Johan Santana Rumors
Still in the midst of recovering from his second major shoulder surgery, one-time Twins and Mets ace Johan Santana could still be half-a-year away from taking the hill in a major league game, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Discussing Santana at the Twins' winter fan event yesterday, Minnesota GM Terry Ryan said that Santana will "be held back" and "won't be ready to go probably ... [until] the summer at some point."
That does not mean, however, that the Twins and other clubs are not keeping an eye on the 34-year-old southpaw. "We do have some interest in him," said Ryan. "Whether or not he wants to sign with us will be up to him." Ryan said that Santana "would be a good fit" for a Twins organization that made three significant free agent rotation additions over the offseason.
Meanwhile, a return by Santana to his more recent home -- the Mets -- does not appear to be in the cards. As Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports, with Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannan now added to the club's fifth-starter competition, Santana's time in Queens is now all but certainly over.
Though he never again dominated at his 2004-2006 levels, the Venezuelan native remained quite valuable over his first three years in New York, authoring a 2.85 ERA over an even 600 innings between 2008 and 2010. Over the final three years of his $137.5MM deal, however, Santana threw only 117 innings of 4.85 ERA ball. Unsurprisingly, the Mets declined their $25MM option for Santana's services for the 2014 season, instead paying him a $5.5MM buyout.
Santana figures to be available on a minor league deal given the extent of his injury issues, though the Grady Sizemore signing suggests that a guaranteed deal is not an impossibility. At a minimum, the changeup artist will surely draw plenty of interested onlookers when he decides to audition. After all, it was only two summers back that Santana -- returning from his first shoulder surgery -- no-hit a potent Cardinals lineup and ended the month of June with a 2.76 ERA over 98 innings (only to see things fall apart thereafter).
The Indians have signed a couple of notable names to minor league deals this week, picking up right-hander Scott Atchison and outfielder Jeff Francoeur. They were also one of the two finalists on infielder Jamey Carroll. Here's the latest out of Cleveland (All courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes)...
- Hoynes writes that the Indians have been in contact with Masahiro Tanaka's agent, Casey Close, and could meet with him and his client in the coming days. The Indians "are in the game" and could make a lucrative multiyear offer, but Hoynes calls the chances of a deal "slim," noting that Cleveland isn't likely to outbid big spenders like the Yankees and possibly the Diamondbacks.
- From that same piece, Hoynes writes that if they do not land Tanaka, they're content to wait for a starter to come to them at their price. Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo could all be of interest and could all sign after Tanaka. Hoynes writes that Cleveland has long coveted Garza, and also adds that they may be able to sign Jimenez if he's the last man standing from the remaining free agent starters. At that point, they could get Jimenez at their price and would have an advantage over other teams due to draft pick compensation. Cleveland is also content to let Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, Shaun Marcum and Josh Tomlin battle for the fifth spot if they can't find a starter at the right price.
- In a mailbag piece, Hoynes tells readers that while the Indians have spoken to Johan Santana's agents, his sense is that the team is focused on adding healthier, more dependable arms if it makes further pitching additions.
- Cleveland isn't likely to sign Bobby Abreu because Jason Giambi is already in the fold, Hoynes reports. However, the Indians are impressed by Abreu's swing and improved conditioning. If it becomes clear that Giambi cannot fill the role he did for the Indians in 2013, then Abreu would be a candidate to do so.
Florida State quarterback and pitcher/outfielder Jameis Winston may not ultimately be long for the game of baseball, but he has potential first-round talent, J.J. Cooper of Baseball America writes in an interesting piece. If Winston were to end up pursuing baseball, he has legitimate ability both as a switch-hitting position player and as a pitcher. But his developmental process may mean he now has more value through his arm, Cooper writes. One scout says that, if he sees enough time on the mound, Winston is a top-20 draft candidate given his low-to-mid-90's fastball and solid slider.
Here are some pitching notes from around the league:
- The Tigers announced today that former American League Cy Young winner Justin Verlander underwent successful core muscle surgery in Philadelphia this morning. Verlander injured himself in late December during his regular offseason conditioning and will undergo rehab for the next six weeks. "We fully anticipate Justin to participate in spring training and be in a position to compete at the beginning of the 2014 season," said GM Dave Dombrowski in the press release. Here's more from around the league...
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that Johan Santana expects to throw off a mound this month and could either sign with a team to complete his rehab or wait until he is healthy to showcase for teams. The two-time Cy Young Award winner is still deciding the best course of action, it seems.
- The Yankees are among several teams keeping an eye on Santana's rehab progress, reports Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger. He may audition for scouts before Spring Training, McCullough adds.
- The Brewers have been running quietly in free agency thus far, but GM Doug Melvin says that the team is talking with several relievers, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, who breaks down the remaining options. On the other hand, Melvin seems content taking his current array of relievers into Spring Training without a significant addition. "Right now, we're just going to [fill the bullpen] internally," said Melvin, "unless that changes."
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
SB Nation's Grant Brisbee examines the ups and downs of Joe Mauer's contract and wonders what Mauer would have signed for had he been a free agent this offseason. Mauer is owed $115MM over the remainder of his contract, and while Brisbee feels he'd fall a bit shy of that, he still predicts a healthy six-year, $101MM contract. Mauer would have been the second-best hitter in this year's free agent class, Brisbee notes, pointing out that among 2013-14 free agents, only Robinson Cano has a higher OPS+ than Mauer over the past two seasons. More Twins-related news and rumors...
- Mike Pelfrey's two-year, $11MM contract with the Twins includes $3.5MM in incentives based on innings thresholds, as broken down by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- There isn't any change in negotiations between the Twins and Matt Garza, according to 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson (Twitter links). As Wolfson reported earlier this week, Minnesota is willing to meet Garza's price but only on a short-term deal, while Garza is looking for a longer commitment.
- The Twins are not one of the six teams that have expressed interest in a minor league deal for Nyjer Morgan, according to Darren Wolfson (Twitter link). Morgan recently switched agents and is weighing a return to the Majors after a strong season in Japan.
- Major League sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that a reunion between the Twins and Johan Santana is a real possibility. Minnesota has continued to discuss its former ace internally, has stayed in contact with Santana's agents and has some interest in a reunion.
- The Twins face an interesting battle for the fifth spot in their rotation, wrote MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger in his most recent Twins Inbox. Samuel Deduno, Vance Worley and Scott Diamond are all out of minor league options, but the rotation figures to have room for just one of the three with Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey all under control. That's to say nothing of top prospect Kyle Gibson, who struggled in 2013 but still projects to be in the rotation at some point. Bollinger feels that Deduno is the front-runner for the fifth spot but doesn't see a Worley or Diamond trade happening until at least midway through Spring Training, as each pitcher's value is at a low point.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
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.
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).