Fernando Rodney Rumors

Mets Still Pursuing Reliever With Closing Experience

7:23pm: While the Mets are indeed looking for a late-inning reliever, and could give out a MLB deal to get one, the club is unlikely to land Rodney, a source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter). 

4:44pm: Though the Mets recently announced the signing of Kyle Farnsworth to a minor league deal, the team still has some money allotted for a "closer type" reliever, reports ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, citing a source that is not affiliated with the club.

Fernando Rodney is believed to be New York's top target, but Rubin's source wouldn't rule out Kevin Gregg, Joel Hanrahan or Ryan Madson either. Other relievers on the market that come with closer experience include Carlos Marmol, Andrew Bailey and Brandon Lyon, though Lyon spent last season with the Mets with less than favorable results (4.98 ERA in 34 1/3 innings). Those next three names are just my speculation, not names that were mentioned by Rubin or his source.

Rubin writes that incumbent closer Bobby Parnell is confident that he will be healthy following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. However, as Rubin points out, the Mets have little in terms of a fallback plan should Parnell go down with another injury. Hard-throwing Vic Black projects to be next in line for the closer's throne, and he has a total of 17 big league innings under his belt.


Cafardo’s Latest: Arroyo, Cruz, Burnett, Middlebrooks

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe shares a few hot stove items in his latest Sunday column…

  • Bronson Arroyo has been looking for a three-year deal or at least a vesting option for a third year, which could be holding up his market.  If Arroyo was willing to settle for a flat two-year contract, Cafardo opines, he could find a deal, possibly with the Diamondbacks; Cafardo reported earlier this week that Arizona was "beginning to kick the tires" on the veteran right-hander.  Arroyo recently said that he has yet to receive a concrete offer from any team, despite a lot of interest from around the league.
  • The Dodgers are another team who "are very interested" in Arroyo but don't want to give him a guaranteed third year.
  • Nelson Cruz's market is beginning to heat up, and “there could be up to four or five teams who could take the plunge in the end," a Major League source tells Cafardo.  This interest could manifest itself into a multiyear deal for Cruz, though Cafardo notes that the slugger could still have to settle for a one-year contract.  We've recently seen the Mariners, Orioles, Rangers and Twins linked to Cruz in rumors, though Texas and Minnesota only seem interested at a greatly reduced price.
  • Cafardo thinks the A.J. Burnett sweepstakes is down to the Pirates, Phillies and Orioles, though he wouldn't be surprised if the Yankees were also exploring a reunion with the veteran right-hander.  The Rays and Blue Jays have also been connected to Burnett, though it seems more likely that Burnett will choose a team located closer to his home in Maryland.
  • The Marlins have "asked a lot" about Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks but there doesn't seem to be a trade fit.  Miami is one of several teams who have asked Boston about Middlebrooks' availability, but the Sox don't want to give up on Middlebrooks' power potential.  Even if the Red Sox re-signed Stephen Drew to play shortstop and Xander Bogaerts took over at third, Middlebrooks would still receive playing time alternating between third and first base.
  • While Jon Lester recently said he would take a hometown discount to remain with the Red Sox, Cafardo points out that it might not be a huge discount, as Lester also noted that "you never want to be the guy that takes the market backward."
  • The Red Sox will experiment with Ryan Lavarnway as a first baseman during Spring Training, GM Ben Cherington confirmed.  Since Boston is so deep at catcher at both the Triple-A and Major League levels, Lavarnway's only chance at continued playing time may be as a Triple-A first baseman.
  • "There’s a feeling that a team like the Yankees may pluck Fernando Rodney, or someone of his ilk, to ensure they have another closer in case David Robertson breaks down or isn’t up to the task," Cafardo writes.  Rodney was reportedly drawing interest from four teams, though the Yankees hadn't spoken with him since November and may not have enough remaining payroll space to add to the bullpen.

Rosenthal’s Latest: M’s, Cruz, Rodney, Reds, Drew

The Mariners are "back in business, showing strong interest" in Nelson Cruz and Fernando Rodney again, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest column. The Mariners, who are said to have some financial leeway by new team president Kevin Mather, is also looking at the trade market for starting pitchers, though they're not currently focused on David Price or Jeff Samardzija. Rosenthal also notes that the Indians aren't having any conversations on Justin Masterson, nor are the Reds inclined to move any of their starters, further limiting the list of trade targets. More highlights below…

  • Cruz could be a fallback option for the Rangers, but probably only if he's willing to sign a one-year deal. Bringing Cruz back would allow the Rangers to deal Mitch Moreland.
  • Rosenthal wonders if the Reds should be thinking about dealing a starter. While they're trying to extend Homer Bailey, that seems to be a tall order as he's just one year from free agency. Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto are all only controlled through 2015, and as Rosenthal notes, not all can be long-term pieces.
  • The Athletics aren't considering making a run at Stephen Drew and shifting Jed Lowrie from short to second base. The A's are comfortable platooning Eric Sogard and Nick Punto.
  • A rival executive wondered to Rosenthal if the Braves would match up with the Mariners on a Dustin Ackley trade, but Rosenthal hears that the Braves aren't looking for a second baseman. They currently have Dan Uggla, who is owed $26MM through 2015, and three fallback options in Ramiro Pena, Tommy La Stella and Tyler Pastornicky.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren said he doesn't hold any ill will toward players who go to arbitration hearings — such as the ones he could face with Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman: "We don’t look at it as an antagonistic process. We look at it as a solution to a disagreement on a player’s salary."


East Notes: Kimbrel, Rodney, Yanks, Phils, Red Sox

TheScore.com's Drew Fairservice examines the likely arbitration trial the Braves will undergo with closer Craig Kimbrel, noting that it's difficult to imagine the Braves coming out on top of that hearing. Fairservice points out a number of Kimbrel's feats, including the fact that he has the lowest ERA and highest strikeout in history for a pitcher with 200+ games as well as the lowest ERA ever for a reliever through his first four seasons. More from baseball's Eastern divisions…

  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that it makes little sense for Fernando Rodney to go to the Mets. Team insiders tell Martino that Bobby Parnell has been assured the ninth inning is his, so Rodney would likely only pitch as the closer in the event of a setback in Parnell's recovery or further injury.
  • Also from Martino, the Yankees haven't had any talk with Rodney since one "very preliminary" discussion back in November. While the team is aware of its bullpen holes, a Major League source tells Martino that they lack the payroll flexibility to address the 'pen after signing Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees are hoping that Dellin Betances can serve as a power reliever, Martino adds.
  • Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg will have many decisions on his hands in Spring Training as he looks to sort out the team's bench, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sandberg said Freddy Galvis is a lock for the bench, and Gelb notes that Wil Nieves' $1.1MM salary makes him the likely backup catcher. Beyond that, there are no certainties. Gelb writes that John Mayberry could be traded in Spring Training, and the team would prefer a left-handed bat to back up Ben Revere in center.
  • General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. also told Gelb that the Phillies do not have any standing Major League offers to free agents at this time.
  • In response to David Ortiz's comments that he would play elsewhere if he couldn't work out a multi-year deal with the Red Sox, second baseman Dustin Pedroia told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that the team should give Ortiz "whatever he wants." Pedroia spoke not only about how productive Ortiz is, but how much he likes Ortiz's passion and attitude as well as what Big Papi means to the team.
  • Pedroia also told Bradford that he "hates" the business side of baseball and is glad he doesn't have to worry about it for the rest of his career. On a related note, he said he doesn't fault Jacoby Ellsbury for signing with the Yankees: "He got an offer he couldn’t refuse. I don’t think anyone would fault him for going where he went and that’s that. I’m happy for him. That guy, he played his butt off for us. We won two championships together."

Four Teams Pursuing Fernando Rodney

FRIDAY: Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports that despite reports that a match between Rodney and the Mets was "unlikely," the team is indeed in talks with the right-hander. Talks between Rodney and the Mets are believed to be about the closer's role, Rubin adds. He notes that this does not mean Bobby Parnell has had a setback in his recovery from surgery, but rather that there is at least some degree of uncertainty surrounding Parnell's health status.

Meanwhile, Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports also hears that the Mets are in, adding that the Orioles still have interest in addition to a pair of unnamed teams (Twitter link).

THURSDAY, 3:57pm: One source tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that the Orioles haven't had dialogue with Rodney's representatives in weeks. While a match is still possible — the O's have money and no established closer — Connolly gets the sense that starting pitching is still their priority (Twitter links).

1:24pm: The Orioles are "making progress" with free agent closer Fernando Rodney, tweets Jonah Keri of Grantland.com. In addition to adding a closer, Baltimore is expected to make one additional "significant" move, Keri writes.

After dealing away incumbent closer Jim Johnson, the O's have been looking for a replacement. Baltimore originally agreed to terms with Grant Balfour on a two-year, $15MM deal, but ultimately declined to go through with the deal after finding issues with Balfour's medicals. With Balfour now settling in with the Rays, Rodney is clearly the premier name remaining among free agents with significant closing experience.


NL East Notes: Harvey, Rodney, Wells, Adams

Matt Harvey knows he's not likely to pitch in 2014, but if it were up to him, he'd be taking the mound late in the season, the injured Mets ace told Daniel Barbarisi of the Wall Street Journal"When you see stories of guys coming back in 10 months, I'm going to think, 'Hey, I can come back in nine,'" Harvey said. The 24-year-old is doing upper-body workouts and hopes to be playing catch by the end of February, Barbarisi writes. Harvey said that he was excited by the Mets' signing of Curtis Granderson, though he realizes it will be more than a year before he pitches in front of him. More news on the Mets and the rest of the division…

  • Though the Mets reportedly made a run at Grant Balfour prior to his new deal with the Rays, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that they're not likely to embark on a similar pursuit of Fernando Rodney.
  • MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports that the Marlins are interested in adding Vernon Wells. Though Brian Bogusevic projects to be the club's fourth outfielder, the Fish are interested in Wells as a right-handed bench bat and occasional starter. Over the weekend, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe noted near the end of his Sunday column that the Phillies have also expressed some early interest in Wells.
  • Phillies reliever Mike Adams is currently throwing from 100 feet and hopes to be ready for Opening Day, writes CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. The Phils inked Adams to a two-year, $12MM pact prior to last season, but a shoulder injury sidelined him for much of the 2013 campaign. Though the Phillies would like to salvage as much as they can from that investment, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Adams spend the first couple of weeks on the disabled list, Salisbury adds.

Nationals In Mix For Grant Balfour

The Nationals have interest in free agent reliever Grant Balfour, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The Nats already have three relievers with closing experience in Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, but the addition of Balfour could make sense for a variety of reasons, Rosenthal writes.

According to sources, GM Mike Rizzo & Co. would like to trade Storen, who will earn $3.45MM in 2014.  Meanwhile, Washington almost certainly doesn't want Soriano to pitch enough games to trigger his $14MM option for 2015 and they'd probably like to keep Clippard as a setup man.

The Nationals saved about $3.5MM by signing shortstop Ian Desmond and right-hander Jordan Zimmermann to back-loaded, two-year extensions and major league sources say their aim was to create financial flexibility.  They want to add another bat off the bench, but they also would like to add Balfour.  They could also parlay those savings into settling their arb cases with Clippard and Doug Fister, but, of course, they'd rather not have to.

Balfour, of course, had agreed to a two-year, $15MM contract with the Beltway's other team before the O's called it off due to concerns about his knee and wrist.  Meanwhile, Balfour has been adamant that he is completely healthy.

While the Nationals like Balfour, they don't have interest in Fernando Rodney, the other top closer on the market, sources say.  


Orioles Focused On Starters, Unlikely To Sign A Closer

Though the Orioles were clearly interested in signing a closer at one point this offseason — they did reach a two-year agreement with Grant Balfour that ultimately fell through — the team will likely go with an in-house candidate in the ninth inning this season, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. According to Connolly, the Orioles "have seemingly walked away" from the idea of adding a high-priced ninth-inning option like Balfour or Fernando Rodney. The team is now focused on starting pitching and adding one more backup catcher to the mix, despite already having four catchers on its 40-man roster.

Connolly's piece makes Bronson Arroyo out to be the likeliest candidate from the group of him, Matt Garza, Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez. The reasons, not surprisingly, are Arroyo's cheaper price tag and the fact that he is not tied to draft pick compensation. Connolly notes that if the demands of Garza, Jimenez or Santana drop below four years following resolution of the Masahiro Tanaka situation, the O's could be a factor there as well.

Baltimore already has Johnny Monell, Steve Clevenger and Michael Ohlman on its 40-man roster, but executive vice president Dan Duquette would still like a more experienced option to consider for Matt Wieters' backup. He lists John Buck, Miguel Olivo and Michael McKenry as potential options on the free agent market, noting that McKenry is the most intriguing of the bunch.


Orioles, Three Others Showing “Significant” Interest In Rodney

MONDAY: The Orioles are one of four teams showing "significant" interest in Rodney, Connolly reports. Baltimore's decision not to sign Balfour has "unquestionably" intensified the Rodney market, Connolly's source added. Baltimore likes Rodney's recent AL East success, but there's a sense that he could require a larger deal than the two-year, $15MM agreement with Balfour that crumbled, and that could be beyond the Orioles' comfort limit, says Connolly.

The team has also checked in on Francisco Rodriguez, Connolly adds. One source told him that the O's have reached out to K-Rod very recently, but the sense is that it was more due diligence than genuine interest. Rodriguez wasn't happy with his role in Baltimore's bullpen in 2013, as he rarely worked high leverage innings after being acquired from the Brewers for infield prospect Nick Delmonico.

FRIDAY: With the Grant Balfour decision in limbo, the Orioles are turning their attention to Fernando Rodney, an industry source tells Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun (via Twitter).  The O's had discussions with and about Rodney earlier this winter but negotiations didn't progress (link).

Rodney is reportedly seeking as much as $10MM per year, which would make him a considerably more expensive option than Balfour.  However, with many closing vacancies already filled, Rodney's leverage may not be as great as it was early in the offseason.  By that same token, his agents at the MVP Sports group can make the case that Rodney is the best closer left on the market to try to get the Orioles to pay a premium.

Rodney is coming off a strong season in which he pitched to a 3.38 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 66 2/3 innings for the Rays.  Though he racked up another 37 saves, Rodney's history of command issues resurfaced in 2013 after it looked like he may have overcome that problem a year prior.  In his free agent profile of Rodney back on Nov. 1, our own Steve Adams predicted a two-year, $18MM contract for the soon-to-be 37-year-old.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


East Notes: Price, O’s, Balfour, Braves, Marlins

In an article with the latest on the David Price situation, the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin dismisses reports that the Rays are motivated to move the Cy Young winner by Dec. 31 to avoid having to pay $4MM in deferred money. "The payment isn't due until Oct. 1, and it is the Rays' obligation, so really a nonfactor, as including it would be the same as asking for cash in a deal and subject to MLB approval," Topkin writes. While the Mariners are often named as a likely suitor for Price, they "seem to talk more about what prospects they don't want to trade." Here's more from the AL and NL East:

  • The Orioles could fill their closer and second base vacancies from within, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Fans have been frustrated by the club's quiet offseason thus far, but the O's seem likely to pluck their next second baseman from what they already have, and they won't spend lavishly on another ninth-inning option if Fernando Rodney doesn't drop his price.
  • The Orioles' nullified deal with Grant Balfour could conceivably have ramifications for Baltimore, Kubatko writes.  It's possible that the reliever could decide to file a grievance with the Players' Association or that some free agents down the road may be leery of agreeing to terms with the club.
  • The Yankees could be back in on Balfour, along with the Tigers, Rockies, and Angels, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Earlier this week we heard that the Rays are also in the mix.
  • The Braves won't force the issue in their search of bullpen depth, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
  • The Marlins, meanwhile, are after a veteran presence to add to their pen, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.

Zach Links contributed to this post.