Mike Carp Rumors
The Brewers and Pirates have scouts watching the Red Sox, with a specific focus on Mike Carp, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in his weekly Sunday column. While it's still unknown whether Carp can handle an everyday job, he wouldn't have to fill that role in Pittsburgh, as the Bucs have been looking for a left-handed hitting platoon partner for first baseman Gaby Sanchez. Carp has received a lot of trade buzz this offseason though Boston was known to be asking for a lot in return.
Here's some more from Cafardo's latest piece...
- Sam and Seth Levinson of the ACES agency "are gaining the reputation of persuading clients to take under-market-value contracts if they’re happy where they are," which is why there is a feeling amongst general managers that Jon Lester, an ACES client, will sign an extension with the Red Sox. “If you’re a team with a big-ticket guy out there, they are the agents you want to be dealing with right now,” said one National League GM. “The teams love it. You can get something done with them." This past summer, ACES client Dustin Pedroia signed an eight-year, $110MM extension with the Red Sox that was perceived as a team-friendly deal (especially given what Robinson Cano was able to find on the open market this offseason), though it's worth noting that the Levinsons kept Pedroia fully informed of his market value and the second baseman just really wanted to stay in Boston. Lester, for his part, has also said he'd be willing to take a discount to remain with the Sox.
- Cafardo speaks to Orioles manager Buck Showalter about the team's recent signings of Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez and how the club weighed the value of the draft picks they'd have to surrender to sign the qualifying offer-rejecting free agents. Also, Showalter doesn't think money will be an obstacle in retaining key players over the long term. “I feel confident with Peter [Angelos] that when we come to him and say this is someone we want to hold on to, he’s going to find a way to do it,” said Showalter. “I don’t think our guys want to go anywhere."
- Baltimore's hiring of Dave Wallace as pitching coach "may be the best acquisition we’ve made this offseason," Showalter said. “He’s really simplified things for us. Sometimes we’re so mechanics-driven in this business.”
- "Don't believe" the Blue Jays when they say they aren't interested in Ervin Santana, Cafardo writes. He also thinks the Orioles could still have an eye on Santana even after the Jimenez signing.
- Oliver Perez seemed to be close to a new contract two weeks ago when he was weighing offers from four teams, but "nothing has transpired" since then, Cafardo writes. He opines that the Nationals and Yankees are teams who could use Perez's lefty presence in their bullpens.
Now that it's clear Nelson Cruz won't be back, it's unclear who the Rangers will use as their designated hitter against lefties, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes. The Rangers still had interest in Cruz, Grant writes, noting that, in addition to the qualifying offer, they made at least one offer that exceeded the $8MM Cruz ended up taking from the Orioles. That leaves them with a variety of options to play DH against lefties, but none manager Ron Washington likes very much: Mitch Moreland is a lefty, Michael Choice doesn't have enough experience for Washington's taste, and Washington would prefer to keep the Rangers' spare catcher (Geovany Soto or J.P. Arencibia, depending on who isn't starting) available on the bench.
- With Cruz off the market, Grant, in a separate article, believes now is the time for the Rangers to extend manager Ron Washington. Grant also opines players tagged with qualifying offers are going to think more seriously about accepting them in light of Cruz's surprisingly small contract.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi thinks new minor-league signee Andrew Bailey can help them in the late innings, but probably not until September, Jack Curry of the YES Network tweets. The former Athletics and Red Sox closer had labrum surgery last July.
- The Red Sox will try Mike Carp out at a new position this spring, Alex Speier of WEEI.com tweets. While Spring Training experiments like these aren't uncommon and often have little long-term impact, a bit of added versatility might change Carp's outlook with the Red Sox, particularly if he can play third, where the Red Sox are less settled than they are elsewhere. Carp hit .296/.362/.523 in 243 plate appearances last season, but the Red Sox already have plenty of talent at first base, left field and DH, which has led to speculation that Carp could be a trade candidate.
- Scott Boras blames the Blue Jays' lack of activity in the free agent market on its ownership, Rogers Communications, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. "There is no one who has the asset base of Rogers," said Boras. "They’re a car with a huge engine that is impeded by a big corporate stop sign . . . a successful and committed ownership that needs to give their baseball people financial flexibility." GM Alex Anthopoulos denied Boras' assertion telling Rosenthal, "Our ownership has been outstanding and given us all the resources we need." The Blue Jays' payroll is expected to exceed $130MM this season.
- Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon told reporters, including Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune, Justin Smoak will be the team's first baseman as long he performs. This means McClendon expects new acquistions Logan Morrison and Corey Hart to man the corner outfield spots and DH.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow acknowledged internal discussions about a contract extension for catcher Jason Castro have taken place, reports the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. No offer, however, has been discussed with Castro.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
The Yankees dominated the headlines in baseball today with their signing of Masahiro Tanaka. Earlier today on MLBTR, we looked at some of the reaction and fallout to the big move, while MLBTR's Zach Links took part in a conference call with Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Here's some more from around the AL East...
- For now, Mike Carp's future with the Red Sox isn't likely to be impacted by the club's signing of Grady Sizemore, an industry source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Carp received a lot of trade interest earlier this winter and now another left-handed outfield bat has joined the team, Carp could be the odd man out. I'd guess that Boston wouldn't do anything with Carp, however, until they get a long look at the injury-plagued Sizemore during Spring Training.
- The Blue Jays' self-imposed five-year limit on free agent contracts is hurting their ability to upgrade the roster, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi opines. The Jays' inability to develop young talent like the Rays or spend like the Yankees (or Red Sox) leaves them somewhat hamstrung in the tough AL East.
- While the Yankees' big free agent splurge was necessary to improve the team, Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks the club needs to focus on more cost-effective strategies. "It is a horrible business plan, a caveman way to build a roster (no art, all financial bludgeoning). It is a tactic that leaves the Yankees susceptible to this current crew wilting and forcing a rinse, repeat, spend a half a billion in a few more years to cover up more malfeasance in drafting, international signings and development," Sherman writes. Sherman further explores this idea in a separate piece, with quotes from co-owner Hal Steinbrenner.
- David Robertson will be the Yankees' closer in 2014, Steinbrenner told Sherman and Dan Martin of the New York Post. Cashman wasn't quite as firm during a media conference, saying that Robertson is "obviously...the odds-on favorite" but not ruling out any further bullpen additions.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, the Yankees designated southpaw David Huff for assignment, the Red Sox signed Grady Sizemore and designated Brayan Villarreal for assignment, Zach Links spoke with Sizemore during a conference call, the Orioles may have hit a snag in their agreement with Tyler Colvin and the Rays officially announced a seven-player deal with the Padres. We also collected more news from Baltimore and Tampa Bay in the latest editions of Orioles Notes and Rays Notes.
Here's the latest from around the American League East:
- Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp could still be dealt before Opening Day, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Though Boston has reportedly held out for a substantial return for Carp, and the club values the depth he provies, he might be worth more to other clubs who could deploy him more regularly.
- Meanwhile, extension talks still have yet to begin between Jon Lester and the Boston front office, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Clayton Kershaw's extension does not necessarily serve as a comparable for Lester's purposes, says Bradford, but his absence from the open market could have an impact.
- The Orioles are having ongoing discussions with free agent starter Bronson Arroyo, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). We learned recently that Baltimore had active interest in the veteran.
- Confirming recent reports, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said today that the price of pitchers on the free agent and trade market remains too high for the club's liking, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets.
- Recent comments from Alex Rodriguez and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner indicate that both sides believe a return to the field in 2015 is a realistic possibility. Rodriguez sounds as though he has accepted the likelihood that he will ultimately sit out the entire 2014 campaign, but a spokesman said Rodriguez would "get ready for 2015 should the judge rule against him" in his court challenge against his full-season suspension. Steinbrenner, meanwhile, said that Rodriguez is "an asset" on the field and insisted the club would take a business approach to dealing with Rodriguez's situation going forward.
The Astros aren't likely to sign Shin-Soo Choo, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle argues. They don't want to sacrifice the draft pick they'd have to give up in order to sign him (even though their top overall pick is protected). They might do so if Choo's price were low enough, but at this point, there's no reason to think Choo won't be very highly paid, which means that the Astros, interested though they are in adding big-league talent to a team that lost 111 games last year, probably won't be serious players. Drellich also notes that the Astros probably only have about $10MM left to spend for 2014, and want to add a first baseman and reliever with that money. Also, even acquiring a player of Choo's caliber wouldn't make the 2014 Astros a contending team. Signing Masahiro Tanaka would make more sense, Drellich argues, since Tanaka is only 25 and wouldn't cost a draft pick.
- The Astros were interested in James Loney, who would have filled a need (first base) and is from the Houston area, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports (via Twitter). Ultimately, though, Loney wanted too much money from the Astros, McTaggart says. He re-signed with the Rays for three years and $21MM.
- The Astros have not discussed the possibility of trading for Mike Carp with the Red Sox, Drellich tweets. Drellich also indicates that the Red Sox would seek a big return for Carp.
With Corey Hart and Logan Morrison heading to the Mariners and James Loney agreeing to return to the Rays this week, the Pirates and Brewers remain on the hunt for a first baseman, as MLB.com's Anthony DiComo notes (via Twitter). The Astros could be on the lookout for a first baseman as well. With Mike Napoli (Red Sox) and Justin Morneau (Rockies) also gone, there isn't much left on the free-agent market, which means teams still hoping to acquire a first baseman will probably also consider trades. Here's a look at the main options still available.
- Matt Adams, Cardinals. Adams is far better than most of the players listed below, but the Cardinals would only be likely to move him in a major deal. It would be very hard for the Pirates or Brewers to pry him away, since they're both NL Central teams, and the Astros likely don't have the big-league talent the Cardinals would need in order to decide to part with him. His .284/.335/.503 line in 2013 would be a valuable addition to any big-league lineup, however.
- Kendrys Morales, free agent. Morales might be the highest-profile name remaining as a free agent, but after a season in which he hit .277/.336/.449 while playing poor defense (in the 31 games in which he played first base), he declined the Mariners' qualifying offer. It's hard to see many teams, including the Pirates and Brewers, give up a draft pick for the right to sign a defensively-limited player on the wrong side of 30. It appears likely that Morales will end up back with an AL team, as CBS Sports' Mike Axisa recently noted.
- Ike Davis, Mets. The Mets seem determined to trade either Davis or Lucas Duda. Davis may be the more attractive of the two candidates, due to his power, although he'll also be more expensive than Duda in arbitration this year. The Mets also seem more inclined to trade Davis. With Loney off the market, there's now a clear path for the Mets to deal Davis to either the Brewers or Pirates. There may be a feeling around baseball that they waited too long, however, with Mike Puma of the New York Post recently tweeting that a source recently told him the Mets were going to "sell low" on Davis. The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough, meanwhile, tweeted, "The Mets' slow, steady march toward trading Ike Davis for something like a right-handed relief prospect is such a drag." In any case, it's hard to see the Mets getting much for Davis, or any team getting particularly excited about installing him at first, after he hit .205/.326/.334 in 2013, even though he batted .286/.449/.505 after the All-Star break. Davis appears set to make about $3.5MM through arbitration in 2014.
- Justin Smoak, Mariners. With Hart and Morrison both heading to Seattle, Smoak is now available, with the Mariners likely favoring a big-league contributor, rather than a prospect, in return. It remains to be seen how much other teams might want Smoak, however -- the former top prospect has hovered around replacement level for his career, and at 27, it may be that his once-highly-regarded bat won't ever carry him. Smoak hit .238/.334/.412 in 2013.
- Mitch Moreland, Rangers. Moreland's name has appeared in trade rumors since Texas traded for Prince Fielder, but he currently still has a role in Texas at DH. That could change somewhat, however, if the Rangers sign Shin-Soo Choo or re-sign Nelson Cruz, but right now, there appears to be no pressing reason for the Rangers to trade Moreland unless they want to. Moreland hit .232/.299/.437 in 2013, but unlike any of the trade candidates mentioned above, he does play plus defense at first base.
- Adam Lind, Blue Jays. Lind, who batted .288/.357/.497 in 2013, is a well-above-average hitter, but he's not much of a defender at any position. Also, like Moreland, he has a clear role on his current team as a DH. The Pirates recently asked the Jays about Lind, only to have the Jays ask for Neil Walker in return. If the Blue Jays do trade Lind, he probably won't come cheap.
- Mike Carp, Red Sox. WEEI's Rob Bradford recently tweeted that Carp was receiving plenty of attention on the trade market, which is no surprise -- unlike Davis and Smoak, Carp hit well in 2013, and unlike Moreland and Lind, he has no clear starting role with his current team. Carp played mostly first base and outfield in 2013, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. expected to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, and with Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes expected to play in the corner spots, he won't necessarily be needed in the outfield next year. There isn't much room elsewhere, either, with Mike Napoli and David Ortiz returning at first base and DH, respectively. If Carp hits .296/.362/.523 again, the Red Sox can surely find space for him, but if another team approaches them with a nice offer, they could easily deal him, too.
- Eric Chavez, free agent. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman recently reported that the Pirates were one of several teams to check in on Chavez, and upon inspection, it's easy to see why. The veteran hit .281/.332/.478 in Arizona in 2013, and while he has limited experience at first base and isn't the defensive star he once was at third, it's easy to imagine he would be at least average defensively if he were to move across the diamond. He might also be relatively cheap, since he was a part-time player in 2013. He's an injury risk, but with Pittsburgh, in particular, he wouldn't have to play every day, since Gaby Sanchez would start against lefties.
- Kevin Youkilis, free agent. Youkilis missed most of the 2013 season due to injury and wasn't good when he played, but he was a valuable asset as recently as 2011. He'll be 35 in March, however, and showed signs of decline in 2012, so it's fair to wonder how much he has left. He also prefers to play on the West Coast, so he may not want to sign with Milwaukee or Pittsburgh.
The Red Sox are planning to wait out the market for Stephen Drew, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Though Boston remains interested in Drew, there's a belief that he could eventually find a limited market due to his ties to draft pick compensation. Here's more on the 2013 World Series champions...
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that Drew has a market, but not as big as the one initially expected (Twitter link). As such, the Red Sox feel they have a good shot at retaining the Scott Boras client.
- Bradford also tweets that Mike Carp is generating a lot of trade interest. As Bradford notes, given the dearth of quality options on the free agent market for first basemen, that's not exactly a surprise.
- If the Red Sox are intent on adding a shortstop or third baseman as well as a right-handed hitting outfielder, they'll need to free up room by moving someone off their bench, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- WEEI.com's Alex Speier provides an offseason reset for Red Sox fans, looking at what's been done already and what moves are still to come. Speier says the Red Sox will add an infielder, whether it's Drew or a versatile backup to support Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts.
- Also from Speier, if the team does wish to bring back Drew, it would be necessary to free up some money by dealing a potentially superfluous starter such as Ryan Dempster or Jake Peavy.
- Franklin Gutierrez has been connected to the Red Sox previously, and while he's a logical fit in Boston, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com argues that he simply doesn't fit on the roster. Boston will allocate five spots to outfielders in Carp, Shane Victorino, Jackie Bradley, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes as it is. Of course, the potential to move Carp, as alluded to earlier by Bradford, could alter that picture.
The Red Sox's offseason trade for Mike Carp appears to be paying dividends, the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson reports. Carp is currently hitting. 455/.500/.864 in a very small sample after joining the Red Sox from the Mariners in February. "We've always liked him as a hitter," says Sox GM Ben Cherington. "There's a history of getting guys out of Seattle, the tough hitting environment. It was a combination of a pretty strong minor-league track record and some big-league success and, subjectively, our scouts have always liked his swing and approach." MacPherson says Carp is part of a recent trend in which the Red Sox cheaply acquire former prospects (like Jeremy Hermida, Andrew Miller, Mike Aviles and Franklin Morales) with the idea that they might take steps forward that they didn't with their previous organizations. Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Lyle Overbay didn't know where he would be headed at the end of spring training before ending up with the Yankees, Vince Z. Mercogliano of the LoHud Yankees Blog writes. The Red Sox had released Overbay, but he quickly found a home with the injury-ravaged Yanks. "My agent was on the line from the get-go. He obviously thought that this might be a fit, and Milwaukee," says Overbay. "Realistically, I think this and Milwaukee were the only chances that I had in that short amount of time."
- The Astros' main objective this year is to see which of their young players can be long-term contributors, GM Jeff Luhnow tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times. One of those young players is outfielder Robbie Grossman, the main piece the Astros acquired when they traded Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates last July. Grossman made his big-league debut last week after a strong start for Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Red Sox and Mariners are expected to complete the Mike Carp trade by the end of the month, with Seattle receiving cash for the first baseman/outfielder, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports (on Twitter). The Red Sox acquired Carp from the Mariners for a player to be named later or cash considerations on February 20th.
Carp, a left-handed hitter, has played for the Mariners in parts of four seasons, compiling a .255/.327/.413 batting line with 18 home runs and 28 doubles in 608 plate appearances. Players to be named must be announced within six months of a trade, which leaves the teams with plenty of time to complete the deal.
The Yankees and Orioles made the playoffs last year and a third AL East club, the Rays, won 90 games. The Blue Jays and Red Sox disappointed in 2012, but after a winter of offseason moves both teams hope to contend in 2013. Here are the latest AL East links at a time that the division truly seems wide open...
- The Yankees say they’re prepared to discuss a significant long-term contract with Robinson Cano, but as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, there’s lots of rhetoric involved at this stage. The sides will declare their mutual interest in working out a new deal while remaining inflexible on financial details. Sherman expects agent Scott Boras to seek a ten-year deal in the $225-240MM range. The Yankees could start by suggesting a high average annual value for a shorter term, perhaps $170-175MM for seven years.
- The Yankees would not give up a good prospect to acquire Alfonso Soriano, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Heyman suggests the Yankees would pay $10MM of the $36MM remaining on the left fielder's contract. Soriano has indicated he'd consider trades to a group of six or seven teams, including the Yankees.
- The Orioles announced that they promoted Brady Anderson to the role of VP of baseball operations. Ned Rice, who had been the club’s assistant director of Major League operations, was promoted to director of Major League administration.
- The Mariners have a list of Red Sox players that they're looking at as a player to be named later in the Mike Carp trade, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (on Twitter). All four players are lower level non-premium minor leaguers in the Red Sox system.
- Here are some more notes on the Red Sox.
Zach Links contributed to this post.