Nick Punto Rumors

Red Sox, Dodgers Nearing Blockbuster

SATURDAY, 7:52am: The deal is "pretty much done," reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that both Beckett and Crawford have agreed to waive their no-trade clauses while Rosenthal adds that both clubs have signed off on the medicals.

FRIDAY, 10:00pm: Crawford has the Dodgers on his partial no-trade list and the outfielder has yet to be asked to accept a trade, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).  It has been previously reported that Crawford can block trades to two clubs but Heyman writes that Crawford has the ability to block trades to three teams.

9:34pm: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine says that he still expects Beckett to make his start on Saturday, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

9:01pm: The Dodgers are expected to pick up more than $260MM of the $271.5MM in combined salary that the Red Sox are sending to them, a source tells Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.

6:45pm: The Dodgers have agreed to send Webster, De La Rosa, Loney, Sands, and De Jesus to the Red Sox, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  Meanwhile, a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI (Twitter link) not to expect a deal to be completed tonight.

6:42pm: The Red Sox have yet to secure permission from Beckett, who has 10-and-5 rights, or Crawford, who has a partial no-trade clause, a source tells Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.  However, neither player is expected to block the deal.

6:38pm: Pitcher Allen Webster will go to the Red Sox in the trade, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

6:15pm: The Red Sox and Dodgers are currently reviewing medical records, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (via Twitter).  The deal would include Rubby De La Rosa, James Loney, Jerry Sands, Ivan De Jesus, and a top prospect, according to Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (Twitter link).

6:04pm: Adrian Gonzalez was scratched from the lineup and summoned from the dugout into the clubhouse along with Nick Punto, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (via Twitter).

5:52pm: There are two deals on the table, one mega deal involving Carl Crawford and another with just Beckett and Gonzalez, tweets Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe.

5:48pm: Though the deal may not happen in its current nine-player form, something is expected to happen, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

5:10pm: Dodgers minor leaguers in the trade talks have included Allen Webster, Zach Lee, Rubby De La Rosa, and Jerry Sands, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.

5:06pm: The Red Sox would receive prospects and not just salary relief if the deal happens, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

4:52pm: Boston would send some cash to Los Angeles if the sides complete a deal Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. Morosi confirms that the sides are close to a trade (Twitter links).

4:34pm: The Red Sox and Dodgers are closing in on a trade that would send Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to Los Angeles, Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com reports (on Twitter). Hurdles remain, but the sides continue working toward a deal.

The Dodgers recently won the claiming rights to Gonzalez and Beckett. Gonzalez can't block a trade to Los Angeles, but Beckett must approve any assignment as a player with ten and five rights. Crawford and Punto cleared waivers earlier this month and can be traded without waiver-related restrictions. 

The Dodgers have been willing to take on considerable salaries since their new ownership group gained control of the club at the beginning of the 2012 season. Adding the four Red Sox players would represent a substantial financial commitment:

  • Gonzalez will earn $21MM per season through 2016 and obtain a raise to $21.5MM for 2017-18. The total exceeds $130MM when accounting for the remainder his 2012 salary. 
  • Beckett will earn $15.75MM per season through 2014. As noted above, he must approve any trade.
  • Crawford will earn $20MM in 2013, $20.25MM in 2014, $20.5MM in 2015, $20.75MM in 2016 and $21MM in 2017. His contract allows him to block trades to two teams.
  • Punto earns $1.5MM per season through 2013.

The Dodgers claimed Cliff Lee on waivers earlier this month after trading for Shane Victorino, Hanley Ramirez, Joe Blanton and Brandon League. The Dodgers would have to place MLB players on waivers before trading them to Boston, which could complicate trade talks. 

Zach Links contributed to this post, which was originally published on August 24th.


Players Who Cleared Waivers

This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.

Updated 8-31-12

Infielders

Nick Punto, Red Sox - Punto earns $1.5MM this year and will earn the same amount in 2013.

Outfielders

Carl Crawford, Red Sox - Crawford has $102.5MM remaining on his contract after 2012, so he was expected to clear waivers. Crawford can block trades to two clubs, but no team can flip him to the Yankees after acquiring him from Boston.

Alfonso Soriano, Cubs – Soriano can block any trade. He earns $18MM per season through 2014.

Juan Pierre, Phillies – Pierre earns $800K in 2012 and he'll hit free agency after the season.

Catchers

Joe Mauer, Twins – Mauer earns $23MM per season through 2018.

Starting Pitchers

Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks – Saunders earns $6MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.

Roy Oswalt, Rangers – Oswalt earns $5MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.

Kevin Millwood, Mariners – Millwood earns $1MM in 2012 and will hit free agency after the season.

Relief Pitchers

Carlos Marmol, Cubs - Marmol will earn $9.8MM in 2013 before hitting free agency.


Quick Hits: Indians, Blum, Dodgers, Blue Jays

The non-waiver trade deadline has passed, but August figures to be a busy month nonetheless. MLBTR has an explanation of how teams can make trades this month, plus reaction to yesterday’s deadline moves and a poll on which teams didn’t do enough. Here are today’s links…

  • It's time for the Indians to release Derek Lowe and Johnny Damon since the veterans are not producing enough to justify their roster spots, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes.
  • Geoff Blum told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that he’s in limbo now, but would love to play again "if the situation is right” (Twitter link). The Diamondbacks released the veteran infielder last month.
  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said his starting rotation remains "a concern," Alex Angert of MLB.com reports. Stephen Fife still has a rotation spot despite rumors that the Dodgers might acquire a starter such as Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza.
  • The Blue Jays voided the contract of Venezuelan shortstop Luis Castro after the prospect didn't pass his physical, Ben Badler of Baseball America writes. Castro, 16, had signed for $800K last month.
  • The Red Sox placed Nick Punto and Carl Crawford on waivers today, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). Hundreds of players will be placed on waivers this month and only a small percentage of them will be traded.


NL Central Notes: Chapman, Francis, Punto, Heredia

Let's continue our tour of the divisions with news from the NL Central…

  • "The Reds’ handling of Aroldis Chapman is beginning to resemble Joba Chamberlain 2.0," writes Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Cincinnati is leaning towards using Chapman as a reliever this season but Passan argues that a pitcher with Chapman's potential should be given the chance to start and not worry about being shuttled between the rotation and the bullpen.  Another note from the piece is that Chapman's velocity is down to the 92-95 mph range this spring, but Chapman has been pleased with his improved command and his new pitch, a splitter.
  • Like Chapman, Jeff Francis has pitched well this spring but may not find a spot in the Reds rotation, prompting ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) to consider Francis an "affordable alternative for teams in the John Lannan hunt."  Francis signed a minor league deal with the Reds that contains an opt-out clause for March 28 that he could exercise if he doesn't think he'll find a job in Cincinnati.  (In regards to Lannan, he could be off the trade market altogether given Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury today.)
  • Nick Punto told reporters (including Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) that his top two offseason options were the Cardinals and Red Sox, but the Cards never made him a contract offer.
  • Astros minor leaguer Angel Heredia has been suspended for 50 games following a positive test for performance-enhancing drugs, reports The Associated Press.  Heredia, a right-handed pitcher, played for Houston's Dominican Summer League team.

Red Sox Sign Nick Punto

It sure didn't take long for Ben Cherington to replace Jed Lowrie. Hours after sending Lowrie and Kyle Weiland to Houston for Mark Melancon, the Red Sox GM announced the signing of Nick Punto to a two-year deal. The contract guarantees Punto $3MM and offers him the chance to earn an additional $500K in incentives, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links).

Punto spent the 2011 season with the Cardinals and played second, short and third. He had just 166 plate appearances, but posted a .278/.388/.421 line for a career-best .809 OPS. The switch-hitter's career batting line sits at .249/.325/.327, so he may not be able to replicate this year's offensive performance in 2012-13.

But in all likelihood, Cherington didn't add Punto for his bat. UZR suggests Punto is a strong defender at short, second and third. Overall, he has been an above-average defender in each season that he's logged significant MLB playing time. However, he's 34 and maintaining his historically strong defense may be unrealistic.


Quick Hits: Felix, Cuddyer, Dotel, Phillies

A round-up of news from around the majors….

  • The Mariners will be hard-pressed to contend with AL West superpowers like the Rangers and Angels, but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times argues the club shouldn't think about trading Felix Hernandez.  Stone thinks such a deal would cause a "backlash" among M's fans and "there's still plenty of time to consider a Hernandez trade down the road if the Mariners' situation gets more dire."
  • Michael Cuddyer was frustrated by the negativity surrounding the Twins last season and isn't sure if the team will be able to contend in the near future, reports Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 Radio.  The Twins have had a three-year, $24-$25MM offer on the table to Cuddyer for the last few days and the Rockies may also be willing to go to three years for the veteran.  Mackey speculates the Cardinals could check in on Cuddyer to help fill the void left by Albert Pujols.
  • Octavio Dotel tells MLB.com's Jason Beck that his choice of teams came down to the Tigers and the Brewers.  Dotel says the Padres were also interested in signing him as a setup man. 
  • MLB.com's Todd Zolecki has contract details for a number of new Phillies, most notably Jonathan Papelbon.
  • Carlos Beltran hasn't gotten much attention this winter, and Fangraphs' Eric Seidman names seven teams who could be a fit for the free agent outfielder.
  • Nick Punto is "at or near [the] top" of the Braves' list of backup infield options, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter).
  • A rival executive tells FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link) that the Mets won't trade David Wright.  "He’s more valuable to them than he would be to any other team," the exec says.

Cardinals Rumors: Beltran, Romero, Gonzalez, Punto

Derrick Goold and Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have a round-up of what the Cardinals could be planning now that Albert Pujols has left town…

  • The Cardinals "have explored what the market is" for Carlos Beltran.  Beltran would see most of his playing time in center field, since Allen Craig is slated to be the everyday right fielder.
  • Jimmy Rollins' desire for a five-year contract will probably keep the Cards out of the bidding unless Rollins is willing to accept a shorter-term deal.  The team is still talking to Rafael Furcal and would like to bring back Nick Punto as a veteran backup, should the Cardinals decide to look within and give Tyler Greene a shot at the everyday shortstop job.
  • The team is looking for a left-handed reliever and have spoken to representatives for Mike Gonzalez and J.C. Romero
  • The planned $110MM payroll for 2012 won't be lowered because Pujols is gone, said GM John Mozeliak.
  • In regards to the Jake Westbrook/Kyle Lohse trade rumors, Mozeliak said no deals materialized and one of the starters would be dealt only if the Cards need to "reallocate" some money towards another move.

Braves Seek Backup Shortstop

The latest on the Braves…

  • The Braves would not be a suitor for Hanley Ramirez if the Marlins decide to trade him, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  They've got Tyler Pastornicky penciled into the starting shortstop role for 2012, though GM Frank Wren seeks "a traditional backup shortstop," not a semi-regular.  O'Brien says the Braves don't want to make a multiyear commitment.  I'd consider Nick Punto a semi-regular and a candidate for a two-year deal, but O'Brien says he is a Braves target.
  • Next week's potential non-tenders are not among the Braves' targets, Wren told reporters including MLB.com's Mark Bowman.

Cardinals Rumors: Pujols, Dotel, Romero

The latest on Albert Pujols and the Cardinals' other dealings, courtesy of Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

  • The Cardinals offered Pujols a nine-year, $198MM extension in January, confirmed Goold.  Though this would be the third-largest contract in baseball history, the average annual value of $22MM would have the game's best hitter outside of the all-time top ten.  Cardinals GM John Mozeliak wouldn't comment on whether the January offer still stands.
  • Mozeliak explained his Pujols timeline to Goold: "I don't feel like right now everything outside of Albert's situation is urgent.  That said, the one takeaway we have to have in the next couple weeks is what is the likelihood of us getting something done (with Pujols). I think directionally, that's what we're looking for as we move into the winter meetings and toward (the holidays)."
  • One pressing factor might be the division-rival Cubs, who have "serious interest" in Pujols according to a Goold source, yet the talks so far have been preliminary.  Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs are showing interest in Pujols and Prince Fielder.  Goold says Pujols has indicated a desire to meet face-to-face with any legitimately interested party, so perhaps a sit-down will occur with the Cubs soon.
  • Octavio Dotel's agent Dan Horwits told Goold, "Dotel would like to be a Cardinal.  Obviously, the Cardinals have some other contracts to address first, and we understand that."  This week the Mets, Reds, Tigers, and Angels have been named as other suitors for the 38-year-old righty.
  • J.C. Romero's agent Melvin Roman told Goold he has heard from the Cardinals and expects to have a discussion at the Winter Meetings.  The 35-year-old southpaw is open to a one-year deal after allowing 44 baserunners in 24 2/3 big league innings this year.  In September, Romero said his first choice was to return to the Rockies.
  • Mozeliak commented on his team's shortstop situation to Goold: "If we had to wake up and give Tyler Greene an opportunity (at shortstop) we would be comfortable with that."  The Cardinals have an internal debate about whether to give Greene the job, Mozeliak told B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest.com.  Rafael Furcal is willing to wait on the Pujols negotiations to a point, though you have to think he'll pounce if a strong three-year offer comes along from another team.  Goold believes Jimmy Rollins could be a possibility for the Cardinals at shortstop if Pujols signs elsewhere.
  • Regarding the bullpen, Mozeliak told Rains, "There may be some things that we look at in January to add depth to that but I don't think we see anything short term on that now."
  • Rains also learned that Bryan Anderson and Tony Cruz will compete for the Cardinals' backup catcher job, and the team has interest in retaining free agent infielder Nick Punto.

Cardinals Sign Nick Punto

The Cardinals announced that they signed Nick Punto to a one-year deal, according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach (on Twitter). It's a $700K deal, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Agent Charles Schneider represents the longtime Twin.

Punto hit .238/.313/.302 in 288 plate appearances for Minnesota last year. He played second, short and third in 2010, his seventh campaign in a Twins uniform. Punto has never hit more than 4 home runs in a season, but the switch-hitting 33-year-old can steal a base and back up around the infield. He'll presumably play a similar role to the one Brendan Ryan has in the past few seasons.

The Indians and Punto had "meaningful negotiations" earlier in the winter.

Free agent infielders Orlando CabreraWilly AybarDavid Eckstein and Ronnie Belliard remain available, but middle infield options are disappearing, as MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows.