John Buck Rumors
The Braves became the latest team to beat the struggling Astros tonight, winning a 4-1 result on the back of 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball from Tim Hudson. With the Braves' win and the Nationals' split of a double-header with the Marlins today, Washington is only two games up on Atlanta in the NL East. Here's the latest from around the division...
- With the Phillies looking to keep payroll under the luxury tax threshold, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News looked at Reed Johnson, Jonny Gomes and Scott Hairston as right-handed hitting free agents who could be paired with lefty bat Nate Schierholtz for a productive outfield platoon that would come at a much cheaper cost than what the Phillies would have paid Hunter Pence in 2013.
- The Nationals don't see new catcher Kurt Suzuki as a "rental," GM Mike Rizzo told reporters (including CSN Washington's Mark Zuckerman). Suzuki is under contract through 2013 and the Nats plan to keep him along with regular catcher Wilson Ramos, who will be recovered from a torn ACL suffered in May.
- Fangraphs' Eric Seidman looks at how a Jason Bay for Heath Bell/John Buck trade would benefit both the Marlins and Mets in terms of salary relief and filling lineup holes. The two clubs had some discussions before the trade deadline about such a deal, though talks went nowhere at the time.
The Mets and Marlins discussed a change-of-scenery trade that would have sent Jason Bay to Miami for Heath Bell and John Buck, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. A deal was never close, though the contracts and the money matched up well. Bell is signed through 2014, Bay and Buck through 2013. Rosenthal notes that all three players are likely to clear waivers this month, so the two sides could revisit the deal. Here are the rest of his rumors...
- The Astros are paying virtually all of the $9MM left on Carlos Lee's contract, but one club that spoke to the Marlins said Miami wanted as much as $2.5MM in return for the slugger. Talks never progressed.
- The Orioles spoke to the Mariners about Kevin Millwood, but Seattle wanted a better return than what was offered given the right-hander's bargain $1MM salary.
- The Orioles also discussed a deal with the Royals that would have sent one of their young arms to Kansas City for Luke Hochevar and Jonathan Broxton. Rosenthal speculates that it may have been Jake Arrieta.
- The Brewers were close to trading Francisco Rodriguez to the Giants about a week before the deadline, but San Francisco backed off after the right-hander blew two saves and allowed six runs in Philadelphia last week.
When the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez three months ago, he was recovering from shoulder surgery and wasn't a lock to be ready for Opening Day. Yesterday, having not experienced any setbacks, Gonzalez played in his first game of the spring, a strong sign that his rehab has been a success. Speaking to reporters today, the slugger suggested he doesn't expect his health to be an issue this season. In fact, he wants to play in all 162 games, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
"I'm a first baseman," said Gonzalez. "How much energy do you really put out there? I don't steal bases. I don’t run fast. I play first base. As long as my legs can take it, I'm good."
More Sox-related links:
- In a separate column for WEEI, Speier looks back at the other trade involving Gonzalez, one that helped the Marlins win the 2003 World Series.
- John Buck was keeping an eye on Victor Martinez and the Red Sox this winter, according to Speier. Alhough contract talks with the Sox never got serious, Buck was intrigued by the possibility of replacing V-Mart behind the plate in Boston: "Who doesn’t want to play for the Red Sox? Being a kind of historian of baseball, regardless of all the money and all that other stuff, it would just be a cool place to play."
- The Red Sox are making changes to Daisuke Matsuzaka's throwing routine in hopes of turning his spring around, says Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Yesterday, Theo Epstein shot down a report that Boston was open to trade offers for Dice-K and others.
- The starting rotation in Boston is becoming clearer, writes Britton in another ProJo blog entry.
Some links from the East - both AL and NL..
- After disappointing in the first year of his five-year, $82.5MM deal with the Red Sox, John Lackey is looking forward to putting 2010 behind him and meeting expectations, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
- More from Bradford as Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez recognize that the paths of Jayson Werth and Mark Teixeira helped lead them to Boston.
- Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey doesn't take his new found security for granted, writes David Waldstein of the New York Times.
- After dealing Dan Uggla to the Braves this winter, the Marlins are counting on catcher John Buck to help replace some of his power, writes MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
Congratulations to Jack Gillis, Jim Howard, Terry Reynolds and Mike Toomey on their induction into the Professional Baseball Scouts Hall of Fame! The four long-time scouts will be inducted individually during separate ceremonies through August.
Some news items...
- The Rockies and Rangers were close enough on a Michael Young trade package earlier this winter that a Colorado player who would've gone to Texas, Eric Young Jr., was asked to take a physical, reports Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com. Texas was concerned by the stress fracture that sidelined Young Jr. for half of last season and the two sides couldn't settle on a deal.
- With Vladimir Guerrero struggling to find a contract, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal wonders if a similar fate awaits David Ortiz in next winter's free agent market.
- The Blue Jays' decision to start John Buck over prospect J.P. Arencibia in August and September of last season was an organizational call, Alex Anthopoulos tells MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. The Jays GM said he promised Buck an everyday job if he signed with Toronto, and Anthopoulos wanted to stand by his agreement. "When we give our word to someone ... that's part of our brand," Anthopoulos said. "When I'm negotiating with an agent or I'm trying to recruit a player, and we have to tell them something, whether it's good or bad news, they know that we're going to honor our word and we're going to be straight shooters."
- Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago discussed several Cubs and White Sox topics in a chat with fans.
- Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com gives his list of the offseason's biggest winners and losers. I'm not sure if I agree with Urban's designation of Manny Ramirez as the biggest individual "loser" this winter -- he took a big pay cut, but the Rays should still be a contending team.
The Marlins made an early strike to fill their need for a starting catcher, officially signing John Buck to a three-year, $18MM deal today. The three-year term comes as no surprise, given the extra years given to free agent catchers last offseason. It's the Marlins' biggest free agent splash since Carlos Delgado's four-year, $52MM deal in January of 2005. Nice work by Buck's agents at ACES; players signing early are doing well so far this offseason. The Marlins' pricey free agent expenditure was made possible in part by their removal of Dan Uggla's salary.
Buck provides the Fish certainty behind the plate with John Baker going down in September for Tommy John surgery and Ronny Paulino a non-tender candidate. The Red Sox were also known to be interested in Buck.
Buck, 30, hit .281/.314/.489 in 437 plate appearances for the Blue Jays this year, logging 933 innings behind the dish. He signed with Toronto for just $2MM after being non-tendered by the Royals. Buck is a Type B free agent, so the Blue Jays will receive a supplemental round draft pick for their loss.
Ed Price of AOL FanHouse first tweeted the Marlins were working hard to sign Buck, while Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post tweeted that the signing was official. In between, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provided all other developments and details.
10:26am: The Marlins are working hard to sign free agent catcher John Buck, an official from another team told Ed Price of AOL FanHouse (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Marlins are definitely interested in Buck, but not close to a deal. Yesterday, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos described Buck's market as "very, very strong" and implied his agents at ACES seek a multiyear deal. Buck, 30, hit .281/.314/.489 with 20 home runs in 437 plate appearances for Toronto this year. He signed for $2MM after being non-tendered by the Royals.
Alex Anthopoulos spoke to Jeff Blair of The Fan 590 before his plane took off for Orlando yesterday, and the Blue Jays GM said he was trying to get a signing done right before the radio show call. Some have speculated on Manny Ramirez, who's been hanging out in Toronto lately, while others point out that at the very least the Jays would wait a week until after the White Sox have declined to offer him arbitration. At this point we know Manny likes the Blue Jays but not whether interest is mutual. It does appear Manny needs the Jays more than they need him. If a Blue Jays signing of any kind is to happen before the 23rd, it'd have to be a free agent not ranked as a Type A.
Anthopoulos went on to say that his talks with agents over the last week suggest the free agent market might move faster than in years past, as people "try to jump out early and get things done."
On the topic of Edwin Encarnacion, Anthopoulos explained that the third baseman is in line for an arbitration raise of $1-2MM on top of this year's $4.75MM salary. That salary, plus Encarnacion's desire to play every day, wasn't a fit for the Jays. Encarnacion was claimed by the Athletics, but he could still be non-tendered on December 2nd. Anthopoulos has not closed the door in the event that happens.
Anthopoulos described the market for John Buck as "very, very strong" after talking to his agents at ACES. He says Buck is "sitting on years and dollars that might be a little steep for us," but that the catcher's agents will give the Jays a chance to match before he signs. We saw extra contract years tossed around for multiple free agent catchers last year; could a 30-year-old Buck find a three-year deal?
In case there was any doubt, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Brewers aren't going to trade Ryan Braun. However, the Brewers are open to trading any of their other top hitters for rotation help. That means Rickie Weeks, Casey McGehee and, of course, Prince Fielder would be available in the right deal. Here are the details and the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:
- The Brewers don't want to trade top players for back-of-the-rotation starters, but teams are reluctant to include top young pitchers in potential deals.
- The Padres have spoken repeatedly to the Brewers about minor league infielder Brett Lawrie, who could be obtained for young pitching.
- Adrian Gonzalez is still drawing trade interest, even though he won't be ready to swing a bat until the end of Spring Training.
- Two GMs tell Rosenthal that the Red Sox are open to trading Felix Doubront. One says Boston would part with the left-hander "in a heartbeat" and the other guaranteed the Red Sox will trade him by mid-summer. Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told Rosenthal that the Red Sox "value Felix tremendously" and that the report "couldn't be further from the truth."
- Every young Orioles pitcher "could be in play for the right bat," Rosenthal reports.
- If the Marlins trade Dan Uggla, they would use the savings to sign at least one free agent. John Buck is a target for the Marlins regardless of whether they trade or extend Uggla.
- The A's don't have interest in Mark Reynolds.
- The Rockies are drawing lots of interest in Clint Barmes. They could trade or non-tender the infielder if they aren't able to sign him to a multi-year contract.
- Cody Ross and Javier Lopez are strong candidates to receive extensions from the Giants.
One talent evaluator told ESPN.com's Buster Olney that Aubrey Huff posted impressive numbers in 2010 because he “got better as a player." Huff has set himself up for a nice payday and he isn’t the only Giants free agent who stands to cash in this offseason, as Olney explains:
- One GM says players like Juan Uribe, who can hit 20 homers and play in the middle infield, are becoming harder to find. “Five years ago, you could find a lot of guys who could do what he does,” the GM said. “But not now.”
- Olney surveyed scouts and executives about the A’s-Royals trade and everyone said it was a good deal for both clubs.
- Rival teams believe the Rays are willing to trade B.J. Upton. What’s more, Tampa Bay wouldn’t have to be overwhelmed to agree to a deal.
- The Yankees are interested in John Buck, but the catcher could likely command a two-year deal (possibly from the Red Sox) and it seems unlikely that the Yankees would offer more than a one-year contract.
- In a series of tweets, Olney explains that the Blue Jays may only obtain a second or third round pick for losing Type A free agent Scott Downs (they will also get a compensation pick if they offer arbitration). There's a chance that Downs' new team will sign another free agent with a higher ranking, which would prevent Toronto from getting a first rounder.