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Ian Stewart Rumors
Much-maligned outfielder Jeff Francoeur doesn't blame Royals fans for their criticism of the James Shields / Wil Myers deal, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports, even though Myers would likely have taken playing time away from Francoeur himself. “[W]hen we traded Wil — why the heck did we do that? — I sit there and say, ‘As a fan, looking from the outside, I’d lead that criticism.’ For fans, looking from the outside, I don’t blame them," Francoeur says. “I had a terrible year." Francoeur hit .235/.287/.378 in 2012 as the Royals' starter in right field. Here are more notes from throughout the AL Central.
- Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony admits the Twins have made mistakes in their attempts to find middle infielders, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Antony laments the trade of J.J. Hardy to the Orioles and describes Alexi Casilla's tenure with the Twins as "so frustrating." Antony also says the Twins "failed" with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Shortstop Pedro Florimon and second baseman Brian Dozier are next in line to try to stabilize the Twins' middle infield. If Florimon wins the job, he will be the Twins' eighth 2013 Opening Day shortstop in eight years. Minnesota's Opening Day second baseman will be its sixth in seven years.
- After spending 2012 as a reliever, Brett Myers is happy to be part of the Indians' rotation, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal writes. Myers, who pitched at least 216 innings in both 2010 and 2011, isn't sure why the Astros used him out of the bullpen. “I still don’t know why. They asked me to do it, and I didn’t want to fight them about it. It was one of those things where you do what’s best for the team,” he says. The Indians signed Myers to a one-year, $7MM deal with a club option, and he's assured a job as a starter.
- Ian Stewart's injured quad complicates his pursuit of the Cubs' third base job, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Stewart will be out for ten to 14 days. His contract isn't guaranteed, and the Cubs could save $1.67MM by cutting Stewart by March 16 and $1.5MM by cutting him prior to Opening Day. Luis Valbuena would likely be in line for Stewart's starting job in such a scenario, and could win playing time over Stewart even if Stewart is healthy.
4:24pm: The deal is non-guaranteed, a source tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The Cubs will be off the hook for the $2MM deal if he is released in spring training.
3:32pm: The Cubs are set to re-sign third baseman Ian Stewart, sources tell Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter). It's a one-year, $2MM deal for the Reynolds Sports Management client, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The deal also includes $500K of incentives.
The 27-year-old is said to be back to full health after playing with a broken bone in his wrist for the last two years. During that stretch, Stewart has had a .183/.272/.289 slash line with five home runs in 338 total plate appearances. Before the injury, Stewart owned a career .245/.332/.451 slash line in four seasons with the Rockies.
12:24am The Marlins' trade of Yunel Escobar to the Rays earlier tonight was prompted by the fact that Escobar approached the club saying he was not comfortable at third base just days after telling them otherwise, writes Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said that Escobar's $5MM salary will be re-invested toward finding a suitable third base replacement, either via free agency or trade. Earlier today it was reported that the Marlins have interest in Mark Reynolds, and the team has also been linked to Jack Hannahan tonight, though Hannahan's salary certainly won't approach the $5MM mark. For now, the Marlins aren't close to anything, says Capozzi.
Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel notes, via Twitter, that Zack Cox will get a look in Spring Training but likely isn't ready. The Marlins acquired Cox in exchange for Edward Mujica this past July.
The latest from around the AL Central…
- Despite the fact that the Twins are looking to give Trevor Plouffe some competition at third base, Ian Stewart isn't a match with the team, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III (on Twitter).
- Ben Revere's name has surfaced as a possible trade candidate, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Revere became the Twins' projected center field starter with the trade of Denard Span to the Nationals, so Morosi believes Minnesota might need to get a center field back in order to move Revere.
- The Indians offered four years and $44MM to Shane Victorino, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Victorino ultimately chose a three-year, $39MM offer from Boston, but it shows that the Indians have some money to spend.
- The Royals' offer was "not even close to what I was looking for," new Rangers setup man Joakim Soria told reporters including MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez on a conference call today. Soria landed a two-year, $8MM deal with the Rangers.
- The White Sox continue to have dialogue with free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
- We had a few Tigers rumors yesterday also.
With plenty of rumors flying around the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, we're making sure we don't let anything slip through the cracks. Here are a few morning updates from around the league on some of this winter's free agents:
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Mets have displayed interest in the recently non-tendered John Lannan, perhaps as insurance if the team trades a starter.
- Although he hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2009, Kelvim Escobar is healthy in winter ball and is drawing interest at the Winter Meetings, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
- The Yankees have spoken with Kevin Youkilis' agent, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network (Twitter link). According to Curry, Youkilis would consider a one-year deal if the salary was at a "premium amount."
- The Mariners are interested in free agent outfielder Nate McLouth, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
- A rival evaluator tells ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter link) that there's "no way" Stephen Drew would sign with the Yankees to be a part-time or utility player. Drew is seeking a full-time job.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that giving up a draft pick to sign Nick Swisher would be a factor in Boston's pursuit of the outfielder (link via Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com).
- Mike Silverman of the Boston Herald hears that the Red Sox still have a chance in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes, but it's a long shot (Twitter link).
- After getting a clean bill of health on his hand and wrist, Ian Stewart has drawn wide interest from teams looking for third base help, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times notes (via Twitter) that Stewart could be a fit for the Yankees.
- Within his latest piece for the New York Post, Ken Davidoff hears that the Mets and Ryan Ludwick are an unlikely match, and wonders if Nick Swisher could end up with the Mariners.
- The Reds will meet with Ludwick's agent this morning, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The veteran outfielder could accept the offer on the table from Cincinnati, though Fay speculates that the Reds are offering two years and Ludwick wants three. A two-year deal with a third-year option might work for both sides, says Fay.
- The Athletics will meet with the reps for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- The Dodgers, Giants, Brewers, Angels, and Rays are among the teams that have inquired on free agent reliever Mark Lowe, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Scott Kazmir, who is throwing 90-94 mph in Puerto Rico, is drawing interest from a host of teams and could choose from a handful of offers soon, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, the Mets aren't in the mix for the lefty, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Boston Red Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Hiroyuki Nakajima | Ian Stewart | John Lannan | Josh Hamilton | Kelvim Escobar | Kevin Youkilis | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mark Lowe | Milwaukee Brewers | Nate McLouth | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Nick Swisher | Oakland Athletics | Ryan Ludwick | San Francisco Giants | Scott Kazmir | Seattle Mariners | Stephen Drew | Tampa Bay Rays
Here are the latest news and notes from the NL and AL Central divisions:
- Sources tell FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal the Reds like Dexter Fowler and the Rockies like Homer Bailey. Now the question is whether their mutual interest crystallizes into trade discussions during the Winter Meetings.
- The Brewers are prioritizing a left-handed reliever with the available free agent possibilities including Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Mike Gonzalez, J.P. Howell, and Tom Gorzelanny, tweets Morosi.
- Cubs officials have yet to confirm or comment on reports of their signing of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, writes Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. The Cubs, however, are willing to talk about their need for a third baseman, an outfielder, and pitching depth. Muskat adds the Cubs could re-sign third baseman Ian Stewart after non-tendering him on Friday.
- The White Sox and Phillies are the two most aggressive teams in pursuit of a third baseman, a source tells Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Kevin Youkilis is the object of both team's pursuit. Hayes writes the Sox may have to move another high salary in order to afford Youkilis and floats the names of Jeff Keppinger, Mark Reynolds, and Eric Chavez as alternatives.
- The Pirates feel they are better equipped to restock their bullpen, despite the free agency of Jason Grilli and the recent trade of Chris Resop, and may be interested in turning closer Joel Hanrahan into a much needed starting pitcher, according to MLB.com's Tom Singer.
- The Twins plan to focus more on free agents than trades during the Winter Meetings, tweets Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. The Twins have already dealt their best trade chip in Denard Span and plan on keeping Josh Willingham, writes Mackey in a separate piece.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Dexter Fowler | Eric Chavez | Homer Bailey | Ian Stewart | J.P. Howell | Jeff Keppinger | Joel Hanrahan | Josh Willingham | Kevin Youkilis | Kyuji Fujikawa | Mark Reynolds | Mike Gonzalez | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Randy Choate | Sean Burnett | Tom Gorzelanny
Here are today’s National League non-tenders. All decisions must be in by 11pm CT tonight. Be sure to track all tender decisions using MLBTR's Non-Tender Tracker. Related resources include our list of non-tender candidates, our projected arbitration salaries and our arbitration eligibles series.
- The Diamondbacks have non-tendered Wil Nieves according to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter).
- In addition to John Lannan, the Nationals have also non-tendered Tom Gorzelanny and Jesus Flores according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- The Cubs have non-tendered Ian Stewart, Jaye Chapman, and Zach Putnam according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat (on Twitter).
- The Padres have non-tendered left-hander Juan Oramas, the team announced. He had Tommy John surgery this summer and is expected to miss the start of next season.
- The Mets also non-tendered Andres Torres and Manny Acosta, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Mike Pelfrey has been informed he'll be non-tendered by the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports (on Twitter). The Mets were expected to non-tender Pelfrey.
- The Braves will non-tender Jair Jurrjens and Peter Moylan.
- The Phillies plan to non-tender Nate Schierholtz, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter).
- The Pirates will non-tender Jeff Karstens, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports (on Twitter). Technically the Pirates are designating Karstens for assignment, Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). The team confirmed the move.
- The Brewers have non-tendered left-hander Manny Parra, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports (on Twitter).
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Andres Torres | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Chicago Cubs | Ian Stewart | Jeff Karstens | Jesus Flores | Manny Acosta | Manny Parra | Mike Pelfrey | Milwaukee Brewers | Nate Schierholtz | New York Mets | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | Tom Gorzelanny | Transactions | Washington Nationals | Wil Nieves
Some late-night reading surrounding baseball's two Central divisions…
- Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer tells Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago that he's already had dialogue with several teams in advance of the GM Meetings. Hoyer expects the offseason to unfold more quickly thanks to changes to the CBA. The team's biggest need will be starting pitching. Third base is an area of need, but the team wants to determine Ian Stewart's health first.
- The Reds have yet to decide whether Aroldis Chapman will be a starter in 2013 or continue to serve as the team's closer, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. The decision, according to GM Walt Jocketty, will be tied to whether or not the team can re-sign Ryan Madson and/or Jonathan Broxton.
- Madson wants to pitch as a team's closer in 2013, writes Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
- MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes that while the Indians didn't acquire Mike Aviles as a precursor to an Asdrubal Cabrera trade, the team should entertain the concept of dealing Cabrera while his value is high. The Tribe's farm system has several talented shortstop prospects — most notably Francisco Lindor — and Aviles could serve as a stopgap, in Castrovince's opinion.
Alfonso Soriano hit his 30th home run of the season last night, reaching the threshold for the sixth time in his career and for the first time since 2007. The 36-year-old now has a .261/.317/.499 batting line in 568 plate appearances this year. He'll earn $18MM per season through 2014 on a contract that no longer seems as unmovable as it once did. Here are some Cubs-related notes from Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune…
- The idea of spending $150MM-plus on an impact player such as Josh Hamilton isn’t part of the Cubs’ plan, Sullivan reports. He notes that David DeJesus’ $10MM contract and Paul Maholm’s $4.75MM contract were the largest deals the Cubs signed a year ago.
- However, the team expects to be able to spend. "Right now it's kind of hard to say,” manager Dale Sveum said. “You just don't know who will be available. But yeah, we'll spend money somewhere."
- The Cubs need multiple starters, multiple relievers a center fielder, and a third baseman in Sullivan’s estimation. It appears that the Cubs will give Brett Jackson another look in center field despite his poor contact rate.
- Luis Valbuena will be tendered a contract, but Ian Stewart is expected to be non-tendered, Sullivan writes. "Valbuena is going to be part of the organization, and he does one heck of a job himself," Sveum said. MLBTR's Steve Adams discussed Stewart as a non-tender candidate last month.
- Josh Vitters appears to be a long shot at third base, according to Sullivan.
It's been a little more than nine years since Ian Stewart was selected by the Rockies with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 draft. Selected out of high school, Stewart would spend the next five years ranking between No. 4 and No. 57 on Baseball America's list of Top 100 prospects.
Stewart's production at Triple-A makes it easy to see why he was so highly regarded. In 226 games he's amassed a .291/.373/.540 batting line and homered roughly once every twenty times he's stepped to the plate. The Major Leagues, however, have been another story entirely.
The Rockies gave Stewart more than 1,400 plate appearances to cement himself as a regular, and played him at both third base and second base along the way. The minor league success never fully carried over, as Stewart batted .236/.323/.428 for the Rockies before being traded to the Cubs along with Casey Weathers in exchange for Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu last winter.
Things got worse for Stewart in Chicago, where he batted just .201/.292/.335 in 202 plate appearances before a left wrist injury cut his season short. Stewart earned $2.2375MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility this past offseason. Despite the injury and poor performance, he accumulated more than 200 plate appearances on the season, leading MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to project a slight raise to $2.3MM.
Stewart will turn 28 during the first week of the 2013 season, and his past 338 plate appearances have resulted in a paltry OPS+ of 50. The Cubs have also recalled Josh Vitters, signaling that they're likely ready to explore alternatives to the failed Stewart experiment. It appears very possible that he will reach free agency sooner than he ever anticpated.
In the event that he's non-tendered, Stewart's status as a once elite prospect and his career ISO of .185 at the Major League level could lead an offensively starved team to look at him as a buy-low candidate. It may be a long shot, but it wouldn't be the first time a general manager caught lightning in a bottle, and the signing would come with minimal risk attached.