Matt Wieters Rumors
In yesterday's Insider-only column, ESPN's Buster Olney broke down the budget problems facing the Orioles this offseason. The team has interest in signing Chris Davis and Matt Wieters to long-term deals, but both are Scott Boras clients and each is just two years removed from free agency. According to Olney, the O's tried to strike up extension talks for Wieters in Spring Training 2013 and were met with a counter-offer in the range of Joe Mauer's eight-year, $184MM deal with the Twins. Coming off the worst offensive season of his career, the price for a Wieters extension is likely down, but that contractual demand shows that the two sides "are speaking a different languague in negotiations," as Olney puts it. More from Olney and the rest of the AL East below...
- Rival executives feel that Jim Johnson represents "the most painless cut" the Orioles could make in order to ease their payroll constrictions, Olney wrote. I agree that for a team with a tight payroll, Johnson's $10.8MM projected salary is too steep a price to pay despite his strong ground-ball and ERA numbers.
- MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski weighs in on Johnson in response to Olney's piece, writing that the decision to non-tender Johnson "would be a bombshell" that he simply cannot picture. Melewski points out that in addition to being one of the team's best arms, Johnson is a leader in the clubhouse and has the complete trust of manager Buck Showalter.
- Even after reaching an agreement to bring Brendan Ryan back into the fold in 2014, the Yankees are still pursuing free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted within his report on the Ryan signing. The fit seems a curious one at this point, as the Yankees seem to have bigger needs in the rotation and have already committed $12MM to Derek Jeter.
- Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes that the Yankees are expected to meet with Robinson Cano's camp this week. McCullough's piece also includes the highlights from a recent Brodie Van Wagenen appearance on MLB Network Radio. Van Wagenen, the CAA agent who is partnering with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, said that Jay-Z will be "intimately involved in all areas" of Cano's contract negotiations.
- The Red Sox are likely to dismiss any trade proposals offered to acquire Daniel Nava this offseason, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. As Bradford writes, Nava's ability to play either corner outfield position or even first base gives GM Ben Cherington and his staff the flexibility to cast a wide net of free agent targets. Shane Victorino could play center field with Nava taking one corner outfield spot and Carlos Beltran occupying the other, and he also keeps them from having to get into a bidding war to retain Mike Napoli, Bradford points out in a pair of hypothetical scenarios.
The Orioles have been one of the most mentioned teams on MLBTR with the club trying to decide whether to extend or trade Matt Wieters and approaching the Cardinals about a J.J. Hardy-Shelby Miller trade. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com weighs in on those and other topics in a "Because You Asked" column:
- The Hardy-Miller talks were just preliminary, but not unexpected because of the Orioles' quest for starting pitching and the Cardinals' need for a shortstop. Kubatko sees the O's acquiring a starter and keeping Hardy.
- Wieters is not untouchable and the Orioles are willing to trade him, but are not feverishly shopping the catcher. Financial constraints are compounding the Wieters situation, as the front office is trying to figure out how to accomodate within their budget the pursuit of free agents like Carlos Beltran and arbitration raises for Wieters and others (MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects $41.2MM for eight arbitration eligible players).
- There is no progress in negotiations with outfielder Nate McLouth. The Orioles are concerned with other clubs offering him a two-year deal. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted two years and $10MM for McLouth to which a person in the Orioles organization, when asked by Kubatko late in the season, responded: "Well, he won't be getting that from us."
- Kubatko suggests the Orioles swallow hard and give McLouth a two-year contract since they did so for Wilson Betemit. If re-signed, Kubatko doesn't necessarily see McLouth as the full-time starter in left, but a valuable fourth outfielder, occasional DH, pinch-runner, and defensive replacement.
- The Orioles like Carlos Beltran and see him as a great fit; but, will have to outbid some big spending teams, which they haven't done historically.
- One option worth debating to free up payroll space for Beltran, according to Kubatko, is trading Jim Johnson and his expected $10.8MM arbitration salary. The Orioles have said they intend to keep their closer.
- Kubatko spoke with someone in the organization recently who steered him away from Scott Kazmir, as if the Orioles have no interest. The O's, however, do have interest in Tim Hudson.
- There is a definite possibility Brian Roberts will return to Baltimore. If not, Mark Ellis is on the club's radar as an alternative because he won't command a three-year deal like Omar Infante.
Here's the latest out of Baltimore ...
- The Orioles remain interested in bringing back outfielder Nate McLouth and have engaged in discussions with his agency (The Sparta Group), reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The O's have yet to make a formal offer, says Connolly, and when they do it might need to include a figure for the 2015 season, as McLouth is looking likely to command multiple years. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that the 32-year-old would land a two-year, $10MM deal.
- Baltimore may not spend a lot on the free agent market, but the team has been aggressive early in making multiple offers to targets, writes MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. She sees the club targeting the mid-tier starting pitching market.
- Meanwhile, says Ghiroli, it would remain surprising to see catcher Matt Wieters trade hands before 2014. But "an extension is becoming more and more remote," in her opinion.
- Trade speculation has also recently hit shortstop J.J. Hardy, but Ghiroli throws cold water on that idea as well. As she explains, dealing Hardy opens up a hole in the lineup even if Manny Machado is shifted to short, since then the team would have no obvious choice to man the hot corner. Of course, an overwhelming return could nevertheless be enticing, and that could well be precisely what the O's sought in approaching the Cardinals with interest in Shelby Miller.
The Orioles are interested in Carlos Beltran, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but their ability to land the slugging right fielder may be contingent upon whether or not they can trade Matt Wieters or another high-salary player to accommodate the lofty contract Beltran figures to sign. Other high-priced O's include closer Jim Johnson (projected to earn $10.8MM) and right fielder Nick Markakis ($15MM). Some other O's-related links for your Friday reading...
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes that while many fans are surprised to have seen reports about the O's listening to offers on Wieters and J.J. Hardy, it shouldn't be that startling; the Orioles are willing to listen on any of their players. As he points out, Adam Jones' salary will continue to rise over the course of his contract, and they'll need to see if it's possible to extend Chris Davis and Manny Machado in the near future. Melewski feels that because Davis and Wieters are Scott Boras clients, it will be difficult to retain both, so the Orioles are right to keep all options open.
- Mike Francesca of WFAN Radio in New York said on the air that the Mets and Orioles discussed Markakis at the GM Meetings, but nothing came of the talks (hat tip: Andrew Vazzano of SNY on Twitter).
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that he met with about half the teams in baseball at the GM Meetings this week as he looked to acquire another outfielder. Duquette also said he'd consider tendering Nolan Reimold a contract but needs an update on how Reimold is recovering from neck surgery.
This morning's news out of the American League East..
- A deal that would bring Brendan Ryan back to the Yankees was set weeks ago, pending a physical following minor surgery, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (via Twitter). There's reportedly mutual interest in a new deal.
- Stephen Drew won't be back with the Red Sox, a source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. There are a number of teams out there that are willing to make multi-year deals beyond what the BoSox are willing to do.
- A report yesterday indicated that the Yankees are in pursuit of Cardinals third baseman David Freese, but someone involved with the club tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that it won't happen. The Yankees still won't know what will happen with Alex Rodriguez for at least another month, so if the club does anything at third base, it will be with a left-handed complement, such as Eric Chavez, or a free agent like Jhonny Peralta or Drew who could play shortstop or third and provide insurance for both Jeter and A-Rod. Sherman also notes the possibility that the Yanks could wait and see if the Cards non-tender Freese ($4.4MM projected), but as Tim Dierkes wrote earlier this month, that seems like a drastic measure.
- Sherman also writes that Marlon Byrd apparently wasn't on the Yankees radar. When asked about the outfielder, GM Brian Cashman said, "I didn't even know who his agent was." As shown in the MLBTR Agency Database, his agent is Seth Levinson, who has a long, strong relationship with Cashman.
- Free agent outfielder Chris Young is on the Red Sox's list of fallback options if they don't re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
- Both Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy have been mentioned in trade rumors over the last couple of days, but Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette didn't sound eager to move either one in a conversation with Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.
Here's a look at the latest news from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- Major league sources say it's not a surprise that the Orioles are willing to deal Matt Wieters. The bigger question is how Baltimore would reshape the roster if they made such a move. The O's don't have much breathing room to spend, but Rosenthal suggests the Orioles could gain flexibility by moving the catcher and also closer Jim Johnson, who projects to earn $10.8MM through arbitration. The O's could then find cheaper alternatives at both positions and be aggressive on the open market.
- If the Royals sign Carlos Beltran or another right-handed slugger, they could afford to trade designated hitter Billy Butler, who is signed for $8MM in 2014 with a $12.5MM club option for ’15. The Mariners are among the teams that covet Butler, a major league source tells Rosenthal.
- The Reds haven’t given up on re-signing Shin-Soo Choo, but they probably would need to trade Brandon Phillips and possibly Homer Bailey to create the necessary room, sources say. We've heard that Phillips is a likely a goner, but Bailey a more difficult call since losing him would require the Reds to move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, unless they acquired another starter. All that might be too much to ask to accommodate the signing of a $100MM+ free agent, but they'd ideally like to have Choo back to give them another year before putting Billy Hamilton in center field. If they lose Choo, they likely would go with Hamilton and seek out a veteran complement in center.
- The Mets appear likely to trade Ike Davis, who is drawing interest from a number of clubs. Rosenthal also cautions not to be surprised if they move Daniel Murphy as well.
- Opinions are split on Jacoby Ellsbury's value. One rival exec's statistical analysis rated Ellsbury as the top Red Sox player last season, ahead of Dustin Pedroia. Others in the industry, however, are wary of Ellsbury’s diminished power since he has hit only 13 home runs over the past two seasons.
- One rival exec described the Rangers' infield logjam as an untenable situation.
12:48pm: A club source tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link) that rumors that J.J. Hardy and Wieters are available just part of initial dialogue with teams. The source maintains they aren't on the trading block or being shopped.
11:19am: The Orioles are willing to trade catcher Matt Wieters, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). An extension is unlikely for the Scott Boras client and the Orioles believe that he is set to hit the open market after the 2015 season, barring a dramatic change in thinking.
Wieters, 27, had a solid season in 2013 (.235/.287/.417 with 22 homers) but it wasn't quite on the level of his previous two campaigns. Rosenthal suggested over the weekend that the O's could conceivably move Wieters and target a replacement such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the open market. If the Orioles move him now, however, it'll be selling low on one of the best young catchers in baseball.
Let's take a look at the latest from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who's out with a new column of rumors from around the majors:
- A trade of second baseman Ian Kinsler or shortstop Elvis Andrus increasingly looks "inevitable" given the Rangers' crowded infield. "Some team is going to get a good middle infielder from the Rangers. The only question is which one," Rosenthal writes. It's unlikely, however, that the club packages infielder Jurickson Profar with other young players in a deal for a star such as David Price or Giancarlo Stanton. Rosenthal's sources say the Rangers want to keep their farm system stocked.
- Matt Garza's elbow shouldn't scare off potential suitors. Though he missed much of 2012 with an elbow issue, officials with both the Cubs and Rangers tell Rosenthal that the righty wasn't treated for elbow issues at all in 2013.
- There's mutual interest in a new deal between Southern California native Jason Vargas and the Angels, but Rosenthal's sources say the team is already examining other options and could move on from the left-hander if negotiations drag. Vargas may ultimately have to leave money on the table if he wants to remain with the club.
- The Orioles are at least considering options for a backup catcher, as Matt Wieters managed just a .628 OPS against lefties last season. Rosenthal notes that the O's could seek to move Wieters and target a replacement such as Jarrod Saltalamacchia, as Wieters is unlikely to agree to an extension. However, trading him now would be selling low.
- Baltimore will also have to consider how they'll approach J.J. Hardy's impending free agency. Though Rosenthal writes that the Orioles' front office eventually aims to move Manny Machado to shortstop, it also views Hardy, who becomes a free agent after next season, as critical to the club.
- Executives from other teams are surprised at rumors that the Tigers are listening on Max Scherzer. Shipping Scherzer elsewhere and then losing Anibal Sanchez to an injury would be a major hit to the team's rotation.
- The Diamondbacks continue to wait for a reply from Dave Duncan on whether he will take their pitching coach job.
As the baseball world gathers at Citi Field for the All-Star break, the Orioles are looking to bring the Midsummer Classic back to Baltimore in 2016, Childs Walker of the Baltimore Sun reports. It would be the first time the O's have hosted the All-Star Game since 1993, and a 2016 hosting date would also mark the team's 25th season at Camden Yards.
Here's the latest from Charm City...
- Scott Boras told reporters (including Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun) that he hasn't had any conversations with Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette about contract extensions for Chris Davis or Matt Wieters. “Dan and I talk all the time, but it’s the kind of thing where the focus is on the play and not really their contracts now," Boras said. Both players have two years of arbitration eligibility remaining before they're eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. There was talk of a Wieters extension last offseason but the team now believes Wieters will test the open market in 2015. Davis is sure to receive a huge arbitration raise on his current $3.3MM salary, and it will be very interesting to see how any extension talks develop given Boras' involvement and Davis' sudden emergence as an elite slugger.
- The Orioles have been quiet on the international signing front since July 2, but Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that the team is actively working to identify and access international talent. "We're working all the markets. Teams have different strategies to acquire talent. Our strategy is to sign good players and look for value in the market and that is what our scouts are doing," Duquette said. "We are active on the international markets. We will be out executing our international recruiting strategy for the whole [2013-14] season." You can check out all of MLBTR's coverage of the 2013-14 international signing period here.
The Orioles and catcher Matt Wieters haven't made any progress on extension talks, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Insider subscription required). "Unless something changes dramatically," the team believes that Wieters will forego a long-term deal and hit the free agent market after the 2015 season.
Olney reported in April that there was "no momentum" between the two sides on a multiyear deal, though the O's were open to giving Wieters a six-year contract. Wieters was arbitration-eligible for the first time last winter and avoided going to an arb hearing by agreeing to a one-year, $5.5MM contract with Baltimore. The Boras Corporation client has two more years of arb-eligibility left before he becomes a free agent at age 29 and as Olney notes, Boras clients usually test the open market once they're close to free agency.
The Orioles may have been fortunate in holding off on an extension for the catcher given that Wieters is hitting just .231/.290/407 with 10 homers through 298 PA this season. Wieters carried a .260/.328/.421 career line into this season --- solid numbers for a catcher, but below expectations considering Wieters' high draft status (fifth overall in 2007) and his ranking as the sport's top prospect by Baseball America before the 2009 season.