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Chase Headley Rumors
Brandon Moss could not help but become aware that the Athletics have made some notable additions that have a bearing on his status with the club, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Moss, who avoided the need for micro-fracture surgery on his hip and expects to be ready to go on something close to a normal schedule this spring, says he realizes that the additions of Billy Butler and Ike Davis could set up some other changes. “You never know; the front office likes to mix up,” said Moss. “I’m trying not to let anything surprise me, because I don’t want to be blindsided. Obviously, I love playing in Oakland, but when this happened, I knew it could mean someone else gets moved.”
Here’s more from the American League:
- In addition to the four players noted yesterday, the Mariners are interested in Evan Gattis of the Braves, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Seattle is determined to come away with one of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Nelson Cruz, Yoenis Cespedes, and Gattis, per the report. The M’s made a competitive offer for Victor Martinez before he re-signed with the Tigers, Heyman adds.
- Talks between the Red Sox and Jon Lester are not on any kind of timetable, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter links). Lester is still making the rounds and considering his alternatives, per Bradford.
- The Yankees are willing to go to three years in a deal for third baseman Chase Headley, Heyman reports. But Headley, unsurprisingly, is out looking for longer, better offers. New York is unlikely to go further than three, Joel Sherman reported yesterday, and it seems that Headley is drawing sufficient interest to get a fourth year guaranteed.
- The Rays have announced that bench coach Dave Martinez will pursue other opportunities with another organization. Martinez was not listed as a finalist to replace Joe Maddon in the big league dugout, making a separation seem all but inevitable.
- After a wide search, the Twins have agreed bring on Neil Allen as the team’s pitching coach, along with Eddie Guardado as bullpen coach and Joe Vavra as the bench coach to new skipper Paul Molitor. Allen had been the Rays’ pitching coach at Triple-A Durham.
Although the Indians were connected to free agent third baseman Chase Headley as recently as last night, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Headley won’t be coming to Cleveland, as he’s considered too expensive. The Indians did indeed reach out to Headley’s camp a few times before making that assertion, Hoynes adds.
Cleveland might not be a significant player on the free agent market at all, Hoynes writes, though they have contacted the agents for Kendrys Morales and Chris Denorfia. Cleveland’s interest in Morales dates back to 2006 when he was a free agent defector from Cuba. The switch-hitting Scott Boras client struggled in 2014, hitting a combined .218/.274/.338 in 401 plate appearances between the Twins and Mariners. However, Morales may have struggled due to sitting out through June 8, and he did enter the 2014 season as a lifetime .280/.333/.480 hitter in eight seasons. As Hoynes notes, Morales would become a more plausible target for the Indians if they’re able to unload Nick Swisher‘s contract, which they’ve reportedly been trying to do.
Denorfia, 34, also struggled in 2014, batting .230/.284/.318 between the Padres and Mariners. While he’s never had Morales’ upside at the plate, Denorfia has a long track record of hitting left-handed pitching and has excellent defensive marks in both outfield corners (plus the ability to play center in a pinch). A career .292/.358/.430 hitter against left-handed pitching, Denorfia could provide the Indians with a solid glove to pair with David Murphy in an outfield platoon, as Murphy hit just .238/.279/.325 against lefties last year and has a history of struggles against same-handed pitching.
After losing Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox, the Giants are casting a very wide net and have reached out to agent Scott Boras regarding top free Max Scherzer, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Giants appear to be scouring the trade and free agent markets for upgrades, as Heyman reports that they’ve at least initiated talks with free agents Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, Chase Headley, Torii Hunter, Justin Masterson and of course Yasmany Tomas (their interest in Tomas has been well-documented). Beyond that, they’ve kicked the tires on Atlanta’s Justin Upton, and their interest in Jon Lester was reported yesterday as Sandoval looked to be on the verge of departure.
San Francisco’s interest in Scherzer isn’t terribly surprising. The team will bring back ace Madison Bumgarner and stable veteran Tim Hudson, but Matt Cain is returning from elbow surgery and Tim Lincecum‘s reliability has taken s nose-dive in recent years. Both Ryan Vogelsong and Jake Peavy are free agents. Yusmeiro Petit was excellent in 2014 but totaled only 129 2/3 innings between the regular season and postseason. He’s certainly done enough to warrant a look in the rotation, but the lack of innings could be cause for concern.
In terms of their offensive targets, Heyman hears that the Giants are more likely to go with a cheaper option to replace Sandoval at third base, instead spending bigger on a replacement in left field for Mike Morse. He notes that they’ve taken a “close look” at Upton and have even reached out to former Giant Melky Cabrera, though one team source described Cabrera’s departure from the Giants as “awkward” to Heyman. (Cabrera was suspended for 50 games in 2012 to close out the season as the Giants pushed toward a World Series victory.)
Earlier today I looked at some post-Sandoval options for the Giants, listing several trade and free agent targets that the reigning World Series Champions could pursue.
Much of the chatter surrounding Chase Headley this offseason has been that the Yankees are interested in retaining him, but MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince adds a new team to the fold, reporting that the Indians have shown interest in the third baseman. Bastian’s source wouldn’t specify whether an offer has been made. As Bastian notes, a run at Headley would likely first require Cleveland to move the contract of Nick Swisher, who is owed $30MM through 2016. (Cleveland is reportedly exploring possibilities to do just that.)
Cleveland’s interest in Headley isn’t that surprising. While Lonnie Chisenhall had a huge first half, much of that success was driven by an unsustainable average on balls in play, and he’s never graded out as a strong defender. Cleveland’s -19 Defensive Runs Saved and -18.1 UZR/150 at third base last year ranked 28th and 29th in the Majors, respectively. Headley, meanwhile, received respective marks of +13 and +28 in those fields. Both will be tough to repeat, of course, but while Headley’s career averages are lower, they’re still excellent and would represent a sizable upgrade for manager Terry Francona’s squad.
On a highly related note, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Yankees may already be priced out of Headley’s market. Sherman hears that the Yankees began the offseason with the hope that Headley could be had on a two-year deal. While that was unlikely to ever be the case, Headley’s stock rose even higher this week when one team signed both of his primary free agent competitors as the Red Sox landed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. The Yankees, per Sherman, seem unlikely to go beyond three years, and Headley looks headed for a four-year deal, possibly at an even higher rate than the $48MM predicted by Tim Dierkes in early October.
In a second piece, Castrovince takes a speculative look at Headley’s market at this point, opining that the Yankees, Indians, Giants, White Sox, Blue Jays and even the Padres could all enter the picture (the latter option, he admits, is unlikely but not inconceivable).
The action today was in the AL East, with the Red Sox reportedly reaching terms with both Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. The day’s moves could well set up a series of others in a division that is setting the early pace in spending. Here’s the latest:
- With the Red Sox taking on gobs of new salary obligations and seemingly prepared to add more, attention has naturally turned to the question of how much the team could be willing to spend. Owner John Henry mentioned last year that going over the luxury tax line is not necessarily a devastating event, notes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Boston has relatively little committed in the future, but is already well north of $100MM in obligations for 2015 even before accounting for Sandoval and Ramirez.
- WEEI.com’s Alex Speier takes a closer look at the team’s possible methods for freeing salary to devote to pitching. He notes that the cap may not be a hard ceiling for the Sox, though the roster will need to be trimmed regardless of financial considerations. Speier’s colleague, Rob Bradford, evaluates the expected addition of Ramirez in terms of the many moving parts that the organization must account for.
- Boston’s moves will test the Yankees‘ restraint, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. New York is still putting out the vibe that it will not play in the top of the free agent market, but the temptation is obvious. As Sherman rightly notes, also, the bidding for return targets like Chase Headley, Brandon McCarthy, and David Robertson could well shoot up rather quickly.
- Sources also tell Sherman that the Bombers are pushing harder to acquire a shortstop than a third baseman. The club has made “a series of trade offers” to land one, per Sherman.
- The Blue Jays are “talking about” Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, according to a tweet from Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. While the report is not entirely clear, it seems to refer to internal discussion among the Toronto brass, rather than trade chatter between the clubs. While a recent report indicated that Cincinnati would listen on Bruce, it is difficult to imagine a trade scenario that would entice the Reds and a team looking to add the talented 27-year-old at a discount.
It appears likely — though not yet 100 percent certain — that Giants mainstay Pablo Sandoval is on his way to the Red Sox, and the Giants may look to go a different route recouping the lost value. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to one person with knowledge of the team’s thinking who believed the loss of Sandoval could put San Francisco in play for Jon Lester, and Rosenthal then confirmed with a source that the Giants have indeed shown interest in Lester (Twitter links).
Earlier this morning, reports indicated that Sandoval had agreed to a five-year pact with the Red Sox, but his agents have since publicly stated that no agreement is in place with Boston or any other club at this point. Sandoval will make his decision today, his agent told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, so we’ll have some closure in the near future.
If the union with Boston does indeed to come to fruition, Lester makes for a logical, albeit more expensive target for Giants GM Brian Sabean (Boston has reportedly already offered Lester $110-120MM over six years). The Giants have little rotation certainty, despite coming off a 2014 World Series victory. Madison Bumgarner is an unquestioned ace, but Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong are free agents. Matt Cain will be returning from elbow surgery. Tim Hudson will be 40 next July, and Tim Lincecum has proven to be unreliable at this stage of his career. Lester could likely be penciled in for 200+ innings and provide some much-needed stability.
Of course, such a pursuit does leave the Giants thin at third base and on the lookout for offense. One other alternative, Rosenthal tweets, would be to pursue Chase Headley. He characterizes a Headley pursuit as “likely” for San Francisco, should Sandoval depart. The switch-hitting Headley would become the prize of the free agent market at third base, and the Giants would no doubt have competition for his services. The Yankees are said to very much want Headley back, but any club that showed interest in Sandoval could logically have some interest in Headley as well. That would include the Blue Jays and White Sox, although to this point, those matches are speculative on my behalf, as there’s yet to be a firm connection to Headley for either club.
- Acquiring a shortstop is atop Cashman’s list, but he says, “I think it’s a limited market to be honest, and I say limited in terms of availability and acquisition cost.” Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has a source saying that beyond Troy Tulowitzki, the Yankees are “kicking the tires” on the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus and the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins. “I don’t think this past season reflects what his true ability is,” said Cashman of free agent Stephen Drew, and the GM has already spoken with Drew’s agent. Beyond Drew, Feinsand says the Yanks don’t seem inclined to pay up for Hanley Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie aren’t high on their list.
- The Yankees have had “a brief conversation” with Chase Headley and “we’re certainly looking forward to continuing the dialogue,” says Cashman. Given doubts about Alex Rodriguez‘s ability to play third base every day in 2015, the Yankees are making a “strong push” to sign Headley, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Cashman thinks Hiroki Kuroda is going through his standard post-season “mental cleansing process” and will soon make a decision about whether or not he wants to return in 2015. Cashman would “be surprised if he doesn’t play,” though isn’t sure if Kuroda will pitch in MLB or Japan.
- Cashman will speak with David Robertson‘s agent during the GM Meetings, and was hesitant to discuss the Yankees’ closer situation until those talks had taken place. “I would have no clue what [Robertson's] market value is going to be,” Cashman said. “Certainly, they’ll have an idea. They turned down the qualifying offer based on a lot of parameters, I’m sure, [and] some discussions they’ve already had. It’s hard to tell.“
- Two of the club’s statistical analysts pushed Cashman to re-sign Chris Young. “They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract,” Cashman said.
- Young’s signing may be the last outfield-related move the Yankees make this winter. “I think right now, we’re kind of settled in the outfield unless something surprising happens in the case of a trade, which I wouldn’t anticipate,” Cashman said. As Bloom notes, this would seem to close the book on any chance of Ichiro Suzuki re-signing with New York.
Jared S. Hopkins of the Chicago Tribune (subscription required) chronicles the travails Jose Abreu underwent in leaving his native Cuba for America. Full details of Abreu’s journey remain a secret (Abreu and his agents have declined to discuss his defection and an interview with Abreu’s mother, to which to she had agreed, was cancelled by one of the slugger’s associates), but Hopkins was able to piece together how Abreu and his brother-in-law took a boat from Cuba to Haiti in August 2013 leaving behind his young son and family, reaching out to the Orioles’ Henry Urrutia for help after leaving Cuba, and living in the Dominican Republic for three months before landing his $68MM contract with the White Sox. The article also delves into the role smugglers and their networks play in ferreting players out of Cuba for promises upward of 30% of the players’ first contract. Abreu is expected to be named the AL Rookie of the Year tomorrow.
In other news about Abreu’s White Sox and the American League:
- Earlier today, we learned the White Sox will meet this week with Pablo Sandoval‘s representatives during the GM Meetings in Phoenix. However, if the right third base upgrade cannot be found, the White Sox are comfortable with a platoon of Conor Gillaspie and Marcus Semien, reports CSNChicago.com’s Dan Hayes. The White Sox also have Matt Davidson on their 40-man roster, but Hayes notes the 23-year-old struggled in a homer-friendly park at Triple-A Charlotte (.199/.283/.362 in 539 plate appearances).
- The free agent expenditures by the Red Sox this offseason could be shaped by who will be available in free agency next winter, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. With a solid free agent class of starting pitchers and a dearth of third baseman next offseason, MacPherson opines the Red Sox may stretch the budget this year for Sandoval, Chase Headley, or Hanley Ramirez.
- Rays players are rallying around Dave Martinez to replace Joe Maddon as manager, per the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin.
- Within the same article, Topkin speculates the trade of left-hander Cesar Ramos was the first of what could be several moves by the Rays to create roster spots by dealing players who may be too expensive or no longer fit and receive something in return. Sean Rodriguez (projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz to earn $2MM through arbitration) could be one of those moves, according to Topkin.
While many have been quick to connect the Yankees to the top names on the market, as is the case in most offseasons, Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News hear that the team has no intention to pursue any of the “Big Three” starting pitchers — Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields — or top third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
Instead, the Daily News duo continues, the Yankees are more focused on bringing back a pair of their own free agents: Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy. The team loves Headley’s glove at third base and views the returning Alex Rodriguez as more of a DH candidate at his age, per Feinsand and Madden. The team could act quickly and aggressively to retain the two. (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes pegged Headley for a four-year, $48MM contract while I predicted a three-year, $36MM deal for McCarthy.) The Yankees, per the report, don’t want to add any more $100MM+ contracts to their books, although the name of Hanley Ramirez, who figures to top the century mark, is curiously absent from the list of players they won’t be pursuing.
Also of note for Yankees fans is the update within this piece on David Robertson, whom Feinsand and Madden hear is already receiving interest from at least six clubs. Robertson is expected to turn down the Yankees’ qualifying offer and could land a three- or four-year deal on the open market.
Of course, it’s worth looking back to last season when multiple reports indicated that the Yankees would spend judiciously in an attempt to eventually get the team’s payroll below the $189MM luxury tax threshold. That clearly didn’t happen, as the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran to huge multi-year deals while also adding veterans Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and Brendan Ryan on smaller deals. All told, they spent roughly half a billion dollars last winter.
None of that is meant to discredit the information provided by Feinsand and Madden, but rather to serve as a reminder that priorities can change. Still, for the time being, the Yankees’ early modus operandi appears to be pursuing mid-level free agents in an attempt to return the team to the playoffs after a two-year absence while also maintaining some long-term flexibility.
In a text message to George A. King III of the New York Post, David Robertson says things are “quiet on the front” in terms of a multiyear contract with the Yankees or receiving a qualifying offer from the team. The Yankees are expected to extend the QO to Robertson and the closer is very likely to reject it given the interest in his services. At least six clubs are interested in Robertson this winter, a league source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
Here’s more from around the AL East…
- The Yankees have begun talks with Chase Headley, CBSSports.com’ Jon Heyman reports. New York has exclusive negotiating rights with Headley until 11pm CT tonight, though it would be quite surprising to see a deal reached before Headley has had a chance to test the thin free agent market.
- Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ is “generating lots of interest” in trades, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports. Happ enjoyed a solid 2014 season and had his $6.7MM option for 2015 exercised by the Jays on Friday. With the newly-acquired Marco Estrada now in the rotation mix, Happ could be expendable.
- Earlier today, Sportsnet.ca’s Jeff Blair reported that the Blue Jays have had internal discussions about Russell Martin. In that same item, Blair notes that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos might look to act quickly this offseason rather than wait for deals to develop. The latter strategy left the Jays largely empty-handed last winter. Toronto has already dealt Adam Lind to Milwaukee, a trade that Blair feels doesn’t make much sense for the Jays unless a follow-up move is forthcoming.
- The Orioles don’t seem to have interest in trading or non-tendering Chris Davis, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski reports, though the first baseman will have much to atone for in Baltimore following his disappointing 2014 season.
- Though the Orioles currently have six legitimate rotation candidates on the roster, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko expects the club to add pitching depth by signing at least one veteran to a minor league deal.
- Jay Alou, Yasmany Tomas‘ agent, tweeted that his client worked out at the Red Sox academy in the Dominican Republic over the weekend. While the Sox have had some interest in Tomas in the past, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford hears that the workout was arranged “partly out of convenience, with Tomas needing a place in the area to continue his preparation.” It would be a surprise to see Boston sign Tomas given that the Sox already have an outfield surplus.
- The Red Sox are in need of a top left-hander for the bullpen, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. Bringing back Andrew Miller would be the best option, though he’ll be heavily courted by several teams and the Sox may not be able to win a bidding war.
- Silverman thinks the Red Sox and Burke Badenhop could quickly come to terms on a new contract. The righty reliever posted a 2.29 ERA in 70 2/3 IP with Boston in 2014.