Juan Uribe Rumors

Overnight Links: Braves, Uribe, Red Sox, Nationals

As we gear up for Day Two of the Winter Meetings, let's take a look at the latest from around baseball..

  • There are mixed opinions in the Mariners' front office when it comes to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  The Mariners have been heavily linked to the 29-year-old who boasts great talent but also comes with injury concerns.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren doesn't expect to make a blockbuster trade or a massive signing, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “But in the case of our club, I don’t see necessarily a frontline move," Wren said. "I see more support moves, where you’re adding a bat that can give you power off the bench, or adding to our bullpen, or adding to the depth of our rotation. I see more of those kind of moves than a big frontline move.
  • MLB.com's Scott Merkin (on Twitter) hasn't heard much regarding a rumor that the White Sox are in the process of trying to bring third baseman Juan Uribe back to Chicago.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was noncommittal when asked about the possibility of the team going into luxury tax territory, suggesting that to even consider that option, the club would need to have a "really compelling reason." Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com has the details.
  • A lot of teams have asked the Nationals about set-up men Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, a baseball source tells Bill Ladson of MLB.com. As of right now, however, talks have not heated up. Yesterday we heard that the Cubs have interest in the duo.
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that his club has the prospects to get any player that is available (Twitter link).
  • Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that the Giants aren't a fit as trade partners for teams looking to deal an outfielder in exchange for Major League ready talent.

Luke Adams and Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Dodgers Notes: Kemp, Ethier, Tanaka, Uribe, Wright

Matt Kemp may eventually get dealt this offseason, but it doesn't look like the Dodgers and Red Sox will reach an agreement involving the outfielder. We heard earlier this afternoon that Boston's talks for Kemp were unlikely to get serious, and Rob Bradford of WEEI.com backs that up, writing that there's "nothing to" the rumors of Boston's interest. Here's more on the Dodgers:

  • While Kemp probably won't be headed to the Red Sox, the Dodgers remain in discussions with four teams on trade possibilities involving him or Andre Ethier, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
  • The Dodgers will be interested in Masahiro Tanaka if and when he's posted, but that interest may be more lukewarm than exepected, says Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Shaikin hears from two sources familiar with the team's thinking that L.A. won't pursue Tanaka with the sort of "win-at-all-costs mentality" that marked the club's pursuit of Hyun-jin Ryu a year ago.
  • Having not heard back yet from free agent infielder Juan Uribe, the Dodgers are preparing to move on from him, reports Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. GM Ned Coletti indicated that the team could shift its focus to acquiring a third baseman via trade.
  • Jamey Wright is on the Dodgers' radar as a potential long man, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.

White Sox Notes: Sale, Quintana, Santiago, Uribe

The White Sox are open to discussing trades for Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi notes that Sale, who can be controlled for a whopping six years at just over $55MM, would command significantly more than even David Price could net the Rays. Morosi runs down a list of several reasons as to why it could make sense for the ChiSox to move their ace this offseason. Here are a few more links pertaining to the South Siders…

  • Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago spoke to White Sox GM Rick Hahn this morning (Twitter link). Hahn told Hayes that he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't at least listen to offers, but he would need an "unfathomable" return to part with Sale.
  • One GM told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he thinks teams are pushing the White Sox to reconsider their unwillingness to part with Sale when asked this morning (Twitter link).
  • The White Sox are in the process of trying to bring Juan Uribe back to Chicago, reports David Vassegh of FOX Sports 570 AM Radio in Los Angeles (on Twitter). Uribe would fill a need for the Sox, though as GM Rick Hahn told me at last month's GM Meetings, his team prefers left-handed bats.
  • The White Sox never got involved on Chicago native Curtis Granderson, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Grandy Man signed a four-year, $60MM deal with the Mets last week.


NL West Notes: Uribe, Ibanez, Young, Morse, Ichiro

In an Insider post (subscription required), Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio names eight players who could be traded during the Winter Meetings. The Rays' David Price tops the list with Bowden's possible destinations starting with the Dodgers. The Dodgers also have two of their own on the list: outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Here's more on the Boys in Blue and the rest of the NL West: 

  • Re-signing Juan Uribe figures to be at or near the top of the Dodgers' to-do list at the Winter Meetings, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Uribe is not seeking a three-year contract and the holdup with the Dodgers is either their desire for a one-year deal or money, tweets ESPNLosAngeles.com's Mark Saxon
  • Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweeted confirmation of an earlier report the Rockies are interested in Raul Ibanez, but cautioned nothing is serious at this point. Renck also noted Michael Young is on the club's radar for a bench role.  
  • The Rockies are also becoming more serious about Michael Morse along with the Giants, Marlins, and Rangers, reports the New York Post's Joel Sherman (Twitter links).
  • There's been speculation the Giants could be a fit for Ichiro Suzuki, but Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets he doesn't believe that's the case.
  • The demands of the trade market will determine what course Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers takes during the Winter Meetings, reports azcentral.com's Nick Piecoro. "Most people are asking for quite a bit right now, I'm not real excited about what I'd have to give up in the trade market," Towers said. "I'm hoping maybe the price starts to come down. If not, then I'll turn to more free agents."
  • Left-hander Erick Threets is looking to play in Asia, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. The 32-year-old spent 2013 with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League pitching to a 7.04 ERA, 5.9 K/9, and 7.5 BB/9 in 23 innings covering 27 relief outings. Threets' last MLB affiliation was with the Dodgers' Triple-A team 2012 and his last appearance in a big league game was in 2010 for the White Sox

NL West Notes: Dodgers, Kemp, D’Backs, Uribe

Matt Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, has never attended the Winter Meetings, but he will this winter as he has a "strong feeling" that his client could get moved, writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  "This is the first time we've experienced this," Stewart said. "This is the first time we've heard it this much, and the first time we really believe something could happen."  The Dodgers, of course, have a surplus of outfielders and Kemp is drawing interest from mutliple clubs.  More from the NL West..

  • The Diamondbacks still want a corner outfielder after missing out on Carlos Beltran and have their sights set on the Angels' Mark Trumbo, among others, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter).  The D'Backs have plenty of pitching depth to get a power outfield bat with the likes of Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, and Wade Miley (link).
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti says he has made a few different offers to free agent third baseman Juan Uribe but hasn't had much dialogue lately because they're waiting for his answer, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Meanwhile, Colletti says that he won't "sell off an outfielder" just for the sake of doing it, especially with the list of free agent outfielders over the next couple of winters being a little underwhelming, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Free agent outfielder Michael Morse is still on the Giants' radar, but the club believes its best route to landing a left fielder is via trade, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  While GM Brian Sabean is actively trying to lower expectations for a trade to take place, Schulman hears he has been active on the phones (link).  Even though Sabean isn't the type to make a trade just for the heck of it, Schulman wouldn't be surprised to see a deal take place at the meetings (link).

NL West Links: Johnson, Hawkins, Rockies, Dodgers

Josh Johnson reached out to the Giants and Padres to let them know they were his first choices for a new team, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (all Twitter links).  Both teams play close to Johnson's home in Las Vegas and also have pitcher-friendly ballparks that are ideal for a hurler looking to rebuild his value on a one-year contract.  Schulman isn't sure if the Giants made Johnson an offer, though Johnson's chances of joining the club have likely dimmed now that San Francisco has signed Tim Hudson.  Starting pitching isn't an offseason priority for the Padres, though a healthy and in-form Johnson projects as the ace of San Diego's rotation.

Here are some more items from around the NL West…

  • The Rockies' one-year, $2.5MM agreement with LaTroy Hawkins "blew away" the Mets' offer to the veteran reliever, a source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News.  Colorado also outbid the Braves, who didn't need Hawkins in either a closing or setup role, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
  • Now that the Rockies have signed Hawkins, Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link) opines that the club needs to pursue the likes of Edward Mujica, Joe Smith or Jose Veras to further upgrade their shaky bullpen.  Renck also looks at how the Hawkins signing impacts Rex Brothers' role as Colorado's "closer of the future."
  • Also from Renck (Sulia link), the Rockies and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa haven't begun talks on a contract extension.  De La Rosa's current deal is up after the 2014 season and Renck reported last month that both sides have interest in continuing their relationship.  The southpaw also tells Renck that he is recovered from the thumb injury that bothered him down the stretch last season.
  • The Dodgers have received "moderate to moderate-plus" trade interest in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, an official tells Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown.  We heard last week that the Dodgers were open to offers for Kemp, Ethier or Carl Crawford in order to free up payroll space and a spot in the outfield.  Brown's piece outlines the Dodgers' offseason priorities, beginning with Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
  • Juan Uribe is looking for a three-year contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  The Dodgers are interested in bringing Uribe back but not at that length, which Heyman admits is "probably a stretch."  Indeed, Tim Dierkes said that Uribe would be weighing one- or two-year offers in MLBTR's free agent profile of the third baseman.
  • The Dodgers would be better off trading to upgrade their rotation than signing a free agent hurler, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon opines.  "With the exception of [Masahiro] Tanaka, it’s an exceptionally flawed market for free agent starting pitchers and it seems like the Dodgers are more than aware of that. Much as they’d like to improve their rotation, they might be better served to sit this one out," Saxon writes.
  • In other NL West news from earlier today, we collected some more Giants news items and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that the Dodgers signed Brendan Harris to a minor league deal.

NL West Notes: Headley, D’Backs, Kershaw, Uribe

We've already had one batch of NL West notes today on MLBTR, a collection of Giants notes and Tim Dierkes broke down Juan Uribe's free agent profile.  Here is even more news from around the division…

  • The Padres will likely discuss an extension with Chase Headley during the GM meetings, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  As Heyman notes, there is "no evidence [the] sides have ever been close to" an agreement.  Headley is set for free agency following the 2014 season and while his name has surfaced in trade talks, the current belief is that the Padres will keep him and hope he can return to form following a disappointing 2013 season.
  • An informal poll of six scouts reveals clear preferences for Adam Eaton over A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings over Didi Gregorius, The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro writes.  The Diamondbacks could deal one of their young center fielders or shortstops for help in other areas this offseason, though one scout notes that Arizona would be left with solid players no matter who they dealt.
  • It's a little unusual that Clayton Kershaw hasn't signed a huge extension with the Dodgers yet, though ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon notes that if Kershaw isn't comfortable signing for a decade or longer, that could be in the Dodgers' best long-term interest.
  • It has been rumored that the Dodgers could trade from their surplus of outfielders this offseason but GM Ned Colletti told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that they have a lot of question marks, health-wise.  Colletti pointed to last season's pitching injuries as an example of how you can never have enough roster depth: "We went to Spring Training with eight starting pitchers and everybody said we needed to trade some of them. Pretty soon we didn't have enough. We'll see what happens. We have to have big league coverage."
  • Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers have an interest in bringing back Juan Uribe on a short-term contract.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts Uribe will find a two-year, $12MM deal in free agency but that even could be a bit long given that Hanley Ramirez might be moved to third if Alexander Guerrero works out best as a shortstop rather than as a second baseman.
  • Ryan Vogelsong has received interest from multiple teams and there's no guarantee he'll re-sign with the Giants, MLB.com's Chris Haft writes.  Haft also explores some other free agent options as part of the mailbag piece.

Free Agent Profile: Juan Uribe

Prior to the season, there was speculation the Dodgers could release Juan Uribe, eating the $7MM remaining on his contract just to open up the roster spot after he played at replacement level from 2011-12.  However, Uribe made over 100 starts for the Dodgers in 2013 and was incredibly valuable, posting the fourth-best WAR among all free agents.

USATSI_7360058

Strengths/Pros

Uribe was worth 5.1 wins above replacement according to FanGraphs, a number topped in 2013 by only three other free agents: Robinson Cano, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Shin-Soo Choo.  No other position player even came close to Uribe, with Marlon Byrd checking in at 4.1.

How did he do it?  In large part through defense.  Playing mostly third base, Uribe posted a UZR/150 of 35.3 in 900 1/3 innings.  Only four other players exceeded 30 this year, and their defensive excellence is uncontested: Shane Victorino, Juan Lagares, Gerardo Parra, and Manny Machado.  Uribe's hot corner defense is no fluke, as he's posted strong UZR numbers there in each season since '09.  Another stat, defensive runs saved from The Fielding Bible, had Uribe at 15.  That figure was tied for the 15th best in baseball.  The National League Gold Glove at third base went to Nolan Arenado, and rightfully so, but Uribe was one of three finalists along with David Wright.  The Fielding Bible's panel of ten experts ranked Uribe's defense sixth in baseball at third base this year, behind only Arenado in the NL.

Uribe has the versatility to play all around the infield, though it's been a while since he's played anything other than third base regularly.

One reason Uribe was able to pick up 102 starts (and 132 total games) for the Dodgers this year is that he had a solid year with the bat as well.  Uribe hit .278/.331/.438 in 426 plate appearances.  He's always had pop, with a career isolated power mark of .167 and eight seasons of double digit home runs.  He hit a career-best 24 bombs in 2010 with the Giants, leading to his contract with the Dodgers.  This year, Uribe was able to hit for average while also drawing enough walks to create a solid OBP.  Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), which is park and league-adjusted, measures a player's total offensive value against the league average.  Uribe's 116 figure this year means he was 16% better than the league average hitter, and it ranked eighth among third basemen with at least 400 PAs.  By this measure, Uribe had a better year with the bat than Pablo Sandoval, Chase Headley, Kyle Seager, Pedro Alvarez, Martin Prado, and other starting third basemen.

Uribe made significant contributions to the 2005 White Sox and 2010 Giants, so his pair of World Series rings are well-deserved.  He did not receive a qualifying offer from the Dodgers this offseason, so signing him will not involve forfeiting a draft pick.

Weaknesses/Cons

Uribe was a terrible hitter from 2011-12, hitting .199/.262/.289 with six home runs in 474 plate appearances.  His contract looked like a big mistake after the first two years, and he took criticism for being out of shape.  Uribe endured a left hip flexor injury in May 2011, and hit the DL again in July with a similar injury.  In September 2011 he had surgery for a sports hernia, giving hope for a rebound in '12 when he showed up to camp in better shape and healthy again.  However, he hit the DL in May for a wrist injury and was marginalized as the season wore on.  Hanley Ramirez's thumb injury in March 2013 created an opportunity for Uribe to play regularly at third base.  Even after a stellar 2013, no one has any idea how many useful seasons the 34-year-old Uribe has left.

Uribe posted a ridiculous 25.6% walk rate in April this year, settling in at a more Uribe-like 5.0% for the rest of the season.  He also had a .322 batting average on balls in play this year, compared to a career BABIP of .282.  It's reasonable to expect Uribe to draw fewer walks and have fewer hits drop in next year, pulling his OBP down toward his career .299 mark.  Projections suggest Uribe may not even be a league average hitter in 2014.  If he reverts to being a .200 hitter with no power, Uribe may be nothing more than a defensive replacement.

Personal

Juan and his wife Ana reside in the Dominican Republic in the offseason with their four children.  Juan was a second cousin of Jose Uribe, a shortstop who played in the Majors from 1984-1993 and died in a car crash in 2006.  Juan was signed by Rockies scout Jorge Posada, Sr., father of the Yankees catcher, in 1997.  MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez described the signing in this 2010 article.

Uribe is a big hit in the clubhouse.  In 2010, Ann Killion of Sports Illustrated wrote, "Uribe is beloved, always happy, consistently upbeat."  Uribe's teammates have been singing his praises for many years.

Market

The Dodgers may be open to bringing Uribe back on a one-year deal, after the first two years of their initial commitment went so poorly.  Otherwise, a team with unsettled plans in the short-term at third base would make sense for Uribe, which could mean the White Sox, Yankees, Cubs, Angels, Marlins, and Phillies.  I'm not sure if any teams would consider Uribe as a semi-regular second baseman, but in that case the Orioles, Blue Jays, Tigers, Royals, Braves, and Rockies could be factors.  Uribe may be best served filling an Eric Chavez type of role, in whom the Yankees, Angels, and Diamondbacks are interested according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.  

Uribe benefits from a weak free agent market for third basemen.  He's as much of a starting third baseman as anyone else in the group.

Expected Contract

The question with Uribe: one year or two?  On one hand, the bar for a two-year deal is quite low.  Utility infielders and other part-time players routinely get two years, and Uribe's performance in 2013 suggests he can contribute regularly.  On the other hand, Uribe's contract with the Dodgers three years ago was the first multiyear pact of his career, and the first two years went horribly.  In the end, I think Uribe will get a two-year, $12MM deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Dodgers Notes: Rotation, Uribe, Mattingly

Despite their rotation surplus, Ned Colletti and the Dodgers are "in no rush" to trade a starting pitcher, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick reports. Zack Greinke and Chad Billingsley are dealing with minor injuries, and Ted Lilly is coming back from shoulder surgery. Even if all the Dodgers' starting pitchers are healthy, one scenario might be for Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang to begin the season in the bullpen.

Previous reports have indicated that other teams may be trying to force the Dodgers into a tough spot by lowballing them on trade offers until the need to set their 25-man roster forces L.A. to make a decision about how to handle its eight starting pitchers. If one of their starters isn't healthy or if the Dodgers are willing to use several of their starters in relief, that negotiation tactic might not work. Forcing a number of starters to the bullpen, though, would simply move the logjam from one part of the team to another, where it might affect pitchers like Matt Guerrier and a number of younger relievers. Here are more notes from the Dodgers.

  • The Dodgers may eat the remaining $8MM on Juan Uribe's contract, Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times reports, but Uribe is trying to recast himself as a utilityman who can also back up Adrian Gonzalez at first base. Uribe's three-year, $21MM contract, signed after the 2010 season, almost immediately proved to be a poor investment, as Uribe hit .204/264/.293 in the first year of the deal, then .191/.258/.284 in 2012.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says his team should consider letting him go if the team does not make the playoffs, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. "If we can't get them to play the game right, they may have the wrong voice. There's a ton of talent here," Mattingly says. Mattingly is not under contract for 2014, and Shaikin reports that Mattingly does not expect to receive a contract extension before the season starts.

Dodgers Could Move Punto, Uribe

The Dodgers have an abundance of backup infielders on their 40-man roster, and some of them may be moved, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Nick Punto could be a trade candidate, and Juan Uribe and his $7MM salary could be released, according to Rosenthal.

Punto, 35, appeared in 87 total games for the Red Sox and Dodgers in 2012. He posted a .219/.321/.281 batting line in 191 plate appearances while earning a $1.5MM salary. He'll earn the same amount in 2013 before hitting free agency. Like Punto, Uribe has one year remaining on his contract. He'll earn a $7MM salary in 2013 after missing much of the 2012 season with a wrist injury.

After acquiring Skip Schumaker from St. Louis, the Dodgers have seven backup infielders, including Punto, Uribe, Jerry Hairston, Elian Herrera, Dee Gordon and Justin Sellers. Gordon has drawn interest from many teams and could also be traded. The Dodgers designated Scott Van Slyke for assignment yesterday.