Brandon McCarthy Rumors

Twins Made Offers To Saunders, Liriano

10:42am: In addition to the pitchers listed below, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) identifies Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum, Brandon McCarthy, Jair Jurrjens, and Carl Pavano as potential targets for the Twins. Pavano is said to be drawing interest from five teams, including the Red Sox, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

9:52am: As they look to shore up their starting rotation, the Twins have offers out to Joe Saunders and Francisco Liriano, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The Twins are waiting to hear back from the two left-handers and may have offers out to other pitchers, says Neal.

Joe Blanton, Kevin Correia, Brett Myers, Vicente Padilla, Mike Pelfrey, and John Lannan were said to be among the Twins' pitching targets earlier this week.

According to Neal, there are seven other teams that also have interest in Liriano.


Angels Rumors: Haren, Greinke, Pitching

4:45pm: The Angels' once-tepid interest in Brandon McCarthy has picked up in Nashville, tweets DiGiovanna.    

1:52pm: Dan Haren's agreement with the Nationals takes another starting pitching option off the board for the Angels, who made an effort to bring back the right-hander after not tendering him a qualifying offer. According to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter), the Angels made a one-year offer to Haren with a very achievable option year.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that there was at least one other team in on Haren at around $13MM, suggesting that the price tag for free agent starters will be high this offseason. That isn't great news for the Angels, since the team appears to have a finite amount of money to spend on pitching, according to DiGiovanna (Twitter link). If the Angels go big on a starter, they'll have to scrimp on relievers, and vice versa, says DiGiovanna.

Although the Angels have checked in on virtually every free agent starting pitcher, including Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, and Joe Saunders, Zack Greinke remains their first choice, tweets DiGiovanna.


A’s Discussing Escobar With Marlins

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A's are indeed engaged in ongoing discussions with the Marlins regarding Yunel Escobar, as was previously speculated. Slusser's piece contains plenty of A's material, so here's the latest on the reigning AL West Champs…

  • Not surprisingly the Escobar discusssions aren't believed to be centered around anyone on the Athletics' Major League roster.
  • Slusser reports that the A's have heavy competition for Brandon McCarthy, as the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Royals, Red SoxWhite Sox and Twins have already met with the right-hander, and the Angels and Rangers are expected to join the fray.
  • McCarthy would consider a one-year deal to prove that he has successfully recovered from his frightening head injury and brain surgery late in the 2012 season.
  • Hiroyuki Nakajima is more concerned with playing time than salary, according to Slusser, which could increase Oakland's appeal to the Japanese shortstop.


D’Backs Notes: Starting Pitching, Backup Catcher

Whatever is going on with Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton today at the Winter Meetings, it's being kept fairly under-wraps.  You can check out our Upton post here, but let's get to other D'Backs chatter from the day.

  • The Diamondbacks remain interested in free agent starter Brandon McCarthy, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  GM Kevin Towers said the team seeks "at least a solid number two" starter.  He elaborated, "To me, it seems like some of the second-tier guys are kind of starting to be viewed as first-tier-type guys and being paid like first-tier guys, and I don't think we're willing to go there.  That's why we're not talking to a lot of free agents in the way of pitching." (MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reporting).
  • Towers seeks a right-handed-hitting backup catcher known more for defense, though the line of communication is open with Henry Blanco, writes Piecoro.
  • Upton wasn't the player most inquired about during Towers' eight or nine meetings with other teams today, writes Gilbert.  

Athletics Notes: Drew, Nakajima, McCarthy

Athletics GM Billy Beane met with reporters today at the Winter Meetings in Nashville; here's the latest.


Diamondbacks Have Interest In McCarthy, Huff

7:49pm: The Diamondbacks have also "made contact" with Aubrey Huff, reports Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter). The 35-year-old Huff hit .192/.326/.282 in 95 plate appearances for the Giants while missing lots of time with knee with knee problems.

7:27pm: The Diamondbacks have expressed interest in Brandon McCarthy, reports Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter). Piecoro notes the D'Backs pursued the right-hander two years ago.

McCarthy, 29, pitched to a 3.24 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 111 innings for the Athletics this year. He missed time with shoulder surgery as well as a head injury after getting hit by a line drive. The D'Backs are said to be seeking a veteran starter to add to Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley, and Trevor Cahill. Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs, Josh Collmenter, and Trevor Bauer could also be in the rotation mix as Daniel Hudson rehabs from Tommy John surgery.


Free Agent Faceoff: Liriano vs. McCarthy

Two of the biggest (yet most intriguing) question marks available on this year's free agent pitching market are Francisco Liriano and Brandon McCarthy.  Both are 29 and were once seen as top prospects, and while both have dealt with injuries and inconsistency through their careers, it's Liriano who is struggling to regain his form while McCarthy is simply trying to get healthy enough to get back on the field.

Few pitchers are as electric as Liriano when he's on his game, though he's only really harnessed that ability over a full season in 2006 and 2010.  It seemed as if that 2010 year signalled that Liriano was all the way back from Tommy John surgery and would now become an anchor in the Twins rotation, except things went south from there.  Liriano posted a 5.23 ERA over 60 games (52 starts) in 2010-11, still striking out close to a batter per inning but also posting a 5.0 BB/9 rate.  Perhaps there was no better summation of Liriano's potential than his May 3, 2011 start against the White Sox, when he walked six batters and only struck out two — yet still managed to no-hit Chicago. 

The raw material is there for Liriano to become an ace and that's why, despite posting ERAs north of 5.00 in three of the last four seasons, it's possible that he could find a two-year contract on the open market (or at least a one-year contract with a generous option for 2014).  Being left-handed helps, but the belief still exists that the right situation or right pitching coach could flip the switch on Liriano and make him a top-of-the-rotation starter. 

McCarthy's life, let alone his baseball career, was threatened on September 5 when a line drive from Erick Aybar struck the right-hander in the head.  After undergoing surgery to relieve cranial pressure on his damaged skull and brain areas, the great news is that McCarthy is recovered (and tweeting) and has been cleared to do his regular offseason training work.  While a freak incident, the head injury was just the latest in a series of maladies that has plagued McCarthy throughout his career, such as elbow problems and a stress fracture in his throwing shoulder.

While McCarthy is not yet free of the injury bug, he at least has delivered strong results when he's been on the mound.  The righty has a 3.29 ERA and a 4:1 K:BB ratio in 43 starters in Oakland, finally delivering on the potential he showed as a prospect in the White Sox system.  McCarthy overhauled his pitching mechanics before the 2011 season and turned himself into a pitcher who relies on grounders (a 46.7% groundball rate in 2011) and command — he has a 1.6 BB/9 in 2011-12, less than half of the 3.4 BB/9 he posted over his first five seasons.  While his ERA was a run lower at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum than it was on the road, McCarthy's skillset should translate well to most ballparks.

If we were judging these two pitchers based purely on recent results, McCarthy is easily the better choice; had Aybar not hit that liner, this wouldn't even be a valid comparison, as McCarthy would've been in line for a three- or four-year contract.  That being said, McCarthy's injury history can't be ignored, which is part of the reason why MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked Liriano higher than McCarthy (#28 to #32) on his list of the top 50 free agents of the offseason.  A power arm will always carry that extra bit of allure, especially an arm like Liriano's that has shown occasional greatness.

Both pitchers are being courted by several teams, from big-market clubs looking for back-end rotation help to smaller-market teams hoping to find an ace at a relative bargain price. 



Passan’s Latest: Myers, Fowler, Asdrubal, McCarthy

The Royals have been shopping top prospect Wil Myers but only in exchange for starting pitching, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Earlier this week, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that Kansas City was known to be at least listening to offers for Myers and top position players like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.  The only untouchable Royals appear to be Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez due to their team-friendly contracts — "executives consider [Perez's deal] the best in the game," Passan writes.

The Royals have discussed trades with the Rays, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Athletics, Passan reports.  While Myers would be of interest to any team, he is of particular value to low-payroll teams like the Rays and A's given that Gordon and Butler have large contracts and Moustakas/Hosmer are Scott Boras clients.

Here are some more items from Passan…

  • The Rockies' asking price for Dexter Fowler is "absurd," one rival executive tells Passan.  It appears to be a buyers' market for center fielders right now, though another executive warns that "it will shake out" as the offseason progresses.
  • The Indians are shopping Asdrubal Cabrera, though "not at Black Friday prices," an executive says.  Cabrera is one of a few shortstops on the trade market, along with the Astros' Jed Lowrie and the Marlins' Yunel Escobar.
  • Teams are more worried about Brandon McCarthy's history of arm injuries than with his season-ending brain surgery.  If McCarthy's medicals are clear, however, a team executive thinks the right-hander will get a multiyear contract.
  • Anibal Sanchez's demands for a six-year, $90MM contract are "crazy, and he's probably going to get it," an executive tells Passan.

Quick Hits: Figgins, Lohse, Hamilton, Kuroda

It was on this day in 1995 that Joe Girardi first became a Yankee, as the Bronx Bombers acquired the catcher from the Rockies in exchange for right-hander Mike DeJean.  Girardi won three World Series titles in his four seasons with the team as a player and won another championship as the team's manager in 2009.  Here are some items from around the majors…


Twins Rumors: McCarthy, Blanton, Dempster, Myers

Here's the latest on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN

  • So far, the Twins have reached out to free agents Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and Brett Myers. They're interested in Myers as a starter. They've also reached out to Brandon Webb even though he hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2009.
  • The club continues to have regular conversations with Alan Nero, who represents right-hander Scott Baker. The two sides are working on a new contract after Baker's $9.25MM option was declined.
  • The Twins have not shown any interest in Jon Garland and were not present when the right-hander threw for teams during an audition back in September.
  • Talks with reliever Jared Burton about a contract extension are underway. Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM salary for the right-hander next season, after which he'll become a free agent.
  • The Twins have inquired about reliever Randy Messenger, though the Hanshin Tigers in Japan will not allow the right-hander out of his contract.
  • The team has not contacted Bill Bray after he hit free agency. Special assistant Wayne Krivsky acquired the left-hander during his tenure as Reds GM.