Boston Red Sox Rumors
11:24am: Napoli's market is picking up, and the Mariners, Marlins, Rangers and Red Sox are all involved, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi adds that the Mariners have had "recent" talks with Napoli.
10:57am: Mike Napoli's free agent negotiations are at a critical stage, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He says Napoli wants to remain with the Red Sox, but he has an offer from another club that Boston will need to match or exceed. Earlier, Rosenthal tweeted that the Rangers and Marlins are in on Napoli, who remains a priority for the Red Sox. The Rangers are interested even after acquiring Prince Fielder, which is seemingly made possible by the designated hitter spot.
Napoli was one of 13 players to receive a qualifying offer in November, so signing him will require forfeiture of a draft pick for teams other than the Red Sox. The 32-year-old switched to first base full-time in 2013 for Boston, hitting .259/.360/.482 in 578 plate appearances and playing in the postseason for the sixth time in eight seasons. Last offseason, Napoli's three-year, $39MM deal with the Red Sox was renegotiated down to a one-year, $5MM guarantee after his physical revealed a degenerative hip condition. With Curtis Granderson receiving four guaranteed years today from the Mets, I think Napoli has a good case for the same.
Who's the most valuable trade asset in baseball? Not to spoil the ending of Jonah Keri's MLB Trade Value rankings for Grantland (Part 1 here, Part 2 here), but it's almost certainly Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who posted over ten wins above replacement for the second straight season while making barely more than the league minimum. Not only is he the best player in the game, but even without a long-term deal, the Angels can control him for the next four years at what will likely be below-market rates. Figuring out who else ought to go in the top ten, based on their age, contract status and all-around performance, is a fun exercise. The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and his now-extremely-team-friendly-looking deal are there, as is 21-year-old stud Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. The order of the rest isn't nearly so obvious. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Now that Jacoby Ellsbury is gone, the Red Sox are looking for an outfielder to pair with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Curtis Granderson wouldn't work since both and Bradley hit left-handed, so the Red Sox are looking at righty outfielders. One of those, Lauber writes, is Franklin Gutierrez, who has a .256/.306/.391 career batting line but has a strong defensive reputation and a career .818 OPS against lefties. The Red Sox could also still acquire Carlos Beltran (although he certainly wouldn't be a candidate to play center field) or trade for an outfielder.
- The Marlins would like to see outfielder Chris Coghlan return, but Coghlan is deciding what to do next after being non-tendered, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill suggests that Coghlan would need to accept a minor-league contract to stay with the Marlins. If another team offers him a big-league deal, Coghlan will likely leave Miami behind. It seems unlikely, however, that he'll get one, given that he's coming off a .256/.318/.354 season, isn't a strong defensive player, and hasn't posted an OPS above .718 since his Rookie of the Year-winning debut season in 2009.
- Contrary to recent rumors, the Royals haven't offered Carlos Beltran three years and $48MM, tweets FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Royals ownership would have to be involved if the team wanted to offer that much money.
Yesterday it was reported that talks between Curtis Granderson and the Mets have intensified, and the Mets are becoming increasingly optimistic about their chances to land him. The Red Sox reportedly haven't ruled him out. The Diamondbacks, though they strongly desire a corner outfield bat with some power, aren't likely to be able to afford him. We'll keep track of today's Granderson rumors here...
- The Mets believe they have a "decent" chance at signing Granderson but have yet to up their offer from three years to four, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.
- Newsday's Marc Carig reports (via Twitter) that Granderson has been seeking a four-year deal worth $16MM annually. Carig goes on to clarify that the Mets aren't necessarily discussing a number that high at this time, but rather that $64MM is simply what Granderson is aiming for this offseason.
- A guaranteed fourth year is still up for debate in Granderson negotiations, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. In a second tweet, he adds that the Mets may have to go four years to land him but aren't resigned to that yet.
- Granderson's talks with the Mets are more advanced than they are with other teams, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Other teams remain in the mix, however.
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald tweets that the Red Sox are more interested in right-handed outfield bats to complement Jackie Bradley Jr., so they don't see Granderson as a great fit.
The Red Sox have agreed to terms on a two-year, $9.5MM contract with right-hander Edward Mujica, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Mujica, who is represented by Octagon, will take a physical today, according to Passan.
Mujica, 29, possesses some of the best command of any pitcher in the Majors. He issued just five walks in 64 2/3 innings this season to go along with 46 strikeouts and a 2.78 ERA. Mujica entered the season buried on St. Louis' bullpen depth chart but ascended to the role of closer. Jason Motte underwent Tommy John surgery, Mitchell Boggs flopped and the Cardinals elected to deploy rookie Trevor Rosenthal in a setup role. The end result was Mujica notching 37 saves for the Redbirds, though he wilted down the stretch and was a complete non-factor in the playoffs.
Mujica's late-season swoon likely cost him several million dollars, as did a free agent market stuffed with closer types of relievers. Mujica, Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Chris Perez, Kevin Gregg and Jose Veras all saved 20-plus games in 2013. The market also features plenty of former closers in the form of John Axford, Brian Wilson and Andrew Bailey (Axford and Bailey were non-tendered), further presenting teams with late-inning alternatives that helped to suppress Mujica's price tag.
Mujica will join a Red Sox bullpen that figures to be once again anchored by Koji Uehara. Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow and a presumably healthy Andrew Miller should join Mujica in bridging the gap to Uehara as the BoSox look to capture a second consecutive World Series title.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
For a fascinating look at some of the background motivations for the Yankees' recent signings of catcher Brian McCann and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, be sure to read this excellent article from Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. As Costa explains, New York's singular spending capacity is closely connected to its unique financial circumstances. The club's ticket sales and stadium seat licenses took a greater-than-$50MM hit last year due to missing the post-season, Costa reports. When one factors in the impact to merchandise, concessions, and future ticket sales, says Costa, the club's massive free agent investments begin to look more like a necessity. As Vince Gennaro notes in the piece, "If the Yankees were an 85-win team or an 83-win team for three or four years in a row, they would suffer financially orders of magnitude more than any other franchise."
Here are some more notes out of the Bronx and the rest of the AL East:
- If the Yankees have any chance of staying under the $189MM luxury tax level, a source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the club needs for Alex Rodriguez to remain suspended for all of 2014. If the suspension is upheld, the Yankees will avoid both his $27.5MM salary as well as the $6MM bonus they stand to pay if Rodriguez passes Willie Mays on the all-time home run list.
- The Yankees initially pursued Carlos Beltran more aggressively than Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post, but shifted their attention to Ellsbury as a third year became more and more likely for Beltran. The Mariners were seemingly willing to give Ellsbury a stunning nine-year deal, but the center fielder was apparently less than enthused about going to Seattle. Talks accelerated over the weekend when the Yanks agreed to exceed the Carl Crawford contract, Sherman reports.
- Meanwhile, Red Sox manager John Farrell told WEEI's Salk & Holley (via WEEI.com's Alex Speier) that the field staff and players were "jolted" by the news of Ellsbury's departure. With about a half-dozen current players reaching out for more information, Farrell told them that GM Ben Cherington was "doing the best he can with the two remaining guys, with [Mike Napoli] and [Stephen Drew]." "We're going to do anything we can to bring both guys back," Farrell told his players. Be sure to check out the link for a lot more quotes from Farrell on the team's recent moves and path forward.
- While Ellsbury's parting may have surprised Sox players, it seemed to be rather expected by the front office, as Speier notes. Indeed, as John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports (via Twitter), the club never made its star outfielder a nine-figure offer. Looking ahead, Boston still has plenty of work to do after resolving its catching opening by signing A.J. Pierzynski. But given the club's slate of young players already in the fold, says Speier, there are plenty of ways that Cherington can maneuver in addressing Boston's remaining questions.
- We just learned that the Orioles could be chasing some big-money free agents, but the club's most immediate move is expected to be the addition of outfielder Francisco Peguero, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com had previously reported (via Twitter) that a deal was in place, but executive vice president Dan Duquette said that "it's not a done deal." Duquette did, however, confirm that an agreement was close. The top Orioles baseball man noted that the club likes Peguero's defensive flexibility and hit tool. Adding Peguero would leave Baltimore with two vacant 40-man spots, Kubatko notes.
The bidding for Jacoby Ellsbury went a little higher than the Red Sox were comfortable going, GM Ben Cherington tells Ian Browne of MLB.com. In the meantime, the Sox aren't sure whether they'll acquire another outfielder or just go with Jackie Bradley Jr. "There's still time. We're working and we're going to work through different options and continue to pursue ways to make the team better," Cherington says. "But we certainly feel fortunate that Jackie is in our organization, and we would feel very good if he is playing center field if that's the way it plays out." Here are more notes on the Red Sox.
- Sox manager John Farrell says that he would like the team to keep Shane Victorino in right field and to add a center fielder or use Bradley there, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- Farrell also said that the Red Sox are going to do "anything" they can to retain Stephen Drew and Mike Napoli, Speier tweets. Boston's other key free agents -- Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- have gone elsewhere.
- A.J. Pierzynski says that it was "impossible to say no" to the Red Sox since he felt that they give him the best chance to win a World Series ring in 2014, according to the Associated Press. The catcher will reportedly receive an $8.25MM guarantee on his one-year deal.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
After the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, it's hard to see how the Yankees can sign Robinson Cano and still stay under the $189MM luxury-tax threshold, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. The only clear path to the Yankees being able to sign Cano and stay under the threshold would be if Alex Rodriguez's suspension were upheld. Here are more notes on Ellsbury's deal with the Yankees.
- Paying $20MM per season for Jacoby Ellsbury makes more sense for the Yankees than it does for other teams, including the Red Sox, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Not only do the Yankees have a huge payroll, but they also have a stadium that should be favorable to Ellsbury, and they don't have Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings, as the Red Sox do.
- With Ellsbury in the fold, the Yankees have no plans to trade Brett Gardner, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. Instead, they'd like to play both of them at the top of the Yankees' batting order.
- Despite already having a relatively crowded outfield, with Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki along with Ellsbury and Gardner, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes that the Yankees could still pursue Shin-Soo Choo, primarily as a backup option if Robinson Cano goes elsewhere. Such a move would make a Gardner trade more likely, McCullough writes.
- Choo has plenty of interest now that Ellsbury is off the board, tweets Yahoo!'s Tim Brown. Brown guesses that the Rangers are favorites to sign Choo.
The Red Sox have prioritized landing a catcher on a short-term deal this offseason so as not to block the paths of prospects Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez, and they accomplished that goal by landing A.J. Pierzynski. Boston officially announced a one-year deal for Pierzynski today. Pierzynski, who is represented by agent Steve Hilliard of Octagon, will reportedly receive an $8.25MM guarantee on his one-year pact.
Terms are not yet known on Pierzynski's contract, but it's fair to suggest he could find two years with Carlos Ruiz getting three and Dioner Navarro getting two. Pierzynski, 37 later this month, signed a one-year deal with the Rangers last offseason and went on to hit .272/.297/.425 with 17 home runs in 529 plate appearances. As MLBTR's Steve Adams mentioned in Pierzynski's free agent profile, he offers good power for the position and has displayed perhaps the best durability behind the dish in baseball. Pierzynski will be paired with David Ross in Boston. The contract represents the first free agent deal of the offseason for the World Champion Red Sox, who still need to address first base at the least with Mike Napoli a free agent. The Twins and Blue Jays were reportedly among the other teams showing interest in Pierzynski this offseason.
Pierzynski is already the seventh catcher to sign a Major League deal, following Brian McCann (Yankees), Carlos Ruiz (Phillies), Dioner Navarro (Blue Jays), Jose Molina (Rays), Brayan Pena (Reds), and Francisco Pena (Royals). Saltalamacchia now appears the only starting option on the free agent market, though it's possible the newly non-tendered J.P. Arencibia could get significant playing time with a new team in 2014. In addition, the Reds seem likely to trade Ryan Hanigan.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported the agreement. Sean McAdam of Comcast Sports Net New England reported that it was a one-year deal (via Twitter), and ESPN's Buster Olney reported the $8.25MM value (also on Twitter).
Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Red Sox "haven't ruled out" a pursuit of Curtis Granderson, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link). In light of last night's sudden and surprising agreement between Jacoby Ellsbury and the Yankees, the Red Sox have a need in the outfield, though that could simply be handled by Jackie Bradley Jr. The Sox could use Grandy in either right field or center field, with Shane Victorino occupying the other slot. Here are some more Boston-related news items...
- Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets that Boston's talks with Ellsbury didn't go too far beyond the five-year, $80MM range. That jives with previous reports that the Red Sox didn't want to give Ellsbury $100MM or more and last night's report that their offer was "a ways off" from that of the Yankees.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports that the Red Sox have been limiting their offers to free agent catchers to two years so as not to block the paths of top prospects Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart. As such, their best offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia was a two-year deal that could top out at $18MM after incentives. Saltalamacchia instead agreed to a three-year deal with the Marlins yesterday.
- The signing of A.J. Pierzynski could spell the end of Ryan Lavarnway's time with the Red Sox, Speier writes in a separate piece. Lavarnway has made a lot of strides defensively over the past few years but still isn't a defensive asset, and his offense has seen a precipitous drop since a 32-homer minor league season in 2011. Since that time, he's hit just 14 homers in 829 plate appearances. The presence of Swihart, Vazquez and Dan Butler creates a logjam that could leave Lavarnway on the outside looking in.
In today's conference call to announce Tony Clark as the new executive director of the MLBPA, free agent Curtis Granderson didn't give reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), the impression that they are right on the cusp of a deal with the Mets. "We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon … It was kind of what you could expect," said the outfielder. Here's more from around baseball..
- While the Red Sox have been engaged in talks with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, the team is unlikely to pursue a three-year deal for the 36-year-old, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The rival Yankees also won't go to three years, reportedly.
- The Angels are unlikely to trade Mark Trumbo, according to jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (on Twitter). The Halos believe that a fair return would be top notch young starting pitching for the slugger and that deal doesn't exist. The Angels also aren't sure if they can get a good enough starter in exchange for Howie Kendrick, which could leave them to try and net two starters on the open market with limited money (link).
- The Yankees' $153MM deal for Jacoby Ellsbury is supposed to put the squeeze on Robinson Cano, but it could backfire, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Red Sox's offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia topped out at two years for about $18MM, a source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The Yankees have signed right-hander Brian Gordon to a minor league deal, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (on Twitter).
- Ryan Webb was surprised to learn that he was non-tendered by the Marlins, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors (on Twitter) expected Luke Gregerson to fetch more than Seth Smith. The Padres and A's swapped the two in a one-for-one swap earlier today.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe takes a closer look at the Red Sox's deal for A.J. Pierzynski.