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Mike Gonzalez Rumors
A few items of note out of MLB's Central divisions …
- The Indians are interested in signing free-agent reliever Mike Gonzalez, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, although it may depend on the health progress of dinged up relievers Rafael Perez and Chris Perez. Rafael has battled left shoulder soreness while Chris was sidelined early in spring by a left oblique injury.
- The Tigers appear unlikely to acquire a fifth starter via trade, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Andy Oliver and Drew Smyly are the front runners to be Detroit's fifth starter, Knobler adds.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin said there were recent talks between the organization and John Axford's agent, Dan Horwits, but Melvin characterized them as "just a conversation," tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The Brewers and Axford have been rumored to be discussing an extension, and MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently examined what such an extension might look like.
Most of us thought the Yankees were done improving their rotation after acquiring Michael Pineda and signing Hiroki Kuroda, but they added one more veteran piece on Friday. Andy Pettitte decided to come out of retirement and return his old team, signing a one-year, minor league deal worth $2.5MM with no incentives. He won't be ready for Opening Day, but will get back into shape early in the season before rejoining the team. Here's a bunch of news and reactions to the signing, with most links going to Twitter…
- "I am embarrassed to be coming back, but what can I do? My desire has changed," said Pettitte to reporters (including Mark Feinsand of The New York Daily News and Joel Sherman of The New York Post) in a conference call this afternoon. "It was the Yankees or nothing," he added.
- Dialogue between Pettitte and GM Brian Cashman started back in December according to Jack Curry of The YES Network. The team originally offered a one-year deal worth $10-12MM, but the left-hander wanted to work out for six weeks to see how he felt.
- The two sides spoke sporadically over the last year according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Yankees checked in with Pettitte before signing Kuroda in mid-January, but at that point he wasn't sure if he would return.
- The Yankees had maxed out their budget by the time Pettitte said he wanted to pitch, so owner Hal Steinbrenner had to authorize the signing according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch.
- The two sides explored a number of different financial packages, including a personal services contract that would not have counted against the luxury tax according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- ESPN's Buster Olney says the Yankees could have signed Mike Gonzalez two weeks ago, but turned it down because of that budget. Pettitte's history with the team worked in his favor.
- The Yankees are very open to trading their excess starting pitching, reports Olney. In addition to Pettitte, they have CC Sabathia, Pineda, Kuroda, Freddy Garcia, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova penciled into the rotation.
- Sherman wouldn't be surprised if the Yankees shopped Garcia if they feel Pettitte could help this season. Garcia could be an affordable alternative for clubs looking at Joe Blanton or John Lannan.
- “I don’t think he’s coming back to where he was, call it a hunch," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine to reporters (including Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald). "But he’s a good pitcher. Always respected Andy. Always thought he was a borderline Hall of Famer. Add someone like that to your staff, you’re doing good.”
Rival executives believe Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez may already be on ‘probation,’ Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. Last year’s team lost its grip on a playoff spot down the stretch under Gonzalez, who’s now entering his second season as Atlanta’s manager. Here are the rest of Rosenthal’s notes from around the Major Leagues…
- Special assistant Jim Fregosi may be the Braves’ leading candidate to manage should they replace Gonzalez internally.
- The Diamondbacks would have interest in catcher J.P. Arencibia if the Blue Jays made him available. Arencibia isn’t going anywhere just yet, but top catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud could force the Blue Jays to make some difficult decisions within the year.
- The Blue Jays, Royals, Tigers and others are in the market for starting pitching and many options are available, Rosenthal writes. Joe Blanton, Gavin Floyd and John Lannan are among the potential trade targets for teams seeking starters.
- The Tigers, who are currently leaning toward left-hander Andy Oliver for their final rotation spot, could be a fit for Lannan. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined possible fits for Lannan last week, including the Tigers.
- The Padres’ financial outlook is improving, so owner John Moores may be less eager to sell the team to CEO Jeff Moorad. Moorad has two years to complete his purchase of the club, but the deal won’t be finalized in the near future.
- The A’s are no longer interested in free agent reliever Mike Gonzalez and the White Sox aren’t currently pursuing him, Rosenthal reports. The lefty is “about ready to go” following arthroscopic knee surgery.
- Some in the industry question shortstop Ian Desmond, but the Nationals like him.
Gonzalez, a Scott Boras client, remains unsigned with the season a few weeks away. Boras told me on Friday his client is "in play with a lot of teams right now," and "sometimes late doesn't mean demand, it just means choice." At this point, however, Gonzalez's ability to secure a Major League deal is in jeopardy. Last week, he turned down a minor league offer to return to the Rangers. The White Sox currently have 37 players on their 40-man roster, so they could add Gonzalez without losing anyone. Rhodes, 42, is more likely to settle for a minor league deal, in my opinion. He aims to pitch one more season before retiring.
Heyman also notes that the White Sox were the other team in on third baseman Eric Chavez at the end. Chavez ultimately re-upped with the Yankees.
Gonzalez registered a posted a 4.39 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 56 games for the Orioles and Rangers last season. On Friday, Boras told Tim Dierkes that a lot of teams are still in play for the left-hander and his availability late in the offseason doesn't reflect a lack of interest.
Texas might have freed a spot for Gonzalez with a trade of Koji Uehara, but GM Jon Daniels recently said that there were no deals in the works involving him.
I had a chance to catch up with super agent and MLBTR reader Scott Boras after today's baseball analytics panel at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston. A few highlights:
- Asked what led Edwin Jackson to take a one-year deal with the Nationals, Boras said, "In Edwin's case, it was choice. We had multiyear deals, a number of them. We really felt that it was best for him, at his age, to be with a particular team at a particular time and then go into the free agent market next year." I was curious as to whether Boras thought Jackson would improve his market position with a better 2012 performance, and the agent explained, "Our metrics, our analysis, we felt that his evolution as a pitcher is coming. I think he was developing certain pitches as his season went on. We really felt it was best for him to do a one-year contract rather than a three-year deal."
- Speaking of the agency's analytical tools, Boras has internal metrics he does not share with teams in negotiations, he noted during the panel. These analytics instead help determine how the agency values the player as a starting point. Sabermetric guru and Red Sox employee Bill James jumped in to question Boras on what he does when a GM places a significantly higher value on a player than Boras does, "other than celebrate." The agent replied that he will, for the most part, guard against poor fits for his clients, unless the client dictates his destination due to family concerns.
- Johnny Damon is "home, working out, waiting for the right team," Boras told me. I asked if Damon was expected a Major League deal, and Boras said, "Johnny Damon was about the third-best DH in the AL. I'm sure there's a lot of clubs that are looking at youth, and by the time spring training ends they may be looking at it differently."
- Lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez is "in play with a lot of teams right now," according to Boras. He elaborated, "A lot of it has to do with situational needs and clubs. In these markets, sometimes late doesn't mean demand, it just means choice."
The latest on the Rangers via GM Jon Daniels and assistant GM Thad Levine:
- Levine joined Mike Ferrin and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio and said Texas will be present at any workouts Roy Oswalt holds. The Rangers hope to limit Neftali Feliz to 140-160 innings in 2012.
- Levine said the Rangers and Mike Gonzalez maintain mutual interest, Bowden tweets.
- Regarding Josh Hamilton's next contract, the outfielder's recent comments "don't play into it much," Daniels said in an online chat with Dallas Morning News readers. The GM added, "Maybe I'm an optimist but I'd like to think that at the appropriate time, we'll sit down and be able to work something out." Daniels noted that they'll "revisit contract talks privately at some point."
- Asked about the limits on draft and international player spending in the new collective bargaining agreement, Daniels said, "It seems to limit teams in those areas, and if it plays out that way, I won't be a huge fan. Just think clubs should have the freedom/flexibility to make individual decisions in the best interests of their franchise – and we're all in different situations."
- Daniels confirmed Joe Nathan is his closer. The 37-year-old righty signed a two-year, $14.75MM deal in November, with extra benefits for games finished.
- Highly regarded pitching prospect Martin Perez has a shot to make the team, but "Ideally, he'll get more minor league innings as a starter, which is where we see him long term."
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at the Red Sox's shortstop position after the trade of Marco Scutaro. Major league evaluators are skeptical that Mike Aviles and Nick Punto can get the job done, which could leave the door open to prospect Jose Iglesias getting the nod. All eyes will be on manager Bobby Valentine to see how he handles the club's shortstop situation this spring. Here's more from Cafardo..
- Two GMs told Cafardo that Jorge Soler will go for more than the five years and $15MM-$20MM most thought he would settle for. Some of the clubs who elected to stay away on Yoenis Cespedes because of the hefty price and question marks about his game have decided that Soler is a better value. The Red Sox are one of about eight teams in on Soler.
- Mike Gonzalez is likely headed to the Rangers if they can trade Koji Uehara. The A's have also been connected to the free agent reliever recently.
- The Yankees prefer Raul Ibanez to Johnny Damon because of cost. Damon is seeking about $5MM while Ibanez will likely be in the $1.5MM-$2MM range.
- Angels veteran Bobby Abreu would have gone back to the Yankees in an A.J. Burnett deal. The Halos have a logjam with Kendry Morales returning and Albert Pujols at first base and Abreu has been offered around.
- The Red Sox didn’t attend Scott Kazmir’s workout on Friday and have no plans to watch Brandon Webb throw when he is on display. That's because Boston decided not to delve into the rehab market for pitchers. The club has tried a number of pitchers coming back from serious injury and in most cases, it hasn't worked out.
- Cafardo wonders if Cardinals backup Tyler Greene is worth a look for the Red Sox shortstop mix. The 27-year-old was once a promising prospect and is out of options this year.
4:05pm: A deal between the A's and Rangers is unlikely today, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link), since the Rangers are talking to another team. More progress could be made over the weekend.
2:48pm: Several clubs, including the A's, are talking to the Rangers about Uehara, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com.
12:57pm: The Rangers and Athletics are "getting close" to a trade involving reliever Koji Uehara, reports Joe Stiglich of the San Jose Mercury News (via Twitter). The A's are known to be looking for relief help, with Uehara and free agent Mike Gonzalez the two names most frequently connected to the club. Texas has also been connected to Gonzalez and in fact have been trying to create payroll space for that signing by dealing Uehara.
Uehara has a partial no-trade clause in his contract and has already blocked one deal this winter that would've sent him to Toronto. It's unknown if the A's are one of the other five teams on Uehara's no-trade list.
The two AL West rivals last completed a trade with each other in January 2011, a swap that sent Guillermo Moscoso to Oakland. The Rangers were one of several teams who talked to the A's about Andrew Bailey before Bailey was eventually dealt to the Red Sox earlier this winter.
The Athletics are continuing to talk to the Rangers about reliever Koji Uehara, and they are also in talks with free agent lefty Mike Gonzalez, tweeted ESPN's Buster Olney this morning. Though Olney's tweet came prior to the Yoenis Cespedes bombshell, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports later tweeted that the A's still seek a reliever and Gonzalez is a possibility. And according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, the A's are still likely to sign designated hitter Manny Ramirez, although they're out on Cuban free agent Jorge Soler in the wake of the Cespedes signing.
The A's and Rangers have spoken about a few relievers this offseason, most notably Andrew Bailey before he was traded to the Red Sox. Uehara recently invoked his no-trade clause to block a deal to the Blue Jays, and is said to prefer a return to the Orioles. Texas is reportedly looking to move the righty to free up room for Gonzalez, who finished last season with them. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes took a look at some other potential suitors for Gonzalez this morning.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.