- Hoops Rumors
- Pro Football Rumors
- Trade Rumors iOS App
- Trade Rumors Android App
- MLBTR Podcast
- 2014-15 MLB Free Agent Tracker
- 2014-15 Offseason Outlooks
- 2014-15 Free Agent Profiles
- Reverse Standings
- 2015 MLB Free Agent List
- 2015 MLB Free Agent Power Rankings
- 2016 MLB Free Agent List
- Transaction Tracker
- DFA Tracker
- Agency Database
- MLBTR iPad/iPhone App
- MLBTR Android App
- Hot Stove Glossary
- MLBTR On Facebook
- MLBTR On Twitter
- MLBTR Mobile
- MLBTR On Kindle
- Team Twitter/RSS Feeds
- Team Facebook Pages
- MLB Trade Rumors Podcast: Episode 4
- AL Central Notes: Royals, Aoki, Butler, Lovullo, Tigers
- AL West Notes: Astros, Lewis, Rangers, A’s
- D’Backs Exercise Options On Hudson, Reynolds
- Padres Decline Josh Johnson’s Option
- Orioles Exercise Options On Chen, O’Day; Decline Options On Markakis, Hundley
- Dan Haren Exercises Player Option
- White Sox To Decline Option On Felipe Paulino
- Red Sox Sign Koji Uehara To Two-Year Extension
- Cardinals Exercise John Lackey’s Option
- Brewers Exercise Yovani Gallardo’s Option
- Cubs Decline Option On Kyuji Fujikawa
- Hisashi Iwakuma’s Option Vests
- Angels Exercise Street Option, Decline Burnett Option, Return Moran To Mariners
- Nationals Exercise Denard Span’s Option; Decline LaRoche, Soriano
MLBTR Mailing List
Rumors by team
- Angels Rumors
- Astros Rumors
- Athletics Rumors
- Blue Jays Rumors
- Braves Rumors
- Brewers Rumors
- Cardinals Rumors
- Cubs Rumors
- Diamondbacks Rumors
- Dodgers Rumors
- Giants Rumors
- Indians Rumors
- Mariners Rumors
- Marlins Rumors
- Mets Rumors
- Nationals Rumors
- Orioles Rumors
- Padres Rumors
- Phillies Rumors
- Pirates Rumors
- Rangers Rumors
- Rays Rumors
- Red Sox Rumors
- Reds Rumors
- Rockies Rumors
- Royals Rumors
- Tigers Rumors
- Twins Rumors
- White Sox Rumors
- Yankees Rumors
Jason Castro Rumors
Relativity Sports has added an even handful of new clients, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports (Twitter links). In addition to Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker of the Angels, Relativity has taken on Jason Castro of the Astros along with Charlie Furbush and Logan Morrison of the Mariners as clients. Each of those players had been with Octagon, but it appears that they followed agent Fred Wray to his new agency.
Among this group of players, only Shoemaker has yet to reach arbitration eligibility. He and fellow breakout Angels starter Richards (who will be entering his first arb year as a Super Two) could well become extension candidates if they maintain their form. Meanwhile, Castro could be a somewhat difficult-to-peg arbitration case, as he looks to improve on his $2.45MM salary after a rough year.
Morrison, too, could require some effort from his new firm. He managed to bridge a large gap in filing figures last year, settling on a $1.75MM deal. But Morrison’s future remains unclear after putting up a solid, if unspectacular, .262/.315/.420 slash over 365 plate appearances. He could be ready to go through another (relatively) high-stakes round of arbitration negotiations, find himself dealt to a new club, or even be set loose to find a new club on the open market.
Be sure to check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for the most up-to-date information on player representation.
This trade deadline could be a quiet but a fascinating one for the Astros, as the team may still willing to move veteran players but not only for prospects, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes. “We’re going to do anything that presents itself that will improve our club,” GM Jeff Luhnow said. “We’re not going to focus only on the next two months. We’re also not going to focus only on 2017 and beyond. We’re going to focus on any moves that we think can help in both the short term and the long term. That may be nothing; it may be several things.”
Here’s some more from Drellich’s broad overview of what the Astros could explore over the next two months…
- Dexter Fowler and Jason Castro would’ve likely been trade candidates in past years given the Astros’ veteran-dealing strategy since Luhnow took over. Now, however, the GM says he wants both players to be Astros “for a while. And they’re still under team control, and there are opportunities to keep them beyond team control.”
- Fowler told Drellich that he hadn’t had any extension talks to keep him in Houston beyond the end of the 2015 season, when his current contract expires.
- Castro’s trade value has dropped thanks to a poor season, though Houston is known to have explored dealing the catcher thanks to the team’s recently-leaked trade notes. Castro is under team control through 2016 and the Astros have catching prospect Max Stassi at Triple-A.
- Drellich thinks every member of the bullpen “feels moveable.” Once some injured relievers return, Luhnow said “we would probably have surplus in the bullpen, and bullpen is one of those areas that clubs that feel like they’re in contention for a division or wild card oftentimes need some depth. Something could happen there, but there’s nothing right now that seems obvious.”
- Tony Sipp and Chad Qualls both figure to draw interest from other teams, though Drellich isn’t sure the Astros would trade Chad Qualls so soon after he signed a two-year deal with the club last winter. Dealing a player relatively soon after a multiyear commitment could harm the team’s standing with future free agents.
- On the minor league front, Houston has so many quality prospects that they can’t protect them all via the Rule 5 draft. Some prospects may have to be traded if the organization doesn’t truly see them as long-term pieces.
4:30pm: The Astros have issued the following statement regarding the leaked notes:
“Last month, we were made aware that proprietary information held on Astros’ servers and in Astros’ applications had been illegally obtained. Upon learning of the security breach, we immediately notified MLB security who, in turn, notified the FBI. Since that time, we have been working closely with MLB security and the FBI to the determine the party, or parties, responsible. This information was illegally obtained and published, and we intend to prosecute those involved to the fullest extent.
“It is unfortunate and extremely disappointing that an outside source has illegally obtained confidential information. While it does appear that some of the content released was based on trade conversations, a portion of the material was embellished or completely fabricated.”
2:29pm: Extensive trade discussion notes, apparently logged by Astros executives about their talks with other teams, have been leaked onto the site AnonBin here and here, with Deadspin breaking the story and Yahoo’s Jeff Passan verifying the authenticity of the logs. The earliest notes are from June 2013, and the latest are from March of this year. The Astros have yet to comment on the leak, which provides unprecedented detail into how the team values players and approaches trade discussions. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Astros have been reaching out to people around baseball apologizing for the leaks, and plan to issue a statement soon.
A March feature by Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle outlines Ground Control, the Astros’ confidential internal database from which the trade discussion notes were likely taken. At this time, it’s unclear whether the information reached the Internet via a rogue employee of the team, or by some kind of security vulnerability in Ground Control. The trade discussion information, mostly from last summer and offseason, is somewhat dated in the fast-moving baseball hot stove world. The larger ramification is the breach of trust experienced by the many non-Astros executives cited in the notes. It’s unlikely any team would rule out the Astros as a trading partner based on this breach, but some teams could approach talks with added caution. Additionally, I imagine the many other teams with such highly sensitive material online are doubling down on security right now.
The Astros’ trade notes from last summer and offseason range from the blockbuster to the mundane; here are some highlights.
- On November 15th, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow expressed interest with Marlins GM Dan Jennings in slugger Giancarlo Stanton. From the notes: “[Jennings] said he doesn’t think he’ll trade Stanton and the only deal he could think of from us that would work would be [George] Springer and [Carlos] Correa. [Luhnow] said that would not work. [Luhnow] posited a deal around [Jarred] Cosart and [Delino] DeShields.” It’s not a big surprise that Luhnow rejected Jennings’ proposal out of hand, as Correa and Springer were ranked #4 and #19 on Keith Law’s top 100 prospects list for ESPN, and are major building blocks for Houston. That Luhnow didn’t appear to offer either player suggests he was mostly gauging Stanton’s price after an off-year with three years of control remaining. UPDATE: Jennings has commented to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, saying it’s fabricated that they ever offered Stanton to the Astros or any other team, also using the word “laughable.”
- Interest in Astros catcher Jason Castro was strong last offseason, with a few surprising suitors. The Blue Jays and Rangers reached out in mid-October to gauge Castro’s price, the White Sox had “definite high interest,” and Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Luhnow in November that he was getting calls from other teams asking if he could get Castro from the Astros for those teams. Zduriencik offered Dustin Ackley and was turned down.
- Notes for the Astros’ summer trade discussions begin at June 17th, 2013. The team ultimately went on to acquire Ronald Torreyes from the Cubs in June, and also dealt veterans Jose Veras, Bud Norris, and Justin Maxwell near the July deadline. The Astros did not end up acquiring any top 100-type prospects, but they sure did ask for the moon. For Norris, the Astros sought Kyle Crick and Clayton Blackburn from the Giants, Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman from the Orioles, Marcus Stroman and more from the Blue Jays, Xander Bogaerts, Allen Webster, Jackie Bradley Jr., or Garin Cecchini from the Red Sox, and Tyler Glasnow plus Luis Heredia or Nick Kingham from the Pirates. The Red Sox offered Ryan Lavarnway or Deven Marrero for Norris and were turned down. In the end, the Astros traded Norris and an international draft slot to the Orioles for L.J. Hoes, Josh Hader, and a 2014 competitive balance pick.
- When Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called to express interest in middling Astros starting pitcher Lucas Harrell, who had a 5.17 ERA at the time and nearly as many walks as strikeouts, “[Luhnow] told him we would still need a headliner like [Lucas] Giolito because we still value Harrell highly. Rizzo did not respond immediately.”
Harrell was designated for assignment, outrighted, and traded for a pittance nine months later, so the Astros might have overplayed their hand.
- “Untouchable” players from other teams were revealed through conversations with their executives. White Sox GM Rick Hahn wouldn’t consider trading Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jose Abreu, or Avisail Garcia. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos considered Brett Lawrie off-limits. Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco came up as well, in that GM Neal Huntington wouldn’t include him in any Norris deal. In December talks regarding Harrell, the Giants said they would not discuss Brandon Belt.
- More random notes: Mets executive Paul DePodesta asked Luhnow if the Astros would consider trading shortstop Jonathan Villar in a Daniel Murphy deal in December…the Marlins expressed interest in Jose Altuve, Matt Dominguez, and others in December.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Bud Norris | Carlos Correa | Chicago White Sox | Daniel Murphy | Delino DeShields Jr. | Deven Marrero | Dustin Ackley | Dylan Bundy | Garin Cecchini | George Springer | Giancarlo Stanton | Houston Astros | Jackie Bradley Jr. | Jarred Cosart | Jason Castro | Jonathan Villar | Jose Altuve | Kevin Gausman | Lucas Giolito | Lucas Harrell | Luis Heredia | Marcus Stroman | Matt Dominguez | Miami Marlins | New York Mets | Nick Kingham | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ryan Lavarnway | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals | Xander Bogaerts
The baseball world suffered a notable loss today with the passing of Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer. It would be impossible to honor Zimmer’s legacy adequately in a brief note, but suffice it to say that he has been said to have “come as close to seeing it all as a baseball man can possibly come.” And that was over a decade ago.
Here’s the latest out of the American League:
- The Astros formally completed their acquisition of Dexter Fowler from the Rockies by picking up an additional $25K, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reported yesterday via Twitter. While that sum is obviously of marginal import, the results of that swap remain fascinating to follow. Fowler has put up a fairly typical (if less powerful than usual) .257/.375/.356 line as Houston’s everyday center fielder. Meanwhile, Jordan Lyles (3.46 ERA through 69 innings) and Brandon Barnes (.295/.339/.390 through 116 plate appearances) have both been productive, but have cooled of late.
- Astros backstop Jason Castro said today that he has only had preliminary talks regarding an extension, none of which have been recent, reports Drellich. “It’s something you try not to think about obviously during the season, but you know, I would love to be a part of the Astros moving forward,” he said. “Obviously it’s an exciting tie, and we’ll see what happens moving forward.” Castro has cooled dowwn from his .835 OPS 2013, posting a .230/.306/.383 triple-slash through 206 plate appearances this season. He is earning $2.45MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility.
- It was reported earlier today that the Athletics nearly shipped deposed closer Jim Johnson to the Marlins. Conflicting reports later emerged about the nature of Oakland’s intentions going forward, both via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). While a rival rival executive told Rosenthal that the A’s were willing to eat all of Johnson’s remaining salary and had offered him to multiple clubs, an Oakland source later called that statement “a lie” and denied that Johnson was being shopped. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle later reported that the club would indeed be interested in moving Johnson “in the right deal,” and that the A’s might consider picking up most of the $6.5MM tab still owed on the 30-year-old righty.
- Athletics co-owner Lew Wolff said recently that the club is close to inking a ten-year lease that would keep the team at the O.co Coliseum, Carolyn Jones of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. What that actually means is somewhat more difficult to assess, and Mark Purdy of the Mercury News breaks down what is known and what is yet to come. There is too much to cover to treat it sufficiently here, but the bottom line, according to Purdy, is that it is much too early to say that a new contract would put an end to the team’s efforts to find a new ballpark deal (let alone the possibility of that stadium landing in San Jose). Purdy further detailed the exceedingly complex situation in an earlier piece.
Top Twins prospect Miguel Sano will have Tommy John surgery, La Velle E. Neal III of StarTribune.com reports. Via MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger (on Twitter), the Twins have since confirmed that Sano will miss the entire 2014 season. Sano has had trouble with his ulnar collateral ligament going back to last season, and he injured it on Thursday while making a throw. MLB.com ranks Sano the fourth-best prospect in baseball (with another Twins prospect, Byron Buxton, coming in at No. 1). Sano, 20, hit .280/.382/.610 between Class A+ and Double-A last season. Here are more notes from the American League.
- The Astros do not sound likely to trade catcher Jason Castro anytime soon, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. This offseason, several teams asked the Astros about Castro, but the Astros feel Castro's play and leadership are too valuable to deal right now. "We take all of those elements into account, and we really feel he's a player we can't be without at this point," says GM Jeff Luhnow. Castro, 26, will make $2.45MM in his first year of arbitration eligibility in 2014. He hit .276/.350/.485 in 491 plate appearances last season.
- The Tigers have agreed to terms with eight pre-arbitration players, according to a team release: pitchers Melvin Mercedes, Bruce Rondon, Jose Alvarez and Ian Krol, catcher Bryan Holaday, and infielders Steve Lombardozzi, Francisco Martinez and Hernan Perez. Those players will all likely receive deals near the league minimum. The Tigers now have their entire 40-man roster under contract for 2014.
Now that it's clear Nelson Cruz won't be back, it's unclear who the Rangers will use as their designated hitter against lefties, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The Rangers still had interest in Cruz, Grant writes, noting that, in addition to the qualifying offer, they made at least one offer that exceeded the $8MM Cruz ended up taking from the Orioles. That leaves them with a variety of options to play DH against lefties, but none manager Ron Washington likes very much: Mitch Moreland is a lefty, Michael Choice doesn't have enough experience for Washington's taste, and Washington would prefer to keep the Rangers' spare catcher (Geovany Soto or J.P. Arencibia, depending on who isn't starting) available on the bench.
- With Cruz off the market, Grant, in a separate article, believes now is the time for the Rangers to extend manager Ron Washington. Grant also opines players tagged with qualifying offers are going to think more seriously about accepting them in light of Cruz's surprisingly small contract.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks new minor-league signee Andrew Bailey can help them in the late innings, but probably not until September, Jack Curry of the YES Network tweets. The former Athletics and Red Sox closer had labrum surgery last July.
- The Red Sox will try Mike Carp out at a new position this spring, Alex Speier of WEEI.com tweets. While Spring Training experiments like these aren't uncommon and often have little long-term impact, a bit of added versatility might change Carp's outlook with the Red Sox, particularly if he can play third, where the Red Sox are less settled than they are elsewhere. Carp hit .296/.362/.523 in 243 plate appearances last season, but the Red Sox already have plenty of talent at first base, left field and DH, which has led to speculation that Carp could be a trade candidate.
- Scott Boras blames the Blue Jays' lack of activity in the free agent market on its ownership, Rogers Communications, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "There is no one who has the asset base of Rogers," said Boras. "They’re a car with a huge engine that is impeded by a big corporate stop sign . . . a successful and committed ownership that needs to give their baseball people financial flexibility." GM Alex Anthopoulos denied Boras' assertion telling Rosenthal, "Our ownership has been outstanding and given us all the resources we need." The Blue Jays' payroll is expected to exceed $130MM this season.
- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters, including Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, Justin Smoak will be the team's first baseman as long he performs. This means McClendon expects new acquistions Logan Morrison and Corey Hart to man the corner outfield spots and DH.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow acknowledged internal discussions about a contract extension for catcher Jason Castro have taken place, reports the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. No offer, however, has been discussed with Castro.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
A source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo that the Astros haven't discussed a long-term extension with Jason Castro yet. The 26-year-old appears to be a candidate for a long-term deal after a 2013 breakout campaign that saw him slug 18 home runs and generate 4.3 fWAR, tops among AL catchers not named Joe Mauer. However, he's now eligible for arbitration, and could become expensive quickly if he's not interested in an extension. As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal observed recently, teams appear increasingly willing to trade players who resist being locked up. Here's more from baseball's Western divisions:
- Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times notes the Dodgers' need for a utility infielder and wonders if they'll try to bring back Michael Young, who hit .314 for the club in 53 plate appearances last year after being acquired from the Phillies. GM Ned Colletti says the Dodgers have maintained contact with Young, who's reportedly considering retirement.
- Cotillo hears (via Twitter) that the Mariners and the Indians are the frontrunners among the five to seven clubs interested in Scott Baker.
- Also from Cotillo's Twitter, the Rangers plan to use lefty Rafael Perez, who they've inked to a minor-league deal, out of the bullpen. Perez, who didn't appear in the majors in 2013, was a starter for much of his early career in the minors. The Rangers were known to be on the hunt for a left-handed arm for their rotation following Derek Holland's recent injury.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Al Alburquerque | Alejandro De Aza | Alexi Ogando | Alfredo Simon | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Bobby Parnell | Boston Red Sox | Brandon Moss | Brett Cecil | Brian Duensing | Brian Matusz | Chicago Cubs | Chris Johnson | Cincinnati Reds | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Craig Gentry | Detroit Tigers | Dillon Gee | Drew Storen | Drew Stubbs | Emilio Bonifacio | Eric Hosmer | Ernesto Frieri | Esmil Rogers | Gaby Sanchez | Gordon Beckham | Gregor Blanco | Houston Astros | Ivan Nova | Jake McGee | James Russell | Jason Castro | Jeremy Hellickson | Jerry Blevins | Jesus Guzman | Joe Thatcher | John Mayberry Jr. | Jon Jay | Jonathan Herrera | Jordan Schafer | Jose Lobaton | Juan Francisco | Juan Nicasio | Junichi Tazawa | Kansas City Royals | Kyle Blanks | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Luis Valbuena | Marc Rzepczynski | Mark Melancon | Matt Joyce | Miami Marlins | Mike Dunn | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Neftali Feliz | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Pedro Alvarez | Pedro Strop | Peter Bourjos | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Sean Rodriguez | Shawn Kelley | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Tommy Hunter | Tony Abreu | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Trevor Plouffe | Troy Patton | Vin Mazzaro | Washington Nationals | Wilson Ramos | Yusmeiro Petit
Could the Athletics be stealth contenders for Masahiro Tanaka? A Major League executive tells Bill Madden of the New York Daily News to "watch out for Oakland" as a suitor for the Japanese right-hander. "They’ve got as much money as any team and they like doing these big international things — as with their signing of (Yoenis) Cespedes and the fact they were second to the Reds for Aroldis Chapman five years ago," the exec said. Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com explores the possibility of Tanaka joining the A's and thinks the executive might've just been speculating, but while he feels it's unlikely the A's can outbid the field for Tanaka, Stiglich notes the A's have already made some surprising moves this winter "so no sort of Tanaka speculation should come as a complete shocker."
Here's some more from the AL West…
- Speaking of Tanaka, ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) opines that "he would be absolutely perfect for" the Astros. Tanaka is young enough that he'll be in his prime when Houston will theoretically be able to contend, and the Astros can afford to make a big contract offer since they have so few long-term payroll commitments.
- Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle breaks down the question of whether the Astros should trade or extend catcher Jason Castro. There's clear value to keeping a cost-controlled, power-hitting catcher on one-year deals through arbitration, and yet without an extension, a trade becomes more logical the closer Castro gets to free agency.
- Trading for outfielder Michael Choice "was the best move made by the Rangers this winter," opines MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan as part of a reader mailbag. Sullivan sees Choice as a candidate to help the team in 2014 and take over as Alex Rios' replacement in 2015. Texas acquired Choice as part of the deal that sent Craig Gentry to Oakland last month.
- The Rangers drafted Jameis Winston in the 15th round of the 2012 draft and Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News talks to Texas assistant GM A.J. Preller and other club personnel about how serious Texas was about signing Winston and still letting him play football for Florida State. Winston, of course, is quarterbacking FSU against Auburn in tonight's national championship game and says he aims to be a two-sport star a la Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders. Winston is next eligible for the MLB draft in 2015.
- In other AL West news from earlier today, the Mariners will need approval from ownership before going ahead with any more big moves, and the M's signed catcher Humberto Quintero to a minor league deal.
MLBTR's Zach Links also contributed to this post
The Angels are likely to eclipse the $189MM luxury-tax threshold eventually, despite their efforts to avoid doing so this offseason, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. Sources tell the columnist that the Angels have between $13MM and $15MM of space left beneath the cap, figures that are much lower than what will be required to sign Masahiro Tanaka. However, extending Mike Trout at, say, $300MM over 10 years would make it difficult to avoid surpassing the threshold anyway, so the Angels may as well do so now, Rosenthal surmises. Here's more from his new column:
- This offseason's big contracts for less-than-durable stars like Jacoby Ellsbury, Curtis Granderson and Brian McCann show that position players can earn more as free agents than they would with club-friendly, long-term deals. Meanwhile, clubs appear increasingly willing to move players who resist extensions. For example, sources tell Rosenthal that rival teams have asked about Astros catcher Jason Castro, who could be moved if Houston is unable to ink him long-term.
- Qualifying offers appear to have suppressed the market for players such as Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales, frustrating player representatives. Potential fixes to the system include guaranteeing that free agents receive a qualifying offer only once, or ensuring that teams signing free agents who received qualifying offers lose only draft picks and not their associated bonus-pool amounts. The current system will remain in place for another two offseasons, Rosenthal notes.
- Stephen Drew appears to be a fit for the Mets, rival executives say, despite the club's insistence that it will consider Ruben Tejada for its starting shortstop job.
- The Blue Jays remain among the favorites to sign either Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, despite their quiet offseason thus far. The Jays could acquire as many as two starters before the offseason is over, Rosenthal reports. In addition to upgrading through free agency, the club has also discussed trades for the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija and other starters.
- The Diamondbacks could trade J.J. Putz after acquiring Addison Reed from the White Sox. Swapping the righty for Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is one potential deal, or Putz could be packaged with other players in a deal for a starter such as Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Chicago Cubs | Ervin Santana | Houston Astros | Ichiro Suzuki | J.J. Putz | Jason Castro | Jeff Samardzija | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Stephen Drew | Toronto Blue Jays | Ubaldo Jimenez | Yovani Gallardo