MLBTR Originals Rumors
Though he's yet to throw a pitch in the Major Leagues, the Yankees committed a massive $175MM to sign 25-year-old righty Masahiro Tanaka in January. $20MM of that went to his old team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, with $155MM going to Tanaka. Tanaka's contract is the third-largest ever for a pitcher in MLB history, topped only by Clayton Kershaw's new extension with the Dodgers and C.C. Sabathia's 2008 free agent deal with the Yankees. Like those deals, Tanaka's includes an opt-out clause.
Tanaka comes to MLB for the 2014 season after posting what many scouts refer to as "video game numbers" in Japan last year: a 24-0 record and a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings. Last Friday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman did his best to temper expectations for Tanaka in a conversation with ESPN's Ian O'Connor. Cashman said he expects the pitcher to have growing pains in the States, and asked his ultimate upside two or three years down the road, the GM said Tanaka "has the potential to be a really solid consistent number three starter." Free agent salaries continue to rise, but I don't think the Yankees would spend that kind of money on a pitcher they thought might become a number three a year or two before his opt-out clause comes up.
Unbiased opinions were needed. To get a feel for Tanaka's repertoire and approach, injury risk, and overall ability, I spoke to high-ranking officials with scouting-related positions for four MLB teams (referred to simply as "scouts" later in this article). Each has seen the pitcher in person extensively, and none work for the Yankees.
Before we begin, here is a refresher on the 20-80 (or 2-8) scouting scale from Kevin Goldstein, formerly of Baseball Prospectus: "A score of 50 is major-league average, 60 is above-average (also referred to as "plus"), and 70 is among the best ("plus-plus"). 80 is top of the charts, and not a score that gets thrown around liberally." For more information on scouting pitchers from Goldstein, click here.
Scouting Report: Three Plus Pitches
Tanaka's fastball typically sits between 91-93 miles per hour, with the ability to touch 96 mph. Most of the scouts to whom I spoke graded his fastball as a 6, or plus, though one put a 70 on the heater. One scout praised his fastball in saying he throws a "heavy ball," though two others noted the pitch can get flat or straight at times. One of those two said Tanaka's fastball is "probably his most hittable pitch, in a way."
Scouts agreed Tanaka has a second or third gear for his fastball. In Japan he'd often be in "cruise control" for the first half of the game, ramping his fastball up into the mid-90s later if he needed to. Noted one scout who loves Tanaka, "When they're in Japan, they don't have to throw their best stuff because the league's not as good." That figures to change for Tanaka in MLB, given the deeper lineups.
Tanaka clearly had plus-plus control in Japan, with walk rates below two per nine innings in each of the last four seasons. Scouts feel that will translate to plus in the States. Grading Tanaka's command, one scout said "60 or 70," another went with 55, and one gave a 5. The most pessimistic scout elaborated, "I actually thought with the offspeed stuff, the splitter and the slider especially, I thought there was more command of those pitches. And I thought with the fastball he definitely threw strikes to an above average level but I thought the command, pinpointing it, was just average." When Tanaka does get into trouble in MLB, there's a good chance it will be the result of throwing hittable fastballs.
Next is Tanaka's splitter, by most accounts a nasty pitch. One scout put an 8 on it, suggesting if you don't put an 8 on this particular pitch, then you might be the type who never gives out 8s. He explained, "It's not a tumbling pitch. It's more of a disappearing fastball. It's not a Contreras splitter that comes out and kind of flutters." Two others put 7s on the splitter, though one dissented with a 6. That person admitted the split "could be plus-plus," but unlike his peers, he feels Tanaka's best pitch is his slider.
The lone scout who prefers the slider explained, "I think it's a true slider with a good tilt, he would get depth to it more than ones that are plus-plus." He feels the slider has a slight lead over the splitter, noting the slider has been Tanaka's pitch since his high school days. With the other scouts, Tanaka's slider received a 6 across the board.
It is generally agreed that Tanaka's fastball, splitter, and slider are plus pitches, and he'll get strikeouts with each. For a change of pace, he also throws a slow curveball, described by one scout as "useful." This pitch grades in the 45-50 range. Tanaka's ability to throw this pitch for strikes allows him to pitch backward if he chooses. Typically, though, Tanaka's approach is aggressive, as one scout explained: "He pitches inside, he doesn't pitch away from contact a lot. Some guys in Japan, they're not as aggressive. He has more of a Western style that he's not afraid to go up and in, he's not afraid to pitch inside. He pitches kind of with a little chip on his shoulder."
Reduced Strikeout Rate: Red Flag?
Though he posted a 1.27 ERA, Tanaka struck out only 7.8 batters per nine innings last year in Japan. That mark was his lowest since 2010. While one scout admitted, "It's certainly not a positive," all agreed the reduced strikeout rate is not a cause for concern. Explained another, "He's the type of guy that if he wants to, he can go out and strike out hitters. He's a brilliant, smart pitcher and he's not afraid to pitch to contact. I saw him doing that a lot that last couple years. That's one of the reasons he was able to stay efficient with his pitch counts." Throw in MLB lineups that are much more prone to swinging and missing, and there's good reason to believe Tanaka will whiff more than 7.8 per nine in 2014.
Heavy Workload: Cause For Concern?
In December, multiple MLB executives expressed concern to Yahoo's Jeff Passan regarding Tanaka's high pitch counts. The righty averaged about 110 pitches per regular season start in 2013, with seven outings in excess of 122 and a high of 136. Most famously, Tanaka threw 160 pitches in a Japan Series game and another 15 the next day in relief. In total, he threw 1,315 innings through his age-24 season, which hasn't happened in the Majors since the mid-70s, according to SI's Tom Verducci. Perhaps the GMs and owners calling the shots were worried about Tanaka's high pitch counts, but most of the scouts we talked to brushed it off.
"He's been trained for that his entire life," remarked one. Another noted his durable, solid body and suggested he's someone who might be able to handle throwing a lot of pitches. One scout noted that while it's obviously not a great idea to throw 160 pitches in a game, Japanese pitchers typically get six or seven days rest between starts, making the total mileage similar to MLB starters. None of the four feel that Tanaka's injury risk exceeds that of a typical MLB starter. Keep in mind, however, that the chance of going on the disabled list for the average MLB starter is around 39% for 2014, based on research from Jeff Zimmerman for FanGraphs.
Tanaka's Overall Projection
In a tweet last month, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the comparables he's heard most often for Tanaka are Hiroki Kuroda and prime-age Dan Haren, plus reliever Bryan Harvey for his splitter. One scout agreed with the Haren comp, noting that Tanaka has more arm strength. Others cited Zack Greinke and Matt Cain.
In terms of placing an overall grade on Tanaka, opinions ranged, but all were quite positive. One scout, who admitted being "toward the higher end of the spectrum," described Tanaka as a number one starter, without hesitation. He expects Tanaka to contend for the Cy Young, and feels he'll be one of the ten best starting pitchers in MLB in 2014.
The other three scouts placed Tanaka in a slightly lower tier, ranking him in the #15-25 range among all MLB starters for 2014. Two of them described him as a number two starter.
The mystery of how Tanaka will perform in Major League Baseball should be resolved in short order. He'll face MLB hitters in Spring Training later this month, and could have a bit of a soft landing with the Yankees' first three regular season games coming in Houston in early April.
- Yankees Sign Masahiro Tanaka
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman On Signing Tanaka
- Tanaka Signing Reactions And Fallout
- The New Posting System And What It Means For MLB
- Latest Yankees Rumors
- 2014 MLB Free Agent Tracker
- MLB Trade Rumors on Twitter
A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR the last seven days:
- Zach Links spoke with baseball executives and agents about the impact of the new NPB posting system and they believe the agreement is already creating a level playing field so more teams can bid on Japanese talent, but may not have a major impact on salaries given to regular free agents.
- Mike Dillon of Reynolds Sports Management, who represents right-handed reliever Joel Hanrahan, told MLBTR reports his client would hold a workout for clubs this past week were inaccurate. "We do not anticipate Joel throwing for multiple clubs in a 'showcase' type of workout until early March when he will be closer to 100%," Dillon said. "Having said that, we are excited and very encouraged with Joel's progress."
- Jeff Todd explored how Freddie Freeman's eight-year, $135MM deal may be the new contract extension model for players on the cusp of being arbitration eligible.
- Tim broke the news of the Marlins signing right-hander Chaz Roe to a minor league pact with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Tim was the first to report the Dodgers reached agreement with infielder Justin Turner.
- Tim learned left-hander Brian Burres will hold a showcase for interested teams Monday in Florida.
- Steve Adams asked MLBTR readers which of our remaining 2014 Top 50 Free Agents would sign next. Nearly 11% of you correctly predicted Fernando Rodney (#32) would be the one to put pen to paper before the others. Three days after the poll was posted, the right-hander signed a two-year, $14MM deal to become the Mariners' new closer.
- Zach gathered the best the baseball corner of the web had to offer for two installments of Baseball Blogs Weigh In.
- Steve hosted the weekly live chat.
A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR this past week:
- Jeff Todd examined the length and value of free agent contracts handed out over the last seven offseasons and found the length of free agent guarantees has risen quite substantially during this period.
- Jeff analyzed the most common types of MLB contract options by their risks and benefits and how they have been utilized in recent years.
- Joe Bick, the agent for Matt Guerrier, told Steve Adams the right-handed reliever received interest from at least seven teams and, despite no assurances of making the Opening Day roster, agreed to a minor league pact with the Twins because of their mutual respect and the familiarity with Minnesota's coaching staff and front office.
- Charlie Wilmoth identified Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis as an extension candidate and suggested a five-year deal in the neighborhood of $30-35MM could work for both sides.
- Steve presented a Free Agent Faceoff doubleheader this week. In the opener, MLBTR readers were split in deciding between right-handed starters Ervin Santana (#6 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list) and Ubaldo Jimenez (#11) with nearly 52% of you favoring Jimenez. In the nightcap, you gave a very slight nod to Nelson Cruz (#17) over Kendrys Morales (#28) with a mere four votes separating the pair.
- Tim Dierkes was the first to report the Pirates signed shortstop Blake Davis to a minor league contract.
- Steve hosted the MLBTR live chat this week.
A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR the past seven days:
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Zach Links the Masahiro Tanaka signing demonstrates the Steinbrenners "intend to put a team on the field that can compete on a yearly basis" and the goal to remain under the $189MM luxury tax threshold "wouldn't come at the expense of putting together a championship team." Cashman also told Zach "much of the heavy lifting" has now been completed in regards to their offseason upgrades.
- Grady Sizemore told Zach he chose to sign with Boston because of his familiarity with some members of the coaching staff, their medical game plan for him, and "I thought the Red Sox gave me the best opportunity to succeed and that's why I went with these guys."
- Steve Adams posits the Brewers' status as a team not desperate for starting pitching allowed them to sit on the periphery of the free agent market and act quickly on Matt Garza following the resolution of the Masahiro Tanaka saga.
- Tim Dierkes was the first to report the financial details of Scott Kazmir's contract with the A's: $7MM in 2014, $11MM in 2015, a $4MM signing bonus, and a $500K bonus, if traded.
- Zach learned Ben Revere's one-year pact with the Phillies contains bonuses for being named an All-Star, Gold Glove, MVP, and World Series MVP.
- Zach also had the terms of Jose Mijares' minor league deal with the Red Sox: $1MM base, $1MM in incentives based on apperances, and a March opt-out.
- Steve broke the story of the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization acquiring the rights to Twins left-hander Andrew Albers.
- Zach was the first to learn Jayson Nix's minor league deal with the Rays grants him a June 1 unconditional opt-out and allows him to seek a MLB job with another team, if he is not on Tampa Bay's 25-man roster.
- Zach was first with reliever Jon Rauch nearing a deal with a MLB club. The next day, the right-hander came to terms with the Royals on a minor league contract.
- Steve asked MLBTR readers what the outcome will be in the Braves' arbitration cases with Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward. You see Kimbrel (63%) and Freeman (57%) winning their arbitration hearings and Heyward losing his (46%).
- Zach spoke with right-hander Brett Tomko about trying a MLB comeback at age 40, his new perspective on the game, how long he envisions himself playing, and his post-career plans.
- Steve hosted this week's chat.
- Zach compiled the latest edition of Baseball Blogs Weigh In.
A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR this past week:
- Tim Dierkes spoke to Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette and agents Paul Kinzer and Dan Rosquete about the growing trend of signing six-year minor league free agents to Major League deals despite a lack of big league experience.
- Tim also learned one of the players profiled, right-hander Erik Cordier signed by the Giants, had Major League offers from two other clubs.
- Tim was the first to report right-hander Alfredo Aceves coming to terms with the Orioles on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Charlie Wilmoth spoke with Chase Lambin, the oldest active minor leaguer without any MLB experience. They discussed the 34-year-old's career, the frustration of not yet receiving that big league promotion, and shifting his perspective to supporting his family while mentoring younger players with an eye toward coaching after his playing days are over.
- Jeff Todd, using MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker, provided a two-part roundup (I, II) of Friday's exchange of salary arbitration figures.
- Steve Adams was first with the agreement between the Giants and right-hander Yusmeiro Petit to avoid an arbitration hearing.
- Tim noted the Pirates, Jays, Braves, Marlins, Rays, and White Sox are among the teams believed to utilize the file and trial strategy in handling their arbitration cases.
- The Dodgers paid Clayton Kershaw approximately $197MM to buy out six free agent seasons and became only the third franchise to give a player an opt-out in an extension, according to Tim.
- Zach Links was told interest in left-hander Scott Maine is picking up after positive reports from his stint in the Puerto Rican winter league, right-handed reliever Matt Guerrier is likely to throw for teams this week, and reliever Neal Cotts' new one-year, $2.2MM contract is fully guaranteed.
- Tim broke the news of agent Gustavo Vasquez, whose clients include Pablo Sandoval, Salvador Perez, and Luis Avilan, breaking away from the Morgan Advisory Group to form his own agency, SPS Sports Group.
- Steve hosted this week's live chat.
- Zach assembled the best of the baseball blogosphere for you in Baseball Blogs Weigh In.
40-man roster spots are a precious commodity in Major League Baseball. Many of the transactions on MLB Trade Rumors stem from this fact, as teams decide which players will occupy those last few spots. The roster squeeze prevents many recognizable free agents from securing a Major League contract each offseason, from useful veterans like Jason Kubel, Shaun Marcum, and Jamey Carroll to former top prospects like Trevor Crowe and Taylor Teagarden. Those players, despite a decent amount of name value, signed minor league deals. However, a new trend emerged this offseason, as eight players with scant Major League experience signed Major League deals: Francisco Pena (Royals), Kelvin De La Cruz (Orioles), Edgmer Escalona (Orioles), Erik Cordier (Giants), Francisco Peguero (Orioles), David Cooper (Indians), Angel Castro (Cardinals), and David Adams (Indians). Four of the players have no Major League experience at all, while none of the eight have more than 100 innings or 226 plate appearances in the bigs.
Upside As A Separator
The average age of these eight players is about 27 years old, significantly younger than a standard free agent who signs a Major League deal. Many of these seven come with top prospect pedigrees. Peguero, an outfielder signed by the Giants out of the Dominican Republic in 2005, was ranked as the team's fourth-best prospect prior to the 2011 season by Baseball America. As recently as last year, Peguero was ranked eighth by BA, who said he "still has the most exciting combination of speed and power in the system, along with perhaps the best bat speed." He went on to hit .316/.354/.408 in 70 Triple-A games to earn his second big league call-up with the Giants, though he received only six starts in September.
The Giants were faced with a difficult situation. With Peguero having used his four minor league options, they risked losing him to a waiver claim if they weren't willing to put him on the 25-man roster out of spring training in 2014. The Giants decided to remove Peguero from the 40-man roster by designating him for assignment in late November, cutting ties by non-tendering him five days later. As agent Dan Rosquete tells it, "The minute the Giants said 'Hey, we're taking him off the roster,' they backed it up with, 'Well, we want him back, what's it going to take?'" After Peguero's frustration from the lack of opportunity at the end of the season with the Giants, Rosquete's primary goal was to secure playing time for his client in 2014. Interestingly, the Giants designated Peguero for assignment in part to make room for Cordier, a big arm who had become a six-year minor league free agent after pitching in relief for the Pirates' Triple-A team. Cordier is one of four six-year minor league free agents this offseason to sign a Major League deal with no Major League experience.
The Orioles swooped in with an appreciation for Peguero's tools, an opportunity for playing time, and a Major League offer. Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette "could tell me more about my client than I knew about him," jokes Rosquete. "Dan Duquette called me and said 'Listen, I'm looking at everything and I can see this guy as an everyday outfielder.'" In an email, Duquette tells MLBTR Peguero "has good talent as he is a lifetime .300 plus hitter in the minors and [is a] very good defensive player." As a group, these eight Major League signings possess upside rarely found affordably in free agency. For example, the Indians landed a former first round draft pick in first baseman Cooper, the Orioles added a strikeout lefty who has touched 94 miles per hour in De La Cruz, and the Giants picked up a power reliever who can touch 97 in Cordier. Plus, all of them are considered to be near big league ready.
Contracts Dictated By Strong Markets
The majority of the eight players were six-year minor league free agents, with a handful of non-tenders mixed in. Ultimately, teams wouldn't give Major League deals and the accompanying 40-man roster spot to this level of player unless it was necessary to get the deal done. Duquette, who authored three of these eight big league deals with Peguero, De La Cruz, and Escalona, notes, "In each case other clubs were offering Major League contracts, so you could say that the Major League contract was required by the market."
The only way for an agent to really know what it will take is to let the market play out. Paul Kinzer represents the 24-year-old Pena, who became a six-year minor league free agent after 2013 when the Mets decided not to add him to their 40-man roster. "I don't know if anybody expected the kind of response we got on him," says Kinzer of Pena. Kinzer says the strong demand for catchers worked in Pena's favor. Three teams were close on the player, and the Royals had to offer a Major League deal to separate themselves. Cooper signed a minor league deal with the Indians in August after recovering from career-threatening herniated disk in his chest cavity. He opted for free agency at the end of the month, and demand was strong enough that the Indians re-signed him to a Major League deal. The Rays put pressure on the Tribe by also reportedly making a Major League offer.
A Possible Trend
Though we don't have complete data on the number of inexperienced players signing Major League deals each offseason, the eight such contracts from 2013-14 is definitely the highest number in recent years. Kinzer, who by his recollection has done three or four of these types of deals in his career, "absolutely" sees a trend toward more of them. He explains, "Teams can go out and spend a little more on these guys and sometimes get a better return on their money than going with an older, veteran guy." By "spend a little more," Kinzer is referring to the cost of a roster spot, since none of these contracts were for more than $75K above the $500K league minimum. The going rate for a veteran backup catcher this winter has been in the $1-3MM range.
Teams are continually trying to find outside-the-box means of acquiring younger talent. Showing a greater willingness to barter with a 40-man roster spot in November and early December, when most clubs are not near capacity, seems savvy. The trend could truly explode if more success stories emerge.
The biggest recent success story is the signing of lefty Jose Quintana by the White Sox after the 2011 season. Quintana was signed by the Mets out of Colombia for $40K in 2006, and signed with the Yankees about a year later after the Mets released him due to a violation of the Minor League Baseball drug policy. Baseball America never ranked Quintana among the Yankees' top 30 prospects, and he became a six-year minor league free agent after '11. GM Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman of the New York Post in June 2012, "We looked at him as a fringy prospect. We offered him a minor league contract to stay, but not a 40-man roster position. We didn’t feel he was ahead of other guys we gave spots to. It was a numbers game, but right now it does not look like a good decision." White Sox scouts Joe Siers and Daraka Shaheed "made him stand out on the six-year free-agent list," then-assistant GM Rick Hahn told Sherman, and the Sox and GM Kenny Williams separated themselves from the pack by offering Quintana a Major League deal. Fresh off 200 innings of 3.51 ball in 2013, Quintana is a scouting success for Chicago and the best recent example of a Major League deal paying off big for a player with no experience at the game's highest level.
Quintana, who would go a long way toward stabilizing the Yankees' current rotation, is one that got away. The team had a firsthand look at the southpaw for five years, but preferred to keep the roster spot open when he reached minor league free agency. Of the eight who signed this offseason, seven landed with new clubs. Time will tell whether the Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, Rockies, Giants, and Yankees will regret letting these players go, but if more credible big leaguers emerge from the group, it's likely we'll continue to see an increase in Major League deals for minor league free agents.
Gustavo Vasquez, agent for Pablo Sandoval, Salvador Perez, Luis Avilan, and others, left Morgan Advisory Group last year to form his own agency, MLBTR has learned. Vasquez's new agency, SPS Sports Group, also represents Jeanmar Gomez, Miguel Socolovich, Edwin Escobar, Armando Galarraga, Victor Garate, Mauricio Robles, Adys Portillo, and Gorkys Hernandez.
Sandoval, 27, spent some time on the DL in June for a foot strain, but still managed his highest games played total since 2010 by appearing in 141 contests. Sandoval hit .278/.341/.417 with 14 home runs in 584 plate appearances on the season, with the lowest isolated power mark of his career. Having signed an extension in January 2012 covering only his arbitration years, Sandoval is in position to reach free agency after 2014 as a 28-year-old. With a healthy campaign and offensive production closer to his career marks, Kung Fu Panda would be well positioned on the open market, though it's certainly possible the Giants will retain him.
For the latest on player representation, be sure to check MLBTR's agency database.
A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR the past seven days:
- Charlie Wilmoth opines it may be harder for sluggers like Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales (ranked #17 and #28, respectively, on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list) to take advantage of the riches of today's free agent market because their solid-but-not-elite bats are offset by their limited defensive value and being tied to draft pick compensation.
- Charlie asked MLBTR readers which team will sign Stephen Drew (#14 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list). More than 75% of you believe his next team will either be the Red Sox or Mets.
- Tim Dierkes was the first to report the financial terms ($775K) of the one-year deal right-handed reliever Jesse Chavez signed with the A's to avoid arbitration.
- Zach Links revisited some of the notable transactions which have occurred on January 8th in recent years.
- Steve Adams hosted the weekly live chat.
- There are many ways to enjoy MLB Trade Rumors. Here's a refresher on how to use the apps, features, and functions on MLBTR.
A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR this past week, as 2013 became 2014:
- Jeff Todd previewed the top Hot Stove storylines of the new year.
- In a follow up to one of the storylines he highlighted, Jeff asked MLBTR readers when will the Rays trade David Price. Over 68% of you believe Price will be wearing a different uniform by the Trade Deadline.
- Tim Dierkes demonstrated the recent rarity of a non-Boras free agent finding a three-year deal in January or later, and took a look at the market situation for the top remaining names.
- Stephen Drew (#14 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list) could be in line for one of those three-year free agent contracts, and Tim used projections to examine the six teams who could use him the most.
- Charlie Wilmoth detailed how the free agent closer market is changing as clubs are becoming more reluctant to over-commit in terms of money or years.
- The Brewers still haven't signed a free agent to a Major League deal, but Tim Dierkes' look at Doug Melvin's past five offseasons showed the GM is comfortable signing players later in the offseason.
- Jeff examined the use and impact of options in MLB contracts.
- Tim listed the extension candidates for each franchise.
- Tim learned the Tigers, Indians, and Orioles are among those who have inquired about reliever Luis Ayala this winter and three teams have discussed a Major League deal with reliever Carlos Marmol.
- Zach Links broke the news multiple clubs are interested in Yuniesky Betancourt, including one possible opportunty to start, and the infielder hopes to sign within the next two weeks.
- Tim was the first to report reliever Joel Hanrahan, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, is throwing off a mound ahead of schedule and is expected to throw for teams during Spring Training.
- Zach was the first to learn right-hander Jerome Williams is in the talking stages with a number of American League clubs and could be receiving offers over the next two weeks.
- Zach was first with a half dozen teams expressing interest in right-hander Brett Tomko.
- Six to eight clubs have shown varying levels of interest in reliever Kyle Farnsworth, but nothing is imminent, according to Zach.
- Charlie asked MLBTR readers which team will sign Nelson Cruz (#17 on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list) and a plurality of you see him landing with the Mariners.
- Jeff asked MLBTR readers to name the best transaction of 2013. You split your support between extensions given to Paul Goldschmidt, Dustin Pedroia, and Chris Sale; the Yankees' signing of Brian McCann; the Nationals acquiring Doug Fister; and the Braves obtaining Justin Upton and Chris Johnson in a seven-player trade with the Diamondbacks.
- Dennis Gilbert reminisced with Zach about his time as an agent and his current role as a special assistant to White Sox Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf.
- Charlie posted excerpts from his interview with former MLB pitcher C.J. Nitkowski, who is now an analyst for MLB.com, CBS Sports, and MLB Network Radio.
- Jeff revisited the 2012 New Year's Day trade between the White Sox and Blue Jays, which sent reliever Jason Frasor back to Toronto in exchange for minor league pitching prospects Myles Jaye and Daniel Webb.
- Zach put together the best of the baseball blogosphere in Baseball Blogs Weigh In.
A look back at the original reporting and analysis found on MLBTR this past week as we wind down 2013:
- Zach Links details how agents and front office personnel alike find time to squeeze in some business between opening presents and eating 12 grapes while popping champagne corks to a chorus of Auld Lang Syne.
- With only 15 of MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents unsigned, Steve Adams asked our readers to re-rank those still on the market. Just under 74% of those surveyed chose Masahiro Tanaka as the most desirable free agent. Nelson Cruz and Matt Garza were next with approximately 6%.
- Charlie Wilmoth asked MLBTR readers who will sign Tanaka. Nearly 39% of you say the 25-year-old right-hander will be wearing pinstripes.
- Mark Polishuk opines teams not willing to bid on Tanaka for any reason other than they feel he cannot pitch effectively in MLB are being short-sighted.
- Steve asked MLBTR readers to name the best nine-figure free agent contract this offseason. You split your support between Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo.
- Aaron Steen asked MLBTR readers to voice their opinion on the Rangers' offseason to date. More than 72% of you approve of the moves made by GM Jon Daniels.
- Zach was the first to report five teams are bidding for the services of outfielder Sam Fuld. All five teams have proposed minor leagues deals with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Tim Dierkes was the first to learn reliever Jim Hoey is looking to hook on with a MLB team after spending the bulk of 2013 with the Somerset Patriots of the independent Atlantic League.
- Zach compiled the latest edition of Baseball Blogs Weigh In.
- MLBTR has a roster of regular features. Here's the schedule and a brief synopsis of each.