Daisuke Matsuzaka Rumors

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.

NL East Links: Izturis, Mets, Colon, Arroyo, O’Flaherty

The Marlins have made the most headlines in the NL East today, agreeing to terms with Garrett Jones and talking trades with a number of teams regarding Logan Morrison. There's a lot more going on in the NL East though, and here's a rundown of some news from today…

  • The Mets have already had internal discussions regarding Cesar Izturis and plan to meet with his agent in the coming days, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter). Izturis batted just .209/.259/.271 in his age-33 season with the Reds in 2013.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that the Mets aren't likely to sign Bartolo Colon or Bronson Arroyo and instead figure to look at back-end type starters like Daisuke Matsuzaka"We'd be hesitant to give a multi-year deal (to a pitcher), but that doesn't mean we wouldn't," GM Sandy Alderson told Martino. Alderson said he's also had recent discussions with Johan Santana's agent.
  • The Nationals aren't interested in adding another catcher at this time, tweets Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington. GM Mike Rizzo believes that Wilson Ramos can catch 125 games next season, though he's never appeared in more than 113 games in a single Major League season.
  • The Nationals have been linked to Eric O'Flaherty a number of times already, but a source told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that that issue will be addressed "down the road." O'Flaherty told Ladson in a phone interview that he's open to going anywhere and also spoke highly of Washington's group of young talent.
  • Adding a lefty reliever is one of Rizzo's top priorities, but a deal may not get done this week, reports Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Rizzo added that in an ideal world, they'd add more than a lefty specialist, landing someone who can also get right-handed hitters out as well.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he doesn't envision making a move to acquire a front-line player (Twitter link). "I see more support (type) moves," Wren told O'Brien, which O'Brien speculates could mean a power bat for the bench and depth for the bullpen and rotation.

East Notes: Nationals, Price, Wheeler, Matsuzaka

The Nationals do not plan on making huge changes this offseason, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. They will, of course, hire a new manager to replace the retiring Davey Johnson, and they'll also look for left-handed relief help, perhaps, as Comak suggests, from someone like J.P. Howell or Oliver Perez. Other than that, they're mostly happy with the roster they have. "But I think the team, as far as the core group, is set up pretty good. The core rotation and the core bullpen is set up pretty good," GM Mike Rizzo says. The Nationals could take a shot at someone like David Price of the Rays to improve their rotation, but that doesn't appear likely, given the cost it would take to get him. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • If the Mets want to contend in the NL East next year, they should think about dealing Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. For example, Martino suggests dealing Wheeler to the Rays in deal for Price might make sense if Price is willing to agree to a contract extension. Chris Sale of the White Sox might also be a possibility. Alternatively, Martino suggests the Mets could trade Wheeler for a hitter and then acquire Ervin Santana or Matt Garza as a free agent instead.
  • Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is now represented by Mark Pieper and SFX, Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal writes (on Twitter). Scott Boras was Matsuzaka's previous agent. Matsuzaka posted a 4.42 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 38 2/3 innings for the Mets in 2013.

AL West Notes: Angels, Rangers, Matsuzaka

The Angels' apparent dysfunction seems to stretch back years, judging from a report by Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Miller reports that, in 2011, owner Arte Moreno threatened to fire then-GM Tony Reagins if he couldn't trade for outfielder Vernon Wells within 24 hours, effectively backing Reagins into a corner. That might partially explain the remarkable, and disastrous, result, which had the Angels taking on $81MM of the $86MM remaining on Wells' contract, while also giving up Mike Napoli in the process. The Jays, meanwhile, traded Napoli to the Rangers for Frank Francisco and cash.

Miller reports that Moreno's motivation for the Wells ultimatum was that he was upset that Texas had acquired Adrian Beltre weeks earlier. As a result, not only did the Angels take on $81MM in salary, they also set in motion a chain of events in which their division rivals also ended up with Napoli, who was one of the best hitters in baseball that season. Here are more notes from the AL West.

  • The Rangers were interested in Daisuke Matsuzaka, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Matsuzaka, who had previously been released by the Indians, recently signed with the Mets, with whom, Heyman notes, he could receive more playing time.
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik still won't confirm recent reports that he has received an extension for 2014, MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets. Zduriencik does, however, say he's "raring to go" for 2014. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, meanwhile, tweets that there's "some debate" about whether team president Chuck Armstrong ever confirmed the extension.

Mets To Sign Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Mets have agreed to a Major League deal with right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The 32-year-old Matsuzaka, who asked for his release from the Indians on Tuesday, will go directly to the big leagues with New York, Heyman adds.

Matsuzaka, who is represented by Scott Boras, posted a 3.92 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 103 1/3 innings for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers this season. Prior to his release, he'd been particularly effective, pitching to a 2.17 ERA with a 39-to-8 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings in seven starts. The Mets have recently lost Jeremy Hefner and Jenrry Mejia to injuries, so taking a flier on Matsuzaka makes sense for GM Sandy Alderson.

Quick Hits: Morneau, Matsuzaka, Red Sox, Padres

We'll round out the evening with some links from around baseball:

  • With a big night at the plate putting an exclamation point on his torrid run over August, Twins first baseman Justin Morneau is drawing increased attention on the trade market, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson reports on Twitter. According to a source, the resurgent Yankees are "back in" on Morneau, which could also increase the pressure on the Orioles to make a move on the veteran slugger. The Yanks are now just one game back of Baltimore, though both clubs have significant ground to gain in both the AL East and Wild Card hunt.
  • Recently-released pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka expects to link up with a new team shortly with the hopes of returning to the big leagues, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. In a series of tweets, Miller quotes Indians GM Chris Antonetti: "We didn't have an immediate opportunity. Dice-K was throwing well in Triple-A and thought he may have a better opportunity." 
  • One team that will not be in on Matsuzaka is the Brewers, reports Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. GM Doug Melvin did say that Dice-K's agent, Scott Boras, had reached out to Milwaukee. "I told Boras I didn't have a spot for him," said Melvin. "We already have six starters for September."
  • Looking ahead at the first base position for the Red Sox in 2014, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says he expects the club to "stay in-house" rather than chasing a new player such as Jose Dariel Abreu. Cafardo opines that the club is most likely to shift Will Middlebrooks to first or employ a platoon of Daniel Nava and Mike Carp. Cafardo finds it less likely that Mike Napoli will be re-signed, but says a big September could lead the club in that direction.
  • Mike Dee, the new president and CEO of the Padres, says that the club is poised to "invest more in the team moving forward," reports MLB.com's AJ Cassavell. Emphasizing that dealing with the team's less-than-perfect TV situation will be "a priority," Dee said that the baseball operations focus will be "to draft well and to develop [the team's] own talent." For his part, GM Josh Byrnes explained that more money did not just mean more big league spending: "Payroll is certainly part of it. But it's also investment spending, whether it's player development, medical or the international side; anything that we can do to give ourselves a better chance to produce talent."

Indians Release Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Indians have granted Daisuke Matsuzaka his unconditional release upon his request, the team announced on Twitter. Cleveland released Matsuzaka near the end of Spring Training, but he worked out a new minor league deal with the team shortly after.

The 32-year-old Matsuzaka posted a 3.92 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 103 1/3 innings for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers this season. He's been particularly effective over his past seven starts, pitching to a 2.17 ERA with a 39-to-8 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings.

This year marks Matsuzaka's first state-side season with an organization other than the Red Sox. Tommy John surgery and a back injury limited him to just 83 innings from 2011-12, and he missed more than a month at Triple-A with a forearm strain. His recent success and the fact that he asked for his release seem to suggest that he could find a Major League opportunity elsewhere.

Indians Re-Sign Matsuzaka, Capps

The Indians re-signed pitchers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Matt Capps to minor league deals, according to a press release.  The pair had been released recently so the team could avoid paying them $100K retention bonuses.  It looks like they'll head to Columbus, providing the organization with veteran depth for the rotation and bullpen.