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- Right-Hander Norge Ruiz Leaves Cuba, Will Seek Deal With MLB Club
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Jose Bautista Rumors
Some news items to wrap up the evening….
- In regards to the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista pushing back their arbitration hearing, a source tells FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link) that when hearings are delayed, it "frequently" means a long-term deal is on the way.
- Reds pitching coach Bryan Price confirms that Aroldis Chapman will pitch relief for Cincinnati this season, reports Fanhouse's John Hickey. The Reds' rotation is deep enough that they "don't have to push Chapman," Price said. "We don't need to stockpile innings on him at this stage of his career…But down the road will he start? I think he will."
- The Mariners announced that Ken Griffey Jr. will be a special consultant for the club, according to the team's Twitter feed. MLB.com's Greg Johns outlines some of the tasks Griffey will perform in his new position.
- Chris Ray tells Greg Johns that he turned down a Major League offer from another club to sign a minor league deal with the Mariners since Ray will get a chance to close or at least set up games in Seattle. "It doesn't really mean a whole lot if it's a one-year contract [elsewhere] and I'm a free agent again next year if I'm pitching basically the scrap innings," Johns said. "That's not something that will help me out in the future. From this point forward, I want to be the guy who goes in late in the ballgame."
- Jeffrey Loria thinks the Marlins are a playoff-caliber team, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Loria also hinted that Florida's payroll will rise next year when the Fish move into their new Miami stadium.
- Jorge Posada said "it wouldn't surprise" him if Andy Pettitte pitched again, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
Happy Bobby Valentine day everybody! Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the roast beef and be sure to tip your staff writers. Here are some links for Monday night..
- Melissa Segura of SI (via Twitter) reminds us that some of baseball's elite international free agents will be playing in Tuesday's Dominican International League All-Star Game.
- From all indications, Michael Young isn't a fit for the Marlins, writes MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star (via Twitter) is "99-percent sure" that the postponement of Jose Bautista's arbitration hearing will result in a multiyear deal. The session, originally scheduled for Monday, has been pushed back until Friday.
- It's not yet known why Elmer Dessens' deal with the Giants fell through but Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that when a team is tightlipped on such matters, it could mean they did not like something in the physical.
- Braves infielder Martin Prado was hesitant about changing positions to accommodate the arrival of Dan Uggla but is now comfortable with the move to left field, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
- The Twins have been impressed by Felix Jorge's development over the last few months, writes Kelly Thesier of MLB.com.
8:44pm: In a text message to Morosi, Bautista confirmed that the hearing has been rescheduled for Friday and the sides are talking about multiyear proposals.
6:48pm: Bautista's arbitration hearing has been postponed until Friday, tweets Morosi.
5:55pm: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has issued the following comment, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
"Our arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista has been postponed to allow further negotiation between the player and the club," the GM said.
Meanwhile, Morosi also tweets that the slugger told him that he is still "very hopeful" about remaining in Toronto long term.
Bautista said last week that he would stop discussing long-term deals with the Blue Jays after his arbitration hearing, which had been scheduled for today. If the Blue Jays' request is granted, they will have four extra days to work out a deal with Bautista and his representatives at Proformance.
Bautista, one of five unsigned arbitration eligible players, filed for $10.5MM and the Blue Jays countered with $7.6MM, as our Arb Tracker shows. Bautista hit a major league-leading 54 homers last year and posted a .260/.378/.617 line for the Blue Jays. For more on his case click here.
The latest from Florida, where pitchers and catchers are reporting to AL East Spring Training camps…
- Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Erik Hahmann of DRaysBay that "starting pitching, position players who can help you on both sides of the ball, and impact talent up the middle" are difficult or impossible for the Rays to obtain on the open market. That's why the Rays expect the upcoming draft to be some of "the most important days in the history of [the Tampa Bay] franchise." Friedman admits that the Rays face different challenges than, say, the Yankees or Red Sox, but expects his club to compete in 2011.
- Jose Bautista, who set a deadline for extension talks with the Blue Jays, told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he is "still very hopeful” about signing long-term with the Jays. Bautista's arbitration hearing is scheduled for today, so we'll know by tomorrow whether he's going to sign an extension or make $10.5MM or $7.6MM this year.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that some aging players are crucial to the Yankees' success in 2011.
On Friday, Jays outfielder Jose Bautista told Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun that he has set a deadline for extension talks with the club. The slugger and the club have an arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow and it seems like a safe bet that the meeting will go through as planned. While Bautista would like to sign a multiyear deal with the club, the Blue Jays have yet to put an offer on the table.
Today, Fidlin implores Toronto to lock the 30-year-old up with a multiyear pact. It's possible, he says, that the club is wary of signing another monster deal after having just gotten themselves out from under two monster contracts in the past year-and-a-half. It's also possible that Alex Anthopoulos & Co. are wary of Bautista's shocking and sudden emergence as a primetime player. After hitting .238/.329/.400 from 2004 through 2009, the veteran broke out in 2010, hitting .260/.378/.617 with a staggering 54 home runs – eclipsing his previous watermark of 16.
There remains a considerable gap between the two sides as Bautista seeks $10.5MM while the Blue Jays are offering $7.6MM. Fidlin argues that the outcome of the hearing is rather inconsequential in the scheme of things. The club has a limited time to work out a long-term deal with the Super Two star and must get a deal done while they can. If you were in Anthopoulos' position, what would you do?
Albert Pujols isn’t the only prospective free agent who doesn’t want to negotiate an extension once the season starts. The defending American League home run champion has set a deadline for contract talks, too. Jose Bautista, whose arbitration hearing is scheduled for Monday, told Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun that he won’t be open to negotiating a long-term deal with the Blue Jays during the season.
“I won’t be open to it after the hearing,” Bautista said. “After the hearing, I believe we will notify the team that [an extension] is not going to be a possibility, unless it’s in that window they have from the end of the season until the free agency period begins.”
Bautista says he wants to stay with the Blue Jays, but doesn’t like the idea of negotiating a contract once the season begins.
“My desire is to play in Toronto long term but, after the hearing, or during the season, I have come to the conclusion that it’s probably not the best thing for me to be negotiating any type of deal,” he said. “I want to focus on the game and trying to win ballgames."
Bautista asked for $10.5MM in arbitration and the Blue Jays countered with $7.6MM, as MLBTR’s Arb Tracker shows. The sides have not started discussing an extension, as far as Bautista knows. Click here for more on Bautista's arbitration case.
The Yankees already added a reliever today. Here are some notes on what their division rivals are up to…
- Adrian Gonzalez says he hasn't imposed a deadline for extension negotiations with the Red Sox, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Gonzalez, who worked out at Red Sox camp today, did not seem worried about talks with Boston, according to Cafardo.
- The Blue Jays' arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista will take place Monday, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Jays signed Ryan Shealy to a minor league deal, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The 31-year-old appeared in five games for the Red Sox last year after spending the 2009 season in the minors. Shealy posted a .231/.345/.472 line at Triple-A for the Red Sox and Rays last year.
- Speaking of Boston, Alex Speier of WEEI.com introduces us to the team's many bullpen candidates. They have lots of left-handers to choose from. Felix Doubront, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, Hideki Okajima and Dennys Reyes will provide manager Terry Francona with plenty of options.
- The Orioles are actively discussing deals with Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The O’s don’t appear to be on the verge of an agreement with either arbitration eligible player. Scott’s hearing is next Monday and Guthrie’s hearing will take place Wednesday. Keep track of all the remaining arbitration hearings with our Arb Tracker.
Here are some items of note for Feb. 3, 2011, the day on which former AL Rookie of the Year and MVP Fred Lynn turned 59.
- The Indians are interested in free-agent righty Kevin Millwood, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer, but not at the current asking price of one year, $4-5MM. Cleveland is among the handful of potential Millwood suitors enumerated by Ben Nicholson-Smith earlier on Thursday. The Yankees are part of the group, too, and it stands to reason that Andy Pettitte's retirement might strengthen their interest, writes Chris Bahr of the Sporting News.
- The Red Sox's interest in trading for Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista is telling because it indicates there is a belief among baseball executives and talent evaluators that Bautista's monstrous 54-homer campaign in 2010 was not a fluke, writes Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. The Red Sox eventually got their man when they signed free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford, so Bautista-to-Boston is obviously off, notes Morosi, but it bodes well for Bautista in his final season before hitting free agency.
- Brewers reliever LaTroy Hawkins said that his surgically repaired shoulder feels good and that he'll compete for a spot in Milwaukee's bullpen, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Hawkins signed a two-year, $7.5MM deal with Milwaukee prior to last season but pitched in just 18 games before being lost to an injured labrum and rotator cuff. Hawkins has a guaranteed contract, so the Brewers will surely want him to be at full strength and pitching well, but it bears watching how they handle him if he struggles with injury and/or ineffectiveness.
Alex Anthopoulos says he has has 'tinkered' and 'talked' about acquiring a third baseman and won't rule out potential acquisitions. But the Blue Jays GM remains confident in Jose Bautista's ability to play the position all season long. The defending AL home run champ played 48 games at third last year and spent 225 games at the hot corner for the Pirates from 2007-08, so the Blue Jays say they're set at third.
Last year's third baseman, Edwin Encarnacion, will combine with Adam Lind to play first base and DH. The Blue Jays are hopeful that Lind can handle first defensively and they're optimistic about Encarnacion's power potential. Anthopoulos says he thinks Encarnacion has "one more gear in there" and while he hesitated before comparing him to Bautista, the GM says he can see Encarnacion hitting 30 homers or more in 2011.
The Blue Jays are also looking for a bounceback season from Aaron Hill, and they have a decision to make before the season starts. The team can either exercise Hill's 2012-14 options before the coming season begins or they can wait until the offseason, at which point they'll be able to exercise his 2012-13 options or just his 2012 option. Anthopoulos declined to elaborate on the team's plan, but did emphasize that the sides aren't bound to Hill's current deal.
“There’s a lot of flexibility,” Anthopoulos told a crowd of about 500 Blue Jays fans at last night's State of the Franchise event. “We’re not tied into anything. There’s nothing that prevents us from sitting down with Aaron and his agent and saying we want to do a five-year deal, four-year deal, six-year deal.”
Anthopoulos also discussed one multiyear deal that has become the responsibility of another organization. He declined to confirm reports that the Blue Jays are sending $5MM to the Angels as part of the Vernon Wells trade.
The Blue Jays have money to spend now that they've unloaded most or all of Wells' deal and they remain open to making acquisitions. Anthopoulos, a Montreal native and former Expos employee, says he can relate to fans who want a bona fide slugger like Vladimir Guerrero.
"I understand," Anthopoulos said. "He was one of my favorite players growing up and he's someone that I admire."
However, Anthopoulos exaplined that he doesn't want to acquire players who get playing time in place of developing players. For example, the Blue Jays intend to provide their top catching prospect with the chance to show major league pitchers why he won the Pacific Coast League MVP last year.
“We really don’t want to get in the way of J.P. Arencibia because we do believe that he’s an important component of this team” Anthopoulos said. “He has nothing more to prove down [in the minors]. He needs to get an opportunity to play up here and we might have to let him live through some struggles early on.”
If the Blue Jays don't spend on free agents or through trades, they say they'll have more to spend on player development, the amateur draft and international free agency. Amateur spending will not end the Blue Jays' 17-year playoff drought immediately, but it's promising news for fans of a team that has seven of the first 78 selections in the upcoming June draft.
Four American League East teams won at least 85 games last year. Here are some notes on AL East clubs, as they prepare to compete in baseball's most challenging division:
- It's "doubtful" that the Red Sox will sign another pitcher to a Major League contract this offseason, reports WEEI.com's Alex Speier. One reported Boston target, Joe Beimel, has already been offered a minor league deal by the Orioles and has three other teams interested.
- The "belief" is that the Blue Jays will go to an arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. There have been rumors that the Jays might avoid a hearing by signing Bautista to a long-term contract, but Bautista's agent told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the team has yet to offer such a deal to the defending AL home run champion. Check out our Arb Tracker for the latest.
- Many of Bautista's current and former teammates believe Vernon Wells will thrive in L.A, Morosi writes.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman suggested this morning that Derek Jeter will likely shift to the outfield before his current deal expires, but he tells MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that it's "not an issue we have to deal with right now" (Twitter link).
- The Orioles have "limited funds" at this stage, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
- Carl Crawford, who recently left one AL East team for another, plans to meet some of his former Rays teammates for dinner this spring, and B.J. Upton jokes that it will be a good chance for Crawford to put his new contract to good use. "I won’t be the first one to pull out my credit card,’’ Upton told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (Twitter link).
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com discussed the challenges of developing healthy pitchers with Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan.
- As Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes, the Orioles could sign a utility player to a minor league deal and have him compete for a job with Brendan Harris and Robert Andino.
- WEEI.com's Rob Bradford explains why Manny Ramirez's $2MM base salary isn't necessarily a bad omen for David Ortiz, who will hit free agency after 2011. Big Papi has continued to produce offensively, so Bradford suggests the slugger could be in line for an $8-9MM salary next offseason.