Detroit Tigers Rumors
Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka may be the next Japanese pitcher to turn a strong World Baseball Classic performance into a nine-figure Major League contract, ESPN's C.J. Nitkowski writes (Insider subscription required). Tanaka, 24, has a 2.50 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and 4.34 K/BB ratio in 1103 IP over six seasons with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka has expressed interest in pitching in North America and is three years away from international free agency, though Rakuten could open the posting process before then.
Here's the latest from around the majors...
- The Padres are starting to listen to offers for Chase Headley, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports. The Padres tabled extension talks with Headley earlier this winter after the two sides were far apart on terms. The third baseman is under contract through the 2014 season and Madden argues that the Yankees should make a move for a young star like Headley or Giancarlo Stanton in order to bolster the lineup and ensure the team will contend this year.
- "The fact is, this is the right time to trade Stanton. He’s never going to have more value than this," a Marlins operative tells Madden, arguing that such an unpopular move can't hurt a team that is already at rock bottom in terms of public perception. “I understand Jeffrey [Loria]’s getting killed in Miami over blowing up the team this winter and why he doesn’t want to trade Stanton. But how much more can we get killed? He’s already had some injury issues, and we’re never going to sign him to a long-term deal," Madden's source said.
- Carl Crawford criticized the Boston media and told CBS Sports' Danny Knobler that he erred in signing with the Red Sox in the 2010-11 offseason. "It just wasn't the right place for me at the end of my day. I didn't do my homework. Maybe they didn't, either," Crawford said.
- If the Tigers do acquire a reliever, MLB.com's Jason Beck believes such a deal isn't likely until nearer to the end of Spring Training when other teams have their own bullpen situations settled.
- Chone Figgins feels a lack of playing time exacerbated his struggles with the Mariners and is looking forward to seeing more action playing under NL rules with the Marlins, The Associated Press reports.
- Rubby De La Rosa and Allen Webster have both looked good in Spring Training and the Red Sox could reap more than financial benefits from last summer's trade with the Dodgers if these two young pitchers develop, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Tomase also talks to Rays manager Joe Maddon about how the Rays were targeting De La Rosa before L.A. dealt him to Boston.
Here's the latest from around the AL Central...
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski admitted to reporters (including Lynn Henning of the Detroit News) that teams had been calling him about the Tigers' starting pitching depth. The Rangers reportedly asked about Rick Porcello earlier this week and several teams have shown interest in the right-hander throughout the offseason.
- Dombrowski and Jim Leyland revealed no new details about the Tigers' closer situation other than saying that rookie Bruce Rondon is still very much a candidate for the job despite struggling in four Spring Training outings.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn discussed Chris Sale's extension with reporters (including MLB.com's Scott Merkin) and likes that the team was able to lock up a potential ace at what could end up being a bargain price. "Obviously this past offseason was a pretty robust one in terms of where the compensation was going. So being able to lock something down before there was further escalation in Chris' market had a lot of appeal to us," Hahn said.
- Scott Kazmir can opt out of his minor league deal with the Indians if he isn't on their Major League roster by April 2, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). Daisuke Matsuzaka, another Tribe minor league signing, also has an opt-out date "about the same time."
- Unless Justin Morneau improves on his 2012 numbers, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities feels the Twins will struggle to get "anything significant" for the slugger in a possible trade, and could have to settle for a trade package similar to what they received for Francisco Liriano last summer. Morneau hit .267/.333/.440 with 19 home runs in 570 PA in 2012 and is entering his last season under contract with Minnesota. Mackey also discusses the Twins payroll, various roster decisions and other topics during this chat with fans.
Links from around baseball as Wednesday turns into Thursday..
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak sounded upbeat about the club's contract talks with Adam Wainwright in an interview earlier today with Jim Duquette and Mike Ferrin of SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio. "Right now, I feel pretty optimistic that we’re going to find a way to get things done, but there are still challenges. But from my end of things, the fact that Steve Hammond and I are speaking is a good thing," said the GM.
- Tigers manager Jim Leyland recently floated the idea that using Rick Porcello as a closer could be an option, but he walked it back earlier today and said that it would be "highly unlikely", writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Porcello is a trade candidate for Detroit due to their strong rotation depth.
- Jane Lee of MLB.com doesn't see the A's carrying two true first baseman this season, which would mean Daric Barton being left on the outside looking in. Barton re-signed with the A's this winter on a one-year, non-guaranteed $1.1MM deal.
Here's a look at some notes out of the AL Central..
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) hears that the Tigers aren't just casually shopping for a closer, they have an all points bulletin out for one. We first heard yesterday that the Tigers are pushing to find a ninth-inning option and they have reportedly inquired on Carlos Marmol of the Cubs.
- There's no word yet on whether the Tigers called the Red Sox about Andrew Bailey, Heyman tweets. Heyman suggests that Jose Valverde would make sense on a one-year deal rather than giving something up in a trade, but all indications are that Detroit isn't looking to bring him back.
- Kenny Williams told Tracy Ringolsby of MLB.com that he misses being a GM but doesn't miss the toll that it took on him. Williams ceded the title of GM to Rick Hahn and took on the role of executive vice president for the White Sox last year.
The Tigers will consider trading for a closer and Carlos Marmol of the Cubs is drawing interest, so there's a possible matchup on paper. Manager Jim Leyland and GM Dave Dombrowski have publicly downplayed the chances of a trade, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation. Here are some Tigers-related notes...
- One scout notes that Marmol has issues limiting walks, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com. "Less control than [Al] Alburquerque," the scout said (Twitter link). Marmol has a career walk rate of 6.0 BB/9 in seven MLB seasons.
- Beck revisits recent trade rumors involving the Cubs and Tigers, pointing out that three of the four best-paid Cubs have been linked to the Tigers in trade rumors in the last 15 months. Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza and Marmol have all been connected to the Tigers on this site in the last year-plus.
- John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press argues that the Tigers don't need an experienced closer. Lowe notes that the closers for last year's National League division winners had a total of five career saves entering the 2012 season.
- Brennan Boesch is now healthy, so speculation about possible trades will resume, Lowe writes. Boesch doesn't have a clear role on the 2013 Tigers and could be dealt this spring.
Justin Verlander is mostly sticking to comments made two weeks ago that he'd like to be the first pitcher in baseball to sign a $200MM contract, according to James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press. "They got taken out of context a little bit, but I'm not going to take back what I said," Verlander says. "Former players worked extremely hard and risked their careers, even, so we could have free agency. I think you do a bit of a disservice to that if you don't honor what they did and use the system to your advantage." Verlander's current $80MM contract is set to expire after the 2014 season. Here are more notes on the Tigers:
- With Bruce Rondon struggling with his mechanics, it's uncertain who will serve as the Tigers' closer, and manager Jim Leyland doesn't like that, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes. "...[T]here is no question that it makes it a hundred times better when you have a closer that is a closer -- and a good one -- because it takes a lot of pressure off the manager," Leyland says. Nonetheless, Lowe writes that Leyland "ruled out" the possibility that Jose Valverde would return, and also suggested a trade for a closer wasn't very likely, either. An earlier report on Tuesday indicated that the Tigers were attempting to deal for a closer.
- Rick Porcello is unfazed by recent trade rumors, MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports. "I'm in camp with the Tigers right now. I'm looking to do stuff with this club. If something happens, I'll adjust accordingly," Porcello says. "But right now, I'm here, I'm wearing a Tigers uniform, I'm happy to be here, and I'm looking to continue working for this season." Leach notes that a number of scouts from other organizations were on hand to watch Porcello Monday, when he struck out six batters in four scoreless innings against the Astros.
Closer Carlos Marmol doesn't appear long for the Cubs and is likely to start the season elsewhere, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. League sources say that several teams, including the Tigers, are taking a hard look at the reliever. Earlier today we learned that Detroit is actively trying to deal for a closer amidst concerns about rookie Bruce Rondon.
Marmol will earn nearly $10MM in the final year of his deal and can veto a trade to four West Coast clubs. One source says that Marmol would most likely waive that clause if it meant that he would be going to a contender.
Levine writes that the Cubs don't feel pressure to move Marmol but they would likely part with him for young pitching. Offseason acquisition Kyuji Fujikawa would step in as closer if Marmol is shipped elsewhere.
Recently, General Manager Jed Hoyer publicly asserted that Marmol would be the team's closer heading into this season. The Cubs nearly shipped the 30-year-old to the Angels in November for starter Dan Haren.
The Tigers raised eyebrows across baseball this offseason with their decision to install rookie Bruce Rondon as their closer. Now, they are having second thoughts about that plan and pushing hard to find a closer via trade, major league sources tell Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
The Nationals could afford to part with a reliever, after the signing of Rafael Soriano bumped back Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, but so far they are telling teams that they have no interest in moving anyone in the pen. The Red Sox have an extra closer in Andrew Bailey but the Tigers have yet to contact Boston about him.
Detroit could use Rick Porcello to land a ninth-inning option, but they'll want a strong closer in return given his strong play in spring training. There are also two unsigned closers in Jose Valverde and Francisco Rodriguez, but they don't seem terribly interested in either one.
The 24-year-old Porcello remains a popular name among trade rumors, given Detroit's enviable rotation depth. The former first-round pick pitched to a 4.59 ERA in 176 1/3 innings last season for the AL Central champs. Porcello's 52.3 percent ground-ball rate figures to be attractive to the Rangers, who pitch in the homer-friendly confines of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Porcello is under team control through 2016 and will earn $5.1MM this season after avoiding arbitration with the Tigers in mid-January. Earlier today it was reported that the Rangers were one of several teams who had scouts in attendance for Porcello's start against the Astros. Porcello whiffed six hitters in four scoreless innings, walking none and allowing three hits.
The Rangers have a number of reservations about signing Kyle Lohse, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote last night. The free agent right-hander would require a multiyear contract, and the Rangers would have to surrender a draft pick to complete a deal. They'd also have limited time to get him ready for the season with Spring Training already underway. Here's more from Rosenthal, starting with some additional information on Lohse...
- One of the teams in touch regarding Lohse says agent Scott Boras seeks a three-year deal with a “big” annual salary for the 34-year-old, Rosenthal reports (on Twitter). Boras doesn’t give teams specific numbers in negotiations.
- A ton of scouts are in Lakeland to watch trade candidate Rick Porcello face the Astros today, Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The Angels, Rangers, Diamondbacks, Twins, Braves, Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics and Mariners are among the many teams with scouts at the game, though some of those scouts are presumably there on regular assignments.