Justin Masterson Rumors
A few links to pass along regarding clubs in the Central divisions ...
- The Indians are facing an offseason of difficult decisions, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With basically the same roster, the Tribe's payroll would jump from $49MM in 2011 to roughly $70MM next season, explains Hoynes. Several key players like Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez and Asdrubal Cabrera will be eligible for arbitration, and the Indians own options on Grady Sizemore ($9MM) and Fausto Carmona ($7MM).
- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa dismissed a rumor that he will manage the Cubs next season, writes Kevin Roberts of MLB.com. A report surfaced earlier this week that the Cubs would hire La Russa and Reds GM Walt Jocketty (formerly the Cards' GM) in an effort to lure impending free agent Albert Pujols this offseason. This one seems to be falling apart, as Reds owner Bob Castellini has said Jocketty will be back with the Reds in 2012.
- The AL MVP Award is now Tigers righty Justin Verlander's to lose, opines Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link).
A couple notes regarding the Red Sox and Indians, who both won on Saturday night (in Boston's case, twice) ...
- The Red Sox wanted to trade for both Erik Bedard and Rich Harden once their attempt to acquire Hiroki Kuroda from the Dodgers fell through, tweets Peter Gammons. Bedard, of course, ended up in Boston, while the acquisition of Harden was nixed by Red Sox medical staff.
- It's unclear whether the Indians were the team that placed a waiver claim on the Rays' B.J. Upton, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, but it'd make sense for the Tribe to do so. Outfielders Michael Brantley and Shin-Soo Choo are banged up, and the Indians were one of the teams interested in Upton prior to the non-waiver trade deadline, according to Hoynes.
- Lost in the shuffle of Jim Thome's first homer since rejoining the Indians was the Major League debut of reliever Nick Hagadone, writes Hoynes. Hagadone, a lefty, was acquired along with Justin Masterson in the deal that sent Victor Martinez to Boston in 2009. That doesn't look like such a bad swap in retrospect, especially if Hagadone turns out to be a solid member of the Tribe's bullpen.
In the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal, we learn how this year's trade deadline could have turned out drastically different..
- The Rockies wanted five of Boston's top prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez: Will Middlebrooks, Kyle Weiland, Josh Reddick, Felix Doubront, and Ryan Lavarnway. The Red Sox would have gotten more than just Jimenez in return as Rosenthal tweets that the Rockies offered Jimenez and outfielder Seth Smith in return for the quintet of prospects. There were other possible fits in such a deal including Ryan Spilborghs, Chris Iannetta, and Rafael Betancourt.
- The Rangers had enough prospects to get Carlos Beltran in addition to Koji Uehara and Mike Adams at the deadline. To do that, they would have needed to take either Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland out of the Adams deal as the Mets are fond of both. Rosenthal was told that one of the two pitchers was in the offer for Beltran.
- The Indians traded their two best pitching prospects to land ace Ubaldo Jimenez but the deal wasn't just for this season. Cleveland is mindful of the big picture and they have their key pieces locked up for the next few years. Jimenez, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Shin-Soo Choo are under control for the next two seasons while Justin Masterson and Chris Perez are under control for the next three. If the Tribe doesn't win in the next few years, they can always flip some of those players for prospects.
John Tomase from the Boston Herald has some notes about several Major League topics in his latest article:
- Tomase reminds us that at the 2009 deadline, the Red Sox reportedly offered the Mariners any five of the following prospects in exchange for Felix Hernandez: Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Michael Bowden, Josh Reddick, Yamaico Navarro, Nick Hagadone, Felix Doubront, and Justin Masterson. While a Boston official disputed the specific names, Tomase says the reports were in the ballpark.
- Regarding a trade though, Tomase quotes King Felix himself as saying that he wants to stay in Seattle: "I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m not trying to think about it. I’d love to stay here (with the Mariners). I’m part of Seattle now and I’d like to be in Seattle."
- San Diego's Anthony Rizzo, acquired in the Adrian Gonzalez trade, is off to a blazing start at Triple-A. Rizzo has posted a monstrous line of .400/.471/.744 with seven homers, eight doubles, and a triple through 102 PAs, but despite that production the Padres aren't giving up on Brad Hawpe yet. Manager Bud Black cites Hawpe's career success, but it'll be hard to ignore his .149/.194/.194 line much longer.
- Manny Ramirez's abrupt retirement had many questioning a Rays' lineup that was struggling to score runs, but as Tomase points out, the Rays have gone 14-5 since Manny called it quits. The Rays were 0-6 with Manny on board.
Tomase's article also features several more quotes from Felix on his appreciation for Seattle as well and is a good read all-around.
Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Alex Speier of WEEI.com that Carlos Santana has fully recovered from last year’s knee injury and shouldn't face any limitations this season. He sure looked good when he dove to start a triple play over the weekend. Here are some highlights from Antonetti’s conversation with Speier:
- The Indians expect Justin Masterson to build on last year’s success and become a reliable major league starter.
- Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price, the prospects Cleveland acquired in the Victor Martinez deal “have a chance to contribute to [the Indians’] major league pitching staff in the near future,” Antonetti said.
- Dealing Martinez wasn’t easy, but Antonetti knows difficult trades are part of the game. “Nearly every team faces the reality that it can’t retain every player it values,” he said. “Inevitably some players will leave via free agency and some players will be traded prior to reaching that point.
- Antonetti says the Indians are on their way to becoming a championship caliber club. “The timing of our success will largely depend upon how quickly this group transitions from a collection of young players with potential to a championship caliber team that consistently produces at the Major League level,” Antonetti said.
Paul Hoynes and Terry Pluto at the Cleveland Plain Dealer have the latest on the Tribe....
- In a mailbag, Hoynes explains that the Indians likely didn't consider bringing back Manny Ramirez because they preferred to add a player who could handle the outfield - like Austin Kearns.
- Within the same article, Hoynes says that the Red Sox have approached the Indians multiple times about the possibility of re-acquiring Justin Masterson. The Indians aren't likely to move the right-hander, but Hoynes points out they'd be "silly not to listen."
- Hoynes also adds that he still thinks Jeremy Bonderman could become an Indian, on a minor league deal. However, he doesn't see the team signing Kevin Millwood unless the veteran's asking price goes down.
- In a separate piece, Fausto Carmona tells Hoynes that he's happy in Cleveland and unfazed by trade rumors involving him: "I never read the newspaper in the Dominican Republic. I can't control the situation. A lot of people see something on the Internet and call me and say do you know about this trade? I just tell them I'm ready to play, no matter what the situation."
- Pluto says he's come around on the Orlando Cabrera signing after finding out it was only for $1MM. He notes that, if Cabrera plays well, the Tribe could turn him into a midseason trade chip as they did with Russell Branyan last year.
Spring Training hasn't begun yet, but ESPN.com's Buster Olney gets a head start on the summer's trade rumors by listing some pitchers who could be available this July. James Shields, Joe Blanton and Edwin Jackson are possible trade candidates, but as Olney points out, it's entirely possible that those starters won't be available and others will be on the block. Here are the details:
- The perception around the league is that the Pirates have been willing to talk about trading Paul Maholm. The left-hander is likely a year away from free agency, so the Pirates could shop him if they aren't interested in keeping him. Maholm earns $5.75MM this year and after the season the Pirates can exercise a $9.75MM buyout for 2012 or pay a $750K buyout.
- Fausto Carmona is "going to draw a lot of interest," but the Indians would ask for top prospects in exchange for Carmona who is young (27) and signed to a team-friendly contract.
- Justin Masterson will "continue to draw interest because of his past success and his versatility," Olney writes.
- Olney guesses that Mets GM Sandy Alderson would prefer not to talk to the Wilpons about their financial situation. By avoiding those conversations, Alderson can focus on baseball and avoid being drawn into a legal case.
After a morning of headlines involving Zack Greinke, let's not forget that there are still plenty of trade targets and free agents remaining on the market. Nick Cafardo has the latest updates on a few of them in his newest piece for the Boston Globe....
- The Red Sox have been listening to offers for Jonathan Papelbon. When the team made a three-year, $51MM offer to Mariano Rivera, the assumption was that, on the off chance Rivera accepted, Papelbon wouldn't be back next season.
- Even if Papelbon remains a Red Sox through 2011, there's an understanding that he'll explore the free agent market. Boston only expects to re-sign him if he agrees to a team-friendly deal like those signed by Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Jon Lester.
- The article names the Rangers and Angels as a couple teams who could have interest in trading for Papelbon, though it appears to be mostly speculation on Cafardo's part.
- While the Rangers and Halos also appear to be the two leading suitors for Adrian Beltre, Cafardo wonders if a mystery team could be involved, given the silence surrounding the third baseman lately. As we learned during the Cliff Lee derby, you can never entirely rule out those ever-looming mystery teams.
- Cafardo writes that Carl Pavano likely won't sign until at least later this week, unless a team ponies up and makes him an offer in the ballpark of $36MM over three years. Of course, at the time Cafardo's column was published, the Brewers' acquisition of Greinke wasn't confirmed. With Greinke off the table, teams who missed out on the Royals' ace may feel a greater sense of urgency to get something done with Pavano. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports suggests that a reunion with the Twins appears likely for Pavano, following the Greinke trade.
- The Red Sox have tried to re-acquire Justin Masterson from the Indians, but have been denied so far.
- Gabe Kapler would like to keep playing, and is "waiting for the right situation."
1:16pm: The Red Sox liked Matt Guerrier well enough to offer him a two-year deal, but the Dodgers offered a third guaranteed year and the right-hander has agreed to play for Los Angeles. The Red Sox will have to move on to other targets as they look to round out their 'pen. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has the details on what he says is the biggest challenge of the offseason for GM Theo Epstein.
Two former Twins, right-hander Jesse Crain and left-hander Brian Fuentes are the team’s priorities now. The Red Sox are also considering trades and would “love” to reacquire Justin Masterson, according to Cafardo. The Indians have been reluctant to part with Masterson, whom they acquired in the 2009 Victor Martinez trade.
There are a number of alternatives for Epstein to pursue, including Indians relievers Joe Smith and Rafael Perez, who “could be on Boston’s radar.” The A’s are likely willing to listen on their relievers and the Mariners would listen on David Aardsma, Cafardo writes.
The Red Sox tried to reacquire Justin Masterson before the July 31st trade deadline, according to the MLB Network's Peter Gammons on Twitter. The Indians, who obtained Masterson from Boston in the 2009 Victor Martinez deal, told the Red Sox 'no thanks.' Last night, Masterson pitched five strong innings and beat his former teammates, who are now 6.5 games out of a playoff spot.
For the season, Masterson has a 5.40 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9. With those numbers, Masterson could start for many teams (Masterson's numbers are eerily similar to those of Edwin Jackson). Still, it's likely that the Red Sox, who have a full stable of starters, had interest in bringing Masterson back as a reliever and spot starter. The 25-year-old has a clearly-defined role in Cleveland's rotation and he seems to enjoy the stability.
"It’s a good spot to be in," Masterson told MLBTR over the weekend. "It has given me a great opportunity to be a starter and hopefully be one of the integral parts here."
The sides didn't necessarily come close to a deal, even if Masterson's name came up in conversation. Cleveland controls his rights through 2014 and Masterson figures to be a part of the team's rotation for a while, so it's no surprise that the Indians weren't motivated to move him.