Jeff Francis Rumors
The Twins were among the finalists for Chris Capuano before the left-hander signed with the Dodgers, and now they're turning their attention to Jeff Francis and Edwin Jackson according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. They've had preliminary discussions with Francis' agent and are likely to continue talks at the winter meetings next week.
Jackson, a Scott Boras client, would not a cost draft to sign as a Type-B free agent, but Minnesota is wary of his price tag according to Morosi. At the moment, the Twinkies have Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, and Brian Duensing as potential starters, but Baker, Liriano, and Blackburn have injury concerns and Slowey is a non-tender candidate.
Here's the latest from the City Of Angels (And Dodgers)....
- Ned Colletti wants to bring back Hiroki Kuroda next season, but isn't sure if the Dodgers can afford him or if Kuroda will return to Japan, reports Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles.
- The Dodgers' major offseason moves could be wrapping up but Jerry Dipoto's first offseason as Angels GM is just beginning, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times.
- From that same piece, DiGiovanna notes the club will look at "second-tier starters" like Kuroda, Aaron Harang, Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen and Roy Oswalt. Kuroda, Harang and Francis are also known to be on the Dodgers' list of pitching options.
- Of bigger-name starters, the Angels have been connected to C.J. Wilson this winter, but Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles wonders if the Angels' courtship of Wilson just a "smokescreen" intended to drive up Wilson's price for the Rangers. I'm not sure this tactic would specifically work on the Rangers given how they seem prepared to let Wilson leave if his price gets too high, but it could force one of Wilson's several other suitors to up their offer.
The Dodgers have narrowed their search for starting pitching, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times (on Twitter). Free agents Hiroki Kuroda, Aaron Harang, Chris Capuano and Jeff Francis top the Dodgers' list, according to DiGiovanna.
Jon Heyman of SI.com lists the same four pitchers as possible targets and says on Twitter that the Dodgers have less than $10MM to spend (MLB.com's Ken Gurnick listed the four possibilities yesterday). It's looking less likely that GM Ned Colletti will obtain a big bat from outside of the organization.
Asked about adding a big bat this winter, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told reporters including Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times, "As of today, it looks less realistic." Colletti has no meetings scheduled with Prince Fielder's agent, Scott Boras. I wouldn't consider the Matt Kemp extension to be adding a big bat for 2012, since he was under team control regardless.
The Dodgers' 2012 payroll will come down from this year's $110MM mark, reports Hernandez. So far the Dodgers have committed $6.5MM in 2012 salaries to Juan Rivera and Mark Ellis, perhaps with another $1MM or so on the way for Matt Treanor. The Dodgers' new eight-year deal with Kemp could actually reduce their expected commitment to the center fielder for 2012. Colletti still hopes to add a backup infielder capable of playing shortstop. He's also looking for a starting pitcher, with Hiroki Kuroda currently undecided. Chris Capuano, Jeff Francis, and Aaron Harang are on Colletti's radar if Kuroda does not return, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.
Including Rivera, Ellis, Treanor, and the $11.5MM owed to Manny Ramirez and Andruw Jones next year, the Dodgers have $52.45MM in contractual commitments over seven roster spots. If we estimate $13MM for Kemp and $19MM combined for Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw, that's about $84MM over ten roster spots. Retaining James Loney would require another $6MM or so, pushing the Dodgers to $90MM. Kuroda or an equivalent veteran starter would likely eat up most of the remaining surplus.
The latest out of the NL West...
- Signing Tim Lincecum to a multiyear deal is at the top of the Giants' agenda, reports SI's Jon Heyman. The Giants are aiming for at least a four-year deal, which would buy out two years of free agency. Though Matt Cain is a year closer to free agency, Heyman says the focus is more on Lincecum. Heyman believes Lincecum's agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council could file as high as $25MM in arbitration this winter, in my opinion a risky move if the Giants come in around $20MM. For more on Lincecum's historic arbitration case, click here.
- The Rockies will not dabble financially in marginal players, explained GM Dan O'Dowd to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. They do have interest in Paul Maholm, Jeff Francis, and J.C. Romero, though, according to Renck, after bigger free agent targets such as Grady Sizemore and Roy Oswalt.
- The Dodgers will lower their payroll in 2012, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. The team's opening day payroll was about $120MM in 2011. So far this offseason they've added $6.5MM in 2012 salaries for Mark Ellis and Juan Rivera. Here's my offseason outlook for the club.
- Unlike Ellis' deal, Aaron Hill's new contract with the Diamondbacks is not backloaded. He'll earn $5.5MM in each of the '12 and '13 seasons, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Piecoro has an updated look at Arizona's payroll, and concludes that they'd need to non-tender Joe Saunders to be able to afford one of the better free agent pitchers on the market. MLBTR readers are split remarkably evenly as to whether Saunders will be tendered a contract on December 12th.
- We heard last night that the players and owners made significant progress toward a new collective bargaining agreement. The sides could complete a CBA this week, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
- ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick polled MLB executives on some fun baseball questions and the results are worth checking out. The executives preferred Prince Fielder to Albert Pujols over the life of a long-term contract and their response suggests Rays left-hander Matt Moore is every bit as coveted as Stephen Strasburg.
- ESPN.com's Keith Law explains that Aramis Ramirez is the top free agent third baseman of the offseason, but cautions that Ramirez's new team "will either have to live with below-average defense at third or contemplate moving him to first or to DH." I examined the trade and free agent market for third base late last month.
- Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette says he expects to add people to his front office before the Winter Meetings take place in early December, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Duquette has been impressed by director of baseball operations Matt Klentak.
- The Royals are open-minded regarding a possible return for free agent left-hander Jeff Francis, GM Dayton Moore told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The Royals would prefer to sign Bruce Chen, according to Dutton.
- Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies have had preliminary contract talks, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link). The shortstop continues to seek a five-year deal.
Before the season, MLBTR writers identified 13 players who were set for 'make or break' years. These players had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for success in free agency.
Players whose seasons met or exceeded preseason expectations:
- Aramis Ramirez - Ramirez had a strong season, hitting 26 homers and posting a .306/.361/.510 line as the Cubs' everyday third baseman.
- Edwin Jackson - Jackson, a free agent after the season, completed 199 2/3 innings with a 3.79 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 43.8% ground ball rate.
- Bobby Abreu - Though Abreu's power dropped off, he managed a .353 on-base percentage and 21 steals. His 2012 option vested in July, so he should be back in Los Angeles for a fourth season with the Angels.
- Carlos Beltran - A highly-coveted midsummer trade target, Beltran spent time on the DL with a strained right hand and wrist in August. His season line was .300/.385/.525, so agent Scott Boras will likely receive multiyear offers for the switch-hitter.
- Jeff Francis - Francis pitched 183 innings with a 4.82 ERA, 4.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. He wasn't spectacular, but he made his starts, quieting questions about the condition of his left shoulder.
Players who had disappointing seasons due to injury or poor performance:
- Scott Kazmir - Kazmir spent time on the DL, made one appearance for the Angels and posted a 17.02 ERA with more walks than strikeouts at Triple-A before getting released. The 2011 season could not have gone much worse for the former first rounder.
- Nate McLouth - McLouth's .228/.344/.333 line is better than it was last year and features a respectable on-base percentage, but he missed the second half with oblique and abdominal injuries.
- Jonathan Broxton - It was a lost season for Broxton, who recently had surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow and is looking at an incentive-based one-year deal in free agency.
- Grady Sizemore - Sizemore got off to a hot start, but finished the season with a .224/.285/.422 line. Knee and abdominal issues limited him to 71 games and there's no guarantee that the Indians will pick up his $9MM option for 2012.
- Joel Zumaya - Zumaya didn't pitch in a Major League game after undergoing elbow surgery in March.
- Ryan Doumit - A sprained left ankle limited the 30-year-old to 77 games. When healthy, he posted a .303/.353/.477 line, but it doesn't appear likely that the Pirates will pick up his $7.25MM option.
- Casey Blake - Blake hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances and spent considerable time on the DL with a cervical strain. He had surgery in September and the Dodgers will decline his $6MM option for 2012.
- Matt Capps - Capps saw his strikeout rate (4.7 K/9), ground ball rate (41.6%), average fastball velocity (92.9 mph) and innings total (65 2/3) drop this year, while his ERA rose nearly two runs to 4.25. At least he stayed healthy, unlike many on this list.
For a while, it seemed as though we'd have a quiet trade deadline. So much for that - today we saw Ubaldo Jimenez, Derrek Lee, Orlando Cabrera, Rich Harden, Koji Uehara, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Jason Marquis, Mike Aviles, Jerry Hairston Jr., Doug Fister and David Pauley all get traded. Let's gear up for the deadline itself with another round of links...
- The Twins would like to move Kevin Slowey and the Rockies are interested, though they don't want to pay too much for him, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Teams are still calling on Bruce Chen, Jeff Francis and Kyle Davies of the Royals, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). Any deal will likely come at the deadline tomorrow.
- Teams are still inquiring on Brandon League, even though top Mariners executives have said he's going nowhere, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter).
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels expects a quiet day tomorrow, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- The Astros would love to convince Carlos Lee that there's no point in refusing to waive his no-trade clause, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark.
- The Astros wanted a package of players including Josh Reddick and Kyle Weiland from the Red Sox for Hunter Pence, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
Though Jeff Francis, Bruce Chen and Kyle Davies are drawing interest from several clubs, the Royals may hold onto all three and continue using a six-man rotation, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. The Royals continue to say they’re happy to hold onto the starters, who hit free agency after the season.
“Nothing has changed with our situation,” GM Dayton Moore told Dutton. “The guys we have, I think, are more valuable to us than the potential [return].”
Chen projects as a Type B free agent under our most recent projections, so the Royals could obtain a supplementary draft pick if the left-hander turns down an offer of arbitration to sign elsewhere. Francis and Davies, however, don’t currently project as ranked free agents, so the Royals can’t expect picks for them.
- Grady Sizemore was placed on the disabled list with a knee issue, and SI.com's Jon Heyman says (on Twitter) the Indians have their eyes on Ryan Ludwick and Josh Willingham. They also called about Carlos Beltran, but his no-trade clause may be an obstacle.
- Meanwhile, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian notes (on Twitter) that while the Indians prefer a right-handed bat, they haven't ruled out lefties with Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo out.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore told MLB Network Radio's Jim Bowden that it's possible they'll move lefty starters Jeff Francis and Bruce Chen before the deadline (Twitter link).
- South Side Sox notes that it's much quieter this year than the last time White Sox ace Mark Buehrle was scheduled to become a free agent.