Boston Red Sox Rumors
It's offically Thanksgiving day on the east coast, so let's take a look at a few notes from the eastern seaboard:
- The stage is set for the market to pick up after the Thanksgiving holiday, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, even if it isn't celebrated in the same time or manner by our neighbors to the north. While things have been relatively quiet for many clubs, including the Blue Jays, that could change with Monday's non-tender deadline and movement in top-of-the-market situations around the league (including the Japanese posting system and its implications for Masahiro Tanaka, increasing activity on the Robinson Cano front, and the Yankees' apparent decision to begin spending).
- Could a problem with Red Sox free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia's medicals be the cause of a seemingly slow market for the backstop's services? In an appearance on WEEI's Mut & Merloni (writeup via WEEI.com), ESPN's Buster Olney suggested that possibility, while acknowledging that he has no specific knowledge of Salty's file. But Jim Munsey, the 28-year-old backstop's agent, flatly denied that speculation in comments to WEEI.com's Alex Speier, saying "there are no medical issues hindering [Saltalamacchia's] market."
- Interestingly, Munsey did note that the Cubs -- the team that Olney mentioned by name with respect to Saltalamacchia -- had decided not to pursue the backstop in part because they "don't believe they could compete for what is believed to be Salty's market." More generally, he expressed that things were going just fine for his client: "Some agents prefer to perform their responsibilities outside of the media spotlight. Just because you're not hearing it doesn't mean it's not happening."
- Another player who has yet to see a full slate of bidders, according to Olney, is another Boston free agent: shortstop Stephen Drew. Olney says that he believes Drew's decision to reject the club's $14.1MM qualifying offer was a mistake. He reasons that it is looking worse by the day, with the Cardinals now out of the market and the Mets seemingly hesitant to give up a pick to sign him at that level of value.
- As for the aforementioned Cano, Olney says (in an Insider piece) that the big question facing the star second baseman and the Yankees is what other teams might get seriously involved. While there is no obvious alternative suitor at this point, Olney's trip around the league leaves him with a list of the teams that are most likely to have the financial and roster flexibility to make a real run.
- Atop Olney's list of theoretically viable Cano landing spots, along with the Tigers and Rangers, is the Nationals. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore recently laid out the case for the club to chase Cano. While he says the club lacks a pressing need to tinker with its infield, and GM Mike Rizzo has not shown a particular desire to do so, the fact remains that Cano is unquestionably the best player on the market and the Nats have the pockets to bring him in. Though Anthony Rendon has plenty of upside and cheap team control, he is young enough to serve in a reserve capacity or could be cashed in with a corresponding win-now move.
- Meanwhile, the recent signings of Javier Lopez and Manny Parra have taken away two major possible left-handed relief targets from the Nats, Kilgore writes. Other targets certainly remain, with Kilgore saying the team is continuing to talk with Boone Logan and noting others like J.P. Howell, Eric O'Flaherty, Scott Downs, Matt Thornton, and Michael Gonzalez. Of course, even after parting with Fernando Abad, the club could still rely on remaining internal options like Ian Krol and Xavier Cedeno, and could move starters like Ross Detwiler and Sammy Solis to the pen.
- From my perspective, it is worth noting Rizzo's recent history with southpaw relievers. Over the last three years, the club has received its greatest contributions from hurlers like Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Gonzalez, Sean Burnett, Zach Duke, and the previously noted Abad, Cedeno, and Krol. Each of these players was either picked up as a minor league free agent or in a relatively minor trade (or, for Krol, as the last piece of a somewhat significant trade). After letting Burnett walk for a seemingly reasonable price last year and declining to outbid the early market on Lopez and Parra, Rizzo may still prefer to avoid utilizing significant resources to add lefties.
The Orioles are close to a minor league deal with infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr., reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. However, the O's are likely to hold off finalizing the deal in order to avoid having to add De Jesus to the 40-man roster to protect him from being selected in next week's Rule 5 Draft. Baltimore learned their lesson the hard way in that regard back in 2004 when they signed Chris Gomez to a minor league deal on Dec. 8 and saw him selected in the Rule 5 Draft four days later, Kubatko points out. Some more links pertaining to the AL East...
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes that the Red Sox have had internal discussions about entering 2014 with Ryan Lavarnway as the team's primary catcher. Boston is more interested in a stopgap option as they await the arrival of Christian Vasquez and Blake Swihart at the big league level and is therefore reluctant to strengthen its existing two-year offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
- The Yankees remain "very much engaged" with Omar Infante's agent, Gene Mato, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. The Yankees could try to sign Infante even if they retain Robinson Cano, says Marchand, envisioning him as a modern-day Tony Phillips who would play every day but at different positions. Marchand writes that the Yankees like Infante as a backup at third base and shortstop, and he also points out Infante's experience in the outfield.
- The Yankees paid a good amount to sign Cuban lefthander Omar Luis last year and they'll be making him available in this year's Rule 5 draft, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Yanks initially signed Luis for a $4MM bonus but when an unexpected issue popped up in his physical, they negotiated that figure down to $2.9MM. It may be a long shot that any team will draft Luis, however, given how far away he is from contributing.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Cardinals' four-year, $53MM deal with Jhonny Peralta has an interesting twist: it's frontloaded. The shortstop will earn $15.5MM in 2014, $15MM in '15, $12.5MM in '16, and $10MM in '17, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Here's tonight's look around the majors..
- Peralta's deal raises the uncomfortable issue of PED usage paying off, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Diamondbacks relief pitcher and team union representative Brad Ziegler took his dissatisfaction with the deal to Twitter, but he's far from the only player who has an issue with players linked to PEDs getting major paydays.
- Heyman looks at the market for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and wonders if the Blue Jays, Twins, or Rockies could steal him away from the Red Sox. The Rangers look like another possibility to some, but one person connected with the club says a return for Salty isn't too likely at the moment. Texas has looked at free agent catchers, but they've also suggested that Geovany Soto will be their fulltime backstop.
- The Rays' are still waiting on results of Jose Molina's physical and therefore won't have an announcement on his signing until early next week, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Molina is expected to ink a two-year, $4.5MM pact to stay with Tampa Bay.
- The opportunity to win attracted Skip Schumaker to the Reds, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Schumaker said his decision came down to the Reds and one other unspecified playoff-caliber team.
- In today's inbox, MLB.com's Corey Brock touches on the possibility of star third baseman Chase Headley being moved and other matters surrounding the Padres.
The Mets surprised some observers when they gave outfielder Chris Young a one-year, $7.25MM contract to kick off their offseason. However, they weren't the only club with interest. Young says that the Cubs, Giants, Royals, and Red Sox all reached out to him, but the Mets were aggressive, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Here's a look at the latest out of the NL East..
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post makes the case for the Nationals to go after Robinson Cano. Some would argue that the Nats should go after a similarly high-impact player that will fill an actual hole for them, but Kilgore says that such a player may not come along for Washington in today's landscape.
- In today's inbox, a reader asks Joe Frisaro of MLB.com if there's a possibility that Dan Uggla could return to the Marlins this winter. Frisaro doesn't see the second baseman coming back to Miami since his cost and declining numbers over past two seasons raise red flags. Besides that, bringing him back would block Derek Dietrich and/or Donovan Solano from playing second.
- The Marlins announced two additions to their baseball operations staff. Mike Berger was named Vice President/Assistant GM while Jeff McAvoy will take over as the new Director of Pro Scouting.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that the Rays have some interest in Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland, who could be deemed expendable in the wake of Texas' acquisition of Prince Fielder. The Rangers, of course, covet David Price, and including Moreland in a package for him (presumably as a somewhat minor component) could take a potential destination away from the Mets in their shopping of Ike Davis. Here's more out of the AL East...
- Within that same piece, Martino writes that the Fielder-Ian Kinsler swap may not impact the Robinson Cano market as much as many initially thought. Cano is markedly better than Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, so if he wants to be a Ranger or Tiger and the price isn't crazy, those players shouldn't preclude Texas or Detroit from striking a deal.
- The Red Sox seem to be letting Mike Napoli's market develop before deciding what their final offer to him will be, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald spoke with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington who told him that the team is "in a position to be a little choosy, a little selective" in its search for a new catcher. Cherington says the Sox are interested in a "small handful of free agents" and has also actively pursued trades at catcher.
- On Brian McCann's recent five-year contract with the Yankees, Boston catcher and close friend of McCann, David Ross, told Lauber: "He told me, I think it came down to years. When you add an option for six, it puts you at almost $100 (million), that’s a game-changer." Cherington wouldn't indicate to Lauber how far the Red Sox were willing to go in negotiations.
- Mark Ellis is considered an option for the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, but Baltimore has yet to reach out to the second baseman.
- Kubatko also reports that the Orioles don't have any immediate interest in first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates yesterday.
- One more from Kubatko, who reported last week that the Orioles won't look to re-sign left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who never appeared with the O's after signing a two-year deal prior to the 2012 season. Wada fell victim to Tommy John surgery and didn't make it to the big league level in Baltimore. Executive vice president Dan Duquette told Kubatko: "I think that the Wada chapter is over with the Orioles. We're just going in another direction ... I'm sorry that it didn't work out, but it's time to move on."
Here's the latest out of Beantown, with plenty of information straight from Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and club CEO and president Larry Lucchino:
- Cherington touched on a range of issues in comments to the media today, as reported by Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Boston feels confident improved production from the left side of its infield with in-house options like Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts, says Cherington. But he said the club will look to add "at least somebody on the left side of the infield. Whether that's more in the form of an everyday player or depth, whatever that is, it just depends on how the rest of our offseason unfolds."
- With an attractive set of starting pitchers under contract, Cherington acknowledged that the team has received interest. "We've had a number of conversations and I think it's no secret, one area we have a little bit of depth in is the rotation," he said, adding that it remains to be seen "what that means for [the Red Sox]" since the club is wary of leaving itself too thin in the event of an unexpected injury.
- The club will be "a little choosy, a little selective" about addressing its catching need, said Cherington, given its "pretty strong position long-term with the young catching we have in the organization."
- On the overall market, also via Speier, Lucchino sums things up succinctly: "everyone is expecting [the market] will go up because nothing ever goes down and because there's new television money available." While the club would like to keep down its long-term commitments, he says, and "still value[s] the draft picks enormously," he acknowledged that a "diverse portfolio of contracts" will include some that are "longer than you want."
- Ultimately, according to Lucchino, the Red Sox "are not going to be a stand-pat team." Explaining that he "learned a long time ago that you can't fall in love with your veterans," Lucchino said that each the club "will have a different personality, composition as well as personality."
- One free agent that has obviously been tied to Boston is last year's first baseman, Mike Napoli. Opining that a reasonable projected value for Napoli (using various WAR projections and dollars-per-win figures) could reach as high as $80MM total over the next four years, SI.com's Jay Jaffe ultimately settles on predicting an eye-popping four-year, $68MM deal for the slugger.
Catcher Dioner Navarro is "moving to resolution" with a team, according to Peter Gammons of the MLB Network (on Twitter). Gammons doesn't have the name of the front-runner yet, but he adds that the Red Sox are not in pursuit.
Navarro, who turns 30 in February, enjoyed a strong rebound campaign with the Cubs in 2013, batting .300/.365/.492 with 13 home runs in 89 games (266 plate appearances). The Marlins are the main team to have expressed interest in Navarro so far, though the Red Sox did apparently express some interest as a fallback option should their top targets fall through.
The Blue Jays have been said to be in the market for a catcher, as have the Twins, in light of the news that Joe Mauer's days behind the plate are done and he will be a first baseman going forward. The Rays don't figure to be in the mix after reaching an agreement with Jose Molina over the weekend.
Teams have asked the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he hasn't "entertained the idea" of trading either player. Bautista hit .259/.358/.498 with 28 homers in 2013 and saw his season end early after being shut down due to a hip issue. Encarnacion had a solid campaign, posting a slash line of .272/.370/.534 with 36 home runs. Bautista is owed $14MM annually through 2015 with a club option for the same amount in 2016 while Encarnacion will make $19MM through '15 with a $10MM club option for '16. Here's more out of the AL East...
- The Yankees are refusing to punt and are living for today with their Brian McCann signing, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. McCann's lefty pull power should provide a huge boost in 2014 (and probably '15 and '16), but beyond that is a mystery.
- Within the same article, Sherman writes that the Yankees are now more upbeat about the chances of Hiroki Kuroda returning. There remains a chance that the veteran pitcher decides to play in Japan next season.
- The McCann agreement allows the Yankees to take their time developing Gary Sanchez, their top prospect per MLB.com, knowing McCann will eventually move to first base or they can use him as a trade chip, tweets the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand.
- Feinsand, in a second tweet, sees the backup job coming down to Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli with Chris Stewart being non-tendered. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates the arbitration eligible Cervelli and Stewart will each earn $1MM.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders how McCann's new $85MM deal with the Yankees affects the Orioles' Matt Wieters. Wieters’ offensive numbers aren’t as good, but he is is two years younger than McCann and Scott Boras will certainly dig up data to show that Wieters is deserving of more money.
- Meanwhile, Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks at what McCann's deal might mean for Red Sox free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty is now the best avaialble free agent catcher and his market should now start to take shape.
- A combination of familiarity and affordability led to Jose Molina returning to the Rays, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Financial terms of the yet-to-be-completed deal are not yet known, but Topkin writes that it's unlikely that he received more than the $3.3MM total he made the last two seasons.
- The Orioles won't re-sign Tsuyoshi Wada, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The O's declined their club option on Wada earlier this month; but, at the time, the door was said to be open for a minor league deal in Baltimore.
- The Orioles need to be creative in wringing the most value out of Jim Johnson, writes the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. Encina dangles the idea of moving Johnson, who MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects to receive $10.8MM in arbitration, into the rotation, but that begs the questions of whether starting is a good fit for the 30-year-old right-hander and who will step in as closer.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Other than Alex Rodriguez's legal matters, nothing has been handled worse this offseason than Robinson Cano's contract negotiations, opines Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The switch from Scott Boras to Jay-Z doesn't look like it's panning out and the $310MM figure that was floated out has done him a world of harm. In Cafardo's view, Yankees fans should be excited about the $85MM contract given to Brian McCann because it means that less money is available to spend on Cano. More from today's column..
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia is still very much on the Twins’ radar as they try to replace Joe Mauer after his move to first base. Now positioned as the best available catcher, Salty could get a three-year deal in the $30MM range. The teams who like the 28-year-old feel his throwing, right-handed hitting, and hitting approach have improved.
- Teams like the Twins and Blue Jays are circling Ricky Nolasco, but nobody has been able to seal a deal. However, Cafardo notes that the free agent pitching market has yet to fully develop as teams are trying to get help via trades. The Red Sox, for example, have received several inquiries about their starting pitchers.
- One talent evaluator says that he' would be cautious about signing switch-hitting catcher Dioner Navarro. “He’s great on a one-year or shorter-term deal. Problems are his weight, his work ethic, and flexibility behind the plate, so it gets a little scary on a multi-year deal. He can flat-out hit, so if you have the catch/throw guy, he’s not a bad complement to that,” he said.
- The Angels could still be a strong trade partner with the Red Sox even after the Peter Bourjos-David Freese deal. The Sox have an interest in first baseman Mike Trumbo and could be tempted on power reliever Kevin Jepsen while the Halos are in need of a starting pitcher.
It's a weak market for catchers now that the Yankees have taken Brian McCann off the board, an article by Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs shows. While teams such as the Red Sox, Rockies and Rangers are still in the market for backstop help, the best remaining option, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, will bring a large platoon split to the lineup of whichever team signs him. Here's the latest from around the AL, as a busy evening on MLBTR draws to a close:
- The Royals have had no talks about Billy Butler with any team, a source tells Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- In an article for the Detroit Free Press, John Lowe considers the impact of the Ian Kinsler deal on the Tigers' lineup. Much depends on whether the front office believes prospect Nick Castellanos is ready to hit in the big leagues, Lowe writes. If so, he could take the third base job, allowing Miguel Cabrera to slide back to first base.
- FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin, says the Tigers are indicating they'll play Kinsler at second base. Given this and the team's other priorities, signing Robinson Cano is likely a long shot at this point, Rosenthal says (via Twitter).
- Mike Napoli says he "wouldn’t see why not" when asked about the possibility of returning to the Red Sox in 2014, Rob Bradford writes in an article for WEEI.com. A recent end-of-season MRI showed that the avascular necrosis in Napoli's hips isn't an issue at the time, according to the article.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com considers how the Yankees' signing of McCann could affect potential negotiations between the Orioles and Matt Wieters over an extension. The O's must try to figure out "to what extreme [Wieters agent Scott] Boras will attempt to trump the McCann deal," Kubatko says.
- The Orioles are among clubs with interest in Tomo Ohka, tweets NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman, citing a report from Sanspo. The 10-year big league veteran is trying to make it back to the majors as a knuckleballer.
- The Prince Fielder trade shows that the Rangers are getting creative in their offseason quest for bats, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes. Texas is hesitant to forfeit a first-round draft pick to sign a player such as Jacoby Ellsbury, as the team will already be limited on the international side of the amateur talent market after greatly exceeding their bonus pool this past summer.
- Shipping Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals sets the Angels up with an outfield of Mike Trout in center, Kole Calhoun in right and Josh Hamilton in left, Mike DiGiovanna says in an article on the trade for the Los Angeles Times. As DiGiovanna notes, the trade also reunites David Freese with Albert Pujols, his teammate in 2011 with the Cardinals.
- Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wonders how the Angels will fit two starters into their offseason budget after acquiring Joe Smith, Freese and Fernando Salas (Twitter link).