Jason Castro Rumors

AL Notes: Sano, Castro, Tigers

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.  

AL Notes: Rangers, Bailey, Carp, Jays, Smoak, Castro

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.


West Notes: Astros, Dodgers, Mariners, Rangers

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:



Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

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).

(more…)


AL West Links: Tanaka, A’s, Astros, Castro

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


Rosenthal on Angels, Qualifying Offers, Drew, Jays, Putz

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 EllsburyCurtis 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.

Texas Notes: Beltran, Garza, Castro

The Rangers could become serious contenders for Carlos Beltran's services, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. The Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Royals and Mariners have also been mentioned in whispers about Beltran, but rumors about Beltran and the Rangers really seem to be gathering steam. The Rangers can use the help in their outfield and/or at their DH position, particularly if Nelson Cruz ends up leaving. Here are more notes about the Rangers and Astros.

  • The Rangers will not pursue Masahiro Tanaka or Matt Garza this offseason, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. "We’re not right now looking to give out a big multiyear deal for a starter," says GM Jon Daniels. Starting pitcher Matt Harrison, who missed most of the 2013 season due to injury, tells Wilson he "feel[s] good" about returning to the Rangers' rotation in 2014. If he's healthy, the Rangers don't have a pronounced need for a starting pitcher, with Harrison, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, Martin Perez, Alexi Ogando and Nick Tepesch all in the fold.
  • The Astros don't expect to trade catcher Jason Castro, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. "I’m never going to say someone is untouchable. But we fully expect Jason to be on our club for a long time to come," says GM Jeff Luhnow. "He’s reaching his peak. He was our All-Star last year. He’s a team leader." Earlier today, it emerged that other teams had been asking the Astros about Castro, who hit .276/.350/.485 in 2013.
  • The Astros don't expect to make a big move in free agency this winter, McTaggart writes. Given that the Astros still aren't a contender, they're reluctant to part with the draft pick they would lose if they signed a free agent who received a qualifying offer. They also don't want to commit to long contracts at this point.

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..


Astros Notes: Luhnow, Free Agents, Abreu, Castro

The Astros might not aim on contending in 2014, but don't be surprised if Houston is one of the offseason's busier teams as the team continues its extensive rebuilding project.  Evan Drellich of the Houstron Chronicle has the latest from Astros GM Jeff Luhnow…

  • The Astros will look to add some pop to their lineup, Luhnow said, with the outfield being the most logical spot given that most of their infield is set.
  • The club could also add a hitter to the first base/DH mix, which is why Luhnow said the Astros were contenders for Jose Dariel Abreu, who ended up signing a six-year, $68MM deal with the White Sox.  “We pursued that player and we came up short,” Luhnow said. “That particular case was interesting because the player’s never played in the United States, but the track record in Cuba is pretty impressive, and we had done our homework and felt like that player should produce immediately.”
  • The Astros intend to raise their 2014 payroll, and Luhnow said this allows the team to pursue some new avenues.  “We have the resources to sign players and agents reach out no matter what,” Luhnow said. “(The level of communication has) not changed. We’re able to engage in a lot more conversations that we weren’t the past couple years. It opens up a different caliber of pool of players for us.”
  • The Astros' first overall draft pick is protected but the team would still have to give up its second round pick if they signed a free agent who has rejected a qualifying offer.  Luhnow said the Astros would "have to think hard" about giving up such a valuable young asset for such a veteran who could help immediately but would come at a high price.  There have been rumors that Houston is willing to make a big splash this winter by pursuing Shin-Soo Choo.
  • Whle the Astros are still focused on adding young talent, they could be open to trading some of that young talent if they feel they have a surplus in a certain area.  "So we’re not going to do anything to block any of our players or disrupt their development. But you can argue that we’re in a position where we have some areas of excess in terms of future talent, and we could potentially use some of that to get something," Luhnow said.
  • The team hasn't begun talks with Jason Castro's representatives about a long-term extension and none are expected until around January when arbitration decisions are nearing, Luhnow said.  Castro is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and is Houston's lone remaining arb-eligible player.  MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Castro to receive a $2.2MM salary for 2014.

Astros Notes: Reed, Minors, Hall

A few items of note on the club formerly known as the Colt .45s as Albert Pujols smacks a walkoff homer, his second jack of the day:

  • The Astros continue to deny any rumors that they've been trying to work out a pre-draft deal with Stanford pitcher Chris Reed with the intent of selecting him at No. 11 overall, tweets Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner. Goff predicts the Astros will take Archie Bradley (Twitter link), and ESPN.com's Keith Law writes in his latest mock draft that they'll take prep shortstop Francisco Lindor or Bradley if he's still available.
  • The Astros have improved their farm system under GM Ed Wade and his stable of area scouts, according to Goff. Wade's first draft as Astros GM was in 2008, when Houston selected Jason Castro and Jordan Lyles, both of whom have reached the bigs.
  • In contrast to their relative improvements in drafting and developing minor league players, Wade admitted that releasing Bill Hall represented a failure in judgment, writes Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle.