Colorado Rockies Rumors
Ervin Santana's list of suitors includes not only the Blue Jays, Orioles and Mariners (all of whom have been connected to Santana in the past week), but also the Indians, Rockies, Royals and other teams, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Heyman cautions that it's possible that some teams may merely be trying to get Santana on a cheap deal, however.
The Royals would like Santana to return, Heyman writes. The Indians may also be a possibility, although they might be more likely to re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez (which itself seems unlikely). The Reds and Phillies could also be possibilities, although those seem more speculative.
The Blue Jays and Mariners would appear to have an edge in pursuit of Santana, since both teams could be competitive, and neither team would lose a first-round draft pick if they signed him. Perhaps the takeaway here, however, is that, with spring training camps opening and with Santana as one of five qualifying-offer players still on the market, there is plenty of uncertainty, and the team that signs him might not end up being one of the obvious contenders.
The Rockies' pre-arbitration pay scale continues to be unpopular amongst agents, tweets MLBTR's Tim Dierkes. Colorado pays a league-minimum $500K for players with between zero and one year of service, then bumps that up by just $1K for each additional service year before arbitration. Here's more from the Rockies:
- In a Q&A with fans today over Twitter (transcript via the Denver Post), club owner Dick Monfort covered a variety of topics. Expressing confidence in executive VP and GM Dan O'Dowd, Monfort said that the club is capable of reaching 90 wins next year if it maintains a healthy roster.
- Colorado could be turning the corner in its efforts to put together a strong pitching staff despite a notoriously hitter-friendly home park. Monfort noted that the club's 2013 rotation was "statistically the best pitching in our history." And more improvements could be on the way: Monfort says that top prospects Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler "could potentially be pitching at Coors Field by late summer."
- Monfort also confirmed the organizational philosophy of adding arms that can induce grounders, noting that pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Tim Lincecum, and Stephen Strasburg all sport career ERAs of over 6.00 at Coors Field. Major off-season acquisition Brett Anderson, notably, sports a career 54.9% ground-ball rate that lands well above league-average (which sat at 44.5% last year). Though he struggled with surrendering home runs last year (17.9% HR/FB), Anderson managed a career-best 62.9% ground-ball rate, continuing a trend of increasing his induction of grounders in each of his five MLB campaigns.
- Monfort fielded several less-than-positive inquiries regarding spending. He argued that the club's payroll has increased 20% over last year, and said that despite strong attendance (9th in the bigs), the team maintained only the 28th-highest ticket prices and boasted only the 19th-ranked market in the league. He noted, however, that the team's TV deal "will improve next year."
- On the Dexter Fowler trade (which brought back Jordan Lyles and Brandon Barnes), Monfort said that the team was pleased to add "a good pitcher and center fielder." The owner says he is confident in the team's outfield depth, and explained that the deal was made because "it allowed us to do other things." The swap cleared the club's books of the $7.35MM owed Fowler in 2014 and, presumably, an increase through arbitration next year. It likely played an important role in allowing the club to take on Anderson's contract ($8MM in 2014, less $2MM paid by the A's, with a $12MM option for 2015) and sign Justin Morneau (two years, $12.5MM).
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter) that trade talks for Rays catcher Jose Lobaton have begun to heat up. Topkin notes that teams with interest or need at the position include the Diamondbacks, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Mets and Nationals.
The 29-year-old Lobaton slashed a solid .249/.320/.394 with seven homers for the Rays in 2013 and also belted one of the most dramatic and improbable home runs of the postseason. A switch-hitter, Lobaton has historically been better from the right side of the dish than the left, but he bucked that trend and swung the bat better as a lefty (.736 OPS) than as a righty (.653) in 2013.
While Lobaton is a solid, controllable bat -- he is a Super Two player that is not eligible for free agency until the 2017-18 offseason -- at a thin position, he also comes with some defensive question marks. Lobaton has caught just 16 percent of attempted base stealers in his career and was below average at blocking pitches in the dirt in 2013 (per Fangraphs). While he's not a poor pitch-framer, he also doesn't add significant value in that department, either (per Matthew Carruth's work at StatCorner).
Lobaton has been connected to the White Sox and Nationals in trade talks so far this offseason, with the Nats being the most recently linked club. A trade would seem to be beneficial for both Lobaton and the Rays; the Rays acquired and extended Ryan Hanigan this offseason in addition to re-signing Jose Molina, leaving Lobaton without a clear path to playing time. Additionally, a trade would save the Rays a bit of cash, as Lobaton avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $900K salary for 2014.
Now that A.J. Burnett has decided to pitch in 2014, the Diamondbacks would be interested in adding him to their rotation, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. However, the D-Backs don't feel that Burnett is interested in pitching for a team on the West coast, according to Piecoro, so there may not be mutual interest. More on the D-Backs and the rest of the NL West below...
- The Diamondbacks are beginning to kick the tires on Bronson Arroyo, according to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (on Twitter). Arroyo told ESPN's Jayson Stark earlier this week that he's yet to receive a formal offer from a club.
- Giants manager Bruce Bochy told Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that his team is done pursuing free agent starting pitchers (Twitter link). The Giants seem likely to head into the season with Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson and one of Ryan Vogelsong or Yusmeiro Petit in the rotation.
- Schulman also spoke with Brandon Belt, who said he has no ill feelings toward the Giants for submitting a $1.55MM arbitration figure ($2.05MM lower than his own figure) and won't have any hard feelings if they go to a hearing and he listens to the team make a case against him (Sulia link). "I don't think they think little of me," said Belt. "I think that's what teams do. That's the business side of baseball. I think what both sides are trying to do is create a midpoint, maybe. ... I know what I wasn't good at, so if I go in there it's not going to hurt my feelings any. If they have to tear me down a little bit, I'll be OK."
- New Dodgers second baseman Alexander Guerrero tells Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com that shortstop and second base are "completely different" and admits to struggling to adapt to a new culture. However, he called Los Angeles "beautiful" and voiced confidence that he'll be ready to handle second base come Opening Day. Saxon reports that the Dodgers are still looking to add one more infielder to their bench, likely to serve as insurance.
- Earlier in the week, Troy Renck of the Denver Post wrote that the Rockies have "mild" interest in Ervin Santana but aren't pursuing him at his current price and are also reluctant to surrender the 35th pick in this year's draft.
Here are the day's minor transactions:
- Middle infielder Niuman Romero and backstop Jose Gonzalez have also signed on with the Rockies on minor league pacts, per the MLB.com transactions page. Since cups of coffee in 2009 and 2010, Romero has played in the upper minors. He maintained a .367 OBP in each of the last two years, playing at the Double-A and Triple-A level for the Tigers and Orioles. Romero has spent most of his time at short in recent years. Gonzalez has spent the past eight seasons in the Rockies organization but slashed just .190/.274/.281 in 250 PAs at Triple-A in 2013.
- The MLB.com transactions page also notes that the Reds have agreed to a minor league deal with Edgar Gonzalez. The right-hander, who turns 31 in February, allowed 15 runs in 18 innings between Toronto and Houston last season but owns a 4.35 ERA in 854 1/3 Triple-A innings.
- Free agent infielder Josh Rodriguez will join the Marlins on a minor league deal, according to the MLB.com transactions page. The 29-year-old spent the last two seasons with the Mets, putting up a .272/.371/.390 line last year at Double-A. Rodriguez has seen substantial time at short, second, and third.
- The Twins have re-signed righty Daniel Turpen to a minor league deal, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Turpen, 27, has yet to see MLB action but has been throwing in the high minors since 2010. Splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A for the Twins last year, Turpen put up a 4.98 ERA in 65 innings.
- The Mets announced that they've signed utilityman Matt Clark to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training (Twitter link). The former Padres farmhand spent the 2013 season with NPB's Chunichi Dragons, batting .238/.328/.457 with 25 homers. The 27-year-old is primarily a first baseman but also has corner outfield experience. In 1045 Triple-A at-bats, Clark is a .291/.365/.502 hitter. He also bats left-handed, which figures to put him behind Ike Davis and Lucas Duda on New York's depth chart.
Steve Adams also contributed to this post.
After agreeing with Manny Corpas on a minor league deal earlier today, the Rockies have also reached a mionr league agreement with right-hander Nick Masset, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The New York Post's Joel Sherman adds (via Twitter) that Masset's base salary upon making the team would be $1.2MM, and the contract contains an additional $800K worth of incentives.
Masset, 32, hasn't pitched a Major League inning since 2011 due to surgery to repair the anterior capsule in his right shoulder and thoracic outlet syndrome in that same shoulder. Prior to his recent injury troubles, the Jet Sports Management client served as a setup man for the Reds and was a force in the Cincinnati bullpen. Acquired from the White Sox in the trade that sent Ken Griffey Jr. to Chicago, Masset posted a 3.07 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 240 1/3 innings with the Reds from 2008-11. He averaged better than 94 mph on his heater from 2009-11 and owns a strong career ground-ball rate of 49.8 percent.
The Rockies have been said to be on the lookout for bullpen help all offseason, and while there's no guarantee that Masset will be the same arm that he was with the Reds a few years ago, the deal provides Colorado with a great deal of upside. Colorado has also added LaTroy Hawkins and Boone Logan to its relief corps this offseason.
The Rockies have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with right-hander Manny Corpas, tweets Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The 31-year-old reliever gets a Spring Training invite and can opt out of the contract if he is not on the club's Opening Day roster.
Corpas threw 41 2/3 innings last year in his return to Colorado, allowing 4.54 earned runs per nine innings while posting 6.5 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9. He would have been eligible for arbitration, but was removed from the roster at the end of the year. In his first stint with the Rockies, over 2006-10, Corpas was a mainstay in the pen and at times served in a ninth-inning capacity.
In his latest column over at FOXSports.com, Ken Rosenthal reports that the Diamondbacks' pursuit of top free agents Masahiro Tanaka, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran stemmed from the fact they'll soon be completing a new television deal with FOX Sports that will be worth at least $90MM per season for a span of 15 to 20 years (beginning in 2016). He notes that while comparing TV deals is difficult because of differing equity stakes negotiated by each team, but the contract should still top the Rangers' recent TV deal, which pays them $80MM per season. More highlights from Rosenthal...
- The Cubs' offer to Masahiro Tanaka did not include an opt-out clause, according to Rosenthal. Knowing that they might not compete until 2016, the Cubs were wary of including a clause that would allow him to opt out shortly after their next competitive club hit the field.
- Their recent signing of Matt Garza will allow the Brewers to move trade acquisition Will Smith (received in exchange for Norichika Aoki) to the bullpen. Milwaukee could still add another reliever this offseason, but they also want to take a look at Rule 5 lefty Wei-Chung Wang.
- After missing out on a Major League deal with the Orioles due to concerns over his back, Tyler Colvin is weighing a number of minor league offers.
- The Marlins and Rockies are both interested in former Reds right-hander Nick Masset, who has missed each of the past two seasons due to shoulder injuries.
The Rockies will sign shortstop Paul Janish to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Janish is a client of Moye Sports Associates.
Janish, 31, is the epitome of a glove-first player, as evidenced by the fact that he appeared in 52 games with the Braves in 2013 but received just 45 plate appearances. Janish batted .171/.222/.220 in that small sample and is a career .214/.284/.288 batter in 1206 PAs between the Reds and Braves. His defense is his calling card; in 2403 career innings at shortstop he's posted a +10.1 UZR/150, and Defensive Runs Saved has pegged him at +23 in that time.
Last night, the L.A. Times' Dylan Hernandez elaborated on reports that Michael Young is said to be weighing retirement, noting that if Young played in 2014, it can be considered a "safe bet" that it will be for the Dodgers. Young has been connected to a number of teams thus far, but to this point, there's yet to be a concrete indication as to whether or not he will play next season. Here's more out of baseball's Western divisions...
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels said over the weekend at the team's fan fest that he would approach ace Yu Darvish about an extension "at the right time," writes ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett. Daniels pointed out that Darvish is controlled for four more years, so there's no urgency in getting a new deal worked out. The team's current focus is on getting Darvish, who was unsurprisingly announced as the Opening Day starter, ready to make 33 starts in 2014. As Durrett reminds, Darvish's contract allows him to opt out of the final year if he wins a Cy Young or finishes No. 2-4 in the voting twice from now through 2016.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post has still not heard of any interest from the Rockies in terms of a potential reunion with Ubaldo Jimenez (Sulia link). The relationship between the two sides ended poorly, says Renck, and it wouldn't make sense on Jimenez's behalf to spend the bulk of his career pitching at an altitude.
- Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes that the Mariners are comfortable using a rotation of Corey Hart, Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison at first base and DH, with Hart eventually getting more time in the outfield as his surgically repaired knees recover. Hart has been doing simulated ground-balls to work on his footwork and agility but has not yet progressed to taking fly-balls, he said at the Mariners' fan fest this weekend. The presence of all three first base/DH-type players led to trade speculation earlier in the offseason.
- Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes that Prince Fielder will hit third ahead of Adrian Beltre in next year's Rangers lineup -- a concept that caused Beltre to boldly proclaim that Fielder will win the American League MVP award. Though he's usually been the one in the No. 4 spot (behind Ryan Braun and Miguel Cabrera), Fielder said he's excited to hit in front of Beltre. New leadoff man Shin-Soo Choo's robust on-base percentage figures to help Fielder's counting stats as well, Fraley points out.