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Erick Aybar Rumors
Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs is on the Yankees' radar as a possible trade target, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. If any deal were to take place, though, it might not happen in July, since the $25MM remaining on Soriano's contract means he's sure to pass through waivers in August. Soriano has a full no-trade clause, but says he will consider a trade to a contending team. Wittenmyer writes that the Yankees view another Cubs outfielder, Nate Schierholtz, as more of a platoon type.
- The Nationals shouldn't be buyers at the trade deadline, the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell writes. The Nats are now 48-50, and are now seven games back of the Braves in the NL East, as well as seven games back of the Reds for the second Wild Card. Boswell points out that their chance of making the playoffs is less than 20 percent, and for a team in that position, the value of a rental player like Matt Garza or Ervin Santana is questionable. Boswell argues that even if the Nats acquire a player who is also under contract for 2014, like Jake Peavy or Yovani Gallardo, they need to do so mostly because those players can help next year, not because they can help down the stretch this season.
- The Angels are now ten games back of the Athletics in the AL West, and it looks like they should sell at the trade deadline, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets. (Note that Morosi isn't predicting the Angels will sell, only saying that they should.) If the Angels were to sell, Erick Aybar and Scott Downs are two players they could trade, Morosi writes. Aybar is in the first year of a four-year, $35MM deal, and he's hitting .287/.305/.388 as the Angels' starting shortstop. Downs, who is in the last year of a three-year, $15MM contract, has a 1.32 ERA, albeit with a more pedestrian 6.9 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9.
- The Dodgers have heavily scouted Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez recently, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports. Milwaukee also has two other veteran relievers in Mike Gonzalez and John Axford, and Knobler notes that the Tigers and Red Sox have also been scouting the Brewers. Still, the Brewers might opt not to trade any of their relievers before the deadline.
- The Yankees have signed left-handed pitcher Artur Strzalka, Mike Axisa of River Ave Blues notes (via Baseball America's Matt Eddy). Strzalka is the first born-and-raised Polish player ever to sign with a Major League team. As Axisa notes, one likely purpose of this signing is to help the Yankees establish themselves as bidders for talent in a new part of the world.
Months after signing second baseman Howie Kendrick to an extension, the Angels have agreed to extend shortstop Erick Aybar with a four-year beginning in 2013. The new portion of the deal is worth $35MM and will pay $8.5MM per season with a $1MM signing bonus.
Kendrick’s four-year, $33.5MM extension was apparently used as framework for Aybar's deal, though the shorstop was reportedly seeking at least five years and $50MM. As our Extension Tracker shows, Aybar joins Troy Tulowitzki and Alexei Ramirez as the only shortstops to sign extensions worth $30MM or more in recent years.
Aybar, 28, has been the Halos' regular shortstop since the start of the 2008 season. He's hit .278/.322/.386 during that time, doing his best work in 2009 (.312/.353/.423) and 2011 (.279/.322/.421). Aybar reached both the 30 stolen base and ten home run plateaus for the first time in his career last season. He took home a Gold Glove Award last year and ranks eighth among all shortstops with a +2.6 UZR/150 since the start of 2010.
MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez first reported the agreement while Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times and ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link) had the terms of the deal. Mike Axisa and Zach Links contributed to this post.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto recently acknowledged that the club has made progress in discussions with Aybar, who had been scheduled to hit free agency this coming offseason. Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reported this week that the sides had yet to agree on the value of the deal. The Angels prefer to sign Aybar for something close to Howie Kendrick’s four-year, $33.5MM extension, but the shortstop appears to seek at least five years and $50M. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has heard that the Angels have been proposing a four-year deal in the $35MM range (Twitter link).
MLBTR's Extension Tracker offers a look at recent extensions for shortstops around MLB.
It's early, but this wasn't the start the Angels were hoping for. They've lost more games than they've won, allowed more runs than they've scored and Albert Pujols still isn't hitting. Here are some links as we await tonight's home game against the Athletics…
- GM Jerry Dipoto told Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that he remains very confident the Angels will be able to sign Erick Aybar long-term. “I'm very encouraged by where we are and that we will ultimately get there," he said. The Angels would prefer to sign Aybar for something close to Howie Kendrick’s four-year, $33.5MM extension, but the shortstop appears to be seeking at least five years and $50MM.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez hears the Angels offered free agent left-hander Mike Gonzalez the same minor league deal they offered Jason Isringhausen. Gonzalez seeks more money and wasn't interested, however.
- There are no takers for Rich Thompson so far, Gonzalez writes. The Angels are shopping the recently-designated right-hander since his velocity is down and they don't trust him in high-leverage situations. The Angels would like to bring up ground ball pitcher David Carpenter.
The Angels will look to rebound from a 2-4 start to the season this weekend when they take on the Yankees in New York. Here are the latest Angels-related links…
- Albert Pujols told reporters including Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that he isn't sure if the contracts given to him, Prince Fielder, and Joey Votto are indicative of future deals for first basemen.
- Pujols told reporters that he doesn’t miss St. Louis these days, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets. "I'm way past that,” Pujols said. “I have a new family, new teammates."
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said he is "looking under every rock" for relief help, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports. However, there aren’t many quality relievers available, according to the GM.
- Dipoto said he is not pursuing any free agent relievers, so it doesn’t sound as though Mike Gonzalez is in the Angels’ plans.
- The Angels are "making progress" toward an extension for shortstop Erick Aybar, Dipoto told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. “I’m very confident that we’ll be able to get something done,” Dipoto said of Aybar, who's on track for free agency following the 2012 season.
Happy birthday to Clayton Kershaw, who turns 24 years old today. Kershaw has plenty to celebrate this year, between being the NL Cy Young Award winner and his new two-year, $19MM contract extension with the Dodgers.
Here's the latest out of L.A. from both the Dodgers and the Angels…
- Erick Aybar said that his agents have left the Angels Spring Training camp, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. It was reported earlier today that Aybar and the Halos had made only slight progress on a contract extension for the shortstop.
- Angels designated hitter Bobby Abreu tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that he wants to play for three more years, though his age-40 season. Abreu just turned 38 on March 11. "That's what I want. I feel that I can keep playing," Abreu said. "I believe that you have to know when your body tells you when to stop. But I'm fine. I feel fine."
- Patrick Soon-Shiong has joined Steve Cohen's ownership group in a bid for the Dodgers, reports Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. Soon-Shiong, known as the richest man in Los Angeles, had been rumored to be joining the ownership group led by basketball legend Magic Johnson.
- Also from Shaikin, a mediator has reinstated the joint bid from Stanley Gold and the Roy Disney family into the Dodgers ownership process. The Gold/Disney group joins four other ownership groups in having their bids judged by MLB's owners, who are expected to vote on the matter by the end of the week.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti says it's too early to consider any possible roster needs before Opening Day, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. The Dodgers are also waiting until the club is sold in late April before making any possible additions to payroll.
The latest on extension talks around MLB…
- The Angels and Erick Aybar have made a bit of progress toward an extension, but agent Fern Cuza says they are “not close,” Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
- Josh Hamilton told Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio that the Rangers can sign him now for considerably less than he’ll cost as a free agent after the season (Twitter links). Hamilton says his loyalty lies with the Rangers and that they will get the first chance to sign him should he reach free agency.
- Mike Napoli told Bowden he’s letting his agent handle contract talks, but that he would like to sign a long-term deal with the Rangers (Twitter link).
- The Brewers met with John Axford's agent yesterday, but the closer’s in no rush to sign an extension, according to MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “If conversations keep going [after Opening Day], then they keep going,” Axford said. “I’m not going to be bothered by it.”
Happy birthday to Kevin Youkilis (33), Jon Jay (27) and Leo Nun…er, make that Juan Oviedo (30). This is the first time Oviedo has been able to publicly celebrate his actual birthday in several years, as he kept a listed birthday of August 14, 1983 while living under the Leo Nunez identity.
Here's some news from around the major leagues as we head into Friday…
- Matt Cain's agent Rick Landrum tells John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that "we'll never give up hope" that Cain and the Giants can work out a contract extension before Opening Day. There hasn't been much progress in recent negotiations but the two sides "remain open for business," as Shea writes.
- In addition to Cain, there have been no new developments over the last week in Cole Hamels' extension talks with the Phillies, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- Also from Olney (via Twitter), he hears from evaluators that there isn't much trade talk overall around the majors. Olney predicts things will probably pick up in 10 days or so, once teams start to sort out their needs for their Opening Day rosters.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto has had at least two face-to-face meetings since Monday with Erick Aybar's representatives, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. Aybar is believed to be looking for an extension of at least five years. Dipoto recently said that he thought an extension with Aybar was possible, if not necessarily by Opening Day.
- The Padres were discussing a one-year, $9MM contract with Francisco Rodriguez over the winter before the club saw an opportunity to acquire Huston Street, reports Scott Miller of CBS Sports. San Diego also talked to free agent Frank Francisco and asked the Athletics about Andrew Bailey.
- The Royals' extension with Alcides Escobar is the team's latest step in locking up its young talent, reports MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. "[Owners] Dan and David Glass are determined to keep as many of these young players together as we can, knowing full well that it has to fit within our salary structure and our payroll going forward," Moore said. "It's going to get a little sticky for us, it's going to get a little hairy as we get into 2014-15-16." Moore declined to comment on the progress of contract talks with another of Kansas City's young stars, Alex Gordon.
- The well-traveled Octavio Dotel shares some of his road stories with ESPN's Jayson Stark. Dotel will set a new Major League record once he plays his first game for the Tigers this season by becoming the first player to suit up for 13 different teams.
- "I feel comfortable we finally got to a level [where we] can be competitive every single year," Tigers owner Mike Ilitch told media (including MLB.com's Jason Beck) during a visit to Spring Training today. "That's always been my goal. I feel good about that. It would be hard to screw that up once you get there. You tell yourself you want to stay there now."
- The Orioles could be looking for backup catching help if Taylor Teagarden's back injury lingers into the season, reports CSN Baltimore's Rich Dubroff. Veteran Ronny Paulino is Matt Wieters' backup for now, but Paulino only just arrived in camp due to a visa issue.
As MLBTR’s Extension Tracker shows, teams and players have signed 34 extensions since last September. Who’s going to be next? A couple of Gold Glove middle infielders may sign soon. Here’s the latest:
- Fern Cuza, the agent for shortstop Erick Aybar, arrived in Angels camp last night and is expected to meet with GM Jerry Dipoto this week, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports. Cuza will discuss the possibility of a long-term deal for Aybar, who's on track to hit free agency after the 2012 season.
- It appears that the agents for Brandon Phillips met with the Reds today, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. “I don’t know . . . probably,” Phillips said. GM Walt Jocketty, who wouldn't comment on the negotiations, hadn't discussed a deal with Phillips' representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Friday night linkage..
- Curtis Granderson might prove to be too pricey for the Yankees down the road, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News. Both the center fielder and Robinson Cano will be eligible for free agency after the 2013 season.
- Things remain quiet between the Angels and shortstop Erick Aybar when it comes to talks on a new deal, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. If they don’t work out a new contract with Aybar, the Halos could re-sign veteran Maicer Izturis after this season or turn the keys over to 22-year-old Jean Segura.
- Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette is grateful to have another shot in MLB, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Duquette left Boston with a reputation for being somewhat unapproachable but has returned in Baltimore determined to be more communicative.
- Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen says that Hanley Ramirez has embraced third base despite early reports to the contrary, writes Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider req’d) runs down seven players who he believes are poised to bounce back in 2012. Among those on the list are Ramirez, Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes, and Indians rightfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
- Reliever Chris Carpenter found his way to the Red Sox through the compensation agreement with the Cubs and one of the few people that can relate is former outfielder Randy Winn. Winn was shipped from the Rays to the Mariners in exchange for manager Lou Piniella and minor leaguer Antonio Perez.