Carl Crawford Rumors

Dodgers Links: Crawford, Kemp, Payroll

The carousel of playing time in the Dodgers’ outfield may settle for the time being, as Carl Crawford is headed to the disabled list after rolling his ankle in last night’s win over the Reds. As MLB.com’s Earl Bloom wrote, manager Don Mattingly said the injury “didn’t look good,” though x-rays on Crawford’s ankle did at least come back negative. Here’s more on the team that trails the Giants by 4.5 games in the NL West…

  • Prior to last night’s Crawford injury, Bloom wrote that Matt Kemp would begin to see some time in left field, despite not having played there since he was a rookie in 2006. The Dodgers feel that Kemp, he of an eight-year, $160MM contract, is currently better suited for left, as he’s lost a step in breaking on fly balls and doesn’t run as strong of routes as Andre Ethier. Crawford’s injury, of course, simplifies the division of playing time for now, but conventional wisdom suggests that at some point, something has to give with the Dodgers’ four high-priced outfielders.
  • General manager Ned Colletti and president Stan Kasten spoke with Howard Bryant of ESPN about the club’s payroll. Colletti told Bryant that the Dodgers admittedly don’t plan to spend at their current $229MM level forever, but they felt the need to turn things around “overnight” and make up for a four-year span of disappointment as they fought irrelevancy. Kasten told Bryant, “I always say that smart beats rich. But it’s better to be smart and rich.” He went on to say that his club is trying to find a balance of the financial power we’ve seen from the Red Sox and Yankees over the past 15 years and combine it the intelligence consistently shown by the Athletics and Rays.

Rangers More Interested In Choo Than Ellsbury

The Rangers are considering a run at Shin-Soo Choo, but they've apparently scratched the other top free agent outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, off of their list, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Choo fits the bill for Texas if they don't re-sign Nelson Cruz, but a Rangers connected person suggested they aren't likely to secure him if "rumored prices" are accurate.  The Rangers aren't as intrigued by Ellsbury at this time because they are happy with center fielder Leonys Martin.

It's not clear which rumors Heyman's source was referring to, but it has been said that agent Scott Boras has previous deals for Jayson Werth (seven-year, $126MM deal) and Carl Crawford ($142MM over seven years) in mind for clients Choo and Ellsbury.

There are options beyond the free agent market, however.  Heyman notes that the Rangers have also talked to Dodgers about Andre Ethier and Crawford in addition to Matt Kemp.  It has been said that one of the Dodgers' surplus outfielders might be made available this offseason.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels appears to be casting a wide net in terms of free agent possibilities, but if the team is truly pleased with Martin in center field, the Rangers likely only have one space available.  Alex Rios, acquired in August in exchange for infielder Leury Garcia, is under team control for 2014 and figures to patrol right field in Arlington.  However, as a gifted outfield defender, he Rios could likely play any of the three outfield spots, which gives Daniels some flexibility in deciding who to target.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


NL West Notes: Padres, Giants, Dodgers, Hudson, Ruiz

On this date 25 years ago, the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser was an unanimous selection as the National League Cy Young Award winner becoming the only player to be named the Cy Young, NLCS MVP, and World Series MVP in the same season. 1988 was the benchmark in Hershiser's career highlighted by his still-standing MLB record of pitching 59 consecutive scoreless innings. The "Bulldog" also set career-highs in wins (23), strikeouts (190), innings pitched (267.0), complete games (15), and shutouts (8). Here are today's news and notes from the NL West:

  • The Padres appear to be set in terms of rotation depth, Corey Brock of MLB.com writes. They aren't likely to target a starter this offseason unless it's a player that could sit at the top of a rotation or provide long-term value. Such a move would likely be via trade, Brock says, adding that the club's main focus will be on finding left-handed offense.
  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle profiles Giants pitching prospect Kyle Crick, who has drawn comparisons to Matt Cain. While the 20-year-old Crick may have the highest ceiling among Giants pitching prospects, he's not likely to help the major league club in 2014, as he finished the year at High-A San Jose. 
  • The Los Angeles Times' Steve Dilbeck comments on a report from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal that the Dodgers are listening on Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. Shopping the veteran outfielders is the right move as the club explores extensions for Hanley Ramirez and Clayton Kershaw, Dilbeck says. However, he adds that the salaries and injury histories of the three make a deal unlikely.
  • The Rockies have reached out to Tim Hudson, but they will have to overpay in either dollars or years to pique his interest, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. MLBTR's Steve Adams predicts a one-year, $9MM contract for Hudson (#31 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list), but Renck believes the right-hander may be able to secure a two-year deal with as many as 15 teams in pursuit.
  • Within the same article, Renck reports the Rockies will make an offer to free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, but it's unclear whether they are willing to go beyond two years.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.



Mets Notes: Choo, Dodgers, Saunders, Trades

We learned of a few Mets items earlier today and a couple of minor league signings for the club.  Here's some more news from Citi Field…

  • Robinson Cano is the only player the Mets value as a $100MM-plus player this offseason, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  Since they won't be in on Cano, the Mets may also not be able to afford Shin-Soo Choo due to agent Scott Boras' nine-figure contract demands.
  • A Mets source tells Heyman that none of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier are currently part of the team's offseason plans.  We heard earlier today that the Dodgers were open to dealing any of the three veteran outfielders and the Mets have been linked to Ethier in the past.
  • Joe Saunders is a good fit for the Mets as a relatively inexpensive veteran innings-eater, several rival talent evaluators tell Mike Puma of the New York Post.  A pitcher like Saunders would help the Mets rotation in the short term while still allowing the team to spend larger dollars on hitters.
  • The Mets could "aggressively shop" Daniel Murphy this winter, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo writes as part of a reader mailbag.  The Mets could be looking to sell high on Murphy as team COO Jeff Wilpon didn't mention the second baseman when discussing players guaranteed roster spots for 2014.  In other mailbag topics, DiComo also doesn't see the Mets spending big on a single player like Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury, and he outlines the club's shortstop depth issue (though re-acquiring Jose Reyes is not a solution).

Dodgers Open To Trading Kemp, Ethier, Crawford

The Dodgers have made outfielders Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford available, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  While the Dodgers may not yet be actively shopping any of the trio, the message they're putting out to other clubs is, “If you’re interested in one of them, make us an offer." 

All three men are signed to expensive multiyear deals so L.A. would certainly have to cover some that money in any deal, a rival executive tells Rosenthal.  The executive bluntly says that "none" of the players are particularly desirable since they carry question marks about their durability (Kemp and Crawford), production (Ethier) and age (Crawford is 32).

Rosenthal reported in September that the Dodgers were looking to clear space in the outfield by moving one of these four or even rookie phenom Yasiel Puig.  While Puig would easily draw the biggest trade return, Rosenthal sees no chance that he'd be moved, plus L.A. has another young outfielder in Joc Pederson waiting in the minors.

Kemp posted MVP-type numbers in 2011 but has become almost an afterthought due to two injury-plagued years.  Kemp hit only .270/.328/.395 in 290 PA for the Dodgers in 2013 and is owed $128MM through the 2019 season, but if L.A. agrees to eat a significant piece of that contract, Kemp's pedigree would surely draw attention on the trade market.  Health, obviously, is the major concern about Kemp's future — I'd speculate that a Kemp deal could include a clause adjusting how much salary the Dodgers would cover in relation to how many games Kemp were to play in 2014 or beyond.

Ethier looked like he would be on the move earlier this season due to the lack of space in the Los Angeles outfield and a seeming issue with manager Don Mattingly.  The Mets were seen as a logical fit for Ethier given their need for a big outfield bat, and if they don't choose to address that need with a major free agent signing, Ethier could be an option (as could Kemp and Crawford, for that matter).  Ethier's inability to his left-handed pitching, however, could send the Mets and other teams looking elsewhere in search of a more reliable everyday option.

Crawford revived his career in 2013 following two disastrous seasons in Boston but still posted modest numbers (.283/.329/.407 in 469 PA, plus 15-for-19 in stolen base attempts) given his salary.  The veteran's speed-based game may be on the decline given his age and hamstring problems and thus could have the lowest trade value of the three.


Rosenthal On CarGo, Dodgers, Price, Mujica

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new video up outlining potential hot stove moves this offseason. Let's take a look:

  • The Rockies' ownership doesn't have much interest in trading Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, though Gonzalez would be more likely to be traded if the club does decide to make a move. The Rangers, with their stocks of young pitching and middle infielders, could be a partner. If on offer in such a deal, Jurickson Profar could handle second base for the Rockies, and could shift to shortstop if the team eventually moves Tulo off of the position. We heard last week that the Mets have interest in CarGo.
  • The Dodgers are expected to trade one of their "big four" – Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Yasiel Puig – according to rival executives speaking with Rosenthal. Puig is, of course, the least likely to be moved.
  • The Rays are expected to consider trading David Price over the winter, with Rosenthal again suggesting the Rangers as a team to keep an eye on, noting that Texas had two scouts on hand to watch a recent Price start in Minnesota. The Cubs could also be interested, though their farm system is stronger in position players than it is in pitchers.
  • One major league exec suggests that the pressures of impending free agency and closing for a contender have affected the CardinalsEdward Mujica. A longtime setup man, Mujica was suddenly positioned on the verge of a "major payday" after taking on the Cards' closer role, Rosenthal says.

Red Sox Notes: Crawford, Ramirez, Beckett, Ellsbury

One year ago, the Red Sox shocked the baseball world when they hit the reset button with their massive blockbuster deal with the Dodgers.  Today, Boston finds themselves atop of the AL East, something that very few could have predicted after they shed roughly $270MM in payroll.  Alex Speier of WEEI.com has a fascinating article today on the trade that altered the direction of the club and the possible alternatives that could have also taken place.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • One rumor prior to last year's non-waiver deadline had the Red Sox considering a swap of Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez with the Marlins.  However, such a deal never came close.  One source familiar with the talks said that Boston would done the deal straight up, but the problem was the difference in salary.  Such a move would have required the Marlins to break out the checkbook as there was $37MM+ owed to Ramirez through 2014 and a whopping $110.5MM owed to Crawford through 2017.
  • However, there were other proposed deals that had legs, particularly ones involving Josh Beckett.  According to multiple industry sources, the Rangers and Red Sox explored a number of possible deals including one that had a framework of Beckett and Jacoby Ellsbury going to Texas with the Red Sox getting left-hander Derek Holland.  However, Beckett told WEEI's Rob Bradford that the talks never gained enough traction for the team to discuss the possibility of him waiving his no-trade rights.
  • The Dodgers were among the clubs with interest in Beckett prior to the July 31st deadline and that was information that the Red Sox stored for later.
  • The club's previous free-spending ways handcuffed them from even considering a run at Yu Darvish after the 2011 season.  Of course, the blockbuster with L.A. gave them much more flexibility going forward.  GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that a trade deadline deal like the Jake Peavy trade this year simply wasn't possible given the payroll constraints that the team previously faced.
  • Boston considered using their prospects to help get out from under bad contracts, but they ultimately decided against that.  "We'd made the decision long term, we were just going to need to start holding on to [top prospects] and figuring out what they could do," said one team official. "Instead of picking the right guy, keep them all in the tub and let them decide for us. Back when we were good, that's what we did."  
  • Up until the Dodgers deal happened, Cherington says that he wasn't planning on making any significant moves in August.  There was some thought given to turning the Dodgers down and waiting until the offseason when they could revisit talks with L.A. and other clubs.  However, Boston didn't want to let the opportunity to start fresh pass them by. 

NL Notes: Davis, Dodgers, Gallardo, Relievers

Former Colorado Rockie Ryan Spilborghs has been blogging for The Denver Post about his experiences playing for the Seibu Lions in Japan this season, and he weighs in on the issue of PEDs in his latest post. While Spilborghs doesn't approve of PED use, he suggests that baseball's long season can push players too far without giving them enough time to recover. A better model may be the schedule adopted by Japan's NPB league, which has teams playing 144 games in about 180 days, Spilborghs says.

Some more notes from around the senior circuit…

  • Ike Davis will rejoin the Mets on Friday for their matchup with the Brewers, a source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Davis was demoted on June 10 after hitting just .161/.242/.258 in 207 plate appearances, but work with Triple-A coaches to address a hitch in Davis' swing was apparently successful, as the first baseman has compiled a .293/.424/.667 line with the Las Vegas 51s. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes speculated in a May post that Davis could be a non-tender candidate this offseason.
  • The Dodgers are expected to activate outfielder Carl Crawford from the DL as soon as Friday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Los Angeles will soon be faced with a long-anticipated glut of regular outfielders, with Crawford joining Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and sensation Yasiel Puig on the active roster. Manager Don Mattingly acknowledges that it will be a "sticky" situation to manage. It remains to be seen whether the Dodgers will consider moving Andre Ethier, who was given a five-year, $85MM extension just over a year ago.
  • While Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers has been the subject of trade dialogueAdam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that the righty is determined not to let the rumors affect him. "We all hear things. I'm not going to lie. … But basically I just leave it at that. I hear them, and then don't think about it too much." Gallardo did acknowledge, however, that he had become aware of some of the teams on his no-trade list.
  • Though the loss of Jesse Crain to the DL dampens the reliever market, a number of potentially available NL hurlers could help bolster a contender's bullpen, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes. The Cubs' Kevin Gregg has earned 14 saves in 15 opportunities, while the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez is a perfect seven for seven in save chances and could help the Tigers, Rosenthal says. John Axford, Milwaukee's former closer, could also be a useful piece. 
  • The Marlins could offer Steve CishekMike Dunn, or Ryan Webb, as they have power arms in the pipeline and "never mind trading relievers," according to Rosenthal. Both Cishek and Dunn have been effective for the Fish and become eligible for arbitration after this season. Miami could have a tougher time finding a taker for Webb, however, as he's shown discouraging strikeout and walk trends.
  • Rosenthal is also less high on the Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon, noting his high salary and declining strikeout rate, and the Brewers' Michael Gonzalez, a lefty who opponents have managed a .746 OPS against despite his high K/9 rate.

MLBTR's Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Tanaka, Headley, Stanton, Crawford

Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka may be the next Japanese pitcher to turn a strong World Baseball Classic performance into a nine-figure Major League contract, ESPN's C.J. Nitkowski writes (Insider subscription required).  Tanaka, 24, has a 2.50 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and 4.34 K/BB ratio in 1103 IP over six seasons with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.  Tanaka has expressed interest in pitching in North America and is three years away from international free agency, though Rakuten could open the posting process before then.

Here's the latest from around the majors…

  • The Padres are starting to listen to offers for Chase Headley, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports.  The Padres tabled extension talks with Headley earlier this winter after the two sides were far apart on terms.  The third baseman is under contract through the 2014 season and Madden argues that the Yankees should make a move for a young star like Headley or Giancarlo Stanton in order to bolster the lineup and ensure the team will contend this year.
  • "The fact is, this is the right time to trade Stanton. He’s never going to have more value than this," a Marlins operative tells Madden, arguing that such an unpopular move can't hurt a team that is already at rock bottom in terms of public perception.  “I understand Jeffrey [Loria]’s getting killed in Miami over blowing up the team this winter and why he doesn’t want to trade Stanton. But how much more can we get killed?  He’s already had some injury issues, and we’re never going to sign him to a long-term deal," Madden's source said.
  • Carl Crawford criticized the Boston media and told CBS Sports' Danny Knobler that he erred in signing with the Red Sox in the 2010-11 offseason.  "It just wasn't the right place for me at the end of my day. I didn't do my homework. Maybe they didn't, either," Crawford said.
  • If the Tigers do acquire a reliever, MLB.com's Jason Beck believes such a deal isn't likely until nearer to the end of Spring Training when other teams have their own bullpen situations settled.
  • Chone Figgins feels a lack of playing time exacerbated his struggles with the Mariners and is looking forward to seeing more action playing under NL rules with the Marlins, The Associated Press reports.
  • Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster have both looked good in Spring Training and the Red Sox could reap more than financial benefits from last summer's trade with the Dodgers if these two young pitchers develop, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes.  Tomase also talks to Rays manager Joe Maddon about how the Rays were targeting De La Rosa before L.A. dealt him to Boston.

West Notes: Trout, D’backs, Wilson, Crawford, Rockies

In an ESPN Insider piece (subscription required), Buster Olney lists the Angels renewing Mike Trout's contract for $510K as one of the biggest issues facing baseball today. Craig Landis, the agent for the AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up, said the renewal "falls well short of a 'fair' contract." Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register agrees considering Joe Blanton will receive a $500K bonus from the Angels if he throws 200 innings and the team gave a $250K signing bonus to free agent reliever Sean Burnett. Olney, however, writes it makes almost no sense for Trout to refuse to sign his contract tender and have a negotiation flare-up so early in his career because he will reap millions from the system later on. For his part, the 21-year-old is quoted by Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter) as saying, "I've got to keep putting up numbers. My time will come." Elsewhere from MLB's West Divisions:

  • MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports the Angels don't expect any of this will ruffle enough feathers to sour Trout's desire to sign an extension and cites similar situations involving Adam Jones, Derek Jeter, Ryan Howard, David Wright, and Jered Weaver.
  • The Diamondbacks renewed Wade Miley's contract for $500,500, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The left-hander earned All-Star honors last year while finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. 
  • Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio the team has not closed the door on former closer Brian Wilson (Twitter link).
  • The Dodgers will have questions to answer in left field and the leadoff spot because Carl Crawford will likely not be ready to open the season, according to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. Manager Don Mattingly will use a variety of in-house options including Cuban import Yasel Puig.
  • If non-roster invitee third baseman Nolan Arenado continues his torrid play during camp and shows he's ready, it could allow the Rockies to use their depth at third base to acquire more pitching, tweets the Denver Post's Troy Renck
  • Cody Ross was disappointed by the lack of interest from West Coast teams during his free agency this offseason until the Diamondbacks called "out of nowhere," reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. "My wife and I were jumping up and down," said Ross, a Phoenix resident. "We were so excited to live at home and play at home and be around a good bunch of guys and great coaches, and a front office that’s committed to winning."
  • Earlier today, we learned Hunter Pence would rather sign a long-term contract with the Giants rather than test free agency.