Carlos Beltran Rumors
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.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
As we work on catching up on things after a busy few days, here's the latest from the AL Central, which has been among the game's busiest divisions of late:
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski made clear today that the trades of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister were connected both to the signing of closer Joe Nathan and the need to lock up major players like Max Scherzer, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. "A very big part of what we were trying to accomplish [was] to get a closer," said Dombrowski. "And when I say that, sometimes you need some flexibility to make some other things happen, too. We do have some players that are on the verge of being free agents that are pretty big players for us, that you want to create some flexibility there to be in the right spot at various times."
- Dombrowski did, however, downplay the likelihood of a major new signing. "I would think that we would not be involved in the big [names]," said the GM.
In the wake of the Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler trade, Dombrowski says Nick Castellanos will start at third base with Miguel Cabrera moving back to first, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. The news confirms what had been suspected at the time, and jives with rumors linking Detroit to Shin-Soo Choo. It also confirms the broader market effects of the Fielder-Kinsler swap: that deal increased the amount of cash pegged for corner outfielders.
- Indeed, one such player, Carlos Beltran, is fielding interest from several clubs. He is very unlikely to get more than two years from the Yankees or Red Sox, however, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. It also appears that, if he wants to build up bidding for his services, Beltran may need to wait until Shin-Soo Choo leaves the market. Heyman reports that the Tigers, Reds, and Rangers are all very interested in Choo but also see Beltran as an option. While the Mariners are also involved and could be willing to spend big to lure the 36-year-old to the Pacific Northwest, Heyman indicates that the Royals are still perhaps the odds-on favorite to land Beltran out of the crowded field of suitors.
- After signing on for one more go-round with the White Sox, Paul Konerko plans to hang up his spikes afte 2014, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
- The Twins' off-season trade talks may have been gummed up by the recent suspension of well-regarded prospect Eddie Rosario, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 22-year-old Rosario cracks the top ten of the Minnesota prospect list, per Baseball America (subscription required, and recommended), which is particularly impressive given the top-end talent ahead of him. With Brian Dozier emerging as an option at second, Rosario had been the most likely prospect to be dangled as trade bait.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan told Berardino that he sees free agency as the more likely route to add MLB players at this point, even after picking up Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes on the open market. "I don't want to give up any of our players," Ryan said. "I'm not saying we won't make a trade. We might. But if you're going to get a quality starter, it's going to be difficult."
Zach Links contributed to this post.
In today's conference call to announce Tony Clark as the new executive director of the MLBPA, free agent Curtis Granderson didn't give reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), the impression that they are right on the cusp of a deal with the Mets. "We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon … It was kind of what you could expect," said the outfielder. Here's more from around baseball..
- While the Red Sox have been engaged in talks with free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, the team is unlikely to pursue a three-year deal for the 36-year-old, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The rival Yankees also won't go to three years, reportedly.
- The Angels are unlikely to trade Mark Trumbo, according to jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (on Twitter). The Halos believe that a fair return would be top notch young starting pitching for the slugger and that deal doesn't exist. The Angels also aren't sure if they can get a good enough starter in exchange for Howie Kendrick, which could leave them to try and net two starters on the open market with limited money (link).
- The Yankees' $153MM deal for Jacoby Ellsbury is supposed to put the squeeze on Robinson Cano, but it could backfire, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Red Sox's offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia topped out at two years for about $18MM, a source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- The Yankees have signed right-hander Brian Gordon to a minor league deal, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post (on Twitter).
- Ryan Webb was surprised to learn that he was non-tendered by the Marlins, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.
- Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors (on Twitter) expected Luke Gregerson to fetch more than Seth Smith. The Padres and A's swapped the two in a one-for-one swap earlier today.
- Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe takes a closer look at the Red Sox's deal for A.J. Pierzynski.
While we try and catch our breath from an insanely busy day here at MLBTradeRumors, let's take a glance at the latest out of the AL and NL Central..
- Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that Carlos Beltran still isn't close on a deal with anyone. Earlier today, we heard that Beltran had already received an offer of three years and $48MM from the Royals.
- Free agent Corey Hart has been cleared for baseball activities, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com (via Twitter). The first baseman/outfielder missed all of 2013 with the Brewers thanks to knee injuries.
- Paul Konerko will tell the White Sox if he intends to play in 2014 before the Winter Meetings begin December 9th, a source tells Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com (on Twitter).
- At today's introductory press conference for Ricky Nolasco, Twins GM Terry Ryan confirmed that the club isn't done free agent shopping, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
- The Pirates view Mike Napoli as the perfect fit at first base but it still doesn't appear they will lay out the cash needed to sign him, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
The Yankees have made offers to several top free agent hitters, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The list of players on whom the Yankees have bid Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Stephen Drew and Omar Infante. (ESPN's Buster Olney, however, tweets that the Yankees do not have an offer to Drew pending.) Morosi also tweets, however, that the Yankees did not extend the offer to Infante particularly recently, and that other teams appear more interested. Here are more notes from New York.
- Earlier today, we heard that Beltran had already received an offer of three years and $48MM. Newsday's Mark Carig reiterates, however, that the Yankees aren't likely to give Beltran three years (Twitter link).
- Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, meanwhile, tweets that Nelson Cruz could also enter the Yankees' sights if the team loses out on Carlos Beltran.
- Feinsand also notes that, while the Yankees have shown some interest in closers, finding a closer is not their highest priority, and they're only likely to spend on one if Robinson Cano signs elsewhere.
4:46pm: A three-year deal for Beltran isn't a dealbreaker for the Yankees, but it's a long-shot, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
4:16pm: Olney tweets that rival teams are becoming convinced that Beltran is going to return to the Royals on a three-year, $48MM contract.
1:00pm: The Royals are making a strong push for Beltran, who is currently in Kansas City meeting with the team, according to George A. King III and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. The Royals are believed to be willing to go to three years to pry Beltran away from the Yankees, though it's not clear from King and Kernan's report if Kansas City is the team that has extended the $48MM offer referenced by Olney.
12:56pm: Carlos Beltran has a three-year, $48MM offer currently in hand, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). While Olney isn't sure which team has extended the lavish offer, he notes that the Mariners are being very aggressive on the Beltran front.
Beltran is coming off a strong season with the Cardinals in which he batted .296/.339/.491 with 24 home runs. The switch-hitter also saw his plate discipline and defensive metrics take a turn for the worse, however, and $16MM per year for Beltran's age 37-39 seasons would be a significantly higher price than most pundits believed he would fetch on the open market.
The Yankees have been said to be the favorites for Beltran, but the they're reportedly not keen on the idea of offering more than a two-year contract.
If MLBTR had only been around in 1954. On this date 59 years ago, the Yankees and Orioles completed the largest trade in baseball history by naming the eight players to be named later in the 17-player deal. Two weeks prior, the Yankees received Don Larsen (yes, that Don Larsen) Billy Hunter, and Bob Turley from the Orioles in exchange for Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Willy Miranda, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos, and Gene Woodling. Let's take a look at what's simmering on the Hot Stove in today's American League:
- The Tigers are one more bold move away from entering Spring Training with the "Best Team in Baseball" designation, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. Signing Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, or Curtis Granderson would qualify as that bold move, in Justice's opinion.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore tells the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton his staff will convene Monday morning to determine the fate of their nine arbitration eligible players. "I don't look for us to do anything that is too surprising," said Moore. "We might not tender everybody, but we might. There are some things that we’re kind of working on."
Also within Dutton's article, Royals officials acknowledge Emilio Bonifacio is drawing steady interest from other teams, so second baseman Chris Getz may be tendered as insurance against a deal involving the utilityman. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz predicts a $3.3MM arbitration award for Bonifacio and $1.3MM for Getz.
- The Rays are likely to tender each of their nine arbitration eligible players and then possibly flip one or more in a trade, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. David Price is the most obvious arbitration eligible trade candidate, but Mooney also lists outfielder Sam Fuld and lefty relievers Cesar Ramos and Wesley Wright as possible chips. If the Rays do tender all nine players, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz expects their arbitration salaries to total $26.6MM.
- The Astros are already preparing for the 2014 amateur draft as they expect to interview several candidates for the first overall pick by the end of the year, according to the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. The club's approach to the interview process and its slight variations based on whether the player is in high school or college is also detailed by Drellich.
- On Thanksgving Day, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined the managers and GMs entering the final year of their contract. Today, Jim Margalus of SouthSideSox.com concludes the most front office stability can be found in the AL Central.
Several teams have now called on free agent pitcher Bronson Arroyo, but none of them have made an offer yet, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Mets may or may not have plans to meet with the veteran, depending on who you ask. The Giants could be interested as well, even after re-signing Ryan Vogelsong to a one-year deal. Here's more from around baseball..
- The Mariners are hesitant to deal their young arms and they prefer to upgrade their offense with free agent bats, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- Despite agreements with Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, the Twins could still add one more veteran to their rotation, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May are still in the minors and Minnesota is looking to keep up with the arms of the Royals and Tigers (link).
- The Indians' outfield has gotten a little more crowded, but the club is still expected to tender a contract to Drew Stubbs, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
The Royals are very interested in Carlos Beltran, but the Yankees remain the favorites to sign him, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. "I think at this point it would be an upset if he didn’t end up there," one executive tells Sherman. The Yankees have thus far been unwilling to give Beltran a three-year deal, but they could eventually land him by giving him three years or by paying heavily for two. Regardless of the Yankees' current issues, the perception of the Yanks as a winning organization matters to Beltran, even though they won fewer games than Kansas City did last year. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Sherman writes that the Mets are no longer interested in free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, who missed last season with Tommy John surgery, because of concerns about his health. The Mets are looking for an upgrade over Ruben Tejada at shortstop.
- Furcal himself says that the Mets, Red Sox, Marlins, Pirates, Nationals, Rockies and other teams have shown interest in him, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (link in Spanish).
- After failing to find common ground on a contract extension, the Padres would listen to offers for Chase Headley, Sherman reports. The question is how he should be valued -- Headley hit .286/.376/.498 in a terrific 2012 season, then came back to earth with a .250/.347/.400 season in 2013.
- Even after landing Ricky Nolasco, the Twins will continue to strongly pursue free agents and trade possibilities, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN tweets. The Twins have been connected to any number of starting pitchers, including Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes and trade targets Homer Bailey and Jeremy Hellickson. They've also been tied to catchers like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Pierzynski.
- The Twins aren't the only suitors for Hughes, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Royals are also making "a strong push" for the former Yankees righty. Hughes is expected to receive a two-year deal, with the Mariners and Angels potentially being involved along with the Royals and Twins. Berardino also points out that Hughes' agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, also represents Jason Vargas, who recently signed a four-year deal with Kansas City.
- The Royals need a second baseman, and a team official recently told the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton that the Royals think Mark Ellis "has something left" (via Twitter). Ellis, 36, hit just .270/.323/.351 last season with the Dodgers, but he's a consistently-above-average defensive player.
- Carlos Santana of the Indians would like to play in the field more, but the Indians already have good options at catcher in Yan Gomes and at first base in Nick Swisher. Instead, then, Santana would like to try third base, and Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the Indians are interested in the possibility, in part because Santana is taking initiative rather than complaining. (He's working out at third at the Indians' Dominican facility.) Whether Santana can field at third base is an open question -- he hasn't played more than a handful of games at the position since 2006, when he was in the Dodgers' minor-league system. If the Indians have any confidence he can play there, though, they might be less inclined to pursue a righty-hitting third-base type this offseason. Lefty-hitting Lonnie Chisenhall, who struggled last season, currently sits atop the Indians' depth chart at third.