David Price Rumors
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.
Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter want to be starters again, but they've already proven themselves to be successful in the bullpen, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. While manager Buck Showalter will work to stretch them out in spring training, its possible that the O's would have sent Matusz to Triple-A Norfolk to work as a starter if that were an option. Here's more out of the AL East..
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reached out to nine baseball executives yesterday to ask if they felt David Price would get moved this winter and they all said yes. Price, like Matt Garza and James Shields when they were dealt from Tampa Bay, is two years away from free agency, meaning that this is the time to move him. The Rangers came up most often as the most likely destination followed by the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Padres, Red Sox, Giants, and Reds.
- The perception around baseball that free agent Robinson Cano doesn't work hard could hurt his value, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that's its an unfair label. The second baseman has a tendency to not run out grounders, but generally speaking, he has impeccable work habits. “When he hits a groundball to the second baseman or shortstop, I know what it looks like,” hitting coach Kevin Long said. “I get it. I know it is part of the perception. He’s been talked to a million times about it. But I am telling you that is not a true picture of how hard he works or cares, and so if that is his only downfall, it is not the worst thing in the world.”
- Kubatko revisited the Orioles' trade for Bud Norris and wonders if it will be worthwhile when all is said and done.
The Yankees have made a substantial offer to keep manager Joe Girardi, Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York reports. A source tells Marchand that Girardi could think about the offer through the weekend. "We are going to give him a real good reason to stay," says GM Brian Cashman. Rumors have connected Girardi to the Cubs' managerial job, which might be a possibility if he chooses to leave. The Nationals and Reds also have managerial openings that Girardi might find attractive. Girardi is currently under contract with the Yankees through the end of October. Here are more notes from the AL East.
- Last offseason, the Red Sox and Royals discussed a possible trade involving Jon Lester and Wil Myers, Lester tells WEEI.com's Alex Speier. "[Royals manager Ned Yost] is actually a pretty good friend of mine. I flat-out called him one day and was like, 'Hey, what do you got on this?' He said, ‘Yeah, we’re trying to make it work,'" Lester says. One reason the trade ultimately didn't happen is that the Royals finally traded Myers and three other players to the Rays, the Red Sox's current ALDS opponent, for a package headlined by James Shields.
- One assistant GM proposes that the Rays could trade David Price to the Dodgers for Corey Seager, Joc Pederson, Julio Urias and Chris Withrow, Peter Gammons writes. That would give the Rays two very good hitting prospects in Seager and Pederson, a very young arm in Urias, and a big-league reliever in Withrow. MLB.com ranks Pederson and Seager the top two prospects in the Dodgers system, with Urias at No. 4.
- The Blue Jays are "sure" to pick up their $4MM option on closer Casey Janssen, writes Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca. Janssen is coming off a strong season, so the decision would seem to be an easy one. Davidi notes that Janssen would likely make twice as much on the open market, and win a multi-year deal to boot.
The Nationals do not plan on making huge changes this offseason, reports Amanda Comak of the Washington Times. They will, of course, hire a new manager to replace the retiring Davey Johnson, and they'll also look for left-handed relief help, perhaps, as Comak suggests, from someone like J.P. Howell or Oliver Perez. Other than that, they're mostly happy with the roster they have. "But I think the team, as far as the core group, is set up pretty good. The core rotation and the core bullpen is set up pretty good," GM Mike Rizzo says. The Nationals could take a shot at someone like David Price of the Rays to improve their rotation, but that doesn't appear likely, given the cost it would take to get him. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- If the Mets want to contend in the NL East next year, they should think about dealing Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. For example, Martino suggests dealing Wheeler to the Rays in deal for Price might make sense if Price is willing to agree to a contract extension. Chris Sale of the White Sox might also be a possibility. Alternatively, Martino suggests the Mets could trade Wheeler for a hitter and then acquire Ervin Santana or Matt Garza as a free agent instead.
- Pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is now represented by Mark Pieper and SFX, Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal writes (on Twitter). Scott Boras was Matsuzaka's previous agent. Matsuzaka posted a 4.42 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 38 2/3 innings for the Mets in 2013.
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.
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new video up outlining potential hot stove moves this offseason. Let's take a look:
- The Rockies' ownership doesn't have much interest in trading Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, though Gonzalez would be more likely to be traded if the club does decide to make a move. The Rangers, with their stocks of young pitching and middle infielders, could be a partner. If on offer in such a deal, Jurickson Profar could handle second base for the Rockies, and could shift to shortstop if the team eventually moves Tulo off of the position. We heard last week that the Mets have interest in CarGo.
- The Dodgers are expected to trade one of their "big four" - Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Yasiel Puig - according to rival executives speaking with Rosenthal. Puig is, of course, the least likely to be moved.
- The Rays are expected to consider trading David Price over the winter, with Rosenthal again suggesting the Rangers as a team to keep an eye on, noting that Texas had two scouts on hand to watch a recent Price start in Minnesota. The Cubs could also be interested, though their farm system is stronger in position players than it is in pitchers.
- One major league exec suggests that the pressures of impending free agency and closing for a contender have affected the Cardinals' Edward Mujica. A longtime setup man, Mujica was suddenly positioned on the verge of a "major payday" after taking on the Cards' closer role, Rosenthal says.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports posted a brand new edition of Full Count. Here's a look at the highlights..
- The Pirates should be in the market for a reliever, but their biggest need might be in right field where they rank last in the National League in OPS. The White Sox's Alex Rios would be perfect and he would form an extremely athletic outfield with Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte. However, Rios makes $12.5MM in each of the next two years and two other possibilities, Michael Morse and David DeJesus, are on the DL. The Bucs are in a tricky spot because they want to improve but they don't want to disrupt their chemistry or budding farm system.
- The Brewers will move just about anybody, but not catcher Jonathan Lucroy because they consider him too valuable to their future. They kept suitors away last winter and this season he has full no-trade protection.
- The Reds will stay open minded about acquiring a pitcher because of the uncertainty surrounding Johnny Cueto. They've got Tony Cingrani to turn to, but they'll need to monitor his innings.
- A scout told Rosenthal that the Rays had a ton of eyes on the Rangers' farm system, fueling speculation that a David Price deal might be brewing, but that's not the case. Price is about to return from a triceps injury and Tampa Bay is trying to win. Barring an outright collapse, they are not even going to entertain the thought of moving the hurler until the offseason. With that said, Texas has long had interest in Price and if/when he becomes available, they'll be at the front of the line.
Over the last ten games, the Rays share a league-best 8-2 mark. Here are a few notes on the team as it looks to carry that momentum and regain its footing in a challenging AL East:
- The triceps strain that sent ace David Price to the DL could have major short and long-term implications for the Rays, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Of course, with Price now battling an injury after already struggling on the mound to start the season, the team is holding its breath that it will have its top pitcher in good form for a postseason run. But even more troubling, the injury could have a huge impact on the Rays' long-term plans. Topkin explains that Tampa Bay likely cannot afford to extend Price after giving a major contract to Evan Longoria. Instead, as with Matt Garza and James Shields, an eventual trade of Price seems likely. Not only will the injury likely foreclose a trade deadline deal this season (however unlikely that was to begin with), but could significantly downgrade Price's trade value next offseason. As Topkin notes, even if Price returns strong, this blip on the radar could suppress the willingness of trade partners to offer the truly monumental prospect haul that Price was expected to garner.
- As expected, Jake Odorizzi will take Price's spot in the rotation for the time being, reports Matt Snyder of CBSSports.com. Odorizzi, of course, was acquired by the Rays -- along with the even higher-regarded Wil Myers and two other prospects -- in exchange for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis. With Shields off to a fine start for the Royals, Odorizzi's ascension to the bigs will allow the Rays to begin adding production to their side of the ledger.
- Meanwhile, the Rays' success remains predicated, as ever, on executive vice president Andrew Friedman's uncanny ability to reclaim and restore veteran ballplayers. In particular, the club has stayed above .500, in spite of the surprising struggles of its pitching staff, by hitting above expectations. (The team is tied for third in all of baseball for team batting wins above replacement.) As Topkin writes, a major piece of the Rays' sudden offensive prowess is the much-maligned James Loney. Making only $2MM on a one-year deal, Loney is raking in Tampa, hitting .359/.415/.523 in his first 143 plate appearances. Since he showed the promise of this kind of production as a 23-year-old in 2007, the now-29-year-old has largely disappointed. Nevertheless, Tampa Bay banked on Loney's long-observed skill, and he has finally come through.
- Topkin goes on to list and describe several other successful Friedman reclamation projects, including relievers Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, and Fernando Rodney, as well as infielders Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Pena. Of course, the Rays are hoping that Rodney can turn around his poor start and at least approach his incredible 2012 season.
- Another player that could be added to that list is Kelly Johnson, 31, who has played all over the diamond this year for the Rays while posting a .273/.348/.496 line in 138 plate appearances. This level may be surprising given Johnson's mediocre 2011-12 seasons, but as the Rays were no doubt aware, Johnson has at least three seasons under his belt (2007, 2008, 2010) as a productive big league hitter. With the team on the hook for only a modest one-year, $2.45MM investment, a veteran gamble has once again paid big dividends to Tampa Bay.
- According to Fangraphs' WAR measurements, Loney and Johnson have been the 42nd and 62nd most valuable hitters (respectively) in baseball this year. With Loney's relative youth and Johnson's ability to play second base, continued production from these players could make them very interesting free agent cases in 2014.
In his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark looks at what we've learned around the 30-game mark of the season. The Red Sox have spent their money better than any team in baseball as Mike Napoli, Ryan Dempster, Koji Uehara, and Shane Victorino (before his back issues) have gotten off to excellent starts. Meanwhile, it looks like the Braves have made the best trade of anyone so far as they landed Justin Upton and Chris Johnson for Martin Prado and four players that aren't currently in the majors. Here's more from today's column..
- Teams that have checked in on Brian Wilson have been told that his target date to throw for interested clubs should be around the All-Star break. Wilson wants to ensure that he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery before auditioning again.
- Giancarlo Stanton's hamstring injury should probably put any talk of a July trade to rest. "If they trade him in-season, they probably wouldn't get any major league talent," said one exec. "So given everything that's happened with their team and their attendance, are they really in a position to make a deal for him where they just get back prospects? Probably not." The exec concluded that the Marlins are better off waiting until the offseason and getting big league ready talent back for their star.
- The Rays may be the most closely-watched team in the league by contenders over the next few months. Teams know the Rays will keep David Price in July if they're alive in the AL East, and will listen hard if they're out of contention. If they're caught in between, one exec believes that the Rays still might move him if they feel like they're not good enough to win it all. The hurler's price tag is expected to by skyhigh if he hits the open market after the 2015 season.
- The buzzards are already starting to circle over the Phillies, Stark writes, but club officials have told teams that have checked in that they still expect their club to contend and won't even think about selling for another two months.
- If a Phillies sell-off happens, the biggest buzz would include impending free agent Chase Utley. One exec who has checked into things says his impression is that the Phillies would approach Utley first and get a feel for whether he wants to go elsewhere. Utley, who will be just short of 10-and-5 rights at the deadline - can block trades to 21 teams.
- Execs say they'd rather trade for Lucas Harrell than Bud Norris if they had a choice between the Astros pitchers. Harrell has two more years of control and one scout says that the big knock on Norris is that he's still basically a "two-pitch guy". Quite a few teams also think he profiles more as a bullpen weapon on a contender even though he's the Astros' ace.
- The Yankees want a right-handed bat, but one scout feels that they don't have enough pieces to land an impact deal. The Bombers added one right-handed hitter when they traded for Chris Nelson earlier this week.
The Twins have devoted only 22.5% of their 2013 payroll to pitching (MLB average is 49.8%) and haven't exceeded the league average since 2005. Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes perhaps no statistic better illustrates the Twins' dry spell in developing pitching prospects. "It’s not by design. It’s not like we said, 'Let’s spend less on pitching and go another way,'" said Twins assistant GM Rob Antony. "When we’ve spent a lot on a contract, more often than not, it’s on players we already have, that we know. We know how they fit in the clubhouse, and we know their health situation. It makes you a little more comfortable with the investment." Miller notes several pitching investments have been wasted because of injuries including this year's highest-paid pitcher Nick Blackburn ($5.5MM), who was removed from the 40-man roster as he recovers from wrist surgery. One investment that does seem to be paying dividends is Kevin Correia, who signed a two-year, $10MM free agent contract last December. The right-hander tossed eight shutout innings and lowered his ERA to 2.31 in the Twins' 5-0 win over the Rangers. In other news and notes from the American League:
- After a four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the seat is becoming hotter for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman calls this a big test for Gibbons while Keith Law of ESPN.com says it's too early to think about firing the skipper (Twitter links).
- Before the game, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with the media, including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, and said he doesn't expect Jose Reyes back until the beginning of July "just to make sure that we do this correctly and we don’t have any setbacks." In the meantime, the plan is use Munenori Kawasaki and Maicer Izturis because Anthopoulos said the costs of going outside the organization for a Reyes replacement "don’t line up for us with what our alternatives are."
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg reiterated his team's ability to afford David Price in an interview with WFAN (partial transcript provided by the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin). "We can; I don't know if we'll have any team around him other than him and (Evan) Longoria."
- In the same interview, Sternberg said he expects the Rays' next TV contract to be "big relative to the size of our attendance" but "mid-sized market" compared to other teams.
- The Red Sox prefer to give Shane Victorino some time to work out his back issues rather than trying to bring Jackie Bradley back too soon, tweets the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo. Victorino underwent an MRI yesterday, which revealed inflammation in his lower back. Bradley, meanwhile, is 7-for-31 with 10 strikeouts and five walks since being optioned to Triple-A.