Eric Hosmer Rumors
Cubs manager Dale Sveum told reporters, including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, that Matt Garza will most likely miss the first month of the season. Garza, ranked ninth on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings and one of the prime trade targets last summer until he hurt his elbow, strained his left lat two weeks ago when he faced live hitters for the first time since July. In other news involving teams from the NL and AL Central Divisions:
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski says he is not looking to add anyone as projected closer Bruce Rondon continues to struggle, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- First base going forward is going to be very interesting for the Brewers, opines the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt. Corey Hart, currently recovering from knee surgery, is a free agent at the end of the year and has stated his desire to remain in Milwaukee. The Brewers also have Hunter Morris, the organization's player of the year and the Southern League (Double-A) MVP, waiting in the wings.
- With the Royals likely to open the season with a club-record $79MM payroll, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star doesn't anticipate any contract extensions for the team's young talent especially Eric Hosmer, a Scott Boras client.
- The Royals will keep their eye on the outfield trade market, tweets CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler.
The most fun week of baseball's offseason is here, as 2012's Winter Meetings get underway in Nashville. With a ton of activity expected over the next few days, we don't want to let anything fall through the cracks, so let's round up a few Monday morning updates from around MLB:
- 18-year-old Japanese pitcher Shohei Otani, who announced in October that he intended to sign with an MLB team, may now be leaning toward staying in Japan, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), who cites reports out of Japan. A decision from Otani is expected this week, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- If the Braves make a move this week, it's more likely to be a trade than a signing, says Mark Bowman of MLB.com, who tweets that Atlanta has "minimal interest" in the outfielders on the free agent market. The team's interest in free agents could increase if asking prices drop, but that's not likely to happen this early in the offseason, tweets Bowman. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more details on the Braves' search for a left fielder.
- The Rays' agreement with James Loney makes them an unlikely fit for Eric Hosmer or Billy Butler now, tweets Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. If the Royals were to pursue a Rays pitcher via trade, Kansas City may have to offer Wil Myers, Dutton adds.
- Given the weak third base market, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports thinks the Padres may be motivated to sell high on Chase Headley and send him to the Yankees (Twitter link).
- Coming off an injury-shortened 2012 season, Chien-Ming Wang may not sign with an MLB team until midseason, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com (Twitter link).
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer thinks the Reds will make a run at Dexter Fowler, but doesn't expect the team to give up Homer Bailey to make it happen.
- The Dodgers may have a tricky time targeting an outfielder, since they need a starting-caliber player but can't promise a starting job, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
- If the Indians decide to go all-in on their rebuild, they could extract young pitching talent from a team like the Mariners or Diamondbacks, says ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider link). Cleveland's asking price for Asdrubal Cabrera is "steep in terms of young pitchers," according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Jim Bowden has identified a trade candidate for all 30 MLB teams, along with potential suitors for each player.
- After a quiet Winter Meetings in 2011, the Red Sox figure to be more active this year, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, as he explores a few of the team's potential targets.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald that he was unsure if he'd be able to acquire Miguel Cabrera (and Dontrelle Willis) in 2007. “A lot of clubs were involved and I didn’t think it was going to work for us for where we were financially,” said Dombrowski. “Once we sat down with the Marlins, it took us just a day to work out that deal. It happened very fast.”
Here are Silverman's rumors...
- The Dodgers are the favorite to sign Zack Greinke according to an insider. Both the Angels and Rangers are said to be "on the outside looking in."
- The Royals are listening to offers for Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, and even Wil Myers. The Rays, meanwhile, are listening on James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson.
- Despite their pending blockbuster, keep an eye on the Blue Jays and the pitching market. Silverman suggests that Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson could be in play for Toronto.
- The Blue Jays are shopping their three catchers (John Buck, J.P. Arencibia, and Travis d'Arnaud) but are leaning towards Arencibia or d'Arnaud.
- "I don't care if it does," said John Axford to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy when asked if he minds if extensions talks with the Brewers carry over into the regular season. "I'm open to still talking [during the season], for sure, and it doesn't affect me if we don't talk."
- "What I'm telling you is that we don't definitely have any trades in place," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland to MLB.com's Jason Beck. Detroit appears to be taking as much time as possible before announcing their final roster moves.
- With Alex Gordon now signed to an extension, the Royals will try to convince Eric Hosmer to sign a long-term deal according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider req'd). I looked at Hosmer as an extension candidate in January, but the first baseman recently said he's not in a rush to sign a new deal.
Ichiro Suzuki and Yoenis Cespedes are the early stars of this young 2012 season, with the rest of the league waiting until next week to catch up to the Mariners and Athletics. Here's some news from around the majors...
- Matt Cain reiterated to reporters (including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle) that Opening Day is the "cutoff" for contract talks between him and the Giants. Cain said Giants GM Brian Sabean feels the same way. Larry Baer, the team's CEO, discussed the Cain negotiations and more in a live chat with fans earlier today.
- Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer is in no hurry to sign a multiyear contract, he tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. "There’s a long time for that coming,” Hosmer said of a possible contract extension. “For me, I haven’t even experienced an opening day yet....I feel like it wouldn’t even be fair to this team to start thinking about that.” Last January, MLBTR's Mike Axisa featured Hosmer as an extension candidate.
- Sports business consultant Marc Ganis tells ESPN New York's Adam Rubin that if the Dodgers are worth $2.15 billion, it greatly raises the ceiling for the prices of baseball's big-market teams. Ganis estimates the Yankees would be worth $4 billion, the Red Sox $2.5 billion and the Mets roughly $1.5 billion. Only the biggest markets would have higher price tags, however, since they offer the most lucrative local broadcasting deals.
- Also from Henry Schulman (Twitter links), Gregor Blanco says he chose the Giants over the Marlins in the offseason since San Francisco hitting coach Hensley Meulens promised Blanco a legitimate chance at a roster spot. It looks like Blanco made the right choice, as he's poised to start the season in the majors after a big Spring Training.
- Alexi Amarista's impressive camp has made him a candidate for a utility job with the Angels, but Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times says Amarista is too inexperienced at the big league level to make Maicer Izturis expendable. Izturis' name has been connected to a few trade rumors this spring as several teams are in the market for infielders.
- Cesar Izturis (Maicer's older brother) has been told he will make the Brewers' roster, says team media director Mike Vassallo (Twitter link). Izturis' minor league deal with Milwaukee allowed him to ask for his release if he wasn't on the 40-man roster by March 30, but now his $875K salary for 2012 is guaranteed.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (via Twitter) predicts the Indians to make a "big roster reduction" on Saturday as the team starts to pare down its roster from its current 41-player state. Bastian says the Tribe has been "looking at trades" as well, and indeed Cleveland has at least one notable deal reportedly in the works.
- If the Angels cut Jason Isringhausen, the veteran reliever tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that he'll probably retire, though there's a slight chance he'll keep pitching if he gets the right offer. "It depends on who's that team that might call, who they'd be," Isringhausen said.
The Cardinals will officially announce their five-year extension with Yadier Molina this afternoon. In the meantime, here are some extension-related links...
- Eric Hosmer told Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star that he's more open to signing a long-term deal with the Royals now that his friend Salvador Perez has an extension that will keep him in Kansas City. Perez signed a five-year, $7MM deal earlier in the week.
- The Marlins haven't yet tried to go long-term with Giancarlo Stanton, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Mike Axisa previewed a possible extension for Stanton, who went by the name of Mike for his first two seasons in the Major Leagues. He is under team control through 2016
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks ahead to the Cardinals' future payroll commitments and points out that Albert Pujols' decision to sign with the Angels probably helped the Cardinals retain Molina long-term.
The Royals will make a major announcement concerning the contract status of one of their players in 40 minutes, the team announced. GM Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost will attend the press conference.
Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer are among the extension candidates on the Royals' roster. Yahoo's Jeff Passan hears the deal isn't for Gordon (Twitter links). Yahoo's Tim Brown hears no Hosmer deal is imminent (Twitter link). Roy Oswalt is not signing with the Royals today, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (Twitter link).
This past week was a rough one for the Royals. Not only did they watch the reigning division champs add Prince Fielder, but they also caught a glimpse of what it could take to keep Eric Hosmer in town long-term should he develop into the type of player they think he can become. After giving him $6MM as the third overall pick in 2008, it's clear Kansas City expects great things.
Hosmer, 22, was called up to the big leagues in early-May and went on to finish third in the AL Rookie of the Year. He hit .293/.334/.465 with 19 homers and 11 steals in 128 games. The Royals likely delayed his free agency by a year with the late call-up, but Hosmer is almost certain to qualify as a Super Two after the 2014 season. That means he'll be arbitration-eligible four times rather than the usual three, which can get expensive in a hurry.
For comparison's sake, Hunter Pence hit .289/.340/.488 during the first three years of his career, and parlayed it into $20.8MM during his first three years of arbitration-eligibility as a Super Two. He earned $3.5MM his first year of eligibility, $6.9MM in the second, and recently agreed to $10.4MM for the third. Barring an unexpected non-tender next winter, Pence will earn north of $32MM during his four years of arbitration-eligibility. Surely the Royals would want to avoid a similar payout for Hosmer.
The largest contract ever given to a player with less than one full year of service time is the eight-year, $45MM pact the Brewers bestowed upon Ryan Braun during the 2008 season. I'm sure the Royals would love to lock up Hosmer's next eight years at that price, but it might be unrealistic since he's a Scott Boras client. If there's one thing Boras is good at, it's breaking contract records. Evan Longoria's six-year, $17.5MM deal is the only other contract ever given to a position player with less than one year of service time worth more than $1.5MM annually.
If Kansas City plans to buy out any of Hosmer's free agent years, they're looking at a minimum contract length of seven years. That would cover his six years of team control and just one free agent year. It would also be the longest deal in franchise history by two years, and anything more than $55MM would make it the richest as well (Gil Meche and Mike Sweeney hold the record with matching five-year, $55MM contracts). I'm not suggesting that a deal of that size would be appropriate for Hosmer after one year in the bigs, but like I said, Boras is fond of breaking records. Those are some benchmarks he can target.
The Royals have more pressing issues than extending Hosmer (like extending Alex Gordon), and there's no real rush to get a deal done now. They will pay their first baseman little more than the league minimum over the next two years, so time is on their side. The Fielder contract serves as a harsh reminder though, a reminder that if Hosmer turns into the franchise cornerstone Kansas City hopes he'll be, he might price himself right out of Kansas City. A long-term contract extension could help prevent, or at least delay that.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Eric Hosmer's agent Scott Boras tells Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan that he has no plans to negotiate a long-term contract between his client and the Royals. “Athletes have to know that you have to look at the market you’re in,” Boras said. “You can’t look at the markets of the past. For players like Hosmer, as you go back and look, as [Mark] Teixeira had his own market and [Prince] Fielder had his own market, Hosmer will have his own. And something tells me it’s going to be a rather eventful one.”
Royals fans can't be too pleased to hear Boras comparing Hosmer to those other first basemen -- both of whom, of course, are Boras clients. Teixeira turned down an eight-year, $140MM extension with his original team, the Rangers, in 2007 and ended up signing a massive eight-year, $180MM deal with the Yankees before the 2009 season. Fielder is widely expected to leave Milwaukee after this season since the Brewers can't afford the Teixeira-esque contract he is seeking. That said, another notable Boras client (Carlos Gonzalez) recently signed a contract extension, so Hosmer leaving Kansas City when he hits free agency after the 2017 season isn't a foregone conclusion.
Boras expects forthcoming national and regional TV contracts to increase revenues all over baseball, including for smaller-market teams like the Royals. It also makes sense on a more practical level for Hosmer to not commit to a new deal yet since, as MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out last week, Hosmer could be in line for an extra year of arbitration given his early call-up. Hosmer could potentially cost himself millions by signing an extension before he learns if he's a Super Two, or even before Major League Baseball's new CBA with the players' union is worked out.
Jason Vargas and Zach Britton both threw nine shutout innings in a remarkable pitcher's duel tonight in Baltimore. After falling behind 1-0 in the top of the 12th, the Orioles came back to win the game in the bottom half of the inning on a bases-loaded single from J.J. Hardy.
Some news from around the majors...
- "The C.C. Sabathia opt out situation is sure to be messy," predicts Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog, but Axisa thinks Brian Cashman's upcoming contract negotiations with the Yankees "will be messier." Cashman is in the last year of his deal with New York and, as per club policy, the team won't discuss an extension in mid-season. There has been some speculation about Cashman's future in the Bronx given his disagreements with upper management about the Rafael Soriano and Derek Jeter signings last winter, but Axisa thinks those signings give Cashman the leverage in negotiations, "plus the fact that there’s no ready-made, in-house replacement available."
- As for Sabathia, Axisa thinks he will almost surely opt out of his contract, and the southpaw will look at Cliff Lee's five-year, $120MM deal with Philadelphia "as a starting point."
- The Blue Jays lost Scott Downs to free agency last winter, but as MLB.com's Arden Zwelling writes, Marc Rzepczynski has been a superb fit as Downs' replacement in Toronto's bullpen.
- Fangraphs' Reed MacPhail wonders why teams are still paying top-dollar for relief pitching.
- When the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane is finalized, Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle reports that former Houston Rockets president George Postolos will be the Astros' new CEO. Justice also speculates that Crane may try to get Andrew Friedman to return to his hometown to become the Astros' new GM, but it's extremely doubtful Friedman would leave Tampa Bay just to start another rebuilding process elsewhere.
- In his latest chat with fans, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star would be "astounded" if the Royals didn't quickly pursue signing Eric Hosmer to a long-term extension, though it could be "a tough sell" given that Scott Boras is Hosmer's agent. Earlier today, Dutton's Star colleague Sam Mellinger, proposed a six-year, $25MM extension for Hosmer (with three option years and possibly $40MM more added on), though MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out that Hosmer and Boras would surely turn down such an offer.