Jarrod Saltalamacchia Rumors

Quick Hits: Granderson, Beltran, Trumbo, Cano

In today's conference call to announce Tony Clark as the new executive director of the MLBPA, free agent Curtis Granderson didn't give reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (on Twitter), the impression that they are right on the cusp of a deal with the Mets. "We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon … It was kind of what you could expect," said the outfielder.  Here's more from around baseball..


Marlins Close To Deal With Saltalamacchia

4:27pm: Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel reports that the Marlins have offered three years and $21MM (Twitter link). Passan hears that the Marlins are "closing in" on a deal with Saltalamacchia that is in the three-year, $22MM range.

4:03pm: The Marlins are the "extreme" favorites to land Saltalamacchia after offering a three-year deal worth as much as $8MM per season, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

3:58pm: The Marlins have made a three-year offer to Saltalamacchia, who is in Miami to meet with the team today, a person with direct knowledge of the talks tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Berardino says that the Twins have moved on from their pursuit of catchers and will go with promising rookie Josmil Pinto as their main catcher in 2014 (Twitter links).

2:58pm: Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (on Twitter) hears that Salty is headed to the Marlins.

1:55pm: The Rangers won't pursue a reunion with Saltalamacchia, a source tells Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link).

1:03pm: The Marlins have offered Saltalamacchia a two-year deal with a club option for a third season, according to Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link).

12:23pm: The Marlins and Twins remain in pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports (also via Twitter) that Salty's market is moving quickly enough that he could sign prior to next week's Winter Meetings.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities adds that there's an industry sense that the two teams will have to present Saltalamacchia with their final offers in the next day or so. According to Wolfson, the Twins will have to outbid the Marlins to land Saltalamacchia, who is a South Florida native. However, Wolfson also says that Saltalamacchia is "definitely on board" with becoming a Twin (Twitter links).

Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press points out that not only do Saltalamacchia and his family reside in Wellington, Fla. (less than 70 miles from Marlins Park), the state has no income tax, meaning the Twins could have to spend significantly more than the Marlins (Twitter link).

Saltalamacchia is the top remaining catcher on the free agent market now, and nearly every other starting-caliber backstop has already found a new home early in the offseason. The switch-hitter batted .273/.338/.466 with 14 homers last season, but he also struck out in nearly 30 percent of his plate appearances and posted just a .628 OPS as a right-handed batter.

It's unclear whether or not the Twins have made an offer to this point, but the Marlins reportedly have already done so. Of course, another team could jump into the mix late in the game. The White Sox are one team that could still use an upgrade behind the plate, though that's solely my own speculation.


Latest On Pierzynski, Saltalamacchia

As many of the same teams appear to be in on both A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and several signings having left these two at the top of this year's remaining free agent catching crop, let's look at a few notes on the two backstops:

  • The Twins are no longer pursuing Pierzynski, a major league official told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Minnesota has been heavily rumored to be chasing a veteran backstop after deciding to shift Joe Mauer to first. Recently, we had heard that the Twins were "making progress" on bringing Pierzynski back to Minnesota, but that appears no longer to be the case.
  • Minnesota has also been rumored to be looking at Saltalamacchia, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports that they are still in the mix. The other two front-runners for Salty are the Marlins and Red Sox, according to Jackson.
  • Indeed, Miami recently made an offer to Saltalamacchia, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). The terms of the offer are not known. As Rosenthal notes, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com previously reported that the Red Sox offered Saltalamacchia a two-year deal to return to Boston.


Red Sox Preparing Alternatives To Own Free Agents

The Red Sox are still waiting for free agents Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia to decide whether to accept Boston's free agent offers, but they're nearing the point when they might move forward, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. The Red Sox haven't set deadlines for any of their free agents to accept offers, but a source tells Bradford that the Sox are "certainly working on other options, also." The Red Sox told at least one player that they would soon need to make plans to potentially acquire another player to take his place.

Ellsbury, Napoli and Drew all rejected qualifying offers from Boston, and the Red Sox have since made new offers to all three players. Saltalamacchia did not receive a qualifying offer, but the Red Sox did offer him a two-year deal at an annual amount below the $14.1MM qualifying offer figure.


New York Links: Citi Field, Cano, McCann

What better to go with your Thanksgiving apple crisp than some baseball news from the Big Apple?  Here's the latest from the Mets and Yankees…

  • Citi Field's reputation as a pitchers' park has generated concerns amongst some of the Mets' free agent targets, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports.  Though Citi Field's fences were brought in before the 2012 season, the club's pitcher-friendly history is “something that is still in the (players’) heads out there, that it’s a tough park to hit in,” one agent said.  "They see what David Wright went through there and it makes them a little nervous I think."  As Ackert notes, Citi Field allowed an average of 1.2 home runs per game in 2013, the tenth-most of any stadium in the majors.
  • The Mets have an interest in signing right-hander Armando Galarraga and southpaw Victor Garate, Rafael Tejera reports (via Twitter).  Both pitchers have also been offered contracts by teams in Asia.  As ESPN New York's Adam Rubin notes, the Mets would "undoubtedly" only be interested in the two hurlers on minor league deals.
  • The Yankees were set on Brian McCann as their top catching target and had only passing interest in Carlos Ruiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports.  The Bombers made no "serious overtures" to Ruiz and had slightly more substantive talks with Saltalamacchia, though one industry source described Salty only as the Yankees' "Plan B" if McCann signed elsewhere.
  • "There’s no imaginable, alternate usage of the Yankees’ resources that will give them a roster superior to one featuring [Robinson] Cano," Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes.  Cano will "get paid" by someone, however, as all elite free agents do, and Davidoff expects the Yankees to pay at least $200MM to retain the second baseman.  If another team goes substantially beyond a projected eight-year/$200MM offer, then Davidoff says the Yankees "would have an intellectual right" to let Cano leave.
  • Earlier today, we learned that Yankees free agent hurler Phil Hughes should be able to find a multiyear on the open market, which puts the Mets out of the running for the right-hander's services.

East Notes: Jays, Saltalamacchia, Drew, Cano, Nats

It's offically Thanksgiving day on the east coast, so let's take a look at a few notes from the eastern seaboard:

  • The stage is set for the market to pick up after the Thanksgiving holiday, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, even if it isn't celebrated in the same time or manner by our neighbors to the north. While things have been relatively quiet for many clubs, including the Blue Jays, that could change with Monday's non-tender deadline and movement in top-of-the-market situations around the league (including the Japanese posting system and its implications for Masahiro Tanaka, increasing activity on the Robinson Cano front, and the Yankees' apparent decision to begin spending). 
  • Could a problem with Red Sox free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia's medicals be the cause of a seemingly slow market for the backstop's services? In an appearance on WEEI's Mut & Merloni (writeup via WEEI.com), ESPN's Buster Olney suggested that possibility, while acknowledging that he has no specific knowledge of Salty's file. But Jim Munsey, the 28-year-old backstop's agent, flatly denied that speculation in comments to WEEI.com's Alex Speier, saying "there are no medical issues hindering [Saltalamacchia's] market."
  • Interestingly, Munsey did note that the Cubs — the team that Olney mentioned by name with respect to Saltalamacchia — had decided not to pursue the backstop in part because they "don't believe they could compete for what is believed to be Salty's market." More generally, he expressed that things were going just fine for his client: "Some agents prefer to perform their responsibilities outside of the media spotlight. Just because you're not hearing it doesn't mean it's not happening."
  • Another player who has yet to see a full slate of bidders, according to Olney, is another Boston free agent: shortstop Stephen Drew. Olney says that he believes Drew's decision to reject the club's $14.1MM qualifying offer was a mistake. He reasons that it is looking worse by the day, with the Cardinals now out of the market and the Mets seemingly hesitant to give up a pick to sign him at that level of value.
  • As for the aforementioned Cano, Olney says (in an Insider piece) that the big question facing the star second baseman and the Yankees is what other teams might get seriously involved. While there is no obvious alternative suitor at this point, Olney's trip around the league leaves him with a list of the teams that are most likely to have the financial and roster flexibility to make a real run.
  • Atop Olney's list of theoretically viable Cano landing spots, along with the Tigers and Rangers, is the Nationals. The Washington Post's Adam Kilgore recently laid out the case for the club to chase Cano. While he says the club lacks a pressing need to tinker with its infield, and GM Mike Rizzo has not shown a particular desire to do so, the fact remains that Cano is unquestionably the best player on the market and the Nats have the pockets to bring him in. Though Anthony Rendon has plenty of upside and cheap team control, he is young enough to serve in a reserve capacity or could be cashed in with a corresponding win-now move.
  • Meanwhile, the recent signings of Javier Lopez and Manny Parra have taken away two major possible left-handed relief targets from the Nats, Kilgore writes. Other targets certainly remain, with Kilgore saying the team is continuing to talk with Boone Logan and noting others like J.P. Howell, Eric O'Flaherty, Scott Downs, Matt Thornton, and Michael Gonzalez. Of course, even after parting with Fernando Abad, the club could still rely on remaining internal options like Ian Krol and Xavier Cedeno, and could move starters like Ross Detwiler and Sammy Solis to the pen. 
  • From my perspective, it is worth noting Rizzo's recent history with southpaw relievers. Over the last three years, the club has received its greatest contributions from hurlers like Tom Gorzelanny, Mike Gonzalez, Sean BurnettZach Duke, and the previously noted Abad, Cedeno, and Krol. Each of these players was either picked up as a minor league free agent or in a relatively minor trade (or, for Krol, as the last piece of a somewhat significant trade). After letting Burnett walk for a seemingly reasonable price last year and declining to outbid the early market on Lopez and Parra, Rizzo may still prefer to avoid utilizing significant resources to add lefties.

AL East Notes: De Jesus Jr., Lavarnway, Infante

The Orioles are close to a minor league deal with infielder Ivan De Jesus Jr., reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. However, the O's are likely to hold off finalizing the deal in order to avoid having to add De Jesus to the 40-man roster to protect him from being selected in next week's Rule 5 Draft. Baltimore learned their lesson the hard way in that regard back in 2004 when they signed Chris Gomez to a minor league deal on Dec. 8 and saw him selected in the Rule 5 Draft four days later, Kubatko points out. Some more links pertaining to the AL East…

  • Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes that the Red Sox have had internal discussions about entering 2014 with Ryan Lavarnway as the team's primary catcher. Boston is more interested in a stopgap option as they await the arrival of Christian Vasquez and Blake Swihart at the big league level and is therefore reluctant to strengthen its existing two-year offer to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
  • The Yankees remain "very much engaged" with Omar Infante's agent, Gene Mato, according to Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. The Yankees could try to sign Infante even if they retain Robinson Cano, says Marchand, envisioning him as a modern-day Tony Phillips who would play every day but at different positions. Marchand writes that the Yankees like Infante as a backup at third base and shortstop, and he also points out Infante's experience in the outfield.
  • The Yankees paid a good amount to sign Cuban lefthander Omar Luis last year and they'll be making him available in this year's Rule 5 draft, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America.  The Yanks initially signed Luis for a $4MM bonus but when an unexpected issue popped up in his physical, they negotiated that figure down to $2.9MM.  It may be a long shot that any team will draft Luis, however, given how far away he is from contributing.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Quick Hits: Peralta, Closers, Saltalamacchia, Twins

Jhonny Peralta's new $53MM deal with the Cardinals could lead to changes to MLB's Joint Drug Agreement, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. Peralta already served a 50-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but he's now getting a large contract just months later, one that dwarfs other recent contracts for players like Marlon Byrd and Melky Cabrera who also received PED suspensions. "We thought 50 games would be a deterrent. Obviously it’s not. So we are working on it again," Diamondbacks player representative Brad Ziegler tweeted today. Rosenthal writes that players are likely to raise the topic of harsher PED penalties at a players union meeting in December. Any changes would then have to be negotiated with MLB's owners. Here are more notes from around the Majors.


AL East Rumors: Blue Jays, McCann, Kuroda, Orioles

Teams have asked the Blue Jays about Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, but Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he hasn't "entertained the idea" of trading either player.  Bautista hit .259/.358/.498 with 28 homers in 2013 and saw his season end early after being shut down due to a hip issue.  Encarnacion had a solid campaign, posting a slash line of .272/.370/.534 with 36 home runs.  Bautista is owed $14MM annually through 2015 with a club option for the same amount in 2016 while Encarnacion will make $19MM through '15 with a $10MM club option for '16.  Here's more out of the AL East…

  • The Yankees are refusing to punt and are living for today with their Brian McCann signing, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  McCann's lefty pull power should provide a huge boost in 2014 (and probably '15 and '16), but beyond that is a mystery.
  • Within the same article, Sherman writes that the Yankees are now more upbeat about the chances of Hiroki Kuroda returning.  There remains a chance that the veteran pitcher decides to play in Japan next season. 
  • The McCann agreement allows the Yankees to take their time developing Gary Sanchez, their top prospect per MLB.com, knowing McCann will eventually move to first base or they can use him as a trade chip, tweets the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand
  • Feinsand, in a second tweet, sees the backup job coming down to Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli with Chris Stewart being non-tendered. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz estimates the arbitration eligible Cervelli and Stewart will each earn $1MM.
  • Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders how McCann's new $85MM deal with the Yankees affects the Orioles' Matt Wieters.  Wieters’ offensive numbers aren’t as good, but he is is two years younger than McCann and Scott Boras will certainly dig up data to show that Wieters is deserving of more money.
  • Meanwhile, Alex Speier of WEEI.com looks at what McCann's deal might mean for Red Sox free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  Salty is now the best avaialble free agent catcher and his market should now start to take shape. 
  • A combination of familiarity and affordability led to Jose Molina returning to the Rays, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.  Financial terms of the yet-to-be-completed deal are not yet known, but Topkin writes that it's unlikely that he received more than the $3.3MM total he made the last two seasons.
  • The Orioles won't re-sign Tsuyoshi Wada, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. The O's declined their club option on Wada earlier this month; but, at the time, the door was said to be open for a minor league deal in Baltimore.
  • The Orioles need to be creative in wringing the most value out of Jim Johnson, writes the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina. Encina dangles the idea of moving Johnson, who MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects to receive $10.8MM in arbitration, into the rotation, but that begs the questions of whether starting is a good fit for the 30-year-old right-hander and who will step in as closer. 

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Cafardo On Cano, Saltalamacchia, Nolasco, Navarro

Other than Alex Rodriguez's legal matters, nothing has been handled worse this offseason than Robinson Cano's contract negotiations, opines Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  The switch from Scott Boras to Jay-Z doesn't look like it's panning out and the $310MM figure that was floated out has done him a world of harm.  In Cafardo's view, Yankees fans should be excited about the $85MM contract given to Brian McCann because it means that less money is available to spend on Cano.  More from today's column..

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia is still very much on the Twins’ radar as they try to replace Joe Mauer after his move to first base.  Now positioned as the best available catcher, Salty could get a three-year deal in the $30MM range.  The teams who like the 28-year-old feel his throwing, right-handed hitting, and hitting approach have improved.
  • Teams like the Twins and Blue Jays are circling Ricky Nolasco, but nobody has been able to seal a deal.  However, Cafardo notes that the free agent pitching market has yet to fully develop as teams are trying to get help via trades. The Red Sox, for example, have received several inquiries about their starting pitchers.
  • One talent evaluator says that he' would be cautious about signing switch-hitting catcher Dioner Navarro.  “He’s great on a one-year or shorter-term deal. Problems are his weight, his work ethic, and flexibility behind the plate, so it gets a little scary on a multi-year deal. He can flat-out hit, so if you have the catch/throw guy, he’s not a bad complement to that,” he said.
  • The Angels could still be a strong trade partner with the Red Sox even after the Peter BourjosDavid Freese deal. The Sox have an interest in first baseman Mike Trumbo and could be tempted on power reliever Kevin Jepsen while the Halos are in need of a starting pitcher.