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New York Yankees Rumors
The Yankees have declined the 2015 club option that came with their last minor league deal for Andrew Bailey and re-signed the former All-Star closer to a new minor league pact, reports Chad Jennings of LoHud.com (Twitter link). Bailey is a client of Excel Sports Management’s Jim Murray.
The 30-year-old Bailey hasn’t taken a Major League mound since July 2013 due to an injury to the labrum in his right shoulder that ultimately required surgery. He last appeared with the Red Sox after joining Boston as the key piece in the trade that sent Josh Reddick to the Athletics.
Bailey was the American League Rookie of the Year in 2009 and earned All-Star nods in his first two Major League seasons. In three full seasons with the A’s from 2009-11, he posted a brilliant 2.07 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 174 innings. Injuries were a problem for Bailey even prior to his pro career, as he underwent Tommy John surgery in college and microfracture surgery on his left knee in the 2009-10 offseason. He also an intercostal strain in 2010 and a forearm strain in 2011.
There’s no doubting Bailey’s talent, but he’s gone under the knife five times since 2005. He inked a minor league deal with the Yankees last offseason but underwent setbacks in his recovery that prevented him from reaching the big league club or even pitching in the minors. He’ll hope for better results this time around as he seeks to get back to the Majors for the first time in nearly two years.
MLBTR would like to send its deepest condolences to the friends and family of former Major League left-hander Brad Halsey, who died tragically in a climbing accident near his Texas home, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes. Halsey, just 33, spent three seasons in the Majors with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and A’s from 2004-06. He was one of three players traded from the Yankees to Arizona to acquire the legendary Randy Johnson.
As we keep the family and loved ones of Brad in our thoughts, here are a few notes from around the game…
- Hiroki Kuroda has yet to decide whether he wants to return for the 2015 season, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. At this point, Kuroda is weighing one more season in the Majors, one more season in Nippon Professional Baseball or retirement.
- Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has recovered from knee surgery and will pitch in a winter league this year as he gears up for a comeback, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rodriguez, who turns 36 in January, pitched just 26 2/3 innings for the Pirates this season before being released. He underwent knee surgery roughly a month later and said at the time that he had received some interest from other clubs. However, he preferred to correct a lingering issue in his knee that had been hindering him, in an effort to be as best-prepared as possible for the 2015 season.
- The Associated Press reports that Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera was charged with resisting arrest after police stopped him for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. While DUI charges are not planned, according to the report, Cabrera was cited for possession of marijuana in the car and could face up to a year in jail if convicted of a misdemeanor.
- The Phillies have no plans to move Cody Asche off of third base at this time, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. While the idea of trying Asche in the outfield has been kicked around within the organization, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team decided at last week’s organizational meetings that Asche will remain at the hot corner. The plan next season is to platoon Asche and Maikel Franco if the team cannot move Ryan Howard this offseason. It seems that at some point, Asche or Franco will have to move off the position, but Amaro told Zolecki the team views both as third basemen right now. “Maikel Franco is a third baseman who plays some first base,” said Amaro.
In his latest ESPN Insider-only blog (subscription required), Buster Olney looks at the latest chapter in the Alex Rodriguez saga — a report from the Miami Herald indicating that Rodriguez admitted his PED use to the DEA in January — and opines that the Yankees need to do everything in their power to be free of him. Olney wonders if the Yankees could release or suspend him and invoke the player conduct clause in their standard contract in an effort to legally absolve themselves of the remaining $61MM commitment in light of his confession. Industry perception, Olney writes, is that the conduct clause is superseded by the language in the CBA, but no one has ever really made a challenge using the player conduct clause. And, he writes, the worst-case scenario would be paying him the remainder of his salary while getting nothing in return — an outcome which could happen even with Rodriguez in uniform. Of course, it’s not a given that Rodriguez doesn’t have some productivity left in his bat, but it’s hard to fault Olney for doubting the possible contributions of a 39-year-old who has appeared in just 265 games since Opening Day 2011.
More from Olney’s piece…
- Hanley Ramirez‘s strong desire to play shortstop — or the infield in general — will be a detriment to his free agent stock, Olney writes. He suggests that Ramirez announce to teams right now that he is willing to play a corner outfield position, shortstop or third base next season in order to create the strongest market possible for his services. Olney rightly points out that the idea of Ramirez in a corner outfield spot would broaden his appeal to numerous clubs and help to create a bidding war for his services. It doesn’t seem that Ramirez is changing his plans anytime soon, however. As Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times pointed out today (Twitter link), Ramirez has changed his Twitter bio to read “MLB Shortstop.”
- Olney has gotten indications that the Mets will be aggressive with at least one free agent signing and one trade this offseason, and he lists the familiar matchup of the Cubs as an ideal trade partner. Starlin Castro‘s name arises as a speculative target for Olney, though he adds that the price tag could be prohibitive: Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler.
- The Giants are interested in working out a new deal with right-hander Jake Peavy following his excellent work for the Giants after their July acquisition. Peavy struggled in the playoffs, but his regular-season work in San Francisco was excellent: a 2.17 ERA (3.03 FIP/3.91 SIERA) with 6.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 78 2/3 innings (12 starts).
The White Sox have received solid early trade interest in shortstop Alexei Ramirez, according to a report from Bruce Levine of CBSChicago.com. Chicago has been contacted by the Mets, Yankees, and Dodgers regarding the 33-year-old.
Ramirez has one year left on his deal at an affordable $10MM. He also comes with a $10MM option for 2016, which carries a $1MM buyout. Though he could not maintain his hot start to the year, Ramirez ended with a solid .273/.305/.408 slash to go with 15 home runs and 21 steals. A well-regarded defender, Ramirez compiled 4.1 rWAR and 3.3 fWAR.
Were the White Sox to part with Ramirez, the team would look for a one-year stopgap. The long-term solution, the team hopes, is working its way up through the system in the person of Tim Anderson. The 2013 first-rounder reached the Double-A level last year.
Blue Jays president Paul Beeston appears set to continue on in that capacity, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Of course, as Davidi notes, both Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos could face questions if a postseason berth is not in the offing in 2015. The front office will have at least $20MM to $30MM in free salary, Davidi reasons, which could be bolstered with a spending increase and/or move to shed some payroll obligations. As Davidi rightly notes, Toronto has a very clean balance sheet after this year, which could potentially leave the team with a big hammer to wield in free agency.
Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the AL East:
- The Blue Jays have a number of possible offseason targets on both the trade and free agent front, writes Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Among them is Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, who Toronto has “placed multiple calls on,” according to Nicholson-Smith — who, it should be noted, also recently reported that the Jays are on Kendrick’s no-trade list.
- Whether or not the Yankees are big free agent spenders this year remains to be seen, but the club’s financial muscle is flexed in many and disparate ways, as Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs writes. Over recent years, New York has consistently controlled the market for minor league free agents, bringing bigger and better offers to the table for players like Yangervis Solarte. (In an interesting note to give context to this relatively minimal spending, McDaniel says a team source told him the team could break even financially even if it carried $500MM in total payroll obligations, including luxury tax costs.)
- The early set of rotation targets for the Yankees features names like Brandon McCarthy, Jason Hammel, and Chris Capuano, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. That jibes with another recent report suggesting that New York has no current plans to attack the arms at the top of the market.
- Free agent closer David Robertson, who is currently weighing a qualifying offer from the Yankees, is one of the most fascinating free agents to watch. Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that his sense is the club will be interested in exploring a multi-year deal with Robertson, but may not chase him at the top of the market and would be comfortable allowing him to walk.
- Another QO recipient, Nelson Cruz, told MLB Network Radio (via Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun) that a return to the Orioles is his preferred outcome. “No doubt it’s my first choice,” said Cruz. “I’d love to be back. I understand the business. I know they’re interested in bringing me back. Hopefully we can work something out.” Cruz was not willing to say he would take a lesser deal to stay in Baltimore, though it is obviously hard to fault him for not copping to that publicly — or, for that matter, for choosing the best contract offer he receives, if that ultimately proves to be the case.
- The Red Sox catcher of the future is Blake Swihart, not Christian Vazquez, opines J.J. Cooper of Baseball America. But the team need not decide now how it will sort out the presence of two highly-regarded young backstops. Instead, the team has the option of adding a veteran presence alongside Vazquez for the coming year while Swihart continues to develop in the minors. Assuming Swihart establishes himself as a big league regular, Boston will have plenty of time to assess whether it makes more sense to keep both players or deal one away.
While many have been quick to connect the Yankees to the top names on the market, as is the case in most offseasons, Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden of the New York Daily News hear that the team has no intention to pursue any of the “Big Three” starting pitchers — Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and James Shields — or top third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
Instead, the Daily News duo continues, the Yankees are more focused on bringing back a pair of their own free agents: Chase Headley and Brandon McCarthy. The team loves Headley’s glove at third base and views the returning Alex Rodriguez as more of a DH candidate at his age, per Feinsand and Madden. The team could act quickly and aggressively to retain the two. (MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes pegged Headley for a four-year, $48MM contract while I predicted a three-year, $36MM deal for McCarthy.) The Yankees, per the report, don’t want to add any more $100MM+ contracts to their books, although the name of Hanley Ramirez, who figures to top the century mark, is curiously absent from the list of players they won’t be pursuing.
Also of note for Yankees fans is the update within this piece on David Robertson, whom Feinsand and Madden hear is already receiving interest from at least six clubs. Robertson is expected to turn down the Yankees’ qualifying offer and could land a three- or four-year deal on the open market.
Of course, it’s worth looking back to last season when multiple reports indicated that the Yankees would spend judiciously in an attempt to eventually get the team’s payroll below the $189MM luxury tax threshold. That clearly didn’t happen, as the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran to huge multi-year deals while also adding veterans Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and Brendan Ryan on smaller deals. All told, they spent roughly half a billion dollars last winter.
None of that is meant to discredit the information provided by Feinsand and Madden, but rather to serve as a reminder that priorities can change. Still, for the time being, the Yankees’ early modus operandi appears to be pursuing mid-level free agents in an attempt to return the team to the playoffs after a two-year absence while also maintaining some long-term flexibility.
- The Giants have outrighted catcher Guillermo Quiroz and righty Brett Bochy. Quiroz, 32, saw just three MLB plate appearances this year and has only once made more than 100 trips to the plate in a single season despite seeing action in ten MLB campaigns. Bochy, son of manager Bruce, got his first taste of the bigs this year, allowing two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.
- After designating them for assignment recently, the Pirates have outrighted relievers John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez. Axford, 31, will look for a chance to bounce back after posting three seasons and 189 innings of 4.24 ERA work from the pen. Gomez, meanwhile, tossed 62 frames of 3.19 ERA ball after a solid 2013, but his peripherals do not quite back up the results.
- Pittsburgh also outrighted utility infielder Chase d’Arnaud. The 27-year-old has fairly minimal MLB action, but owns a .251/.316/.370 line over 1,426 Triple-A plate appearances over parts of four seasons. He has spent his entire career in the Pirates organization.
- The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Antoan Richardson after he racked up five stolen bases over the course of just 13 games (and 17 plate appearances) in New York. Richardson, 31, has been a consistent high-OBP and speed threat in the upper minors, but has yet to receive a real opportunity at the big league level.
- Also outrighted was utilitman Jake Elmore of the Reds. Cincinnati claimed Elmore from the Athletics in early August. He ultimately saw just 12 plate appearances with the Reds, and is still looking for his first consistent MLB role at age 27.
- Previously outrighted players Adam Moore of the Padres, Scott Elbert of the Dodgers, Matt McBride of the Rockies, and Evan Reed and Don Kelly of the Tigers have all elected free agency.
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In a text message to George A. King III of the New York Post, David Robertson says things are “quiet on the front” in terms of a multiyear contract with the Yankees or receiving a qualifying offer from the team. The Yankees are expected to extend the QO to Robertson and the closer is very likely to reject it given the interest in his services. At least six clubs are interested in Robertson this winter, a league source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
Here’s more from around the AL East…
- The Yankees have begun talks with Chase Headley, CBSSports.com’ Jon Heyman reports. New York has exclusive negotiating rights with Headley until 11pm CT tonight, though it would be quite surprising to see a deal reached before Headley has had a chance to test the thin free agent market.
- Blue Jays southpaw J.A. Happ is “generating lots of interest” in trades, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports. Happ enjoyed a solid 2014 season and had his $6.7MM option for 2015 exercised by the Jays on Friday. With the newly-acquired Marco Estrada now in the rotation mix, Happ could be expendable.
- Earlier today, Sportsnet.ca’s Jeff Blair reported that the Blue Jays have had internal discussions about Russell Martin. In that same item, Blair notes that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos might look to act quickly this offseason rather than wait for deals to develop. The latter strategy left the Jays largely empty-handed last winter. Toronto has already dealt Adam Lind to Milwaukee, a trade that Blair feels doesn’t make much sense for the Jays unless a follow-up move is forthcoming.
- The Orioles don’t seem to have interest in trading or non-tendering Chris Davis, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski reports, though the first baseman will have much to atone for in Baltimore following his disappointing 2014 season.
- Though the Orioles currently have six legitimate rotation candidates on the roster, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko expects the club to add pitching depth by signing at least one veteran to a minor league deal.
- Jay Alou, Yasmany Tomas‘ agent, tweeted that his client worked out at the Red Sox academy in the Dominican Republic over the weekend. While the Sox have had some interest in Tomas in the past, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford hears that the workout was arranged “partly out of convenience, with Tomas needing a place in the area to continue his preparation.” It would be a surprise to see Boston sign Tomas given that the Sox already have an outfield surplus.
- The Red Sox are in need of a top left-hander for the bullpen, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. Bringing back Andrew Miller would be the best option, though he’ll be heavily courted by several teams and the Sox may not be able to win a bidding war.
- Silverman thinks the Red Sox and Burke Badenhop could quickly come to terms on a new contract. The righty reliever posted a 2.29 ERA in 70 2/3 IP with Boston in 2014.
Alan Nero, Joe Maddon’s agent, discussed how his client left the Rays for the Cubs in an interview with Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette (audio link) on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Nero negotiated with the Rays for five or six days before Maddon opted out of his contract, a decision Maddon reached since Tampa didn’t want to make him one of baseball’s five highest-paid managers. Maddon was willing to take below-market value to stay but the Rays’ offer was “so far from reality that it just didn’t make sense” for Maddon to accept, according to Nero. Theo Epstein wouldn’t speak to Maddon until he had written proof of the opt-out and permission from the Commissioner’s office, and Nero considers it “a bit insulting” that the Rays would suspect tampering took place.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- Rival teams could be interested in the Orioles‘ catching depth, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko opines. Despite the presence of Caleb Joseph, Steve Clevenger and a number of young backstops in the minors, the team is still interested in bringing back veteran Nick Hundley. Kubatko speculates that Chris Tillman‘s improved performance with Hundley behind the plate could be a factor in why Hundley could return.
- Mutual interest exists between the Yankees and Chase Headley, though Alex Rodriguez‘s presence and Pablo Sandoval‘s price tag remain obstacles to a signing, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. Sandoval’s next deal will set the bar for free agent third basemen, with Headley possibly poised to benefit as arguably the second-best 3B on the open market this winter.
- For the record, King doesn’t think the Yankees are exploring signing Sandoval, though “it is hard to ignore what the Giants third baseman has done in the postseason.”
- The Red Sox have been hesitant to sign hugely expensive contracts in recent years and, of course, spending is no guarantee of success. With so many offseason needs, however, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal thinks the team may be more open to one or more big contracts.
The Yankees have spoken with veteran Royals outfielder Raul Ibanez about their hitting coach position, George A. King III of the New York Post writes. Since Ibanez was still technically a Royal during the team’s World Series run (although he was not on their active roster), the Yankees waited until late this week to contact him. The 42-year-old Ibanez has an excellent clubhouse reputation, although, obviously, he has never been a professional hitting coach. The Yankees have interviewed Chili Davis (who ended up in Boston) and Dave Magadan (who returned to the Rangers). Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Phillies‘ pair of deals involving current Giants star Hunter Pence turned out horribly, Ryan Lawrence of the Daily News writes. Jarred Cosart is already contributing in the big leagues, and Jon Singleton and Domingo Santana, who joined Cosart in heading to Houston when the Phillies acquired Pence, are both promising. Meanwhile, little remains of the Phillies’ haul when they sent Pence to San Francisco — catcher Tommy Joseph has struggled to stay healthy, while pitcher Seth Rosin, who will be 26 next week, was demoted to Double-A at one point this summer.
- The Marlins appear likely to exercise their option on catcher Jeff Mathis, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. The 31-year-old Mathis has never hit well (he batted just .200/.263/.274 last season), but he’s competent defensively and he’s cheap, at just $1.5MM for 2015. If the Marlins do in fact pick up his option, he’ll spend another season as Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s backup.