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Boston Red Sox Rumors
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checked in with Max Scherzer, who is missing former teammate Rick Porcello. Scherzer, of course, left the Tigers in free agency to sign with the Nationals in January. Porcello, meanwhile, was shipped from the Tigers to the Red Sox in December. Scherzer still texts a lot with Porcello, and they have had conversations about free agency.
“He understands the business of the game really well and what teams are trying to accomplish,” said Scherzer. “As most players, he’s motivated by winning as well. What works is going out there and having one motivation and that’s winning. And those things will take care of themselves.”
Cafardo has talked with a few baseball executives who believe Porcello will walk from the Red Sox and do exactly what Scherzer did – go to the highest bidder. Here’s more from today’s column..
- The Rockies tried to trade Jhoulys Chacin but couldn’t find a buyer, so they released him last week. The 27-year-old was a victim of Coors Field, where his ERA was 4.21 as opposed to a much more palatable 3.24 on the road. Cafardo writes that the Red Sox, Dodgers, Rays, and Blue Jays have been looking for a veteran starter and may be considering him.
- Braves people insist that they will not entertain a deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, but a few executives expect that Atlanta will be thinking differently if they are out of contention at the trade deadline. The Braves are eyeing 2017 as their relaunch, so Cafardo doesn’t see the need for them to hang on to a top closer like Kimbrel in the interim.
- Dan Uggla has an April 1st opt-out on his minor league deal with the Nationals and his play this spring is giving GM Mike Rizzo something to think about, but roster space is an issue. If Uggla doesn’t make the cut in Washington, Cafardo suggests that the Angels, Braves, Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Padres, and Rays could all justify bringing him aboard.
Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez says his recent elbow MRI “found something,” but there’s no diagnosis yet, the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier tweets. Vazquez will seek a second opinion. If the Red Sox were to need to replace Vazquez, Ryan Hanigan would be the obvious choice. If Vazquez were to need to miss significant time, there would likely be speculation about the promotion of top prospect Blake Swihart, who the Red Sox optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket last week. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- James Russell and Josh Outman have struggled this spring, widening the field of decisions the Braves will have to make as they set their roster, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes. The Braves could release either one and pay only about a quarter of their salaries. Outman, who’s set to make $925K after signing with the Braves in January, could be in particular danger, Bowman suggests. It now looks increasingly likely that Luis Avilan will make the team as one of the Braves’ bullpen lefties, with prospect Brady Feigl as another possibility.
- There don’t appear to be any trades involving Dioner Navarro in the works, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Navarro, of course, became mostly superfluous to the Jays after they acquired Russell Martin. Navarro’s name had lately been connected to the Diamondbacks, although the D-backs have said they can’t afford his $5MM salary.
Here’s the latest from the game’s eastern divisions to wrap up the day’s news:
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was notably on hand to watch Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon work early in his outing today against the Yankees, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. While Salisbury notes that it is impossible to know the reason for the visit, Toronto obviously has some questions at the back of its pen and has been mentioned as a plausible suitor for the veteran righty. Papelbon has looked strong this spring, as the report further notes, though his contract (and, in particular, its vesting clause for next year) remains the largest factor in his trade value.
- Though the Yankees have yet to say so officially, Adam Warren appears ticketed for the team’s fifth starter role, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. If he does indeed take that slot, the out-of-options Esmil Rogers will either need to lock up a pen slot or, perhaps, find another team.
- Shane Victorino‘s recent comments about the possibility of the Red Sox dealing for Cole Hamels led to a bit of a dust-up in Boston, due in part to a seemingly strained interpretation suggesting that Victorino was advocating for the departure of phenom Mookie Betts. As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports, Victorino vehemently denies that reading of his words. Regardless, of course, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal explains, Boston’s front office understandably has little interest in shipping away its most prized young talent for expensive veterans.
“Overall, baseball has never been as big or as profitable” as it is now, Forbes’ Mike Ozanian writes in the magazine’s annual valuation of MLB franchises. The average value of a Major League team is $1.2 billion, a massive increase from Forbes’ last calculation (of $811MM) just a year ago. Fifteen teams were valued at least a billion dollars, with the Yankees leading the way at $3.2 billion. Here’s some more from around baseball…
- Despite the Yankees‘ incredible value, Hal Steinbrenner said the team is not for sale in an ESPN radio interview with Michael Kay and Don LaGreca (hat tip to Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News). Selling the club is “not enticing in any way shape or form,” Steinbrenner said. “It’s a family business. Many of us are involved from the family and we know this is what our dad would want, to carry on the tradition.”
- Cuban right-hander Yadier Alvarez is drawing “serious interest” from the Nationals, The Washington Post’s James Wagner writes. “The Nationals like Alvarez’s frame and stuff,” Wagner notes about the 18-year-old Alvarez, who is listed at 6’3″ and 175 pounds. The Nats and Diamondbacks were cited as the top contenders for Alvarez by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez last month, and if Alvarez will indeed be ineligible to sign until July 2, that will eliminate the D’Backs from contention due to penalties for going over slot in this signing period to land Yoan Lopez. Even if Arizona is out of the running, however, the Nats will still have to bid against several other interested teams for Alvarez’s services.
- The MLBPA has been encouraging players to look for other means of achieving guaranteed financial security rather than accept below-market extensions, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports. One of those means is taking out a “loss-of-value” insurance policy to protect against injury (Max Scherzer took out such a policy last season) and Rosenthal suggests that Corey Kluber could explore doing the same this year to gain some leverage in contract talks with the Indians. Kluber could cash in by signing an extension now, but waiting even one season to get into his arbitration-eligible years would greatly increase the value of a multi-year deal, Rosenthal argues. With the loss-of-value policy backing him up, Kluber would have fewer worries about getting hurt this season and missing out on a chance at a big contract.
- Brady Aiken‘s Tommy John surgery will lower his draft stock and potentially make him a risk for teams picking near the top of the first round, though Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal thinks the Red Sox could take a chance on Aiken with the seventh overall pick. The addition of a first-round caliber talent in Yoan Moncada and an overall deep minor league system gives Boston the luxury to take a risk on Aiken and hopes that, if he recovers, they’ll have fallen into a future ace.
- Jake Fox is trying to land a regular minor league job with the Blue Jays, and the veteran talks to Sportsnet.com’s Arden Zwelling about some of the ups and downs of being a baseball journeyman.
Here are the day’s minor transactions, updated as we go:
- The Rays have released outfielder James Harris, MLBTR has learned. Harris was a supplemental first-round pick in the 2011 draft, taken 60th overall by Tampa and signed for a (then under-slot) bonus of $490K. Drafted as something of a toolsy project out of high school, Harris never got comfortable at the plate during his four pro seasons, hitting only .215/.291/.305 over 898 minor league plate appearances. The 21-year-old topped out at the A-ball level in the Rays’ system last year.
- The Phillies announced that they have acquired minor league shortstop Devin Lohman from the Reds in exchange for future considerations. Lohman, 25, has spent the past two seasons with Cincinnati’s Double-A affiliate in Pensacola, where he’s batted a combined .240/.307/.339. A third-round pick by Cincinnati in 2010, Lohman’s bat has never come around as a pro, but he’s a well-regarded defender. Baseball America ranked him 25th among Reds farmhands two offseasons ago on the strength of his glove and ranked him as the best infield defender in the organization’s minor league system that winter as well.
- The Red Sox have released right-handed reliever Mitchell Boggs, the team announced. Boggs, 31, was in camp on a minor league deal. He has not pitched in the big leagues since 2013, but had enjoyed six straight seasons of MLB pen work before that. Over 316 2/3 career frames, Boggs owns a 4.12 ERA with 6.6 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. His best year to date was 2012, when he racked up 73 1/3 innings of 2.21 ERA pitching for the Cardinals.
Here are a few notes on the Orioles, many of them from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman:
- The team has received more inquiries about lefty reliever Brian Matusz since the emergence of rumors connecting him to the Mets. That could increase the chances that the Orioles will trade him, Heyman writes. The Orioles already have lefties T.J. McFarland and Wesley Wright, plus closer Zach Britton, in their bullpen.
- The Orioles also have an abundance of starting pitchers, and they want Kevin Gausman in their rotation, so they could consider optioning Miguel Gonzalez or Wei-Yin Chen to the minors.
- The Orioles would like to keep both their Rule 5 picks, Logan Verrett (Mets) and Jason Garcia (Red Sox), but it will be hard for them to retain both. Verrett, who has pitched well this spring, is more likely to stick, Heyman writes. (Verrett also has far more experience in the upper minors than Garcia does.) Even keeping one might be somewhat difficult, in my opinion, given all the Orioles’ more experienced relievers (Britton, McFarland, Wright, Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Brad Brach and Ryan Webb, although McFarland and Webb could be optioned, as Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes). Trading Matusz would help if they’re serious about keeping Verrett and/or Garcia.
- Garcia’s fastball has been “pretty unhittable” this spring, the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo writes. He has never pitched above Class A, so the Red Sox might have thought no one would select him. Unsurprisingly for a young reliever, his secondary pitches aren’t strong, but a fastball in the upper 90s could help him have big-league success anyway.
The Orioles still have multiple roster competitions ongoing, Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Out-of-options infielder Jimmy Paredes may be hitting his way onto the roster, while option-less outfielder David Lough faces a logjam. Neither player will be easy to keep, but the organization will be loath to part with the pair. Baltimore also has tough decisions in the rotation, the bullpen, and behind the dish (assuming that Matt Wieters is not ready to open the year on the active roster).
Here’s more from Baltimore and the rest of the AL East:
- One Orioles player who is said to possibly be available is lefty Brian Matusz, with the Mets being a rumored destination. But Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that the clubs have not talked about the players and money that would be involved in a possible deal. Instead, New York has only proceeded to the “scouting stage” on Matusz.
- The Red Sox‘ glut of outfielders has been a story to follow all spring, and as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes, the situation remains about as complicated as might have been expected. Optioning Mookie Betts seems not to be a realistic or desirable possibility at this point, and Rusney Castillo is back in action and looking solid, creating problems — good ones, for the time being. As Cafardo explains, the difficulty at present revolves around questions such as whether Allen Craig can be dealt and whether Shane Victorino can or should open the season on the DL.
- Rays righty Nate Karns has been impressive in camp, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain writes. Picked up from the Nationals in last year’s Jose Lobaton deal, Karns is expected to open the year in the rotation, due in part to the team’s rash of injuries. The 27-year-old still has only 24 innings of big league experience to his credit, but has already burned two option years and will look to take full advantage of the opportunity to prove he can stick as a major league starter.
The Braves will likely be without Mike Minor and Melvin Upton for all of April, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in an update on the club’s injuries. Minor hasn’t thrown in almost three weeks due to inflammation in his left rotator cuff, while Upton is dealing with inflammation in his left foot and isn’t expected to be out of his protective walking boot for another couple of weeks. Here’s some more news from around the NL East…
- The Mets aren’t likely to pursue Joe Beimel, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets. Though the Mets have a need for a left-handed reliever, they apparently don’t have much interest in the recently-released Beimel.
- The relationship between Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins is one to watch, as there have been a few signs of miscommunication between the front office and the dugout this spring, Newsday’s John Harper writes. Alderson’s recent biography revealed that the GM came close to firing Collins last season, though Harper reports that the two men “had a clear-the-air meeting” to resolve their differences.
- Michael Cuddyer told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link) that “most interest dried up” for his services in the free agent market after the Rockies made the surprise move of issuing him a qualifying offer. Cuddyer’s final choice came down to the one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer or his eventual pick, the two-year/$21MM deal he got from the Mets.
- The Phillies don’t have much interest in Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes as part of a reader mailbag. The Phils and Sox have been linked for much of the offseason in Cole Hamels rumors and the Phillies have reportedly scouted Cecchini already during their examinations of Boston’s farm system. The Phillies have concerns about Cecchini’s defense, both at third and for a possible conversion to the outfield. Cecchini was ranked as one of the 100 top prospects in the sport prior to the 2014 season and is still ranked by MLB.com as the eighth-best prospect in the Red Sox system, though his stock dipped a bit after only an okay season at Triple-A.
- The Rangers are cited as one of “a number of teams…would be eager to acquire Andrew McKirahan in a trade,” MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes in his look at the Marlins‘ situation. Texas and Miami have recently been connected in trade rumors, with Brad Hand and Mike Dunn cited as possible targets for the Rangers. As Frisaro notes, however, the Marlins might want to keep Hand since he can be a spot starter and could bring a bit of balance to their all-righty rotation. What complicates matters for the Fish is that Hand is out of options and McKirahan is a Rule 5 draft pick who would have to remain on Miami’s 25-man roster all season or else be returned to the Cubs.
Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart says his team doesn’t feel the need another lefty reliever to complement Oliver Perez, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports. Instead, they’ll go with Andrew Chafin, Matt Reynolds, Dan Runzler, or possibly Robbie Ray. The 24-year-old Chafin struggled as a starter at Triple-A Reno after nine good starts at Double-A Mobile in 2014. Reynolds was recovering from Tommy John surgery, although he had success in the Diamondbacks’ bullpen in 2013 before getting hurt. Runzler pitched in the bullpen at the Triple-A level in the Giants system and is in Diamondbacks camp as a non-roster invite. Ray is in competition for the Diamondbacks’ last rotation spot, although that could go to Rubby De La Rosa, freeing Ray to work out of the bullpen. Here are more notes from throughout baseball.
- The Mariners are likely to try to trade pitcher Erasmo Ramirez, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes. Ramirez is out of options and doesn’t figure to make the team. The number of pitching injuries throughout the game could create a need for Ramirez somewhere. Since the Mariners will likely be forced to designate Ramirez for assignment if they don’t trade him, though, they don’t necessarily have much leverage.
- Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. isn’t likely to make the Red Sox coming out of camp, but he’s hit well in March while demonstrating a more level swing, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. That could make Bradley an attractive trade candidate again despite a tough 2014 season. The Red Sox can option Bradley, however, meaning the team doesn’t have to deal him even though it does have more outfielders than it needs right now.
The Dodgers weren’t the only NL West team looking at Cuban right-hander Pablo Millan Fernandez, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports that the Giants and Padres also had interest. The Rangers and Red Sox, two of the more aggressive teams on the international signing front in recent years, were also interested in Fernandez, who agreed to an $8MM bonus with Los Angeles yesterday. Here’s some more from around the NL West…
- Madison Bumgarner has no plans to approach the Giants about re-negotiating his contract and said he has no regrets over signing his five-year extension, the World Series MVP tells Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. In April 2012, Bumgarner signed a deal that, at the time, paid him the highest average annual value of any contract given to a player between 1-2 years of service time. The five-year, $35MM deal includes a $12MM vesting option for 2018 and a $12MM team option for 2019. While those options could increase to $16MM based on Cy Young finishes, Bumgarner’s contract has obviously been a major bargain for the Giants.
- The Brewers were one of a few teams interested in trading for Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero, though nobody was interested in paying Guerrero the $14MM he’s owed through 2017, ESPN Los Angeles’ Mark Saxon reports. Some teams were staying away from a trade and instead hoping L.A. would just release the Cuban prospect in the wake of his tough 2014 campaign. A good Spring Training, however, has earned Guerrero a spot on the Opening Day roster and kept him in the Dodgers’ future plans.
- The Dodgers won’t be considering extensions for Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick or Juan Uribe until at least partway through the season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times writes. All three veteran infielders are entering their walk years, but L.A. can afford to wait given the presence of Guerrero and Corey Seager, not to mention the possible signing of Hector Olivera. For his part, Uribe says he wants to stay with the Dodgers beyond 2015.
- Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart told reporters (including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert) and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) that Dioner Navarro‘s $5MM salary is too much to fit into his team’s payroll. The Snakes have been linked to the Blue Jays catcher for much of the offseason and they’re reportedly still scouting him, though Stewart said there isn’t any substance to those rumors.
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