Henry Owens Rumors

Cafardo On Lester, Hamels, Iwakuma, Sandoval

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if the Dodgers‘ outfield surplus could net them a solution to their shortstop situation.  Los Angeles isn’t expected to re-sign Hanley Ramirez and with underwhelming options on the open market, it stands to reason that the Dodgers could explore trading from their strongest area to find a replacement.  Earlier this week, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman acknowledged that “the best course of action” would probably be to trade one of Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, or Carl Crawford.  More from today’s column..

  • While Jon Lester is reportedly receiving “legitimate interest” from six interested clubs, some are skeptical about his market.  “Really? Six teams are going to be six years at $150 million for Jon Lester?” said one NL executive. “Sounds like agent enhancement of his client to me.”
  • The Red Sox have already shot down a couple of proposals from the Phillies involving Cole Hamels.  Cafardo expects the Phillies to reopen talks with Boston.
  • The Mariners have fielded inquiries from a few teams on Hisashi Iwakuma and the Red Sox have had at least internal conversations about the 33-year-old right-hander. The Mariners, meanwhile, would want an impact hitter like Yoenis Cespedes in return.
  • It’s expected that the Red Sox would want to offer Pablo Sandoval a contract with bonuses that would reward him for staying within a certain range.  A Giants official told Cafardo that Sanoval lost almost 30 pounds in the offseason only to gain 20 of them back during the season.  The CBA forbids teams from taking money away from players for gaining weight, but they can incentivize staying trim.
  • Mark Mulder continues to work toward a comeback but he indicated to Cafardo that he’s not 100% sure it will happen.  Mulder was making a run at it last offseason when during one of his workouts he tore his Achilles.  Afterwards, the hurler returned to ESPN as an analyst.
  • Rival scouts have worked hard to cut through the hype in their evaluations of the Red Sox‘s pitching prospects.  The biggest debate concerns Henry Owens and how his 92-mile-per-hour fastball and slow curve would play in the big leagues.  Meanwhile, some believe that left-hander Brian Johnson might be the best pitcher in Boston’s system.
  • Cafardo reported last week that the Tigers are listening to trade proposals on Alex Avila and mentioned the Braves and Red Sox as possible suitors for his left-handed bat. Today, Cafardo added the Cardinals as a team that could see him as a solid backup option.

AL Notes: Red Sox, Drew, Orioles, Tigers, Damon

Five years ago today, Alex Rodriguez admitted and apologized for using PEDs during his tenure with the Rangers. Rodriguez blamed the pressure of trying to fulfill the expectations created by his then-record 10-year, $252MM contract. Two days ago, Rodriguez voluntarily dismissed his federal lawsuit against MLB, the Commissioner's Office, and the MLBPA and will serve his 162-game suspension stemming from his role in the Biogenesis affair. Here's the latest from the American League:

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio (Twitter link) he doesn't expect anything to happen with Stephen Drew before the start of Spring Training; but, out of respect for the shortstop, has maintained a dialogue with agent Scott Boras.
  • Cherington also told the pair he is working the phones to add another reliever (via a Bowden tweet).
  • The Red Sox's starting rotation, currently flush with experienced hurlers, could take on a much younger and cheaper look in the next 12-18 months, writes the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber. Left-hander Henry Owens headlines the list of Boston's pitching prospects on the verge of reaching the Majors, according to Lauber. 
  • Having lost out on Bronson Arroyo and entering the second week of February without a truly significant free agent acquisition, the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck opines it's fair to wonder how much the Orioles really want to win this year.
  • Tigers President/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters recently, including Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler trade set the tone for the other moves he made this offseason. "If that move wasn’t made, you’re really in a position where you’re kind of back to where you were. It was one move that set off our plans in place." One part of that plan has received much scrutiny: dealing Doug Fister to the Nationals. Dombrowski said Fister was expendable because the Tigers have six solid starters with three of them (Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez, and Drew Smyly) under contract for at least the next four years while also proclaiming he'd love to have Max Scherzer "stay as a Tiger for a long time."   
  • Johnny Damon, whose last MLB appearance was with the Indians in 2012, is open to managing or resuming his playing career, but only on the Major League level, reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin.

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Orioles, Choo, Yankees, Rays

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington has acknowledged teams are inquiring about their rotation depth, but the Boston Herald's Michael Silverman notes there's an element missing from the starters' equation: a potential ace in his mid-20s. Silverman believes it will be close to impossible to acquire such a pitcher through trade or free agency, so the best bet is an internal option. Henry Owens, the 36th overall selection in the 2011 amateur draft, tops Silverman's list of future homegrown aces, as the 21-year-old left-hander posted a 2.67 ERA, 11.3 K/9, and 4.5 BB/9 in 135 innings (26 starts) across Boston's Class A Advanced and Double-A levels. Here's more from the AL East:

  • Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com wonders if the Orioles should make a play for free agent pitcher Bartolo Colon.  On one hand, Colon pitched to a 2.65 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 30 starts and could possibly be signed for just one year.  Of course, Colon will turn 41 early on in the 2014 season and missed a good chunk of 2012 thanks to having elevated testosterone levels.  
  • Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com looked back at ten moves by former GM Andy MacPhail that helped shape the Orioles.  The list starts with MacPhail's signing of first-round pick Matt Wieters in 2007.  The O's didn't have the best history with agent Scott Boras at that point, but MacPhail worked out a deal that included a $6MM signing bonus for the player who turned out to be the best catcher in club history.
  • Shin-Soo Choo would bring more than just a solid on-base percentage to the Yankees or their crosstown rivals, writes David Lennon of Newsday.  Lennon wonders if Choo's marketability overseas could give him extra value to one of the New York teams given that they have the second-largest Korean population in the U.S and offer more exposure than anyone else.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times runs down possible targets for the Rays this winter at their different areas of need.  The list starts with Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who could be an interesting buy-low fit.
  • The Rays were interested in Mark Lowe last offseason before he was scooped up by the Dodgers, Topkin writes.  Tampa Bay signed the 30-year-old reliever to a minor league deal yesterday.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.



Odds & Ends: AL East, Mauer, D’Backs, Sheets

Some links to read with Opening Day just a month away…