Jose Iglesias Rumors
3:00pm: The deal is not complete, but it is in the final stages, a Pirates source tells Bowden (on Twitter).
12:24pm: The Red Sox are moving closer to a trade for Joel Hanrahan, reports ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. One source cautioned there is "still work to be done," however. It's unclear what the Pirates would receive for their closer, though Edes hears they want a "significant return."
Hanrahan, 31, pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 in 59 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh last season. He earned $4.1MM and projects to earn $6.9MM through arbitration next year. Hanrahan is scheduled to become a free agent after 2013.
Andrew Bailey, Boston's incumbent closer, pitched to a 7.04 ERA in 15 1/3 innings in 2012 while missing most of the year with injuries. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports they have not discussed free agent Rafael Soriano despite having a protected first round pick. The Dodgers were among the teams with interest in Hanrahan in recent weeks.
We've already had one batch of AL East Notes on MLBTR today, but here are some more items on a busy day around the division...
- The Orioles have had a quiet offseason while their division rivals have been spending, writes Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun. While the O's didn't make any major signings en route to a playoff appearance last year and face a payroll increase due to several arbitration-eligible players, Schmuck thinks spending on a big free agent like Adam LaRoche would help the team contend again.
- A Dodgers official flatly denied that the Dodgers and Red Sox could make an Andre Ethier/Jacoby Ellsbury swap, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Ethier's name has come up in recent rumors but L.A. isn't shopping the outfielder and doesn't appear eager to move him.
- Also from Cafardo, he hears from an AL general manager that the Red Sox may be trying to deal Ellsbury so they can shift Shane Victorino to center field and then sign Cody Ross. Several teams are interested in Ross but none have yet met his desired price of a three-year, $21-$31MM contract.
- Jose Iglesias has "always been available, but nobody has knocked down [Boston's] door," writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe about the Red Sox prospect's trade value. Given that Stephen Drew was signed to just a one-year contract, it's too early to say that the Sox have given up on Iglesias as a long-term solution at shortstop.
- Also from Cafardo's piece, he thinks that Rafael Soriano and Matt Garza could both still be targets for the Red Sox.
- Right-hander Daniel McCutchen has received multiple offers to play in Japan, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has learned. McCutchen’s minor league deal with the Orioles permits him to accept an offer from a Japanese team. The 30-year-old appeared in one game for the Pirates this past season, but he spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he posted a 2.98 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 63 1/3 innings.
- The Blue Jays were picked as the 2013 AL East champions by 13 of 20 scouts and executives polled by FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi. In that same poll, the Orioles were picked to finish last by 10 voters, while the Red Sox received six last-place votes and were the only team that didn't get at least one pick as division winners. Morosi himself picks Toronto for first place and Boston for last.
- From earlier today, the Rays signed Roberto Hernandez, the Red Sox finalized the signing of Koji Uehara and I compiled some Yankees-related notes.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post
Though it can be argued that misses in free agency were the cause of Boston's disastrous 2012 season, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald thinks that shrewd free agent signings could help the team quickly return to prominence. Here's the latest from Fenway Park...
- The team has "shown only preliminary interest" in Ryan Dempster, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter link). Lauber notes that the Sox also didn't make a major push for Dempster at the trade deadline, though that could have been because they already considered the season lost.
- Red Sox officials were "seen meeting on" free agent catcher Russell Martin at the GM meetings, tweets CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Signing Martin "might require more moves" for Boston, given the presence of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate.
- Though the Diamondbacks are said to be looking for a third baseman, shortstop or starter in a Justin Upton trade and the Red Sox have several young players at those positions, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe doesn't think the Red Sox would part with any of their young core at this time.
- “Just because the Red Sox are coming off one losing season, I don’t lump them in with the non-contenders,” one player agent tells Scott Lauber. “Knowing what we know about the Red Sox, the market they play in, they’ll be back in the fray.” Another agent, however, predicts that veterans pursuing short-term deals on World Series contenders (such as Boston targets like Hiroki Kuroda or Torii Hunter) might avoid the Red Sox since the club doesn't look like it will turn things around by next season.
- GM Ben Cherington said the team is focusing on other needs besides at shortstop, reports Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. This would seem to indicate that the position is Jose Iglesias' to lose, though Abraham predicts the Sox will sign a veteran backup at short.
- Assistant GM Mike Hazen discussed Boston's young talent, the idea of trading prospects for established stars and other topics in a radio interview on WEEI's Red Sox Hot Stove Show. WEEI.com's Alex Speier has the partial transcript.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said completing this year’s managerial search relatively early should provide the team with some amount of additional flexibility this coming offseason. The GM can focus on the roster now that John Farrell’s in place as Boston’s new manager. Here are more details from Cherington’s conversation with MLBTR at the 2012 GM Meetings...
- The Red Sox are talking to free agent outfielders while discussing possible trades to address their needs in the outfield, Cherington said.
- Cherington expressed confidence that Jose Iglesias can be an MLB shortstop on a good team. “He has a chance to be an elite defender and his development path has probably made his offensive performance look worse than the hitter he actually is,” the GM said. However, nothing will be given to Iglesias and the Red Sox could go with another option if an appealing alternative emerges.
- “We’ve got some work to do this winter,” Cherington acknowledged.
The AL East figures to be one of the game's most competitive divisions in 2012. Here are the latest links from Florida, where all five AL East teams are preparing for the season...
- Raul Ibanez doesn’t have emotional, historical or financial ties keeping him on the Yankees’ roster, so Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders how long the club will stick with Ibanez if his struggles continue. But as Sherman point out, it’s still just March 15th.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman and third baseman Alex Rodriguez tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Blue Jays are becoming a serious threat in the AL East. “They aren’t a secret anymore,” Rodriguez said. “They are knocking on the door,” Cashman added. “It is undeniable that they are going to win and win for a while.” Blue Jays ownership could support a top ten payroll in time and “that isn’t a guess, that’s a fact,” GM Alex Anthopoulos said.
- John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that the relationship between Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine seems to be starting off well. If the Red Sox name Jose Iglesias their starting shortstop, it'll be a sign of just how much Valentine's opinion matters. The front office has maintained the defensive whiz needs more seasoning.
- Mark Melancon's interleague experience could help him transition from the NL Central to the AL East, Brian MacPherson Providence Journal writes.
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com ranks the AL East rotations, placing the Orioles fifth. They have intriguing arms such as Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta, but their rotation is filled with uncertainty from top to bottom this spring.
The American League East may be the toughest division in baseball, so the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Blue Jays likely welcomed the news that MLB will expand its playoffs in 2012. In theory, three teams from one division could play in the postseason under the new arrangement. Here are the latest links from the AL East...
- Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Peter Gammons of MLB.com that he gets “tired of hearing the Red Sox are underdogs." As Gammons explains, the Rays could be better in 2012 than they were in ’11.
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg said he's "pretty certain" the Tampa Bay market can support the team long-term, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Sternberg said he's had encouraging talks with city officials and business leaders about the club.
- After a challenging winter, Sternberg is projecting a "very, very good team this year," Topkin writes. Sternberg approved a payroll increase of approximately 50% for 2012.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington joined WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show and said the decision of whether Jose Iglesias breaks camp with the team will be up to manager Bobby Valentine. "In a perfect world, [Iglesias] would probably get some more time in Triple-A," the GM said (via Jerry Spar).
- Cherington said on WEEI that he isn't worried about Carl Crawford, who will be looking to increase his production after a disappointing 2011.
- Right-handed reliever Chris Carpenter, acquired from the Cubs for Theo Epstein, isn't a lock to make the team, Cherington said. The Red Sox may option him to Triple-A and call him up when a spot opens up.
- Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues discusses some Yankees who fell short of expectations in 2011 and could make up for it in 2012.
Though he's well-compensated and has full no-trade protection, Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran is the best available hitter. The latest:
- The Red Sox aren't willing to part with the prospects the Mets want, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. The Mets are interested in Josh Reddick, Ryan Kalish, Jose Iglesias, Anthony Ranaudo, Felix Doubront and Will Middlebrooks, according to Edes. Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald hears that the Red Sox are focusing on internal solutions, particularly Reddick.
- SI's Jon Heyman runs through ten Beltran suitors, naming the Phillies the "clear favorite." The Mets' first target would be Domonic Brown, a concession Matt Gelb can't see happening.
- Boston's talks with the Mets about Beltran have not advanced beyond preliminary discussions, reports WEEI's Alex Speier. Eight to ten teams are said to be in the mix, with the Red Sox among the top six.
- Some Mets officials feel a deal could get done well before the July 31st deadline, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman agrees with a previous Ken Rosenthal report that the Phillies and Red Sox are the most aggressive suitors. Sherman says they're followed by the Braves, Giants, Indians, and Pirates. He notes that the Mets "have been somewhat surprised by Detroit's disinterest."
- Yesterday the Mets provided Beltran with a short list of teams to consider, and the Phillies are believed to be on it, report Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo. The writers add that the Mets have indicated a willingness to pay much or all of the $6MM owed to Beltran depending on the return. They list the Red Sox, Giants, and Yankees as other suitors, and wonder if the East Coast teams have an edge since Beltran lives in New York. Brown and Passan named the Brewers as a dark horse, but they don't have much in the way of top prospects.
In the aftermath of Bob Geren’s dismissal, Jon Heyman of SI.com lists a handful of managers with suspect job security. Though 2011 probably won’t be a big year for managerial firings, Jim Riggleman of the Nationals and Edwin Rodriguez of the Marlins are on Heyman’s list. Here are the rest of his rumors:
- Geren had "lost" the Athletics' clubhouse, according to people with Oakland ties.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn’t expect elite starting pitching to be available this summer. "I just don't see a No. 1 pitcher you can pinpoint,'' Cashman said.
- The Yankees will look for starting pitching and left-handed relief.
- The Red Sox will also be looking to add a southpaw to their ‘pen.
- Boston people expect top prospect Jose Iglesias to prove himself as the shortstop of the future and people don’t expect the Red Sox to “make a play” for Jose Reyes.
- Competing executives say the Twins will “do what’s right” for the organization this summer, even if that means trading Major Leaguers for prospects. Watch out for the last-place Twins, who have won seven of eight.
- Executives say the D’Backs, Padres, Pirates, Rays and Red Sox had strong drafts.
In today's column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo wonders what the future holds for David Ortiz after his contract expires at the end of this season. An American League official says the Red Sox should be "looking at keeping his salary level around the same if his production maintains steady." Ortiz, who is earning $12MM in 2011, would like to retire with the Sox, and acknowledges that signing with a National League club is unlikely: "I would have to consider it. I don’t think people want me for that, because I’m a hitter." Here are a few of Cafardo's other notes:
- In the short term, Marco Scutaro, who has been discussed internally by the Phillies, could be valuable to a team looking for a middle infielder. Down the line, the Sox could still have an excess of infielders - Cafardo says Jose Iglesias should be ready to be a full-time MLB shortstop in 2012, meaning Boston may not have enough room in its lineup for him, Jed Lowrie, and Kevin Youkilis. If I'm the Red Sox, I view that as a good problem to have, and address it if and when it comes to that.
- A Dodgers official concedes that Russell Martin is "playing great" for the Yankees. "Better than he played for us," adds the official. However, he cautions that Martin tends to fade in the second half, which has to be of some concern for the Yanks. While Martin's career batting splits don't fully back up that assertion, the backstop did miss most of the second half in 2010 with a hip injury.
- The Angels have been exploring potential trades involving their catchers since Spring Training. They'd likely prefer dealing Bobby Wilson to Jeff Mathis, and may be seeking a left-handed outfield bat in return.
Peter Gammons appeared on WEEI's Minor Details podcast to discuss the value of a deep minor league system, the difficulty in finding power hitters, and, of course, the Red Sox. WEEI's Alex Speier has the partial transcript, and here are some of the highlights...
- The value of top prospects, Gammons notes, is higher than ever before since teams are realizing that it isn't cost-effective to sign free agents when those older players are entering a decline phase. Dealing for a star player in his prime is now the preferred option for a team like Boston that has a strong minor league system. “Having three really good prospects and getting Adrian Gonzalez so they won’t have to pay him past the age of 35, I think that’s part of it," Gammons said.
- To wit, Gammons believes the Yankees will forego trying for a free agent pitcher and instead use their own deep minor league system to acquire a pitcher like Brett Anderson or Gio Gonzalez "if Oakland doesn’t get off to a really good start." I'm not sure I agree with Gammons on this one. It's hard to believe the A's would deal Anderson or Gonzalez for anything short of a totally absurd offer, be it from the Yankees or anyone.
- Shortstop Jose Iglesias and outfielder Ryan Kalish are "without question" going to be regulars for Boston in 2012. This puts them right on track to succeed incumbents Marco Scutaro and J.D. Drew, who are both in the last year of their contracts.
- Theo Epstein told Gammons before the 2005 draft that drug testing was going to create "a new game over the next five to 10 years," and then the Sox drafted Jacoby Ellsbury in the first round. Gammons notes that Boston has yet to develop a consistent power hitter in Epstein's regime, aside from Kevin Youkilis (who was drafted by former Sox GM Dan Duquette).