Daisuke Matsuzaka Rumors
Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan had dinner with principal owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson Friday night to discuss his future role with the franchise. Simpson called the meeting "productive" while Ryan remained silent until today when he released a statement through the team. "Over the last week, Ray Davis, Bob Simpson, and I have been in discussion and met in-person. The conversations have been productive, and we have discussed my role as CEO of the organization. We agreed these discussions will continue as we go forward. I am very proud of what the Rangers have accomplished over the last several years, and I believe our preparations for upcoming season are what is important." Sources have told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Ryan could leave after he fulfills his two remaining team obligations: in San Antonio for the Rangers' two exhibition games there March 29-30 and in Houston during the Rangers' season-opening series against the Astros. In other news and notes from the American League:
- Rick Porcello became the first Tiger pitcher to pitch five innings this spring, allowing no runs on three hits while striking out four. George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press tweets Porcello was happy to discuss his outing, but refused to comment on the many trade rumors surrounding him.
- J.A. Happ, also a subject of trade rumors, is frustrated by his role with the Blue Jays and sees himself as a Major League starting pitcher, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm (Twitter links). Happ, as quoted by Chisholm on Twitter, realizes he is auditioning for other teams, "I know there are other people in the stands as well so I'm trying to just keep my routine and we'll see what happens."
- Indians manager Terry Francona has named Zach McAllister as the team's fourth starter, the Associated Press reports (via the Boston Herald). If the Indians choose to start Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, and Corey Kluber in the minors, the leading veteran candidates for the final spot are Scott Kazmir and Daisuke Matsuzaka, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer who would put his money on Kazmir.
Teams hoping to trade for Chase Headley will have to wait -- at least for a few months. Padres general manager Josh Byrnes told Peter Gammons of MLB Network that San Diego executives have worked hard to assemble an improved offensive team. “We're not breaking it up now," Byrnes said (Twitter links). As Gammons notes, it’s possible the Padres will re-consider their stance in July. Here are some notes from around MLB...
- Carlos Marmol’s name surfaced in trade talk this week, but said today that he expects to be with the Cubs all year despite the rumors. "I don't believe in anything," he said, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter).
- Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he intends to keep managing as long as he can, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). "I'm not retiring, whether we win or we don't win," Leyland said. The 68-year-old obtained a one-year contract from the Tigers after leading the team to the World Series.
- Many of the teams expected to contend in 2013 are already facing significant questions, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes. The Tigers (closer), Cardinals (shortstop), Yankees (lineup), Rangers (rotation) and Dodgers (outfield) have issues to address this spring.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka can opt out of his deal with the Indians on March 26th, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
Here's the latest from around the AL Central...
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski admitted to reporters (including Lynn Henning of the Detroit News) that teams had been calling him about the Tigers' starting pitching depth. The Rangers reportedly asked about Rick Porcello earlier this week and several teams have shown interest in the right-hander throughout the offseason.
- Dombrowski and Jim Leyland revealed no new details about the Tigers' closer situation other than saying that rookie Bruce Rondon is still very much a candidate for the job despite struggling in four Spring Training outings.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn discussed Chris Sale's extension with reporters (including MLB.com's Scott Merkin) and likes that the team was able to lock up a potential ace at what could end up being a bargain price. "Obviously this past offseason was a pretty robust one in terms of where the compensation was going. So being able to lock something down before there was further escalation in Chris' market had a lot of appeal to us," Hahn said.
- Scott Kazmir can opt out of his minor league deal with the Indians if he isn't on their Major League roster by April 2, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). Daisuke Matsuzaka, another Tribe minor league signing, also has an opt-out date "about the same time."
- Unless Justin Morneau improves on his 2012 numbers, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities feels the Twins will struggle to get "anything significant" for the slugger in a possible trade, and could have to settle for a trade package similar to what they received for Francisco Liriano last summer. Morneau hit .267/.333/.440 with 19 home runs in 570 PA in 2012 and is entering his last season under contract with Minnesota. Mackey also discusses the Twins payroll, various roster decisions and other topics during this chat with fans.
The latest links from around MLB...
- The Indians are getting calls on Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs following their four-year deal with Michael Bourn, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Though the Indians currently plan to keep both Brantley and Stubbs, some people suspect Stubbs will be dealt.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka said part of the reason he signed with the Indians was the chance to compete against his former team, the Red Sox, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).
- Andrew Bailey told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that he loves playing with the Red Sox, even if he's not the team's closer.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't sure if Andy Pettitte will retire after 2013, Jack Curry of the YES Network reports (Twitter links). "I think Andy still loves to compete," Girardi said, acknowledging that it’ll ultimately be up to the left-hander himself. Pettitte will celebrate his 41st birthday this summer and while he doesn’t seem ready to retire, he said he doesn’t intend to decide until after the 2013 season.
- Mariano Rivera said he has decided whether 2013 will be his final season, according to Curry (Twitter links). The Yankees closer won’t reveal his decision just yet, but will do so before the regular season begins.
- Homer Bailey said he and the Reds would prefer to avoid an arbitration hearing if possible, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports. “It’s kind of a slow process. We’ll see how it goes and go from there,” Bailey said. The right-hander has a hearing scheduled for Monday after filing for $5.8MM. The Reds, who recently avoided arbitration with Mat Latos and Shin-Soo Choo, offered $4.75MM.
The Indians announced that they have officially signed Daisuke Matsuzaka to a minor league contract with a Spring Training invitation. Matsuzaka will make a $1.5MM base salary if he makes the team, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (on Twitter). Matsuzaka, a Scott Boras client, can earn up to $4MM on the deal, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
The deal reunites the former Red Sox right-hander with manager Terry Francona. Matsuzaka has made just 18 big league starts over the last two seasons thanks to Tommy John surgery. For his six years in Boston, the Japanese import owns a 4.52 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. He also earned nearly $52MM as a member of the Red Sox.
Heyman first reported the sides had agreed to a deal (Twitter link).
- New York GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets will probably be done adding to their bullpen, assuming the deal with Lyon goes through, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports (Twitter links). The club had interest in a number of relievers as recently as last week, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork reported.
- Alderson sounds serious about pursuing free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, DiComo reports. However, the GM said the Mets could end up going to Spring Training with their current roster. The Mets have sincere interest in Bourn, but don't intend to forfeit the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft to complete a deal with the Scott Boras client.
- One Mets official indicated to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the team has no interest in Daisuke Matsuzaka (Twitter link). Cafardo reported yesterday that teams like the Astros and Mets were considering the possibility of bringing the free agent right-hander to camp.
Economist Andrew Zimbalist says Terry Francona's portrayal of the Red Sox ownership group in his new book gives an unfair representation of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino's level of investment in the team, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “I think they’re all really smart. And I think they all really do love baseball, and I think they understand the intricacies of baseball,” said Zimbalist. “John Henry is a stats guy. John Henry brought Bill James to Boston — along with some other very good sabermetricians, by the way."
Here's the latest stories and headlines making news out of the AL and NL East Divisions...
- Former Mets prospect Scott Kazmir will attempt to make a return to the big leagues this season and believes he can regain the form that made him an All-Star with the Rays, writes Mark Hale of the New York Post.“If his velocity’s back and his confidence is back,” Kazmir’s former pitching coach with the Angels, Mike Butcher, said, “this guy still could be an impact in the major leagues.”
- Daisuke Matsuzaka remains on the Mets' radar as he could be an option for either the starting rotation or in the bullpen, write Matthew Cerrone and Michael Baron of MetsBlog.com. Matsuzaka, 32, just completed a six-year, $52MM contract with the Red Sox.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman celebrates 15 years in his current post with New York today, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. The hiring of the former Catholic University second baseman in 1998 marked owner George Steinbrenner's 14th general manager in 25 years.
The Yankees will face an uphill battle if they attempt to void Alex Rodriguez's contract due to his alleged ties to a Miami PED clinic. The use of banned substances alone may not be enough to 86 a contract, but a former agent tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that they could try to prove there was fraud prior to the contract being signed. In that situation, the Bombers would try to show that A-Rod lied about taking PEDs and therefore the contract was agreed to under false pretenses. Here's more from today's column, with a heavy dose of news on current and former members of the Red Sox..
- There has been speculation that the Mets are trying to get MLB to allow them to keep their first-round pick if they sign Michael Bourn. According to a Mets source, they are still trying to determine whether they can get him to sign and they'll only go all out on the compensation issue if they determine that they can.
- A few teams contacted the Red Sox about left-hander Franklin Morales this winter and a few others are watching him closely in spring training. Teams are intrigued by Morales’s starting capability and are especially interested to see if he can consistently maintain his 96 mph fastball over a full outing. If Gio Gonzalez winds up being penalized for his alleged link to the PED clinic in Miami, Cafardo believes that the Nationals may be interested in Morales.
- Andrew Bailey is another Red Sox pitcher who will be watched by scouts. There are still teams out there who could use a closer like the Tigers and Mets and Boston might listen for the right return.
- A few teams are interested in signing Hideki Okajima to a minor league deal, but he hasn’t made up his mind yet. The left-hander was recently released by his Japanese team so that he could pursue a return to the majors.
- Teams like the Astros and Mets are kicking around the possibility of bringing Daisuke Matsuzaka to camp to see if he can recapture the form he had in his first two seasons in Boston. He could also head back to Japan if he doesn't feel that he has a good chance of making a big league roster. Last month, a Mets insider told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that he didn't believe the club reached out to Matsuzaka.
- Derek Lowe wants to be a starting pitcher, but it appears that he will have to go settle for being a swingman. The Mets and the Astros are possibilities.
Rafael Soriano recently agreed to a two-year, $28MM contract with the Nationals, obtaining the second-largest deal signed by an NL East team this winter. Within the division B.J. Upton’s $75MM guarantee with the Braves remains the only deal that surpasses Soriano’s $28MM agreement. Here are some links from the NL East, starting in Washington...
- Agents and GMs are assessing the present day value of Soriano’s deal at $11MM per season, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). Half of Soriano’s $14MM salary will be deferred each year.
- Washington has drafted well under GM Mike Rizzo, but trades have also played a vital role in transforming the Nationals into one of baseball's best teams, as Zachary Levine of Baseball Prospectus explains.
- One Mets insider told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork that he doesn’t believe the team has spoken to free agent starter Daisuke Matsuzaka “at all.” New York executives are looking to round out the team’s rotation, but not necessarily with the Japanese right-hander. Matsuzaka, 32, has interest in pitching for the Padres.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at the best big league rosters as we head into 2013. The Nationals top the list as their addition of Denard Span in the leadoff spot made an already strong roster even more impressive. The Reds are second after adding Shin-Soo Choo to the fold. The Blue Jays are only in fifth after annexing a big chunk of the Marlins' roster and the Dodgers rank sixth despite having the highest payroll in baseball. Here's more from today's column..
- When asked if he thought there was any match on a Justin Upton deal with the Red Sox, Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers responded, “Probably not.” Upton would be a fit for the Red Sox, but it could mean giving up prospects such as Xander Bogaerts and Matt Barnes, as ESPN's Jim Bowden recently suggested. Upton is an underachieving player who has frustrated his bosses in Arizona and the Red Sox want something better for those prospects.
- The Marlins have put out word that Giancarlo Stanton is going nowhere, but that hasn’t stopped some teams from trying to put together a package to obtain him. A big league source says that's expected to continue. Teams have also called on righty Ricky Nolasco and the right package for him could net a team a decent starter.
- The Dodgers may jump in on Kyle Lohse, even with Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang slated for the back end of the rotation. The Tigers could also be a possibility as they listen on offers for Rick Porcello.
- People like Brett Myers and what he can bring either as a starter or reliever but he's still on the open market. “The feeling is he’s been asking for too much money,” said an NL GM. “I think teams are waiting for the price to come down. He can certainly help a team. I think a lot of teams have him on a wish list.”
- In his introductory presser, Cody Ross said that right field is his least favorite position. Cafardo theorizes that this could be the reason why the Red Sox wouldn't go beyond two years for him. Ross inked a three-year, $26MM contract with Arizona earlier this month.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka prefers to stay in the US, but Japan may not be out of the question, depending on what type of deal he gets. He likes the Padres, but so far there’s no indication that the feeling is mutual.
- Opinions are mixed on the potential of first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands, who has been traded from the Dodgers to the Red Sox to the Pirates. “He’s one of those guys who could all of a sudden put up a big year if he gets the chance to play every day,” said one AL GM. “Don’t think he’ll be that effective off someone’s bench. He’s got to get into a rhythm at the plate and when he does, he can hit.”
- Hideki Matsui will likely manage the Yomiuri Giants someday, though for now it appears that he will live with his family in the US. The slugger announced his retirement in a press conference late last week.