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A.J. Burnett will prove to be a bargain for the Pirates, Joe Starkey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. The Pirates have a great record with recent free agents like Russell Martin and Edinson Volquez, and Burnett is still a strikeout pitcher. He’ll also be recovered from a hernia issue that dogged him in 2014, and he’ll have a more favorable ballpark and defense than he had in Philadelphia. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Potential offseason extension candidates include NL Central and AL Central players like Josh Harrison of the Pirates, Corey Kluber of the Indians, and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas of the Royals, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com writes. It will be awhile before Kluber can really cash in on his AL Cy Young award win, Castrovince notes — he isn’t eligible for free agency until after 2018, by which point he’ll be heading into his age-33 season. Extending him now would give the Indians cost certainty through his arbitration seasons. As Castrovince points out, extensions for Harrison, Hosmer and Moustakas don’t appear that likely — the Pirates would probably like to see how Harrison performs in 2015, and Hosmer and Moustakas are represented by Scott Boras, who may prefer to see what his players might get in free agency in a few years. Also, neither Hosmer nor Moustakas were nearly as impressive in the regular season as they were in the playoffs.
- GM John Mozeliak says the Cardinals aren’t heavily involved in the market for Asian players right now, Fangraphs’ David Laurila tweets. Mozeliak does add that the Cardinals can’t totally ignore that market, however. The GM’s answer came in response to a question about Japanese phenom Shohei Otani, who struck out 179 batters in 155 1/3 innings and threw 101 MPH as a pitcher, as well as hitting .274/.338/.505 as an outfielder for the Nippon Ham Fighters last season. Otani is probably many years away from playing in the US, if he ever does, but MLB scouts are keeping an eye on him, for obvious reasons.
Twins GM Terry Ryan is “doing well” after his bout with throat cancer, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. The 61-year-old still is experiencing various forms of discomfort, but has completed radiation and is back at full force in the Minnesota front office.
Here’s more out of the American League:
- The Tigers will not pursue Torii Hunter after inking Victor Martinez and trading for Anthony Gose, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters today, including George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “I called and said it just didn’t look like it was going to fit the way the club was getting put together,” Dombrowski said. “Thanked him for everything. Absolutely love him. If something changes where we make some changes for one reason or another, that we’re not anticipating, we would still be open. It’s just probably not much of a fit right now.” Hunter indicated in an Instagram post that he still intends to play in 2015.
- The Blue Jays recently met with free agent lefty Andrew Miller, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Miller figures to be a highly sought-after relief weapon. Toronto has definite pen needs, as Nicholson-Smith’s colleague, Shi Davidi, told me on this week’s podcast, and as MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk wrote in previewing the club’s offseason.
- Free agent utility man Emilio Bonifacio is receiving interest from his former teams, including the Blue Jays and Royals, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets. (Cotillo also lists the Cubs as a team with possible interest.) Bonifacio should have his pick of situations given his versatility and place on the market.
- The Red Sox have promoted Mike Rikard to become the team’s scouting director, according to a tweet from Clint Longenecker, formerly of Baseball America. He replaces Amiel Sawdaye, who will be promoted to a vice president role, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter). Longenecker himself is moving on to join the Indians, Baseball America’s John Manuel tweets.
A report yesterday indicated that Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas would fly to the United States this weekend to meet with agent Jay Alou, and a deal could be close. However, Alou himself noted that Tomas will meet with four teams in the next 48 hours, suggesting that it may be too early to say they’re on the brink of signing. MLBTR’s own Tim Dierkes reported that three of the four clubs would be viewed by the public as “very unlikely” teams, so there are some dark horses at play. One could be the Giants, who Peter Gammons reported are interested in Tomas as a third baseman.
All that info is just from yesterday, and the link above has even more details. We’ll keep track of today’s Tomas rumors in this post…
- MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets that Tomas is spending his 24th birthday (which is today — happy birthday Yasmany!) in the Dominican Republic working out for the Royals at a number of positions, including center field.
- The Royals saw Tomas just yesterday in the Dominican Republic, tweets Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. While club officials remain doubtful that they’ll have the money to land him, the team is making an effort to sign Tomas, he adds.
- The Twins have been listed as a team with interest and would certainly fit Tim’s dark horse label, but Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted yesterday that Minnesota isn’t close to anything with Tomas.
The Indians are kicking the tires on a familiar name, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports they’ve reached out to Justin Masterson about a potential return. The Indians are likely interested in Masterson only on a one-year deal, which, as Hoynes notes, may be the preferred option for Masterson anyway. Masterson pitched through a number of injuries last season, and if he’s healthy in 2015, he could be a prime rebound candidate and position himself for a much nicer deal on the open market in 2015-16.
More from Hoynes and more from the AL Central…
- Hoynes also refutes previous reports that the Indians would have some interest in buying low on Ubaldo Jimenez. Though Jimenez had one of his best seasons in Cleveland under pitching coach Mickey Callaway, the organization isn’t interested in trying to fix the inconsistent righty.
- Both Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are non-tender candidates for the Royals, but Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (via Twitter) that the team is still considering tendering each a contract due to a lack of MLB-ready replacement options.
- In his latest Twins Inbox, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports that the Twins began their search for a pitching coach with at least 30 names and seem likely to go outside the organization to fill the role. He also discusses potential free agent targets for the Twins, noting that the team is expected to pursue second-tier starting pitcher options such as Brandon McCarthy and Jason Hammel or bounceback candidates such as Masterson and Brett Anderson. Bollinger also expects the Twins to sign a corner outfielder, though he notes Torii Hunter‘s desire to play for a contender basically rules out a return to Minnesota.
Reds GM Walt Jocketty is of the mindset that his team will need to either be “all in” or “all out” in 2015, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. In other words, if the Reds decide to trade one of four starters who is eligible for free agency following the 2015 season — Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon — others may very well follow. Sherman lists Jay Bruce and Aroldis Chapman as names to watch if Cincinnati does elect to go into a full rebuild. Both can be free agents after 2016, though the Reds have a club option on Bruce for the 2017 season.
Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…
- Sherman also tweets that the Cubs aren’t likely to spend big on a closer this winter, which seemingly eliminates a potential suitor for David Robertson. Earlier today, reports indicated that Robertson is seeking a contract comparable to Jonathan Papelbon‘s four-year, $50MM contract.
- The Tigers are willing to listen to offers on Alex Avila, tweets the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Avila has a $5.4MM club option for his final arb year and was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn the same amount in arbitration. Cafardo notes that the Braves and Red Sox are both looking for left-handed bats. While both have inexperienced catchers (Christian Bethancourt and Christian Vasquez, respectively), adding Avila would limit each team’s ability to get an extended look at how their young backstop handles a full workload.
- John Manuel of Baseball America tweets that the Tigers‘ defense up the middle in 2015 could be special with Jose Iglesias and the newly acquired Anthony Gose. He also notes that Devon Travis, who went to the Blue Jays in the deal, now has a clear shot to Major League playing time that he may not have had in Detroit.
- The Royals could scout Yasmany Tomas in the Dominican Republic next week, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. Royals officials will be in the Dominican Republic on other business anyway and met with Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, earlier this week at the GM Meetings. The team’s payroll could surpass the $100MM mark for the first time next season, and there’s perhaps room for one significant expenditure such as Tomas, Ervin Santana or Melky Cabrera, McCullough writes.
- Billy Butler is receiving interest from a number of clubs — even one National League club — tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The interest in Butler likely means that a return to the Royals isn’t the best fit, he adds. McCullough reported Tuesday that K.C. doesn’t seem inclined to go beyond two years to retain Butler.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel wonders if the Brewers will consider trading a starting pitcher (Twitter link). The Brew Crew needs some payroll flexibility, and the Braves are one team that has been poking around at the GM Meetings.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Avila | Alfredo Simon | Aroldis Chapman | Atlanta Braves | Billy Butler | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | David Robertson | Detroit Tigers | Ervin Santana | Jay Bruce | Johnny Cueto | Jonathan Papelbon | Kansas City Royals | Mat Latos | Melky Cabrera | Mike Leake | Milwaukee Brewers | Toronto Blue Jays | Yasmany Tomas
The Royals have yet to begin extension talks with manager Ned Yost, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports. “There’s a progression in the offseason. There’s a sequential way we’re doing things. Right now, we’re focused on other things,” GM Dayton Moore said, in reference to the team’s roster. Whenever negotiations take place, there’s no doubt Yost will eventually get a fresh new contract from the team in the wake of the Royals’ unexpected postseason performance. Here’s the latest from the AL Central…
- Also from McCullough (Twitter links), a group of Royals officials are en route from the GM Meetings to organizational meetings in the Dominican Republic where they could watch Yasmany Tomas work out. The Royals are a recently new addition to the list of teams interested in Tomas, though McCullough says K.C. has “scouted Tomas extensively, but quietly, leading up to this winter.”
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn will listen to other teams’ offers for Alexei Ramirez as he would for any player, though Hahn tells reporters (including Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune) that the Sox aren’t looking to trade their shortstop. “Being strong up the middle is the priority for any good club, and we don’t intend to take a step back there,” Hahn said. “We’re open-minded and we have depth in the area, so it’s reasonable to hear his name out there. I get that, but it’s certainly not something we’re pursuing on our end or are eager to convert on.”
- The Tigers have been talking to Joel Hanrahan about a minor league contract, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (via Twitter). Hanrahan signed a one-year, $1MM Major League deal with Detroit in May but didn’t pitch at all last season as he suffered a setback in his recovery from May 2013 Tommy John surgery.
- Scott Bream is staying in his current position as the Tigers director of pro scouting, Turner Sports’ Scott Miller tweets. The Dodgers had reportedly been on the verge of hiring Bream to join their front office.
- Twins righty Ricky Nolasco‘s three-team no-trade clause has been updated for this offseason, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Twitter link). All three teams are “big-market” AL clubs, so Berardino speculates that the Yankees and Red Sox are included.
- The Twins have hired Gene Glynn as their third base coach, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).
- The Indians could look for small upgrades rather than a big splash in free agency, GM Chris Antonetti told reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman). “I think what we would look for from the free-agent market is something to complement our roster,” Antonetti said. “I don’t think we are going to be in the free-agent market to add a cornerstone player.”
Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…
- The Cubs claimed right-hander Donn Roach off waivers from the Padres, according to a Cubs press release. Roach was designated for assignment by San Diego last week. Roach, an Angels third-round pick in the 2010 draft, joined the Padres as part of the Ernesto Frieri trade in May 2012. He made his Major League debut in 2014, posting a 4.75 ERA in 30 1/3 IP for San Diego.
- Outfielder Roger Kieschnick has cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Angels‘ Triple-A affiliate, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Kieschnick was claimed off waivers from the D’Backs last month and was DFA’ed by the Angels earlier this week.
- The Royals have signed veteran infielder Ryan Roberts and left-hander Joe Paterson to minor league contracts, the team announced (via Twitter). Both deals contain Spring Training invites. Roberts signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox in April and appeared in eight games for the club, though he spent most of his season at Triple-A Pawtucket. Paterson pitched 34 innings out of the Diamondbacks bullpen in 2011 but only 6 1/3 Major League innings since. The southpaw has posted strong numbers in the minors over his career, notching a 2.75 ERA, 2.75 K/BB rate and 358 strikeouts over 356 1/3 innings, all in Arizona’s farm system.
Rebuilding is no longer a word the White Sox want to be associated with, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune reports. “We sit here on the one hand realizing that we have the prime of Chris Sale‘s career ahead of us, the prime of Jose Abreu‘s career ahead of us and wanting to make sure we’re in a position to capitalize and win within that window,” Hahn said. “We want to win, we want to win again quickly and we want to win again repeatedly in the coming years. … We still have work to do to continue that process.” At the same time, Hahn emphasized today that the team has to avoid the “dangerous allure to wanting to make a splash,” as Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune reports in the course of an interesting look at the team’s options.
Here’s the latest from the AL Central after a busy news day:
- The White Sox are currently focused on acquiring a right-handed starter, bullpen additions, and a left-handed hitter, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports on Twitter. While the club has in the past looked into dealing for backstops such as Jason Castro of the Astros and Yasmani Grandal of the Padres, that does not appear to be the priority at present, per Rosenthal. Nevertheless, Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com indicates on Twitter that the team does have present interest in Castro.
- Hahn said today that Chicago is interested in multiple relief acquisitions, as MLB.com’s Phil Rogers reports. “We don’t feel the need to go out and get a so-called proven closer,” said Hahn. “We certainly want to have multiple upgrades, and if some of those upgrades give us viable back-end options, that’s great.”
- Word is that the Royals will meet with the representatives of lefty Brett Anderson this week, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. GM Dayton Moore declined to confirm or deny that or any other meetings. I picked Anderson to go to Kansas City in the MLBTR free agent prediction contest, and think he makes sense for a club that has some added cash to spend on an upside play.
- The Royals have told Raul Ibanez that they would be interested in employing him in a non-playing capacity, tweets McCullough. Ibanez, of course, is in the hunt for the Rays’ open managerial position, and perhaps it is still to early to rule out a return to an active roster as well.
- Victor Martinez is at the top of the Tigers‘ list of priorities, writes Paul Hagen of MLB.com, as GM Dave Dombrowski made clear that the team will make every effort to re-sign the DH. The team is still interested in outgoing free agents Max Scherzer and Joba Chamberlain, per Dombrowski, but he said the club is sitting back while both assess their markets.
Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas will celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday, and it will surely be a happy one given the lucrative contract on the horizon. Yesterday, agent Jay Alou explained the Phillies’ standing in the Tomas derby, telling reporters including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, “There are several teams that I could say are frontrunners, but yes (the Phillies are one of them).” Surprisingly, the Phillies have yet to make a formal offer, but Alou says, “It will all get going soon.”
Today’s Tomas rumors…
- Tomas is drawing interest from the Orioles, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal also notes on Twitter that the chase for Tomas is still heating up, with two teams set to visit him in the Dominican next week and others still weighing pursuit.
- The Royals have entered the Tomas sweepstakes, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Royals don’t feel that Tomas has the same type of advanced hitting skills that countryman Jose Abreu brought to the division-rival White Sox, but they have a need for a right fielder and feel his defense is at least adequate. The Royals like Melky Cabrera as well but Tomas would allow them to preserve their first-round pick, whereas Cabrera received and rejected a qualifying offer from Toronto.
- The Phillies, Padres and Giants have each seen Tomas three times, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He also reports that agent Jay Alou rejected an eight-year offer (though he doesn’t specify the value), preferring a five to seven year term to get Tomas onto the open market again around his age-30 season. The Mariners also like Tomas but aren’t expected to outbid other clubs, according to Heyman.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers aren’t likely to sign Tomas. Starting pitching is said to be the team’s top priority, and sources tell Wilson that the Rangers have informed Alou that their resources will be dedicated to that goal.
- How about the $100MM figure that has been bandied about for Tomas? “I don’t know where that came from, but he’d be happy and I’d be happy,” says Alou. In my September profile of Tomas, I posited a seven-year, $105MM contract. More recently, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports went with eight years and $100MM, an agent who spoke to Heyman said seven years and $93MM, and a GM said eight years, $100MM. Eight years is an interesting call, because that would mean Tomas would be giving up a potential valuable free agent season. Seven would be more aligned with typical MLB service time for a top prospect, who can put in just shy of seven years before reaching free agency if called up a few weeks into the season.
- Yesterday, Jorge Arangure Jr. had an excellent profile of Tomas for Vice Sports. In it, Arangure said Tomas will likely choose a team from the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, and Padres, who have all scouted the player several times. Tomas’ Dominican-based trainer Raul Javier, asked when the player would sign, replied, “Very soon.”
The Royals will meet with Billy Butler‘s agents from the Legacy Agency today to discuss the possibility of re-signing their DH, reports ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). However, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star gets the sense (Twitter link) that the Royals aren’t interested in going beyond a two-year deal to retain Butler, whose $12.5MM club option was declined in favor of a $1MM buyout.
Butler has spent his entire career with the Royals and owns a lifetime .295/.359/.449 batting line. However, his offense took a step back in 2013, and he graded out as a below-average hitter (95 OPS+) in 2014. I doubt that two years is of too much interest to a 29-year-old free agent, although the market for Butler is more limited than it is for most players, as he figures to only draw interest from AL clubs, and those with full-time DHs obviously won’t be a factor in his market.