Kevin Youkilis Rumors

Cafardo On Papelbon, Youkilis, Overbay, Drew

In today's Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo makes the case for Braves pitcher Tom Glavine to earn induction into the Hall of Fame.  For his part, Glavine said he would be thrilled to go in with Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox. “Bobby Cox had the biggest influence in my career and probably the second- or third-biggest influence in my life,” Glavine said. “Greg was a dear friend, and just being around him made me better. I learned so much. We talked so much about pitching and situations, and hitters. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate and influence on my career. To have three of us together like that would be incredible, and Smoltzy next year.”  More from today's column..

  • One of the reasons the Phillies haven’t been able to find a buyer for Jonathan Papelbon is his drop in velocity.  Papelbon, who was regularly 95-96 in his Red Sox days, fell to 91-92 and sometimes less last season. “That was a red flag for me,” said an AL scout. “He didn’t look like the same guy. Whether that was physical or he just didn’t have the adrenaline flowing with a bad team, I don’t know.”
  • Kevin Youkilis' one-year deal could be worth up to $5MM and is apparently more than he could have received anywhere in MLB.  The Yankees had some interest, but at a lower price. The Indians, Giants, and Rays also had interest at one time. Back problems limited Youkilis to 28 games last season with the Yankees, and he simply couldn’t convince the masses he was healthy. 
  • Lyle Overbay's market is lukewarm right now and he'll likely be a January tack-on for someone. Cafardo predicts he'll wind up as a backup or a low-cost option for a team such as the Orioles or Indians.
  • The Mets and agent Scott Boras have discussed parameters but no firm numbers for Stephen Drew and right now, it looks like GM Sandy Alderson is sticking with Ruben Tejada. There’s always the Yankees, but Drew has never played anywhere but shortstop and Derek Jeter doesn’t appear to be moving to another position.  The road, for now, is still leading back to the Red Sox.
  • Agent Scott Boras scoffs at the notion that the market for Kendrys Morales has dried up due to the draft pick compensation issue.  Cafardo says that at some point a team such as the Orioles may give it up to have a superb hitter in the middle of their order and cautions to never underestimate Boras.  
  • Mark Mulder is looking for a minor league deal with incentives if he makes the major league club. He's worked out for the Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Phillies over two sessions and the second session he improved his velocity from 88 to 92 mph.  The Red Sox have inquired on Mulder, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008, but probably won’t pursue him.  Back in late November, Giants GM Brian Sabean indicated that he wouldn't be in on Mulder since he's seeking a big league deal.
  • Even with the Yankees' declaration that Brett Gardner won’t be traded, they would listen to the right deal.
  • It's a big surprise that agent Scott Boras couldn’t get Tigers owner Mike Ilitch to outbid the Rangers for Shin-Soo Choo since they have a need for a leadoff hitter. The Tigers are apparently continuing to commit to Austin Jackson at the top of the order and hope his game smooths out.
  • The Rays and Cubs want at least three very good players for David Price and Jeff Samardzija, respectively, whether they're major league-ready or top prospects. 

Rakuten Golden Eagles To Sign Kevin Youkilis

9:09pm: In an email, Speier clarifies that Youkilis will receive a $2MM signing bonus, $2MM in salary and up to $1MM in incentives.

3:26pm: Youkilis will earn a $4MM base salary, and his contract also contains $1MM worth of "very earnable" incentives, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports, via Twitter, that Youkilis' plan is to play for just one more season.

1:13pm: The Rakuten Golden Eagles will sign Kevin Youkilis, according to a report from Nikkan Sports (passed along by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman on Twitter). MLBTR has confirmed the report with Youkilis' agent Joe Bick of Pro Star Management, Inc.

Youkilis-Kevin

Youkilis will sign a one-year deal with the Golden Eagles. Though previous reports indicated that he wanted to play close to his California home, Bick explained to MLBTR that his client's West Coast preference was in order to be near to his family. Youkilis' wife and children will be going with him to Japan, however, which was a key factor in his decision. Youkilis considered the opportunity to play in Japan a "life experience that was too good to pass up," said Bick.

Youkilis, who turns 35 in March, inked a one-year, $12MM contract with the Yankees last offseason but saw his 2013 campaign cut short by a pair of back injuries. He would appear in just 28 games for the Yankees, batting .219/.305/.343 with a pair of homers before undergoing season-ending back surgery in June. A three-time All-Star that finished third in the AL MVP voting back in 2008, Youkilis was one of the American League's best hitters from 2007-11 when he batted .294/.395/.517 over a five-year span.

Youkilis could appear at either corner position for the Golden Eagles, who now have a vacancy at third base following Casey McGehee's decision to return to Major League Baseball on a one-year deal with the Marlins. That situation was not necessarily linked to Rakuten's interest in Youkilis, however, as the two sides have been in discussions for roughly three weeks. Youkilis received interest from eight or nine Major League clubs, but ultimately elected to be with his family for a new experience in Japan.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


AL Notes: Youkilis, Angels, Gimenez

Kevin Youkilis wanted to avoid travel and play for a West Coast MLB team, so it was a surprise to see him agree to terms with Rakuten in Japan. WEEI.com's Alex Speier writes that the Indians, Yankees and Rays were interested in Youkilis, but that Youkilis preferred retiring to flying all the way to the eastern part of the US. When the opportunity to play in Japan arose, however, Youkilis' wife and seven-year-old daughter were excited about the chance to there for a year. Youkilis says he plans to spend a year there, then decide whether he wants to continue his career (all Twitter links). Here are more notes from around the American League.

  • Despite an "uninspiring" offseason, the Angels could be dramatically better in 2014, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes. The team isn't particularly well positioned for the long term, but Mike Trout gives them a huge edge, and their WAR expectation in 2013 was significantly better than their actual record. Their moves this offseason — primarily trading Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks and Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals — haven't done much to help them, at least not in the short term. But the Angels should be much better than they were in 2013, Sullivan suggests, especially if they happen to add Masahiro Tanaka.
  • The reason the Rays placed catcher Chris Gimenez on waivers was that they thought he would not make the big-league team and so they wanted to sneak him through, the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin tweets. The move was not made with any further roster shuffling in mind. The Athletics claimed Gimenez earlier today.


James Loney To Rays Further Thins First Base Market

With Corey Hart and Logan Morrison heading to the Mariners and James Loney agreeing to return to the Rays this week, the Pirates and Brewers remain on the hunt for a first baseman, as MLB.com's Anthony DiComo notes (via Twitter). The Astros could be on the lookout for a first baseman as well. With Mike Napoli (Red Sox) and Justin Morneau (Rockies) also gone, there isn't much left on the free-agent market, which means teams still hoping to acquire a first baseman will probably also consider trades. Here's a look at the main options still available.

  • Matt Adams, Cardinals. Adams is far better than most of the players listed below, but the Cardinals would only be likely to move him in a major deal. It would be very hard for the Pirates or Brewers to pry him away, since they're both NL Central teams, and the Astros likely don't have the big-league talent the Cardinals would need in order to decide to part with him. His .284/.335/.503 line in 2013 would be a valuable addition to any big-league lineup, however.
  • Kendrys Morales, free agent. Morales might be the highest-profile name remaining as a free agent, but after a season in which he hit .277/.336/.449 while playing poor defense (in the 31 games in which he played first base), he declined the Mariners' qualifying offer. It's hard to see many teams, including the Pirates and Brewers, give up a draft pick for the right to sign a defensively-limited player on the wrong side of 30. It appears likely that Morales will end up back with an AL team, as CBS Sports' Mike Axisa recently noted.
  • Ike Davis, Mets. The Mets seem determined to trade either Davis or Lucas Duda. Davis may be the more attractive of the two candidates, due to his power, although he'll also be more expensive than Duda in arbitration this year. The Mets also seem more inclined to trade Davis. With Loney off the market, there's now a clear path for the Mets to deal Davis to either the Brewers or Pirates. There may be a feeling around baseball that they waited too long, however, with Mike Puma of the New York Post recently tweeting that a source recently told him the Mets were going to "sell low" on Davis. The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough, meanwhile, tweeted, "The Mets' slow, steady march toward trading Ike Davis for something like a right-handed relief prospect is such a drag." In any case, it's hard to see the Mets getting much for Davis, or any team getting particularly excited about installing him at first, after he hit .205/.326/.334 in 2013, even though he batted .286/.449/.505 after the All-Star break. Davis appears set to make about $3.5MM through arbitration in 2014.
  • Justin Smoak, Mariners. With Hart and Morrison both heading to Seattle, Smoak is now available, with the Mariners likely favoring a big-league contributor, rather than a prospect, in return. It remains to be seen how much other teams might want Smoak, however — the former top prospect has hovered around replacement level for his career, and at 27, it may be that his once-highly-regarded bat won't ever carry him. Smoak hit .238/.334/.412 in 2013.
  • Mitch Moreland, Rangers. Moreland's name has appeared in trade rumors since Texas traded for Prince Fielder, but he currently still has a role in Texas at DH. That could change somewhat, however, if the Rangers sign Shin-Soo Choo or re-sign Nelson Cruz, but right now, there appears to be no pressing reason for the Rangers to trade Moreland unless they want to. Moreland hit .232/.299/.437 in 2013, but unlike any of the trade candidates mentioned above, he does play plus defense at first base.
  • Adam Lind, Blue Jays. Lind, who batted .288/.357/.497 in 2013, is a well-above-average hitter, but he's not much of a defender at any position. Also, like Moreland, he has a clear role on his current team as a DH. The Pirates recently asked the Jays about Lind, only to have the Jays ask for Neil Walker in return. If the Blue Jays do trade Lind, he probably won't come cheap.
  • Mike Carp, Red Sox. WEEI's Rob Bradford recently tweeted that Carp was receiving plenty of attention on the trade market, which is no surprise — unlike Davis and Smoak, Carp hit well in 2013, and unlike Moreland and Lind, he has no clear starting role with his current team. Carp played mostly first base and outfield in 2013, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. expected to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, and with Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes expected to play in the corner spots, he won't necessarily be needed in the outfield next year. There isn't much room elsewhere, either, with Mike Napoli and David Ortiz returning at first base and DH, respectively. If Carp hits .296/.362/.523 again, the Red Sox can surely find space for him, but if another team approaches them with a nice offer, they could easily deal him, too.
  • Eric Chavez, free agent. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman recently reported that the Pirates were one of several teams to check in on Chavez, and upon inspection, it's easy to see why. The veteran hit .281/.332/.478 in Arizona in 2013, and while he has limited experience at first base and isn't the defensive star he once was at third, it's easy to imagine he would be at least average defensively if he were to move across the diamond. He might also be relatively cheap, since he was a part-time player in 2013. He's an injury risk, but with Pittsburgh, in particular, he wouldn't have to play every day, since Gaby Sanchez would start against lefties.
  • Kevin Youkilis, free agent. Youkilis missed most of the 2013 season due to injury and wasn't good when he played, but he was a valuable asset as recently as 2011. He'll be 35 in March, however, and showed signs of decline in 2012, so it's fair to wonder how much he has left. He also prefers to play on the West Coast, so he may not want to sign with Milwaukee or Pittsburgh.

Quick Hits: Dodgers, Arroyo, Giants, Axford

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told reporters, including Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter), that he has met with "far more agents than teams" at the winter meetings. He added that he doesn't expect any deals to go down before leaving tomorrow.

  • Although the Reds have met with Bronson Arroyo's agent in the last 24 hours, they're telling clubs they expect him to sign elsewhere, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com.
  • Giants assisstant GM Bobby Evans says the club is "equally close" on trade and free agent options for a left fielder, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • The Indians are believed to have made an offer to free agent reliever John Axford, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Earlier tonight, we learned that the Orioles have also made an offer to Axford, though they prefer Grant Balfour.
  • The Rays have expressed interest in Kevin Youkilis, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Youkilis would fit the Rays' mold as a player on the rebound.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told MLB Network Radio (on Twitter) that he's focused on winning a championship but he's still in a spot where he has to keep finances in mind.

Youkilis Drawing Interest, Prefers West Coast

Kevin Youkilis is beginning to draw some interest as a low-cost corner infield option, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The YES Network's Jack Curry adds that Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently reached out to Youk's agent and was informed that his client's preference was to play closer to his home in California (Twitter link).

Youk's lone season in Yankee pinstripes consisted of just 28 games and 118 plate appearances due to persistent back injuries. The 34-year-old batted just .219/.305/.343 in his brief stint with the Yankees, which, combined with injury concerns, will likely make it difficult to find regular at-bats with a club, especially if he's boxing himself into one geographic region.


Red Sox Notes: Navarro, Youkilis, Payroll

Here are a few items about the World Series champs…


Martino On Granderson, Beltran, Mets, Yankees

Andy Martino shares some hot stove news in a pair of articles for the New York Daily News…

  • Curtis Granderson has drawn "preliminary interest" from the Mets, two sources tell Martino, though the depth of that interest will depend on how Granderson's market develops.  "When it comes to New York, this much is fair to say: [Granderson] is more likely to be a Met than a Yankee in 2014," Martino writes.
  • Carlos Beltran "would love to come back to New York, but I think he’d like Boston, too,” a friend of the veteran slugger tells Martino.  Both the Yankees and Red Sox have been rumored to be interested in Beltran's services.
  • The Mets have considered Andre Ethier as a trade option since at least last December, while the Dodgers have been open to dealing the outfielder since at least summer of 2012, rival executives say.  That timing is odd given that the Dodgers only signed Ethier to his current five-year, $85MM contract in June 2012.  There is no chance, Martino writes, that the Mets would move Zack Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard for Ethier, though Martino speculates that the team could be more open to moving right-handed pitching prospect Rafael Montero.
  • Kevin Youkilis "is 100% healthy" and recovered from back surgery, agent Joe Bick says.
  • Joe Nathan is expected to draw strong interest this winter but agent Dave Pepe said he had "nothing to report" thus far about his client's free agency.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts that Nathan will find a two-year, $26MM contract this offseason.

AL Notes: Wotus, Corrigan, Orioles, Youkilis

What are the biggest holes to be filled by potential 2014 contenders? Writing for ESPN, Paul Swydan lists catcher for the Tigers, right field for the Orioles, and DH for the Yankees. Having already covered some of this evening's news from the AL Central side, here are more notes from the American League:

  • The Mariners have interviewed Giants bench coach Ron Wotus for the team's manager role, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman notes that Wotus joins a lengthy group of candidates vying to become the new Seattle skipper. 
  • The Angels lost major league special assignment scout Larry Corrigan, who will return to the Twins in some capacity, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports via Twitter. Corrigan has previously been described as one of GM Jerry Dipoto's most trusted scouts.
  • While the Orioles have a lengthy list of free agents, the club is taking its time addressing their situations, reports Dan Connolly of the Balitimore Sun. With well-known names like Scott Feldman, Nate McLouth, Michael Morse, Brian Roberts, and Francisco Rodriguez all coming off the books, the Baltimore front office has to decide who to pursue. "We haven't moved on any of those free agents yet," said executive VP Dan Duquette.
  • Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis is healthy and ready to test the free agent market once more, agent Joe Bick tells Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News. The 35-year-old was a bust for the Yanks, who got 28 games off subpar production from him at a cost of $12MM. 

Youkilis Out 10-12 Weeks Due To Back Surgery

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told reporters, including Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger, that Kevin Youkilis will undergo back surgery for a herniated disc and miss 10-12 weeks (Twitter link). The best-case scenario for Youkilis, based on that timeline, would be a late August return, though the recovery could easily push into September.

Youkilis, 34, signed a one-year, $12MM deal with the Yankees this offseason. He hit a respectable .267/.347/.422 through April 27 before landing on the disabled list with a sprained back. Since returning on May 31, he's hitting just .146/.239/.220.

A strong rebound campaign with the Bombers could've positioned Youkilis to sign a multi-year free agent deal this coming winter. Now, however, a one-year deal seems likely given the lack of production and significant time on the disabled list. The injury-prone corner infielder hasn't appeared in more than 122 games since 2009.

Youkilis never cracked Tim Dierkes' free agent power rankings (and certainly won't now). He'll part of a first base class that is flooded with veterans this offseason in free agency, as Kendrys Morales, Michael Morse, Corey Hart, Mike Napoli, Paul Konerko, Justin Morneau and Mark Reynolds will all be on the market. If he can position himself as a third baseman, Youk's competition will be more scarce, but that could be a tough sell with the back injuries.