Daisuke Matsuzaka Rumors

Mets Notes: Dice-K, Hanrahan, Drew, D’Backs

Daisuke Matsuzaka picked up his first Major League save last night, though it probably isn’t going to be the start of a new career path for the veteran right-hander.  Matsuzaka only got the call since Kyle Farnsworth had pitched in three of the Mets’ previous four games and was being rested, and as Fangraphs’ Paul Swydan points out, Dice-K doesn’t fit the traditional closer profile.  Anything is possible given the Mets’ unsettled closing situation, however, so be sure to keep following @CloserNews, MLBTR’s sister Twitter feed, for the very latest on ninth-inning personnel changes.

Here’s some news from Citi Field…

  • The Mets still haven’t decided whether or not to pursue free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports.  The team has been weighing its options for several days now since watching Hanrahan throw at a showcase last week.  Almost 20 teams watched Hanrahan throw, so the Mets may face competition if they do decide to make the righty an offer, though an evaluator tells Martino that Hanrahan is still roughly a month away from being able to contribute.
  • Also from Martino, there still isn’t anything brewing between the Mets and Stephen Drew, as “there is no momentum” between the two sides.
  • Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.com agrees that a Drew signing looks like a major longshot, and the Mets are more likely to promote Wilmer Flores from Triple-A than acquire a shortstop like Drew or the Mariners’ Nick Franklin.
  • If the Mets do deal for a shortstop, Cerrone believes the Diamondbacks are New York’s best option as a trade partner.  The two clubs at least discussed a trade during Spring Training and scouted each other’s prospects.  According to Cerrone, the D’Backs liked right-hander Rafael Montero and catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, though Plawecki alone wouldn’t have been enough to secure a deal.  All three are ranked amongst the Mets’ top prospects by Baseball America, though Montero and d’Arnaud in particular would take major offers for the Mets to consider a trade.

Lannan Accepts Mets’ Outright Assignment

SATURDAY: Lannan has accepted the assignment, ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets.

WEDNESDAY: The Mets have outrighted left-hander John Lannan to Triple-A Las Vegas and purchased the contract of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, tweets MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. Lannan will have the option to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets that Matsuzaka will work out of the bullpen for now.

Lannan, 29, appeared in five games for the Mets this season, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in four innings of work. Of those seven hits, three cleared the fence for a home run. The veteran has never pitched outside of the NL East, but he's donned the uniform of three teams in that division: the Mets, the Phillies and the Nationals. After posting a 4.01 ERA in 783 2/3 innings with the Nationals from 2007-12, Lannan has struggled. With Philadelphia and New York, he's managed a combined 5.86 ERA with a 40-to-29 K:BB ratio in 78 1/3 frames.

Matsuzaka spent some time with the Mets in 2013 after signing a minor league deal midway through the season. He started slow but fared well down the stretch, yielding just four earned runs over his final 26 1/3 innings while striking out 21 and walking nine. Matsuzaka then signed another minor league deal with the Mets this winter. He's allowed two runs and punched out 12 hitters in 12 Triple-A innings this season. Matsuzaka's minor league deal calls for a $1.5MM base salary in the Major Leagues, and he also received a $100K retention bonus at the end of Spring Training after he did not make the Opening Day roster.


Article XX(B) Free Agents Update: Tuesday

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.

Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.

MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is today at 11am central time. By the deadline, teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:

  • Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
  • Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
  • Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline and send him to the minors.

Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top).  

  • Delmon Young receives a $100K bonus from the Orioles, tweets Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
  • The Rockies have decided to pay righty Nick Masset a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization, rather than releasing him or guaranteeing him an active roster spot, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com.
  • As posted already, Endy Chavez and Humberto Quintero of the Mariners have been released rather than receiving the roster bonus to be held in the minors.
  • The Indians have announced that DH Jason Giambi will be placed on the DL retroactive to March 21, meaning that the team will need to add him to its 40-man roster. 
  • John McDonald has been added to the Angels' 40-man roster and will be the club's utility infielder on Opening Day, reports Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter). The club has already released its three other Article XX(B) free agents.
  • The Mets have elected to pay pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka a $100K retention bonus rather than guaranteeing him an Opening Day roster spot or releasing him, the club announced on Twitter. Matsuzaka, who signed as an Article XX(B) free agent, will apparently compete with Jenrry Mejia for the fifth and final rotation slot right up until the start of the season.
  • Zach Duke has been informed that he has made the Brewers, tweets MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Duke will be the third lefty (and, potentially, long man) in the pen.
  • Earlier today we learned that Jason Kubel would make the Twins Opening Day roster.


NL Notes: Niese, D’backs, Pirates, Marlins, Dodgers

Mets left-hander Jon Niese was removed from his start today after only two innings and 35 pitches with what the club calls left elbow discomfort. Niese had been wearing a neoprene sleve on his left arm the past few days, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. "It's the Spring Training from hell," Niese told reporters (as quoted by ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). Niese also said he hyperextended the elbow, which first flared up during an intrasquad game 10 days ago, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing rehab since. Niese added the discomfort is in the back of the elbow, not in the ligament area (the focus of Tommy John surgery). The Mets are flying the 27-year-old to New York tonight with a MRI, his second in less than three weeks, scheduled for tomorrow, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday

Elsewhere in the National League:


NL East Notes: Matsuzaka, Lannan, Burnett, Medlen

In case you missed it over the weekend, the Braves inked Cuban backstop Yenier Bello to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training. Bello is likely ticketed to begin his career here in the minors, but he adds some critical catcher depth to the Braves, who of course lost Brian McCann to the Yankees this offseason. More from the NL East to kick off your Monday morning…

  • Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters, including Newsday's Marc Carig (Twitter link) that Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan are the favorites to win the fifth spot in his rotation. MLB.com's Marty Noble writes that Collins is still considering Jenrry Mejia, though the youngster is more likely to be used in a long relief role out of Spring Training. Noble writes that the Mets feel that role would allow Mejia to continue to build arm strength and can also serve as a developmental tool.
  • ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin writes that Mike Piazza is in Mets camp to serve as a special instructor but says he's not looking to get into coaching on a full-time basis anytime soon. Piazza says he has a seven-month old son, so his focus appears to be on his family. Travis d'Arnaud calls Piazza's tutelage "a dream," as the Long Beach, Calif. native grew up idolizing Piazza as a Dodgers fan.
  • New Phillies hurler A.J. Burnett made his Spring Training debut over the weekend, and it came against his former club, the Pirates, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and Burnett himself both told Biertempfel that there was nothing weird about Burnett pitching against the Bucs instead of for them, and neither hinted at any ill will. Hurdle simply called the change "part of the game," and Burnett offered nothing but respect for his former club.
  • ESPN's Jayson Stark writes that although the Braves lost Tim Hudson to the Giants via free agency, talk that the club lacks an ace is overblown, as Kris Medlen has developed into that type of pitcher for the team. Assistant GM John Coppolella said of Medlen: "Look, the fact that he’s not 6 feet tall and that fact that he doesn't throw 95 [mph] makes it seem like he’s not a power guy, but he’s very good with what he does. … He’s a huge part of our staff. And we hope he will be for a long time."

NL East: Kimbrel, Burnett, Simmons, Dice-K

It has been a newsworthy Sunday in the NL East with the Braves extending closer Craig Kimbrel and the Phillies announcing the signing of A.J. Burnett. Here's the latest on those two deals and the rest of the division:

  • Kimbrel's agent David Meter called Braves GM Frank Wren one week ago and the extension was finalized Friday night, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney tweets the Kimbrel extension is a win-win for both sides.
  • The Kimbrel extension sets a good precedent for baseball because it will tamp down arbitration salaries for closers and it signals no closer will ever receive more than a four-year contract, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Insider subscription required).
  • Burnett told reporters, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Biertempfel, he chose Philadelphia because of its proximity (a 90-minute drive) to his home in Monkton, MD. "This is the first time in my career that I made a decision that wasn't about A.J. Burnett. It was about my wife. It was about my kids. It was about playing somewhere where I'm at home and I can still do what I love. And that feels good. It was a no-brainer to me."
  • Burnett says he didn't receive much interest from the Nationals and Orioles, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today
  • Phillies Assistant GM Scott Proefrock, who lives a mile away from Burnett, told FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal the behind-the-scenes story of how the signing came about. 
  • Shortstop Andrelton Simmons could be next in line to receive an extension from the Braves, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets the two sides have a difference of opinion on the 24-year-old's future offensive value.
  • O'Brien tweets it's safe to say the Braves will extend Simmons either this year or next.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka has a May 30 opt-out in his minor league deal with the Mets, tweets Sherman.

East Notes: Blue Jays, Mets, Phillies, Orioles

Here are some notes from around the game's eastern divisions: 

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos hopes his club can benefit from the qualifying offer system given its array of draft picks, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. With two protected first rounders, the Jays would stand to lose only a second-round choice by signing a free agent who comes burdened with draft pick compensation. "It's significant," said Anthopoulos. "I think if we had to give up a first round pick, it would changes thngs in a significant manner. I think that's where the draft pick compensation component is impacting some of these clubs." Though he said that "there's still value with the second round pick … and you still build that into an offer," Anthopoulos explained that "it's not close to the value of round one."
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is "still looking for more players," reports ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, but emphasized that he likes the club as currently constituted. "I think we've spent the fifth-most of any team in Major League Baseball on free agents this offseason," said Alderson. "And we might do something else before Spring Training starts."
  • Meanwhile, two New York starting pitching options — the recently signed John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka — have opt-out provisions in their contracts, Rubin reports. Lannan has a June 14 date in his deal, while Matsuzaka has the standard Type XX(B) contract (for minor league free agents with six-plus years of service), which includes a June 1 opt-out. 
  • The Phillies should act on their reported interest in free agent starter A.J. Burnett, opines Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. With Roberto Hernandez a puzzling addition and international signee Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez still a "huge wild card," in Zolecki's view, the Phils should go hard for Burnett unless the club really does not believe it is a likely contender.
  • We heard earlier today that the Orioles and Rays are also possible contender's for Burnett's services.
  • The Orioles are interested in bringing back Jason Hammel, but probably are not his likely landing spot since they would not guarantee him a starting role, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Baltimore executive VP Dan Duquette also acknowledged that "it would be nice" if the club could announce a significant addition at the team's fan event on Saturday, but of course emphasized that the event would not sway the decisionmaking.
  • Baltimore announced a pair of international signings: 17-year-old Mexican Carlos Diaz and 16-year-old Dominican Jomar Reyes. As MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports (Twitter links), both teenagers are expected to start out in the Gulf Coast League. Duquette said that multiple other clubs were involved, and labeled Diaz and Reyes as "potential everyday major league players that can hit in the middle of the lineup." The indicated said that the two received "substantial" bonuses, Connolly reports on Twitter.

Cafardo On Burnett, Tanaka, Morales, Matsuzaka

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checks in with GMs, players, writers, and scouts to help run down the best coaches in baseball.  On his list of bench coaches who are managers in waiting: Brad Mills of the Indians, Torey Luvullo of the Red Sox, Larry Bowa of the Phillies, Tim Flannery of the Giants, and the Brewers' Jerry Narron.  More from today's column..

  • The Pirates probably won’t go after a pitcher if A.J. Burnett retires.  Right now, Pittsburgh is looking for a full-time first baseman and would use the money that would have gone to the veteran toward that end.  Cafardo also notes that the Orioles could be a "wild card" in the situation since Burnett lives in Baltimore.  
  • While the bids of the other teams are still unknown, one GM threw out the following figures in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes: Yankees $155MM, Cubs $120MM, Diamondbacks $120MM, Dodgers $119MM, White Sox $100MM, Astros $100MM.
  • The Diamondbacks were head over heels for Tanaka, but the fact they weren’t on one of the coasts and they were in a smaller media market worked against them.
  • Scott Boras doesn't represent David Ortiz, but he tells Cafardo that he feels for them.  Boras sees some similarities between the Red Sox star and his own client Kendrys Morales.  Morales is seen by most clubs as a DH rather than a first baseman which is hurting his value.  Boras argues that Ortiz is the featured power hitter in Boston's lineup as a DH and believes that Morales can also provide value in that role.
  • There had been some talk that Daisuke Matsuzaka might go back to Japan to pitch, but the possibility of breaking into the Mets’ rotation with Matt Harvey out intrigued Matsuzaka enough to fight for a spot.
  • The Giants have been through a lot with Pablo Sandoval and even if he has a good season, this could be Pablo Sandoval's last in San Francisco.  Sandoval will be a free agent following the 2014 season.

Mets Re-Sign Daisuke Matsuzaka

4:19pm: Matsuzaka would earn $1.5MM if he lands in the big leagues, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

2:34pm: The Mets have re-signed right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the club announced on Twitter.

The 33-year-old Matsuzaka, a client of Relativity Baseball, started seven games down the strech for the Mets in 2013, posting a 4.42 ERA with 7.7 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 but a very low 28.3 percent ground-ball rate in 38 2/3 innings of work. Despite his extreme fly-ball tendencies, Matsuzaka managed to allow just four homers in those 38 2/3 frames (0.9 HR/9).

Matsuzaka came to the Mets after being granted his release from Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate. Though he posted a solid 3.92 ERA with 95 strikeouts against just 39 walks in 103 1/3 minor league innings for the Indians, Cleveland didn't have room in its rotation for him and allowed him to explore opportunities elsewhere.

The Red Sox originally signed Matsuzaka to a six-year, $52MM contract after winning exclusive negotiation rights by submitting a $51.11MM posting fee to Nippon Professional Baseball's Seibu Lions. Matsuzaka was regarded as the game's top prospect by Baseball America prior to his arrival. He didn't live up to those expectations, though he did enjoy a pair of solid seasons in Boston before injuries and ineffectiveness stalled his career. Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery midway through the 2011 season but is fully recovered from that procedure.

Matsuzaka figures to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation behind Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler. He'll likely face competition from the likes of John Lannan, Jenrry Mejia, Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero in Spring Training.


Quick Hits: Kershaw, Tanaka, Matsuzaka, Twins

Bargains abound on the free agent market, opines Doug Miller of MLB.com. Miller lists the following sleeper candidates for solid production in 2014: catcher Michael McKenry, first bagger Casey Kotchman, outfielders Chris Coghlan, Derrick Robinson, Grady Sizemore, and Tyler Colvin, and pitchers James McDonaldSuk-min Yoon, and David Aardsma. Here are a few more links to round out the day:

  • Ace Clayton Kershaw has had ongoing discussions with the Dodgers about an extension that could reach ten seasons with over a $30MM annual salary, says Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Club GM Ned Colletti said just recently that talks have been active, and of course the club reportedly extended Kershaw a $300MM offer during the 2013 season. Such a deal would make Kershaw the best paid player in baseball history, both in terms of total guarantee and annual salary.
  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers are still in on the biggest open market pitcher of the offseason, Masahiro Tanaka. As Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com explains, the Yankees have an urgent need for Tanaka, while the Dodgers more aptly want the hurler. If Los Angeles nevertheless outbids the Yanks for the Japanese star, says Saxon, it would represent a fundamental power shift in the game. 
  • You can count the Athletics out of the mix for Tanaka, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Though GM Billy Beane surprised many when he nabbed Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Slusser says that Oakland is not pursuing Tanaka.
  • Reports earlier this evening that Daisuke Matsuzaka had re-signed with the Mets proved untrue, as multiple reports made clear. But Matsuzaka still realistically could land in New York on a minor league deal, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. He would compete with in-house options for the club's fifth and final rotation slot.
  • The Twins have hit before on the international market, and may now have their eyes on a couple of Cuban pitchers. According to a report on Twitter from 1500 ESPN Darren Wolfson, Minnesota sent three scouts to Mexico to see hurlers Misael Siverio and Odrisamer Despaigne throw in a showcase.