Mitch Moreland Rumors
Earlier today, we heard from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports that a trade agreement between the Rangers and Blue Jays fell through when a player involved in the deal failed his physical. The FOX duo reported that Sergio Santos would have been sent to Texas in the swap, and Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca adds another detail, revealing that the agreed-upon trade would have seen the Blue Jays land a starting pitcher. Here's more on the Jays from Orlando:
- The Pirates approached the Jays about Adam Lind, but talks quickly fizzled when Toronto countered by asking about Neil Walker, according to Davidi.
- While the Jays aren't necessarily looking to move Lind, the team has asked around about other first base options like James Loney, Mitch Moreland, and Logan Morrison, in case a Lind deal presents itself.
- GM Alex Anthopoulos didn't comment specifically on whether the Blue Jays would bid on Masahiro Tanaka, but said, "I think it’s safe to say any good starter that’s out there we’re going to be active, we’ll try to be involved and see if it makes sense for us."
- Anthopoulos added that the Jays are "having some dialogue" on a smaller deal that would add a right-handed bat to the team's bench.
- Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com passes along a transcript of manager John Gibbons' conversation with the media today, which includes plenty of discussion about possible holes on the roster and potential moves to address them.
12:29pm: Loney is also a top target for the Rays, if they can afford him, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Topkin relays some quotes from team president Matthew Silverman's interview on WDAE-620 AM radio this morning: "The good thing for us is he liked it here. We liked him, he fit in well. And we're a known quantity ... I'm hopeful that he can be here."
11:42am: The Pirates have contacted the Blue Jays about Adam Lind and the Rangers about Mitch Moreland, reports ESPN's Jayson Stark (on Twitter), but clubs who have spoken to the Buccos get the sense that James Loney has emerged as their top choice at the position.
At 29 years of age, Loney is a young free agent (he'll turn 30 next May). The lefty swinger enjoyed a nice rebound campaign with the Rays in 2013, hitting .299/.348/.430 with 13 homers and his typical brand of strong defense at first base. The Pirates had a hole at first base all season that they tried to fill by acquiring Justin Morneau from the Twins. While Morneau provided a solid OBP, he didn't homer in Pittsburgh and ultimately did little to improve the collective .243/.324/.402 batting line posted by Pittsburgh first basemen.
There was talk of re-signing Morneau, but that option disappeared last night when he agreed to a two-year, $13MM contract with the Rockies. That contract is likely good news for Loney and his new representatives at the Legacy Agency. Loney is three years younger than Morneau and coming off a much better season, so he should be able to top that guarantee. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted a two-year, $16MM contract for Loney back in early November, and it's possible at this point that he could top that figure.
As for the other two targets mentioned by Stark, both Moreland and Lind make some degree of sense for the Pirates. Each has a strong track record against right-handed pitching but is overmatched by lefties. Pittsburgh has a solid in-house platoon option at first base in the form of Gaby Sanchez. Both Moreland and Lind can be controlled through the 2016 season.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that the Rays have some interest in Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland, who could be deemed expendable in the wake of Texas' acquisition of Prince Fielder. The Rangers, of course, covet David Price, and including Moreland in a package for him (presumably as a somewhat minor component) could take a potential destination away from the Mets in their shopping of Ike Davis. Here's more out of the AL East...
- Within that same piece, Martino writes that the Fielder-Ian Kinsler swap may not impact the Robinson Cano market as much as many initially thought. Cano is markedly better than Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, so if he wants to be a Ranger or Tiger and the price isn't crazy, those players shouldn't preclude Texas or Detroit from striking a deal.
- The Red Sox seem to be letting Mike Napoli's market develop before deciding what their final offer to him will be, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link).
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald spoke with Red Sox GM Ben Cherington who told him that the team is "in a position to be a little choosy, a little selective" in its search for a new catcher. Cherington says the Sox are interested in a "small handful of free agents" and has also actively pursued trades at catcher.
- On Brian McCann's recent five-year contract with the Yankees, Boston catcher and close friend of McCann, David Ross, told Lauber: "He told me, I think it came down to years. When you add an option for six, it puts you at almost $100 (million), that’s a game-changer." Cherington wouldn't indicate to Lauber how far the Red Sox were willing to go in negotiations.
- Mark Ellis is considered an option for the Orioles, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, but Baltimore has yet to reach out to the second baseman.
- Kubatko also reports that the Orioles don't have any immediate interest in first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones, who was designated for assignment by the Pirates yesterday.
- One more from Kubatko, who reported last week that the Orioles won't look to re-sign left-hander Tsuyoshi Wada, who never appeared with the O's after signing a two-year deal prior to the 2012 season. Wada fell victim to Tommy John surgery and didn't make it to the big league level in Baltimore. Executive vice president Dan Duquette told Kubatko: "I think that the Wada chapter is over with the Orioles. We're just going in another direction ... I'm sorry that it didn't work out, but it's time to move on."
Mitch Moreland has "no idea" where he might end up or what his role will be now that the Rangers have acquired Prince Fielder and cash in exchange for Ian Kinsler, the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant writes. "I’m just a player," Moreland says. "To be honest, I haven’t thought about my situation much. Come spring, I will be ready to play, whether it is here in Texas or somewhere else." Even with Fielder in the fold, the Rangers could find plenty of at-bats for Moreland, both at DH and in the outfield. A trade might also be a possibility. Here are more notes on the deal.
- After the Fielder deal, it's unlikely the Rangers will trade either Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar to the Cardinals. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz profiles the Cards' other options for acquiring a shortstop, which include free agents (Stephen Drew, Jhonny Peralta, Rafael Furcal) and numerous trade candidates. The best option, Miklasz argues, is J.J. Hardy, who has one year left on his deal with the Orioles.
- The Rangers were a suitor for Fielder when he was a free agent two years ago, notes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The Tigers ended up signing him, obviously. But the interactions the Rangers had with Fielder then helped convince him to approve a deal to Texas. "It definitely didn't hurt," says Fielder. "Everybody was real nice. I liked those guys."
If the Rangers' trade for Prince Fielder seemed to come completely out of left field for fans, that's because it did. In a conference call with reporters tonight, Rangers GM Jon Daniels said that talks didn't get into gear until Tuesday when Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski called with an ambitious idea. I asked Daniels if he envisioned a deal for Fielder or a player of his caliber coming together all along this offseason.
"We have gone through a variety of scenarios, some more realistic than others. This is something that we had touched on. We hadn't delved deeply into it until yesterday and it picked up speed from there," Daniels said.
Daniels noted that it wouldn't be possible to trade a player of Ian Kinsler's caliber for someone at another position without tremendous organizational depth, something he attributes to Texas' strong scouting department. As it stands today, Kinsler's departure will give way to Jurickson Profar as the team's full-time second baseman.
Fielder unquestionably gives the Rangers a monster bat, but some have pointed to his performance in 2013 as cause for concern. After posting a .287/.393/.538 batting line across his previous eight seasons, Fielder took a step back in 2013, posting a .279/.362/.457 slash line. Daniels took that regression into consideration, but he didn't sound terribly concerned about it.
"We looked at it quite a bit. If he was coming off the best year of his career then [he wouldn't] be available. I think that's kind of the whole idea of this deal. If anyone feels like that's a sign of things to come, that he's slipping, you may not like the deal, we don't feel that way...based on what we got from our scouts, and some of the analysis we did, we think there's a lot more to come," the GM said, while also noting that he got a fair amount of his homework done two years ago when Fielder was a free agent and a Rangers target.
When asked about what the acquisition of Fielder might mean for the future of Mitch Moreland, Daniels insisted that he is still very much a part of the club's plans. While Moreland would have value to other teams after belting a career-high 23 homers in 2013, Daniels said that he values his bat just as much. First base is no longer open for Moreland, but he can still find playing time in the outfield or at DH. "We're not giving up on the guy," Daniels said.
Daniels says that finding another bat at another position is still very much "a part of the plan" even after tonight's blockbuster. Texas showed tonight that they're willing to shake things up in order to improve and it would be a surprise if this were the last significant move that they make this winter.
In a special piece for Gammons Daily, Jamey Newberg examines the Rangers disappearance from the international free agent market from 2000 to 2005 and explains how re-entering that market in the middle of the last decade has saved the franchise. Martin Perez signed in 2007 for more money ($580K) than any Rangers international signee had received since 2000. Yesterday, he signed a four-year extension that could total seven years and $32.55MM based on a trio of club options. Here's more on the Rangers...
- Newberg's piece above was inspired by an observation made by Nick J. Faleris of Baseball Prospectus (No. 11 on the list to which I've linked). Faleris points out the savvy nature of the Rangers' 2013-14 international spending spree. The Rangers blew past the new CBA's imposed cap for international free agents on the first day and will face harsh penalties that prevent them from spending more than $250K on a single international free agent next summer. However, starting in next year's international signing period, the penalty for the type of overages the Rangers took on this year doubles. In other words, any team that copies Texas' strategy will have its spending limit handcuffed in the summer of 2015 and the summer of 2016. The Cubs, of course, employed a similarly aggressive method in July.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels addressed reporters, including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, earlier today on a number of topics. Daniels said the team is receiving a number of calls on Mitch Moreland from teams that consider him a buy-low candidate. However as Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram tweeted, Daniels doesn't feel Moreland's power is something he can give up on (Twitter link).
- Also from Sullivan's piece, Daniels said the team has made an offer to right-hander Colby Lewis (presumably a minor league deal), and they've been in contact with Nelson Cruz's agent, Adam Katz. The Rangers fully expect Cruz to decline his qualifying offer.
- Daniels says the Rangers are willing to disucss their middle infield depth with other clubs. Other teams still have high regard for Jurickson Profar, he added.
- ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett also has some intel from Daniels' morning comments. Durrett reports that the team has internally discussed position switches for some of their infielders but has yet to approach any players with the idea.
- Regarding the team's budget, Durrett quotes Daniels: "We have the ability to make the club better. I don’t know that we’re going to be the biggest spenders, but I don’t really want to be. I don’t think that’s the way to build it anyway."
Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux is "more interested" in the Cubs manager's job than he was two years ago, a source tells ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers. The Cubs were interested in Maddux in 2011 but he pulled himself out of the process due to family considerations, though that "isn't as big of a concern" this time around. The Cubs have yet to contact Maddux during their current search for a new bench boss. Here's the latest from Arlington...
- GM Jon Daniels discussed his relationship with Nolan Ryan, coaching changes, Jurickson Profar's development and other Rangers topics during a recent appearance on "The Ben and Skin Show" on 105.3 The Fan radio (partial transcript provided by the Dallas Morning News). In regards to how the team will address Profar and the crowded middle infield picture, Daniels said, “If [a trade] helps us get better and win, then yeah, and I think we’d consider trading somebody. If it doesn’t, we’re not going to force it. There are a lot worse problems than having too many good players for a position.”
- Also from that interview, Daniels discussed his club's offseason needs. "Catching is an area that we need to address, as is our offense and run production in general, and there's a couple different spots we can look to add some offense. I think you're always in the market for pitching," Daniels said.
- David Murphy will likely be playing elsewhere in 2014, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes as part of a reader mailbag. The 31-year-old hit a career-worst .220/.282/.374 in 476 PA, drastically lowing his stock on the free agent market this winter. Sullivan speculates that Murphy could be a good fit on the Astros or Giants.
- Also from Sullivan's mailbag, he notes that Michael Young could retire at the end of this season. Young turns 37 later this month and his contract will be up as soon as the Dodgers' playoff run ends.
- Sullivan guesses that the Rangers would have to give up Profar, a top pitching prospect like Luke Jackson, and also a big hitting prospect from the lower minors to acquire David Price from the Rays.
- If the Rangers signed Cuban slugger Jose Dariel Abreu, Sullivan doesn't think it would necessarily mean the end of Mitch Moreland's time with the club since the Rangers need more bats.
- Earlier today on MLBTR, Zach Links included an item about the Rangers as part of a "Texas Notes" post.
Josh Hamilton has generated lots of contract chatter this week after hitting four home runs in a single game against the Orioles. Here’s the latest on the Rangers, starting, of course, with Hamilton’s contract status:
- Agent Scott Boras doesn't represent Hamilton, but he told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that we can expect "one of the most intriguing negotiations in all of sports" leading up to the outfielder's next contract. Nightengale's sources agree that Hamilton will earn at least $20MM per season for five years or more when he signs, whether he obtains an extension from the Rangers or signs as a free agent this offseason. I recommend Nightengale’s entire piece, which includes insights from many on Hamilton’s situation.
- Jay Franklin, the agent for Ian Kinsler, now represents Mitch Moreland as well, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link). Moreland had been a client of the Hendricks brothers. Check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for information regarding player representation.