Mystery Team Rumors

Jason Grilli Close To Deal

10:24am: It will be a two-year deal and the Giants are out, tweets Rosenthal.  Pirates GM Neal Huntington said today that they made a "very fair offer" to Grilli.

THURSDAY, 8:28am: Grilli will decide between the Cubs, Blue Jays, Giants, and Pirates at 10am today, or earlier if one of the teams goes to three years on the 36-year-old, tweets Peter Gammons of MLB Network.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Grilli will stay in Pittsburgh if no one adds the third year.

WEDNESDAY, 4:38pm: Grilli is still wading through all the offers presented to him, Sheffield told MLB.com's Tom Singer.  The Brewers haven't talked with Sheffield this week, GM Doug Melvin told reporters.

12:42pm: If Grilli is close to a deal, it's not with the Brewers, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

10:50am: Jason Grilli's agent, former MLB slugger Gary Sheffield, tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link) that he's nearing a deal for his client. However, Sheffield didn't reveal which team was closing in on Grilli.

As Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes, Grilli is expected to choose from nearly a dozen suitors today, with the Pirates still in the mix. The right-hander figures to land a multiyear contract.


Dodgers, Rangers Battling For Greinke

Although Dan Haren found a deal this morning, much of the free agent pitching market remains on hold while Zack Greinke seeks a contract, writes Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. As we wait for the dominos to begin to fall, we'll track today's Greinke updates right here, with the newest additions at the top of the page:

  • In an update on his previous report, Heyman writes that a third team could be involved, but that people most familiar with the situation expect the Dodgers or Rangers to sign Greinke for $160MM+. Some have speculated that number could reach as high as $175MM. The Rangers' talks with Josh Hamilton appear to be on hold while they pursue Greinke.

Earlier updates:

  • The Greinke derby appears to be between the Rangers and Dodgers, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and the deal is likely to be for $160MM+.  The largest-ever contract signed by a pitcher is $161MM, from the Yankees for C.C. Sabathia four years ago.
  • The Dodgers would be surprised to see a resolution on the Greinke situation before they leave the Winter Meetings, tweets Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly met with Greinke last week in Los Angeles, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.'
  • Greinke is still "going through the process" with teams, so his situation hasn't gained clarity yet, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
  • The Dodgers and Rangers appear to be the favorites for Greinke, with the Angels as the dark horse, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and SiriusXM also considers those three teams to be the strongest suitors for Greinke, though he views the Angels as a more likely candidate than the Rangers (Twitter link). With the Nats out and the Braves unlikely, Bowden wonders if a mystery team, such as the Blue Jays, Red Sox, or White Sox, could get involved.

Red Sox Closing In On Shane Victorino

4:01pm: Things are "moving fast" on the Victorino front, with the Sox in a good position to finalize a deal, says ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link). Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com adds (on Twitter) that nothing is done yet, but that it's getting close.  Victorino has at least one four-year offer from a different team, notes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

3:25pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports clarifies (via Twitter) that the exact terms of the Red Sox offer are three years at $37.5MM. There's optimism that the two sides will get a deal done at that price, says Cafardo (via Twitter).

3:09pm: The Red Sox are the frontrunners on Victorino, having offered a three-year deal worth $38MM, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter).

3:02pm: There are two teams "fully engaged" in talks with Victorino, including the Indians, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. It's not clear whether the other club involved is the Red Sox or the aforementioned "mystery team."

2:27pm: Victorino appears to have narrowed his options to three teams, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Indians and Red Sox remain in the mix, along with a third club. That third suitor isn't a true "mystery team," says Heyman — it's just unknown to him.

12:02pm: Momentum is building in talks for free agent outfielder Shane Victorino, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who tweets that a deal could be finalized during the Winter Meetings. Crasnick reports (via Twitter) that the Indians have emerged as a "prime suitor" for Victorino, with manager Terry Francona reaching out personally to the Flyin' Hawaiian earlier in the offseason.

Besides the Indians, other teams checking in on Victorino include the Red Sox, Cubs, and Yankees, says Crasnick (Twitter link). The Braves and Reds don't appear to be engaged in discussions, and the Phillies' interest is "tepid," according to the ESPN.com scribe.

Crasnick adds in a final tweet that Angel Pagan's and B.J. Upton's deals appear to be helping Victorino, who should be in line for a three- or four-year contract. Upton earned a five-year, $75MM deal from the Braves, while Pagan agreed to a four-year, $40MM contract with the Giants yesterday.



Six Teams In On Anibal Sanchez

Yesterday, we heard that the Tigers remain in contact with Anibal Sanchez, while the Angels and Royals are among the other teams considering the right-hander. We'll track today's Sanchez updates here, with the latest news up top:

  • The Mystery Team has finally showed up in Nashville! Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that, in addition to the Tigers, Angels, Royals, Dodgers, and Red Sox, a mystery team is in the mix for Sanchez.
  • Although the Red Sox have interest in Sanchez, the price might be too high for their liking, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Boston may look at Kyle Lohse as an alternative, though the club is focused on adding offense for now.

Felix Doubront Claimed On Waivers

Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront was claimed on waivers by an unidentified team yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. American League teams had waiver priority on Doubront, who has put together a solid season in Boston's rotation.

The 24-year-old has a 4.79 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 127 2/3 innings over the course of 23 starts for the Red Sox. He won't be arbitration eligible before the end of the 2013 season (he's a possible super two player) and will remain under team control through 2017.

Doubront was reportedly on waivers as early as August 16th. Either he’s on waivers for the second time (in which case the waivers are no longer revocable) or there’s been an erroneous report. Rosenthal has suggested the Red Sox could send Doubront to the Twins in a possible trade for Joe Mauer, who was recently placed on waivers.


Justin Morneau Claimed On Waivers

Justin Morneau was claimed on waivers several days ago, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). The Twins didn't work out a trade with the claiming team, so the first baseman will be staying in Minnesota. If the Twins place Morneau on waivers again, the waivers will no longer be revocable. However it seems unlikely that Morneau will be placed on waivers again since the Twins don't view him as a giveaway, according to Heyman.

Morneau earns $14MM this year — approximately $2.8MM between now and the end of the regular season — and the same amount in 2013. The 31-year-old has a .274/.332/.472 batting line with 17 home runs and 25 doubles in 446 plate appearances this year. This marks the first time since 2009 that Morneau has played in 100 games, an indication that Morneau's concussion issues are not preventing him from producing.


Scott Hairston Claimed On Waivers

5:10pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the winning team made the claim as a block, and Hairston is not likely to be traded (Twitter link).

4:41pm: Mets outfielder Scott Hairston has been claimed on waivers by an unknown team, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (all Twitter links). The Dodgers did not win the claim and neither did the Giants, Heyman writes.

The Mets placed Hairston and Andres Torres on waivers over the weekend. They now have two days to select one of three options. They can let Hairston (and his contract) go to the claiming team, they can complete a trade with the claiming team, or they can pull him back off of waivers. National League teams had waiver priority on Hairston, beginning at the bottom of the standings.

Hairston, 32, earns $1.1MM this year — just $200K between now and the end of the season. He has a .272/.312/.512 batting line this year and a history of hitting left-handed pitching well.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Justin Upton Claimed On Waivers

7:46pm: The Rangers are one of several clubs that placed a claim on Upton, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Since they have the best record in the AL, Texas is dead last on the waiver priority list for an NL player.

SATURDAY, 6:48pm: The Red Sox were not the claiming team, reports Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe (on Twitter). He reiterates that Upton will not be traded.

FRIDAY: Justin Upton has been claimed on waivers by an unidentified team, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). However, a Diamondbacks official said there's "no chance" of a trade this month.

Diamondbacks managing partner Ken Kendrick told reporters last month that it's a "reasonable assumption" that Upton will stay put for the remainder of the season. It's not at all uncommon for teams to determine trade interest by placing players — even stars — on the waiver wire.

Upton will earn $9.75MM in 2013, $14.25MM in 2014 and $14.5MM in 2015. His six-year, $51.25MM contract allows him to block moves to the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs and Indians.

The Diamondbacks now have until Sunday to select one of three options. They can let Upton (and his contract) go to the claiming team, they can complete a trade with the claiming team, or they can pull him back off of waivers. Expect Arizona to pull Upton back off of waivers.

National League teams had claiming priority on Upton, whose teammate, Joe Saunders, cleared waivers today. Upton, 25, has a .273/.356/.397 batting line with nine home runs in 472 plate appearances this year.

Mike Axisa contributed to this post.


Rangers Acquire Geovany Soto

The Rangers officially acquired a former Rookie of the Year today, getting catcher Geovany Soto and cash from the Cubs for minor league pitcher Jake Brigham and a player to be named later or cash.

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Soto, 29, has a .195/.278/.345 batting line in 194 plate appearances this year. The 2008 NL Rookie of the Year earns $4.3MM in 2012 and is on track to go to arbitration for the third time this offseason. However, he could be non-tendered given his salary. The Mets also had interest in trading for Soto.

The move led to the Rangers designating catcher Yorvit Torrealba for assignment. If Soto's production improves, Texas will have an in-house alternative to Mike Napoli when he hits free agency this offseason. Otherwise, the Rangers could non-tender Soto and let him test the free agent market a year early.

Brigham, a 24-year-old right-hander, had been pitching at Double-A Frisco. He has a 4.28 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 124 innings over the course of 21 starts this year. Brigham is a fringe arm, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes (on Twitter).  ESPN's Keith Law says he has "a plus fastball and power breaking ball but lacks the command and the third pitch to start."

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that a trade would take place and Tim Brown of Yahoo first reported that the Rangers acquired Soto.  Photo courtesy of US Presswire/Benny Sieu.


Braves Acquire Reed Johnson, Paul Maholm

The Cubs have traded left-hander Paul Maholm, outfielder Reed Johnson and cash considerations to the Braves in a four-player trade that provides Atlanta with reinforcements for the season's final two months and bolsters Chicago's minor league system. The Cubs obtain right-handers Jaye Chapman and Arodys Vizcaino in the trade, which the teams have announced. 

Paul Maholm - Cubs (PW)

Maholm has a 3.74 ERA with 6.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 49.9% ground ball rate in 120 1/3 innings for the Cubs this year. The 30-year-old has never thrown particularly hard; his average fastball checks in at 87.6 mph this year, according to FanGraphs. He earns a $4.75MM salary in 2012 and his contract includes a $6.5MM club option for 2013. The Royals and Pirates appeared to have interest in Maholm earlier this month.

Johnson, 35, has a .307/.361/.452 batting line in 180 plate appearances this year. The right-handed hitter has played all three outfield positions for the Cubs and owns a career .313/.370/.469 line against left-handed pitching. He's signed to a one-year, $1.15MM contract and will hit free agency after the season. Four teams made offers for Johnson today, including the Pirates and Tigers, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com.

Vizcaino, who entered the 2012 season ranked by Baseball America as the 40th-best prospect in MLB, had Tommy John surgery this spring. The 21-year-old posted a 3.06 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 97 innings for three Braves affiliates as he made his way through Atlanta's minor league system in 2011. The right-hander reached the Major Leagues last year, posting a 4.67 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 4.7 BB/9 in 17 relief appearances.

Chapman, a 25-year-old right-hander, has a 3.52 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.9 BB/9 in 53 2/3 innings of relief for Atlanta's Triple-A team so far in 2012. The Braves selected him in the 16th round of the 2005 draft.

Maholm joins a Braves rotation that includes Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Mike Minor, Ben Sheets and, as of tomorrow, Kris Medlen. The Braves nearly traded for Ryan Dempster this month, but the sides don't appear to have obtained the right-hander's permission. 

Geovany Soto has been traded to the Rangers in a separate move.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that Johnson had been traded (on Twitter). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported Maholm's role in the trade and first reported that the Braves were the other team involved (Twitter link). ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick first reported that the Cubs were getting two minor league pitchers, including Chapman. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs were getting Vizcaino. Photo courtesy of US Presswire.