Jacoby Ellsbury Rumors

West Notes: A’s, Mariners, Bourjos, Samardzija, Kemp

The Athletics have reached a new lease agreement with O.Co Coliseum that runs through December of 2015, according to an Associated Press report (via ESPN). The A's will pay $1.75MM in each year of the lease. Here are some more links pertaining to baseball's western divisions…

  • The Mariners are pursuing both Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltrantweets Buster Olney of ESPN. He wonders — as many do — whether or not Seattle will appeal to major free agents, as they've had difficulty luring top hitters there in previous years.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports definitively writes that the Mariners are interested in Mike Napoli (he'd received conflicting information earlier in the month). Rosenthal also notes the difficulty that the Mariners have had in luring top free agents such as Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder but notes that Seattle could simply overpay to land their free agent targets. Two separate sources called the Mariners "desperate," and as Rosenthal notes: "Desperate teams spend money. Desperate teams are capable of just about anything." Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury are also on the team's wish list, says Rosenthal.
  • Also from Rosenthal, the Angels learned that Peter Bourjos didn't have enough value to land them the controllable young starting pitcher they coveted on the trade market, and so they elected to use him to fill another hole — third base. While many in the media have pegged the deal as a win for the Cardinals, Rosenthal writes that the common perception of Bourjos' value may not line up with the actual perception among teams.
  • Lastly from Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks know what it would take to land Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs, but their fear is that if they pounce too soon on a deal, they could miss out on a bigger value later in the offseason. The Angels aren't a fit for Samardzija, Rosenthal adds, because the Cubs want young pitching in exchange for Samardzija.
  • The Dodgers' biggest risk in weighing Matt Kemp trades isn't deciding to hang onto him and finding out he's no longer an MVP-caliber player, opines Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Rather, the biggest risk facing the Dodgers is learning that Kemp indeed still is that player, but finding out by seeing him prove it in a Mariners, Red Sox or Rangers uniform. Brown feels it's in the Dodgers' best interest to hang onto Kemp.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that the Angels' acquisition of Fernando Salas and Joe Smith could make Kevin Jepsen a non-tender candidate.

Rangers More Interested In Choo Than Ellsbury

The Rangers are considering a run at Shin-Soo Choo, but they've apparently scratched the other top free agent outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, off of their list, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Choo fits the bill for Texas if they don't re-sign Nelson Cruz, but a Rangers connected person suggested they aren't likely to secure him if "rumored prices" are accurate.  The Rangers aren't as intrigued by Ellsbury at this time because they are happy with center fielder Leonys Martin.

It's not clear which rumors Heyman's source was referring to, but it has been said that agent Scott Boras has previous deals for Jayson Werth (seven-year, $126MM deal) and Carl Crawford ($142MM over seven years) in mind for clients Choo and Ellsbury.

There are options beyond the free agent market, however.  Heyman notes that the Rangers have also talked to Dodgers about Andre Ethier and Crawford in addition to Matt Kemp.  It has been said that one of the Dodgers' surplus outfielders might be made available this offseason.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels appears to be casting a wide net in terms of free agent possibilities, but if the team is truly pleased with Martin in center field, the Rangers likely only have one space available.  Alex Rios, acquired in August in exchange for infielder Leury Garcia, is under team control for 2014 and figures to patrol right field in Arlington.  However, as a gifted outfield defender, he Rios could likely play any of the three outfield spots, which gives Daniels some flexibility in deciding who to target.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Drew, Ellsbury, Price, Blue Jays

Ben Cherington entered last year's offseason under pressure to improve his last-place team, but the Red Sox general manager is blessed with several options this winter, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  The Sox have the payroll space to make a splash in free agency, use some of their prospects or excess starting pitchers to make a trade or even "implement a very conservative offseason plan"  since the team's core is already strong.  Here is some more from around the AL East…



Rosenthal On Wieters, Butler, Choo, Davis

Here's a look at the latest news from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..  

  • Major league sources say it's not a surprise that the Orioles are willing to deal Matt Wieters.  The bigger question is how Baltimore would reshape the roster if they made such a move.  The O's don't have much breathing room to spend, but Rosenthal suggests the Orioles could gain flexibility by moving the catcher and also closer Jim Johnson, who projects to earn $10.8MM through arbitration. The O's could then find cheaper alternatives at both positions and be aggressive on the open market. 
  • If the Royals sign Carlos Beltran or another right-handed slugger, they could afford to trade designated hitter Billy Butler, who is signed for $8MM in 2014 with a $12.5MM club option for ’15.  The Mariners are among the teams that covet Butler, a major league source tells Rosenthal.
  • The Reds haven’t given up on re-signing Shin-Soo Choo, but they probably would need to trade Brandon Phillips and possibly Homer Bailey to create the necessary room, sources say.  We've heard that Phillips is a likely a goner, but Bailey a more difficult call since losing him would require the Reds to move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, unless they acquired another starter. All that might be too much to ask to accommodate the signing of a $100MM+ free agent, but they'd ideally like to have Choo back to give them another year before putting Billy Hamilton in center field. If they lose Choo, they likely would go with Hamilton and seek out a veteran complement in center.
  • The Mets appear likely to trade Ike Davis, who is drawing interest from a number of clubs.  Rosenthal also cautions not to be surprised if they move Daniel Murphy as well.
  • Opinions are split on Jacoby Ellsbury's value.  One rival exec's statistical analysis rated Ellsbury as the top Red Sox player last season, ahead of Dustin Pedroia.  Others in the industry, however, are wary of Ellsbury’s diminished power since he has hit only 13 home runs over the past two seasons.
  • One rival exec described the Rangers' infield logjam as an untenable situation.

East Notes: Rays, Red Sox, Ellsbury, Phillies, Tanaka

Agent Scott Boras believes the Rays should relocate, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. When asked to describe the Rays' status, Boras replied, "I would say the Tale of Two Cities, the one they're in and the one they should be in.'' Boras says the Rays have built a team that fans should want to see, but so far, the Tampa area hasn't provided the team with attendance to match. "I don't know, maybe New Jersey would like that winning percentage," Boras says. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington says teams have been calling about Boston's starting pitching, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. The Red Sox have six solid starting pitching options in Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront.
  • The Red Sox are preparing for what might happen if they can't re-sign outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, MLB.com's Paul Hagen reports. "Whether it's Ellsbury or any of our free agents, I don't think you find a carbon copy where you're exactly replacing the skills," Cherington says. "The challenge then is to try to make the team just as good in other ways." Boras, Ellsbury's agent, often is in no hurry for his clients to sign, so it makes sense that the Red Sox would be formulating backup plans, even if they aren't ruling out the possibility that Ellsbury will return.
  • The Phillies might be willing to trade outfielder Domonic Brown, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Such a move would create an opportunity for them to add another free agent outfielder to pair with Marlon Byrd. Rosenthal cites Brown's poor defense as one reason the Phillies might want to deal him. Some of the available free agents, like Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran, aren't much better defensively, but at least dealing Brown might help the Phillies upgrade at other positions. The Phillies deny that they are interested in dealing Brown, Rosenthal notes.
  • One reason the Yankees are so interested in starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka is that his posting fee would not count account their luxury-tax threshold, Rosenthal writes. Tanaka therefore is more appealing to teams like the Yankees and Dodgers who have luxury-tax issues.

AL West Rumors: McCann, Ellsbury, Tanaka, Lowrie

The latest out of the AL West..


AL East Rumors: Salty, Lackey, Kazmir, Red Sox, O’s

The news is coming in fast and furious today out of Orlando, where our own Steve Adams is on the scene.  Here's the very latest out of the AL East..

  • The Jarrod Saltalamacchia market remains quiet, but the Red Sox would take him back on a shorter deal, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  Meanwhile, Salty is looking for at least three to four years.
  • More from Edes (link), who tweets that the Red Sox have used their time at the GM Meetings to gauge interest from clubs in their veteran starting pitchers, including John Lackey.
  • A Yankees contingent, led by managing partner Hal Steinbrenner, met with the agents for Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Brian McCann and presumably other free agents at the GM Meetings, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Meanwhile, Steinbrenner has talked with Derek Jeter about the possibility of signing a starting shortstop and he is said to understand their position.  The Bombers could be loaded with shortstop options in 2014: they like Drew and a possible signing of Brendan Ryan won't preclude them from making that happen.
  • Scott Kazmir is high on the Orioles' list of free agent pitching candidates, tweets Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. 
  • The Red Sox need a catcher but don't want to block their prospects so Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (link) could see a two-year deal at a lofty rate for a backstop.
  • Alex Speier of WEEI.com explained why Lackey's average annual value isn't calculated any differently as a result of the minimum salary that he will earn in 2015.  A clause in Lackey's deal calls for him to make the minimum with the Red Sox in '15 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
  • Check out this morning's collection of news out of the AL East.

Heyman On Trumbo, Ellsbury, Davis, Santana

Mark Trumbo is the Angels' most wanted player via trade, but the Halos are very reluctant to trade him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "He fits us," said someone connected to the Angels. Meanwhile, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta also are getting a fair number of trade inquiries, and they could move one of them.  Here's more of Heyman's latest..

  • One club with interest in Jacoby Ellsbury says that agent Scott Boras has set Carl Crawford's $142MM contract as a benchmark in discussions, Heyman writes.  One rival GM who isn't in on Ellsbury argued that Crawford was better and more durable at the time of his deal.
  • The Astros, Orioles, Rays, Brewers and Rockies all have checked in on Mets first baseman Ike Davis, despite his awful 2013 campaign, according to Heyman. In the case of Milwaukee, however, they may prefer re-signing Corey Hart instead.
  • Heyman suggests that the Marlins and Cubs could discuss a swap of top prospects and officials from both sides agree that they could have something to discuss.  The Cubs have high-end position prospects such as Kris Bryant (who may be untouchable), Javier Baez, and Albert Almora, while Miami has a stockpile of strong young arms.
  • We learned last week that Ervin Santana's asking price was $100MM and today Heyman hears that agents Bean Stringfellow, Joe White, and Jay Alou are seeking a five-year, $112MM pact.  The agents are going around with a book of arguments to support their case, including some comparisons to Dodgers star pitcher Zack Greinke.
  • The A's have joined the fray for free agent Nelson Cruz, but the small-market club could run into problems when it comes to dollars and years, Heyman writes.  Oakland has been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder after declining to pick up the option on Chris Young, but Cruz would be a much bigger splash than anyone anticipated.

Latest On The Mariners

The Mariners have money to spend and a need for offense.  Yesterday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that the team could be aggressive on free agents Jhonny Peralta, Nelson Cruz, and Mike Napoli.  The latest:

  • The Mariners' reported interest in Jacoby Ellsbury may be overblown, hears ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.  Crasnick wrote earlier than the Ms are more immersed in the Carlos Beltran/Peralta/Kendrys Morales market than in Ellsbury's.  The Mariners would like to find a way to add Cruz and Beltran, tweets Crasnick.  If they are to pull that off, it could be another offseason of disregarding defense, in my opinion.  Signing Cruz and Beltran requires the forfeiture of draft picks, but the Mariners' first rounder is protected.  They would lose their second round pick as well as their Competitive Balance Round B pick (similar to the Indians last winter).

AL West Rumors: Castro, Astros, Rangers

The Astros are receiving significant interest in catcher Jason Castro, and interest could pick up once big free agents like Brian McCann and Jarrod Saltalamacchia go off the board, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Their interest in trading Castro isn't known, but Houston is said to like catching prospect Max Stassi very much.  Heyman sees the Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Angels, Rockies, and Twins as teams that could possibly have interest if Castro is on the block.  Here's more out of the AL West..

  • The Mariners are more immersed in the Carlos BeltranJhonny PeraltaKendrys Morales market than Jacoby Ellsbury at this point, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
  • Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (Twitter link) doesn't see the Astros trading Castro.  Even though Castro is starting to make some money – the catcher is projected to earn $2.2MM in arbitration this year – they're not deep enough at catcher to lose him and the club needs to take a step forward.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com examined Carlos Ruiz as a possible fit for the Rangers if they don't land top catcher Brian McCann.
  • More from Durrett, who believes that Jurickson Profar's trade value hasn't decreased much despite a down year in 2013.
  • The Angels' best bet for acquiring quality pitching via trade would be to part with Mark Trumbo, even though losing him would hurt, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com.