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Here’s the latest from around the league as we wait for somebody to throw more wood in the hot stove.
- Closer Seung-Hwan Oh of the NPB’s Hanshin Tigers is still eyeing the majors, reports Hyun-Woo Nam of the Korea Times. The 32-year-old reliever is under contract with the Tigers for one more season after making the transition from Korea to Japan this year. Per MLBTR’s report last offseason, Oh works between 94-96 mph with a splitter. At the time, the Yankees were said to have expressed interest.
- Teams with depth could play a “big role” in the shape of the offseason, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Frequent readers of MLBTR will recognize the Cubs (position players), Dodgers (outfielders), and Red Sox (outfielders) as frequent sources of rumors. Sherman also highlights the White Sox who have a different sort of depth – three stars signed to fantastic contracts.
- Earlier tonight, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune answered fan tweets on a number of Mariners subjects. Two may interest MLBTR readers. Dutton hears (tweet) that the Mariners have “some interest” in Melky Cabrera, but the outfielder prefers to remain in the East or Midwest. Meanwhile, he’s heard (also Twitter) nothing to suggest Seattle will check in on expensive free agent pitchers. This jives with other reports that cite a focus on offense.
Payroll parity has improved throughout baseball, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. A combination of TV deals and luxury taxes have contributed to evening the playing field between the big earners and the laggards. As Mets GM Sandy Anderson points out, “there are outliers in both directions.” Yet we’ve also seen traditionally cautious clubs like the Reds sign Joey Votto to a large contract and outbid the Yankees on two Cuban players. The advantage may cycle back to large market clubs as they hire the best talent away from smaller market. We’ve seen the Dodgers snap up key personnel from the Rays and A’s this offseason which also allowed the Cubs to snag former Rays manager Joe Maddon. Brewers GM Doug Melvin isn’t concerned, saying “more (front office personnel) doesn’t mean better.”
- The Cubs and Red Sox will meet with Jon Lester this week, tweets Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons. The Yankees could play the role of dark horse. While other sources have reported that Lester is willing to sign quickly, Gammons suggests the process may last into December.
- Pitcher Josh Johnson is talking with five to six clubs, tweets Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The Padres remain the righty hurler’s first choice, although nothing is imminent. My own thoughts: I’m not sure I see San Diego as a fit unless they trade from their current stock of starters. While pitcher friendly Petco Park is a good destination for Johnson as he seeks to reestablish himself, the Padres appear to have five starters and at least four depth pieces. Surely, another club can offer Johnson an easier path to starts.
- Yoan Moncada‘s expected $30MM to $40MM price tag (reported on Nov. 12) isn’t the only impediment for interested clubs, writes Baseball America’s Ben Badler. Teams routinely reach handshake agreements with the next crop of international free agents well in advance of the July 2nd signing period. Any club who signs Moncada will not be able to sign an international player for over $300K, which would force many teams to rescind existing agreements. While that may not sound like a big issue, Badler describes Latin American scouting as a “small world.” A misstep could alienate the small cadre of influential trainers in the region. Moncada achieved free agency earlier today, although he has not yet been cleared by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Twins GM Terry Ryan is “doing well” after his bout with throat cancer, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. The 61-year-old still is experiencing various forms of discomfort, but has completed radiation and is back at full force in the Minnesota front office.
Here’s more out of the American League:
- The Tigers will not pursue Torii Hunter after inking Victor Martinez and trading for Anthony Gose, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters today, including George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “I called and said it just didn’t look like it was going to fit the way the club was getting put together,” Dombrowski said. “Thanked him for everything. Absolutely love him. If something changes where we make some changes for one reason or another, that we’re not anticipating, we would still be open. It’s just probably not much of a fit right now.” Hunter indicated in an Instagram post that he still intends to play in 2015.
- The Blue Jays recently met with free agent lefty Andrew Miller, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Miller figures to be a highly sought-after relief weapon. Toronto has definite pen needs, as Nicholson-Smith’s colleague, Shi Davidi, told me on this week’s podcast, and as MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk wrote in previewing the club’s offseason.
- Free agent utility man Emilio Bonifacio is receiving interest from his former teams, including the Blue Jays and Royals, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets. (Cotillo also lists the Cubs as a team with possible interest.) Bonifacio should have his pick of situations given his versatility and place on the market.
- The Red Sox have promoted Mike Rikard to become the team’s scouting director, according to a tweet from Clint Longenecker, formerly of Baseball America. He replaces Amiel Sawdaye, who will be promoted to a vice president role, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter). Longenecker himself is moving on to join the Indians, Baseball America’s John Manuel tweets.
Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is expected to receive a bonus that will absolutely shatter the previous record for an amateur player — international or domestic — and intrigue surrounding him only figures to grow in the coming months. Here’s the latest on the 19-year-old phenom…
- Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel has an outstanding breakdown of not only Moncada’s showcase in Guatemala yesterday, but of the puzzling, seemingly inexplicable way in which he came to leave Cuba. McDaniel writes that Moncada was seemingly granted permission by the Cuban government to leave the country for Guatemala and is free to return and leave again as he wishes (a bizarre phenomenon also noted earlier this month by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez). Beyond that, Moncada is being represented by a CPA from St. Petersburg who has never negotiated a baseball contract before and will not enlist the help of any veteran MLB agents. In fact, two agents from the Boras Corporation attempted to attend Moncada’s showcase and were not only denied access, but escorted off the premises by armed guards, McDaniel reports. Moncada’s agent has no desire to make this a story about himself and therefore was not named, McDaniel adds.
- McDaniel, too, has spoken to several executives who expect Moncada’s bonus to land in the $30-40MM range, which would result in a 100 percent luxury tax on all overages, which could lead to a total commitment upwards of $80MM. McDaniel writes that were Moncada not subject to international spending limitations, he’d probably clear $100MM with relative ease. Some scouts, he notes, feel Moncada is more talented than Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas. He adds that there are already rumors that the Cubs are looking to again blow way past their bonus pool in 2015, so if Moncada isn’t declared a free agent until after June 15, 2015, Chicago figures to be heavily involved. As it stands, the Cubs and Rangers aren’t eligible to sign a player for more than $250K after blowing past their bonus pools in the 2013-14 spending period.
- The Orioles scouted Moncada at yesterday’s showcase but consider the infielder too expensive, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. As Encina notes, Baltimore’s international bonus pool was roughly $2.253MM, meaning that in order to sign Moncada for $30MM, they’d have to invest more than $57MM once luxury tax is accounted for. Encina’s source for his article said he expects Moncada to sign for “at least” a $25MM bonus.
- MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets that the Angels definitely like Moncada but consider him to be out of their price range. The Halos currently hold the record for a Cuban amateur, having recently given Roberto Baldoquin an $8MM bonus. (Others, such as Abreu and Castillo, were not considered amateurs by the collective bargaining agreement.)
The Red Sox are trying to set up a visit to Boston for Pablo Sandoval, perhaps as early as next week, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Sandoval has drawn interest from four clubs, per Cafardo, but the Red Sox and Giants are the two most serious suitors. David Ortiz has been pitching Boston to Sandoval and trying to persuade him away from San Francisco, Cafardo hears.
Some more free agent notes as baseball news slows down following the conclusion of the GM Meetings…
- A hefty 22 teams have reached out to agent Mark Rodgers regarding Andrew Miller, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Heyman adds that one team that’s unlikely to make a play for Miller is the Cubs, who are more focused on lengthening their ‘pen with lower-profile acquisitions. Reports yesterday indicated that the Cubs were out on David Robertson as well.A
- Heyman also writes that the Dodgers are serious about making a run at Russell Martin but still facing competition from the Cubs, Pirates and Blue Jays. The Pirates, Heyman hears, are said to have already made a strong bid to retain Martin. Despite their acquisition of Francisco Cervelli, he notes, the Pirates are not out on Martin.
- Six clubs have shown interest in Jonny Gomes to this point, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish. The Cubs are believed to be one of those clubs, though Gomes isn’t close to any kind of decision and is still “early in the process.”
- Right-hander Anthony Carter, who spent this past season in Japan, will not have his mutual option with the Nippon-Ham Fighters exercised, MLBTR has learned. Carter technically has to clear waivers in Japan before he can become a free agent and become eligible to sign with a Major League organization or a different club in NPB. The 28-year-old posted a 3.97 ERA in 45 1/3 innings of relief in Japan this season and has a lifetime 4.93 ERA at Triple-A. His best season came in 2013 with the Red Sox when he posted a 3.47 ERA with 11.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 at Triple-A.
NOV. 13: Yang will be posted next Monday, the 17th, reports Feinsand in an updated piece. Feinsand notes that the Yankees might show interest in the lefty, and he lists the Cubs, Astros, Giants and Red Sox as other clubs with potential interest.
NOV. 4: Another high profile Korean pitcher and his KBO team have decided to take a run through the posting system. As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports, lefty Hyeon-jong Yang will be posted by the Kia Tigers in the next few weeks.
Yang joins countryman (and fellow 26-year-old southpaw) Kwang-Hyun Kim in preparing for the posting process. Kim outperformed Yang last year, registering a 3.42 ERA to the 4.25 mark notched by Yang in a notoriously hitter-friendly environment.
Feinsand’s sources tell him that Yang has a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and useful slider (as well as a curve and change) that could hold appeal. According to the Yonhap News Agency, which recently reported that Yang was interested in coming to North America, Yang’s 2014 season was fairly characteristic of his results. Over his career, per Yonhap, he has struck out 740 over 860 1/3 frames.
The Nationals made Ian Desmond a seven-year, $107MM extension offer last year, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports, though that also included contract deferrals that would have reduced its true value. Negotiations are expected to pick back up in the months to come, per Kilgore, and that offer will presumably be the starting point. Desmond, who put up another strong year and is now one year away from the open market, is one key piece of the team’s increasingly pressing long-term strategic questions.
Here’s the latest out of the division:
- The Marlins‘ interest in the starting pitching market is fairly diverse, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Possible trade targets range from buy-low (Ubaldo Jimenez) to buy-high (Johnny Cueto), and interest on the free agent markets includes Kyle Kendrick and Ervin Santana. The unifying force here is probably the expected ability of these varying arms to provide innings; as I noted yesterday, the Fish hope to add a solid, veteran presence to their staff.
- Spencer also spoke with the Miami brass about Giancarlo Stanton, and discusses the team’s reasoning for trying to build a winner around him now, even if an extension cannot ultimately be worked out. “We’re trying to get away from that, that we have to trade everybody because they get expensive,” Hill said. “Enough of that. We want to win. We want to keep as many of our pieces as we can.”
- There are “a lot of good fits” for Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who is likely to be traded, sources tell Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Philadelphia is seeing interest in Ben Revere as well.
- Of course, the flashier chip for the Phils is lefty Cole Hamels. As Salisbury reports, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says “the free agent market will kind of dictate where this thing goes,” referring to the possibility of striking a deal. “[A]t some point the dominores will start to fall and then we’ll see where it takes us,” said Amaro, who notes that there is no need to deal Hamels since he “traverses the timeline” of contention that the club has in mind.
- Hamels would prefer to be dealt, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale provides additional teams to which Hamels cannot decline a trade (on top of the previously-reported Cubs): the Yankees and Rangers are the two A.L. clubs, with the Dodgers, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves, and Padres among the National League teams.
- The Braves increasingly sound inclined to aim for the near future, and we’ve already heard several prominent names listed as possible trade candidates. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman provides two more, via Twitter: reliever Jordan Walden (who projects to earn $3MM in arbitration) and young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
- Braves president of baseball operations John Hart says the sides will “need to get creative” to work out a deal to keep Kris Medlen, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. While the team has every hope of keeping the righty, his second Tommy John procedure and $5.8MM projected arb price tag do not make for a straightforward situation given the team’s tight payroll. Sherman suggests that a significantly lower guarantee, combined with incentives and a 2016 option, could be palatable for both sides. It seems that Medlen would be able to do better, however, were he to force the Braves’ hand: he would either be tendered a contract, or hit the open market with plenty of suitors given his upside.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Ben Revere | Chicago Cubs | Cole Hamels | Ervin Santana | Free Agent Market | Giancarlo Stanton | Ian Desmond | Johnny Cueto | Jordan Walden | Kris Medlen | Kyle Kendrick | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Miami Marlins | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals | Texas Rangers | Tommy La Stella | Ubaldo Jimenez | Washington Nationals
Reds GM Walt Jocketty is of the mindset that his team will need to either be “all in” or “all out” in 2015, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In other words, if the Reds decide to trade one of four starters who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season — Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon — others may very well follow. Sherman lists Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman as names to watch if Cincinnati does elect to go into a full rebuild. Both can be free agents after 2016, though the Reds have a club option on Bruce for the 2017 season.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Sherman also tweets that the Cubs aren’t likely to spend big on a closer this winter, which seemingly eliminates a potential suitor for David Robertson. Earlier today, reports indicated that Robertson is seeking a contract comparable to Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50MM contract.
- The Tigers are willing to listen to offers on Alex Avila, tweets the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Avila has a $5.4MM club option for his final arb year and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn the same amount in arbitration. Cafardo notes that the Braves and Red Sox are both looking for left-handed bats. While both have inexperienced catchers (Christian Bethancourt and Christian Vasquez, respectively), adding Avila would limit each team’s ability to get an extended look at how their young backstop handles a full workload.
- John Manuel of Baseball America tweets that the Tigers‘ defense up the middle in 2015 could be special with Jose Iglesias and the newly acquired Anthony Gose. He also notes that Devon Travis, who went to the Blue Jays in the deal, now has a clear shot to Major League playing time that he may not have had in Detroit.
- The Royals could scout Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic next week, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Royals officials will be in the Dominican Republic on other business anyway and met with Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, earlier this week at the GM Meetings. The team’s payroll could surpass the $100MM mark for the first time next season, and there’s perhaps room for one significant expenditure such as Tomas, Ervin Santana or Melky Cabrera, McCullough writes.
- Billy Butler is receiving interest from a number of clubs — even one National League club — tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The interest in Butler likely means that a return to the Royals isn’t the best fit, he adds. McCullough reported Tuesday that K.C. doesn’t seem inclined to go beyond two years to retain Butler.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wonders if the Brewers will consider trading a starting pitcher (Twitter link). The Brew Crew needs some payroll flexibility, and the Braves are one team that has been poking around at the GM Meetings.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Avila | Alfredo Simon | Aroldis Chapman | Atlanta Braves | Billy Butler | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Robertson | Detroit Tigers | Ervin Santana | Jay Bruce | Johnny Cueto | Jonathan Papelbon | Kansas City Royals | Mat Latos | Melky Cabrera | Mike Leake | Milwaukee Brewers | Toronto Blue Jays | Yasmany Tomas
Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is quickly becoming one of the most hyped amateurs in history, and it’s expected that he will absolutely shatter the record for an amateur player — international or domestic — according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Passan spoke to a pair of GMs and two other executives, and all four agreed that they expect the 19-year-old Moncada to land an incredible $30-40MM bonus.
While that bonus doesn’t necessarily seem steep right off the bat, at least when juxtaposed with the commitments made to countrymen Yoenis Cespedes ($36MM), Yasiel Puig ($42MM), Jose Abreu ($68MM) and Rusney Castillo ($72.5MM), bear in mind that each of those players was viewed as a professional under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement and therefore was not subject to international spending limitations.
Moncada, on the other hand, will be subject to spending limits, but executives that spoke with Passan still seemed to believe the price tag could approach $40MM. That would obliterate any team’s bonus pool, and a signing team would have to pay a 100 percent luxury tax on all overages (in addition to subsequently being prohibited from spending more than $300K on a player in the next two signing periods). In that regard, then, a team would essentially be dropping $60-80MM to add Moncada to its farm system, based on the range Passan received in his poll of execs.
As Passan notes, Moncada has yet to be unblocked by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control or Major League Baseball, so the timeline for his arrival on the free agent market is uncertain, but the timing of his arrival is critical. If Moncada isn’t declared a free agent until next year’s signing period (the current signing period runs through June 15, 2015), the Angels, Yankees and Red Sox would not be able to sign him, as the penalties they’ve incurred prevent them from signing a player for more than $300K in the next two signing periods. If he’s declared a free agent in the current signing period, the Rangers and Cubs, who exceeded their bonus pool in the 2013-14 signing period, would not be able to sign him.
Nearly every team was on-hand today in Guatemala to see a Moncada showcase, although Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets that the Angels weren’t there to see him (they’ve seen him in the past, Fletcher notes).
MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke to multiple scouts who were on-hand, with one scout giving Moncada a 60 hit-tool, 60 power, 70 speed, a 60 arm and a 50 in terms of fielding (on the 20-80 scouting scale). A scouting director told Mayo that Moncada is “worth going way over your international spending pool,” adding that the game is ultimately about talent, and Moncada “is the kind of talent worth the investment.” Another touted his five-tool potential and said he was in great shape. Mayo hears that Moncada looked better at third and second than shortstop, though he has the arm to play any infield position. The Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Cubs all had four or more scouts in attendance, per Mayo.
Those wishing to learn more about the potential phenom can check out this report on him from Baseball America’s Ben Badler penned back in August.
The Nationals are entering the offseason with “an eye on 2015 and also beyond,” club president and GM Mike Rizzo said today from the GM Meetings in Phoenix. As it looks to build off of an NL East-winning 2014, the club will benefit from a measure of financial flexibility.
Last year’s Opening Day payroll evidently does not set a ceiling for the team’s spending, according to Rizzo. Asked where the club stood financially with a slate of guarantees and likely arbitration commitments that already push beyond last year’s starting salary point, the Nats’ head baseball decisionmaker told MLBTR: “There’s nothing off the table, there’s no restrictions. We’re going to make good, prudent baseball moves … regardless of payroll.”
At the start of last year, club ownership indicated that the $136MM+ budget was above where the organization wanted to be. But Rizzo said that the Nationals “have the flexibility to put the best club on the field.”
Rizzo also preached a balance between present and future in assessing the possibility of trading from the current roster. Though he rejected last night’s rumors that the Nats and Cubs were in talks on Jordan Zimmermann, he did say that the team is always willing to listen in an effort to improve.
The team does “not necessarily have to have a major league return on one of [the] 5+ [service-time] guys,” Rizzo said, explaining that he would be looking for “the greatest impact that you can make with the players you trade, especially when you don’t have to trade them.” In terms of value maximization, Rizzo also emphasized the fact that several of the Nationals’ 5+ players would likely be qualifying offer candidates next year.
Of course, players like Zimmermann, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, and (to a much lesser extent, given the team’s rising younger players) Denard Span all figure as extension candidates. I asked Rizzo about the equally impressive group of players coming behind those who are nearing free agency. The team has “a long-term outlook and a long-term plan,” said Rizzo. “We’ve definitely thought about who and how and what players we should look into extending and we certainly have our plans in place to do what we need to do to protect the longevity and success of the franchise.”