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J.J. Hardy Rumors
Here's the latest from the Orioles' camp…
- The Orioles' inactivity for much of the offseason made executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette a target of criticism, but Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun notes that Duquette ended up with the last laugh by signing Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz at relative bargain prices. While Duquette praised his operations staff for doing their homework to prepare for player acquisitions, he admitted that he wasn't planning on qualifying-offer free agents like Jimenez and Cruz lasting this long. "This is the first full year of the [qualifying offer] implementation, and I'm not sure people understood how the market was going to play out. I can't tell you we envisioned that the market would get to this point," Duquette said.
- Extension talks between the Orioles and J.J. Hardy are still in the very preliminary stages, though one thing Hardy would like to get settled quickly is his future position. "Obviously, that'll be a question that will be answered before all the contract stuff gets figured out and I'd like to know,'' Hardy told Peter Schmuck. "If I'm going to be doing that in a year or two, it would have an impact of some sort." Though Hardy has played every game of his Major League career as a shortstop and Manny Machado was a defensive ace at third last season, it has been presumed that the O's would eventually like to move Machado back to his natural position at short.
- Some more moves could yet be on the way for Baltimore, MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli opines. The team is still looking for pitching and Joe Saunders makes sense, though Ghiroli notes that "nothing is imminent" between the two sides. The O's were talking to Saunders earlier this month and Ghiroli suspects that Saunders would insist on a Major League contract. Saunders had a short stint with the Orioles in 2012, pitching well in seven starts after being acquired in a late-August trade.
In his column last night, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe discussed several matters concerning the American League East. From a transactional perspective, Cafardo says not to be surprised if David Ortiz asks the Red Sox to break the $20MM barrier in adding a year to his current contract. Here's more from the AL East:
- Early returns on Red Sox outfielder Grady Sizemore are positive, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Hitting coach Gregg Colbrunn said that his swing has "all the good things you look for" in spite of his long layoff, while manager John Farrell said that Sizmore has been at "full speed" on the bases and in the field. Of course, notes Mastrodonato, the club has maintained that it is mostly focused on gauging whether Sizemore can maintain his health over a draining season.
- We heard earlier today that the Orioles have approached J.J. Hardy about opening extension talks. From Hardy's perspective, the shortstop tells ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, he still has not heard much about how things might shape up. "I don't know how that will all play out," Hardy said. "We'll see. I'm actually going to meet with my agent. And we're going to talk a litle bit about what could happen. And he'll kind of fill me in … because I don't really know much."
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman covered a variety of topics on the MLB Network Hot Stove show (transcript via Cork Gaines of Rays Index). Friedman said that the club still feels it will be tough to hold onto ace David Price for the long haul, but that its "mindset is to enjoy each and every day we have David here and do everything in our power to continue that relationship." The likely ultimate scenario — a trade — could take any form, explained the Tampa GM, whose assessment of the Price situation reflects the franchise's general operating strategy. "[W]e really can't have any hard and fast rules about anything," said Friedman. "So we have to be really prepared and nimble. The more prepared you are, the easier it is for you to react more quickly when things pop up. And that's what we have to do is to remain very fluid and not ever get into a situation where we have to make a certain move. But to continue to kind of assess the market and figure out when things kind of line up in our time horizon of what makes the most sense for us to sustain success."
- While the Yankees' money surely played a substantial role in landing Masahiro Tanaka, the club did not just rely on making the highest offer, reports Brandon Kuty of the Star-Ledger. With Pacific advisor George Rose leading the charge, the Yanks put together a series of gestures intended to convince him of their longstanding interest in Tanaka and overall experience with Japanese ballplayers.
Dave Cameron of Fangraphs has ranked the ten best and worst transactions of the offseason. The number one spot on both lists goes to the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Nationals and returned Robbie Ray, Steve Lombardozzi, and Ian Krol to the Tigers. Cameron argues that the deal is "the most lopsided trade we've seen in years," and notes that many observers are at a loss to understand it from Detroit's perspective. While the return for Fister certainly seems light, I tried to make some sense of the swap back in December, writing that the deal was a part (albeit a questionable one) of a massive overhaul of the club's future commitments that saved as much as $150MM in down-the-line salary while maintaining most of its present on-field quality.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski endeavored to explain the trade from his perspective in an interesting interview with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He made clear that the team decided to deal one of its veterans for a good, young arm. "You can see that young pitching right now is very difficult to acquire," said Dombrowski. "We had a list of about 15 pitchers that we would consider in various deals. [Ray] was one of the 15. The other 14 people said no. And [the Nationals] said no at first." Nationals GM Mike Rizzo confirmed that the club was hesitant to part with Ray, even with Fister being dangled, saying that was "why the trade took 2 1/2 weeks to consummate."
- Dombrowski rejected the claims made by other executives that they had not known of Fister's availability, saying instead that he encountered a hesitant market. "That couldn't be further from the truth," he said. "We had our list of around 15 guys. We went to every one of those clubs: 'Would you trade this guy? Would you trade that guy?' And none of them would trade one." When the deal started to take shape, Dombrowski said he decided to grab Ray while he could. "We thought: Do we make this deal now, which we like? Or do we wait and see what else becomes available? But then does Washington do something else? Does [the trade] end up not taking place?" As I wrote at the time, the timing of things seemed to play an important role in how the deal came together; indeed, the Tigers went on to sign Joe Nathan the very next day, adding a two-year commitment at slightly more than Fister figures to earn in that stretch.
- The groundwork for the Orioles' signing of Ubaldo Jimenez was laid at the Winter Meetings when the starter and his agent met with new pitching coach Dave Wallace, executive VP Dan Duquette, and others, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. "Right there, I knew," said Jimenez. "They're really humble, really down-to-earth guys, and I knew it was going to be special to be in this organization. RIght there, I was like, 'Pretty much, this is the team I want to be with.' It's going to be a big part of my future for me and my family. The city is great and they have a competitive team. Those guys in the clubhouse look like they are great guys." Jimenez backed up his expressions of commitment by revealing that he would move his whole family — including his parents and sister — to Baltimore, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.
- Though he is heartened by the club's moves and remains happy in Baltimore, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy says that he has heard nothing about an extension beyond what has been reported publicly, writes Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore. "Even after FanFest, I thought something was going to happen right away because I think you guys were asking Dan [Duquette]," said Hardy. "He came up to me and said something about how we're going to start talking extension, but really nothing has happened. I don't know. Maybe they were waiting to do some of these other moves or something." Hardy, who could test the market next year, says that he is still interested in a new deal: "If they come to me with an extension, we'll definitely be open with trying to work that out."
- Meanwhile, righty Kevin Correia of the Twins says that he would be interested in continuing to pitch in Minnesota when his two-year, $10MM deal expires after the season, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. But, said Correia, he has not had any talks about an extension to date. "They had a pretty busy offseason with the pitching staff, so we haven't really talked," he said. "I enjoy playing here. We talked to the effect of how my experience was here, how I enjoyed the team and the coaching staff and everything, but that's about as far as we've gotten." Correia, 33, does not offer much upside but delivered solid results for the Twins last year, logging 185 1/3 innings of 4.18 ERA ball. Of course, as Berardino notes, with three new starters under contract and several prospect arms expected to reach the bigs in short order, the veteran may not fit into the club's plans after this year and could become a mid-season trade piece.
In an appearance today on Baltimore's WBAL Radio, club executive VP Dan Duquette indicated that he was not troubled by failing to land closer Fernando Rodney, saying that the Mariners "liked him a little bit more than us." (Links via Twitter, courtesy of MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko.) Looking ahead, Duquette discussed some other moves the club hopes to make before the start of the season, saying that he hopes to reach an extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy and remains confident that the club will add a veteran starter to the rotation.
Regarding the veteran Hardy, Duquette said that the sides were "starting to work on" a new deal and hoped to put pen to paper before Opening Day. It had been reported previously that extension negotiations were expected to take place, as Hardy is entering the last year of his three-year, $22.25MM pact. The 31-year-old has been a sturdy performer for the Orioles, with excellent defense and a power bat leading to 11.2 rWAR and 10.3 fWAR over his three years in Baltimore. An extension for Hardy would likely mean that star youngster Manny Machado will remain at third for the foreseeable future.
On the starting pitching front, Baltimore has long been rumored to be amongst the clubs seeking to draw from the remaining pool of free agent rotation options. Though Duquette expressed confidence that the O's would indeed add a veteran arm, he noted that four or five other teams were interested in the same players. Most recently, Baltimore has been tabbed as one of the most likely landing spots for Bronson Arroyo as well as A.J. Burnett.
Here are a few notes from Orioles FanFest this morning.
- Before the start of the season, the O's will try to engage shortstop J.J. Hardy in extension discussions, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Hardy is in the final year of a three-year, $22.25MM deal.
- The Orioles have tried to extend Chris Davis, but with no success so far, Kubatko tweets. Davis is due to become a free agent after the 2015 season. He will make $10.35MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility after a monster .286/.370/.634 season in 2013.
- Orioles executive Dan Duquette says the O's have not tried to deal catcher Matt Wieters this offseason, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets. Like Davis, Wieters is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season.
After nine seasons with the Tigers, Kirk Gibson left Detroit for free agency, signing a three-year, $4.5MM deal with the Dodgers on this day 26 years ago. The Dodgers immediately got a return on their investment as Gibson won the 1988 NL MVP Award (hitting .290/.377/.483 with 25 homers and 106 runs) as he and Orel Hershiser led Los Angeles to the pennant. Knee and hamstring injuries left Gibson questionable for the World Series, however, and Gibson made just one plate appearance in the 1988 Fall Classic…but it was certainly a big one. Ironically, Gibson is today firmly aligned against the Dodgers in his current role as the Diamondbacks' manager.
Here are some items from around baseball…
- Scott Boras, Suk-min Yoon's agent, said that "many teams," including the Red Sox, were interested in his client, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter link). The Sox were linked to Yoon earlier this month though it's unknown if Boston is one of the four clubs who have made contract offers to the Korean righty. Boras said that "we'll know more in 10 days," which would seemingly give credence to rumors that Yoon will soon sign with a team.
- The Orioles were rumored to be considering a contract extenson for J.J. Hardy this winter, though there has been a lack of movement on this front. CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff wonders if the O's are waiting for Stephen Drew's free agent situation to be resolved since the two shortstops have comparable career numbers. Hardy is scheduled for free agency next winter and his long-term future in Baltimore is in some question given that shortstop is Manny Machado's natural position.
- A source with direct knowledge of Bronson Arroyo's negotiations tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link) to "don't believe everything you read" in regards to Arroyo's claim that he hasn't received a firm contract offer this winter.
- Vernon Wells is guaranteed $21MM for the 2014 season after being released by the Yankees, and since Wells lives in a state (Texas) with no income tax, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes that Wells could actually end up losing money if he plays for another team this season. Of course, losing a little more than $1MM in taxes may not be a major concern for Wells (who has banked over $110MM for his career, according to Baseball Reference) if he wants to continue his career.
- For the first time, MLB teams could sign more free agents to multiyear contracts than one-year deals, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron writes. With more money (particularly from TV deals) coming into the game, Cameron theorizes that teams are more willing to make longer commitments to players.
A quick look at the AL East..
- GM Ben Cherington says the Red Sox won't pursue Johan Santana, tweets Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says that he's exploring a deal with a "three-team component" that he believes can get done, tweets Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.
- The Orioles have considered a contract extension for shortstop J.J. Hardy, according to Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com (via Twitter).
The Orioles have been one of the most mentioned teams on MLBTR with the club trying to decide whether to extend or trade Matt Wieters and approaching the Cardinals about a J.J. Hardy-Shelby Miller trade. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com weighs in on those and other topics in a "Because You Asked" column:
- The Hardy-Miller talks were just preliminary, but not unexpected because of the Orioles' quest for starting pitching and the Cardinals' need for a shortstop. Kubatko sees the O's acquiring a starter and keeping Hardy.
- Wieters is not untouchable and the Orioles are willing to trade him, but are not feverishly shopping the catcher. Financial constraints are compounding the Wieters situation, as the front office is trying to figure out how to accomodate within their budget the pursuit of free agents like Carlos Beltran and arbitration raises for Wieters and others (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $41.2MM for eight arbitration eligible players).
- There is no progress in negotiations with outfielder Nate McLouth. The Orioles are concerned with other clubs offering him a two-year deal. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted two years and $10MM for McLouth to which a person in the Orioles organization, when asked by Kubatko late in the season, responded: "Well, he won't be getting that from us."
- Kubatko suggests the Orioles swallow hard and give McLouth a two-year contract since they did so for Wilson Betemit. If re-signed, Kubatko doesn't necessarily see McLouth as the full-time starter in left, but a valuable fourth outfielder, occasional DH, pinch-runner, and defensive replacement.
- The Orioles like Carlos Beltran and see him as a great fit; but, will have to outbid some big spending teams, which they haven't done historically.
- One option worth debating to free up payroll space for Beltran, according to Kubatko, is trading Jim Johnson and his expected $10.8MM arbitration salary. The Orioles have said they intend to keep their closer.
- Kubatko spoke with someone in the organization recently who steered him away from Scott Kazmir, as if the Orioles have no interest. The O's, however, do have interest in Tim Hudson.
- There is a definite possibility Brian Roberts will return to Baltimore. If not, Mark Ellis is on the club's radar as an alternative because he won't command a three-year deal like Omar Infante.
Here's the latest out of Baltimore …
- The Orioles remain interested in bringing back outfielder Nate McLouth and have engaged in discussions with his agency (The Sparta Group), reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The O's have yet to make a formal offer, says Connolly, and when they do it might need to include a figure for the 2015 season, as McLouth is looking likely to command multiple years. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that the 32-year-old would land a two-year, $10MM deal.
- Baltimore may not spend a lot on the free agent market, but the team has been aggressive early in making multiple offers to targets, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. She sees the club targeting the mid-tier starting pitching market.
- Meanwhile, says Ghiroli, it would remain surprising to see catcher Matt Wieters trade hands before 2014. But "an extension is becoming more and more remote," in her opinion.
- Trade speculation has also recently hit shortstop J.J. Hardy, but Ghiroli throws cold water on that idea as well. As she explains, dealing Hardy opens up a hole in the lineup even if Manny Machado is shifted to short, since then the team would have no obvious choice to man the hot corner. Of course, an overwhelming return could nevertheless be enticing, and that could well be precisely what the O's sought in approaching the Cardinals with interest in Shelby Miller.