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Baltimore Orioles Rumors
Sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links) that even though the Blue Jays have had contact with the agent for Nick Markakis, they aren’t seriously pursuing him right now. Currently, Toronto is prioritizing other outfielders ahead of Markakis.
Meanwhile, Morosi says that the Orioles are still trying to re-sign Markakis, but the two sides are not close on a deal. Last week, it was reported that there was renewed optimism between the O’s and Markakis’ camp about hammering out a new contract. That might still be the case, but it doesn’t sound like anything is imminent on that front. The two sides are said to be discussing a deal that would pay between $10-$12MM per year.
The Blue Jays are also in a similar spot with Hanley Ramirez, Morosi tweets. Toronto has established contact with the free agent shortstop, but they’re not actively pursuing him at this time. With Jose Reyes at shortstop, Ramirez, presumably, would be slotted in at third base with Brett Lawrie at second. Then again, it’s unclear how serious GM Alex Anthopoulos & Co. are about pursuing Ramirez, who figures to be among the most highly paid free agents of the offseason.
Red Sox ownership will meet Jon Lester and his agents this week, a likely signal that the Sox are set to make a significant offer, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston writes. An offer in the $130MM neighborhood ought to be enough to persuade Lester to strongly consider continuing his career in Boston, Edes writes. Six teams reportedly have strong interest in Lester. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Orioles will have to take a large number of players through the arbitration process this offseason, but one they do have a tough decision on is outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. Kubatko suggests the O’s should keep De Aza, who batted .293/.341/.537 in 89 plate appearances and also hit well in the postseason after arriving in a trade with the White Sox.
- ESPN analyst Doug Glanville, who hasn’t coached, managed or worked in a front office since he retired as a player, isn’t a standard managerial candidate for the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Rays recently interviewed Glanville and today interviewed Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, who join a crowded field of candidates that also includes Manny Acta, Kevin Cash, Craig Counsell, Raul Ibanez, Dave Martinez, Charlie Montoyo, Don Wakamatsu and Ron Wotus. “Maybe I am a dark horse (candidate), I don’t know,” says Glanville. “I approach it like, ‘Why not?’“
- Phillies president David Montgomery expects to return eventually from a medical leave of absence after having jaw bone cancer surgery last spring, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “The good news is my prognosis is excellent,” says Montgomery. “The chemo and radiation I did was preventative. I’ve basically kind of been dismissed by doctors. I have periodic PET scans … Hopefully I’ll have that 45th season.” Montgomery has been in the organization for 44 seasons. Pat Gillick is serving as the Phillies’ interim president.
Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is expected to receive a bonus that will absolutely shatter the previous record for an amateur player — international or domestic — and intrigue surrounding him only figures to grow in the coming months. Here’s the latest on the 19-year-old phenom…
- Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel has an outstanding breakdown of not only Moncada’s showcase in Guatemala yesterday, but of the puzzling, seemingly inexplicable way in which he came to leave Cuba. McDaniel writes that Moncada was seemingly granted permission by the Cuban government to leave the country for Guatemala and is free to return and leave again as he wishes (a bizarre phenomenon also noted earlier this month by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez). Beyond that, Moncada is being represented by a CPA from St. Petersburg who has never negotiated a baseball contract before and will not enlist the help of any veteran MLB agents. In fact, two agents from the Boras Corporation attempted to attend Moncada’s showcase and were not only denied access, but escorted off the premises by armed guards, McDaniel reports. Moncada’s agent has no desire to make this a story about himself and therefore was not named, McDaniel adds.
- McDaniel, too, has spoken to several executives who expect Moncada’s bonus to land in the $30-40MM range, which would result in a 100 percent luxury tax on all overages, which could lead to a total commitment upwards of $80MM. McDaniel writes that were Moncada not subject to international spending limitations, he’d probably clear $100MM with relative ease. Some scouts, he notes, feel Moncada is more talented than Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas. He adds that there are already rumors that the Cubs are looking to again blow way past their bonus pool in 2015, so if Moncada isn’t declared a free agent until after June 15, 2015, Chicago figures to be heavily involved. As it stands, the Cubs and Rangers aren’t eligible to sign a player for more than $250K after blowing past their bonus pools in the 2013-14 spending period.
- The Orioles scouted Moncada at yesterday’s showcase but consider the infielder too expensive, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. As Encina notes, Baltimore’s international bonus pool was roughly $2.253MM, meaning that in order to sign Moncada for $30MM, they’d have to invest more than $57MM once luxury tax is accounted for. Encina’s source for his article said he expects Moncada to sign for “at least” a $25MM bonus.
- MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets that the Angels definitely like Moncada but consider him to be out of their price range. The Halos currently hold the record for a Cuban amateur, having recently given Roberto Baldoquin an $8MM bonus. (Others, such as Abreu and Castillo, were not considered amateurs by the collective bargaining agreement.)
The Indians are kicking the tires on a familiar name, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports they’ve reached out to Justin Masterson about a potential return. The Indians are likely interested in Masterson only on a one-year deal, which, as Hoynes notes, may be the preferred option for Masterson anyway. Masterson pitched through a number of injuries last season, and if he’s healthy in 2015, he could be a prime rebound candidate and position himself for a much nicer deal on the open market in 2015-16.
More from Hoynes and more from the AL Central…
- Hoynes also refutes previous reports that the Indians would have some interest in buying low on Ubaldo Jimenez. Though Jimenez had one of his best seasons in Cleveland under pitching coach Mickey Callaway, the organization isn’t interested in trying to fix the inconsistent righty.
- Both Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are non-tender candidates for the Royals, but Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (via Twitter) that the team is still considering tendering each a contract due to a lack of MLB-ready replacement options.
- In his latest Twins Inbox, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports that the Twins began their search for a pitching coach with at least 30 names and seem likely to go outside the organization to fill the role. He also discusses potential free agent targets for the Twins, noting that the team is expected to pursue second-tier starting pitcher options such as Brandon McCarthy and Jason Hammel or bounceback candidates such as Masterson and Brett Anderson. Bollinger also expects the Twins to sign a corner outfielder, though he notes Torii Hunter‘s desire to play for a contender basically rules out a return to Minnesota.
11:44am: Agent Jamie Murphy tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that he “feel[s] like Dan [Duquette] does,” explaining that “there is still a lot of work to be done if we are going to reach a deal.” (Twitter links.) Though Murphy said both sides hope to work out a deal, he will continue to engage with other clubs in the meantime.
9:55am: Talks picked back up yesterday between the Orioles and free agent Nick Markakis, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and there is renewed optimism that a four-year pact can be reached. The sides are discussing a deal that would pay Markakis between $10MM and $12MM a year, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who says it “should get done.”
The Orioles’ negotiations with the long-time Baltimore fixture had reportedly stalled, leaving Markakis prepared to test the open market at the GM Meetings. As Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported, the sides had been nearing a deal along the lines of what Passan suggests (four years, $10MM-$12MM) before the brakes were pumped.
MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicted a four-year, $48MM pact for the 31-year-old outfielder. As Adams explained, one’s view of Markakis’s defensive value goes a long way towards assessing his value. Though defensive metrics have generally pegged him as either a slightly above or slightly below average right fielder, there is a strong undercurrent of support for the idea that teams view him as a plus defender.
10:50am: A team source disputes that any offer was made to Burnett, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
10:15am: The Orioles have extended an offer to free agent righty A.J. Burnett, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Though nothing is close at the moment, Passan notes that Baltimore will be a player in the starting pitching market.
Baltimore was strongly rumored to be a destination for Burnett last year, before he signed on with the Phillies. That was due in large part to the fact that the veteran was said to prefer to pitch for a team close to his Maryland home. This time around, however, he is said to be willing to play anywhere for a contender.
The O’s had a surprisingly effective rotation last year, in spite of the struggles of major free agent signee Ubaldo Jimenez. In terms of bottom-line results, the club’s rotation landed at the back end of the top dozen teams by measure of earned run average. ERA estimators, however, were generally less favorably inclined.
It would be “the longest of long shots” if the Yankees acquired Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus this offseason, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Andrus’ eight-year, $120MM extension begins in 2015 and the Yankees aren’t interested in paying that type of superstar money to a player who hasn’t yet delivered on that level. “You would have to hope he turned a big corner if you took on that contract,” an executive tells Feinsand. “If he never gets any better, that’s a lot of money for a good — but pretty ordinary — player.” Ironically, the Yankees’ long-standing interest in Andrus was part of the reason why Texas extended him in the first place, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s worth noting that Andrus has opt-out clauses in his deal after both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so the financial commitment may not quite be as lengthy as it seems.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- There isn’t any truth to reports that the Orioles made a three-year, $30MM offer to Billy Butler, a member of the organization tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. While the O’s have had interest in Butler, Kubatko feels the team wouldn’t spend that much on a full-time DH.
- The Orioles will meet with Nick Markakis‘ agent Jamie Murphy today, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). The O’s are still seen as the favorites to sign Markakis, though the Blue Jays and other teams are interested in the veteran outfielder. Earlier this week, Murphy said that the Orioles weren’t one of the several teams he planned to speak with about his client during the GM Meetings.
- Though Yoenis Cespedes‘ name has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) that those rumors aren’t “based in any sort of evidence. We’re happy to have him. We felt like as we were building a lineup for next year, adding that power element in the middle of the lineup was critically important to us. So now that we have it, we’re not really anxious to give it away. We believe he’s very important in 2015, and 2015 is very important to us.”
- Cherington spent “an extended period of time” talking with Jon Lester‘s agents last night, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.
- The Rays interviewed Giants bench coach Ron Wotus about their managerial opening yesterday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Of the ten candidates on the Rays’ list, the team still has to speak to Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville and Kevin Cash before getting into the second round of interviews.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, we published a collection of Blue Jays notes, the Yankees signed lefty Jose De Paula and the Orioles are shopping right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez signed a four-year, $50MM free agent deal with the O’s last offseason but his tenure in Baltimore got off to a tough start. The veteran righty posted a 4.81 ERA and a career-high 5.5 BB/9 over 125 1/3 IP, a performance that saw him get dropped from the O’s rotation in August. Jimenez wasn’t used during the ALDS and wasn’t even on Baltimore’s ALCS roster, and his troubled season also included a month on the DL with an ankle injury.
Needless to say, the Orioles would be selling low on Jimenez. Suitors could be hard to find given the three years and $38.75MM remaining on the righty’s contract, though the O’s could eat some money in a trade or look to swap Jimenez for another unfavorable contract. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman speculates that the Indians, one of Jimenez’s former teams, could be a possibility given that they’re looking for rotation depth. Jimenez posted a 3.30 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.43 K/BB rate over 182 2/3 IP for the Tribe in 2013, a solid season that paved the way for his four-year free agent deal.
Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas will celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday, and it will surely be a happy one given the lucrative contract on the horizon. Yesterday, agent Jay Alou explained the Phillies’ standing in the Tomas derby, telling reporters including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, “There are several teams that I could say are frontrunners, but yes (the Phillies are one of them).” Surprisingly, the Phillies have yet to make a formal offer, but Alou says, “It will all get going soon.”
Today’s Tomas rumors…
- Tomas is drawing interest from the Orioles, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal also notes on Twitter that the chase for Tomas is still heating up, with two teams set to visit him in the Dominican next week and others still weighing pursuit.
- The Royals have entered the Tomas sweepstakes, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Royals don’t feel that Tomas has the same type of advanced hitting skills that countryman Jose Abreu brought to the division-rival White Sox, but they have a need for a right fielder and feel his defense is at least adequate. The Royals like Melky Cabrera as well but Tomas would allow them to preserve their first-round pick, whereas Cabrera received and rejected a qualifying offer from Toronto.
- The Phillies, Padres and Giants have each seen Tomas three times, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He also reports that agent Jay Alou rejected an eight-year offer (though he doesn’t specify the value), preferring a five to seven year term to get Tomas onto the open market again around his age-30 season. The Mariners also like Tomas but aren’t expected to outbid other clubs, according to Heyman.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers aren’t likely to sign Tomas. Starting pitching is said to be the team’s top priority, and sources tell Wilson that the Rangers have informed Alou that their resources will be dedicated to that goal.
- How about the $100MM figure that has been bandied about for Tomas? “I don’t know where that came from, but he’d be happy and I’d be happy,” says Alou. In my September profile of Tomas, I posited a seven-year, $105MM contract. More recently, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports went with eight years and $100MM, an agent who spoke to Heyman said seven years and $93MM, and a GM said eight years, $100MM. Eight years is an interesting call, because that would mean Tomas would be giving up a potential valuable free agent season. Seven would be more aligned with typical MLB service time for a top prospect, who can put in just shy of seven years before reaching free agency if called up a few weeks into the season.
- Yesterday, Jorge Arangure Jr. had an excellent profile of Tomas for Vice Sports. In it, Arangure said Tomas will likely choose a team from the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, and Padres, who have all scouted the player several times. Tomas’ Dominican-based trainer Raul Javier, asked when the player would sign, replied, “Very soon.”
7:15pm: Cruz is at the GM Meetings with his representatives, and had a meeting today with Baltimore, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal. It seems likely that he will meet with other clubs while in town, Rosenthal suggests.
6:27pm: Cruz is seeking a five-year contract, and the Orioles have no interest in that length of commitment, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. I’d assume that if Cruz is indeed asking teams for five right now, it’s likely just a bargaining ploy to get clubs to come up to four years as a compromise of sorts.
4:12pm: The Orioles made Nelson Cruz a three-year offer to remain in Baltimore before the 2014 MLB home run leader officially hit the open market, reports Buster Olney of ESPN (Twitter link). The Orioles now feel positioned to wait as Cruz explores his options with other teams, Olney adds.
Olney also reports that Baltimore remains in contact with Nick Markakis‘ camp about a new multi-year deal, though one of the unresolved issues for the two sides is deferred money. Earlier today, executive vice president/GM Dan Duquette told reporters that the O’s have enough financial flexibility to retain both Cruz and Markakis.
Baltimore figures to be one of the primary suitors for Cruz, though he’s also been connected to the Mariners in the early stages of the offseason. Cruz struggled to find a multi-year deal on last year’s open market when he entered free agency with what were then considered to be extremely lofty expectations. Now he’s coming off a .271/.333/.525 season with 40 homers and about 15-16 months between him and his 50-game suspension for PED usage, giving him a considerably stronger case. MLBTR’s Zach Links recently profiled Cruz and projected that he would indeed be able to find a fourth year.