Justin Morneau Rumors
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new Full Count video up, so let's recap...
- Don't be surprised if the Twins consider trading Justin Morneau. The first baseman is owed $14MM both this season and next, and Minnesota likely needs the position for Joe Mauer long-term. Denard Span, Matt Capps, and Carl Pavano could also be on the block, but Morneau offers hard-to-find power. He has a no-trade clause but the extent is unknown.
- The Phillies hold a $5MM option for 2013 on catcher Carlos Ruiz and an extension is warranted, but at 33 years old, Chooch is three years older than Yadier Molina and four years older than Miguel Montero. They aren't contract comparables.
- This year's crop of free agent center fielders stand to benefit from Adam Jones' new six-year, $88.5MM extension, but age will again be a factor. B.J. Upton will be 28 next season and is two years younger than Michael Bourn and four years younger than Shane Victorino. All three will hit the open market after the season.
- Josh Hamilton is unlikely to sign a contract extension with the Rangers, and the lack of comparable players (both on and off the field) make him even more likely to hit the open market. It's possible the only way to determine his actual value is to let other teams bid for his services as a free agent.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that he doesn’t mind the constant discussion surrounding Aroldis Chapman’s role. "I like it. It creates interest in our club, and that's all good,” Jocketty said. “Everybody has a theory on it.” The GM says Chapman would like to start, and that the left-hander will remain in the bullpen for the 2012 season. Here are the rest of Stark’s notes and rumors:
- Twins people have told rival teams they aren’t likely to trade Justin Morneau this summer.
- When teams have asked about Denard Span, the Twins have said they aren’t interested in making trades right now, Stark reports. However, there are indications the Twins will listen on Span if the offers are good enough.
- Stark hears that the Nationals don’t consider Bryce Harper the answer in center field.
- Scouts and executives from three teams say they don’t have interest in Adam Lind, who was recently optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
- The Braves are more likely to pursue an impact starting pitcher than a hitter this summer, according to rival teams. GM Frank Wren maintains that Kris Medlen is “probably better than any arm who will be available.” Medlen could join the rotation midseason, according to Wren.
- Rival teams say the Orioles would like to upgrade at first base and/or third base.
- Stark hears that Angels manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t have to worry about his job security. The skipper is under contract through 2018.
The Braves played their first ever game in Atlanta on this date in 1966. The contest featured two home runs from Joe Torre, but the Pirates won 3-2. Here are today's links...
- Ian Kinsler recently signed an extension with the Rangers, even though he was already under team control through 2013. How about Dustin Pedroia, who’s under contract through 2014 with an $11MM club option for for 2015? Pedroia tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he wants to stay in Boston and play for the Red Sox. His agent, Seth Levinson, says "Dustin's value far transcends his statistics."
- Manager Jim Leyland said the Tigers were "quietly interested" in Fernando Rodney before he signed with the Rays, MLB.com's Jason Beck reports. The former Tigers reliever has yet to allow a baserunner in four outings with his new club.
- Former Expos GM Omar Minaya explained to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the deal that sent Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee and Grady Sizemore to Cleveland occurred under highly unusual circumstances. “Long-term, we were going to be contracted,” he said. “And if you were going to be contracted, the No. 1 priority was to be as competitive as you can.” Minaya, now the Padres’ senior VP of baseball operations, and Mark Shapiro of the Indians completed the fateful Bartolo Colon trade ten years ago.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com couldn’t find any GMs interested in trading for Justin Morneau. The Twins first baseman earns $14MM per season in 2012 and 2013, but Bowden wonders if the Rangers or Yankees could show interest later this summer.
Justin Morneau has played just 69 games since being concussed July of 2010, and there's no guarantee his troubles are over with. The 30-year-old first baseman acknowledged that concussion symptoms could end his career, according to Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
“I don’t think there will be a career if it’s something I’m dealing with," he said. “That’s the reality of the whole thing. I’m obviously not going to continue to mess around with this if it continues to be a problem. There comes a point where you can only torture yourself for so long."
Morneau explained that he enjoys playing baseball, but finds it frustrating not to be able to contribute on the field. He's under contract for $14MM in 2012 and the same amount in 2013. Morneau is a four-time All-Star who won the 2006 American League MVP at the age of 25.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joined 1500 ESPN's Talkin' Twins show last night and said the Twins are attempting to put together a team that can win even if Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau aren’t ready for Opening Day. “I think that's a pretty good idea,” Gardenhire said. “If we have those guys back on the field, which I believe we will... we'll have a heck of a baseball team." Here are more details on the Twins’ offseason plans, via Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com:
- The team has made offers to some of its current free agents. The Twins are “making a mad effort” to sign Michael Cuddyer and they’d “love to have” Jason Kubel back. However, re-signing both players isn’t necessarily realistic.
- Matt Capps struggled in 2011 and could bring the Twins a compensatory draft pick in 2012, but the team is working to re-sign him. Gardenhire would like to bring the right-hander back because he’s a “great teammate and a good pitcher” who pitched through pain in 2011, even though the results weren’t there and “people got frustrated with him.” The 28-year-old posted a 4.25 ERA with 4.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 65 2/3 innings in 2011 and his peripheral stats were significantly worse than they were in 2010.
- Gardenhire said his entire 2012 rotation is “not necessarily” on the Twins roster just yet.
Twins GM Bill Smith told ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are totally committed to arriving at Spring Training in top physical form. The Twins’ chances in 2012 revolve around Mauer, who had knee surgery in December, and Morneau, who is recovering from concussion symptoms. Here are the rest of Olney’s notes from around MLB...
- Mauer has discussed a ‘rigorous’ training program with the Twins’ staff.
- The Twins will also have to restructure their bullpen and decide how Tsuyoshi Nishioka fits into their plans this offseason.
- The Mets are expected to listen to offers for David Wright, who would presumably draw interest from the Rockies and Angels, among others.
- Rival teams are in awe of the Royals’ collection of promising position players, Olney writes. Kansas City is still waiting for its pitching prospects to develop.
Ryan Braun's $105MM, five-year contract extension through 2020 seemed like it came out of nowhere, but a ton of other young stars also appear to be in line for new deals, writes Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. Heyman runs down the 20-somethings that could get hefty contract extensions and touches on a few other things in today's column..
- Giants ace Tim Lincecum won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season, but San Francisco would be wise to lock him up before his arbitration numbers get out of hand. A third Cy Young season could potentially bring Lincecum from $14MM into the $25MM range and possibly to $30MM in '13. Heyman expects a deal to get done, even if it costs the club a fortune. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes touched on the Lincecum situation here and here, and will have much more on the topic next week.
- Similarly, there's no reason to think the Yankees would let Robinson Cano leave in the prime of his career. The Bombers have options for 2012 and '13 at $14MM and $15MM, respectively, and will obviously exercise them. Look for the Yanks to get a deal done with the second baseman, but only after the Scott Boras client files for free agency.
- Reds slugger Joey Votto will hit the open market after 2013 and it would be wise for the club to lock him up as the youngster continues to improve. This winter he signed a three-year, $38MM to take care of his arbitration years, but his rate will presumably rise after that deal is up. Heyman believes that the Reds will lock up Votto, just as they did with Jay Bruce. This winter, Cincinnati signed the right fielder to a six-year, $51MM deal.
- Even though the Marlins' poor attendance would seem to indicate that the club doesn't have the funds to sign Josh Johnson to a new deal, they are on their way to a brand-new facility in the near future. Putting that aside, they're still in the black. His $39MM, four-year deal goes through 2013 but his next contract should easily top that.
- If you're a Halos fan looking to purchase a Jered Weaver jersey, you may want to reconsider. Heyman writes that the right-hander is all but a goner in two years. Agent Scott Boras is talking his client up and the Angels don't have a history of keeping their top free agents anyway. It's possible that the next Dodgers owner, assuming there is one, could talk the Simi Valley product into a homecoming.
- It may come as a surprise to some, but Heyman predicts that Andre Ethier will remain with the Dodgers beyond 2012. GM Ned Colletti is believed to want to lock up Ethier along with Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Even though the Dodgers' situation is probably too messy for anything to get done right away, they have to act fast to keep the 29-year-old.
- You can also expect the Dodgers to work something out with Kemp, who is also a free agent after 2012.
- Of the 33 players that Heyman profiles, he expects most to get new deals done with their respective clubs. Some of the players that we may see elsewhere: John Danks, Shin Soo-Choo, Jonathan Sanchez, Justin Morneau, Grady Sizemore, and Shaun Marcum.
- TV magnate Burt Sugarman is one name believed to be in the mix among potential buyers of the Dodgers. Investment banker Jason Reese and billionaire Ron Burkle are also in the mix. Burkle is teaming with former Dodgers great Steve Garvey.
As I get ready to settle in for more overnight coverage for our around-the-clock coverage of the 2010 Winter Meetings, here's some Twins info for you fellow creatures of the night, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III:
- It will be up to Twins manager Ron Gardenhire whether or not Tsuyoshi Nishioka will play second base or shortstop if the Twins sign the Japanese batting champ. That decision, of course, will likely impact the club's plans for J.J. Hardy, who is known to be on the trading block. Earlier tonight we learned that the Twins offered Nishioka a multiyear deal.
- Twins GM Bill Smith wouldn't rule out the possibility of Hardy, Nishioka, and Alexi Casilla all being on the roster in 2011, but remember that Gardenhire did voice a desire for more speed (which Casilla has and Hardy does not).
- Neal wonders if the Twins would pursue Joel Hanrahan in a potential Hardy deal with Pittsburgh. It's a logical target, but we heard earlier today that any return for Hanrahan or Evan Meek would need to be "very significant." One year of Hardy doesn't fit that bill if you ask me.
- Smith told Neal that he doesn't think the ship on Carl Pavano has sailed. Pavano and agent Tom O'Connell are in no hurry to sign, though Neal mentions that Twins Assistant GM Rob Antony was supposed to meet with O'Connell today.
- Justin Morneau's doctor doesn't think there's any doubt that he'll be ready to take the field in Spring Training. Morneau was enjoying perhaps the best season in all of MLB prior to suffering a concussion just before the All-Star Break.
- Another injured Twins All-Star, Joe Nathan, is making strong progress in his return. The Twins tendered Matt Capps a contract this past week, likely as insurance for the ninth inning should Nathan not be ready early on in 2011. Even with a healthy Nathan, Minnesota's bullpen needs some work, as four of their relievers are hitting free agency.
- Neal doesn't think the Twins have a chance to bring back Jesse Crain or Matt Guerrier in 2011. Both relievers have been connected to multiple teams. Neither will cost a draft pick to sign.
- Neal heard that the Twins have some interest in Sean White, though he cautions that he's checking to see if that rumor is still current.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reflects on Eric Byrnes' time with the D'Backs.
- Skip Schumaker tells MLB.com's Matthew Leach that he and the Cardinals are nearing an agreement on a 2010 contract.
- MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets that the Marlins were willing to offer $20MM to Aroldis Chapman.
- MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes that a handful of teams have contacted Jim Thome, including the Rays, though nothing is imminent.
- Owner Tom Ricketts defended general manager Jim Hendry this Saturday at the Cubs' annual convention, according to Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.
- Shi Davidi from the Canadian Press spoke with both Justin Morneau and Jeff Francis at Baseball Canada's Annual Awards Banquet Saturday. Morneau expects to begin full workouts in a couple of weeks as a season-ending stress fracture in his back appears to have healed without issue. Francis is recovering from shoulder surgery but expects to be ready for Spring Training.
- Bill Ladson tweets that Ryan Zimmerman thinks the Nationals are having their best offseason since he's been with the organization. Some of the larger moves we've seen the Nats make include signing Jason Marquis, Matt Capps, and Ivan Rodriguez, in addition to trading for Brian Bruney.
- Eric Chavez told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he is comfortable with shifting to a utility role after the addition of third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff.
- Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter) "overheard" that the Brewers will sign at least one more pitcher. Recently, Milwaukee outrighted pitcher Omar Aguilar to Triple-A, though assistant GM Gord Ash claimed it wasn't in anticipation of an acquisition.
- ESPN's Buster Olney writes that the Marlins didn't give Josh Johnson an extension just to appease the "Powers That Be". Those within the organization expected the deal to get done well before the joint press release from the commissioner's office and the players' union.
- Olney also writes that the Marlins are still looking for bullpen help and will sift through the remaining free agent relievers, including Kiko Calero. Florida declined to offer arbitration to Calero, to avoid giving him a raise on his $500K salary in 2009.
MLB.com's Kelly Thesier answered a few e-mails from fans in regard to what Minnesota might have up its sleeve in the offseason, and here are some of the most notable bits of news from the piece...
- Thesier said that though talks between the Twins and Joe Mauer about a contract extension haven't yet begun, "don't take Mauer's patience to mean that the catcher isn't interested in signing an extension." Thesier also noted a possible good omen for Minnesota fans --- Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, also represented single-franchise stars Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken Jr.
- Justin Morneau should be recovered from minor wrist surgery in four weeks' time, and looks to start rehabbing his injured back by the middle of November.
- Top prospect Danny Valencia will need a big performance in spring training to win the third base job, given that the 25-year-old didn't even receive a call-up last September.
- Money may be the only thing that prevents Minnesota from re-signing Orlando Cabrera, since the Twins "appreciated" his contribution to their AL Central crown.