David Robertson Rumors

Blue Jays Notes: Navarro, Duke, Janssen, Santana

The Blue Jays announced today that Dioner Navarro has been activated from the disabled list, with Josh Thole being optioned to Triple-A to make room on the 25-man roster. Navarro, an oft-mentioned trade candidate this winter (due largely to his own admission that he would prefer a trade that will allow him every day) struggled to a .267/.294/.333 batting line in his first 34 plate appearances before landing on the DL. As a free agent at season’s end, he’ll hope to bring that line closer to the .283/.333/.427 he posted between the Cubs and Jays in 2013-14.

A few notes on some the Blue Jays…

  • Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi spoke with White Sox reliever Zach Duke about the Blue Jays’ interest in him this offseason. Duke, who signed on with the South Siders for three years and a total of $15MM, said the interest between him and Toronto was mutual. “I talked with [Blue Jays GM] Alex [Anthopoulos] quite a bit,” Duke told Davidi. “I talked to a few guys on the Blue Jays, too, and I was pretty interested. Toronto was definitely a huge consideration for me.” Davidi notes that the Jays also contemplated topping Chicago’s offer to David Robertson (four years, $46MM) but weren’t comfortable with how much they’d have to backload the deal to make it work.
  • Davidi also caught up with former Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen, who is now with the Nationals after signing a one-year, $5MM contract this winter. As Davidi writes, failed extension talks during the 2014 season likely played a role in Janssen’s departure from the organization that he had spent the past 10 years with. Janssen said that he left talks up to his agent for the most part, but he never got the sense that the Blue Jays had serious interest.
  • It’s been three years since Johan Santana tossed a 134-pitch no-hitter for the Mets — the first no-hitter in their franchise’s history. Santana, however, pitched in just three games following that milestone, as shoulder injuries and a ruptured Achilles tendon have kept him off the field. Now with the Blue Jays on a minor league deal, Santana tells Sports Illustrated’s Phil Taylor that he wouldn’t change anything about that night if he had the chance. “It’s easy to criticize things after they happened,” says Santana. “You don’t have a crystal ball to say what’s going to happen. I told [Mets manager] Terry [Collins] I felt fine, and I did. Even if an army had come to get me, I wouldn’t have come out of the game. I love this game too much.” Santana says he’s not certain if his comeback attempt with the Blue Jays will result in him returning to a Major League mound, but he’s hopeful of being able to do so in any capacity. “Starting, relieving, just to pitch again,” the two-time Cy Young winner tells Taylor. “Coming back is a challenge and I love challenges. Is it going to happen? I don’t know. But I’m taking my chances and I’m giving it everything I have.”

Heyman’s Latest: Howard, Tillman, Price, Cespedes, Astros

In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off by discussing Ryan Howard‘s increased trade value. Howard is hitting .256/.298/.519 with 10 homers this season, and while the OBP is lackluster, he’s performed particularly well of late, hitting .307/.340/.602 with six homers this month (a .389 BABIP on the month, though, is heavily influencing those numbers). The Phils were willing to pay down $35MM or so of Howard’s remaining contract this offseason, and doing so would make him a roughly $10MM player this season and next. While Heyman notes that might be seen as a fair price, he adds that some scouts and executives will want to see more sustained production before considering a move, which strikes me as more than reasonable; I doubt three weeks of hot hitting have transformed him from albatross into hot commodity. The Orioles, Royals and Rays all discussed Howard with the Phillies this offseason but went different directions, and Heyman looks at those three teams as well as five others in determining if there’s a fit to be made. Howard received 10-and-5 rights on May 2, however, allowing him to veto any deal. And while many reports have indicated it won’t get in the way of a trade, Heyman hears that Howard is happier in Philadelphia now than he was over the winter and wonders if he might require some kind of incentive to waive those rights.

Some more highlights from a lengthy column …

  • The Orioles never really came close to reaching an extension with starter Chris Tillman this spring, and talks are on hold at present. The 27-year-old has scuffled early this year with a 5.59 ERA over 48 1/3 innings.
  • David Robertson could have taken home even more than the $46MM promised to him by the White Sox, says Heyman, as an unnamed team offered him more this winter. That provides yet more reason to believe that plenty of teams are still willing to pay top dollar for premium relievers.
  • While the Tigers are very interested in attempting to retain Yoenis Cespedes beyond the current year, Heyman says that all signs point to him reaching free agency. Detroit can, of course, pursue him on the open market, but sources tell Heyman that Cespedes is unlikely to agree to an extension.
  • Likewise, the Tigers don’t appear to have much hope of an extension with ace David Price, and Heyman says they “aren’t overwhelmingly confident” that he’ll be back. Detroit’s front office believes that Price will look to top Max Scherzer‘s contract. 
  • The Astros are sorting through many pitching acquisition possibilities, and Aaron Harang of the Phillies has “at least been discussed” by the club. Fellow Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels may come with too much contract for Houston, but Heyman reports that the club does see Reds free agent-to-be Johnny Cueto as a possibility.
  • While Brewers GM Doug Melvin has given signals that he’s ready to sell early, owner Mark Attanasio may prefer the club hold off until at least the upcoming draft. While PR considerations seem to be a factor, that may be the best strategy anyway; the team could still get out ahead of the market, while allowing it to mature somewhat before acting.
  • Be sure to check out the piece for more interesting items around the league.

White Sox Notes: Williams, Penny, Robertson

White Sox Executive Vice President Kenny Williams was included in the Blue Jays executive search, recalls Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. However, he’s happy with his current post. While he misses trade talks and the other daily duties of a GM, he now has more flexibility in his schedule. Williams has the final say in personnel decisions, but he doesn’t have to manage the day-to-day operations. That duty falls to GM Rick Hahn.

Here’s more from Chicago’s south side:

  • NRI Brad Penny will earn $100K if he is assigned to Triple-A, tweets Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Penny, 36,  appeared in eight games for the Marlins last season, including four starts. His last full season was in 2009. He has a 4.29 ERA, 5.95 K/9, and 2.89 BB/9 in 1,925 career innings.
  • The Sox have a history of building cheap bullpens under the current leadership, but they reversed course for the 2015 season, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. The club didn’t have a good bullpen plan entering last season, and it showed in the results. Per manager Robin Ventura, “when you’re not confident in the seventh, eighth and ninth, it just deflates your team. If you blow it late, and if they don’t feel that they can win consistently, it just sucks the life out of them.” The new look relief corps, which includes David Robertson and Zach Duke, should do a much better job maintaining late game leads. The White Sox blew 21 saves last season.
  • Chicago liked that Robertson succeeded with the Yankees after Mariano Rivera‘s retirement, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. His ability to thrive on the biggest stage helped the club to make a pricey multi-year commitment to Robertson. The Yankees were also interested in re-signing him, but didn’t want to go as high as the Sox. Instead, New York was able to sign Andrew Miller for slightly less and net a compensation draft pick.


Central Notes: Rosen, Robertson, Rodriguez

The Indians announced that former star third baseman Al Rosen died last night. He was 91. “He was an inspiration to us all and had a special presence, strength and intellect,” says Indians president Mark Shapiro, calling Rosen’s competitiveness and toughness “legendary.” Rosen hit .285/.384/.495 over a ten-year big-league career spent entirely with the Indians. His best season came in 1953, when he hit .336/.422/.613, won the AL MVP award and missed a Triple Crown by one point of batting average. Injuries ended his playing career early, but he went on to become president and chief operating officer of the Yankees (1978-79), then became president and GM of the Astros (1980-85) and Giants (1985-92). Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • The White Sox paid $46MM for closer David Robertson, but they weren’t planning on spending heavily on a closer if they didn’t get him, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes. Robertson was the specific player they wanted, and if they hadn’t gotten him, they would have developed a closer internally. “I still feel strongly that we have a very solid track record in terms of that development, whether it’s (Bobby) Jenks or (Sergio) Santos or (Addison Reed) or whomever else through the years, like Keith Foulke before that,” says GM Rick Hahn. “And that’s going to continue to serve us as we build out the bullpen from the back in front of David.”
  • Reliever Francisco Rodriguez, who officially signed with the Brewers Saturday, turned down more money elsewhere to return to Milwaukee, Todd Rosiak of the Journal Sentinel tweets. His decision to sign with the Brewers was primarily about his comfort with pitching for them, not about finances, he says. 2015 will be the fifth consecutive season in which Rodriguez will have spent at least part of the year with the Brewers.

Quick Hits: Marlins, Reds, White Sox, Rangers

The Marlins‘ offseason moves position them for a “measured buildup,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Mat Latos has just one year of control remaining, while Martin Prado and Michael Morse have two. And even the post-opt-out portion of Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract is structured so that the Marlins will be able to afford it once they renegotiate their TV deal. This isn’t like the 2011-2012 offseason, when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell to long-term deals, only to trade all three. For that reason, Rosenthal writes, the Marlins are unlikely to sign James Shields to a big contract, even though they’ve been connected to him lately. Here’s more from throughout the big leagues.

  • After Ichiro Suzuki plays his first game with the Marlins, the Reds will be the last team that hasn’t had a Japanese-born player, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The Reds did express interest in Nori Aoki this offseason, but they don’t have a strong presence in Japan (although Rosecrans notes that the Reds aren’t the only team that doesn’t). “We do have some people who do cross checking. We don’t have a scout in Japan,” said GM Walt Jocketty. “It’s too costly.”
  • The White Sox signed closer David Robertson for four years and $46MM, but GM Rick Hahn says they weren’t the highest bidder for his services, CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes tweets. It’s unclear who the top bidder might have been, although the Blue Jays and Astros were connected to Robertson this offseason.
  • GM Jon Daniels said today at Rangers Fan Fest that the team is unlikely to trade for Josh Hamilton, Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest tweets. The Rangers reportedly discussed a Hamilton deal with the Angels earlier this offseason, although those talks were not in-depth. Also, free agent lefty reliever Neal Cotts is not likely to re-sign with the Rangers, Andro tweets.

White Sox Sign David Robertson

WEDNESDAY: The deal is official. Robertson receives $10MM next year and a $1MM raise in each successive season, per Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribne (via Twitter).

TUESDAY, 11:44am: Robertson has a limited no-trade clause with the White Sox that will allow him to block trades to five teams, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).

MONDAY, 11:59pm: Robertson’s deal is worth $46MM over four years, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). He will receive limited no-trade protection, according to Mark Feinsand of New York Daily News (on Twitter).

USATSI_8120293_154513410_lowres11:39pm: The White Sox have agreed to sign David Robertson to a four-year deal worth more than $40MM, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).  Robertson has been zeroed in on landing a four-year deal this winter and he found a team happy to give him one with a solid average annual value. Robertson is represented by All Bases Covered, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database.

Robertson just missed the ~$50MM Jonathan Papelbon-type deal that he was said to be looking for, but he did out-earn fellow free agent Andrew Miller, who will be pitching late in games for Robertson’s former club.  The incumbent Yankees were reportedly open to going to a fourth year, but it’s not clear if they ever presented him with an offer of that length.

The White Sox are making a massive splash at this year’s Winter Meetings.  In addition to adding Robertson, the White Sox appear to be on the verge of acquiring Jeff Samardzija from the Athletics.  Some observers felt that the White Sox were in need of a rebuild this winter, but they apparently believe very strongly that they can win in 2015.

Last month it was reported that Robertson had serious interest from at least six clubs and the Astros and Yankees were among the teams known to be in the mix.  Robertson entered this offseason as the 13th ranked player on Tim Dierkes’ Top 50 Free Agents list, making him the highest ranked reliever of the winter.

Robertson rejected the Yankees’ qualifying offer, so New York will get an extra pick at the end of the first round of next year’s draft as compensation. The White Sox’ top pick, No. 8 overall, is protected, but they’ll sacrifice their second-round pick, No. 45 overall, once the Robertson signing becomes official.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL East Rumors: Robertson, Red Sox, Cespedes

The Yankees lost a homegrown star in David Robertson yesterday and they’re also losing ground in the American League with the talent that’s flowing in, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  There have been 14 free agents to sign for $10MM or more in total, and just two of those deals were with National League teams with zero migrations from the AL to the NL.  At this moment, all five AL East teams probably feel they can win the division and the wild card competition also figures to be fierce for the Bombers in 2015.  More out of the AL East..

  • A big part of the Yankees‘ decision to not make an offer to David Robertson was the value they put on the compensatory draft pick they would receive, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network (via Twitter).  The closer agreed to join the White Sox on a four-year, $46MM deal late last night.
  • The Red Sox and Reds have discussed deal that would send Yoenis Cespedes to Cincinnati, but there’s been no recent progress on that front, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • The Red Sox and Phillies have discussed a swap of Antonio Bastardo for Sean Coyle this offseason, a major league source with knowledge of the situation tells Chris Cotillo of SB Nation (via Twitter).  It’s unclear if those talks are still progressing at this time, however.
  • Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters yesterday that he’s confident that Boston can sign Jon Lester, but not everyone agrees.  “I don’t see how the Red Sox get this done,” an official of one club who has been monitoring Lester closely told Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.

Yankees Notes: Robertson, Headley, Heathcott

David Robertson did such a good job replacing Mariano Rivera that the Yankees might now have a more difficult time replacing Robertson, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have big-time talent, but have also both had frustrating seasons in the recent past. The Yankees could pursue a closer like Jason Grilli, or perhaps mix and match Betances and Miller at closer. The team has plenty of strong bullpen pieces, but no one who represents the obvious fix for the closer role that Robertson did last year. Here’s more out of the Bronx.

  • Now that the White Sox have swooped in to nab Robertson, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes that the Yankees will turn their attention to the middle of their starting rotation, where the departure of Shane Greene in the Didi Gregorius trade leaves them thin. The Yankees would also like to re-sign Chase Headley, although Madden notes that the Astros are rumored to have offered him five years and $65MM.
  • The Yankees will try to keep outfielder Slade Heathcott and pitcher Jose Campos by re-signing them to minor-league deals, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York tweets. The Yankees non-tendered the pair last week even though neither were eligible for arbitration. Both have struggled with injuries, but they still have upside if they can stay healthy. As Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues explains, non-tendering Heathcott and Campos allows the Yankees to avoid losing them through waivers. They’re now free agents, but the Yankees may have an edge in their attempts to re-sign them, due to their histories with the organization.

Latest On David Robertson

10:33pm: Even if they acquire Jeff Samardzija, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears (via Twitter) that the White Sox will continue to pursue Robertson.

9:47pm: Despite having Dellin Betances and newly-signed free agent Andrew Miller in tow, the Yankees are still hopeful that they can retain David Robertson, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  In fact, they seem flexible about giving him a fourth year on his contract, even if it’s not their preference.

The Yankees are looking to form a super bullpen, much like the Royals enjoyed this past season.  Kansas City had an unheard of 77-1 record in 2014 when leading after six innings.  Still, there’s competition that the Bombers will have to beat out.  The Astros, who saw Miller take less money to go to New York, are in the middle of talking with Robertson.  The White Sox are also said to be in on the star closer.

Heyman also adds that even though the Yankees could be willing to go to four years, they are unwilling to go to $50MM over that span.  Robertson has been said to have interest from at least a half-dozen clubs and he’s eyeing a deal in the four-year, $50MM range.


AL Notes: Moss, Samardzija, Yankees, Tigers

Here’s a morning links roundup from the American League:

  • The Athletics are still “inching” toward a deal with the Indians on Brandon Moss, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. A swap is likely to go down over the next few days, Sherman adds.
  • Clubs that have spoken with the Athletics about Jeff Samardzija have been left with the impression that Oakland would not be willing to grant an extension negotiation window as part of the deal, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports on Twitter. That is perhaps not terribly surprising, as Samardzija does not appear particularly likely to forego a chance at testing the open market.
  • For the Yankees, one side benefit of adding Martin Prado (last summer) and Andrew Miller (just a few days ago) is that it conveys leverage in talks with now-free agent third baseman Chase Headley and closer David Robertson, Sherman writes. While New York is now willing to put a fourth year on the table for both players, says Sherman, it will not match the reported four-year, $65MM offer out to Headley or the $50MM+ asking price of Robertson.
  • While there are several intriguing possibilities for the Tigers at the Winter Meetings, the odds are that the team will make only smaller moves,  if any, per Chris Iott of MLive.com. Iott takes a look at Detroit’s various options for improvement, concluding that most are rather unlikely to take place.