Minnesota Twins Rumors
As camps open around the game, let's take a look at a few notable free agents who remain unsigned:
- Though long-time shortstop Derek Jeter is now set to retire after the year, and the club faces questions around the infield, the Yankees are still not interested in adding Stephen Drew, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. Marchand notes that the club could have its eye on a bigger fish as an eventual replacement for Jeter, suggesting the possibility of looking at next year's free agent market or trying to trade for a big-contract star like Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes. But the availability of those options remains unclear, especially given that the Yanks possess a farm that most regard as below average. And while 2015 currently promises a nice crop of free agent shortstops -- headlined, at present, by Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, and Asdrubal Cabrera -- it is far from certain that all of those players will reach the open market.
- Echoing Marchand on the Yankees' interest, ESPN.com's Buster Olney told WEEI's Mut & Merloni (via WEEI.com's Jerry Spar) that Drew's market looks poor. The Pirates make sense in theory, says Olney, but the club seems very unlikely to give up its first-round pick to land him. Olney opines that the shortstop's best bet, at this point, could be to wait and see if a contender loses an infielder to injury. Though he agrees that Drew faces difficult market, Jonathan Bernhardt of Sports on Earth argues that Drew and agent Scott Boras should instead act quickly to speed up negotiations and get the best deal possible.
- Of course, one obvious landing spot all along has been the Red Sox, who could use Drew to bolster the left side of the infield without giving up a pick (other than the one they stand to gain should he sign elsewhere). As WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports, however, Boston has settled into the position that it would be interested in a one-year arrangement. That could take the form of a straightforward one-year deal, or could be structured with a low-value player option for a second season (like Adrian Beltre's 2010 deal) that would spread the contract's luxury tax impact.
- The Twins, who have been mentioned as a dark horse suitor for both Drew and outfielder Nelson Cruz, likely have sufficient payroll space to make an addition, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the team is not willing to meet the demands currently being floated on those players, and has not been in recent contact on either.
- Bean Stringfellow, the agent for starter Ervin Santana, rejected an apparent rumor that the Blue Jays had offered his client a three-year, $27MM deal, reports John Lott of the National Post. Stringfellow also dismissed the rumor that he had earlier demanded five years and $112MM for Santana. Though some clubs may hope to wait out the market for prices to fall, Stringfellow says he is not concerned by that possibility. "The calendar doesn't really affect us in that regard," he said. "The teams need the pitching by Opening Day. That's when the bell rings. I think a lot of clubs might think that as [Opening Day] gets closer, the price comes down. I would simply say to that, 'You're not filling your need for pitching, so I don't know why our value is any less when your need is still as great as what it was.'"
- Though Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to comment on any offers to Santana, he said that the club would remain true to its internal valuations of free agents. "We just haven't been able to line up on value, on years and dollars," Anthopoulos added with regard to the team's possible targets.
- Another team that is reportedly dabbling in the starting pitching market is the Mariners. The club is not just looking at top options like Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter), but is casting a "wide net" in its search for an arm.
- Free agent reliever Ryan Madson is looking for a major league deal, sources tell MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he received good reports from Madson's recent throwing session, but did not leave the impression that Philadelphia was the likely landing spot. "Our reports were good when we saw him," said Amaro, "so he's going to sign somewhere." As Zolecki notes, Philly may be unwilling to give out a major league deal, especially given Madson's injury history and the recent signing of A.J. Burnett.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan was released from the hospital today after undergoing surgery to treat cancer discovered in his neck, the team announced. He'll spend the next several days at home recuperating as the Twins get their 2014 Spring Training underway. Here's more out of the AL Central...
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star looks at the Royals' payroll in an effort to correct critics that mocked GM Dayton Moore calling the 2014 payroll a "gamble." Those critics pointed to the additional $25MM in revenue teams are receiving from national TV revenue, but Mellinger spoke with Forbes Sports senior editor Kurt Badenhausen who explained that the $25MM number is a myth. The Royals' increase (after MLB takes its share) is more like $5-10MM, he explaines. Mellinger writes that while owner David Glass and Moore have each had their failures, the success or failure of the past seven years will ultimately be determined by the 2014 Royals' on-field results.
- Indians left-hander Nick Hagadone and GM Chris Antonetti both are relieved to have the long-standing grievance between the two sides resolved, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes. Antonetti said he and the rest of management feel Hagadone can be a big part of the bullpen going forward, and Hagadone said he was happy with the grievance's outcome: "In the end, I thought it was very fair. I’m happy with the outcome. I’m happy I can just concentrate on baseball."
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes that the Indians and right-hander Josh Tomlin tried to settle their pending arbitration case but were unable to do so before today's hearing. Announcement of a result can be expected in the near future. Within that piece, Antonetti says he is still hopeful of avoiding a hearing with ace Justin Masterson.
- The Tigers are planning on getting Victor Martinez some occasional time behind the plate in 2014, writes MLive.com's Chris Iott. In reference to interleague games in National League parks, manager Brad Ausmus told Iott: "We can't not have Victor play for five straight games." Martinez says that he's excited to get back into some games at catcher. Additionally, Miguel Cabrera could still work some games at third base, with Martinez handling first base Iott writes. Both will work on those positions in Spring Training.
Even though most of Alex Rodriguez's 2014 salary will be wiped out by his season-long PED suspension, the controversial slugger's contract is still ranked as the worst in baseball by Grantland's Jonah Keri. Of Keri's list of the 15 worst contracts in the sport, the Dodgers have four, the Yankees, Angels and Braves each have two and the Reds, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays and White Sox have one each.
Here are some items from around the baseball world...
- The Reds and Homer Bailey are "still talking" about a multiyear contract, GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "There has not been a lot of progress, but good conversations anyhow," Jocketty said. Bailey's arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 20 and there is a $2.9MM gap ($11.6MM to $8.7MM) between his demands and the Reds' offer for a 2014 contract. This is Bailey's last season under contract with Cincinnati and the two sides are reportedly far apart on a long-term deal. Sheldon suggests that the Reds will be watching the Indians' case with Justin Masterson, as he and Bailey have posted comparable numbers over the last three years and Masterson is also scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.
- The Pirates offered A.J. Burnett a $12MM contract for 2014, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). This obviously fell short of the $16MM Burnett received from the Phillies earlier today.
- The Twins aren't one of the teams interested in Emilio Bonifacio, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter). Bonifacio cleared release waivers and became a free agent earlier today. The Orioles are known to be one of at least nine teams interested in the speedy utilityman.
- Also from Wolfson, a Twins official said that the club "had extensive talks" about Erisbel Arruebarruena but he was judged to be too expensive. The Cuban shortstop agreed to a deal with the Dodgers today that could be worth as much as $25MM.
- The Cubs can afford to be patient in trading Jeff Samardzija, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan argues, as teams may be more willing to meet Chicago's large asking price once the free agent pitching market thins out and teams get more desperate once the season begins.
- Right-hander Josh Roenicke is drawing interest from a "handful of teams" and could be signed soon, a source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Roenicke posted a 4.35 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.25 K/BB rate in 62 relief innings with the Twins in 2013 before being outrighted off Minnesota's roster in November.
- Also from Cotillo, right-hander Blake Hawksworth has retired. Hawksworth posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.85 K/BB over 124 games (eight as a starter) with the Cardinals and Dodgers from 2009-11 before elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career. Hawksworth has taken a job with the Boras Corporation, his former agency.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed the club's recent signing of Carlos Marmol with Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- Luis Ayala chose to sign a minor league deal with the Nationals since they (as the Expos) were the franchise that originally signed him and he still has many friends in the organization, the veteran reliever tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Several teams were linked to Ayala this offseason but the bidding came down to the Nats, Tigers and Phillies.
Raley has thrown just 38 1/3 MLB innings over the last two seasons, and made his first go at relief in 2013. Previously, Raley had worked almost exclusively as a starter. In 141 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level last year, Raley posted a 4.46 ERA, with 6.0 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9. According to Pitch F/X data (via Fangraphs), Raley throws both a four-seam and two-seam fastball, each of which sit around 89 mph, and also offers a slider, curve, and change. Over his time in the upper minors, Raley has actually shown a relatively minor platoon split, though big league righties have hit him hard.
The White Sox have received positive reviews for their accumulation of young talent over the last year. But with that youth movement comes a lot of roster questions, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin, who provides an excellent early look at a spring that should be worthy of close attention. Here are some more scattered notes from the day:
- For the Angels, another new starting pitching acquisition is highly unlikely at this point, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "None of the deals made sense for us, whether trying to access veteran starters through trade or free agency," said Dipoto. "And we didn't want to do anything that didn't make sense for us." Dipoto says that he is comfortable with his team's starting depth and likes its upside.
- The Twins will be among the team's attending a showcase on Thursday featuring Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz and righty Odrisamer Despaigne, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The pair is expected to sign in short order, says Wolfson. Diaz, in particular, could be an interesting participant in the marketplace.
- Dominican July 2 prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara is reportedly said by some scouts to have agreed to a $3.2MM signing bonus with the Brewers. Lara's trainer, Jaime Ramos, told MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez that "there is nothing concrete and there are still a lot of teams interested in him," including the Brewers, Royals, Yankees, and Twins. Whether or not Lara lands in Milwaukee, explain Sanchez and his MLB.com colleague Adam McCalvy, the Brewers appear set to embark on greatly increased levels of international spending and player development efforts. (The team's largest international bonus awards to date are just $800K.)
- Pitcher Carl Pavano is progressing in rehab and plans to throw off of a mound in a week or so, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 38-year-old, who did not pitch professionally last year, hopes to put on a showcase in the near future.
Former Brewers reliever Mitch Stetter announced on Twitter last night that he has retired from baseball and accepted a coaching job with the Royals. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Stetter will be the Double-A bullpen coach. Stetter, 33, hasn't appeared in the bigs since 2011 after his career was cut short by hip surgery and a back injury. From 2009-11 with the Brew Crew, Stetter posted a 3.46 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings. While his command was clearly lacking, the southpaw held opposing lefties to just a .194/.310/.335 slash line in his career. Best of luck in your coaching career, Mitch.
Elsewhere in baseball's Central divisions...
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Royals will only be on the hook for about $575K of Emilio Bonifacio's salary if he clears release waivers tomorrow at 2pm ET and becomes a free agent. While a claim is unlikely, a number of teams are interested in Bonifacio, he adds in a second tweet.
- Cotillo tweets that as many as nine teams have interest in Bonifacio. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are one of those teams, pointing out that Bonifacio has long been a favorite of manager Buck Showalter. Besides that, the Orioles lack a clear starter at Bonifacio's best position -- second base. However, Kubatko also tweets that Baltimore isn't interested in him at his $3.5MM salary, so a waiver claim isn't likely.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan, who announced yesterday that he has cancer, is among the game's most respected general managers, writes Phil Rogers of MLB.com. Rogers recalls that Ryan displayed the ultimate selflessness a GM could show back in 2001 when, with the Twins facing contraction, Ryan turned down a chance to run the Blue Jays to stay with his club.
- Right-hander Rich Harden wants to pitch in 2014 but won't sign anywhere until he's further along in his throwing, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The Twins wouldn't rule out a return for Harden, even though the former ace never pitched for one of Minnesota's affiliates after signing a minor league deal with the club last offseason.
There's saddening news out of Minneapolis today, as Twins general manager Terry Ryan has announced, via press release, that he has been diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer:
"During the course of a routine annual physical, Twins team physician Dr. Vijay Eyunni detected a lump in my neck which required further review. A subsequent biopsy confirmed the lump was cancerous, leading to an official medical diagnosis of Squamous Cell Carcinoma. Thankfully, incremental tests indicate the cancer appears to be confined to my neck and has not spread to other regions of my body."
According to his statement, Ryan is being treated at the renowned Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. (about an hour south of the Twin Cities) as well as Minnesota Oncology (in the Twin Cities metro area). Said Ryan: "I’ve been assured this form of cancer is treatable and remain optimistic about my return to good health in the near future." (The entire statement can be read here.)
Ryan will not be attending Spring Training in Fort Myers, but the Twins will send assistant GM Rob Antony and vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff to Florida to oversee the Spring Training operation.
We at MLBTR would like to wish a speedy recovery to Ryan and offer our condolences to him, his family, his friends and the Minnesota Twins organization for this tough, saddening news.
11:38am: MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reports (via Twitter) that there's "no way" Santana signs today. Dierkes' source says that there are three to four teams with serious interest.
10:59am: Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca hears from a source that Santana did indeed move closer to striking a deal this weekend. However, the Blue Jays "aren't the ones driving the sudden turn in his market," according to Davidi.
7:58am: The Orioles aren't close to a deal with Santana at this time, a source tells Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio (Twitter link).
MONDAY, 7:12am: Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that there's no interest in Santana from the Twins, but he hears that the Orioles, Mariners, Dodgers, Yankees and Indians have all inquired on Santana within the past few days. Of course, the Dodgers signed Paul Maholm over the weekend, so they may no longer be in the market for another starter.
SUNDAY: Free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana seems to finally be heading toward a deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Blue Jays and the Orioles have both been in touch with Santana. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, meanwhile, tweets that the Orioles will strongly pursue Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez this week.
Santana, of course, is coming off a strong 2013 season in which he posted a 3.24 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 211 innings with the Royals. His path to a new team has been blocked, however, first by the uncertainty regarding Masahiro Tanaka's destination, and now by the fact that the team that signs him will have to forfeit a draft pick. As Rosenthal points out, the Jays' No. 9 and No. 11 picks are protected, which means they would only have to forfeit their No. 49 overall pick. The Orioles would lose their top draft choice, at No. 17.
Rosenthal notes that the Orioles are unlikely to be able to sign A.J. Burnett, as reports earlier this weekend indicated. They were among the finalists for Bronson Arroyo, but Arroyo recently agreed to terms with the Diamondbacks.
Johan Santana will throw for interested teams at some point soon, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com tweets. When he does, the Twins will be in attendance. Yesterday, Santana himself indicated that he had begun throwing off a mound, the latest step in his recovery from shoulder surgery. Here are more notes on free agents, all of them pitchers.
- Brian Burres threw for teams on Thursday, and he will throw again on Monday in Florida, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. Burres last appeared in the big leagues in 2011 with the Pirates. He spent 2012 in the Giants' system, and 2013 in Taiwan.
- The Red Sox continue to "check in on" reliever Joel Hanrahan, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (via Twitter). Hanrahan's agent told MLBTR yesterday that Hanrahan would host a showcase for interested teams in March. Hanrahan is making his way back after a 2013 season mostly lost to elbow troubles.
- The Red Sox watched Ryan Madson on Friday in Arizona, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. Like Hanrahan, Madson is a once-dominant reliever trying to make his way back after dealing with elbow problems. The Phillies are among the teams that have shown interest in Madson, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2011 as a Phillie.
It's hard to believe that Roberto Alomar isn't even the best player with an "A" name born on February 5th, but those are the breaks when you share a birthday with the legendary Hammerin' Hank Aaron. Happy birthday to both Hall of Famers, as Aaron celebrates his 80th birthday while Alomar turns 46 today. Here's some news from around the baseball world...
- In his latest article for his Gammons Daily site, Peter Gammons opines that several of the free agents whose markets are hurt by being tied to draft pick compensation (such as Ubaldo Jimenez, Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew) may have been better served by accepting qualifying offers from their former teams and using those one-year deals as pillow contracts to multiyear deals next winter. The qualifying offer issue isn't nearly as big a problem facing the game, Gammons believes, as the issue of smaller-market teams having fewer avenues to signing amateur and international talent. "The system rewards a top five market like Houston for losing, and punishes the Rays, Indians and Athletics for being highly competent small markets," Gammons writes.
- Also from Gammons, he notes that Scott Boras, Drew's agent, "is invested" on getting the Red Sox to re-sign the shortstop to a three-year deal that includes an opt-out clause. Such a clause would create a possible pillow contract situation for Drew, and also possibly clear room for prospect Deven Marrero to soon take over at short in Boston (Marrero also happens to be a Boras client).
- Six teams were interested in right-hander Chaz Roe when he elected free agency earlier today, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo reports (Twitter link). Roe has narrowed his choice down to two of the six clubs.
- Athletics director of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was recently promoted to the role of assistant general manager, and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle profiles Zaidi's impressive (and unconventional) rise up the ranks. The 37-year-old Zaidi is highly regarded around baseball, and he's credited within the A's organization as being a key figure in the club's use of platoons and the signing of Yoenis Cespedes.
- The Twins "have expressed zero interest" in signing Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter links). It's possible the Twins could still make a move, Wolfson notes, as the club did heavily scout Diaz last year. The Twins were one of several teams linked to Diaz last offseason but their interest had cooled due to Diaz's asking price.
- Ken Davidoff of the New York Post shares his predictions on where the seven top remaining free agents on the market will land.
- The fates of Jimenez, Ervin Santana, A.J. Burnett and Bronson Arroyo could impact the Red Sox, as teams that come up short in signing any of the free agent hurlers could approach the Sox about a trade for their excess starters, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. This scenario wouldn't include the Blue Jays or Orioles, however, as the Red Sox aren't interested in sending pitching to division rivals.