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Defense is often a secondary consideration in evaluations of teams' offseason moves, but it's an important one. ESPN's Mark Simon has written about each team's offseason from a defensive perspective (American League, National League). In the American League, the Yankees have downgraded at second base with the departure of Robinson Cano, and Brian McCann isn't Chris Stewart's equal at stopping basestealers, says Simon. Jacoby Ellsbury should help in the outfield, however. The Athletics, meanwhile, should benefit from the additions of Craig Gentry and Nick Punto.
In the National League, the Marlins' infield defense should take a step backward after the additions of Garrett Jones, Rafael Furcal and Casey McGehee. The Cardinals, meanwhile, figure to have upgraded with the additions of Peter Bourjos and Mark Ellis, and with Matt Carpenter moving from second base to third. Here are more notes from throughout the big leagues.
- The Twins could be a surprisingly strong team in 2014, ESPN's Christina Kahrl argues. Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes should improve the rotation, she says, if only because the Twins' starters struggled so much last year. Also, Joe Mauer's move to first could spare the toll on his body and create more playing time for Josmil Pinto, who could make an impact on offense. Miguel Sano, who hit 35 home runs in the minor leagues in 2013, could make his debut as well.
- The Twins have not offered Johan Santana a contract, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com tweets. Santana does have offers in hand from other teams. The Twins are still interested in Santana, however. The former Cy Young winner will likely receive a minor-league deal.
In this week's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Orioles owe it to their fans to take a shot at a championship by bolstering the roster. The O's moved Jim Johnson to save on his expected $10MM salary for 2014 but the nixing of Grant Balfour's deal leaves them without a proven closer. The Orioles, with a few fixes, could be exciting and fun to watch, but they need more if they want to win it all. More from this week's column..
- Cafardo cautions not to sleep on the Red Sox in the Masahiro Tanaka hunt and one AL scout says it’s the perfect time for the Red Sox to strike. “They have veteran pitchers in the final year or two years remaining on their deals,” he said. “They’ll be clearing out a lot of payroll soon. I know they feel they have good young pitching on the horizon, but Tanaka should be a very good No. 2 or No. 3 starter on any staff. I would think with their emphasis on pitching, they would get into it.” The Yankees, Cubs, Rangers, and Dodgers figure to be the most aggressive and the Angels, Phillies, Royals, and Blue Jays are expected to get into it.
- Will the Red Sox's experience with Daisuke Matsuzaka scare them off of Tanaka? “I don’t think that can enter their thinking. I’m sure they would have gone after Yu Darvish in retrospect,” said one National League GM.
- Cafardo recently spoke with a few GMs who feel the Yankees may wind up with Ubaldo Jimenez, even if they land Tanaka. “He had an excellent second half, has great stuff, and he has the type of personality that would fit New York,” one GM said. “He doesn’t let things get to him. He’s good at shrugging off things and turning the page.” If the Yankees ink both pitchers, it's pretty difficult to see them staying under the $189MM mark.
- Nelson Cruz is the best available free agent among position players, but his demand of four years at $75MM has turned off teams. While other PED guys such as Jhonny Peralta have cashed in, teams are worried that Cruz, who more relies on his power is of greater concern for teams who worry that being off the stuff could hurt his power numbers.
- John Lackey’s name has come up consistently this winter, but the Red Sox aren’t motivated to deal him. That could change, but the club is enthused about his $500K option for 2015.
- It'll be interesting to see if the Yankees can move Ichiro Suzuki given their crowded outfield. The Giants remain a possibility, Cafardo writes.
- The Dodgers could still trade from their outfield surplus. When it comes to Matt Kemp, of course, teams want to see how he rebounds from shoulder and ankle surgeries.
- With Brian McCann aboard and Francisco Cervelli as backup, Yankees catcher Austin Romine is very much available.
- Johan Santana is getting closer to making a decision on a minor league deal with a team. There’s been some speculation about the Twins since Santana still resides in Fort Myers, Fla., where the Twins have spring training. A small-market team such as the Astros could also have some interest.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Austin Romine | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Houston Astros | Johan Santana | John Lackey | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Masahiro Tanaka | Minnesota Twins | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays
The Jose Veras signing makes sense for the Cubs since he comes at an affordable rate, has experience, and can groom the younger guys like Pedro Strop, opines Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com (via Twitter). Earlier tonight, the Cubs agreed to sign Veras to a one-year, $4MM deal with a $5.5MM club option for 2015. Here's more out of the AL and NL Central..
- Before agreeing to his deal with the Cubs, Veras tells Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (on Twitter) that he also had an offer from the Mariners. The Rockies and Astros were also among the clubs with reported interest.
- Even after the Mike Pelfrey agreement, the Twins are maintaining dialogue with Johan Santana's representatives, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter). For his part, Santana is very open to a return.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel checked in with Brewers GM Doug Melvin and it doesn't sound like the club is closing in on a first base solution. "It's pretty quiet," said Melvin. "We know all the names. It's a small group. Nothing changes from one day to the next. Ike Davis is the one player people talk about. Other than that, there's not much available." Haudricourt also asked Melvin about Rangers' first baseman Mitch Moreland, but Melvin says that at last check, Texas said they won't move him.
- With multiple question marks, David Schoenfield of ESPN.com feels that the Pirates are likely to regress in 2014.
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).
Eight teams have expressed interest in left-hander Johan Santana, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. The Yankees, Mets, Twins, Rays, Orioles, Royals, Brewers and Pirates have all expressed varying levels of interest. Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets that the Pirates have requested his medical records today and plan to meet with agent Peter Greenberg this afternoon.
According to Marchand, Santana and Greenberg are willing to accept an offer in the near future if a team is able to separate itself from the pack, but if not, Santana will throw in January in a showcase for interested teams. Shoulder problems have forced Santana to sit out two of the past three seasons.
Earlier today the Mets introduced Curtis Granderson at a press conference. Here's the latest news out of the New York market with the Winter Meetings in full swing…
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman spoke to several reporters today, including MLB.com's Bryan Hoch, and noted that he's been in contact with the agents for Mark Reynolds and Boone Logan (Twitter link).
- Hoch also tweets that the Yanks are receiving many calls on Brett Gardner but aren't shopping him. Cashman said he didn't sign Jacoby Ellsbury to trade Gardner.
- The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough tweets that in addition to Gardner, the Yanks have received calls on Ivan Nova, Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy (Twitter link).
- Cashman also said that Michael Pineda is healthy and will compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training (Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweeting).
- Hoch adds that Cashman thinks it will be easier to sign a free agent pitcher than to work out a trade for rotation help.
- Newsday's David Lennon reports that the Mets will meet with the representatives for Freddy Garcia, Cesar Izturis and Johan Santana today (Twitter link). The team sees a good fit with that group of veterans.
- Granderson confirmed to reporters, including Newsday's Marc Carig, that the Mets were the lone team to offer four years (Twitter link).
The Marlins have made the most headlines in the NL East today, agreeing to terms with Garrett Jones and talking trades with a number of teams regarding Logan Morrison. There's a lot more going on in the NL East though, and here's a rundown of some news from today…
- The Mets have already had internal discussions regarding Cesar Izturis and plan to meet with his agent in the coming days, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter). Izturis batted just .209/.259/.271 in his age-33 season with the Reds in 2013.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that the Mets aren't likely to sign Bartolo Colon or Bronson Arroyo and instead figure to look at back-end type starters like Daisuke Matsuzaka. "We'd be hesitant to give a multi-year deal (to a pitcher), but that doesn't mean we wouldn't," GM Sandy Alderson told Martino. Alderson said he's also had recent discussions with Johan Santana's agent.
- The Nationals aren't interested in adding another catcher at this time, tweets Mark Zuckerman of CSN Washington. GM Mike Rizzo believes that Wilson Ramos can catch 125 games next season, though he's never appeared in more than 113 games in a single Major League season.
- The Nationals have been linked to Eric O'Flaherty a number of times already, but a source told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that that issue will be addressed "down the road." O'Flaherty told Ladson in a phone interview that he's open to going anywhere and also spoke highly of Washington's group of young talent.
- Adding a lefty reliever is one of Rizzo's top priorities, but a deal may not get done this week, reports Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. Rizzo added that in an ideal world, they'd add more than a lefty specialist, landing someone who can also get right-handed hitters out as well.
- Braves GM Frank Wren told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he doesn't envision making a move to acquire a front-line player (Twitter link). "I see more support (type) moves," Wren told O'Brien, which O'Brien speculates could mean a power bat for the bench and depth for the bullpen and rotation.
We've heard the Orioles linked to several free agents already today, including Jason Hammel, whom the O's are interested in bringing back on a new contract. It's unlikely that Baltimore will be willing to meet the right-hander's reported asking price though, as ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter link) hears Hammel's reps are seeking a three- or four-year deal for their client. Here's more on the O's:
- The Orioles are one of many teams with some interest in Johan Santana, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- Speaking to reporters, including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter links), Orioles GM Dan Duquette suggested that finding a leadoff hitter will be a challenge for the club, and that he hasn't made any new offers to players since arriving in Orlando. However, Duquette believes Baltimore will add a player within the next couple days.
- Kubatko adds (via Twitter) that Baltimore hasn't ruled out rehabbing pitchers, meaning players like Gavin Floyd and Joel Hanrahan could be on the radar.
- Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com tweets that the Orioles' budget for a closer will likely max out at about $6MM, and that the club is also seeking a designated hitter who can play the field.
- The Orioles announced today in a press release that they've outrighted Cord Phelps to Triple-A Norfolk. Phelps was claimed off waivers from the Indians last month.
It has been a busy week in the Big Apple with the Yankees losing Robinson Cano to the Mariners and coming to terms with Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Hiroki Kuroda. The Mets meanwhile were able to sign Curtis Granderson away from the Pinstripes. Here's the latest on the New York teams:
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters, including Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News, he's not done making moves. "I've got work to do," Cashman said. "I need a starter, bullpen, second base. We’ve still got work." Cashman also addressed a report Cano had reservations about playing for manager Joe Girardi. "I'm not aware of that. You'd have to ask Robbie, I guess. It's never been an issue that I'm aware of."
- The Mets are one of seven or eight teams who have inquired about Johan Santana, sources tell The Star-Ledger's Jorge Castillo. Michael Baron of Metsblog.com doubts any team will offer Santana more than a minor league deal because of his shoulder issues. The Mets opted for a $5.5MM buyout of Santana's $25MM club option in November making the 34-year-old left-hander a free agent.
- The Yankees have checked on free agent right-hander Mike Pelfrey, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Yankees are interested in a reunion with Raul Ibanez but he isn't a top priority for them, tweets the New York Post's Joel Sherman. Ibanez, despite being 41, is being courted by teams in both leagues including the Rockies, Braves, Mariners, and Rangers, Sherman tweets.
- The focus of both the Yankees and Mets will be on the trade market rather than free agents during the Winter Meetings, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
- Martino adds, in a separate tweet, the Mets were never in on Scott Feldman and don't seem to be in play for mid-rotation help.
- CC Sabathia was surprised by Cano's decision because he did not expect the Yankees to allow Cano to leave, and he did not expect Cano to actually go, reports Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger. "Just a player like that, putting on the pinstripes, and being able to play your whole career in New York means something – to me, obviously," Sabathia said. "It didn't mean that much to him. It's a difficult choice being a free agent. And he made a tough choice. I know he's happy with his decision, and his family's happy. So that's good."
The Mets didn't exactly dazzle fans with their signing of Chris Young but they could be planning to do something a little more exciting in the weeks to come. The Mets are among the clubs that have been connected to Nelson Cruz and they are still said to have interest in Curtis Granderson. If GM Sandy Alderson & Co. want to get in on Cruz, however, it could prove to be costly. The former Rangers outfielder is said to be seeking a four-year, $75MM deal. More out of Queens..
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News wonders if the Mets are going to make a big splash this winter. Martino hears that the Mets were scared by the two-year, $16MM deal that Marlon Byrd landed. At the same time, the Mets have decided to hold a hard line on trading young pitchers like Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. It's hard to see how they can land an impact bat without dealing one of their desirable impact arms. Martino adds that there is "gossip" around the Mets about GM Sandy Alderson engaging clubs in talks for three-way deals.
- Agent Chris Leible tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) that client Johan Santana is now throwing from 90 feet in Florida and his shoulder feels much better. There's currently no timeline set for the one-time Mets ace to sign.
- More from B-NS, who hears from agent Mike Mosa that Tim Byrdak wants to continue pitching. Byrdak recovered from left shoulder surgery to pitch in eight games for the Mets in September. The 40-year-old has a 4.32 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 across parts of three seasons with the Mets. MLBTR's TIm Dierkes noted ten days back (via Twitter) that two clubs had asked for medicals on the southpaw.