Carlos Beltran Rumors
The St. Louis Browns were officially re-christened the Baltimore Orioles on this date in 1953. Jack Dunn III, whose family had operated the International League's Baltimore Orioles for decades, turned over rights to the Orioles name and became the first traveling secretary of the MLB franchise. Here's the news and notes from today's AL East:
- In the wake of what happened with Grant Balfour, one agent's solution to dealing with the Orioles is to never discuss money until the player's medicals have been examined, tweets Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com.
- Despite the retirements of Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees have managed to become an older team this offseason, reports the New York Post's Joel Sherman. The eight projected position starters will be at least 30-years-old come Opening Day and Sherman notes the chances six or seven of them performing at a high level are not good and there's a lack of talent in the pipeline ready to step up and provide quality and energy, if needed.
- Carlos Beltran, one of the Yankees' 30-something acquisitions, is listed as the best free agent signing this winter by Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. The Yankees' signing of 30-year-old Jacoby Ellsbury, however, is ranked as the second worst by Dubroff because speed doesn't age well. The worst? Robinson Cano's 10-year, $240MM pact with the Mariners.
- Beltran told reporters, including Newsday's David Lennon, he insisted on a third year to improve his chances of making the Hall of Fame. "I felt that having the third year, it allowed me to play longer, and it allowed me to put up better numbers. In my consideration, it would be more realistic." Beltran also hinted this may not be his final contract.
It didn't take long for the Yankees to move on from losing Robinson Cano. The Yankees have officially announced the signing of Carlos Beltran to a three-year deal. The contract is reportedly worth $45MM and will pay Beltran an even $15MM per season as well as provide him with a no-trade clause. Beltran is represented by agent Dan Lozano of the MVP Sports Group.
Beltran had a three-year, $48MM offer in hand from the Diamondbacks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Snakes made Beltran a three-year offer for more than $45MM. Though the Yankees were a bit reluctant to give Beltran that third year, he was known to be a top target for the Bombers this offseason. Beltran was himself keen on coming to the Bronx and is now finally wearing the pinstripes after showing similar interest in his two previous trips to free agency.
Beltran hit .296/.339/.491 with 24 homers in 600 PA with St. Louis last season, and though he turns 37 in April, Beltran has thus far kept swinging a big bat deep into the late stages of his career. He'll no doubt see some DH at-bats in New York but he'll spend most of his time in right field while the more defensively-challenged Alfonso Soriano will be the Yankees' primary DH, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports.
The D'Backs were just one of several teams were linked to Beltran this offseason, with the Royals also pushing hard to reunite with the veteran slugger. This strong market pushed Beltran's price tag to a third year, topping the two-year, $30MM deal that MLBTR's Steve Adams predicted in Beltran's Free Agent Profile. One team that wasn't in the mix was Beltran's most recent club, the Cardinals, who look to go forward with younger options like star prospect Oscar Taveras in the outfield next season.
Since Beltran rejected the Cards' one-year qualifying offer, St. Louis will receive a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2014 amateur draft. The Yankees already lost their first round pick for signing Brian McCann, and in signing Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury, New York has also given up its own two compensation picks for Cano and Curtis Granderson.
The Yankees have thus far spent a whopping $311MM for the services of five players (Beltran, Ellsbury, McCann and the re-signed Hiroki Kuroda and Derek Jeter) this offseason. More spending could be on the way for the Bombers if they need a third baseman to replace a suspended Alex Rodriguez, if they want to upgrade beyond Kelly Johnson as Cano's replacement at second base, and once they make their long-rumored bid on Masahiro Tanaka once his posting situation is resolved.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News first reported the three-year agreement (Twitter link). Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports reported the total value and yearly breakdown (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the no-trade clause (also on Twitter).
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Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz continues to draw heavy interest from Major League teams, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Some teams like Diaz, who can't sign until Feb. 19 due to falsifying his age last offseason, as a second baseman. Passan reports that Braves, Yankees, Dodgers, Giants, Blue Jays and Cardinals as teams who have been heavily represented at Diaz's most recent showcases in Mexico (Twitter links). Some more links from around the league...
- Jeff Francoeur, who recently underwent LASIK surgery, is seeking a job as a backup outfielder, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Frenchy will also abandon his use of a 35-ounce bat in 2013 -- a weight only utilized by Orioles slugger Chris Davis.
- Felix Pie is nearing an agreement with Korea's Hanwah Eagles, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Pie hasn't seen much big-league action in the last two years, recording just 31 plate appearances in 27 games with the Pirates in 2013.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Royals' offer to Carlos Beltran was slightly less than the Yankees' three-year, $45MM offer but would technically have paid Beltran more due to the tax differences between Missouri and New York.
- The Dodgers have not been involved in negotiations with Omar Infante, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- As they search for starting pitching help, the Orioles will be open to multiyear contracts rather than just one-year deals, GM Dan Duquette confirmed today (Twitter link via Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com).
- The Twins pursued a catcher before the market dried up, but had no interest in going to three years for any of the free agents they targeted, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota "made that clear from the start," according to Berardino.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along word, in a translated tweet, that Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda has expressed interest in playing in MLB, perhaps as soon as 2015.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.
The idea that the Pirates would trade for David Price is "pure nonsense," writes the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ron Cook. The Pirates would have to pay about $30MM for two seasons of Price, and would have to give up lots of value in prospects as well. "There are a lot fewer clubs that can play at the top of the market than clubs that can't," Pirates GM Neal Huntington says. "We just can't afford to do 'X.' Well, we could, but then how would we build a championship-caliber club around that one player?" Huntington also says the single biggest improvement the Bucs can make is re-signing A.J. Burnett, who continues to consider whether to play for one more year or to retire. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- The Pirates could look for a first baseman, starting pitcher, shortstop and/or right fielder this week, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Biertempfel notes that the Pirates "checked in on" starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. If so, that might indicate that they're not hopeful that Burnett will be back next year.
- The Royals offered Carlos Beltran three years and over $40MM, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Beltran ended up going to the Yankees for three years and $45MM. Heyman also notes that the Royals will also be bidding against the Yankees for infielder Omar Infante.
- The White Sox have demonstrated interest in Chase Headley of the Padres, Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. As Van Schouwen notes, that's a little odd, unless the White Sox think they can sign Headley to an extension -- the White Sox aren't expected to contend in 2014, and Headley is a free agent after the season.
SATURDAY, 4:17pm: The Yankees confirmed the signing via press release. The seven-year contract takes the outfielder through 2020 with a club option for 2021.
WEDNESDAY: Ellsbury is guaranteed $148MM over the first seven years of the contract, and there is a $21MM option for an eighth year that comes with a $5MM buyout, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears that an option year has not yet been agreed upon.
TUESDAY, 11:45pm: Ellsbury's deal includes a no-trade clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
8:00pm: The deal includes an eighth-year option that could boost the total value to $169MM, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter).
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that Ellsbury would get a seven-year, $150MM deal in his free agent profile earlier this offseason.
7:31pm: The Yankees have agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the two sides were closing in on a seven-year pact. It is believed the deal will top Carl Crawford's $142MM, seven-year deal with one estimate pegging the deal at about $150MM, according to Heyman.
The Yankees have been in simultaneous talks with Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and many other top free agents, including their own Robinson Cano. Things have stalled somewhat with Cano, however, as the Yanks don't want to go far beyond $170MM over seven years and Cano's team looking for about $260MM. Heyman spoke with sources who didn't rule out the Yankees continuing their purusit of Choo or Beltran, but it would seem unlikely at this point. One source told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) that a deal with Ellsbury or another top outfielder won't preclude the Yanks from re-signing their star second baseman.
ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on Monday that talks were moving faster than expected for the Scott Boras client. Boras is notorious for waiting out the market to find the right deal as he did with Prince Fielder (signed in late January) and Michael Bourn (February).
Ellsbury offers more pop than the typical center fielder, with a career slugging percentage of .439 and isolated power of .141. While his power is more of the doubles and triples variety, which is aided by his speed, he did hit 32 home runs in his stellar 2011 campaign. In that year, Ellsbury led all of baseball with 9.1 wins above replacement, finished second in the AL MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and made the All-Star team. However, the left-handed batter wasn't much of a threat against southpaws this year, posting a .246/.323/.318 line in 237 plate appearances.
The 30-year-old has also consistently posted above average UZR and DRS numbers in center field. While he has come back to earth somewhat since '11, he checked in with 5.8 wins above replacement in 2013, which is second only to Robinson Cano among free agents.
Of course, much of Ellsbury's game is predicated on speed. Now, the Yankees have to hope that Ellsbury can stay fleet-footed for some time and will be able to adjust when his motor eventually wears down.
The Yankees have been vocal about their desire to get under the $189MM luxury tax threshold this winter, but it remains to be seen where they'll stand after the Ellsbury deal and Brian McCann's five-year, $85MM pact. Now more than ever, one has to imagine that the Yankees are rooting for MLB's side in the Alex Rodriguez saga.
The market for Ellsbury has been somewhat cloudy, but the Mariners and Giants were both believed to have interest.
Yankees people envision Ellsbury in center with Brett Gardner moving to left, Heyman writes. The 30-year-old was ranked No. 2 on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agent Power Rankings. With Ellsbury and McCann in the fold, the Yankees have now forfeited their first and second round picks.
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Last night's signing of Carlos Beltran emerged out of multi-team negotiations, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. As Heyman explains, Beltran's representatives at MVP Sports Group told the Yankees that two teams had offered three years and $48MM. GM Brian Cashman responded by offering $45MM for that term, but said the club would move on to Shin-Soo Choo if it did not receive a quick response. Obviously, Beltran took the Yanks offer. Here's more from the AL East:
- The Orioles allowed Nate McLouth and Scott Feldman to leave Baltimore for other teams yesterday without making formal offers to retain them, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported yesterday. Connolly discussed those decisions this morning, arguing that the pair is not irreplaceable, but nevertheless must be replace in some manner. While executive vice president Dan Duqutte is excited about the recently-added Francisco Peguero, Connolly notes, the club ought to add at least one "legitimate free agent" to fill one of the club's holes.
- O's skipper Buck Showalter acknowledged that the team will need some players to step up to fill some roles, reports the Sun's Eduardo Encina, but he sees that as a challenge and an opportunity for some of the team's younger players. He also said that he anticipates more additions, particularly in the outfield. "We're looking at everybody and who's available, whether it be a free agent or a trade," said Showalter. "I'm personally looking from within to what I would do, where I would go." Though the club is actively shopping, Showalter noted the difficulties facing Baltimore in the present market. "As people become available and an option for us, Dan [Duquette] and I talk about it," he said. "It's obviously a player's market right now."
- For the Red Sox, the decision to bring back Napoli leaves the club with ample depth in left field and at first, notes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. (Twitter links.) Nevertheless, Boston GM Ben Cherington is not expected to address the team's remaining needs -- namely, another left-side infielder and another outfielder capable of playing center -- by dealing from that depth. As Speier notes, Jonny Gomes and (in particular) Mike Carp could bring back a useful return if they were to be shopped.
- Speier also took a deeper look at Boston's payroll and financial considerations in the wake of the Napoli signing.
- Boston remains more likely to deal one of its own starters than to add a new one, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Though the club was burned in the past when it dealt Bronson Arroyo, says MacPherson, the team's organizational depth is in much better shape this time around.
- Meanwhile, Cherington indicated that the club may not have any further major moves. "It could be we've done most of our heavy lifting for the winter," he told reporters, including Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. (Twitter links.) The club has now "probably shifted more to the opportunistic part of the offseason," Cherington said. The GM did confirm that the team is looking to make an addition on the left side of the infield, notes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (via Twitter), though it has not yet determined whether it will be a major addition or a more complementary piece.
Robinson Cano's blockbuster contract with the Mariners has generated the most headlines, but on another wild day of free agency, there's plenty of more news to go around. Here are some stray items about three of Friday's other major signings --- Curtis Granderson's four-year deal with the Mets, Carlos Beltran's three-year deal with the Yankees and Mike Napoli re-signing with the Red Sox for two years.
- The fourth year seemed to be the sticking point between Granderson and the Mets, but GM Sandy Alderson made the decision on Thursday night to offer the extra year and received approval from ownership, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (all Twitter links).
- Granderson gives the Mets a much-needed outfield bat, ESPN's Keith Law writes, though with Granderson already showing signs of decline, Law figures the Mets are only really counting on him to produce in the first two years of his deal. 2015 could be the key year, as it appears the Mets are looking to contend once Matt Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery.
- Also from Law, he thinks Beltran improves the Yankees lineup but it's a risky three-year commitment to a player entering his age-37 season. An ESPN Insider subscription is required to read Law's pieces.
- The Royals were rumored to have been the mystery team who made Beltran a three-year, $48MM offer earlier this week but a source tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that those rumors were "not accurate." Kansas City's trade for Norichika Aoki on Thursday seemed to be a sign that they had moved on from the Beltran sweepstakes.
- That larger offer could have come from the Diamondbacks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the D'Backs offered Beltran a three-year deal worth more than the $45MM he received from New York. The signing would have boosted Arizona's payroll, and Piecoro wonders if the Snakes are willing to surpass the $100MM-payroll threshold to fill their needs this winter, or if they were just focused on Beltran in particular.
- Several members of the Red Sox roster urged the front office to up its offer to Napoli from two years/$30MM, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports. The players were responding to a rumor that the Rangers had made an offer "too good for Napoli to refuse," and the Sox indeed upped their offer to $32MM. The raise and the support from his teammates was enough to sway Napoli, who was already preferring to stay in Boston anyway.
- The Rangers actually never made a formal offer to Napoli, one source told Bradford.
1:01pm: A source tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that any trade for Price would have to include Walker (Twitter link).
11:47am: In the wake of Seattle's historic ten-year agreement with Robinson Cano, one Major League executive told Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times that he is "convinced" the Mariners' next move will be to make a push for David Price (Twitter link). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Mariners believe they have the prospects to land Price, and indeed, that would seem to be the case.
This is only my speculation, but Seattle could look to build a package around top prospect Taijuan Walker and the recently displaced Nick Franklin, who could be deemed expendable with Cano in the fold for the Mariners. The Rays, of course, will likely be open to moving Price this winter. He projects to earn $13.1MM in arbitration (per MLBTR's Matt Swartz) and is controlled through the 2015 campaign. It would make sense for the Mariners to aggressively pursue short-term upgrades in the early years of Cano's contract in order to maximize their chances while he is still in his prime.
Morosi also notes (on Twitter) that the Mariners are still in pursuit of Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and other free agents. Morosi also reported earlier that the Mariners are one of the teams that is currently in on Mike Napoli, who reportedly has an offer in-hand from a club other than the Red Sox that Boston has yet to beat. It's not clear if that club is the Mariners, but their talks with Napoli are said to have been recent. An upgrade at first base, DH or in the outfield still seems likely for Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, and the addition of Cano could signal to potential free agents that the Mariners are serious about winning.
Who's the most valuable trade asset in baseball? Not to spoil the ending of Jonah Keri's MLB Trade Value rankings for Grantland (Part 1 here, Part 2 here), but it's almost certainly Angels outfielder Mike Trout, who posted over ten wins above replacement for the second straight season while making barely more than the league minimum. Not only is he the best player in the game, but even without a long-term deal, the Angels can control him for the next four years at what will likely be below-market rates. Figuring out who else ought to go in the top ten, based on their age, contract status and all-around performance, is a fun exercise. The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and his now-extremely-team-friendly-looking deal are there, as is 21-year-old stud Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper. The order of the rest isn't nearly so obvious. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Now that Jacoby Ellsbury is gone, the Red Sox are looking for an outfielder to pair with Jackie Bradley Jr. in center field, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. Curtis Granderson wouldn't work since both and Bradley hit left-handed, so the Red Sox are looking at righty outfielders. One of those, Lauber writes, is Franklin Gutierrez, who has a .256/.306/.391 career batting line but has a strong defensive reputation and a career .818 OPS against lefties. The Red Sox could also still acquire Carlos Beltran (although he certainly wouldn't be a candidate to play center field) or trade for an outfielder.
- The Marlins would like to see outfielder Chris Coghlan return, but Coghlan is deciding what to do next after being non-tendered, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro writes. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill suggests that Coghlan would need to accept a minor-league contract to stay with the Marlins. If another team offers him a big-league deal, Coghlan will likely leave Miami behind. It seems unlikely, however, that he'll get one, given that he's coming off a .256/.318/.354 season, isn't a strong defensive player, and hasn't posted an OPS above .718 since his Rookie of the Year-winning debut season in 2009.
- Contrary to recent rumors, the Royals haven't offered Carlos Beltran three years and $48MM, tweets FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Royals ownership would have to be involved if the team wanted to offer that much money.
The Royals have acquired outfielder Norichika Aoki from the Brewers in exchange for left-hander Will Smith, the Brewers have announced via press release. The trade was first reported last night by the folks at the Royal Revival blog (on Twitter).
Aoki, 32 next month, enjoyed his second solid season with the Brewers since coming over from Japan. The lefty swinger batted .286/.356/.370 with eight homers and 20 stolen bases. Though his power numbers dipped in 2013, the former NPB batting champion has a solid .287/.355/.399 line in his two Major League seasons to go along with excellent right-field defense (+4.2 UZR/150; +21 DRS). He comes at a highly affordable rate also, as the Brewers exercised a cheap $1.9MM club option on Aoki following the season. He is a free agent following the 2014 campaign.
Aoki's acquisition would seem to call Kansas City's pursuit of Carlos Beltran into question. The Royals had reportedly been one of the front-runners to land Beltran (if not the front-runner), but unless they plan on shifting Aoki to center field, his presence in right field and Billy Butler's presence at DH make it more difficult to see Beltran fitting into the plans. However, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Royals still plan on pursuing Beltran even after acquiring Aoki.
Smith, 24, was shifted to the bullpen in 2013 and enjoyed an outstanding breakout campaign in a half-season's worth of big league action. Smith posted a 3.24 ERA with 11.6 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate in 33 1/3 innings for the Royals. His ERA would likely have been lower had it not been for a fluke 18.8 percent homer-to-flyball ratio that figures to regress going forward. xFIP, which assumes a normalized HR/FB ratio, pegged Smith at 2.50 last season. Smith held opposing right-handers to a .684 OPS and stifled lefties to the tune of a .157/.204/.353 line, so he's capable against hitters from both sides of the dish.
The Royals originally acquired Smith along with Sean O'Sullivan in a deal that sent Alberto Callaspo to the Angels. He's spent most of his career as a starting pitcher in the minors, where he has a 3.85 career ERA in 231 1/3 innings. Smith won't be eligible for arbitration until after the 2015 campaign and can be controlled through the 2019 season.
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