David Price Rumors
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.
For the last year or two, Nick Markakis has been vocal about how important it would be to spend his entire career with one organization, and the outfielder tells Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun how he hopes his contract year will help carry the Orioles to a championship and, potentially, convince the team to keep him in the fold. "In a perfect world, I'd like to [stay here],'' Markakis said. "A lot of people play this game for the wrong reasons. A lot of people play it where the money is. I get a bigger satisfaction being with the same team your whole career....To be able to do that would be a pretty cool experience. It would be something special to me." The O's have a $17.5MM option on Markakis for 2015 that seems a bit too expensive to exercise even if Markakis does rebound from his career-low numbers last season, though the two sides could work out another multiyear deal.
Here's more from around the AL East...
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that while he didn't plan on having a payroll in the $80MM range for the coming season, the opportunity was there for the Rays to sign Grant Balfour and re-sign James Loney.
- Sternberg noted that extending a star like David Price is "more difficult now than it was in the past, given the numbers. There's been inflation.'' That said, Sternberg also "wouldn't say it's likely" that this is Price's last year in Tampa. "You just can't make decisions like that this far in advance, and we're trying to give the team as big of a chance as we can this year without sacrificing our future as well," Sternberg said. "There's the opportuniuty of other players, there's the expense that's involved in it, but we're...a little enamored with the possibilities of what we can do, and what he brings."
- The Blue Jays haven't made many roster moves this winter but GM Alex Anthopoulos tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that he expects the Jays to improve simply by avoiding some of the injuries and misfortune that plagued the club last season. “Sometimes you sit there and say, ‘We won 74 games, when everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong,’” Anthopoulos said. “So this year, what happens if we just have a little bit of luck? I can understand the skepticism about our team, absolutely, coming off the year we’re coming off. But I just don’t think it’s a stretch to expect improvement out of a lot of these guys this year, simply because the floor was so low.”
- The Blue Jays' second base options project to generate only 0.4 WAR in 2014, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello notes, and he explores a few trade possibilities that could upgrade Toronto at the keystone position.
- With the Red Sox enjoying huge revenues and big drops in payroll obligations in 2015 and 2016, ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes argues that the time is right to extend David Ortiz. The slugger's contract negotiations have generated some bad publicity in recent years, so Edes suggests that Ortiz could receive a club option in perpetuity, a la Tim Wakefield's contract with the Sox.
- Red Sox limited partner Michael Gordon isn't a well-known figure to most fans, but WEEI.com's Alex Speier profiles the man who has quietly become a more influential voice within the team's ownership group over the last few years.
The Rays haven't yet traded David Price, and Price thinks the holdup on the pitching market due to Masahiro Tanaka's arrival might be the reason why, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. "With Tanaka not being able to sign until the 24th [of January] and stuff like that, it seemed like teams waited for that market to fall," Price says. "You know, if he had signed during the winter meetings or something, it might have been a little bit different. That would have given teams a lot more time to figure out what they wanted to do." Still, Stark quotes an executive who notes the Rays will still probably eventually trade Price, because deals for players like Wil Myers and Chris Archer are currently the Rays' most reliable way to accumulate talent, since recent drafts haven't yielded much top talent and since they don't have the budget to acquire key players on the free-agent market. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Brett Wallace isn't concerned that the Astros removed him from their 40-man roster, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports. His goal before was to win a job coming out of camp, and that's still his goal. "I was coming in here to win a job anyway. Being on the roster doesn't guarantee you anything," he says.
- John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Frandsen, who were both eligible for arbitration this winter, both now have contracts that are guaranteed, writes Matt Gelb of the Inquirer. Mayberry is under contract for $1.59MM, while Frandsen will make $900K. That could affect the Phillies as they try to set their roster, because they can't cut either of them in spring training without running the risk of paying them their entire salaries anyway. Often, contracts for players in their arbitration-eligible seasons are non-guaranteed, as was the case with, for example, Emilio Bonifacio and the Royals. When the Royals designated Bonifacio for assignment, they paid only a percentage of his $3.5MM salary.
- Manager John Farrell says the Red Sox still don't know whether Stephen Drew will return to them, and they don't want a "lingering what-if" in the clubhouse as the season approaches, WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts would move to third base and third baseman Will Middlebrooks would move to the bench if Drew were to re-sign.
The Mariners are "back in business, showing strong interest" in Nelson Cruz and Fernando Rodney again, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest column. The Mariners, who are said to have some financial leeway by new team president Kevin Mather, is also looking at the trade market for starting pitchers, though they're not currently focused on David Price or Jeff Samardzija. Rosenthal also notes that the Indians aren't having any conversations on Justin Masterson, nor are the Reds inclined to move any of their starters, further limiting the list of trade targets. More highlights below...
- Cruz could be a fallback option for the Rangers, but probably only if he's willing to sign a one-year deal. Bringing Cruz back would allow the Rangers to deal Mitch Moreland.
- Rosenthal wonders if the Reds should be thinking about dealing a starter. While they're trying to extend Homer Bailey, that seems to be a tall order as he's just one year from free agency. Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto are all only controlled through 2015, and as Rosenthal notes, not all can be long-term pieces.
- The Athletics aren't considering making a run at Stephen Drew and shifting Jed Lowrie from short to second base. The A's are comfortable platooning Eric Sogard and Nick Punto.
- A rival executive wondered to Rosenthal if the Braves would match up with the Mariners on a Dustin Ackley trade, but Rosenthal hears that the Braves aren't looking for a second baseman. They currently have Dan Uggla, who is owed $26MM through 2015, and three fallback options in Ramiro Pena, Tommy La Stella and Tyler Pastornicky.
- Braves GM Frank Wren said he doesn't hold any ill will toward players who go to arbitration hearings -- such as the ones he could face with Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman: "We don’t look at it as an antagonistic process. We look at it as a solution to a disagreement on a player’s salary."
Now that Masahiro Tanaka is off the market, teams that missed out on Japanese righty could try to acquire another ace-level pitcher in the form of David Price. The Price trade rumors had died down as the offseason progressed and there was a growing expectation that Price would be a Ray in 2014, though one Major League executive expects the Rays to reach out to the Dodgers and other teams about Price's availability. "I have no doubt they will revisit that, starting today," the executive tells Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
- Jayson Nix's minor league deal with the Rays allows him to look for a Major League job elsewhere if he isn't on Tampa Bay's opening day roster, MLBTR's Zach Links reports (Twitter links). Nix's deal also allows him to opt out of his contract on June 1 even if he is on the Rays' Major League roster.
- The Rays and Padres completed a seven-player trade earlier today and Tampa Bay executive VP Andrew Friedman discussed the deal in a conference call with reporters, including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (two links). Friedman broke down the five players the Rays received from San Diego and noted that Logan Forsythe "is a guy that we had tried to get previously and a guy that was very high on our target list."
- While Friedman appreciated the work that Alex Torres had done in Tampa Bay, the Rays felt they had enough left-handed relief depth to use a southpaw as trade bait.
Andrew Friedman of the Rays and Billy Beane of the Athletics have the most job security of any GMs in baseball, Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel writes. At the other end of the spectrum are Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners and Jerry Dipoto of the Angels. McDaniel writes that Zduriencik could hang on in Seattle with a playoff run in 2014, but that doesn't seem likely. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- The Rays should not trade David Price, Dayn Perry of CBS Sports writes. Price figures to be the Rays' best starter in what should be a contending season. Also, Price will likely out-produce the $14MM he'll make in 2014. If the Rays struggle this year, Keri says, they can reconsider dealing Price when the trade deadline rolls around.
- The Mariners recently designated outfielder Carlos Peguero for assignment when they added John Buck. Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs points out that Peguero is out of options, and is unlikely to make it in the big leagues despite "big-time raw upside" -- he strikes out too much and walks too little to take advantage of his power. Sullivan looks at players who have had seasons with strikeout and walk numbers comparable to those of Peguero's 2011 debut, and finds only a few who had meaningful careers, including Tony Armas, Don Demeter, Dick Stuart, and former Mariners star Bret Boone.
The Braves' front office has a busy day on its hands, notes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). Atlanta has seven arbitration eligible players they'll hope to take care of today: Craig Kimbrel, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Chris Johnson and Jordan Schafer. He also tweets that a multi-year deal is unlikely to be reached with any of the seven. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes tweeted earlier today, the Braves are one of several "file and trial" teams that either settle before exchanging figures or say they will head to a trial, which means GM Frank Wren and his staff will have their hands full today. Here's more out of baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Rays ace David Price knows there's still a chance that he will be traded even after agreeing to a one-year, $14MM contract to avoid arbitration, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. However, Price wants to remain with the Rays and says that the closer Spring Training gets, the more confident he is that he will stay. Price said that he can't imagine being traded once camp opens, and he thinks making it to February would be a good indicator that he won't be dealt: "Probably Feb. 1 would be a time period that I think would kind of let me know that I would be here."
- Clayton Kershaw's record extension will impact future deals for starters, but its impact on Red Sox lefty Jon Lester is minimal, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Lauber writes that there are no other players in Kershaw's stratosphere, noting that Lester compares more favorably to Cole Hamels. Boston will likely approach Lester about an extension during Spring Training, he adds.
- The Orioles and Manny Machado received good news yesterday following Machado's visit with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, as one source told the Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly that Machado is six to eight weeks ahead of schedule. That would place Machado ready to contribute on Opening Day, Connolly notes (Twitter links).
- Signing closer Steve Cishek to a multi-year deal has not been considered as a serious option by the Marlins, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports in his latest Marlins Inbox piece.
The Rays have reached agreement on a one-year, $14MM deal with ace David Price to avoid arbitration, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports on Twitter. Price, who is represented by Bo McKinnis, will qualify for arbitration one more time before hitting free agency in 2016.
Price's deal represents a nearly $4MM raise over his 2013 salary. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected him to earn $13.1MM, though Swartz explained that Price had a somewhat higher ceiling to aim for. As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes on Twitter, the southpaw stands to constitute about twenty percent of the club's approximately $70MM payroll for the coming year. $14MM also makes for the highest single-season salary in club history, though Tampa has already promised higher paydays over the 2019-22 portion of Evan Longoria's extension.
The agreement should not have a substantial impact on the possibility of Price being dealt. While salary certainty knocks out one minor variable, Price's rights are enormously valuable either way. Of course, the latest chatter has suggested that Price is increasingly likely to pitch for the Rays in 2014 anyway, at least to start the year.
The Rays face a dilemma with regard to David Price, writes Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs. They could keep him this season, a season in which they project to be competitive, and try to trade him again next offseason. The problem is that his surplus value is likely to decline by then -- not only because he'll be a year closer to free agency, but because he doesn't project to improve and because he'll almost certainly be paid more in 2015 than he will be in 2014. Here are more notes out of Tampa.
- The Rays are currently focused on "tinkering" with their roster and building depth, GM Andrew Friedman tells the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin (via Twitter).
- Jake Odorizzi was impressed with the Rays after joining their organization via the James Shields / Wil Myers trade, he tells Sam Dykstra in a long interview at MILB.com. "You hear things about how good this organization is, and it really lived up to that. Everyone here is great on communication, and the program they put you on is one-of-a-kind," Odorizzi says. "You can see why they're so successful and continue to be that every year." Odorizzi also says he became closer to Myers and fellow Royal-turned-Ray Mike Montgomery as a result of the trade.
In two pieces today for GammonsDaily.com, Peter Gammons discusses a variety of hot stove topics. In particular, even before Clayton Kershaw's market-busting extension earlier today, Gammons noted that the price of starting pitching has been a hot topic among baseball GMs.
- The two key situations driving market pricing, he writes, are the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes and how the Rays handle David Price. Tanaka could command $120MM or more from the Yankees or Dodgers, says Gammons. As for Price, Tampa is increasingly inclined to hold onto their ace at least until the trade deadline, when they can try to extract a higher price or hold onto him for a postseason run.
- These situations could have a substantial impact on several other high-end starters that are set to become free agents next year. James Shields has let the Royals know that he is looking to score a contract on the magnitude of Zach Greinke's six-year, $147MM deal.
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox and Reds do not plan on approaching key extension candidates Jon Lester and Homer Bailey, respectively, until Spring Training.
- After disappointing returns on some of their major pitching acquisitions last year, the Blue Jays are not going to engage in any bidding wars for starting pitching, Gammons says. The club will instead "build on youth and rehabs," and will only jump into the mix for arms like Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez if they "fall down to [Toronto]."
- Agent Scott Boras has increasingly given indication that free agent Stephen Drew is willing to play positions other than shortstop, says Gammons, which may increase his appeal to both the Yankees and Red Sox. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes in a separate piece, Boras says that Drew has suitors other than the Sox and Mets, though he declined to name them.
- Already considered one of the game's top prospects, Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco has raised his stock even further with big numbers (including a .428 OBP) in he Dominican winter league. Polanco, 22, could have an impact by the mid-season of 2014. More importantly for the Bucs' long-term plans, one National League GM tells Gammons that the prospective Pittsburgh outfield of Polanco, Andrew McCutchen, and Starling Marte "will be the best outfield in the game."