Here's the latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark…
- One official who spoke with the Marlins brass estimates that the odds Josh Johnson remains with Miami are "95 percent." The Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, and Royals have all checked in.
- Carlos Lee, Ricky Nolasco, Heath Bell, and Gaby Sanchez are all very available. Other than Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton will be the toughest player to pry away from the Fish.
- The Phillies have talked about trading Cliff Lee following the Cole Hamels extension and they haven't discouraged other teams from inquiring, but their game plan right now is to keep their trio of aces intact.
- Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton are good bets to be dealt and the Phillies will listen on Hunter Pence. They want multiple young big leaguers to plug holes at third base, in the outfield, and in the bullpen in return.
- The Dodgers are in on a number of starting pitchers, including Nolasco, Blanton, Kevin Millwood, and Jason Vargas in addition to Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. They've also checked in on outfield and first base help, including Victorino and Justin Morneau.
- Clubs have not been assured by the Cubs that Garza will make another start before the trade deadline due to his triceps issue. He's more likely to be dealt in the offseason.
- In the wake of acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, the Pirates are sending signals that they could trade away a starter like Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia.
- The Twins' asking prices for Morneau ("pricey"), Denard Span ("more pricey"), and Josh Willingham ("it made me laugh") are high. Minnesota insists they will listen on anyone and Stark says Morneau is the bat they're most likely to move. Francisco Liriano is "nearly 100 percent" likely to be traded.
- The Orioles continue to look for pitching, someone they consider a number three starter or better. Garza and Vargas have their eye but Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table. They've gotten hits on Jake Arrieta but won't move him unless they get a similar young arm with several years of team control remaining in return.
- The Brewers will trade Randy Wolf "for nothing if you take the money," according to one official.
- The Rays have "got a big market" for Wade Davis.
Here's the latest from South Beach…
- Once Albert Pujols was off the market, the Marlins told Gaby Sanchez and his agent that rumors about Miami pursuing Prince Fielder were false and that the club wasn't looking for another first baseman, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Sanchez said he wasn't offended that the Marlins were pursuing Pujols: "He's proven what he can do for 10 straight years. I still have so much time to go."
- Anibal Sanchez told reporters (including MLB.com's David Villavicencio) says the Marlins haven't approached him about a contract extension but he'd be open to signing such a deal. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently examined Sanchez as an extension candidate.
- Sanchez also didn't mind his recent arbitration hearing with the Marlins, where he won his case and earned an $8MM salary for 2012. "I think everybody thought they were going to say a lot of things that were bad about me. But I didn't think they said anything bad or that I didn't know. It's part of the business," Sanchez said.
- Jose Reyes understands that the Mets didn't have the finances to re-sign him, but he wished his former team would've at least made some kind of offer, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post.
- The Marlins offered Yoenis Cespedes a six-year, $36MM contract, reports Frisaro. The team wanted a six-year deal since they felt Cespedes would need minor league seasoning and didn't want to pay him a large salary if he'd be spending time in the minors. Cespedes instead agreed to sign with the A's for $36MM over four years.
- With Cespedes gone, Frisaro says the Fish aren't expected to add any more players before Spring Training, though they could look for veteran starting pitching later in camp. The Marlins aren't interested in Ivan Rodriguez for the backup catching job.
After a pair of meetings between the Marlins and agent Dan Lozano on Monday, Albert Pujols reportedly has a whopping ten-year offer in hand to join Jose Reyes in Miami. The Cardinals and Cubs met with Lozano yesterday as well. Here's the latest on Pujols…
- The Cubs are "definitely in" on Pujols still, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. If nothing else, they want to make things hard on the Cards by increasing the bidding, says Sherman.
- The Marlins' brass completed their evening meeting with Dan Lozano, but told reporters, including Ken Rosenthal, that they had nothing to report. The Fish aren't sure if a third team is involved in the bidding, tweets Jon Paul Morosi. If there's a mystery team, it's definitely not the Phillies this year, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.
- The Mystery Team has entered the mix! USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports that a third team, in addition to the Marlins and Cardinals, has made an offer to Pujols. All three offers are for ten years and at least $200MM, according to Nightengale.
- The Marlins are pushing "very, very hard" to get closure on Pujols tonight, so they can move one way or the other, according to Scott Miller of CBS Sports. They don't want to be used to jack up the Cardinals' bid, and want to move on to other free agents if they don't land Pujols (all Twitter links).
- The Cardinals expect resolution "sooner rather than later" and indicated that the ball is in Pujols' court, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Marlins also would like resolution soon, tweets Morosi. Meanwhile, the Marlins met with an official from the commissioner's office tonight, and a possible Pujols contract was the topic of discussion, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- A source tells Martino (Twitter link) to be "on red alert" for a Pujols deal tonight.
- The Marlins' offer to Pujols is believed to be in the neighborhood of $220MM, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports (via Twitter). Cardinals GM John Mozeliak confirmed to reporters, including B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest (Twitter link), that his team made another offer to Pujols today.
- The Marlins also remain hopeful on Pujols, having offered a "creative" contract, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
- Talking to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, Cards chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. declined to offer odds on the team re-signing Pujols: "I'm hopeful, but I don't like to use the word 'optimistic.' We're realistic about the fact that it may not happen." (all Twitter links).
- Marlins president David Samson countered Spencer, saying the team will not sign a free agent to a deal including a no-trade clause.
- In a break with team policy, the Marlins are willing to give Pujols a no-trade clause, tweets Clark Spencer. This could be a major development. The Cardinals are still alive for now, tweets Joe Strauss.
- Marlins' brass concluded the 75-minute Lozano meeting without public comment.
- The Marlins are heading up to meet with Lozano and expect a Pujols decision soon, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- As you might expect, the Marlins' ten-year offer exceeds $200MM, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The Cardinals are expected to counter today.
- There is optimism that the Marlins and Lozano will work through the no-trade clause hurdle, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, though Ken Rosenthal says the Marlins will not relent completely on the clause.
- The Cardinals do not expect to get an opportunity to match or beat an offer from another team before Pujols accepts, hears Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch. The Cardinals have not ruled out a ten-year offer for Pujols, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi's club source says it depends on the average annual value.
- The Cubs submitted a bid for Pujols, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. However, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat says a Cubs official denied the report.
- The Marlins' reported ten-year bid includes an average annual value that tests or exceeds $20MM, writes Strauss, but it does not include full no-trade protection. The Marlins will meet with Lozano again today. One club executive who spoke to Strauss pegged the team's chances of signing Pujols at 50-50.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets a reminder that the disconnect in last offseason's negotiations between Pujols and the Cardinals wasn't the length, but the proposed annual value of $22MM.
- Not surprisingly, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears that the Marlins would trade Gaby Sanchez if Pujols lands in Miami (Twitter link). Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune thinks the Cubs would try for Sanchez in that scenario.
Tim Dierkes and Luke Adams contributed to this post.
Here's the latest on the Brewers, including what's happening at the GM meetings in Milwaukee:
- The Brewers are much more interested in Rafael Furcal than Aramis Ramirez, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports adds that the Brewers have strong reservations about Furcal and may stick with Yuniesky Betancourt. Still, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke admitted that he likes both Furcal and Ramirez today on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern.
- Clint Barmes is another possibility for the Brewers at shortstop. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy writes that GM Doug Melvin will meet with Barmes' agent tomorrow.
- Milwaukee is considering whether funds are available for the top shortstop on the market, Jose Reyes, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.com.
- The Brewers inquired on Gaby Sanchez at season's end, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. If the first baseman becomes available, Milwaukee could make a play for him.
- Melvin says he hasn't given up on signing Prince Fielder, and will meet with Scott Boras today. However, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel thinks the GM has moved on, meaning Mat Gamel could get a chance to start the season at first base (all Twitter links).
- The Brewers will not attempt to re-sign Milwaukee native Craig Counsell, tweets Haudricourt.
- In another tweet, Haudricourt adds that outrighted players Mitch Stetter and Josh Wilson have elected free agency.
Players with zero to three years of service time are under team control and don't have the power to negotiate their salaries. Most of these players agree to terms with their clubs on deals worth $400-500K, but some don't agree to terms and their clubs renew their contracts instead (it doesn't affect the player's timeline for arbitration or free agency). Here's the latest on the NL East, including news on some contract renewals:
- The Nationals announced that they have renewed the contracts of right-handers Tyler Clippard and Jordan Zimmermann.
- The Marlins renewed the contracts of four of their own players, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post (on Twitter). The team did not agree to terms with Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, Mike Stanton or Ryan Webb.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan shows that Jason Heyward is uncharacteristically mature for a 21-year-old. The Braves right fielder tells Passan that he can improve upon his standout rookie season, something that would please new manager Fredi Gonzalez.
After a battle for the first base job during Spring Training with top prospect Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez came out on top. Sanchez had just two major league starts to his credit coming into this season, but he has done well in the full-time position thus far. In 12 games, Sanchez has hit .308/.426/.538.
Meanwhile, as an item on the ESPN MLB Rumors page points out, Morrison is also performing well for the club's Triple-A affiliate. The 22-year-old lefty has an OPS of 1.066 and a pair of home runs in ten games. While sample size is obviously an issue here, one wonders if more of the same from Morrison could make Sanchez expendable. Prior to this season, ESPN.com's Keith Law ranked Morrison as the #21 prospect in baseball.
Dealing the Miami-born Sanchez could certainly help the Marlins get a boost in other areas. In the past, they have managed to catch lightning in a bottle when building their bullpen. However, GM Michael Hill would likely feel more comfortable if he could pick up some additional relief help this season. The Marlins have already parted ways with four of their relief additions from this offseason: Jose Veras, Mike MacDougal, Seth McClung, and Derrick Turnbow.