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Brett Gardner Rumors
The Tigers have discussed trading Austin Jackson to the Yankees in exchange for Brett Gardner, Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports. Both players have been above-average fielders in center over their careers and have comparable career batting lines, though Gardner is a better base-stealer and Jackson has more doubles pop. Jackson turns 27 in February, is projected to earn $5.3MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility and he'll hit free agency after the 2015 season; the 30-year-old Gardner is projected to earn $4MM and he'll be a free agent next winter. I'm not sure this deal makes sense for the Tigers unless they don't think they can sign Jackson (a Scott Boras client) to an extension, or if they aren't interested in extending Jackson. From the Yankees' side, they like Gardner enough that they probably wouldn't move him for a very similar player, albeit a younger one.
Here are some more items from all five AL Central franchises…
- The Twins have increased the value of their two-year offer to Mike Pelfrey from $10MM to $12MM, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. The Rangers and Giants have also shown interest in Pelfrey, Neal reports.
- Also from Neal, the stumbling block between Matt Garza and the Twins seems to be Garza's demands for a four- or five-year contract, as Minnesota isn't willing to make that long a commitment due to injury concerns. That said, Neal isn't counting the Twins out of the Garza race yet as he hears the team is still in the hunt (Twitter links). You can read more about the Twins' hunt for pitching here.
- The Royals could continue to shop Billy Butler since "Before too long, the DH spot has to be a rotating position for us. It really does," a club official tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. For one, the Royals may use Salvador Perez at DH to keep his bat in the lineup when he isn't catching, plus added DH days would help keep Perez healthy. Even if Butler isn't dealt this offseason, Dutton doesn't believe the Royals will sign him to an extension once his current deal is up. It was reported earlier today that Butler's name had come up in trade talks with the Blue Jays.
- The Royals, Indians and Rangers are among the teams interested in Shaun Marcum, ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets. Marcum underwent surgery to correct his thoracic outlet syndrome in July and his agent updated MLBTR's Tim Dierkes on the recovery process last month.
- The White Sox are looking to cut their payroll from just under $119MM in 2013 to between $89MM-$99MM range for 2014, ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla writes, with the $99MM figure being the likelier of the two. Despite the cuts on the Major League side, GM Rick Hahn said the club will reinvest the saved money into extra spending on the draft and international signings.
- In other AL Central news from earlier today, the Tigers reached an agreement with Joba Chamberlain and the Indians were battling with the Padres over Joaquin Benoit.
Ken Rosenthal shares a few anecdotes from the Winter Meetings as well as some hot stove notes and opinions in his latest entry for FOX Sports…
- It seems as if the Yankees will keep Brett Gardner since the team likes the idea of he and Jacoby Ellsbury combined in left and center field and hitting 1-2 atop the lineup. That said, Rosenthal thinks that while the Yankees like Gardner, they won't re-sign him next offseason, as Gardner will look for a new team that can offer him a center field position and a leadoff spot.
- Matt Kemp "seems to have ticked off someone in [Dodgers] upper management, though few seem to know who or why," Rosenthal writes. This could be part of the reason behind the Kemp trade rumors, though Rosenthal feels the Dodgers will have to eventually deal Kemp if they're serious about restocking their farm system. That deal might not happen until after 2014, however, as the Dodgers would be selling low on Kemp now and a rebound would both up his trade value and help the club on the field given Carl Crawford's health problems and Joc Pederson's inexperience.
- The Dodgers are "disinclined" to sign Stephen Drew. This could be another case of the Dodgers focusing on their minor league development, as signing Drew would block prospect Corey Seager, not to mention cost the Dodgers their first round pick in next year's amateur draft.
- The Mariners are more likely to look internally to find closing help, rather than acquire a stopper as originally planned.
- Rosenthal thinks the Mariners need to add another starting pitcher and another big bat, with Nelson Cruz seeming like a "must-have" given the uncertainty about Corey Hart's health. The additions of Hart and Logan Morrison are seen by rival executives "as somewhat incoherent" given that both players share injury histories and are the same type of 1B/DH types, though the M's plan to try Hart in the outfield.
- The Mets have received criticism from their fans for their low payrolls in recent years, but Rosenthal notes that the team's free agent expenditures are a sign that the Amazins are willing to spend.
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.
3:00pm: MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that Terry Francona called Masterson to tell him that he isn't going to be traded this offseason.
10:21am: The Indians have yet to engage Masterson in extension talks, but those could come as part of the upcoming arbitration negotiations, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian notes. Cleveland is prepared to go with a one-year deal if necessary, he says (Twitter links).
8:56am: There are no legs to the Yankees-Masterson trade talks, a source tells ESPN's Buster Olney. He adds that Cleveland isn't close to trading Masterson or any other player at this time (Twitter links).
7:47am: The Indians are said to be open to listening to offers on Justin Masterson, and the Yankees have emerged as a possible suitor, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale reports that the Yankees would be interested in acquiring Masterson in a deal involving Brett Gardner. A third team would likely be required, since the Indians don't have a need Gardner (Twitter links).
Indians GM Chris Antonetti indicated yesterday that he'd like to keep Masterson in Cleveland long-term, but acknowledged that he'd be willing to consider offers on just about any player. The Yankees appear to have a similar stance on Gardner — a Tuesday report suggested the team would prefer to trade Ichiro Suzuki, but presumably the Yankees would have to consider moving Gardner if the price is right.
The Yankees aren't the only team reported to have a keen interest in landing Masterson. Joel Sherman of the New York Post said this morning that the Diamondbacks would "love" to find a way to acquire him from Cleveland.
With the additions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees have a surplus in their outfield. They're not likely to address that surplus by trading Brett Gardner, however, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. The Yankees like the idea of having both Ellsbury and Gardner in their outfield, and they will likely focus on trading Ichiro Suzuki instead.
As Heyman points out, however, there isn't likely to be a particularly robust market for Ichiro. The 40-year-old hit .262/.297/.342 in 2013.
Earlier today the Mets introduced Curtis Granderson at a press conference. Here's the latest news out of the New York market with the Winter Meetings in full swing…
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke to several reporters today, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, and noted that he's been in contact with the agents for Mark Reynolds and Boone Logan (Twitter link).
- Hoch also tweets that the Yanks are receiving many calls on Brett Gardner but aren't shopping him. Cashman said he didn't sign Jacoby Ellsbury to trade Gardner.
- The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough tweets that in addition to Gardner, the Yanks have received calls on Ivan Nova, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy (Twitter link).
- Cashman also said that Michael Pineda is healthy and will compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training (Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweeting).
- Hoch adds that Cashman thinks it will be easier to sign a free agent pitcher than to work out a trade for rotation help.
- Newsday's David Lennon reports that the Mets will meet with the representatives for Freddy Garcia, Cesar Izturis and Johan Santana today (Twitter link). The team sees a good fit with that group of veterans.
- Granderson confirmed to reporters, including Newsday's Marc Carig, that the Mets were the lone team to offer four years (Twitter link).
A Saturday report suggested the Yankees were receiving significant trade interest from rival teams on Brett Gardner after New York reached an agreement with Carlos Beltran. With Jacoby Ellsbury locked into a long-term deal with the Yankees, Gardner doesn't have a role in center field in the Bronx going forward, so it sounds like the team is willing to listen to offers. Here's the latest on Gardner:
- Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (Twitter link) hears from rival executives that the most likely return for the Yankees in a Gardner deal would be a No. 4 starter. A No. 3 would be a "great get," according to those execs.
- The Giants are intrigued by the possibility of acquiring Brett Gardner, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link) hears from a source involved in the process that a trade between the two sides is not likely, albeit not impossible.
The Rays will trade David Price, but his two remaining years of team control mean that GM Andrew Friedman can afford to wait for the right return, Marc Topkin writes for the Tampa Bay Times. They're expected to look to improve upon the return they got from the Royals for James Shields, so a package could comprise an elite-level young player such as the Mariners' Taijuan Walker or the Rangers' Jurickson Profar, along with a major league-ready talent and one or two lower-level prospects. Here's the latest out of the AL East:
- While the Rays might play the waiting game with Price, first base is "an area we absolutely have to address," Friedman says in a second Topkin article. They'd like to re-up with James Loney, but not at his three-year, $27MM asking price. Topkin adds that the Rays also appear to be interested in a veteran right-handed hitter who can handle second base, citing reported interest in Mark Ellis and Jamey Carroll.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington says his club may be done with its "heavy lifting" this offseason and is now entering an "opportunistic phase," Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweets. The team is "sort of looking at different scenarios, different ideas, and maybe nothing comes of those because we feel pretty good about where we are right now," Ian Browne quotes Cherington as saying in an MLB.com article.
- It's easy to overlook just how bad the 2013 Yankees were, SBNation's Rob Neyer writes. The club won 85 games, but its Pythagorean record suggests a 79-win team, and more nuanced analyses indicate the team was even worse. However, this offseason's slew of free agent signings and healthy seasons from players such as Mark Teixeira should give the Yankees a fighting chance in 2014, Neyer says. The Bombers figure to be better at no less than seven positions next year.
- MLB sources say the Yankees will listen on Brett Gardner, particularly if they're offered a starting pitcher in exchange, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. The Star-Ledger previously reported major interest in the outfielder. Gardner is projected to earn $4MM in his final year of arbitration by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- While there's good sense in the Orioles' decision to allow Scott Feldman and Nate McLouth to depart to other teams, the club must secure replacements, Dan Connolly writes for The Baltimore Sun. Connolly says at least one should be replaced by an upgrade via free agency, citing Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett as acceptable substitutes for Feldman.
After inking outfielder Carlos Beltran last night, the Yankees have received "significant interest" in Brett Gardner, reports Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (via Twitter). The club is willing to deal Gardner, says McCullough, though it is not actively shopping him.
Gardner, 30, is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4MM in his final go through arbitration before reaching the open market next year. The capable center fielder posted a .273/.344/.416 line in 609 plate appearances last year, good for 4.2 rWAR. Though his value is limited by the lack of significant team control, his low salary and ability to play any outfield position make him an intriguing trade target.
Meanwhile, for the Yanks, dealing Gardner is one possible way for the club to address other needs while using internal options in hs place. Though he played center last year in the Bronx, Jacoby Ellslbury figures to occupy that role going forward. The team could keep Alfonso Soriano in an outfield role, rather than shifting him to DH, if it were to make a deal. New York also still has Ichiro Suzuki under contract for next season, and the recently-signed Kelly Johnson spent a good deal of time in the outfield last year for Tampa.
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.