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J.J. Hardy Rumors
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.
Links from the only division in baseball that featured three 90-win teams in 2012…
- Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he’s still looking to add a bat and, potentially, a reliever, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). The Rays could also settle some arbitration cases before Friday’s deadline for exchanging figures with eligible players.
- The Blue Jays seek a reliever for the back end of their bullpen, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter link). Heyman suggests setup relievers such as free agents Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Capps, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth could be fits.
- The Orioles aren’t interested in trading J.J. Hardy to the Tigers for Rick Porcello, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders if Baltimore would consider dealing closer Jim Johnson to acquire the 24-year-old ground ball pitcher.
- The Yankees were "fired up" to hear that they're on track get a compensatory draft pick for losing Rafael Soriano to the Nationals, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).
Here's today's look at the American League East..
- Trade talks involving Chris Dickerson never came to life after the outfielder was designated for assignment, reports Chad Jennings of The Journal News. Teams expected him to be released and available as a free agent, and sure enough the Yankees released him on Saturday.
- When asked if the Orioles would have to be overwhelmed to trade shortstop J.J. Hardy, manager Buck Showalter responded "What word is above "overwhelmed?", tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The Tigers reportedly wanted Hardy in a three-way deal in order to ship Rick Porcello to the Cubs.
- The Yankees are still interested in acquiring a right-handed bat but one baseball official says that the club remains in a holding pattern, writes Dan Martin of the New York Post. The Bombers are interested in Scott Hairston but the outfielder is holding out for a two-year deal while the Nats aren't in a rush to trade Michael Morse.
- A source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that the Red Sox have shown interest in free agents Casey Kotchman and Lyle Overbay, but there's "nothing active" right now on either front. We learned yesterday that Boston has explored signing Kotchman as well as Nick Johnson.
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald looks at what it might take for the Red Sox to pry Mike Morse away from the Nationals.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
The Tigers and Cubs are discussing a potential three-way trade that would send Rick Porcello to Chicago with the Orioles as the third party, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The Tigers want Baltimore involved because they want shortstop J.J. Hardy and they don't feel that the Cubs have the necessary components to make it a two-team trade.
For the O's to part ways with Hardy in a deal, the Cubs would have to send pitching to the Orioles. However, Kubatko thinks that the O's will have to be overwhelmed by an offer in order to part with Hardy. Dan Duquette & Co. are happy with the left side of their infield and they don't intend on moving Manny Machado to shortstop this year.
The Orioles are also one of the teams that are interested in Porcello and it's logical to think that they could just hammer out a two-team swap with the Tigers instead. The Padres, Mariners, and Pirates have also expressed interest in the right-hander recently. The 24-year-old posted a 4.59 ERA with 5.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 53.2% ground ball rate last season and is under team control through 2015.
The AL East is one of two divisions with a pair of 90-win teams (NL East is the other), but the Rays can make it three 90-win teams if they win four of their final five games. Here's the latest from Tampa Bay's division…
- "I always said I signed that deal because I saw that there was potential with this team and organization," said Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy to Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com when asked about the three-year contract extension he signed last summer. "To be honest, I didn't think it was going to happen this quick. I saw a process that was headed in the right direction."
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports explains why the Blue Jays should trade manager John Farrell to the Red Sox for a Major League player this offseason. Boston is known to have managerial interest in their former pitching coach.
- Richard Griffin of The Toronto Star lays out a five-step plan to help the Blue Jays improve going into next year. Unsurprisingly, one of the first steps is to secure a better starting rotation.
- The Red Sox are on the verge of landing a protected first round draft pick, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal. The bottom nine teams will have their first rounder protected from free agent compensation this offseason.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy admitted that Manny Machado's presence makes him wonder about his own future with the club, tweets Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. The veteran, who is under contract through 2014 for $7MM per season, says that he is focused on playing his best at shortstop and won't let the uncertainty hinder him. "Does it cross my mind? Yeah. I’m not going to lie. I was in the same situation in Milwaukee with Alcides Escobar coming up. I don’t know what’s going to happen," said Hardy. More Thursday night linkage..
- Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has gone from one of baseball's most overpaid players to one of its most underrated, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Cubs have one day to find a deal for Soriano if they hope to move him this season. Last week it was reported that Theo Epstein & Co. are unlikely to deal him this month.
- In his latest mailbag, a reader asked MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan if the Rangers made a mistake in extending Derek Holland before working out a deal with Matt Harrison. He writes that the club should have the financial flexibility to get both extensions done and can be expected to hammer something out with Harrison this winter. The left-hander will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
- It's becoming more and more obvious by the day that the Astros and Roger Clemens are set for a reunion, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). Rosenthal opines that the idea is embarrassing for both parties, but possibly worse on the team's end. Despite Clemens' tarnished reputation, he is still a well-liked figure in Houston who should serve as a strong gate attraction if he makes a return.
- After being cut loose by the Brewers just over a week ago, veteran Randy Wolf says that he is excited to hook on with a young Orioles squad, writes Kevin Cowherd of the Baltimore Sun. The Brewers are on the hook for most of his $9.5MM salary, with the O's covering the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum.
Four AL East teams can be found amongst the top eight in ESPN's Future Power Rankings, which measure how well-positioned teams are for success over the next five years. The list can be found in two parts (ESPN Insider subscription required).
Here's the latest from the AL East…
- Larry Lucchino discussed his team's turbulent season both on and off the field in a radio interview on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show (WEEI.com's Morley Quatroche has a partial transcript) and the Red Sox president didn't rule out making large changes in the offseason. "I think we’ll examine all options, absolutely,” Lucchino said. “It’s not a question of fine tuning. It’s a question of looking back to the fundamental things….do we have the right kind of system in place? You need to build it all on pitching and we will focus heavily on that, but we’ll look at everything. We’ll look under every rock.”
- With Josh Beckett a sure bet to pass through waivers, the Nationals could be a good trade partner for the Red Sox, opines Fangraphs' Dave Cameron. Beckett could give the Nats an experienced arm in the rotation once Stephen Strasburg is shut down. Cameron thinks, however, that the Red Sox would only be able to move Beckett if they agree to eat at least $20MM of the approximately $36MM owed to the right-hander through the 2014 season.
- Derek Jeter is a good bet to finish in the top six of AL MVP voting this season, which ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews points out will earn Jeter an extra $2MM if he picks up his 2014 player option with the Yankees. That option is worth $8MM, though incentives could push the value to $14MM.
- "No chance. No chance. Nada. Zero. No, not a chance," is how Jeter described his interest in someday becoming a manager, reports CSN Chicago's Jeremy Lynn.
- J.J. Hardy "makes a ton of sense" as a trade target for the Diamondbacks this winter, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Orioles could unload Hardy to make room for Manny Machado at his natural shortstop position, while the D'Backs pick up Hardy as a "stopgap" for the next two seasons until prospect Chris Owings is ready for the majors. Arizona GM Kevin Towers said yesterday that his team would likely pursue a shortstop via the trade market in the offseason as the D'Backs look to replace Stephen Drew.
Here's the latest from the AL East…
- The Rays' success with low-budget acquisitions stands out in contrast to other teams' lack of return on expensive free agents, writes Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays had a modest offseason and have baseball's second-best record, while Shelton notes the Marlins have only a .500 record after spending big last winter.
- Rays ownership's patience with the Andrew Friedman/Matt Silverman/Joe Maddon management team is a big reason why Tampa Bay has become a consistent contender, writes MLB.com's Bill Chastain.
- The Blue Jays offered David Pauley a minor league contract in March, tweets MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Pauley decided to sign with the Angels instead since "there was an opportunity to come and play" in Los Angeles.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos "deserves a lot of credit" for Edwin Encarnacion's success in 2012, manager John Farrell tells MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "[Anthopoulos] is the one that has talked about him repeatedly, and consistently, with the belief that there is an above-average offensive player in there," Farrell said.
- Tsuyoshi Wada has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list, the Orioles announced today. The move creates space on the 40-man roster for right-hander Stu Pomeranz (brother of Rockies' hurler Drew Pomeranz), who had his contract selected from Triple-A. Wada is set to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the 2012 season.
- Fangraphs' Matt Klaassen looks at J.J. Hardy as "an excellent trade chip," though the Orioles' decision to move Hardy or any other veterans has been impacted by the club's surprising rise to the top of the standings.
- The Yankees might be wise to retain impending free agent Nick Swisher, opines Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog, though signing him could be difficult given the Yankees' plan to fit their payroll under the luxury tax threshold by 2014.
- For more on the Bronx Bombers, check out this collection of Yankees notes compiled earlier today by MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.