Ichiro Suzuki Rumors

AL East Notes: Scherzer, Rasmus, Ichiro, Orioles

Count Jon Morosi of FOX Sports among those who don’t believe that the Yankees are truly out of the race for Max Scherzer. Morosi sees a parallel between Scherzer’s free agency and the free agency of Mark Teixeira six years ago; the Yankees were said to be on the periphery of the market for each Scott Boras client, and in the end, Teixeira wound up spurning division rivals Boston and Baltimore to don Yankee pinstripes. Morosi reminds readers of the words of Red Sox owner John Henry following Teixeira’s signing with the Yanks: “There was no mention of the Yankees, but we felt all along that they were going to get the last call. That’s what you deal with in working with Scott.”

A few more notes from the American League East to enjoy with your Monday morning coffee…

  • Jon Heyman of CBS Sports lists nine possible landing spots for Scherzer based on team need and payroll, with the Red Sox topping his list. Boston is believed to like Scherzer very much, Heyman notes, and the team wouldn’t have to surrender its first-round pick due to poor results in 2014. Heyman rounds out his list with the Tigers, Giants, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels and Yankees. A few of those clubs — the Blue Jays, Cardinals and Angels — feel like a reach, though Heyman does outline his rationale for each suggestion.
  • The Orioles have ongoing dialogue with Colby Rasmus, among other left-handed hitting options, reports Morosi (Twitter links). Baltimore has also continued to show interest in Ichiro Suzuki, he adds. Rasmus would come with significantly more upside than Suzuki at this point, though the latter would come at a fraction of the price. Rasmus’ left-handed bat does appearto be a good fit in Baltimore, as Orioles Park at Camden Yards has favored left-handed hitters even more than Toronto’s Rogers Centre over the past few seasons, per Baseball Prospectus.
  • Sticking with the Orioles, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com hears that the Birds won’t host the 2016 All-Star Game. Baltimore has been believed by some to be a favorite to host the event, with retiring commissioner Bud Selig referring to the Orioles as a “very, very viable candidate” to host the Midsummer Classic.
  • The Orioles‘ acquisition of Brad Brach last year came with little fanfare but wound up netting a key bullpen piece, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Brach notched a 3.18 ERA in 62 1/3 innings in Baltimore, showing the best control of his career (albeit with the lowest strikeout rate of his career as well). Brach explains to Encina that he’s focusing on a good Spring Training and good start to the season in his quest to carve out a prominent role in Baltimore’s bullpen. The 28-year-old notes that he followed up a promising 2012 with the Padres with a poor Spring Training and slow start in 2013, resulting in further time in the minors.

Orioles Notes: Young, Morse, Matusz, Suzuki

The Orioles are still hunting for outfield help, and Delmon Young is “absolutely” still in play, agent Joel Wolfe tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. Wolfe says that all discussions with the O’s have been “very positive,” though Kubatko writes that Young’s preference is a multiyear deal, whereas the Orioles are more comfortable signing Young to a one-year deal, perhaps with an option.

Here’s some more from Baltimore…

  • The Orioles were also wary about committing multiple years to Michael Morse, Kubatko notes.  The O’s had “strong interest” in Morse earlier in the offseason but the veteran found a multiyear deal elsewhere, signing a two-year/$16MM contract with the Marlins.
  • In another Kubatko piece, he writes that the acquisition of left-hander Wesley Wright doesn’t necessarily mean the O’s will look to move Brian Matusz since Matusz is more of a lefty specialist.  This said, Baltimore does seemingly have a surplus of bullpen arms that could be used as trade bait, and Kubatko speculates that the Padres (with their surplus of outfielders) could be a fit as a trade partner.
  • The Orioles have given some consideration to signing Ichiro Suzuki, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes.
  • Chris Davis has received permission from Major League Baseball to take Adderall next season, Buck Showalter told reporters (including Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun).  Davis was issued a 25-game suspension last year for his unauthorized use of Adderall, and he still has one game remaining on his punishment.
  • The Orioles will interview Scott Coolbaugh about their vacant hitting coach position, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports.  Coolbaugh was the Rangers’ hitting coach from 2011-12 and is currently their minor league hitting coordinator.

Cafardo On Hamels, Astros, Howard, Craig

In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that teams second guessing themselves is just a regular part of the offseason.  A lot of folks are second guessing the A’s, but manager Bob Melvin has confidence in GM Billy Beane.

We’re looking to get a little bit younger, yet if you want to look back to the end of 2011 and leading into 2012, we traded our last three All-Stars in [Trevor] Cahill[Andrew] Bailey, and [Gio] Gonzalez and we ended up winning the division,” said Melvin. “We’re looking to compete again. This isn’t something where we’re breaking it down and moving in a different direction. The players that we’re getting back we like. There’s always a balance here for us in that we have to look down the road. We lost quite a bit of talent the last couple of years, making some trades. Billy is about as good as it gets as far as being able to handle that balance and keep us competitive currently, yet also having to look down the road for the future.”

More from today’s column..

  • The Astros are a sleeper team in the Cole Hamels chase, Cafardo writes.  The Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers are also interested in the Phillies left-hander, but Houston could join the bunch and the Giants may also be in if they can’t land James Shields.
  • The Phillies are trying to get teams interested in Ryan Howard, and a team source indicated to Cafardo that they are willing to pay a great majority of his contract to move him.  Howard is owed $60MM between 2015 and 2017, including a buyout.  The Rays and Orioles have DH needs and he could theoretically fit the bill.
  • Both the Marlins and the Brewers have active interest in Red Sox first baseman Allen Craig.  Craig, 30, had some strong years with the Cardinals before joining the Red Sox at last year’s deadline.
  • Agent John Boggs says that he’s having “discussions with several cubs” about client Ichiro Suzuki, though no deal is imminent at this time.
  • Dan Uggla’s agent, Terry Bross, was trying to market his client for a comeback at the Winter Meetings.  Cafardo hears that a lot of the 34-year-old’s decline may have had to do with an undetected concussion.


AL East Notes: Cespedes, Ichiro, Rays

The latest from the AL East..

  • The Red Sox spoke with the Tigers about a deal involving Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello, but there wasn’t a match there, accoridng to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (via Twitter).  Yesterday, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that those talks were “not hot” between the two teams.
  • Ichiro Suzuki‘s agent John Boggs says his client isn’t in a rush to find a new home, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. However, if the right offer came along, he would sign “in two seconds.” Ichiro is entering his age 41 season after hitting .284/.324/.340 in 385 plate appearances with the Yankees.
  • The Rays have reached an agreement with St. Petersburg that will allow the club to search for stadium sites in nearby Hillsborough County, reports Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times. Under the deal, the Rays will pay a set annual amount based on the amount of time remaining in their current lease of Tropicana Field, which expires in 2027. The Rays will pay $4MM per season until 2018, $3MM through 2022, and $2MM for the remainder of the term.
  • MLB is still investigating the Cubs on charges of tampering with former manager Joe Maddon, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Maddon, now with the Cubs, opted out of his contract with the Rays earlier this offseason. Per Tampa GM Matt Silverman, “they’re handling it.”

Brad Johnson contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Leake, Craig, Liriano, Masterson

Reds pitcher and regular MLBTR reader Mike Leake keeps track of offseason trade whispers but tries not to worry about them, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com writes.  “I’m curious. I check MLB Trade Rumors every day just to see what’s new,” says Leake, a potential trade candidate this winter. “There’s nothing you can do about it. You sit and wait and see if your name is thrown in a trade.” Leake notes that he would be happy to remain with the Reds, but would be understanding if they traded him.

  • If the Red Sox decide to deal Allen Craig, there will be interest despite his poor 2014 season, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  The Marlins and Brewers have had interest in the past, and one evaluator expresses confidence that Craig’s performance last season was derailed by injuries and not by a steep decline in ability.
  • Also from Cafardo, Francisco Liriano would be a good fit in either the NL or AL, but teams are concerned about giving him more than a three-year deal since he’s never been an innings-eater.  The Pirates remain interested in retaining him but not on a four-year contract.  Some executives feel the “tipping point” of Liriano’s market will be if at least one team is willing to give that fourth year, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.
  • Liriano is one of the Pirates‘ top targets, sources tell Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • Justin Masterson has received a lot of interest but no actual offers yet, Fangraphs’ David Laurila reports.  Laurila suggested in a recent column that Masterson could be a good candidate to be converted to relief pitching, though no teams have approached him with that idea and Masterson wouldn’t be interested if they did.
  • Also from Laurila’s piece, he talks to Burke Badenhop and the righty reliever said he felt he improved his free agent stock by posting strong numbers against left-handed batters in 2014.
  • Ichiro Suzuki‘s market is “not hot,” agent John Boggs tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).  Boggs is trying to push his client’s ability to play all three outfield spots and a bat that delivered a .284 average in 2014, hoping that teams won’t shy away because Ichiro is entering his age-41 season.
  • It would be surprising if the Rockies pulled off a blockbuster deal involving Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes.  “If I was a betting man, I sure wouldn’t put down money on a trade,” a Major League executive tells Saunders.  The likeliest scenario is that neither player is traded (if at all) until they’ve proven they’re healthy.

Luhnow On Free Agents, Catchers, Outfield

There is nothing imminent for the Astros, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, but GM Jeff Luhnow says he got a “pretty good feel” for price tags and availability for possible targets.

Here’s more out of Houston:

  • Luhnow left Drellich with the impression that the organization is ready to be a player on the open market. The GM says that, with two top-five protected picks, draft pick compensation is less of a deterrent. And the club would consider burning all of its open 2015 payroll space on one, premium player in the right circumstances.
  • Houston is at least 50-50 on dealing away a catcher after acquiring Hank Conger, Luhnow tells Drellich“Because we have three major league catchers, I’ve had clubs inquire about all our catchers quite frankly,” said Luhnow. “So we need to figure out some resolution prior to Opening Day. There’s no urgency.”
  • An executive with another club said that the asking price is high on Jason Castro. Somewhat interestingly, the GM noted that a Castro-Conger duo presents some platoon issues. “A right-handed hitter complements Jason,” said Luhnow. “Conger’s better from the left side.”
  • The Astros are not prioritizing outfield help at the moment, Drellich tweets. Players like Nori Aoki and Ichiro Suzuki do not hold appeal to Houston, according to Luhnow.

Free Agent Notes: V-Mart, Hart, Grilli, Ichiro

A few notes on some free agents on a busy first day of the annual GM Meetings…

  • Octagon agent Alan Nero and his team are ready to advance talks regarding clients Victor Martinez, Jason Hammel and Asdrubal Cabrera, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. While we don’t typically see too many free agents come off the board this early in the offseason, it sounds as if Octagon is being aggressive.
  • Corey Hart has received interest from several teams despite his down season in 2014, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).  The market is thin on power hitters and Hart, 32, was a 30-homer threat from 2010-12 before undergoing surgery on both knees and sitting out the 2013 campaign.
  • Jason Grilli has had some interest from multiple clubs, but the bullpen-hungry Tigers aren’t among them, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
  • Ichiro Suzuki has switched agents and is now represented by John Boggs, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  Suzuki had previously been represented by Tony Attanasio.
  • Also from Rosenthal, Alberto Callaspo has switched agents and is now represented by Praver Shapiro Sports Management.  Callaspo had previously been represented by Eric Goldschmidt.  For agency info on over 1,700 players, check out MLBTR’s oft-updated Agency Database.

Quick Hits: Cubs, Hunter, Ichiro, Lindor

The rumor train has a majority of free agents linked to the Cubs in some way, but the club may take a restrained approach, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. GM Jed Hoyer hedged against the idea of a “supercharged offseason,” saying “that’s probably overstated.” Hoyer notes that it behooves agents to connect their clients with deep pocketed teams. However, Chicago won’t pass on an opportunity that makes sense, which means a deal with Russell Martin, a front line starting pitcher, or virtually any other free agent could still in the cards. My own perspective: in sales there is a saying – “undersell and over-deliver.” It’s possible Hoyer is preparing fans in case the bidding for Martin or their other top targets exceeds reason.

  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (via Twitter) that seven teams are interested in Torii Hunter including the Twins and Royals. Hunter has also been strongly linked to the Tigers in recent weeks. The 39-year-old outfielder has been remarkably consistent throughout his 17 year career. Teams presumably view Hunter as a corner outfielder or designated hitter. One team that isn’t in on Hunter is the Mets, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday.
  • In an interview airing Monday for MLB Network, Ichiro Suzuki will announce his intention to play in 2015, writes Chad Jennings of LoHud.com. Ichiro admits he’s unsure where he’ll suit up, since it depends on a team having a need for a 41-year-old outfielder. Given the relatively thin outfield market, there should be plenty of opportunities for a player who hit .284/.324/.340 in 385 plate appearances.
  • The Indians shouldn’t trade Francisco Lindor just because he might fail to reach his ceiling, writes Paul Hoynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group in his latest Hey, Hoynsie. The 21-year-old acquitted himself well in Triple-A, even if the performance wasn’t phenomenal. Lindor is generally viewed as a top 10 prospect by scouts, so his trade value is significant. My own take: while the Indians have Jose Ramirez at the major league level, there’s no reason to force a deal based on that modicum of depth. Either player could be moved to another position when the time comes. Moreover, as a budget conscious franchise, the Indians can’t simply deal Lindor for just any established star. They would need to identify another relatively inexpensive target like Josh Donaldson.

AL East Notes: Rays, Lind, Robertson, Ichiro

The Rays are compiling a list of managerial candidates and could announce a formalized list by the end of the week, writes Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. The team’s goal is to have a new skipper in place by Thanksgiving, according to Mooney, who also notes that the Rays are taking the unusual step of asking their players on the qualities they would like in a new manager. “We don’t really bother ourselves with what is the norm,” Silverman explained. “We do what we think is right for our ballclub. They’re an important voice into who leads our clubhouse.”

More from the AL East…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post adds to the recent Adam Lind trade speculation by writing that those looking to guess the first significant trade of the offseason would be wise to bet on the Blue Jays moving Lind. There are “strong indicators” that the Jays would like to reallocate the funds that are dedicated to Lind, so the team could very well exercise his $7.5MM club option and deal him. Sherman lists the Mariners and Athletics as potential fits, noting how well his platoon role fits the A’s model.
  • Meanwhile, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that he doesn’t see the Mariners as a fit for Lind given the team’s bulk of left-handed bats. While I agree that it’s an imperfect fit, Lind strikes me as a reasonable fit there if the club can find a right-handed bat to pair with him at DH.
  • In his latest Yankees Inbox, Bryan Hoch of MLB.com writes that the team’s likely preference would be to retain David Robertson for one more season before handing the ninth inning over to Dellin Betances. That, of course, makes a qualifying offer likely, though I can’t envision any scenario where Robertson would accept the offer. Hoch also writes that Ichiro Suzuki will be seeking more at-bats than the Yankees have to give, even in a part-time role. Hoch wonders if he’d be a fit for an NL club who could use him off the bench and in the late innings while giving him occasional starts in the outfield as well.

Yankees Links: Ichiro, Offseason, Hardy, Jeter

When asked if he’d return to the Yankees in 2015, Ichiro Suzuki told reporters (including NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty) via an interpreter, “That might be a question you shouldn’t ask right now.”  Suzuki said he intends to continue his career, though other comments hinting at some clubhouse drama seem to imply that his time in the pinstripes could be over.  “Obviously there’s a lot of things that go on that the fans and the media can’t see, that goes on inside (the club),” Suzuki said.  “But what I can say is that the experiences I had this year, those experiences are going to help me in the future. It’ll be somewhat of a support for me because of the experiences I had this year.”

Here’s some more Yankees news…

  • While the Yankees will keep an eye on free agents Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields, “the early industry vibe is the Yankees aren’t going to spend big money this winter,” George A. King III of the New York Post reports.  It makes sense that the Yankees would take a step back after spending over $550MM on player salaries last offseason, though by the Yankees’ standards, what they consider “not big money” could still result in a significant cash outlay.
  • Also from King, free agent shortstop J.J. Hardy is “the early favorite” to take over the shortstop job in the Bronx next season.  Hardy will draw a lot of attention on the open market, though there’s also a chance he could stay in Baltimore — MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski made the point in August that the O’s could see Hardy as a long-term answer at shortstop if Manny Machado‘s injuries prevent him from eventually switching positions.
  • Was Derek Jeter‘s 10-year, $189MM deal actually a bargain for the Yankees?  CBS Sports’ Mike Axisa believes it was, given Jeter’s consistent production from 2001-10 and his immense off-the-field value to the organization in boosting everything from TV ratings to merchandise sales.  Jeter’s deal also has a case as the best completed $100MM+ contract in baseball history — Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez topped Jeter in terms of WAR, but Jeter’s role as a franchise icon may trump those three in terms of overall value to his team.