Nelson Cruz Rumors
We shouldn't be surprised if the Yankees spend aggressively on free agent starting pitching in the years ahead, Jim Bowden writes at ESPN.com. Check out MLBTR’s 2014 free agent list to see which players will join Matt Garza, Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright on the free agent market a year from now. Here are today’s links...
- In a piece at ESPN Insider, Zachary Levine of Baseball Prospectus searches MLB rosters for some players who could be traded now that their salaries are essentially sunk costs. Luke Hochevar and Ted Lilly are among the players who make Levine's list.
- Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal looks ahead at some of the starting pitchers who could be available in trades, suggesting that Yovani Gallardo, Jarrod Parker and Ian Kennedy could be dealt in future years.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney wonders if Nelson Cruz’s alleged connection to performance enhancing drugs suppliers could lead to renewed interest in Michael Bourn from the Rangers (Twitter link).
- Free agent right-hander Kip Wells threw a bullpen for the Mariners today, Evan Drellich of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Wells, 35, posted a 4.58 ERA with more walks (20) than strikeouts (19) in 37 1/3 innings with the Padres in 2012.
In the wake of Nelson Cruz's connection to a Miami-based clinic that allegedly supplied performance-enhancing drugs to several MLB players, the Rangers released an official response (transcribed by ESPN Dallas) saying that they were contacted about the story by the Miami New Times last week and then themselves contacted Major League Baseball. Beyond these details, the club had "no further comment" about the allegations.
Here are some more items out of Arlington...
- If Cruz ends up having to serve a 50-game suspension, ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett doesn't think the Rangers would respond by signing Michael Bourn. Texas isn't interested in signing Bourn to the four- or five-year deal that he desires but could possibly explore a shorter-term agreement if Bourn lowers his demands. If lieu of a new acquisition, Durrett notes that the Rangers could use internal options to replace Cruz, such as moving Mike Olt, Ian Kinsler or Mitch Moreland to the outfield.
- The Rangers had a "preliminary chat" with the Rockies about Carlos Gonzalez, MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby reports, but the talks didn't lead anywhere since the Rangers weren't willing to give up Olt or Jurickson Profar. Several teams asked Colorado about Gonzalez during the Winter Meetings but were told the outfielder wasn't available.
- Also from Ringolsby's piece, Rangers president Nolan Ryan and GM Jon Daniels were satisfied with the team's fairly low-key offseason, despite missing out on signing Zack Greinke and losing Josh Hamilton to the Angels. "You have to guard against overreacting to something someone else did or not getting the players you anticipated," said Ryan. "When things don't work out the way you hoped, you have to step back, digest the circumstances, and figure out what to do to keep moving forward."
Gio Gonzalez and Nelson Cruz are among the MLB stars who have been linked to a supplier of performance enhancing drugs in a report from Tim Elfrink of the Miami New Times. A Miami-based clinic sold PEDs to athletes from various sports, according to the report. The names of Cruz, Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were found in the records at Biogenesis, an anti-aging clinic located near the University of Miami.
Gonzalez's name appears five times in the notebooks of Anthony Bosch, the clinic's chief. Cruz purchased $4,000 of product, according to the report. Rodriguez's name appears throughout the clinic's files, while Cabrera's name appears 14 times and Colon’s name also comes up.
Gonzalez has considerable security after agreeing to a five-year, $42MM contract with the Nationals last offseason. He'll earn $6.25MM in 2013 and remains under contract through 2016. Cruz will earn $10.5MM this year then hit free agency following the 2013 season. Cabrera, 28, signed a two-year, $16MM contract with the Blue Jays after serving a PED-related suspension at the end of the 2012 season. Colon, who has also served a PED-related suspension, signed a one-year, $3MM deal with the Athletics this offseason.
Rodriguez could face a suspension, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. However, don't expect the Yankees to be able to void the third baseman's contract. As Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports, the Yankees weren't able to void the deal after he admitted to using performance enhancing drugs for the first time (Twitter link). Rodriguez, who will miss much of the 2013 season recovering from a hip operation, has $114MM remaining on his contract with the Yankees.
The Rangers have had discussions with Mike Moye, the agent for David Murphy, assistant general manager Thad Levine tells MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Murphy agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.775MM earlier today, avoiding arbitration for the final time before hitting free agency. According to Levine, the team preferred to "get through [arbitration] first and then continue that dialogue later."
"Later" could mean Spring Training, writes Sullivan. As he points out, the Rangers have hammered out significant extensions for both Derek Holland and Ian Kinsler during Spring Training in recent years. That line of thinking also allows the Rangers to have a better sense of their long-term outfield picture. As it stands, the team is still interested in both Justin Upton and Michael Bourn. Acquiring either could impact potential extension talks for Murphy.
According to Sullivan, the team is also interested in discussing a long-term deal for Nelson Cruz, but no talks have taken place as of yet. Those, much like talks with Murphy, are likely to occur during Spring Training. Cruz signed a two-year, $16MM contract with the Rangers last offseason that bought out his final two years of arbitration. The 32-year-old is eligible to become a free agent following the 2013 season.
How long will the Wild Card playoff format be a one-game elimination? The running gag among baseball executives, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, is until the Yankees are eliminated in a such fashion. That possibility is looming larger as the Yankees and Orioles are tied for the AL East lead with four games to play. The Yankees currently have a one-game lead over the A's in the Wild Card race. However, if the two teams finished with identical records, the Yankees would have to travel to Oakland because they tied in the season series and the A’s currently own the next tiebreaker - a superior record within their own division. It will make for an interesting finish to the season. Also from Rosenthal's column:
- In response to the likelihood the two AL Wild Card teams will have a better record than the AL Central Division champion, Rosenthal suggests the playoff qualifiers with the two worst records meet in the Wild Card game. Rosenthal admits winning a weak division would be less meaningful, but such a team hardly would be in position to argue since it would be lucky to reach the playoffs in the first place.
- Angels owner Arte Moreno recently acknowledged the fans' desire for the team to re-sign Torii Hunter, but Rosenthal says he may have competition from a division rival. The Rangers have long had interest in Hunter, who lives in a Dallas suburb. With Josh Hamilton and Mike Napoli free agents this winter and Nelson Cruz a free agent next offseason, the team almost certainly will look for offensive help. Rosenthal believes a trade for a younger slugger such as Arizona's Justin Upton is more likely than a short-term signing of Hunter. But at the very least, the Rangers could pursue Hunter to drive up the price for the Angels.
- Despite the recent slump that may cost the White Sox a playoff berth, Rosenthal claims this has been a successful season for the South Siders. Rosenthal points to highlights like Robin Ventura establishing himself as a manager, Chris Sale developing into an ace, a number of rookie pitchers emerging as valuable parts, and bounce back seasons from Adam Dunn, Alex Rios, and Jake Peavy.
- Rosenthal credits the Rays' recent resurgence to manager Joe Maddon's decision to make batting practice optional and allow players to arrive at the park later, which resulted in the players becoming more relaxed.
Passing along a few stray items out of the West divisions ...
- Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz's two-year, $16MM contract is backloaded, according to the Associated Press (h/t Boston Herald). Cruz will earn $5MM in 2012, along with a $500K signing bonus, and will earn $10.5MM in 2013. The right-handed hitter can also earn up to an additional $500K based on plate appearances.
- Yoenis Cespedes did not secure a no-trade clause in his contract with the Athletics, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, so the A's will have the option of trading off the outfielder if he becomes too expensive as he nears free agency after 2015.
- The remaining bidders for the Dodgers will meet with MLB's ownership committee early next month, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.
- The Padres will receive a rights fee of $30MM in 2012 for their new TV deal with FOXSports, a source tells Jay Posner of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The source adds that the Friars could earn as much as $40MM this year depending on a signing bonus and other factors.
- The Rangers and Nelson Cruz avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $16MM deal earlier today, and the outfielder told Anthony Andro of FOXSportsSouthWest.com that a long-term deal is still possible (Twitter link).
- The AP (via ESPN) reports that the Giants and Guillermo Mota have finalized their one-year, $1MM agreement. The two sides agreed to the contract in December. San Francisco's 40-man roster is now full.
- The Padres are poised to sign a new television contract with FOX Sports that will guarantee them $75MM annually for the next 20 years, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The deal is pending MLB's approval.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark listed five players that could get traded in Spring Training, including Bobby Abreu of the Angels. One executive told Stark: "There's no team in baseball more likely to make a deal this spring than the Angels."
Nelson Cruz passed his physical, and his two-year deal with the Rangers is worth $16MM plus incentives, MLBTR has learned. The ACES client had an arbitration hearing scheduled for next week.
Cruz, 31, hit .263/.312/.509 with 29 home runs in 513 plate appearances last year, adding eight more homers in 70 postseason PAs. The right fielder's arbitration case seemingly had some bearing on those of Adam Jones and Alex Gordon, who remain unsigned.
Cruz will be eligible for free agency upon the completion of his two-year deal. His .540 slugging percentage since 2008 ranks sixth in MLB among those with at least 1500 plate appearances. Health has been the only obstacle for the late-blooming Cruz, who has averaged 120 regular season games over the past three years.
The Rangers extended shortstop Elvis Andrus yesterday, so Mike Napoli is their only remaining unsigned arbitration eligible player. Napoli's hearing is scheduled for Wednesday of next week, with a $3.2MM salary spread.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
WEDNESDAY: The Rangers are nearing a two-year deal with Nelson Cruz, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Cruz filed for $7.5MM in arbitration, while the Rangers countered with a $5.5MM offer. The sides have an arbitration hearing scheduled February 17th.
Cruz hit .263/.312/.509 with 29 home runs in the regular season before clubbing eight postseason homers and being named the 2011 ALCS MVP. The 31-year-old ACES client is arbitration eligible for the second time after earning $3.65MM in 2011. A two-year deal would buy out both of his remaining arbitration seasons, but no free agent years. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined the cases for Cruz, Adam Jones and Alex Gordon earlier today.
This post was first published on February 8th, 2012.
The Rangers avoided arbitration with outfielder Nelson Cruz, Andy Slater of 640-AM Sports in South Florida tweets (hat tip Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com via Twitter). Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported last night that the sides were nearing a two-year deal.
Cruz filed for $7.5MM in arbitration, while the Rangers countered with a $5.5MM offer. It's unclear whether they settled on a one-year deal or agreed to a multiyear contract. The sides had an arbitration hearing scheduled February 17th.
Cruz hit .263/.312/.509 with 29 home runs in the regular season before hitting eight postseason homers and being named the 2011 ALCS MVP. The 31-year-old ACES client is arbitration eligible for the second time after earning $3.65MM in 2011. A two-year deal would buy out both of his remaining arbitration seasons, but no free agent years. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examined the cases for Cruz, Adam Jones and Alex Gordon yesterday.
This post was first published on February 9th, 2012.