Brett Pill Rumors
The Diamondbacks consider Masahiro Tanaka to be their "No. 1 target" and are serious suitors for the Japanese ace, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Had Arizona not acquired Mark Trumbo, the Snakes were open to spending the $140MM that agent Scott Boras said it would've taken to sign Shin-Soo Choo, and Rosenthal notes that D'Backs management could instead invest that money (the $20MM posting fee and a $120MM contract) towards landing Tanaka. The D'Backs could have an extra source for information on Tanaka in the form of scout Rick Short, who played with Tanaka from 2007-09 on the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
You can click here for some Tanaka news from earlier today, and here are some more items from around the NL West...
- Also from Rosenthal's piece, Arizona could be more motivated to sign an ace like Tanaka in free agency since they found the Cubs' and Rays' respective asking prices for Jeff Samardzija and David Price to be too high, Rosenthal notes, not to mention the fact that Price will become more expensive in his final two arbitration-eligible seasons. The D'Backs rate Tanaka higher than other free agent arms like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.
- Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers have reportedly been discussing an extension this offseason and ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon looks at some of the factors involved in giving Ramirez a major new deal.
- In a Giants-related mailbag, MLB.com's Chris Haft argues that the Giants should've given Brett Pill more time to prove himself rather than give those at-bats to Jeff Francoeur last summer. Pill's rights were recently sold to the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization and his deal with the club was just finalized today. As Haft writes, "the sense here is that the Giants jettisoned Pill without fully discovering what they had in him."
- Buster Posey is just one season into his multiyear extension with the Giants and he's still owed $157MM over the next eight seasons. While it's far too early to place a verdict on this contract, Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chronicles argues that the Giants may have saved money by locking Posey up last March as opposed to this offseason, as San Francisco might've had to offer their star catcher a nine- or even a ten-year deal in the $200MM threshold.
JANUARY 2, 1:30pm: Pill has passed his physical and been placed on release waivers by the Giants, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
DECEMBER 21, 7:46pm: Dan Kurtz of MyKBO tweets that KIA's press release says Pill will receive a $50K signing bonus and a $250K salary.
7:15pm: The Giants have announced the deal, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Schulman tweets that Pill will remain on the Giants' 40-man roster until the deal is finalized. Pill must pass a physical. Kurtz (Twitter link) reports that the Tigers have also announced the agreement.
8:54am: 29-year-old first baseman Brett Pill has reached agreement on contract terms with the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization, reports Kurtz (via Twitter). The Giants had previously agreed to send Pill to the Gwangju-based Tigers for a transfer fee of around $500K, if agreement could be reached between Pill and his prospective new club.
The minor league veteran has posted strong power and on-base numbers for several years running at Triple-A, including a stellar .344/.379/.630 line with 18 home runs in 289 plate appearances last season. Pill was less productive at the MLB level, with a career .233/.279/.404 line, and his increased K% and lower BABIP could point to difficulties in handling big league pitching. On the other hand, he has seen just 259 plate appearances spread over three seasons. The Oliver and Steamer projection systems (via Fangraphs) both see Pill as a roughly league-average hitter in the bigs in 2014.
While his power remains intriguing, Pill's offensive and positional limitations drag down his attractiveness to MLB clubs. Blocked at his natural first base in the Giants' organization, Pill had apparently failed to transition successfully to another position. Already on the downslope of the aging curve, Pill's pop was apparently not enough to entice a big league team to give him a roster spot.
The Giants have a deal in place with the Korean Baseball Organization's KIA Tigers to sell Brett Pill to the Gwangju-based club, with just financial details left to be finalized, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports. Pill is negotiating with KIA Tigers about a new contract, though the deal will fall through if Pill and the Tigers can't come to terms.
The Giants are expected to receive around $500K in the sale, Baggarly notes, which is roughly twice as much as teams usually receive in such transactions. Earlier today, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted that the Giants were asking for as much as $1MM for Pill's rights and multiple teams in Korea and Japan were interested.
Pill, 29, has blossomed as a prospect over the last five seasons, culminating in a 1.010 OPS in 298 PA for Triple-A Fresno in 2013. He's received only 259 PA over three seasons at the Major League level, however, and there seemed little hope of more playing time given the Giants' depth at first base, Pill's ideal position. Brandon Belt looks to be the everyday first baseman in 2014, with Mike Morse also a candidate for playing time and Buster Posey also likely to get more time at first over the years in order to protect him from the rigors of catching. Pill has also seen time in left field and the Giants have experimented with him at second and third in the minors to try and find a place for his bat in the lineup.
- The Giants were linked to Omar Infante earlier this winter but Evans said the two sides weren't that close to a deal. "I think that we really were more or less trying to stay flexible in terms of where we might have the best fit, but the challenge for us was that we didn't necessarily have Omar's first position available," said Evans of Infante, whom the Giants were said to be considering in left field. Ultimately, Evans said San Francisco wasn't ready to make the four-year commitment that Infante got from the Royals. The Giants took care of their left field situation last week when they signed Mike Morse.
- Echoing recent comments from Giants GM Brian Sabean, Evans said that most of the club's "boxes are checked" at this stage of the offseason, meaning they'll be focusing on organizational depth rather than moves that will affect the 25-man roster.
- While the club has been getting some calls on Brett Pill, Evans says he doesn't have a read on whether Pill will wind up staying or going. Evans spoke highly of Pill while also acknowledging that he's more or less blocked in the Giants organization. The Brewers were recently said to have some level of interest in Pill to address their first base vacancy.
Brenda Branswell of the Montreal Gazette reports that a feasability study conducted by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal and the Montreal Baseball Project suggests that a return to Montreal for MLB could be financially viable, given a set of realistic assumptions. Those assumptions include league average ticket prices and local broadcasting deal along with a "modest, but competitive payroll." The study estimated that the project would cost $1.025 billion -- $525MM to acquire an existing team and $500MM to build a new stadium. Major League Baseball has deemed moving a team to the old Olympic Stadium to be an unacceptable scenario. Here's more from around the league ...
- The Orioles are looking at trade possibilities involving third baseman Danny Valencia, reports Jen Royle of the Boston Herald (via Twitter). Dealing Valencia could free a 40-man slot for a new addition, though he had figured to provide some insurance as Manny Machado recovers from knee surgery. The 29-year-old has seen scattered MLB action since a mediocre stint as the Twins' everyday third bagger in 2011. In 170 plate appearances last year for the Orioles, he had a nice .304/.330/.553 slash line to go with eight long balls.
- As the Giants attempt to clear 40-man roster space for Michael Morse, they're pursuing minor trade ideas, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly tweets. Henry Schulman, meanwhile, tweets that one such minor trade could involve 1B/OF Brett Pill. The Brewers had previously shown interest in Pill, Schulman notes. The Morse signing is likely to become official tomorrow.
- The Braves turned their attention to Gavin Floyd only after ruling out the possibility of trading for Jeff Samardzija, MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweets. In addition to Floyd, the Braves also looked at Edinson Volquez (who eventually went to the Pirates), Chris Capuano, and Bruce Chen.
- Multiple teams have made offers to Jesse Crain, who is deciding if he wants to aim for a one- or two-year deal on the free agent market, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Presumably, Crain is weighing whether or not to take the security of a two-year deal or gamble on re-establishing his value on a one-year pact.
- With many second base options flying off the board, it's looking more and more like Ryan Goins will get a real chance as the Blue Jays' everyday second baseman in 2014, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Nicholson-Smith runs down some of the remaining keystone options for Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos to pursue.
- Jordany Valdespin has changed agencies, leaving ACES for Metis Sports Management, reports MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter).
Steve Adams and Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
Earlier today, we learned that there's sentiment in the Rangers organization that Nolan Ryan will stay with the club. It's still possible that Ryan could jump ship over his altered role, but it won't be to bolt for the newest member of the AL West, the Astros. Here's more out of the Western divisions..
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Sulia) has been asked a possible deal sending the Giants' Brett Pill to the Yankees. While Schulman has learned that the Yankees are not scouting Pill right now, a trade is not the craziest idea given the club's depth at first base. So far, there is no indication that San Francisco is discussing such a deal with any team now.
- When the A's first traded for Jed Lowrie, they didn't have a full-time position for him to play. Now, Oakland has a new problem in that they aren't sure which spot to use him in since they are less-than-thrilled with Hiroyuki Nakajima at shortstop and Scott Sizemore at second base, writes Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. The A's inked Nakajima to a two-year, $6.5MM deal this winter.
- Thanks in part to the July trades of Ichiro Suzuki and Brandon League, the Mariners managed to turn a $5.8MM profit in 2012, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns.