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We've already shared a Nate McLouth free agent profile, some Blue Jays notes, Yankees notes and the news of Robinson Cano's contract demands today, so let's take a look around the rest of the AL East…
- This could be David Price's last season and playoff run with the Rays, as CBS Sports' Danny Knobler figures that this offseason (when Price has two remaining years of team control) is the perfect time for the Rays to maximize their return on a trade.
- Rays third baseman Evan Longoria looked up to Derek Jeter as a kid, yet he didn't emulate Jeter by playing for the Yankees but rather by staying with one franchise for his career, Harvey Araton of the New York Times writes. Robinson Cano has the opportunity to be a one-franchise player if he re-signs with the Yankees this offseason and Longoria believes Cano will stay because the Yankees are always looking to contend. “I’m sure Robby realizes that his organization is never going into a year saying they are rebuilding,” Longoria said. “You can’t not like that, or respect that.”
- Unless David Ortiz goes on the DL over the next four days, the Red Sox slugger has stayed healthy enough to add an extra $4MM to his 2014 salary, ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes writes. Ortiz the first 20 days of the season on the DL with his right Achilles injury but hasn't returned, so he is now guaranteed $15MM in the final year of his two-year contract with the Sox.
- The Red Sox were Todd Helton's last opponent at Coors Field, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe notes that the Sox twice tried to acquire Helton from the Rockies. A proposed 2002 blockbuster would've seen Helton and Larry Walker go to Boston in exchange for a trade package headlined by Manny Ramirez, and then in 2008 the Rockies turned down an offer of Mike Lowell for Helton straight-up.
- The time has come for the Orioles to increase payroll and add the necessary remaining pieces to their contending roster, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun argues.
If Major League Baseball is really hoping to suspend the 20+ players involved in the Biogenesis scandal, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal thinks the league will need more evidence than just the word of clinic founder Tony Bosch. It will be too easy, Rosenthal argues, for the players' representatives to claim that Bosch lacks credibility and that he is only naming names to avoid possible criminal prosecution and getting himself sued by the league.
Here are some news items from around the sport…
- "To be honest with you, all those years I got to free agency, I never thought about going somewhere else," David Ortiz tells WEEI.com's Alex Speier. "I feel like I'm a big part of these ball clubs. I feel like what I was asking for wasn't anything they couldn't give me. You look into situations, and I never had the feeling that I was going to go somewhere else, to be honest with you." Ortiz is off to a big start this season and is making good on the two-year, $26MM deal he signed to remain with the Red Sox last offseason.
- Jesse Crain and Addison Reed both aren't worried about possibly becoming trade bait this summer if the White Sox decide to rebuild, MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports. Merkin notes that the veteran Crain is the likelier of the two to be moved, and I'd argue that Chicago would only move Reed if they received a knockout offer.
- Aledmys Diaz is playing with a Mexican League team this summer and during the winter, MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reports. The Cuban shortstop hopes to sign with a Major League team in February. Diaz drew attention from at least 10 teams last winter, though at least one team (the Twins) thought Diaz's asking price was "too high" and MLB was investigating whether Diaz was really 23 years old.
- Nationals manager Davey Johnson told reporters (including Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington) that he expects both Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke to be claimed by other teams. The two relievers were both designated for assignment by the Nats today.
Here are a few notes from around baseball:
- David Ortiz signed with the Red Sox this offseason before testing the market, even though he was aware that the Rangers were reportedly prepared to make him a two-year offer, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. Ortiz's two-year deal, which will pay him at least $26MM, was inked just before he would have been permitted to negotiate with other clubs. Ortiz says he knew he would return to Boston all along, especially after the team approached him about a new contract while he was injured during the 2012 season. Now, Ortiz says, contracts are not on his mind: "I'm not thinking of any of that. I'm just thinking of raking." Of course, he has been doing just that so far in 2013, posting an absurd .465/.489/.837 line over 47 plate appearances since returning from injury.
- Yesterday, minor league infielder/outfielder Mark Teahen was returned to the Diamondbacks after being sent (Twitter link) to the Reds for cash or a player to be named later. MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports that both teams were caught off guard when they learned that Teahen's shoulder was ailing. Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers explained: "Two days prior to us trading him he dove for a ball, didn't say anything, didn't show up on any of our medical reports. When he did his physical over there he said he felt something in his shoulder, didn't quite feel right. [He] hadn't said anything to us. [The Reds] basically said there's some concerns because, 'We were expecting to get a healthy player, and if he's not able to go right now, we probably have less interest in doing it.'"
- Last night, the Cardinals turned to prized youngsters Carlos Martinez and Seth Maness to shore up the team's bullpen, as the team continues to try to avoid going outside the organization for help. According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, however, a more established figure could be the key to maintaining a sound relief corps without giving up young talent. Former starter Chris Carpenter — who said in March that he thought his career was over (Twitter link) — is now looking to come back as a reliever. GM John Mozeliak says he is "candidly optimistic and excited about him contributing," and that a late June or early July return could be possible.
David Ortiz says the timing of his likely return to the Red Sox's lineup Friday is unrelated to the structure of his contract, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports. Under his current two-year, $26MM contract, Ortiz is guaranteed $11MM in 2014, but that number would rise to $13MM if he spends 21 to 40 days on the disabled list due to his Achilles injury in 2013. It would further increase to $15MM if he spends 20 or fewer days. Thursday was Ortiz's 19th day on the DL this season. If he is not activated before Saturday, he will lose $2MM in 2014. "I just found out about [the contract clause] a couple of days ago," says Ortiz. "If I would be limping or hurting still, it is what it is. But I’m going back now because I feel ready and I want to be playing for my ball club." Here's more from the AL East.
- At age 40, Ramon Ortiz is back in the big leagues, Steph Rogers and Evan Peaslee of MLB.com note. Ortiz's appearance with the Blue Jays on Wednesday was his first Major League outing since September 2011, when he was with the Cubs. "I know guys who are coaches and managers in the big leagues [or] the Minor Leagues. When they see me, they say 'Ramon, you're still playing?'" Ortiz says. Ortiz made 27 starts for the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate in 2012, then signed a minor-league deal with the Jays in December.
- Yankees pitcher Phil Hughes could get $70MM as a free agent next winter, the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand argues (on Twitter). Feinsand compares Hughes to Anibal Sanchez, who got five years and $80MM from the Tigers in December. Sanchez, though, had xFIPs of 3.25 and 3.60 in his last two seasons before free agency; Hughes' xFIPs in the last two years were 4.90 and 4.35. Peripheral numbers might not matter much in an arbitration hearing, but they matter in free agency. Feinsand is correct to note that the two players have pitched in very different park and league contexts, but the numbers still strongly suggest that Sanchez is the far better pitcher. Of course, much will depend on the way Hughes pitches in 2013. Hughes does not crack Tim Dierkes' 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings.
Tomorrow is the 66th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in baseball. Every player, coach, and umpire will honor Robinson by wearing his iconic jersey number 42 and it is a significant ritual appreciated by today's generation of players. "It's definitely one of those things you take a lot of pride in, putting on that jersey," said Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (as quoted by MLB.com's Tom Singer). "What (Robinson) went through, stepping up and being that guy to take that important step…it's something we need to always remember." This weekend, the nation remembered the Hall of Famer by making the biopic 42 the domestic box office champion with $27.3MM in ticket sales. This is the first time a baseball movie has ever grossed more than $20MM in its opening weekend and is also an opening weekend record for any baseball-themed movie when adjusted for inflation, according to Forbes. Here's the latest news and notes from America's Pastime:
- David Ortiz was scratched from his Triple-A rehab start today due to illness and it could become a very expensive setback, reports Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Ortiz's 2014 salary will be cut by $2MM (from $15MM to $13MM), if he spends more than 20 days on the disabled list and day 20 is next Sunday. His next rehab start could come tomorrow.
- Carlos Quentin announced he has withdrawn his appeal and will start serving his eight-game suspension today (first reported by the USA Today's Bob Nightengale on Twitter). "I’ve had time to have dialogue with Major League Baseball and a chance for the players association to protect me and my rights as a player,” Quentin told reporters including Chris Jenkins of the San Diego Union-Tribune. “When that time passed, I’ve prepared to serve my suspension." Quentin will miss the Padres' three-game series against the Dodgers, which begins tomorrow in Los Angeles.
- The Cubs could designate Brent Lillibridge or Alberto Gonzalez for assignment when Darwin Barney is activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, speculates the Daily Herald's Bruce Miles.
Earlier today we checked in on the Yankees’ search for position players and found that GM Brian Cashman views Ben Francisco as a bench player. As for the possibility of signing a free agent corner infielder, the Yankees continue weighing their options, including some familiar names. Here’s the latest from the AL East…
- The Yankees don't have much depth right now, but their roster could have looked much different. Joel Sherman of the New York Post point out that in years past the Yankees might have been more aggressive in pursuit of free agents such as Russell Martin, Jeff Keppinger, Scott Hairston and Nate Schierholtz.
- The Yankees have not reached out to free agent Aubrey Huff, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports (on Twitter). Huff recently said he has pretty much retired. However, the Yankees have shown interest in retired stars such as Chipper Jones and Derrek Lee.
- The Red Sox aren’t worried that David Ortiz’s heel injury will evolve into a long-term concern, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). The Red Sox signed Ortiz to a two-year, $26MM contract in November, so he'll be in Boston through 2014.
Teams must decide by tonight whether to tender contracts to their arbitration eligible players. MLBTR will have you covered throughout the evening, so be sure to follow along and use MLBTR's Non-Tender Tracker. In the meantime, here are today’s links…
- The Angels recently checked in on Dan Haren, who’s getting interest from lots of East Coast teams, Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports (on Twitter).
- Nick Swisher told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that he’s trying to enjoy the process of being a free agent. "It's supposed to be an exciting time, not a stressful time,” Swisher said. “I'm over the stressful part now. I'm going to just have fun with this. I just want to scroll to the bottom line, sign my names in a few places, and get ready to play." The Red Sox, Orioles, Mariners and Rangers have talked to Swisher’s representatives at MVP Sports Group, Nightengale reports. Swisher has also been linked to a number of National League teams, including the Nationals, Phillies, Braves and Giants. The 32-year-old said he will play first base or right field in any city.
- David Ortiz said on WEEI said the Red Sox "need some thunder in that lineup,” Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. The veteran designated hitter explained that he'd like to see the Red Sox re-sign free agent Cody Ross.
- The Astros almost completed one trade this week, but GM Jeff Luhnow doesn't expect to complete any deals before the Winter Meetings, Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle reports.
Earlier today, the Red Sox assured that longtime designated hitter David Ortiz would be in Boston through 2014 when they signed him to a two-year deal. Earlier today, general manager Ben Cherington addressed the media regarding the makeup of his team and the upcoming offseason. WEEI.com's Alex Speier has a rundown…
- The team has decisions to make at first base, shortstop, both corner outfield positions and in the fifth spot of the rotation. Speier notes that the team must also look beyond 2013 at the team's long-term plans for center field and catcher.
- Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and John Lackey should occupy the first four spots in the rotation, but the team will go outside the organization to acquire a fifth starter. That could happen via either free agency or trade.
- Cherington didn't sound overly optimistic when discussing his chances of re-signing Cody Ross: “We’ve had a number of conversations. Obviously we’re into free agency now. We didn’t sign him before that started. The door will remain open, and we’ll continue to talk, but once we’re in free agency, he’s got opportunities to talk to other teams, and we fully expect him to do that … We'll keep talking. At the same time, we've got to consider alternatives, too."
- The Red Sox were never particularly close to completing a trade for either Ervin Santana or Dan Haren when the Angels made both right-handers available last week.
- Boston could hire a new pitching coach and hitting coach within a week's time.
- Cherington told Speier that he hopes Ortiz retires as a member of the Red Sox (Twitter link). He added that he hopes that retirement is several years away.
There's been a lot of change in Boston in the last year or so, but David Ortiz isn't going anywhere. The designated hitter known as Big Papi agreed to a two-year deal that will keep him with the Red Sox through 2014, the team announced today.
“He is an historic figure, a beloved hero, and an important player as we build our team for 2013 and beyond,” GM Ben Cherington said in a statement released by the team.
The deal is worth $26MM in total and includes a $14MM salary for 2013, an $11MM salary for 2014 and a $1MM signing bonus, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter links). The value of the second year can increase to $13MM or $15MM depending on how much time Ortiz misses in 2013. Ortiz will earn $15MM in 2014 if he misses 20 or fewer days on the disabled list due to his Achilles injury in 2013, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports.
Ortiz, who turns 37 in just over two weeks, posted a .318/.415/.611 batting line in 383 plate appearances this past season. The Red Sox extended a qualifying offer worth $13.3MM to the SFX client last week. The move would have netted the club a compensatory draft pick if he signed elsewhere, but Ortiz will instead remain as a cornerstone of the Boston lineup.
The veteran ranked 13th on MLBTR's list of top 50 free agents this offseason and figured to have multiple suitors, including the Rangers. In ten seasons with the Red Sox, Ortiz has hit .290/.389/.573, earning eight All-Star selections along the way.
Rob Bradford of WEEI.com first reported news of the agreement. Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe (via Twitter) reported that the two sides were likely to strike a deal. Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
If Ortiz accepts, he’ll earn $13.3MM on a one-year deal in 2013. If he declines, he’ll be linked to draft pick compensation in free agency — his new team will have to surrender a top selection to sign him. Ortiz ranks 13th on MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents. The Rangers appear to be interested in signing him, though a return to the Red Sox seems probable.