David Price Rumors
The Phillies' possible offseason targets include Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran, CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman notes. Seidman suggests that signing Cruz to a two-year deal for $30MM might make sense. He notes that, while the Phillies shouldn't be trying to get older at this stage, and with $120MM already committed to other players in 2014, they won't have a ton of money to spend. A power-hitting outfielder appears to be the Phillies' greatest short-term need, however. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says it's "safe to say" the loss of a draft pick won't prevent them from signing a free agent who has received a qualifying offer, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. The Mets' first-round pick in next year's draft, the tenth overall, is protected. If they sign a free agent, they could lose their second-round pick, but not their first.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if the Orioles can afford to extend both Chris Davis and Matt Wieters without stretching themseles too thin. Dubroff notes that if Wieters were a free agent this year, he’d probably more coveted than Atlanta’s Brian McCann, who is ranked as the fourth-best free agent available by Tim Dierkes.
- The Rays' biggest obstacle in finding a deal for ace David Price might be their own sky-high expectation for a return, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Tampa Bay will want to beat out their return for James Shields by a vast margin, but they may have to accept a little less than what they have in mind.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Free agents are not allowed to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs until 11:01 pm (CT) Monday, but agent Scott Boras says his phone was ringing off the hook regarding Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew within hours of the Red Sox winning the World Series, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Yankees will be the most interesting team during free agency, according to Cafardo, but will be hamstrung until a decision is made on Alex Rodriguez's appeal. Cafardo also lists the Phillies, Tigers, Giants, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rangers as active participants in the free agent market. In other tidbits from his Sunday Baseball Notes column:
- Both LA teams are interested in acquiring David Price from the Rays. The Angels may have a slight edge because they can put together package with bats like Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick while the Dodgers have an overstocked rotation.
- Joe Nathan should be of interest to both the Tigers and Yankees even though the latter seems to have settled on David Robertson as Mariano Rivera's replacement.
- There may be no better time for the Red Sox to trade John Lackey than right now.
- The Red Sox may consider re-signing Joel Hanrahan after he recovers from Tommy John surgery to provide protection for incumbent closer Koji Uehara.
- Franklin Gutierrez, whose $7.5MM club option was declined by the Mariners, is an intriguing player who can still perform at a high level when healthy. Staying healthy has been an issue for Gutierrez with six trips to the disabled list in the last four years.
- Johan Santana, whose $25MM club option was declined by the Mets, is another pretty good low-cost gamble.
Timing will be the trickiest issue of the offseason for Rays, GM Andrew Friedman tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Even if Friedman has an early opportunity to address first base (e.g. re-signing James Loney) or left field, he will have to keep the possibility of a David Price trade in the back of his mind. Acting too quickly to fill either hole could cause the team to miss out on a superior, more permanent option at the position that could be filled in a potential Price trade. Says Friedman: "We have to utilize all the information we have accumulated to that point to make the best decision possible while also appreciating the trickle-down effect of each move." Here's more from the AL East...
- Jon Lester told reporters, including WEEI.com's Alex Speier, that he's excited to be returning to the Red Sox for another year after having his option picked up but hopes that he can work out a long-term deal with the team. Lester is currently more focused on celebrating Boston's 2013 World Series victory, but said "Hopefully [next year is] not the only one and we can be here for a long time."
- David Ortiz is still producing at a virtually ageless clip, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald in arguing that the Red Sox should extend their DH. Big Papi is signed through 2014, but his potent bat and status as face of the franchise should earn him a lengthier guarantee, opines Silverman.
- The Orioles must decide if they wish to protect left-handers Chris Jones and Tim Berry as well as catcher Michael Ohman from the Rule 5 Draft by adding them to their 40-man roster, says Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Connolly also points out the potential fit between the O's and Mark Ellis, should Brian Roberts not be re-signed. There's still some mutual interest between Baltimore and Roberts, Connolly reports.
Let's take a look around the developing starting pitching market ...
- The Blue Jays are still deciding whether or not to make Josh Johnson a qualifying offer, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Davidi says that the hurler's health is the primary consideration, and adds that he would be "a near certainty to accept if he gets an offer." Johnson's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Davidi that he has not "talked about it much" with club GM Alex Anthopoulos, but said there were "good reasons to qualify [Johnson] or not qualify him."
- Sosnick also spoke with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, providing a host of good information on Johnson, who he says may still receive (and could accept) a qualifying offer from Toronto. If Johnson hits the open market, his agent says he will certainly seek a one-year deal "to rebuild his value." With no interest in a multi-year deal, contract negotiations figure to be simplified somewhat, and could open the door to more teams with interest. Sosnick says Johnson is "looking for a good pitching atmosphere, a good defense behind him and a team with a good chance to win." He predicts that the big righty is "probably going to be the most approached free-agent pitcher out there" and will ultimately land a deal "somewhere around what the qualifying offer is."
- Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff threw some cold water on the possibility of a move on Johnson, Berardino further reports. Radcliff said that Johnson is coming off of a "horrible" year and "if he wants $10 million, we're not going to be involved with that."
- Sosnick reps not only Johnson, but fellow free agents Ricky Nolasco and Randy Messenger. He says that the Twins seem to have interest in every member of that trio, but his "sense is they're most interested in Nolasco."
- One other possible target for Minnesota is Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com (via Twitter). Of course, Jimenez is widely expected to come with draft compensation attached, though the Twins enjoy a protected top-ten pick (fifth overall). The team has apparently told at least one free agent's representatives that it will be aggressive on the market.
- The Dodgers could conceivably hatch a strategy to trade for David Price and add Masahiro Tanaka via the posting process, a rival GM tells Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. By doing that instead of signing a top free agent starter, the club could avoid the loss of its first-round draft choice and the bonus pool allocation that comes with it. Of course, the Dodgers would need to part with more advanced talent to snag Price.
Sonny Gray underwent surgery on his left thumb today and is expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training, the Athletics announced via their Twitter feed. Gray said he would still be pitching if Oakland was in the ALCS, despite the tear in his thumb's UCL that he suffered on a Prince Fielder line drive in Game Five of the ALDS. The A's obviously want Gray fit for 2014 given how impressive the right-hander looked in his rookie season --- Gray posted a 2.67 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 3.35 K/BB over 12 regular season games (10 starts) and then posted a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings in two postseason starts.
Here's the latest from around the AL West...
- Eric Wedge and the Mariners have different accounts of why exactly they parted ways, but CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes it was clear that a change was necessary at manager given the differences between the two sides.
- Also in the piece, Heyman reports that the Mariners have Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo on their list of possible manager candidates.
- The Mariners aren't likely to make a play for David Price this offseason, MLB.com's Greg Johns writes as part of a reader mailbag. Seattle has been linked to Price in at least one rumor but Johns thinks if the M's are going to deal prospects for any major star, it will be for a big hitter.
- Reid Ryan, the Astros' president of business operations and Nolan Ryan's son, tells MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he hasn't spoken to his father about joining the 'Stros now that the elder Ryan has stepped down as the Rangers' CEO. Astros owner Jim Crane would be open to Ryan taking on a role with the team, saying "We have Reid here, and [Nolan] is certainly welcome as a family member to hang out with us. I like Nolan, and at some point, if Nolan wanted to do something, we're all ears."
- In AL West news from earlier today on MLBTR, you can check out Charlie Wilmoth's Offseason Outlook entry on the Rangers, a collection of Rangers notes, and Steve Adams' free agent profile of A's closer Grant Balfour.
While David Price has resigned himself to being traded, the Rays appear to be trying to figure out ways to make their ace the focal point of their pitching staff for many years to come, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo notes, however, the Rays' front office realizes it could be a losing battle, so a trade is likely with nearly half of baseball rumored to be interested in the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. "It's a big name, a big-time pitcher," one National League GM told Cafardo. "Even if you feel you don't need that level of pitcher, you look into it because he's so special and such a game changer. You do more than kick the tires. You try to make something happen, and I think you'll see teams that don't even need him step up." Here's more from Cafardo's column:
- The Red Sox will likely trade one of their veteran starters to make room for their young arms. Cafardo suggests Jon Lester and Jake Peavy could be available while Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront are also vulnerable.
- Jacoby Ellsbury is a perfect fit for the Mariners and Carlos Beltran likewise for the Orioles.
- Curtis Granderson will likely receive a qualifying offer from the Yankees and there's a strong possibility he would take it because he could post his biggest numbers at Yankee Stadium.
- The Dodgers will make Andre Ethier and/or Matt Kemp available this winter. Kemp will come with injury concerns, but that shouldn't prevent a team from taking a chance on his talent.
- James Loney has rebuilt his value with a strong season in Tampa (.299/.348/.430 with a 2.1 oWAR in 158 games and 598 plate appearances). Loney could find a market with the Rangers, if the Rays don't re-sign the free agent first baseman.
- Reds pitching coach Bryan Price appears to be the front-runner to replace Dusty Baker as manager in Cincinnati while Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr is in a strong position to take over from Davey Johnson, unless ownership wants a bigger name as its new manager.
The Dodgers announced this week that Matt Kemp underwent surgery to repair the A-C joint in his left shoulder. Kemp, who was ruled out for the postseason due to an ankle injury, is expected to be ready for Spring Training, at which point the Dodgers will possess an interesting outfield logjam due to the presence of Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier. Here's more out of the NL West...
- On yesterday's Baseball Tonight Podcast, ESPN's Buster Olney told colleague Tim Kurkjian that the Dodgers are expected to be the most aggressive team in pursuing a trade for David Price this offseason. A Price acquisition would give the Dodgers an unthinkably dominant front four of Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Price and Hyun-jin Ryu. Olney also names the Mariners and Rangers as possibilities, though he questions whether or not Price would want to sign an extension in Seattle.
- Rockies owner Dick Monfort says Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are staying put, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. "The plan is to keep them. Next year, yes. And my plan is to always keep them," Monfort said. "Is that the smartest thing in the world to do? I don't know. But for our fans I think it's the best thing to do."
- Monfort also noted to Renck that the Rockies' payroll is expected to rise from this year's mark of $83.7MM to the $90-95MM range in 2014. He would like the team to add a starting pitcher and another big bat this offseason. MLBTR's Zach Links recently looked at the club's needs in the Colorado installment of the offseason outlook series.
- MLB.com's Jim Callis called Rockies 2013 first-rounder Jonathan Gray "the class of the 2013 draft," saying that he has a higher ceiling than that of fellow Top 3 picks Mark Appel (Astros) and Kris Bryant (Cubs). Callis notes that the Rockies have had trouble developing pitching, but opines that Gray has clear ace potential and could reach the Majors in a hurry.
Manager Joe Maddon told Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune that change is part of the Rays culture, and it's because of that reality that ace left-hander David Price is mentally preparing for a trade this offseason, writes Mooney. Price spoke to reporters on a conference call and offered the following take:
“If you go with what's been done in the past, I guess you're going to have to think you're going to get traded ... This is a place I love to be. My teammates and everyone in the organization knows that. It's part of baseball and it's something I've seen go on, it's kind of something I somewhat prepared myself for."
Teammates Alex Cobb and Ben Zobrist both say that they try not to think about the fact that this could have been Price's final season with the team and that they hope the Rays find a way to retain him. However, as Price alluded to, the Rays have a history of selling high on their starters as their price tag begins to rise. Tampa Bay dealt Matt Garza to the Cubs when he had three years of team control remaining, and they traded James Shields last winter when Shields had two years of control remaining. Price, who earned just over $10.1MM in 2013, is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to see that number jump to $13.1MM in arbitration next year.
The 28-year-old Price was the first overall pick in the 2007 draft and has blossomed into one of the game's best pitchers, taking home the AL Cy Young Award in 2012. He had a "down season" by his standards in 2013 -- partly due to a triceps injury that shelved him for more than a month -- but still posted a 3.33 ERA with 7.3 K/9, a league-leading 1.3 BB/9 and 44.9 percent ground-ball rate.
If and when Price hits the trading block, he will instantly become one of the most sought-after trade targets in recent memory. Last winter, the Royals surrendered Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard to acquire Shields and Wade Davis, and it's logical to imagine that Price could command a similar or even larger package. Like Shields, he has two years of team control remaining, but Price has been the more consistently dominant of the two since his 2010 breakout season.
Of course, the Rays could hang onto Price for another season and pay him the roughly $13MM he's owed as well. That would be more than the Rays have paid any player in the past, but it's a level they were comfortable committing to Evan Longoria on an average annual basis through the 2023 season. The team has $16MM coming off the books in free agent contracts in the form of Roberto Hernandez, Luke Scott, Kelly Johnson, Jose Molina, James Loney and Kyle Farnsworth, as well as non-tender candidates in Jeff Niemann (projected $3.4MM salary) and Sam Fuld ($900K). Niemann and Fuld combined to earn $3.725MM in 2013.
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is "more interested" in the Cubs manager's job than he was two years ago, a source tells ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers. The Cubs were interested in Maddux in 2011 but he pulled himself out of the process due to family considerations, though that "isn't as big of a concern" this time around. The Cubs have yet to contact Maddux during their current search for a new bench boss. Here's the latest from Arlington...
- GM Jon Daniels discussed his relationship with Nolan Ryan, coaching changes, Jurickson Profar's development and other Rangers topics during a recent appearance on "The Ben and Skin Show" on 105.3 The Fan radio (partial transcript provided by the Dallas Morning News). In regards to how the team will address Profar and the crowded middle infield picture, Daniels said, “If [a trade] helps us get better and win, then yeah, and I think we’d consider trading somebody. If it doesn’t, we’re not going to force it. There are a lot worse problems than having too many good players for a position.”
- Also from that interview, Daniels discussed his club's offseason needs. "Catching is an area that we need to address, as is our offense and run production in general, and there's a couple different spots we can look to add some offense. I think you're always in the market for pitching," Daniels said.
- David Murphy will likely be playing elsewhere in 2014, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes as part of a reader mailbag. The 31-year-old hit a career-worst .220/.282/.374 in 476 PA, drastically lowing his stock on the free agent market this winter. Sullivan speculates that Murphy could be a good fit on the Astros or Giants.
- Also from Sullivan's mailbag, he notes that Michael Young could retire at the end of this season. Young turns 37 later this month and his contract will be up as soon as the Dodgers' playoff run ends.
- Sullivan guesses that the Rangers would have to give up Profar, a top pitching prospect like Luke Jackson, and also a big hitting prospect from the lower minors to acquire David Price from the Rays.
- If the Rangers signed Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, Sullivan doesn't think it would necessarily mean the end of Mitch Moreland's time with the club since the Rangers need more bats.
- Earlier today on MLBTR, Zach Links included an item about the Rangers as part of a "Texas Notes" post.
The Yankees have begun discussions with manager Joe Girardi as his three-year contract is set to expire, but Mark Gonzales of the Chicago-Tribune reports that the Cubs may be willing to top any offer the Yankees make (subscription required). According to Gonzales, Girardi's annual salary may soar over the $5MM mark, and he could exceed his previous three-year guarantee as well. Here's more out of the AL East...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with nine executives who believe that the Rays will trade David Price this offseason. Sherman points out that Price's $10MM salary could approach $15MM (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $13.1MM), and the Rays have previously dealt Matt Garza and James Shields with two years of team control remaining. Now that they are among the league's best teams each year, the Rays must add top talent via trade instead of at the top of the draft, Sherman adds. The Rangers, Cubs and D-Backs were popular guesses for landing spots among Sherman's panel of nine executives.
- Stephen Drew would love to return to the Red Sox and went so far as to say that he'd like to finish his career in Boston, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Bradford outlines a scenario in which Drew could remain with the Sox, though it would require shifting Xander Bogaerts from shortstop to third base and moving Will Middlebrooks across the diamond from third base to first base.
- The Orioles aren't expected to pursue Mike Morse in free agency this offseason, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Kubatko opines that Morse could be a bargain, however, noting his limited leverage coming off a .215/.270/.381 season and pointing to Morse's monster production in 2011 (.303/.360/.550). Kubatko adds that the Nationals tried to trade Morse to the Orioles at last year's Winter Meetings, but the Nats weren't interested in parting with right-hander Jake Arrieta at the time. Arrieta eventually went to the Cubs in this summer's Scott Feldman deal.