Justin Masterson Rumors

Red Sox Have Interest In Choo & Masterson

The Red Sox have interest in acquiring both Shin-Soo Choo and Justin Masterson from the Indians, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. It's unclear how far along talks are, but Cleveland is getting calls about those two as well as Asdrubal Cabrera and Chris Perez.

Boston is seeking both outfield and rotation help this winter, so the fit is obvious. They originally drafted and developed Masterson before sending him to the Tribe in the Victor Martinez trade, though Morosi notes that new Indians manager Terry Francona could push to keep the right-hander, who had in Boston. Masterson is under team control through 2014 while Choo will be eligible for free agency after next season.

The Red Sox have enough prospects to offer in trades and plenty of payroll space to absorb contracts. Matt Swartz projects Choo to earn $7.9MM and Masterson to earn $5.7MM through arbitration next year. Boston also has both Mike Napoli and Adam LaRoche on their radar this offseason as well.

Choo, Masterson, Perez, Cabrera Drawing Calls

The Indians are already drawing trade calls on Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez, and Asdrubal Cabrera according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. GM Chris Antonetti acknowledged that they will listen to offers for those four and others.

"I'm not looking to move those guys,'' said the GM. "But we have to be open-minded.''

The 30-year-old Choo will be a free agent after next season, but he needs to play for his new team all season for them to be eligible to receive draft pick compensation next winter. Heyman speculates that outfield-needy teams like the Yankees, Pirates, Red Sox, Tigers, and Phillies could be in the mix. The 26-year-old Cabrera should be a hot commodity given the dearth of quality free agent middle infielders.

Masterson, 27, figures to draw a ton of interest as a workhorse starter who is one year removed from a 3.21 ERA in over 210 innings. It's been speculated that his former team, the Red Sox, could have interest in bringing him back. The 27-year-old Perez might have talked his way out of Cleveland with some late-season comments. Mark Polishuk analyzed his trade stock in September.

Matt Swartz projects Choo to earn $7.9MM through arbitration next season before becoming a free agent. Masterson and Perez are under team control through 2014 and project to earn $5.7MM and $7.2MM through arbitration next season, respectively. Cabrera is under contract through 2014 and will earn $6.5MM next year and $10MM the year after.

AL Central Links: Volstad, Masterson, Indians, ChiSox

As the World Series shifts to Comerica Park for tomorrow's Game Three, here's the latest from around the AL Central….

  • The Royals' waiver claim pickup of Chris Volstad could be a sign of how the team plans to take a low-cost approach to upgrading its pitching staff, writes Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.  Royals GM Dayton Moore said free agents "won’t be a long-term answer for us” because the club hopes to have homegrown pitching prospects in the rotation by 2014.  “We’ve got to look internally,” Moore said. “We’ve got to look through trades. We’ve got to look, certainly, through free agency…we might be able to pick off a player or two, but we’re not going to build our team through free agency. It won’t work.”
  • Given the Indians' need for pitching and the cost of acquiring new starters, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian believes the team won't deal starter Justin Masterson (Twitter link).  The groundball specialist has been rumored to be on the trade market following a disappointing 2012 season.
  • Travis Hafner's $13MM team option for 2013 is a sure bet to be bought out by the Indians, tweets Bastian, while the Tribe will likely also decline Roberto Hernandez's $6MM club option.  Ubaldo Jimenez's $5.75MM club option for next season is "expected" to be picked up.  Bastian thinks it's "hard to believe" that the Indians would re-sign the injury-plagued Grady Sizemore as a free agent. 
  • The White Sox face four difficult option decisions on Jake Peavy, Kevin Youkilis, Gavin Floyd and Brett Myers, writes Paul Swydan for ESPN (Insider subscription required).  Swydan opines that Floyd is a more proven rotation candidate than Myers and "if only one option of the two is picked up, it should be Floyd's," while Youkilis could be a good candidate to be retained given Chicago's lack of depth at third base.  Peavy's $22MM option "is difficult to justify" given his injury history, though Swydan notes that Peavy provided close to $20MM worth of value during his healthy 2012 season.
  • In other White Sox news, Hahn discussed Peavy's option and more in his introductory press conference as the club's new general manager.

Indians Notes: Francona, Alomar, Masterson

A lot of people in baseball think that Terry Francona is crazy for taking the Indians job, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd).  However, the skipper knew that Cleveland was where he wanted to be thanks in large part to his strong relationships with GM Chris Antonetti and president Mark Shapiro.  In fact, Tito showed how much he wanted the job by handing the club a 16-page breakdown of their team, the organization, and what he envisions for their future.  Earlier this afternoon, the Indians formally introduced Francona as their next manager.  Here are some highlights..

  • Francona was asked if he came to Cleveland in part because he preferred a smaller market as opposed to his previous stops in Philadelphia and Boston, tweets Alex Speier of WEEI.com.  The skipper insisted that he wasn't looking to avoid the pressures of a big market but instead came to Cleveland because he's not "afraid of a challenge."  He added that he was treated well by the media in Boston for the most part.  
  • The skipper said that negotiations for his four-year deal "took about ten minutes", according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer (via Twitter).
  • Acknowledging the challenge that he will be faced with, Francona said that he's in it for the long haul, Hoynes tweets.  "I don't want to be a rental manager. I want to be part of the solution. I want to stick around," said Francona.
  • Antonetti and Francona have talked to Sandy Alomar Jr. several times about a coaching job, but Alomar still isn't sure if its a good fit, tweets Hoynes.  Meanwhile, Antonetti expects to get calls on Alomar about managerial vacancies this winter (Twitter link).
  • Francona plans to keep Justin Masterson in the starting rotation next season, tweets Hoynes.  Masterson turned in a 4.93 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 34 starts last season.

Rosenthal On Farrell, Indians, Nationals

The Blue Jays shouldn’t part with manager John Farrell unless they are confident they can hire a comparable replacement and make the Red Sox pay dearly for their former pitching coach, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays could start by asking for Clay Buchholz again, Rosenthal suggests. Here’s more from around MLB, starting with Farrell…

  • People who know Farrell find it difficult to believe he’d try to force his way out of Toronto, Rosenthal reports. The Blue Jays appear to value Farrell and don’t want to see him leave.
  • Most MLB teams wanted to develop Jurickson Profar as a pitcher when he was an amateur player, Rosenthal reports. The Rangers built a relationship with Profar, who wanted to play shortstop.
  • Scouts following the Indians like the team’s up-the-middle talent, but say the body language of manager Manny Acta suggests he’s resigned to losing. The Indians are expected to consider trade offers for Justin Masterson, Shin-Soo Choo and Chris Perez this offseason and rival teams wonder if they’d listen to offers for Asdrubal Cabrera.
  • Indians officials are “livid” with Perez for his comments about the team’s ownership and top baseball executives, Rosenthal writes. Perez questioned the Indians’ decision making and spending last week in an interview with Jon Paul Morosi. Some executives viewed those remarks as an attempt to get traded, Rosenthal reports.
  • One Orioles person points out that Andy MacPhail traded for many of the Orioles’ key players in a series of successful deals. MacPhail dealt for players such as J.J. Hardy, Pedro Strop, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Robert Andino and Adam Jones before stepping down following the 2011 season.
  • Though the Nationals would like to retain Adam LaRoche, they can rely on internal options if the first baseman’s asking price reaches the three-year, $33-36MM range. Similarly, the Nationals might decide not to pursue Michael Bourn despite the long-standing expectation that they will offer him a competitive free agent contract.
  • The Brewers will need to sign a starting pitcher and fix their bullpen this coming offseason, Rosenthal writes.

Quick Hits: Indians, Lee, Phillies, Pirates

Links from around MLB, on the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline…

Red Sox Notes: Saltalamacchia, Masterson, Ellsbury

The Red Sox have a 51-51 record after taking two of three from the Yankees in New York over the weekend. Here are the latest rumors surrounding the Red Sox as they host the Tigers at Fenway Park…

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mike Aviles have drawn interest from rival teams, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports. The Red Sox are looking to add at the trade deadline, but a modest deal is more likely than a blockbuster.
  • The Red Sox remain interested in Justin Masterson, even though they saw him struggle in his most recent start, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). The Indians have told teams they will consider trading Masterson, who pitched for the Red Sox in 2008-09.
  • A few teams inquired on Jacoby Ellsbury, but the Red Sox will likely wait until the offseason to seriously consider trading him, Cafardo reports (on Twitter). The Reds asked about Ellsbury, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
  • The Rangers have pursued Red Sox players more aggressively than other teams, Cafardo reports (Twitterlinks). Texas has scouted both Aaron Cook and Kelly Shoppach and while Rangers officials have backed off on Cook, they maintain interest in Shoppach.
  • Here’s the latest on Josh Beckett.

Indians Could Trade Masterson, Likely To Keep Perez

After being swept by the Twins this weekend and falling to two games below .500, the Indians have told teams they may be open to trading Justin Masterson, according to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.

Masterson, the Tribe's opening day starter, earns $3.825MM in 2012 after avoiding arbitration this past offseason. Masterson is controlled through the 2014 season and has pitched to a 4.47 ERA with a 6.9 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a 56.4 percent ground-ball rate that is tied for sixth-best in the Majors. Masterson's control has taken a significant downturn this season, as evidenced by the rising walk rate (2.7 BB/9 in 2011) and his AL-worst 11 wild pitches.

Knobler reports that both the Reds and Rangers had scouts present to watch Masterson's start against the Twins in Minneapolis yesterday, though he wasn't particularly impressive. He allowed eight earned runs to the Twins over 5 2/3 innings on seven hits, two walks a and a hit batter.

The Indians are also open to trading Shin-Soo Choo for the right price, and both the Pirates and Reds appear to be interested at the moment. There have been rumors over the past few weeks that they could deal Chris Perez as well, but Knobler calls it "doubtful" that Perez will be traded.

Extension Notes: Masterson, Kinsler, Santana

Ian Kinsler (five years, $75MM), Carlos Santana (five years, $21MM) and Brandon Phillips (six years, $72.5MM) are the latest star players to sign long-term extensions. Here's more extension chatter from around MLB…

  • The Indians have spoken to the representatives for Justin Masterson about an extension, but the sides appear to remain far apart, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. Talks seem to be on hold for the time being. Tim Dierkes suggested in January that a four-year deal in the $27MM range could work for the Indians and the Randy Rowley client.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs shows that the aging curve for second basemen is pretty steep, but says the Kinsler contract was a deal worth doing for the Rangers.
  • Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has the year-to-year breakdown for Santana's deal (on Twitter).
  • Mike Axisa explains that the Santana extension doesn't provide the Indians with a substantial discount in a piece at FanGraphs. However, the Indians did extend their control over the catcher.

Indians Avoid Arbitration With Masterson, Perez

The Indians avoided arbitration with pitchers Justin Masterson ($3.825MM) and Chris Perez ($4.5MM), tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  For the Indians, Asdrubal Cabrera and Rafael Perez remain.