Ichiro Suzuki Rumors

NL Notes: Marlins, Reds, Yoon

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today; so, according to legend, there will be six more weeks of winter. But, for baseball fans, spring does begin early this year when pitchers and catchers for the Diamondbacks (February 6) and Dodgers (February 8) report one week earlier than the other 28 MLB teams because of their season-opening series in Australia. Here's today's news and notes from the National League:

  • Marlins President David Samson told reporters, including MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the team is still looking to add some depth. "Certainly, you're looking at some potential non-roster invites," said Samson. "We're looking to bring people in to compete, because you just don't know. What we've learned over the years is you have injuries. The more depth you can have going into a camp, the better it is." The Marlins have invited 26 non-roster players to camp and Frisaro notes another reliever or two could be added to that total. 
  • The Reds have had a lackluster offseason, but still have a good strong core of starting pitching and position players to be very competitive in the NL Central, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com in a readers inbox column.
  • Within the same article, Sheldon shot down any notion the Reds would have interest in Ichiro Suzuki citing his age, salary, and defensive limitations.
  • Suk-Min Yoon held a workout on the campus of UC-Irvine Friday attended by the Giants and Orioles, per a report from SBS (h/t Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). Earlier this week, it was reported four clubs had extended offers to the Korean right-hander with negotiations underway with two of those teams. The Twins, Red Sox, and Indians have been linked to Yoon this offseason with varying degrees of interest.  

East Notes: Ichiro, Casilla, Coghlan, Lind

Now that the Yankees have designated Vernon Wells for assignment, they're more likely to keep Ichiro Suzuki, NJ.com's Brendan Kuty writes. If Ichiro stays, it will be in a bench role, with Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran holding the starting outfield roles and Alfonso Soriano mostly playing DH. There had been some whispers that the Yankees could trade Ichiro, although, as Kuty points out, it was unclear who the Yankees might trade him to. Here are more notes from the East divisions.


Rosenthal on Angels, Qualifying Offers, Drew, Jays, Putz

The Angels are likely to eclipse the $189MM luxury-tax threshold eventually, despite their efforts to avoid doing so this offseason, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. Sources tell the columnist that the Angels have between $13MM and $15MM of space left beneath the cap, figures that are much lower than what will be required to sign Masahiro Tanaka. However, extending Mike Trout at, say, $300MM over 10 years would make it difficult to avoid surpassing the threshold anyway, so the Angels may as well do so now, Rosenthal surmises. Here's more from his new column:

  • This offseason's big contracts for less-than-durable stars like Jacoby EllsburyCurtis Granderson and Brian McCann show that position players can earn more as free agents than they would with club-friendly, long-term deals. Meanwhile, clubs appear increasingly willing to move players who resist extensions. For example, sources tell Rosenthal that rival teams have asked about Astros catcher Jason Castro, who could be moved if Houston is unable to ink him long-term.
  • Qualifying offers appear to have suppressed the market for players such as Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales, frustrating player representatives. Potential fixes to the system include guaranteeing that free agents receive a qualifying offer only once, or ensuring that teams signing free agents who received qualifying offers lose only draft picks and not their associated bonus-pool amounts. The current system will remain in place for another two offseasons, Rosenthal notes.
  • Stephen Drew appears to be a fit for the Mets, rival executives say, despite the club's insistence that it will consider Ruben Tejada for its starting shortstop job.
  • The Blue Jays remain among the favorites to sign either Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, despite their quiet offseason thus far. The Jays could acquire as many as two starters before the offseason is over, Rosenthal reports. In addition to upgrading through free agency, the club has also discussed trades for the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija and other starters.
  • The Diamondbacks could trade J.J. Putz after acquiring Addison Reed from the White Sox. Swapping the righty for Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is one potential deal, or Putz could be packaged with other players in a deal for a starter such as Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers.


Yankees Likely To Keep Gardner, Try To Trade Ichiro

With the additions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, the Yankees have a surplus in their outfield. They're not likely to address that surplus by trading Brett Gardner, however, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. The Yankees like the idea of having both Ellsbury and Gardner in their outfield, and they will likely focus on trading Ichiro Suzuki instead.

As Heyman points out, however, there isn't likely to be a particularly robust market for Ichiro. The 40-year-old hit .262/.297/.342 in 2013.


NL West Notes: Uribe, Ibanez, Young, Morse, Ichiro

In an Insider post (subscription required), Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio names eight players who could be traded during the Winter Meetings. The Rays' David Price tops the list with Bowden's possible destinations starting with the Dodgers. The Dodgers also have two of their own on the list: outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Here's more on the Boys in Blue and the rest of the NL West: 

  • Re-signing Juan Uribe figures to be at or near the top of the Dodgers' to-do list at the Winter Meetings, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Uribe is not seeking a three-year contract and the holdup with the Dodgers is either their desire for a one-year deal or money, tweets ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted confirmation of an earlier report the Rockies are interested in Raul Ibanez, but cautioned nothing is serious at this point. Renck also noted Michael Young is on the club's radar for a bench role.  
  • The Rockies are also becoming more serious about Michael Morse along with the Giants, Marlins, and Rangers, reports the New York Post's Joel Sherman (Twitter links).
  • There's been speculation the Giants could be a fit for Ichiro Suzuki, but Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets he doesn't believe that's the case.
  • The demands of the trade market will determine what course Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers takes during the Winter Meetings, reports azcentral.com's Nick Piecoro. "Most people are asking for quite a bit right now, I'm not real excited about what I'd have to give up in the trade market," Towers said. "I'm hoping maybe the price starts to come down. If not, then I'll turn to more free agents."
  • Left-hander Erick Threets is looking to play in Asia, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. The 32-year-old spent 2013 with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League pitching to a 7.04 ERA, 5.9 K/9, and 7.5 BB/9 in 23 innings covering 27 relief outings. Threets' last MLB affiliation was with the Dodgers' Triple-A team 2012 and his last appearance in a big league game was in 2010 for the White Sox

Yankees Open To Trading Ichiro Suzuki

The Yankees have begun discussing Ichiro Suzuki in trade talks with other clubs, Chad Jennings of the Journal News reports. Jennings notes that this does not mean an Ichiro deal is imminent. The Yankees now have a surplus of outfielders after agreeing to terms with Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran. Since the news of the Beltran acquisition, it's also emerged that the Yankees would be open to trading Brett Gardner, who would make a far more attractive trade candidate than Ichiro would.

Jennings notes that other teams are likely to view Ichiro as a bench player. The 40-year-old outfielder hit just .262/.297/.342 last season, although he was effective defensively. Ichiro will make $6.5MM in 2014 in the second year of a two-year deal.


AL East Notes: Soriano, Cashman, Red Sox

With the Red Sox losing the division lead for the first time in two months, here's the latest from a hotly contested American League East …

  • The deal that brought Alfonso Soriano back to the Yankees was consummated over the objections of GM Brian Cashman, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. "I would say we are in a desperate time," said Cashman. "Ownership wants to go for it. I didn't want to give up a young arm." The club dealt young righty Corey Black (and took on salary) to add the 37-year-old Soriano. MLBTR's Steve Adams rounded up the reactions to the deal yesterday. 
  • Cashman's latest overruling continues a trend, Sherman further reports in the same piece. Most recently, Cashman reportedly preferred signing catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Nate Schierholtz this last offseason. Instead, ownership pushed a two-year, $13MM deal with Ichiro Suzuki. While the Yanks could have Martin and Schierholtz playing right now on one-year deals, says Sherman, the team instead has an aging Ichiro-Soriano combination set to earn $11.5MM next season.
  • The Red Sox must add talent, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, or risk dropping back in a tight AL East race. Silverman opines that the club should call up top prospect Xander Bogaerts to provide much-needed pop from the left side of the infield. Meanwhile, with Clay Buchholz still not on a clear timetable and with Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez choosing the Phillies over the Sox, Silverman says that Boston should also make a deal for a starter.
  • Should Boston make a move to bolster its rotation, one player who could be dealt is third baseman Will Middlebrooks. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports that Middlebrooks, who is trying to work his way back to the form he showed in his 2012 rookie campaign, has heard the rumors for the first time in his recollection. "I'm just trying to keep my nose out of it," Middlebrooks said. The 24-year-old indicated that he remains content in the Red Sox organization in spite of his struggles this year: "I have a good opportunity here. I don't need to get traded to have a good opportunity."
  • Looking at Boston's recent history, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal suggests that the team could look to pick up a somewhat under-the-radar player that can contribute not just this season, but in the future. MacPherson notes that the Sox added catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (2010), shortstop Mike Aviles (2011), and reliever Craig Breslow (2012) when the price proved right and the deal met the club's multi-year needs. This season, with Saltalamacchia nearing free agency and backup David Ross injured, the team could look to deal for a backstop with future control even as it gives playing time to prospect Ryan Lavarnway. MacPherson suggests the Padres' Nick Hundley as a possibility, while noting that San Diego could be hesitant to move him.

AL East Notes: Orioles, Burnett, Arrieta, Ichiro

The Orioles entered the eighth inning of yesterday's game with a lead and held on to pick up the victory. That might not seem all that noteworthy on the surface, but as MLB.com's Matthew Leach writes, yesterday marked the 100th straight win in games where the Orioles have held a lead through seven innings. Leach examines all the aspects of the Orioles' roster that have led to their improbably success with late inning leads. Here's more on the AL East…

  • Alex Burnett spoke candidly with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca regarding the waiver process that led him to end up in the Orioles' organization, and he didn't sound happy about his brief stint with the Blue Jays. Burnett said he was "shocked" to be designated for assignment by Toronto and wondered what the point of his claim was. He also adds that he's had to have his car shipped across the country twice, break two leases and send his pregnant wife home because the constant moving would have been too difficult. Burnett said he's thankful that his process has been relatively quick, and he feels bad for Casper Wells, who spent the better part of three weeks in waiver limbo. Burnett hopes that the process will be brought up at the next Players Association meeting. MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently looked at the waiver process in depth.
  • Davidi notes that the silver lining for these players is that they do collect a Major League salary and Major League service time while they are on waivers. 
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick spoke with an AL scout regarding Orioles' right-hander Jake Arrieta and was told, "I know 29 teams that would be takers" (Twitter link). Arrieta's raw stuff draws consistent praise despite poor results. He was optioned to Triple-A yesterday.
  • Danny Knobler of CBS Sports also talked to scouts regarding Arrieta, who said that he has "electric stuff." Knobler writes that Arrieta is simply too talented for the Orioles to give up on.
  • Another scout told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that the Yankees should be very concerned about Ichiro Suzuki: "His timing is all off. He looks terrible." Ichiro signed a two-year, $13MM contract with the Yankees this offseason.

AL East Notes: Ellsbury, Red Sox, Ichiro, Yankees

In an interview with Mut & Merloni on WEEI, ESPN's Buster Olney said that the perception is that Jacoby Ellsbury will take Scott Boras' advice when it comes to free agency.  That means chasing the biggest payday available, and Olney sees the outfielder leaving the Red Sox if he hits the open market.  Here's more from around baseball..


AL East Notes: Red Sox, Ichiro, Jeter, Orioles

MLBTR’s offseason in review series is just getting started, but the AL East is now complete. Click here to see how the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and Orioles navigated their respective offseasons. Here are some more links from the division…

  • The Red Sox aren't close to bumping up against MLB's luxury tax, as Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com shows. With commitments in the $163MM range, the Red Sox have $15MM separating them from the $178MM threshold.
  • Ichiro Suzuki explained to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that he wanted to re-sign with the Yankees because of the team's focused emphasis on winning. “Those are things that I wanted in a clubhouse and on a team, and I didn’t know that it existed,” Ichiro said. “I kind of had given up hope that I would find that ideal clubhouse, kind of how I felt how about a clubhouse should be. And I was able to find that last year, and that was here.”
  • In a video blog Davidoff explains that Brian Cashman's recent misadventure won't stop him from doing his job as the Yankees' general manager. Cashman broke his right fibula and dislocated his right ankle after jumping out of a parachute to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project two days ago.
  • Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner are among the ten most powerful people in baseball, Tom Verducci writes at SI.com. Commissioner Bud Selig tops Verducci's list.
  • The Orioles like what they see from Jair Jurrjens this spring, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. Jurrjens, who signed a minor league deal with Baltimore this past offseason, is one of 13 Orioles pitchers competing for a rotation spot this spring.