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Chase Headley Rumors
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.
The Diamondbacks announced that they've hired Mike Harkey as their pitching coach and named Mel Stottlemyre Jr. bullpen coach. The 47-year-old Harkey has been coaching for 14 seasons, the past six of which have come with the Yankees on Joe Girardi's staff. Stottlemyre, 49, served as the D-Backs's pitching coach from 2009-10 and has served as the minor league pitching coordinator since. Here's more of the the NL West…
- Peter Gammons of the MLB Network reports that the earliest the Padres would consider trading Chase Headley is next June. The team doesn't want to sell low on Headley coming off a season in which his OPS+ dropped by more than 30 points.
- The Rockies have shopped Mitchell Boggs in trades as they attempt to gauge his value before determining whether or not to tender him a contract tonight, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- Renck also reports that the Rockies are expected to tender a contract to right-hander Wilton Lopez, despite the struggles he endured in 2013. Lopez posted a 4.06 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings for the Rockies this past season after being acquired from the Astros for Alex White and Alex Gillingham.
- Newly signed Angels reliever Joe Smith told reporters in a conference call that the Dodgers made him an offer on the free agent market but wouldn't guarantee a third year (Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times reporting on Twitter). The Dodgers appear to be seeking right-handed bullpen help, as they were also connected to Jim Johnson in trade talks earlier this morning.
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.
Major League Baseball is in a race against the clock to change the rules and eliminate home-plate collisions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest Insider-only column. MLB GMs were "100 percent" in favor when the issue of a rule-change was raised at the GM Meetings this week, says Olney. As one team lawyer pointed out to Olney, MLB has no choice but to scramble to get something in place for next season: "Everybody has said that there needs to be a change [in the rules], and if somebody gets hurt [in 2014] they could sue and claim that Major League Baseball knew there was a problem and didn’t do anything about it." Here are just a few of the highlights from Olney's highly informative piece:
- Ricky Nolasco already has a three-year offer in hand, and that same team has indicated that it may be willing to extend the offer to four years. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Olney that his client's preference is still to return to the Dodgers.
- Teams are racing to make their best offers to pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo, knowing that those arms might not require the potential four- and five-year deals that Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are targeting.
- The Twins have made it clear that they're looking to sign two good veteran arms, and in a separate tweet Olney notes that they're being very aggressive on the free agent market. In addition to their interest in Arroyo, it's possible that they're in on Nolasco, says Olney.
- The Royals have had internal discussions about adding Joba Chamberlain on a one-year deal, and as Olney points out, Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland was Chamberlain's pitching coach with the Yankees earlier in his career.
- The Royals would also like to sign Josh Johnson to a one-year deal in an attempt to recreate the magic of last year's Santana acquisition.
- Jhonny Peralta is looking for "huge" money, according to Olney's sources. Olney writes that Peralta is seeking "much" more than three years and $45MM. I predicted a three-year, $36MM pact for Peralta in my recent free agent profile of the former Tiger.
- The Padres haven't had any extension talks with Chase Headley this offseason, and as it stands right now, there are no plans to begin negotiations.
"It's certainly a possibility," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told MLBTR at the GM Meetings when asked whether or not the team would have interest in approaching Andrew Cashner about a long-term deal. "I think that, in a market like ours, or really in most markets, when a guy has proven that he has a chance to be a core guy, the early deal makes some sense. There's always risk with that, and we've felt that on certain deals that we've done."
Cashner enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2013, remaining healthy for a full season for the first time in his Major League career. The 27-year-old totaled 175 innings and posted a strong 3.09 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a healthy 52.5 percent ground-ball rate. His fastball velocity — which averaged a strong 94.5 mph on the season — actually trended upward at season's end, and he finished particularly strong. In his final seven starts, the 2008 first-rounder posted a 1.22 ERA with an outstanding 45-to-7 K/BB ratio. Cashner lasted at least seven innings in each of those starts and added his first career shutout in the process. He projects to earn $2.4MM in arbitration this winter, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
Cashner won't be the only pitching-related issue that the Padres face this offseason, though, and they'll likely be looking outside the organization to address their need for left-handed pitching. "I think we have to keep all avenues open, including trading for a guy," said Byrnes. "We're feeling good. There's a lot of guys out there we like, whether it's through trades or free agency. It's just a matter of getting one or two."
Byrnes balked at the idea of issuing a multiyear deal to a free agent lefty, noting the rarity of multiyear deals for relievers in his tenure as a GM and stating, "It's probably something I would vote against." Indeed, as MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, Byrnes has guaranteed multiple years to just two relievers: Huston Street and Randy Choate. In the latter's case, he received a mere two-year, $1.3MM extension — certainly not a feasible free agent price on a multiyear deal in today's free agent market — shortly after Byrnes' initial hiring by the Diamondbacks in 2005. Byrnes and his staff will have a strong crop of free agent lefties to choose from, as this year's class is highlighted by Javier Lopez, J.P. Howell, Boone Logan, Scott Downs and Matt Thornton.
One area of the pitching staff in which Byrnes feels comfortable is its depth. He noted that Joe Wieland is throwing in the Arizona Fall League and Cory Luebke has begun throwing off a mound. On adding that tandem to the starting options he had in September, Byrnes said: "Put them back in the mix… we finished the year with a six-man rotation… and our rotation's best month was September with all six really throwing the ball well. I'd love to go in [to 2014] and say we actually have a surplus, which is possible."
Chase Headley's status with the team will undoubtedly be one of the biggest issues for the Padres this offseason, but Byrnes maintained that there's no real update at this time, and Headley could still be extended, traded or retained through the arbitration process. He was quick to note, however, that the Padres view Headley as more than a simple asset to cash in for future assets, as he's important to their 2014 outlook: "Putting him into a team context… we've worked hard to put a good offense together. Our pitching's caught up, and if our position players are all there, I think we do feel like in 2014, a healthier team that's going to take a real step forward."
That 2014 team will be one that doesn't include former bench coach Rick Renteria on the field staff or special assistant Brad Ausmus in the front office. Each has landed a managerial job in recent weeks, with Ausmus being hired by the Tigers and Renteria being hired by the Cubs. Asked if it was bittersweet to see them go, Byrnes offered high praise for each: "They were two guys who added a lot. It's kind of neat to see them both get opportunities, but it's a loss. And there's probably a chance we'll lose more staff that would go with them. I hate to say 'bittersweet.' We're going to miss them, so that's the bitter part, but for them to fill a career goal, both in great situations, we're very happy for them."
- The Padres will likely discuss an extension with Chase Headley during the GM meetings, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). As Heyman notes, there is "no evidence [the] sides have ever been close to" an agreement. Headley is set for free agency following the 2014 season and while his name has surfaced in trade talks, the current belief is that the Padres will keep him and hope he can return to form following a disappointing 2013 season.
- An informal poll of six scouts reveals clear preferences for Adam Eaton over A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings over Didi Gregorius, The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro writes. The Diamondbacks could deal one of their young center fielders or shortstops for help in other areas this offseason, though one scout notes that Arizona would be left with solid players no matter who they dealt.
- It's a little unusual that Clayton Kershaw hasn't signed a huge extension with the Dodgers yet, though ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon notes that if Kershaw isn't comfortable signing for a decade or longer, that could be in the Dodgers' best long-term interest.
- It has been rumored that the Dodgers could trade from their surplus of outfielders this offseason but GM Ned Colletti told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that they have a lot of question marks, health-wise. Colletti pointed to last season's pitching injuries as an example of how you can never have enough roster depth: "We went to Spring Training with eight starting pitchers and everybody said we needed to trade some of them. Pretty soon we didn't have enough. We'll see what happens. We have to have big league coverage."
- Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers have an interest in bringing back Juan Uribe on a short-term contract. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts Uribe will find a two-year, $12MM deal in free agency but that even could be a bit long given that Hanley Ramirez might be moved to third if Alexander Guerrero works out best as a shortstop rather than as a second baseman.
- Ryan Vogelsong has received interest from multiple teams and there's no guarantee he'll re-sign with the Giants, MLB.com's Chris Haft writes. Haft also explores some other free agent options as part of the mailbag piece.
The Padres face a decision on Chase Headley this winter, and Yahoo's Tim Brown tweets that their current preference is to hang onto their All-Star third baseman and hope that his big September numbers translate to a big year. Headley slipped to a .250/.347/.400 batting line in 2013 but thrived in the season's final month, slashing .305/.424/.573 with five homers. He's projected to earn $10MM next season, after which he's eligible for free agency. More news from baseball's Western divisions below…
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets out a clarification from an earlier report he made: the Mariners are not in on Mike Napoli this winter. Their priorities this offseason are to sign one ofJacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo and add a starting pitcher. However, they are also expected to pursue a right-handed bat of some kind, says Rosenthal.
- Athletics 2013 first-rounder Billy McKinney has left BBI Sports Group and joined the Boras Corporation, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday (via Twitter). McKinney slashed .326/.387/.437 across two levels in his first pro season, reaching short-season Class A shortly after his 19th birthday.
- The Angels hooked up with the Rays to land Scott Kazmir and nearly landed James Shields in July 2012 and Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com wonders if they can link up again to work out a deal for David Price. To date, there's no indication that the two sides are engaged in serious talks.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
While there is a common thinking that a team can never have "too much pitching," Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Cardinals may actually be able to boast that luxury. The team's incredible wealth of young, cost-controlled arms sets them up to be as aggressive as they'd like in addressing holes this offseason, opines Sherman, including shortstop and center field. The Cardinals likely have the young pieces to deal to acquire a marquee player like Troy Tulowitzki or a lesser, but strong option like J.J. Hardy. Their stock of young talent would even make the loss of a draft pick more palatable should they decide to be bold in free agency, as they were when they signed Matt Holliday to his seven-year deal. More from Sherman…
- In a second piece, Sherman reports that Major League Baseball and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball are nearing an agreement on alterations to the posting system for Japanese players. Two sources told Sherman that MLB and NPB are hoping to have an agreement in place by Nov. 1 (this coming Friday). He adds that one scenario he's heard would allow the posted player to select one of the three highest bidders and negotiate solely with that club — a scenario suggested as a possibility last month by Newsday.
- From that same article, Sherman reports that the Padres recently completed their organizational meetings and feel that they will retain Chase Headley rather than trade him prior to his walk year. While they will still listen to offer on their switch-hitting third baseman, a trade doesn't seem likely.
- Padres officials that spoke with Sherman said the team doesn't feel the Yankees are a potential fit as a trade partner for Headley. San Diego wants to win now and would only deal Headley if the return included cost-effective players that are ready for the Majors or close to it. As Sherman points out, the Yankees' farm system doesn't include many players that fit that bill.
Over the past two years, Chase Headley has endured the peaks and valleys that come with being a highly-regarded and highly-sought after baseball talent. The roller coaster ride will continue for another season as the Padres ponder whether to trade their third baseman or make him a cornerstone of their franchise. Despite the uncertainty, Headley wants to remain a Padre, writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.
"My first priority would be to stay in San Diego," Headley said. "I love San Diego, and I've been with a lot of guys in this room for a long time. There are a lot of pieces here, and we're a lot closer [to contending] than people think."
Last May, Padres Executive Chairman Ron Fowler announced the team will make an offer to the 29-year-old, which will be the largest in franchise history. No formal offer has apparently been presented to agent Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management, and Headley acknowledges the time is ripe to settle the issue.
"It's probably prudent for both sides to get a little clarity this offseason versus this dragging on. From the conversations I've had with our ownership and with (GM) Josh (Byrnes) in the past, they honestly want to keep me here. I really believe that. If it doesn't work out, it doesn't mean they didn't try or that we didn't want to be here. Sometimes, things don't work out. But there's still mutual interest, and I expect it will continue in the offseason."
Crasnick notes the dilemma surrounding Headley is whether his future offensive output will be like this year's (.243/.335/.389 with 10 home runs, 40 RBIs, and 2.1 WAR) or will he be able to replicate his success from 2012 (.286/.376/.498 with 31 home runs, a NL-best 115 RBIs, 6.3 WAR, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards, and a fifth-place finish in the NL MVP voting). Padres manager Bud Black leans towards the latter suggesting injuries are the cause of Headley's 2013 numbers.
"He got derailed with the thumb out of the chute, and, like a lot of players, he probably came back a week too soon," Black said. "So there was a little bit of catch-up there. Then, he got into May and some of the numbers weren't where he thought they should be, and a natural thing occurred: He put pressure on himself to try to validate what he did last year. That always gets you."
Headley concurs admitting he shouldn't be compensated based solely on his 2012 campaign "because I haven't done that consistently every year," but nor should he be punished for this year's struggles. "I also don't think I'm this type of player, either. I don't consider this to be the norm of my career. I think I'm going to come back and play better."
Byrnes, meanwhile, seems to carefully suggest that one factor for the Padres will be an extension candidate's willingness to take a hometown discount. "We really want the contracts to be fair," he says. "But when we're making a multiyear commitment, we also want guys who are excited about being Padres and the challenges we're going to face."
Crasnick opines Headley may not be in the realm of other premier third basemen in the league naming David Wright (eight years, $138MM), Evan Longoria (10 years, $136.6MM), and Ryan Zimmerman (six years, $100MM). Crasnick sees Alex Gordon as a better comparable ($10MM in 2014 and $12.5MM in 2015 with a 2016 option also worth $12.5) because they share similar statistics and agencies. Headley is eligible for arbitration again this offseason where he will undoubtedly receive a raise from his current salary of $8.575MM.
"My first choice would be to stay here," the third baseman said. "I love our coaching staff. I love a lot of the guys here. That said, you have to at least understand where you are positioned in the market. It doesn't benefit myself or the other players to go out and sign a deal just to sign a deal, without it being a good deal.
"I'm not actively trying to get to free agency, but trying to get what you are worth is important. It would be foolish not to at least pay attention. I'm not going to sell myself short."
We've heard conflicting rumors thus far on whether the Padres will try to extend the 29-year-old. A report from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal in May that indicated Headley was likely to be traded by this year's deadline, but CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman wrote just weeks later that the team had no plans to move him. In a confusing series of events, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler announced at one point to reporters that the team was planning a franchise-record offer to the third baseman. However, the club's ownership apparently never communicated that to Headley, who ultimately told the Padres that he didn't want to discuss his contract during the season.
Based on quotes in Shaikin's article, the Padres' ability to compete in the NL West appears likely to emerge as a factor in negotiations. "At this stage of my career, I want to win," Headley asserted, adding that he believes the Padres will be able to do so. However, the club has yet to make the playoffs during the third baseman's tenure in San Diego. In the interview, Headley speaks admiringly of the Dodgers' 2013 success, telling Shaikin, "You can't help but see what's going on in L.A. and be impressed."
Though Headley hasn't been able to repeat the success of his breakout 2012 season, when he finished fifth in NL MVP voting, agents speaking with Heyman in May suggested that the starting point for an extension would be the six-year, $100MM deal that Ryan Zimmerman signed in 2012. As Shaikin notes, Fowler recently told reporters that the Padres plan to raise payroll by more than 20 percent in 2014. However, if the team decides that it can't play at the $100MM level, Shaikin cites a number of teams that could be interested in Headley, including the Dodgers, Angels, Yankees, Giants, Red Sox, Phillies, and Cardinals.
Headley is scheduled to go through arbitration once more this winter and hit the open market after the 2014 season.