Justin Masterson Rumors

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.

Twins Notes: Masterson, Liriano, Neshek

The Twins are focused on pitching upgrades this offseason, and here’s the latest on the arms that Minnesota is (or isn’t) currently exploring…

  • Justin Masterson was linked to the Twins earlier this winter but 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter) that “about every sign” indicates the Masterson will sign with another team.  The Twins aren’t scheduled to meet with Masterson during the Winter Meetings and the right-hander has already met with several teams over the last few days.
  • The Twins have been in touch with Francisco Liriano‘s agent throughout the offseason and they’re expected to meet Monday with Brett Anderson‘s agent, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.  Anderson is looking for a short-term deal to rebuild his value after an injury-plagued 2014, while Liriano looks to command a significant multiyear guarantee.  Neal (via Twitter) doubts the Twins would surrender the draft pick it would take to sign Liriano, who rejected the Pirates’ qualifying offer.
  • Also from Neal, the Twins are one of over a dozen teams who have checked in on Pat Neshek this offseason.  Neshek was originally drafted by Minnesota in 2002 and pitched for the team from 2006-10.
  • The Twins have called about right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.  Vogelsong has a 3.74 ERA, 2.35 K/BB, 7.05 K/9 and 42.4% grounder rate over the last four seasons with the Giants, throwing at least 179 2/3 IP in three out of those four years.
  • Before Jason Frasor re-signed with the Royals, the Twins made a push to land the righty reliever, agent Dave Meier told Berardino.  “The Twins had a lot of interest in him,” Meier said. “They stepped up and made an early offer. We were definitely considering that along with Kansas City and a couple other teams. The Twins were one of a select few clubs as we kind of narrowed things down.”

Twins Notes: Coaches, Yang, Pitching Targets, Hunter, Duensing

The Twins announced the hiring of longtime Orioles minor league coach Butch Davis as their first base coach yesterday, adding to their recent list of coaching additions. While they’ve drawn a bit of flak for keeping most of their hires in-house, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (Twitter link) that Minnesota reached out to recently dismissed Cubs skipper Rick Renteria about the bench coach vacancy (since filled by internal candidate Joe Vavra), but Renteria declined to interview. Similarly, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the Twins wanted Delino DeShields to serve as their first base coach, but he took a position managing the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, as his ultimate goal is to manage in the Majors someday.

Here’s more on the Twins…

  • GM Terry Ryan told reporters yesterday, including La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that Minnesota did not win the bidding for Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang (Twitter link). There was some confusion as to whether the Twins or Rangers won the bidding, with some speculating that they made very similar bids. The point is moot, regardless, as the KIA Tigers did not accept the winning bid for their top pitcher’s services, as it was deemed too low.
  • The Twins have interest in right-hander Edinson Volquez, reports Wolfson. Additionally, they’ve had conversations with agent Greg Genske, who represents both Francisco Liriano and Brett Anderson. Minnesota is expected to meet with Justin Masterson‘s agent next week at the Winter Meetings, and they met with CAA (the agency that represents Jake Peavy and Nori Aoki) at last month’s GM Meetings, Wolfson adds. However, there’s no real traction on either CAA client at this time.
  • Wolfson also tweets that the Twins have made an official offer to Torii Hunter, who is expected to reach a decision soon. The Rangers are said to be pushing hard for Hunter, who reportedly prefers to sign with a contender. That makes a return to Minnesota seem doubtful.
  • The Twins have given no indication that they plan to non-tender southpaw reliever Brian Duensing today, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Duensing, 31, is projected to earn $2.5MM in arbitration and was listed by MLBTR as a non-tender candidate.

Tigers Notes: Masterson, Rotation, Relief

On Thursday, we learned the Tigers inquired about free agent starter Justin Masterson. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press speculates that Masterson could be open to a one-year contract to re-establish his value. Given his history of past success – including an All-Star appearance as recently as 2013 – he could provide affordable value. In my opinion, Detroit makes a lot of sense for Masterson if he wants to sign a pillow contract. It’s a high profile ball club with a good chance to make the postseason and a neutral stadium.


AL Central Links: Masterson, Ryan, LaRoche

Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…

  • The White Sox and Tigers have expressed interest in Justin Masterson, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, meaning that all five AL Central clubs have at least checked in on the free agent righty.  Outside of this division, Masterson’s long list of suitors also includes the Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Marlins.
  • The Indians touched base with Masterson early in the offseason but “haven’t shown a lot of interest” since, Hoynes writes.
  • In an interview with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter links here), Twins GM Terry Ryan said his team “could use a right handed bat in the outfield. We’re rather young here especially in the outfield.”  Of course, the Twins have been connected to a right-handed hitting veteran in Torii Hunter, who recently said that he’d had numerous conversations with Ryan.  Minnesota is one of at least 10 teams who have shown interest in Hunter’s services this offseason.  Earlier today on MLBTR, Jeff Todd outlined Hunter’s free agent profile.
  • On the Twins‘ search for pitching, Ryan said that he’s looking for both left- and right-handed starters, noting that his club doesn’t have many proven innings-eaters in the rotation.  Relatively few free agent pitchers have come off the board this winter, though Ryan said “it may be a slow moving market and then one of those big time pitchers goes and all heck breaks loose.”
  • Adam LaRoche wasn’t keen to fully transition to a full-time DH role, yet he told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes) during his introductory White Sox press conference that he’s happy to cede most of the first base duties to Jose Abreu.  “They’ve got a kid [Abreu] that’s obviously going to be around and be really good for a long time,” LaRoche said.  “It’s not fair to make him a full-time DH this early in his career, especially when he can handle first base and handle the glove over there….I’ll do it however it plays out.  If they need me to play first more than we’re talking about, great, I’ll be there. If I end up DHing more, that’s fine.”  Sox manager Robin Ventura said that he plans to give LaRoche two starts per week at first base, a time-share that will hopefully keep both LaRoche and Abreu fresh for the entire season.

Giants Casting Wide Net, Have Contacted Scherzer

After losing Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox, the Giants are casting a very wide net and have reached out to agent Scott Boras regarding top free Max Scherzer, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Giants appear to be scouring the trade and free agent markets for upgrades, as Heyman reports that they’ve at least initiated talks with free agents Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, Chase Headley, Torii Hunter, Justin Masterson and of course Yasmany Tomas (their interest in Tomas has been well-documented). Beyond that, they’ve kicked the tires on Atlanta’s Justin Upton, and their interest in Jon Lester was reported yesterday as Sandoval looked to be on the verge of departure.

San Francisco’s interest in Scherzer isn’t terribly surprising. The team will bring back ace Madison Bumgarner and stable veteran Tim Hudson, but Matt Cain is returning from elbow surgery and Tim Lincecum‘s reliability has taken s nose-dive in recent years. Both Ryan Vogelsong and Jake Peavy are free agents. Yusmeiro Petit was excellent in 2014 but totaled only 129 2/3 innings between the regular season and postseason. He’s certainly done enough to warrant a look in the rotation, but the lack of innings could be cause for concern.

In terms of their offensive targets, Heyman hears that the Giants are more likely to go with a cheaper option to replace Sandoval at third base, instead spending bigger on a replacement in left field for Mike Morse. He notes that they’ve taken a “close look” at Upton and have even reached out to former Giant Melky Cabrera, though one team source described Cabrera’s departure from the Giants as “awkward” to Heyman. (Cabrera was suspended for 50 games in 2012 to close out the season as the Giants pushed toward a World Series victory.)

Earlier today I looked at some post-Sandoval options for the Giants, listing several trade and free agent targets that the reigning World Series Champions could pursue.