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Detroit Tigers Rumors
The Tigers have opened a line of communication with agent Bo McKinnis, the representative for ace lefty David Price, regarding the possibility of a new contract, Price tells reporters including MLB.com’s Jason Beck (Twitter link).
Price downplayed the significance of the communications to date after meeting with McKinnis last night. Numbers have not yet been discussed, said Price. “I wouldn’t even call it groundwork,” he explained.
Though it appears that only the most preliminary contact has been established, that obviously at least indicates that both sides have at least some interest in exploring an extension. Detroit gave up a substantial package of big leaguers and prospects to acquire Price last summer, of course, and went on to watch Max Scherzer depart via free agency. In that regard, team interest has always made some sense.
The question, as always is one of cost. Scherzer reportedly declined a $144MM offer from the Tigers entering his walk year, only to land $210MM on the open market. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has listed Price at third on his free agent power rankings, but that is largely a reflection of the upside of the two position players above him and the reality of pitching risk. As Dierkes has noted, Price has a strong case to join Scherzer in topping $200MM — if he puts up a typical year.
It’s already been a busy day for AL Central news. We’ve learned Corey Kluber and the Indians aren’t close in contract negotiations, MLBTR’s Zach Links has a pair of interviews with Twins GM Terry Ryan and right-hander Mike Pelfrey, and Minnesota also grabbed headlines by inking second baseman Brian Dozier to a four-year, $20MM extension. Here’s even more from around the division…
- Dozier, Ryan, Twins assistant GM Rob Antony and Dozier’s agent Damon Lapa discussed the contract during a press conference today (Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has the details). The two sides discussed extensions of up to eight years in length, but they instead settled on a deal that only covers Dozier’s arbitration years and doesn’t include any club options. “In Brian’s case, we felt it important to restrict the club’s ability at the back end of the contract to have any options or anything like that,” Lapa said. “To us that resulted in a shorter term, but we feel in the long run that’s in Brian’s best interests. It preserves his ability to hit free agency on time at 31 as opposed to some of the other players who will be in their mid-30s.”
- While retaining the ability to test free agency was a key point for Dozier, he made it clear that he would like to spend the rest of his career in Minnesota. He’s quite open to a future extension with the team and “hopefully this [contract] is a stepping stone for something possibly even longer.”
- “There are rumblings some talks are in the works” between David Price and the Tigers about an extension, Tony Paul of the Detroit News writes. Price said two weeks ago that there hadn’t been any negotiations between the two sides but he expected the club to approach him before the start of the season.
- Also from Paul’s piece, he suggests the Tigers should explore extending J.D. Martinez or Nick Castellanos now in order to gain cost certainty over the young players, pick up another year or two of team control and possibly score a bargain if they keep producing. While I’m sure the Tigers would take a team-friendly figure if they could find it (especially with Martinez coming off a huge 2014 season), they might be more inclined to wait a bit longer to make sure of what they really have in either player.
- Royals lefty Brandon Finnegan will begin the season at Double-A, the team announced yesterday. Finnegan, the Royals’ first-round draft pick last July, was fast-tracked to the majors after just 27 minor league innings and he made some important bullpen appearances for K.C. during their playoff run. There was some question as to whether Finnegan would pitch out of the Royals’ bullpen again on Opening Day or if he’d continue developing as a starter at Triple-A, though GM Dayton Moore tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star that the move to Double-A was made because “we’re still learning about Brandon.” Pitch counts and workload were also factors, though Moore was pleased with how Finnegan accounted for himself while in the bigs.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines baseball needs to expand its roster and suggests a 28-man limit with 25 eligible on game day. MLB spokesman Pat Courtney told Cafardo there have been discussions about roster expansion, but nothing has advanced. There are obstacles with increased salaries and insurances costs, but those issues, according to Cafardo, are outweighed by the 162-game schedule becoming too much for a player’s body to handle. Cafardo also proposes baseball convene a panel of players who avoided the disabled list throughout their careers to determine if there are any patterns to their remaining healthy.
In other items from Cafardo’s Sunday Baseball Notes column:
- According to one GM, Johnny Cueto “will get a Max Scherzer deal” if the Reds right-hander can put together a 15-20-win season. Cueto ranks fifth on MLBTR’s 2016 Free Agent Power Rankings list.
- The Yankees were given the opportunity to top the Red Sox‘s $31.5MM offer to Yoan Moncada, but declined. “We scouted him extensively for years,” Yankees GM Brian Cashman said. “I feel we put him through the highest level of scouting and medical evaluation. I just wasn’t comfortable offering what we actually offered ($25MM), let alone going any higher.“
- For now, the Red Sox will play Moncada at second base, but his eventual position will depend on Boston’s needs in the next couple of years.
- The tampering allegation made by the Rays over the Cubs‘ hiring of Joe Maddon is still alive.
- The Red Sox are showcasing Jemile Weeks, likely ticketed for Triple-A, as a super utility player and may be able sell fairly high on him with the Tigers one of the teams in the market for such a player.
- Third baseman Brendan Harris is headed to the Tigers on a minor league contract. The 34-year-old has seen action in parts of eight big league seasons, including a run as a regular over 2007-09, but since the close of 2010 has only 117 MLB plate appearances on his ledger. He did put up an interesting .288/.397/.396 slash last year at Triple-A Albuquerque, walking 75 times against just 43 strikeouts.
- The Marlins have inked lefty Tyler Robertson to a minor league pact. Robertson is a 27-year-old lefty who saw 26 innings of big league action over 2012-13 with the Twins. He threw 17 1/3 frames of 4.15 ERA ball last year at Triple-A with the Nationals organization, striking out 7.3 and walking 2.1 per nine.
- The Brewers added catcher Tyler LaTorre on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old had spent his entire nine-year professional career with the Giants, much of it at the Double-A level. After putting up solid numbers over 2011-12 in the upper minors, LaTorre has took a big step backward in 2013 and last year slased .268/.343/.332 in 216 total minor league plate appearances.
Matthew Marrota of Baseball Essential conducted an interesting interview with big league great Vladimir Guerrero and his prospect son, Vlad Jr. If you don’t believe Marrota’s description of the younger Guerrero as being the spitting image of his father in virtually all respects, the video included in the post ought to convince you. The one difference, according to Vlad Sr.? “He has more power, a lot,” says Guerrero. “I was very thin. Other than that we are the same player. We both played like men since we were very young.”
- Ben Badler of Baseball America tweets that he continues to hear positive reviews on infielder Hector Olivera from scouts. The latest word, per Badler, is that the Dodgers and Padres are the most likely teams to add the veteran Cuban free agent.
- Diamondbacks righty Daniel Hudson says his arm feels good after throwing two clean frames today, as MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports. Hudson remains on track to contribute at the big league level this year after coming back from a second Tommy John surgery, though it remains to be seen whether he’ll work from the rotation or the pen.
- The Tigers have not made any attempt to work out a longer-term arrangement with reliever Joakim Soria, Tony Paul of the Detroit Free Press tweets. As he notes, that is not really surprising: Soria struggled upon being dealt to Detroit at the deadline last year, and Paul says there is “some skepticism” within the organization as to how he’ll perform this year. Assuming that nothing changes between now and the fall, the 30-year-old righty will hit the open market.
Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who was in attendance as the team his son coaches at the University of Wisconsin-Stout took on a Twins rookie team Tuesday, would be thrilled to manage again, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes. “Oh, no. I’ve got a lot left in me in baseball,” says Gardenhire, shown in a photo wearing a T-shirt and smoking a cigar. “If somebody is looking for a manager and I’m a fit, great. I would love to manage again.” After the Twins fired him following last season following the team’s fourth straight season of 92-plus losses, Gardenhire lived for a month in an RV parked near his daughter’s house in Oklahoma while he waited for his first grandchild to be born. Gardenhire turned down a front-office job with the Twins, but says he’s still willing to help his former organization, perhaps with occasional scouting tasks. Here’s more from around the game.
- MLBPA head Tony Clark says it’s “unfortunate” that teams delay promotion of top prospects for service-time reasons, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports. “We don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest, and we don’t think it’s in the industry’s best interest, to not have the best players on the field all the time,” says Clark. This has become, of course, a point of discussion every year. This season, top Cubs prospect Kris Bryant has been the focus of the issue. The Cubs are likely to send him to the minors to start the season even though he’s leading MLB in Spring Training homers with six.
- One Padres move that didn’t attract much attention in a high-profile winter was their signing of former Diamondbacks, Astros and Tigers closer Jose Valverde to a minor-league deal. Valverde has performed well in camp, however, and now appears to have a good shot to make the team, Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com writes. “I feel like I’m 21 because I’m throwing 98 [mph],” says Valverde. “I’m surprised because I haven’t walked anybody yet.” Bloom suggests Valverde could even be the Padres’ closer. That would be an upset if it came to pass, since Joaquin Benoit performed well in that role last year after the team traded Huston Street.
Indians right-hander Gavin Floyd, who re-fractured his right olecranon last week, is set to have surgery on Tuesday, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Floyd, who has pitched sparingly over the past two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and the original olecranon fracture in his right elbow, was expected to serve as a veteran presence in a largely inexperienced Indians rotation after signing a one-year, $4MM deal. Now, however, Cleveland is unlikely to receive any contribution from Floyd this year.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Reds left-hander Tony Cingrani is being shifted from the rotation to the bullpen, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The move comes as somewhat of a surprise, as most figured the left-hander would step into the rotation following the trades of Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon. Cingrani has worked as a starter in the past and racked up excellent strikeout numbers, but he’s had shoulder issues as well, so perhaps the team feels this will keep him healthier. Cuban right-hander Raisel Igesias, meanwhile, will be stretched out to work as a starting pitcher.
- Franklin Morales is building a strong case to take the injured Tim Collins‘ spot as a left-hander in the Royals‘ bullpen, writes Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Morales has fired six scoreless innings and impressed Kansas City decision-makers. Brandon Finnegan is a well-regarded prospect and could have a shot at making the team, but the team still would like to develop him as a starter and he also hasn’t pitched as well this spring. No final decisions have been made on the situation, writes McCullough.
- The Tigers added another player to camp yesterday when they reportedly signed Jiwan James, and another addition may on the horizon as well. SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets that the team may add veteran infielder Brendan Harris, presumably on a minor league deal. The 34-year-old Harris is a career .256/.314/.381 hitter in the Majors, with his best seasons coming between the Twins and Rays in 2007-08. Harris hasn’t played in the Majors much since 2010, however, receiving just 117 plate appearances with the Angels and hitting .206/.252/.355.
Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:
- The Diamondbacks announced they have released outfielder Ben Francisco. Arizona signed the 33-year-old to a minor league deal last December after he spent 2014 with the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers posting a line of .242/.303/.390 in 244 plate appearances (57 games). Francisco, who was 1-for-8 during his Spring Training run with the Diamondbacks, last played a MLB game in 2013 and has a career mark of .253/.323/.418 covering parts of seven seasons with the Indians, Phillies, Blue Jays, Astros, Rays, and Yankees.
- The Tigers have signed outfielder Jiwan James after he participated in the team’s tryout camp last week, tweets MLB.com’s Jason Beck. The 25-year-old had signed last month with the Bridgeport Bluefish of the independent Atlantic League. Before being sidelined the past two seasons for surgery on his knee and for Crohn’s Disease, James was a top prospect for the Phillies being ranked on multiple occasions by Baseball America as the organization’s best athlete, fastest runner, and best defensive outfielder.
In today’s mailbag, a reader asked Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer if Gavin Floyd suffering an injury so soon after his signing indicates a broader issue with the Indians‘ ability to evaluate a pitcher’s health risk. There have been hits and misses for the Tribe, Hoynes explains, pointing to successes like their cheap gamble on Scott Kazmir. Over the last 20 years or so, Cleveland has established a good reputation for rehabbing injured hurlers from other organizations, so one bad break doesn’t mean that they’ve lost their feel for it. For more on the Indians’ offseason, check out MLBTR’s Steve Adams in-depth review.
Elsewhere in the American League:
- The bounty of starting pitchers in the upcoming free agent class will provide enough of a safety net for the Tigers if they fail to extend David Price, opines MLive.com’s Chris Iott. Owner Mike Ilitch is the wild card whether the Tigers make a strong bid to retain Price, who, Iott notes, will match, if not exceed, Max Scherzer‘s deal and without the deferments.
- Utilityman Don Kelly wanted to return to the Tigers, but signed with the Marlins because they represented a clearer path to the Majors, reports James Schmehl of MLive.com. “Detroit was like a second home for us, so to make that change was tough,” said Kelly. “To be able to bounce around and everything that goes on in a National League game, that was one of the reasons why it was such a good fit. The way the roster was set up at the time, and the way Miami’s was, it just seemed like a better fit to be in the NL and to be here.“
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn focuses on two factors when deciding whether to extend an arbitration-eligible player like Adam Eaton or Avisail Garcia, writes MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “It’s a combination of feeling, one, that the player is a key part to what we have going here and want to make sure we are able to have him longer than the normal six-year control period,” Hahn said. “And second, probably almost as important if not more important, is the belief that the guaranteed money wouldn’t change the player’s approach to their preparation for the game.“
- Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register chronicles the Angels’ recruitment of Roberto Baldoquin and how the franchise believes their $15MM investment ($8MM signing bonus plus the tax for exceeding their international bonus pool) is justified based on the numerous interactions between the organization and the 19-year-old Cuban prior to his signing.