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