Jose Iglesias Rumors
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).
Some links to check out as Cody Ross attempts to follow up yesterday's two-home run performance and the Phillies look to even the score...
- Speaking of Ross, Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News reports that Giants GM Brian Sabean left a "clear impression" before tonight's game that the outfielder will be tendered a contract this offseason.
- Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweets that Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale is getting a second interview for the Blue Jays managerial position.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman tweets that the Mets have been "asking around" about Rangers GM Jon Daniels, and things could get interesting. Daniels can opt out of his contract after the season since the team was sold.
- Steve Popper of The Bergen Record says that the Mets might not be making the popular choices right now, especially with Francisco Rodriguez, Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran, and Luis Castillo, but they're the right moves.
- Popper also reports that the Tigers denied the Mets permission to talk to assistant GM Al Avila about their GM vacancy.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Eric Young will be named the D'Backs first base coach later this week. In a second tweet, he says Eric Wedge's former pitching coach Carl Willis will likely play a big role on his new staff in Seattle.
- Despite the expected heavy interest from the Yankees and Rangers, Michael Silverman from the Boston Herald thinks the Red Sox should make a serious run at Cliff Lee.
- In the second page of that same article, Silverman quotes an unnamed executive in saying that a package consisting of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, and prospect Anthony Rizzo wouldn't be enough to pry Adrian Gonzalez away from the Padres. He speculates the names that would be mentioned next would include Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias.
- Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports says it makes more sense for the Orioles to trade for a middle-of-the-lineup hitter and an ace starter than seek one in free agency, and asks readers whether or not the O's should pursue Zack Greinke. In his blog post earlier today, ESPN's Buster Olney didn't see Baltimore as a fit for the Kansas City ace.
- Reduced payroll will force the Rays into some tough decisions, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. As Topkin points out, nearly the entire bullpen is entering free agency. Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Randy Choate, Joaquin Benoit, and Chad Qualls are only signed through 2010, while Dan Wheeler's $4MM option will be declined and Lance Cormier could be non-tendered. Balfour and Choate are most likely to return, while Benoit will likely look to capitalize on his monster season.
- Richard Griffin from the Toronto Star spoke with Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, who could be a candidate for the Jays' managerial opening, about the difficulty of getting a foot in the door as a manager. As Griffin says, part of the reason they continue to interview candidates while other teams are filling their managerial positions could be because they have a high level of interest in someone like Mackanin, whose team is still playing.
- The Phillies' worst nightmare isn't losing to the Giants in the NLCS or losing to the Yankees in the World Series, according FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. It's going to the World Series and facing the ace they traded away last offseason, who now sports a Rangers uniform -- Cliff Lee.
8:02pm: The Blue Jays are asking the Mets for a top prospect in exchange for Downs according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (via Twitter). The Twins have assigned a scout to watch the Blue Jays' relievers, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
7:48am: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has the best reliever available in Scott Downs, and he knows it. Check out these asking prices for two months of Downs' services, courtesy of George A. King III of the New York Post: Joba Chamberlain or Jesus Montero from the Yankees, Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias from the Red Sox (Montero link from SI's Jon Heyman via Twitter). With almost 80 hours remaining until the trade deadline, it doesn't hurt to ask.
Other teams are also trying to buy low on Chamberlain, who sports a 5.95 ERA, 10.0 K/9, and 3.6 BB/9 in 42.3 relief innings this year. The Diamondbacks also tried to get Chamberlain as part of a Dan Haren deal. Joba is under team control through 2013 and arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season.
Regarding the Yankees' search for a bench bat, King says they've spoken to the Orioles about Ty Wigginton. The O's are dangling Miguel Tejada, who's generated only lukewarm interest from the Yanks. Tejada is said to be the Phillies' primary infield target. As for a Yankees-Orioles deal, SI's Jon Heyman tweeted two days ago that O's owner Peter Angelos doesn't want to trade with his division rival.