Johan Santana Rumors
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.
Josh Willingham's three-year, $21MM contract is the largest free agent contract the Twins have ever issued, but agent Matt Sosnick told Parker Hageman of Twins Daily that Willingham actually turned down a more lucrative offer from a team that was farther west than the Twins are from his Alabama home. More from Hageman's piece and some other Twins-related items below...
- Sosnick also told Hageman he "loves the Twins" and that there's no GM in the game he respects more than Terry Ryan. His respect for the Twins' honesty and player development led him to turn down more money for German outfield prospect Max Kepler back in 2009 to sign with Minnesota. Kepler still signed for $800K, which was, at the time, the largest bonus ever signed by a European prospect.
- Within his piece, Hageman notes that he also spoke with Ryan about the upcoming offseason. Ryan "flinched" when talking about signing pitchers on the wrong side of 30 to multiyear deals, as they're more likely to break down.
- The Twins are one of several teams to reach out to Johan Santana's agent and request his medicals, writes La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Santana's agent, Ed Greenberg, told Neal that his client "still loves Minnesota" and enjoyed working with pitching coach Rick Anderson, who is still serving the same role on the Twins' coaching staff.
- Neal also reports that the Twins have checked in with the agents for Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco (who is represented by Sosnick), Dan Haren and Scott Feldman, though their specific level of interest in each is unknown. Ryan told Neal that he thinks the quick turnarounds of the Indians and Red Sox will be good for non-contending teams' chances at signing free agents, as they served as examples that a team's fortunes can change quickly. The Twins won just 66 games in 2013 -- just two and three games fewer than the Indians and Red Sox won in 2012, respectively.
- Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported earlier in the week Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are done for their respective seasons in the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League. Buxton has been battling a left (non-throwing) shoulder strain, and Sano has been diagnosed with a strained UCL in his throwing elbow. Sano's injury sounds more serious, but he's been examined by Dr. James Andrews, who agreed with the team's medical staff that no surgery is necessary. Paul Molitor, the newest member of the Twins' coaching staff, told Berardino that Sano's elbow troubles aren't related to his throwing mechanics.
While Jay Bruce's agent, Matt Sosnick, said his client hasn't discussed an extension with the Reds, he didn't quash the idea either, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. "Obviously, Jay loves playing in Cincinnati. He's made it clear in the past that all things equal, he'd like to finish his career there and certainly would be open to anything," said Sosnick. While the Reds control Bruce through 2017 with three guaranteed years at $34.5MM and a team option for $13MM, the idea of a pre-emptive extension makes sense since the slugger will only be 30 upon hitting the open market. Here's more out of the Central divisions..
- Passan spoke to one exec who said that Brandon Phillips is as good as "gone" in Cincinnati. Yesterday we learned that the Yankees made a preliminary inquiry on the second baseman, but it's possible that they're simply looking for leverage in talks with Robinson Cano.
- The Twins have expressed interest in free agent pitchers Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes, and Jason Vargas, sources tell Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. While the Twins have yet to make a formal offer to Arroyo, the interest appears to be mutual between the club and the 36-year-old.
- The Twins have also called on Scott Kazmir and Johan Santana, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.
- Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network (video link) spoke with Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer about dealing with trade speculation and the possibility of hammering out an extension.
- It might not have made a difference, but the Red Sox weren't showing any indication that they were ready to let Torey Lovullo go to the Cubs, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The Cubs agreed not to poach personnel from the Red Sox after Theo Epstein left to take over their operations.
Free agents are not allowed to negotiate with all 30 MLB clubs until 11:01 pm (CT) Monday, but agent Scott Boras says his phone was ringing off the hook regarding Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew within hours of the Red Sox winning the World Series, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Yankees will be the most interesting team during free agency, according to Cafardo, but will be hamstrung until a decision is made on Alex Rodriguez's appeal. Cafardo also lists the Phillies, Tigers, Giants, Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rangers as active participants in the free agent market. In other tidbits from his Sunday Baseball Notes column:
- Both LA teams are interested in acquiring David Price from the Rays. The Angels may have a slight edge because they can put together package with bats like Mark Trumbo and Howie Kendrick while the Dodgers have an overstocked rotation.
- Joe Nathan should be of interest to both the Tigers and Yankees even though the latter seems to have settled on David Robertson as Mariano Rivera's replacement.
- There may be no better time for the Red Sox to trade John Lackey than right now.
- The Red Sox may consider re-signing Joel Hanrahan after he recovers from Tommy John surgery to provide protection for incumbent closer Koji Uehara.
- Franklin Gutierrez, whose $7.5MM club option was declined by the Mariners, is an intriguing player who can still perform at a high level when healthy. Staying healthy has been an issue for Gutierrez with six trips to the disabled list in the last four years.
- Johan Santana, whose $25MM club option was declined by the Mets, is another pretty good low-cost gamble.
The Mets announced that they have declined their $25MM club option on left-hander Johan Santana. The move is perhaps the least surprising option decision we'll see this season. The two-time American League Cy Young Award winner will be paid a $5.5MM buyout and hit the free agent market.
The 34-year-old Santana recently started throwing again and hopes to pitch in 2014 after missing the entire 2013 season with a shoulder injury, according to a report from earlier this morning by Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
Santana, who missed the entire 2011 season with shoulder problems as well, last pitched in 2012, totaling 117 innings of a 4.85 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. He had cruised through the season up until June 1 of that year, looking like his vintage self. Santana was coming off a complete-game shutout of the Padres entering that June 1 start -- a historic day on which Mets fans bore witness to the first no-hitter in franchise history. However, in tossing his masterpiece, Santana threw a whopping 134 pitches -- an alarming amount considering he'd only topped 100 pitches on three other occasions that season. He went on to post an 8.27 ERA over his next 10 starts before finishing the season on the disabled list.
Santana, perhaps the greatest pitcher to ever come out of the Rule 5 Draft, won a pair of Cy Young Awards in Minnesota before being traded to the Mets in January, 2008 for a package of Carlos Gomez, Philip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. The Twins received little return on that deal (Gomez didn't break out until he'd been traded to Milwaukee), and one would think that the Mets would like to take back the six-year, $137.5MM extension they granted upon Santana's arrival in Queens.
With free agency underway, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reached out to 40 Major League Baseball executives and agents to gauge the markets for both pitchers and hitters. Here are just some of the highlights from each well-crafted analysis constructed by my former MLBTR colleague...
- Brian McCann hasn't ruled out a return to the Braves, despite the fact that most pundits are projecting him to sign with an American League team on a contract that's far too expensive for Atlanta's liking. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes profiled McCann in September and predicted a five-year, $80MM deal.
- Many executives and agents that spoke to Nicholson-Smith doubt that Robinson Cano actually has a chance at reaching the $300MM mark that he and agent Brodie Van Wagenen suggested last month.
- Cuban catcher Yenier Bello is expected to work out for big league teams on Nov. 5 in Tijuana, Mexico. The powerful 28-year-old hasn't yet been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), though MLB cleared him a month ago.
- While we've heard several scouts predict that Masahiro Tanaka won't live up to the ace standards set by Yu Darvish, Nicholson-Smith found that there are several teams that do view Tanaka as a potential ace/top-of-the-rotation starter.
- Tim Hudson's agent, Paul Cohen of TWC Sports, told Nicholson-Smith that his client wants to play for two or three more seasons and is interested in signing a multiyear contract this winter. I profiled Hudson last month, projecting a one-year, $9MM contract, but noted that some teams may be interested at two years.
- Johan Santana wants to return to the Majors and recently began throwing. The two-time AL Cy Young winner didn't pitch in 2013, but he should be able to generate interest as a high-upside signing that comes with little risk.
- Javier Lopez is seeking a multiyear deal this winter after another strong season with the Giants, and Nicholson-Smith gets the sense that there are many non-closing relievers eyeing multiyear deals. He spoke to some executives who feel that left-handed relief is one of the strengths of this year's market.
Here's a look at the latest on the Mets and Yankees..
- The Mets and Johan Santana are very likely to part ways this winter but team insiders say that the door is open a sliver of a crack for a return, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. When Martino suggested to one team source that the Mets would definitely cut bait with the left-hander, the person said, “that’s probably fair, but it’s premature to say never.”
- A source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com not to expect multi-year deals this offseason for notable players under the Mets' control. The Mets' best candidates for a deal like Jonathon Niese's five-year, $25.5MM pact from last offseason would be the arbitration-eligible Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee, and Bobby Parnell.
- Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com asks if the Yankees should make a play for Chase Headley this winter. The Padres third baseman could be moved for the right package, but a baseball official familiar with the team's thinking says they'll need a "compelling offer" and the Bombers don't really have the necessary talent in their farm system to do that.
- Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada has returned to The Legacy Agency as a client after spending time with Praver/Shapiro, tweets Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. You can keep track of everyone's representation with the MLBTR Agency Database.
The latest out of the National League East...
- Dusty Baker reached out to Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo to inform him that he's interested in taking over as the Nats manager with Davey Johnson stepping down, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Baker said that no interview has been scheduled, and Rizzo declined to comment on the Nats' managerial search. Kilgore adds that the Nationals may prefer a younger manager to replace Johnson, who was the oldest skipper in the Majors this season at age 70.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that the Nationals are giving serious consideration to Cal Ripken Jr. as a managerial candidate.
- Matt Meyers of ESPNNewYork.com provides a case against the Mets' expected pursuit of Shin-Soo Choo, opining that Choo is a prime candidate to become the next Jason Bay in New York. Choo is much more likely to decline than maintain his production, writes Meyers, adding that Choo would be leaving an environment that favors his skill set for one that would diminish it.
- Juan Pierre wants to keep playing but realizes that 2013 might have been his last season, writes MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Pierre is grateful to the Marlins for both of his stints with the team and says he would be interested in returning if they would like to re-sign him.
- Johan Santana isn't ruling out a return to the Mets, but the two sides haven't talked, agent Chris Leible told Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. Santana resumed throwing last week and expects to be ready for Spring Training. GM Sandy Alderson said two weeks ago that he wouldn't rule out a return for Santana.
The Mets are looking to bolster their rotation this winter and they may not have to dig too far into their rolodex for some help. In an interview with WFAN today, GM Sandy Alderson said that he wouldn't rule out bringing Johan Santana back to New York this winter.
"I think that's a possibility," Alderson said, according to Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com. "I don't really know what Johan's thinking. We'll talk to him, I'm sure, over the next couple of weeks but I think he wants to pitch. We'll just have to see what the market is for these guys and how much of our resources we want to allocate to somebody coming off injury or somebody you hope was able to pitch for you at a higher level."
Santana is coming off of a year in which he made $25.5MM with the Mets despite not throwing a single major league pitch thanks to a torn anterior capsule in his left shoulder. There was speculation after the injury that the 34-year-old might call it a career, but he has since indicated a desire to return to baseball. Santana spent six seasons in Queens but only pitched in four, posting a 3.18 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.