- Blue Jays Sign Dayan Viciedo
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- Blue Jays Sign Johan Santana To Minors Deal
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New York Yankees Rumors
David Ortiz told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he’s extremely excited to have Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval in the Red Sox’s lineup alongside healthy versions of Dustin Pedroia, Shane Victorino, and Mike Napoli. “It’s going to make a huge difference.” Ortiz said. “Last year we had the big struggle with injuries. Pedroia struggled with injuries. Nap struggled with injuries. Even myself toward the end, I had a wrist problem. When you have pretty much the center of the lineup going through all those injuries, it’s hard to recover from the struggles we had offensively last year. Hopefully that’s not the case now. Everyone is healthy now. And you’ve got more thunder coming into the lineup.” Here’s more from the AL East..
- Andrew Miller turned down a four-year, $40MM deal from the Astros to join the Yankees on a four-year, $36MM this offseason, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. While he believed that the Astros are headed in the right direction, he thought it would take them time to realize their goals. Miller also told Cafardo that the rival Red Sox made an excellent offer, but the Yankees’ situation was just too good for him to pass up. It’s believed that the Red Sox topped out at $32MM over four years. Miller recently spoke with MLBTR’s Jeff Todd about his free agent journey.
- The Angels will turn to Matt Joyce in the wake of Josh Hamilton‘s issues, but Cafardo wonders if they could call the Red Sox about Allen Craig or Shane Victorino. He also posits that the Blue Jays could have interest in talking with Boston after Michael Saunders‘ injury.
- The Rays made the right move in releasing thrice-suspended 2010 No. 1 draft pick OF Josh Sale before he anything else went wrong, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Sale has run into a litany of problems over the last few years, including two suspensions imposed by MLB and one from the Rays. Of course, it also didn’t help that he had yet to play above Class A in five pro years.
- No one is expecting Johan Santana to revert back to his prime form, but scouts see the Blue Jays signing him as a smart, low-risk move, Cafardo writes. “He obviously isn’t the Santana of old, but I’m not sure there is a more competitive pitcher in the game, and he’s learned to pitch with less,” said one National League scout.
Let’s take a quick look in at the latest out of the AL East, featuring three front office figures:
- Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner disputes the notion that there is anything cheap about the way his club does business, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. As for Yoan Moncada, Steinbrenner explained: “For Moncada, that was just how far I was going to go for a player who is 19 years old and at least two years away from the majors with all the uncertainties that can happen with a prospect even that good. It was a hell of an offer. [The bidding] might have ended up at $35MM if I continued to be in it.”
- Generally, Steinbrenner indicated that he has every expectation of competing this year. “It would be horrible not to make the playoffs three years in a row,” he said. “We’d be embarrassed. So anything [as far as firings or restructuring] would be on the table, yes.” (Bracketed insert via original report.)
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos sat down with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca and covered a variety of topics. We already touched on some of his comments regarding the bullpen, but Anthopoulos also noted that minor league signee Wilton Lopez has a legitimate chance to earn a pen slot, explaining that he had tried to deal for Lopez in the past. Another minor league free agent expected to get a long look is first baseman Daric Barton.
- The Orioles have dealt away prospects in several notable deals under executive VP Dan Duquette, as Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes. Duquette credits the organization’s creation of a deep system for enabling the use of prospects as trade chips when appropriate. Last year’s deal for impact reliever Andrew Miller probably has the highest likelihood of stinging in the long run, with Eduardo Rodriguez trending upwards with the Red Sox. “There is a case of yes, we gave up a really good prospect, but it was required for us to take a shot at the pennant,” said Duquette. “At that point of the season, I think you have to roll the dice and see if you can help your team advance.”
The Yankees feel they have a strong case that the team should not be obligated to pay Alex Rodriguez for a series of home run milestone bonuses included in his deal with the club, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Rodriguez’s contract provides that he can earn $6MM for reaching each of five career home run tallies, starting with his 660th, but the club is said to have begun developing a legal strategy to avoid any such pay-outs.
The reason for the club’s confidence is apparent in the new details on those clauses provided in Heyman’s report. Rather than simply promising Rodriguez the sum if and when he hits the necessary home run, the language provides that the club need not “exercise its right to designate” a home run as a milestone if that “decision is made in good faith and in accordance with the intent of the parties.”
As I explained in detail a while back, it already was at least plausible to think that the Yankees could craft an argument that the marketing bonus pay-outs should be invalidated. That the actual deal language seems to contemplate scenarios where a bonus would not be paid would appear to lend significant credence to such an attempt. Of course, Rodriguez is also promised another $61MM for the next three seasons.
Of course, as Heyman notes, this matter is not likely to be resolved quietly unless the sides agree to some sort of settlement. Particularly given the contract’s reference to the “intent of the parties,” any kind of formal dispute would seem quite likely to involve testimony from Rodriguez, his agent at the time of the deal, Scott Boras, and top Yankees brass. Indeed, Heyman indicates that Rodriguez’s camp has already sought to engaged Boras regarding obtaining his testimony, with the super-agent rebuffing those initial advances. And, of course, the MLBPA would again be in a difficult position but would almost certainly seek to uphold the marketing provisions.
Adding to the complexities is the fact that Rodriguez apparently is not currently retaining an agent. Sources tell Heyman that Rodriguez has “parted ways” with Dan Lozano, the representative he had hired to replace Boras.
Andrew Bailey decided to stay with the Yankees because he was treated so well last year, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes. The former closer is still working his way back from shoulder surgery in the summer of 2013. “For [the Yankees] to put the time, effort, and investment into myself, I wasn’t going to look anywhere else to go,” said Bailey, who has now tossed five bullpen sessions and hopes to be ready to compete for a job out of camp.
A few more bullpen-related items from around the league…
- Left-hander Phil Coke is still holding out for a Major League deal in the neighborhood of Craig Breslow‘s one-year, $2MM contract with the Red Sox, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Coke has been connected to a number of clubs, including the Rangers, Marlins, Blue Jays and Royals, over the past two weeks, but the Rangers’ interest has reportedly waned, and Miami is said to be interested only in a minor league deal. Last year, the 32-year-old posted a 3.88 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 58 innings with Detroit. ERA estimators such as FIP (3.98), xFIP (3.79) and SIERA (3.55) felt Coke was at least as good, if not better than that mark would suggest.
- If the Blue Jays pick up another reliever, it will not be one of the names left on the open market, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. “If we were to add right now, I don’t see it being in free agency,” GM Alex Anthopoulos told Davidi.
Earlier this morning, the Red Sox reportedly struck an agreement with Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada, landing the 19-year-old switch-hitter with a $31.5MM signing bonus that will cost the team $63MM due to the 100 percent luxury tax it faces for exceeding its international bonus pool. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted shortly after the agreement was struck that the Yankees offered $25MM with a willingness to go to $27MM. Here are some more details on the tail end of a free agency that resulted in the largest signing bonus an international amateur has ever received…
- The Dodgers never actually made a formal offer for Moncada, GM Farhan Zaidi tells Pedro Moura of the Orange County Register (Twitter links). Though general terms were discussed, the GM explained that Los Angeles weighed other considerations that tempered its interest: “There’s a lot of talent coming July 2. The calculus of that was a big part of our equation.”
- Steinbrenner was “not the reason” that the Yankees didn’t go higher for Moncada, Matthews tweets, reversing his earlier report (see below).
- The Yankees, Red Sox and Brewers were the three finalists for Moncada, tweets Sherman. However, the Dodgers may have offered the most money, but it came with a price; L.A. was willing to go to $35MM on the condition that Moncada wait until July 2 in order to sign. Doing so would have given the Dodgers unrestricted spending next period, giving them a shot at all the top prospects on the market without the Yankees and Red Sox to compete against. It’s also been reported that Yadier Alvares can’t sign before July 2, so the Dodgers likely could have made a run at both.
- Indeed, Sherman tweets that the Dodgers are waiting until the new signing period begins on July 2 to spend significantly, and they plan to be very aggressive when that time comes.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman badly wanted to sign Moncada, tweets Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York, but he couldn’t convince owner Hal Steinbrenner to spend any more than the reported $27MM figure. The GM told reporters, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter link), that New York was asked to make its best offer yesterday. He was subsequently informed that it was not sufficient.
- There was “a feeling from some” that Moncada wanted to end up with the Yankees, but the team simply viewed it as too risky to spend $60-70MM on a prospect, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York (All Twitter links). The Yankees feel that they can buy a proven Major Leaguer with that type of money in the future, and the Red Sox ultimately valued him more, Marchand adds.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that the Padres were also considered finalists along with the four teams mentioned by Sherman. One team involved in the bidding, Passan adds, was so confident in Moncada’s abilities that they believed him to be capable of jumping directly into the Majors. Instead, he’ll head to the lower levels of Boston’s minor league system.
- Via MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (Twitter links), the Brewers‘ interest in Moncada was sincere. GM Doug Melvin believes that he was the first of any GM to submit a formal offer, but the team learned quickly that they wouldn’t be able to sign Moncada
- Ben Badler of Baseball America notes (Twitter links) that some of the biggest winners in this scenario are Hector Olivera and next signing period’s crop of international amateurs. As Badlery points out, Olivera is being pursued by a number of teams who were also interested in Moncada, but the Red Sox aren’t involved in his market. Moncada signing with Boston means that Olivera didn’t lose a suitor. As for the rest of the international amateurs, they and their trainers are rejoicing, Badler says. The Red Sox were already over their bonus pool, so Moncada signing with them prevents another team (e.g. the Dodgers or Brewers) from going over their pool, giving the next wave of players another suitor.
The Pirates are studying the NBA’s Warriors to see if there’s anything they can learn from Golden State’s success, ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark writes. “I read an interesting article a while ago on the Golden State Warriors, how they get maximum production with their players,” says manager Clint Hurdle. “They’re actually playing less, and they’re playing better collectively as a group.” A member of the Pirates’ front office recently did a study on the Warriors, with the Pirates trying to determine whether they can glean an advantage by somehow optimizing playing time for their roster. As Stark notes, though, it’s likely tricky to figure out how playing time in the NBA correlates to playing time in the Majors. Here are more notes.
- There were plenty of high-profile starting pitchers available on this year’s free-agent market, but the Yankees‘ main starting pitching acquisition was 25-year-old Nathan Eovaldi, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News notes. That’s not the sort of acquisition the Yankees are known for, but Eovaldi feels he fits in well with them. “The Yankees are rebuilding in a way,” he says. “A lot of guys are leaving, and we’re starting to get a lot more of the younger guys coming in here, too.” Eovaldi began working on a splitter near the end of last season, and he and the Yankees hope that pitch can help him boost his strikeout totals, which have been relatively low despite a terrific fastball.
- It’s well known that the Cubs have an outstanding core of hitting prospects, but it’s tough to project how far that core will actually take them. Baseball America’s Matt Eddy aims to figure that out by comparing the Cubs’ top young hitters to other exceptional groups of prospects from the past. Some of those groups (those of the 2006 Diamondbacks, 2011 Royals and 2004 Brewers) didn’t produce obviously exceptional results in wins and losses, although at least the Royals and Brewers would probably argue that they’re happy with how the intervening years unfolded. The other two great prospect groups (the 2007 Rays and 1992 Braves) helped produce great results by any standard, even if the Braves’ subsequent run was fueled largely by pitching that was already in the big leagues at the time.
Here’s the latest on Cuban phenom Yoan Moncada:
- Bids on Moncada are believed to have passed the $20MM mark, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports writes. The Yankees, Red Sox and Padres appear to be the front-runners for Moncada, with the Dodgers a less likely possibility. Heyman suggests earlier reports of a $50MM price tag might be a bit lofty, given that Moncada is only 19 and given the tax that the team signing him would have to pay.
- Cuban Red Sox pitcher Dalier Hinojosa sees plenty of upside in Moncada, who he saw in Serie Nacional in 2012, WEEI.com’s John Tomase and Rob Bradford report. “He’s what we call a five-tool player here, and he was that back then. He can run, throw, he’s physical, hit from both sides, hit for power, hit for average,” Hinojosa says. Hinojosa’s main suggestion for Moncada in adjusting to U.S. baseball is to allow his coaches to help him.
Yoan Moncada might be the best $100MM the Yankees can spend, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines. Of course, it’s a huge gamble to invest $60-$100MM in a player who might be two years away from the majors, but elite position players are now rare commodities on the free agent market. If Yankees evaluators truly believe that Moncada is the next coming of Robinson Cano, then Sherman says they should roll the dice. Here’s more from the American League..
- David Price said that as far as he knows, there have been no discussions regarding an extension with the Tigers, according to Chris Iott of MLive.com (on Twitter). Price says that he won’t close the door on negotiations on Opening Day, but he would prefer if the talk “dies down a bit” at that point, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). Price would “rather not talk about it all year long” but he’s “not closing every door,” Heyman tweets.
- Right-handed reliever Tom Wilhelmsen has no regrets about challenging the Mariners to an arbitration hearing despite losing his case, as Bob Dutton of The News Tribune writes. “You hear so many things about it,” he said. “I’m glad I did it. I got to stand up for what I believe in, man. That’s a pretty cool thing to do.” Wilhelmsen sought $2.2MM but the three-judge panel sided with the club’s offer of $1.4MM.
- Recently, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs ranked the Braves‘ signing of Nick Markakis and the Mariners‘ signing of Nelson Cruz as two of the worst moves of the offseason. Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com understands why the Orioles opted not to go that far in terms of years and dollars but he doesn’t see either deal as harshly as Cameron.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Yankees could actually make a bit of money off of Alex Rodriguez‘s return. The curiosity factor regarding his return is going to generate increased ticket revenue, better TV ratings, and more interest and activity in the Yankees’ brand and licensing, in Cafardo’s estimation. More from today’s column..
- Even though Cole Hamels wants out of Philadelphia, that doesn’t mean the Phillies will rush to make a deal, a team source tells Cafardo. The Phillies don’t have to do anything out of desperation since they’re a big market team with deep pockets and they’re willing to wait for the right deal, perhaps until the trade deadline. Of course, that plan could backfire and the potential return could drop, but a contending team or two in need of a frontline pitcher could drive the price up.
- One GM that was in the hunt for Yoan Moncada but is no longer in the mix said he would bet on the Yankees winning the sweepstakes. “I think their need is great,” said the GM. “They can sell it as the replacement for Robinson Cano. I don’t think anyone wants to pay out that bonus, but he is a special talent and may be the best of the Cuban hitters who have come over.”
- Red Sox manager John Farrell recently said the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, but Cafardo isn’t buying it. If he is healthy, the Boston Globe scribe expects him to draw interest and be moved.
- Despite rumblings to the contrary, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner says there have been no changes to Larry Lucchino’s role as president and CEO of the Red Sox. “It’s a non-story,” said Werner. “There is no change in his role, nor is there a so-called power struggle. Larry is reporting to John [Henry, the principal owner] and myself, as always.”
Free agency is fun for those of us on the outside to follow, but that’s not necessarily the case for the players themselves. Tim Britton of The Providence Journal kept tabs on now two former members of the Red Sox throughout their free agent process, David Ross and Burke Badenhop. While Ross found a home with the Cubs before Christmas, Badenhop had to wait a little while longer for his deal with the Reds. More from the AL East..
- The most likely scenario in the Cubs/Joe Maddon tampering case is that no evidence will be found to support the Rays‘ claims, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes.
- Juan Francisco‘s minor league deal with the Rays includes an April 5th opt-out and a salary of $2MM (plus incentives) if he makes the team, according to Topkin. Francisco, 28 in June, spent 2014 with the Blue Jays, where he hit .220/.291/.456 with 16 home runs in 320 plate appearances.
- Mitchell Boggs can opt out of his minor league deal with the Red Sox if he isn’t on the big league club by April 4th, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford believes that the former Cardinals closer could wind up not only making the big league roster, but becoming a valuable piece in the pen. Unsurprisingly, the Red Sox signed Boggs with every intention of having him on the varsity squad. “They communicated with me early in the offseason that it was a major league-type opportunity,” Boggs explained. “It wasn’t depth for the entire year. It was a situation where they wanted me to come in and compete and try to make this team. That’s what I care about.”
- Most of the Yankees‘ moves for young power arms, starting with the signing of free agent Andrew Miller, were made to build a deep bullpen. But, the trade of win-now infielder Martin Prado for Nathan Eovaldi signaled a willingness to gamble on the starting rotation as well, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. If all goes according to plan, the Yankees could have one of the younger starting rotations in baseball with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Eovaldi, and Ivan Nova. The question marks about their injuries and inconsistency could have made guys like Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, and James Shields to be solid fits, but the Yanks decided instead to play it smart for the long-term.
- Red Sox pitcher Wade Miley thought for several days that he would be traded to the Marlins or Rangers before he wound up in Boston, Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe tweets. Miley first learned that he was headed to the Red Sox when he saw the news on TV.
- With or without permission from St. Petersburg, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said he’ll seek a replacement stadium no later than 2022, Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times writes.