Kelly Johnson Rumors

Rosenthal On Red Sox, Blue Jays, Greinke, A’s

We hear a lot of talk about buyers and sellers this time of year, but as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports points out in his latest column, some teams will do neither this summer and other teams will do both. Here are Rosenthal’s latest notes with less than four weeks to go before July 31st:

  • The Red Sox could be positioned to trade an outfielder this month if their rehabbing players return as expected. Boston figures to pursue starting depth in trades; the Red Sox aren’t considering trades involving Josh Beckett.
  • The Yankees will probably not sign Josh Hamilton or Cole Hamels this offseason, since they aim to avoid the MLB luxury tax by 2014 and that means cutting back on extravagant free agent signings.
  • Under GM Frank Wren the Braves won more games while spending less money than every team but the Rays from 2009-11, Rosenthal notes. 
  • If the Blue Jays trade players on the brink of free agency such as Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson, they’d look to acquire players who can help them win next year. And if the Blue Jays don’t like what other teams are offering, they’ll keep their potential free agents. Toronto’s not likely to overpay in a “go for it” trade, Rosenthal writes.
  • The Blue Jays aren’t trading Colby Rasmus, who has become more driven, according to a team official. 
  • Rosenthal suggests the Athletics could look to acquire players midseason if they stay in the playoff mix. Bartolo Colon is the player the A’s are most likely to trade, Rosenthal writes.
  • The Mets are actively seeking relief help, but it’s highly doubtful they’d trade for Huston Street, who publicly criticized Mets bench coach Bob Geren last year. The Mets, who insist they won’t trade top prospects, are likely to wait until the end of the month before making any trades.
  • The Cardinals wouldn’t be willing to meet the Brewers’ asking price for Zack Greinke, Rosenthal notes. St. Louis is more likely to pursue a mid-rotation starter.
  • The Diamondbacks believe they need a third baseman more than a starting pitcher.

Blue Jays Interested In Starting Pitching

The Blue Jays recently signed Jamie Moyer to add depth to a rotation that's seen Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and Brandon Morrow hit the disabled list in recent weeks, and their search for pitching reinforcements won’t end with the 49-year-old left-hander. Officials of three teams describe the Blue Jays as being in a “full court press” for rotation help, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark reports. The 38-38 Blue Jays maintain a buyer’s stance, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report.

The team recently sent multiple scouts to at least two of Wandy Rodriguez’s starts, Rosenthal and Morosi report. The club has also maintained contact with the Cubs about Matt Garza, FOX reports. The Blue Jays prefer to acquire players who are under team control for an extended period and Rodriguez (team control through 2013 or 2014) and Garza (through 2013) are more than rental players. 

The Blue Jays are giving “little indication” that they intend to trade potential free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson, Rosenthal and Morosi write. Scouts are saying they’ve been told Encarnacion is available for the “right” pitcher, Stark reports. Yet one person told Stark Encarnacion is "not available, as far as I know." Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.com wrote earlier today that the Blue Jays would have multiple suitors if they make Encarnacion available.

Stark suggests the Blue Jays could have interest in recently designated Cubs starter Randy Wells.


AL East Notes: Epstein, Cherington, Encarnacion

It was on this day in 1996 that Cal Ripken Jr. became professional baseball's all-time iron man.  Though Ripken eclipsed Lou Gehrig's Major League record for consecutive games played in 1995, it took a while longer to surpass Japan's Sachio Kinugasa, who played in 2215 NPL straight games between 1970 and 1987.

Here's some news from both Ripken's Orioles and elsewhere around the AL East…

  • Theo Epstein spoke to media (including WEEI.com's Alex Speier) about his days as the Red Sox general manager, noting that he felt some of the club's free agent signings deviated from the franchise's long-term plan and were made due to the pressure of staying competitive.  It's a must-read piece for Red Sox fans, not to mention Cubs fans who could see what Epstein hopes to avoid during his tenure in Chicago.
  • We’re going to go see hundreds of players over the next few weeks,” Red Sox GM Ben Cherington tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. “We may end up just acquiring one of those or none of them. In this particular year, we do believe we’re going to get impact players just by getting healthy. Still, we have to come together. I think this team still will be very good.”
  • The Blue Jays could look to move Edwin Encarnacion, Kelly Johnson or "any bullpen piece" at the trade deadline if the team isn't in serious contention, opines FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi in a radio interview with the Brady & Lang show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan (Sportsnet.ca's Jeff Simmons has a partial transcript).
  • Encarnacion's breakout season could put him in line for a big free agent contract this winter but Morosi says "a lot of GMs are wary" about Encarnacion's ability to play first base on a regular basis. "If you're viewed as a DH, that will affect his valuation going forward," Morosi said.  "So we'll see how often he plays in the field and not having [Vladimir Guerrero] coming will certainly change how often he'll play first base."
  • The Orioles and Blue Jays have both been scouting the Cubs, reports Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago.  Levine specified that Baltimore was looking at the Cubs' starting pitchers and Alfonso Soriano.
  • For more AL East news, check out this batch of Yankees notes and the latest on the Kevin Youkilis trade rumors.


East Notes: Loria, Johnson, Chavez, Qualls

Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is today's headliner after agreeing to a hefty long-term contract extension that could keep him in a Washington uniform through 2020. Here are a few more odds and ends out of baseball's East divisions …

  • Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said he intends to own the Marlins for "as long as I live," writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Loria is 71 and entering his 11th season as owner of the Fish.
  • The Blue Jays are open to the possibility of signing second baseman Kelly Johnson to a multiyear extension, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. Johnson was a free agent this offseason but accepted the Jays' arbitration offer after receiving underwhelming offers, likely because of his Type A status under the old collective bargaining agreement. The Jays and Johnson settled on a $6.375MM salary.
  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter said there was lots of competition to sign outfielder Endy Chavez this offseason, tweets Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Chavez said four or five teams were interested.
  • The Phillies were scouting reliever Chad Qualls as early as last season, when he was with the Padres, writes Adam Berry of MLB.com. The sides were in touch throughout the offseason, and the Phils eventually signed the right-hander to a one-year deal on Jan. 31 when his asking price came "way down," according to assistant GM Scott Proefrock.

Blue Jays Avoid Arbitration With Johnson, Francisco

The Blue Jays announced they've avoided arbitration with second baseman Kelly Johnson for $6.375MM and outfielder Ben Francisco for $1.5375MM.  Casey Janssen and Brandon Morrow are the Jays' remaining arbitration eligible players.


How Much Will Ortiz, K-Rod, and Kelly Johnson Earn Next Year?

Free agents David Ortiz, Francisco Rodriguez, and Kelly Johnson accepted their teams' offers of arbitration last week, making them signed players for 2012.  In recent years we've seen the occasional setup-type free agent reliever accept arbitration, but not position player regulars or a closer.  Without much recent precedent, determining the salaries of Ortiz, Rodriguez, and Johnson will be tricky. 

The players have incentive to avoid hearings.  If a deal is agreed upon, the player asks for a Signing Guaranteed Provision, guaranteeing the contract.  A hearing, however, opens up the small chance of the player being released in spring training.  The team would have to prove the player "failed to to exhibit sufficient skill or competitive ability" during spring training.  The Padres pulled this off with Todd Walker in 2007, but it's rare.  The Red Sox are happy to have Ortiz next year, and the Blue Jays have use for Johnson.  While I imagine the Brewers would like a do-over on offering K-Rod arbitration, I don't think they'll try to release him in spring training and then go toe-to-toe with Scott Boras.

I talked to a team executive, a former agency employee, and MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz about the salaries Ortiz, Rodriguez, and Johnson might receive.  The details:

  • Estimates ranged from $13-15MM on Ortiz.  He's working from a $12.5MM salary, and his raise will probably be relatively small.  The Red Sox could point to Travis Hafner as a $13MM comparable, while Ortiz's agents at SFX could look to top Adam Dunn's $14MM by virtue of Ortiz's higher batting average.  A two-year deal is possible for Ortiz, but if the Red Sox are at $18MM, Big Papi might as well stop worrying about multiyear security since he can easily get more than $4-5MM in 2013 with a passable 2012.
  • K-Rod should be an interesting case.  On the high end, Boras could argue for Mariano Rivera's $15MM salary.  If they're feeling adventurous, the Brewers could actually try to cut Rodriguez's $11.5MM salary, citing Jonathan Papelbon's $11MM salary for 2012 or Rafael Soriano's $10MM salary.  Rest assured that trying to cut Rodriguez's salary would lead to a hearing, so a settlement closer to Rivera's figure seems possible.
  • Johnson's case might involve bringing in a third baseman such as Miguel Tejada, who signed at $6.5MM for 2011.  Johnson earned $5.85MM in an off-2011, so $7MM is probably his ceiling.  A multiyear deal is possible here.  

AL Central Notes: Indians, Rondon, Tigers

A few Thursday updates out of the AL Central:

  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti left the Winter Meetings feeling as if he was just a couple text messages from making a deal, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "It could happen very quickly," said Antonetti. "There are some things we could be relatively close on. As we've said a bunch of times, the timing may change and it will take weeks for it to happen."
  • Hector Rondon cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Indians' Triple-A affiliate, tweets MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
  • The Detroit Free Press tweets that GM Dave Dombrowski said the Tigers didn't make an offer to free agent Kelly Johnson, who ultimately accepted arbitration from the Blue Jays.

Ortiz, Kelly Johnson, Francisco Rodriguez Accept Arbitration

Three free agents accepted arbitration at tonight's deadline: David Ortiz of the Red Sox, Kelly Johnson of the Blue Jays, and Francisco Rodriguez of the Brewers.  The trio is now off the market and under team control for 2012 at a salary to potentially be determined by the arbitration process.  For further details, check out MLBTR's free agent arbitration offer tracker, which allows you to filter by team, type, whether the player was offered, and whether he accepted.  

Ortiz, Johnson, and Rodriguez all probably could have found two-year deals on the open market, but they'll receive raises for 2012 by accepting arbitration.  Of the three, only Ortiz was inhibited by having a draft pick cost attached.


Kelly Johnson Accepts Arbitration

11:08pm: Johnson has accepted arbitration, tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

3:28pm: It sounds very likely Johnson will accept arbitration, tweets MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.

2:31pm: There's a "good chance" Kelly Johnson returns, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.  The second baseman could accept Toronto's arbitration offer, or perhaps sign a multiyear deal.


Blue Jays Rumors: Johnson, Callaspo, Anthopoulos

Let's round up the newest Blue Jays notes from the Winter Meetings….

  • The Blue Jays are unlikely to make a move for a second baseman until they learn whether Kelly Johnson will accept their arbitration offer on Wednesday, tweets MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.  Chisholm says the Jays remain open to the idea of a multiyear deal should Johnson accept.  Since Johnson won't cost another team a draft pick to sign, he'll probably turn down arbitration.
  • The Jays really like Angels infielder Alberto Callaspo, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times.
  • GM Alex Anthopoulos reiterated that his club isn't interested in seven- or eight-year contracts and that if any free agents require that sort of committment, the Jays "probably won't be a factor" for them (Chisholm Twitter links).
  • Anthopoulos said he'd love to make some moves at this week's meetings, but expects it may not be until afterward that things get done, tweets Chisholm. The GM added that this year's meetings are moving much slower than last year's, tweets Mike Wilner of Sportsnet 590.