Brandon Phillips Rumors
10:37pm: Phillips has a no-trade clause that allows him to block a deal to the Yankees but the Reds did not ask him to waive his no-trade, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, the Yankees continue to say that they are reluctant to trade Gardner, who will earn a little more than $4MM in his walk year (link).
10:05pm: Before the Yankees turned down the proposed swap, Phillips asked for his contract to be re-opened to pay him more money to agree to the deal, a National League source tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
9:22pm: Both Brandon Phillips and Brett Gardner have seen their names pop up in trade rumors recently, but Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter) that the two of them actually had their name in the same deal. The Yankees, according to Heyman, turned down a Phillips-for-Gardner swap that was proposed by the Reds.
Phillips, 32, regressed to a .261/.310/.396 batting line with 18 homers in 2013. Always one of baseball's best defenders at second base, Phillips didn't disappoint on that front, turning in a strong +8.5 UZR/150 mark. The Yankees are a logical suitor for Phillips, given the fact that they just lost Robinson Cano to the Mariners late last week. However, though he's cheaper than Cano, Phillips is still owed $50MM over the next four years -- his age-32 through age-35 seasons.
Gardner, 30, also saw his role come into question due to the Yankees' free agent decisions. New York inked Jacoby Ellsbury to a massive seven-year, $153MM contract, giving them an outfield mixture of Ellsbury, Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. Gardner is viewed as superior to most of those options and likely appeals to Cincinnati because he could play center field for a season while top prospect Billy Hamilton gets some additional minor league seasoning. Gardner batted .273/.344/.416 with eight homers, 24 steals and a league-leading 10 triples in 2013. That would make him a dynamic leadoff option to replace Shin-Soo Choo atop Cincinnati's lineup while delivering elite center field defense.
The trade would fill a need for both teams, so it'll be interesting to see if they revisit the framework down the line, perhaps adding other pieces to make it more appealing to the Yankees.
Reports yesterday indicated that both the Diamondbacks and Tigers are likely out of the Shin-Soo Choo sweepstakes (though I personally question whether or not the signing of Rajai Davis truly removes Detroit from the equation). The Rangers are still said to be in the mix, however. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick provided a rundown of potential Choo suitors yesterday, cautioning never to bet against Scott Boras. Here are Wednesday's Choo rumors...
- A Rangers source says the club isn't optimistic about their chances of signing Choo, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Texas doesn't have a seven-year offer out to the outfielder, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.
- The Rangers have a seven-year offer on the table to Choo and he is giving it serious consideration, a source tells T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The deal is worth less than the $153MM deal that Jacoby Ellsbury inked with the Yankees but it's strong enough for Choo to mull over.
- The general sense among teams involved in the Choo sweepstakes is whichever team goes to eight years will land him, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. He's believed to have a seven-year offer in hand already.
- The Mariners are likely out of the picture on Choo after adding Corey Hart and Logan Morrison today, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Scott Boras spoke with more than 100 reporters today and said that he's received multiple offers for Choo, who wants to his time and discuss all of his options with his wife. Boras said he's received offers from teams that are rebuilding and also for teams that are looking to win in 2014. "He really is a player I think is revered," said Boras (ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reporting).
- "I think we have to move on," Reds GM Walt Jocketty told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer when asked about Choo (Twitter link).
- The Rangers like Choo but not at his asking price, which Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears is $22MM annually (Twitter link). Nelson Cruz is a more viable option for Texas, Wilson adds.
- Bob Nightengale of USA Today has heard that Choo is looking for $140MM over seven years (Twitter link). Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that he's heard the same.
- One executive told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Mariners and Rangers "are the lead dogs" in the Choo market (Twitter link).
- The Reds met to discuss Choo last night, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, their inability to clear some payroll by dealing Brandon Phillips first has dimmed their chances, he adds.
Reports this offseason have gone back and forth on whether or not the Reds will trade Brandon Phillips. Earlier today it was reported that the Reds' ability or inability to trade their second baseman could impact their chances at retaining Shin-Soo Choo. We'll run down rumors on Phillips right here...
- Phillips is "definitely" in play, tweets Rosenthal, adding that Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty will move his second baseman if it improves the club in 2014.
- The Reds aren't ruling out a trade of Phillips, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. They've yet to have any discussion with the Yankees at this point after New York missed out on Robinson Cano, though.
The latest on the Reds..
- At a fan event today, Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that he felt the rumor about Brandon Phillips being availble via trade and of interest to the Yankees was a ploy to put pressure on Robinson Cano, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com (on Twitter). "It didn't work," the GM said.
- Jocketty also admitted that it would be "very difficult" to re-sign Shin-Soo Choo with the dollar figures that are being floated around, Sheldon tweets. Choo now stands as the top available free agent on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 list for the offseason.
- Prospect Billy Hamilton is Choo's likely replacement, Sheldon writes in an MLB.com article. While Choo's 116 walks will be difficult to replace, Hamilton should bring more speed to the top of the Reds' lineup, as he stole 88 bases between Triple-A and the majors in 2013.
- The Reds have toyed with the idea of moving Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation and some felt that he might be persuaded to make the move this winter, but he now says that he's not interested in a move, writes C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m tired of every year the same thing about me either starting or closing,” Chapman said. “What I have in mind is closing games and that’s it.”
- An AL evaluator tells Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger (Twitter link) that the Reds should consider dealing Homer Bailey to the Yankees for Brett Gardner and a lower-level prospect. Both players will become free agents following the 2014 season.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
Here's the latest news from both the NL and AL Central divisions...
- The Brandon Phillips trade rumors may have temporarily stopped, though Reds president/CEO Bob Castellini left the door slightly open when talking to reporters today (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon and the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay). "Brandon is part of the team, boys," Castellini said. "Walt [GM Walt Jocketty] was just exploring. You have to understand what he's up against. He's got to look around. Brandon Phillips is an integral part of this franchise....But you never say never."
- The Cubs and John Axford share a mutual interest in each other, Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports. Axford would get a chance to compete for the Cubs' closing job, though the right-hander seemingly has plenty of opportunities around the league, with a reported 14 teams checking in following his non-tender from the Cardinals.
- The Cubs and Royals are two of the teams who have shown interest in Joba Chamberlain, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets. No signing seems to be imminent for either team, however. Chamberlain is another relief arm who has drawn significant attention on the open market, as he may be seen as a reclamation candidate after some tough seasons with the Yankees.
- The Twins have spoken to John Buck's agent, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, and a source tells Berardino that Buck is Minnesota's top target amongst available catchers. It isn't clear how interested in the Twins are, however, given that Josmil Pinto is still the club's preferred choice to take over the everyday catching job now that Joe Mauer has been moved to first base.
- Carl Pavano talked with Berardino about his comeback attempt from a freak snow-shoveling accident that left him with a ruptured spleen and sidelined the veteran righty for the entire 2013 season. Pavano said the Twins haven't contacted him about a return: "I haven't really talked to them. I don't know if that would be a good fit anyway. I think we're in different places. They need those younger guys in their rotation."
Here are the latest updates from the National League side of the ledger:
- The Mets are increasingly expressing optimism about their efforts to bring Curtis Granderson into the fold, reports Marc Carig of Newsday, though nothing appears to be immiment. Joining the Mets in pursuit of Granderson are the White Sox and Mariners, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. If that does not work out for New York, says Puma, the club will "likely" turn its attention to Nelson Cruz.
- After parting ways with two left-handed relief options in Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, the Nationals remain interested in adding Oliver Perez, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore says that the Mariners and Padres also have interest in the 32-year-old southpaw, who pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings last year for Seattle.
- Echoing previous reports, Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that the club has told second baseman Brandon Phillips that it is "not in any talks to trade him," reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Though Jocketty also noted that he could not rule out that possibility, he definitely left the impression that he is not actively shopping Phillips.
- Jocketty also indicated that the club is likely going to keep Aroldis Chapman in the closer role rather than converting him to a starter, reports Sheldon. Though Cincinnati will keep the starting option on the table in the spring, Jocketty said that the club likes its depth at the present. As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth wrote at the start of the off-season, the Reds could tinker with their rotation, but lack a pressing need to do so.
- Though the latest scuttlebutt has Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija marked for trade talks, club president Theo Epstein says that the club still hopes to extend him, tweets Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Of course, Chicago could certainly be keeping both options on the table for the time being.
- After trading away center fielder Dexter Fowler, the Rockies plan to shift Carlos Gonzalez over to fill the vacancy, reports the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Meanwhile, the club is still shopping for relief pitchers, reports the Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Sulia), and may be most likely to add a bullpen arm via trade.
- The Diamondbacks are still looking to add a major piece, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and GM Kevin Towers has indicated that the club would be willing to give up its first-round draft choice to sign a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. Towers indicated that the club is most likely to add a starter via trade, leaving Piecoro to posit that the most likely open-market targets would be Granderson, Nelson Cruz, or Carlos Beltran.
- Meanwhile, the D-Backs could be much more willing to deal pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs than they had been in the past, Piecoro writes. In fact, the club apparently recently explored just that possibility. Coming off of a down year that saw his velocity drop, however, the 22-year-old probably also has diminished trade value at the moment, Piecoro further notes.
WEDNESDAY: ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with three teams that inquired on Phillips, each of which got the sense that Reds ownership wants to trade Phillips more than the front office does (Twitter link).
TUESDAY: The Reds are now unlikely to trade Brandon Phillips, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The second baseman has been in trade whispers for quite some time, but it now appears that GM Walt Jocketty & Co. will hang on to him despite a lack of available quality options at the position.
Phillips, 32, batted .261/.310/.396 with 18 home runs this season but was involved in a pair of ugly PR incidents: one in which he publicly complained about how the Reds handled his contract negotiations and another in which went on a tirade against a Cincinnati reporter for pointing to his low on-base percentage. He is owed $50MM over the final four years of his six-year, $72.5MM contract.
The Yankees and Royals have both been linked to him this offseason, but it's not known how serious things got for either team. Phillips' 2013 batting line was down from his previous six seasons in Cincinnati where he hit .280/.329/.446.
The Royals were reportedly open to listening to offers for Billy Butler last month and several teams (including the Mariners) are interested in the slugger, but a Royals team official tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that a Butler trade is unlikely. “Do the math. We’re looking to add offense," the official said. "If we trade Butler, we’d have to add a lot of offense. It would have to be a series of moves to do that, and that’s hard to do. Plus, there’s just not that much available offense out there.”
Here's some more from Dutton...
- The Royals are only looking to add one pitcher to their rotation this offseason, at most. James Shields and Jeremy Guthrie have the first two spots and GM Dayton Moore hopes that the final two spots can be filled by the club's internal depth. “To say we need to go out and get two guys...if it happens, great. But it’s not a necessity for us. We’d like to get one, but we want to get the right one for the right type of contract," Moore said.
- While Moore wouldn't mind if young arms like Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy and Kyle Zimmer all won rotation spots, the club prefers a veteran starter. "We've seen medicals on all of the guys...We're still trying to determine what pitchers out there will give us the least amount of risk," Moore said. Dutton has cited Josh Johnson, Tim Hudson and Phil Hughes as Royals targets.
- The Royals are still in contact with Bruce Chen, though they see the left-hander as a swingman more than a solid rotation fixture.
- It seems as if Ervin Santana has priced himself out of the Royals' range, though Moore didn't close the door on a possible return for the free agent right-hander. "Erv was a terrific pitcher for us, and we’re going to stay engaged. He’s agreed to stay engaged with us. We’ll see how it works. I hope he gets a great deal.”
- Manager Ned Yost recently said that he and Moore had mentioned Brandon Phillips' name in discussions, though Dutton hears that such a trade would be unlikely. Moore said “Second base is not a huge priority for us” earlier this week, and even with the Reds eating part of Phillips' contract, he would be a costly addition for the Royals.
Here's a look at the latest news from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- Major league sources say it's not a surprise that the Orioles are willing to deal Matt Wieters. The bigger question is how Baltimore would reshape the roster if they made such a move. The O's don't have much breathing room to spend, but Rosenthal suggests the Orioles could gain flexibility by moving the catcher and also closer Jim Johnson, who projects to earn $10.8MM through arbitration. The O's could then find cheaper alternatives at both positions and be aggressive on the open market.
- If the Royals sign Carlos Beltran or another right-handed slugger, they could afford to trade designated hitter Billy Butler, who is signed for $8MM in 2014 with a $12.5MM club option for ’15. The Mariners are among the teams that covet Butler, a major league source tells Rosenthal.
- The Reds haven’t given up on re-signing Shin-Soo Choo, but they probably would need to trade Brandon Phillips and possibly Homer Bailey to create the necessary room, sources say. We've heard that Phillips is a likely a goner, but Bailey a more difficult call since losing him would require the Reds to move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, unless they acquired another starter. All that might be too much to ask to accommodate the signing of a $100MM+ free agent, but they'd ideally like to have Choo back to give them another year before putting Billy Hamilton in center field. If they lose Choo, they likely would go with Hamilton and seek out a veteran complement in center.
- The Mets appear likely to trade Ike Davis, who is drawing interest from a number of clubs. Rosenthal also cautions not to be surprised if they move Daniel Murphy as well.
- Opinions are split on Jacoby Ellsbury's value. One rival exec's statistical analysis rated Ellsbury as the top Red Sox player last season, ahead of Dustin Pedroia. Others in the industry, however, are wary of Ellsbury’s diminished power since he has hit only 13 home runs over the past two seasons.
- One rival exec described the Rangers' infield logjam as an untenable situation.
Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com hears the Mets aren't considering a reunion with Scott Kazmir. Earlier today, we heard that the Indians don't expect to hang on to the left-hander as he's likely to command a multi-year pact and they're not willing to go beyond one. Here's more from around baseball..
- Royals manager Ned Yost told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter links) that his priorities are starting pitching and second base. Yost also indicated that Carlos Beltran, Brandon Phillips, and Ervin Santana have popped up in discussions.
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti is scheduled to talk to agent Dan Lozano about two of his clients, closers Fernando Rodney and Brian Wilson, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. Cleveland is looking into out-of-house closing options after parting ways with Chris Perez.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he's looking to add "400 innings" to the rotation this winter, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he has scouted Masahiro Tanaka extensively and hopes to be in the mix for him, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
- If Carlos Ruiz really has a two-year, $20MM offer on the table, then he probably shouldn't let it sit for too long, opines MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter).
- Nationals assistant GM and VP of player personnel Roy Clark has the club to take a job with the Dodgers, according to Keith Law of ESPN.com (on Twitter).