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J.J. Hardy Rumors
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.
This morning's news out of the American League East..
- A deal that would bring Brendan Ryan back to the Yankees was set weeks ago, pending a physical following minor surgery, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (via Twitter). There's reportedly mutual interest in a new deal.
- Stephen Drew won't be back with the Red Sox, a source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. There are a number of teams out there that are willing to make multi-year deals beyond what the BoSox are willing to do.
- A report yesterday indicated that the Yankees are in pursuit of Cardinals third baseman David Freese, but someone involved with the club tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that it won't happen. The Yankees still won't know what will happen with Alex Rodriguez for at least another month, so if the club does anything at third base, it will be with a left-handed complement, such as Eric Chavez, or a free agent like Jhonny Peralta or Drew who could play shortstop or third and provide insurance for both Jeter and A-Rod. Sherman also notes the possibility that the Yanks could wait and see if the Cards non-tender Freese ($4.4MM projected), but as Tim Dierkes wrote earlier this month, that seems like a drastic measure.
- Sherman also writes that Marlon Byrd apparently wasn't on the Yankees radar. When asked about the outfielder, GM Brian Cashman said, "I didn't even know who his agent was." As shown in the MLBTR Agency Database, his agent is Seth Levinson, who has a long, strong relationship with Cashman.
- Free agent outfielder Chris Young is on the Red Sox's list of fallback options if they don't re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
- Both Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy have been mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of days, but Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette didn't sound eager to move either one in a conversation with Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
12:48pm: A club source tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) that rumors that J.J. Hardy and Wieters are available just part of initial dialogue with teams. The source maintains they aren’t on the trading block or being shopped.
11:19am: The Orioles are willing to trade catcher Matt Wieters, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). An extension is unlikely for the Scott Boras client and the Orioles believe that he is set to hit the open market after the 2015 season, barring a dramatic change in thinking.
Wieters, 27, had a solid season in 2013 (.235/.287/.417 with 22 homers) but it wasn’t quite on the level of his previous two campaigns. Rosenthal suggested over the weekend that the O’s could conceivably move Wieters and target a replacement such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the open market. If the Orioles move him now, however, it’ll be selling low on one of the best young catchers in baseball.
The Orioles and Cardinals had trade talks revolving around Shelby Miller and J.J. Hardy, but the Cardinals told Baltimore there's no deal to be made, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Some have speculated that the Cards could consider trading Miller this winter despite his brilliant rookie season. However, there was no indication that St. Louis is thinking that way in this exchange.
Hardy is coming off of a season in which he hit .263/.306/.433 while belting 25 home runs. Of course, the Cardinals are aggressively pursuing an upgrade at the shortstop position, but this deal wasn't up their alley.
While the Cardinals believe in keeping an open mind to all opportunities, many at the GM Meetings are wondering why they would even think about trading the right-hander, Heyman writes. The Cards have recieved many inquiries about their wealth of young pitchers over the last couple of days.
Let's take a look at the latest from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who's out with a new column of rumors from around the majors:
- A trade of second baseman Ian Kinsler or shortstop Elvis Andrus increasingly looks "inevitable" given the Rangers' crowded infield. "Some team is going to get a good middle infielder from the Rangers. The only question is which one," Rosenthal writes. It's unlikely, however, that the club packages infielder Jurickson Profar with other young players in a deal for a star such as David Price or Giancarlo Stanton. Rosenthal's sources say the Rangers want to keep their farm system stocked.
- Matt Garza's elbow shouldn't scare off potential suitors. Though he missed much of 2012 with an elbow issue, officials with both the Cubs and Rangers tell Rosenthal that the righty wasn't treated for elbow issues at all in 2013.
- There's mutual interest in a new deal between Southern California native Jason Vargas and the Angels, but Rosenthal's sources say the team is already examining other options and could move on from the left-hander if negotiations drag. Vargas may ultimately have to leave money on the table if he wants to remain with the club.
- The Orioles are at least considering options for a backup catcher, as Matt Wieters managed just a .628 OPS against lefties last season. Rosenthal notes that the O's could seek to move Wieters and target a replacement such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, as Wieters is unlikely to agree to an extension. However, trading him now would be selling low.
- Baltimore will also have to consider how they'll approach J.J. Hardy's impending free agency. Though Rosenthal writes that the Orioles' front office eventually aims to move Manny Machado to shortstop, it also views Hardy, who becomes a free agent after next season, as critical to the club.
- Executives from other teams are surprised at rumors that the Tigers are listening on Max Scherzer. Shipping Scherzer elsewhere and then losing Anibal Sanchez to an injury would be a major hit to the team's rotation.
- The Diamondbacks continue to wait for a reply from Dave Duncan on whether he will take their pitching coach job.
- Mike Napoli is such a good fit for the Red Sox and in Boston that the club needs to re-sign him, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald opines. It was reported earlier today that Napoli will test the market, though the Sox have already offered him a multiyear deal.
- If the Red Sox signed Carlos Beltran, however, they wouldn't necessarily need Napoli, John Tomase of the Boston Herald writes. Beltran could play left field, causing a few lineup shifts that would settle on Daniel Nava as Napoli's replacement at first base.
- Center field is the most logical place for the Phillies to add offense, according to David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News, so the Phils should pursue someone like Curtis Granderson as an upgrade over Ben Revere.
- Giancarlo Stanton is a "pie-in-the-sky target" for the Phillies, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury writes. A somewhat more realistic trade option could be Mark Trumbo, though Salisbury notes that the Phils lack the young pitching that the Angels want in return. The Halos have been linked to Kyle Kendrick in the past, so Salisbury opines that Kendrick could be part of a Trumbo trade package.
- Speaking of Stanton, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill again reiterated that the slugger isn't available for trade offers, Hill tells MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Hill says the team is having "an ongoing discussion" about approaching Stanton with a long-term extension offer.
- The Marlins' maximum payroll is expected to be in the low-to-mid-$40MM range, Frisaro reports. This is a slight increase over Miami's $38MM payroll from 2013.
- The Blue Jays haven't been very active in free agency under Alex Anthopoulos' watch but the Toronto general manager tells Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca that this could change this winter. "It seems like with all the different things we’re looking to do, half of the scenarios are in free agency, half of the scenarios are in trade," Anthopoulos said. He feels the Jays also still have enough minor league depth to offer in trades, though the farm system was thinned by last offseason's blockbuster deals.
- It doesn't make sense for the Orioles to shop J.J. Hardy, MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski argues, since Hardy's importance to the O's is even greater in the wake of Manny Machado's injury.
- In East division news from earlier today, MLBTR's Matt Swartz broke down Chris Davis' arbitration case, the Nationals could use their minor leaguers to acquire a starting pitcher, ESPN's Buster Olney discussed the Red Sox and the David Price trade market, the Yankees aren't interested in Ervin Santana but are prioritizing Masahiro Tanaka,
As the A's and Tigers battle to see who will face off against the Red Sox for the American League crown, let's check in around the league …
- The Mariners went to former manager Lou Piniella in hopes that he would come out of retirement and take over the club, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The longtime skipper declined, however, leaving the M's with a long list of remaining possibilities to work through. Now 70, Piniella was on board for the franchise's best years in the mid-90's and early-aughts. As Rosenthal notes, he is the only Seattle manager to have stayed at the helm for more than four seasons, or to have drawn up a lineup card for a post-season game.
- Meanwhile, the Rangers are all set at the top but are working through a series of internal shifts in the lower levels of the field staff and front office. In the dugout, manager Ron Washington and GM Jon Daniels are preparing to hire a bench coach and first base coach, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Candidates for the former include former managers Eric Wedge and Jim Tracy. Among those wearing dress socks rather than stirrups, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports, a broader restructuring is underway.
- Those expecting a full-blown Yankees collapse may be somewhat naive, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney (subscription required). The club still has real talent on its roster and will, as ever, be able to exercise its unmatched financial muscle. Indeed, as I recently noted, the Yanks' current payroll commitments are still well short of the club's historical levels, or even the $189MM luxury tax threshold. At present, the Bombers are obligated for $89MM next year (only seventh-highest league-wide), just under $70MM for 2015 and 2016, and $26MM in 2017.
- For the AL East-rival Orioles, Manny Machado's just-announced surgery could provide additional impetus for an extension of shortstop J.J. Hardy. The Orioles should do just that, says Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Another three-year extension is not out of line, in Dubroff's opinion. Hardy, 31, is entering the final season of a three-year, $21MM deal he inked with the O's in July 2011. He had yet another strong campaign in 2013, putting up a .263/.306/.433 line with 25 home runs and receiving excellent defensive reviews.
- One possible temporary fill-in for Machado, utilityman Ryan Flaherty, was a rare Rule 5 draftee to make it in the bigs, Dubroff writes. The 27-year-old was a valuable contributor this year for Baltimore, netting 1.0 bWAR and 1.4 fWAR in 271 plate appearances while logging time all over the diamond. He will play for the league minimum again in 2014.