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News from the AL and NL West..
- Agent Scott Boras says he'll talk to the Angels about signing Kendrys Morales, writes the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin. The Angels say they are not interested, however, because they need to rebuild a depleted minor league system and they would have to forfeit their first-round draft choice to sign Morales. "We're much more comfortable with the idea of maintaining our first-round pick and continuing to build the organization in a much more positive way," General Manager Jerry Dipoto said.
- In an interview on MLB Network (Twitter link), Dodgers GM Ned Colletti attemped to throw water on Matt Kemp trade rumors, saying that L.A. is higher on the outfielder than anyone.
- Pablo Sandoval's brother, Michael, has recently been certified as an agent and will join his current agent, Gustavo Vazquez, in representing him, writes Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. If the Giants want to discuss an extension, Michael says that his team will listen. Yesterday, GM Brian Sabean indicated that they'd be open to a new deal if he comes to spring training in shape.
- The Giants say they haven't talked to Jeff Baker's agent in a little over a week, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.
- Giants vice president Bobby Evans tells Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com (on Twitter) that the club would like to sign a left fielder tonight. Baggarly hears that they like Franklin Gutierrez.
- Rockies manager Walt Weiss says that they have talked to Carlos Gonzalez about possibly playing center field and they think he might be able to manage it, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Sulia).
Earlier today it was reported that the Rockies are one of the teams that has checked in on Ike Davis, but according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that's just one of many avenues the team is looking into in an attempt to fill the void left by Todd Helton's retirement. Colorado has also checked in on free agents James Loney, Justin Morneau and Mike Napoli and also has some degree of interest in Mike Morse (Twitter links). More news on the boys from Denver…
- In regards to the Rockies' previously reported interest in Brian Wilson, Renck tweets that the team will need to pay closer money to secure the Beard's services in 2014.
- MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby spoke with senior VP of Major League operations Bill Geivett, who reiterated that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will not be traded this winter. The Rockies feel that they are close to contention and are focused on adding good players as opposed to subtracting them, writes Ringolsby. He quotes Geivett: "We spent 33 days in first place and (42) more in second place last year. Things have to happen, but it's not that far."
- Finding a bat to replace Helton is the team's "No. 1 priority" writes Ringolsby, and their preference is to fill it with a left-handed bat, which would bode well for Loney and Morneau.
- Ringolsby also notes that the team can't ignore the black hole in the fifth slot in the rotation. The Rockies went 62-50 in games started by one of Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood or Juan Nicasio. In their 50 games started by a combination of seven others, Colorado was 12-38, Ringolsby points out. They could look to add two starting options in an effort to upgrade over Nicasio as well.
- Finally from Ringolsby, neither 2013 first-rounder Jonathan Gray or 2012 supplemental-rounder Eddie Butler will open 2014 in the Majors, though each could be up as early as May 1 if need be. That seems to be a particularly aggressive timeline for Gray, who threw just 24 innings at High-A last season.
The Rockies only won 74 games in 2013 but senior VP of baseball operations Bill Geivett believes his club is close to contending. "We like our core group of guys. We feel like we have a good crew to build around. I know some people disagree, but we don't feel that we are that far away," Geivett tells Troy Renck of the Denver Post, though he noted that the Rockies need Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki to be healthy to make this happen. Here's the latest out of Denver…
- Geivett again stressed that the Rockies aren't interested in trading Tulowitzki or Gonzalez. Renck agrees, saying "a dramatic shift would have to occur in their thinking this offseason for trade talks to get going" (Twitter link).
- That said, Renck believes the Cardinals will at least "make the call" to gauge interest in Tulowitzki. Renck notes that it would take several of St. Louis' top prospects to make such a trade plausible. Earlier today, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal proposed an Allen Craig/Shelby Miller/Trevor Rosenthal package plus a lesser prospect and Colorado paying some of the $130MM remaining on Tulowitzki's salary, though Rosenthal admitted that a Tulowitzki trade is a "longshot."
- The Rockies are interested in free agent starter Tim Hudson, Renck reports (via Twitter). This makes Colorado the ninth team known to have an interest in the righty and Renck says "roughly 15 teams" comprise Hudson's market.
- Carlos Beltran has been a Rockies target in the past and MLB.com's Thomas Harding wouldn't be surprised to see the team attempt to sign the veteran slugger this winter. Beltran would take over in right while Michael Cuddyer would move to first.
- Also from Harding, the Rockies are expected to inquire about Josh Johnson. It doesn't seem like Johnson would be a fit, as since the right-hander is looking for a one-year deal to rebuild his value, he isn't likely to take such a contract at Coors Field.
The Dodgers announced this week that Matt Kemp underwent surgery to repair the A-C joint in his left shoulder. Kemp, who was ruled out for the postseason due to an ankle injury, is expected to be ready for Spring Training, at which point the Dodgers will possess an interesting outfield logjam due to the presence of Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Here's more out of the NL West…
- On yesterday's Baseball Tonight Podcast, ESPN's Buster Olney told colleague Tim Kurkjian that the Dodgers are expected to be the most aggressive team in pursuing a trade for David Price this offseason. A Price acquisition would give the Dodgers an unthinkably dominant front four of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Price and Hyun-jin Ryu. Olney also names the Mariners and Rangers as possibilities, though he questions whether or not Price would want to sign an extension in Seattle.
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort says Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are staying put, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. "The plan is to keep them. Next year, yes. And my plan is to always keep them," Monfort said. "Is that the smartest thing in the world to do? I don't know. But for our fans I think it's the best thing to do."
- Monfort also noted to Renck that the Rockies' payroll is expected to rise from this year's mark of $83.7MM to the $90-95MM range in 2014. He would like the team to add a starting pitcher and another big bat this offseason. MLBTR's Zach Links recently looked at the club's needs in the Colorado installment of the offseason outlook series.
- MLB.com's Jim Callis called Rockies 2013 first-rounder Jonathan Gray "the class of the 2013 draft," saying that he has a higher ceiling than that of fellow Top 3 picks Mark Appel (Astros) and Kris Bryant (Cubs). Callis notes that the Rockies have had trouble developing pitching, but opines that Gray has clear ace potential and could reach the Majors in a hurry.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Kevin Gregg blasted the Cubs after misunderstanding comments from manager Dale Sveum and president Theo Epstein said it was possible that he would release the veteran. However, the Cubs decided over the weekend to accept Gregg's apology for the incident and will hang on to him, writes Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Rockies are not shopping all-stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, sources with direct knowledge of the club's plans told Troy Renck of the Denver Post. There's still a very small possibility that one will be dealt to address multiple needs, but there is zero likelihood that both will be moved. Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Rockies ownership doesn't have much interest in moving either player.
- Also from Renck, he expects the Cardinals to pursue a trade for Tulowitzki this offseason.
- After being shut down for the season, Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick is now shifting his focus towards 2014 and thinking about where he could be pitching next season, writes Kevin Roberts for MLB.com. Kendrick, who made $4.5MM this season, will be eligible for salary arbitration this offseason.
- Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review puts the spotlight on Dan Fox, the man who built the Pirates' analytical department.
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 Cardinals' Edward 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.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman may be forced to play the bad guy role again as the club considers how they'll address Derek Jeter given the captain's age and durability issues, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. Three scouts and three executives polled by Harper each said they believe Cashman will acquire an everyday shortstop this offseason, as they don't believe Jeter will be able to handle the position and the Yankees don't have acceptable alternatives. "He’ll be a 40-year old shortstop who already had limited range," one executive said, noting Jeter's injured ankle. "If you’re the GM, it’s your responsibility to make the tough decision for the good of the ballclub.” Here's more notes from around the majors' eastern divisions…
- The majority of the six baseball people who Harper spoke with suggested shortstop Stephen Drew as a potential free agent acquisition for the Yankees. While Drew has posted a solid .249/.331/.436 line this season and would be a good fit for Yankee Stadium, signing with the Yanks would place him in a delicate situation. "Would Drew — or anyone else — want to sign on as the guy pushing an unwilling Jeter into a role where he would DH mostly and play short only occasionally?" Harper asks.
- The Mets covet the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez, and one executive familiar with the Rockies' thinking tells Harper they're likely to listen to offers for the star outfielder. However, a trade appears unlikely, as the Rockies want young position players and aren't interested in what the Mets can offer in that regard. Colorado may also consider offers for Troy Tulowitzki, Harper says.
- CC Sabathia's 4.90 ERA would be the second-worst mark in Yankees history by a pitcher to surpass the 200 inning threshold, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. “I have always been bend-but-don’t-break, and I have broken a lot this year,” Sabathia commented. Sherman says Sabathia has adjusted his delivery in order to better stay on top of the ball so that his fastball does not cut toward the middle of the plate.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson is on track to become the first GM in club history to post increasing loss totals in each of his first three seasons from the team he inherited, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. The team clinched its fifth consecutive losing season in dropping today's game with the Marlins.
- The Phillies have no plans for recent Cuban acquisition Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to pitch competitively this season, Matt Gelb of The Philadelphia Inquirer says. The team sees Gonzalez sliding into the third slot of their 2014 rotation behind Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee. "We just want to see where he's at," assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said. "We want to get him assimilated into our organization and be ready to go for spring training."
- The Red Sox have yet to broach the subject of Jon Lester's next contract, GM Ben Cherington revealed in an interview with WEEI.com. "We just feel like those issues are better left for after we’re done playing, which hopefully is several weeks from now," Cherington said. We recently heard that the Sox are "all but certain" to pick up their $13MM option on Lester for next year.
The Mets "retain an unfilled craving for a marquee outfielder," writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, and are monitoring superstars such as Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins and Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies. One Mets person told Martino "there is heat there," in regard to the team having a preliminary discussion with the Marlins about Stanton. Still, Martino is unsure whether GMs Sandy Alderson and Larry Beinfest have discussed the powerful right fielder.
To acquire four years of Stanton, the Mets would likely have to part with their two best prospects, pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis D'Arnaud. An associate of Alderson's told Martino the GM "did not have any extra attachment to those players, simply because he traded for them."
According to Martino, the Mets debated using Wheeler to get Justin Upton or Wil Myers, during the Winter Meetings. They also considered asking for the Dodgers' Andre Ethier in an R.A. Dickey deal, and this spring checked in on the Cubs' Alfonso Soriano. So, it appears the Mets' long-term interest in improving the outfield runs the gamut, from the game's best young stars to overpaid veterans. The Mets were willing to increase payroll to the $125MM range last winter for the right players, writes Martino.
Keep in mind that no deals are close, and the idea that Stanton or CarGo could become available this year is speculation.
In the wake of Nelson Cruz's connection to a Miami-based clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to several MLB players, the Rangers released an official response (transcribed by ESPN Dallas) saying that they were contacted about the story by the Miami New Times last week and then themselves contacted Major League Baseball. Beyond these details, the club had "no further comment" about the allegations.
Here are some more items out of Arlington…
- If Cruz ends up having to serve a 50-game suspension, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett doesn't think the Rangers would respond by signing Michael Bourn. Texas isn't interested in signing Bourn to the four- or five-year deal that he desires but could possibly explore a shorter-term agreement if Bourn lowers his demands. If lieu of a new acquisition, Durrett notes that the Rangers could use internal options to replace Cruz, such as moving Mike Olt, Ian Kinsler or Mitch Moreland to the outfield.
- The Rangers had a "preliminary chat" with the Rockies about Carlos Gonzalez, MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby reports, but the talks didn't lead anywhere since the Rangers weren't willing to give up Olt or Jurickson Profar. Several teams asked Colorado about Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings but were told the outfielder wasn't available.
- Also from Ringolsby's piece, Rangers president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels were satisfied with the team's fairly low-key offseason, despite missing out on signing Zack Greinke and losing Josh Hamilton to the Angels. "You have to guard against overreacting to something someone else did or not getting the players you anticipated," said Ryan. "When things don't work out the way you hoped, you have to step back, digest the circumstances, and figure out what to do to keep moving forward."
Several teams have shown interest in the Rockies' Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler, but the club hasn't had trade discussions on either player in recent days, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Colorado heard from a number of parties interested in Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings but they reportedly told teams that he wasn't available. Meanwhile, Fowler's name has popped up quite a bit in trade rumors in recent months with the Braves, Reds, and Phillies all showing interest earlier this offseason. Here's more from around baseball..
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson said at last night's BBWAA dinner that he was caught off guard by the club's signing of Rafael Soriano, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. "That kind of surprised me,” Johnson said. “I didn’t know we were needing a closer. I thought we were done” this offseason."
- The Rangers are basically paying Matt Harrison as just a slightly above-average starting pitcher in his new deal and even if his results fall back to his peripherals, he'll still outpitch his contract, writes Jack Moore of Fangraphs. Texas agreed to a five-year, $55MM extension with the 27-year-old last week.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider sub. req'd) writes that there are interested teams champing at the bit to get involved in the Justin Upton conversations with the Diamondbacks. The D'Backs spent the early part of the month talking with the Mariners and Cubs, who are both on his no-trade list.