Matt Garza Rumors

AL West Notes: Astros, Morse, Rangers, Cruz

A look at the AL West..

  • The Mariners' plan for Corey Hart is to see time in the outfield and at DH and he's not necessarily slotted for first base despite his knee troubles, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
  • Astros manager Bo Porter is pushing for Michael Morse in Houston, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Morse is said to be willing to do a one-year deal to re-establish his value.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels says that he has had a few conversations with Nelson Cruz's agent and will continue to talk with him, tweets Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com.
  • The Angels aren't close to any free agents signings, so if Matt Garza is nearing a deal somewhere, it's not with the Halos, tweets Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.

Diamondbacks Could Still Trade For Starter

WEDNESDAY: The Diamondbacks are getting interest in shortstops Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings and could still swing a trade for a starting pitcher, tweets Rosenthal.

GM Kevin Towers could include a current starter such as Trevor Cahill or Randall Delgado along with one of his shortstops in order to land a more established pitcher, Rosenthal adds. The Snakes have the depth to make that work, with Patrick CorbinWade MileyBrandon McCarthy, Cahill and Delgado projected to fill out their 2014 rotation as it stands right now.

TUESDAY: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to a source who said the Diamondbacks are out on Shin-Soo Choo after acquiring Mark Trumbo and have now turned their focus to adding a front-line starting pitcher (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks have been in touch with Matt Garza's agent but notes that he also wouldn't rule out a trade centering around one of Arizona's young shortstops (Twitter links). Arizona is hesitant to sign pitchers to long-term deals, Piecoro adds.

Save for a report that he's willing to return to the Twins, t's been pretty quiet on the Garza front to this point. Many pundits believe that to be a result of the uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka's availability. The 30-year-old Garza posted his seventh straight season of a sub-4.00 ERA in 2013, posting a 3.82 mark in 155 1/3 innings between the Cubs and Rangers. Though he began the year on the disabled list, Garza made all of his starts upon returning and posted solid rates of 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9.

The trade market offers David Price and Jeff Samardzija, both of whom have been oft-connected to the Diamondbacks. The Phillies are also said to be willing to move both Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, although their unwillingness to eat any salary in order to facilitate a deal makes the D-Backs a tough fit for the Philly aces.


Twins Eyeing Garza, Arroyo, Colon, Pelfrey

The Twins' list of pitching targets currently consists of Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo, Bartolo Colon and Mike Pelfrey, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

Minnesota has been uncharacteristically aggressive on the free agent market, already landing Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49MM) and Phil Hughes (three years, $24MM) to shore up a rotation that posted an MLB-worst 5.26 ERA and 4.9 K/9 in 2013. Previous reports have indicated that despite being shipped off by the Twins years ago in a trade for Delmon Young, Garza would be open to returning to the team that drafted him.

The Twins' interest in Arroyo has been ongoing, and they're currently in the mix for the veteran innings eater along with the Reds and Mets. The Pirates are said to have dropped out of the Arroyo market, but the Reds could be preparing an offer. We've also heard of their interest in a reunion with Pelfrey a number of times, and they've reportedly extended an offer in the two-year, $10MM range that Pelfrey and agent Scott Boras have declined.

Minnesota's connection to Colon is new and would seem to be a dificult fit, as the aging Colon likely would prefer to sign with a team that's more likely to contend in 2013. However, the Twins could try to sell Colon on the fact that his addition would give them a fairly competitive rotation, or they could guarantee Colon a second year if other teams are reluctant to do so.



Pitching Rumors: D-Backs, Colon, Twins, Williams

Things are starting to heat up again on Day Three of the Winter Meetings, so let's dive right in and round up a few early morning notes on a handful of starting pitchers….

  • The Diamondbacks are targeting front-line starters, as we heard yesterday, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that, besides Masahiro Tanaka, Matt Garza is the team's top choice due to the lack of draft pick compensation.
  • Bartolo Colon and agent Adam Katz continue to focus on a two-year deal rather than a one-year pact, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney. This isn't the first time we've heard about the righty's desire for a multiyear contract — the deals for Scott Kazmir and Tim Hudson have recently been cited as possible comparables for Colon.
  • La Velle E. Neal III of The Star Tribune has a few updates on the Twins' search for starting pitching, including word that the club could be in on Garza and, if he becomes available, Tanaka. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities cautions (via Twitter) that there are no real developments on the Garza front, and that the Twins have spoken to agent multiple times and are familiar with his asking price.
  • Jerome Williams represents a solid buy-low candidate, and is expected to top his projected $4MM arbitration salary on the open market, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • MLBTR's Tim Dierkes hears that as many as eight to 10 teams have checked in on Williams in the past 48 hours (Twitter link).

Stark Previews Winter Meetings

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is out with a Winter Meetings preview, noting that the frenzy of signings and trades this week threatens to overshadow an event that's traditionally one of the hot stove's busiest periods. Twenty teams either swapped a player or agreed to terms with a free agent between Monday afternoon and Tuesday night, according to ESPN's count. "I don't ever remember a day like Tuesday ever," an AL official commented. "Not just [during] the week before the Winter Meetings. Ever." Nevertheless, with several top names remaining unsigned and rumors of a David Price trade hanging in the air, Stark notes that there's plenty of hot stove left. Here's a run-through of his Winter Meetings preview, which includes a survey of 17 big league executives (conducted before the Carlos Beltran and Robinson Cano signings):

  • Some believe Scott Boras will bide his time with Shin-Soo Choo following how quickly a deal for Jacoby Ellsbury came together with the Yankees, but there's another group that believes the superagent wants to show new rival Jay Z that he can be decisive. Around half of execs polled said they think Choo could sign during the Winter Meetings, or immediately afterward. All speculated he'll land with either the Rangers, Mariners or Tigers, though Detroit is indicating they're not involved.
  • The market for starting pitching has been slow to develop because of uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka, as well as slow-developing rumors for Price and Jeff Samardzija, leaving Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez still on the board. Officials polled varied widely in their predictions for when the two will sign, though many see Garza heading to the Yankees or the Orioles. Draft pick compensation is an issue with Jimenez, who doesn't have a consistent track record.
  • Kendrys Morales isn't expected to sign soon, with many NL clubs passing on the slugger because there's a perception that he'll need to DH. "I think he has all the makings of this year's Kyle Lohse," one exec commented. Draft pick compensation is also an issue. "You should never forget how many teams don't want to give up those draft picks," one exec commented.
  • Samardzija was seen as the player most likely to be traded during the Meetings among players who are still on the market, though his three votes only slightly surpassed Mark Trumbo's two. Many believe, however, that Samardzija could remain a Cub until later in the winter, or even until the summer trade deadline in July. One exec said he thinks the Angels were more willing to move Trumbo a month ago than they are currently.
  • Carlos Beltran was by far seen as the most likely player to sign during the Meetings, though as that's already happened, the title is now held by Choo.
  • While the Dodgers, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Braves, Diamondbacks and Padres all appear to be interested in trading for Price, the group of teams that are actually able to consummate a deal could be much smaller. Rays GM Andrew Friedman appears to be taking his time allowing the market to develop. "Andrew is looking to make the Herschel Walker trade," a source tells Stark, referring to the 1989 NFL trade that involved 18 players and draft picks.

Olney On Starters, Mariners, Anderson, Mets, Rockies

As we continue to work our way through what has been a slow holiday weekend, here are a few interesting notes from ESPN.com's Buster Olney:

  • Starting pitching demand may not be sufficient to drive up the salaries of Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Matt Garza, argues Olney. Each member of that trio is rumored to be seeking a major, long-term deal. But as Olney observes, several factors — including the wait for Masahiro Tanaka, possible trade availability of some major arms, and imperfect track record of all three hurlers — could conspire to limit their market.
  • One team that "seems bound" to land one of that threesome, according to Olney (via Twitter), is the Mariners
  • Ticking through each team in baseball to gauge possible interest in one of these upper-middle-class starters, Olney includes a few interesting notes on some clubs. For instance, Olney twice notes that the Athletics' Brett Anderson is available via trade and could well be dealt if Oakland brings back Bartolo Colon or another short-term starter. He has previously reported that the Royals might be interested in buying low on Anderson.
  • The Mets, meanwhile, "have been looking more at second-tier and third-tier free agents." That fits the most recent rumors out of New York, though it is sure to disappoint those who expect the club to ink at least one major free agent. As I discussed in my offseason outlook for the Mets, the club has professed to have $40MM in payroll space for next year, and so far has committed less than a fifth of that by signing Chris Young.
  • Likewise, according to Olney, the Rockies are putting out word that they do not have a lot to spend in free agency. Of course, the club reportedly made legitimate runs at both Jose Dariel Abreu and Brian McCann, though it could be that it was only willing to spend big on certain players.

Matt Garza Open To Returning To Twins

Matt Garza is open to a return to the Twins, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports. Wolfson offers more on Garza, via Twitter, stating that he hears the Twins are more interested in Garza than Ricky Nolasco, despite earlier reports that the Twins are making a "strong push" for Nolasco.

The Twins met with Garza's agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, at this week's GM Meetings in Orlando, Wolfson writes. However, as of this morning, Minnesota hasn't made a formal offer to any of its free agent targets.

Garza has worn three different uniforms since last donning a Twins jersey in 2007. Minnesota selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft and ultimately traded him to the Rays along with Jason Bartlett in an ill-fated deal that netted Delmon Young and Brendan Harris. It's worth pointing out that current GM Terry Ryan was in the GM's chair when Garza was drafted, but had stepped away from the position when Garza was traded. Bill Smith was the Twins' GM at the time of the Garza trade, but he's since been fired, and Ryan has reprised his role as Twins GM.

Garza turned in his seventh straight season of a sub-4.00 ERA in 2013, hurling 155 1/3 innings of 3.82 ERA ball with 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He opened the season on the disabled list but made all of his starts upon returning. Like Nolasco, he was traded midseason and therefore won't require a draft pick to sign.


Los Angeles Notes: Kershaw, Payroll, Nolasco, Dipoto

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


Olney’s Latest: Nolasco, Twins, Joba, Royals, Peralta, Headley

Major League Baseball is in a race against the clock to change the rules and eliminate home-plate collisions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest Insider-only column. MLB GMs were "100 percent" in favor when the issue of a rule-change was raised at the GM Meetings this week, says Olney. As one team lawyer pointed out to Olney, MLB has no choice but to scramble to get something in place for next season: "Everybody has said that there needs to be a change [in the rules], and if somebody gets hurt [in 2014] they could sue and claim that Major League Baseball knew there was a problem and didn’t do anything about it." Here are just a few of the highlights from Olney's highly informative piece:

  • Ricky Nolasco already has a three-year offer in hand, and that same team has indicated that it may be willing to extend the offer to four years. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Olney that his client's preference is still to return to the Dodgers.
  • Teams are racing to make their best offers to pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo, knowing that those arms might not require the potential four- and five-year deals that Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are targeting.
  • The Twins have made it clear that they're looking to sign two good veteran arms, and in a separate tweet Olney notes that they're being very aggressive on the free agent market. In addition to their interest in Arroyo, it's possible that they're in on Nolasco, says Olney.
  • The Royals have had internal discussions about adding Joba Chamberlain on a one-year deal, and as Olney points out, Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland was Chamberlain's pitching coach with the Yankees earlier in his career.
  • The Royals would also like to sign Josh Johnson to a one-year deal in an attempt to recreate the magic of last year's Santana acquisition.
  • Jhonny Peralta is looking for "huge" money, according to Olney's sources. Olney writes that Peralta is seeking "much" more than three years and $45MM. I predicted a three-year, $36MM pact for Peralta in my recent free agent profile of the former Tiger.
  • The Padres haven't had any extension talks with Chase Headley this offseason, and as it stands right now, there are no plans to begin negotiations.

Crasnick On Cano, Tanaka, Price, Ellsbury

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs.  Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year.  It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
  • Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees.  All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers.  Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
  • Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter.  Where will he land?  The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
  • Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals.  Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
  • When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza.  Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid.  One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term.  "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
  • When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
  • Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson.  Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner.  "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."