Author Archives: Charlie Wilmoth

Kia Tigers Reject Bid For Hyeon-jong Yang

TUESDAY: The Kia Tigers announced that they have rejected the winning bid for Yang, as was first reported (in Korean) by San Kang on Twitter (h/t: Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net).

As a result, there may end up being no certain resolution as to whether it as the Twins or Rangers who ultimately posted the highest bid. Regardless of which club won the bidding, Yang won’t be jumping to Major League Baseball until next offseason at least. He can be posted once again next November.

However, as Jeeho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency in Korea tweets, Yang will be eligible to jump to Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in 2015 if the Tigers let him. Yoo also tweets that Yang can be eligible for unrestricted free agency following the 2016 season, at which point he wouldn’t need to be posted to sign with a Major League club.

MONDAY, 7:15am: The Rangers haven’t been told they’re the high bidders for Yang, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports.

SUNDAY,10:54pm: The Rangers, not the Twins, won the bidding for Yang, FOX Sports’ C.J. Nitkowski tweets. The fee was about $1.5MM, and Kia could opt to keep Yang. A previous report from Korea had indicated that the Rangers had posted the top bid.

9:10pm: Berardino now tweets that the Kia Tigers haven’t officially decided whether to accept the top bid for Yang, and MLB doesn’t notify the top bidder until the bid is accepted.

12:29pm: Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News hears from an informed baseball source that the Twins have in fact won the bidding.  The value of the Twins’ bid has not been announced and sources have thrown out estimates ranging from $700K to ~$1.5MM.

Both the Kia Tigers and Yang are disappointed with the size of the bid, but the pitcher is pushing the Tigers to accept it so that he can pursue his dream of pitching in the majors.  The team has previously said that it would accept a bid for Yang as long as it was of “a reasonable amount,” but never specified the monetary figure.  The KBO has said that it will inform MLB of the Tigers’ decision by 4pm CT on Friday, November 28th.

10:51am: The Twins are insisting that they haven’t been told they’ve won the bidding for Yang, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter).

SATURDAY, 10:18am: The Twins have won the bidding for Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang and are nearing agreement on a deal, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Kia Tigers posted Yang earlier this week. The Twins have a 30-day negotiating window with Yang.

Yang, who will be 27 in March, posted a 4.25 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 165 innings in Korea in 2014. Those numbers don’t sound that impressive at first, but each team scores an average of 5.63 runs per game in the offense-heavy KBO, far higher than in the Majors, and Yang’s season earned him the KBO’s equivalent of the Cy Young award. Yang is viewed as a mid-rotation starter with No. 2 starter upside, the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand reports. Yang has a smooth delivery and throws 92-95 MPH.

Feinsand had named the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Astros as teams that could have interest in Yang. The Red Sox also reportedly had interest. The Padres recently won the bidding for another KBO pitcher, Kwang-hyun Kim, for $2MM, although the top bid for Yang was expected to cost more.

The Twins were expected to pursue starting pitching this offseason, and Yang should give them an option to accompany Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson and Ricky Nolasco. Twins starters posted a league-worst 5.06 ERA in 2014.


Red Sox Sign Hanley Ramirez

8:05pm: Ramirez’s option will vest if he reaches 1050 plate appearances from 2017-18 and does not finish the 2018 season on the disabled list, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (Twitter link).

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports adds (Twitter links) that Ramirez receives a limited no-trade clause in the deal. He will receive $50K bonuses for each All-Star nod, Silver Slugger award and Gold Glove he earns. He can also receive up to $150K each year based on MVP voting and additional bonuses for postseason awards.

5:29pm: On Nov. 24, 2005, the Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez to the Marlins in a blockbuster deal, but nine years and a day later, the team has officially announced that Ramirez will return to Boston on a four-year deal.

Hanley  Ramirez

Ramirez, a client of the Wasserman Media Group’s Adam Katz, will reportedly earn $88MM over those four years, and his contract contains a $22MM vesting option for a fifth year.  The contract calls for a $3MM signing bonus, a $19MM salary in 2015 and a $22MM salary from 2016-18.

Ramirez, who hit .283/.369/.448 with 13 homers for the Dodgers last season and owns a .300/.373/.500 slash line for his career, was cited by MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes as the top position player available in free agency, though it was “unclear” as to how Ramirez’s market would develop.  While Ramirez’s impact bat was clearly a huge asset in an offense-thin free agent market, he has a notable injury history and is a below-average defensive shortstop, posting negative Defensive Runs Saved and UZR/150 totals in seven of his nine full-time seasons.  In order to help his free agent case, Ramirez said he was open to switching positions, though his signing with the Sox opens up a number of possibilities on that front.

The Red Sox announced Ramirez as a left fielder, which should put to rest any questions about his role with the team. Fellow free agent signee Pablo Sandoval will be penciled in as the everyday third baseman, and the promising Xander Bogaerts will look to improve in his second full season in the league.  Ramirez will join Boston’s very crowded outfield mix of Yoenis Cespedes, Rusney Castillo, Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, Brock Holt, Jackie Bradley, Mookie Betts and Daniel Nava.  Cespedes’ name has been mentioned in trade rumors, so he seems like the most probable candidate to be playing elsewhere in 2015, but the Sox seem very likely to move multiple outfielders this winter.

It’s clear that the Red Sox are looking to amass as many top bats as possible in the increasingly pitching-dominated league.  The Sox have been hesitant about signing free agents to long contracts given how several of their recent major signings (i.e. Carl Crawford, J.D. Drew, John Lackey, Adrian Gonzalez) provided limited returns.  On paper, Ramirez doesn’t fit the model of the safe signing that Boston would prefer given his age (he’ll be 31 on Opening Day), injury history and defensive issues, though given how little payroll space the Sox have tied up in future commitments, the club had plenty of flexibility.

Earlier this month, MLBTR’s Zach Links projected Ramirez would get a six-year, $132MM deal, so the reported total of his pact with Boston lags behind in both years and dollars.  The qualifying offer and the questions about Ramirez’s defense could have played a role, or it could be that Ramirez was simply willing to take less money to play for the organization that originally signed him as an amateur free agent in 2000.  Ramirez developed into one of the game’s top prospects while in the Sox farm system and he played his first two Major League games with the team in 2005.  He was dealt that November to the Marlins as part of the trade package that brought Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell to Boston.

The Dodgers will earn a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2015 draft as a result of the signing, as Ramirez turned down the team’s qualifying offer.  Boston’s 2015 first-round pick is protected, so the Sox have surrendered both their second- and third-round picks in order to bring Sandoval and Ramirez aboard.

Christopher Meola first reported that Ramirez would sign with Boston (Twitter link), and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted the terms of the deal. The year-to-year breakdown was first reported by WEEI.com’s Alex Speier (Twitter link).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Red Sox Finalizing Deal With Hanley Ramirez

MONDAY: Multiple sources tell ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that the five-year, $90MM figure which has been reported is inaccurate (Twitter link).

SUNDAY: Hanley Ramirez will go to Boston on Monday to finalize a deal with the Red Sox in the five-year, $90MM range, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Reports emerged this afternoon indicating that the Red Sox were in hot pursuit of Ramirez.

As Rosenthal wrote earlier today, the Red Sox’ endgame with Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval is unclear. It’s possible they want Ramirez to play shortstop, but they already have Xander Bogaerts, who has upside and is a far superior defender. If they want Ramirez to play third, it’s unclear what will come of their outstanding offer to Sandoval (which reportedly was for a similar total of five years and $95MM). They could also try Ramirez at outfield, although he has limited experience there, and the Red Sox have plenty of outfielders. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox are still trying to sign both players.

As the previous paragraph suggests, however, there are big questions about Ramirez’s defense, particularly at shortstop. He has also had trouble staying healthy in the past several seasons. Still, Ramirez, who hit .283/.369/.448 for the Dodgers last season and is .300/.373/.500 for his career, clearly has an impact bat, and that’s a huge asset, particularly in an offense-thin free agent market. Earlier this month, MLBTR’s Zach Links projected Ramirez would get a six-year, $132MM deal, so the reported total of his pact with Boston lags behind in both years and dollars. It could be possible Ramirez is willing to take less money to play for the Red Sox, the organization that signed and developed him before trading him to the Marlins in 2005.

Ramirez rejected the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, so L.A. will add a pick at the end of the first round of next year’s draft if the Red Sox do complete the signing. The Red Sox’ top pick (No. 7 overall) is protected, so they would lose their second-round pick as a result of signing Ramirez.



Non-Tender Candidate: Mitch Moreland

Most Rangers players struggled or were injured in Texas’ disastrous 2014 season, and first baseman Mitch Moreland was no exception. The lefty hit .246/.297/.347 in 184 plate appearances through early June, then had ankle surgery and missed the rest of the year. Now, he’s heading into his second season of arbitration eligibility with a projected $2.8MM salary on the horizon.

USATSI_7950726_154513410_lowresMoreland is now 29 and is on the fringes, at best, as a starting first baseman. Since a partial season as a rookie in 2010, he hasn’t posted an OPS+ above 106 or an OBP above .321, and as a slightly above average defensive first baseman or below average corner outfielder, he doesn’t provide much value with the glove. Even before his injury, he might have been an acceptable choice as a starter only for a team like Texas that had plenty of stars elsewhere in its lineup.

One of those stars is Prince Fielder, who should return from his own injury to take over first base in Texas next year. There’s also limited room for Moreland in the outfield — Shin-Soo Choo will be in right, Jake Smolinski hit well down the stretch last season and could get playing time in left, and Moreland has played only sparingly in the outfield since 2011 anyway. That leaves DH, where the Rangers can be flexible in finding an alternative to Moreland. They’re likely to pursue a DH upgrade this offseason, possibly on the trade market. Another possibility for the Rangers might be to acquire Justin Upton and bump Smolinski to DH.

Moreland posted a wRC+ of 76 last season; every AL team but two (the Indians and Mariners) got better production from their designated hitters. Of course, Moreland’s ankle might partially explain his struggles, and some rebound is likely. Steamer projects Moreland will post a wRC+ of 99 in 2015, which would be more palatable, but still isn’t a figure to which a team should aspire at DH, even at a relatively low price.

If the Rangers don’t acquire outfield or DH help this offseason, however, or if they don’t acquire a left-handed hitter for one of those positions, perhaps they could consider re-signing Moreland at a reduced rate, whether or not they non-tender him first. Smolinski’s breakout in a month’s worth of games in his MLB debut was unsustainable, and entrusting him with an entire starting job, whether that’s DH or left field, without a viable backup plan seems too ambitious. 24-year-old Ryan Rua offers a potentially decent alternative, but like Smolinski, he’s right-handed. Then there’s Michael Choice, who’s also a righty and had a disastrous rookie season.

Giving a fair amount of playing time to some combination of Smolinski, Rua and Choice seems like a good idea for the Rangers, but having reinforcements at DH and in the outfield seems like a good idea as well. Moreland had a poor season in 2014, but he’s experienced and left-handed, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him return to the Rangers in 2015 one way or another. A tender is therefore a possibility.

The Rangers’ decision needs to be made in early December, however, and given Moreland’s struggles last season, the Rangers might feel it’s unnecessary to commit nearly $3MM without first exploring other possibilities. A trade before that seems unlikely, since Moreland isn’t an obvious upgrade for many teams at first or DH. Perhaps if he becomes a free agent, a team like the Yankees might be a fit — Moreland could pick up at bats against righties while occasionally playing first base, DH and right field. The Rangers could also wait until later in the offseason to decide what to do with Moreland, to ensure that Fielder is fully ready and to see if an injury in another organization might create a better market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Cabrera, Martin, Cubs, Diamondbacks

There’s still a chance the Blue Jays could re-sign Melky Cabrera, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. GM Alex Anthopoulos is prepared to wait until Cabrera has a sense of what’s available to him in free agency, and if Cabrera doesn’t find an offer to his liking, he could return to the Jays, possibly on a four- or five-year contract. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Russell Martin signed with the Jays, but the Cubs were key bidders, the catcher’s agent tells Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. “There were times throughout the process where it was Toronto and the Cubs, 1 and 2,” says Matt Colleran. “One day the Cubs [were] going a little ahead, and the next Toronto was ahead. When we got into the [last] weekend the dollars started to come into play, and Toronto was just super aggressive with their approach.” The day before Martin and the Blue Jays agreed to terms, the Cubs reportedly were the front-runners to sign him.
  • The Diamondbacks recently began interviews for their open scouting director position, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. The position opened when the Brewers hired Ray Montgomery away from Arizona. The Diamondbacks’ candidates include Tim Huff (from the Angels), Sam Hughes (Cubs), Sean Johnson (Twins), Deric Ladnier (Nationals), Mark Snipp (Reds) and Tim Wilken (Cubs). The team has also interviewed two internal candidates, Todd Donovan and Bill Gayton. Ladnier, Wilken and Gayton all have experience as scouting directors, and Diamondbacks senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson has suggested the team might prefer a scouting director with experience.

Athletics Fielding Calls On Left-Handed Hitters

After acquiring lefty first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates, the Athletics are fielding calls on lefties Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and John Jaso, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Blue Jays have reportedly asked the A’s about the now-healthy Jaso, with the Athletics showing interest in lefty starter Sean Nolin. (The Jays already have Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole to back up Russell Martin at catcher, although Navarro hopes to be traded.) The Athletics also have keen interest in finding a shortstop, given the likely departure of Jed Lowrie to free agency.

Seen in this context, the Athletics’ acquisition of Davis, who cost them only the rights to $270K in international spending, might mostly be an insurance policy in case they trade someone else. If the Athletics don’t deal another player, Slusser writes, they could non-tender Davis. Reddick (who boasts an above-average bat and a good corner outfield glove) and Moss (who’s a liability defensively but who has had three straight seasons of over 20 home runs) would appear to have significant trade value.


Yasmany Tomas Rumors: Sunday

We’ll keep track of any Yasmany Tomas-related rumors here, with the newest items at the top.

  • The Braves‘ pursuit of Tomas is unrelated to the progress of any trades involving Justin Upton or Evan Gattis, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets. The Braves feel comfortable that they can get good value for Upton or Gattis whether or not they sign Tomas.
  • The Braves, Padres and Giants have extended offers to Tomas, with the Mariners, Phillies and Diamondbacks still lingering as possibilities, Peter Gammons tweets. That all makes sense — a report late last week indicated that the Braves and Padres were the favorites to sign Tomas, and another indicated that the Giants would turn their attention to Tomas if Pablo Sandoval were to leave for another team.

Minor Moves: Lannan, Cisnero, Savery, Laffey, Britton, Triunfel

Here are today’s minor moves from around the league.

  • The Reds have signed right-handed reliever Jose Cisnero, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Cisnero is entering his age 26 season and has a 4.66 ERA, 8.57 K/9, and 4.84 BB/9 in 48 and one-third career innings – all with the Astros. Cisnero was outrighted by Houston earlier in the month and has inked a minor league deal with Cincinnati.
  • In the same tweet, Cotillo also reports four other minor league signings. The Mariners re-signed Burt Reynolds, the White Sox inked left-handed reliever Joe Savery, and the Rockies signed right-hander Brett Marshall and left-hander Aaron Laffey. Of the four, Laffey comes with the most major league experience – 487 innings of 4.45 ERA ball. The soft-tossing lefty’s last extended stint in the majors was in 2012. Marshall had a 12 inning cup of tea with the Yankees in 2013 but struggled to a 6.53 ERA with the Reds Triple-A affiliate this season. Savery, a former first round pick, has seen spot work in parts of four seasons. The Phillies tried to use him as a lefty specialist, but he’s actually posted reverse platoon splits.
  • The Rockies have also signed pitchers Justin Miller, Jose Ortega, and John Lannan, tweets Matt Eddy of Baseball America. Right-handers Miller and Ortega saw minimal work for the Tigers, where they have posted uninspiring numbers. Lannan is a major league veteran of eight seasons, although he hasn’t seen a full season of action since 2011. He has a 4.18 ERA, 4.70 K/9, and 3.39 BB/9 in 862 career innings.
  • The Dodgers have signed infielder Buck Britton to a minor league deal, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Britton, the brother of Orioles reliever Zach, had spent the previous seven years in Baltimore’s system. Last season, the 28-year-old hit .289/.345/.453 in 505 plate appearances split between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk, primarily playing second base and third base.
  • The Giants have signed infielder Carlos Triunfel and lefty Braulio Lara to minor-league deals, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy tweets. Triunfel hit just .223/.256/.330 for hitter-friendly Triple-A Albuquerque in 2014, mostly playing the two middle infield positions. The Dodgers outrighted him in September. The 25-year-old Lara posted a 5.77 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 57 2/3 innings of relief in a 2014 season spent in the upper minors of the Rays’ system.

Pablo Sandoval Rumors: Saturday

Here’s the latest on free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, with the day’s latest stories at the top.

  • Teams have been asked to submit their final offers for Sandoval, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com. That appears to mean that the bidding is down to three teams – the Padres, Red Sox, and Giants – Speier notes in a separate tweet.
  • The trio of clubs have all submitted offers, and Sandoval will make his choice next week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
  • The Padres have made the most expensive offer to Sandoval so far, but Sandoval is still more likely to pick the Red Sox, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Previous reporting indicated the Red Sox had offered Sandoval five years and $95MM, so the Padres’ offer appears to be worth more than that. The Giants will turn their attention to Yasmany Tomas if Sandoval departs.
  • Preller and the Padres made a “very serious” offer to Sandoval, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes.
  • The Blue Jays have not had contact with Sandoval’s camp in the last two days, suggesting that they are not a key bidder for Sandoval at this time, Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca writes.
  • The Giants have received no indication that they trail the Red Sox in the race to land Sandoval, Rosenthal tweets.
  • Echoing Rosenthal, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that the Giants still believe they’re in contention to re-sign Sandoval. Cafardo wrote yesterday that the Red Sox had extended Sandoval a five-year, $95MM offer.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller, meanwhile, was in Miami on Friday to meet with Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes. He is expected to fly to the Dominican Republic today to meet with Tomas’ representation. Rosenthal reported yesterday that the Padres would make a formal offer to Sandoval on Friday. The Padres have joined the Giants and Red Sox as the key contenders to sign Sandoval, and the Braves as one of the key teams in the bidding for Tomas.

NL Notes: Kemp, Padres, Tomas, Phillies

The Dodgers might be more likely to deal Matt Kemp than is commonly believed, Jon Heyman of CBS writes. If the Dodgers did trade Kemp, they could rid themselves of a significant portion of the remainder of his contract. Also, the possibility that Joc Pederson will start the season in center field means that Kemp will have to play left, which isn’t his preference. The Dodgers will “certainly” trade at least one outfielder, Heyman writes, and it’s increasingly likely that it will be Kemp. Here are more notes from the National League.

  • The Padres are reportedly involved in the bidding for Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas, but their history suggests they aren’t likely to sign either, Kirk Kenney of the Union-Tribune writes. Decades ago, the team came up short in bidding for Catfish Hunter, Reggie Jackson and Pete Rose, and Kenney writes that the Friars haven’t signed a significant free agent since Goose Gossage in 1983. Players like Greg Vaughn (who re-signed with the Padres as a free agent after the 1996 season) and Brian Giles (who did the same after 2005) might have something to say about that, but there’s little doubt that big free agent signings aren’t the Padres’ usual way of doing business.
  • A recent report indicated the Phillies‘ level of interest in Tomas might now be diminished due to worries about his defense. But defense should be a secondary consideration if Tomas shows he has the bat to produce runs in today’s pitching-dominated game, Corey Seidman of CSNPhilly.com writes. There are plenty of good defenders available, Seidman argues, but few dominating hitters.