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David Ross Rumors
ESPN’s Jayson Stark took a look at the Cole Hamels trade market and spoke to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. about the possibility of trading the ace. Amaro took a familiar stance, stating that he’s not under any pressure to move Hamels, whom he rightly deemed one of baseball’s best starters. Rival execs tell Stark that Amaro is still asking for two premium prospects plus another piece or two in addition to the acquiring club taking on Hamels’ entire contract. As Stark notes, it’s unfortunate that a rebuilding club’s best chip is an ace in an offseason where free agency and the trade market are both pitching-rich. With next season shaping up to be a buyer’s market for pitching as well, Stark wonders if July will be the best time for Amaro to move Hamels, as few aces are ever available at the deadline. Multiple clubs have told Stark that Amaro is holding out for “the deal of the century,” as Stark terms it.
Two items of particular note from Stark are that the Blue Jays are said to have very strong interest in Hamels and that reports of Hamels’ no-trade clause are not entirely accurate. Hamels can indeed block trades to eight clubs, but previous reports listed the Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Nats, Braves, Padres, Yankees and Rangers as teams to which Hamels cannot veto a deal. Stark hears that list is outdated, and at least one club has been changed since season’s end.
Some other late-night NL East notes…
- Reports have indicated that the Marlins are serious about adding pieces to contend in 2015 this offseason, and while the focus has been more on bats for the lineup, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Fish have reached out to the Tigers to inquire on David Price and Rick Porcello. Talks aren’t serious at this time, he adds, but the fact that the Marlins are even kicking the tires on a pair of high-priced arms (Price and Porcello project to earn $18.9MM and $12.2MM next year, respectively) suggests that they’re willing to take on some significant payroll.
- The Braves are interested in a reunion with backstop David Ross, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reported yesterday (Twitter link). Ross spent four seasons as Brian McCann‘s backup in Atlanta from 2009-12, enjoying some of the most productive seasons of his career as a Brave. He could serve as an excellent mentor to Christian Bethancourt, who figures to take the reins as Atlanta’s everyday catcher with Evan Gattis moving to the outfield full time.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports another potential catching target for the Braves, tweeting that they have interest in A.J. Pierzynski. The soon-to-be 38-year-old Pierzynski has never had Ross’ defensive chops, though he’d give the Braves a left-handed bat to insert in the lineup when they prefer to rest Bethancourt against tough right-handers.
- The Mets are interested in lefty reliever Craig Breslow, tweets Morosi. The Mets are thin on left-handed relief, and Breslow should represent a low-cost option. The 34-year-old picked a poor time to have a career-worst season, pitching to a 5.96 ERA this past season in a contract year. However, he entered the 2014 campaign with a career 2.82 ERA in 402 innings. Breslow doesn’t dominate lefties the way many specialists do (.671 OPS), but he’s also more effective against right-handed hitters than a number of his southpaw brethren (.680 OPS).
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked about a dozen GMs in Phoenix about the Yankees’ situation and not one of them thought the Bombers would stay away from a major signing. For all the talk about the Cubs being a major player for Jon Lester, the Red Sox are still fearful that it’ll be the Yankees that swoop in and grab him. More from today’s column..
- Both center fielder Dexter Fowler and catcher Jason Castro are available in a deal and the Astros wouldn’t mind dealing for bullpen help. Fowler had a decent year and enjoyed more success as a right-handed hitter. The 28-year-old (29 by Opening Day) slashed .327/.419/.467 as a right-handed hitter but hit just .260/.361/.376 from the other side of the plate. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has heard that the asking price is high on Castro and that there aren’t any contract talks currently taking place between the two sides.
- Jason Hammel’s agent, Alan Nero, told Cafardo that teams have called on his client but no great advancements have been made on a contract. Nero figures the secondary pitching market may take a while to develop.
- Diamondbacks left-hander Wade Miley has become a popular trade target of a few teams, and while Arizona will listen, it will take a haul to get him.
- Free agent catcher David Ross wonders whether his status with the Red Sox hinges on whether they sign Jon Lester. Lester and Ross had a great run together in 2013 and the catcher tells Cafardo that the two will get together after Thanksgiving. Ross says that he’s begun to field interest from other teams in the interim.
- The Phillies will shop Carlos Ruiz and while plenty of teams need catchers, his age (35) and his contract will be a problem. Ruiz has two years left on his deal at $8.5MM per year plus a $4.5MM option for 2017 that can bought out for $500K.
Here are some of the highlights from the latest Sunday notes column by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe…
- The White Sox will have “a lot of interest” in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki, Cafardo predicts.
- David Ross was told by Red Sox GM Ben Cherington earlier this week that the club “wanted to see how the roster shook out before making a commitment to” bring back the veteran catcher. Cafardo speculates that Cherington could be keeping his options open in regards to the team’s need for a left-handed hitting bat; if one can’t be found at another position, the Sox could look to add one at catcher.
- Now that Joe Maddon is managing the Cubs, Cafardo wonders if Andrew Friedman will regret sticking with Don Mattingly in Los Angeles and not making a move to bring Maddon to the Dodgers. “I think it will be a case of, ‘Why didn’t I do what the Cubs did?’ ” a baseball executive tells Cafardo. “Joe Maddon seems to be the hot manager out there and guys like that aren’t available very often. When Maddon is out there you don’t need a long, drawn-out managerial search. If you can afford him, you hire him.”
- Rays bench coach Dave Martinez has been mentioned as a prime candidate to become the team’s next manager, and will surely be on the team’s list of interview candidates. That said, “the feeling is that if…[Martinez] was going to get the job, he would have gotten it by now,” Cafardo writes.
- Nelson Cruz‘s free agency “will test the Orioles‘ commitment to winning.” In Cafardo’s opinion, the team has “no excuses” for not re-signing such a key part of their lineup, especially with extra revenues coming in from TV and increased attendance.
If he hangs up his spikes, as he is said to be weighing, Red Sox catcher David Ross should have plenty of avenues for non-playing jobs in the game, tweets Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. A former GM tells Mastrodonato that he considers Ross a close friend and would be more than happy to find a position for him.
Here’s more from Boston and the rest of the AL East:
- As the offseason begins for the Red Sox, GM Ben Cherington reiterated that the team needs to add depth in the rotation and in the lineup, as MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports. In particular, the club will emphasize left-handed-hitting options around the diamond.
- Apart from Brett Gardner, the Yankees generally lack attractive veteran contracts that could be dealt in a rebuilding scenario, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. But while that makes little sense, neither would it be beneficial to spend top dollar on the high-end free agent market, argues Sherman. Instead, New York should continue to wield its financial muscle to make more incremental gains that maintain financial and roster flexibility — much as the team did on the trade deadline this year.
- One player who could meet that description is starter Brandon McCarthy. As Roger Rubin of the New York Daily news reports, the big righty is very open to a return to New York but is not exactly waiting with bated breath. “When the phone rings we’ll find out for sure,” said McCarthy, who added that he is willing to be aggressive in selling his services. “You don’t have to be the biggest name to be the first domino to fall,” he said. “You could be at the beginning or the end and at some slot in the middle. I’ve been focused on what I am doing, but soon it could be time to weigh what’s going on. I feel if I got the right offer, I’d be willing to sign early in the process.”
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi says that he needs to see how Alex Rodriguez looks on the field before determining his role next year, as George A. King III of the New York Post reports. But Girardi says that his expectation is that Rodriguez will take a regular role at third: “Do we expect him to be a player on our team? Absolutely. Do we expect him to play third base? Yes. In fairness you have to see where he is at. I can’t tell you what will happen, but we expect him to be our third baseman.”
- For the Rays, manager Joe Maddon hopes to stay on past 2015 but is in no rush to add onto his contract, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reports. Meanwhile, both utilityman Ben Zobrist and reliever Joel Peralta hope the team will exercise its options over them for the coming year, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. That is a foregone conclusion for Zobrist, of course, but Peralta ($2.5MM option with no buyout) is a more difficult call as he enters his age-39 season. His 4.41 ERA over 63 1/3 frames does not look very appealing, but Peralta did post a 3.40 FIP, 3.11 xFIP, and 2.54 SIERA on the back of 10.5 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9.
Team chairman Tom Werner and COO Sam Kennedy have no regrets over how the Red Sox handled their extension talks with Jon Lester, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports, even though the lack of progress led to Lester being traded to Oakland at the deadline. Kennedy felt that there wasn’t anything to regret since the negotiations were amicable on both sides, though Werner wished more talks had taken place. “I don’t want to go back too much, but let me just say that we expected a little more dialogue back and forth than happened. But I’ll take our share of responsibility in that,” Werner said. Both executives said the Sox would look to rebuild the rotation for 2015, and Kennedy hinted that the team’s alleged distaste for long-term deals for pitchers in their 30’s isn’t necessarily as rigid as believed.
Here’s some more from Fenway Park…
- Daniel Nava received some trade interest from the Giants at the July deadline, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports. This is just my speculation, but I wonder if San Francisco could pursue Nava again this offseason if Mike Morse isn’t re-signed. The Tigers and Royals were also rumored to be in on Nava last summer.
- Cafardo’s piece breaks down the Red Sox roster and examines who the team should consider trading. Mookie Betts, for instance, seems to be “the Red Sox prospect teams want most in a deal” according to conversations with rival scouts, yet Cafardo feels Betts’ talent and versatility makes him too valuable a piece to move.
- David Ross isn’t sure if he’ll be back in Boston next season or even if his career could be over, the veteran catcher told reporters (including John Tomase of the Boston Herald) yesterday. Ross will be 38 on Opening Day 2015 and he’s been a non-factor at the plate for the last two seasons, though his defense and ability to mentor pitchers and young players in general is greatly respected. John Farrell said Ross is under consideration to return to the Sox next year, and Ross could make sense as a veteran backup to Christian Vazquez.
Rusney Castillo will make his highly anticipated debut with the Red Sox tonight, and WEEI.com’s Alex Speier breaks down which Red Sox players will be impacted by his arrival. As Speier points out, Castillo batted .293/.370/.463 in his 11 minor league games prior to his summoning to the Majors. He will split time with Jackie Bradley in center field, but if Brock Holt returns from a concussion, Will Middlebrooks could lose some playing time as well.
Here’s more on the Red Sox…
- The one-year, $16MM extension (which comes with a pair of club options) that the Red Sox issued to David Ortiz has proven to be a good move, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Big Papi himself said as much to Bradford, noting that critics and doubters have gone eerily silent following a strong season: “It’s all about having the chance by this time [of the season] to say, ‘See, I told you it was wrong to sign him.’ That’s what it’s all about, so that’s why I don’t pay any attention to that,” said Ortiz. Papi would’ve joined a thin list of free agent hitters, and multiple execs tell Bradford that at least two years and $40MM wouldn’t have been an outlandish ask on the free agent market. Ortiz doesn’t seem to have any regret that he signed the deal, though he did note that “it would have cost [the Red Sox] more” to sign him had they waited until free agency. Ortiz has batted .263/.357/.508 with 32 homers this season.
- David Ross would like to return to Boston, he tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, but he knows that might not be in the cards. “I feel like if they really want me, they might’ve already come to me,” says Ross. The Red Sox are impressed with Christian Vasquez‘s glove behind the plate but may well feel the need to get more offense from their backstops, Lauber writes. Ross is hitting just .185/.264/.356 in 165 plate appearances this season. Lauber adds that Ross would like to play at least one more season for a contending team.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at some of the recently suggestions put forth by Red Sox chairman Tom Werner to help make the game more marketable to young people.
“Too many people are leaving games in the sixth and seventh innings because they can’t watch 3½-hour games, so they’re leaving the game at the point where the game should be getting exciting,” Werner said. “You wouldn’t make a 3½-hour movie. The NFL makes changes almost on an annual basis. They’re considering making the extra point from 35 yards rather than from the 8-yard line… I respect tradition, but I don’t revere it.”
Among Werner’s ideas: instituting a pitch clock, limiting the number of times a batter can step out of the box, and putting a cap on the number of catcher and pitching coach visits to the mound. More from today’s column..
- Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson could be on the hot seat and there has been a lot of speculation about Joe McEwing, a third base coach with the White Sox, or Mike Aldrete, the bench coach for the Cardinals. If Gibson is canned it would mark Tony La Russa‘s first big decision but GM Kevin Towers would also likely to have a say.
- In a chat with Cafardo, David Ross spoke glowingly of the amenities or “little things” that the Red Sox do for their players and Cafardo wonders if that could keep Jon Lester in Boston beyond this season. Lester’s family was always taken care of the team’s traveling secretary and while other teams can offer similar services, the consensus among players who have been multiple places is that Red Sox and Yankees are the teams that offer more to their players.
- Ross tells Cafardo that even though there have been no contract talks with the Red Sox yet, he would like to return. Boston would certainly love for him to keep working with Christian Vazquez, but Ross’s recent bout with plantar fasciitis has slowed him. Ross is finishing up a two-year, 6.2MM deal.
- Daniel Nava drew interest from the Tigers and had interest from the Royals before they traded for Josh Willingham, but he has yet to be put on waivers. It’s not a certainty that he’ll clear and but the Red Sox will likely put him on revocable waivers later in the month to see what type of interest he’ll get. The Sox’ outfield looks crowded next season with Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino, Yoenis Cespedes, Mookie Betts, and Brock Holt all in the mix so it makes sense to see what can be had for Nava.
- In a separate tweet, Cafardo reports Nava, Mike Napoli, Koji Uehara, and Will Middlebrooks have been placed on revocable waivers.
Happy birthday to long-time Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who turns 42 years old today. Varitek played all 1546 of his career Major League games in a Boston jersey, posting a .776 OPS and collecting two World Series rings along the way. Varitek retired prior to the 2012 season and, since September 2012, has been working as a special assistant to Sox GM Ben Cherington. Here's the latest out of Fenway Park…
- David Ross tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that his good friend and former teammate Brian McCann had an interest in joining the Red Sox as a free agent last winter. "Early on I did (think McCann would come to Boston). I knew he wanted to come here, a lot. I had just told him what it was like here and that interested him," Ross said. Once McCann said that the Yankees had made him a big offer, however, Ross stayed out of the recruiting process out of respect for letting McCann handle his own business, plus the fact that "the Red Sox weren’t even close to what he got, so it really was a no-brainer."
- Also from Bradford's piece, he reports that the Red Sox had interest in Eric O'Flaherty last offseason. O'Flaherty underwent Tommy John surgery last May and isn't expected to pitch until midseason, but the veteran southpaw still drew interest from several teams last winter before signing a two-year, $7MM deal with the Athletics.
- Several Red Sox players contacted the players' union about their displeasure that players who had been suspended for PED use last season (namely, Jhonny Peralta) were eligible to play in the postseason, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Players on other teams voiced similar concerns, and the revised joint drug agreement states that players who have been hit with a PED suspension during a season aren't allowed to participate in that same season's playoffs.
- While John Lackey resurrected his career in 2013 and has pitched well in two 2014 starts, it may be premature for the Red Sox to explore an extension for the right-hander, Chris Villani of the Boston Herald opines. Lackey is under contract in 2015 for a league minimum salary (a condition of his contract after undergoing Tommy John surgery) and since Boston has a number of good young pitchers in the minor league pipeline, Villani believes the Sox can afford to wait to see if Lackey is truly back to form before considering another contract.
A few notes from Nick Cafardo's latest column in the Boston Globe:
- Free agent Derek Lowe seems to have retired, telling Cafardo that he asked agent Scott Boras not to look for opportunties for him. Lowe pitched in nine games for the Rangers this year before being released in late May.
- The Blue Jays' situation is "a nightmare," Cafardo says, noting that some in the organization don't know whether GM Alex Anthopoulos will stick with the team he has. Toronto is 27-35 after bringing in R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and others last offseason.
- Catcher David Ross says the Rays, Yankees and Rangers pursued him, and the Pirates would have been interested in him if they hadn't signed Russell Martin instead. Ross signed a two-year, $6.2MM contract with the Red Sox in the offseason.
- The Pirates, whose rotation depth has been damaged by injuries to Wandy Rodriguez, Jeanmar Gomez, James McDonald, Jeff Karstens, Kyle McPherson and Phil Irwin, "would now have to be interested in" Astros pitcher Bud Norris, Cafardo says. Cafardo also notes that talent evaluators wonder how Norris, a competitive player currently pitching for a last-place team, will do if placed on a competitive team.
- It's unclear what the Tigers would do if they lost Jhonny Peralta to a suspension. Peralta has been connected to the Biogenesis scandal, and his production at shortstop would be tough to replace internally or in the trade market, Cafardo notes.
- The Dodgers have already received calls about Andre Ethier's trade availability, Cafardo says.