Justin Masterson Rumors

AL Notes: Melky, Jays, Red Sox, Masterson

With the Winter Meetings in the books, be sure to check out this interesting piece from Joe Lemire for Medium.com regarding the change wrought on the process by changes in communication technology. Texting has replaced in-person dealmaking and reporting, writes Lemire, which in some ways undermines the purpose of teams gathering in one place. Of course, as we found out this week, the annual meet-up is still capable of supporting a hotbed of transactional movement.

Here’s the latest from the American League:

  • The Mariners have made free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera a three-year offer, Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com reports (Spanish language link). Cabrera is looking for at least one more guaranteed year, says Rojas. This news reflects a recent report from Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, who suggested that the sides were at something of a standoff along those lines.
  • The Blue Jays are looking at the free agent market for a second baseman but are not interested in guaranteeing more than three years, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. “You won’t see any four or five-year deals,” said GM Alex Anthopoulos.
  • Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald (Twitter link) rejects the idea that the Red Sox made a mistake by not landing Jon Lester. That assessment, says Silverman, will depend upon whether the team finds a suitable alternative.
  • Justin Masterson says that the Rangers were one of several claims to make him an offer before he signed with the Red Sox, the Herald’s Scott Lauber reports on Twitter. That offer was for $6MM in guaranteed money, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.

Red Sox Sign Justin Masterson

The Red Sox made another addition to their rotation by signing right-hander Justin Masterson to a one-year contract.  Masterson will earn a $9.5MM base salary, plus he can earn another $2.5MM in total incentives by reaching certain innings thresholds.  He’ll earn another $500K if he hits 185 innings, and then another $500K for every five innings after that, up to 205 innings.MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Baltimore Orioles

Masterson, 29, fell off significantly last year after a three-year run in which he averaged 205 frames and a 3.86 ERA (that included outstanding campaigns in 2011 and 2013 sandwiched around a dud in 2012).  In 2014, he scuffled to a 5.88 ERA in 128 2/3 innings last year, striking out 8.1 and walking 4.8 batters per nine while dealing with a variety of shoulder, knee, and back issues. Masterson lost nearly three ticks on his average fastball velocity last year, though he managed to carry a typically stellar 58.2% groundball rate.

In the aggregate, Masterson presents a classic buy-low opportunity after entering 2014 as a significant extension candidate or future free agent target. He will look to regain his form with the organization that drafted and developed him.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney was the first to report an agreement between Masterson and the Red Sox.  WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reported the contract length and value while Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports had the breakdown of Masterson’s incentives.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Justin Masterson Close To Deal With Unknown Team

Justin Masterson is close to a deal with an unknown team, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets. Masterson has most strongly been connected to the Red Sox of late, with the Tigers and a variety of other teams showing interest.

The Red Sox recently made Masterson a one-year offer with the idea of using him as a starter. A one-year deal would give Masterson the opportunity to rebuild his stock after a disappointing and injury-wracked 2014 season and hit the free agent market again next offseason.



Rangers Notes: Rosario, Masterson, Floyd

The Rangers have been discussing trades with the Braves, Mets, Diamondbacks and Nationals at the Winter Meetings, though they’re reportedly no longer talking to the Dodgers about Matt Kemp.  Here’s some more out of Arlington…

  • The Rangers and Rockies have continued to discuss catcher Wilin Rosario, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post reports.  Rosario would help address Texas’ need for both a right-handed bat and a catcher.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels said that offers have been extended to free agent pitchers but sources tell Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Justin Masterson “isn’t in [the] picture.”
  • Talks with Gavin Floyd‘s agent have been put on hold for now, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.  Floyd posted strong numbers (2.65 ERA, 3.46 K/BB) over nine starts with the Braves in 2014 before having his season ended by a broken bone in his throwing elbow.
  • Also from Grant, the Rangers are interested in bringing Scott Baker back on a minor league contract, though the righty is hoping to land a Major League deal.  After missing almost all of the 2012-13 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, Baker posted a 5.47 ERA over 80 2/3 IP with Texas last season.
  • The Rangers will protect Russell Wilson from the Rule 5 Draft on their Triple-A roster, which Grant explains is a procedural move that would force a claiming team to keep Wilson on its Major League roster all season.  Texas is essentially keeping Wilson in the fold as a “Spring Training motivational speaker” since he’s obviously not leaving the NFL any time soon.

Red Sox Make Offer To Justin Masterson

10:50am: Masterson’s camp will not necessarily act on the offer immediately, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com, as it still has teams to meet with.

8:38am: The offer is actually only for one year, Cafardo tweets. Reports have not clarified whether the deal would include any option years.

With that in mind, Boston appears to be competing on more equal footing with other teams that are said to have made or weighed offers to the righty.

7:21am: The Red Sox have offered Justin Masterson a multi-year deal with the idea of using him as a starter, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Red Sox had made Masterson an offer. A number of teams have shown interest in Masterson, so it’s not that surprising that he would already have at least one multi-year offer despite his disappointing 2014 season, in which he dealt with injuries and a (likely related) loss of velocity.

In October, MLBTR’s Zach Links predicted Masterson would take a one-year, $12MM deal, but that was predicated upon the idea that he would want to use that year to rebuild his value before hitting the free agent market again. Last offseason, Masterson appeared headed toward a huge contract, and he might yet be able to get one if he took a one-year deal and then had a big 2015 season.

Masterson, of course, came through the minors with the Red Sox, who sent him to Cleveland when they acquired Victor Martinez in 2009. After four straight years in which he was solid or better from the Indians (he had a poor ERA in 2012, but his peripherals that season remained reasonable), his ugly walk year resulted in a trade to St. Louis last July. For the season, he posted a 5.88 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 in 128 2/3 innings.


Central Rumors: Cubs, Lester, Masterson

If the Cubs land Jon Lester, an industry source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) they’re next move would be to pursue a big bat – to go along with Miguel Montero – to try and accelerate their revival. The Cubs are reportedly discussing Montero with the D’Backs in a deal that wouldn’t require them giving up much in the way of assets.  More out of the Central divisions..

  • The Indians kicked the tires on Justin Masterson, but were never really “all in” on bringing him back, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter).
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan says he has no interest in the Blue Jays’ president/CEO role, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter).  “[I’m] very humbled to hear [that], but I’m a GM.  I’m a baseball guy,” Ryan said.
  • Even though word has only recently leaked, White Sox executive Kenny Williams was contacted by the Blue Jays about their team president position shortly after the end of the season, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Current Jays president Paul Beeston is part of the executive search process, which indicates the club isn’t going behind his back to make a change. Williams also likes the idea of being the first African American MLB CEO.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti is comfortable with his current roster, he tells Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (Twitter). The acquisition of Brandon Moss affords the club depth and versatility. We learned earlier tonight that the club would now look to build upon its seven pitcher deep rotation. We could also see them shop Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, or David Murphy, but I doubt they would receive much salary relief in a trade.
  • Ryan went on to say that the Twins have been in serious talks with both agents and clubs about acquiring pitching, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (on Twitter).
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer isn’t making any secret about what he wants to do this winter, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com.  “Clearly we want to add multiple starting pitchers this winter. We need to,” Hoyer said.

East Rumors: Masterson, Byrd, Red Sox

The latest from the AL and NL East..

  • The Red Sox have made an offer to Justin Masterson, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). The pitcher is also talking with the Rangers, Marlins, White Sox, Royals, Giants, Twins, and others.  Earlier today we learned that the Rangers have made an offer to Masterson, their first concrete bid for a free agent starter this winter.
  • If the Orioles look to the trade market for a bat, Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd is a name on their radar, sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including Jason Mastrodonato of The Springfield Republican (via Twitter) that the team has targeted 15-20 starting pitchers via free agency and trade.  So far, they’ve had advanced conversations for a few of them.
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro says reports of him asking for too much in trades are “a bunch of malarkey,” according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter).

AL West Notes: Masterson, Rangers, Cabrera

The very latest from the AL West..

  • The Rangers have made their first real bid for a starting free agent pitcher by extending a contract offer to Justin Masterson, a source tells Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News.  The market for the hurler is robust, however, so there might not be anything imminent on that front.
  • The Mariners appear to be the favorites on Melky Cabrera, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Heyman adds that the idea that Cabrera would prefer to avoid going out West appears to be a non-factor now and sources say that he’s fine with it.  The White Sox, Giants, and Royals have also been linked to Cabrera, but Seattle appears to be the team to beat at this time.
  • Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow says he is “absolutely” open to bringing Jose Veras back, as Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes.  Veras has previously stated his desire to return to Houston.

Pitching Notes: Miller, Giants, Cards, Masterson, Axford

Before he joined the Yankees, the Astros actually offered Andrew Miller a deal that included not only four guaranteed years but also a fifth-year option, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports on Twitter. It remains to be seen how Houston will reallocate the funds it had earmarked for the lefty.

  • If the Giants miss on Jon Lester, they are more likely to go to the next tier of free agent pitchers than to go all out for Max Scherzer, per John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). San Francisco could aim for options of the ilk of Ervin Santana and Francisco Liriano, says Shea, though it is not clear if those illustrative names or particular targets.
  • The Cardinals met with Scherzer at some point over the offseason and are at least weighing a run at him, Jon Heyman of CBSSportscom reports. It remains something of a longshot that Scherzer will land in St. Louis, Heyman notes, though the fact that he is from the area can’t hurt.
  • The Red Sox met with Justin Masterson over the weekend, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on Twitter. The Twins, meanwhile, have not managed to gain traction with Masterson’s camp, Wolfson adds.
  • The MarlinsWhite Sox, and possibly Cubs will also sit down with Masterson in San Diego, Heyman reports.
  • Reliever John Axford has drawn interest from the Reds, though nothing is close and there are other teams involved, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.

Quick Hits: Leake, Craig, Liriano, Masterson

Reds pitcher and regular MLBTR reader Mike Leake keeps track of offseason trade whispers but tries not to worry about them, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com writes.  “I’m curious. I check MLB Trade Rumors every day just to see what’s new,” says Leake, a potential trade candidate this winter. “There’s nothing you can do about it. You sit and wait and see if your name is thrown in a trade.” Leake notes that he would be happy to remain with the Reds, but would be understanding if they traded him.

  • If the Red Sox decide to deal Allen Craig, there will be interest despite his poor 2014 season, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  The Marlins and Brewers have had interest in the past, and one evaluator expresses confidence that Craig’s performance last season was derailed by injuries and not by a steep decline in ability.
  • Also from Cafardo, Francisco Liriano would be a good fit in either the NL or AL, but teams are concerned about giving him more than a three-year deal since he’s never been an innings-eater.  The Pirates remain interested in retaining him but not on a four-year contract.  Some executives feel the “tipping point” of Liriano’s market will be if at least one team is willing to give that fourth year, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets.
  • Liriano is one of the Pirates‘ top targets, sources tell Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • Justin Masterson has received a lot of interest but no actual offers yet, Fangraphs’ David Laurila reports.  Laurila suggested in a recent column that Masterson could be a good candidate to be converted to relief pitching, though no teams have approached him with that idea and Masterson wouldn’t be interested if they did.
  • Also from Laurila’s piece, he talks to Burke Badenhop and the righty reliever said he felt he improved his free agent stock by posting strong numbers against left-handed batters in 2014.
  • Ichiro Suzuki‘s market is “not hot,” agent John Boggs tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).  Boggs is trying to push his client’s ability to play all three outfield spots and a bat that delivered a .284 average in 2014, hoping that teams won’t shy away because Ichiro is entering his age-41 season.
  • It would be surprising if the Rockies pulled off a blockbuster deal involving Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes.  “If I was a betting man, I sure wouldn’t put down money on a trade,” a Major League executive tells Saunders.  The likeliest scenario is that neither player is traded (if at all) until they’ve proven they’re healthy.