Chipper Jones Rumors
The Yankees acknowledged yesterday that they're interested in Derrek Lee, Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen. However, none of those veteran free agents seem particularly likely to sign with the Bronx Bombers at this point. Here's the latest from New York, starting with a player the Yankees actually did sign...
- GM Brian Cashman said the Yankees signed Ben Francisco to a minor league deal in the hopes that he can compete for an extra outfield role and a spot on the Yankees' bench, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports (via Sulia). “I think he’s definitely worthy for competition, so that’s what we’re going to take a look at," Cashman said.
- Longtime owner George Steinbrenner would have loved the Yankees' unexpected and public pursuit of Jones, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. As farfetched as the idea of signing Jones was, some long shots have worked out for Cashman over the years.
It’s no secret that the Yankees are searching for corner infield depth following Mark Teixeira’s wrist injury. GM Brian Cashman updated reporters on the team’s search earlier today, detailing interest in some veteran players. All links courtesy of Jack Curry of the YES Network and Joel Sherman of the New York Post on Twitter, unless noted otherwise..
- Jones got a "good chuckle" upon learning of the Yankees' interest in him, agent B.B. Abbott told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Cashman called Derrek Lee a Yankees type because of his approach and makeup, Curry reports. The Yankees recently reached out to Lee to see if he’d come out of retirement to play in New York. Asked about the chances of completing a deal, Cashman noted that Lee isn’t with the Yankees now. The GM is not currently optimistic about signing Lee, according to Sherman.
- Cashman said he’d sign Chipper Jones if the third baseman were willing to come out of retirement, Sherman reports. The GM said his interest in Jones was serious and that he intended to call his agent, Curry notes. However, B.B. Abbott told Sherman that he can’t see his client coming out of retirement. "I don't think [playing for the Yankees] is something he would consider, but he would be flattered,” Abbott said.
- Cashman also investigated the possibility of signing free agent third baseman Scott Rolen, Curry reports. The GM hinted that Rolen wants a guarantee of playing time and/or money, however.
- The Dodgers and Reds both offered Rolen $4MM only to have him turn the proposals down, according to Sherman, who has heard that Rolen would only play for a guaranteed salary.
Chipper Jones says he's not going to un-retire and return to MLB, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports. "I'm well-adjusted, and there's no going back," Jones said. The Braves will retire his number 10 this June and induct him into their team Hall of Fame. Here are some more links from around the National League...
- An MRI taken on Matt Garza revealed only a “mild strain,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said, according to ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers. Hoyer explained that Garza is expected to sit for a week or so and miss his first scheduled Spring Training start. The right-hander is on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season.
- The Dodgers are set to open the season with Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, so Dee Gordon “appears almost certain to start the season in Triple-A Albuquerque,” according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. GM Ned Colletti acknowledged that the Dodgers placed Gordon “in a tough spot last year.” However, manager Don Mattingly described him as someone who “is dynamic and is going to be dynamic.”
- In an MLB.com video clip, Padres general manager Josh Byrnes discusses San Diego’s approach to long-term contracts, explaining that the risks can be difficult for small-market teams to accept.
- Byrnes also addressed the team’s payroll, stating that it had “already gone up” and would continue to do so. “Our ownership said, hey, if the right deal came up, whether it’s now or in-season, then bring it to us and [if it] makes short-term, long-term sense, we’ll do it.”
- MLBTR checked in on the NL Central and the NL West earlier today.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
It was on this day in 1999 that Dennis Martinez announced his retirement from baseball. The first Major League player from Nicaragua, Martinez enjoyed a 23-year career with five teams, including spending his final season with Atlanta and eight years with Montreal from 1986-93. "El Presidente" is best remembered for throwing the 13th perfect game in Major League history, shutting down the Dodgers on July 28, 1991.
Here's the latest from around the NL East...
- Scott Boras has denied an accusation that he planted a rumor that the Marlins were close to signing Jose Valverde, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. Spencer reported on Monday that the Marlins/Valverde rumor was false, with one source suspecting that Boras planted the rumor to generate interest in his client. Boras said he had "no motive" for creating the rumor since "what benefit would it be for me and my client to do that" when the false information could be so easily disproven.
- Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has turned down several offers to buy the team in recent months, The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reports, including a group led by former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Loria has no intention to sell the team, though Jackson hears from an unnamed league official that Major League Baseball would prefer if Miami had an owner more willing to spend.
- The additions of Mike Adams and Chad Durbin will improve the Phillies bullpen, but the team also needs one of their young relievers to fill key roles in 2013, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.
- Chipper Jones discussed the Braves' offseason moves and his upcoming visit to the team's Spring Training camp with MLB.com's Mark Bowman. Though he accepted the Braves' invitation to spend five days at camp, Jones said he is enjoying retirement and has "not had the itch whatsoever" to play again.
It was on this date in 1871 the Boston Red Stockings incorporated giving birth to today's Atlanta Braves. Let's take a look at the news from the 21st century Braves and the rest of the National League:
- The Braves have enough payroll space to add one significant salary and have yet to rule out Michael Bourn or Justin Upton, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Brien adds GM Frank Wren has spoken with Bourn's agent Scott Boras, but they didn't start any negotiations. O'Brien also has been told manager Fredi Gonzalez contacted Bourn within the past few weeks. In regards to Upton, O'Brien sees the Braves and Rangers as the last two teams standing, but neither seems willing to match what the Mariners offered in their failed bid to acquire the outfielder.
- O'Brien, via Twitter, discounts the suggestion the Braves have yet to acquire Bourn or Upton to save payroll in order to sign Martin Prado to a long-term deal.
- It's been nearly a decade since the Reds had to go to an arbitration hearing, but this year could be different, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "We're hopeful we can get something done," Reds GM Walt Jocketty said of the six players with whom salary figures were exchanged. "Some of the spreads were significant. We'll see how it proceeds the next week or two." The Reds' arbitration class is headlined by Mat Latos, whose case was analyzed by MLBTR's Matt Swartz last week. You can keep track of all of the Reds' arbitration cases with MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.
- With the Red Sox still seeking a left-handed hitting first baseman/left fielder, Tom Singer of MLB.com wonders if the Pirates will make another run at Jose Iglesias, as the starting point of a bigger deal involving Garrett Jones (Twitter links).
- There is still no clear-cut answer as to whether Francisco Liriano will be with the Pirates in 2013, tweets Singer. The Pirates and Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75MM contract in December, but the deal was put on hold earlier this month when it was discovered the left-hander injured his right arm.
- Lucas Duda told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com his surgically repaired right wrist feels great and he has started hitting off a tee. Duda is projected to man left field for the Mets.
- Chipper Jones was honored at the New York BBWAA dinner last night and confessed to the audience he was starting to get the itch to go back to Spring Training, Rubin reports. "I was on the Braves' web site, just kind of messing around on my computer," said Jones. "I was thinking to myself, 'You know what? I think I'm going to go down and get me a workout in, see how everything feels.' I was down there for about five minutes and I figured I'd go to Hawaii instead."
Several teams have called to see if Chipper Jones can be persuaded to come out of retirement and play another season, agent B.B. Abbott told Mark Hale of the New York Post (Twitter links). However, Jones will stay retired. The Yankees didn’t call about the 40-year-old, Hale reports.
Jones' 19-year MLB career ended after yet another strong offensive season and a memorable farewell tour. The switch hitter posted a .287/.377/.455 batting line and hit 14 home runs in 448 plate appearances as Atlanta's starting third baseman last year. Jones, an All-Star in 2012, will presumably be enshrined in baseball's Hall of Fame once he’s eligible for induction. He said in August that he won't reconsider his decision to retire.
With two weeks left in the season, here's an update on the various vesting options for 2013 from around the league...
- Brett Myers, White Sox -- $10MM option vests with 45 games finished or based on a points system. Myers has finished 39 total games this season and the ChiSox have 12 games remaining. This one is unlikely to vest but is still possible.
- Kevin Gregg -- $6MM option vests with 50 games finished. Gregg finished only 13 games before the Orioles released him last weekend.
- Jason Bartlett -- $5.5MM option vests with 432 plate appearances. Bartlett came to the plate just 98 times with the Padres before hurting his knee and getting released last month. Like Gregg's, this one won't vest.
Chipper Jones has an option worth $9MM+ that will vest with 123 games played, but he's already rendered the option moot by announcing his plans to retire after the season. He recently said that he won't change his mind about retirement despite his strong play as well. Chipper has played in 103 of the Braves' 151 games, so this one isn't even mathematically possible anymore.
Alex Gonzalez has an option worth $4MM that will vest with 525 plate appearances, but he missed the majority of the season with a torn ACL. Gonzalez came to the plate just 89 times before the injury, so the Brewers do not have to worry about this one kicking in.
With a little less than one-third of the season left to go, let's check in on the various vesting option situations from around the league...
- Jason Bartlett, Padres -- $5.5MM option vests with 432 plate appearances. Bartlett came to the plate just 98 times before being placed on the disabled list with a knee injury. He won't return to the lineup anytime soon, so this option will not vest.
- Kevin Gregg, Orioles -- $6MM option vests with 50 games finished. Gregg has finished just 12 of the team's 113 games, so this one is very unlikely even though it's still mathematically possible.
- Brett Myers, White Sox -- $10MM option vests with 45 games finished or based on a points system. Myers has finished 33 games this season, and he has finished four of the ten games he's appeared in with Chicago despite not being the closer. This is one worth monitoring.
Chipper Jones has an option worth $9MM+ that will vest with 123 games played, but he's already rendered the option moot by announcing his plans to retire after the season. He recently said that he won't change his mind about retirement despite his strong play as well. Chipper has played in 71 of the Braves' first 112 games.
Alex Gonzalez has an option worth $4MM that will vest with 525 plate appearances, but he is expected to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Gonzalez came to the plate just 89 times before the injury, so the Brewers do not have to worry about this one kicking in.
Chipper Jones told reporters, including David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he is not having any second thoughts about his plan to retire at the end of the season, despite posting good numbers this year.
“I thought I was fully capable of doing what I’m doing,” Jones said. “In fact, I told my agent [B.B. Abbott] in spring training. He told me, ‘You can’t back-track on this [retirement decision]. If you’ve got 20 homers and you’re hitting .300 and you’ve got 80 or 90 RBIs, you can’t second-guess yourself.’ And I said, well, I’m going to have those numbers, and I’m ready to leave. I’m ready to move on.”
Jones is ready to move on from his age-40 season where he leads the Braves with a slash line of .320/.394/.513 plus a team-leading .907 OPS (only two points lower than Prince Fielder and just nine points lower than Josh Hamilton).
O'Brien writes that some around baseball have suggested Jones could play at least another season or two in the NL and possibly more in the AL, as being a designated hitter would save wear and tear on his surgically repaired knees. But, Jones isn't having any of it.
"It’s nice to have people saying that,” Jones said. “It’s nice that people aren’t saying, ‘You should have done it two or three years ago.’ The fact that people are saying I should stay, that I could still be effective, that’s kind of what I was shooting for. No matter what you do you’re not going to make everybody happy. I’ve got two wives that will attest to that.”
Jones reiterated his intention to retire prior to the Braves' 6-1 win over the Astros, a game in which he scored the 1,600th run of his career while going 2-for-4 including a run-scoring double.
Here's a look at items out of the AL and NL East..
- Mets right-hander Dillon Gee will undergo potentially season-ending surgery on Friday to repair artery damage in his shoulder, a source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Gee should be able to throw in six to eight weeks but the best case scenario would be a late September or October return if the Mets reach the playoffs.
- Rays pitcher David Price hopes that former teammate Matt Garza finds his way back to the American League East, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The two hurlers speak on a daily basis and Price wants to see his friend in person more often during the course of the season.
- Chipper Jones said he might work in television or consult for the Braves once he retires following the 2012 season, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. However, he insists that he won't change his mind about retiring, no matter how well he plays from here on out. “To be honest, I don’t want the lifestyle anymore,” Jones said. “I don’t want the schedule, the major league schedule anymore. I’ve been living out of suitcases for 23 years.”