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Nick Markakis Rumors
For the last year or two, Nick Markakis has been vocal about how important it would be to spend his entire career with one organization, and the outfielder tells Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun how he hopes his contract year will help carry the Orioles to a championship and, potentially, convince the team to keep him in the fold. "In a perfect world, I'd like to [stay here],'' Markakis said. "A lot of people play this game for the wrong reasons. A lot of people play it where the money is. I get a bigger satisfaction being with the same team your whole career….To be able to do that would be a pretty cool experience. It would be something special to me." The O's have a $17.5MM option on Markakis for 2015 that seems a bit too expensive to exercise even if Markakis does rebound from his career-low numbers last season, though the two sides could work out another multiyear deal.
Here's more from around the AL East…
- Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) that while he didn't plan on having a payroll in the $80MM range for the coming season, the opportunity was there for the Rays to sign Grant Balfour and re-sign James Loney.
- Sternberg noted that extending a star like David Price is "more difficult now than it was in the past, given the numbers. There's been inflation.'' That said, Sternberg also "wouldn't say it's likely" that this is Price's last year in Tampa. "You just can't make decisions like that this far in advance, and we're trying to give the team as big of a chance as we can this year without sacrificing our future as well," Sternberg said. "There's the opportuniuty of other players, there's the expense that's involved in it, but we're…a little enamored with the possibilities of what we can do, and what he brings."
- The Blue Jays haven't made many roster moves this winter but GM Alex Anthopoulos tells ESPN's Jayson Stark that he expects the Jays to improve simply by avoiding some of the injuries and misfortune that plagued the club last season. “Sometimes you sit there and say, ‘We won 74 games, when everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong,’” Anthopoulos said. “So this year, what happens if we just have a little bit of luck? I can understand the skepticism about our team, absolutely, coming off the year we’re coming off. But I just don’t think it’s a stretch to expect improvement out of a lot of these guys this year, simply because the floor was so low.”
- The Blue Jays' second base options project to generate only 0.4 WAR in 2014, Fangraphs' Mike Petriello notes, and he explores a few trade possibilities that could upgrade Toronto at the keystone position.
- With the Red Sox enjoying huge revenues and big drops in payroll obligations in 2015 and 2016, ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes argues that the time is right to extend David Ortiz. The slugger's contract negotiations have generated some bad publicity in recent years, so Edes suggests that Ortiz could receive a club option in perpetuity, a la Tim Wakefield's contract with the Sox.
- Red Sox limited partner Michael Gordon isn't a well-known figure to most fans, but WEEI.com's Alex Speier profiles the man who has quietly become a more influential voice within the team's ownership group over the last few years.
The Orioles are interested in Carlos Beltran, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but their ability to land the slugging right fielder may be contingent upon whether or not they can trade Matt Wieters or another high-salary player to accommodate the lofty contract Beltran figures to sign. Other high-priced O's include closer Jim Johnson (projected to earn $10.8MM) and right fielder Nick Markakis ($15MM). Some other O's-related links for your Friday reading…
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com writes that while many fans are surprised to have seen reports about the O's listening to offers on Wieters and J.J. Hardy, it shouldn't be that startling; the Orioles are willing to listen on any of their players. As he points out, Adam Jones' salary will continue to rise over the course of his contract, and they'll need to see if it's possible to extend Chris Davis and Manny Machado in the near future. Melewski feels that because Davis and Wieters are Scott Boras clients, it will be difficult to retain both, so the Orioles are right to keep all options open.
- Mike Francesca of WFAN Radio in New York said on the air that the Mets and Orioles discussed Markakis at the GM Meetings, but nothing came of the talks (hat tip: Andrew Vazzano of SNY on Twitter).
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette told Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com that he met with about half the teams in baseball at the GM Meetings this week as he looked to acquire another outfielder. Duquette also said he'd consider tendering Nolan Reimold a contract but needs an update on how Reimold is recovering from neck surgery.
Yesterday, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com surveyed two National League executives on Robinson Cano and his value as he inches closer to hitting the open market. Both supported the Yankees spending big on the second baseman and one even said that he has a legitimate case for a $200MM extension. Here's more on the Yankees and other AL East items..
- David Ortiz told reporters, including the Boston Herald's Scott Lauber, that he may not play again for the Red Sox this year because of his strained right Achilles. "To be honest with you, what I’m looking for right now is to make sure I heal up the right way," Ortiz said. "I pushed it once. Didn’t work. So I’m not going to push it again." Ortiz, who has played only once since July 16, received a platelet-rich plasma injection nearly two weeks ago that has left him feeling “totally different.” But, he is still wearing a protective boot on his right foot and won’t attempt any baseball activities until at least Tuesday when he’s expected to have it removed.
- The Orioles' Nick Markakis is expected to undergo surgery tomorrow to insert a plate into his broken left thumb, according to Roch Kubatko of MASN.com. The surgery could speed up the recovery process, so the Orioles remain optimistic Markakis could return if they go deep into the playoffs, writes Kubatko.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks at five personnel decisions that backfired on the Yankees this season. Sherman writes that the trade of Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda was among the club's biggest mistakes. Although Pineda could bounce back from injury and fulfill his potential, Montero could have been a long-term answer for the Yankees in the event that Russell Martin leaves via free agency.
- Theo Epstein only deserves some of the blame for the situation that the Red Sox are in and not all of it, opines John Tomase of the Boston Herald. While Epstein made the big money deals that tied up the club's payroll, owners John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino had final say over all of them.
- Daisuke Matsuzaka's next start with the Red Sox could be his last with the club, writes Michael Vega of the Boston Globe. "Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll be wearing this Red Sox uniform next year," Matsuzaka said through his interpreter, Jeff Cutler. "As I’ve said before, it’s an honor to be able to wear this Red Sox uniform, but it hasn’t been an added stress for me."
- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told NESN's Tom Caron that the criticism that has been directed at him stems from personal gripes, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Valentine believes that he has always received unfair criticism and anticipated more of it when he arrived in Boston.
Edward Creech also contributed to this post.
Some news tidbits from Charm City…
- Teams have contacted the Orioles about J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Mark Reynolds, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. Jones would seemingly be untouchable and (as Heyman notes) Hardy and the Orioles are working out an extension, though Hardy would be a strong trade chip if negotiations fall apart. Reynolds and Markakis are also probably unlikely to be dealt unless Baltimore is having second thoughts about paying Markakis over $47MM between now and the end of the 2014 season.
- In a radio interview with 105.7 The Fan's Ken Weinman and Vinny Cerrato, ESPN's Keith Law thinks the team "should go out and deal any veteran player who is not likely to be part of the next good Orioles team. That’s anyone who is not under contract for 2013 or beyond. You’ve got to trade them for prospects, even if it’s a mid-level prospect. Trust your scouts. Go out and add the depth to your farm system. Sometimes you get lucky.” Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun has transcribed some of the interview's highlights, plus a link to the audio of the full interview.
- Koji Uehara "has drawn tepid interest" on the trade market due to his injury history and his age, reports MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. There is more interest in Jim Johnson, but the O's are considering making Johnson a starter next season and have told other teams that Johnson isn't for sale.
- Andy MacPhail tells Ghiroli that the pitching staff is "definitely something we are looking at to try to augment" at the trade deadline. To this end, if Jeremy Guthrie is traded, Baltimore would want at least one Major League-ready pitcher in return to eat Guthrie's innings.
- Also from Ghiroli, MacPhail didn't comment on his own status with the club. MacPhail's contract as Baltimore's president of baseball operations is up after this season.
On this date back in 2004, Alex Rodriguez returned to Texas to play the Rangers for the first time since being traded (along with $71MM) to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias. He was booed loudly just like every other road game of his career, though he silenced the home crowd – at least temporarily – with a two-run homer in the first inning.
Here are a few links from around the baseball blogosphere…
- Disciples of Uecker thinks it's time for Trevor Hoffman to call it a career.
- Mets Merized wants to know what happened to Jason Bay's power.
- Meanwhile, Camden Crazies looks at Nick Markakis' lack of pop.
- The Kept Faith says that it's time for the Oscar Salazar era to end in San Diego.
- Nick's Twins Blog isn't sure if Jesse Crain can right the ship.
- Yankeeist wonders if Marcus Thames will be able to replace the injured Nick Johnson.
- The Friarhood examines some players the Padres could select in next month's amateur draft.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.
The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly details the questions facing a Baltimore team with some young offensive talent, some terrific young pitching on the way, and a lot of extra cash.
Connolly writes that while the 64-98 record Baltimore had in 2009 was the third-worst in team history, "there is a sense that the future has promise because of the emergence of young starting pitchers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielders Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie."
Left unsaid, of course, is the emergence of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continuing to be a tremendous player.
The good news? The Orioles, according to Connolly, went from roughly $77MM owed in payroll at the start of the 2009 season-including $9MM to Jay Gibbons and Ramon Hernandez- to a $30MM commitment for 2010, not including raises through arbitration.
The bad news is that there aren't many marquee free agents (though there is Jason Marquis), and those that do qualify- Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey- aren't great fits, particularly Bay and Holliday in an overcrowded outfield.
Connolly captures the problem of desires vs. realistic options perfectly here:
"The preference is to find a right-handed or switch-hitting first baseman in his prime, like the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira. But there's no one who fits that profile in this year's class. The best free-agent options might be left-handed-hitting first basemen Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock or right-handed do-it-all Mark DeRosa."
So what's an Oriole to do?
Some late night links after Jake Peavy allowed three runs in five innings in his first start for the White Sox…
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic notes that Mark Reynolds is likely to fall short of qualifying as a Super Two, meaning he'll have to wait until after 2010 to become arbitration eligible. He also says that it "does not appear there have been any discussions about a long-term deal with Reynolds, but the club does not seem averse to the idea of an extension."
- ESPN's Peter Gammons writes about how great Victor Martinez has been for the Red Sox since being acquired at the trade deadline. He also praises Casey Kotchman, but I think I'd rather have Adam LaRoche, who has a 1.053 OPS since the trade.
- Orioles Manager Dave Trembley indicated that the team needs someone to hit behind Nick Markakis until some younger players like Matt Wieters and Adam Jones are ready to do it, according to MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko.
- If you aren't already, make sure you follow MLBTR on Twitter.
More links for the afternoon…
- Today's chat will take place in a little over an hour, at 2pm CST.
- It's worth checking out this Jerry Crasnick article at ESPN.com just for the photo of Nick Markakis balancing a folding chair on his chin. As Crasnick says, Markakis, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Luke Scott will be an impressive group of outfielders on improved O's teams in the near future.
- In the midst of his mid-season awards, SI.com's Tom Verducci says the Tigers and Dodgers deserve credit for well-thought-out offseason moves.
- David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News lays out five possible packages the Phillies could offer the Jays for Roy Halladay. Every deal is headed by Dominic Brown or Kyle Drabek and includes other quality prospects.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Doug Melvin and Ryan Braun will meet today to discuss Braun's recent suggestion that the Brewers need pitching.
- One of this year's big acquisitions, Mark DeRosa, will hit the 15-day DL, according to Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A few links for Sunday afternoon…
- According to MLB.com’s Spencer Fordin the Orioles used "number crunching and statistical analysis" to compare Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis to similar past and present players before locking them up to deals worth $40MM and $66MM, respectively.
- Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Joe Nathan‘s happy to see Jonathan Papelbon making lots of money this year ($6.25MM) because it’s good for closers in general.
- Jayson Stark of ESPN.com points out the absurdity of the Manny Ramirez negotiations and suggests the structure of a deal that could work for both sides. It’s been nearly four months since the Dodgers made their initial offer of two years and $45MM.
- Pete McElroy of MASN Sports reports that Dmitri Young‘s "shocked" to see Jim Bowden resign. Young, who first dealt with Bowden on the Reds, spoke glowingly of his former GM.
- According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck Jim Leyland confirmed that the Tigers had some offseason discussions about Juan Cruz.
- The draft’s still three months away, but Keith Law of ESPN.com is already putting together scouting reports about some top amateur players.
- MLB.com’s Lyle Spencer dreams up a deal that sends Adrian Gonzalez and Jake Peavy to the Angels for 10 players.
While the value of most free agents plummeted this offseason, players in salary arbitration did quite well for themselves. Writing for the Associated Press, Ronald Blum reports that the 111 players in salary arbitration received an average pay increase of 172 percent this year.
That figure is up from 120 percent last year. The previous record of 169 percent was set in 1999.
The big winners this year were Nick Markakis and Ervin Santana, whose salaries rose 24-fold and 16-fold, respectively.
Writing for MLB.com, Fred Claire argues that the arbitration process is "a far greater escalator of salaries than free agency." He quotes a veteran baseball executive who says of the arbitration process, "mediocrity is handsomely rewarded and excellence goes out of sight."