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Chase Headley Rumors
The Rangers and pitcher Matt Harrison seemingly received positive news yesterday, as the righty, as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that an X-ray of Harrison’s back came back clean. He will undergo a CT scan on Wednesday in hopes of being cleared to throw in January.
More from the American League:
4:58pm: Headley will not obtain direct no-trade protection, but he earns a $1MM bonus if he is dealt, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.
12:52pm: The Yankees have locked up one of their top free agent targets, as they announced on Monday the signing of third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year deal. Headley will reportedly receive $52MM over the life of the contract, and MLBTR has learned that he can earn up to $1MM each season for reaching 550 plate appearances, meaning his contract can max out at $56MM over four years. The 30-year-old Headley is a client of Excel Sports Management’s Jim Murray.
Headley joined the Yankees in a midseason trade that sent infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-hander Rafael De Paula to the Padres. After struggling to a .229/.296/.355 batting line in 77 games with the Padres, Headley improved to a .262/.371/.398 line in 58 games with the Yankees. Of course, those numbers are a far cry from his MVP-caliber 2012 — a season in which he batted .286/.376/.498 with 31 homers.
Even if Headley’s 2012 was the offensive peak of his career — and his numbers since that time suggest that it was — the switch-hitter can still bring plenty of value as an average to above-average bat capable of playing elite defense at third base. Headley posted a 119 OPS+ with the Yankees, suggesting that his bat was 19 percent above the league average, and he posted a 112 mark in 2013 with the Padres. Scouts and defensive metrics are both in agreement that Headley is a strong defender at third base. While he’s unlikely to repeat 2014’s single-season marks of +13 defensive runs saved and +28 UZR/150, DRS feels he’s saved 29 runs over 6300 innings at third in his career, and UZR/150 has him as a lifetime +10.8 defender. All of those factors led MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes to project a four-year, $48MM contract more than two months ago, which proved to be very accurate.
Perhaps the largest concern with Headley is that of his health. Headley fractured the tip of his thumb in Spring Training 2013, and some believe he may have rushed back quickly from the injury, dampening his production. He also dealt with a knee injury that ultimately ended up requiring surgery in the 2013-14 offseason. This past year, Headley spent two weeks on the disabled list with a calf strain and also battled a herniated disc in his back that required an epidural injection in early July.
By adding Headley, the Yankees can now deploy Martin Prado at second base, Didi Gregorius at shortstop and Mark Teixeira at first base, with Alex Rodriguez shifting to a bench/DH role. The Headley signing creates a clear road block to regular playing time for prospects Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela, either of whom could have battled for time at second base had Headley signed elsewhere and Prado manned third base.
With much of their lineup now secured, the Yankees figure to turn to the pitching staff. They’ve already added Andrew Miller in place of David Robertson (who signed with the White Sox) but still lack certainty in their rotation. CC Sabathia has struggled in recent seasons and underwent season-ending knee surgery last year after just 46 innings. Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow is a question mark after he rehabbed a minor tear in his UCL. Ivan Nova underwent Tommy John surgery last April, Shane Greene has been traded to the Tigers and Michael Pineda‘s injury history is extensive. Brandon McCarthy was thought to be GM Brian Cashman’s top target following an excellent 91-inning stint with the Yankees in 2014, but he’s returned to the NL West on a four-year deal with the Dodgers.
WFAN’s Sweeny Murti was the first to report that Headley would make a decision today. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Headley and the Yankees were nearing a four-year deal (Twitter link). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the agreement and base salary (Twitter links). MLBTR was the first to report the specifics of Headley’s incentives.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Third baseman Chase Headley is nearing a decision and could reach an agreement as soon as today, reports WFAN’s Sweeny Murti. The Yankees, according to Murti, are still in the mix, but they face competition from the Giants and likely other clubs as well.
Headley, 30, has been linked to both the Astros and Marlins at various times. A previous report indicated that he’d received a four-year, $65MM offer, but to this point, no report has indicated the source of that offer, and some within the industry have voiced doubt that it exists. Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, however, did hear last week that the Astros have offered Headley $65MM over a five-year term rather than a four-year term.
Headley batted .243/.328/.372 last season, though his numbers improved upon his departure from Petco Park in a trade to the Yankees. With New York, Headley batted .262/.371/.398 with six of his 13 homers in 58 games. And, of course, Headley is known to be one of the game’s premier defensive third basemen.
Last night, Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Brendan Kuty of NJ.com that Headley “wants to be a Yankee” and that Headley’s agents have recently been in touch with the Yankees (Twitter links). “If we can find a common ground,” said Cashman, “I’d like to have him man third base as we move forward.”
The Yankees are still working to address several needs, and Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the team is working to allocate limited budget space in so doing. Should New York go to a fourth year for Headley, the team’s interest would likely not go beyond $44MM to $48MM, Sherman says.
Were the team to strike a multi-year deal with third baseman Chase Headley, it may need to “bottom fish” to add a starter, says Sherman. Alternatively, then, the team could look to rely on Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela in the infield while looking to make a more significant addition for the rotation.
As for the rotation, the Yankees are disinclined to give even a third year to Brandon McCarthy, given his injury history, per Sherman. That could be a non-starter, of course. Otherwise, short-term options like Edinson Volquez are more likely. There remains a possibility of bringing back Hiroki Kuroda, Sherman adds.
Here’s the latest from GM Dave Stewart and the Diamondbacks, via Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic:
- The Diamondbacks don’t look likely to use the salary they cleared by trading Miguel Montero on significant moves for the rest of this offseason. (The team did, of course, already sign Yasmany Tomas.) “It’ll be a better market next year,” says Stewart. “I’d like to see where we’re going to end up. Let’s see where we are once we get out of spring training. I think we’re going to be a better team.”
- Montero’s departure leaves the team without a key left-handed bat, but Stewart isn’t thrilled with his options right now for finding another. “This move didn’t dictate whether we go out and get a lefthanded bat,” he says. “There’s just not a lot out there.”
- The Diamondbacks are not interested in Chase Headley, Stewart says. They also do not sound interested in Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy, both of whom are returning from injury.
- The D-backs like James Shields, but Stewart says he has not reached out to Shields’ camp this offseason.
- The Giants are not interested in going to four years for Headley, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. With some uncertainty still surrounding the level of demand for Headley, Heyman suggests the Yankees could be increasingly well-positioned to bring him back.
- There is “optimism” that Headley will sign a deal today, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. On the other hand, Jon Lester‘s negotiations remain a “yellow light factor” for Headley’s own market, says Gammons.
- Headley may not necessarily be the key to the Giants‘ fallback plans if they miss on Lester, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. San Francisco also has some trade talks ongoing. We heard yesterday that Jed Lowrie could be a free agent alternative to Headley at the hot corner.
David Robertson did such a good job replacing Mariano Rivera that the Yankees might now have a more difficult time replacing Robertson, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have big-time talent, but have also both had frustrating seasons in the recent past. The Yankees could pursue a closer like Jason Grilli, or perhaps mix and match Betances and Miller at closer. The team has plenty of strong bullpen pieces, but no one who represents the obvious fix for the closer role that Robertson did last year. Here’s more out of the Bronx.
- Now that the White Sox have swooped in to nab Robertson, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes that the Yankees will turn their attention to the middle of their starting rotation, where the departure of Shane Greene in the Didi Gregorius trade leaves them thin. The Yankees would also like to re-sign Chase Headley, although Madden notes that the Astros are rumored to have offered him five years and $65MM.
- The Yankees will try to keep outfielder Slade Heathcott and pitcher Jose Campos by re-signing them to minor-league deals, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York tweets. The Yankees non-tendered the pair last week even though neither were eligible for arbitration. Both have struggled with injuries, but they still have upside if they can stay healthy. As Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues explains, non-tendering Heathcott and Campos allows the Yankees to avoid losing them through waivers. They’re now free agents, but the Yankees may have an edge in their attempts to re-sign them, due to their histories with the organization.
With Pablo Sandoval off the board, attention on the third base market has shifted to Chase Headley. But Jed Lowrie also could be an option at the hot corner (as well as at short and second). He took a step backward last year in the power department, but has a lengthy track record of legitimate pop. Better still, the 30-year-old managed to stay on the field after some injury issues in his past.
Here’s the latest on the infield market:
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter) hears that Headley will make his decision by the end of the Winter Meetings. There are three or four teams bidding on him right now, including the Giants and Yankees.
- It’s not just the starting pitchers that are waiting for Jon Lester to sign, tweets Sherman. Headley is also up in the air because the Giants won’t know how much they can afford to spend until they know whether they can sign Lester.
- The Giants will consider Lowrie at third if they can’t land Headley, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). As for Headley, four years at a $11MM to $12MM AAV is probably too rich for San Francisco, Crasnick adds.
- Another National League squad, the Marlins, could also have interest in Lowrie as an option at a position other than shortstop, per another Crasnick tweet. Miami is “exploring” the market at those positions. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill and GM Dan Jennings told me last month at the GM Meetings that the team feels comfortable with its internal options at the keystone but would consider sensible upgrades.
- The Astros have at least “kicked the tires” on Headley as an option at third base, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.
- Lowrie is indeed willing to play elsewhere in the infield, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. That face makes him a solid fit for the Astros, where he could keep the seat warm for Carlos Correa at short before eventually sliding to third, or possibly move to hot corner right away while providing some insurance up the middle.
- The Astros have been pursuing Lowrie, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports on Twitter. Houston dealt Lowrie to the Athletics before the 2013 season. For Houston, Lowrie could conceivably fill in at short, third, or both over the life of a hypothetical deal. I noted the Astros as a possible landing spot in Lowrie’s free agent profile, in which I also predicted he could score a three-year deal at a $10MM AAV.
Here’s a morning links roundup from the American League:
- The Athletics are still “inching” toward a deal with the Indians on Brandon Moss, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. A swap is likely to go down over the next few days, Sherman adds.
- Clubs that have spoken with the Athletics about Jeff Samardzija have been left with the impression that Oakland would not be willing to grant an extension negotiation window as part of the deal, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. That is perhaps not terribly surprising, as Samardzija does not appear particularly likely to forego a chance at testing the open market.
- For the Yankees, one side benefit of adding Martin Prado (last summer) and Andrew Miller (just a few days ago) is that it conveys leverage in talks with now-free agent third baseman Chase Headley and closer David Robertson, Sherman writes. While New York is now willing to put a fourth year on the table for both players, says Sherman, it will not match the reported four-year, $65MM offer out to Headley or the $50MM+ asking price of Robertson.
- While there are several intriguing possibilities for the Tigers at the Winter Meetings, the odds are that the team will make only smaller moves, if any, per Chris Iott of MLive.com. Iott takes a look at Detroit’s various options for improvement, concluding that most are rather unlikely to take place.
With the Winter Meetings beginning in San Diego, this could be the week the Dodgers finally deal from their glut of outfielders, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. The Dodgers would prefer to hang onto Matt Kemp, according to Shaikin, but Major League players are not being offered for either Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford.
Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports the Mariners were close to a deal for Kemp with Seattle paying roughly half of the $107 million remaining on his salary over the next five years, but things fell apart when the Dodgers insisted on the inclusion of either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. In a second article, Dutton lists the Padres and the Orioles as the Mariners’ primary competition for Kemp, with Shaikin adding the Giants are a possibility, if they fail to sign Chase Headley. With Nelson Cruz now in Seattle, Dutton opines the Mariners’ interest in Kemp will depend on what other offers the Dodgers receive. Those other offers may not be to the Dodgers’ liking, as Shaikin notes the Braves (Justin Upton and Evan Gattis), Red Sox (Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig), and Phillies (Marlon Byrd) also have right-handed power bats available to trade.
Elsewhere in baseball’s West divisions:
- Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the constant rumors that come with running a major market team are “comical,” but he doesn’t necessarily mind it, writes Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register. “Misinformation can be a powerful tool,” Friedman said.
- The Mariners are reluctant to part with their young pitching to acquire an outfield bat, according to Dutton. “That’s a little bit of a dangerous road,” said GM Jack Zduriencik. “You look at our pitching staff, and when you analyze it, a couple of those young starters didn’t pitch a lot of innings last year.“
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets the Mariners are very serious about their pursuit of Melky Cabrera. Last week, it was reported the M’s are believed to be willing to offer something similar to the four-year, $57MM deal that they used to sign Cruz.
- In a separate tweet, Rosenthal posits the Angels are reluctant to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick because of offensive concerns including uncertainity about Josh Hamilton, an unsettled DH situation, and no clear backup catcher.
- Sources tell ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) the Giants and Reds are great fits for Justin Upton, but neither match up well with the Braves and may need to involve a third team to swing a deal.
- Olney also tweets the Astros continue to pursue closer David Robertson and his most lucrative offer might come from Houston.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post there has been interest in catcher Wilin Rosario, but Colorado “could very easily go into the season with Wilin.“
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