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Jesus Montero Rumors
Here's the latest from the AL East, starting with an update on two pending moves involving the Yankees…
- Jesus Montero is dealing with a passport or visa issue at the moment and is unable to travel to Seattle for his physical, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Once that is resolved, the trade sending him and Hector Noesi from the Yankees to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos will be made official.
- Bob Klapisch of The Bergen Record says (on Twitter) that Hiroki Kuroda is still in Japan, so he has yet to take his physical and finalize his one-year contract with the Yankees. Klapisch adds that like Montero, Campos is stuck in Venezuela at the moment.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington indicated to MLB.com's Ian Browne that the team is unlikely to make any big changes to the roster before Spring Training. "If Spring Training were to start tomorrow, we'd feel good about where we are and [we'd be] ready to put the team together," said the GM.
- Though the Yankees currently have $1-2MM to spend on a designated hitter, they could free up cash by dealing A.J. Burnett, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. Burnett has $33MM remaining on his contract, and it would be a surprise if the Yankees free up more than $10MM via trade.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff suggests Raul Ibanez might be the best DH option for the Yankees, assuming Johnny Damon signs with a team that can offer more plate appearances.
- Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com reports that former Oriole Brady Anderson was named special assistant to Orioles GM Dan Duquette today. Melewski also lists some changes in the responsibilities handled by other front office employees.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
Last night's news was highlighted by the Yankees' signing of Hiroki Kuroda and the four-player trade that sent Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners in exchange for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that it might not be until next week that the trade is announced (as teams wait for completion of physicals), and opines that it may be the Blue Jays who are hurt most by this trade, as their rotation once again looks too thin to compete in the AL East. Here's a look at the highlights from Olney's latest blog (ESPN Insider required)…
- Both the Yankees and Mariners believe that Montero will be able to stick at catcher, which many in the industry feel is a must in order for the trade to make sense for Seattle.
- One executive posed the question: "Why is Yoenis Cespedes playing in any Winter ball games?" Olney says Cespedes' first few games have looked rough, as he hasn't played for a long time. With questions about his ability to pick up a breaking ball, he could potentially hurt his value with a poor showing, and doesn't stand to gain much if he plays well.
- The Indians seem to be in position to land a good first baseman, writes Olney. Casey Kotchman, Carlos Pena, and Derrek Lee all remain unsigned, and if the Nationals sign Prince Fielder, Adam LaRoche will become available as well. Olney points out that all four are regarded as good fielders, which is crucial to Cleveland's groundball staff (Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe, and Fausto Carmona are all extreme groundball pitchers). Olney writes that there were indications earlier this offseason that Lee did not want to play for the Tribe.
- With the Diamondbacks showing interest in Bartolo Colon, GM Kevin Towers, who spent a year working for the Yankees, will "presumably get an honest read about what [the Yankees] feel Colon could contribute."
It's not every day that two of baseball's best young stars are swapped for each other, but the Mariners and Yankees pulled off just such a deal today, as Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi went to Seattle in exchange for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. Here is some of the early reaction to this stunning trade, plus some information on how the deal came together…
- "The risk for both clubs is low. The reward for both clubs is outstanding. This could be a transformational deal that will have fans of both clubs buzzing about for a long time," writes MLB.com's Bernie Pleskoff.
- Replacing pitching via minor leaguers or the free agent market is far easier than attracting top-caliber hitters in Seattle, notes MLB.com's Greg Johns.
- Mike Salk of ESPN 710 Radio in Seattle outlines the reasons why he "loves" the deal for the Mariners. Also from Salk (on Twitter), he hears from "a non-M's baseball guy" who believes Noesi is a better long-term option than Pineda.
- The trade makes the Yankees the favorites in the AL East, writes Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. Miller talks to two scouts who rave about the Yankees' sudden surplus of young pitching that also includes Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos.
- Dave Cameron of the U.S.S. Mariner blog sees Montero as developing into a Carlos Lee-type of hitter who is productive but not quite a superstar. Cameron thinks the deal will look better for the Mariners if they were to sign a free agent starter like Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson, since then the team would have Montero's bat plus a pitcher that could match Pineda's production.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman feels he took a "huge risk" with the trade, reports The Record's Bob Klapisch (via Twitter). "I gave up a ton (for Pineda)," Cashman said. "To me, Montero is Mike Piazza. He's Miguel Cabrera."
- "Some execs from other AL East teams believe Yankees just made an incredible trade," tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- The two teams were "talking for weeks" about the deal, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). Each side told the other that they had limited funds to address their needs.
- The Yankees initially tried to acquire Felix Hernandez from the Mariners, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) and were willing to offer a package that included Montero, Betances, Banuelos and more.
6:06pm: The Mariners have moved closer to a trade that would net them a "young impact hitter," reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. A source calls the trade "significant" and says Brandon League is not part of the deal (both links via Twitter).
8:16pm: At the beginning of the offseason, the asking price for Jackson was in the Lackey/Burnett range ($82.5MM), tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney. The Yankees haven’t had talks with Boras about Jackson, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network. No talks are expected unless his asking price drops.
TUESDAY, 2:53pm: Jackson seeks $15-17MM per year, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Boras' promotional book on Jackson compares him to C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle, John Lackey, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe. All of those pitchers received at least $14.5MM per year, averaging $15.6MM. Of course, Wilson and Buehrle just signed and the other three contracts were regrettable. The Yankees will continue dialogue with Jackson, writes Heyman. The process is starting to remind Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues of the Yankees' signing of Rafael Soriano last year.
MONDAY, 11:21am: Edwin Jackson's asking price is approximately $60MM over five years, writes ESPNNewYork's Wallace Matthews. The Yankees like the free agent righty, "but not at that price," writes Matthews. Matthews' colleague Buster Olney tweeted the same, saying that unless the Yankees' budget grows, there's no room for Jackson.
Ultimately I expect Jackson to settle for something closer to four years and $44MM, which wouldn't be an awful price for a 28-year-old innings eater with a touch of upside.
Additionally, Matthews writes that the Cubs' asking price for Matt Garza is "out of the question" for the Yankees. He says the Cubs want at least two and possibly all three of Yankees top prospects Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, and Marlins have also been connected to Garza in recent days.
The Athletics have already traded one of their young starting pitchers this offseason, but it wasn't Gio Gonzalez even though his name is popular on the trade rumor circuit. Here's the latest on the 26-year-old left-hander…
- The Mets are unlikely to pursue Gonzalez according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, with one team official saying talks never moved passed the preliminary phase. “Nothing serious,” said the official, with another source saying they are "unlikely" to continue pursuing the southpaw.
- Martino says the Athletics asked the Yankees for Jesus Montero and top pitching prospects in exchange for Gonzalez when they discussed his availability earlier this winter.
A week ago, Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were unwilling to trade Manny Banuelos or Jesus Montero for White Sox lefty John Danks. The newly-minted CBS Sports scribe now tweets that the White Sox asked for two of Montero, Banuelos, or Dellin Betances, and the Yankees might give up one in a package.
It's easy to see why the Yankees have resisted so far, as Danks is only under team control for one year. He'll certainly be motivated with free agency on the horizon, and he would be just 27 years old on the open market. If Danks can put up 32 starts with a sub-4.00 ERA, as was his custom prior to 2011, I think he'll be able to top four years and $50MM. Edwin Jackson's upcoming contract may set the bar.
One executive told ESPN's Buster Olney during the Winter Meetings that the White Sox sought a "Ubaldo Jimenez" package for Danks, which would be hard to defend since Jimenez came with two-plus years of cost certainty. In addition to the Yankees, AL East rivals such as the Blue Jays and Red Sox appear to have checked in.
The White Sox are asking for big returns for starters John Danks and Gavin Floyd, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Yankees like Danks, tweets SI's Jon Heyman, but they're unwilling to meet Chicago's request of top prospects Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero. In fact, Heyman says the Yankees wouldn't trade either for Danks.
Though Danks is generally regarded as a better pitcher than Floyd, it's possible Floyd has more trade value since he's potentially under club control for 2013.
Here's a look at some items concerning the AL and NL Central..
- Several Royals officials have told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter) that any major roster upgrades will come through trades rather than the free agent market.
- There's nothing serious between the Tigers and Aramis Ramirez at the moment, a source told Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com (via Twitter).
- In a deal for John Danks, the White Sox told the Yankees that they want Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero from the Yankees, tweets Jon Heyman of SI. Heyman writes that the Sox are obviously not serious about dealing Danks just yet.
- The Tigers looking harder at the market for No. 5 starters than had been anticipated when the offseason began, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The club is after a reliever as well.
- The Cubs told at least one team that it would take an overwhelming offer to even consider trading Matt Garza, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.
- The Brewers are interested in hearing what it'll take to sign Jimmy Rollins, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- There's lots of skepticism over Albert Pujols' claim that he is 31 years old, tweets Jon Heyman of SI. Heyman writes that the slugger may not be able to top the Cardinals' nine-year, $200MM offer if he cannot produce a birth certificate.
- Jim Riggleman will accept the Reds' offer to manage their Double-A affiliate, writes Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. Earlier today, Heyman reported that Riggleman was offered the position and was likely to accept.
It's been a busy day for the Yankees. They've announced their extension with GM Brian Cashman and declined their option on Andrew Brackman, making the right-hander a free agent. Reactions to C.C. Sabathia's extension have continued streaming in and we have some more notes to pass along from Cashman's conversation with reporters. Most of the quotes below come via Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger:
- By signing Sabathia, the Yankees added "the most important piece" of the offseason, Cashman said.
- "Offense is not a problem with this club," Cashman said. He's right – the Yankees scored more runs than any MLB team but the Red Sox and their starting lineup returns in 2012, so pursuing Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols doesn't seem likely.
- The focus of the winter is "pitching, pitching, pitching," Cashman said.
- Cashman said the organization is better-positioned to evaluate Japanese players than it was a few years ago. The Yankees could express interest in Yu Darvish, the Japanese right-hander who may be posted this offseason.
- Jesus Montero's role with the Yankees has yet to be determined: he could DH, catch on a semi-regular basis or be a bat off of the bench. Cashman expects Montero to contribute in the Major Leagues.
- Cashman said picking up Nick Swisher's $10.25MM option was an easy decision.
- Agent Peter Greenberg says there’s mutual interest between the Yankees and free agent Freddy Garcia in working out a new deal, according to Mark Hale, George A. King III and Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Yankees would likely offer the Type B right-hander arbitration.
- I examined the Yankees' offseason last week.