Ian Stewart Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dozens of arbitration eligible players have agreed to deals with their respective teams today and we've been tracking all of the developments right here. Several teams, including the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays, Braves, and perhaps Astros, are known for committing to going to hearings if they get to the point of filing. Keep track of all the madness with MLBTR's arbitration tracker, which shows settlement amounts, filing figures, and midpoints. Today's players to avoid arbitration on deals worth less than $4MM:
- The Cardinals avoided arbitration with pitcher Kyle McClellan, tweets B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest. Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter) that the one-year deal is worth $2.5MM with incentives based on starts. MLBTR projected a $2.7MM for the Steve Comte client.
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (on Twitter) that the Padres and Chase Headley agreed to a one-year deal worth $3.475MM, avoiding arbitration. Earlier this evening, the Padres announced that they avoided arbitration with Luke Gregerson, Edinson Volquez, Carlos Quentin and Will Venable. They also avoided arbitration with lefty reliever Joe Thatcher on a deal worth $700K, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. CAA announced catcher John Baker has signed for $750K. Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune first reported that the Padres reached agreements with Hundley, Chase Headley, and Tim Stauffer. Hundley will earn $2MM in 2012, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets. Dan Hayes of the North County Times tweets the salaries for Volquez ($2.2375MM), Venable ($1.475MM), Gregerson ($1.55MM)
- The Rangers avoided arbitration with Matt Harrison, tweets Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. The ACES client gets $2.95MM on a one-year deal. MLBTR had projected a $2.9MM salary.
- The Cubs announced that they have avoided arbitration with Jeff Baker ($1.375MM), Blake DeWitt ($1.1MM), Ian Stewart ($2.237MM) Chris Volstad ($2.655MM), and Randy Wells ($2.705MM). MLB.com's Carrie Muskat tweeted the salary figures.
Each team acquires a 26-year-old former first round pick coming off a disappointing season. Stewart, a non-tender candidate, has long been the subject of trade rumors and hit .156/.243/.221 in limited action in 2011. Colvin, who isn't yet arbitration eligible, hit .150/.204/.306 in 222 plate appearances.
LeMahieu, 23, has a career .753 OPS in the minors and saw his first big league action for the Cubs in 2011. He'll compete for time at second and third base, according to Renck (on Twitter). Weathers, 26, was also a first-round pick, but has yet to pitch above Double-A, where he posted a 5.32 ERA in 45 2/3 innings this year. The right-hander has excellent stuff (career 11.3 K/9), but hasn't been able to control it (7.1 BB/9).
Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported yesterday that the two teams were discussing a deal involving Stewart and Colvin.
THURSDAY: The Twins acquired righty Daniel Turpen from the Rockies to complete the Slowey deal, they announced today. Turpen, 25, posted a 4.83 ERA in Double-A this year. He was taken by the Yankees from the Red Sox in last year's Rule 5 draft, then returned to Boston and later traded to Colorado.
Slowey, 27, was widely regarded as a non-tender candidate had he remained with the Twins until next week's deadline. He projects to earn $2.7MM through arbitration in 2012, and is under team control through 2013. One of the game's most extreme flyball pitchers, Slowey (pictured) doesn't seem a great fit for Coors Field. The other concern is that Slowey hasn't compiled big innings totals in the Majors. Still, he limits free passes as well as anyone and could be a useful back-end rotation addition for Colorado. The Rockies also added starter Tyler Chatwood last week in a trade with the Angels.
The Rockies may have other irons in the fire, as Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post reported earlier that they've discussed a deal with the Reds involving closer Huston Street for starter Edinson Volquez. It's unclear whether those talks are still active given the Slowey acquisition. Renck also wrote that the Rockies have interest in trading for the Phillies' Placido Polanco or the Braves' Martin Prado, and asked the Cubs about D.J. LeMahieu and Scott Maine in Ian Stewart talks that have since lost momentum.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
Earlier today we saw a rare trade between division rivals when the Rockies sent Huston Street to the Padres for a player to be named later and cash. Let's take a look at some other news and rumors from the NL West...
- The Rockies "immediately contacted" Hiroki Kuroda's agent following the Street trade, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. With $7MM freed up, Colorado has a number of options. Renck once again mentions Colorado's interest in Michael Cuddyer as well.
- The Rockies like Jonathon Niese a lot, but have had no conversations to date with the Mets, according to Renck. New York is open to moving the 25-year-old lefty.
- The Pirates are keeping in touch with the Rox on Ian Stewart, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times tweets that the Dodgers are keeping in touch with the agent for Mike MacDougal. GM Ned Colletti is also talking with other relievers, but talks with MacDougal are the furthest along.
- The Dodgers have "no interest" in bringing back Manny Ramirez, writes Hernandez's colleague Steve Dilbeck.