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Boston Red Sox Rumors
Reds GM Walt Jocketty is of the mindset that his team will need to either be “all in” or “all out” in 2015, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In other words, if the Reds decide to trade one of four starters who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season — Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon — others may very well follow. Sherman lists Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman as names to watch if Cincinnati does elect to go into a full rebuild. Both can be free agents after 2016, though the Reds have a club option on Bruce for the 2017 season.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Sherman also tweets that the Cubs aren’t likely to spend big on a closer this winter, which seemingly eliminates a potential suitor for David Robertson. Earlier today, reports indicated that Robertson is seeking a contract comparable to Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50MM contract.
- The Tigers are willing to listen to offers on Alex Avila, tweets the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Avila has a $5.4MM club option for his final arb year and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn the same amount in arbitration. Cafardo notes that the Braves and Red Sox are both looking for left-handed bats. While both have inexperienced catchers (Christian Bethancourt and Christian Vasquez, respectively), adding Avila would limit each team’s ability to get an extended look at how their young backstop handles a full workload.
- John Manuel of Baseball America tweets that the Tigers‘ defense up the middle in 2015 could be special with Jose Iglesias and the newly acquired Anthony Gose. He also notes that Devon Travis, who went to the Blue Jays in the deal, now has a clear shot to Major League playing time that he may not have had in Detroit.
- The Royals could scout Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic next week, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Royals officials will be in the Dominican Republic on other business anyway and met with Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, earlier this week at the GM Meetings. The team’s payroll could surpass the $100MM mark for the first time next season, and there’s perhaps room for one significant expenditure such as Tomas, Ervin Santana or Melky Cabrera, McCullough writes.
- Billy Butler is receiving interest from a number of clubs — even one National League club — tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The interest in Butler likely means that a return to the Royals isn’t the best fit, he adds. McCullough reported Tuesday that K.C. doesn’t seem inclined to go beyond two years to retain Butler.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wonders if the Brewers will consider trading a starting pitcher (Twitter link). The Brew Crew needs some payroll flexibility, and the Braves are one team that has been poking around at the GM Meetings.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Avila | Alfredo Simon | Aroldis Chapman | Atlanta Braves | Billy Butler | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Robertson | Detroit Tigers | Ervin Santana | Jay Bruce | Johnny Cueto | Jonathan Papelbon | Kansas City Royals | Mat Latos | Melky Cabrera | Mike Leake | Milwaukee Brewers | Toronto Blue Jays | Yasmany Tomas
Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is quickly becoming one of the most hyped amateurs in history, and it’s expected that he will absolutely shatter the record for an amateur player — international or domestic — according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan spoke to a pair of GMs and two other executives, and all four agreed that they expect the 19-year-old Moncada to land an incredible $30-40MM bonus.
While that bonus doesn’t necessarily seem steep right off the bat, at least when juxtaposed with the commitments made to countrymen Yoenis Cespedes ($36MM), Yasiel Puig ($42MM), Jose Abreu ($68MM) and Rusney Castillo ($72.5MM), bear in mind that each of those players was viewed as a professional under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement and therefore was not subject to international spending limitations.
Moncada, on the other hand, will be subject to spending limits, but executives that spoke with Passan still seemed to believe the price tag could approach $40MM. That would obliterate any team’s bonus pool, and a signing team would have to pay a 100 percent luxury tax on all overages (in addition to subsequently being prohibited from spending more than $300K on a player in the next two signing periods). In that regard, then, a team would essentially be dropping $60-80MM to add Moncada to its farm system, based on the range Passan received in his poll of execs.
As Passan notes, Moncada has yet to be unblocked by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control or Major League Baseball, so the timeline for his arrival on the free agent market is uncertain, but the timing of his arrival is critical. If Moncada isn’t declared a free agent until next year’s signing period (the current signing period runs through June 15, 2015), the Angels, Yankees and Red Sox would not be able to sign him, as the penalties they’ve incurred prevent them from signing a player for more than $300K in the next two signing periods. If he’s declared a free agent in the current signing period, the Rangers and Cubs, who exceeded their bonus pool in the 2013-14 signing period, would not be able to sign him.
Nearly every team was on-hand today in Guatemala to see a Moncada showcase, although Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that the Angels weren’t there to see him (they’ve seen him in the past, Fletcher notes).
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke to multiple scouts who were on-hand, with one scout giving Moncada a 60 hit-tool, 60 power, 70 speed, a 60 arm and a 50 in terms of fielding (on the 20-80 scouting scale). A scouting director told Mayo that Moncada is “worth going way over your international spending pool,” adding that the game is ultimately about talent, and Moncada “is the kind of talent worth the investment.” Another touted his five-tool potential and said he was in great shape. Mayo hears that Moncada looked better at third and second than shortstop, though he has the arm to play any infield position. The Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Cubs all had four or more scouts in attendance, per Mayo.
Those wishing to learn more about the potential phenom can check out this report on him from Baseball America’s Ben Badler penned back in August.
Six teams have expressed “legitimate interest” in signing Jon Lester, a source tells WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. The Red Sox are among the six interested parties, while the Mariners have not shown real interest to this point. As Bradford notes, Boston GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Bradford, that while he did meet with Lester’s camp on Tuesday evening, no figures were exchanged. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that Cherington spoke with one of Lester’s agents again today, making the second straight day the two sides have talked.
While Cherington said he doesn’t expect any signings from Boston by the end of the week, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweets that Red Sox ownership has requested to meet with Lester’s representatives at ACES personally, possibly as soon as this week. Beyond that, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com hears from a source that Boston is willing to make an exception to its well-known aversion to significant investments in pitchers on the wrong side of 30 in order to bring Lester back into the fold. Meanwhile, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com tweets that Lester will meet with the Cubs in Chicago sometime next week.
Last night, Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com reported that Lester is willing to sign at any time, whether it be within a matter of days or months, if a team presents an offer to his liking. The Yankees, reportedly, will not pursue Lester or any of the top three starters on the market.
Earlier today, reports indicated that David Robertson is seeking a four-year deal in the mold of Jonathan Papelbon‘s $50MM contract, and the asking price on top lefty reliever Andrew Miller might not be much lower. Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com hears from a source that Miller is seeking “at least” a four-year deal and isn’t listening to any offers that have anything less than an “astounding” average annual value.
The Red Sox met with Miller’s camp this afternoon, Mastrodonato hears. Miller’s agent, Mark Rodgers of Frontline Athlete Management, told the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo that he saved his meeting with the Red Sox for last at this year’s GM Meetings (Twitter link).
Miller is coming off an elite season in which he posted a combined 2.02 with an incredible 103 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings (14.9 K/9) between the Red Sox and Orioles. He dominated right- and left-handed hitters alike, averaging just 2.5 walks per nine innings with a ground-ball rate of 46.9 percent. That 14.9 K/9 mark is the highest in AL history for a reliever with more than 50 innings, as pointed out yesterday by ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who also reported that Miller is drawing interest as a potential closer.
Of course, Miller doesn’t come with a lengthy track record of this type of dominance. He posted excellent ERAs in 2012-13, but in shorter samples (a total of 70 1/3 innings in that time) and while being shielded from facing many right-handed hitters. Miller also battled his command until this season, as he entered the year with a career BB/9 rate of 5.3.
All of this as covered in greater detail in Tim Dierkes’ Free Agent Profile of Miller. Though his track record is a bit spotty, Tim projected that Miller’s historic season would be parlayed into a four-year, $32MM pact.
Here’s the latest on Pablo Sandoval, with the newest items at the top of the post…
- The Marlins and Yankees have yet to express any interest in Sandoval, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Both teams were cited as possible suitors for the Panda’s services before the offseason began.
- Sandoval could be something of an underrated value, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier compares the slugger to past comparables in similar free agent situations.
- Sandoval’s market seems to be down to the Giants and Red Sox, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Boston is “weighing other options” and in need of a “big play” to dislodge San Francisco as the favorite to sign the Panda. Rosenthal cautions that things could change rapidly, of course, if another team sees an opportunity to get into the bidding. The White Sox and Blue Jays have also been linked to Sandoval this offseason but their “interest seems limited.”
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.
Talk about the market’s top free agent, Max Scherzer, has been scarce to this point, but agent Scott Boras tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he’s not worried about the quiet air surrounding his client. “Premium free agents are rarely talked about at the GM meetings,” Boras said. “This is an owners’ decision. Every GM wants him. There’s always a place for him on every team. The issue is not whether the player is wanted. The issue is whether the owner will make the commitment to try to win the World Series.” Heyman’s piece contains many examples of the litany of stats Boras will use when pitching Scherzer to owners around the league. The Tigers are said to love Scherzer, but indications at this time are that they’re out on Scherzer. That, of course, could change as the offseason progresses, though one Tigers source told Heyman that Boras’ counteroffer to the team’s six-year, $144MM extension offer was “way, way” north of that sizable $144MM sum.
A few more notes on some free agents…
- While many top free agents take their time to see how the market plays out, a source tells MassLive.com’s Jason Mastrodonato that Jon Lester is willing to sign as soon as the right offer presents itself, “whether it is tomorrow or April 1.” While the Red Sox are known to have a preference to shy away from commitments of four-plus years to pitchers in their 30s (following their five-year deal for John Lackey), GM Ben Cherington implied that the team might be willing to make an exception for Lester, noting that it’s never been a hard policy.
- Andrew Miller‘s agent, Mark Rodgers, tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that he plans to be “methodical” in discussions with teams and doesn’t envision signing a contract in the near future. Miller is open to pitching in a setup capacity for a contending team with an entrenched closer, but he’s also generating interest from teams in need of a closer.
- The Twins prefer to add a right-handed bat to their outfield this offseason, and while Torii Hunter has been listed in connection to Minnesota, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that Alex Rios is another name to watch.
Here’s the latest on the Red Sox:
- An executive with another team says that Boston is “all-in” on third baseman Pablo Sandoval, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN.com. GM Ben Cherington discussed the team’s interest with reporters today. “We’ve met with several [agents], including [Vasquez], and had good constructive conversations with a lot of guys already,” he said. “All those conversations will continue. I don’t expect anything to happen this week, or maybe in the near term. This may play out. I expect many [conversations] to continue over the next few weeks.”
- Cherington says that the Red Sox have no hard and fast rule against giving long-term deals to slightly older starting pitchers, Edes reports. “It’s never been a hard policy,” he said. “We’ve made exceptions, and I’m sure there will be another exception. It’s a case-by-case thing.” As for Lester, specifically, Cherington said that he is “interested in having a conversation with him” and has some added comfort level given the team’s familiarity with Lester. “We need to add to our rotation,” Cherington added. “He’s obviously a known commodity, a proven guy in our market. He’s of obvious interest.” Both Cherington and fellow GM Jed Hoyer of the Cubs foresee a slow-developing market for starters, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
- The Sox are open to discussing a contract extension with manager John Farrell before the start of the year, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. As things stand, Farrell is under contract for 2015 with the club holding an option for another year.
- Boston still sees Jackie Bradley Jr. as a future everyday center fielder, Cherington tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. After a productive season in the field and sub-par campaign at the plate, the 24-year-old has perhaps lost some of his luster, though that could be in part due to expectations that raised wildly last spring. “I do think there are some teams that think of him that way — as they should,” Cherington said. “We think of him that way. We don’t know on what date that will happen, but we certainly still think of him that way — as an everyday-caliber center fielder.”
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.”
The Rays are nearing an agreement with St. Peterburg mayor Rick Kriseman that will grant the team permission to explore new stadium sites in Hillsborough County, report Stephen Nohlgren and Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times. Kriseman would like to finalize an agreement within the next month and “definitely before Christmas” so he can present the plan to City Council. If the Rays do leave for a new Hillsborough stadium, the city of St. Petersburg would be entitled to monetary compensation, as the Rays’ current lease at Tropicana Field runs through 2027.
Here’s more from the AL East…
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette was named Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by The Sporting News, and he spoke with MLB.com’s Paul Hagen about the honor. Duquette, who narrowly edged out Dayton Moore of the Royals, said his focus from day one has been improving the club’s pitching staff. He also addressed the success he’s had in finding value from unheralded minor league signings, and how that success makes them an attractive destination: “…when players sign with us, whether it’s Triple-A or the big leagues, they know they’re going to get an opportunity.”
- Duquette tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that he has enough financial flexibility to sign both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz (Twitter links). He plans to meet with Cruz’s new agent, Diego Bentz of Relativity Sports, at the GM Meetings, and the book is not closed on Markakis returning even though he’s meeting with other clubs.
- The Red Sox are receiving a lot of interest in minor league shortstop Deven Marrero, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com (Twitter link). The 24-year-old was the club’s first-round pick back in 2012 and has an excellent defensive reputation, though he batted just .258/.327/.372 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. The Mets, of course, are one team known to be looking high and low for a shortstop.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal spoke with Sox GM Ben Cherington about interest in Marrero, and while he noted that there has indeed been interest, Cherington said it hasn’t been any greater than the interest he’s received in the past. Marrero has drawn steady interest over the years, according to Cherington. As MacPherson notes, however, Marrero is posting particularly strong numbers in the Arizona Fall League this year.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discussed the possibility of the Red Sox acquiring Cole Hamels with Hamels’ agent, John Boggs, and came away with the belief that the team has a shot, even though the Sox are on Hamels’ no-trade list. Hamels doesn’t have any issue with Boston, writes Cafardo, though he’d likely use the no-trade clause as leverage to get his 2019 option picked up in advance, as Ken Rosenthal noted yesterday. The Phillies have scouted Boston’s system extensively and like many of their players.
- Cafardo also notes that the Sox are receiving quite a bit of interest in Yoenis Cespedes. Boston is “desperately” trying to keep an outfield spot open for Mookie Betts, making a trade of Cespedes possible.
- The Boston Herald’s John Tomase spoke with Cherington, who stopped short of labeling any of his prospects untouchable, but he made it clear that those who contributed in 2014 (e.g. Betts) are extremely unlikely to be moved, Tomase adds (Twitter link).