Jon Lester Rumors
On this date in 2002, the Mets claimed a 26-year-old shortstop off waivers from the Brewers. He had just posted a .295/.382/.432 batting line in Triple-A Indianapolis a year prior, and would go on to make his Major League debut for the Mets that season. The infielder would bat just .216/.299/.351 in 129 plate appearances for the Mets over the next two years before being plucked off waivers again -- this time by the A's. Marco Scutaro would eventually cement himself as a late bloomer and ultimately help the Giants to a World Series title before inking a three-year, $20MM contract this offseason. Here are some links from around the league as we enter the season's first full weekend...
- Vladimir Guerrero turned down offers to play in Taiwan and in Quebec to sign with the Long Island Ducks, writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick goes on to explain that Guerrero's goal is to get back into Major League Baseball and chase the 500-homer plateau. He's currently 51 long balls shy with 449 in his career.
- There have been no serious extension talks between David Murphy and the Rangers, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest. Murphy plans to play out the season and think about his next deal in the offseason.
- Nolan Ryan will be at the Rangers home opener today, and he's taking a "wait-and-see" approach as he decides his future with the team, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that a rebound campaign from Red Sox lefty Jon Lester will likely result in a mega-deal that's comparable to some of the "silly money" deals doled out to starting pitchers around the game recently. Cafardo breaks down the track records of pitchers like Zack Greinke, Matt Cain, Cole Hamels and others and compares them to Lester.
The Marlins have an Opening Day, on-field payroll of just $36.1MM, about $58MM less than in 2012, Juan Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel notes. That the Marlins' team is dramatically less expensive than it was at this point last year is hardly news, but it's still startling to see a list of the team's players and their salaries, as Rodriguez provides here. After Ricky Nolasco at $11.5MM, the next-highest-paid Marlin is Placido Polanco, who will make $2.75MM.
- "A few teams" were interested in trading for Alfredo Aceves of the Red Sox, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes (on Twitter). But injuries to Franklin Morales and Craig Breslow, along with Daniel Bard's control problems, meant it wasn't possible for the Sox to deal Aceves.
- Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester isn't interested in discussing a contract extension during the season, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI. "If something did come up during the season I probably wouldn't listen," says Lester. "I don't want to deal with it. I think it's too much of a distraction." Lester will make $11.625MM in 2013, and the Red Sox have a $13MM option, with a $250K buyout, for Lester's services in 2014.
- The Blue Jays added plenty of talent this offseason, adding R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and others, but bold offseasons don't necessarily lead to big results, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com argues. McAdam points to the 2011 Red Sox (who did finish third, although they also won 90 games) and 2012 Marlins as examples of teams that have disappointed in the years following exciting offseasons.
Left-hander Jon Lester could hit free agency less than a year from now, but the Red Sox don’t seem anxious to negotiate a new contract at this time. Lester said the team has not approached him about a contract extension, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (on Twitter).
Lester will earn $11.625MM this coming season in the last guaranteed year of the five-year, $30MM contract he signed in the spring of 2009. The deal includes a $13MM team option for 2014, which means Lester will only hit the open market if the Red Sox decline the option. ACES represents Lester, who drew some trade interest earlier in the offseason.
Though Lester started 33 games and completed 205 1/3 innings last year, he didn't pitch as well as usual, posting a 4.82 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and a 49.2% ground ball rate. His fastball averaged 92.6 mph -- right around his career mark.
Multiple teams remain involved in talks for R.A. Dickey, but it's still possible the Mets will extend the knuckleballer instead of trading him. The reigning National League Cy Young winner appears to seek two years and $26MM in addition to his $5MM salary for 2013. Here are the latest rumors about contract talks for Dickey and potential trades...
- GM Sandy Alderson repeated that the Mets might end up holding onto Dickey instead of trading or extending him, according to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Though that's not “necessarily the optimal result,” the Mets are prepared for that possibility. One competing NL official said it'd be a mistake not to trade or extend Dickey, however.
- The Royals seem "very interested" in Dickey, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star reports (allTwitterlinks). However, they wouldn't be interested in sending top prospect Wil Myers to New York for the knuckleballer. Dickey, James Shields and Jeremy Hellickson remain in play for the Royals, Dutton reports. However, it now seems unlikely that the Red Sox will move Jon Lester.
- The Mets view the Blue Jays, Royals and Rangers as the most likely trade suitors for Dickey, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). In Olney's view Dickey's contract demands may seem more reasonable based on some recent free agent contracts.
While we wait to see whether any major moves will be finalized in Nashville today, let's check out a few odds and ends from Wednesday morning....
- After signing Marco Scutaro to a three-year deal, the Giants may have a hard time affording the sort of outfield bat they'd been targeting, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. According to Baggarly, the Giants had a two-year offer out to Ryan Ludwick, but both Ludwick and Scott Hairston may be too pricey for them now.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera are "very available," but a rival official tells ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter link) that "the price for Choo is high, and for Asdrubal even higher."
- Most baseball people in Nashville believe it will be hard for teams to seriously consider dealing for Jacoby Ellsbury when they have no idea whether they'll be able to keep him long-term, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Olney adds in a tweet that while the Red Sox are listening to offers for Ellsbury and Jon Lester, they aren't motivated to move either player unless a team overpays.
- Although the Marlins spoke to Carl Pavano's agent yesterday, the team doesn't seem overly enthusiastic about a reunion with the right-hander, says Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has been sharing a few Winter Meetings nuggets on this Twitter feed this morning, so let's dive right in and round them up (all links go to Twitter)....
- Heyman classifies both Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera as very available, as the Indians search for long-term assets.
- The Red Sox are very active this week and are willing to discuss anyone, even Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester.
- Ten teams are in on Jason Grilli, as the market for the right-handed reliever heats up. Grilli tweeted early this morning that he was heading for Nashville and has a "full day" on tap.
- The Royals are "one of many" teams looking at Shaun Marcum, who is a Kansas City product.
The Red Sox’s signing of free agent catcher David Ross has fueled speculation that they will move either Ryan Lavarnway or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but neither catcher seems particularly concerned about the prospect, tweets Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “I haven’t talked to anyone about it,” Lavarnway told reporters, including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “The final roster is still so far away that you don’t know what’s going to happen. I have no control over it, at all, at this point, so I don’t think about it," said Lavarnway. Here's more out of Boston..
- General Manager Ben Cherington won't say that the club is open to trading Jon Lester, but he didn't completely close the door on the idea, writes Tim Britton of The Providence Journal. The Red Sox have reportedly had talks with the Royals centered on Lester and prospect Wil Myers.
- Abraham (via Twitter) doesn't get the sense that Vicente Padilla isn't a priority for the club based on conversations he had with Red Sox people. Last season, Padilla was one of the staples in Bobby Valentine's bullpen, posting a 4.50 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 50 innings of work.
- Cherington says that the club will be working hard to strengthen the outfield with one or two pickups, tweets Abraham. "We’ve always felt it’s important at Fenway to have not just somebody who can play right field but really two guys that can handle center or right. I think our best teams have had that in the past. Easier said that done. That would be optimal," Cherington said.
- The GM went on to say that he expects the rotation to take a step up based mostly on the improved performance of the pitchers they have in-house, Abraham tweets.
- The Red Sox would like to re-sign non-tenders Rich Hill and Scott Atchison, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- As we close in on the Winter Meetings, Cherington believes that it is still early in the offseason and expects to see things come together in the next week, Abraham tweets.
The Red Sox and Royals have had some discussions about a trade centered around Jon Lester and Wil Myers, and that's not the only trade possibility for Ben Cherington to consider in the week leading up to the Winter Meetings. Here are the details from Boston...
- Friends of Cody Ross believe the Red Sox are in the lead for the outfielder, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). Ross seeks a three-year deal and hasn't had new talks with the Red Sox in the last few days.
- Mike Napoli appears to be Boston's top free agent target, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports (on Twitter). In the words of Lauber's source, everyone else is "1A" behind Napoli.
- The Red Sox haven't had discussions with Lester about a possible extension, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports. The left-hander has one guaranteed year remaining on his contract with Boston. He'll earn $11.675MM in 2013 and his contract includes a $13MM option for 2014. Lester has said in the past that he'd be open to discussing an extension if the Red Sox are interested.
- Rival teams say the Red Sox are open to dealing Andrew Bailey, Olney reports (on Twitter). However, the reliever’s trade value remains low, so it doesn’t appear likely that the Red Sox will move him. Olney reported last month that the Blue Jays considered acquiring Bailey for manager John Farrell.
8:51pm: A Major League source confirmed to WEEI's Rob Bradford that the two teams have indeed discusseda trade that would center around Lester and Myers. According to Bradford, the talks also included the possibility of Boston sending outfield help to Kansas City with some pitching heading back to the Red Sox. He echoes that nothing is close.
6:55pm: The Royals have already added Ervin Santana to their rotation and brought back Jeremy Guthrie this offseason, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes that general manager Dayton Moore would like to add one more impact arm to his rotation. According to Dutton, Moore's preference is to acquire that arm by dealing prospects rather than Major League talent, and there have been discussions about using top prospect Wil Myers to acquire James Shields or Jon Lester.
Dutton writes that the Royals are currently weighing whether or not six years of Myers is worth two years of either Lester or Shields. One Royals source told Dutton that it's easy to project Myers as a 30-homer bat at the Major League level within the next two-to-three seasons. At the moment, the Royals, Red Sox and Rays are all said to be hesitant, and no deal is close.
Beyond the debate of which commodity is worth more, the Royals also need to consider their 2013 payroll. Barring a significant increase, the team would have to clear money in order to acquire either contract for next season. That, writes Dutton, could mean moving Bruce Chen's contract and/or taking a "hard look" at Luke Hochevar and Felipe Paulino. Both are due significant raises in arbitration, as Matt Swartz recently projected for MLBTR.
Myers ranks as the Royals' top prospect according to Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus and MLB.com. The 22-year-old batted .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last season, cementing himself as one of the game's most coveted minor leaguers.
Jeff Francoeur currently projects as Kansas City's right fielder but is coming off a dreadful season in which he hit just .235/.287/.378. The Royals would need to be confident that Francoeur could return to his 2011 numbers if they were to trade Myers, and even still would have a hole in right field beyond 2013.
Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston will continue in his current role after the end of October, when his contract had been set to expire, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. Beeston and the Blue Jays are believed to be working toward a two-year extension. The 67-year-old acknowledged to Davidi that the sides are "in discussion" and that he's "committed to seeing this thing through." Here are more notes from the AL East...
- Rays bench coach Dave Martinez hasn't heard from the Red Sox or Rockies about possible manager interviews, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Martinez was one of the top candidates to manage the Astros before they hired Bo Porter last month.
- The Red Sox shouldn't have any regrets about dealing Marco Scutaro last winter, writes WEEI.com's Alex Speier, despite Scutaro's strong performance down the stretch with the Giants.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun lists the five biggest questions facing the Orioles this winter.
- It doesn’t appear that Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar will be interviewed for the team’s managerial opening, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter).
- Jon Lester just completed a disappointing season, but as Rob Bradford points out at WEEI.com it could be a good time for the Red Sox to approach the left-hander about another contract extension. Lester, who's under team control through 2014, has said he's "always open" to extension talks. So far the sides haven't discussed a new deal, Bradford reports.
- Outfielder Nate McLouth would like to re-sign with Baltimore when he hits free agency this offseason, but the Orioles could decide to stick with internal options and try to find another McLouth-like performer next year, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. In case you missed it, Mike Axisa examined McLouth’s free agent stock over the weekend.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post