Doug Fister Rumors

NL East Notes: Coke, Mets, Fister, Hamels

The Mets won’t be signing Phil Coke, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports.  The team was reportedly interested in the left-hander earlier this winter, but according to Rubin, the Mets decided in December that they wouldn’t be signing any relievers to Major League contracts this offseason.  They have stuck to that plan, adding the likes of Buddy Carlyle, Duane Below and Scott Rice on minor league contracts.  Several teams have offered Coke minor league deals with Spring Training invitations, but the veteran southpaw is still looking for a Major League contract.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Also from Rubin, he has the full list of Mets players who are out of options: Wilmer Flores, John Mayberry, Jenrry Mejia, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Cesar Puello, Ruben Tejada and Carlos Torres.  According to Rubin, all of these players are expected to make the Mets’ roster except for Puello.
  • Carlyle and Alex Castellanos have out clauses in their Mets contracts for early June, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports (Twitter links).  Carlyle also has an out clause that he can exercise on Opening Day.  The two players each signed minor league deals with New York earlier this winter.
  • Doug Fister is entering his last year under contract with the Nationals, but the righty tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that he isn’t looking ahead to his free agency but rather just concentrating on the coming season.  “I’m wearing this jersey right now. That’s the most important thing. I’m a National through and through. I’m proud of it. If it looks like I can stay here, great. If not, I’ve just got to make sure I get my job done, be part of the team I’m part of,” Fister said.  The right-hander is just one of several high-profile Nats players who are slated for free agency after 2015, including Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann and Denard Span.
  • The top four teams who seem like the best fits for Phillies ace Cole Hamels are listed by MLB.com’s Jim Duquette.  In order, the Red Sox, Cardinals, Padres and Cubs comprise Duquette’s list.  All four clubs have been linked to Hamels on the rumor mill, though none may be willing or able to provide the Phillies with the top-tier prospects they would need to make a deal.

More Reactions To The Max Scherzer Deal

Here are a few more reactions to Max Scherzer‘s massive new deal with the Nationals:

  • Scherzer’s contract represents another win for Scott Boras, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The market for Scherzer seemed, on the outside, to be rather quiet, with few clear candidates to provide the money Boras was seeking, but he managed to get a huge sum anyway. Boras’ close relationship with the Nationals and their 89-year-old owner, Ted Lerner, likely helped.
  • Sherman also adds that he hears the Nationals intend to keep Jordan Zimmermann, who’s eligible for free agency after the season.
  • Scherzer, clearly one of the game’s best pitchers, is worth $210MM, Dan Szymborski writes for ESPN Insider. Szymborski also writes that the Nationals’ rotation projects to rank among the best of any team so far this century, behind only the 2013 Tigers, the 2002 Diamondbacks, the 2011 Phillies, the 2001 Yankees and the 2004 Red Sox.
  • Scherzer is a great pitcher, but he’s less of an immediate upgrade than one might think, because the Nationals’ rotation was already so good last season, Rob Neyer of FOX Sports writes. The Nationals were already a 96-win team with exceptional starting pitching, and it’s hard to do much better than that, although adding Scherzer now does improve the Nats’ chances of winning the NL East in years beyond 2015. If the Nationals are to get better in the short term, the best way for them to do it might be to add another second baseman.
  • Now that the Nationals have Scherzer in the fold, they have a variety of options available, Anthony Castrovince of Sports On Earth writes. One obvious possibility would be to trade Zimmermann or Doug Fister, with the recent trade of Jeff Samardzija to the White Sox helping define the market for a strong starting pitcher with one year of control remaining.

Reactions To The Max Scherzer Deal

Here’s a roundup of early reactions to the news that the Nationals have agreed to sign Max Scherzer to a seven-year deal.

  • The Nats shouldn’t trade anyone from their loaded rotation, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes. Pitchers get hurt frequently, and the Nationals don’t need to deal a pitcher to fix a hole elsewhere — they’re strong all over the diamond and they have a good farm system.
  • Scott Boras has said he often negotiates huge deals with owners, not GMs, and it’s unclear whether Nationals owner Ted Lerner was involved in negotiating the Scherzer deal or how GM Mike Rizzo might now plan if he did, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes. The Nationals have discussed trades involving Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Stephen Strasburg throughout the offseason, Rosenthal notes. Now that they’ve added Scherzer, though, they could just keep accumulating talent, perhaps adding another Boras client in Francisco Rodriguez or Rafael Soriano for their bullpen.
  • The Nationals might now be a “super-team,” Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs writes. The Nationals’ position players already projected for more WAR than any other NL team, and Scherzer’s signing will move them past the Dodgers for the most projected pitcher WAR as well.
  • The Red Sox can still use an ace and would be able to pay the high price necessary to acquire Zimmermann, Strasburg or Doug Fister, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes. It would perhaps be more likely that the Red Sox would acquire Zimmermann or Fister, given that Strasburg has two years of control left and would therefore cost more in a trade.


Max Scherzer Close To Deal With Nationals

9:08pm: The deal is “close” but will not be completed tonight, Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post tweets.

6:54pm: Scherzer is “very close” to signing with the Nationals, although the deal is not yet done, a source tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (via Twitter).

6:10pm: Max Scherzer is talking with the Nationals and one other team about a seven-year contract, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, on Twitter, categorizes the negotiations as “close.” Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweeted earlier the impression around baseball is the Nationals will sign Scherzer, but it was unclear whether a deal was imminent. Tigers President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski denies Detroit is the other team, telling Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press their pursuit of Scherzer is still inactive (Twitter). The New York Post’s Joel Sherman tweets the Yankees are not the other team and Rosenthal reports the Red Sox, Astros, and Dodgers are also not in on Scherzer (Twitter links). The Angels aren’t the mystery team, either, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets, and neither are the Giants or Cardinals, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links).

Agent Scott Boras has said it would be an ownership-level decision on whether a team will sign Scherzer and that it could be a “two-step process” – ink Scherzer and then trade another member of their rotation. Barry Svlurga of the Washington Post sees Boras pitching Nationals owner Ted Lerner the notion of signing Scherzer to win the World Series in 2015 knowing the salaries of impending free agents Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, and Denard Span will be coming off the books for 2016 (Twitter links).

The Nationals have engaged multiple teams over the past few weeks in trade talks for Zimmermann, tweets FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi. If Scherzer signs, Zimmermann is the most likely trade candidate; but, if an acceptable offer for Zimmermann does not materialize, sources tell Morosi the Nationals will look to move Stephen Strasburg (Twitter links).

Washington, amidst reports the club has not had significant extension talks with Desmond, has discussed its All-Star shortstop with other teams, most notably the failed three-way trade involving the Mets and Rays. The Nationals also have not re-engaged Fister in extension talks since last spring and are said to be willing to listen to any trade proposals for the right-hander.


Nationals Avoid Arbitration With Doug Fister

The Nationals and Doug Fister have agreed to an $11.4MM salary for his final year of club control, thereby avoiding arbitration, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Fister’s salary is an exact match with the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.


Beltway Notes: Rasmus, Johan, Zobrist, Schierholtz

Here’s the latest from the Orioles and the Nationals…

  • The Orioles‘ negotiations with Colby Rasmus “are gaining steam,” ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets.  Manager Buck Showalter personally visited Rasmus over the weekend and the O’s have interest in Rasmus on a one-year contract.  Rasmus has also recently had some talks with another AL East team, the Rays.
  • Johan Santana‘s stint with the Orioles was cut short by a torn achilles tendon last June but team executive VP Dan Duquette told MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko earlier this offseason that the O’s were open to bringing Santana back on a new contract.  Santana is scheduled to pitch next week in the Venezuelan Winter League.
  • Also from Kubatko, Delmon Young‘s signing is expected to be officially announced today, meaning the Orioles would have to make a 40-man roster move to make room.  In the wake of the J.P. Arencibia signing, Kubatko speculates that Baltimore could drop a catcher since they have five other backstops on the 40-man — starter Matt Wieters (obviously not a candidate to be dropped), Steve Clevenger, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Lavarnway and Mike Ohlman.
  • Ben Zobrist and the Nationals are an “almost perfect” match for a trade given the team’s need at second base and the news of Jayson Werth‘s shoulder surgery, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes.  Rosenthal feels the Nats would make a push to acquire Zobrist, though there are a few complications to a deal.  Zobrist would join Tyler Clippard, Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Jordan Zimmermann as notable Nationals on the 2015-16 free agent market, and thus the Nats might be hesitant about adding yet another player who would require a qualifying offer.  I’m not necessarily sure this would be a big concern for Washington; I wouldn’t think Clippard or Span would get qualifying offers anyway, and the other four would surely reject the QO in search of lucrative multiyear deals.
  • Also looking ahead to next offseason, MASNsports.com’s Dan Kolko notes that the Nationals don’t need to worry too much over potentially losing both Zimmermann and Fister to the open market given the number of other quality arms available in free agency next winter.
  • With Werth and Nate McLouth both question marks due to injury, James Wagner of the Washington Post wonders if the Nationals could bring back Nate Schierholtz as outfield depth.  Schierholtz signed a minor league deal with Washington last August and appeared in 23 games for the club.

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Maurer, Reds

It was on this day in 1986 that former White Sox, Indians and St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck passed away at the age of 71.  Veeck helped break the American League’s color barrier by signing Larry Doby in 1947 and he was the last owner to bring Cleveland a World Series title, though he is perhaps best remembered today for the wacky promotions he used to draw crowds and entertain fans at the ballpark.  My personal favorite was “Grandstand Managers Night,” when over a thousand St. Louis fans used placards to ‘manage’ the Browns to a victory over the A’s (Steve Wulf recently wrote about the promotion for ESPN The Magazine).

Here’s some news from around the league…

  • The Red Sox have made an effort to add more regulars between the prime ages of 26-30 over the last several months, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes, as the 2014 team suffered from a mix of too many inexperienced young players and too many 30+ players who had declining seasons.  “There’s no question that finding guys in that age range is appealing,” GM Ben Cherington said. “It’s a safer age range to be in if you’re investing in a player. To be clear, it’s not like we didn’t want that last year. It’s just, what were the alternatives? What were the possibilities? If we could build a team every year full of 26- to 30-year-olds, we would.”
  • The Padres‘ acquisition of Brandon Maurer could pay even bigger dividends if the team explores turning Maurer back into a starting pitcher, Fangraphs’ Jeff Sullivan writes for FOXSports.com.  As Sullivan notes, Maurer is a decent comparable to Tyson Ross, who has enjoyed great success as a starter since coming to San Diego two years ago.
  • In a comparison that surely can’t excite Cincinnati fans, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider-only link) writes that “The Reds…are probably where the Phillies were a year ago, although they could use a decisive determination.”  Reds owner Bob Castellini is too competitive to commit to a brief rebuild, leaving the team in the difficult position of subtracting salaries (like Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon) but also adding win-now pieces (like Marlon Byrd) at the same time.
  • Also from Olney, “recent machinations within the Boston organization” seem to be leading to “less influence” for Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox president/CEO.
  • A number of Yankees topics are addressed in a fan mailbag piece by Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog, including a prediction by Axisa that New York will “go hard after Doug Fister” when the righty hits free agency next winter.  Fister was originally drafted by the Yankees in 2005 and he’d require a smaller salary than other impending free agent starters like Johnny Cueto or Jordan Zimmermann.
  • Also from Axisa, the Yankees could wait until after 2016 to make another big free agent splurge since the Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran contracts will be off the books.  The Yankees’ strategy seems to be to sign several major players in a single offseason (as they did in 2013-14) to sacrifice only one year’s worth of high draft picks, and going on a spending spree in 2014-15 could result in a payroll in the $250MM range.

Rangers Talking With Nationals, D’Backs On Starters

2:14pm: Texas has also engaged the Diamondbacks in talks on starting pitching, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Wade Miley and, perhaps, Trevor Cahill are the likeliest targets, per Grant.

1:45pm: Multiple reports suggest that the Rangers and Nationals have engaged in discussions involving the Nats’ starting pitching. It appears that the sides have mutual interest, but may not see eye-to-eye on the pieces they would like to move.

Texas has inquired about righty Jordan Zimmermann, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reports on Twitter. But the club has received indications that the Nationals are uninterested in moving Zimmermann, though they will listen on Doug Fister.

Meanwhile, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post hears (Twitter link) that the Rangers have expressed strong interest in the D.C. arms. The Nationals, in turn, have asked about 20-year-old second baseman Rougned Odor, with Texas indicating it is not interested in dealing him.

These clubs make plenty of sense on paper as possible trade partners, but it is not difficult to see why negotiations have landed at the apparent standoff described above. The Nationals have little reason to deal away high-end starters unless they can bring back a near-term and long-term solution at second base. And the Rangers will be loath to sell off an up-the-middle player who just hit at a roughly league average clip at age 20.


NL East Notes: Clippard, Kang, Breslow

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told reporters that there’s no progress to report in potential contract extensions with Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister, Ian Desmond, Tyler Clippard, and Denard Span, tweets William Ladson of MLB.com.  Here’s a look at more out of the NL East..

  • Rizzo told Ladson that teams are showing interest in Clippard. The right-handed reliever has spent most of his career as a setup man but has some experience as a closer too. He’s projected by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz to earn $9.3MM in his final spin through arbitration.
  • The Mets are interested in Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang, tweets Matt Ehalt of The Record. Kang is expected to be posted later this week. As we learned earlier this evening, GM Sandy Alderson alluded that Kang could be out of the club’s price range. As for left-handed reliever Craig Breslow, the Mets’ interest is “overblown.”
  • Mets farm director Jon Miller will leave the organization at the end of the year, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) hears that Miller is already done with the club.
  • Rizzo sounds like a man who is ready to make some moves.  “We’re open for business,” the Nationals GM said, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (via Twitter).

Stark’s Latest: Zimmermann, Scherzer, Tigers

Only three free agents make Jayson Stark’s list of the top 10 players to watch during the Winter Meetings, reflecting the feeling from several baseball executives that the trade front could be much busier than the free agency front in the coming days.  Jon Lester is the key domino in the process, as in the words of one NL executive, “he sets the free-agent market and kick-starts the trade market. Depending on when he signs, he could create the greatest Winter Meetings in decades or the most boring.”  Here’s some more from ESPN’s Stark…

  • “The most widespread front-office conspiracy theory” sees the Nationals trading Jordan Zimmermann and then signing Max Scherzer.  This scenario is “so obvious it makes me question if it’s real,” one GM said.  Clearly a lot of factors would have to fall into place for the Nats to pull this off, though they’re known to be listening to offers for Zimmermann, who will be a free agent after the 2015 season.  Scott Boras, Scherzer’s agent, is known for waiting until deep into the offseason to find a preferred deal for his clients, which could give Washington more time to line up a Zimmermann trade.
  • Beyond Zimmermann, the Nationals are also listening to offers for Ian Desmond, Doug Fister, Denard Span and Tyler Clippard.  All of these players can hit free agency after 2015, making Washington the “team with the potential to make the biggest deal of the offseason. And maybe not just one,” Stark writes.
  • The Tigers are “listening intently” to offers for David Price and Rick Porcello, though they’ll only deal one of the two, and Detroit would only move Price if they can re-sign Scherzer.  “The Tigers have made it clear they aren’t subtracting any starting pitchers unless they have a replacement lined up,” Stark writes.  I’d note that the newly-acquired Shane Greene could be such a potential replacement for Porcello, who Stark says is the more likely to be traded than Price.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has told teams interested in Cole Hamels to make an offer if they wish, but the Phils are waiting to see where the big free agent arms go before they seriously start exploring a Hamels trade.  Several teams have said the Phillies’ asking price for Hamels is far too high, and one rival official tells Stark that the pitching market is too deep for the Phillies to expect both top prospects and Hamels’ entire contract to be absorbed in a deal.
  • Jeff Samardzija is likelier to be dealt before Hamels, one executive predicts, since the Athletics are more aggressively shopping their right-hander.  We’ve already heard that the White Sox, to name one team, have discussed a Samardzija trade with the A’s.  One exec warns that the A’s could have trouble finding their desired return for Samardzija, since “it’s just hard to give up a lot of value for a one-year pitcher.”
  • The Red Sox are open to trading any position player except for Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez, Stark writes.  It also goes without saying that David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia won’t be dealt, not to mention the newly-signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez.