Emilio Bonifacio Rumors

Quick Hits: Rockies, Bonifacio, Oliver, Ibanez

The Winter Meetings rumors continue to fly in, so let's round up another batch of them….

  • The Rockies have told reps for free agents that they're attempting to acquire a pitcher via trade, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Colorado would also like to bring back Jeff Francis on a minor league deal, tweets Renck.
  • Although he indicated last night that Emilio Bonifacio could be available, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets today that the Blue Jays don't want to move him, "at least not yet."
  • Darren Oliver remains undecided about whether he'll play in 2013, and hasn't requested a trade, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have exercised their '13 team option on the left-hander.
  • The Astros are planning to take two players in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • The Mariners remain in play for virtually every available hitter, tweets Knobler. Among their targets is Raul Ibanez, who the M's are "pushing" for, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Ibanez would prefer to rejoin the Yankees, but New York hasn't been as aggressive as Seattle, tweets Sherman.
  • According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Yankees bid higher than the White Sox for Jeff Keppinger, but the utility infielder chose Chicago.
  • In addition to Keppinger, the White Sox plan to bring in another infielder and a catcher, assuming A.J. Pierzynski leaves, tweets MLB.com's Scott Merkin.

Emilio Bonifacio Could Be Available

The Braves had interest in Emilio Bonifacio prior to his inclusion in the Marlins-Blue Jays blockbuster, and they've learned this week that he may still be available, according to Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).

The 27-year-old Bonifacio could see significant time at second base for the Blue Jays, but the presence of Maicer Izturis could also lead them to field offers on Bonifacio. Current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez coached Bonifacio when he was still with the Marlins.

Bonifacio hit .258/.330/.316 in 2012 and swiped 30 bases in 33 attempts despite appearing in only 64 games due to a combination of thumb and knee injuries. He's logged at least 150 big league innings at all three outfield positions as well as third base, second base and shortstop.

It's worth noting that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters today, "I'd feel really confident we're not going to do anything," when asked about making a move at the Winter Meetings (Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reporting on Twitter). That obviously doesn't rule something out further down the line, however.


Blue Jays, Marlins Complete Blockbuster Trade

Commissioner Bud Selig has approved the blockbuster trade that the Blue Jays and Marlins agreed to last week.  The Blue Jays announced the 12-player trade, which sends Jose ReyesJosh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio and cash considerations to Toronto for Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Justin Nicolino, Anthony Desclafani and Jake Marisnick.

The deal, which calls for the Marlins to send the Blue Jays $4MM, required the approval of the commissioner's office.  The Blue Jays are taking on tens of millions in future payroll obligations, while the Marlins are moving the contracts of Reyes and Buehrle less than one full year after signing them as free agents.

Ultimately the deal "represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both clubs," Selig said in a statement approving the trade.

Reyes, 29, hit .287/.347/.433 with eleven home runs in 716 plate appearances last season.  The batting line wasn't quite as impressive as the .337/.384/.493 he put up in his contract year with New York, but it was promising to see the shortstop appear in 160 games after missing 191 games across the previous three seasons.  Despite the club's disappointing performance last season, Reyes said over the summer that he didn't have any regrets about signing with Miami.  

Buehrle's deal, like Reyes', is heavily backloaded with the hurler set to earn $11MM in 2013, $18MM in 2014, and $19MM in 2015 after making just $6MM in 2012.  The contract also includes a $4MM signing bonus that's deferred without interest.  While considering a number of offers, Buehrle was said to be prioritizing a no-trade clause, something he didn't end up receiving from the Marlins.  The veteran had a 3.74 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 31 starts for Miami last season.  

Bonifacio played just 64 games in an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.  The 27-year-old can fill a number of different roles, having experience at all three outfield positions, second base, shortstop, and third base.  Buck, 32, earned his first All-Star selection in 2010 as a member of the Blue Jays.  His offensive production regressed in the two years since, posting a .213/.308/.358 batting line for the Marlins.

While the Marlins gave up a substantial amount of talent in the trade, they won't be coming away empty handed.  Hechavarria was a highly-regarded prospect in the Blue Jays' organization and his play reportedly had Toronto executives ready to part with Escobar in the right trade.  Of course, this megadeal sends both shortstops out of town.

Escobar struggled at the plate last season, hitting .253/.300/.344 with nine homers in 608 plate appearances.  The infielder does come with a team-friendly contract, however, as he'll earn $5MM in 2013 with team options for the same amount in '14 and '15.  For his career, the 30-year-old has a .282/.353/.390 batting line in six seasons with the Braves and Blue Jays.  Mathis, 29, came to the Blue Jays last season in a trade for Brad Mills that helped ease the Angels' catching glut.  The veteran will earn $3MM across the next two seasons with a club option for 2015 worth $1.5MM.

The Marlins also picked up a quartet of quality youngsters in the trade.  Alvarez, 22, made 31 starts for the Blue Jays last season with a 4.85 ERA and 3.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.  Nicolino, taken in the second-round of the 2010 draft, has received high praise for his aggressive pitching and willingness to pound the strike zone.  The Florida native cruised through Single-A ball last year, posting a 2.46 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.

Marisnick, 21, was rated as the No. 67 prospect in the country and the No. 3 prospect in the Blue Jays' organization after the 2011 season by Baseball America.  The publication also considered the former third-round pick to have the best defensive skillset and arm of any outfielder in the Toronto farm system.  DeSclafani, taken in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft, posted a 3.37 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in his debut season for Single-A Lansing.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post.



Blue Jays To Acquire Johnson, Reyes, Buehrle From Marlins

The Blue Jays have reached agreement on a deal with the Marlins that will send right-hander Josh Johnson, left-hander Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to Toronto for shortstop Yunel Escobar, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Justin Nicolino, outfielder Jake Marisnick, catcher Jeff Mathis, and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.  The deal, which will also call for the Marlins to send $4MM to the Blue Jays, is awaiting MLB approval.

The shocking trade effectively means that the Marlins are hitting the reset button on a team which had a payroll in the range of $100MM on Opening Day last season.  The Marlins brought out the checkbook last winter to draw fans to their brand new stadium, signing Reyes to a six-year, $106MM deal and Buehrle to a four-year, $58MM deal.  Neither player had a no-trade clause as per club policy.  Miami now has roughly $16MM in non-arbitration commitments heading into 2013.

Meanwhile, the blockbuster deal could make the Blue Jays a serious threat in the AL East.   Johnson, the first player first known to be involved in the deal, turned in a solid 2012 season after missing the bulk of 2011 with inflammation in his right shoulder.  The 28-year-old wasn't as quite as sharp as he was in 2009 and '10 but still posted a 3.81 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

Reyes, 29, hit .287/.347/.433 with eleven home runs in 716 plate appearances last season.  The batting line wasn't quite as impressive as the .337/.384/.493 he put up in his contract year with New York, but it was promising to see the shortstop appear in 160 games after missing 191 games across the previous three seasons.  Despite the club's disappointing performance last season, Reyes said over the summer that he didn't have any regrets about signing with Miami.  

Buehrle's deal, like Reyes', is heavily backloaded with the hurler set to earn $11MM in 2013, $18MM in 2014, and $19MM in 2015 after making just $6MM in 2012.  The contract also includes a $4MM signing bonus that's deferred without interest.  While considering a number of offers, Buehrle was said to be prioritizing a no-trade clause, something he obviously didn't receive from the Marlins.  The veteran had a 3.74 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 31 starts for Miami last season.  

Bonifacio played just 64 games in an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.  The 27-year-old can fill a number of different roles, having experience at all three outfield positions, second base, shortstop, and third base.  Buck, 32, earned his first All-Star selection in 2010 as a member of the Blue Jays.  His offensive production came back to earth in the two years since, posting a .213/.308/.358 batting line for the Marlins.

While the Marlins gave up a boatload of talent in the trade, they won't be coming away empty handed.  Hechavarria was a highly-regarded prospect in the Blue Jays' organization and his play reportedly had Toronto brass ready to part with Escobar in the right trade.  Of course, this megadeal sends both shortstops out of town.

Escobar struggled at the plate last season, hitting .253/.300/.344 with nine homers in 608 plate appearances.  The infielder does come with a team-friendly contract, however, as he'll earn $5MM in 2013 with team options for the same amount in '14 and '15.  For his career, the 30-year-old has a .282/.353/.390 batting line in six seasons with the Braves and Blue Jays.  Mathis, 29, came to the Blue Jays last season in a trade for Brad Mills that helped ease the Angels' catching glut.  The veteran will earn $3MM across the next two seasons with a club option for 2015 worth $1.5MM.

The Marlins also picked up a quartet of quality youngsters in the trade.  Alvarez, 22, made 31 starts for the Blue Jays last season with a 4.85 ERA and 3.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.  Nicolino, taken in the second-round of the 2010 draft, has received high praise for his aggressive pitching and willingness to pound the strike zone.  The Florida native cruised through Single-A ball last year, posting a 2.46 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.

Marisnick, 21, was rated as the No. 67 prospect in the country and the No. 3 prospect in the Blue Jays' organization after the 2011 season by Baseball America.  The publication also considered the former third-round pick to have the best defensive skillset and arm of any outfielder in the Toronto farm system.  DeSclafani, taken in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft, posted a 3.37 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in his debut season for Single-A Lansing.

The trade was initially reported by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports with additional details coming from ESPN.com's Buster Olney, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, and Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.


Rosenthal On Yankees, Playoffs, Sabermetrics

The Yankees enter play today with a one-game lead over the Orioles and four games over the Rays. And, it's a good thing this isn't your father's Yankees, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. If George Steinbrenner was alive today, Rosenthal believes he might have fired manager Joe Girardi after blowing a ten-game lead in the AL East and replaced him with the likes of Lou Piniella. Hal Steinbrenner is almost the polar opposite of his father. So much so that, when Rosenthal asked Brian Cashman of the potential fallout that might occur if the team fails to reach the playoffs, the Yankees' GM said, "We have objective, patient ownership." Also from Rosenthal's column:

  • The new schedule hasn't been a cure-all for small market teams like the Rays. Rosenthal suggests one way to mitigate the Rays’ disadvantage would be to scale revenue sharing so they would receive a greater percentage than a low-revenue club such as the Indians, who compete in a division with lower payrolls.
  • A criticism of the new playoff system is Wild Card teams who have better records than division winners are penalized in the seeding of the Division Series. Rosenthal's solution is to wait until after the Wild Card game to seed the Division Series.
  • The AL CY Young Award voting will be a test of how accepted advanced statistics are by the Baseball Writers Association of America. Rosenthal points out the last eight AL pitchers to either lead or tie for the lead in those categories, like the RaysDavid Price this year, each have won the award. The Tigers' Justin Verlander meanwhile leads in wins above replacement and Chris Sale of the White Sox leads in ERA+. Price is tops, however, in quality of opponents faced, based on the rankings of Vince Gennaro, president of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
  • Larry Bowa's interview for the Astros' managerial vacancy is a good sign, as rival executives have worried that GM Jeff Luhnow is surrounding himself with too many like-minded sabermetric types rather than building a diverse baseball operations department.
  • The Marlins may have difficulty in sticking with their plan to keep Emilio Bonifacio in center field, play Donovan Solano at second, and make the acquisition of a third baseman their top priority. Rosenthal points out the market for third basemen is bare, so one alternative for the Marlins is to acquire an outfielder and move Bonifacio back to third base.
  • Look for the Rays to exercise their $2.5MM option on Fernando Rodney. Rodney is bidding to become only the second reliever in history (Dennis Eckersley in 1990) to have a season of 40 or more saves and an ERA under 1.00. Rodney leads baseball with 43 saves and his ERA is 0.66.
  • The Cubs will look again this offseason to move Alfonso Soriano, who is one home run and one RBI shy of his first 30-homer, 100-RBI season since 2005. If the Cubs fail to receive a sufficient offer, they could always bring back Soriano, owed $36MM over the next two years, and try to move him at the deadline again. Rosenthal cited the example of Carlos Lee of how it is easier to deal an overpriced player the closer he gets to the end of his contract.

NL East Notes: Bonifacio, Nationals, Braves, Phillies

No team in baseball has a better ERA than the Nationals (3.25), who are seeking infield depth and monitoring the market for arms as the trade deadline approaches. Here are the latest links from the NL East, starting with the 61-40 Nationals…

  • Though the Nationals liked Emilio Bonifacio, the Marlins said a trade "ain't happening," Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
  • The Nationals are looking for a utility player and are focusing on players who can back up at shortstop, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports (on Twitter). The team has discussed 15-20 players in the Marco ScutaroJamey Carroll, Nick Punto mold, Adam Kilgore reported last week. With Ian Desmond on the disabled list, Washington needs middle infield depth. 
  • The Braves have checked in on relievers and Wade Davis' name has come up in discussions, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports. However, the Rays seem reluctant to trade the right-hander.
  • The Phillies are more likely to trade Hunter Pence than Cliff Lee, but it's possible both will be moved, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).

NL East Notes: Reyes, Bonifacio, Murphy

The Marlins appear to have set an extremely high asking price for Josh Johnson, Jon Heyman reported today. Here’s the latest on the Marlins and their NL East rivals…


NL East Notes: Hamels, Bonifacio, Jurrjens

The two biggest free agent contracts handed out by NL East teams this offseason went to Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle of the Marlins. They signed deals worth $106MM and $58MM, respectively, in December. Here are the latest links from the division…


Emilio Bonifacio Beats Marlins In Arbitration

Emilio Bonifacio beat the Marlins in their arbitration hearing, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. The Wasserman Media Group client will be paid $2.2MM in 2012 instead of the Marlins' $1.95MM figure.

Like the Rays, Nationals, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and Astros (prior to Jeff Luhnow), the Marlins have a policy of going to hearings once the arbitration figure exchange deadline is reached.  This year they also lost a hearing to Anibal Sanchez.  The Marlins lost to Cody Ross in 2010, Dan Uggla in 2009, and Miguel Cabrera in 2007.  The team beat Kevin Gregg in '07.  Keep in mind, though, that if the Marlins had settled at the midpoint in all six cases, they only would have saved $1,562,500 in total.  They might have gained more than that amount if their "file and trial" policy compelled other players to settle at team-friendly amounts out of fear for going to a hearing.

This year the clubs and players are even at 2-2, with the teams having beaten John Lannan and Jeff Niemann.  14 arbitration eligible players remain unsigned, though in recent years we have not seen more than eight total hearings.  Check out MLBTR's arbitration tracker here.


Emilio Bonifacio Had Arbitration Hearing Today

Marlins infielder Emilio Bonifacio had his arbitration hearing today, the Associated Press reports (via ESPN.com). Bonifacio asked for $2.2MM, while the Marlins countered with $1.95MM. Arbitrators Steven Wolf, Mark Burstein and Sylvia Skratek heard the case and are expected to reach a decision by tomorrow. 

As MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows, Bonifacio is the Marlins’ lone unsigned arbitration eligible player. Anibal Sanchez won his case against the team last week. The 26-year-old Bonifacio is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason and will remain under team control through 2014. He is a client of Wasserman Media Group.