Craig Breslow Rumors

NL East Notes: Clippard, Kang, Breslow

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters that there’s no progress to report in potential contract extensions with Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond, Tyler Clippard, and Denard Span, tweets William Ladson of MLB.com.  Here’s a look at more out of the NL East..

  • Rizzo told Ladson that teams are showing interest in Clippard. The right-handed reliever has spent most of his career as a setup man but has some experience as a closer too. He’s projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz to earn $9.3MM in his final spin through arbitration.
  • The Mets are interested in Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, tweets Matt Ehalt of The Record. Kang is expected to be posted later this week. As we learned earlier this evening, GM Sandy Alderson alluded that Kang could be out of the club’s price range. As for left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, the Mets’ interest is “overblown.”
  • Mets farm director Jon Miller will leave the organization at the end of the year, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) hears that Miller is already done with the club.
  • Rizzo sounds like a man who is ready to make some moves.  “We’re open for business,” the Nationals GM said, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (via Twitter).

Orioles Notes: Upton, Young, Breslow

Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette addressed the media this afternoon.  Here are the highlights..

  • Duquette says the Orioles have not talked to the Braves about Justin Upton, as Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com tweets.  A report earlier today indicated that Atlanta is fielding interest from the O’s as well as the Rangers and Padres.
  • Duquette expects to meet with Delmon Young‘s agent in the next few days, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.   The Orioles are reportedly trying to bring back Young on a one-year deal, but they may be open to including an option.
  • For what it’s worth, Duquette grinned when asked about his potential interest in left-hander Craig Breslow, according to Kubatko (via Twitter).
  • Even though there has been plenty of interest, Duquette says he would be reluctant to trade a starter, Ghiroli tweets.
  • Duquette indicated that he’s looking for a right-handed bat and a left-handed outfielder/DH, according to Kubatko (on Twitter).
  • When asked if the rumors of the Blue Jays’ interest in him would hinder the O’s efforts this week and throughout the offseason, Duquette responded “I would hope not,” according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).
  • Duquette says there’s a better chance right now that the O’s will sign a free agent than make a trade, Kubatko tweets.

Free Agent Notes: Top Pitchers, Rios, Royals, Everth, Astros

With the Winter Meetings nearly upon us, ESPN’s Jayson Stark spoke to nine baseball executives regarding the “Big Three” starting pitchers on this year’s free agent market — Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields — and asked when and where they will sign. While answers as to when Scherzer will sign varied, there was a much tighter window on Lester, with all nine believing he will sign between Dec. 8 and Dec. 13. The execs polled by Stark feel that Shields’ market is tied so closely to Lester that he will sign within two weeks of Lester and perhaps even as soon as next week’s Winter Meetings. Many identified Shields as a fallback for teams that miss on Lester. Execs picked Lester to sign with the usual suspects at this point: the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants or Dodgers. Interestingly, Scherzer’s landing spot was predicted to be the Yankees, Nationals, Cubs or Tigers, by the five who were willing to wager a guess on that outcome.

A few more notes pertaining to free agency…

  • The MarinersRoyals, and Indians have all checked in on Alex Rios, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rios, who joined the Boras Corporation earlier this offseason, has had a fairly quiet market to this point, though one would expect interest to pick up now that Nelson Cruz, Torii Hunter and Yasmany Tomas are off the market.
  • The Royals are looking for a right fielder and a starting pitcher but likely only have the available funds to make a “significant” investment in one of the two areas, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The Royals may have to bargain shop for the other, he notes. Kansas City has invested a modest amount of its available funds to the bullpen in the past week, re-signing righties Jason Frasor and Luke Hochevar. However, it’s at least worth noting that Hochevar’s contract reportedly contains performance incentives tied to starting (though it also contains relief incentives).
  • Though the Mets are in need of a shortstop, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin writes that recently non-tendered Padres speedster Everth Cabrera is not a consideration. Though he’s talented and has twice led the NL in stolen bases, Cabrera has a good deal of off-field issues on his record, including a 50-game PED suspension and more recent legal issues, as he’s been charged with resisting arrest after being stopped for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. (Cabrera plead not guilty to those charges today, per the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Jeff Sanders.)
  • Lefty reliever Craig Breslow is drawing significant interest, but his timetable to sign is currently dependent on the rest of the relief market, tweets WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Breslow is coming off a down season but has a strong track record. Interest in Breslow and other relievers could intensify now that Andrew Miller is off the board, I would think.
  • Though the Astros missed out on Miller even after offering him more money than the Yankees did, they’re still on the hunt for relievers, tweets Heyman. Houston remains interested in David Robertson, Sergio Romo and others.


NL East Notes: Hamels, Marlins, Braves, Breslow

ESPN’s Jayson Stark took a look at the Cole Hamels trade market and spoke to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about the possibility of trading the ace. Amaro took a familiar stance, stating that he’s not under any pressure to move Hamels, whom he rightly deemed one of baseball’s best starters. Rival execs tell Stark that Amaro is still asking for two premium prospects plus another piece or two in addition to the acquiring club taking on Hamels’ entire contract. As Stark notes, it’s unfortunate that a rebuilding club’s best chip is an ace in an offseason where free agency and the trade market are both pitching-rich. With next season shaping up to be a buyer’s market for pitching as well, Stark wonders if July will be the best time for Amaro to move Hamels, as few aces are ever available at the deadline. Multiple clubs have told Stark that Amaro is holding out for “the deal of the century,” as Stark terms it.

Two items of particular note from Stark are that the Blue Jays are said to have very strong interest in Hamels and that reports of Hamels’ no-trade clause are not entirely accurate. Hamels can indeed block trades to eight clubs, but previous reports listed the Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Nats, Braves, Padres, Yankees and Rangers as teams to which Hamels cannot veto a deal. Stark hears that list is outdated, and at least one club has been changed since season’s end.

Some other late-night NL East notes…

  • Reports have indicated that the Marlins are serious about adding pieces to contend in 2015 this offseason, and while the focus has been more on bats for the lineup, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Fish have reached out to the Tigers to inquire on David Price and Rick Porcello. Talks aren’t serious at this time, he adds, but the fact that the Marlins are even kicking the tires on a pair of high-priced arms (Price and Porcello project to earn $18.9MM and $12.2MM next year, respectively) suggests that they’re willing to take on some significant payroll.
  • The Braves are interested in a reunion with backstop David Ross, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reported yesterday (Twitter link). Ross spent four seasons as Brian McCann‘s backup in Atlanta from 2009-12, enjoying some of the most productive seasons of his career as a Brave. He could serve as an excellent mentor to Christian Bethancourt, who figures to take the reins as Atlanta’s everyday catcher with Evan Gattis moving to the outfield full time.
  • MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports another potential catching target for the Braves, tweeting that they have interest in A.J. Pierzynski. The soon-to-be 38-year-old Pierzynski has never had Ross’ defensive chops, though he’d give the Braves a left-handed bat to insert in the lineup when they prefer to rest Bethancourt against tough right-handers.
  • The Mets are interested in lefty reliever Craig Breslow, tweets Morosi. The Mets are thin on left-handed relief, and Breslow should represent a low-cost option. The 34-year-old picked a poor time to have a career-worst season, pitching to a 5.96 ERA this past season in a contract year. However, he entered the 2014 campaign with a career 2.82 ERA in 402 innings. Breslow doesn’t dominate lefties the way many specialists do (.671 OPS), but he’s also more effective against right-handed hitters than a number of his southpaw brethren (.680 OPS).

Quick Hits: Hahn, Street, Kim, Breslow, Mets

White Sox GM Rick Hahn expects his team to mentioned in a flood of trade rumors this offseason, though he doesn’t mind since this winter, some of them will be true.  “We aren’t going to be precluded from any single player because of running up against the limits of our payroll.  And in terms of the rumors, we’ve always operated under the standpoint that we’re going to be involved in any premium player that’s available, whether it’s via free agency or via trade,” Hahn told reporters, including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes.  “In years past some of those free-agent fits may have been a little less realistic because of what their market was going to bear out to be versus what we were able to pay. This year I understand why we’re associated with some of the more higher-profile free agent types.”

Here’s some more news from around the game as the GM Meetings roll on…

  • The Angels haven’t “yet” had any extension talks with closer Huston Street, Halos GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link).  Street’s current contract is up at the end of the 2015 season.
  • An unidentified MLB team has posted the highest bid for Korean left-hander Kwang-hyun Kim, Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency reports.  A follow-up report from Naver Sports (Korean language link, hat tip to Sung-Min Kim for the partial translation), suggests that SK Wyverns, the southpaw’s club, is delaying the official announcement since they aren’t happy that the winning bid was so low.  As MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo speculates, this could mean that SK Wyverns will reject the bid and Kim won’t be made available.
  • Reliever Craig Breslow is “getting plenty of interest,” ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes tweets.  The lefty struggled to a 5.96 ERA over 54 1/3 IP in 2014, though Edes notes that teams are seeing last season “as an outlier” given how well Breslow has otherwise pitched in his career.
  • The Metsfeel a sense of urgency” to compete, a team official tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, which is partially why the Mets moved quickly to sign Cuddyer.  Martino feels the team will need to add more than just Cuddyer, though a smaller addition is much likelier than a blockbuster for the likes of Giancarlo Stanton or Troy Tulowitzki.
  • Also from Martino, he wonders if Yasmany Tomas would accept a three-year contract that would allow him to hit free agency prior to his age-27 season.
  • An anonymous GM, an anonymous agent and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman predict the contracts for 50 of the offseason’s top free agents.  They’re only picking contract values, not the actual teams, so Heyman’s game is like an inverted version of the annual MLBTR Free Agent Prediction Contest.

AL East Links: Chavez, Yankees, Breslow, Jays

The Yankees have hired longtime big league third baseman Eric Chavez as a special assignment scout, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Chavez retired at midseason this year but has expressed a desire to remain within the game. He’s had a close relationship with Yankees GM Brian Cashman and assistant GM Billy Eppler since playing with the Yankees in 2011-12. Heyman adds that Chavez was eyed by some clubs as a potential hitting coach, though it’s uncertain whether or not he’s interested in coaching gigs at this time.

A few other items on the Yankees and the rest of the AL East …

  • In a piece for Baseball America, George King examines changes to the Yankees‘ player development structure and notes that the team is much happier with its current crop of minor league talent than it was two years ago. However, King also spoke to an NL scout who said the minor league system lacks depth beyond Luis Severino and Gary Sanchez, adding that he didn’t feel there was a true power-hitting bat that could play every day in the Majors. Baseball America’s Josh Norris released the Yankees’ list of Top 10 prospects today, which is headlined by Severino, outfielder Aaron Judge, shortstop Jorge Mateo, first baseman Greg Bird and Sanchez.
  • The Red Sox declined reliever Craig Breslow‘s $4MM option after a poor 2014 season, but they could aim to bring him back at a lower price, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. “He has a lot of good qualities and we have a great relationship with him, so we’ll see what happens,” says GM Ben Cherington.
  • The Toronto Maple Leafs, which are owned in part by Rogers Communications, signed defenseman Dion Phaneuf to a seven-year contract. As the Canadian Baseball Network’s Bob Elliott reports, agent Scott Boras wonders why the Blue Jays, which are owned in full by Rogers Communications, don’t sign players to seven-year deals. “If they can give one of their hockey players a seven-year deal, why can’t they give a seven-year deal to a baseball player?” asks Boras. Of course, the last Blue Jay to receive a seven-year contract was outfielder Vernon Wells, which might provide a partial answer to that question. The Jays haven’t been very active in recent years in signing key free agents to shorter deals, either, although they’ve made some splashy moves via trade.

Red Sox Decline Craig Breslow’s Option

The Red Sox announced that they’ve declined their $4MM club option on left-hander Craig Breslow. The 34-year-old Breslow will instead receive a $100K buyout and become a free agent.

Breslow struggled in 2014 but is just one season removed from a 2013 campaign in which he posted a 1.81 ERA in 59 2/3 innings. The 2014 campaign wasn’t as kind to Breslow, however, as he saw his ERA spike to 5.96 despite an increase in strikeouts. Breslow’s command also worsened (his 4.6 BB/9 was the worst full-season mark of his career) and he saw his fastball velocity dip from an average of just under 90 mph to 88.4 mph.

Prior to this season he’d been a fairly reliable relief arm, having pitched to a 2.82 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 373 2/3 innings from 2008-13. That stretch of success will likely generate some interest on a market for lefty relievers that is fronted by Andrew Miller but also includes Zach Duke, Joe Thatcher and Neal Cotts, among others.


Red Sox Notes: Maddon, Davis, Breslow

Manager Joe Maddon is now available, but the Red Sox won’t be hiring him, owner John Henry tells the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo (via Twitter). “Joe Maddon is an excellent manager. But we are extremely happy with John,” says Henry. Farrell, of course, led the Sox to a World Series victory in his first season on the job before a disappointing 71-win season in 2014. Here are more notes out of Boston.

  • New Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis’ new three-year contract runs a year past the expiration of that of manager John Farrell, Cafardo writes.  Generally, coaches’ contracts don’t extend longer than those of their manager. Cafardo cautions us not to read into this too deeply, however — the Red Sox offered three years to prevent Davis from signing on with the Yankees instead.Farrell is heading into the third year of a four-year deal that will expire after the 2016 season.
  • Reliever Craig Breslow does not sound optimistic that the Sox will pick up his $4MM 2015 option rather than paying him a $100K buyout, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. “If you were to strictly look at 2014 with blinders without what had happened previously and what you might expect to happen going forward, $4 million is probably a hefty price tag,” says the lefty, who posted a 5.96 ERA, 6.1 K/9 and 4.6 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings in 2014. Nonetheless, Breslow remains confident that he’ll have a bounce-back season. “If they were to decline it I would be a bargain for somebody and I’€™ll pitch to the value of the contract,” he says.

Placed On Revocable Waivers: Friday

With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline behind us, Major League teams must place players on revocable trade waivers in order to deal them to another club. A player that clears waivers can be dealt to any team, while a player that is claimed on waivers can be dealt to that team only (within 48.5 hours) or simply pulled back off waivers. A player can be placed on waivers a second time after being pulled back, but the waivers are no longer revocable the second time.

Here’s Friday’s rundown of which players have been placed on revocable waivers…

  • Both Ichiro Suzuki and Brendan Ryan have been placed on revocable waivers by the Yankees, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Neither player has hit much this season, with the 40-year-old Ichiro slashing .276/.324/.321 and the 32-year-old Ryan hitting just .214/.263/.257. Both come with good defensive reputations despite their light bats. Ichiro, guaranteed $1.85MM through season’s end, is a free agent this winter. Ryan has $568K of this season’s $2MM salary remaining and is guaranteed $2MM in 2015 as well. He has a $1MM player option for the 2016 campaign.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have placed left-hander Craig Breslow and infielder Kelly Johnson on revocable waivers (Twitter link). Breslow, who turns 34 today, has struggled this year and endured a rough patch of late, surrendering a dozen runs in his past 15 2/3 innings. The typically effective southpaw has been hit hard by both righties and lefties en route to a 5.01 ERA this season. He’s owed $1.09MM through year’s end, plus a $100K buyout on a $4MM option.
  • Johnson, 32, has been on the disabled list since being acquired by the Red Sox in exchange for Stephen Drew at the deadline. He batted .219/.304/.373 with the Yankees this year and is owed $852K through the end of the year. While Johnson is a versatile piece that has in the past offered both power and speed, he’s hit just six homers this year. Still, he could serve as a low-cost bench addition to a contending team.
  • The Mets have placed Curtis Granderson on revocable waivers, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark (via ESPN New York colleague Adam Rubin). Granderson, 33, is hitting .224/.330/.392 with 15 homers and eight steals in the first year of a four-year, $60MM pact inked with the Mets. He’s owed $3.69MM through season’s end plus another $47MM from 2015-17, making for a total of $50.69MM remaining on his deal. Granderson got off to a terrible start but is hitting .249/.353/.443 with 14 homers since May 1. Then again, he’s also been slumping of late. A claim seems unlikely, given the sizable sum remaining on his contract. If Granderson goes unclaimed, he could be dealt to any team, but that also seems unlikely in the first year of a four-year contract.
  • Of note is that Stark also reports that Bartolo Colon has yet to hit waivers, though one would expect that the Mets will run him through the process at some point.

For a more complete explanation of how revocable trade waivers and August trades work, check out MLBTR’s August Trades primer. You can also check out MLBTR’s list of players that have cleared revocable waivers to see who is eligible to be traded to any team.


Stark’s Latest: Lester, Miller, Byrd, Kemp, Danks, Rios

With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark

  • The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
  • Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
  • The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
  • Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he  appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
  • While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
  • The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
  • Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
  • The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
  • While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
  • The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
  • The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.