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- East Notes: Ibanez, Phillies, Mathis
- Blue Jays To Exercise J.A. Happ’s Option
- Central Notes: Maddon, Dirks, Giambi, Indians
- Alex Rios Hires Scott Boras
- Dodgers Decline Option On Chad Billingsley
- West Notes: Sandoval, Lewis, Ethier, Angels
- AL East Links: Chavez, Yankees, Breslow, Jays
- Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese
- Rockies Exercise LaTroy Hawkins’ Option
- Mets Outright Satin, Rice, Eveland, Carlyle
- Cubs Hire Joe Maddon As Manager
- Yankees To Extend Qualifying Offer To David Robertson
- Rangers Decline Rios’ Option; Outright Adcock, Lucas, Figaro
- Brewers Exercise Mutual Option On Aramis Ramirez
- Rays Exercise Ben Zobrist’s Option
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Bronson Arroyo Rumors
The Diamondbacks' signing of Bronson Arroyo was a mistake, ESPN's Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Law argues that Arroyo's declining velocity, tendency to give up homers, and struggles with lefties all make him a bad bet for two years and $23.5MM. Arroyo allowed 32 homers last season (although 19 of them were in the Reds' homer-friendly ballpark), and lefties hit .295/.327/.529 against him. He's also had an average fastball velocity of about 87 MPH the past several seasons, which Law suggests has been one cause of his home-run problems. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- GM Billy Beane says the Athletics are done making significant moves this offseason, Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets. The A's have been busy this winter, adding Scott Kazmir, Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson and Eric O'Flaherty to their pitching staff and Nick Punto to their infield. They also lost Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour, and Chris Young via free agency, traded Brett Anderson and Jerry Blevins and signed Coco Crisp to an extension.
- Lefty reliever Bill Bray wants to continue his career, but might wait until May to sign, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter). Bray pitched just four games in the Nationals system in 2013, missing most of the season due to injuries. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2012 with the Reds.
- The Cardinals have the flexibility to make a significant move this spring, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. After the departures of Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook and Rafael Furcal, among others, the Cardinals' payroll is down significantly from last season, even after the addition of Jhonny Peralta. Their free payroll and strong collection of young pitching mean they'll be able to make a big trade if the right opportunity presents itself.
- Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel looks ahead to the July 2nd market for international prospects. He notes rumors that Dominican third baseman Gilbert Lara already has a $3.2MM deal in place with the Brewers, not generally a team known for splashy international signings. Dominican shortstop Dermis Garcia, meanwhile, reportedly has a $3MM deal in place with the Yankees, who figure to be big spenders in the international market this summer.
Here's the latest on free agent situations around the league:
- Bronson Arroyo's decision came down to the Diamondbacks and the Orioles, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets, with Arroyo's preference to stay in the National League playing a role in his decision to sign with Arizona. Baltimore's best offer was "competitive" with the two-year, $23.5MM guarantee that Arroyo landed, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
- Reliever Ryan Madson hit 93 mph on the radar gun during an audition today in front of 15 clubs, reports Crasnick (via Twitter). Multiple teams have expressed interest in the one-time relief ace, who is working back after missing each of the last two seasons due to elbow issues. Madson's former club, the Phillies, are one of the teams that planned to watch Madson, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported earlier today.
- Another rehabbing pitcher, former ace Johan Santana, tweeted today that he started throwing off of a mound this week. Last we heard, Twins GM Terry Ryan suggested that Santana probably would not be ready to throw competitive pitches until the summer.
- Multiple teams have shown interest in free agent reliever Brandon Lyon, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 34-year-old threw 34 1/3 innings of 4.98 ERA ball for the Mets last year, but advanced metrics (3.98 FIP, 4.48 xFIP, 4.38 SIERA) put a somewhat more positive spin on things.
- Free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel told SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (hat tip to Cotillo, on Twitter) that he is still open to playing. But having yet to hear from clubs with interest, Ankiel says he is "in a holding pattern."
2:55pm: Arroyo may have a clearer picture of where he's going to land by the end of the day today, a baseball source tells ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
FRIDAY, 12:44pm: Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that Arroyo will end up signing with either the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks.
THURSDAY: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Arroyo's camp has lowered the asking price to the two-year, $22MM range, and the Orioles and Diamondbacks are "definitely pushing" for the veteran righty.
WEDNESDAY, 9:32pm: The D'Backs are "very serious" about signing Arroyo and are planning to meet with him, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
2:11pm: The Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Orioles are the three finalists to land free agent starter Bronson Arroyo, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Among those clubs, the Diamondbacks are "slight favorites" to lock up the soon-to-be 37-year-old.
We heard recently that Arroyo had yet to receive a firm offer, but reported interest has never waned in the durable righty. Another recent report suggested that Arroyo has continued to ask clubs for a third guaranteed year. Arizona, a newer entrant to the chase for Arroyo, is said to be interested in a two-year pact.
Though rumors connecting the two sides have dissipated a bit recently, the Dodgers remain in "active talks" with right-hander Bronson Arroyo, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
The Dodgers at one point were said to have Arroyo's name on a "short list" of fallback options in the event that they were unable to land Masahiro Tanaka. That proved to be the case — Tanaka signed with the Yankees — but since missing out on the Japanese ace, Los Angeles has been linked more heavily to infield depth than starting pitching options.
Certainly, some could make the case that Arroyo is a luxury for the Dodgers rather than a need. The team already boasts a rotation consisting of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-jin Ryu and Dan Haren, with Josh Beckett and Stephen Fife as candidates for the fifth slot (Chad Billingsley, too, will be an option in the summer once his rehab from Tommy John surgery is complete). Nevertheless, the Dodgers have perhaps more financial flexibility than any team in the league and could decide that Arroyo is the final necessary piece to a World Series push.
The highly durable Arroyo has rattled off at least 199 innings in each season dating back to 2005 and has thrived in the hitter-friendly confines of Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, posting a sub-4.00 ERA there in each of the past four years. A move to the more pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium could further benefit the veteran right-hander as he enters his age-37 season.
Diamondbacks pitchers and catcher report to Spring Training in just three days, but the team will make one last run at the free agent market, writes MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Among the free agents they're interested is right-hander Bronson Arroyo, team president Derrick Hall confirmed to Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. However, the team is interested in a two-year deal for the veteran righty, Hall told Buchanan (Twitter links), which may not be enough to entice Arroyo.
"We owe it to ourselves to at least see what the remaining free agents are looking for," Hall told Gilbert. Presumably, the Diamondbacks are set in terms of starting position players with Miguel Montero at catcher, Paul Goldschmidt at first base, Aaron Hill at second base, Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius at shortstop, Martin Prado at third base and some combination of Mark Trumbo, Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock and Cody Ross in the outfield. They could theoretically use more stability at shortstop, but a run at Stephen Drew doesn't seem likely after his previous tenure in Arizona ended poorly.
Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, A.J. Burnett and Arroyo are the consensus top arms on the market, and Gilbert reminds that GM Kevin Towers said at the Winter Meetings he wasn't planning on offering more than three years to any starting pitcher other than Masahiro Tanaka. Some have speculated that the smaller-than-anticipated payday for Matt Garza could knock down the price tags on Garza and Jimenez, though I personally don't expect their demands to drop below four years. Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon seems likely to fall into the Diamondbacks' price range, but they aren't one of the five teams said to be currently pursuing him as of this morning. The D-Backs are reportedly interested in Burnett but don't feel he will pitch on the West coast.
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune will continue his weekly reader chats and a few other ongoing projects for the paper, but otherwise, Center is retiring after a 47-year career. All the best wishes to a veteran baseball scribe whose name has regularly appeared on MLB Trade Rumors over the years. Here are a few Padres-related hot stove notes and more from Center's latest online chat with fans…
- Andrew Cashner and the Padres are just $125K apart on the price of Cashner's 2014 contract (the righty asked for $2.4MM, the team offered $2.275MM) and as of today, the two sides are set to go to an arbitration hearing. Center figurs the reason Cashner and the team couldn't come to an agreement over such a relatively small gap is because the two sides are working on a long-term contract. Cashner, 27, has two more years of arbitration eligibility left after this offseason and is scheduled for free agency following the 2016 season. Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told MLBTR's Steve Adams during the GM Meetings last November that a Cashner extension was "certainly a possibility" for the team this offseason.
- The Padres are set for starting pitching and aren't likely to make a play for Bronson Arroyo, even though Center "imagine[s] his price is dropping rapidly."
- The Padres signed Joaquin Benoit to a two-year, $15.5MM deal this offseason, the type of large expenditure on a reliever who isn't expected to close (if Huston Street remains healthy) that you wouldn't expect from a smaller-market team like San Diego. Center likes the move, however, feeling it was the type of move a contender makes. Center feels the bullpen "could push the Padres over the top" in 2014.
- The crowded Padres bullpen, however, will make it harder for left-hander Patrick Schuster to make the team. Schuster was the first pick of this year's Rule 5 draft, selected by the Astros off the Diamondbacks' roster, and Houston then dealt Schuster to the Padres to complete the Anthony Bass trade. As per the Rule 5 regulations, Schuster must remain on the Padres' Major League roster all season, or else San Diego must offer him back to Arizona for $25K (or work out a trade with the D'Backs).
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares a few hot stove items in his latest Sunday column…
- Bronson Arroyo has been looking for a three-year deal or at least a vesting option for a third year, which could be holding up his market. If Arroyo was willing to settle for a flat two-year contract, Cafardo opines, he could find a deal, possibly with the Diamondbacks; Cafardo reported earlier this week that Arizona was "beginning to kick the tires" on the veteran right-hander. Arroyo recently said that he has yet to receive a concrete offer from any team, despite a lot of interest from around the league.
- The Dodgers are another team who "are very interested" in Arroyo but don't want to give him a guaranteed third year.
- Nelson Cruz's market is beginning to heat up, and “there could be up to four or five teams who could take the plunge in the end," a Major League source tells Cafardo. This interest could manifest itself into a multiyear deal for Cruz, though Cafardo notes that the slugger could still have to settle for a one-year contract. We've recently seen the Mariners, Orioles, Rangers and Twins linked to Cruz in rumors, though Texas and Minnesota only seem interested at a greatly reduced price.
- Cafardo thinks the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes is down to the Pirates, Phillies and Orioles, though he wouldn't be surprised if the Yankees were also exploring a reunion with the veteran right-hander. The Rays and Blue Jays have also been connected to Burnett, though it seems more likely that Burnett will choose a team located closer to his home in Maryland.
- The Marlins have "asked a lot" about Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks but there doesn't seem to be a trade fit. Miami is one of several teams who have asked Boston about Middlebrooks' availability, but the Sox don't want to give up on Middlebrooks' power potential. Even if the Red Sox re-signed Stephen Drew to play shortstop and Xander Bogaerts took over at third, Middlebrooks would still receive playing time alternating between third and first base.
- While Jon Lester recently said he would take a hometown discount to remain with the Red Sox, Cafardo points out that it might not be a huge discount, as Lester also noted that "you never want to be the guy that takes the market backward."
- The Red Sox will experiment with Ryan Lavarnway as a first baseman during Spring Training, GM Ben Cherington confirmed. Since Boston is so deep at catcher at both the Triple-A and Major League levels, Lavarnway's only chance at continued playing time may be as a Triple-A first baseman.
- "There’s a feeling that a team like the Yankees may pluck Fernando Rodney, or someone of his ilk, to ensure they have another closer in case David Robertson breaks down or isn’t up to the task," Cafardo writes. Rodney was reportedly drawing interest from four teams, though the Yankees hadn't spoken with him since November and may not have enough remaining payroll space to add to the bullpen.
Now that A.J. Burnett has decided to pitch in 2014, the Diamondbacks would be interested in adding him to their rotation, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. However, the D-Backs don't feel that Burnett is interested in pitching for a team on the West coast, according to Piecoro, so there may not be mutual interest. More on the D-Backs and the rest of the NL West below…
- The Diamondbacks are beginning to kick the tires on Bronson Arroyo, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (on Twitter). Arroyo told ESPN's Jayson Stark earlier this week that he's yet to receive a formal offer from a club.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that his team is done pursuing free agent starting pitchers (Twitter link). The Giants seem likely to head into the season with Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson and one of Ryan Vogelsong or Yusmeiro Petit in the rotation.
- Schulman also spoke with Brandon Belt, who said he has no ill feelings toward the Giants for submitting a $1.55MM arbitration figure ($2.05MM lower than his own figure) and won't have any hard feelings if they go to a hearing and he listens to the team make a case against him (Sulia link). "I don't think they think little of me," said Belt. "I think that's what teams do. That's the business side of baseball. I think what both sides are trying to do is create a midpoint, maybe. … I know what I wasn't good at, so if I go in there it's not going to hurt my feelings any. If they have to tear me down a little bit, I'll be OK."
- New Dodgers second baseman Alexander Guerrero tells Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com that shortstop and second base are "completely different" and admits to struggling to adapt to a new culture. However, he called Los Angeles "beautiful" and voiced confidence that he'll be ready to handle second base come Opening Day. Saxon reports that the Dodgers are still looking to add one more infielder to their bench, likely to serve as insurance.
- Earlier in the week, Troy Renck of the Denver Post wrote that the Rockies have "mild" interest in Ervin Santana but aren't pursuing him at his current price and are also reluctant to surrender the 35th pick in this year's draft.
Here are a few updates on some free agent situations around baseball:
- The Orioles expect their payroll to top $100MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, though it remains to be seen how much over that threshold the club will go. As things stand, Baltimore's player salaries add up to about $85MM, leaving plenty of room to add.
- Right now, the O's remain in contact with Nelson Cruz, A.J. Burnett, and Fernando Rodney, Rosenthal tweets. The team could also be involved on Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana if they fail to land Burnett, says Rosenthal.
- Free agent starter Bronson Arroyo has asked at least one club for a three-year deal within the last two weeks, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. The durable veteran recently said he had yet to receive an offer, though it could be that he is only willing to field longer-term offers at the present time.
- Lefty Chris Capuano has dropped his ask from two years to one, Olney tweets. The 35-year-old should be an attractive option on a single-season commitment.
After nine seasons with the Tigers, Kirk Gibson left Detroit for free agency, signing a three-year, $4.5MM deal with the Dodgers on this day 26 years ago. The Dodgers immediately got a return on their investment as Gibson won the 1988 NL MVP Award (hitting .290/.377/.483 with 25 homers and 106 runs) as he and Orel Hershiser led Los Angeles to the pennant. Knee and hamstring injuries left Gibson questionable for the World Series, however, and Gibson made just one plate appearance in the 1988 Fall Classic…but it was certainly a big one. Ironically, Gibson is today firmly aligned against the Dodgers in his current role as the Diamondbacks' manager.
Here are some items from around baseball…
- Scott Boras, Suk-min Yoon's agent, said that "many teams," including the Red Sox, were interested in his client, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter link). The Sox were linked to Yoon earlier this month though it's unknown if Boston is one of the four clubs who have made contract offers to the Korean righty. Boras said that "we'll know more in 10 days," which would seemingly give credence to rumors that Yoon will soon sign with a team.
- The Orioles were rumored to be considering a contract extenson for J.J. Hardy this winter, though there has been a lack of movement on this front. CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff wonders if the O's are waiting for Stephen Drew's free agent situation to be resolved since the two shortstops have comparable career numbers. Hardy is scheduled for free agency next winter and his long-term future in Baltimore is in some question given that shortstop is Manny Machado's natural position.
- A source with direct knowledge of Bronson Arroyo's negotiations tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link) to "don't believe everything you read" in regards to Arroyo's claim that he hasn't received a firm contract offer this winter.
- Vernon Wells is guaranteed $21MM for the 2014 season after being released by the Yankees, and since Wells lives in a state (Texas) with no income tax, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes that Wells could actually end up losing money if he plays for another team this season. Of course, losing a little more than $1MM in taxes may not be a major concern for Wells (who has banked over $110MM for his career, according to Baseball Reference) if he wants to continue his career.
- For the first time, MLB teams could sign more free agents to multiyear contracts than one-year deals, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron writes. With more money (particularly from TV deals) coming into the game, Cameron theorizes that teams are more willing to make longer commitments to players.