Jacoby Ellsbury Rumors
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...
- Cherington denied a report from ESPN's Gordon Edes saying that Stephen Drew will be playing elsewhere next season. “That’s not something I’ve been told,” Cherington told reporters, including the Boston Globe's Peter Abraham. “We’re still talking with him and we’d like to have him back. We’ll see what happens.”
- A team official tells Abraham that Jacoby Ellsbury is a "long shot" to re-sign with the Red Sox.
- The biggest factor in a David Price trade for the Rays would be if the club trusts its young pitchers to fill Price's spot in the rotation, MLB.com's Bill Chastain writes.
- The Blue Jays have already accounted for much of the rumored $150MM they have in 2014 payroll, so MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm looks at where the Jays could create some space for further spending.
- Earlier today on MLBTR, we covered another batch of AL East notes, a collection of Yankees notes, Matt Swartz broke down David Price's arbitration case, and we learned the Red Sox made a one-year offer to Mike Napoli.
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.
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.
The latest out of the AL West..
- The Rangers are high on catcher Brian McCann, but a few GM's are thinking Texas still has interest in Jacoby Ellsbury, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- The Rangers have put their pursuit of free agent pitchers Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Garza (as well as top trade target David Price) to the side as they seek out a big bat, writes Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.
- In an appearance on 95.7 The Game, A's manager Bob Melvin threw cold water on the idea that Jed Lowrie could be traded to the Cardinals, tweets Jane Lee of MLB.com. "Maybe [the Cardinals] made a call and inquired about him ... we’re not looking to move Jed Lowrie."
- Athletics GM Billy Beane spoke with Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com about the GM Meetings and his club's needs. Beane says he's on the lookout for backend bullpen help, a right-handed hitting outfielder to replace Chris Young, and added that there is mutual interest in a return between the A's and Bartolo Colon.
- Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com examines Carlos Beltran as a possible target for the Rangers.
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.
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.
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).
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 Beltran-Jhonny Peralta-Kendrys 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.
Yankees free agent Curtis Granderson joined Ken Rosenthal on MLB Network's Hot Stove to discuss his offseason thus far. The outfielder told Rosenthal that the number one thing he's looking for is to sign with a winner. More from the AL East..
- With uncertainty over Alex Rodriguez and the future of Robinson Cano, the Yankees have contacted free agent Kelly Johnson, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013.
- It's not a huge surprise, but teams are inquiring on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). Whether they are willing to move him is another story.
- Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran are targets 1 and 1A for the Yankees, a person familiar with their thinking tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Fellow outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury sits a hair behind the other two stars.
- Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter) also hears that the Yankees are serious about their pursuit of Beltran.
- Former Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves is working out in Mexico and drawing interest from multiple teams, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
- The Blue Jays' priority is improving the rotation, but they're also keeping an eye out for help at second base and catcher, writes Heyman. It's no surprise to hear that they're interested in Robinson Cano, but his price tag will probably prove to be too much since they need to direct their bucks towards starting pitching.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains why Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, and Stephen Drew all turned down the $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Red Sox.
Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched...or are they? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke. MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap.
Here's some news from around baseball...
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
- The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said. Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
- Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
- Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets. The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
- Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
- Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link). Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign. Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America. Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.