Brian McCann Rumors
Earlier today, Steve Adams profiled Rangers free agent Nelson Cruz. The outfielder, who missed 50 games in 2013 thanks to his ties to the Biogenesis clinic, should find a healthy market this winter with many teams in need of offense. Ultimately, Steve writes that Cruz could land a three-year, $39MM deal in free agency. Here's the latest out of Arlington..
- The Rangers have let other teams know they are willing to at least talk about one of their middle infielders -- Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, or Jurickson Profar -- in any trade discussions that come up this offseason, writes MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Industry sources say the club doesn't feel a sense of urgency to move any of the three, but they're keeping an open mind as they have other areas of need to address. Texas has also made it clear to other teams they are not trying to dump Kinsler's salary and they won't pick up any part of the contract in order to facilitate a deal.
- After re-signing catcher Geovany Soto yesterday, Rangers GM Jon Daniels stated to reporters that Soto was expected to be the team's primary catcher in 2014. However, Brian McCann's agent, B.B. Abbott of Jet Sports Management, tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that he doesn't think the signing precludes McCann from going to the Rangers. Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest pointed out yesterday (on Twitter) that Daniels made similar comments after signing Soto last season before going out and signing A.J. Pierzynski.
- Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News argues that the Soto signing actually makes a McCann signing more likely for the Rangers, as they now have a competent catcher to split time with McCann. Grant writes that the best way for McCann to match or surpass Yadier Molina's five-year, $75MM deal is to recognize the health risks associated with catching and accept a role in which he could start 70 games or so behind the plate plus another 70-80 games at DH.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
One catcher is already off the market with the news that the Rangers have re-signed Geovany Soto to a one-year, $3.05MM contract, but the biggest fish on that market is likely to take his time. As it stands right now, the Red Sox, Yankees and Rangers could all be players for McCann.
"Certainly Boston is a city that Brian likes, and he has always respected the organization and the front office," said Abbott. "Obviously, the coaching staff and clubhouse unity is attractive. He has also always been fascinated with the fan base, their support of the Red Sox and the history of the organization. Boston would certainly be a place that would be a consideration for Brian."
Abbott wouldn't comment on whether or not the Red Sox have actually reached out regarding McCann, but Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger reports that the Yankees indeed have contacted Abbott regarding the longtime Braves backstop. McCullough spoke with a pair of rival executives who believe that the bidding for McCann could top $100MM, which would be a stark increase from the five-year, $80MM deal predicted by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes in his free agent profile of McCann.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News echoes the report on the Yanks' interest, adding that the Red Sox and "especially" the Rangers are expected to be serious competitors for Yankees GM Brian Cashman in his pursuit of McCann (Twitter link).
McCann is coming off his seventh straight 20-homer season despite starting the year on the disabled list. The seven-time All-Star made a bid for his sixth Silver Slugger award by hitting .256/.336/.461 in 2013.
4:57pm: Eight teams have contacted Hudson, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Giants, Red Sox, A's and Rangers have all reached out in addition to the Braves, Indians and Royals.
12:30pm: Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets that close to 10 teams have already expressed interest in Hudson.
12:25pm: Not surprisingly, Tim Hudson won't be receiving a qualifying offer, but the Braves have already extended him a one-year offer to return for the 2014 season, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Bowman doesn't have the financial details of the offer beyond its one-year term, but he notes that the Indians and Royals have both already expressed interest in luring Hudson away from the Braves.
According to Bowman, Indians manager Terry Francona has already had a lengthy phone call with Hudson, and Royals manager Ned Yost plans to contact him later in the week. Hudson and agent Paul Cohen of TWC Sports have yet to make a counter offer to the Braves' proposed one-year pact.
Hudson is set to have a screw removed from his ankle this week -- the final step in his recovery from a gruesome fracture suffered in late July when Eric Young stepped on his foot in a close play at first base. Hudson could be throwing off a mound within two weeks of the screw's removal, writes Bowman.
On the Brian McCann front, Bowman lists the Rangers as the early front-runners to sign the longtime Braves backstop as a free agent, though he notes that the Yankees and Red Sox are also expected to be in the mix. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes confirmed earlier today, McCann will receive a qualifying offer. He's a lock to reject that offer and hit the open market, though.
2:40pm: The Braves have officially announced that McCann will receive a qualifying offer.
9:05am: The Braves will extend a qualifying offer to catcher Brian McCann, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned (Twitter link). The move doesn't come as a surprise, as McCann figures to be one of the top free agents available on the market this offseason and has no reason to consider accepting a one-year, $14.1MM offer.
McCann, who turns 30 in February, returned from injury to bat .256/.336/.461 with 20 homers in just 402 plate appearances -- his sixth straight season of 20+ homers. Power such as McCann's is rare for a catcher, and his .277/.350/.473 career batting line is a testament to his offensive prowess.
In his free agent profile for McCann, Tim predicted that an American League team would be comfortable going to five years and $80MM for McCann. By wins above replacement, McCann has likely justified that commitment, averaging 3.0 rWAR and 3.8 fWAR over the past six seasons despite a pair of injury-shortened campaigns. A move to the AL, where he could see some time at DH, could allow him to play in more games.
Assuming McCann turns down the qualifying offer, any new team looking to sign him would have to punt a top draft pick. The first 11 picks are protected in this year's draft, meaning those teams would have to forfeit a second-round selection. All other teams would be required to sacrifice a first-round pick. Should he reject the offer and sign with a new club, as many expect, the Braves would receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round.
With free agency underway, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reached out to 40 Major League Baseball executives and agents to gauge the markets for both pitchers and hitters. Here are just some of the highlights from each well-crafted analysis constructed by my former MLBTR colleague...
- Brian McCann hasn't ruled out a return to the Braves, despite the fact that most pundits are projecting him to sign with an American League team on a contract that's far too expensive for Atlanta's liking. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes profiled McCann in September and predicted a five-year, $80MM deal.
- Many executives and agents that spoke to Nicholson-Smith doubt that Robinson Cano actually has a chance at reaching the $300MM mark that he and agent Brodie Van Wagenen suggested last month.
- Cuban catcher Yenier Bello is expected to work out for big league teams on Nov. 5 in Tijuana, Mexico. The powerful 28-year-old hasn't yet been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), though MLB cleared him a month ago.
- While we've heard several scouts predict that Masahiro Tanaka won't live up to the ace standards set by Yu Darvish, Nicholson-Smith found that there are several teams that do view Tanaka as a potential ace/top-of-the-rotation starter.
- Tim Hudson's agent, Paul Cohen of TWC Sports, told Nicholson-Smith that his client wants to play for two or three more seasons and is interested in signing a multiyear contract this winter. I profiled Hudson last month, projecting a one-year, $9MM contract, but noted that some teams may be interested at two years.
- Johan Santana wants to return to the Majors and recently began throwing. The two-time AL Cy Young winner didn't pitch in 2013, but he should be able to generate interest as a high-upside signing that comes with little risk.
- Javier Lopez is seeking a multiyear deal this winter after another strong season with the Giants, and Nicholson-Smith gets the sense that there are many non-closing relievers eyeing multiyear deals. He spoke to some executives who feel that left-handed relief is one of the strengths of this year's market.
There is "no chance" that the Indians will sign Ubaldo Jimenez to a long-term deal, and they may not even extend a qualifying offer, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Tim Lincecum's two-year, $35MM new deal with the Giants demonstrates that, in this market, Jimenez will be out of the Indians' price range. The Indians have an $8MM option on Jimenez for 2014, but Jimenez received the right to void it when the Rockies traded him. The Indians can still use Jimenez, who posted a 3.2 WAR in 2013, so at least extending a qualifying offer would seem to be an easy decision, but Hoynes suggests that even the qualifying offer might be in question. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Giants might have interest in Brian McCann as a lefty power source, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. That possibility would, as Heyman notes, be a little strange, since the Giants have one of baseball's best catchers in Buster Posey, and also a very good first baseman in Brandon Belt. A source close to the Giants tells Heyman that "it may depend on how much playing time McCann seeks," which is also somewhat odd, since it's not as if McCann is a borderline starter, or bench fodder. Other clubs surely view McCann as a starter and will be willing to pay him as such.
- The Diamondbacks' payroll will increase in 2014, perhaps to $100MM, AZCentral.com's Nick Piecoro writes. Aaron Hill, Martin Prado and Brandon McCarthy will all have increased salaries in 2014, which means that the DBacks' payroll will likely come in at around $93MM even before considering any free agents they might add.
Brian McCann's foray into free agency is well-timed, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. The Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Cubs and Angels could all have interest in him, perhaps along with the Blue Jays and White Sox. The fact that big-market teams like the Red Sox (whose primary catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, is also a free agent) and Yankees might be on the lookout for a catcher could drive McCann's price sky-high. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Tim Lincecum did indeed decline a two-year deal to remain with the Giants, but Heyman says that doesn't mean Lincecum is looking for a longer contract. Instead, Lincecum was seeking a one- or two-year deal with the Giants, seemingly hoping to recover his earlier, Cy Young-caliber form before heading back out on the free-agent market. The Mariners, Dodgers and Angels could all have interest in Lincecum, Heyman writes.
- The Red Sox' run to the World Series has been stressful and exciting for its front office, writes MLB.com's Ian Browne. "Those of us in the front office, we're kind of just along for the ride at this point," says GM Ben Cherington. "When the games start, we're rooting so hard, we're fans, and every pitch is like an event. So some parts of the games are hard to watch. We enjoy grand slams and the last three outs when Koji [Uehara] is on the mound. That's about it."
- It's unclear what the Tigers will do with Max Scherzer this offseason, the New York Post's Joel Sherman writes. Scherzer can become a free agent after 2014, and many executives for other teams believe the Tigers will shop him. Others believe, though, that the Tigers will simply pretend they might trade Scherzer in order to get Scherzer to encourage his agent, Scott Boras, to negotiate a long-term deal.
The Cardinals clinched the 19th NL pennant in franchise history (and fourth in the last 10 seasons) with tonight's 9-0 rout of the Dodgers in Game Six of the NLCS. Carlos Beltran continued his postseason dominance with a 3-for-4 night while NLCS MVP Michael Wacha threw seven shutout innings of two-hit ball to continue his stunning late-season run. Here are some notes from around the league...
- The Cardinals' peerless developmental system has unearthed many late-round draft picks who are currently playing key roles for the NL champions, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes, as former St. Louis scouting director (and current Astros GM) Jeff Luhnow describes how the club found some of those unheralded players. Heyman notes that the Cards' success is a good sign for the Astros, who hope Luhnow can duplicate that farm system in Houston.
- The Cubs are interested in interviewing Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo for their manager position, sources tell Patrick Mooney and Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Lovullo shares some Boston ties with Theo Epstein, as Lovullo managed the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox in 2010. Lovullo has been linked to managerial jobs in the past and was cited as a candidate for the Mariners job earlier today.
- If Braves catcher Brian McCann receives a $100MM contract in free agency, ESPN's Dan Szymborski (Insider subscription required) projects that such a contract will be an albatross for the signing team.
- Doug Fister is the best candidate for a multiyear extension from the Tigers this offseason, Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press opines. Sharp suggests that the Tigers should offer Fister a four-year, $40MM deal but I'd argue that such a contract would be very team-friendly. MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Fister will earn $6.9MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility this winter, so he could hit the $10MM average annual value threshold through arbitration alone in the 2014-15 offseason. If Fister keeps pitching as he has since coming to Detroit, it will cost much more to buy out two free agent years.
- The Dodgers need to make five moves, ESPN's Jim Bowden writes, in order to improve themselves in 2014 and perhaps take the next step into the World Series.
- Also from Bowden, he lists four of the so-called "immovable" contracts in baseball have at least a somewhat likely possibility of being traded, while also citing five contracts that are indeed virtually impossible to be moved. ESPN Insider subscriptions are required to read these two Bowden pieces.
The Yankees, as we all know, are working on a plan to keep their payroll below $189MM to reduce their luxury tax bill. However, that doesn't mean they'll be totally handcuffed this offseason. The front office is currently working on a plan to stay under budget and spent roughly $300MM in total, sources tell Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com.
The Yankees' initial main targets, besides re-signing Robinson Cano, are Masahiro Tanaka, Braves catcher Brian McCann, and Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, according to sources. The Bombers believe they can add at least two top free agents this winter without breaking the bank.
A source estimates the Yankees are shedding $85MM-$90MM in payroll this winter, which includes the salaries of retiring players Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte as well as free agents Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Curtis Granderson. The Yankees have a strong interest in keeping Kuroda and would be open to Granderson if he accepted the one-year qualifying offer, but they aren't obligated to either player. Beyond that, Derek Jeter exercising his $9.5MM player option (down from $17MM last year) and Alex Rodriguez's suspension being upheld would also help the cause.
Cano and Tanaka appear to be the Bombers' top two targets. A source said the Yankees realize that Tanaka, while making baseball sense, would also demonstrate ownership's stated goal to reinvest the savings from falling beneath the $189MM threshold. Beltran, another Yanks target, reportedly pushed to sign with the Bombers during his previous two trips through free agency and is eager to find his way to the Bronx this winter.
Nolan Ryan might be missing out on a really fun offseason. Rival talent evaluators believe that the Rangers are going to be very aggressive this winter and pursue the likes of David Price, Masahiro Tanaka, and Brian McCann, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Texas is eager to right the ship after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2009. Here's more from around baseball..
- The 2014 draft class has potential to be the best class since 2011, write John Manuel and Clint Longenecker of Baseball America. Left-hander Carlos Rodon stands out as the top talent in the group while power pitcher Jeff Hoffman would be the No. 2 pick if the draft was today.
- Top international prospects Eloy Jimenez and Gleyber Torres are pretty far along in their development considering that they're just 16, but they'll be working to adjust to the U.S. culturally, writes MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. "They're not raw in their physical abilities, it's just being raw to the United States, how things are run," said Cubs Minor League hitting coordinator Anthony Iapoce. "As far as the way they play the game, they're pretty advanced for 16 years old. They're not raw as far as their tools. Their tools are in place."
- Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau will look to sign with a winner this offseason, writes Sid Hartman of the Star-Tribune. Because of that, a return to the Twins seems highly unlikely, unless he finds an extremely weak market for his services.