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Eric Chavez Rumors
Earlier today, the Diamondbacks completed a three-team deal with the Rays and Reds which saw Tampa Bay acquire catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Reds and Heath Bell from Arizona. The D'Backs didn't get big time talent back in the trade, but they unloaded $5.5MM of the $6MM they owed to Bell in 2014. I asked Arizona GM Kevin Towers what he might do with his newfound financial flexibility.
"We still got some bench pieces that we need to put together, we still have interest in bringing back Eric Chavez as a guy who was a key bench player on the club last year. We also want to add depth to our starting pitching, a No. 1 or a No. 2 [type], that would probably come via trade. We have some free agents [that we like], but we'll probably be more aggressive on the trade front. Also, with Cody Ross coming back from the hip injury, we'll also look into a corner outfield bat," Towers said on this afternoon's conference call.
Without giving exact figures, Towers said that the payroll in 2014 will be "well above where it was last season." Arizona's opening day payroll was roughly $86.3MM, putting them right around the middle of the pack.
It's safe to say that Bell's tenure in Arizona didn't work out exactly as Towers & Co. had hoped. Despite that, the GM says that he's still hopeful that the 36-year-old can be a contributor for the Rays.
"Bell's velocity is still very good, his average velocity was very comparable to what we saw in San Diego and what it was in Florida…For Heath its all about location," Towers explained. "He's able to hit his spots..but the thing I saw, he didn't land his curveball as effectively as he did in San Diego. He had a 12-6 curveball to set up his fastball…I still think he has a lot left in the tank, one thing I've always liked about him is that he has a very resilient arm."
Towers admitted that he was sorry to see left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg go, but he said that he wouldn't have been able to secure the same kind of return without his inclusion. That return, of course, includes more than minor league righty Justin Choate – it means the millions in financial relief and a player to be named later. That PTBNL from Tampa Bay, Towers said, will probably be the key player in the trade from his side. Towers added that the player cannot be disclosed now because of "administrative reasons," indicating that the player has already been agreed upon.
Even after moving Bell, who finished 32 games for the club last season, Towers said that he "won't be real active" in finding bullpen help. Whatever needs he has, he'll look to find solutions internally. The GM acknowledged that Randall Delgado could go to bullpen if he lands a rotation upgrade. KT will also seek out "another multi-inning guy" besides Josh Collmenter. As for the closer role, Towers declined to name a favorite at this stage of the offseason.
In addition to the trade talk, Towers also fielded questions on the club's decision to non-tender Daniel Hudson. Even though the D'Backs have now lost their exclusivity with the pitcher, Towers sounds hopeful that the two sides will still hammer out a deal.
"I think we kind of ran out of time…I'd like to say we were at the five yard line or inside of that, so my hope is that we will come to a resolution and he will be a Diamondback in the very near future. We just weren't able to finalize anything by 10 o'clock the other night," Towers said, adding that he could see an agreement happening in the next couple weeks. "I think both sides still want this to happen."
By all accounts, it looks like the Yankees will be big players in free agency this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. The Yankees may have at least a dozen players in mind, and Heyman adds the names of Scott Feldman and Bronson Arroyo to the long list of free agents who have already been linked to the Bombers. One would suspect that Feldman and Arroyo would be backup plans should New York not be able to land a higher-profile starter like Masahiro Tanaka. Here's the latest out of the Bronx…
- The Yankees "obviously" want Curtis Granderson to reject the team's $14.1MM qualifying offer so they can pursue other free agent outfield options. While Granderson says he's still considering accepting the one-year deal, he seems likely to find a solid multiyear offer on the open market, his injury-shortened 2013 season notwithstanding.
- Hal Steinbrenner was the one who negotiated Derek Jeter's one-year, $12MM deal for 2014, Heyman reports. Steinbrenner is "very involved" in the team's dealings this winter, according to a source.
- The Yankees have discussed bringing back Eric Chavez, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports. Chavez would provide needed bench depth, and he wouldn't require a big commitment since he only wants a one-year contract. There does seem to be mutual interest between Chavez and the Diamondbacks for 2014, however.
- Joba Chamberlain hasn't received any attention from the Yankees but over a dozen other clubs have checked in on the free agent reliever, WFAN's Sweeney Murti reports (Twitter link). It has been widely reported that the Yankees will part ways with their former top prospect.
- The 10-year contracts given to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols when both men were in their 30's are reasons why the Yankees shouldn't make a decade-long commitment to 31-year-old Robinson Cano, MLB.com's Mike Bauman opines.
We just looked at the Diamondbacks' pending search for a power bat. Here are some more notes on the D-backs and their NL West rivals:
- As noted in my earlier post, the team's second-best power source this year has come from third baseman Eric Chavez, who has done a nice job on a one-year, $3MM deal. As Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic reports, the 35-year-old is interested in returning, and only wants a one-year deal since he isn't sure how long he'll want to keep going. GM Kevin Towers says that "there's still probably a need" for Chavez next year, and that the team could utilize his left-handed bat in a platoon with rookie Matt Davidson.
- Arizona also has some question marks at the back end of its bullpen, writes Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. The team owes $7MM to J.J. Putz and $6MM to Heath Bell (even after the Marlins pick up part of the tab) in 2014, but has used Brad Ziegler at closer of late. Ziegler earned $3.15MM this year, and should get a nice raise in his final year of arbitration after logging another 60+ inning, sub-3.00 ERA season while picking up double-digit saves. Though Arizona might wish to shed some of these obligations, only Ziegler seems like he would draw much interest.
- If Giants starter Tim Lincecum reaches the open market, he could be in a better position than one might expect, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes on Sulia. While teams used to worry about how Lincecum would perform when he lost velocity, says a Schulman source, they now know and may feel more comfortable making a long-term commitment. We heard yesterday that the Giants have opened negotiations on an extension with one soon-to-be free agent, Hunter Pence, but have yet to do so with Lincecum.
The Angels' $510K renewal of Mike Trout's contract for 2013 has made minor news this week. Now FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that Trout's agent, Craig Landis, has suggested his client wanted a $1M contract for 2013. Since Trout is a pre-arbitration eligible player and does not have a long-term deal, the Angels were not obligated to pay him any more than the league minimum salary of $490K, despite Trout's exceptional 2012 performance. One source tells Rosenthal the Angels did not negotiate the deal at all. Another tells him that the Angels initially offered Trout a contract of more than $510K, but Trout did not accept it, and the Angels gave him the $510K contract as punishment. In any case, as Rosenthal suggests, the mini-controversy over Trout's 2013 salary will quickly vanish into history if the two sides can agree on a long-term deal. And, of course, salaries near the league minimum are routine for pre-arbitration eligible players, even spectacular ones. Here are more notes from around the majors.
- The Blue Jays' offseason acquisitions of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey have put the squeeze on several Jays pitchers, including J.A. Happ, who no longer has much of a shot at a rotation job. Nonetheless, Happ continues to prepare for the season as a starter, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. "Right now I'm focused on being a starter, building up and doing what I've done in the past," says Happ. Happ could win a job in the bullpen, or he could wind up in the rotation at Triple-A Buffalo, even though he will earn $3.7MM this year.
- Third baseman Eric Chavez, now with the Diamondbacks, says he needed to leave the Athletics organization behind after suffering numerous injuries in his last seasons there, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Chavez left the A's after the 2010 season, and signing a minor-league deal with the Yankees gave him a chance to "restart everything" by escaping from expectations established early in his career in Oakland. Chavez hit .281/.348/.496 in a successful 2012 campaign in New York, leading to a one-year, $3MM major-league deal with Arizona for 2013.
- The Rays pursued right fielder Nate Schierholtz to the end and finished a close second, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Schierholtz ultimately signed a one-year, $2.25MM deal with the Cubs.
- "There's a few potential outcomes that are really exciting to us and we're going to work toward trying to make them materialize," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times earlier today.
- The Yankees never made offers to Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez, tweets Jack Curry of YES Network.
- Scott Boras questioned the Yankees' choice to reduce payroll, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. Responded president Randy Levine, "Scott’s a great agent, but he’s an agent. Last I looked, he had zero experience running a professional sports team. I think the Yankees have done pretty well following our own course. My advice to Scott is stick to your day job representing players."
A few of the latest updates from Nashville relating to National League clubs:
- The Padres figure to be seeking just one more starting pitcher, says MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).
- Although the Nationals' starting rotation is set, the team may still look to add pitching depth, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- Before Eric Chavez agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks, he had spoken to the White Sox, while Jeff Keppinger, who signed with the Sox, was coveted by the Marlins, says Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter links).
- The signing of Chavez gives the D-Backs one too many infield bench options, and a team source says someone is likely to be traded, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). Piecoro names John McDonald as the possible odd man out.
- The Mets may leave Nashville having only finalized the David Wright extension, says Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. One Mets official tells Rubin that teams are asking for Zack Wheeler in virtually every trade proposal, even for platoon-type catchers, which isn't happening (Twitter links).
The Diamondbacks strengthened their corner infield positions today, adding Eric Chavez on a one-year, $3MM deal. He's represented by Lapa/Leventhal.
Chavez, ranked 49th on MLBTR's Top 50 Free Agents list, excelled in his bench role last season, spelling both Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira while seeing some time as the Yankees' designated hitter. Chavez, who turns 35 this week, posted a slash line of .281/.348/.496 with 16 home runs in 313 plate appearances. He resides in Paradise Valley, Arizona, which was surely a factor in his decision.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports broke the story, and Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com had the dollar amount. Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.
The Red Sox are interested in corner infielder Eric Chavez, reports WEEI's Alex Speier. Chavez could add balance to Boston's lineup and fit GM Ben Cherington's stated need: a versatile, left-handed hitting first baseman. But as Speier notes, Chavez could potentially find more playing time with the Yankees.
Elsewhere in the Red Sox rumor-verse, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe says the team is open to the idea of trading Jacoby Ellsbury, playing the newly-signed Shane Victorino in center field, and signing Cody Ross or another right fielder. Rival executives believe the Red Sox are laying the groundwork for a trade of Ellsbury for pitching, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
The Yankees have been eerily quiet so far at the 2013 Winter Meetings. Still, here's the latest from GM Brian Cashman's media briefing.
- Cashman confirmed he's talked to the representatives for Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Pierzynski, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, and Ichiro Suzuki (MLB.com's Bryan Hoch reporting).
- It's still probable that the Yankees' catcher is already on the roster, and the team is focused on a corner outfield replacement for Nick Swisher as well as left side infield depth (Joel Sherman of the New York Post reporting).
- Cashman described the third base market as "a very limited sandbox to play in."
We rounded up one set of free agent rumors earlier in the day, but as we approach late afternoon in Nashville, it's about time for a fresh batch….
- Recently non-tendered third baseman Jack Hannahan has a big league offer from an AL Central team, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It could be the Twins, who met with his rep yesterday according to Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500.
- The Mariners contacted Raul Ibanez's agent, tweets Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
- Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima seeks a three-year deal, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan, but teams are hesitant.
- Takashi Saito, who turns 43 in February, would like to pitch another year in the U.S., tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown.
- The Mets have considered the idea of signing Mark Reynolds to play in the outfield, but his price tag may be too high for their liking, tweets Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
- Davidoff also tweets that the Yankees have met with Eric Chavez's agent at the Winter Meetings and expressed an interest in bringing back Chavez.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that the Brewers have "definite interest" in Jason Grilli, but only at a reasonable price (Twitter link). Milwaukee continues to seek both starters and relievers, but doesn't have the money to make a play for someone like Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse, says Scott Miller of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Jeremy Bonderman, who is attempting a comeback, could have a deal in place by the weekend, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).