David Ortiz Rumors

Quick Hits: Free Agents, Braves, Ortiz, Lester, Rays

The MLBPA has spoken to Major League Baseball COO Rob Manfred about their concerns over team executives talking about whether or not they're negotiating with free agents, which is a violation of the collective bargaining agreement, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  Some players are also upset at the slow pace of the free agent pitching market, and while Rosenthal says the union could consider filing a grievance, such an action would be hard to prove given that teams have already spent close to $2 billion on free agents this offseason.

Here's some more from around baseball on Super Bowl Sunday…

  • The Braves will have to make some tough decisions about which of their young core players they want to extend while keeping their payroll in check, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes (subscription required).  The experience of many of Atlanta's best young players is another issue, Baseball Prospectus' Ben Lindbergh tells Bradley, since "most of them have established themselves. (The Braves) possibly might have already missed the window of getting a good deal.” 
  • The Red Sox are wary about making too long a commitment to 38-year-old David Ortiz given how aging designated hitters can so quickly decline, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes.  Ortiz is under contract through 2014 and recently said he would like another year added to his contract.  While Ortiz's age is a concern, Lauber notes that if the Red Sox don't extend Ortiz and he has another big season, the Sox will then be forced to sign him through at least 2016 to keep him in Boston.
  • Jon Lester is another Red Sox player mentioned in extension rumors, and John Tomase of the Boston Herald looks at the somewhat shaky history of left-handed starters who sign expensive contracts into their 30's.  Since Lester has said he would give the Red Sox a hometown discount, Tomase thinks a five-year, $100MM extension could work for both sides.
  • The Rays are still having talks about trading catcher Jose Lobaton, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  Lobaton looks like the odd man out behind Ryan Hanigan and Jose Molina, though Topkin notes that the team could still bring Lobaton to Spring Training in case one of their regulars gets injured.  If another team develops a catching need later in the spring, as well, the Rays can explore moving Lobaton then.
  • Also from Topkin's piece, the Rays have focused on adding depth this offseason to give themselves plenty of roster flexibility and options heading into Spring Training.
  • The Indians believe that Joe Smith was their biggest bullpen loss this winter, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, not former closer Chris Perez.  The Tribe rebuilt their bullpen and hope that John Axford can cinch the closing job, Vinnie Pestano returns to his old form and that young arms Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen continue to deliver quality relief innings.  Pluto notes that the Indians hope Shaw turns into a new Smith, and the club sees Allen as a future closer.
  • Baseball America's Matt Eddy recaps the week's minor league transactions.

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Indians, Crain, Mets, Dodgers

Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales are all still free agents, and draft-pick forfeiture is a key reason why, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Some agents are upset at the way draft picks have affected the market, Heyman reports, but the number of players affected is relatively small, which may prevent the players' union from trying to do much about it before the next CBA expires in 2016. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Red Sox (who have six legitimate big-league starters, plus a strong Triple-A rotation) and Cardinals (who keep adding young talent to complement Adam Wainwright) are smart to treasure their starting pitching depth, writes CBS Sports' Dayn Perry. Of last year's playoff teams, only the Tigers avoided giving at least than 15 starts to pitchers who weren't rotation regulars. Four teams — the Pirates, Dodgers, Rays and Cardinals — gave at least 30 starts to pitchers who weren't in their usual top five.
  • The Indians feel their biggest loss among their relief pitchers this offseason was not former closer Chris Perez, but setup man Joe Smith, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Smith signed as a free agent with the Angels. The Indians' revamped bullpen will now feature John Axford in the closer's role, with Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen also pitching in the late innings.
  • David Ortiz of the Red Sox deserves a contract extension through 2015, and he deserves a raise to $20MM for the coming season, writes Heyman. Ortiz is set to make $15MM in the final year of a two-year deal in 2014. The Red Sox ought to pay him more than the market for him would dictate, Heyman argues, based on what he means to the Red Sox and to Boston.
  • Jesse Crain of the Astros doubts he'll be ready for the start of the 2014 season, Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle writes. "I’m not planning on that. I would be surprised if I was ready by then," says Crain, who had biceps surgery in October. Crain hopes to only miss a couple weeks of play. The Astros signed Crain to a one-year, $3.25MM deal in December.
  • Emilio Bonifacio could make sense for the Mets if they do not add another shortstop, Michael Baron of MetsBlog writes. The Mets currently plan on going with Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada in their middle infield, and if they don't sign Stephen Drew or add a starting shortstop through some other means, they could use depth behind Tejada.
  • In the next five days, the Dodgers will likely sign a utility infielder to a minor-league deal, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweets.

David Ortiz Seeking One-Year Extension With Red Sox

WEDNESDAY: Ortiz said today that he is only looking to add an additional year to his deal, telling WEEI.com's Rob Bradford (writeup courtesy of WEEI.com's Alex Speier) that discussions had been productive and pleasant. Ortiz said that the club would "come back to me with their answer at some point," and that "everything is going well." 

The club has indicated that it does want to get a deal done, according to the slugger. "[CEO and president Larry Lucchino] was telling me you are the priority for us, so we want to do whatever it takes to do the right thing," said Ortiz. "I believe in them. I hope this doesn't have to be something that gets to be a distraction. I hope that we get to where we want to be, where we need to be, before the season has started. I was expecting that before spring training started, to be honest with you … ." Be sure to check out the piece for more comments from Ortiz.

MONDAY: Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said yesterday that he wants to retire with the club, but indicated in a television interview with Steve Burton of Boston's CBS4 (quotes via Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com) that a new deal may be necessary for that to occur. When asked what would happen if the Sox were not willing to offer him multiple years, Ortiz responded: "Time to move on."

Of course, it is not clear just what kind of multi-year guarantee Ortiz has in mind. He has previously made clear that he wanted to avoid a lame duck contract season, which could mean that he simply hopes to tack another season onto the back of his present deal. Ortiz will earn $15MM in 2014 as part of the two-year contract he inked back in November of 2012.

Ortiz also said that he is happy with the Red Sox and has every intention of staying put. "As long as they keep offering me a job an I keep doing what I'm supposed to do and the relationship keeps building up," said Ortiz, "I'm going to be there. Hopefully, I won't have to go and wear another uniform."

But the 11-year Fenway resident also made clear that he will continue playing so long as he is performing, and certainly did not rule out the possibility of continuing his career with another club. When asked whether he could envision wearing another uniform, Ortiz responded: "I haven't seen it but if I have to, I've got no choice, I'm not going to quit. As long as I keep hitting the ball the way I have, I've got to keep on giving it a try."

At 38 years of age, Big Papi is still a force at the plate. Last year, in 600 regular season plate appearances, Ortiz posted a 309/.395/.564 triple-slash and 30 home runs. Then, he topped the year off with a ridiculous .688/.760/1.188 line in 25 World Series plate appearances, making him an easy choice for series MVP. Boston GM Ben Cherington recently indicated that the club has interest in working on a new deal and ultimately hopes to keep Ortiz in town until the end of his playing days.

Red Sox Notes: Tanaka, Starters, Drew, Ortiz

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington covered a host of topics an interview with WEEI.com's Alex Speier and Rob Bradford (all links to Speier's Twitter feed unless otherwise noted). The full interview can be heard here, but here are some of the highlights, and the latest out of Boston:

  • As noted earlier this evening, Cherington indicated that the Red Sox have yet to schedule a meeting with Masahiro Tanaka and agent Casey Close. The Boston GM left the impression that, after some preliminary chats, both team and player were still guaging whether more serious discussions were warranted. Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com has more of Cherington's comments regarding Tanaka.
  • Meanwhile, Tanaka is holding up the potential trade market for Boston's arguable excess of starting pitching, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. But interest could pick up in the Sox' arms once Tanaka and the other top starters exit the open market, MacPherson reasons, since most teams in baseball still having plenty of room to upgrade their rotations.
  • The Sox have "kept the dialogue going" with shortstop Stephen Drew over the off-season, Cherington said. But the sides have not talked since the holidays, he noted. With Drew seemingly finding it hard to land a multi-year offer, and internal options already in the fold in Boston, Cherington has enviable leverage.
  • Meanwhile, Cherington said that the team will "probably" have some discussions with DH David Ortiz about a contract extension during the coming year. "When someone like that expresses their strong interest in staying, that's a good thing," said Cherington. "We want him to finish his career as a Red Sox." We heard last month that Ortiz was interested in exploring an extension. The 38-year-old Relativity Baseball client is in the second and final year of the $26MM contract he inked back in November of 2012. 

AL East Links: Floyd, Ackley, Ortiz, Rays

Despite pitching just 28 1/3 innings in 2013, Gavin Floyd inked a one-year deal with the Braves yesterday that is worth $4MM and could reach $8.5MM via incentives. That's a fine payday for a mid-rotation arm coming off Tommy John surgery, but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Floyd could have been paid even more handsomely. According to Connolly, the Orioles offered Floyd a two-year deal that could have reached $20MM after incentives, but Floyd turned them down. Here's more out of the AL East…

David Ortiz, Red Sox Talking Extension

David Ortiz told reporters that his agent is talking with the Red Sox about extending his deal for another year, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports.  Ortiz signed a two-year extension with Boston in November 2012 that will take him through the 2014 season.

Big Papi will earn $15MM in the final year of his deal between his $11MM base salary and the $4MM bonus he secured by staying away from the DL for the bulk of 2013.  After playing just 90 games in 2012 – his lowest total as a member of the Red Sox – Ortiz saw action in 137 games this past season, hitting .309/.395/.564 with 30 homers.  Ortiz told Bradford:

"We gave them what they wanted. I don’t have next year guaranteed and I think I can play another one. We’re working on that. … As long as I feel good I’m going to want to play. … I just hate the situation where I have to sit down at the end of the year and talk about my following year. Let’s do it now. We’re world champs right now."

Ortiz was also candid in telling Bradford that "If [the Red Sox] are smart," they'll work something out. "You know what happens every time people challenge Papi."

While the Red Sox certaintly want to keep their franchise cornerstone happy, they may not be ecstatic about re-opening contract talks.  Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported earlier this year that the two sides had an agreement that they would not negotiate a new contract or extension until after the deal expired.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.

AL East Notes: Price, Longoria, Ortiz, Helton

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.

Quick Hits: Biogenesis, Ortiz, Crain, Reed, Diaz

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.

Quick Hits: Ortiz, Teahen, Carpenter

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. 

AL East Notes: David Ortiz, Ramon Ortiz, Hughes

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.