Jose Julio Ruiz Rumors
A roundup of some news on this Thursday night...
- In an interview on CSNNE's Sports Tonight show, Josh Beckett said he would "probably not" negotiate with the Red Sox about a new contract once the season begins. WEEI's Rob Bradford reports on Beckett's appearance here.
- Bobby Cox thinks Chipper Jones will play out the final three years on his contract, reports David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Jones was hinting at retirement last fall in the wake of his disappointing (for him) 2009 campaign, but thus far in spring training, O'Brien reports that Jones has been nothing but enthusiastic about Atlanta's chances this season.
- In an interview with Jane Lee of MLB.com, Jack Cust confirms what we all thought about this winter's crop of free agents at outfield and DH: "it just wasn't a very good market unless you're Matt Holliday or Jason Bay. Even for those guys, I don't think the interest level was as high as they may have thought it to be. Unless you're one of those big dudes, you take what you can get."
- Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com says that the Cubs have some interest in Luke Gregerson and/or Jason Frasor.
- Jon Paul Morosi tweets that there is "not much new" going on with the negotiations between Joe Mauer and the Twins.
- MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reports that Alex Rodriguez offered Johnny Damon some free agency advice this winter. Oh, so THAT's why it took so long for Damon to sign...
- We had heard about Toronto's possible interest in Jose Julio Ruiz, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian now reports that the Jays may be looking at another Cuban prospect: Adeiny Hechevarria.
- Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reports that the Royals agreed to terms with Josh Fields and Kila Ka'aihue on one-year contracts. Terms were not disclosed, but Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweeted that neither deal is expected to exceed $500K.
Get out the Spanish-English dictionary and put on Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
- Morgan Campbell at the Toronto Star posits that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos' recent scouting trip to the Dominican Republic could mean the team is "closing in" on Jose Julio Ruiz. Yesterday, Ruiz's trainer told the Nuevo Herald that the first baseman's most recent tryout, his "last before signing," was against Blue Jays players. The blog cubanballplayers.com also reported on Tuesday that Ruiz had a private tryout with the Jays. Both the team and Prestige Sports Agency, which represents Ruiz, remain mum on any communication.
- Cuban first baseman/outfielder Leslie Anderson tells Angel Mazariego of the Mexican newspaper Sipse that he is willing to play in Mexico this season if nothing materializes for him in the majors. Anderson lists the Red Sox, Yankees, Mariners, Dodgers, Giants and Brewers as the teams he knows to have scouted him recently. Mazariego adds the Dodgers and Tigers to the list.
- Amaury Perez Torres at the Cuban baseball blog Las Avispas cites a "source close to" pitching prospect Juan Yasser Serrano saying that the right-hander has worked out for 10 major league teams this winter. Most recently, the source says, Serrano struck out four in a two-inning simulation for the Cubs on February 19, with a fastball that touched 93.
- If it seems like there is more chatter about Cuban defectors than ever before, that's no coincidence, writes Campbell in the Toronto Star. In a lengthy article, he outlines how more Cuban players are now aiming at the major leagues thanks to the success of Kendry Morales and Yunel Escobar, neither of whom was a starter in Cuba. Equally significant was the contract that third base prospect Dayan Viciedo signed with the White Sox in 2008. A Cuban baseball expert in Canada tells Campbell that Viciedo made players on the island think, "If he can get $10 million, then what am I worth?"
- Speaking of Morales, Jorge Arangure Jr. adds a new dimension to the first baseman's recent switch from Hendricks Sports Management to Scott Boras in an article in ESPN the Magazine. Rodney Fernandez, who recruited both Morales and Aroldis Chapman for Kendricks, is being investigated by the MLBPA and Florida police in regard to $300K that disappeared from Morales' bank account.
FEBRUARY 24, 4:50am: Jesus Gallo, trainer for Ruiz, tells Rangel at the Nuevo Herald that Ruiz has received bids from six major league teams and "concrete proposals" from at least three. All of the offers exceeded $1MM, but none have been sufficient to ink the 25-year-old first baseman. Last Thursday, ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure, Jr. wrote that some teams view Ruiz as being ready to join major league rosters immediately.
Gallo labels the Cuban defector's most recent try-out, on Monday against members of the Blue Jays, "his last before signing." He says Ruiz will make a decision between Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
FEBRUARY 14: Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz may be close to signing according to a report from Luis E. Rangel of the Miami-based Nuevo Herald, which was passed along by MLBTR's resident translator Nick Collias. Here are some quotes from Ruiz's agent, Jorge Luis Toca...“In the coming week he should be signed. Perhaps we’ll be announcing something on Wednesday.”
“Toronto, Texas, Boston, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Colorado are the ones who have shown the most interest. We are also expecting an offer from the Yankees.”
“The idea is to find a team where there is the most opportunity to rise quickly.”
With regards to the last point, Toca noted that the Yankees are the least appealing team because of the presence of Mark Teixeira. Despite that, Ruiz is currently working out at the Yanks' complex in the Dominican Republic, and Toca indicated that "millions" of dollars were being discussed with teams, as well as an invitation to Spring Training.
The 25-year-old Ruiz hit .305/.408/.467 over 52 games in the Serie Nacional last season before suddenly defecting to the Dominican. ESPN's Jorge Arangure noted that he was more than just a masher relegated to first base, offering speed and athleticism.
- Eduardo Salcedo, an 18-year-old infielder, could be cleared to sign with MLB teams sometime this week. If everything goes through, the D’Backs and Braves will be among the teams interested in signing him. The bidding could reach $2MM for the shortstop-third baseman.
- The Pirates agreed to sign 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Willy Garcia for $280K.
- The D’Backs signed 17-year-old Dominican outfielder Socrates Abrito for $190K.
Saturday morning links...
- Arangure (via Twitter) writes that the A's have agreed to terms with Michael Feliz, a right-hander from the Dominican Republic. The deal, which is still pending a physical and an age investigation, will provide Feliz with an $800K bonus. The Dominican Prospect League website says that the 6'4, 200-pound hurler is 16-years-old.
- Tim tweets that Bobby Kielty is converting to pitching, and that his slider is actually pretty good. The 33-year-old last played in the big leagues back in 2007, when he was still an outfielder of course.
- ESPN's Jorge Arangure tweets that the Blue Jays, Rockies, and Rangers are the teams most interested in Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz. Ruiz was recently cleared to sign by the Office of Foreign Asset Control.
- Pat Gillick has returned to the Phillies as a senior advisor to president Dave Montgomery, reports Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun. Gillick was the team's GM from 2006-2008.
- ESPN's Buster Olney spoke to several talent evaluators, none of whom think Omir Santos is equipped to be a number one catcher. If the season started today, Santos would likely be behind the plate for the Mets.
- With Orlando Cabrera "leaning towards" accepting an offer from Cincinnati, Troy Renck of the Denver Post says the Rockies are "a finalist" in the hunt for Melvin Mora. Renck reports that Colorado, Texas and Seattle are the most interested parties.
- Jim Edmonds tells MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Edmonds on Wednesday that "he didn't see a fit" for the outfielder in St. Louis. Edmonds signed with Milwaukee a day later.
- Righty Joe Nelson is attracting interest from the Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The journeyman reliever broke through with the Marlins in 2008, posting a 2.00 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 54 innings. His 2009 with the Rays was less than spectacular, but the 35-year-old points to his performance outside May, as he had a 2.38 ERA in the 10 games prior and a 1.40 ERA in 20 games after.
- Jonny Gomes and the Reds are close to agreeing to a deal, according to ESPN. Yesterday, GM Walt Jocketty confirmed that the club offered a minor league deal to the 29-year-old outfielder. Gomes proved to be one of the best minor league signings of 2009, hitting .267/.338/.541 with 20 HRs in 98 games.
- The Padres have set an arbitration date with outfielder Scott Hairston, though they hope to reach an agreement beforehand, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter). Brock writes that the two sides could come to terms next week.
- ESPN's Jorge Arangure (via Twitter) gets the feeling that Cuban prospect Jose Julio Ruiz may sign this week or shortly thereafter. Ruiz - who has reportedly garnered interest from the Red Sox and Tigers - was "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Asset Control yesterday, allowing him to sign with a major league club.
A few Friday night links...
- The Brewers and Corey Hart appear headed to an arbitration hearing after negotiations reached an impasse, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Hart filed for $4.8MM, the team $4.15MM.
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News spoke to a Yankees' executive about the possibility of bringing in some players on minor league deals, and was told “I wouldn’t say we’re done, but probably close to done.”
- Four teams - including the Yankees, Rangers, and Mariners - are interested in Rocco Baldelli's services, reports Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal.
- ESPN's Jorge Arangure tweets that Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz is now free to sign after being "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Asset Control. In a second tweet, Arangure says that Ruiz is expected to command a multi-million dollar contract, and a few months ago we heard that the Red Sox and Tigers had some interest.
- Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun reports that Mark Hendrickson passed his physical today, however his deal with the Orioles likely won't be made official until Monday because the league's offices are closed during the weekend.
- MLB.com's Steve Gilbert says that the Diamondbacks and Edwin Jackson are playing close attention to how Wandy Rodriguez's arbitration case unfolds.
- The Rockies and Cardinals are in the mix for Felipe Lopez, tweets SI.com's Jon Heyman. The 29-year-old had a higher OBP (.383) and SLG (.427) than either Orlando Hudson or Orlando Cabrera in 2009.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson says that the Nationals have spoken to John Smoltz's agent recently, but there is no progress to report and they aren't willing to break the bank for him (both links open in Twitter).
- Meanwhile, Ladson also tweets that the team views the newly signed Miguel Batista as a starter for the back of their rotation, as opposed to an arm for the bullpen.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com says (via Twitter) that Craig Monroe isn't ready to retire to just yet. Over the last three years, Monroe has hit .215/.272/.377 with 23 homers in 693 plate appearances for four teams.
A few leftovers as the Phillies and Yankees do battle in Game 6...
- According to ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure, recently-defected Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz has impressed scouts in workouts the past two weeks. The Red Sox and Tigers are known to have some level of interest.
- Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner thinks the M's should "kick the tires" on several undervalued starters this offseason. He lists Ben Sheets, Rich Harden, Carl Pavano and Randy Johnson, among others, as possible targets.
- MASN's Byron Kerr spoke Wednesday with Jim Riggleman, who's hoping to be named the Nationals' permanent manager shortly after the World Series ends. He went 33-42 as Washington's interim skipper last season.
- According to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, the Royals have shown "little inclination" that they plan to pick up Coco Crisp's 2010 option worth $8MM.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle lays out some advice for Astros owner Drayton McLane, including this nugget: "Give GM Ed Wade a five-year extension and give him the freedom to reshape the roster and the organization. If there's any doubt he knows what he's doing, check out the 2008-2009 Phillies. Ed Wade acquired the core of those teams."
Wednesday evening link session...
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney thinks Brandon Webb is right in not accepting a compromise deal from the Diamondbacks. He lists multiple teams that would be willing to offer the former Cy Young Award winner a lucrative one-year contract, including the Dodgers, Angels, Cubs, White Sox, Yankees and Red Sox.
- Scott Merkin of MLB.com gathered this quote from White Sox GM Kenny Williams, regarding his outlook heading into the offseason: "No. 1, I don’t like what I see on the free agent market, and what I do like, it’s going to cost you a No. 1 pick. "
- According to Jorge Arangure of ESPN.com, Aroldis Chapman's agent will be present at Yankee Stadium this weekend to take in a game against the Red Sox. Chapman, though, will remain in Andorra.
- Arangure also "tweets" that Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz has finally become a free agent. The 25-year-old hit .305/.408/.467 over 52 games in the Serie Nacional last season before suddenly defecting to the Dominican Republic.
- According to SI.com's Jon Heyman, Brewers manager Ken Macha is likely to return for a second season. GM Doug Melvin knows exactly where the blame should lie for his club's disappointing 2009 campaign, and it's not on the skipper: "It came down to starting pitching," Melvin said Tuesday. "Overall, we lacked depth. When we had to reach down ... (it wasn't there)."