Johan Santana Rumors

East Notes: Beckett, Franco, Moore, Santana

Josh Beckett, who has undergone surgeries for thoracic outlet syndrome and a torn meniscus in his left knee within the past 10 months, tossed his first career no-hitter and MLB’s first of the season as he and the Dodgers shutout the Phillies 6-0. Beckett struck out Chase Utley looking on his career-high 128th pitch for the 24th no-hitter in Dodgers’ history and the first for the franchise since Hideo Nomo 18 years ago. This is also the first time the Phillies have been no-hit since the Cardinals’ Bob Forsch turned the trick in 1978 and the first time they have been held hitless in Philadelphia since the Montreal Expos’ Bill Stoneman did so at Connie Mack Stadium in 1969. MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki noted on Twitter the Phillies have now been shutout five times in their last ten home games and six times in their last 18 games overall.

In other news and notes involving the Phillies and baseball’s East divisions:

  • Could offensive help be on the way for the Phillies in the form of top prospect third baseman Maikel Franco? GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told reporters, including Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it is a possibility. “We’ll see whether it’s the right thing for us and the right thing for him,” said Amaro. “We’ll kick it around.” Franco, ranked as the game’s 17th best prospect by Baseball America and 23rd by MLB.com, is hitting .301 in May with an OPS of .871.
  • In the wake of Prince Fielder‘s season-ending neck injury, the Rangers have inquired about Nationals first baseman Tyler Moore, a baseball source tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. The source indicated to Ladson nothing is serious and Moore is one of many first baseman in which the Rangers have an interest.
  • Johan Santana has a June 1 opt-out in his minor league deal with the Orioles, but Executive Vice President Dan Duquette says that date is not a concern, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. “That’s open for discussion,” Duquette said. “It’s a fluid situation.” Santana remains in extended Spring Training and has not pitched more than four innings in an outing, but Duquette says the 35-year-old left-hander “is making good progress, he is throwing his pitches.

AL East Notes: Morrow, Francisco, Cruz, Santana, Sabathia

With Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow going to the 60-day DL with a torn tendon sheath, the Star’s Richard Griffin writes that Morrow may well have thrown his last pitch for the club. As Griffin notes, the 29-year-old’s $10MM club option (which comes with a $1MM buyout) seems unlikely to be exercised at this point after yet another significant injury. Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the AL East:

  • Indications are that the Blue Jays will look to keep power-hitting corner infielder Juan Francisco in the fold after Adam Lind is activated, tweets Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star. Discussing the situation, MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm writes that Toronto could conceivably drop one of its eight relievers or shift Brett Lawrie into the club’s regular second base role.
  • Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz discussed his difficult last year with MLB.com’s Britt Ghiroli, saying that it was hardest on his family. As for the qualifying offer situation, Cruz said he probably would have grabbed it had he known what was in store. “But it’s something that you risk and you trust your instincts,” said Cruz. “In this case, it wasn’t what I expected. But I’m happy with my decision and happy with where I am now. That’s the only thing that matters.” From the O’s perspective, executive VP Dan Duquette said that the deal was made when Cruz’s camp “adjusted what they were looking for in terms of the term” (i.e. length) of the deal. Cruz if off to a hot start, of course, posting a .294/.369/.596 triple-slash with nine home runs in his first 122 plate appearances with Baltimore.
  • A less-consequential decision for the Orioles front office was the low-risk signing of one-time ace Johan Santana, who has been working his way back to full strength on a minor league contract. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter that Santana’s fastball has reached the 88-89 mph range, with his slider in the low-80’s and change in the mid-70’s. While that obviously represents a significant drop from his peak years, Santana posted an average fastball velocity of just 89.6 mph in his 2.98 ERA, 199-inning 2010 season.
  • In a chat today, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick touched upon the situation of Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia. A scout recently told Crasnick that Sabathia’s offerings are “very fringy,” and that he will need impeccable control to be effective going forward. On the other hand, Crasnick opines that Sabathia has actually delivered decent value to New York on his massive contract. For what it’s worth, Sabathia’s unsightly 5.75 ERA through his first 40 2/3 innings in 2014 is much worse than his 4.16 FIP, 2.95 xFIP, and 2.92 SIERA marks. Indeed, while Sabathia has been hurt by the long ball (21.9% HR/FB rate) and a .361 BABIP, he is sporting 9.74 K/9 against just 1.99 BB/9 while generating a 50.8% ground-ball rate.

Quick Hits: Samardzija, Santana, Lester, Dodgers

While Jeff Samardzija has been a chief subject of trade rumors this offseason, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio on SiriuxXM (via Bowden's Twitter feed) that his preference would be to sign the right-hander to a long-term extension.  Samardzija said the same during an appearance on the broadcast (audio link here), as "I've always stated this is where I wanna be…this organization stuck by me and has given me the opportunity to be a starter."  Despite the rumors, there has "obviously been a mutual interest between the two parties, for sure…[which] kinda makes everything else just talking, which is what you want it to be."

Here's some more news from around the game…

  • Johan Santana never considered retirement in the wake of his latest shoulder surgery, as the veteran southpaw told reporters (including MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli) that he didn't want to let his health dictate the end of his career.  "I don't want to go out in the game like that. I want to go out of the game on my own terms, knowing this is going to be my last game, knowing this is going to be my last year," Santana said.  The two-time Cy Young Award winner said he has "nothing to lose, [and] a lot to gain" from his incentive-heavy minor league deal with the Orioles.
  • Jon Lester's cancer diagnosis in 2006 played a big part in his acceptance of his original multiyear deal with the Red Sox, WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports.  That contract will expire this offseason, and while Lester has no new news on the status of extension talks, he is hopeful a new deal will be settled soon.
  • The Dodgers' surplus of pitching could force the team to make a tough cut in the form of right-hander Seth Rosin, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon writes.  Rosin has pitched well thus far in Spring Training but L.A. might not have space for him on the roster, a situation that Saxon says could backfire like the team's cut of Kevin Gregg last spring.  Rosin was selected off the Phillies' roster by the Mets in last December's Rule 5 draft and was then traded to the Dodgers, who now must keep Rosin on their Major League roster all season or else offer him back to Philadelphia for $25K.
  • In a subscription-only piece for Baseball America, Matt Eddy and J.J. Cooper look at some of the offseason's key minor league free agent signings and some of the overall trends of this winter's minor league deals.
  • Jim Leyland is happy in his position as special assistant to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and has no interest in returning to the Pirates organization, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.  “I really don't want to come back to the organization,” Leyland said. “Not because I don't love it, but (because) they've set their tempo now and they have their own people in place. They don't need somebody like me hanging around and, really, I don't need to do that….I'll retire a Tiger.”


AL Central Notes: Masterson, Santana, Tigers, Thome

Justin Masterson is only looking for a three- or four-year extension from the Indians, a short-term arrangement that speaks to comfort in Cleveland both on and off the field, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes.  While Masterson said that contract talks are "a challenging situation, especially for me. [I'm] not doing this because we need to get the most money ever. We also think about others who may come behind us. There are a lot of different factors you try to work in. Are we being true to our value or are we skewing it?"  Also, by staying with the Tribe, Masterson noted that he could further enhance the Indians' growing reputation as an attractive destination for people to play.

Here's some more from around the AL Central…

  • A short-term deal may also have a strategic element to it, as MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes that a three-year deal would cover Masterson past the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement.  It's widely expected that the qualifying offer system will be modified (or even scrapped) in a new CBA, so Masterson could take the security of a short-term deal now and avoid having his market diminished as a free agent next winter if he has qualifying offer draft compensation attached to his services.
  • Also from Castrovince, Masterson's love of playing for Terry Francona "is the only reason these extension conversations have had any traction."
  • Twins assistant GM Rob Antony discussed his club's pursuit of Johan Santana with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  Minnesota only viewed Santana as a starting pitcher and would've been comfortable giving him a May 31 opt-out, Antony said, but the Twins simply weren't willing to sign Santana at the price he received from the Orioles.  Santana will earn $3MM in base salary if he makes the Baltimore roster, plus potentially millions more in incentives. 
  • While Antony admitted that injuries could change the Twins' feelings about further additions, "right now I think what we’ve got in camp is what we’re working on.”
  • Three months without the injured Andy Dirks as part of their left field platoon won't do much harm to the Tigers' playoff chances, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan writes.  While Detroit is likely to replace Dirks with internal players, Sullivan notes that a more intriguing move would be to acquire an everyday outfielder who could then take over for Torii Hunter in 2015 and beyond.
  • Jim Thome admits that he would "have to take that call" if another team contacted him about returning to the field, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports.  Thome was hired as a special assistant to White Sox GM Rick Hahn last summer, though he never officially retired.  While he would "always listen" about another playing opportunity, Thome enjoys his current position and has spoken of wanting to become a manager in the future.

AL East Notes: Ervin, Johan, Salty, Lester, Bedard

Orioles manager Buck Showalter wouldn't rule out the possibility of his team adding Ervin Santana to the fold when asked by Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Said Showalter: "I wouldn't say that and be completely sure that it's true." Kubatko has garnered that the Orioles were comfortable going into the three-year, $30MM range but weren't interested at Santana's asking price of four years, $50MM. More on the Orioles, who officially signed a different Santana (Johan) yesterday…

  • Executive vice president Dan Duquette wouldn't commit to whether or not Johan Santana will be used as a starter or reliever if he's able to eventually take the mound, tweets Kubatko. Santana's contract contains incentives for games started, though reports yesterday indicated that they viewed him as a relief option as well. Duquette says Santana's ultimate role will be determined once the team sees how his velocity progresses. The two-time Cy Young winner topped out at 81 mph in his most recent workout, but he's very early in his throwing program at this point.
  • The offer Jarrod Saltalamacchia received from the Red Sox this offseason was the lowest of the six or seven offers presented to him, the catcher told reporters, including the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (Twitter link). The Boston Herald's Scott Lauber tweets that despite signing for a much lower average annual value, Saltalamacchia said he wouldn't have accepted a qualifying offer from the Red Sox, as he preferred multiyear security. The Globe's Matt Pepin has full quotes from Saltalamacchia, who said Boston's best offer was for two years, but "not a straight two-year deal," adding that there "were other things involved."
  • Jon Lester told reporters, including WEEI.com's Rob Bradford, that there have been no recent developments in his contract talks with the Red Sox. Lester, who has made his desire to stay in Boston well known, said he prefer to let agents Seth and Sam Levinson of ACES and GM Ben Cherington worry about those matters.
  • Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida spoke with Rays non-roster invitee Erik Bedard about how he is adjusting to the new clubhouse and what it's like to come into camp looking for a job each year. Bedard says he didn't think back to his days with the Orioles when he faced them in his first Spring Training outing, because he doesn't know many of the players or coaches anymore. "Every team turns around every year. It's never the same. Nobody keeps the same guys anymore. They'll switch, trade, get released. Back in the day, everybody stayed."

Orioles Sign Johan Santana

2:21pm: Sherman has the incentive breakdown and other details (Twitter links). Santana would be owed a $100K termination payment if he is released before March 25th. The incentives (per games started) are as follows: $250K (5 starts); $350K (10); $500K (15); $750K (20); $150K (21 and 22); $200K (23 and 24); and $400K (25).

12:12pm: The Orioles have signed left-hander Johan Santana to a minor league deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, the team announced. Santana, a client of the Legacy Agency, reportedly has a $3MM base salary if he makes the roster and also can earn $5.05MM of "very makeable" incentives based on games started and days on the roster. Santana's deal is also said to contain a May 30 opt-out.

Santana, who turns 35 in 10 days, did not pitch in 2013 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder for the second time in three years. Santana's last work came in 2012, when he was excellent through the season's first half. That strong stretch was highlighted by the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, when Santana shut down a strong Cardinals lineup. However, Santana also walked five in the game and needed a whopping 134 pitches to complete the no-no — 26 more than he'd thrown in any other start of the year. Santana posted an 8.27 ERA over his next 49 innings before being shut down for the season.

The Orioles were one of seven teams to watch Santana's most recent throwing session, during which he topped out at just 81 mph. However, Santana still isn't close to being 100 percent, and that workout came very early on in his timetable to begin building up arm strength. MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli tweeted yesterday that the Orioles view Santana as a potential left-handed reliever, but the incentives suggest that the Orioles will at least try to give the former ace the opportunity to make some starts once he is healthy.

One of the best Rule 5 Draft selections in history, Santana broke out with the Twins in 2002, posting a 2.99 ERA in 108 innings. Over the next five seasons in Minnesota, Santana posted a 2.92 ERA and won a pair of AL Cy Young Awards before being traded to the Mets for a package of prospects highlighted by Carlos Gomez and former No. 3 overall draft pick Phil Humber. Santana signed a six-year, $137.5MM extension with the Mets and was solid when on the field but looks poor in hindsight due to his injury troubles.

Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com first tweeted that the two sides were nearing a deal and later added that it appeared to be done. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted the base salary and was the first to confirm the deal was finalized (Twitter link). MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweeted the incentives total, Kubatko added details (on Twitter) and Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted the opt-out date. Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio tweeted yesterday that Santana was in Orioles camp and wondered if something might be cooking between the two sides.


Orioles Nearing Minor League Deal With Johan Santana

The Orioles are nearing a minor league deal with former AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio tweeted earlier today that Santana was in Orioles camp and wondered if something might be cooking between Baltimore and the Peter Greenberg cilent. The Orioles view Santana as a potential lefty reliever, tweets MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli.

Santana, who turns 35 in 10 days, did not pitch in 2013 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder for the second time in three years. Santana's last work came in 2012, when he was excellent through the season's first half. That strong stretch was highlighted by the first no-hitter in Mets history on June 1, when Santana shut down a strong Cardinals lineup. However, Santana also walked five in the game and needed a whopping 134 pitches to complete the no-no — 26 more than he'd thrown in any other start of the year. Santana posted an 8.27 ERA over his next 49 innings before being shut down for the season.

One of the best Rule 5 Draft selections in history, Santana broke out with the Twins in 2002, posting a 2.99 ERA in 108 innings. Over the next five seasons in Minnesota, Santana posted a 2.92 ERA and won a pair of AL Cy Young Awards before being traded to the Mets for a package of prospects highlighted by Carlos Gomez and former No. 3 overall draft pick Phil Humber. Santana signed a six-year, $137.5MM extension with the Mets and was solid when on the field but looks poor in hindsight due to his injury troubles.


Seven Teams Watch Johan Santana Throwing Session

TODAY: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com provides a list of the other clubs who sent representatives to watch Santana: the Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates, and Rangers. Scouts in attendance told Heyman that Santana still needs to build his arm strength back up, but looked to be in great shape and threw as expected given his point on the recovery curve.

YESTERDAY, 5:40pm: The Orioles were among the teams to see Santana, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The club could be interested in bringing him in on a minor league deal, says Encina.

3:26pm: Throwing in Fort Myers today, rehabbing starter Johan Santana showed his current form to seven teams, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Santana mostly threw in the high-70s, topping out at just 81 mph, though he did flash his usually phenomenal change.

Though those numbers sound less than promising, the workout comes very early on in the process for Santana to regain strength on the mound following a second shoulder surgery, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Indeed, a mid-season return has always been the early target for Santana. Agent Peter Greenberg said there is no "firm date," with Santana committed to "tak[ing] it conservatively this time" and "not rushing things."

Per the above two reports, both the Yankees and Twins were among the teams with scouts in attendance. 


Quick Hits: Blazek, Axford, Olt, Frasor, Santana, Rays

The Brewers shipped out reliever John Axford to the Cardinals at last year's trade deadline, bringing back young righty Michael Blazek. Milwaukee has been impressed with the 25-year-old, with manager Ron Roenicke saying he profiles as a late-inning arm, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentine. Meanwhile, after being non-tendered by the Cards and signed by the Indians, Axford hopes to continue learning from his brief stint in St. Louis. As MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports, his former club informed him that he'd been tipping pitches, and Axford hopes that correction — along with regained velocity — will allow him to return to his peak form. 

Here are more stray notes from around the game …

  • Another trade deadline mover, Mike Olt of the Cubs, has shown substantial improvement in the eyesight issues that plagued him last year with the Rangers, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times. Though his prospect stock has fallen in the meantime, all that matters to Olt is maintaining his health. "As long as I'm healthy," he said, "I know that I can do what I was capable of."
  • Reliever Jason Frasor explained that he elected to re-sign with the Rangers for the simple reason that he likes playing for the club, reports Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com"Free agency isn't that great for middle relievers," he said. "I never wanted to be the kind of guy that bounced around from team to team as middle relievers often do with one-year deals. I found a place I really, really liked. … I think I was the first [free agent] to sign [this offseason]. I just didn't feel it was worth it to try to scrape out maybe a little better contract … ."
  • One free agent who faces a much more open-ended market is former ace Johan Santana. As Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports, Santana has fielded interest from at least three American League clubs. The 34-year-old is hoping to be ready to take the mound in a big league game in June.
  • The Rays' roster battle features several situations where options will play a role, reports Bill Chastain of MLB.com. Among the players who must make the active roster or face a DFA are Chris Archer, Josh Lueke, Jake McGee, Cesar Ramos, Brandon Guyer, and Matt Joyce

Free Agent Notes: Byrdak, Johan, Blue Jays, Martis

As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported today (Twitter links), some of the four remaining draft-compensation free agents may prefer to wait until after the draft to sign than agree to a sub-market deal. Dierkes notes that the high-risk strategy would threaten their former clubs with not receiving a compensation pick, which could increase the impetus for re-signings. It took until March 25th for the last compensation-bound player (Kyle Lohse) to reach agreement in 2013.

Of course, while carrying compensation is a hindrance, players only come to know its burdens after turning down a sizeable, one-year qualifying offer from their former club (this year, for $14.1MM). For many other free agents, an offer of any kind is all they are really looking for. Established big leaguer Tim Byrdak, now 40, is among them. He posted an image of a handwritten flyer on his Twitter account earlier today, advertising himself to GMs as a "high mileage but very serviceable," "late model LHR" that "comes with warranty" (via ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin).

Here are some more notes on an increasingly sparse market:

  • Though a return of Johan Santana to the Twins was beginning to look like a foregone conclusion, writes LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune, several other clubs have recently expressed interest in the 34-year-old. Minnesota is certainly still in the hunt, with assistant GM Rob Antony telling Neal that he was waiting to hear back from Santana's agent in their latest round of talks. Noting that the Orioles have also seen the two-time Cy Young recipient throw of late, Neal says that Santana could be planning a showcase of sorts to allow more clubs to see his progress as he recovers from a second significant shoulder procedure.
  • Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said today that the club made strong runs at Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez before they signed elsewhere, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports"There were a couple of [trades] in the works that ended up falling through," said Gibbons, "and then with the free agents, there's a little bit of a bidding war out there, it's not automatic that you're going to get those guys." Gibbons declined to comment on current free agent starter Ervin Santana, other than to say that the club likes his arm.
  • Do not expect Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos to go beyond the team's internal valuation to sign Santana, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Griffin argues that the Orioles' signing of Jimenez to a Garza-like contract — while giving up a first-round pick to do so — has undermined the Jays' apparent plan to wait out the market for compensation-bound starters and leverage the club's protected first-round choices. 
  • Former Nationals and Twins righty Shairon Martis is weighing two minor league offers along with the possibility of playing abroad, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Though he made his debut in 2008, the native of Curacao is still just 26 years of age.