with the Cubs, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported yesterday (on Twitter). A former top prospect, Cunningham has batted just .219/.280/.347 in 501 Major League plate appearances between the A's, Padres and Indians. He spent the 2013 season with the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate, slashing .247/.337/.401 in 115 games.
- The Rockies have signed right-hander Greg Burke to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The 31-year-old Burke hurled 31 2/3 innings for the Mets in 2013. His 5.68 ERA doesn't look very pretty, but Burke whiffed eight hitters per nine innings and averaged 4.3 walks per nine. His 3.93 FIP and 3.95 xFIP give plenty of reason for optimism.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a Sanspo article reporting that the Hanshin Tigers have an agreement in place to acquire Mauro Gomez (Twitter link). Gomez, 29, spent most of the season in the Blue Jays system but was claimed off waivers by the Nationals on Sept. 5. The powerful righty swatted 29 home runs for Triple-A Buffalo this season and slashed .249/.332/.521 in 453 plate appearances.
- Athletics right-hander Pat Neshek has elected free agency, per the A's Transactions page. Neshek, 33, has played an important role in Oakland's bullpen over the past two seasons, totaling 60 innings of 2.70 ERA ball with 6.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. The side-armer has faced 555 right-handed hitters in his career, holding them to a paltry .181/.257/.315 batting line. As shown in our A's Arbitration Eligibles post, Neshek is just short of six full years of service time and would have qualified for arbitration one more time this winter, projecting to earn $1.2MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
- The Braves have outrighted second baseman Philip Gosselin to Triple-A Gwinnett, according to the team's Transactions page. The 25-year-old Gosselin made his MLB debut this year, collecting a pair of singles and a walk in seven plate appearances. In 469 minor league plate appearnces split between Double-A and Triple-A, Gosselin batted .254/.299/.318.
4:57pm: Eight teams have contacted Hudson, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Giants, Red Sox, A's and Rangers have all reached out in addition to the Braves, Indians and Royals.
12:30pm: Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets that close to 10 teams have already expressed interest in Hudson.
12:25pm: Not surprisingly, Tim Hudson won't be receiving a qualifying offer, but the Braves have already extended him a one-year offer to return for the 2014 season, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Bowman doesn't have the financial details of the offer beyond its one-year term, but he notes that the Indians and Royals have both already expressed interest in luring Hudson away from the Braves.
According to Bowman, Indians manager Terry Francona has already had a lengthy phone call with Hudson, and Royals manager Ned Yost plans to contact him later in the week. Hudson and agent Paul Cohen of TWC Sports have yet to make a counter offer to the Braves' proposed one-year pact.
Hudson is set to have a screw removed from his ankle this week -- the final step in his recovery from a gruesome fracture suffered in late July when Eric Young stepped on his foot in a close play at first base. Hudson could be throwing off a mound within two weeks of the screw's removal, writes Bowman.
On the Brian McCann front, Bowman lists the Rangers as the early front-runners to sign the longtime Braves backstop as a free agent, though he notes that the Yankees and Red Sox are also expected to be in the mix. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes confirmed earlier today, McCann will receive a qualifying offer. He's a lock to reject that offer and hit the open market, though.