David Freese Rumors

Yankees, Blue Jays Inquired On Kendrick; Angels May Hold

The Angels remain open, but not committed, to dealing second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese if they can bring back an arm, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The former is unsurprisingly drawing more interest at the moment, with the Yankees and Blue Jays among the teams that have inquired into his availability.

According to Heyman, the Halos are more likely than not to keep Kendrick. The 31-year-old is coming off of perhaps his best season as a professional. He will earn $9.5MM this year before hitting the open market.

Nevertheless, the team is still listening to proposals that would help bolster its rotation depth, which remains an area of focus. The club is comfortable considering that possibility due to the presence of Gordon Beckham, says Heyman, though he also seems to be a plausible non-tender candidate. Presumably, Grant Green could be a factor as well if the Angels create an opening up the middle.


Angels Likely To Trade Kendrick Or Freese

The Angels are likely to trade either second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Kendrick will make $9.5MM in the last season of a four-year deal after hitting .293/.347/.397 in 2014. Freese, who made $5.05MM last season after arriving from the Cardinals in a trade, will likely receive a raise in his last season of arbitration eligibility before free agency. He hit .261/.321/.383 in his first season in Anaheim.

The Angels would like to add starting pitching or left-handed relief help, and dealing a relatively expensive player in Kendrick or Freese would help with their luxury tax issues. Gordon Beckham, who the Angels acquired from the White Sox in a minor deal in August, could replace either player as a starter, or the Angels could use Grant Green at second. Beckham and Green would likely be downgrades, however, particularly if the Angels were to trade Kendrick.


AL West Notes: Avery, Freese, Trout

Let's take a look in at the American League West:

  • After being acquired at the trade deadline last year for Michael Morse, outfielder Xavier Avery of the Mariners has the attention of new manager Lloyd McClendon, reports MLB.com's Greg Johns. The speedy 24-year-old is very much in contention to join Seattle's outfield mix, said McClendon, who gushed that Avery "has a couple tools that are game-changing."
  • Another recently traded player, David Freese of the Angels, is all but assured a regular spot with his new club. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times recently reported, for Halos' GM Jerry Dipoto, getting Freese was in part about taking advantage of his former club's good work. "The Cardinals are in a pretty unique position of depth, like the Braves in the '90's," he explained. "That made Freese an expendable piece for them. Any time a player is traded, it doesn't mean it's a pending disaster for the other team." Dipoto said that the club is not expecting Freese to be "a gaudy, 30-home run third baseman," explaining that the team "understand[s] what we're getting."
  • The most irreplaceable player in the game, without question, is Angels center fielder Mike Trout. In an ESPN Insider piece, Dave Cameron argues that Trout should decline to accept an extension of the type rumored (giving up three or four years of free agency with a total $140MM to $170MM guarantee). As Cameron argues, Trout has done enough already that he'll earn a huge arbitration salary even if he suffers unexpected performance decline or takes a serious injury. With his downside protected in all but the most dramatic of scenarios, and the Angels' roster profile not inspiring much future confidence, Cameron says that the rewards are worth the risk of Trout waiting to sign a new deal.


Angels Avoid Arbitration With David Freese

The Angels have avoided arbitration with third baseman David Freese on a one-year, $5.05MM deal, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (via Twitter). The two sides bridged one of the largest relative gaps among big-value arbitration cases: Freese filed at $6MM, while the team countered at $4.1MM.

MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had pegged Freese's arbitration value at $4.4MM, which he beat by a fairly substantial margin. The Halos picked up Freese in an offseason swap for Peter Bourjos, who avoided arbitration with the Cardinals for $1.2MM. The third bagger will reach free agency after the 2015 season.

With Freese and Kevin Jepsen settling today, the Angels have no more remaining arbitration cases. 


Arbitration Filing Numbers

MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker is the place to go to see the arbitration contracts agreed upon thus far, as well as the figures exchanged between teams and players that were not able to reach agreement before today's noon deadline to swap salary positions. Matt Swartz's arbitration projections are available here.

As MLBTR has previously explained, 146 players officially filed for arbitration (after some eligible and tendered players had alread reached agreement). Of those, 40 players will exchange figures with their clubs. Of course, those players can still reach agreements before their hearings (which will take place betwee February 1st and 21st). If the case goes to a hearing, the arbitrator must choose one side's figures, rather than settling on a midpoint.

For the Braves players listed below, however, Atlanta says it will cease negotiations and take all cases to a hearing. Two other teams that have swapped figures with some players — the Nationals and Indians — also have employed variations of the "file and trial" approach with their arbitration cases.

Though a tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal indicates that the Reds have joined the list of teams employing "file and trial," GM Walt Jocketty did not seem to echo that position in comments today to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. It turns out that the team has only taken that position with respect to players whose deals were valued under the $2MM level, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

We will use this post to keep tabs on the the highest-stakes arbitration situations remaining — those where the player files for at least $4.5MM:


Cardinals, Angels Swap Freese For Bourjos In Four-Player Deal

The Angels and Cardinals have officially announced a trade that will send center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals in exchange for third baseman David Freese and right-hander Fernando SalasBourjos-Peter

Bourjos (pictured) turns 27 at the end of Spring Training and is a defensive wizard in center field that owns a career .251/.306/.398 batting line. He slashed .274/.333/.377 in an injury-shortened season after being hit by a pitch on the wrist and requiring surgery. He also posted an impressive .271/.327/.438 batting line with 12 homers and 22 steals in 2011, showing off that he's capable of being a plus offensive player in a full season as well. The speedster has a career 20.2 UZR/150 rating in more than 2,600 innings in center field. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $1.1MM salary for Bourjos in 2014.

Freese, 30, had a down season at the plate in 2013, slashing .262/.340/.381 with just nine homers. He was significantly better in 2012, when he belted 20 homers and batted .293/.372/.467 in 144 games. Freese is typically regarded as a solid defender at third base, but both The Fielding Bible and Ultimate Zone Rating graded his work poorly this season. Freese began the season on the DL with a back strain, and if that pain lingered throughout the season, it could explain his decline on both sides of the game. Swartz projects Freese to earn $4.4MM in 2014.

Grichuk, 22, was just added to the Halos' 40-man roster this week to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The Angels selected Grichuk 24th overall in the 2009 draft — their first of two consecutive picks. The second pick netted superstar Mike Trout. He ranks as Anaheim' No. 4 prospect, per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, who calls Grichuk "a solid defensive outfielder with a strong arm and still has the chance to be a good run-producing corner outfielder," noting that he's overcome injury issues that plagued him early in his career. Grichuk entered the season as the Angels' No. 6 prospect, per Baseball America, and BA's JJ Cooper tweets that he'd likely have ranked second on the upcoming 2014 version of the list. He's more likely to rank 10th on the Cardinals' list, adds Cooper.

Salas, 28, was solid in the first two seasons of his career with St. Louis but has struggled a bit more in 2012-13, posting a 4.36 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 86 2/3 innings. He's been a bit unfortunate in terms of balls in play and strand rate in the past two seasons, leading FIP to peg him at 3.60 in that same span. Swartz projects a $700K salary for Salas in 2014, as he will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter.

The Angels had a clear need at third base after trading Alberto Callaspo to the A's last July, and the Cardinals were in the market for a defensive upgrade from Jon Jay, whose center field defense has graded out as a negative over the course of his career. In that sense, the two sides line up well for a trade, though Freese comes with just two years of team control compared to Bourjos' three.

All told, the Angels are dealing three years of Bourjos and one of their top prospects for two years of Freese and three years of Salas in addition to agreeing to take on roughly $4MM in additional salary in the 2014 season.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Bourjos was headed to the Cardinals (on Twitter). MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez confirmed that the Angels would receive Freese in return. Yahoo's Tim Brown reported (via Twitter) that other players were involved, and the Angels would get Salas in the deal (Twitter link). Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was the first to report Grichuk's involvement (on Twitter).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Angels, Cardinals Have Discussed David Freese Trade

12:12pm: Rosenthal reports that the Cardinals are prioritizing outfield depth in their trade talks, and the two sides have not discussed shortstop Erick Aybar or the Cardinals' top young pitchers. The two sides are still in the "discussion phase," according to Rosenthal (Twitter links).

The Angels do have quite a bit of outfield depth, and names like Peter Bourjos, J.B. Shuck and Kole Calhoun could all make sense for the Cardinals. Of course, Mike Trout is unavailable.

9:43am: The Angels and Cardinals have had discussions about a trade that would send David Freese to the Angels, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

The Angels have been primarily focused on acquiring pitching this offseason, but they have a need at third base as well after trading Alberto Callaspo to the A's this July. Of course, it's possible that Anaheim GM Jerry Dipoto could try to convince the Cardinals to part with some of their young arms in the deal as well, though that's just my own speculation at this point.

Freese, 30, had a down season at the plate in 2013, slashing .262/.340/.381 with just nine homers. He was significantly better in 2012, when he belted 20 homers and batted .293/.372/.467 in 144 games. Freese is typically regarded as a solid defender at third base, but both The Fielding Bible and Ultimate Zone Rating graded his work poorly this season. Freese began the season on the DL with a back strain, and if that pain lingered throughout the season, it could explain his decline on both sides of the game.


East Notes: Orioles, Yankees, Marlins

Jason Coskrey looks at the history of the posting system in an article for The Japan Times, arguing that it offers little for Japanese players in its current incarnation. "The [Japan Professional Baseball Players Association] thinks the current system is like an auction in which players are treated as if they’re products," Executive Director Toru Matsubara says. The posting system is a hot topic as of late, as a retooling of the arrangement is currently being negotiated by MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball. However, if Japanese players seek more favorable terms, they'll have to fight for it, Coskrey says.

Let's take a look around the AL and NL East:

  • Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun dismisses suggestions that the Orioles should trade J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters before they reach free agency, writing that the defense they provide up the middle has been invaluable to the team's recent run of success. Instead, baseball operations head Dan Duquette is likely to look to supplement his current club with a midlevel free agent starter such as Tim Hudson, Schmuck writes.
  • Derek Jeter could consider a more limited role for the Yankees if doing so helped the team, his former manager Joe Torre suggests in an article by Brendan Kuty of NJ.com.
  • While painful, the 2012 trade that sent Marlins star Jose Reyes and others to the Blue Jays has positioned the team well for the future, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com says, writing that players such as Jake Marisnick could emerge as franchise cornerstones.
  • The Marlins aren't considering trading righty Nathan EovaldiFrisaro writes in his Fish Pond blog, and told teams so at the recent GM meetings. Starter Jacob Turner and first baseman Logan Morrison could become trade chips, however. The team is also considering whether Cardinals third baseman David Freese is an option for their third base job, Frisaro says.

Feinsand On Freese, Yankees, Ellsbury, Beltran

Here's a look at the latest from Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, with all links going to Twitter..

  • The Yankees are talking to the Cardinals about a deal for third baseman David Freese, a source tells Feinsand (via Twitter).  The Cardinals could theoretically part with Freese since they can move Matt Carpenter to third base and use Kolten Wong at second.  Freese, 30, would give the Yankees a solid plan B in the event that Alex Rodriguez's suspension is upheld.  Even if the suspension isn't upheld, A-Rod will probably have to play a good amount of DH.  Freese hit just .262/.340/.381 with nine homers last season but his career slash line of .286/.356/.427 is much stronger.
  • A source says the says Mariners have "no interest" in Jacoby Ellsbury but the Cubs appear to be stealthily waiting in the wings (link).  The Cubs are probably targeting 2015 to make a move towards contending but its possible that they'll look to make a splash this winter in advance of that.
  • According to Rangers source, the club is working to schedule Carlos Beltran for a visit to Dallas (link). Two other teams are believed to be working on the same thing.  Feinsand lists the Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Indians, and Mariners as the other clubs showing serious interest and notes that they're all AL clubs (link).

NL Central Links: Pirates, Walker, Freese, Beltran

We heard earlier today that the Brewers explored a trade for Mets first baseman Ike Davis but talks went nowhere, and that the Brew Crew aren't going to deal Norichika Aoki.  Let's check in elsewhere around the NL Central…

  • The Pirates have been looking at "high upside" starting pitchers in their initial round of free agent calls, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (Twitter link).
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that his team is open to discussing a long-term deal with second baseman Neil Walker, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports (Twitter link).
  • Also from Morosi (Twitter links), the Pirates will probably add a starter from outside the organization if A.J. Burnett retires or signs elsewhere.  Huntington said Burnett hasn't yet given the Pirates any indication if he will retire or pitch in 2014.
  • David Freese has seemingly gone from World Series hero to forgotten man in St. Louis.  Bernie Miklasz of the St Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the Cardinals' options with their once-star third baseman and where he fits into the club's plans.
  • It has been assumed that Carlos Beltran will leave the Cardinals this winter but GM John Mozeliak tells reporters (including MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch) that it isn't quite a done deal.  "I still think it's a situation where the door's open but we haven't made any decisions either way. In time, we'll see," Mozeliak said.
  • Jed Hoyer isn't surprised by the Jeff Samardzija trade talk, the Cubs general manager tells reporters (including ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers).  “Teams know we’ve had discussions with him and we haven’t signed him.  That's part of it," Hoyer said.  "I think teams will certainly inquire about him.  He’s really proved over the last two years he has great stuff and is a tough competitor. I think teams will ask us about him so to that extent there could be rumors."  Samardzija is reportedly unlikely to sign an extension and he has been linked to the Nationals and Diamondbacks in recent rumors.
  • Also from Hoyer, he says the Cubs will be looking to add veterans to replace Alfonso Soriano and David DeJesus' clubhouse leadership.
  • Chicago native Curtis Granderson would be a big addition both on and off the field for Cubs or White Sox, yet as CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes notes, both teams' focus on adding younger talent makes them hesitant to give up the second round draft pick it would take to sign Granderson.