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Clayton Kershaw Rumors
Pitcher Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers are discussing a contract extension, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The news that Kershaw and the Dodgers are talking about a deal comes on the heels of big new contract extensions for Justin Verlander and Buster Posey.
Heyman notes that Kershaw could be in an even better negotiating position than Verlander was, given that he is only 25 and the Dodgers have shown a willingness to spend freely. Kershaw is slated to become a free agent after the 2014 season. The only downside for Kershaw, Heyman notes, is that he is slated to make $11MM this year and is arbitration-eligible in 2014, whereas Verlander was already under contract for $40MM through 2014 before his extension. Verlander's deal made him the highest-paid pitcher in MLB history. Depending on the length of the extension, Kershaw would be likely to exceed Verlander's $180MM deal.
Commissioner Bud Selig weighed in on the Houston Astros' strategy and payroll, saying that the organization has "chosen the path with some very qualfied people" and that he "think[s] they're doing it the right way." ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider sub. req'd) that baseball should be more cautious in endorsing what he characterizes as a "strategy to lose." Of course, it remains to be seen how the major league club will compete this season in what figures to be a tough AL West.
- With today's news of a big extension for Adam Wainwright, attention could turn to another ace who could be extended: the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw. According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, however, Kershaw does not want to keep negotiations open past spring training and is staying quiet as to whether there has been any progress. Hernandez also notes that Kershaw's agents, Casey Close and J.D. Smart, visited Dodger camp a week ago but were not not actively discussing a Kershaw extension.
- The time is now for the Dodgers to decide what to do with their excess starting pitching, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles TImes. Aaron Harang, for one, may have thrown his last pitch in Dodger blue. While Harang's tepid spring is a deterrent, Dilbeck notes that the righty threw well last season and should draw suitors.
- Chris Young could sign with the Angels, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who also notes that the Mets are highly unlikely to sign him. The righty is back on the market after opting out of his contract with the Nationals.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge says a decision between outfielders Casper Wells and Jason Bay will be made soon, leading Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times to posit that Wells could already have been put on waivers. If Wells is indeed put on waivers, he would be an option for the Phillies, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- The Diamondbacks have released Josh Booty, who earned a non-roster invite as the winner of "The Next Knuckler," the team announced on Twitter. The former QB was originally drafted by the Marlins fifth overall back in 1994 before he retired to pursue football, which meant that he was still technically under Marlins control when he joined Arizona for the spring.
Free agent infielder Ryan Theriot is interested in playing this season, but only if he's likely to get substantial playing time, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. If Theriot doesn't find a job he likes as a player, he is open to retiring, or becoming an agent. "I’ve had some stuff come up, no doubt. It’s not really exactly what I’m looking for playing-time-wise," Theriot says. Theriot collected 384 plate appearances for the Giants in 2012, and the Giants are currently looking for infield help. But after the signing of Marco Scutaro, they appear unable to provide Theriot with as much playing time as he'd like. Here are more notes from the NL West.
- Clayton Kershaw's agents, Casey Close and J.D. Smart, were at the Dodgers' training site Wednesday, which could mean that Kershaw and the Dodgers are negotiating a contract extension, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick suggests. Close and Smart also represent Zack Greinke, however, and the pair watched Greinke pitch a minor-league game Wednesday. (10:15: Kershaw's agents were on hand at the Dodgers' training facility to watch Greinke pitch, and not to negotiate an extension for Kershaw, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports.)
- The Padres have released pitcher Eddie Kunz, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports (on Twitter). The Mets made Kunz the No. 42 overall pick in the 2007 draft. He pitched in 2012 for Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson, posting a 5.77 ERA in 87 1/3 innings. He made four appearances in the big leagues with the Mets in 2008.
With Spring Training in full swing, wonderful stories from present and past are always emerging. Take Rays starter Chris Archer, who is not just fighting for a spot on Tampa Bay’s opening-day roster, but is on a quest for self-discovery. (As told by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.) Or today's matchup between former and current Padres workhorses Jake Peavy and Clayton Richard, who were traded for one another back at the 2009 trade deadline. (Courtesy of Corey Brock of MLB.com.) Or, going back further still, recall Roberto Clemente, whose presence was felt strongly in Fort Myers, FL during his playing days and lives on vividly today. (From David Dorsey of News-Press.com.) On to some National League notes …
- While there was never a question who would cover the right-field grass for Pittsburgh when Clemente was roaming Forbes Field, the team must find someone to man that role in 2013. Jose Tabata has shown hustle and power this spring that have exceeded the Pirates' expectations, Tom Singer of MLB.com writes. Still just 24 years old, Tabata’s strong showing thus far has only further complicated Pittsburgh’s right field situation. As Singer explains, in addition to Tabata and trade-deadline acquisition Travis Snider (who the team hopes will lay claim to the position), the Pirates are considering options like Clint Robinson, Jerry Sands, Alex Presley, Garrett Jones, Felix Pie, Darren Ford, and Brad Hawpe.
- Also making a surprising impression in Pirates camp is right-handed reliever Brooks Brown, who Singer says has emerged as an unexpected favorite to earn a spot in the Bucs' bullpen. Brown was selected by Arizona in the first round back in 2006, but has yet to make a big league appearance.
- Another darkhorse bullpen candidate who appears to be making strong moves towards a roster spot is the Nationals' Fernando Abad. As reported by The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore, with fellow left-handed relievers Bill Bray, Will Ohman, and Brandon Mann being sent to minor league camp, the 27-year-old minor-league-invitee Abad now stands as the most likely candidate to round out the Washington bullpen should the Nationals decide to keep another lefty alongside Zach Duke. (Ohman was apparently cut during today's game, just after his poor outing, according to Mark Townsend of Yahoo.)
- The Nationals also welcomed back catcher Wilson Ramos, who made his first appearance in a game since tearing his ACL early in the 2012 season, reports James Wagner of The Washington Post. Ramos will likely split time with Kurt Suzuki as soon as he is able to catch regularly.
- With Rafael Furcal being shut down indefinitely after a setback in his recovery from the elbow injury he suffered late last season, the Cardinals are planning what GM John Mozeliak is calling “an open competition” at shortstop, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. After emerging last season when Furcal went down, Pete Kozma will battle with veteran Ronny Cedeno for the starting job out of camp.
- The Dodgers' outstanding young starting pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, says that he is not thinking about whether or not he can top the Felix Hernandez contract, Tracy Ringolsby or MLB.com writes. Kershaw explains that he'll "play the game the same way" regardless of salary because "it's the best job you could have. … I talk to my buddies all the time. They are putting on suits and ties, and going to the office every day. I put on a uniform and play a game."
One American League executive told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com that he'd be talking to Mike Trout about a "crazy-long deal" if he were running the Angels. Castrovince considers some possible comparables for extension talks, concluding that it probably makes sense for the Angels to wait before extending Trout. His leverage is high right now, even though he's arguably the best bargain in MLB.
Here are some more notes from the AL West…
- The Rangers announced that Jon Daniels has been promoted to president of baseball operations/general manager. Daniels, who became the club's GM in 2005, will still report to CEO Nolan Ryan.
- Daniels told Scott Miller of CBSSports.com that he's intent on being more than "the team that used to be good.” The Rangers lost Mike Napoli, Josh Hamilton and Ryan Dempster to free agency, but Daniels isn't worried about the transition. “You've got to keep moving forward and not be afraid of change,” Daniels said. The GM explained the importance of depth and noted that being the best team on paper doesn’t guarantee success.
- The Rangers are among the teams still interested in free agent infielder Ryan Theriot, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). However, Theriot continues looking for more playing time.
- Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez recently established a new record for starting pitchers, signing a seven-year, $175MM contract. Hernandez told Heyman that he expects Clayton Kershaw will be the one to break the record because "he's a little younger" than other top pitchers. Hernandez suggested that Justin Verlander "might get the money, but less years.'' The Mariners ace said he helped other pitchers a bit, adding that he won't mind when another pitcher breaks his record.
No National League division has produced more pennant winners over the last 15 seasons than the NL West. The Giants have own three of those pennants (plus two World Series titles to boot) and the Padres, Rockies and Diamondbacks all have one each over that span. The Dodgers are the odd team out but they're sparing no expense to get back to the World Series as soon as possible. Here's the latest from around the division…
- The Diamondbacks are looking to re-open extension talks with Paul Goldschmidt before Opening Day, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Goldschmidt turned down the club's initial attempt to negotiate a few weeks ago, telling GM Kevin Towers that he wanted more time to establish value.
- The Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw haven't yet begun serious negotiations about a long-term contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (via CBS Sports' Dayn Perry). The two sides hadn't even begun talking by mid-February and there is an unofficial deadline of Opening Day, as Kershaw says he doesn't want negotiations to drag into the season.
- If the Dodgers trade one of their extra starting pitchers, they could look to obtain a right-handed hitting outfielder in return to provide a backup plan if Carl Crawford struggles or isn't healthy, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times opines.
- Brock Bond went from being an "accidental" draft pick in 2007 to reaching his first Major League Spring Training camp after six years in the Giants system, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly writes.
- Over at Roto Authority, Steve Adams recently judged whether three NL West outfielders would be fantasy sleepers or busts in the coming season.
Jered Weaver isn't worried that he might have lost out on a bigger contract when he signed a five-year, $85MM extension with the Angels in 2011, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles times writes. "I don't give a [expletive]," says Weaver. "You can quote me on that." If not for the extension, Weaver would have been a free agent this past offseason, in which Zack Greinke received a $147MM contract from the Dodgers. Here are more notes from around the majors…
- Giants president Larry Baer is discussing long-term contract extensions with general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Sabean and Bochy are signed through 2014, but, after having won World Series in 2010 and 2012, Baer appears to be planning to keep them in San Francisco much longer, saying their extensions "won't be for one year."
- The Dodgers have discussed an extension with manager Don Mattingly, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times notes. "I think you might see something come up before the end of the year," says Dodgers chairman Mark Walter. Mattingly is in the last year of a three-year deal. Walter also says that the Dodgers, who already have a $230MM payroll in 2013, still have the financial flexibility to add substantial talent at this year's trade deadline, should the need arise. "I think in terms of who the players are, what we need and what our options are, rather than a total budget," Walter says. An extension for Clayton Kershaw could also be on the horizon.
- The Pirates and second baseman Neil Walker avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal in late January, but "it could be a matter of when, not if" the two parties reconvene talks on an extension, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Walker will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, at which point he will be 31 years old.
After an offseason of aggressive spending, it's time for the Dodgers to start working toward their first postseason appearance since 2009. Here's the latest from Camelback Ranch…
- Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers haven’t started extension talks, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times reports. The left-hander, who’s expected to discuss a long-term deal with the team this spring, said he doesn’t want to negotiate during the season. Kershaw added that he's not distracted by speculation that his next contract could surpass $200MM. “It’s people talking. It really doesn’t bother me."
- Andres Torres told reporters the Dodgers pursued him during the offseason, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Mets and Reds also had interest in Torres after New York non-tendered him in November. However, he wanted to return to the Giants if at all possible. “My heart is in San Francisco,” he said.
If Ned Colletti has his way, we won't be hearing much about his club's negotiations about a new contract with Clayton Kershaw, but the Dodgers general manager did tell Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that both sides share an interest in getting a deal done.
“This is not going to be a daily discussion point for us publicly,” Colletti said. “But there is a mutual interest.”
Kershaw said last summer that he would be open to negotiating an extension, and while it has been assumed that the Dodgers would explore the topic this winter, Kershaw said that no talks had taken place as recently as two weeks ago. Kershaw signed a two-year, $19.5MM extension last February that covered his first two arbitration-eligible seasons, and he'll have one more arb-eligible year under team control before hitting free agency after the 2014 season.
While Kershaw is controlled through 2014 and there's no immediate rush to work out an extension, the Dodgers may wish to finalize a deal quickly given the ever-rising prices of frontline pitching. Felix Hernandez's reported seven-year, $175MM agreement with the Mariners sets a new standard in the pitching market and Justin Verlander (also a free agent after 2014) has an interest in discussing an extension with the Tigers. It seems like just a matter of time before we see a pitcher signing a $200MM deal, a number that Kershaw could get from the Dodgers and would absolutely get as a 26-year-old free agent if he kept up his current form.
The Mariners' pending seven-year, $175MM extension with Felix Hernandez is expected to be finalized before Spring Training, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reported earlier today. A source tells Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that the two sides are "still in their final stages" though it seems as if the contract is close to being completed. Though the extension isn't yet official, it has already drawn a lot of reaction from around the baseball world about how it affects Hernandez, the Mariners and other top pitchers' future contracts…
- The agreement will become official if Hernandez passes a physical, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports.
- Also from Baker's item, he notes that the Mariners can afford to keep Hernandez thanks to an upcoming major boost in broadcast revenue. The M's can opt out of their current TV deal in 2015 or Baker suggests that the club may look to work out a new TV contract sooner in order to avoid marketplace complications if a new NBA or NHL team comes to Seattle.
- In a separate piece, Baker writes that the Mariners will only benefit from Hernandez's extension if they can build a good roster around their ace. As Baker notes, the M's have finished in last place in each of the three seasons since Hernandez signed his last multiyear deal with the team.
- Since the Mariners refused to trade Hernandez, they essentially forced themselves into re-signing Hernandez to a major contract, opines Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Seattle could regret the move if Hernandez struggles in the latter years of the extension "and the Mariners’ choice forever will be weighed against the hypothetical bounty that they could have received for Felix in a trade."
- While the Mariners are taking a risk in making a seven-year commitment to a pitcher, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan likes the deal for both sides. Hernandez's talent and his importance to the franchise made the new contract "something that felt like it had to be done," Sullivan writes.
- Hernandez's extension sets a bar for negotiations between Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, who opines that Kershaw could become the first pitcher to receive a $200MM deal. Kershaw is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season and will only be 27 years old on Opening Day 2015.