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Kevin Youkilis Rumors
Recently-retired veteran Kevin Youkilis will be joining the Cubs as a special assistant, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports on Twitter. The connection will be obvious for many: Youkilis rose to prominence and made most of his impact on the field playing for former Red Sox GM and current Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein.
Here’s more from the central divisions:
- Pirates starter Francisco Liriano held talks with the Red Sox, Twins, Astros, and Royals before re-signing with Pittsburgh, the lefty told Dan Zangrilli of 93.7 The Fan (Twitter links). Kansas City went as high as $36MM over three years, said Liriano, who ultimately took home $39MM from the Pirates. Interestingly, Liriano noted that he felt the qualifying offer did not significantly hinder his market.
- If Brandon Moss and Nick Swisher prove their health this spring, outfielder David Murphy (or another roster candidate) will likely need to be dealt before breaking camp, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. It may be hard to find a taker without eating a good bit of Murphy’s $6MM salary, should that come to pass. For now, this remains an interesting story to watch over the coming months.
- While the Tigers do have some worrying signs in their large contracts and low-rated farm, they are not yet facing the kind of difficulties that the Phillies have found, Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes. If nothing else, Detroit still looks to be legitimately competitive at present, and has time to prepare for a soft landing when its window does finally begin closing.
Corner infielder Kevin Youkilis will hang up his spikes after a 14-year professional career, according to a tweet from his representatives at Pro Star Management. The 35-year-old will be remembered most fondly for his time in Boston.
With the Red Sox, Youkilis emerged as one of the game’s most consistent on-base threats. His ability to work counts and draw walks was so legendary that it drew him the appellation “the Greek God of Walks,” a name referenced in the famous Moneyball book and film.
Of course, he could do much more than that. Over his six full-time seasons with the Red Sox, Youkilis slashed an outstanding .292/.392/.500 with 121 home runs. With solid defensive marks at third, he was worth 29.5 rWAR and 25.9 fWAR over that stretch, making him one of the very best position players in the game.
That outstanding performance made Youkilis a key figure in the Boston baseball revival. He did not see World Series action in 2004, his rookie year — though he was on the roster — but was a major contributor during the regular and post seasons in 2007. Over 125 career postseason plate appearances, Youkilis slashed a healthy .306/.376/.568 with six long balls.
Youkilis was ultimately dealt from Boston to the White Sox in the summer of 2012 after struggling in the early going. (That led to one of the more memorable mid-game trade acknowledgments; see photo.) He rebounded in Chicago, putting up a strong second half (.236/.346/.425 with 15 home runs in 344 plate appearances) and earning a $12MM free agent contract with the Yankees.
Issues with his back and plantar fasciitis ultimate marred the tail end of Youkilis’s career. He was ineffective when on the field in New York, and did not even make 100 trips to the plate this year after joining Rakuten of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
Nevertheless, Youkilis’s excellence at his peak cannot be ignored. He finished third in the AL MVP vote in 2008, and might have won were it not for teammate Dustin Pedroia. He was named to three All-Star teams over his ten MLB seasons.
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.
Full Story | 58 Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Cleveland Indians | Detroit Tigers | Jonathan Papelbon | Kevin Youkilis | Lyle Overbay | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers
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 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.
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.
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.
Full Story | 71 Comments | Categories: Adam Lind | Boston Red Sox | Eric Chavez | Houston Astros | Ike Davis | Justin Smoak | Kendrys Morales | Kevin Youkilis | Lucas Duda | Matt Adams | Mike Carp | Milwaukee Brewers | Mitch Moreland | New York Mets | Pittsburgh Pirates | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays
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.
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.
Here are a few items about the World Series champs…
- Dioner Navarro is thought to have "drawn initial interest from the Red Sox," Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports. The switch-hitting catcher hit a career-best .300/.365/.492 in 266 PA with the Cubs last season, doing most of his damage against left-handed pitching. Navarro is just one of several catching options the Sox are considering, from Brian McCann or A.J. Pierzynski to re-signing Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
- There doesn't seem to be much, if any, chance of a Kevin Youkilis return to Boston, MLB.com's Ian Browne writes as part of a reader mailbag. Browne also addresses such topics as the length of a possible Mike Napoli contract and the Sox acquiring a veteran backup for the left side of the infield.
- The Red Sox figure to have around $20-$25MM in spending room this offseason, CSNNE.com's Sean McAdam calculates, though the club could free up more space by trading a veteran starter like Jake Peavy, John Lackey or Ryan Dempster. As I wrote in my Offseason Outlook piece about the Red Sox, the team has lots of payroll flexibility both this winter and for future years.
- 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.