Miami Marlins Rumors
Justin Morneau sounded certain in stating that he will one day return to the Twins in some capacity but acknowledged that it's not likely to be in 2014, writes Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Said Morneau: "There’s no saying I won’t be back in the future. You never know what the opportunity is going to be, whether it’s as a player, later, or as a coach, or someone who comes down to spring training. Whatever it is, it’s a different chapter, but [Minnesota] is something that will stick with me forever." Morneau made his first Twin Cities public appearance since being traded over the weekend, signing autographs and thanking fans for donating to a drive that raised more than 3,000 coats for the Salvation Army. Morneau told Miller that he's spoken recently with longtime teammate and friend Michael Cuddyer, who put in a good word for the Rockies. More on the Twins...
- The Twins have asked their newest acquisition, Ricky Nolasco, about his former catcher John Buck, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Twins have reportedly moved on from the Jarrod Saltalamacchia sweepstakes and will deploy Josmil Pinto as their primary catcher in 2014.
- Though Minnesota had just three arbitration eligible players this offseason (all of whom were tendered contracts), they could have as many as nine next winter, writes Berardino. Berardino looks at the potential arbitration classes for the next three offseasons, noting of course that not every player included on his lists will accumulate the necessary service time to reach arbitration.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted yesterday that age was a big factor for the Twins in signing Phil Hughes to a surprising three-year, $24MM contract. The Twins are hopeful that they can fix Hughes up and thereby make him an important piece of improved teams in 2015-16 while he's still in his prime years.
- The Twins were "a close second" in the bidding for A.J. Pierzynski, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (on Twitter). Pierzynski agreed to a one-year, $8.25MM contract with the Red Sox earlier today.
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of National League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.
- The Reds non-tendered outfielders Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson, according to the AP. Robinson had been designated for assignment last Thursday to open a roster spot for Skip Schumaker.
- The Rockies have non-tendered reliever Mitchell Boggs, tweets Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
- The Dodgers have non-tendered Ronald Belisario, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Marlins have non-tendered outfielder Chris Coghlan and reliever Ryan Webb, the club announced via press release.
- The Pirates have non-tendered Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry, and Kyle McPherson, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Giants have non-tendered Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The Cubs have non-tendered Mat Gamel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The club has also non-tendered Chang-Yong Lim, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com.
- The Mets officially announced their slate of non-tenders, which includes a few new names in Jeremy Hefner and Justin Turner (via tweet from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News).
- The Braves announced that they have non-tendered infielders Elliot Johnson and Paul Janish as well as right-hander Cristhian Martinez (Twitter link). Johnson, 29, batted .209/.255/.283 in 275 plate appearances between the Royals and Braves last season. Janish was less productive in 45 PAs, batting .171/.222/.220. Martinez, 31, missed nearly the entire season due to shoulder surgery. However, he posted a 3.63 ERA in 151 1/3 innings for Atlanta from 2011-12, making him a potential buy-low candidate for another club.
- The Mets have non-tendered Jordany Valdespin, Rubin reports. Valdespin has been a persistent source of drama for the Mets, lashing out at manager Terry Collins after being demoted and also being slapped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. The soon-to-be 26-year-old is a career .219/.271/.380 hitter in 350 big league plate appearances. Valdespin's non-tender comes despite him not yet being arbitration eligible, illustrating the Mets' frustration with the second baseman/outfielder.
- The Cubs will non-tender right-hander Daniel Bard, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Bard was claimed off waivers in September and never threw a pitch for the Cubs organization. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford notes that Bard was pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League but walked nine batters while recording just one out. The Cubs could still agree to a non-roster deal with Bard, he adds. Bard's control has vanished into thin air, as the formerly dominant setup man has also walked 56 batters over his past 47 1/3 minor league frames.
- The Mets have informed shortstop Omar Quintanilla that he will be non-tendered, Quintanilla told Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. Quintanilla projected to earn $900K this offseason after batting .222/.306/.283 in a career-high 359 plate appearances last season.
- ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets that the Mets will also non-tender Scott Atchison. The right-hander projected to earn $1.3MM coming off a 4.37 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 45 1/3 innings. Atchison will turn 38 in late March.
As many of the same teams appear to be in on both A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and several signings having left these two at the top of this year's remaining free agent catching crop, let's look at a few notes on the two backstops:
- The Twins are no longer pursuing Pierzynski, a major league official told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Minnesota has been heavily rumored to be chasing a veteran backstop after deciding to shift Joe Mauer to first. Recently, we had heard that the Twins were "making progress" on bringing Pierzynski back to Minnesota, but that appears no longer to be the case.
- Minnesota has also been rumored to be looking at Saltalamacchia, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that they are still in the mix. The other two front-runners for Salty are the Marlins and Red Sox, according to Jackson.
- Indeed, Miami recently made an offer to Saltalamacchia, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The terms of the offer are not known. As Rosenthal notes, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com previously reported that the Red Sox offered Saltalamacchia a two-year deal to return to Boston.
The Marlins are looking to fill voids at second base, third base, and catcher this offseason and it appears that GM Dan Jennings has a level of flexibility that predecessor Larry Beinfest did not, writes Peter Gammons of Gammons Daily. For their second base opening, Miami has discussed Mark Ellis, who would also provide the club with some needed veteran leadership.
The 36-year-old had his $5.75MM club option declined by the Dodgers after they finalized their deal with Cuban second baseman Alexander Guerrero. Ellis batted .270/.323/.351 with six homers and four steals in 126 games (480 plate appearances) for the Dodgers and, as usual, he was a standout defender at second base. Ellis posted marks of +7.6 in UZR/150 and +12 in The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) metric. The Tigers also have Ellis on their radar.
The Marlins have also approached the Red Sox about 22-year-old third baseman Garin Cecchini, even though he would appear to be similar to Colin Moran, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2013 draft. Cecchini spent time in Advanced-A and Double-A in 2013, hitting a combined .322/.443/.471 with seven homers. Baseball America ranked Cecchini as the seventh-best prospect in the Red Sox's system heading into the 2013 season. One executive covering the Arizona Fall League told Gammons that the youngster “has sneaky power that will play in the big leagues and will keep increasing in pro ball.”
The Mets surprised some observers when they gave outfielder Chris Young a one-year, $7.25MM contract to kick off their offseason. However, they weren't the only club with interest. Young says that the Cubs, Giants, Royals, and Red Sox all reached out to him, but the Mets were aggressive, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Here's a look at the latest out of the NL East..
- Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post makes the case for the Nationals to go after Robinson Cano. Some would argue that the Nats should go after a similarly high-impact player that will fill an actual hole for them, but Kilgore says that such a player may not come along for Washington in today's landscape.
- In today's inbox, a reader asks Joe Frisaro of MLB.com if there's a possibility that Dan Uggla could return to the Marlins this winter. Frisaro doesn't see the second baseman coming back to Miami since his cost and declining numbers over past two seasons raise red flags. Besides that, bringing him back would block Derek Dietrich and/or Donovan Solano from playing second.
- The Marlins announced two additions to their baseball operations staff. Mike Berger was named Vice President/Assistant GM while Jeff McAvoy will take over as the new Director of Pro Scouting.
The Marlins have discussed Mike Napoli and could get involved at the right price, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Napoli signing with Miami isn't likely if he has better options (link), but he's a South Florida native and he is good friends with Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis.
We recently heard that the Marlins were interested in free agent catcher Dioner Navarro (as well as pitcher Phil Hughes), but Napoli represents a much more ambitious target for Miami. While a big-name free agent like Napoli being connected to the Marlins will clearly be met with skepticism (and rightfully so), it's worth pointing out that they were very much in the mix for Jose Dariel Abreu before he signed with the White Sox. That pursuit, at the very least, indicates that the Fish may have some willingness to spend on a first baseman to pair with Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of their lineup.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
For the latest on negotiations between MLB and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball on the posting fee arrangement -- which has major implications, in particular, for highly-regarded starter Masahiro Tanaka -- check out this update from Ben Badler of Baseball America. We'll round out the evening with a variety of links from around the National League:
- Alexander Guerrero is dealing with a hamstring injury in his Dominican Winter League stint, tweets Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, and GM Ned Colletti indicated that the missed time could postpone the Dodgers' decision as to whether he'll play short or second next year. That decision -- or, potentially, the inability to make it -- could seemingly have an impact on Los Angeles' off-season shopping list.
- The Diamondbacks are down on the free agent market, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. "I've spoken a little to our own free agents," said GM Kevin Towers. "But from the looks of where this free agent market is right now and where it's headed, it's not a place where I want to do a lot of business." Gilbert notes that the club has made an offer to infielder Eric Chavez, but that he is still mulling interest from other landing spots.
- The Rockies are implementing a new player development structure, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. In lieu of roving instructors, the standard in baseball, Colorado will employ "developmental directors" who will each be responsible for a given team and look to prioritize skill development rather than minor league game outcomes.
- Discussing the club's recent signing of Jhonny Peralta, Cardinals GM John Mozeliak explained that a thin shortstop market left Peralta as the best fit for the club. While he said the club considered his PED suspension, he opined that "I don't think it's the Cardinals' responsibility necessarily to be the morality police on potentially future employment." As Peralta admitted his violation of the league's policy and paid his penance, said Mozeliak, "at this point in the game, there's nothing that says he can't go play or isn't free to go sign with another club."
- Mozeliak also said that the club looked around at possible trades, but found the cost prohibitive, tweets Stan McNeal of FOX Sports Midwest.
- In a well-argued set of responses to fan questions, Adam Kilgore and James Wagner of the Washington Post took stock of a wide range of issues facing the Nationals. Among the thoughts offered relate to the second base position. The Nats are well-situated to add Robinson Cano, says Kilgore, and the move makes some sense. But Kilgore explains that such a scenario remains largely unlikely. Meanwhile, fallen keystoner Danny Espinosa has relatively minimal trade value, Wagner offers. His value to the organization, in terms of upside and as a competitor/backup option to Anthony Rendon, probably outweighs what he'd return.
- The Marlins are mulling over a minor league offer to infielder Scott Sizemore, reports Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel. Certainly, Miami would figure to have the inside track on players looking for a legitimate chance to see big league time at second or third.
- Miami has not only lured "superscout" Jeff McAvoy away from the Rays, but sources tell Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports that the club will add Mike Berger from the Diamondbacks in a vice president role (Twitter links). This makes for a quiet but outstanding off-season, opines Passan, who notes that the organization could look quite different if owner Jeffrey Loria gives new GM Dan Jennings more authority than was afforded predecessor Larry Beinfest.
It's not surprising that Miami called on Hughes, Jackson writes, because pursuing a player who had one bad year after a good one fits the club's profile. Demand for Hughes is a fraction of what it could have been before his slide in the latter part of last season and if he can replicate his 2012, he'd likely prove to be a bargain. The 27-year-old posted a 4.23 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in '12 but followed it up with a 5.19 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in '13. Some peripheral stats, including xFIP (4.39) would indicate that Hughes was partially the victim of bad luck. The Royals, Mets, and Twins are also among the clubs that have expressed interest.
Navarro, 29, hit .300/.365/.492 with a career-high 13 homers in 89 games for the Cubs last season. The Marlins would like to add an offensively-gifted catcher to complement defensively-skilled backup Jeff Mathis and the switch-hitting backstop offers just that. The market for Navarro hasn't quite unfolded yet but with top catcher Brian McCann off the board, the dominos could start falling soon. The Red Sox are said to have some interest in Navarro if Jarrod Saltalamacchia, now the No. 1 available backstop, goes elsewhere.
We'll keep tabs on the day's minor moves here:
- The Royals announced a series of minor league signings, including for third baseman Brandon Laird, outfielder Paulo Orlando and right-hander Wilking Rodriguez. Laird, 26, is the younger brother of Gerald Laird and joins the Royals from the Astros, where he received major league playing time in 2013. Orlando, 28, is re-upping with the Royals after six seasons in the organization. The 23-year-old Rodriguez will transition to the Royals after seven seasons in the Rays' farm system. He has a career 3.90 ERA, mostly as a starter, but has never reached Double-A.
- Matt Eddy of Baseball America has updates on a number of clubs' minor league signings. Among those with MLB experience (with links to Twitter): The Rockies will return Bobby Cassevah and Matt McBride, and have added righty Greg Burke. Headed to the Tigers is righty Jhan Marinez, while Gorkys Hernandez and Edinson Rincon will stick with the Royals organization. The Phillies have brought back shortstop Andres Blanco. And the Dodgers inked utility infielder Brendan Harris. Other clubs with new signings include the Orioles, Reds, Marlins, White Sox, and Athletics.
- The Cubs have signed outfielder Casper Wells, according to a tweet from Eddy. The team also added righties Paolo Espino and Carlos Pimentel, along with shortstop Jeudy Valdez. Wells got 102 plate appearances with three different clubs last year, posting a meager .126/.186/.147 line that is perhaps understandable given his constant movement and scant playing time. In 2012, over 316 plate appearances with the Mariners, Wells was good for a .228/.302/.396 slash.
- In addition to bringing back righty Benino Pruneda and catcher Jose Yepez on minor league deals, the Braves have added former Phillies backstop Steven Lerud, tweets Eddy. Lerud appeared in nine games for the Phils between 2012-13. At Triple-A last year, he had an interesting .217/.353/.311 line over 219 plate appearances, as he drew nearly as many walks (35) as he had hits (39).
- Cutting ties with a major international acquisition, the Nationals have released righty Yunesky Maya, Eddy tweets. Washington saw little return on its $6MM investment in Maya, who had been outrighted off of the club's major league roster early in the 2013 season. After struggling in two brief call-ups in 2011-12, Maya's last stint with the Nats was even more regrettable. In his only MLB appearance of the 2013 season, Maya retired one batter in the bottom of the tenth before surrendering a walk-off home run to Pablo Sandoval.
- The Cubs have released outfielder Dave Sappelt, tweets Eddy. As Eddy notes, Sappelt was one of the pieces -- along with lefty Travis Wood and second baseman Ronald Torreyes -- picked up by Chicago in the deal that sent Sean Marshall to Cincinnati. The 26-year-old Sappelt has a .251/.301/.343 slash line in 274 plate appearances spread over the 2011-13 seasons. He has spent most of his time in Triple-A over that time frame, and posted a sub-.700 OPS in each of his two years at Iowa.
The Blue Jays discussed a trade for Matt Kemp with the Dodgers at the GM meetings, reports Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca. Those discussions appear to have gone nowhere, but Davidi says they are indicative of a trend throughout MLB -- teams are entertaining ideas of big trades (like the recent Prince Fielder / Ian Kinsler blockbuster) rather than diving into a free agent market that's become increasingly expensive. Here are more notes from around the East divisions.
- The Nationals are hunting for a starting pitcher, but they don't want to sacrifice their 2014 first-round draft pick (no. 20 overall) in the process, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. That could make Matt Garza or Ricky Nolasco, who did not receive qualifying offers because they were traded in-season, more attractive options than Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana or Hiroki Kuroda.
- The Marlins have made contact with free agent infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. The Marlins are looking for a third baseman, and Betancourt played 59 games there in 2013, a season in which he hit .212/.240/.355. One would think that the Marlins would be interested only on a minor-league deal, though it's worth noting that Betancourt has received near-regular playing time for most of his career despite not posting an on-base percentage above .300 since 2007.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledges the risk involved in signing soon-to-be-35-year-old catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year deal, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes. "Clearly this is a commitment that will be scrutinized," Amaro says. "Is it a risk to put three years into a catcher at this stage of his career? It can be, yes. But I think every signing is a risk and we hope that he remains productive throughout the three years and perhaps more." Ruiz hit .268/.320/.368 in a weak offensive season in 2013.