Francisco Cervelli Rumors
After Brian Sabean traded Matt Williams to the Indians for a package that included eventual San Francisco cornerstone Jeff Kent, the public reaction against the newly minted Giants general manager was so strong that he felt compelled to declare: “I’m not an idiot.” Sixteen years later, with two World Championships under Sabean’s belt, MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby writes that he “has proven that, emphatically.” Sabean still abides by the credo he adopted while working for George Steinbrenner: “keep your head down and do your job.” Here are some notes on teams hoping to dethrone Mr. Sabean’s Giants in 2013:
- Having agreed yesterday to a minor league contract with the Pirates, 41-year-old reliever Jose Contreras reported to camp quickly with plans to take it slow, says Tom Singer of MLB.com. Still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and having just returned from his first visit to his native Cuba since defecting over a decade ago, Contreras said that the Pirates instructed him “to take my time and recover at my own rate.” Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington, for whom the signing was a “low-risk” gambit to bolster the club’s bullpen, stated that Contreras would “rehab throughout Spring Training” and that the team would “be patient with him and get him back as quickly as his body allows.”
- The Indians have set up a three-way competition for the last spot in the team’s starting rotation, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer. Scott Kazmir and Carlos Carrasco, both of whom are attempting comebacks, will compete with recently-acquired prospect Trevor Bauer. All three pitchers appeared in today’s Cactus League game. While MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk maintains that Kyle Lohse could fit nicely in the Tribe's rotation, the team seems likely to utilize one of the options it already has on hand.
- With Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis likely out for more than six weeks with a fractured collarbone, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro discusses the club’s search for a new second backstop behind presumed starter Rob Brantly. In addition to considering internal options like Kyle Skipworth, “the club is combing through other rosters, exploring possible trade options and trying to figure out which teams have a surplus.”
- Other than Sabean, only one current GM has overseen multiple championship clubs: the Yankees’ Brian Cashman. Cashman revealed today that, contrary to his previously stated belief, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli is in fact out of options, writes MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. MLBTR has labeled Cervelli as out of options from the start; check out our full list of players here. Of the three primary catchers competing to break camp with the Yankees, then, only Austin Romine can still be optioned. (Chris Stewart, like Cervelli, has had his options exhausted.) When asked to comment on the catching situation, Cashman wryly reported: “We’ve got two guys out of options and one guy with an option. I think the two guys are winning.”
- Of more immediate concern to Cashman and the Yankees, of course, is the injury to outfielder Curtis Granderson. In addition to the analysis of MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, other commentators have begun to weigh in. Bill Madden of The New York Daily News explores the options for replacing Granderson and worries that the club could face a power shortage. MLB.com’s Richard Justice opines that Cashman should stick to his winning strategy of “being smart and efficient” and “not overreacting to every crisis.” For FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, on the other hand, the injury “exposed the Yankees’ flawed roster construction” and leaves the club’s 2013 postseason prospects in doubt.
A trio of venezolanos try to claw their way back to la gran carpa. Yes, that literally translates to "the big carp," but it also means "the big top." Links are in Spanish...
- Melvin Mora will fly to the states this weekend to begin negotiations with the Giants and Reds, the 40-year-old utilityman told Jonathan Costa Hernández at Líder en Deportes. Mora said his agent received offers from both teams last week, but he didn't yet know the terms. "I haven't had much time for that, due to the kids," Mora said, in reference to his 11-year-old quintuplets.
- After managing just five innings over the last five years, Kelvim Escobar says he is mounting what will be his final attempt at a comeback. "In two months I'll know where I'm at and the progress of my shoulder," the 36-year-old told Meridiano Television in Venezuela. He said his agent has been contacted by several teams, but they will wait until his shoulder is consistently healthy before attempting to arrange a tryout. In 2009, the Mets signed Escobar to an incentive-laden one year deal, but continued shoulder problems kept him from ever taking the mound.
- Francisco Cervelli has heard that two teams are interested in obtaining him from the Yankees, but the team doesn't want to trade him, the catcher told Wilmer Reina at La Verdad. The Yankees have reportedly come close to trading Cervelli several times over the last two seasons, but for the moment he is laboring at Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and says his singular focus is on improving his offensive output enough for another callup. "I don't know anything about the Major Leagues, not even from the news," he said. "Now I only worry about working at my job and developing as a player."
C.J. Wilson wasn't at his best tonight in what may have been the final start of his Rangers career. He allowed five walks and four hits through 5 1/3 innings, but he allowed just two runs -- enough to keep his team in the game and allow Texas to take a 3-2 series lead. Here are today's links...
- The Yankees prefer Yu Darvish to Wilson, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- The Pirates have prioritized catching help this offseason and the Yankees would "definitely" trade Francisco Cervelli in the right deal, according to Sherman. The Pirates may not view Cervelli as a starter, however.
- Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner says the Mariners should sign Jamie Moyer to a minor league deal. Seattle needs pitching depth and the 49-year-old soft-tosser wants to keep playing, so there’s a potential fit there.
- Roy Oswalt could be a fit for the Rockies if he has an open mind about pitching in Denver, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). The Rockies will be looking to trade for starting pitching or sign pitchers to short-term deals this offseason. The Phillies officially declined Oswalt’s 2012 option earlier today.
Some news from the AL East...
- The Orioles have begun negotiations with fourth-overall draft pick Dylan Bundy, reports Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. Denver Bundy, Dylan's father and also part of his representation team from BBI Sports Group, said today's meeting was "a feeling out process" and the two sides would hopefully discuss figures at their next session on August 10.
- The Yankees and Pirates almost agreed to a deal that would've seen Francisco Cervelli go to Pittsburgh in exchange for right-hander Brad Lincoln, reports George A. King of the New York Post. King hears from a Pirates source that the trade "was very close but [the teams] couldn’t agree on the value of the players." Such a move would have given the Yankees room to call up Jesus Montero as both a backup catcher and as a potential DH platoon partner for Jorge Posada. Brian Cashman said Montero could potentially be called up once the rosters expand in September.
- The trade deadline has passed and B.J. Upton is still wearing a Rays uniform, so Steve Slowinski of the DRaysBay blog is already thinking about what a potential Upton extension might cost Tampa Bay.
- With the Red Sox facing a crunch of prospects for 40-man roster spots this winter, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal wasn't surprised that the Sox moved three of those on-the-bubble prospects in the Erik Bedard trade. Boston would've risked losing Chih-Hsien Chiang, Tim Federowicz, and Stephen Fife for nothing in the Rule 5 draft had the club not been able to send Chiang to the Mariners and Federowicz/Fife to the Dodgers.
- By acquiring two first basemen (Chris Davis and prospect Aaron Baker) from their deadline deals, the Orioles appear to be taking themselves out of the Prince Fielder sweepstakes this winter, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. I respectfully disagree with Schmuck -- if the O's have a chance at Fielder, they won't hesitate to sign him for the sake of Davis (who has struggled against lefties at the Major League level) or a minor prospect like Baker. Davis could also be moved into a DH role, or moved to third base while Mark Reynolds become the designated hitter.
5:50pm: The Yankees and Red Sox are in on Martin and the Mets and Blue Jays are less interested, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
4:34pm: The Dodgers have not been in contact with Martin's agent since Thursday, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (on Twitter).
3:09pm: The Mets consider Martin too expensive and too much of an injury risk, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter).
MONDAY, 1:31pm: The Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Mets are also thought to be interested in Martin, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.
FRIDAY, 9:16am: The Yankees, who tried to trade for Russell Martin this week, are one of six teams interested in the 27-year-old free agent, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times reports that the Yankees nearly sent Francisco Cervelli to the Dodgers for Martin (Twitter links). In fact, the Yankees and Dodgers even exchanged medical records on Wednesday.
“They want to continue discussions with the idea that Russ could come back and catch, play second base and third and a little bit out of outfield to see if he likes something like that in the event he ever wants to transition from behind the plate,” Colleran said.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the Royals, Rangers, Mariners, Mets or Brewers look to upgrade behind the plate. ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports that Martin, who is from Montreal, wants to play on the East Coast (Twitter link).
By our unofficial count, 50 players were non-tendered yesterday. You can sort the decisions by team in our non-tender tracker. Those that reached our playing time requirements have been added to the 2011 free agents list, which is robust at the moment. Let's take a look at some of the more interesting non-tenders.
- Bobby Jenks, RP. There are plenty of good right-handed relievers available, but if you take Mariano Rivera and Rafael Soriano off the board, Jenks might be the best closer. Jenks throws hard and posted huge strikeout and groundball rates this year, so he should find multiple years and at least $5MM per.
- Russell Martin, C. Martin was once one of the game's best catchers, but his performance waned and he's recovering from a hip fracture. There aren't a ton of starting catching gigs available, however. The Yankees nearly acquired Martin on Thursday for Francisco Cervelli, tweets Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times.
- Jack Cust, LF/RF/DH. Cust doesn't impress defensively, but not too many free agents can match a .395 OBP.
- Edwin Encarnacion, 3B. Another defensively-challenged player, Encarnacion hit 21 home runs in 367 plate appearances this year. Someone will give him a shot in a weak market for third basemen.
- Andrew Miller, SP. The former first-round pick is a project at this point, with his velocity down and walks up.
- Joel Peralta, RP. He's not a hard-thrower but it's difficult to argue with a 2.02 ERA, 9.0 K/9, and 1.7 BB/9. He is an extreme flyball pitcher though.
- Jose Veras, RP. Veras has control issues, but he did rack up strikeouts this year and averaged 94.4 mph on his fastball.
- Fourth outfielder types: Matt Diaz, Ryan Church, Tony Gwynn, Lastings Milledge, and Scott Hairston.
- Former setup types: Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, and George Sherrill.
- Interesting pitchers coming back from shoulder surgery: J.P. Howell, John Maine, Chien-Ming Wang.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports kicks off his latest column with a look at Alex Rodriguez's $30MM worth of home run incentives. The chase isn't generating the buzz the Yankees anticipated when they re-signed A-Rod. On to Rosenthal's rumors...
- Talks are on again between the Red Sox and Rockies regarding catcher Chris Iannetta. The Rockies would want to improve their big league club with an in-season deal, so perhaps we'll hear heightened Iannetta buzz during the offseason if Miguel Olivo is retained.
- The Nationals do not seem to have chosen a course with Adam Dunn in terms of trading or extending him now.
- The Athletics have no intention of trading Coco Crisp or Mark Ellis, as both players have club options for 2011.
- Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli is "a frequent trade target of rival clubs," but the team likes having depth at the catcher position.
- As part of the Yunel Escobar-Alex Gonzalez talks, the Braves and Blue Jays discussed Jose Bautista. For now, the Braves still have time to evaluate Nate McLouth's recovery from a concussion. MLB.com's Mark Bowman wrote today that the Braves have considered David DeJesus, Cody Ross, Corey Hart, and Josh Willingham as potential trade targets.
The Yankees have dealt with a number of injuries in the first two months of the season, most notably to Nick Johnson and Jorge Posada. Johnson underwent wrist surgery that will keep him out until July at the earliest, while Posada has dealt with calf and foot injuries that have limited him to just 105 plate appearances.
Johnson was signed in the offseason to give New York some depth at DH while still keeping the position semi-open so veterans like Posada and Alex Rodriguez could take a day off from the field but remain in the lineup. While A-Rod has played in 52 of New York's 54 games, Posada's injury woes have convinced Rob Parker of ESPNNewYork.com that the longtime catcher should become the Bronx Bombers' full-time designated hitter. Parker argues that Francisco Cervelli's defense and surprising bat (a .302/.379/.377 line going into today's action) makes him a solid replacement behind the plate.
There appears to be little downside to this move, at least for now. Posada has been a dangerous hitter when he's been able to play this season so there's no sign that the 38-year-old is on an overall decline. When (or if) Johnson is healthy, he can spell Posada at DH and perhaps allow Posada to take the occasional start behind the plate. Cervelli's minor league numbers suggest that his hot hitting won't last, so the Yankees will have to decide if having a rare weak spot in their lineup is worth the trade-off of Cervelli's defense and ability to keep Posada fresh. In case you're wondering about New York catching prospect Jesus Montero, he has struggled (.648 OPS) at Triple-A Scranton this season so the Yanks aren't likely to call him up to the majors anytime soon.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post tells us why the Yankees weren't serious about Mark DeRosa and adds a couple other rumors:
- They never made a strong push for DeRosa, since they had no logical place to put him.
- The Yankees will have three catchers when Jose Molina joins Francisco Cervelli and Jorge Posada, but they have no plans to deal Molina.
- They would consider promoting Shelley Duncan, who has 21 homers in Triple A, if they want a right-handed bat.
Lins for Saturday morning...
- As ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports, Adam Jones is pleased that the Orioles have so much pitching approaching the majors, but he wants to win now.
- SI.com's Tom Verducci calls Jones baseball's most improved player and breaks down the outfielder's hot start.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Jhonny Peralta is playing third base for now.
- Rob Neyer of ESPN.com writes that there are no guarantees for Francisco Cervelli once Jose Molina and Jorge Posada are fully healthy.
- Neyer adds that the Twins need Francisco Liriano to take his game to the next level and regain the form that saw him dominate the American League in 2006.
- In a third piece, Neyer weighs in on the White Sox, concluding that there's no reason to panic in a division that the Sox could take with 85 wins. Still, the team has issues in center field and in the middle infield.