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Jon Lester Rumors
Manny Machado‘s five-game suspension has been upheld by the league, the Orioles announced today, and the third baseman will begin serving his suspension tonight. Machado had been appealing the ruling, which stemmed from a June 8th incident that saw him throw his bat towards third base in a game against the Athletics.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- The Orioles are thought to be looking at trade options for Nolan Reimold, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. The O’s must decide by today what they will do with Reimold, as they would otherwise have to designate the outfielder for assignment unless he is placed on the Major League roster. Reimold has been hampered by multiple neck surgeries over the last few seasons but has posted a .902 OPS over 17 games on a Double-A rehab assignment.
- Jon Lester told reporters (including WEEI.com’s Alex Speier) that there haven’t been any new negotiations between his representatives and the Red Sox, and there won’t be any extension talks during the season since Lester considers them a distraction. “Like I said from the beginning of the season, everything is amicable. Conversations continue. But nothing as far as contract or numbers or anything like that,” Lester said. The southpaw also noted that his preference to wait until after the season to negotiate doesn’t mean he is any less set on remaining in Boston.
- Also from Speier, Mookie Betts and Brock Holt are both similar to Dustin Pedroia in both makeup and physical stature, a sign of how the Red Sox are focusing more on ability than body type in developing their prospects.
- One AL scout would “without hesitation” trade the prospect package of Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez and Dalton Pompey for David Price if the Blue Jays received such a demand from the Rays, the scout tells Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun. This may not be enough for the Jays to outbid others for Price, however, given the number of teams interested and how Tampa is rumored to want a premium if they were to trade Price within the division. Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is said to be refusing to move all of Norris/Sanchez/Pompey in a deal for anyone, including Price, Jeff Samardzjia or another pitcher.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman is “looking to make some additions if I can,” he told reporters, including Zach Schonbrun of the New York Times. “I’d like to try to do a few things before those guys [C.C. Sabathia, Michael Pineda] get back, if possible. But I’ve already been trying. There’s a reason we haven’t done anything; it’s not because of a lack of phone calls. We’ll see.” The Yankees are known to be looking for starting pitching to help their rotation depth.
9:37pm: The Red Sox do want to reignite extension talks with Lester, but there has been no progress toward an extension, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes.
9:02pm: The Red Sox are making what could be a final attempt to extend starting pitcher Jon Lester before he reaches free agency this winter, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports. Olney says the Red Sox have improved upon their previous offer to Lester. It’s unclear, however, whether Lester is even receptive to extension talks at this point, preferring to concentrate on pitching during the season. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal noted yesterday that Lester and the Red Sox were very far apart on the terms of a potential deal.
Olney writes that Lester and the Red Sox had not negotiated since the spring, when the Red Sox reportedly made a four-year, $70MM offer. (Since then, even the Red Sox have characterized the $70MM figure as something less than a final offer.) Lester has pitched brilliantly so far this season, posting a 2.92 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 114 innings, and with the recent escalation in salaries for starting pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Homer Bailey, one would think that Lester would have little trouble topping $70MM on the open market.
The Red Sox would like to re-open negotiations with Jon Lester, but it may not be in the player’s best interest according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Based on where negotiations left off, a large gap exists between club and player. It’s unlikely the two parties could bridge the difference in a short period of time. Says Rosenthal, Lester would like to avoid being labelled as selfish, a distraction, or a mercenary, all of which could result from rejecting an offer mid-season. If the Red Sox trade Lester, then they may shut the door on re-signing him. Many players treat a trade as a “sign of rejection.”
- Unlike Lester, Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa may consider re-signing if traded. He reportedly likes Colorado. If he’s dealt, De La Rosa will not come with a qualifying offer attached.
- Rosenthal labels relievers Neal Cotts and Jason Frasor as the Rangers most likely to be traded. Alex Rios and Joakim Soria could also be marketed. The club won’t solicit offers for third baseman Adrian Beltre, but they will listen if approached. Elvis Andrus is also drawing interest. The Rangers currently sit 12.5 games back of first place in the AL West.
- The Padres are open to dealing one or both of relievers Huston Street and Joaquin Benoit. The Padres aren’t shopping Andrew Cashner, but Ian Kennedy, Chase Headley, Chris Denorfia, and Seth Smith could all be on the block.
Giants starter Tim Hudson is baseball’s top unsung player, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan writes. One reason Hudson’s greatness often goes unnoticed is that his key weapon is the grounder, not the strikeout. With a ground ball rate of 57.4% this season, though, he’s been spectacular, with a 1.81 ERA, 6.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings — all despite being an undersized 38-year-old who missed much of last season with a serious ankle injury. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that the club has the resources to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline. Alderson went on to say that pitcher Jon Niese won’t be trade bait.
- Orioles Executive VP Dan Duquette told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he wants bullpen help as well as better offensive production at second and third base.
- Red Sox starter Jon Lester tells WEEI’s Rob Bradford that he still wants to stay in Boston. “It’s all I’ve really known,” Lester says. “You don’t see many guys that get drafted by a team and end up staying there their whole career. It’s just something that I’ve always … wanted to do.” Lester cites his relationships with members of the Red Sox’s front office, and points out that his wife and kids would have to start their social lives anew if they were to move to a new city. Basic considerations like these rarely enter conversations about why a player might choose to sign with, or stay with, a team, but they’re clearly important. Lester, who is eligible for free agency after the season, says negotiations with the Red Sox will hinge on “what we think is a discount and still fair.”
Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.
The Red Sox currently sit a disappointing six games under .500 and nine back in the AL East. GM Ben Cherington discussed a variety of pertinent topics today, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports (except as otherwise noted below):
- Cherington remains confident in his team’s core, indicating that he expects to rely on in-house options to carry the team back into contention. If they can do that, he said, “we’ll try to find any way we can to make improvements to the team as the summer goes on.” At this point, said Cherington, “typically, you’re sort of talking other teams into doing things, and that doesn’t always leave you in the best position to make deals.”
- If the team were to make an addition in advance of the trade deadline, it would most likely be an outfielder, he told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). Indeed, the team’s greatest struggles have been in the outfield, which is currently being led by Jonny Gomes‘s .722 OPS. When asked whether Boston has the payroll capacity to add players this year, he made clear that it does, reports Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter).
- Cherington affirmed that Jackie Bradley Jr. is the team’s center fielder. “[H]e’s playing really good defense, he’s grinding, he’s making offensive adjustments,” said Cherington. “He’s a very important guy for us and we feel he’s the right guy to be our center fielder.” The GM was somewhat less sanguine about Grady Sizemore, saying that he “hasn’t made the impact as he’d like to.”
- Cherington strongly disputed the notion that the club was forced by public pressure into signing Stephen Drew. “We signed Stephen Drew because I made a recommendation to ownership to sign Stephen Drew,” he said. “It happened to be that [Will Middlebrooks] got hurt. Stephen Drew was still out there, he was a free agent, and we felt like, if we didn’t sign him, we might be in position to have to make a trade at some point and give up talent to address, potentially an area of need … .”
- He also said that the team has not entertained any thoughts of dealing away staff ace and pending free agent Jon Lester if the team cannot get back in the mix. “Our position hasn’t changed,” said Cherington. “We hope to have a conversation again about his contract. We’d love to find a way to keep him here [past this year]. … [W]e’re going to want Jon Lester pitching for us down the stretch.”
- Finally, Cherington addressed the question whether fellow starter John Lackey might retire rather than playing next season for the league minimum option that the club picked up due to the time he’s missed due to injury. “That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” he said, “and obviously our expectation is that he’s going to be here.”
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has been plenty busy over the past few days, digging up rumors from all around the league. Here are some highlights from his latest work…
- Two sources tell Rosenthal that Matt Wieters‘ throwing program is going poorly and surgery is looking more likely (Twitter links). A third source, however, cautions that it’s too soon to make that judgment, adding that Wieters has good days and also bad days at this time.
- In this weekend’s Full Count video, he notes that while many were shocked by Max Scherzer‘s decision to turn down $144MM in an attempt to secure more on next year’s free agent market, Scherzer has an insurance policy on his right arm that Scherzer says “takes the injury risk out of it.” While the policy likely doesn’t cover the full amount of that offer, it sounds to be a substantial amount. Rosenthal adds that Jon Lester has a similar policy, though not for nearly as much money as Scherzer’s policy.
- Some friends of Jimmy Rollins feel that he’ll be willing to waive his 10-and-5 rights to approve a trade once he passes Mike Schmidt for the franchise lead in hits. Others feel he and his wife, a Philadelphia native, prefer to stay no matter what. Of course, Rollins’ $11MM vesting option damages his trade value as well, as he will easily reach the required plate appearances if he stays healthy.
- The Giants are looking to upgrade at second base this summer. While they could use a starting pitcher, they aren’t likely to make an addition that would turn Tim Lincecum into a $17MM bullpen arm. The Athletics, on the other hand, could use a starting pitching upgrade and have the necessary catching depth to make a move.
- The Orioles are willing to move Delmon Young, who is batting .286/.318/.369 and has lost most of his plate appearances to Steve Pearce. While Young isn’t the hitter than Kendrys Morales is, Rosenthal lists him as a low-cost alternative to teams that missed out on Morales; Young is set to earn about $600K over the rest of the season.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at the impact that hitting coach Kevin Seitzer has had on the Blue Jays thus far in 2014. Toronto used to be a swing-for-the-fences team, but even guys like Jose Bautista are hitting to all fields. With a new, more patient approach at the plate, Toronto is leading the league in runs, homers, and extra base hits. Here’s more from today’s column..
- A Marlins official told Cafardo there’s no reason they won’t add a player through a trade. The National League East seems wide open, and they believe that they can find their way to the playoffs, even without the services of Jose Fernandez. Miami has lots of pieces to offer, so they shouldn’t have trouble finding a match over the next couple of months.
- Phillies veteran A.J. Burnett is some contending teams are looking at, but as one AL scout tells Cafardo, “if he doesn’t pitch better he’ll be another guy the Phillies are stuck with. When he’s the A.J. we saw earlier in the year or last year, he’s a guy you want out there in a tough situation. Right now, you wouldn’t touch him.” In his last six starts he has a 7.25 ERA, after posting a 2.06 ERA in his first seven.
- The Rays will have to get at least three top players for left-hander David Price and if they don’t get that offer this summer, they’ll probably pull back and wait until the offseason. Price, of course, still has great stuff, but his velocity is down, which is always a red flag. There’s also no guarantee that he’ll re-sign with the team that trades for him, which could keep the Rays from getting the haul they want.
- Rockies veteran Michael Cuddyer didn’t appear to be one of the possibly available outfielders at the deadline a month ago, but he could be if Colorado’s slide continues. The 35-year-old is a great clubhouse presence and would draw trade interest along with Drew Stubbs. Cafardo mentions the Red Sox as a club that could have interest in Stubbs as they seek an outfielder with power.
- The Yankees, Rangers, Angels, Mariners, and Tigers (if they lose Max Scherzer) are among the teams who will line up if Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester hits the open market. On their end, Boston must decide whether to go beyond a fifth year because the other teams surely will.
- The A’s nearly traded right-hander Jim Johnson to the Marlins last week, so, they’re clearly willing to move him. Cafardo mentions the Orioles, Yankees, and Tigers as clubs that could have interest, but his rocky start and onerous contract make him a gamble.
The Diamondbacks announced today that outfielder A.J. Pollock underwent surgery to repair a right hand fracture and would not resume baseball activity for eight weeks. Pollock, 26, had been a rare bright spot on one of baseball’s most disappointing clubs, emerging with a .316/.366/.554 triple-slash with six home runs and eight stolen bases in 192 plate appearances. Here’s more from around the league:
- The Royals could enter the running to sign first baseman/DH Kendrys Morales to bolster a sagging offense, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. While no serious discussions have happened to date, the club is not ruling out the possibility, adds Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). According to Heyman, pursuit of Morales would require the Royals to move some salary off its books. Ticking through the team’s roster, the most obvious big-salary trade candidate (assuming, of course, that the team is looking to make a run) is DH Billy Butler, who earns $8.5MM this year and comes with a $12.5MM club option ($1MM buyout) for 2015. But his defensive limitations and serious struggles this year make it somewhat difficult to imagine that the team will be able to find a buyer willing to take on enough salary to make the switch-out plausible — especially since clubs looking at Butler would presumably also have interest in Morales. (Then, there’s the question whether Kansas City could both lock up Morales and dump Butler or another contract in early June.)
- Meanwhile, the Yankees have made contact with Morales but are waiting to learn more on Mark Teixeira‘s wrist re-aggravation before acting decisively, Heyman reports. Turning to analysis, Heyman writes that the Yankees have many reasons to pursue Morales strongly, whether or not they get good news on Teixeira in the coming days.
- Informed of recent comments from Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino indicating that the club expects to re-engage him in extension talks, Jon Lester emphasized that he remains focused on the season at hand, reports Boston.com’s Maureen Mullen. “I think right now, obviously with us playing good baseball and us focused on what we need to do today, I think that’s where we need to stay,” he said. “The contract talks will come at the right time. … [T]hat time’ll come, whether it’s tomorrow, I don’t know. Whether it’s in the offseason, I don’t know. We’ll figure that out as we go.”
- Carlos Villanueva of the Cubs says that he and fellow righty Jason Hammel hope to stay with the team but realize they could be traded, reports MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. “What’s happened here the last couple years, you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to be one of those guys, too,” he said. “When they sign here, they know. They know the direction this team is going.” Both pitchers, explained Villanueva, have played with multiple clubs and understand the business of the game. “In a perfect world, we could stay here and build around the young guys, and we could be part of the upswing of the team,” he said. “That could still happen — we’re still here, we’re going to make the most of it.”
The Red Sox are still holding out hope of keeping staff ace Jon Lester from reaching the open market, club president and CEO Larry Lucchino indicated in an appearance this morning on WEEI’s Dennis & Callahan (audio link). Lester, 30, owns a 3.45 ERA through 73 innings as he plays out the last year of an earlier extension.
Lucchino said that he “certainly expect[s]“ to engage in further extension talks with Lester’s representatives at ACES before the big lefty becomes a free agent. Lucchino also downplayed the importance of the club’s reported offer to Lester of $70MM over four years, suggesting that it was a starting point rather than a maximum figure. “I think it’s a mistake to discuss the status of ongoing negotiations as it is a mistake to get fixated on an opening offer,” he said.
A late-breaking extension would hardly be unprecedented. The Phillies retained fellow top southpaw Cole Hamels just before the trade deadline two years ago, for instance. And last year, the Giants pulled off new deals with a pair of veterans who had all but reached the open market, extending Hunter Pence at the tail end of the regular season and locking up starter Tim Lincecum just before he would have officially become a free agent.
Red Sox players made news this winter by campaigning openly for the re-signing of Mike Napoli. And Dustin Pedroia even agreed to defer salary in his extension, in part to free payroll space to make a run (which ultimately proved unsuccessful) at retaining Jacoby Ellsbury. As WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes, staff ace Jon Lester — one of the players who pushed to keep Napoli — will almost certainly benefit from much the same treatment. The clubhouse clearly wants Lester to be kept in Boston, says Bradford, who notes that there was “some grumbling” after reports emerged of the club’s somewhat underwhelming extension offer.
Here’s more out of the American League:
- Southpaw Sean Burnett, who signed a two-year, $8MM deal with the Angels before the 2013 season, learned today that he has suffered a torn UCL for the second time in his career, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. Burnett had just worked his way back from an elbow injury that cut him down after just 13 appearances in 2013, and now seems destined to miss the rest of the year. That makes it rather likely, of course, that the club will decide to pay him a $500K buyout rather than picking up his $4.5MM option for 2015. The Halos currently feature only one lefty in the pen in Wade LeBlanc. Though the team has some options stashed in the upper minors, such as Nick Maronde and Buddy Boshers, none has Burnett’s track record.
- As expected, the Orioles are working to secure an extension of the June 1 opt-out date in starter Johan Santana‘s minor league deal, reports Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. Assuming that can be worked out, Baltimore hopes to set Santana on a course that could bring him back to the majors as soon as June 18.
- Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki said he would be open to extension talks if the club is interested, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It’s something that I think you’d be crazy not to listen,” he said. “You’re always open to those things.” Berardino notes that Minnesota previously extended former backstop Ryan Doumit at a similar point in the 2012 season, after originally signing him to a one-year deal as a free agent (as was the case with Suzuki). Nevertheless, a source says that it is still “too early” to consider a new deal for Suzuki, who could also be setting himself up as a nice trade piece with his .297/.363.405 start.
- While the Twins seem to have made the right call in locking up Suzuki to a modest deal, they missed out on an even bigger opportunity back in 2009 — though the club was not alone in that respect. As Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets, Minnesota was among about ten other clubs that made offers to outfielder Gregory Polanco which came in just under the Pirates’ winning bid of $175K.