Jack Zduriencik Rumors

Quick Hits: Commissioner, Rollins, Diamondbacks

Now that Bud Selig has announced he will retire following the 2014 season, speculation has already begun about who will be Major League Baseball's next commissioner.  ESPN's Jayson Stark thinks it would be "a monumental upset" if MLB doesn't go with an internal candidate, and the favorites are league executive vice-presidents Rob Manfred and Tim Brosnan, and MLB Advanced Media CEO Bob Bowman.  Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan hears that Manfred is the safest and most well-rounded pick, though some sources consider Brosnan to be the better candidate.  Stark and Passan list such names as Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Indians president Mark Shapiro and Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall as other possible choices.

Here are some notes as Yankee Stadium says goodbye to Mariano Rivera

  • Jimmy Rollins is confident that the Phillies already have the pieces they need to succeed thanks to their emerging youth, CSNPhilly.com's Corey Seidman writes.  “That old window's closed," Rollins admitted. "This is a brand new thing. You've still got the pieces, but this is a brand new thing going forward. Obviously we would love to have that right-handed bat, but Darin Ruf has come up and done that so far. We're going to get Ryan [Howard] back, hopefully a healthy Ryan back on his legs and strong."
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers will recommend to ownership that manager Kirk Gibson be retained for next season, Towers told reporters (including MLB.com's Steve Gilbert).  Gibson has a 289-277 record since taking over as Arizona's manager halfway through the 2010 season and he led the team to an NL West title in 2011.  Both Gibson and Towers are only under contract through the end of the 2014 season.
  • While Brad Ziegler has enjoyed being the Diamondbacks' closer, he tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that it doesn't matter if he's closing or in his usual set-up role next season.  Ziegler has a 2.28 ERA and 12 saves over 71 IP and a league-best 76 games this season.  He's going into his third and final year of arbitration eligibility though there has been talk that Arizona will try to work out a contract extension.
  • Jack Zduriencik's mistakes as the Mariners' general manager are recapped by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times in a piece that chronicles the team's strategies and major transactions over the last several years.  While Baker holds Zduriencik accountable for his own mistakes, he also points the finger at the club's upper management for the larger issues surrounding the Mariners' lack of recent success.
  • John Danks is "embarrassed" by his performance since signing a five-year, $65MM extension with the White Sox before the 2012 season, the southpaw tells MLB.com's Scott Merkin.  "The goal is always to throw 200-plus innings, take the ball every day and give us a chance to win. I've got three years to make everyone believe it was worth it," Danks said.  "That's part of my motivating factor. I want to be the productive player I'm expected to be."
  • "The Cubs are the last-place team poised to contend the soonest. The Astros are the one with the brightest future," Jim Callis writes for MLB.com in his analysis of both teams' young talent.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post


Mariners To Retain Jack Zduriencik For 2014

The Mariners will bring General Manager Jack Zduriencik back for next season, team president Chuck Armstrong confirmed Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  Armstrong, citing club policy, declined to say how long Zduriencik has been retained for.

Zduriencik declined to say how long he's known that he'll be safe in Seattle but he did say that he'll be deciding on the M's managerial situation once the season is through.  The Mariners finished in last place in 2011 and 2012 under skipper Eric Wedge, but they avoided the AL West cellar this season thanks to divisional newcomers Houston.

An extension for Zduriencik was first reported in August, though this is the first time that there has been an official acknowledgement from Seattle brass.  Jack Z hasn't delivered a playoff team to Seattle during his tenure but he has managed to stockpile young pitching talent and today's news indicates that he'll at least get a chance to see that result in wins.


Quick Hits: GMs, Comp Picks, 2013 Free Agents

On this day in 2007, Terry Ryan announced that he would step aside from his post as the Twins general manager at the end of the season. As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted, Ryan's history was checkered at best at the time. Of course, as a read through this site's most recent post would indicate, Ryan is now back at the helm. Though the team has yet to post more than seventy wins in a season since Ryan returned in November of 2011, Minnesota stands at 15th in ESPN's latest future power rankings on the strength of its minor league system. While Ryan has long been said to have his job as long as he wants to keep it, some other GMs may not be so lucky …

  • There are four general managers around the league who could soon be replaced, writes Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. According to Gammons, two of those — Jerry Dipoto of the Angels and Larry Beinfest of the Marlins – have arguably been undone by meddling owners. (Gammons cites Arte Moreno's $365MM investment in Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, and Jeffrey Loria's propensity for "whimsically run[ning] everything.") Meanwhile, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik may not survive to see whether the team's top young pitching talent can drive a winner. And Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd — the game's fourth-longest tenured GM — has yet to figure out how to craft a squad that can win away from Coors field. (For what it's worth, O'Dowd was in charge for the franchise's lone season with a winning road record, when it posted a 41-40 mark in 2009.)
  • It would be ridiculous to consider Rangers GM Jon Daniels among those at risk, writes Baseball Nation's Grant Brisbee. While he surely could have sacrificed future value to win at all costs this season, says Brisbee, Daniels was prudent not to and still delivered a team that should qualify for the post-season.
  • Teams must determine whether to make outgoing free agents a qualifying offer just five days after the conclusion of this year's World Series, and those decisions will play a major role in setting the stage for the 2014 free agent market. For non-obvious candidates, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, an important part of the equation lies in valuing the compensation pick that the team would receive if the player declines the offer and then signs with another club. Working off of a rough valuation of international signing slot dollars, Cameron opines that teams could value the dollars spent on a comp pick as much as three-to-four times higher than money the team could spend outside the draft. As he explains, this would imply that there is substantial excess value in obtaining non-marketable draft picks, which could move the needle in favor of making qualifying offers in marginal situations.
  • As we prepare to weigh a new class of free agents, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman ranks the best signings of 2013. His top three are a collection of veterans whose contributions have vastly outweighed the relatively meager financial commitments that they received: Pirates starter Francisco Liriano, Red Sox reliever Koji Uehara, and Athletics starter Bartolo Colon. Next on his list is Boston's David Ortiz, who as Heyman notes was the only player to accept a qualifying offer in the first year of the system.


Passan On Dipoto, Zduriencik, Anthopoulos

Here's the latest from Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan:

  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia are separated by a "rift" despite Scioscia's recent denial, Passan writes. Since Scioscia's contract runs through 2018, and since his influence throughout the organization is strong, Dipoto is more likely to wind up on the chopping block if the Angels do indeed decide to fire one or the other.
  • General managers suspect that Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners needed to have his superiors approve potential trades at the deadline, Passan writes. He also says that the Mariners have checked to see whether former GM and current Phillies advisor Pat Gillick might be interested in coming back to Seattle. Still, now that Zduriencik is apparently under contract through 2014, it appears he'll get more time to see if the Mariners' new core of young players (which includes Kyle Seager, Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino and Taijuan Walker) can come together.
  • Despite the Blue Jays' extremely disappointing season, GM Alex Anthopoulos should get more time, Passan argues, noting that Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion's contracts have been terrific.

AL West Notes: Angels, Rangers, Matsuzaka

The Angels' apparent dysfunction seems to stretch back years, judging from a report by Scott Miller of CBS Sports. Miller reports that, in 2011, owner Arte Moreno threatened to fire then-GM Tony Reagins if he couldn't trade for outfielder Vernon Wells within 24 hours, effectively backing Reagins into a corner. That might partially explain the remarkable, and disastrous, result, which had the Angels taking on $81MM of the $86MM remaining on Wells' contract, while also giving up Mike Napoli in the process. The Jays, meanwhile, traded Napoli to the Rangers for Frank Francisco and cash.

Miller reports that Moreno's motivation for the Wells ultimatum was that he was upset that Texas had acquired Adrian Beltre weeks earlier. As a result, not only did the Angels take on $81MM in salary, they also set in motion a chain of events in which their division rivals also ended up with Napoli, who was one of the best hitters in baseball that season. Here are more notes from the AL West.

  • The Rangers were interested in Daisuke Matsuzaka, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Matsuzaka, who had previously been released by the Indians, recently signed with the Mets, with whom, Heyman notes, he could receive more playing time.
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik still won't confirm recent reports that he has received an extension for 2014, MLB.com's Greg Johns tweets. Zduriencik does, however, say he's "raring to go" for 2014. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, meanwhile, tweets that there's "some debate" about whether team president Chuck Armstrong ever confirmed the extension.

Quick Hits: Biogenesis, Abreu, Mariners, A’s

Major League Baseball considers the Biogenesis investigation closed in terms of looking into players, but they're still investigating the possible involvement of some agents, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Speaking of Biogenesis, MLB released a statement saying that Miguel Tejada did not warrant any discipline based on what they uncovered in the investigation, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  Of course, Tejada will still have to serve his 105-game suspension for amphetamine use.
  • Jose Dariel Abreu is working on establishing residency in Haiti and there isn't an open showcase scheduled yet, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (on Twitter).  Abreu has drawn interest from several clubs so far including the Red Sox, Orioles, Pirates, and White Sox.  
  • The status of Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik is expected to be updated if not entirely clarified within the next few days, people familiar with the situation tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  When asked about speculation that the M's could make a play for Brian Cashman, club president Chuck Armstrong spoke positively of the Yankees GM but wouldn't discuss him in context.
  • The Athletics continue to look for catching help as they have been for the past couple of weeks or so, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • In retrospect, the Cardinals really could have used Kyle Lohse this season, writes Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Zduriencik Under Contract With Mariners For 2014

The Mariners have already extended general manager Jack Zduriencik through 2014, according to sources of Ryan Divish of the News Tribune, who says the deal may have been struck before the season. Shannon Drayer of ESPN Radio Seattle writes that multiple sources confirm the one-year extension. 

Zduriencik has been at the helm in Seattle since 2009, but his most recent deal was set to expire after this season. He declined to comment on his contract situation, telling Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that team chairman Howard Lincoln or president Chuck Armstrong "would be the ones to announce something like that, if there's any truth to it." Armstrong also refused comment, Baker tweets, citing club policy. While we still do not have official acknowledgement, however, all signs point to a return for Jack Z.

While the M's have yet to post a winning season under Zduriencik since his first year in charge, and have scuffled for most of 2013, there have been signs of promise. Seattle's young position players — including three of the first players Zduriencik drafted (Dustin Ackley, Nick Franklin, and Kyle Seager) — have taken on prominent roles across the diamond, with varying degrees of success. Perhaps most encouraging, first baseman Justin Smoakwho headlined the haul Zduriencik returned for ace Cliff Lee back in 2010, has posted by far his best big league season. With the club's top pitching prospects knocking on the door in the upper minors, it appears that Zduriencik will have at least one more chance to turn out a winner.


Quick Hits: Zduriencik, Red Sox, Dodgers

Jack Zduriencik is still the right person to serve as the Mariners' GM, Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times contends. Brewer points to a strong farm system (which includes the likes of Taijuan Walker, Mike Zunino, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton) as evidence that Zduriencik's plan is working. The Mariners have only had one winning season since Zduriencik was hired, however. "I can't say that I'm happy, can't say that I'm satisfied at all," Zduriencik said. "Because, at the end, it's about the finished product at the big-league level and all of these kids becoming what you want them to become." The M's finished 75-87 in 2012. Here are more notes from around the majors.

  • The Red Sox clubhouse feels "eleventy-billion times better" than it did in 2012, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. The team's decision to replace Bobby Valentine with John Farrell is part of that, Tomase argues, but so is the fact that new additions Ryan Dempster, Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Joel Hanrahan, David Ross, Jonny Gomes and Stephen Drew weren't around during the Red Sox's ugly 2012 season.
  • Napoli will be an impact hitter for the Red Sox in 2013 because he will no longer catch, Michael Silverman argues, also in the Boston Herald. "Now there’s more of a flow to everything," Napoli says. "It’s a tough position — catching and good-hitting catchers are tough to find. It’s just a grind — a grind that I do miss, but I don’t miss." Napoli caught in 72 games for the Rangers last year, but the Red Sox signed him to an incentive-laden one-year deal for 2013 with the plan that he would play first base, where, Silverman writes, he has looked "nimble and sure-handed" this spring.
  • The Dodgers "do not appear close" to trading one of their starting pitchers, writes Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Since the Dodgers cannot ship Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano or Ted Lilly to the minors without those players' consent, teams may simply wait for the Dodgers, who don't have roster space for all their starting pitching, to become more desperate. The Orioles, Brewers and Pirates "have expressed interest" in the Dodgers' surplus arms, Shaikin notes, but the Rangers are not a likely trade partner.

Zduriencik On Pitching, Trades, Safeco

The Mariners successfully prevented their opponents from scoring in 2012 — just two American League clubs allowed fewer runs. However, no AL team had more trouble generating offense than Seattle, which finished last in the league in scoring. Will the Mariners swap arms for bats, or will moving the fences in at Safeco Field be enough? GM Jack Zduriencik checked in with MLBTR at the 2012 GM Meetings at Indian Wells, California. Here are some highlights…

  • The Mariners have lots of young pitching, and they’re not going to rule out the possibility of trading it to strengthen other areas of the team. “You have to keep your options open,” Zduriencik said. “At this stage people are feeling each other out, people are lining their ducks up in a row. All 30 clubs are doing this and everybody has their Christmas list if you will.”
  • Zduriencik will consider trades and free agency as the Mariners search for offense. “You never know what’s going to be out there,” the GM said.
  • Early on in the offseason, there’s “an awareness” from free agents that the Mariners will be moving the fences in at Safeco Field in 2013. “It certainly becomes a conversation piece and hopefully it helps us.”

Zduriencik On Mariners Offseason

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says the Mariners are looking to acquire starting pitching depth, relief help, a backup shortstop and offense this offseason. Here are more of Zduriencik's updates on the Mariners from an afternoon conference call with reporters:

  • Zduriencik declined to comment on negotiations with specific free agents, including Prince Fielder (the Mariners are interested). The GM said the Mariners may turn to the free agent market for offense if they can match up with available players in terms of years and dollars.
  • "We will explore several options, even trades," he said. "But there aren't any promises on these things. You don't know where you're going to end up at."
  • The Mariners are looking forward to bounce-back years from Franklin Gutierrez and others who struggled with injuries in 2011.
  • Zduriencik will explore ways of adding starting pitching, but feels that arms such as Taijuan Walker, James Paxton and Danny Hultzen give the Mariners pitching that may contribute soon.
  • "When you look at some arms that are pretty close and you look at some arms we have in the Major Leagues, we have some pretty strong assets here," he said.
  • The Mariners will again be a young team in 2012, but the front office will likely add some veterans to complement the existing group.
  • Zduriencik expects restrictions on spending in Latin America to have more of an effect after this year. He likes the options on the international free agent market, but isn't promising to sign any of them.
  • "There are some nice pieces out there," he said. "But they're not going to come inexpensively."