Matt Garza Rumors
Matt Garza's name has begun to pick up a bit more this week, with the Diamondbacks and Twins both having been linked to the right-hander. Here's the latest on Garza...
- There's a growing feeling among executives that Garza will sign soon, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who tweets that the D-Backs and Angels are viewed as the favorites.
- According to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link), however, the Angels aren't expecting to sign anyone today, so it doesn't appear Garza is close to signing with them.
- If Garza agrees to a deal by week's end, it doesn't look like it'll happen at the Winter Meetings. Garza's agent has left Orlando, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities, who tweets that the Twins "know the price" for the righty.
- Heyman also mentions the Twins and adds the Angels to the mix of teams interested in Garza (via Twitter), noting that there's still nothing close.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick also hears that the Angels are in the mix for Garza, noting that despite a sizable asking price, the lack of draft pick compensation attached to Garza is a plus for the Halos and other interested parties (Twitter links).
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Diamondbacks are definitely talking to Garza, but they still have a lot of work to do.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark hears that Matt Garza's camp is telling interested parties that he could sign within the next 24 to 48 hours (Twitter link). There's been a lot of Diamondbacks buzz, Stark adds.
The latest out of Arizona..
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says that he's been telling free agents he'd rather pay a higher salary on a shorter deal, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Towers says he won't go to five years and probably not even four on a free agent deal. More from the NL West..
- Towers understands that his stance might take him out of the running for some free agent starters, Piecoro tweets. He would go longer to ink Masahiro Tanaka (link), however, as he is the club's No. 1 priority at the moment.
- In addition to talking to Matt Garza, the Diamondbacks met with agents for Ervin Santana, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Of course, signing Santana would cost them first-round pick. Their refusal to go beyond three years for the majority of free agents could also prove to be a road block.
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.
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 Corbin, Wade Miley, Brandon 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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
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