Ichiro Suzuki Rumors
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.
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.
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..
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that there was not unanimity in the Yankees front office about bringing back Ichiro Suzuki and that the move was fueled by the club's hierarchy. There was specific disagreement about giving the veteran a two-year contract and there were execs who would have preferred to see that money directed to Russell Martin instead.
- The Orioles' trade of Luis Ayala shows their faith in left-hander T.J. McFarland, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. O's skipper Buck Showalter echoed those sentiments and also added that the club likes the player they got back, reliever Chris Jones.
- MLB's 40-somethings have shown that they can still produce, including the elder statesmen of the Yankees, writes John Schlegel of MLB.com.
- While it's a small sample size, the early returns on Vernon Wells are promising for the Yankees, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.
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.
The Yankees have officially re-signed Ichiro Suzuki, the team announced. It's a two-year contract worth $13MM. Agent Tony Attanasio represents Ichiro.
The Yankees have pursued a strategy of signing veterans (such as Kevin Youkilis, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera) to one-year deals this winter, but were forced to make a two-year commitment to the 39-year-old Ichiro due to competing multiyear offers. The Phillies pushed hard for Ichiro and offered him a two-year, $14MM deal, while the Giants were believed to have offered the outfielder a two-year, $15MM contract. While the other offers were larger, Ichiro took the Yankees' contract after telling the team he wanted to remain in New York.
Ichiro will join two other left-handed hitters in New York’s outfield: Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner. The team is exploring the idea of adding a right-handed complement to the group, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported earlier this offseason.
Ichiro ranked 40th on MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents this offseason. The 39-year-old posted a .283/.307/.390 batting line in 663 plate appearances for the Mariners and Yankees this past season. However, his performance improved considerably after the Yankees acquired him in a midseason trade (he hit .322/.340/.454 with New York). Ichiro has 2,606 hits, two batting titles, ten All-Star Game selections and a career .322/.365/.419 in 12 MLB seasons.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and WFAN's Craig Carton first reporting the deal was done (on Twitter). Rosenthal, ESPN's Buster Olney, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, Joel Sherman of the New York Post, and the New York Times' David Waldstein all added information about the various aspects of the signing.
Mark Polishuk and Mike Axisa also contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of US Presswire.
Here are some rumors from ESPN.com's baseball writers, starting with a note from Buster Olney (all links go to Twitter)...
- Ichiro Suzuki is turning down a two-year, $14MM contract offer from the Phillies to sign with the Yankees, according to Olney.
- Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson and Chris Perez will probably stay put in Cleveland now that the Indians have traded Shin-Soo Choo, Jerry Crasnick reports.
- Mike Adams could sign in the next couple of days, Jayson Stark reports. The Nationals, Blue Jays, Phillies, Rangers, Cubs, White Sox, Angels and Brewers have been linked to the free agent reliever, Stark adds.
TUESDAY, 5:28pm: With Kevin Youkilis in the fold, the Yankees will next look to finalize a deal with Ichiro Suzuki, a source tells Jack Curry of the YES Network (via Twitter). The pact could happen in the next 48 hours.
MONDAY, 3:47pm: The Yankees are moving closer to a deal with Ichiro and the sides are expected to agree to terms within the next few days, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).
10:08am: The Yankees will likely re-sign Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. The Yankees are showing strong interest in the free agent outfielder, Rosenthal writes. “They are all over him,” one person told FOX Sports.
If the sides complete a deal, Ichiro would join two other left-handed hitters in New York’s outfield: Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner. The team is exploring the idea of adding a right-handed complement to the group, according to Rosenthal. However, bringing Ichiro back wouldn’t prevent the Yankees from re-signing the left-handed hitting Raul Ibanez.
Ichiro, a client of agent Tony Attanasio, would likely obtain a one-year deal from the Yankees, Rosenthal reports. A one-year deal would suit the Yankees, since they are aiming to avoid the $189MM luxury tax threshold by 2014. Ichiro ranked 40th on MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported on Friday that the Yankees continue to talk with Ichiro, who is now 39 years old.
Approximately half of the free agents on MLBTR’s top 50 list remain unsigned, which means there will be lots of action in the next few weeks. Here are the latest free agent updates from around MLB...
- The Brewers, Red Sox and Royals are the "three main teams" looking at Ryan Dempster, reports Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). This would seem to eliminate the Cubs, who we recently heard weren't negotiating with Dempster.
- The Yankees are still talking to Ichiro Suzuki as they continue waiting to hear from Kevin Youkilis, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Youkilis is weighing multiple offers and the Indians are also bidding for his services.
- The Royals and other teams seem “very cool” to Edwin Jackson, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports (on Twitter). In other words they aren't overly eager to spend aggressively on him.
- Braves GM Frank Wren said he has interest in certain outfielders as one-year stopgaps, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (on Twitter). The Braves need another outfielder, even after signing B.J. Upton.
- The Diamondbacks are very interested in Miguel Tejada, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com reports (on Twitter, in Spanish). The team offered Tejada a minor league deal, but he’d like a guaranteed contract.
- The Marlins are only interested in Carl Pavano if he’ll accept a low base salary of $3MM or so plus incentives, Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 reports (on Twitter). Pavano’s agent met with the Twins yesterday, Mackey adds.
Here's the latest on Philadelphia's offseason dealings, courtesy of CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury...
- Before the Phillies acquired Ben Revere from the Twins, they attempted to also get Josh Willingham in either the same trade package or in a separate deal.
- The club is still in the market for a corner outfielder. The Phillies "have seriously considered" signing Ichiro Suzuki and "have long liked" Cody Ross.
- Any further upgrades may have to come via the free agency market since the Phillies don't have much prospect depth aside from possibly at catcher. Salisbury notes that Tommy Joseph, the most well-regarded of the team's young catchers, "probably isn't going anywhere."
- The Red Sox approached the Phillies about a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury for Cliff Lee, but the Phillies said that Lee wasn't available. I can't blame the Phils for turning that offer down; even if they did want to move Lee, he would fetch far more on the trade market than just one year of Ellsbury, who hits free agency next winter.
- Although he hasn't talked to Brian Wilson's agents at the Winter Meetings, Giants vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans told Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com there is an understanding to stay in touch. Wilson's agent Dan Lozano told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle seven teams have expressed interest in his client, either as a closer or setup man.
- Ichiro Suzuki is not a fit for the Giants in left field because he's too much like Gregor Blanco, tweets Shea.
- Shea has the financial breakdown on Marco Scutaro's new three-year, $20MM contract with the Giants.
- The Dodgers are in the market for a left-handed reliever now that Randy Choate has agreed to a three-year deal with the Cardinals, tweets Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register.
- The Dodgers would like to add one or maybe two backup-type catchers to compete with Tim Federowicz, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles.
- The Chavez signing gives the Diamondbacks an extra infielder, but GM Kevin Towers said he might wait until Spring Training to make a trade (Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reporting).
- The Padres' Andrew Cashner is not expected to be ready for Opening Day after suffering a lacerated tendon in his right thumb last week, an injury suffered at the hand of a hunting buddy as the two were dressing meat (MLB.com's Corey Brock reporting).