Kosuke Fukudome Rumors

Quick Hits: Nationals, Reyes, Red Sox, Upton

Sunday night linkage..

  • With the August 15th deadline a week away, the Nationals have yet to make any real progress in reaching agreements with their top four draft picks, GM Mike Rizzo told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  The Nats are satisfied that infielder Anthony Rendon, pitcher Alex Meyer, supplemental round pick outfielder Brian Goodwin and third round pick Matt Purke are all in good health.
  • One Mets official last week told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) that he expects the Red Sox, Angels, and Nationals to be the top competition for Jose Reyes this winter.
  • Back in November when the Diamondbacks were shopping Justin Upton, it was rumored that they would likely request Daniel Bard and Jacoby Ellsbury from the Red Sox in a deal.  Today, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes that it looks like a good no-deal for Arizona.
  • It took a little bit of time, but outfielder Kosuke Fukudome appears to be getting used to life with the Indians, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  The Tribe acquired Fukudome and roughly $3.9MM from the Cubs for minor leaguer outfielder Abner Abreu and reliever Carlton Smith.

Elias Rankings For Free Agents Who Switched Leagues

Every summer prospective free agents on non-contenders get traded to new teams and, sometimes, to different leagues. The Elias Rankings for free agents are separate for the American and National Leagues, so players who projected as Type Bs in the American League won't necessarily project as Type Bs if they are dealt to the NL. Here's an update on the Elias Rankings for the prospective free agents who were traded between leagues last week (current projections, last week's projections):

  • Edwin Jackson, Cardinals – A Type B in the American League, Jackson remains a Type B with St. Louis.
  • Octavio Dotel, Cardinals – He was a Type B with Toronto and his status hasn't changed.
  • Orlando Cabrera, Giants – He remains unranked in the NL. He's close to Type B status, however.
  • Derrek Lee, Pirates – Like Cabrera, Lee remains unranked, but within striking distance of Type B status.
  • Kosuke Fukudome, Indians – Though Fukudome cannot be offered arbitration, his projected ranking changed from a Type B to unranked.

Indians Acquire Kosuke Fukudome

The Cubs' first-ever Japanese player is heading to Cleveland.  The Indians acquired right fielder Kosuke Fukudome and about $3.9MM from the Cubs today for minor leaguer outfielder Abner Abreu and reliever Carlton Smith.  With Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore on the DL, the Tribe has a clear need for outfield help, and Fukudome was willing to waive his no-trade clause to join the AL Central contender.  For the second summer in a row, Cubs GM Jim Hendry is taking on salary to ship out overpaid veterans.

Fukudome

Fukudome, 34, is hitting .273/.374/.369 in 345 plate appearances for the Cubs this year.  He leads the NL with 4.34 pitches per plate appearance.  Though his right field defense drew praise initially, Fukudome has been below-average per UZR over the last few years.  He is owed almost $4.7MM for the balance of the season, and the Cubs will pay all but $775K of that.  Fukudome signed a four-year, $48MM free agent deal with the Cubs in December of '07 after spending his career in Japan with the Chunichi Dragons.  

Fukudome cannot be offered arbitration after the season, so draft pick compensation was not a factor.

Abreu, 21, is hitting .244/.294/.429 in 367 plate appearances in his second stint at High-A. Prior to the 2010 season, Baseball America ranked him 23rd among Indians prospects, describing him as a player who has offensive tools but "remains raw at the plate."  Smith, 25, has a 4.50 ERA, 9.0 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, and 0.8 HR/9 in 46 Triple-A relief innings, his second stint at the level.

Ken Rosenthal broke the story, with Danny KnoblerBuster Olney, Jon HeymanPaul Hoynes, and SportsTime Ohio adding details.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.



Indians Very Close To Acquiring Kosuke Fukudome

11:02am: A Cubs source told ESPN's Jim Bowden the prospects are outfielder Abner Abreu and reliever Carlton Smith (Twitter link).

10:30am: Hoynes tweets that the Indians are paying $775K of Fukudome's remaining salary, which would leave about $3.9MM for the Cubs.

9:35am: The prospects the Indians are sending are "one upper level, one lower level," tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  He says one is a pitcher and the other is a position player.

9:13am: The Cubs will receive two prospects for Fukudome, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, and a deal is likely to be done by today's game at 1:10pm central time.  Olney adds that the Cubs are picking up more than half of the $4.7MM owed to Fukudome, while SI's Jon Heyman tweets that they'll pay the "vast majority."  Jayson Stark tweets that the only hangup is determining minor perks for Fukudome in exchange for waiving his no-trade clause, and Jon Paul Morosi notes that the Indians are indeed on the outfielder's 15-team no-trade list.

The Indians are still working on other things, tweets Olney.  Bastian expects a push for another outfielder.

8:57am: The Indians are in serious talks for Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukudome, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The deal is "very close to happening," tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  With Shin-Soo Choo and Grady Sizemore on the DL, the Tribe has a clear need for outfield help.

Fukudome, 34, is hitting .273/.374/.369 in 345 plate appearances for the Cubs this year.  Throughout his Cubs career, Fukudome has been able to draw walks but has shown limited power.  Though his right field defense drew praise initially, he's been below-average per UZR over the last few years.  Since Fukudome is owed almost $4.7MM for the balance of the season, the Cubs will likely have to kick in money to make a deal happen.  He cannot be offered arbitration after the season, so draft pick compensation is not a factor.  Fukudome has a limited no-trade clause, which MLB.com's Jordan Bastian thinks he may have waived to come to the Indians (Twitter link).


Stark On Shields, Pena, Fukudome, Rangers

The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark

  • The Rays listened on James Shields last week, but now they've taken him off the market for July and apparently the upcoming offseason.
  • An executive who spoke with the Cubs says the level of interest in first baseman Carlos Pena has been exaggerated.  That's pretty damning, since publicly the level of interest has always appeared tepid.  Also, Stark says the Cubs believe Pena could get through waivers in August.  I disagree with the notion that there will be a lot less money left on Pena's contract at that point, since half of the $10MM is to be paid in January.
  • Kosuke Fukudome might be the one Cub dealt at the July deadline.  We still haven't heard which teams are on his partial no-trade list, however.
  • The Rangers are balking at including lefty Martin Perez in a deal.  Perez is a consensus top-13 prospect in all of MLB.  However, the Rangers will discuss their next tier of prospects - Tanner Scheppers, Robbie Erlin, Roman Mendez and Barret Loux, in Stark's mind.
  • A longtime friend of Drayton McLane believes McLane's last act as Astros owner will be to convince GM Ed Wade to retain favorite Hunter Pence.

Teams Eyeing Kosuke Fukudome

At least four teams are zeroing in on Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, major league sources tell Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com.  A major league source tells Levine that Fukudome has a limited no-trade clause in his deal that allows him to block trades to six teams.

The Indians are reportedly one of the clubs interested in Fukudome's services though it is unknown if they are on the veteran's no-trade list.  Fukudome, 34, will be owed $4.3MM as of August 1st and the Cubs would likely pay some of that money for the right prospects in return.  This is the final season of Fukudome's four-year, $48MM contract.


Cubs Willing To Eat High Percentage Of Soriano’s Deal

Alfonso Soriano's contract may be the most untradeable contract in baseball, but a source tells Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago that the Cubs would be "willing to absorb a high percentage" of the money left on his deal if the right trade offer came along. There is more than $60M left on his eight-year, $136MM contract.

Soriano's deal includes a full no-trade clause, but we recently heard that he'd waive it to go to a contender. The 35-year-old is hitting .249/.291/.445 with 14 homers this year, and an American League team could also hide his suspect outfield defense by using him as a DH. Soriano's contract calls for an $18MM salary this year and every year through 2014.

Levine also mentions that there is interest in Kosuke Fukudome, John Grabow, and Marlon Byrd. The Indians are among those interested in Fukudome.


Fukudome Wants To Play In MLB, With Cubs

Kosuke Fukudome, whose contract expires after the coming season, told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that he wants to continue his MLB career after 2011 (Twitter link). The 33-year-old, who bought a house in Chicago, says he'd like to remain with the Cubs.

Fukudome earns $13.5MM this year in the final season of the four-year, $48MM deal he signed before the 2008 season. He hit .263/.371/.439 with 13 homers in 429 plate appearances last year. The left-handed hitter may not have lived up to expectations, but he does have a .368 OBP in his three years in the majors.


Giants, Cubs Discussed Rowand-Fukudome Swap

The Giants and Cubs discussed a trade that would have sent Kosuke Fukudome to San Francisco for Aaron Rowand, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (all Twitter links). The bad contract swap appears to be a "long shot," however. If they can't trade Rowand, the Giants may listen to offers for Nate Schierholtz, according to Crasnick.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry pulled off a successful bad contract swap last offseason when he sent Milton Bradley to Seattle for Carlos Silva. Pulling off another such trade will be tricky, though. Rowand will earn $24MM through 2012 and Fukudome will become a free agent after earning $13.5MM in 2011, so the contracts are not perfect matches. Rowand has a limited no-trade clause and Fukudome has no-trade protection, so a potential deal could require the players' approval.


Rosenthal On Cubs, Greinke, Beltre, Pavano

The Mariners could presumably ask for a king’s ransom in exchange for Felix Hernandez, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports thinks Seattle should build around the reigning Cy Young Award winner, not trade him. Here are the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:

  • The Cubs are still willing to trade Kosuke Fukudome, but they’d likely have to cover some of the $13.5MM the outfielder is set to earn in 2011.
  • Were it not for his salary, the Reds might be a more serious suitor for Zack Greinke. However, a rival executive says Cincinnati is “tapped out,” payroll-wise.
  • The Nationals’ pursuit of Greinke has slowed and one source says it’s because of the team’s reluctance to include Jordan Zimmermann in a potential deal.
  • Adrian Beltre remains a “focus” for the Angels.
  • The Rangers, however, are more inclined to re-sign Vladimir Guerrero and add a first baseman than pursue Beltre, according to Rosenthal’s sources.
  • Don’t expect Texas to spend on a top free agent reliever, even if Neftali Feliz moves to the rotation.
  • Kerry Wood wants a two-year, $12MM deal, Rosenthal reports.
  • Another former Yankee, Carl Pavano, is searching for considerably more. He wants a three-year deal worth $10-11MM per season, one GM says. The Rangers are not pursuing Pavano right now.