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Baltimore Orioles Rumors
With the 2014 free agent class thinning out behind James Shields, Francisco Rodriguez, and Rafael Soriano, the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff takes a look ahead at the 2015 free agent market. Davidoff predicts David Price will sign the richest contract of the class – if he doesn’t ink an extension first. He also predicts Matt Wieters will sneak his way into a big contract while Justin Upton could be seriously hurt by his move to San Diego.
- If Orioles Executive VP Dan Duquette does join the Blue Jays, Baltimore should receive one or two good prospects, opines John Lott of the National Post. However, Lott also figures first round pick Jeff Hoffman is too steep a price. Historically, executives have not cost much in player talent to acquire. Randy Winn represents the best such return, with most trades featuring minor leaguers who barely sniff the majors. Baseball should enforce stiffer costs to front office poaching in Lott’s opinion. Personally, I imagine a punitive but purely financial cost would be the fairest way to approach the problem.
- From the Orioles perspective, the club needs to definitively decide Duquette’s future before their upcoming FanFest, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. Both Duquette and owner Peter Angelos do “things at [their] own pace,” so the situation could linger. For what it’s worth, the White Sox diffused the rumors quickly when Ken Williams was in the spotlight. That tells me the Orioles are genuinely open to dealing Duquette.
- With the signing of Geovany Soto, White Sox catcher Tyler Flowers has competition, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. Flowers is still penciled in as the starter behind the dish, but the club has plenty of depth with Soto, George Kottaras, Rob Brantly, and Adrian Nieto. GM Rick Hahn mentioned Kottaras as a potential platoon partner for Flowers.
- Alex Meyer, the Twins fourth best prospect and 27th overall per MLB.com, figures to compete to become the club’s fifth starter, reports Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Candidates for the back of the rotation include Mike Pelfrey, Tommy Milone, and Trevor May. Given that he still has options, he’ll have to seriously impress to beat out his veteran counterparts and May.
The Blue Jays have been graceless in their attempt to replace president Paul Beeston, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun writes. Elliott’s timeline of events begins in early November, when Rogers Communications chairman Ed Rogers contacted the White Sox seeking permission to hire Ken Williams for Beeston’s job, not realizing that Beeston and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf were best friends. Later, Reinsdorf told Williams the Blue Jays were interested in him, and Williams said he already knew, indicating that there had been tampering, according to Elliott. Here’s more on the Blue Jays’ search for a new president.
- Rogers has left behind a “trail of stink-bombs” in attempting to replace Beeston, writes John Lott of the National Post. The Blue Jays could have improved the situation by issuing a joint statement from Beeston and the team indicating his agreement to retire. The Orioles reportedly want more than just first-round pick Jeff Hoffman in return for allowing Dan Duquette to take the Blue Jays job. Hoffman might be too much to give up, Lott writes, but the Blue Jays should have to give up a good young player, or perhaps two.
- If Duquette does leave for the Blue Jays, the Orioles will be fine, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko writes. With Duquette gone, manager Buck Showalter could play a greater role in personnel decisions. Meanwhile, the rest of the Orioles’ front office (including Brady Anderson, Tripp Norton, Gary Rajsich, Brian Graham and John Stockstill) are capable as well, Kubatko argues.
Talks between the Brewers and Phillies on closer Jonathan Papelbon do not appear to be gaining momentum, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links). There was “no traction today” and there remains “no reason to believe” that a deal is close, says Haudricourt. The Papelbon situation comes down to money, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, who says that the veteran righty “almost certainly” would require Milwaukee to guarantee his 2016 option as a condition of waiving his no-trade rights against the club. Echoing that focus on the bottom line, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes that the the cost may be large but the Phillies need to pay what’s necessary to move on from Papelbon.
Here’s more from the east coast:
- As regards the Phillies‘ most significant trade piece, Cole Hamels, Rosenthal suggests that there is at least some line of thinking in the organization that Hamels and Cliff Lee could front an imposing rotation if a significant free agent arm were added next winter. (Links to Twitter.) That is not to say that a Hamels trade is no longer a possibility, as Rosenthal adds that the club is looking for one MLB-ready, impact prospect to go with further-off talent in a swap.
- The Orioles would seem unwilling to let executive vice president Dan Duquette leave for the Blue Jays in exchange for first-round draft pick Jeff Hoffman alone, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. That does seem to suggest, as Connolly writes, that Baltimore still has a high price tag on Duquette, though the scribe adds that he senses an increased likelihood that a deal gets worked out.
- All this intra-AL East intrigue has left us with plenty to think about, and there are plenty of worthwhile pieces breaking down the situation. Among them: Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star argues that the Blue Jays have bungled the pursuit of a new president and should stop chasing Duquette. And if you are wondering how to go about calculating a reasonable return for an executive, have a look at this piece from last September, in which Jeff Long of Baseball Prospectus attempts to value front office figures in terms of top prospects.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Righty Jair Jurrjens has agreed to return to the Rockies on a minor league deal with a big league camp invite, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports. The 28-year-old righty has never regained the form he showed early in his career with the Braves. Last year, he was hit hard in two big league starts and worked to a 4.54 ERA over 81 1/3 Triple-A frames with the Reds and Rockies organizations.
- The Orioles sent cash to the Braves in exchange for lefty Daniel Rodriguez. Baltimore had tried to nab Rodriguez out of Mexico several years ago, says Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). The 30-year-old came to Atlanta from Saltillo before the 2012 campaign and went straight to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he has generally struggled while working as a starter. The team is likely interested in taking a look at Rodriguez out of the pen, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets.
- The Rangers have signed righty Ross Ohlendorf to a minor league deal that includes a spring invite, the club announced. Ohlendorf had a quality 60 1/3 inning run with the Nationals in 2013, working to a 3.28 ERA with 6.7 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. That earned him a $1.25MM arbitration deal, but injury derailed his entire 2014 campaign.
- Two former Rangers ballplayers are among the recent moves reported by Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (links to Twitter). The Dodgers have signed righty Ben Rowen, a 26-year-old righty who cracked the Rangers’ pen last year and who has had solid results in the upper minors. And the White Sox signed center fielder Engel Beltre, a defense-first player who has struggled to produce offensively and missed most of last year with a fractured tibia.
- Also via Eddy, the Braves have inked former Angels reliever David Carpenter — not to be confused with the other right-handed reliever by the same team that Atlanta just traded. Carpenter has struggled in limited MLB exposure, but last year put up a 2.17 ERA over 62 1/3 innings, with 8.3 K/9 against 6.4 BB/9, despite pitching in the notoriously hitter-friendly PCL.
Though Johan Santana‘s comeback attempt briefly stalled when he experienced some shoulder discomfort, it appears he’s back on course, as Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the former Cy Young winner will throw a bullpen session today and is tentatively scheduled to pitch Game 5 of the Venezuelan Winter League finals next week. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (via Twitter) that the Twins will be scouting each of those showings, though his sense is that a return to his former stomping grounds isn’t in the cards for Santana.
More on the Twins and their division…
- Right-hander Phil Hughes told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger that he was excited to sign a long-term extension with the Twins in December due to the high level of comfort that he felt in his first year with the club. Hughes implied that he entered the offseason hoping to work out a longer deal and was clearly able to do that, signing for an additional three years and $42MM on Dec. 22. However, Hughes noted that he wouldn’t have signed if he didn’t think the team was close to contending in the near future. Minnesota’s enviable farm system and their willingness to spend on veterans, demonstrated by signing Torii Hunter and Ervin Santana this winter, were both factors in Hughes’ decision as well.
- The Indians are showing a great deal of interest in Nolan Reimold, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (on Twitter). Cleveland is trying to sign the former Oriole to a minor league deal, Kubtako notes, though he adds that the Orioles remain in the mix as well. Reimold, 31, has battled significant injuries over the past few seasons but does own a solid .251/.324/.439 batting line in 1134 big league plate appearances.
- Nick Swisher struggled through the worst season of his career last year with the Indians, though many of his struggles were likely attributable to knee problems that plagued him all season. Swisher, who underwent surgery on both knees in August, explained to MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince that his knees were so bad that he literally could not walk to the bathroom at night (Twitter links). He admitted to Castrovince that he wished he’d had the operations sooner, but wanted to play through the pain due to the investment that the Indians made in him. Cleveland inked the Ohio native to a four-year, $56MM pact two offseasons ago.
- At their annual Sox Fest event earlier today, White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters, including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin, that bullpen depth and another utility infielder to use versus left-handed pitching were the two primary items remaining on his offseason wishlist (Twitter link). Hahn also said that minor league signee Geovany Soto has a good chance to make the team out of Spring Training, so long as he can show that he is healthy (via CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes).
Several reports have been floating around about Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette and the oft-discussed possibility of him moving to the Blue Jays to become the division rival’s president. The outcome still seems tough to predict, but action is increasing. Here’s the latest:
- The Orioles are considering several compensation packages that would allow Duquette to leave for Toronto, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. While no deal appears close and talks could still fall apart, Connolly notes that this could be the closest the two sides have come to an agreement given that the O’s are now actually looking at offers. Duquette has reportedly made his interest in the Jays’ job known to Orioles ownership, which could explain why the O’s are more open to letting him go, though that doesn’t mean they’ll relax their compensation demands. A top prospect like Jeff Hoffman would only be one part of Baltimore’s asking price, Connolly writes.
- If the O’s continue with these high demands, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi opines that “the Blue Jays should, and in all likelihood would, look elsewhere in their search for a new president and CEO,” noting that Duquette is far from the only qualified executive who would be interested in the Toronto job.
- Despite the rising value of top front office minds around baseball, “many in the industry will privately question the Blue Jays if they part with a top prospect for an executive,” Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith writes. An expendable Major League roster piece like Dioner Navarro or Kevin Pillar might be more palatable compensation for the Jays, though Nicholson-Smith notes that the O’s will want more.
- Kubatko hears that the Orioles are pushing for more substantial compensation as a trade-off for not filing tampering charges against the Blue Jays (Twitter link).
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun gets the sense that while a resolution to the situation isn’t close, it’s certainly gotten closer over the past few days (Twitter link).
- ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter) that if a deal gets done, the compensation for Baltimore will be “substantial.” Olney hears that one name that has been discussed is right-hander Jeff Hoffman, whom the Blue Jays selected ninth overall in the 2014 draft. Hoffman was at one point in the mix to go first overall or certainly in the top five, but he slipped a bit due to the fact that he had Tommy John surgery shortly before the draft.
- A deal is “getting close and going to happen,” a source tells ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Twitter link), who cautions that the information is not confirmed. Of course, that would appear to conflict with another seemingly unconfirmed report yesterday from Sportsnet.ca radio host Bob McCown (via Ben Nicholson-Smith), which stated that Paul Beeston would stay on for another year as the Jays’ president and CEO.
- Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reported yesterday that MLB was running out of patience with the dalliance and was pressuring Baltimore to get something done or close down the possibility. Perhaps looking to increase its own leverage, the Orioles have themselves discussed the possibility of filing tampering charges against Toronto, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets.
These are the day’s notable minor moves:
- In announcing the team’s non-roster spring invites, the Marlins revealed a few new minor league signings. Among them are several right-handed relievers who could challenge for a pen spot. Vin Mazzaro, 28, had great results in 2013 for the Pirates but spent most of last year in Triple-A. 29-year-old Ryan Reid had a nice 11-inning run in 2013 but has otherwise spent much of his time in the upper minors. And Pat Misch, 33, will look to return to regular big league action. He last threw in the majors in 2011 and did not play in organized ball last year.
- The Orioles have agreed to terms with righty Steve Johnson on a minor league deal that includes a spring invite, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Johnson, 27, saw 54 innings with the O’s over 2012-13, with a strong first year followed by a rough sophomore effort. Last year saw Johnson scuffle at Triple-A, though a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery may well have been a primary culprit for those difficulties.
- The Brewers have struck a minor league deal with one-time star lefty Dontrelle Willis, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. Willis will receive an invite to big league camp, where he’ll attempt to earn a spot on an active roster for the first time since 2011. Once one of the game’s most exciting young arms, Willis faded quickly and has bounced around the league since a failed stint with the Tigers. Most recently, he has spent time in the Orioles, Angels, and Rangers systems, but has thrown most of his innings in independent ball.
The Marlins have made a one-year, $2MM offer to Ichiro Suzuki, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. Miami is “optimistic, but not certain” that it will reach agreement with the veteran. If not, it could look to Nate Schierholtz or the trade market. Ichiro could be the next domino to fall now that Colby Rasmus has signed with the Astros.
- The Orioles offered Rasmus a one-year, $7MM deal that might have included an option, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. After missing on Rasmus, Baltimore is looking down its list for other left-handed outfield options. Schierholtz is a possibility, as is Ichiro.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com also discusses the club’s efforts to add another outfielder, explaining that the uncertainty surrounding executive VP Dan Duquette has not been the reason that the team has missed on its outfield targets thus far. Instead, Baltimore is focused on only striking the right deal, and could take its current roster into camp with at least some hope that youngster Dariel Alvarez would be ready to contribute by the summer. As Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs wrote yesterday in his breakdown of the O’s minor league system, the club is much higher on Alvarez than outside evaluators.
- In spite of making several outfield additions, the Mariners are interested in a reunion with Endy Chavez, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). The 36-year-old, who spent each of the last two seasons in Seattle, might need to fight for a roster spot out of camp, says Crasnick.
- Blue Jays star right fielder Jose Bautista says that his next contract is not the first thing on his mind right now, as Mackenzie Liddell of Sportsnet.ca writes (comments via an appearance on Brady and Walker of Sportsnet 590). Bautista did acknowledge that he is intrigued by the possibility of becoming a free agent after the 2016 season, but says his focus is on playing winning baseball this year.
MONDAY: The Blue Jays continue to work with MLB in an attempt to hire Duquette, Morosi tweets.
WEDNESDAY 7:38pm: Orioles owner Peter Angelos adamantly denied to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that the Orioles are in negotiations with the Blue Jays regarding Duquette. Said Angelos:
“We are not negotiating with them in any way. They have expressed interest in Dan Duquette, which we understand because Dan is an exceptional GM. But we are not in any negotiations with Mr. Rogers. We have a contract [with Duquette], and that’s the end of it.”
Angelos did concede that if the Blue Jays made an offer, he would take a look at the proposition, but he is not actively negotiating and has no intent on allowing Duquette to leave for a division rival. Connolly writes that the Orioles would have to be blown away to part with Duquette, and historically speaking, compensation for parting with executives has been minimal.
4:52pm: We checked in this morning on the possibility of the Blue Jays acquiring the rights to Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette in order to install him as the club’s new president. The reports cited indicated that there were at least discussions regarding possible compensation, and that the Orioles were willing to consider the move.
More has emerged this afternoon. Toronto has informed MLB that Duquette is the club’s top choice to take the role of president, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (links to Twitter). Though he adds that he cannot confirm reports that a deal is nearing, Morosi says that there is “growing optimism” that something will get done.
Current president Paul Beeston is still set to represent the Jays at the upcoming owner’s meetings, Morosi adds. Of course, it would be a stretch to expect Duquette to be up and running in such short order, and a transition period will obviously be necessary regardless of when (and with whom) a contract is signed.
Duquette is under contract with Baltimore through 2018, meaning that compensation will need to be worked out between the clubs for Toronto to add him to its front office. Cash and/or player returns for executives or field staff is nothing new, of course, though it is understandably tricky to work out a price tag.
Teams are aware that Max Scherzer and James Shields are excellent pitchers, but many teams don’t have enough money remaining in their budgets to sign them, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. The Red Sox like both pitchers and don’t have an obvious ace, but they’ve already spent heavily this offseason and have plenty of good starters, one of whom could emerge to lead them. A number of teams, meanwhile, are waiting for Shields’ price to come down. Where Scherzer and Shields land could depend on owners who are willing to step up and sign them, regardless of their teams’ budgets. (The Nationals and another team are reportedly currently involved in the bidding for Scherzer.) In other nuggets from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:
- The Red Sox are committed to Christian Vazquez being their starting catcher; but, with the development of Blake Swihart, it may not be for long. The Phillies covet Swihart in a potential Cole Hamels trade, but one NL executive wonders whether they would take Vazquez instead.
- Baseball executives tell Cafardo the Braves may be willing to deal closer Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline, if the club is struggling. The same goes for the Reds and Aroldis Chapman. Cafardo lists the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Tigers as the teams who would most benefit from adding either reliever.
- The Orioles will not be able to obtain an MLB player as compensation if Dan Duquette joins the Blue Jays, but owner Peter Angelos will seek one or two very good prospects.
- The Giants scored another quality signing when they came to terms with outfielder Nori Aoki. The Giants had inquired with the Red Sox about their surplus of outfielders, including Shane Victorino, Allen Craig, and Daniel Nava.
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