Brian Dozier Rumors
The White Sox are off to a solid start to the season with a 7-6 record, and they've already won more games against the division-rival Indians than they did in 2013, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Hayes spoke with Indians GM Chris Antonetti about his division rivals, and Antonetti said he's not surprised to see the Sox looking like an improved club. "Unfortunately for us, I thought [White Sox GM Rick Hahn] and his staff had an exceptional offseason," Antonetti told Hayes. "They’ve positioned themselves not only better for the short term but also for the long term as well and that’s a challenging thing to do. ... I thought they made a number of tremendous moves that will not only help them this year but for years to come, unfortunately to our detriment."
Here's more about the White Sox and the rest of the AL Central...
- The White Sox' largest move of the offseason, financially speaking, was the signing of Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68MM contract. CSN Chicago's David Kaplan spoke to former Sox GM and current executive vice president Kenny Williams about the Abreu signing. Williams said he initially told Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that he thought Abreu was worth a four-year, $40MM investment, to which Reinsdorf replied, "Why not $50MM?" Williams said he's 100 percent confident in Abreu as well as Reinsdorf and Hahn, who closed the $68MM deal (Twitter link).
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at yesterday's $35MM extension for Jedd Gyorko and examines what that means for the Twins' chances of locking up Brian Dozier. The Twins and Dozier's agent, Damon Lapa, had extension talks this spring that didn't progress beyond the exploratory phase, Berardino writes. He notes that while Gyorko's bat has been superior to Dozier's thus far, Dozier trumps Gyorko in defense, baserunning and overall wins above replacement.
- In the latest edition of his "Hey Hoynsie!" mailbag, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer points out that the Indians are in a familiar situation with Asdrubal Cabrera. Though the club had an affordable option on Omar Vizquel back in 2004, they made no indication of wanting to pick it up and instead let Vizquel walk to make room for Jhonny Peralta. In 2010, the team traded Peralta to the Tigers without showing much interest in retaining him, due to Cabrera's presence in the minors. Now, with Cabrera five-and-a-half months from free agency and Francisco Lindor looming, there's been little to no talk of Cabrera's Cleveland tenure lasting beyond 2014. The bigger question, says Hoynes, is whether or not Cabrera will play well enough to merit a qualifying offer. Given his struggles at the plate over the past year, that seems unlikely at this time.
One hidden key to the Royals' emergence has been the club's dedication to Latin American scouting, signing, and player development under GM Dayton Moore (and special assistant Rene Francisco), writes Rany Jazayerli of RanyontheRoyals.com. Jazayerli breaks down the team's long history of virtually no significant spending on Latin American players, and how increased investments -- especially on lower-priced players like Salvador Perez, Yordano Ventura, Miguel Almonte, and Jorge Bonifacio (total commitment: $253K) -- have been critical to building the team's overall talent base. Here's more from the American League Central:
- Max Scherzer requested an eight-year deal in his negotiations with the Tigers, reports Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The Tigers' reported offer was for six years and $144MM. If the sides were in agreement on the $24MM AAV, that would hypothetically put Scherzer's demands on total gaurantee at $192MM. Scherzer has injury protection through an insurance policy, Bowden adds, which perhaps has increased his willingness to wait for a larger deal on the open market.
- Meanwhile, the White Sox were able to secure seven years of control rights over their own prized starter, Jose Quintana, for a total guarantee that maybe as low as $21MM (if he does not qualify for Super Two status). Of course, unlike Scherzer, Quintana has just 1.133 years of service and did not win the AL Cy Young last year. Nevertheless, the deal looks like a smart investment for a Chicago club that has purchased prime years of several players at seemingly reasonable rates. As Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports, GM Rick Hahn sees the value in early extensions, which "frees us up to allocate our resources to other needs." Hahn explained: "You've seen the magnitude of what some of these deals have gotten to in free agency. It makes sense to try to get out in front of that sometimes, to try to get the price points locked in before the market continues to grow ... ."
- Twins assistant GM Rob Antony had several updates today, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Infielder Jason Bartlett has agreed to push back his March 25 opt-out to the March 30 Opening Day roster deadline, which gives both sides more time to assess their options. Meanwhile, the club is still in discussions on a new deal with reliever Matt Guerrier, who was released because the club did not want to pay the Article XX(B) free agent signee a $100K retention bonus to stash him in the minors.
- Though the Twins have had some exploratory discussions about an extension with second baseman Brian Dozier, the 26-year-old tells Berardino that a deal is probably not happening at this point. That is not surprising, as Dozier has just 1.100 on his service clock and still has some questions to answer as a player. But he indicated that there is a positive vibe between the two sides and a hope that talks could pick up in the future. "We had some talks or whatever," he said. "Obviously nothing took place but it was a bunch of good postive feedback on both ends.It's very unlikely anything will be coming soon or during the season or anything. We'll let another year play out and see where it goes. That was just a thing to see where everybody was. I think [the Twins] would be in the near future open to it and we definitely are."
- The Indians were one of the clubs vying for Scott Baker's services before the offseason, and just released Aaron Harang. Nevertheless, Cleveland will not pursue the starter at this point, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Baker was released today by the Mariners after deciding he would rather test the market than accept an assignment to Triple-A.
- "Word is there is some early optimism" in contract talks between the Tigers and superstar Miguel Cabrera, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman believes Cabrera should top Alex Rodriguez's $27.5MM average annual value, but probably won't be able to score a ten-year deal. With Cabrera already signed through 2015, a new deal would begin with his age-33 campaign. The Tigers recently broke off talks with pitcher Max Scherzer, who is eligible for free agency after this season.
- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis says everyone on the team was rooting for Justin Masterson to get a deal done, but added, "Everyone in this room, at one point of time, has experienced the business side of this game," talking to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Kipnis offered nothing to reveal the state of his own contract negotiations, which have the typical Opening Day deadline. The Tribe opens their season in Oakland a week from today. Kipnis remains under team control through 2017.
- Infielder Eduardo Escobar and veteran Jason Kubel have made the Twins, tweets La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Escobar is out of options, while Kubel is subject to tomorrow's $100K retention bonus deadline. Neal's colleague Phil Miller has quotes from non-roster invitee Jason Bartlett, who appears to be on the losing end of the team's backup infielder battle.
- Twins second baseman Brian Dozier calls an extension "very unlikely," but he remains open to midseason talks, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Dozier, 27 in May, is already under team control through 2018.
- "For the way we're set up with our finances and our payroll, starting pitching costs a lot of money to maintain, so that's why it's important to develop it," Royals assistant general manager for scouting and player development J.J. Picollo tells MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis. Callis names Yordano Ventura, Kyle Zimmer, Sean Manaea, and Miguel Almonte as the team's top young arms.
- For the White Sox, "the most recent [roster] cuts stem from the decision to retain a third first baseman based on latent talisman powers," writes Jim Margalus of South Side Sox in reference to the team's decision to bring Paul Konerko back.
- What is it like finding out you've been traded? "I was literally on the field, taking ground balls, when the GM, Jerry (Dipoto) comes running out, pulls me off the field with (manager Mike Scioscia)," new Tigers infielder Andrew Romine tells Dick Scanlon of the Detroit Free Press. He added, "We go in and have a meeting and right away: 'Hey, we’re trading you over to Detroit for a left-handed pitcher.'"
- For a reminder which AL Central players are out of options, check out my post from March 6th.
ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with Twins first baseman Joe Mauer about the transition from catching everyday to becoming a regular first baseman. Stark also spoke with several instructors around Twins camp, including Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and three-time All-Star Terry Steinbach, about the changes facing Mauer and what can be expected of him going forward. Stark puts Mauer's transition into some surprising historical context, noting that Joe Torre is the only player in Major League history to log 300+ games at another position after catching his 900th game. Mauer has some experience at first, having started 54 games there over the past few seasons, but admits that those games aren't the same: "You know, the last few seasons, when I’d get out there, it was kind of a day off from catching, and it was kind of like, go out there and do your best. But now, it’s your job. So you’d better do it right."
Here are some more Twins links for your Thursday afternoon...
- Agent Damon Lapa, who represents second baseman Brian Dozier and right-hander Kevin Correia, is expected to be in Twins camp this weekend and will have informal extension discussions with assistant GM Rob Antony, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In a second tweet, Berardino quotes Dozier, who broke out in 2013 with a 3.8 rWAR/2.8 fWAR season, as saying: "The Twins have done it before. Those can benefit both sides. We're still open to the idea."
- While Spring Training has been kind to Chris Parmelee in the past, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger notes that this time around is quite a bit different for the former first-round pick. Parmelee is out of options and knows that with Mauer penciled in as the everyday first baseman and the corner outfield spots likely full, his role on the club could be diminished. Parmelee was one of the players that Tim Dierkes and I examined in today's post on AL Central players that are out of options.
- While much was made of the Twins' pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter, Antony tells Berardino that A.J. Pierzynski was "no doubt" the team's No. 1 catching target this offseason. Pierzynski himself said back in December that the Twins made him a two-year offer. Antony said he wouldn't rule out pursuing Pierzynski in the future and has no hard feelings that he didn't take Minnesota's recent offer: "I understand; he got a chance to join the world champs. A.J. is a competitor. I don't think it was an easy decision. He told a lot of people that: 'God, I would have loved to come back to Minnesota. This was a tough decision to make.'"
Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker provides an interesting breakdown of the payrolls of Japanese clubs. The Yomiuri Giants lead the way with a USD-equivalent tab of about $45.45MM, which includes all players on the club's 70-man roster. Just 91 players league-wide make the equivalent of over $1MM, says Newman, with powerful catcher Shinnosuke Abe leading the way with a $6MM annual draw. Among foreign players, Andruw Jones of Rakuten has the highest salary at $3.8MM. Here are some more notes from the evening:
- Free agent outfielder Derrick Robinson underwent shoulder surgery today and is expected to miss most (if not all) of the coming season, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 26-year-old saw his first taste of MLB action last year, putting up a .255/.322/.323 line in 216 plate appearances for the Reds.
- Chone Figgins had to go back to square one to earn an opportunity with the Dodgers, writes Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times. The 36-year-old said that his showcase was "like a high school workout," except that he wrapped it up by telling the attending scouts to "tell your bosses you have a player who played in the big leagues and can still play."
- Twins middle infielder Brian Dozier says he would be interested in talking extension, if approached, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "Nothing yet, but I'd be dumb not to even listen," said Dozier. "It's up to those guys. We'd be open to anything." Dozier had a breakout year in 2013, putting up a .244/.312/.414 line in 623 plate appearances and performing well enough defensively and on the basepaths to register 3.8 rWAR and 3.9 fWAR. Dozier hit 18 long balls in his first full-time year, despite having never reached double-digits at any professional level. The 26-year-old is set to reach arbitration eligibility in 2016.
- Though a new deal for a player like Dozier would certainly be a surprise at this point in his career, his defensive flexibility makes him a reasonable risk since he will remain worthy of a roster spot even if he loses a starting role. (Dozier played 83 games at shortstop in 2012.) And (as MLBTR's Steve Adams noted to me), Dozier's early propensity for counting stats could provide some impetus for a deal, since he may draw a relatively sizeable arbitration salary when he qualifies. Indeed, as Braves senior advisor John Hart recently noted, less-prominent players could increasingly be targeted by teams looking for new ways to derive value.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports that the Royals maintain there is a possibility for them to retain Ervin Santana this offseason. GM Dayton Moore has gone on the record in saying that Santana will get a qualifying offer, notes Dutton, and one club official pointed to the struggles that gave Kyle Lohse on last year's market. Lohse was significantly older than Santana, of course, but a qualifying offer does up the price to sign Santana for everyone other than the Royals. Dutton senses that at this time, the team doesn't want to go beyond three years, but that could change once they gauge the market. Here's more out of the AL Central...
- MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger tackles a host of Twins-related topics in his latest Twins Inbox, starting off by dismissing the notion that Joe Mauer's concussion and Josmil Pinto's impressive big league debut spell the end of Mauer's days behind the plate. Mauer and GM Terry Ryan both say that Mauer will still catch, and the proposed destination of first base for Mauer may not be vacant. Bollinger reports that Justin Morneau is a candidate to return to the team, but there mixed feelings about whether or not he'd return, as he may prefer to sign with a contender.
- Bollinger also notes that Brian Dozier's strong season at second base could make top prospect Eddie Rosario a trade chip to land starting pitching, or it could make Dozier himself a trade chip with Rosario nearing the big leagues. He adds that the Twins need to acquire starting pitching this summer, and Ryan will have the funds to do so via free agency and the prospects to do so via trade. Only Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Mauer (who has a full no-trade clause) are untouchable in trade talks this offseason, according to Bollinger.
- The White Sox gave a club-record $1.6MM signing bonus to Dominican outfield prospect Micker Adolfo this July, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin, and GM Rick Hahn expects more of the same next season as he looks to rebuild the team following a 99-loss campaign. Hahn anticipates being allotted roughly $5MM to spend on international free agents, which should give him plenty of ammunition to be aggressive.