Los Angeles Dodgers Rumors
Josh Johnson reached out to the Giants and Padres to let them know they were his first choices for a new team, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (all Twitter links). Both teams play close to Johnson's home in Las Vegas and also have pitcher-friendly ballparks that are ideal for a hurler looking to rebuild his value on a one-year contract. Schulman isn't sure if the Giants made Johnson an offer, though Johnson's chances of joining the club have likely dimmed now that San Francisco has signed Tim Hudson. Starting pitching isn't an offseason priority for the Padres, though a healthy and in-form Johnson projects as the ace of San Diego's rotation.
Here are some more items from around the NL West...
- The Rockies' one-year, $2.5MM agreement with LaTroy Hawkins "blew away" the Mets' offer to the veteran reliever, a source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Colorado also outbid the Braves, who didn't need Hawkins in either a closing or setup role, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
- Now that the Rockies have signed Hawkins, Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link) opines that the club needs to pursue the likes of Edward Mujica, Joe Smith or Jose Veras to further upgrade their shaky bullpen. Renck also looks at how the Hawkins signing impacts Rex Brothers' role as Colorado's "closer of the future."
- Also from Renck (Sulia link), the Rockies and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa haven't begun talks on a contract extension. De La Rosa's current deal is up after the 2014 season and Renck reported last month that both sides have interest in continuing their relationship. The southpaw also tells Renck that he is recovered from the thumb injury that bothered him down the stretch last season.
- The Dodgers have received "moderate to moderate-plus" trade interest in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, an official tells Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown. We heard last week that the Dodgers were open to offers for Kemp, Ethier or Carl Crawford in order to free up payroll space and a spot in the outfield. Brown's piece outlines the Dodgers' offseason priorities, beginning with Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
- Juan Uribe is looking for a three-year contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). The Dodgers are interested in bringing Uribe back but not at that length, which Heyman admits is "probably a stretch." Indeed, Tim Dierkes said that Uribe would be weighing one- or two-year offers in MLBTR's free agent profile of the third baseman.
- The Dodgers would be better off trading to upgrade their rotation than signing a free agent hurler, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon opines. "With the exception of [Masahiro] Tanaka, it’s an exceptionally flawed market for free agent starting pitchers and it seems like the Dodgers are more than aware of that. Much as they’d like to improve their rotation, they might be better served to sit this one out," Saxon writes.
- In other NL West news from earlier today, we collected some more Giants news items and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that the Dodgers signed Brendan Harris to a minor league deal.
Now that Tim Hudson has signed with the Giants, executives around baseball think the pitching market will begin to open up, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. One GM predicts Josh Johnson will be the next hurler to sign, and there has been no shortage of interest in the right-hander, as agent Matt Sosnick claimed that he'd spoken to nearly every team about his client. The Rangers and Royals have both been linked to Johnson, and the pitcher himself reached out to the Padres and Giants to express his interest.
Here's the latest about some of the offseason's available starters...
- One team that doesn't appear to be in the mix for Johnson are the Blue Jays, his most recent club. The Jays haven't made any progress with Johnson, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports, and there aren't any signs that they're even continuing negotiations. Johnson was open to returning to Toronto though his contract demands seem to be higher than the Jays are willing to pay.
- Bronson Arroyo listed the Giants, Twins, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.
- The Braves offered Hudson a two-year contract earlier this week but it wasn't enough, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Braves' previous offer to Hudson was a one-year deal worth less than $9MM (his annual salary in each of the previous four seasons) which clearly wasn't enough with so many other teams in the mix. O'Brien says the Braves could add another veteran to replace Hudson.
- The Athletics were second in the Hudson race behind the Giants, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). That's a bit of a surprise for the low-payroll A's but Hudson would've made sense on a short-term deal, plus he has long-time ties to the franchise.
- If the A's had signed Hudson, they would've ended their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Hudson would "probably more trustworthy" an option than Colon in the Oakland rotation, though the A's still have interest in re-signing Colon at a "price they deem reasonable."
- In an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Scott Feldman said his agent had heard from "15 teams or so" but "it's been a slow-developing market so far" (Twitter links).
- The Twins still haven't made a formal offer to Ricky Nolasco, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets. This is no change from the last update about Nolasco and the Twins, though the club is definitely interested in the free agent righty.
The Dodgers have signed Brendan Harris to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. Harris, a client of RMG Baseball, will earn $700K if he makes the Major League club.
Harris, 33, appeared in 44 games for the Angels and totaled 117 plate appearances in 2013, slashing .206/.252/.355 with four homers. HIs appearance in Anaheim marked his first big league action since 2010 with the Twins, where he was a semi-regular player for parts of the 2008-09 seasons.
Harris was one of the players Minnesota acquired from the Rays in the Matt Garza trade, and he enjoyed reasonable success between Tampa and Minneapolis as a part-timer from 2007-09, hitting .272/.328/.400 with 25 homers in 390 games. Harris has experience at all four infield positions, and he's logged 899 or more innings at third base, shortstop and second base.
The Rangers are considering a run at Shin-Soo Choo, but they've apparently scratched the other top free agent outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, off of their list, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Choo fits the bill for Texas if they don't re-sign Nelson Cruz, but a Rangers connected person suggested they aren't likely to secure him if "rumored prices" are accurate. The Rangers aren't as intrigued by Ellsbury at this time because they are happy with center fielder Leonys Martin.
It's not clear which rumors Heyman's source was referring to, but it has been said that agent Scott Boras has previous deals for Jayson Werth (seven-year, $126MM deal) and Carl Crawford ($142MM over seven years) in mind for clients Choo and Ellsbury.
There are options beyond the free agent market, however. Heyman notes that the Rangers have also talked to Dodgers about Andre Ethier and Crawford in addition to Matt Kemp. It has been said that one of the Dodgers' surplus outfielders might be made available this offseason.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels appears to be casting a wide net in terms of free agent possibilities, but if the team is truly pleased with Martin in center field, the Rangers likely only have one space available. Alex Rios, acquired in August in exchange for infielder Leury Garcia, is under team control for 2014 and figures to patrol right field in Arlington. However, as a gifted outfield defender, he Rios could likely play any of the three outfield spots, which gives Daniels some flexibility in deciding who to target.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Pour a tall cup of coffee and open up a Baseball Reference tab. It's time for this Saturday morning's minor moves, via the Pacific Coast League and International League transaction pages (except where otherwise noted) ...
- The White Sox have signed lefty David Purcey to a minor league deal. The 31-year-old had rejected an outright assignment from the Sox in late October to become a free agent. Purcey made 24 apperances for the Sox's major league club in 2013, posting a 2.13 ERA but walking 6 batters per nine innings.
- The Dodgers signed first baseman/outfielder Jamie Romak to a minor league deal, according to MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter). Romak's deal includes a July 1st opt out. The 28-year-old posted a .242/.322/.461 slash line with 22 homers in 134 games for the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate last season.
- Right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, 30, has signed with the Rays, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Lowe was battered in just eleven appearances with the Angels last year, but posted a 3.60 ERA across 2009-12 and has continued to notch high strikeout totals while being stashed in the upper minors.
- The Cardinals signed third baseman Scott Moore, a thirty-year-old who has thrived at Triple-A but has yet to have a real shot in the bigs. Last year, over 485 plate appearances in the Oakland and San Diego organizations, he hit .271/.353/.448 with fourteen long balls. In his most extended MLB action, a 2012 stint with the Astros, Moore hit a more-than-respectable .259/.330/.448 with nine home runs in 228 plate appearances.
- Right-hander Jim Miller is back with the Yankees on a minor league pact after making just one MLB appearance last year, an ill-fated inning-and-a-third that resulted in three earned runs. The 31-year-old had been a solid member of the A's pen just one year prior, however, as he registered a 2.59 ERA in 48 2/3 innings for Oakland. Miller did flash a 13.1 K/9 rate during his 63 1/3 Triple-A innings last year, a somewhat intriguing mark given his manageable walk rates. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com had the news first on Twitter.
- Lefty reliever Will Startup will stay with the Tigers after he notched a 3.41 ERA in 58 Double-A innings last year. Startup reached Triple-A as a 21-year-old back in 2006, but before joining Detroit had landed with the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012.
- The Giants have inked two righties to minor league deals, bringing aboard Jason Berken and Daryl Maday. Berken, 29, has thrown in 110 MLB games, including 28 as a starter, and recorded a 5.36 ERA over 248 2/3 innings. He spent last year at the White Sox' Triple-A affiliate, where he managed a 3.80 ERA in 161 innings -- all as a starter -- and posted 6.5 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9. Meanwhile, at 28 years of age Maday has yet to see San Francisco, but will continue to keep the dream alive in the Giants system. He has bounced between Double-A and Triple-A since 2008, and now serves primarily as a reliever. Last year, Maday notched a cumulative 4.17 ERA in 49 2/3 innings, with 7.1 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
- The Pirates signed first baseman Miles Durham and catcher Francisco Diaz to minor league deals. At age thirty, Durham has spent his entire career in the Pittsburgh organization, other than a brief Independent League stint, and apparently served as a player-coach last season. Dia, 23, has all the markings of a light-hitting backstop (two career home runs in 1,115 plate appearances), though he has reached base at a productive clip in the low minors.
- Longtime Yankees farmhand Walter Ibarra has agreed to play short in the Cubs organization on a minor league pact. The 26-year-old reached Triple-A for the first time last year. Known for his defense, Ibarra failed to himpress with a cumulative .276/.308/.367 slash across 212 Double-A and Triple-A plate appearances in 2013.
- And the Nationals have reached agreement with a player by the name of Josh Johnson -- not the starting pitcher, but the middle infielder and third baseman who has been in the Nats' system since 2010. Last year, playing at both of the two highest minor league levels, the 27-year-old Johnson put up an impressive .293/.390/.458 line in 300 trips to the plate. He was especially impressive in his short time at Syracuse, where he had a .924 OPS and was a perfect six-for-six in stolen bases in just 111 plate appearances. Washington also added catcher Sean McCauley to the fold on a minor league pact. The 24-year-old was brought back to professional baseball by the Nats last year in a coaching capacity after losing his career to injury.
- The Rangers have signed righty Zach Russell away from the Cards' system. The 24-year-old reliever topped out with a brief Double-A stint last year, but struggled there.
Angels first baseman (and, of late, designated hitter) Albert Pujols sounds optimistic about his injury situation, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports. The slugger says his injured foot "feel[s] 99.9% healthy," and that it was time for surgery after battling his plantar fasciitis for some nine years. He also noted that he continues to do rehab on his knee to avoid a flare-up. How the 33-year-old returns will be among the most impactful on-the-field storylines in baseball, since the Halos still owe him a hard-to-fathom $212MM over the next eight seasons. Once the best player in the game, Pujols now arguably carries more negative value than anybody due to his age, injuries, and massive contract. Elsewhere in baseball's two western divisions ...
- The Mariners have an ambitious off-season wish list, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter). Atop the list is a starter to slot in behind Felix Hernandez in the rotation, with Olney speculating that Matt Garza could be a match. Otherwise, the team hopes to add a closer and "two frontline power hitters."
- If Seattle is serious about checking all those boxes, it hardly needs to be said, it will need to open its wallet. The club's payroll has sat in the mid-$80MM range at Opening Day the last two years, but has gone as high as $117MM (2008). Seattle's future salary commitments sit right about at league average, though virtually all of its future obligations are to Hernandez. As Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs figures, the club's 2014 commitments presently sit at under $40MM, leaving ample room to spend.
- Though the Astros have a similar set of needs, according to a report from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, the club will likely set somewhat more modest goals. WIth payroll capacity up to $60MM, Houston will be chasing an outfielder, veteran starter, and bullpen pieces. Manager Bo Porter indicated that the club has been in contact with some free agent options, but is mostly gathering information and waiting for the market to develop. "As the market starts to shake out," said Porter, "we'll get more aggressive for the guys we believe will really make an impact on our ballclub."
- Looking past 2014, the Astros have just one player under contract in second baseman Jose Altuve. The team will, however, start to see a modest increase in its tab next year as players like J.D. Martinez, Brett Wallace, and Chris Carter reach arbitration eligibility, and Jason Castro gets to his second arb campaign. As with the Mariners, Houston's low 2014 obligations (just $14.4MM, per Thurm's estimate) could leave it with significant room to add salary this coming season.
- The Dodgers want to add a starter, but only on a short-term deal, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Los Angeles is not interested in going past two years or losing a draft pick to ink a new arm, says Rosenthal. The former limitation would seem to take the club out of contention for any top-tier arms, while the latter means that the club is not considering an attempt to lure Hiroki Kuroda back to Chavez Ravine.
- While I will not belabor the point, this news makes sense in light of the fact that the Dodgers have far-and-away the greatest salary commitments in the game both next year and beyond.
Here are today's minor moves, all via Matt Eddy of Baseball America (links to Twitter) unless otherwise noted ...
- Middle infielder Jeudy Valdez will join fellow former Padre Aaron Cunningham in moving to the Cubs organization, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 24-year-old, who has posted double-digit home runs and steals in each of the last four seasons, does not receive a Spring Training invite in the deal.
- The Marlins have signed shortstop Juan Diaz to a minor league deal. Eddy calls the 24-year-old a possible diamond in the rough.
- Righties Juan Gonzalez and Justin Souza have inked minor league pacts with the Dodgers. Gonzalez is a 23-year-old who just transitioned to the bullpen, where he put up a 2.14 ERA -- driven by a large drop in his career walk rates -- in 46 1/3 innings thrown for the Rockies' Double-A affiliate. Cotillo first reported the Gonzalez signing (via Twitter), nothing that he received a lot of interest. Souza, meanwhile, is a 27-year-old bullpen arm coming off of a 4.58 ERA over 55 innings pitched between the Double-A and Triple-A outposts of the Tigers.
- The Red Sox have reached minor league deals with lefty Tommy Layne and shortstop Mike McCoy. In his age-28 season, Layne put up a 4.50 ERA over 46 innings for the Pads' top affiliate in Tucson, but posted a 2.08 ERA in 8 2/3 big league innings (though he registered just 6.2 K/9 against 5.2 BB/9 in his 14 outings). McCoy has played in over a season's worth of MLB games, though spread over four years of brief apearances. His career triple-slash is .190/.273/.256 over 380 plate appearances.
- The Diamondbacks have signed minor league free agents Danny Dorn, an outfielder, and Mark Thomas, a backstop. Dorn is a 28-year-old fresh off a .258/.335/.460 campaign in 565 Triple-A plate appearances at Toledo. Thomas is known as a defensive whiz behind the dish, but hit just .151/.195/.274 in 202 plate appearances last year for the Rays' Double-A squad in his age-25 season.
- There are a host of new minor league deals out of Cincinnati, with the Reds inking lefty Lee Hyde, second baseman Rey Navarro, outfielder Mike Wilson, and catchers Rossmel Perez and Max Ramirez. Hyde, a 28-year-old former fourth-round pick, returns to the Cinci organization after a 1.98 ERA campaign in 54 2/3 innings spent mostly in Double-A. Navarro and Perez just played their age-23 seasons at Double-A. Wilson registered a sightly .300/.368/.472 slash in his age-thirty season at Triple-A in the Padres' organization. And Ramirez had a poor season at 28 years of age after putting up two straight better-than-.800 OPS years at the Triple-A level.
- Heading to the Rockies as minor league free agents are lefty Pedro Hernandez, righty Nate Striz, and second baseman Rafael Ynoa. Hernandez washed out of Minnesota after getting bombed in twelve big league starts, though he was much more effective in the minors and is still just 24. Striz just turned 25, but has only thrown three innings above the High-A level. At 26, Ynoa is coming off of a series of campaigns in which he's just topped the .700 OPS level at Double-A; the former Dodger farmhand gets on base at a solid clip, though, and has stolen a decent number of bags (though he's also been caught at a troubling rate).
- And staying with the Angels are righty Orangel Arenas, outfielder Julio Concepcion, and shorstop Jimmy Swift. Arenas made it to Triple-A for a brief stint last year at age 24 but was hit hard; Cotillo was the first to report the news of his signing (on Twitter). Concepcion has not moved past low-A ball and is 23 years old. And Swift, 25, was better at Triple-A (.303/.336/.422 in 118 plate appearances) than at Double-A (.259/.291/.367 in 324 plate appearances) in 2013.
The Rangers and Dodgers discussed trades during the GM Meetings, looking to fill the other team's respective needs in the outfield and infield, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The Dodgers had interest in shortstop Elvis Andrus while the Rangers had interest in Matt Kemp, though they were concerned about the $128MM owed to Kemp through 2019 and his recent injury problems. Talks between the two sides didn't go anywhere, Rosenthal said.
Here's some more news from the Lone Star State...
- Rosenthal expects the Rangers to be "linked to virtually every power bat in free agency and trades" (Twitter link). This includes such names as Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Mike Napoli.
- Speaking of Napoli, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that some executives think the Rangers will be the Red Sox biggest rivals for the first baseman this offseason. Scouts were impressed by how well Napoli handled first base and Texas is known to be looking for first base help. Napoli has drawn interest from several teams and while there's mutual interest in a return to Boston, the Sox have reportedly only made him a one-year offer.
- Shin-Soo Choo could be on the decline and will cost too much for the Rangers to pursue in free agency, ESPN Dallas' Todd Wills opines. McCann is a better fit for Texas' needs, Wills argues.
- Ray Davis was unanimously approved as the Rangers' control person by MLB owners today, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reports. Davis, the club's co-chairman, will represent the Rangers at ownership meetings and he told media (including Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) that GM Jon Daniels would report directly to either Davis or co-owner Bob Simpson.
- From earlier today, the Rangers avoided arbitration with Adam Rosales by signing him to a one-year, $750K contract.
Clayton Kershaw told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (on Twitter) his contract negotiations with the Dodgers aren't on hold, but they've haven't resumed since the season ended. Kershaw reportedly turned down a $300MM extension offer from the Dodgers earlier this year due to concerns about the length and size of the deal. While it has been assumed that Kershaw will extend his deal with the Dodgers, the baseball world will surely be paying attention to what will likely be the largest contract ever issued to a pitcher.
Here's the latest from both Los Angeles teams...
- "I think, for us, it wouldn't surprise me if we went [through] the winter without a huge move; not that it couldn't happen," Dodgers president Stan Kasten tells MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. "We are looking more at deepening the organization, to fine-tune it and get into the season and see what we need. Having said that, I'm not ruling anything out. But those people who attach us to every free agent out there are making it up." With Kasten prioritizing the Dodgers' farm system, Gurnick finds it unlikely that the club would move what few top prospects it has in a trade for David Price.
- Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers "are kicking the tires" on such free agent pitchers as Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bartolo Colon and Bronson Arroyo. Given the big salaries some of these pitchers are demanding, you wonder if L.A. would really make a move to sign any given Kasten's earlier comments, though Kuroda, Colon and Arroyo could be had on less expensive, shorter-term deals.
- The Angels aren't one of the teams who have made an offer to Ricky Nolasco, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (via Twitter). Nolasco is reportedly juggling several three- or four-year contracts offers.
- The rumored discord between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia could have led to one or both men being fired following the Angels' disappointing season, but Dipoto tells FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi and he and the long-time Halos manager have improved their communication and are on the same page.
- From that same piece, Dipoto reiterated that pitching will be the central focus of the Angels' offseason: "Frankly, we’ve been focused on [pitching] for a couple years and it’s eluded us. We plan on putting our resources toward improving those areas. On the field, that’s where our biggest changes are going to come.”
- The Angels' defense took a sharp decline from 2012 to 2013, and ESPN's David Schoenfeld thinks that the club should hold onto Peter Bourjos as a way of improving their fielding. Schoenfeld also suggests signing Jhonny Peralta, trading Mark Trumbo and acquiring Felix Doubront from the Red Sox.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post
7:22pm: The Twins haven't made any offers to Nolasco, according to 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson (via Twitter). The Giants have talked to Sosnick "in passing" about Nolasco but are "not really interested" since they aren't willing to give him four years, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links).
4:34pm: Ricky Nolasco has received multiple three- and four-year offers, agent Matt Sosnick tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also spoke to Sosnick, who told him that Nolasco has two four-year offers (Twitter link) but has had no talks with the Dodgers yet. ESPN's Buster Olney recently reported that Nolasco had at least one offer of three years from a team that showed a willingness to go to four years if necessary.
Passan quotes Sosnick: "I believe the market for multiple-year starting pitching will start to reveal itself more clearly in the next two to three weeks." As Passan points out, that timeline lines up well with next month's Winter Meetings in Orlando. Sosnick declined to get into specifics on the offers, but one league source of Passan's indicated that Nolasco could command somewhere between Edwin Jackson money ($52MM) and Derek Lowe money ($60MM). If the bidding for Nolasco gets to that point, I'd expect Nolasco to take the deal and sign. It seems reasonable to assume that the four-year offers they have in hand have yet to escalate to that level.
Nolasco, who turns 31 in a month, finished the season with a 3.70 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate in 199 1/3 innings. That strikeout rate was the highest number he's posted since 2010, and the walk rate is right in line with the excellent marks he's posted throughout his career. As Olney reported, Nolasco's preference is to return to the Dodgers, but he's also drawn interest from the Twins to this point.