Joe Saunders Rumors

Rosenthal On Padres, Orioles, Rockies, Phillies

The Orioles showed serious interest in Justin Upton before talks with the Diamondbacks sputtered, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. Here are some more of Rosenthal’s notes from around MLB…

  • Rosenthal hears from one executive who expects the Padres to make another significant move. However, the Padres like their group of young starting pitchers and aren’t inclined to make a strong play for one of the remaining free agent starters. San Diego could still trade for a pitcher such as Rick Porcello, Luke Hochevar or Aaron Harang.
  • Talks about a deal involving Upton and Chase Headley didn’t progress, Rosenthal reports.
  • The Orioles continue seeking starting pitching and Joe Saunders remains a target. The Orioles also checked in on Porcello, according to Rosenthal.
  • Though the Orioles spoke with Lance Berkman before he signed with the Rangers, they weren’t interested in spending big for the switch-hitting DH.
  • Jeff Karstens, Derek Lowe, Aaron Cook and Jair Jurrjens are among the possibilities the Rockies are considering. The Rockies wouldn’t offer all of those pitchers Major League deals, however.
  • Rosenthal suggests free agent reliever Rafael Soriano could be a longshot for the Rockies. Colorado would have to surrender its second round draft pick to sign the Scott Boras client.
  • The Phillies continue seeking a right-handed hitting outfielder, Rosenthal reports. They’re still considering free agent Scott Hairston and trade candidates Alfonso Soriano and Vernon Wells. It’s possible the Phillies will go with platoons in both corner outfield positions.

Quick Hits: Mariners, Lohse, Soriano, Gerut

Kyle Lohse placed tenth on MLBTR's list of the offseason's top free agents, a reflection of the fact that Tim Dierkes expects the right-hander to help his next team. But unless something has changed in the last three days, Lohse hasn't received a single contract offer this winter. He’s tied to draft pick compensation after turning down a qualifying offer, and that has no doubt limited his leverage. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs argues that the hate has gone too far, showing convincingly that Lohse adds value at the plate, on the field and, of course, as a pitcher. Here are more links from around MLB…

  • The Mariners would like to add a lefty to the rotation to replace Jason Vargas, but don't expect it to be Joe Saunders or Erik Bedard, writes MLB.com's Greg Johns in a Mariners Inbox piece. If a lefty joins the rotation, it's more likely to be one of Seattle's top prospects like James Paxton or Danny Hultzen.
  • It’s still early to be assessing the way the new collective bargaining agreement shapes the market for free agents such as Lohse, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes. While the market for certain players linked to draft pick compensation does seem slow, Davidoff points out that every one of these players declined a $13.3MM qualifying offer.
  • Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record hears that agent Scott Boras asked the Yankees last month if they'd consider re-signing free agent closer Rafael Soriano to a one-year contract (Twitter link). The Yankees flatly denied the request, Klapisch writes. ESPN.com's Buster Olney says the Yankees prefer the value of the draft pick and accompanying spending limit increase to the on-field value of Soriano (Twitter link).
  • Former MLB player Jody Gerut is working to reduce athlete bankruptcy in his new role as an agent with Wasserman Media Group, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports. Gerut's focusing on educating athletes, particularly Latin Americans, about how to manage their finances.

East Notes: Nationals, Yankees, Orioles, Victorino

The Nationals had their eye on left-hander J.P. Howell for quite some time but the Dodgers swooped in on him earlier today.  After losing three lefties in Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Burnett, and Michael Gonzalez, the Nats could still add a southpaw, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Here’s more out of the AL and NL East..

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including Anthony Rieber of Newsday, that he isn’t interested in signing a reliever.  “I cannot talk about players on the free-agent market,” Cashman said. “But I am not looking for bullpen help, I can tell you that.
  • Free agent Joe Saunders says that he wants to return to the Orioles in 2013 but is ultimately leaving the process in the hands of his agent, writes Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.  Saunders also has interest from the Angels, Mets, Twins, and Mariners and says that he wants to play for a contender.
  • Shane Victorino, who signed a three-year, $39MM deal with the Red Sox this winter, says that a return to the Phillies was his first choice, writes Matt Gelb of the Phildelphia Inquirer.


West Notes: Rockies, Mariners, Lohse, Saunders

Links out of the Western divisions..

  • The Rockies are still looking for pitching but there's nothing brewing on the trade front, according to Troy Renck of The Denver Post (on Twitter).  Renck believes that the Rockies may look into low-risk free agents like Derek Lowe and Freddy Garcia.  We've yet to hear anything about Colorado and Lowe but they have checked in on Garcia.
  • The Mariners badly want a hitter but they're also looking at starting pitchers, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  However, sources say that Kyle Lohse is too pricey while the M's aren't willing to give Joe Saunders a three-year deal.
  • Ben Rogers of ESPNDallas.com looked at potential trade opportunities for the Rangers involving Jurickson Profar, Elvis Andrus, and Ian Kinsler.  However, it would appear that Texas' plan at this stage is to keep all three in the fold to start the 2013 season.

Orioles Remain In Contact With Joe Saunders

Orioles GM Dan Duquette remains in contact with free agent left-hander Joe Saunders, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. He notes that the team doesn't want to surrender a draft pick and is disinclined to hand out a big pitching contract, so Kyle Lohse isn't a fit.

The Mariners, Padres, Mets, and Twins are among the other clubs with interest in Saunders. The 31-year-old pitched to a 4.07 ERA in 174 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks and Orioles last season, his fifth consecutive season of 170+ innings pitched. Baltimore has had a relatively quiet winter so far, as a new contract for Nate McLouth and trades for Trayvon Robinson, Yamaico Navarro, and Danny Valencia highlight the team's moves.

MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked Saunders as the 25th best free agent available earlier this offseason, predicting he would re-sign with the Orioles.


Padres Notes: Myers, Porcello, Headley, Cabrera

Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune is back with his regular chat with fans about the Padres, and here are some of the relevant hot stove items…

  • The Padres have been talking to right-hander Brett Myers, according to Myers' agent.  San Diego would use Myers as a starting pitcher, which is Myers' preferred role after spending 2012 coming out of the bullpen for the Astros and White Sox.
  • The Tigers are reconsidering trading Rick Porcello, who has drawn attention from the Padres and several other clubs since Detroit re-signed Anibal Sanchez.  If Porcello is available, Center feels it would take more than a rumored trade package of Luke Gregerson and Jesus Guzman for the Padres to acquire the right-hander.
  • It's a "gamble on both sides" for Chase Headley and the Padres that there are apparently no extension talks taking place between the club and the third baseman.  Headley is under team control for two more years, but a repeat of his 2012 numbers could make him too expensive for the Padres to lock up.
  • Everth Cabrera has drawn trade interest but most clubs (including the Padres) aren't sure if he is capable of being an everyday shortstop.  Center notes that San Diego has been shopping "several" of its middle infielders this winter.
  • The Padres are "actively seeking" starting pitching but aren't going to be forced into making a bad signing just for the sake of adding an arm to the rotation. 
  • Between Porcello, Shaun Marcum and Joe Saunders, Center lists Marcum as the most likely of the trio to be a Padre in 2013, followed by Saunders and Porcello in that order. 
  • The Padres won't be adding another outfielder as they already have several options on the roster.
  • Center doesn't expect the Padres to have a $100MM payroll within the next few years, even adding an "if ever" to the idea.
  • The Padres want to bring back Dustin Moseley and Tim Stauffer on minor league contracts.  The two pitchers elected to become free agents in October following injury-plagued 2012 seasons.
  • Center hasn't heard of the Padres having any interest in Carlos Zambrano.

The Latest On Unsigned Top 50 Free Agents

At the outset of the offseason, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes published his annual list of the top 50 free agents with predictions. So far 43 of those 50 players have signed (or agreed to sign) new contracts, though Mike Napoli's deal with the Red Sox is on hold due to a hip problem. Here's the latest on the seven remaining unsigned players.


Orioles, Mariners, Padres, Mets Talking To Saunders

8:57am: Marc Carig of Newsday hears the Mets are also discussing Saunders (Twitter link). He's on their list along with Carl Pavano, Shaun Marcum, and Chris Young.

8:36am: Free agent left-hander Joe Saunders is talking to the Orioles, Mariners, and Padres according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Pirates also had interest, but the Francisco Liriano signing presumably takes them out of the running.

Saunders, 31, pitched to a 4.07 ERA in 174 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks and Orioles this season. He posted his typically low strikeout (5.8 K/9) and walk (2.0 BB/9) rates to go along with the lowest full season ground ball rate of his career (43.1%). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked the veteran southpaw as the 25th best free agent available this winter, predicting he would re-sign with Baltimore.


Olney On Saunders, Hairston, Hanrahan, Howell

In today's column, Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) looks at the best second-tier and third-tier free agents remaining.  Here's a look at the highlights..

  • Joe Saunders is receiving interest from four clubs and the Orioles have ramped up their efforts to retain him.  It seems Saunders would be in position to get more than the two-year, $15MM deal signed by Joe Blanton.
  • Scott Hairston is looking for a significant raise over the $1.1MM he earned last season and he might wind up being too rich for the Mets' blood.  Jonny Gomes is a similar player and got $10MM over two years from the Red Sox.
  • Some teams see the significant increase in walks allowed last season by Joel Hanrahan as a red flag.  After posting a 2.1 BB/9 rate in 2011, Hanrahan jumped to 5.4 in 2012.  There is also some concern among rival evaluators that his diminished control is a sign of an arm issue.  Hanrahan would argue that the control problems may have stemmed from the inconsistent save chances that a Bucs closer gets.
  • Free agent reliever J.P. Howell should sign soon, perhaps with the Nationals.  Other interested clubs include the Phillies, Cubs, Mariners, and Rangers.
  • Travis Hafner would be a classic make-good guy to bring to spring training, but he won't fit all rosters because he can't play a position.
  • Executives have reservations about Lance Berkman, including his health, overall shape, and motivation to play.
  • Some have said that the Cubs overpaid for Edwin Jackson ($52MM over four years), but new financial restraints in the draft and international market have forced clubs to pay more.  In short, the Cubs basically paid the going rate for a 29-year-old healthy pitcher of his caliber.

Quick Hits: Saunders, Cubs, Soriano, Gonzalez

The Orioles would like to re-sign Joe Saunders and have continued talks with him, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter).  They'll have plenty of competition for the left-hander, however, as he is drawing high interest from three other clubs.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • On today’s edition of the Rosters & Rumblings podcast, MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed the Mariners-Angels trade, the Cubs’ new-look rotation, and some recent trade rumors.
  • The Dodgers are still kicking the tires on Joel Hanrahan of the Pirates and free agent Brian Wilson as they look to deepen their bullpen, but they aren't in the mix for Rafael Soriano, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • The Nationals continue to talk to Mike Gonzalez about returning and the Reds are also in pursuit, Bowden tweets.
  • Sources tell Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter) that the Rangers were never serious bidders for Edwin Jackson.  The right-hander signed a four-year, $52MM contract with the Cubs earlier today.
  • Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik has landed a bigger bat for the middle of his lineup, but that doesn't mean Seattle is done with its roster maneuverings, writes Greg Johns of MLB.com.  The Mariners still have financial flexibility since they should several million dollars in the difference between what Kendrys Morales ($4.8MM) will earn compared to Jason Vargas ($7.4MM) in their final year of arbitration eligibility.  
  • Dexter Fowler told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that Rockies General Manager Bill Geivett told him that it would take a lot in return for them to deal him to the Braves.  Atlanta is targeting Fowler along with Emilio Bonifacio and other outfield options.