Mike Napoli Rumors
It's a weak market for catchers now that the Yankees have taken Brian McCann off the board, an article by Bradley Woodrum of Fangraphs shows. While teams such as the Red Sox, Rockies and Rangers are still in the market for backstop help, the best remaining option, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, will bring a large platoon split to the lineup of whichever team signs him. Here's the latest from around the AL, as a busy evening on MLBTR draws to a close:
- The Royals have had no talks about Billy Butler with any team, a source tells Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star (via Twitter).
- In an article for the Detroit Free Press, John Lowe considers the impact of the Ian Kinsler deal on the Tigers' lineup. Much depends on whether the front office believes prospect Nick Castellanos is ready to hit in the big leagues, Lowe writes. If so, he could take the third base job, allowing Miguel Cabrera to slide back to first base.
- FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets that Kinsler's agent, Jay Franklin, says the Tigers are indicating they'll play Kinsler at second base. Given this and the team's other priorities, signing Robinson Cano is likely a long shot at this point, Rosenthal says (via Twitter).
- Mike Napoli says he "wouldn’t see why not" when asked about the possibility of returning to the Red Sox in 2014, Rob Bradford writes in an article for WEEI.com. A recent end-of-season MRI showed that the avascular necrosis in Napoli's hips isn't an issue at the time, according to the article.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com considers how the Yankees' signing of McCann could affect potential negotiations between the Orioles and Matt Wieters over an extension. The O's must try to figure out "to what extreme [Wieters agent Scott] Boras will attempt to trump the McCann deal," Kubatko says.
- The Orioles are among clubs with interest in Tomo Ohka, tweets NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman, citing a report from Sanspo. The 10-year big league veteran is trying to make it back to the majors as a knuckleballer.
- The Prince Fielder trade shows that the Rangers are getting creative in their offseason quest for bats, T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes. Texas is hesitant to forfeit a first-round draft pick to sign a player such as Jacoby Ellsbury, as the team will already be limited on the international side of the amateur talent market after greatly exceeding their bonus pool this past summer.
- Shipping Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals sets the Angels up with an outfield of Mike Trout in center, Kole Calhoun in right and Josh Hamilton in left, Mike DiGiovanna says in an article on the trade for the Los Angeles Times. As DiGiovanna notes, the trade also reunites David Freese with Albert Pujols, his teammate in 2011 with the Cardinals.
- Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times wonders how the Angels will fit two starters into their offseason budget after acquiring Joe Smith, Freese and Fernando Salas (Twitter link).
An interesting study by Conor Glassey for his website examines which states big leaguers in the past five years were drafted from. As expected, the warm-weather states of California, Florida and Texas dominate the rankings, together accounting for more than 40 percent of drafted players. However, Illinois high schools were found to be surprisingly productive in developing future big leaguers. Let's round up the latest from around baseball:
- Buster Olney runs through Max Scherzer rumors in a video for ESPN, concluding that he will "almost certainly not be" traded this winter. The Tigers are in full win-now mode, and other teams are unlikely to surrender major talent for this year's AL Cy Young winner, as he's not expected to sign a long-term extension with Scott Boras as his agent. Scherzer, who's on track to hit free agency after next season, is projected to earn $13.6MM in his final season of arbitration by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Rick Porcello is "expected" to be traded, Olney says in the same video.
- The avascular necrosis in Mike Napoli's hips has come up in discussions with some clubs, agent Brian Grieper said in an interview with WEEI, but other teams don't consider it an issue. WEEI's Alex Speier notes that Grieper opted not to disclose whether the first baseman had received a multi-year offer yet.
- T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com becomes the latest writer to report that Masahiro Tanaka isn't a top target for the Rangers. Offense is more of a priority for Texas this winter, Sullivan writes.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times previews the Rays' potential targets in trade and free agency this offseason. At first base, the Mets' Ike Davis might be an option, along with Logan Morrison of the Marlins, Mitch Moreland of the Rangers, and another Met, Lucas Duda. In free agency, the Rays could attempt to court Corey Hart, Lyle Overbay or Justin Morneau. Topkin also examines possibilities at catcher and closer.
The Rangers and Dodgers discussed trades during the GM Meetings, looking to fill the other team's respective needs in the outfield and infield, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). The Dodgers had interest in shortstop Elvis Andrus while the Rangers had interest in Matt Kemp, though they were concerned about the $128MM owed to Kemp through 2019 and his recent injury problems. Talks between the two sides didn't go anywhere, Rosenthal said.
Here's some more news from the Lone Star State...
- Rosenthal expects the Rangers to be "linked to virtually every power bat in free agency and trades" (Twitter link). This includes such names as Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Mike Napoli.
- Speaking of Napoli, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that some executives think the Rangers will be the Red Sox biggest rivals for the first baseman this offseason. Scouts were impressed by how well Napoli handled first base and Texas is known to be looking for first base help. Napoli has drawn interest from several teams and while there's mutual interest in a return to Boston, the Sox have reportedly only made him a one-year offer.
- Shin-Soo Choo could be on the decline and will cost too much for the Rangers to pursue in free agency, ESPN Dallas' Todd Wills opines. McCann is a better fit for Texas' needs, Wills argues.
- Ray Davis was unanimously approved as the Rangers' control person by MLB owners today, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reports. Davis, the club's co-chairman, will represent the Rangers at ownership meetings and he told media (including Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram) that GM Jon Daniels would report directly to either Davis or co-owner Bob Simpson.
- From earlier today, the Rangers avoided arbitration with Adam Rosales by signing him to a one-year, $750K contract.
NOV. 14: The Boston Herald's Jen Royle tweets that Napoli has not received a multiyear offer from Boston, but rather just a one-year offer at a higher salary than the $14.1MM qualifying offer he rejected on Monday. A one-year offer doesn't figure to have much of a chance at enticing Napoli. Earlier this morning it was reported that the Rockies have interest in Napoli.
NOV. 8: Mike Napoli has made it clear that he wants to remain with the Red Sox, but Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports that a return tour is no sure thing. According to Passan, Napoli has received a multiyear offer from Boston but will still shop around and see what other teams are willing to offer (Twitter link).
While Passan doesn't say it, the fact that he already has a multiyear offer and plans to explore the market should wipe out any trace of possibility that Napoli would accept the qualifying offer he received on Monday (not that it was ever likely).
Napoli, who turned 32 on Halloween, is the top free agent first baseman this winter and one of the top power bats on the market. He's mashed at least 20 homers each season since 2008 and has averaged 26 long balls per season dating back to 2010. In his first season with the Red Sox, the former Angel and Ranger batted .259/.360/.482 with 23 homers while playing strong defense at first base.
Health concerns will likely forever be attached to Napoli after last offseason's diagnosis of avascular necrosis (AVN) in each of his hips, but he silenced critics by producing solid numbers in a career-high 578 plate appearances with the Red Sox in 2013. Napoli figures to have a good shot at the original three-year, $39MM contract he agreed to with Boston last season before the AVN diagnosis dropped the guarantee to one year and $5MM (he earned an additional $8MM in incentives). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes projected a three-year, $42MM contract for Napoli in his free agent profile in late September.
Earlier today it was reported that the Rockies are one of the teams that has checked in on Ike Davis, but according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post, that's just one of many avenues the team is looking into in an attempt to fill the void left by Todd Helton's retirement. Colorado has also checked in on free agents James Loney, Justin Morneau and Mike Napoli and also has some degree of interest in Mike Morse (Twitter links). More news on the boys from Denver...
- In regards to the Rockies' previously reported interest in Brian Wilson, Renck tweets that the team will need to pay closer money to secure the Beard's services in 2014.
- MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby spoke with senior VP of Major League operations Bill Geivett, who reiterated that Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez will not be traded this winter. The Rockies feel that they are close to contention and are focused on adding good players as opposed to subtracting them, writes Ringolsby. He quotes Geivett: "We spent 33 days in first place and (42) more in second place last year. Things have to happen, but it's not that far."
- Finding a bat to replace Helton is the team's "No. 1 priority" writes Ringolsby, and their preference is to fill it with a left-handed bat, which would bode well for Loney and Morneau.
- Ringolsby also notes that the team can't ignore the black hole in the fifth slot in the rotation. The Rockies went 62-50 in games started by one of Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Tyler Chatwood or Juan Nicasio. In their 50 games started by a combination of seven others, Colorado was 12-38, Ringolsby points out. They could look to add two starting options in an effort to upgrade over Nicasio as well.
- Finally from Ringolsby, neither 2013 first-rounder Jonathan Gray or 2012 supplemental-rounder Eddie Butler will open 2014 in the Majors, though each could be up as early as May 1 if need be. That seems to be a particularly aggressive timeline for Gray, who threw just 24 innings at High-A last season.
The Red Sox have offered catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia a two-year deal, but that doesn't mean they aren't pursuing other catching options, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. The team has also spoken to Brian McCann, Carlos Ruiz and A.J. Pierzynski. (ESPN's Buster Olney wrote Wednesday morning that the Red Sox had made offers to several catchers, including Saltalamacchia.)
Heyman writes that the Red Sox's offer to Saltalamacchia may have been for less than $10MM per season. Saltalamacchia likely would not find that offer particularly attractive -- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted, for example, that Saltalamacchia would received a four-year, $36MM deal. Saltalamacchia hit .273/.338/.466 in a strong season for Boston in 2013, and he's still just 28.
Heyman adds that the Red Sox have not recently spoken to free agent first baseman Mike Napoli. They are, however, still interested in retaining him.
Mark DeRosa didn't stay unemployed for long. After the Blue Jays announced his retirement from baseball yesterday, the MLB Network announced that DeRosa will be coming aboard as a studio analyst. Here's more out of the AL East..
- There's mutual interest between the Yankees and Brendan Ryan and a deal could happen quickly, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The free agent doesn't offer much in the way of offensive firepower but he does boast a career 11.7 UZR/150 at the shortstop position.
- Multiple teams have expressed interest in Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia, prompting the Blue Jays to explore the free agent catching market for a possible replacement, sources tell Rosenthal. The Jays have contacted all of the free agent catchers but have yet to make an offer, one source said.
- The Red Sox have not come to Mike Napoli with a contract offer since he rejected their one-year, $14.1MM qualifying offer, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. However, the Red Sox want to keep Napoli and the veteran would like to stay.
- Rays GM Andrew Friedman says that rather than committing to a true closer, he'll be searching out a reliever or two capable of handling late-inning, high-leverage duty, creating the possibility that Jake McGee or Joel Peralta will become the primary ninth-inning option, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
- Friedman added that the Rays are looking externally for a first baseman and a catcher to pair with Jose Lobaton while keeping an eye on their own free agents James Loney and Jose Molina. They also aren't planning to go for a true DH, instead eyeing a rotation consisting primarily of outfielders David DeJesus, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, and Wil Myers, plus possibly a player off the bench.
- Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com (via Twitter) would be shocked if the Orioles moved J.J. Hardy. Earlier today we learned that the O's discussed a deal involving Hardy with the Cardinals to get Shelby Miller, but St. Louis extinguished those talks pretty quickly.
- General Manager Brian Cashman has no delusions of Robinson Cano taking a hometown discount to stay with the Yankees, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. “He loves the money, but I think we’ll have a substantial offer,” Cashman said. “Somebody might come in and have a much more substantial offer. It’s just the way it works.”
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) proposes six trades for the Rays' David Price.
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner spoke with reporters, including Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger, about the club's efforts to get under the $189MM tax threshold and the club's interest in Masahiro Tanaka.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if the Marlon Byrd signing could hurt the Orioles. Yesterday, the Phillies agreed to sign Byrd to a two-year, $16MM deal.
Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched...or are they? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke. MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap.
Here's some news from around baseball...
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
- The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said. Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
- Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
- Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets. The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
- Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
- Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link). Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign. Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America. Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.
"The expectation is" that the Mariners will target right-handed hitters such as Jhonny Peralta, Marlon Byrd, Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz this offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. The M's were particularly weak from the right side of the plate last season and will look to upgrade their right-handed bats, though really, Seattle will look to add hitting in any form. Ken Rosenthal also noted that the Mariners were looking at right-handed hitters earlier this week, though he noted that the M's were in on Napoli. Here's some more news from around the AL West...
- Cruz declined his qualifying offer from the Rangers today and Adam Katz, Cruz's agent, told ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett that he will continue to talk with the team about his client's possible return to Texas. "We've always been engaged with the Rangers and continue to be," Katz said. Durrett notes, the draft pick compensation tied to Cruz may hurt him in free agency, though MLBTR's Steve Adams recently predicted Cruz would find a three-year, $39MM deal on the open market.
- Brian Grieper, Napoli's agent, is scheduled to meet with Rangers GM Jon Daniels during the GM Meetings, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweets. The Rangers are known to be looking for an upgrade at first base and Napoli, a former Ranger, would definitely fit the bill.
- The Rangers have promoted A.J. Preller to assistant general manager, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link). Preller had previously worked as the team's senior director of player personnel. Texas also named Mike Daly, formerly their director of international scouting, as the franchise's new senior director of minor league operations.
- The Angels have been opposed to going over the luxury tax limit under Arte Moreno's ownership and that's not likely to change, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez writes. Gonzalez also looks at Mark Trumbo trade rumors and a possible Mike Trout extension as part of his all-Angels mailbag.
- In another item from Gonzalez, he speculates about what the Angels might have to give up (and what the Rays might want) in order to facilitate a David Price trade.
- Earlier today on MLBTR we collected another set of AL West notes earlier today on MLBTR, a set of Astros-related notes and learned that the Angels signed Wade LeBlanc to a minor league deal.
13 free agents received qualifying offers a week ago, and I think they are all likely to decline by today's 4pm central time deadline. If these players sign Major League deals elsewhere, their old teams stand to gain a draft pick in each instance. The latest:
- Curtis Granderson is "100 percent" turning down the Yankees' qualifying offer, a person involved in the situation tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
- Kendrys Morales will turn down the Mariners' QO, people familiar with the situation tell Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- As expected, both Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew will allow the 5pm deadline to pass without accepting qualifying offers from the Red Sox, a baseball source tells Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
- After an MRI on his hips showed no signs of further deterioration, Mike Napoli has decided to decline the Red Sox's qualifying offer, an industry source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- Starting pitcher Ervin Santana declined the Royals' qualifying offer, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Catcher Brian McCann will decline his qualifying offer from the Braves today, tweets MLB.com's Mark Bowman. This was an easy choice for McCann, who has a good chance at a five-year contract.
- Right fielder Nelson Cruz informed the Rangers he will decline his qualifying offer, tweeted Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram earlier today.
- You can also keep track of all the qualifying offer decisions using MLBTR's free agent tracker.