David Ortiz Rumors

AL East Notes: Orioles, Melky, Ortiz

Miguel Gonzalez‘s name was mentioned in trade rumors this summer (most notably as part of a possible Jon Lester package) and yet as MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko points out, Gonzalez’s recent success could be another example of “how sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.”  The Orioles right-hander has a 2.00 ERA over his last nine starts, including a complete game shutout of the Reds last Wednesday.  Gonzalez has been a solid piece of the O’s rotation for the last three years and has a 3.38 ERA over 136 IP this season, which I suspect will earn him a nice salary bump this winter when he is arbitration-eligible for the first time.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Also from Kubatko, the Orioles are “hesitant” about making a long-term commitment to Nelson Cruz.  Though the O’s have recently had some light negotiations with Cruz’s representation about a new contract, it isn’t hard to see why the club would be wary of guaranteeing multiple years to a 34-year-old who is a defensive liability and has a PED history.  Of course, Cruz’s bat looks as potent as ever, given his .862 OPS and a league-high 39 homers this season.  As you would expect, a one-year “qualifying offer appeals to the Orioles,” Kubatko writes, though surely Cruz feels his production merits a longer deal.
  • Melky Cabrera has been scouted by at least one NL team for the last three weeks, Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair reports.  One of those scouts tells Blair that his team could be willing to offer Cabrera something in the neighborhood of a four-year, $53MM contract in free agency this winter, a deal akin to what Jhonny Peralta received from the Cardinals last offseason.  Peralta’s deal was front-loaded, and Blair opines that a similarly-structured deal could await Cabrera given that both players have a PED suspension on their records.
  • Blair also can’t figure out why the Blue Jays haven’t already re-signed Cabrera for 2015 and beyond, given how well the outfielder has hit this year.  Cabrera, who is done for the season after fracturing his pinky finger on Friday night, has expressed an interest in staying in Toronto.
  • It’s been a tiring season for David Ortiz, as the Red Sox slugger tells ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald that “it wears you out more than when you know you’re going to the playoffs — believe it or not. It wears you out more than when you know you have more games to play.”  Ortiz isn’t sure how much longer he’ll play beyond 2015 (the end of his current contract), though when he does he hang it up, he said he’ll do it in the offseason rather than announce his retirement a year in advance like Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera.
  • Red Sox righty Joe Kelly and the OriolesAndrew Miller were two trade deadline acquisitions that have worked out very well for their teams, Peter Gammons writes in his latest piece for Gammons Daily.  Boston hopes Kelly can be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter in their 2015 rotation while Miller has continued his superb season since joining Baltimore’s pen.
  • Also from Gammons, if the Orioles don’t bring back Nick Markakis, one possible replacement could be prospect Mike Yastrzemski.  A 14th-round draft pick in 2013, Yastrzemski (Carl’s grandson) hit .288/.346/.490 with 14 homers, 34 doubles and 16 triples in 594 PA over three minor league levels this season, though he has yet to reach Triple-A.

Red Sox Extend David Ortiz Through 2015

USATSI_7801447The Red Sox have announced that they've signed David Ortiz to a one-year extension through 2015, with a team/vesting option for 2016 and a team option for 2017. Ortiz will reportedly receive $16MM next year, which (as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes on Twitter) matches the 2015 salary of Mike Napoli, the team's highest-paid player.

The options are designed to change in value based upon playing time (unlike the escalating terms of his prior deal, which were tied to time spent on the DL). For 2016, if Ortiz falls shy of 425 plate appearances the option will be a straight, $10MM club option. If he reaches that mark, the option vests and becomes guaranteed at $11MM. An additional $1MM guarantee is tacked on at each of the following PA thresholds: 475, 525, 550, 575, and 600. For the 2017 option, the value moves in the precisely the same way, except that it has no vesting element.

"With this agreement, we have near certainty that David Ortiz will finish his career in a Red Sox uniform, which is something we have all wanted and that we are all proud of," said Red Sox owner John Henry. "It is difficult to describe David’s contributions to our city both on the field and off the field, and we are so proud to have this ambassador of our game with us as he continues on this road to Cooperstown."

Though he's entering his age-38 season, Ortiz is fresh off yet another outstanding season at the plate in which he batted .300/.395/.564 with 30 homers in 600 plate appearances. Big Papi has been vocal about wanting to work out a one-year extension to remain with the club and has not shied away from telling reporters that he feels he's earned another significant payday as "The Man" in Boston's lineup at an age where many have been reduced to complementary roles. It's hard to argue that Ortiz's production isn't worthy of that salary, as he's been at least 34 percent better than a league-average hitter in each season from 2010-13, according to OPS+ and wRC+.

Via Twitter, ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes was the first to report the two sides had reached agreement on an extension. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported that Ortiz would receive $16MM in 2015. FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi tweeted the extension could include a club option for 2016, which would become a vesting player option based on plate appearances. Edes tweeted there was also an option for 2017. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first tweeted details of the vesting and escalator provisions of the option years, with Alex Speier WEEI.com reporting the full terms of the options. 

Steve Adams, Charlie Wilmoth, and Jeff Todd contributed to this post. Photo by USA Today Sports Images.


Cafardo On Davis, Hanrahan, Worley, Hill

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders why pitchers seem to be hitting the disabled list at a higher rate throughout the minor and major leagues.  Not only are young pitchers including Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, and Bruce Rondon undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring, but Medlen and Beachy are actually having the surgery for a second time.  “I think pitchers are getting abused at a younger age,” Hall of Famer Tom Glavine told Cafardo. “Most of them are max-effort guys, so it reaches the point where the stress finally causes a breaking point.”  More from today's column..

  • The Mets do not anticipate a deal involving first baseman Ike Davis.  The Mets resumed gauging interest in Davis last week but so far, no inquiries have really blown them away.  The Orioles are still among the clubs with interest.
  • Joel Hanrahan has shifted his training base to Tampa, moving toward his first showcase for teams, which should happen shortly.  The Red Sox have some interest in bringing back Hanrahan, but with teams like the Tigers, Orioles, and Yankees in need of back-end relievers, he probably won't wind up back in Boston.
  • Twins pitcher Vance Worley, who is out of options, was placed on waivers Friday, then outrighted to Triple-A when he cleared.  Minnesota may still deal Worley and a return to the Phillies would not be out of the question.


Red Sox, Ortiz Nearing Extension; Talks With Lester Intensify

6:02pm: A "significant gap" still remains between the Sox and Lester, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

2:37pm: Lester says that he and the Red Sox have made progress on an extension but are "not in the red zone," tweets Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald adds that Lester is willing to continue negotiating into the season if the two sides can reach the "five-yard line" prior to Opening Day (Twitter link). WEEI.com's Rob Bradford spoke with a team source who feels that both Lester and Ortiz will have new contracts prior to Opening Day, though nothing is imminent with Lester.

12:31pm: The Red Sox are nearing a one-year contract extension believed to be in the neighborhood of $15MM with David Ortiz, according to Sean McAdam of Comcast SportsNet New England, and talks with lefty Jon Lester have intensified as well. Ortiz's contract could be completed before the end of this weekend, according to McAdam's source.

Though he's entering his age-38 season, Ortiz is fresh off yet another outstanding season at the plate in which he batted .300/.395/.564 with 30 homers in 600 plate appearances. Big Papi has been vocal about wanting to work out a one-year extension to remain with the club and has not shied away from telling reporters that he feels he's earned another significant payday as "The Man" in Boston's lineup at an age where many have been reduced to complementary roles. It's hard to argue that Ortiz's production isn't worthy of that salary, as he's been at least 34 percent better than a league-average hitter in each season from 2010-13, according to OPS+ and wRC+.

McAdam writes that the average annual value of an eventual Lester extension will be in the $20MM range, though the two sides have yet to agree to the number of years. After a disappointing 2012 season, the 30-year-old Lester enjoyed a nice rebound campaign when he turned in a 3.75 ERA with 7.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 45 percent ground-ball rate in 213 1/3 innings. He's said on multiple occasions this offseason that he would take less money to stay in Boston, at one point stating: "I want to be here 'til they rip this jersey off my back." He's currently slated to join James Shields, Max Scherzer and Justin Masterson atop next year's class of free agent pitchers, but that's looking less and less likely as Opening Day draws near.


AL East Notes: Ortiz, Sizemore, Machado, O’s, Oviedo

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino chatted with Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com yesterday and informed Edes that his club and designated hitter David Ortiz have continued to work on an extension over the past few weeks. Ortiz himself told Edes that things were looking good in extension talks, and Edes feels that there's "little doubt" the two parties will agree on a new contract, perhaps before the end of Spring Training.

More news and rumors out of the AL East as you gear up for the weekend…

  • MLB.com's Phil Rogers takes a look at Grady Sizemore's remarkable Spring Training, noting that the former Indians All-Star is improbably closing in on a job as Boston's Opening Day center fielder. Rogers offers several quotes from manager John Farrell, who was the Indians' director or player development when Sizemore was working his way through their minor league ranks.
  • Stephania Bell of ESPN.com reports that Dr. Neal ElAttrache has lifted all physical restrictions for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado in his rehab from last season's knee injury. Machado has been slowed a bit by mild calf and hamstring strains but is nonetheless free to proceed to the final stages of his rehab. Opening Day is still questionable for the 2013 All-Star, however.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter was irritated that ESPN received quotes from ElAttrache before the doctor had relayed the information to himself and the team, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Connolly adds that the Orioles might keep Machado playing in minor league games so they can increase the amount of at-bats he gets and also back-date a potential DL stint earlier so that he can be activated before the 15th day of the regular season if ready.
  • Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that he's proud of his scouting and player development departments, as they've taken a bottom-three farm system and progressively improved it. Asked if he felt that the club's core players would be homegrown five years from now, Duquette said, "That is the only way to do it. I don't know any other way to do it."
  • After arriving to camp late due to a visa issue, Juan Carlos Oviedo threw a simulated game to live hitters yesterday, according to MLB.com's Bill Chastain. However, Rays manager Joe Maddon still thinks it could be a long-shot for Oviedo to make the club. Said Maddon: "It became obvious, in spite of the fact that he's throwing the ball well, what really comes rushing to your mind is this guy hasn't been pitching in a while. … And so now you're going to rush him back under these circumstances? It might not be a good idea."

AL East Notes: Ramirez, Ortiz, Britton, Hardy

Manny Ramirez last saw MLB action with the Rays (briefly), and of course will always be associated with the Red Sox. As he continues to look for another chance at the bigs, the slugger spoke with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, acknowledging and expressing contrition for his prior PED use. Ramirez says he could play a role similar to that of Raul Ibanez on the field and in the clubhouse. Here are some notes from around the American League East:

  • Always-interesting Red Sox slugger David Ortiz says that he faces an unprecedented amount of responsibility to lead the way in the lineup, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. "I'll give it a try, but I don't think there's a baseball player that has lived through this pressure at my age," said Ortiz. "Think about it. Guys my age are supposed to be complementary players. Nobody signs guys my age to be 'The Man.'" The 38-year-old, of course, is entering the final year of his current contract, and there has been no word of progression on extension negotiations.
  • The Orioles are looking at out-of-options pitcher Zach Britton in different roles in anticipation of a possible move to the pen, reports Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Britton, a 26-year-old lefty, has been mentioned as a possible trade chip for Baltimore. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently explained in addressing the O's out-of-options players, the team faces a roster crunch that will require it to make some tough calls on a number of players, Britton among them.
  • There is still no movement on the extension situation of Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, writes MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski. Hardy comes across as somewhat frustrated with having to deal with speculation, noting that his previous extension came about in short order. "There has been not much talk at all," he said. "I don't know what they're thinking. The ball is in their court if they want me. They know I like it here." Hardy also added that he would want to address his long-term position before inking a new deal. "If there are any intentions at all of signing me to a long-term deal and wanting Manny to move over to short I would definitely want to know that before," he explained, "because, yeah, I still feel like I can play shortstop and that is what I want to do."

AL East Notes: Rays, Lowe, Peralta, Napoli, Ortiz

If David Price isn't traded, "almost every baseball person one talks to mentions the Rays as the team to beat in the American League," Peter Gammons writes in his latest piece for his Gammons Daily website.  Price has stayed in the fold despite multiple trade rumors this winter, with the Rays instead adding roster depth instead of moving another cornerstone player for prospects.  The depth and continuity carrying over from 2013 is a big factor for Evan Longoria, who notes that "for the first time since I’ve been here, we have almost everyone back. We have a team that is going to play together two years in a row.”

Here's some more from around the AL East…

  • The Rays' "laid back environment" was a key reason why Mark Lowe chose to sign a minor league deal with the club, MLB.com's Bill Chastain reports.  Lowe notes that his choice came down to the Rays and Indians this winter, as those were the two clubs who "pushed the hardest" for his services.  Tampa manager Joe Maddon said that the Rays originally tried to sign Lowe during the 2012-13 offseason.
  • Jhonny Peralta said the Yankees offered him a three-year contract and the opportunity to play third base, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (Twitter links).  The Yankees were Peralta's preferred Big Apple team since the Mets only offered him a two-year deal that Peralta described as "not really good."  Of course, Peralta overcame the stigma of his 50-game PED suspension last season to sign a four-year, $53MM contract with the Cardinals as their everyday shortstop.
  • Mike Napoli rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox last fall and the slugger felt the draft pick compensation limited his free agent options, Napoli tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.  “It’s tough because it’s kind of holding you back,” Napoli said. “You get (to free agency) and it should be all the teams that want you. The way it is now, if a team doesn’t want to give up a pick, they’re not going to be interested.”  It ended up being something of a moot point for Napoli, as he openly wanted to return to Boston and re-signed for a two-year, $32MM deal.
  • There isn't any new news about David Ortiz's contract talks with the Red Sox, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports.  The two sides apparently haven't had any further negotiations since their initial meetings two weeks ago.  (Cafardo shared some more items about the AL East in his regular Sunday column, as reported earlier.)
  • Quintin Berry talks to WEEI.com's Rob Bradford about why he signed with the Orioles and how he appreciated his time with the Red Sox last season, though the Sox didn't push too hard to re-sign him.  “Supposedly [they tried] a little bit, but I know they had a couple of things in mind they wanted to do, some guys they wanted to try and give experience to,” Berry said. “So I just wanted to test the market and see what else I could do."  Berry signed a minor league deal with the O's in January.

AL East Notes: Ortiz, Sizemore, Hardy, Price, Tanaka

In his column last night, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discussed several matters concerning the American League East. From a transactional perspective, Cafardo says not to be surprised if David Ortiz asks the Red Sox to break the $20MM barrier in adding a year to his current contract. Here's more from the AL East:

  • Early returns on Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore are positive, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Hitting coach Gregg Colbrunn said that his swing has "all the good things you look for" in spite of his long layoff, while manager John Farrell said that Sizmore has been at "full speed" on the bases and in the field. Of course, notes Mastrodonato, the club has maintained that it is mostly focused on gauging whether Sizemore can maintain his health over a draining season. 
  • We heard earlier today that the Orioles have approached J.J. Hardy about opening extension talks. From Hardy's perspective, the shortstop tells ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, he still has not heard much about how things might shape up. "I don't know how that will all play out," Hardy said. "We'll see. I'm actually going to meet with my agent. And we're going to talk a litle bit about what could happen. And he'll kind of fill me in … because I don't really know much."
  • Rays GM Andrew Friedman covered a variety of topics on the MLB Network Hot Stove show (transcript via Cork Gaines of Rays Index). Friedman said that the club still feels it will be tough to hold onto ace David Price for the long haul, but that its "mindset is to enjoy each and every day we have David here and do everything in our power to continue that relationship." The likely ultimate scenario — a trade — could take any form, explained the Tampa GM, whose assessment of the Price situation reflects the franchise's general operating strategy. "[W]e really can't have any hard and fast rules about anything," said Friedman. "So we have to be really prepared and nimble. The more prepared you are, the easier it is for you to react more quickly when things pop up. And that's what we have to do is to remain very fluid and not ever get into a situation where we have to make a certain move. But to continue to kind of assess the market and figure out when things kind of line up in our time horizon of what makes the most sense for us to sustain success."
  • While the Yankees' money surely played a substantial role in landing Masahiro Tanaka, the club did not just rely on making the highest offer, reports Brandon Kuty of the Star-Ledger. With Pacific advisor George Rose leading the charge, the Yanks put together a series of gestures intended to convince him of their longstanding interest in Tanaka and overall experience with Japanese ballplayers.

Lucchino On Selig, Ortiz, Lester, Yanks, Free Agents

Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino spoke with reporters in Fort Myers, Fla. today and covered a number of topics, one of them being the impending retirement of commissioner Bud Selig. USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that Lucchino "challenges the premise" that Selig is 100 percent certain to retire following the season. Lucchino says he is one of multiple executives who will pressure Selig to stay in office beyond January 2015. Nightengale quotes Lucchino: "He knows that [the] pressures for him to stay will be so great, that he will have to accede to them." (All Twitter links)

More from the CEO of the reigning World Series champions…

  • Lucchino confirmed that the club has met with David Ortiz's camp since the beginning of Spring Training to discuss a potential extension, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Lucchino called Ortiz "one of the most important faces in baseball" and said the club was going to give Big Papi's extension "the priority it deserves." He praised Ortiz for his leadership not only among teammates but also in the Boston community.
  • Also from Britton's piece, Lucchino called Jon Lester's comments about taking a discount to stay with the Red Sox "one of the highlights of the offseason" and noted that a Lester extension is something Red Sox brass will address in Spring Training as well.
  • WEEI.com's Alex Speier writes that Lucchino cringes when people lump the Red Sox and Yankees together, calling the two teams "very different animals." Lucchino points out that even though the Red Sox invested heavily in last offseason's free agent market, they only went to three guaranteed years on one deal (Shane Victorino), where the Yankees went to three-plus years four times this offseason alone. "They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents," he told reporters.
  • Also within Speier's article, Lucchino does give way to the possibility that the Red Sox could make future splashes of that significance in free agency, however it would be more as an exception to the rule than the start of a trend.

AL East Notes: Jimenez, Machado, Ortiz, Sox, Soriano

Ubaldo Jimenez was introduced today by the Orioles, saying that he is looking forward to putting the "nightmare" of past inconsistency in the rearview mirror. Executive VP Dan Duqutte said that Jimenez was attractive to Baltimore because "he's been a proven, solid, dependable pitcher," and explained that he saw potential for new pitching coach Dave Wallace to help Jimenez maintain his form from the second half of last year. MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli has a full transcript from the presser.

Here's more from the AL East:

  • Orioles young star Manny Machado is scheduled for a key visit with his doctor in the middle of March which could determine when he'll be ready to suit up, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). If he is cleared to play at that point, the hope is that Machado would be prepared for game action within the first few weeks of the season.
  • Machado tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that being ready for Opening Day is last on his list of priorities: "That’s at the bottom of my list. It’s not even on my list, to be honest," says Machado. Instead, Machado and the Orioles are focused on making sure he's 100 percent when he takes the field. Says Machado: "When I’m ready, I’m going to be ready. And everybody’s going to know it. And that’s when I’m going to be out there with the team, whether it’s Opening Day or sometime in April."
  • Red Sox DH David Ortiz and agent Fern Cuza met with club oficials today — including representatives from the ownership group — to discuss his contract status, reports WEEI.com's Alex Speier
  • Ortiz has not been shy about discussing his contract situation publicly, and the team has likewise consistently indicated a willingness to talk. Speier breaks things down from a baseball perspective, arguing that Ortiz has in fact expressed a willingness to give his team a legitimate discount. The notion of adding another year to his current contract at about the same annual rate ($15MM) is valuable, says Speier, because it keeps him off of an open market that could well pay him more. Though he is aging, Ortiz's bat has shown little sign of slowing, and he would surely draw real interest from a power-sapped free agent market. Even if the slugger takes a step back, says Speier, Boston's payroll situation makes the downside scenario a reasonable risk to bear.
  • As for those payroll considerations, Red Sox principal owner John Henry said yesterday that the luxury tax may not be a firm line for the club going forward, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. Though the club has "learned from" its experiences with major deals in the past, Henry said that the team is always looking for ways to leverage its "big-revenue" capabilities. Though he was somewhat unclear as to his reasoning, Henry said that "there's some reason to believe that [staying under the luxury threshold] may not be as important as we thought a couple years ago."
  • Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano is considering retiring after the season, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. The 38-year-old said it will all come down to whether he feels healthy, but acknowledged the possibility that he could join teammate Derek Jeter in making this his last go-round. Soriano, who produced a .255/.302/.489 line with 34 home runs and 18 stolen bases in 626 plate appearances last year, will be playing out the final year of the eight-year, $136MM deal he signed with the Cubs back in November of 2006.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.