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Emilio Bonifacio Rumors
FEB. 10: The Royals have requested unconditional release waivers on Bonifacio, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Any team can now claim Bonifacio if they are willing to take on the entirety of his $3.5MM salary. Those claims will be determined according to last year's league-wide standings and are not subject to the in-season rule that would give AL teams the first shot at him (2013 league-wide standings are also used for the first month of the regular season, as opposed to league-specific priority). Should he clear waivers, he will be a free agent and can then sign with a team of his choosing.
FEB. 1: The Royals have designated infielder Emilio Bonifacio for assignment, according to a team release. The move clears space on the Royals' roster for Bruce Chen. Bonifacio, who will be 29 in April, hit .243/.295/.331 in 461 plate appearances divided between the Royals and Blue Jays in 2013.
In mid-January, the Royals agreed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal with him to avoid arbitration, so it comes as a surprise that they would designate him for assignment two weeks later. Chen's $3MM salary essentially replaces Bonifacio's $3.5MM, and arbitration contracts are not guaranteed, so the decision to designate Bonifacio may have been a matter of making room for Chen in the Royals' budget. The Royals could well trade Bonifacio in the next ten days. Pedro Ciriaco could pick up playing time as a utility infielder in Bonifacio's place.
Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales are all still free agents, and draft-pick forfeiture is a key reason why, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Some agents are upset at the way draft picks have affected the market, Heyman reports, but the number of players affected is relatively small, which may prevent the players' union from trying to do much about it before the next CBA expires in 2016. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Red Sox (who have six legitimate big-league starters, plus a strong Triple-A rotation) and Cardinals (who keep adding young talent to complement Adam Wainwright) are smart to treasure their starting pitching depth, writes CBS Sports' Dayn Perry. Of last year's playoff teams, only the Tigers avoided giving at least than 15 starts to pitchers who weren't rotation regulars. Four teams — the Pirates, Dodgers, Rays and Cardinals — gave at least 30 starts to pitchers who weren't in their usual top five.
- The Indians feel their biggest loss among their relief pitchers this offseason was not former closer Chris Perez, but setup man Joe Smith, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Smith signed as a free agent with the Angels. The Indians' revamped bullpen will now feature John Axford in the closer's role, with Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen also pitching in the late innings.
- David Ortiz of the Red Sox deserves a contract extension through 2015, and he deserves a raise to $20MM for the coming season, writes Heyman. Ortiz is set to make $15MM in the final year of a two-year deal in 2014. The Red Sox ought to pay him more than the market for him would dictate, Heyman argues, based on what he means to the Red Sox and to Boston.
- Jesse Crain of the Astros doubts he'll be ready for the start of the 2014 season, Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle writes. "I’m not planning on that. I would be surprised if I was ready by then," says Crain, who had biceps surgery in October. Crain hopes to only miss a couple weeks of play. The Astros signed Crain to a one-year, $3.25MM deal in December.
- Emilio Bonifacio could make sense for the Mets if they do not add another shortstop, Michael Baron of MetsBlog writes. The Mets currently plan on going with Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada in their middle infield, and if they don't sign Stephen Drew or add a starting shortstop through some other means, they could use depth behind Tejada.
- In the next five days, the Dodgers will likely sign a utility infielder to a minor-league deal, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweets.
It might not be likely that the Blue Jays will sign A.J. Burnett, but in some respects, he would be a very good fit for them, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Burnett won't require the team that signs him to forfeit a draft pick and likely wouldn't want a long-term deal, and he arguably performed better in 2013 than all the other remaining free-agent pitchers, like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo. A return to Toronto might be a longshot for Burnett, though — he would likely prefer to be closer to his home in Maryland, and had previously said he was deciding between pitching for the Pirates and retiring. Here are more notes from the AL East.
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette brushed aside a report that his team was "all-in" on Burnett, saying that he was "not sure where that report came from," MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko reports. The Orioles do, however, remain very interested in signing a veteran starting pitcher. "Some of these young pitchers who we really like should be able to help us later on in the season, but if we could sign a veteran starter, I think that would help fill out our ballclub," he said.
- Emilio Bonifacio, who the Royals designated for assignment in a surprise move today, could make an interesting candidate for the Yankees' open bench infielder job, Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues writes. If they want to acquire him, though, they'll likely need to do so via trade, since the Dodgers also need infield help and could make a trade for him themselves.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
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If MLBTR had only been around in 1954. On this date 59 years ago, the Yankees and Orioles completed the largest trade in baseball history by naming the eight players to be named later in the 17-player deal. Two weeks prior, the Yankees received Don Larsen (yes, that Don Larsen) Billy Hunter, and Bob Turley from the Orioles in exchange for Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Willy Miranda, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos, and Gene Woodling. Let's take a look at what's simmering on the Hot Stove in today's American League:
- The Tigers are one more bold move away from entering Spring Training with the "Best Team in Baseball" designation, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. Signing Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, or Curtis Granderson would qualify as that bold move, in Justice's opinion.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore tells the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton his staff will convene Monday morning to determine the fate of their nine arbitration eligible players. "I don't look for us to do anything that is too surprising," said Moore. "We might not tender everybody, but we might. There are some things that we’re kind of working on."
Also within Dutton's article, Royals officials acknowledge Emilio Bonifacio is drawing steady interest from other teams, so second baseman Chris Getz may be tendered as insurance against a deal involving the utilityman. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz predicts a $3.3MM arbitration award for Bonifacio and $1.3MM for Getz.
- The Rays are likely to tender each of their nine arbitration eligible players and then possibly flip one or more in a trade, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. David Price is the most obvious arbitration eligible trade candidate, but Mooney also lists outfielder Sam Fuld and lefty relievers Cesar Ramos and Wesley Wright as possible chips. If the Rays do tender all nine players, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz expects their arbitration salaries to total $26.6MM.
- The Astros are already preparing for the 2014 amateur draft as they expect to interview several candidates for the first overall pick by the end of the year, according to the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. The club's approach to the interview process and its slight variations based on whether the player is in high school or college is also detailed by Drellich.
- On Thanksgving Day, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined the managers and GMs entering the final year of their contract. Today, Jim Margalus of SouthSideSox.com concludes the most front office stability can be found in the AL Central.
The Blue Jays' decision to fire hitting coach Chad Mottola yesterday made him a curious scapegoat for the team's 2013 failures, opines Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi points out that Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie (who hit .283/.346/.417 in the second half) all made positive strides under Mottola, who was in his first season as a Major League coach. Here's more on the Blue Jays…
- Sergio Santos' contract no longer looks as team-friendly as it once did, but the Blue Jays aren't missing Nestor Molina, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Molina has struggled with the White Sox since being sent to Chicago in exchange for Santos, and Santos' final two months were healthy and dominant. Santos tells Nicholson-Smith that his goal for 2014 is to stay healthy, which will be a key if he's to have any chance at seeing his $6MM option exercised.
- Starting pitching is still the team's top priority this offseason, but an upgrade at catcher has leapfrogged left field for the team's No. 2 priority, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm in his latest Blue Jays Inbox. Chisolm notes that the free agent market will be expensive and competitive and adds that the Jays are interested in Wilson Ramos of the Nationals, though he would be an expensive trade target himself (in terms of prospects). Still, Chisolm writes that GM Alex Anthopoulos "seems determined" to make an upgrade behind the dish.
- Anthony Gose could slot into the fourth outfielder role that will open up with Rajai Davis' departure, but Chisolm notes that he's also one of the team's top trade chips. Gose could also move into a starting role should a starting outfielder be traded.
- The Blue Jays felt that Emilio Bonifacio couldn't handle playing the infield on the turf at the Rogers' Centre due to his poor footwork and limited range, writes Chisholm, which is why they essentially gave him to the Royals. He'd have been non-tendered this winter, Chisholm adds.
- Chisolm also addresses the free agent market, noting that the Jays aren't likely to break their policy of limiting free agent deals to five years this offseason and aren't likely to pursue a Roy Halladay reunion as they need more certainty in a starting pitching acquisition.
Justin Maxwell's walkoff grand slam yesterday helped the Royals earn their 82nd win of the season, thus ensuring that the club will enjoy a winning record for just the second time in the last 19 seasons (and first time since 2003). The Royals sit 3.5 games behind the Indians for the last AL wild card slot, so while it would take a big finish to reach the postseason, K.C. will go into the offseason on a high note for the first time in years. Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star looks ahead to potential winter moves for the Royals as part of a reader Q&A piece…
- "It's not a slam dunk" that Ned Yost returns as the Royals manager in 2014, as Dutton believes that the lack of rumors about contract talks could indicate that the club is considering a change in the dugout. Dutton recently reported that owner David Glass was leaving Yost's fate up to GM Dayton Moore, and Moore said he is waiting until after the season to discuss contracts with Yost and the coaching staff.
- Moore and his staff should be credited, Dutton opines, for getting major contributions from Maxwell and Emilio Bonifacio in what seemed like minor trades at the time. Maxwell, acquired from the Astros on deadline day, has a .972 OPS in 89 PA as a Royal, while Bonifacio is hitting .287/.359/.353 over 155 PA and is 15-for-17 in steal attempts since being claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays in mid-August.
- Bonifacio's emergence means that the Royals no longer have to make second base a major priority this offseason. Bonifacio could start and the team is happy with Pedro Ciriaco as the utility infielder, though Bonifacio would return to his original utility role if the club does pick someone else up. With Bonifacio and Ciriaco in the fold, Dutton doesn't see much room for Chris Getz or Johnny Giavotella on the roster.
- The Royals will probably check in on Shin-Soo Choo this winter but Dutton suspects the free agent outfielder will be too expensive for the team. Choo is the fifth-ranked player on Tim Dierkes' Free Agent Power Rankings and will draw a lot of interest from several teams, so Dutton is probably right in assuming that K.C. will be priced out.
- An outfielder could be an offseason target for the team, as Dutton feels this would be the easiest spot to add a much-needed bat to the lineup. Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain are locks to return, with Maxwell, David Lough and Jarrod Dyson all currently in the mix for the third OF spot or a bench role.
- In terms of big-name free agent outfielders, Dutton sees Carlos Beltran as a likelier bet to sign with the Royals than Curtis Granderson, but while Beltran would be more open of the two to sign with K.C. for market value, Dutton still deems a Beltran return as "not likely." As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth noted yesterday in his Beltran vs. Nelson Cruz Free Agent Faceoff piece, Beltran is a defensive question mark at this point in his career, so he might not be a fit with the Royals given how Billy Butler is entrenched at DH.
2:24pm: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters, including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, that the Royals claimed Bonifacio off waivers and a trade came together quickly this morning. The trade will be completed by mid-September, and it sounds like the Jays will receive cash (Twitter links).
12:07pm: The Royals announced that they have acquired Emilio Bonifacio from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash or a player to be named later. Bonifacio's name popped up in trade talk in late July but he wasn't moved prior to the non-waiver deadline.
Bonifacio, 28, came to Toronto in the offseason blockbuster with the Marlins. The versatile veteran hasn't performed well north of the border, however, hitting just .218/.258/.321 on the year with three homers. While Bonifacio has never been known for his bat, his .271/.332/.345 slash line in four years with the Marlins was considerably better than what he's done in 2013.
Bonifacio is earning $2.6MM as a second-year arbitration eligible player and KC will be on the hook for the prorated portion of his salary which comes out to about $654K. The Wasserman Media Group client has one more year of arbitration eligibility ahead of him and can hit the open market following the 2014 campaign.
The switch-hitter has spent significant time at the three outfield posiions, second base, third base, and shortstop. The deal brings Bonifacio to the same organization as his younger brother, Jorge, who is an outfielder at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Utility man Emilio Bonifacio is the most likely player to be traded by the Blue Jays, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Jays are also shopping outfielder Melky Cabrera, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Bonifacio, 28, came over from the Marlins in the November blockbuster. He's limped to a .214/.254/.314 line on the season. Cabrera, 28, inked a two-year, $16MM deal that was seen as a potential bargain after he served a PED suspension. He could face another suspension by way of the forthcoming Biogenesis announcement, but the general feeling is that he already served his time. His lack of offensive production may be the bigger concern in moving him.
It appears that the Blue Jays weren't the only team interested in pulling off a Jose Reyes/Josh Johnson blockbuster this offseason. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com adds that the Red Sox also talked with the Fish regarding the Johnson, Reyes and possibly Emilio Bonifacio as well. Ultimately, the Red Sox backed off due to an unwillingness to consider parting with top prospect Xander Bogaerts.
It's understandable that Bogaerts, viewed by most as Boston's top prospect, would be a sticking point. The shortstop from Aruba is ranked higher than any player the Marlins received in Top 100 lists from Baseball America (No. 8), ESPN's Keith Law (No. 5) and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo (No. 20).
Johnson told Bradford on Wednesday that he, like others in the trade, was caught off guard by the trade. He had been preparing his wife for a trade during the 2012 season, but once the deadline passed, he thought that he and the Marlins' other star players would remain in Miami until this year's trade deadline at the very least:
"I wasn’t hearing one thing. My agent never said anything. Even when the trade went down he was like, ‘Let me see if this is real or not.' But by then it was already on MLB Trade Rumors and stuff."
The right-hander also noted that close friend Cody Ross told Johnson he would love playing in Boston. Johnson went on to say good things about the city when further questioned on the matter by Bradford.
The Blue Jays ultimately acquired Johnson, Reyes, Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle and John Buck from the Marlins in exchange for Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis and Anthony Desclafani.
However, as we learned last month, that trade may not have happened had the White Sox not reached a last-minute extension with Jake Peavy. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos and White Sox GM Rick Hahn nearly completed a trade before Peavy signed his contract.