Joe Saunders Rumors
As February gets underway, Michael Bourn still stands as the best available free agent on the open market. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter) opines that the Mets, Mariners, and Rays are the teams that make the most sense for the center fielder. As for the best starter left on the free agent pile, Bowden sees the Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Brewers, and Orioles as the best fits for Kyle Lohse. Here's more from around baseball..
- Don't look for the Marlins to make any major moves the remainder of the offseason, says Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (via Twitter). The team will enter spring training with the roster it currently has in place.
- Regardless of whether or not Scott Rolen joins the Reds, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that the club is facing a serious roster crunch. It seems that the veteran wants to play in 2013 but money will be a determining factor in his decision. Recently, the Dodgers reached out to Rolen to express interest.
- The Orioles expect to announce the signing of veteran left-handerMark Hendrickson to a minor league contract with a spring training invite early next week, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The O's also hope to announce their deal with Jair Jurrjens and remain interested in bringing Joe Saunders back despite the depth that they've added.
- Torii Hunter says that enjoyed his time with the Angels, but he also felt misled when the club told him they didn't have enough money to keep him before signing Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125MM deal, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The veteran hooked on with the Tigers this winter in pursuit of a World Series ring.
- The Tigers had a tough time trying to find organizational depth this winter as many players figured that their path to the majors would be blocked, writes George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. Regardless, assistant General Manager Al Avila says that the club is done signing minor league players and is ready for spring training.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar tops MLB.com's list of the top 100 prospects in baseball for 2013. Profar has been the subject of many trade rumors this winter but the Rangers are unwilling to move him, for good reason given his high ceiling. Of the six prospects atop MLB.com's list, two (Wil Myers and Travis d'Arnaud) were dealt to new teams this offseason and another (Taijuan Walker) would have been on the move were it not for Justin Upton's no-trade clause.
Here are some items from around the Majors...
- Joe Saunders has been offered a two-year deal worth roughly $15MM from an unknown team, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports, though his sources aren't directly involved in the negotiations. The Orioles aren't the mystery team, as Baltimore would prefer to sign Saunders to a one-year deal with a team option for the second year. Connolly says the O's are still interested in Saunders despite their recent agreement with Jair Jurrjens. Besides the O's, the Mariners and Twins have also been linked to Saunders this winter, and the Twins have offered Saunders a one-year deal.
- The White Sox are still looking for a left-handed hitter, MLB.com Scott Merkin tweets. Such a player is likely to be a platooner or bench depth at this point in the offseason.
- Paul Konerko tells CSN Chicago's Chuck Garfien that his on-field performance won't be the key factor if he decides to retire after the 2013 season. "Don't look at the numbers, that if things are going well [in 2013], that necessarily means I would play [after this season]. And the reverse of that is true, too," Konerko said. It was almost a year ago that Konerko told Garfien that he was pondering retirement once his contract is up.
- It's hard to find ace-level pitching available in a trade, but Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal cites Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy and Jarrod Parker as pitchers who could be on the block should their teams fall out of contention next season. Parker may seem like a premature trade target but MacPherson notes that "the Athletics have a history of trading young pitchers for even younger pitchers."
- The Rangers have signed the most international prospects that appear in Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook, B-A's Ben Badler writes. Fifteen international players originally signed by the Rangers are ranked either among their own top 30 prospects or in the top-30 lists of other teams, as determined by Baseball America. At the bottom of the list are the Astros, who have just two international signings ranked.
The Twins would like to sign Joe Saunders to a one-year deal, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports. The team is waiting to hear back from agent Greg Genske, who represents the free agent left-hander.
The Twins don’t want to meet Saunders’ asking price of a three-year deal, but could be willing to offer a two-year contract. One Twins source wonders if Saunders prefers to pitch elsewhere, Wolfson reports.
Twins GM Terry Ryan acknowledged that he’s waiting to hear from some free agent starters, saying it's "just a matter of their interest in us." Ryan elaborated, saying "I don't know why somebody wouldn't want to come here who's a legitimate starter." Owner Jim Pohlad told Wolfson "there's definitely payroll flexibility" should Ryan find the right player.
Saunders has also drawn interest from the Mariners and Orioles this offseason. The Padres don’t appear to have interest, however. Saunders entered the offseason as MLBTR's 25th ranked free agent. Among players ranked ahead of Saunders, only Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn remain unsigned.
Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik won't get into details about contract negotiations with Felix Hernandez but he told reporters today that he has "every intention of keeping Felix [in Seattle] for the long-term", tweets Greg Johns of MLB.com. Here's more on the M's..
- Jack Z also said that the door is "wide open" for a young pitcher to make the starting five, but the GM would prefer to add a veteran, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times (on Twitter).
- That veteran just might be Joe Saunders, who has the interest of the Mariners as well as the Orioles. It's not clear who the other teams with interest in the left-hander, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Mariners will also look to add another catcher or two prior to Spring Training in support of Jesus Montero, Johns tweets.
12:21pm: It's unlikely the Orioles would acquire both Kubel and Porcello, Rosenthal writes in an expanded piece at FOXSports.com. Free agent left-hander Joe Saunders and trade candidate Alfonso Soriano are also possibilities, according to Rosenthal. Saunders seeks a three-year contract, but Soriano is the least likely option for Baltimore.
10:17am: The Orioles are pursuing a trade for Diamondbacks outfielder Jason Kubel, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). However, talks are not at an advanced stage. The Diamondbacks were looking to obtain young pitching from the Orioles for Kubel earlier in the month.
If the Orioles were to acquire Kubel, he'd be in the running for playing time at left field and DH along with Nate McLouth, Nolan Reimold and Wilson Betemit. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks would no longer have surplus outfielders if they send Kubel to Baltimore.
The Diamondbacks continue to weigh offers for Kubel and Justin Upton, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported yesterday. The Diamondbacks want to deal one of the outfielders sooner rather than later and they feel as though there’s a good chance of getting “suitable value” for Kubel if they decide to deal him, Olney reported. Rival executives view the Orioles as a possible match for Kubel.
Rosenthal notes that the Orioles also like Tigers starter Rick Porcello. However, the Tigers don't appear to be in a rush to trade the right-hander Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reported yesterday. The Diamondbacks are also among the teams that have been linked to Porcello this winter.
This morning, legendary Orioles manager Earl Weaver passed away at the age of 82. O's managing partner Peter Angelos released a statement reading, "Earl Weaver stands alone as the greatest manager in the history of the Orioles organization and one of the greatest in the history of baseball. This is a sad day for everyone who knew him and for all Orioles fans. Earl made his passion for the Orioles known both on and off the field. On behalf of the Orioles, I extend my condolences to his wife, Marianna, and to his family." Here's more out of Baltimore as we fondly remember the Hall of Famer..
- Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette believes that the club will discuss a long-term deal with catcher Matt Wieters at some point, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. The club avoided arbitration with Wieters yesterday by agreeing to a one-year, $5.5MM deal.
- Duquette expects Joe Saunders to make a decision this week but doesn't have a read on which way he might be leaning, tweets Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. The O's would like to have the pitcher back but other teams are interested, including the Twins.
- Closer Jim Johnson is heading to arbitration with the Orioles but he says that he isn't concerned as he has faith in the club and his representatives at Moye Sports Associates, Melewski tweets. Johnson filed for $7.1MM while the O's countered with $5.7MM.
- As we've heard before, shortstop J.J. Hardy isn't going anywhere, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Hardy definitely has trade interest though and the Tigers are said to be fans of his.
Joe Saunders is the top left-handed starter available in free agency based on MLBTR’s list of the offseason’s top 50 free agents. Here’s the latest on Saunders, who ranked 25th on Tim Dierkes’ list entering the offseason...
- The Twins are pursuing Saunders, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). They’ve had interest in Saunders throughout the offseason, and made him an offer at one point.
- The Padres are not in on Saunders or Shaun Marcum and haven't been all winter, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports (on Twitter).
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.
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.