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LaTroy Hawkins Rumors
Astros owner Jim Crane has spoken to Nolan Ryan in the month since he left the Rangers organization, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle, but no front office job or advisory position has been offered. Ryan pitched for the Astros from 1980-88, and his son, Reid, is the team's president of business operations, leading many to consider him a logical fit to land in Houston. Crane acknowledged to Drellich that there could be a fit down the road. Here's more on the American League's newest team…
- Houston native Chris Young would be interested in patrolling the outfield for the Astros in 2014, he told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart: "I love Houston. I’m from Houston and play well in Houston and always have. Something about being home that’s refreshing to me. I love everything about the city and the team. They’re growing, and I feel they’re going to make some moves here soon. They have a good future. I’m open to all the possibilities."
- Also from McTaggart, a reunion with LaTroy Hawkins doesn't appear to be in the cards for the Astros. Hawkins told McTaggart that he's received interest from multiple teams. I'd imagine that coming off a strong year and heading into his age-41 season, Hawkins would prefer to play for a contending team.
- In a separate piece from Drellich, Crane took the "never say never" approach when asked about a potential pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, noting that the Astros were one of the three finalists for Jose Dariel Abreu and offered in the neighborhood of $60MM. Of course, that sum might not cover the posting fee for Tanaka alone, and Crane conceded that it's unlikely the team would give out a significant long-term deal with so much talent coming through the minor league system.
The White Sox owe it to Paul Konerko to bring him back for a final season in 2014 if the long-time first baseman wishes to keep playing, Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune opines. The Sox would have to release or trade Adam Dunn to make room for Konerko with Jose Dariel Abreu now aboard, and while eating Dunn's contract would be expensive, Sullivan argues that Dunn is already a sunk cost and not worth keeping if it means cutting ties with a franchise icon.
Here are some more items from around baseball tonight…
- Chris Young would like to play for the Astros but the free outfielder didn't say if he'd been contacted by the team, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets. Young, a Houston native, has drawn some level of interest from the Red Sox and Mets this winter.
- Also from McTaggart, LaTroy Hawkins said he hasn't been contacted by the Astros this offseason, though the veteran has other "irons in the fire." The Astros are looking for bullpen help and Hawkins has a connection to Houston, having pitched for the club in 2008-09. As many as seven teams, however, have already shown interest in Hawkins, including the Rockies and Mets.
- Dallas Braden tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that he intends to try out for teams when he increases his stamina. After throwing a perfect game in 2010, Braden made just three starts in 2011 and hasn't pitched since due to a pair of shoulder surgeries. The southpaw elected free agency from the A's following the 2012 season.
- Brian Cashman tells reporters (including The Chicago Sun-Times Gordon Wittenmyer) that he always expected Joe Girardi to return to manage the Yankees, despite the rumors that Girardi would join the Cubs. Wittenmyer believes the Cubs' reported "back-channel communication" to try and woo Girardi "underscored an ongoing disconnect between the Cubs’ baseball and business sides of the operation."
- The qualifying offer may not be the hindrance to some free agents as it appears, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal argues. Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse were last offseason's two infamous examples of how a draft pick compensation tag could hurt a player's market, but MacPherson opines that the Baseball Prospectus PECOTA system projected Bourn and Lohse as worth the contracts they eventually signed with the Indians and Brewers, respectively.
- If the Rockies could somehow get Justin Morneau at a reasonable price, he would make an ideal platoon partner for Michael Cuddyer and Jordan Pacheco, Troy Renck of the Denver Post opines (Sulia link).
- A member of the Yankees baseball operations staff predicts Phil Hughes will sign with an NL West team, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter). The flyball-prone Hughes could be greatly helped by pitching at AT&T Park, Petco Park or Dodger Stadium, though Chase Field or Coors Field aren't good fits. The source says Hughes is a "good fit in Minnesota," and the Twins and Royals are the only teams linked to Hughes so far this offseason.
- Though Tim Hudson is 38 and coming off a nasty broken ankle, a National League talent evaluator still picked the veteran righty as the best risk amongst free agent pitchers who are at least 33 years old, SI.com's Tom Verducci reports. Bartolo Colon, Roy Halladay, Dan Haren and Ryan Vogelsong round out the top five.
Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com writes that the Rockies are interested in free agent LaTroy Hawkins, and Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter) that Hawkins has received interest from as many as seven teams. The Mets are also known to have interest in Hawkins, who served as their closer in the season's final motnhs after Bobby Parnell was lost for the season due to injury.
Hawkins will turn 41 in December, but he showed no signs of his age in 2013. After signing a minor league deal that guaranteed him $1MM upon making the Mets' roster, Hawkins turned in a stellar 2.93 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 70 2/3 innings — his highest total since 2004 with the Cubs. Hawkins saved 13 games down the stretch, boosting his career total to 101 in the process.
A one-year deal again seems likely for Hawkins, but he should have no problems securing a Major League deal this time around — likely one that will pay him significantly more than his $1MM base salary with the Mets.
The Rockies' reported interest is no surprise, as Hawkins enjoyed a successful season there in 2007, and the team is known to be looking for relief help. Other bullpen targets for the Rockies include Brian Wilson, Jose Veras and Joe Smith.
Here's the latest out of Queens..
- The Mets have already reached out to free agent reliever LaTroy Hawkins about returning, a baseball source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Another unknown club has also gotten in touch with Hawkins, who served as the Mets' closer to finish the 2013 season. The 40-year-old posted a 2.93 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 70.2 innings of work last season.
- The Mets are one of a dozen teams that have reached out to veteran free agent Corey Hart, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). MLBTR's Steve Adams sees Hart getting a one-year, $8MM pact with $2-4MM in incentives.
- In today's mailbag, a reader asks MLB.com's Anthony DiComo if Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo could be realistic options for the Mets. After speaking with a number of people both inside and outside the Mets organization, DiComo came away with the impression that no one expects GM Sandy Alderson to do anything of that magnitude.
Yesterday, lawyers for Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez were barred from holding a news conference with a person they described as a "major league baseball whistleblower" when the commissioner's office obtained an order from the arbitrator hearing the case, according to the Associated Press. As A-Rod takes care of his own offseason housekeeping, let's take a look at the latest from the AL and NL East..
- Mets closer LaTroy Hawkins will most likely see what's out there on the open market and won't agree to a new deal in Queens before that, a source tells Marc Carig of Newsday. However, there is certainly mutual interest in a return. Hawkins, 40, posted a 2.93 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9 in 70.2 innings of work last season.
- James Wagner of the Washington Post conducted a Q&A with questions from Nationals fans regarding the offseason. One of the topics brought up was the club's need for better left-handed pitching out of the bullpen. Wagner cites free agent candidates such as ex-Nat J.P. Howell, Oliver Perez, Boone Logan, Eric O’Flaherty, and Michael Gonzalez, who is coming off of a tough year in Milwaukee.
- There's no better candidate for the Orioles' left field job than Nate McLouth, opines Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore. The veteran, who signed a one-year, $2MM pact with the O's last offseason, could be in line for a two-year, $10MM deal, according to Tim Dierkes. That price is likely too rich for Baltimore's blood.
- Rodriguez's camp has also flatly denied that the third baseman has used PEDs, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
LaTroy Hawkins notched his 100th career save over the weekend, and the right-hander sounds intent on returning to the Majors in 2014, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post. Hawkins, who has appeared in 941 Major League contests, has his sights set on 1,000 career appearances, according to Puma. Hawkins has appeared in 70 games this season, posting a 3.01 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 and a 92.5 mph average on his fastball, so another 56 games doesn't seem outlandish at all. Here's more on the Mets to kick off your Monday morning…
- The Mets shut Zack Wheeler down for the season with shoulder stiffness over the weekend, but one person with direct knowledge of the situation told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that further testing won't be required unless Wheeler suddenly begins to experience more pain.
- There have yet to be any discussions between the Mets and manager Terry Collins regarding his contract situation beyond the season, but he's still expected to return, and Martino imagines a two-year deal is where they will land. Collins hasn't done enough to merit three seasons, he writes, and one year plus an option for 2015 would just lead to another season of speculation regarding his future status.
- Prior to Sunday's game, Martino spoke with Collins regarding Carlos Torres and asked if the right-hander had pitched well enough to be penciled into a 2014 roster spot. Collins replied with an unequivocal "Yes," according to Martino (video link).
In the aftermath of today's shooting at the Washington Navy Yard, the Nationals have rightly postponed tonight's matchup against the Braves. Needless to say, our thoughts are with those affected by this tragedy. As anyone who has ever attended a game at Nationals Park knows, the neighboring naval facility plays a big role at the ballpark, with the team playing a submarine horn to celebrate home runs and honoring service men and women at every contest. Today, the stadium's parking lots have served as a somber meeting point for family members waiting to learn more about their loved ones.
Shortly after the recent Boston Marathon attack, Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci wrote that baseball, "unlike any other sport, is there for us virtually every day." There is no ballgame in D.C. today, but they'll play two tomorrow. We hope that baseball will bring some small comfort to the Navy Yard community, as it has done for so many others.
- For those interested in learning more about the Nationals' reactions to today's events, the Washington Times' Amanda Comak has the latest. Meanwhile, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on things from the Braves side. According to third baseman Chris Johnson, the Nats' and Braves' player representatives jointly notified the MLBPA that the players felt it would be inappropriate to play.
- Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins is keenly aware that he doesn't have much time left in the bigs, writes Brian Giuffra of The Record (NorthJersey.com), but says he's still "not at the end of [his] career." Still capable of touching the mid-90's in his age-40 season, the righty has been effective: in 65 2/3 innings, he has a 3.15 ERA, 10 saves, 7.1 K/9, and 1.4 BB/9. "Certainly, if he wants to come back … it would be nice to have him around," said Mets manager Terry Collins, who explained that Hawkins is a beneficial presence for the club's younger arms.
- Fellow Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano says that he, too, hopes to return next year at age 37. He tells Clayton Collier of MetsmerizedOnline.com that he hopes to "retire from here." The lefty specialist has never thrown a pitch for another big league club, though he did spend a year in Japan and also collected $8MM from the cross-town Yanks for two injury-riddled seasons. Since returning to Queens, Feliciano has tossed 9 1/3 innings of 4.82 ERA ball. Much of the damage has come from the twelve right-handed hitters he's pitched to in 2013, however, as they have a collective .714/.833/1.143 line against him. Of the 32 lefties that Feliciano has faced this year, as many have struck out as have managed a hit (six).
- Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest is once again facing public speculation that he could lose his post. Beinfest deserves better, says FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who reports that the long-time executive recently approached owner Jeffrey Loria and asked him to decide whether or not Beinfest would stay on in Miami. Loria has thus far stayed quiet on the status of Beinfest, who is under contract through 2015. Rosenthal reports that the two key Marlins figures have repeatedly clashed over baseball decisions ranging from promotions to the saga of hitting coach Tino Martinez.
With ESPN's Buster Olney on vacation, Scott Boras stepped in as a guest blogger for ESPN today and wrote about his take on the new collective bargaining agreement, specifically the qualifying offer system and draft pools. Boras writes that the qualifying offer system is flawed because it punishes veteran players for having strong years. Veterans who receive qualifying offers but are on the wrong side of 30 are punished due to the "artificial scarcity" of draft dollars. Boras also tackles the hard slotting system and how he feels young American talent is punished under the new CBA in his blog, which is an excellent read. Here's more from around the league…
- MLB owners are meeting today to discuss a massive expansion of instant replay in Major League Baseball, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The proposed expansion would make replay available on virtually every aspect of the game with the exception of balls and strikes, but it would also be costly to implement. One executive said the start-up fee would likely be $25-40MM.
- Alex Rodriguez has to be extremely careful if he brings a federal lawsuit against MLB, writes Tom Harvey of the New York Daily News. If the Yankees veteran goes through with it, he'll be forced to address his allegations of drug use and his link to the Biogenesis clinic.
- Mets reliever LaTroy Hawkins was convinced two months ago that this season would be his last, but the 40-year-old now sees himself pitching in 2014, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
As has been previously discussed on MLBTR, Major League Baseball's new collective bargaining agreement contains a provision that allows certain free agents who are signed to minor league contracts to receive a $100K retention bonus if they are not on the team's 25-man roster or the Major League disabled list five days prior to the season.
Free agents who qualify for this distinction are those who have at least six years of Major League service time and had a Major League contract expire at the end of the previous season, but signed a minor league deal ten or more days prior to Opening Day.
MLBTR has confirmed with MLB that the deadline for teams to decide on these players is tomorrow at 12:00pm ET (11:00am CT). In other words, by tomorrow afternoon teams with these players in camp need to decide whether to:
- Add the player to their 25-man roster or Major League disabled list (or agree to do so in writing).
- Grant the player his outright release from the minor league contract so that he may pursue opportunities with other teams.
- Pay the player a $100K retention bonus to keep him in the organization beyond the deadline.
Here's the latest news from around the league on Article XX(B) signees and their roster statuses with their respective teams (newest updates on top)…
- Rangers manager Ron Washington informed infielder Jeff Baker that he has made the Opening Day roster, according to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
- The Indians announced that Jason Giambi has made the roster but will open the season on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain. Ezequiel Carrera was designated for assignment in order to clear room on the roster.
- The Mariners announced via press release that they have added Kameron Loe to the 25-man roster and transferred Josh Kinney to the 60-day disabled list to create space.
- Smith also tweets that Rick Ankiel is expected to make the team as the everyday right fielder, meaning Houston will have to make a 40-man roster move. Ankiel's base salary will be $750K, and his contract includes incentives based on plate appearances.
- LaTroy Hawkins has been informed that he will make the Mets' 25-man roster, writes ESPN's Adam Rubin. The Mets currently have an open spot on their 40-man roster, meaning no corresponding move would have to be made. Hawkins will earn a base salary of approximately $1MM for making the team.
- Pedro Feliciano, another Mets non-roster invitee, is still deciding whether or not to opt out of his contract or take his $100K bonus and report to Triple-A, Rubin tweets. Feliciano was told he would not make the Mets' roster yesterday.
- Red Sox bench hopeful Lyle Overbay says he has "no idea" as to whether or not the team will add him to the 25-man roster, according to the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber (Twitter link). Overbay has plenty on the line, as he'll earn $1.25MM (with $250K more available via incentives) if he makes the Opening Day roster.
Here are today's minor transactions, with the latest moves at the top of the page…
- The Phillies re-signed infielder Andres Blanco to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports. The club released Blanco a few weeks ago. Blanco last played in the majors in 2011 and he has a career .634 OPS in 654 PA over six seasons with the Rangers, Cubs and Royals. He spent last year with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate.
- The Mets recently released and quickly re-signed right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, Eddy reports. The move was just "procedural," according to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin (via Twitter), as the Mets needed to "correct something in [Hawkins'] contract." Hawkins, 40, signed his original minor league deal with the Mets in January.
- The Athletics signed middle infielder Antonio Lamas to a minor league deal, Eddy reports. John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group reported the A's were close to signing Lamas last month. Lamas, 23, has a .307/.350/.437 line over 1504 PA for Monclova of the Mexican League since 2008. He was primarily used as a shortstop but he played 100 games at second base in 2012.
- The Orioles signed left-hander Clayton Tanner to a minor league deal, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Tanner, a third-round pick of the Giants in the 2006 draft, has a career 3.85 ERA, 2.11 K/BB and 6.6 K/9 in 182 games (123 starts) over seven seasons in the Giants' and Reds' minor league systems. O's executive VP Dan Duquette tells Kubatko that the team scouted Tanner when he pitched for Australia during the World Baseball Classic.
- The Twins have signed first baseman/outfielder Curt Smith to a minor league deal, Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (Twitter links). Smith has a 1.008 OPS in 24 ABs for the Netherlands in WBC play, helping lead the Dutch to the tournament semi-finals. Smith was originally a 39th-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2008 and he has a .301/.341/.461 line in 1703 career minor league PA in the Cards' and Marlins' systems.