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Yoan Moncada is expected to field final offers this weekend, tweets Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. A decision could come early next week. Miller highlights the Yankees and Dodgers as two favorites to put forward a big offer. Here’s more regarding the final market for the young Cuban.
- The Yankees, Red Sox, and Padres are thought to be the front runners to land Moncada, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman notes that this is based on speculation from two rival executives rather than a source in Moncada’s camp. While the Yankees “love” Moncada, a New York official claimed Boston was “all over” him.
- The Dodgers are “lurking” per Heyman. His sources wonder if they might not be more interested in other Cubans like Hector Olivera or Yadier Alvarez.
- The Brewers could be a surprise entrant to the bidding. As you would expect, a small market club might have trouble outbidding the industry titans. Considering an estimated total cost ranging from $70MM to $80MM (including the 100% tax), it would come as a real shock if Milwaukee managed to sign Moncada. Similarly, Heyman wonders if San Diego has the money to muscle past their large market rivals.
FEB. 20: Burton’s contract contains four opt-out dates, and his incentives, which are based on appearances, kick in when the right-hander pitches in his 20th game, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (All Twitter links). Burton will receive $30K bonus for appearing in his 20th game, and he’ll earn an additional bonus that increases by $10K for every five games from that point forward. His final bonus will be worth $120K and come at 65 games. Burton can opt out on March 31, June 1, Aug. 1 and Aug. 31.
FEB. 17: Burton will earn $2MM if he is in the big leagues, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The deal also comes with $750K in available incentives.
FEB. 16: The Yankees announced that they have signed right-hander Jared Burton to a minor league contract and invited the former Twins/Reds setup man to Major League Spring Training. Burton is a client of Pro Agents, Inc.’s Dave Pepe.
Burton, who turns 34 in June, latched on with the Twins on a minor league deal following a shoulder injury that cut his Reds career short. (The presence of former Reds GM Wayne Krvisky in the Twins’ front office likely played a role in that move.) With Minnesota, Burton revived his career, working to an excellent 2.18 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 48.5 percent ground-ball rate in 62 innings in 2012. That strong performance netted him a two-year, $5.5MM extension with the Twins.
Minnesota paid a $200K buyout on Burton’s $3.6MM option for the 2015 season after Burton took a notable step backward this past season. Burton’s K/9 rate dipped to 6.5, and his BB/9 rate ticked up to 3.5 all while his ground-ball rate (38.5 percent) and fastball velocity deteriorated (92.9 mph in 2012; 91.5 in 2014). However, Burton still possesses an effective split-finger changeup (which he’s termed a “splangeup” in the past) that has been his best pitch in recent years. If he can rediscover some of his fastball effectiveness and/or some of his control, he could re-emerge as a useful bullpen arm for the second time in his career.
Burton’s been a durable arm for Minnesota since returning from injury, averaging 64 innings and 68 total appearances over his three-year stint there. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter and Justin Wilson are all locks for the New York ‘pen, and they’ll likely be joined by Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren. Burton will compete with pitchers such as Chasen Shreve, Andrew Bailey and Jose De Paula for a slot in manager Joe Girardi’s relief corps.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy underwent a medical procedure to insert two stents into his heart and is now resting comfortably in a Scottsdale hospital, according to a team press release. “Following his physical yesterday, the Giants medical staff was monitoring Bruce Bochy’s heart after he experienced some discomfort,” according to the statement. The skipper is scheduled to be released on Friday and he’s already sent texts to CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (both Twitter links) saying that he’ll be back in camp in a couple of days. We at all MLBTR wish Bochy all the best in his recovery.
Here’s some news from around baseball…
- The Blue Jays aren’t actively discussing a Dioner Navarro trade with any other teams, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (via Twitter). Earlier this week, I examined Navarro as a trade candidate since Russell Martin has taken over the starting catcher’s job in Toronto.
- A rival executive believes the Yankees are the top contender to sign Yoan Moncada, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports in a roundup of the Moncada market. The Yankees aren’t keen, however, on paying a bonus in the $40-$50MM range, which is what some sources say Moncada will probably receive.
- With Jurickson Profar likely to miss another full season due to shoulder injuries, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if this could spell the end of Profar’s time with the Rangers. It’s hard to believe Texas would consider non-tendering a former top-ranked prospect Profar when he’s eligible for arbitration next winter, yet Grant is right in noting that the Rangers might just move on with Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor in the middle infield.
- Left-hander Joe Beimel is reportedly hoping to land a multi-year contract, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. Beimel reportedly had three teams interested in him in late January, though one of those clubs (the Mariners) looks to be out of the running. Though Beimel had a solid season with the M’s in 2014, it’s hard to see him landing more than a one-year deal at this stage of the offseason given his age (he turns 38 in April) and injury history (missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery).
- Also from Dutton, the arbitration hearing between the Mariners and Tom Wilhelmsen will take place on Friday. The reliever is one of just three remaining players with outstanding arb cases, as per the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker. Wilhelmsen is looking for $2.2MM for his 2015 contract while Seattle has countered with a $1.4MM offer.
The Yankees hosted their second private workout for Cuban sensation Yoan Moncada last night, reports George A. King III of the the New York Post. The Yankees like Moncada quite a bit but are a bit leery of the financial commitment it will take to sign the 19-year-old, King adds. He also hears from an international scouting source that the Dodgers could be willing to spend up to $40MM on a bonus for Moncada (meaning an $80MM total commitment after tax), which one scout described to King as “a lot of money for someone to begin at [Single-A].”
Elsewhere in the American League East…
- Orioles GM/executive vice president Dan Duquette spoke to the media on a number of roster-related issues today, and Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com provides a quick rundown of the items discussed. Duquette says the team is still looking to add a reliever, likely on a minor league deal, and he also said there’s little chance of the team avoiding arbitration with Alejandro De Aza, whose hearing is set for tomorrow. Additionally, Duquette revealed that minor league signee Paul Janish had surgery to remove bone spurs from his throwing elbow and will be out six to eight weeks. That news led the team to its now-official minor league deal with Jayson Nix.
- Rays right-hander Kevin Jepsen spoke with Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times about the strange feeling of being traded from the only organization he’s ever known. Traded by the Angels to the Rays for Matt Joyce this offseason, Jepsen, an Arizona resident, describes the peculiar feeling of heading to Spring Training in Florida. Though the transition is jarring, he does have a familiar face in closer Jake McGee, who grew up with Jepsen in Nevada, Topkin writes. The brief look at Jepsen’s transition serves as a reminder of the human element to these transactions that we often take for granted.
- While it’s easy to suggest that the Red Sox should simply trade Shane Victorino, it’s also important for them to maintain some outfield depth, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Hanley Ramirez has averaged just 116 games over the past four seasons, and Rusney Castillo is still “more potential than certainty.” A healthy Victorino is typically a valuable asset and could be of use in any outfield spot if needed.
- Abraham also spoke to Brandon Workman, who said he’s not the least bit bothered by being moved from the rotation to the bullpen by the Red Sox. “I want to be in the majors,” Workman told Abraham. “You feel terrible when you get sent back to Triple A and this is where I want to be. I’m not worried about anything else.”
Phillies lefty Cole Hamels would prefer to be dealt to a contender, he tells Bob Nightengale of USA Today. “I want to go to a place where I can win again,” said Hamels. Though he made clear he was not demanding a trade, Hamels did indicate that he wants to play for a winning ballclub, saying “I know it’s not going to happen here.”
Hamels, 31, has represented perhaps the biggest unconsummated trade story of the offseason. With all major arms now signed off of the free agent market, and most teams presumably set to enter camp with their rotations intact, he may well be the only achievable prize left for clubs looking to add an impact starter.
According to Nightengale, the Phillies have continued to work hard to find an acceptable deal. The Padres have dangled a package of Hunter Renfroe and Austin Hedges, but that was not deemed sufficient by the Philadelphia front office. And the Phils have been unsuccessful in prying their key targets from teams like the Red Sox (who won’t include Blake Swihart), Dodgers (who haven’t offered any of the team’s top four prospects), and Cardinals (who have not agreed to move Carlos Martinez).
Hamels says that he will do his best to prepare for the season in the normal course, and gave no indication that he will do anything other than honor his contract, particularly with camp set to open. “Now that I’m here, I plan on being here for the next six weeks,” said Hamels, explaining that he had kept an eye on rumors over the winter. “I think it would be pretty chaotic if that’s not the case. But it’s out of my control.”
The veteran southpaw says that he crafted his no-trade list by identifying the nine teams he would most want to play for and leaving himself unprotected from those clubs. Only the Yankees and Rangers can deal for him without approval among American League teams, though Hamels notes that he would be “all ears” to the possibility of waiving his no-trade protection were the Red Sox to work out an agreement to acquire him. (He did not address the idea, advanced in some earlier reports, that he might seek inducements, such as a guarantee of his fifth-year option, from a team over which he possesses veto power.)
ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark polled league executives for their takes on the offseason, and some of the strongest opinions related to the game’s eastern divisions. Collectively, that group liked the Blue Jays’ signing of Russell Martin, but was skeptical of the contracts given to players like Max Scherzer (Nationals) and Hanley Ramirez (Red Sox). Check out the piece for the results on a number of other questions.
- Regarding the oft-discussed possibility of the Red Sox dealing for Cole Hamels of the Phillies, Peter Gammons of Gammons Daily suggests that circumstances may need to change to force a deal. Any changes to Boston’s internal pitching dynamics could, of course, push it toward a deal. Or, with the Sox uninterested in taking on all of Hamels’s salary, a new willingness by the Phils to eat cash to increase the prospect return could move the needle.
- One other factor in driving trade possibilities for the Red Sox is the club’s overflowing cup of outfielders. Before deciding how to proceed, the club will look to see where things stand, says Gammons, especially in terms of health.
- Of note is that the Braves have made clear to Boston that they have “strong interest” in young outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. This is not necessarily an active matter, however: Gammons notes that any possible action on that front would occur in the late spring, at the earliest, and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets his understanding that the expression of interest was made earlier in the offseason, before other moves occurred.
- Lefty Mike Minor will face a hearing with the Braves tomorrow, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman notes on Twitter. $500K remains at stake between the sides ($5.6MM versus $5.1MM).
- Rays outfielder David DeJesus tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he has prepared for the possibility of being dealt but hopes to remain with Tampa. DeJesus says he is refreshed and ready after a “long, grueling” go of things last year, though as Topkin writes there appears to be a logjam in front of him in the outfield.
- Alfredo Aceves, a seven-year veteran of the Red Sox and Yankees, will throw for teams this afternoon, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. Among those expected to be in attendance are the Giants, Padres, Royals, Brewers, and Reds.
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We already took a peek in this morning at the Cuban market, but the news keeps coming. Here’s the latest on the two most touted position players available (or soon to be):
- Two executives who spoke with Hall of Fame journalist Peter Gammons indicated that the market for Hector Olivera looks rather strong (Twitter link). One predicted that Olivera would attain a $45MM to $50MM guarantee, while the other (from a team with interest) guessed that the 29-year-old infielder would reach the $65MM to $70MM range. We have heard reports of Olivera seeking that kind of guarantee, but it is interesting to see that some big league front office people see it as a likely outcome.
- We heard earlier today that the Dodgers continue to have interest in Olivera and would plan to use him at third if they end up signing him.
- Yoan Moncada remains most likely to sign with the Yankees or Dodgers, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. The Padres are the third most likely landing spot, in Badler’s estimation, with the benefit of having not apparently made commitments that would need to be broken with next year’s July 2 class. Also still in the mix are the Red Sox and Tigers. Of course, the level of interest in the latter two teams, especially, remains unclear. In particular, Detroit is “not that serious” about going after Moncada, per Tony Paul of the Detroit News, who adds via Twitter that the team has not been in contact lately with Moncada’s camp.
- Notably, however, Badler adds that the Cubs and Rangers are “not out of the race” and are being aggressive in their pursuit of Moncada. Both teams would need to convince him to wait until July 2 to sign, which seems unlikely at this point.
Yoan Moncada, Hector Olivera and Yadier Alvarez represent the top three names on the Cuban market right now, with Andy Ibanez ranking as perhaps the fourth-most intriguing option from the island. Both Moncada and Ibanez are eligible to sign at any time, while Olivera is still awaiting MLB’s clearance. Alvarez is the furthest from signing, as he’s yet to establish residency in another country, which must be completed before he can begin the process of getting cleared.
There’s been a quite a bit written on each of these four of late, so we’ll look at each on a case-by-case basis within this post. All information is courtesy of this excellent and comprehensive piece from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez unless otherwise noted.
Moncada has yet to receive a formal offer, Sanchez writes, but he’s worked out privately for the Cubs, D-backs, Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers, Rays, Tigers and Brewers, and there could be other private workouts to come. Some scouts are a bit skeptical of Moncada’s ability to hit from the right side of the plate, but the belief is that he won’t require a lengthy stint in the minors before being ready for the big leagues.
Sanchez notes that any team that signs Moncada would have until July 15 to pay the overage tax on what will be a historic bonus, and that bonus can be paid out in installments over the next three years. So, while shelling out the tax due to the league in one lump sum may be onerous for smaller-market clubs like the Padres, the timeline on that payment is at least pushed back a ways.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports recently spoke to multiple executives regarding Moncada’s potential bonus, and while one estimated that the bonus alone could reach $50MM, others have expressed some skepticism at the numbers that have been thrown around. Rosenthal spoke to execs that are clearly on both ends of the Moncada spectrum, as one estimated a $30MM maximum bonus, with something in the range of $20MM being more likely. Of course, that would still shatter the current record, held by Yoan Lopez ($8.25MM).
Digging further into the Moncada market, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune spoke with Moncada’s agent, David Hastings, who iterated once again that he hopes to have Moncada in camp for Spring Training. Said Hastings of that goal: “Certainly that’s not all within our power, as we have to wait for teams to make a commitment, and we have to choose the team we think best suits my player. But hopefully we’re down to the final stages of the process and we can begin the contract phase.” Hastings added that he wants to give as many as teams as possible the opportunity to bid on his client, so the volume of private workouts Moncada has attended isn’t exactly surprising. Lin characterizes the Padres as a potentially “unlikely, if not improbable destination” for Moncada. The Dodgers and Yankees remain the favorites, per Sanchez.
The 29-year-old Olivera, who turns 30 in April, is said to be seeking a five- or six-year pact along the lines of the contracts signed by Yasmany Tomas (six years, $68.5MM with a year-four opt-out) and Rusney Castillo (seven years, $72.5MM), Sanchez writes. (Remember that Oliver’s age and professional experience make him exempt from international spending limitations.) A recent report by Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs depicts that as highly unlikely; McDaniel noted that concerns over Olivera’s age and a blood clot disorder (thrombosis) may limit his contract to three years, or potentially four, if multiple clubs become aggressive. He did concede that something around $10MM annually could be possible.
Sanchez writes that the 6’2″ Olivera is in the best shape of his career and has “wowed” in open showcases and private workouts, leading many to believe he could hit 15 to 20 homers annually.
Were Olivera younger, I’d be more inclined to believe that he could command something in the vicinity of the Tomas and Castillo deals, but I personally can’t envision that for a player of his age. Tomas will be younger than Olivera is right now when his six-year contract expires, and Castillo’s deal runs through just his age-32 season. A six-year pact for Olivera would carry through his age-35 campaign, so despite having seemingly impressive power for a second baseman (he can also play third), those goals seem far-fetched.
Lin notes that the Padres also have some interest in Olivera and may turn their sights his way if they’re unable to land Moncada. Padres pro scouting director/senior adviser Logan White attended Olivera’s final showcase in the Dominican Republic last week, per Lin.
Though Olivera isn’t yet cleared to sign, Sanchez hears that he could sign within 24 hours of being declared a free agent. The Mariners, Braves and Dodgers are the most likely landing spots for Olivera, per Sanchez, who also lists the Yankees and Padres as interested clubs. Clearly, Seattle is an odd fit, given the presence of Robinson Cano and the recently extended Kyle Seager. Perhaps, however, the Mariners would have interest in using Olivera in a corner outfield spot or in some form of super utility capacity.
One high-ranking NL official told Sanchez that Alvarez was the best 18-year-old pitcher he’s ever seen following a showcase in which he touched 98 mph on the radar gun and also showed a plus slider and above-average changeup. Scouts to whom Sanchez has spoke believe he could eventually become a No. 2 starter. One international scouting director also told Sanchez that given Alvarez’s age and lower asking price, he prefers the right-hander to Moncada.
The Dodgers, D-Backs, Rockies, Nationals, Blue Jays, Padres, A’s, Cardinals, Twins and Brewers are all interested, per Sanchez, with the D-Backs and Nationals as the likeliest destinations at the moment. However, Alvarez is still early on in the process, so those seem the most likely to change of any of Sanchez’s likely destinations.
Ibanez, 21, has drawn comps to Omar Infante, Howie Kendrick, Miguel Cairo and Placido Polanco from scouts, Sanchez writes, although he’s probably a couple of years away from contributing in the Majors. As other reports have indicated, Ibanez’s tools don’t blow scouts away, but he does have Major League potential. Sanchez lists the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, D-Backs, Brewers, Mariners, and Padres as interested parties, with the Yankees, Dodgers and Padres as the likeliest landing spots.
Commisoner Rob Manfred tops the 50 most fascinating figures in baseball, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Manfred has been pro-active during the first month of his tenure, Sherman opines, by already engaging the MLBPA over issues such as keeping the batter in the box between pitches and being ready to ignite play quicker after half-inning breaks while continuing the pitch clock experiment in the minors with an impetus to have them in MLB by next season. Rounding out Sherman’s top five are: Alex Rodriguez, Matt Harvey, Giancarlo Stanton, and Joe Maddon.
Here’s the latest news and notes from the American League:
- If the Red Sox are to trade for an ace starting pitcher, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald opines Jordan Zimmermann is a better fit than Cole Hamels. Silverman also believes the Red Sox will be better off by parting ways with Edward Mujica and Allen Craig since both are expensive and superfluous.
- The Tigers will receive a medical update on Miguel Cabrera‘s right foot on Tuesday, writes Mlive.com’s James Schmehl.
- Chris Capuano is the favorite to claim the final spot in the Yankees‘ starting rotation, notes Chad Jennings of LoHud.com. The Yankees will also stretch out relievers Adam Warren and Esmil Rogers during Spring Training.
- Reports out of Venezuela (and relayed by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune and MLB.com’s Greg Johns) have Mariners prospect Victor Sanchez suffering a double skull fracture after being struck by a boat while swimming in Carúpano, Venezuela. The 20-year-old right-hander, ranked as the Mariners’ 11th-best prospect by MLB.com, is reportedly in intensive care with his condition listed as serious but stable. Sanchez, who received a $2.5MM bonus when he was signed out of Venezuela in 2011, threw a no-hitter for Class A Clinton in 2013 and last year posted a line of 4.19 ERA, 7.0 K/9, and 2.5 BB/9 in 23 starts covering 124 2/3 innings for Double-A Jackson as the second-youngest player in the Southern League.
Entering 2015, the Royals possess baseball’s best defense, writes Anthony Castrovince of Sports On Earth. With stalwarts like Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, and Alcides Escobar, the club can count on preventing dozens of runs next season. On the bench lurks speedy defensive whiz Jarrod Dyson to help track down fly balls. Rounding out Castrovince’s top five defenses are the Orioles, Reds, Yankees, and Cardinals.
- Baseball is fighting for relevance, writes Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic. While football can claim a larger fandom than baseball, it’s not the job of Commissioner Rob Manfred to reverse that trend. Instead, the league needs to improve its relevance with youth. A lot of attention has fixated on minor tweaks to the game like a faster pace of play. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall has some more novel ideas for improving the fan experience. He suggests letting the home team take batting practice second to improve player-fan interactions. He also proposes using pre-game fielding practice as a stage for displays of athleticism.
- The Red Sox have a revamped lineup, new rotation, deeper bullpen, and a $200MM payroll, writes Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The rotation is viewed as a weakness because nobody stands out as a potential ace. However, manager John Farrell believes the current unit will be sufficient. The lineup should provide plenty of fire power and the defense can also help to bail out the rotation. If the rotation is revealed to be a weakness, the club has plenty of prospects to acquire reinforcements.
- The Astros are looking to win in the present season for the first time in the Jeff Luhnow era, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The club is setting a target for a .500 finish, which does appear to be a viable goal. With several 2014 breakouts and more impactful prospects on the way, Houston appears to be turning the corner on their rebuild. Luhnow points to building chemistry as one important piece of the puzzle. Several roster decisions will be made this spring, most notably in the outfield where Robbie Grossman and Alex Presley will be fighting for jobs.