New York Yankees Rumors
New Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski is virtually the peer of special advisor Jason Varitek -- the two are only four years apart in age. But Pierzynski has still sought out Varitek's advice this spring, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes. "He’s one of those guys, he came before me, so you kind of always looked up to him," Pierzynski says. "To be able to be in the same organization and be able to talk to him and learn things from him, it's huge. You can always get better and he was one of the best, so anything he can bring to the table to help me I’m definitely going to take and use." Here are more notes from the American League.
- The Indians have told starting pitcher Aaron Harang, who had been competing for their fifth starter job, that he won't make the team's 25-man roster, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets. Harang has the ability to opt out of minor-league deal on Monday.
- The Yankees are willing to eat part of Ichiro Suzuki's $6.5MM 2014 salary in the right trade, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. No deal appears to be imminent, however. Ichiro, who hit .262/.297/.342 with the Yankees in 2013, does not have a starting role this season.
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter says "vultures" are interested in his team's out-of-options players, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. "I know a lot of vultures are lurking around with our out-of-option guys. We've got quite an attendance here," Showalter says. "I get a list of the scouts every day, and if anything, it's gotten more. We had 17 here the other day." Two weeks ago, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted that the Orioles' out-of-options players included Edgmer Escalona, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Steve Pearce, Francisco Peguero and Josh Stinson. Obviously, the Orioles are in no danger of losing someone like Davis, and Escalona and Peguero appear likely to start the season on the disabled list. But the Orioles will have to make decisions about players like Pearce and some of the pitchers. The team recently designated another out-of-options player, Kelvin De La Cruz, for assignment.
- "I thought way too short term with the Garza deal last year. That one's got a chance to haunt us and haunt me," Rangers GM Jon Daniels told Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic in reference to his trade with the Cubs. Daniels gave up C.J. Edwards, Mike Olt, Justin Grimm and Neil Ramirez for Garza. Olt could soon make an impact in the big leagues, but it's Edwards and Ramirez who might turn out to be the keys to the deal -- Edwards was terrific down the stretch last year for Class A+ Daytona, and Ramirez has pitched well in spring training after posting a terrific strikeout rate in Double-A last season.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders why pitchers seem to be hitting the disabled list at a higher rate throughout the minor and major leagues. Not only are young pitchers including Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Jarrod Parker, and Bruce Rondon undergoing Tommy John surgery this spring, but Medlen and Beachy are actually having the surgery for a second time. “I think pitchers are getting abused at a younger age,” Hall of Famer Tom Glavine told Cafardo. “Most of them are max-effort guys, so it reaches the point where the stress finally causes a breaking point.” More from today's column..
- The Mets do not anticipate a deal involving first baseman Ike Davis. The Mets resumed gauging interest in Davis last week but so far, no inquiries have really blown them away. The Orioles are still among the clubs with interest.
- Joel Hanrahan has shifted his training base to Tampa, moving toward his first showcase for teams, which should happen shortly. The Red Sox have some interest in bringing back Hanrahan, but with teams like the Tigers, Orioles, and Yankees in need of back-end relievers, he probably won't wind up back in Boston.
- Twins pitcher Vance Worley, who is out of options, was placed on waivers Friday, then outrighted to Triple-A when he cleared. Minnesota may still deal Worley and a return to the Phillies would not be out of the question.
Aroldis Chapman suffered fractures above his left eye and nose after being hit by a Salvador Perez line drive in a terrifying moment during tonight's Reds/Royals game. Chapman was on the ground for over 10 minutes while medical personnel attended to him, and the closer was eventually taken off the field on a cart and taken to hospital. Reds manager Bryan Price told reporters (including C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer) that Chapman "never lost consciousness. He was able to communicate, he was able to move his hands, his feet, his legs." The Reds' official Twitter feed said that Chapman was staying overnight in hospital for further observation. All of us at MLB Trade Rumors send our best wishes to Chapman in his recovery from that horrific incident.
Here are some items from around baseball...
- The Pirates are open to dealing right-handed relievers Jeanmar Gomez and Bryan Morris, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports, though they'd prefer to keep Gomez since he can also start. Both pitchers are out of options, and with the Pirates facing a crowded bullpen situation, it's no surprise that they're listening to offers for Morris, Gomez and (as reported yesterday) Vin Mazzaro.
- With the Pirates shopping relievers and looking for catching, Davidoff notes that the Yankees match up as trading partners due to their catcher surplus. A rival talent evaluator feels that the bullpen may be the Yankees' "biggest concern" due to a lack of proven arms, though several of those young pitchers have performed well in Spring Training.
- Blue Jays president Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos denied that the Jays' lack of offseason spending had anything to do with a new CEO at Rogers Communications, the team's parent company, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi reports. "There’s been no suggestion of any type of cutback, there’s no suggestion of anything other than support and of everything being positive," Beeston said.
- The Red Sox aren't particularly interested in trading Mike Carp, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (ESPN Insider subscription required). The Sox aren't sure if they "could get something particularly appealing" in a deal involving Carp. The Pirates, Brewers and Tigers have all been linked to Carp in rumors this offseason, and with Grady Sizemore's strong Spring Training, Carp could be an expendable piece on the Boston roster.
- Between Jarrod Parker's Tommy John surgery and injuries to A.J. Griffin and Scott Kazmir, MLB.com's Jane Lee feels the Athletics could be forced to look for external pitching help in the case of any more injuries or if any of their current starters struggle. Lee also addresses several other A's topics as part of her reader mailbag piece, including Hiroyuki Nakajima's status in the club's minor league camp.
- With the Barry Bonds and Melky Cabrera controversies still lingering in the franchise's recent past, Giants president and CEO Larry Baer told Henry Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle that his club is more inclined to avoid players with drug suspensions. "We don't have a blanket policy saying we'll never touch a player that has a PED history. But I'd say that for us, it's a larger mountain to climb than others," Baer said. The Giants will look at such players "on a case-by-case basis" (like recent signing Mike Morse, suspended for 10 games in 2005) but players like Nelson Cruz who were coming off PED suspensions and required draft pick compensation to sign seem out of the question. "Qualifying offer and a PED association - that's a bad combination. Brian [Sabean] and I both feel very strongly about that," Baer said.
A fair amount of ink has already been dedicated to the friction between Jimmy Rollins and new manager Ryne Sandberg this spring, and ESPN's Buster Olney now reports that there's a strong sentiment within the Phillies organization that the team would be better off trading its longtime shortstop as soon as possible (Twitter link). However, as Olney notes, Rollins has 10-and-5 rights (10 years of Major League service and five consecutive with the same team), meaning he has the right to void any trade. Rollins told CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury as recently as yesterday that he has no plans to waive his 10-and-5 rights anytime in the near future: "If we’re in absolutely last place with nowhere to go and change is obviously on the horizon, then at that point I’d think about it. But anything short of a complete disaster, I’m wearing red and white pinstripes." Rollins has already said as much this spring, indicating that he'd like to become the Phillies' all-time hits leader and set some other records with the club (he's currently 60 hits shy).
More Rollins- and NL-East-related items for your Tuesday morning...
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News spoke with team sources from the Mets and Yankees regarding potential interest in Rollins (both could use some infield help). He was told that the Yankees think it would be too awkward to bring in a name that big in Derek Jeter's final season, and the Mets source simply replied, "Don't see it."
- Also from Martino's piece, Mets top prospect Noah Syndergaard was reassigned to the minor leagues today, and while he's likely to make his Major League debut in 2014, he probably won't pitch a full season until 2016. Martino reports that Syndergaard is capped around 150 innings this season, and because the team tries to limit starting pitcher increases to 30 innings per season, he'll likely be capped around 180 in 2015.
- Braves GM Frank Wren told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Bowman, that the team plans to revisit the rehab process of Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy in an attempt to figure out why each player appears headed for a second Tommy John surgery. Said Wren: "I think we're always evaluating and looking at how we do things and why we do them and do we need to make changes? ... I don't think we'll ever stop researching and analyzing. But I can't tell you today that we feel there is a common link [between Medlen and Beachy] other than that they're wearing the same uniform."
- Jamey Carroll's focus is currently on making the Nationals roster, but he tells Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com that he's intrigued with the possibility of becoming a manager somewhere down the line. Carroll has been suggested as a future manager by many of his former coaches and teammates. He calls the fact that young players have been seeking him out for advice in camp with the Nats "humbling," though he hints that when his playing career is done, he may first take some time with his family before getting back into the game.
Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew both share the same agent (Scott Boras), the same predicament (unsigned free agents with draft pick compensation attached), and the same frustration over their situation, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. "Nothing I can do," Morales told Cafardo. "I don’t understand, but I’m just waiting for something." Morales and Drew work out together for five hours each day, six days a week. "We don’t talk too much about what we’re going through," said Drew, who turns 31 today. "We talk about other things mostly, but he’s been a good guy to work out with and go through this with." Cafardo opines that the pair reside in baseball prison, adding that Morales makes sense for the Mariners, Brewers, and Pirates, while the Mets remain the best fit for Drew. Also from his Sunday Baseball Notes column:
- According to Cafardo, there are scouts and front office people who feel the best fit for Drew is actually New York's other team: the Yankees.
- The Yankees are a little cautious about dealing catcher Francisco Cervelli since they believe he's the best option to start if something should happen to Brian McCann.
- Manny Ramirez is eyeing another MLB comeback and is working out in Miami with Miguel Tejada, but the 12-time All-Star has an image problem to overcome. "He's poison," one National League GM told Cafardo. “I know he's changed his life around and his personality has changed, but I doubt anyone would take the risk, especially with a 42-year-old player. I think a lot of teams would pardon one PED offense, but two? I doubt it, but crazier things have happened. Never take away the fact he was one of the greatest right-handed hitters ever."
- In a separate article, Cafardo reports, with the renaissance of Grady Sizemore and the very good camps of Bryce Brentz and Corey Brown, the Red Sox's outfield depth could lead to a trade. Mike Carp is the leading candidate to be dealt because of his ability to also play the infield corners. The Tigers, Brewers, and Pirates have reportedly shown interest in the 27-year-old.
While much has been made of the Yankees' lack of infield depth in 2014, Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that the depth beyond this coming season is even more concerning. Of the team's starting infielders, only Mark Teixeira is under contract after 2014, and they have little in the way of MLB-ready replacements within the organization. As such, Sherman reports that when scouting other clubs, the Yankees aren't looking for platoon partners for Kelly Johnson or Brian Roberts; they're looking for a "500 at-bat" type of player who could start in 2015. Rival scouts are focusing on the Yankees' catchers, and a deal centered around Francisco Cervelli and Gordon Beckham "is not impossible," writes Sherman. He adds that Mason Williams could be a trade chip with the Yankees' outfield now locked in for the foreseeable future.
Here are some more links pertaining to the AL East...
- Asked by MLB.com's Paul Hagen about the possibility of being traded, Cervelli replied: "I don't know. I've been here forever. I don't have that answer, because I feel right now like this is my house. But if somebody wants me to go over there, I've got to make the adjustment, you know?" Cervelli added that his dream has always been to be a starting catcher, but he accepts his role as a backup to Brian McCann. Manager Joe Girardi told Hagen that he feels Cervelli could be a starter for another organization, praising Cervelli's development offensively and defensively.
- Hagen also writes that Michael Pineda has made a good impression with the Yankees this spring, but manager Joe Girardi suggested that he'd be on an innings limit if he won the fifth starter's job. "Let's just say, hypothetically, he was a starter at some point," Girardi said to Hagen. "You're going to have to adjust. Because you're not getting 200 innings from him." Pineda shrugged off Girardi's comments when asked about them, stating that he knows it's Girardi's choice to make, and he's simply preparing himself to be ready to pitch every fifth day.
- Stephen Drew tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that doesn't know where he's going to be playing in 2014, but he's confident that a club will sign him and that he can help the team win. Drew is working out with fellow free agent Kendrys Morales at the Scott Boras Training Institute in Miami and says he feels he is coming off his best defensive season in the Majors. He'd love to return to Boston, but acknowledges that he can see why the team wants to give Xander Bogaerts a long look at shortstop. Drew doesn't say it directly, but he hints at his displeasure with the qualifying offer/compensatory draft pick system.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com hears from scouts outside the Orioles organization that Baltimore is on the hunt for a backup catcher. The club has yet to commit to choosing solely betwee Steve Clevenger and Johnny Monell for that distinction. Kubatko writes that manager Buck Showalter feels the decision will ultimately come down to defense.
ESPN analysts Jim Bowden, Buster Olney and Keith Law ranked all 30 Major League teams according to strength of their Major League roster, quality of the farm system, financial strength, management and mobility of contracts and aggregated the scores to come up with the latest edition of their Future Power Rankings (ESPN Insider required and recommended). The Red Sox currently top the list based on their strong Major League and minor league rosters as well as the fact that they've committed just under $14MM to the 2016 season currently, giving them plenty of long-term flexibility.
Here's more on the AL East...
- Grantland's Jonah Keri looks at the Red Sox' bright future and writes that the team is essentially playing "moneyball" but doing so while also being able to outspend their opposition. Writes Keri: The Red Sox have begun combining their substantial resources with the obsessive advantage-seeking mind-set of a small-revenue club, and in so doing have set themselves up to vie for championships in 2014 and beyond." Keri examines Boston's innovative approaches in four main areas: health, platoons, shifts and prospects.
- Entering camp, Ricky Romero didn't seem to be a legitimate candidate for the Blue Jays' rotation, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. However, Chisolm says that Romero's strong early performance has caught the attention of the club, and he's shown some flashes of the pitcher he used to be prior to his unexpected collapse. At this point, Romero's strong Spring Training has him in the mix for a spot in the rotation. Any form of resurrection for Romero would be excellent news for the Jays, as the left-hander is still guaranteed $15.6MM through 2015.
- Orioles top prospect Kevin Gausman is hoping to force the team's hand and work his way into the rotation out of Spring Training, but that probably won't happen, writes MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli. Gausman has added 12 to 15 pounds of muscle, cleaned up his delivery and begun wearing glasses while pitching, and the early results have looked good.
- MLB.com's Bryan Hoch reports that the Yankees are planning to give Alfonso Soriano a look at first base to improve his versatility, but there's been no talk of him seeing any time at second base.
The seven-year, $140MM offer that the Yankees offered Shin-Soo Choo was only on the table for less than a day. As MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes, New York offered Choo the contract and then pulled it back almost as quickly in order to instead sign Carlos Beltran to a three-year, $45MM deal. "In my opinion, it takes some time to make a decision, maybe at least a couple days," Choo said. "You want to learn a city and a team. They gave me 21 hours." The Yankees' withdrawal could've been due to Beltran simply accepting his offer first, or perhaps because Scott Boras (Choo's agent), reportedly asked the Yankees to match the $153MM the Bombers gave to Jacoby Ellsbury. Choo didn't end up doing too badly for himself at any rate, signing a seven-year, $130MM deal with the Rangers.
Here's some news from around the baseball world...
- CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman lists 14 players who could traded during Spring Training. Most of these names have popped up on the pages of MLBTR over the last few weeks, though one new name is Marlins right-hander Jacob Turner. Heyman says there's "not a great chance" Miami would deal Turner but since the Marlins have a lot of good young pitchers, "folks on other teams speculate this could be the one arm the Marlins might move in that right deal" for offensive help.
- Ike Davis' calf injury has not only set back the Mets' first base competition, but it has also ruined any possible chance of a trade showcase for Davis during Spring Training, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. The Brewers, Pirates and Orioles have all been connected to Davis in trade rumors during the offseason but obviously no move will be made any time soon, as Davis is currently in a walking boot and recently had an MRI on his right calf.
- Speaking of the Pirates' first base search, the team could end up finding its left-handed platoon partner for Gaby Sanchez already on the roster in the form of Andrew Lambo, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. While maturity issues and a 50-game suspension reportedly relating to marijuana use have set back Lambo's career, he is still only 25 and has posted some strong power numbers in the minors.
- "I just don't see what we have to lose," Indians manager Terry Francona says about Carlos Santana's attempted conversion to third base. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal recaps the reasons behind Santana's surprising decision to try the hot corner and how it could be a boon for the Tribe if Santana could handle the position.
- Nate Schierholtz wants to remain with the Cubs but is cognizant of the fact that could be traded, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. The veteran outfielder said he hasn't spoken to Cubs management about staying beyond his current one-year contract. Recent rumors put Schierholtz on the trading block thanks to Ryan Kalish's progress, not to mention the fact that Kalish is playing on a minor league deal while Schierholtz is owed $5MM this season.
A year ago, Jon Lester was coming off a poor season and his long-term future in Boston looked in doubt. Now, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes, Lester has rebuilt his career following a rebound season and another World Series ring, and it seems he's in position for a nine-figure contract from either the Red Sox or another club as a free agent next winter. Lester and the Sox have discussed an extension, and Lauber notes that the Sox (for all their promising young arms on the farm) have nobody who can replace Lester's 200 innings in 2015, so the club needs their star southpaw back.
Here's the latest from around the AL East...
- Yankees officials tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Tigers haven't asked about Ichiro Suzuki in the wake of Andy Dirks' injury. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Sherman that his team is "not actively seeking a big move," though they haven't decided if they'll use an internal or external player to platoon with Rajai Davis in left.
- Ichiro, for his part, had "nothing to say about" the subject of whether or not he would want to play for another team that could offer him more regular playing time. “But as far as being part of [trade rumors], when I first came to New York, I knew it was something that happens here," Suzuki said. "You have to be emotionally ready and prepare yourself for it."
- Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli seems somewhat torn between his desire for more playing time and his desire to remain with the Yankees. "I’ve been here forever. I don’t have that answer right now because this is, I feel like, my house," Cervelli told reporters, including Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. "But if somebody wants me to go over there, I’ve got to make the adjustment. I told you guys many times that my dream is to be a starting catcher. Right now, my role is a backup. That’s what I’m playing for. But I’m never going to stop because an opportunity is going to come again." Cervelli has drawn interest from several teams (including the White Sox and Diamondbacks) as one of Yankees' backup catchers could be traded to bring infield help to the Bronx.
- The Blue Jays' lack of success in obtaining starting pitching this offseason leads Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi to re-evaluate the team's decisions to not tender a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson and to pass on a potential trade for Brett Anderson due to medical concerns.
- According to some Red Sox players, Stephen Drew regrets not accepting Boston's $14.1MM qualifying offer, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Drew has lingered on the free agent market in his search for a multiyear deal, and while the possibility of returning to the Sox as a veteran alternative for Xander Bogaerts or Will Middlebrooks seemed to have potential earlier this winter, the club seems to have moved on. Red Sox veterans, Abraham writes, no longer feel the team needs to re-sign Drew after seeing how Middlebrooks has conducted himself during Spring Training.
- No matter how well the Rays perform on the field or how much they spend on payroll, Cork Gaines of Rays Index notes that the team can't seem to top an average of 23,000 fans per game at Tropicana Field. Gaines speculates that even a World Series title could only bump the Rays over that 23K attendance threshold for a season or two, at most.
One of the keys to success for last year's Pirates ballclub was its ability both to generate ground balls and convert them into outs. It all started with a pitching staff that had far and away the highest ground-ball rate (52.5%) in the big leagues. Featuring prominently in the repertoire of several Bucs hurlers, of course, was the sinker. As Tim Williams of PiratesProspects.com found when he investigated, those sinkers come in many different varieties. He provides a fascinating breakdown of the pitch from the perspective of Pirates players and coaches (including many staff members and catcher Russell Martin). Here's more from the National League:
- With just two weeks left in camp and top outfield prospect Oscar Taveras still working his way back, there is now little chance that he'll come north with the Cardinals for Opening Day, writes Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Of course, that was the likely outcome from the get-go, as St. Louis has a keen interest in delaying his service clock to gain another season of control and minimize the likelihood of a Super Two qualification.
- The Phillies outrighted righty Michael Stutes off of the club's 40-man roster to begin making room for non-roster invites, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Struggling to regain velocity after a series of shoulder issues, Stutes had to clear waivers to be stashed in the minors.
- Though it may yet be a longshot, the Mets have begun working out Wilmer Flores at short, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. With continuing uncertainty as to whether Ruben Tejada can be relied on as an everyday option, DiComo says the team is "overturning every stone on their 40-man roster" to find a solution. Of course, that does not mean that Flores is a serious possibility to man the job for the coming season, but he could be a more attractive big league piece if he could spend some time at short.
- As I recently noted in the club's offseason review, the Diamondbacks have not conclusively addressed their backup catching situation. They are among the teams taking a hard look at Francisco Cervelli of the Yankees, reports George A. King III of the New York Post.