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Elvis Andrus Rumors
GM Brian Sabean says the Giants won’t have Buster Posey replace Pablo Sandoval at third base, and they continue to view him as a backstop, MLB.com’s Chris Haft writes. “He’s a franchise player, a franchise catcher,” Sabean says, adding that Sandoval, who recently signed with the Red Sox, was a key presence in the Giants’ clubhouse. “He brought a lot of energy. He loved playing the game. He’ll be missed on and off the field,” Sabean says. The Giants will continue to look for a third baseman and left fielder, but Sabean expects they might do so through trades and not through free agent signings. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Braves president of baseball operations John Hart told MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (via Twitter) that a few teams have shown interest in Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. Hart expects things to heat up once some key free agents sign.
- The Braves do not have any trade talks at a “serious stage,” tweets David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. According to Hart, the club has spent more time talking with free agents, particularly second basemen and starting pitchers.
- We heard earlier tonight that the Mets and Rangers have engaged in trade talks. Texas is looking for starting pitching, which New York has in abundance. However, the Mets aren’t high on Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, reports Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter). Presumably, the Mets aren’t keen on the eight-years and $120MM owed to Andrus. Another shortstop option, prospect Luis Sardinas, looks more like a utility fielder to the Mets. They don’t think he’s a long term solution at shortstop.
- Thanks to Anthony Rendon‘s flexibility, the Nationals can look to acquire a second or third baseman to fill out their roster, writes Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider. The club has kept in touch with free agent Asdrubal Cabrera and is exploring the trade market. Danny Espinosa is the current in-house option at second base.
- The Rangers have spoken to the Braves about Justin Upton, echoing a recent report by the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, but the current focus for Texas is pitching.
- The Rangers are willing to deal any of their shortstops, but Elvis Andrus is the least likely to be moved because the team believes 2015 will be a big season for the 26-year-old.
- The Rangers are open to trading their better prospects rather than spend big money on free agents. Rosenthal, however, notes Joey Gallo and Jorge Alfaro (the club’s top two prospects, per MLB.com) are considered untouchable.
The Blue Jays were the only team that put a fifth year on the table for Russell Martin, tweets Jim Bowden of of ESPN.com, and that was the key to landing the backstop. With Toronto having fired the first major offseason salvo in the AL East, let’s see where things stand elsewhere in the division …
- Martin’s signing does not mark an early conclusion to the Blue Jays‘ offseason, but rather opens up new possibilities for GM Alex Anthopoulos, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. The move also highlights Anthopoulos’s desire to “rearrang[e] the clubhouse dynamics,” says Davidi.
- Pablo Sandoval met with the Red Sox today, and the club will also sit down with Jon Lester before the lefty flies off for meetings with other suitors tomorrow, reports WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. Boston never made an effort to acquire Jason Heyward before he was sent to St. Louis, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- The Yankees are largely waiting and watching at the moment, according to George A. King III of the New York Post. It is possible that the Rangers would be willing to part with shortstop Elvis Andrus, but it remains unknown whether New York would take on enough cash or part with sufficient prospects to make a deal attractive to Texas. And the team’s own free agents still seem to be feeling out the market at present.
- King notes that an arm like Max Scherzer could become increasingly appealing to the Yankees as the offseason progresses, and indeed Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that there has been at least “brief contact” between the team and Scott Boras (Scherzer’s agent) since the GM Meetings. New York “may revisit their initial instinct to largely sit this winter out,” per Heyman, who explains that the silence around Scherzer’s market is rather unusual.
The gap between the haves and have-nots in baseball have lessened because of revenue sharing and financial incentives not to overspend in the draft and free agency, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The Dodgers, however, are utilizing a different model to maximize their financial advantage: buying front office talent. Drellich notes the $7MM average annual value Dodgers President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman earns would make him the Astros’ third-highest paid player. “Big-market, small-market potential difference,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “There does seem to be increased competition for talented people that have had success in our industry. That’s not the first time we’ve seen it. It’s not the last time we’re going to see it. As far as front offices with different layers that don’t exist in our organization, it’s a way to get more people in the organization.” Luhnow also pointed out the distinction between a city’s population and its market size and how that affects a franchise’s financial resources. Houston is “the fourth-largest city in the country, but we’re not the fourth-largest market in the country, not even close,” Luhnow remarked. “We’re not ever going to be a small market necessarily, but our revenues are not proportionate with our city size relative to other big metropolitan areas.”
In other news involving MLB’s West divisions:
- Some rival evaluators believe Andre Ethier is by far the most likely Dodgers outfielder to be traded, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, Los Angeles will weigh their options. Carl Crawford and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Matt Kemp, also appear to be trade candidates.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (on Twitter) he will “listen” on Elvis Andrus because of the club’s infield depth. Texas also has middle infielders like Luis Sardinas, Jurickson Profar, and Rougned Odor in the fold.
- Daniels went on to say the Rangers‘ needs are at starting pitcher, catcher, left field, or DH and these vacancies are more likely to be solved via trade than free agency (link). Last month, our own Brad Johnson previewed the Rangers’ offseason.
- The Padres must consider trading one of their catchers (Yasmani Grandal, Rene Rivera, or propsect Austin Hedges) in order to improve their offense, opines Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
It would be “the longest of long shots” if the Yankees acquired Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus this offseason, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Andrus’ eight-year, $120MM extension begins in 2015 and the Yankees aren’t interested in paying that type of superstar money to a player who hasn’t yet delivered on that level. “You would have to hope he turned a big corner if you took on that contract,” an executive tells Feinsand. “If he never gets any better, that’s a lot of money for a good — but pretty ordinary — player.” Ironically, the Yankees’ long-standing interest in Andrus was part of the reason why Texas extended him in the first place, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s worth noting that Andrus has opt-out clauses in his deal after both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so the financial commitment may not quite be as lengthy as it seems.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- There isn’t any truth to reports that the Orioles made a three-year, $30MM offer to Billy Butler, a member of the organization tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. While the O’s have had interest in Butler, Kubatko feels the team wouldn’t spend that much on a full-time DH.
- The Orioles will meet with Nick Markakis‘ agent Jamie Murphy today, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). The O’s are still seen as the favorites to sign Markakis, though the Blue Jays and other teams are interested in the veteran outfielder. Earlier this week, Murphy said that the Orioles weren’t one of the several teams he planned to speak with about his client during the GM Meetings.
- Though Yoenis Cespedes‘ name has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) that those rumors aren’t “based in any sort of evidence. We’re happy to have him. We felt like as we were building a lineup for next year, adding that power element in the middle of the lineup was critically important to us. So now that we have it, we’re not really anxious to give it away. We believe he’s very important in 2015, and 2015 is very important to us.”
- Cherington spent “an extended period of time” talking with Jon Lester‘s agents last night, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.
- The Rays interviewed Giants bench coach Ron Wotus about their managerial opening yesterday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Of the ten candidates on the Rays’ list, the team still has to speak to Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville and Kevin Cash before getting into the second round of interviews.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, we published a collection of Blue Jays notes, the Yankees signed lefty Jose De Paula and the Orioles are shopping right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.
- Acquiring a shortstop is atop Cashman’s list, but he says, “I think it’s a limited market to be honest, and I say limited in terms of availability and acquisition cost.” Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has a source saying that beyond Troy Tulowitzki, the Yankees are “kicking the tires” on the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus and the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins. “I don’t think this past season reflects what his true ability is,” said Cashman of free agent Stephen Drew, and the GM has already spoken with Drew’s agent. Beyond Drew, Feinsand says the Yanks don’t seem inclined to pay up for Hanley Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie aren’t high on their list.
- The Yankees have had “a brief conversation” with Chase Headley and “we’re certainly looking forward to continuing the dialogue,” says Cashman. Given doubts about Alex Rodriguez‘s ability to play third base every day in 2015, the Yankees are making a “strong push” to sign Headley, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Cashman thinks Hiroki Kuroda is going through his standard post-season “mental cleansing process” and will soon make a decision about whether or not he wants to return in 2015. Cashman would “be surprised if he doesn’t play,” though isn’t sure if Kuroda will pitch in MLB or Japan.
- Cashman will speak with David Robertson‘s agent during the GM Meetings, and was hesitant to discuss the Yankees’ closer situation until those talks had taken place. “I would have no clue what [Robertson’s] market value is going to be,” Cashman said. “Certainly, they’ll have an idea. They turned down the qualifying offer based on a lot of parameters, I’m sure, [and] some discussions they’ve already had. It’s hard to tell.“
- Two of the club’s statistical analysts pushed Cashman to re-sign Chris Young. “They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract,” Cashman said.
- Young’s signing may be the last outfield-related move the Yankees make this winter. “I think right now, we’re kind of settled in the outfield unless something surprising happens in the case of a trade, which I wouldn’t anticipate,” Cashman said. As Bloom notes, this would seem to close the book on any chance of Ichiro Suzuki re-signing with New York.
The Red Sox are one of the 20 teams on Cole Hamels‘ no-trade list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Rosenthal notes, Hamels wouldn’t necessarily block a trade to Boston, but he may want a team to pick up his 2019 vesting option ($20MM) in order to waive the clause. That would take Hamels’ total guarantee from four years and $90MM to five years and $110MM, likely making him a bit less attractive as a trade target. Boston has been an oft-rumored potential trade partner should the Phillies decide to move their ace.
More from baseball’s Eastern divisions…
- Yasmany Tomas isn’t close to a deal of any sort, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, had a one-on-one meeting with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at today’s GM Meetings in Phoenix.
- The Mets saw Tomas, but their scouts didn’t love him and they’re not likely to go near the $100MM range to sign him, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He does note that the Mets are looking at outfielders on the trade market and willing to listen on Daniel Murphy again. However, the Mets have been underwhelmed by past offers for Murphy and may just hang onto him, as they’re comfortable giving Dilson Herrera more time to develop in the minors.
- Sherman also reports that the Yankees are “intrigued” by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. The Yankees are trying to get younger and are hopeful of acquiring youthful players that may not have had their best season yet, and Andrus could fit that bill. However, they’re also wary of Andrus’ huge $120MM contract extension, which doesn’t even kick in until next season.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that he won’t allow other teams to dictate his offseason. What he means by that, Blair explains, is that the Jays won’t wait to see where a certain player signs before pursuing another. Blair recalls the 2006 Winter Meetings, when Anthopoulos was an assistant GM to J.P. Ricciardi. Toronto was hamstrung at the Winter Meetings waiting to hear back from free agents Ted Lilly and Gil Meche, both of whom signed elsewhere in the end. According to Blair, there was some stark internal criticism about how the other team’s plans were held up by other clubs. Toronto’s priority is re-signing Melky Cabrera, Blair writes, but the Blue Jays are aware that his QO and past ties to PEDs could lead to a slow-developing market.
A group of high-profile Rangers players has cleared revocable waivers, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Ace Yu Darvish, star third baseman Adrian Beltre, young shortstop Elvis Andrus, and recent free agent-signee Shin-Soo Choo have all cleared. (Outfielder Alex Rios has already cleared waivers.) Meanwhile, lefty Neal Cotts is still on waivers, with his period set to expire tomorrow.
Of course, just because that set of big names has cleared names does not necessarily mean that other teams do not want them, let alone that they are likely to be dealt. As Heyman notes, even if a team was interested in adding Darvish or Beltre, placing a claim would start a clock that could well be too short to complete such a significant deal. In the case of Choo, his down year and massive contract made it quite unlikely that another team would want to take his contract.
Andrus, on the other hand, is a more interesting case. His eight-year, $120MM extension (which includes both opt-out and vesting option provisions) does not kick in until next year. The 25-year-old has struggled to take the next step at the plate, and owns a .271/.326/.337 batting line over the 2013-14 time frame. Though he is a productive fielder and baserunner, that batting line has limited his cumulative value over that period to 4.4 fWAR and 4.9 rWAR. While his name has been mentioned as a trade possibility, the contract would certainly be a major complication, and it is perhaps somewhat telling that he was left unclaimed.
Ultimately, Cotts seems the most likely to actually change hands. Executives tell Heyman that the setup man will likely be claimed, in which case Texas will have the option of working out a trade, allowing his contract to be assumed by the claiming team, or pulling him back. The 34-year-old is earning just $2.2MM this year and will be a free agent at season’s end, making some sort of transaction seem rather likely. Though he has taken a step back from a stellar 2013 (1.11 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9), Cotts has still been fairly productive this year. He owns a 3.54 ERA and 9.6 K/9 versus 3.4 BB/9 over 53 1/3 frames, with peripherals that suggest he has pitched slightly better. The veteran has actually been somewhat more effective against righties (.673 OPS) than lefties (.731 OPS) on the season.
As a reminder, you can check here for MLBTR’s updated list of players who have cleared revocable waivers.
Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik responded to this weekend's Seattle Times report pointing to dysfunction in the Mariners front office. The full response can be seen here, courtesy of MLB.com's Greg Johns. While it's too lengthy to post here in its entirety, Zduriencik was quick to dismiss many of the allegations, specifically refuting that former manager Eric Wedge had no interest in a contract extension. According to Zduriencik, Wedge asked for an extension multiple times and even demanded an extension the day before he quit. Here's more on Robinson Cano's new team…
- Top prospect Taijuan Walker's name has come up recently in David Price trade rumors, but Jack Z told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he expects Walker to be with the Mariners in 2014 (Twitter link).
- The Rangers are still open to dealing Elvis Andrus even after trading Ian Kinsler, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, Rosenthal categorizes the chances as being a huge long shot, noting that Texas would need a significant return (Twitter links).
- An executive that has shown interest in Athletics lefty Brett Anderson said that Brett Anderson is more of a "plan B" than "plan A" type of player (Twitter link). Sherman added in an appearance on the MLB Network that multiple teams are viewing Anderson in that light.
- The Angels are still trying to figure out if there's a fit with the Diamondbacks as a trading partner, tweets Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. A report earlier today linked the D-Backs to Mark Trumbo.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets that the Rangers are considering a $20MM bid for Masahiro Tanaka (assuming he gets posted) but are wary of other teams trying to drive up the price on the contract.
The Rangers and Dodgers discussed trades during the GM Meetings, looking to fill the other team's respective needs in the outfield and infield, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The Dodgers had interest in shortstop Elvis Andrus while the Rangers had interest in Matt Kemp, though they were concerned about the $128MM owed to Kemp through 2019 and his recent injury problems. Talks between the two sides didn't go anywhere, Rosenthal said.
Here's some more news from the Lone Star State…
- Rosenthal expects the Rangers to be "linked to virtually every power bat in free agency and trades" (Twitter link). This includes such names as Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Mike Napoli.
- Speaking of Napoli, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that some executives think the Rangers will be the Red Sox biggest rivals for the first baseman this offseason. Scouts were impressed by how well Napoli handled first base and Texas is known to be looking for first base help. Napoli has drawn interest from several teams and while there's mutual interest in a return to Boston, the Sox have reportedly only made him a one-year offer.
- Shin-Soo Choo could be on the decline and will cost too much for the Rangers to pursue in free agency, ESPN Dallas' Todd Wills opines. McCann is a better fit for Texas' needs, Wills argues.
- Ray Davis was unanimously approved as the Rangers' control person by MLB owners today, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reports. Davis, the club's co-chairman, will represent the Rangers at ownership meetings and he told media (including Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) that GM Jon Daniels would report directly to either Davis or co-owner Bob Simpson.
- From earlier today, the Rangers avoided arbitration with Adam Rosales by signing him to a one-year, $750K contract.