James Shields Rumors

Nationals Showing Interest In James Shields

After we heard overnight that the Nationals and Rays were discussing a potential trade involving Danny Espinosa and/or Mike Morse, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports fills in the gaps on which player Washington may have been targeting. According to Heyman, the Nats are displaying interest in James Shields, though the current status of discussions between the two teams is unknown.

Heyman reports that the Nationals view Shields as a more affordable alternative to top free agents like Zack Greinke. Although Washington had been considered one potential landing spot for Greinke, a National League executive tells Heyman that the Dodgers are "scaring teams away" when it comes to bidding on the winter's top free agent pitcher.

The Red Sox, Dodgers, and Royals are among the other clubs showing interest in trading for Shields, says Heyman.


Royals Interested In Shields, Lester

8:51pm: A Major League source confirmed to WEEI's Rob Bradford that the two teams have indeed discusseda trade that would center around Lester and Myers. According to Bradford, the talks also included the possibility of Boston sending outfield help to Kansas City with some pitching heading back to the Red Sox. He echoes that nothing is close.

6:55pm: The Royals have already added Ervin Santana to their rotation and brought back Jeremy Guthrie this offseason, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes that general manager Dayton Moore would like to add one more impact arm to his rotation. According to Dutton, Moore's preference is to acquire that arm by dealing prospects rather than Major League talent, and there have been discussions about using top prospect Wil Myers to acquire James Shields or Jon Lester.

Dutton writes that the Royals are currently weighing whether or not six years of Myers is worth two years of either Lester or Shields. One Royals source told Dutton that it's easy to project Myers as a 30-homer bat at the Major League level within the next two-to-three seasons. At the moment, the Royals, Red Sox and Rays are all said to be hesitant, and no deal is close.

Beyond the debate of which commodity is worth more, the Royals also need to consider their 2013 payroll. Barring a significant increase, the team would have to clear money in order to acquire either contract for next season. That, writes Dutton, could mean moving Bruce Chen's contract and/or taking a "hard look" at Luke Hochevar and Felipe Paulino. Both are due significant raises in arbitration, as Matt Swartz recently projected for MLBTR.

Myers ranks as the Royals' top prospect according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com. The 22-year-old batted .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last season, cementing himself as one of the game's most coveted minor leaguers.

Jeff Francoeur currently projects as Kansas City's right fielder but is coming off a dreadful season in which he hit just .235/.287/.378. The Royals would need to be confident that Francoeur could return to his 2011 numbers if they were to trade Myers, and even still would have a hole in right field beyond 2013.


Stark’s Latest: Halladay, Hamilton, Rays, Dickey

In his latest blog post, ESPN's Jayson Stark points out that just five teams have $100MM+ committed to their 2013 payroll right now: the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, and Blue Jays. None of those teams appear to be done this offseason either. Here's the rest of Stark's rumors…

  • The Phillies have kicked around the idea of a contract extension for Roy Halladay, though GM Ruben Amaro said that "a lot has to do with how he feels and how he performs. So that's a decision and a conversation that would probably have to go into the spring, and maybe into the season."
  • The two sides actually had preliminary talks about a new contract that would raise Halladay's annual salary north of $24MM and keep him with the Phillies beyond next season. Talks were shelved when the right-hander's shoulder began to act up, however.
  • Stark hears that Josh Hamilton is no longer on the Phillies' list, and Amaro said they "haven't been given a real budget. I know it's not unlimited, but that's not usually how we work."
  • Teams continue to check in with the Rays about their starting pitchers, and the asking price for James Shields is in the neighborhood of the five-player package Tampa received for Matt Garza two winters ago.
  • Those same clubs don't believe the Mets have really put R.A. Dickey on the trade market yet.
  • Rumors swirl that Zack Greinke is seeking a six-year contract, but his agent Casey Close has yet to ask for specific offers.
  • Scott Rolen has told the Reds he may play next season, but he isn't ready to make a final decision tweets Stark. The team wants him back in some role.


Silverman’s Latest: Greinke, Royals, Rays, Blue Jays

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald that he was unsure if he'd be able to acquire Miguel Cabrera (and Dontrelle Willis) in 2007. “A lot of clubs were involved and I didn’t think it was going to work for us for where we were financially,” said Dombrowski. “Once we sat down with the Marlins, it took us just a day to work out that deal. It happened very fast.”

Here are Silverman's rumors…


Sherman’s Latest: Soriano, Yankees, Moore, Rays, Bay

Of the nine players who received qualifying offers this offseason, Rafael Soriano is viewed within the game as having taken the biggest financial risk by declining according to Joel Sherman of The New York Post. Teams don't want to invest big in closers because of their volatility now more than ever, especially after year one of the Heath Bell contract. Here are the rest of Sherman's rumors…

  • The Yankees are privately pleased that Soriano opted out of his $14MM salary for next season. They'll allocate those dollars elsewhere and could use a portion of it on a reliever to replace Soriano.
  • The feeling at the GM Meetings was that the Rays are much more open to trading a starting pitcher for offense than they have been in the past. They would talk about James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Jeff Niemann, and even Matt Moore in the right deal.
  • In the wake of Jason Bay's departure from the Mets, Sherman points out that Tyler Colvin (.150 AVG in 2011) and Andruw Jones (.158 AVG in 2008) are two recent examples of outfielders who turned things around following dreadful seasons. Bay hit .158 this year.

Rosenthal On Rays, Dempster, Dickey, Nakajima

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has another batch of news items out of the general managers' meetings in Indian Wells, California…

  • While the Rays have the pitching depth to move two of their starters, they're likely to move just one of their pitchers.  David Price and James Shields are the biggest trade chips, though most in the industry feel Tampa Bay will keep both aces to make a play for the AL East title in 2013.  There is "no chance" Price is dealt this winter, one rival executive tells Rosenthal, though Price could be moved next offseason.
  • The Brewers are interested in free agent right-hander Ryan Dempster.
  • The Mets' willingness to trade R.A. Dickey is seen by "many in the industry" as a tactic to get Dickey to accept a club-friendly extension, which Rosenthal thinks is a flawed strategy.
  • Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima is now a free agent who can sign with Major League teams without going through the posting process.  Rosenthal says the shortstop-needy Diamondbacks and Athletics are "at least mildly intrigued" by Nakajima and the Giants could also pursue Nakajima as a second baseman if they can't re-sign Marco Scutaro.  The Yankees won the right to negotiate with Nakajima last winter after submitting a winning posting bid of $2MM, but Nakajima couldn't come to terms with New York and he re-signed with the Seibu Lions.  The 30-year-old Nakajima has a .310/.381/.474 batting line and 104 homers over the last six years with Seibu. 

Jeremy Hellickson Drawing Trade Interest

Rays right-hander Jeremy Hellickson is drawing more trade interest than any other member of the Tampa Bay rotation, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. There’s been lots of speculation surrounding James Shields, but it’s Hellickson who has been most popular in the early going of the offseason. Talks are expected to continue at the GM Meetings in California later this week, Heyman writes.

Hellickson, 25, just completed his second full season at the MLB level. He posted a 3.10 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 177 innings over the course of 31 starts. The 2011 Rookie of the Year won't be arbitration eligible until after the 2013 season and he'll remain under team control through 2016. Agent Scott Boras represents Hellickson, an indication that agreeing to a long-term extension could be challenging.

Both Hellickson and Shields drew interest at the 2012 trade deadline. The Padres, Angels, Dodgers, Twins, Royals and Blue Jays are among the many teams seeking starting pitching this offseason.


East Notes: Mets, Jays, Shields, Red Sox, Nationals

As it stands now, the Mets don't have a great deal of money to spend in free agency after exercising the options on David Wright and R.A. Dickey for 2013. However, the club could free up cash by opting to trade one or both if they are unable to come to terms on contract extensions. The Mets have a serious need for outfield help and multiple baseball officials told Mike Puma of the New York Post that they see Cody Ross as a possible free agent target for the team. Here's more from the AL and NL East:

  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom that "the Blue Jays have kicked the tires about possibly interviewing" Matt Williams for their managerial vacancy, but have yet to formally ask for permission. Williams is scheduled to meet with top Rockies officials at Coors Field and will be the final candidate to do so, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com.
  • James Shields, who is set to become the highest-paid player in Rays' franchise history, is prepared to be a prime subject of the Hot Stove rumor mill this winter, writes the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin. "Obviously my name's been thrown around a lot," the right-hander said. "I'm just going to go about my business and not really worry about it. Obviously I want to be a Ray. I've been here 12 years, this is my home. If it does happen, it'll be a sad day."
  • Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald suggests that the Red Sox should trade Jacoby Ellsbury as they are unlikely to come to terms with him on a contract extension. The Red Sox could find a partner in the Rangers as they may prefer to give Ellsbury a long-term commitment rather than Josh Hamilton and can afford to part with shortstop Elvis Andrus
  • The Red Sox are bolstering their scouting department in anticipation of having, for the first time since 1993 and just the second time since 1967, a top ten pick in the amateur draft, reports WEEI.com's Alex Speier. The team rehired John Booher, the person most directly involved in the scouting process of Ellsbury in 2005 and Nick Hagadone in 2007, and hired former MLB pitcher Brian Moehler as an area scout for Georgia.
  • Tom Kotchman, who resigned last week as a manager and scout in the Angels organization, interviewed with the Red Sox on Thursday, tweets Conor Glassey of Baseball America. Glassey points to former Angels scouting director Eddie Bane's position with Boston as the club's new Special Assistant to Player Personnel for the mutual interest. 
  • The Red Sox wanted to hold on to reliever Michael Olmstead, but their current 40-man roster crunch made it impossible, explains Alex Speier of WEEI.com. The 6'7", 245-pound right-hander signed with the Brewers as a minor league free agent last night.
  • For now, people familiar with the Nationals’ thinking expect them to either trade arbitration-eligible John Lannan or allow him to walk, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. The Nats could instead convert Christian Garcia from a reliever to a starter to fill out the rotation, but his history of arm trouble may make that too risky.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Cafardo On Shields, Twins, Wells, Red Sox, Aceves

After 25 years as a General Manager and president of the Twins, Cubs, and Orioles, Andy MacPhail stepped away from baseball last season to take care of his ailing father.  Now, MacPhail tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he wants to return to baseball in some capacity.  The executive was often viewed as a future commissioner and it would make sense for him to get involved with the league office.  He also won’t rule out working as a GM again, but he has yet do discuss that with any team and most clubs already have their front office leadership in place.  Here’s more from Cafardo..

  • The Twins have already inquired on Rays pitcher James Shields.  Tampa Bay will field plenty of other calls on Shields in the coming weeks but whether they pull the trigger to obtain offense remains to be seen.  The Dodgers say they’re not shopping Andre Ethier, but it may make sense to use him to get Shields if they have their eye on Josh Hamilton.  The problem there is that the Rays may not be able to carry Ethier’s contract.
  • The Angels are shopping Vernon Wells in an effort to clear some of the $42MM still owed to him.  The Halos have tried to start talks with the Red Sox and would like to get John Lackey back, but the Sox are curious to see what Lackey looks like after Tommy John surgery.
  • There was speculation that the Red Sox were trying to include Alfredo Aceves in a deal for Dan Haren.  The Red Sox love Aceves’ arm and stuff, but could do without the high maintenance. Aceves is very much available, but they won’t give him away for nothing.  The pitcher can fill different roles, but he still prefers to start.
  • The Dodgers would love to reunite with free agent Hiroki Kuroda.  The hurler could have more suitors than any other pitcher this winter if the Yankees don’t tie him up quickly.
  • Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is taking a wait-and-see approach on his agents, the Levinson brothers.  A few clients have already jumped ship but Pedroia noted that they have been good to him and his family.
  • The Red Sox would like to re-sign Vicente Padilla, but he is on the radar of a few teams, including the Angels, who are desperately looking to retool their bullpen.  Padilla ran out of gas late in the year but turned in a decent year in total.

Quick Hits: Rays, Reynolds, Indians, Durbin

Executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says the Rays can afford to keep both James Shields and David Price on next year's roster, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter link). As I explained this morning, it could be tempting for the Rays to address other needs by trading a frontline starter. For example, the Dodgers are among the teams that could try to obtain Shields from Tampa Bay. Here are today’s links…

  • Mark Reynolds would like to play for the Orioles next year, but he’ll explore his options if he hits the open market, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. "If they non-tender me it wouldn't be very smart of me to not see what else is out there," Reynolds said. The Orioles declined their club option for Reynolds today, and they now have a month to determine whether to tender him a contract through the arbitration process.
  • GM Chris Antonetti suggested there's a slim chance the Indians will re-sign Roberto Hernandez this offseason, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (Twitter links). The chances of re-signing Travis Hafner seem more remote, Bastian writes. The Indians, who declined club options for Hernandez and Hafner earlier today, are not working with a set payroll, according to the GM.
  • All Bases Covered Sports now represents free agent reliever Chad Durbin, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link). Check out MLBTR's Agency Database for current information on players and their agents.
  • Earlier in the week I previewed the top offseason storylines at MLBTR. In case you missed it, there’s a parallel piece running online at USA Today and in this week’s edition of Sports Weekly.