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The Nationals are looking to add an "elite" starting pitcher via trade, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and they're in luck, as both Max Scherzer and David Price have been rumored to be available this winter. Rosenthal explains his reasons behind believing that Scherzer could be a better fit, highlighted by the fact that Nats GM Mike Rizzo drafte Scherzer in the first round when he was the Diamondbacks' scouting director. Rosenthal's sources maintain that the Tigers aren't shopping Scherzer at this point but rather just listening to offers. Here's more from a jam-packed column from Rosenthal…
- The Phillies have kicked around the idea of trading for Price, but it's unlikely to happen. The Phils would likely have to include top prospect Jesse Biddle in a potential package and perhaps Domonic Brown as well. Also, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. recognizes that his club has multiple needs and that he will need to make multiple additions rather than going "all-in" on one big splash like Price or free agent center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
- While many will argue that Tim Lincecum's deal doesn't impact the free agent markte for starting pitchers because it was the Giants paying to keep one of their own, Rosenthal points out that other starters and their agents will argue the direct opposite — "that the Lincecum contract was merely the outgrowth of supply-and-demand economics." In particular, he feels that it hurts the Pirates in their quest to retain A.J. Burnett. Rosenthal wonders how the Bucs can possibly retain Burnett after Lincecum got $17.5MM per year when they didn't even want to offer Burnett a $14.1MM qualifying offer.
- The Rangers are once again pondering their infield logjam and whether or not to trade one of Elvis Andrus or Ian Kinsler. Kinsler could also be moved to first, though it may be less appealing that moving Kinsler and his salary ($57MM through 2017). Kinsler's contract makes him the easier of the two to trade. Figuring out the middle infield and securing some salary relief could be the key to the Rangers' offseason, he adds.
- The Mariners consider right-handed pop their biggest need, and Rosenthal wonders if they'll take a second run at Mike Napoli, who they tried to land last offseason.
The Rangers have been the most active buyer in baseball this season, trading prospects Mike Olt, C.J. Edwards, Justin Grimm and Leury Garcia to bring in Matt Garza and Alex Rios. In his latest Rangers Inbox, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan tackles a host of issues regarding the future of the team's roster…
- Jurickson Profar could stay in his utility role for another season and ultimately transition to third base as Adrian Beltre moves into a DH role in two years, writes Sullivan. It's also possible that GM Jon Daniels discusses trades of Kinsler this offseason, as the four years and $57MM remaining on his contract will look like a bargain with the rising price of second basemen (Sullivan points to Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano as comparisons).
- Sullivan guesses the Rangers will make Nelson Cruz a qualifying offer at season's end. If Cruz accepts the offer or expresses interest in working out a new contract, they're prepared to move forward with him as their designated hitter in 2014.
- The club's interest in re-signing Matt Garza will be linked to the health of Matt Harrison. The team could also re-sign Colby Lewis. Nick Tepesch and Josh Lindblom are currently the leading candidates to be the fifth starter, as Neftali Feliz looks to be headed back to a bullpen role.
- The Rangers aren't likely to pursue Jarrod Saltalamacchia as a free agent despite their needs at catcher. As Sullivan writes, "That bridge appears quite charred in both directions."
Dustin Pedroia is very likely to finish his career in Boston now that he and the Red Sox have agreed to a seven-year, $100MM extension that will run through the 2021 season. Here is a roundup of news about the deal will impact Pedroia, the Red Sox and another certain AL East second baseman…
- Pedroia told reporters (including Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe) that he put a priority on being a Red Sox player for life out of loyalty to the club. "The Red Sox drafted me and a lot of teams passed on me because of my size and stuff like that," Pedroia said. "It's pretty important. That's why I want to work as hard as I can to make sure that they made the choice in drafting me and me being here my whole career."
- This feeling manifested itself in the timing of Pedroia's extension, as WEEI.com's Rob Bradford points out that Pedroia put the team ahead of waiting until free agency or until Robinson Cano had signed his new contract.
- Speaking of Cano, Pedroia's acceptance of a "hometown discount" type of contract could affect Cano's forthcoming free agent contract, opines David Brown of Yahoo Sports. It has been speculated that Cano's next deal will pay him $200MM and Cano is "a better player than Pedroia, though not by that much. He's not twice as good as Pedroia." I suspect that with big spenders like the Yankees and Dodgers involved in the Cano sweepstakes, Cano won't have any trouble finding a deal in the $200MM range, Pedroia's deal notwithstanding.
- Pedroia's value to the Red Sox goes beyond the field and, given Boston's clubhouse problems in 2012, CBS Sports' Danny Knobler writes that the team wanted to ensure that one of its key leaders would remain in the fold.
- Second basemen have a history of declining in their early 30's, but Fangraphs' Dave Cameron still likes the Pedroia extension for the Red Sox since they were able to get him at a relative bargain price. "With the going rate of inflation in baseball, $15 million per year could easily be the market price for an average player by the middle of this contract," Cameron writes. He also uses Ian Kinsler's five-year, $75MM extension with the Rangers as a comparison and notes that Kinsler and Pedroia have similar value as hitters and Pedroia has a large defensive edge.
MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed the Rangers, the Indians and offseason qualifying offers on the latest edition of the Rosters & Rumblings Podcast. Click here to listen in. Here are some news items from around the baseball world…
- The Mets are one of three teams interested in right-hander Kip Wells, reports MLB.com's Evan Drellich. Wells, 35, posted a 4.58 ERA, a 4.6 K/9 rate and a 4.8 BB/9 rate in seven starts for the Padres last season, the first time Wells had pitched in the Majors since 2009. Wells has pitched for nine different clubs over his 12-year career.
- Ian Kinsler has reversed course and told Rangers management that he would prefer to remain at second base, reports Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Kinsler said he was open to a position change back in November but has since decided that he isn't comfortable moving off second at this point in his career. Had Kinsler been willing to move to first base, Texas could have explored using Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus as the team's double-play combo.
- The incentive details of Mike Adams' and John Lannan's contracts with the Phillies are outlined by Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- Nate Robertson is looking for a spot in a Major League training camp as a left-handed relief specialist, Robertson's agent Steve Canter tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). The 35-year-old Robertson's last Major League appearance came in 2010 and he has spent the last two seasons pitching in the minors for the Mariners, Cubs and Blue Jays. Robertson could find success as a specialist given that he has held left-handed hitters to a .695 OPS over his nine-year career.
- Shaun Marcum is still without a team and Fangraphs' Mike Axisa examines why the market for the free agent right-hander has yet to develop. Marcum was ranked as the 19th-best free agent of the offseason by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes earlier this winter, though three players higher on the list than Marcum (Michael Bourn, Kyle Lohse and Rafael Soriano) are also still available.
- Baseball America's Matt Eddy has the list of minor league transactions from the first week of January.
- Mike Trout unsurprisingly headlines the list of the 25 best players under the age of 25 as compiled by ESPN's Keith Law. Trout and the other three players atop Law's list delivered a historically great performance that compares to the all-time best quartets of young hitters, as noted by ESPN's Dave Cameron. (An ESPN Insider subscription is required for both pieces.)
This was a bit before MLB Trade Rumors' time, but it was on this day in 1886 that the first trade in Major League history took place. The Cincinnati Red Stockings acquired base-stealing outfielder Hugh Nicol and Jamie Moyer from the St. Louis Browns in exchange for rookie catcher Jack Boyle and $400. Here's some modern-day hot stove action from around the majors…
- Free agent outfielder B.J. Upton visited Turner Field today, meeting with Braves general manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. The Braves see Upton as their top free agent target this winter, as Upton will come at a lower price than Michael Bourn.
- While the Red Sox have checked in with Josh Hamilton's agent, reports of Boston's interest in Hamilton are "overblown," a source tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.
- Ian Kinsler is willing to change positions if the Rangers ask, the second baseman tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Where I play on the field is not my decision. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team win regardless of where I am on the field or where I’m hitting in the batting order," Kinsler said. A move from second could open room for both Jurickson Profar and Elvis Andrus in the infield, while Kinsler could replace Hamilton in left or play first base.
- Both the Angels and the Tigers benefited from Torii Hunter signing with Detroit, opines MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian breaks down Shin-Soo Choo's trade value both in terms of what the Indians could get in return and how Choo compares to free agents currently on the market.
- The Indians' thin farm system is due to nearly a decade of poor drafts, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler.
- It seems like the White Sox will look externally to fill their hole at third base, as GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including MLB.com's Scott Merkin) that "we are exploring a lot of options that we rank ahead of moving [Dayan] Viciedo in from the outfield," though he didn't completely rule it out.
- With five notable Marlins on their way to Toronto, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at how players face large tax increases when they're dealt away from Florida, including a past instance of a player (Carlos Delgado) having tax protection written into his contract in lieu of a no-trade clause from the Marlins.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports examines how the Marlins/Blue Jays trade and Hunter's signing will impact other teams and players around baseball.
For the first time since baseball expanded the playoff field to eight teams, all four divisional series have gone to a deciding fifth game. The Nationals and Orioles forced Game Fives that will take place tomorrow, so we've got one more wild day of first-round baseball in store before the LCS round. Here are some news items from around the league…
- How the Rangers decide to use Ian Kinsler next season will impact the rest of their offseason moves, writes Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. Durrett suggests that Kinsler should be dropped from the leadoff spot in the batting order and moved to the outfield to make room for Jurickson Profar at second base.
- Shaun Marcum doesn't expect to pitch for the Brewers next season, the pending free agent told Todd Rosiak and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week. Marcum said the Brewers "haven't said anything" to him about a contract extension. "I think that ship sailed a long time ago," Marcum said. "It's just one of those things. It's baseball, it's a business and we all understand that. You play to get to free agency, so we'll see what happens."
- Also from Rosiak and Haudricourt, Francisco Rodriguez said he would "love to come back" to Milwaukee. Rodriguez surprisingly accepted arbitration from the Brewers last season, earning himself $8MM in 2012. The club obviously won't repeat the move again this year but Rodriguez could still return on a smaller deal if he can't find a closer's job elsewhere.
- The Rays have asked the city of St. Petersburg for permission to explore potential stadium sites outside of the St. Pete area, reports Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays' lease at Tropicana Field runs through the 2027 season and St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster "has been adamant" about keeping the team in his city for the duration of the lease, albeit possibly in a new ballpark.
Angels right-hander Michael Kohn will have Tommy John surgery tomorrow and will miss the season according to Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). Here are some assorted links for Wednesday…
- The Rangers recently met with Mike Moye, agent for Josh Hamilton, but the two sides didn't get too deep into contract extension talks according to Jeff Wilson of The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
- The Twins hope to replace Scott Baker internally, but there's a chance he might not pitch for them again according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger (Twitter links). Baker will miss the year with elbow surgery and the team holds a $9MM option for next season.
- Talks between the Reds and Brandon Phillips about a contract extension started last March according to ESPN's Jim Bowden. Phillips' agreed to a new deal this week.
- The Tigers have some hope that Victor Martinez will return late this season, according to Tom Gage of the Detroit News (Twitter links). The switch-hitting DH didn't need ACL reconstruction on his injured knee, and may return before the season's up. The Tigers won't know whether Martinez can play until they get MRI results in July.
- Tom Krasovic of Inside the Padres reports that Padres owner John Moores initially sought $600MM for the team in 2008 and explains why it may sell for more this time around. The Padres are up for sale again, Moores announced yesterday.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has the year-by-year breakdown for Ian Kinsler’s recent contract extension (Twitter link). The Rangers have a $10MM option for 2018 with a $5MM buyout.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that most teams believe Georgia high school outfielder Byron Buxton is the best prospect available in this year's amateur draft. There's a growing sense the Astros don't want to make a risky pick, yet there's no obvious second choice behind Buxton.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
The Rangers and Ian Kinsler have officially agreed to a five-year contract extension that will keep the second baseman in place through 2017. The deal is worth $75MM and includes an option for a sixth year.
Kinsler obtains $70MM in salary plus a $5MM buyout for the club option. The BBI Sports Group client doesn't obtain additional no-trade protection, though his ten and five rights will take effect midway through the deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets.
The two sides were first said to be discussing an extension earlier in the offseason, but talks appeared to pick up steam over the last few weeks. The 29-year-old said he would prefer not to negotiate during the season, but the sides eventually resumed talks. The Rangers held a $10MM option for Kinsler's services next season, which is when the extension will kick in. The deal will keep him in Texas through 2017 and possibly 2018.
Kinsler is a .276/.356/.470 career hitter, though he put together his second 30-30 season in 2011. He also walked (89) more than he struck out (71) and finished 11th in the MVP voting. Kinsler is a two-time All-Star and has thrice finished in the top 26 of the MVP voting. UZR says his defense at second has been among the best at the position over the last three seasons. It's worth noting that 2011 was the first time Kinsler managed to avoid the disabled list in his six full big league seasons.
The contract easily surpasses Dan Uggla's five-year, $62MM with the Braves and may have impacted extension talks between the Reds and Brandon Phillips. Cincinnati recently locked Phillips up to a six-year, $72.5MM contract. Kinsler's deal could also serve as framework for an extension between the Yankees and Robinson Cano. At $14MM per year, Kinsler's contract is largest ever for a second baseman in terms of average annual value, at least until the Yankees exercise Cano's $15MM option for 2013. Chase Utley's seven-year, $85MM contract is still the richest total deal at the position.
Jeff Wilson of The Fort-Worth Star Telegram first reported the agreement (on Twitter) and Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News added the terms of the deal. Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
Ian Kinsler (five years, $75MM), Carlos Santana (five years, $21MM) and Brandon Phillips (six years, $72.5MM) are the latest star players to sign long-term extensions. Here's more extension chatter from around MLB…
- The Indians have spoken to the representatives for Justin Masterson about an extension, but the sides appear to remain far apart, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. Talks seem to be on hold for the time being. Tim Dierkes suggested in January that a four-year deal in the $27MM range could work for the Indians and the Randy Rowley client.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs shows that the aging curve for second basemen is pretty steep, but says the Kinsler contract was a deal worth doing for the Rangers.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has the year-to-year breakdown for Santana's deal (on Twitter).
- Mike Axisa explains that the Santana extension doesn't provide the Indians with a substantial discount in a piece at FanGraphs. However, the Indians did extend their control over the catcher.
It's clear to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that the collapse of last September bothered some Red Sox players more than others. While some are using it as fuel for motivation, others seem eager to leave it in the past completely. Former Braves manager Bobby Cox told Cafardo that he preferred the latter. "The way I looked at it, you let it go both ways. If we win the World Series, I’d say enjoy it but time to get ready for the next year. Every season is different. I don’t think there should be carryover either way," Cox said. Here's more from Cafardo..
- Major league sources say that Ian Kinsler should average $13-$14MM over five or six years once his deal is done. While he and the Rangers couldn’t come to terms by Opening Day, it’s not out of the question that something gets done during the season. Brandon Phillips of the Reds should be in the Dan Uggla range – about five-years for $60MM. Dustin Pedroia's six-year, $40.5MM deal with the Red Sox now looks like bargain as it goes through 2014 with an $11MM option for 2015.
- When asked if he would consider managing again, Cox didn’t give a resounding no. "I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m done," he said. But he added, “I miss it. I miss it every day." While Cox has deep ties to Dodgers president Stan Kasten, he said he would not consider going back to being a GM. Cox is signed to be an adviser for the Braves through the 2015 season.
- When asked about Johnny Damon remaining on the open market, one AL GM was perplexed and suggested that the Rays, Indians, Orioles, and Tigers could all use him.
- Cafardo's "all-free agent team" features right-hander Roy Oswalt, Damon in center field, Hideki Matsui as DH, Vladimir Guerrero in left field, Magglio Ordonez in right, catcher Ivan Rodriguez, first baseman Derrek Lee, second baseman Aaron Miles, shortstop Felipe Lopez, third baseman Casey Blake. Oswalt tops the rotation alongside Javier Vazquez, who he notes has not officially retired. Cafardo also lists Mike Gonzalez and Arthur Rhodes as the top relievers available.
- Mark Prior’s throwing sessions have looked decent, according to major league sources, and he may be getting ready to throw for teams soon.
- Nationals pitcher John Lannan remains in limbo as he pitches in Triple-A, but as injuries mount his trade request may be heard. The left-hander is only 27 and could fit on many staffs as a fourth or fifth starter, but his $5MM salary is an obvious hurdle.