Boston Red Sox Rumors
Earlier today, the Cubs confirmed last night's reports of a seven-year extension for Anthony Rizzo. At today's press conference to announce the move, general manager Jed Hoyer told reporters, including Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, that the deal was first discussed in Spring Training, and talks accelerated in the past 10 days (Twitter link). Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago adds (also via Twitter) that the contract was actually finalized last week; Rizzo took his physical his physical on the Cubs' off-day. Here's more on the Cubs in what will go down as a critical day in their franchise's history...
- Jeff Samardzija's agent Mark Rogers tells Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that there are still no talks on the extension front with his client. The two sides will re-visit discussions in the offseason to see if they can hammer out a long-term deal Samardzija is controlled through the 2015 season. The Cubs consider Samardzija "one of their upper-tier starters of the future," writes Levine.
- Selecting a pitcher with the No. 2 pick in this year's draft "appears to be a sure thing," Levine adds. Stanford right-hander Mark Appel and Oklahoma right-hander Jonathan Gray are the consensus top two arms in the draft right now, though Levine doesn't list any specific names.
- In addition to extending Samardzija, signing one other free agent starter this offseason "seems essential" to Levine. That would give the Cubs a pitching core of Samardzija, Edwin Jackson, the pitcher selected second in the 2013 draft, and a solid free agent, with another high draft pick in 2014 likely on the horizon. Here's a look at all of the available 2014 free agents.
- David Kaplan of CSN Chicago offers a similar sentiment, stating that fans should expect the Cubs to spend on free agency once again this coming offseason. Multiple Major League sources, including an AL front-office executive, told Kaplan they expect the Cubs to be in on the top free agent names this offseason, including Jacoby Ellsbury. Ellsbury, of course, was drafted by Cubs president Theo Epstein when he was GM of the Red Sox.
- MLBTR collected some reactions to Rizzo's extension from around the web earlier today, and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
The Red Sox bullpen was dealt another blow today with the news that Joel Hanrahan will undergo flexor tendon surgery and miss the rest of the season. Most pundits were in agreement that the Phillies overpaid when they signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50MM contract following the 2011 season, but Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe writes that the Red Sox might end up being the ones paying the biggest price for Papelbon's departure given how the Sox have struggled to fill the void at closer over the last two years.
Here's a look at the latest out of the American League East..
- Right-hander Steve Delabar has become a key contributor out of the Blue Jays' bullpen since joining the team last July, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes. Delabar has a 2.86 ERA and a 12.7 K/9 in 44 games as a Blue Jay.
- As he approaches a $13MM club option year, Red Sox southpaw Jon Lester is looking strong through one month and change, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. First-year pitching coach Juan Nieves helped make some adjustments to Lester's mechanics and the 29-year-old has a 2.73 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through eight starts this sesaon.
- Recent acquisition Alberto Gonzalez is nothing special, but the Yankees had to fortify their Triple-A affiliate's middle infield, writes Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues. The Bombers acquired Gonzalez from the Cubs earlier this week in exchange for a player to be named later or cash.
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com makes the case that the Orioles' Manny Machado belongs in the conversation alongside Mike Trout and Bryce Harper as the best young player in baseball.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
The Red Sox have dropped three straight heading into tonight's game against the Blue Jays, but they find themselves very much in the AL East mix early in the season. Boston's front office took some criticism this offseason for their moves, but so far, things are going well for them as their acquisitions are paying off. Here's more on that and other notes out of the AL and NL East..
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) ran down his top ten free agent signings of the winter and the Red Sox make the list twice thanks to Mike Napoli and Ryan Dempster. Napoli's deal was in flux for some time thanks to hip troubles, but his current performance could push Boston to consider giving him back his original three-year, $39MM pact. Dempster, meanwhile, turned down a more lucrative offer from the Brewers and seems to have found a home in Boston where he turned in a 2.93 ERA with 11.5 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 through seven starts.
- After switching from Octagon to agent Scott Boras, Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen says that the club has yet to approach him about an extension, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. “I believe [Boras] is a really professional agent and he’s not only helped me on the field, but off the field, too,” Chen said through an interpreter. “I trust him, and I think I will have a better career with him.”
- Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton has been the subject of trade speculation for months, but manager Mike Redmond still isn't sure when he'll be back in action after his recent hamstring injury, tweets Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post. “We still don’t have time frame for him He’s still a ways off," said the skipper.
Today's minor moves...
- The Yankees have acquired minor league shortstop Alberto Gonzalez from the Cubs in exchange for a player to be named later or cash, tweets Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. Gonzalez, who first appeared in the big leagues with the Yankees back in 2007, has seen limited MLB action over the last two years for Texas and Chicago. Over 989 career plate appearances, he has a .241/.279/.319 line.
- The Orioles acquired third baseman Brandon Wood from the Royals for cash considerations, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Wood will report to Triple-A Norfolk. The 28-year-old is hitting .264/.304/.396 in 56 Triple-A plate appearances. Wood, then with the Angels, was ranked as the third-best prospect in baseball after the '06 season by Baseball America, which said he profiled as a perennial All-Star. He's received 751 big league plate appearances with the Angels and Pirates, posting a .186/.225/.289 line.
- The Red Sox will promote reliever Jose De La Torre, GM Ben Cherington said today on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show. The Red Sox transferred reliever Joel Hanrahan, who has at least a flexor muscle strain, to the 60-day DL to open a 40-man roster spot for De La Torre.
- Kyle Kaminska, a righty who was with Boston's High A affiliate, has retired according to Evan Lepler on his MLB.com blog. The 24-year-old had joined the organization in December as the player to be named later in the Zach Stewart deal with Pittsburgh.
Matt Harvey posted a game score of 97 while taking a perfect game into the seventh, striking out 12, and walking none over nine innings against the White Sox Tuesday night, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports notes (on Twitter). Only 40 outings of nine innings or fewer since 1916 have earned a higher game score. Here's a collection of notes from around the majors.
- The nine Asian-born pitchers who have pitched in the big leagues this year have combined to post numbers similar to a typical Justin Verlander season, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs says. Those nine pitchers have 241 1/3 innings pitched so far in 2013, with a 2.91 ERA, 9.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. Yu Darvish has been a big part of that, of course, but Hyun-Jin Ryu, Hisashi Iwakuma, Hiroki Kuroda, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara have also pitched well. The past struggles of pitchers like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Irabu have allowed today's Asian-born pitchers to fly under the radar somewhat, Cameron argues, and he wonders whether pitchers from overseas leagues might be undervalued in the market. Specifically, he says, emphasis on fastball velocity and breaking balls may cause teams to undervalue pitchers with great splitters or changeups.
- Free agency has become "a used car lot cluttered with lemons," with only a few bargains to be found, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated argues, citing the examples of Josh Hamilton (Angels), B.J. Upton (Braves) and Zack Greinke (Dodgers). Thus far, Hamilton and Upton have failed to produce with their new teams, and Greinke is hurt. In the past four seasons, Verducci notes, there have been 24 free-agent contracts worth $35MM or more. Most of those have turned out badly, and some (such as Jason Bay's deal with the Mets) have looked bad almost immediately. That means that "win[ning] the winter" by signing the biggest-name free agents isn't all it's cracked up to be, as the 2012 Marlins can attest. This year's Angels and Dodgers have struggled out of the gate, and so have the Blue Jays (who had a big offseason mostly driven by trades).
- The Astros' decisions to designate Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez for assignment made their outfield more athletic, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says. Robbie Grossman, Brandon Barnes and Jimmy Paredes started in the outfield for the Astros Tuesday night. "We went out to get more athletic, get more guys who have the ability to mishit the ball and still have a possibility of getting on base because of their athletic ability," says manager Bo Porter.
- Will Middlebrooks and David Ross left the Red Sox's game against the Twins Tuesday night after they collided. There is no indication yes that Middlebrooks will miss significant time. But after Middlebrooks, the Red Sox have little depth at third base, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Utility infielder Pedro Ciriaco "isn't the answer," MacPherson says, and the choices at Triple-A Pawtucket aren't thrilling. Minor-league veteran Justin Henry, who was acquired in the offseason for Rule 5 pick Jeff Kobernus, may be the best option there. Brock Holt, who arrived from the Pirates with Joel Hanrahan in the offseason, is another possibility. Of course, Middlebrooks himself has struggled this year, hitting just .195/.232/.281.
- Jake Peavy does not have a no-trade clause in his new contract with the White Sox, and he doesn't need one, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. "I told (GM) Rick Hahn that if he didn’t trade me before spring training was over, that was good enough for me," says Peavy, pointing out that it's unlikely he will be traded if the White Sox are contending.
- Rosenthal also notes that Madison Bumgarner's contract with the Giants could be one of the most team-friendly in baseball. Bumgarner, 23, would have been eligible for free agency after the 2016 season, but his new deal contains cheap team options that can allow the Giants to carry him through 2019.
- The Brewers have assigned Francisco Rodriguez to Class A+ Brevard County, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes. Rodriguez will make three relief appearances there, then head to Triple-A Nashville. The Brewers must promote Rodriguez to the majors by May 17, or he can become a free agent. Rodriguez posted a 4.38 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 78 appearances with the Brewers in 2012.
- Diamond Mines' new database provides a fascinating look at old scouting reports, including many in the scouts' own handwriting.
Orioles pitcher Zach Clark was recently outrighted to Double-A Bowie. While he's there, he'll "experiment" with the knuckleball, the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly notes. He'll work with Hall of Famer Phil Niekro on Thursday. Clark joins Zach Staniewicz and Eddie Gamboa as knuckleball pitchers in the Orioles system. Here are more notes from the American League.
- As of Wednesday, Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. will have been in the minor leagues for 20 days this season, which ensures that he will not become a free agent after 2018, Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes. Bradley broke camp with the Red Sox, but they optioned him to Triple-A Pawtucket April 18 after a 3-for-31 start to his big-league career. Bradley is currently hitting .303/.400/.349 in Triple-A, but he's currently on the minor-league disabled list with biceps tendinitis.
- The Yankees have around $80MM worth of players rehabbing at their minor-league complex in Tampa, Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports. Alex Rodriguez ($28MM), Mark Teixeira ($22.5MM), Curtis Granderson ($15MM) and Kevin Youkilis ($12MM) are all rehabbing, along with Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda. (Derek Jeter, who is still in a walking boot, is not.) "We've got a team here," says Cervelli. "I could be the catcher."
- After signing a non-guaranteed deal with the Mariners this offseason, Jason Bay is embracing his role as a complementary player, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. While other clubs offered him more playing time, the veteran came to find that he enjoyed the challenge of earning his place on the team.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Here's a look at the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- Chase Headley is probably going to be traded by the July 31st deadline. The Padres plan to spend the next two months determining whether they can lock up the third baseman long term, but there are two problems with that. For starters, Headley says he doesn't want to talk about a new deal during the season. Secondly, it would be surprising to see San Diego crack $100MM to keep him. Headley probably wants a better hitting environment and to play for a better team. Meanwhile, there's no shortage of teams that would like to add him as Rosenthal says there could be at least a dozen clubs in the market for a third baseman, including the Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox.
- If Mike Napoli stays healthy and continues producing, the Red Sox first baseman will build his case for a multi-year deal in free agency. Of course, Boston reduced their three-year offer to Napoli to one-year after learning he had a condition in both hips. However, he's taking MRIs every three months to keep tabs on it and if the tests show that his condition is improved or stable, a team might be willing to extend a longer offer, especially since he's playing first base rather than catcher.
- Josh Johnson is the Blue Jays' most obvious trade candidate but if the season becomes a train wreck, they'll have the ability to move virtually any player. Jose Reyes is the only player signed beyond 2015 while most players on multi-year deals are signed at affordable prices and no one has a no-trade clause. Brandon Morrow might be an interesting name as the club has lots of young pitching coming. Of course, the Blue Jays have to fall out of things before considering such a move.
- It's bad enough for the Angels that shortstop Jean Segura is blossoming into a star elsewhere, but they've also traded away an entire rotation's worth of talent in recent years. The Halos sent Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs to Arizona for Dan Haren, Donn Roach to San Diego for Ernesto Frieri, and Johnny Hellweg to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal. On top of that, the Angels weakened their farm system by giving up their first and second round picks last year for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and their first round pick this year to ink Josh Hamilton. Their top pick last year was No. 114, this year it'll be No. 59.
Here are a few notes from around baseball:
- David Ortiz signed with the Red Sox this offseason before testing the market, even though he was aware that the Rangers were reportedly prepared to make him a two-year offer, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. Ortiz's two-year deal, which will pay him at least $26MM, was inked just before he would have been permitted to negotiate with other clubs. Ortiz says he knew he would return to Boston all along, especially after the team approached him about a new contract while he was injured during the 2012 season. Now, Ortiz says, contracts are not on his mind: "I'm not thinking of any of that. I'm just thinking of raking." Of course, he has been doing just that so far in 2013, posting an absurd .465/.489/.837 line over 47 plate appearances since returning from injury.
- Yesterday, minor league infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen was returned to the Diamondbacks after being sent (Twitter link) to the Reds for cash or a player to be named later. MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports that both teams were caught off guard when they learned that Teahen's shoulder was ailing. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers explained: "Two days prior to us trading him he dove for a ball, didn't say anything, didn't show up on any of our medical reports. When he did his physical over there he said he felt something in his shoulder, didn't quite feel right. [He] hadn't said anything to us. [The Reds] basically said there's some concerns because, 'We were expecting to get a healthy player, and if he's not able to go right now, we probably have less interest in doing it.'"
- Last night, the Cardinals turned to prized youngsters Carlos Martinez and Seth Maness to shore up the team's bullpen, as the team continues to try to avoid going outside the organization for help. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, however, a more established figure could be the key to maintaining a sound relief corps without giving up young talent. Former starter Chris Carpenter -- who said in March that he thought his career was over (Twitter link) -- is now looking to come back as a reliever. GM John Mozeliak says he is "candidly optimistic and excited about him contributing," and that a late June or early July return could be possible.
Let's start the weekend up with a poll. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted recently, two young stars (Adam Jones and Miguel Montero) signed significant extensions during May of 2012. While there have not been significant rumblings about any similar deals recently, the Jones and Montero deals both sprung up with relatively little advance buzz: Jones said he was not aware of any talks with the Orioles just a month before his six-year, $85.5MM deal was inked. And the build up to Montero's five-year, $60MM extension consisted largely of the Diamondbacks' acknowledgement that the team was open to in-season negotiations.
Jones had one year of arbitration eligibility remaining when he signed, while Montero would have become a free agent at the end of the year. Both were relatively young (26 and 28, respectively) and fairly well established as above-average players at premium defensive positions. And each had been with their teams for all or virtually all of their big league careers.
With those deals in mind, let's take a look at some generally comparable position players who could be positioned for similar deals. We will not include Robinson Cano, as he is at a different level of performance and contract extension, along with being somewhat older. Anyhow, we already asked MLBTR readers what they think about the likelihood of a Cano extension. Likewise, we'll leave out Chase Headley, given his recent comments. (Also, MLBTR readers just weighed in on a possible Headley extension, with the majority believing a trade was more likely than an extension.)
The Nationals' Ian Desmond, 27, has continued to build off of his emergence last year. He sports a .296/.311/.530 line, although he has also registered seven early errors. The shortstop has spent his entire career in the former-Expos organization, and is poised to hit the open market in 2016. We know the Nats are open to negotiating an extension with Desmond, and the Elvis Andrus signing provides a relevant (albeit imperfect) point of reference.
Orioles' catcher Matt Wieters is another obvious candidate. He will turn 27 later this month, and is looking at free agency in 2016. Ongoing negotiations between Wieters and the O's are seemingly at a simmer, but could pick up at any time. While Wieters is off to a bit of a slow start, slashing just .224/.297/.388 to date, he also probably had less to prove this season than Desmond.
Jacoby Ellsbury of the Red Sox, 29, is similarly situated to Montero. He has played his entire career in Boston, but is set to become a free agent after the season. While the center fielder has not returned to his MVP-level 2011 season, when he exploded for 32 home runs, he has bounced back from his injury-shortened 2012. Thus far, his batting line (.286/.338/.405) and league-leading steal totals (11) are right in line with his strong 2008-2009 seasons. While both player and team appear interested in discussing an extension, Ellsbury's representation by Scott Boras -- and the possibility that he could significantly raise his value with an injury-free 2013 -- could make a deal unlikely.
Jason Heyward of the Braves is two years from free agency at just 23 years old, but as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes notes, the cost-conscious Braves could look to extend him. Heyward is currently on the DL after undergoing an appendectomy, and has had a poor start to the year. Nevertheless, he has established himself as few big leaguers have at his age.
Austin Jackson, the Tigers' center fielder, is a young 26 and still two years from free agency. He is also a client of Scott Boras. But his strong early track record could make him a target for Detroit to try and lock up early. With so many big-money free agent deals on the books, it could make sense for the Tigers to try and save on Jackson by guaranteeing him money in advance. Jackson is off to another good start, putting up a .293/.356/.407 line to go with five steals.
The Phillies have made multiple inquiries on the availability of Giancarlo Stanton over the past several months, Major League sources tell Jim Sailisbury of CSNPhilly.com, but have received the same answer as every other team in baseball: Stanton isn't available for the time being.
Salisbury notes that while the Phils lack a deep farm system, they do have plenty of near-MLB-ready arms such as Jesse Biddle, Jonathan Pettibone and Adam Morgan that could be used to headline a Stanton package. Of course, as Salisbury notes, if and when the Marlins decide to listen to offers on Stanton, they may not be keen on trading him within the division. That hasn't stopped the Phillies -- and reportedly the Mets -- from showing interest.
Salisbury writes that the very reason that the Phillies have such great need for Stanton's services could lead the team to be sellers come the trade deadline. Philadelphia outfielders are hitting just .215/.285/.330, which has contributed to their 13-16 record. Here are the highlights from his list of potential trade chips...
- Cliff Lee could become the prize of the July trade market should the Phillies sell. The Red Sox inquired on Lee before the Winter Meetings but were rebuffed. Given their first-place standing, they could look at Lee as a means to push them toward a World Series run.
- Jonathan Papelbon is another expensive piece that the Phils could move, and Salisbury wonders if the Tigers could be interested, given deep-pocketed owner Mike Illitch's desire to win a World Series. Detroit has had bullpen issues all season and recently re-signed Jose Valverde to reprise his role as closer. However, Salisbury reports that the Tigers are one of the team's in Papelbon's no-trade clause.
- Jimmy Rollins could be moved but would have to waive his full no-trade clause in order for that to happen.
- There's a sentiment that the Phillies would prefer to keep Chase Utley than deal him this summer if he remains healthy. Utley will gain 10-and-5 rights in August, Salisbury notes.
- Salisbury also mentions Carlos Ruiz, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Delmon Young as players the Phillies would consider. Halladay's inconsistency and Howard's price tag would be prohibitive factors in any trade talks for that duo.