Feldman enjoyed a rebound campaign in a season split between the Cubs and Orioles. The 30-year-old posted a combined 3.86 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a strong 49.6 percent ground-ball rate in 181 2/3 innings. Feldman's career has been one of ups and downs as he dealt with injuries throughout his tenure with the Rangers, but he's typically been a solid arm on the field when healthy.
He and agent Matt Brown of Pro Prospects, Inc. undoubtedly have to be pleased with the way the free agent market for starting pitching has developed to date. Tim Hudson inked a two-year, $23MM contract despite the fact that he didn't pitch the final two months of the season and is entering his age-39 season. Jason Vargas, who also missed two months with injury, signed a surprising four-year contract, and the Twins overlooked Phil Hughes' lofty ERA in issuing a three-year, $24MM pact. Clearly, the price for starting pitching is high this season, which should bode well for Feldman and Brown.
Just over a week ago, it was reported that there was mutual interest between Feldman and the Orioles (who have been said to have interest in retaining him on more than one occasion) and that Feldman could sign a two-year deal with an option. That report came prior to the Hughes signing, however.
For a fascinating look at some of the background motivations for the Yankees' recent signings of catcher Brian McCann and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, be sure to read this excellent article from Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. As Costa explains, New York's singular spending capacity is closely connected to its unique financial circumstances. The club's ticket sales and stadium seat licenses took a greater-than-$50MM hit last year due to missing the post-season, Costa reports. When one factors in the impact to merchandise, concessions, and future ticket sales, says Costa, the club's massive free agent investments begin to look more like a necessity. As Vince Gennaro notes in the piece, "If the Yankees were an 85-win team or an 83-win team for three or four years in a row, they would suffer financially orders of magnitude more than any other franchise."
Here are some more notes out of the Bronx and the rest of the AL East:
- If the Yankees have any chance of staying under the $189MM luxury tax level, a source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, the club needs for Alex Rodriguez to remain suspended for all of 2014. If the suspension is upheld, the Yankees will avoid both his $27.5MM salary as well as the $6MM bonus they stand to pay if Rodriguez passes Willie Mays on the all-time home run list.
- The Yankees initially pursued Carlos Beltran more aggressively than Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post, but shifted their attention to Ellsbury as a third year became more and more likely for Beltran. The Mariners were seemingly willing to give Ellsbury a stunning nine-year deal, but the center fielder was apparently less than enthused about going to Seattle. Talks accelerated over the weekend when the Yanks agreed to exceed the Carl Crawford contract, Sherman reports.
- Meanwhile, Red Sox manager John Farrell told WEEI's Salk & Holley (via WEEI.com's Alex Speier) that the field staff and players were "jolted" by the news of Ellsbury's departure. With about a half-dozen current players reaching out for more information, Farrell told them that GM Ben Cherington was "doing the best he can with the two remaining guys, with [Mike Napoli] and [Stephen Drew]." "We're going to do anything we can to bring both guys back," Farrell told his players. Be sure to check out the link for a lot more quotes from Farrell on the team's recent moves and path forward.
- While Ellsbury's parting may have surprised Sox players, it seemed to be rather expected by the front office, as Speier notes. Indeed, as John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports (via Twitter), the club never made its star outfielder a nine-figure offer. Looking ahead, Boston still has plenty of work to do after resolving its catching opening by signing A.J. Pierzynski. But given the club's slate of young players already in the fold, says Speier, there are plenty of ways that Cherington can maneuver in addressing Boston's remaining questions.
- We just learned that the Orioles could be chasing some big-money free agents, but the club's most immediate move is expected to be the addition of outfielder Francisco Peguero, reports Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com had previously reported (via Twitter) that a deal was in place, but executive vice president Dan Duquette said that "it's not a done deal." Duquette did, however, confirm that an agreement was close. The top Orioles baseball man noted that the club likes Peguero's defensive flexibility and hit tool. Adding Peguero would leave Baltimore with two vacant 40-man spots, Kubatko notes.
11:59pm: Negotiations continue on how things will play out when multiple teams submit the maximum $20MM posting fee, Sanspo reports. However, it's possible that the bidding for Tanaka could take place before the U.S. breaks for the Christmas holiday at the end of the month.
6:04pm: Under the latest proposal, while the maximum posting fee is $20MM, players appear to be free to sign with any team that ties for the highest bid, the Los Angeles Times' Bill Shaikin tweets. If that's the case, Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan points out, it will make Tanaka a de facto free agent, and he will likely receive a large contract.
WEDNESDAY,4:51pm: According to a report from Japanese report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (on Twitter), the Rakuten Golden Eagles are the only NPB team to stand against the proposed changes. The Golden Eagles, of course, are Masahiro Tanaka's team.
3:57pm: According to a Sanspo report passed along by Newman, NPB officials are planning to accept the $20MM maximum bid and the new posting rules (Twitter link).
There are conflicting reports on how the team would be selected, as Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times wrote this week that the posted player would be allowed to select from the teams that tie for highest bid.
TUESDAY, 4:50pm: NPB officials are amenable to the idea of a maximum bid, but not the amount which MLB has proposed, according to a Japanese report passed on by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (Twitter link). Major League officials are trying to impose a $20MM limit.
12:35am: MLB negotiators' latest proposal for the posting system would establish a maximum bid and include a provision prioritizing teams with low records, Sponichi reports (Japanese link). Under the plan, multiple teams could submit the maximum bid for a player, with negotiating rights going to the club that had the lowest winning precentage that year. Nippon Professional Baseball was scheduled to discuss the proposal in a meeting with the 12 NPB teams on Tuesday.
Last month, the two sides nearly reached an agreement that would have seen the Japanese team paid a posting fee equal to the midpoint between the top two bids. However, this arrangement was ultimately rejected by MLB because of opposition by small-market teams, which insisted that the posting fee be counted against the luxury tax.
As the article notes, this new proposal and its maximum bid could encourage greater participation among small-market teams. A marquee name like Masahiro Tanaka is all but off-limits for low-revenue clubs under the current system, which can require teams to pay more than $50MM just to get to the negotiating table. Small-market owners are therefore likely to drop their luxury tax-related demands if a scheme that gives priority to lower-ranking teams is on offer, Sponichi reports. However, winning teams are certain to oppose the plan because it would greatly reduce their chances of securing negotiating rights. It's also unclear how the proposal would be received by the 12 Japanese teams, which would appear to gain little by agreeing to a system with a maximum bid.
Here are the latest updates from the National League side of the ledger:
- The Mets are increasingly expressing optimism about their efforts to bring Curtis Granderson into the fold, reports Marc Carig of Newsday, though nothing appears to be immiment. Joining the Mets in pursuit of Granderson are the White Sox and Mariners, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. If that does not work out for New York, says Puma, the club will "likely" turn its attention to Nelson Cruz.
- After parting ways with two left-handed relief options in Fernando Abad and Ian Krol, the Nationals remain interested in adding Oliver Perez, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Kilgore says that the Mariners and Padres also have interest in the 32-year-old southpaw, who pitched to a 3.74 ERA in 53 innings last year for Seattle.
- Echoing previous reports, Reds GM Walt Jocketty says that the club has told second baseman Brandon Phillips that it is "not in any talks to trade him," reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Though Jocketty also noted that he could not rule out that possibility, he definitely left the impression that he is not actively shopping Phillips.
- Jocketty also indicated that the club is likely going to keep Aroldis Chapman in the closer role rather than converting him to a starter, reports Sheldon. Though Cincinnati will keep the starting option on the table in the spring, Jocketty said that the club likes its depth at the present. As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth wrote at the start of the off-season, the Reds could tinker with their rotation, but lack a pressing need to do so.
- Though the latest scuttlebutt has Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija marked for trade talks, club president Theo Epstein says that the club still hopes to extend him, tweets Carrie Muskat of MLB.com. Of course, Chicago could certainly be keeping both options on the table for the time being.
- After trading away center fielder Dexter Fowler, the Rockies plan to shift Carlos Gonzalez over to fill the vacancy, reports the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). Meanwhile, the club is still shopping for relief pitchers, reports the Denver Post's Troy Renck (via Sulia), and may be most likely to add a bullpen arm via trade.
- The Diamondbacks are still looking to add a major piece, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, and GM Kevin Towers has indicated that the club would be willing to give up its first-round draft choice to sign a free agent who turned down a qualifying offer. Towers indicated that the club is most likely to add a starter via trade, leaving Piecoro to posit that the most likely open-market targets would be Granderson, Nelson Cruz, or Carlos Beltran.
- Meanwhile, the D-Backs could be much more willing to deal pitching prospect Tyler Skaggs than they had been in the past, Piecoro writes. In fact, the club apparently recently explored just that possibility. Coming off of a down year that saw his velocity drop, however, the 22-year-old probably also has diminished trade value at the moment, Piecoro further notes.
The Orioles are "active" in discussions for multiple free agent pitchers and hitters, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Among them are outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz as well as starter Ubaldo Jimenez, according to Morosi.
While Baltimore entered the off-season with several needs, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk explained that budget constraints -- especially with Chris Davis and Matt Wieters entering their last year of team control -- left it unclear just how much the club would be able to spend. After clearing the projected $10.8MM salary of closer Jim Johnson, however, executive vice president Dan Duquette may have additional space with which to work.
Discussing the Johnson deal, Duquette indicated that it was in large part driven by "resource allocation." Looking forward, Duquette said the club was "still looking for help in left field" and "would also like to sign some other pitchers."
While any of the above-noted players would fill a need for Baltimore, it would seem to be something of a surprise for one to land there. As Duquette went on to note, "I don't think free agency is the way to build a strong team." And the big dollars expected to be landed by Choo, Cruz, and Jimenez would certainly eat up a big chunk of the present and future payroll for the O's.
Here's the latest from the American League West:
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels says the club is still looking for a durable backup catcher, reports T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Though the recent spate of catcher moves took away some hypothetical options, Daniels said that "nobody has come off the board that we really pursued." Sullivan notes that Kurt Suzuki is one player in whom Texas has interest.
- In looking to add a backstop, the Rangers were close to adding J.P. Arencibia via trade before he was non-tendered by the Blue Jays, Sullivan reports. But the club did not want to add Arencibia unless it could work out terms on a new deal, and ultimately that did not happen. He joins Suzuki as possible free agent options for Texas.
- The Athletics' signing of left-handed starter Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22MM deal kicked off a flurry of big moves for the A's. MLB.com's Jane Lee provides a summation of the considerations that brought him to Oakland, with Kazmir saying he loves the team and fan base and looks forward to throwing in the Coliseum. For GM Billy Beane, the club liked Kazmir's stuff, restored fastball velocity, overall body of work in 2013, and young age (29). Though Kazmir's up-and-down career trajectory might have scared off some clubs, Beane says that he views Kazmir's "character-building experience" of getting back to a high level of performance as a positive.
- Before Phil Hughes decided to take a three-year deal with the Twins, the Angels made him an offer of a "nice one-year deal," reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted in discussing several of MLB's recent moves, baseball sources believe Hughes could have landed up to $9MM or $10MM on a one-year deal, though another source told Rosenthal that no offers of that magnitude had actually been made.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik declined to comment on whether or not the club is pursuing Robinson Cano, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, saying that the club is keeping its talks "in house" but has "a lot of dialogue going on a lot of fronts." Talking generally about offering long-term deals, Zduriencik indicated that the club prefers to minimize risk but must "adapt to the market." While saying he would "like to add three" bats to the club, the Mariners GM noted that the club would still also be interested in adding "another starting pitcher" or even another pen piece.
- Ultimately, Zduriencik confirmed the widespread view that Seattle is looking to add impact to its roster. "It was a clear goal of ours to get us to a point where we would have young and inexpensive players throughout the line-up and I think we've accomplished that goal," said Zduriencik. "I always felt there would be a time where [we] would have to augment this club. I think we are at that time."
TODAY, 10:07pm: The deal being discussed between the Dodgers and Wilson would guarantee one year and include a player option for a second, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).
YESTERDAY, 12:06pm: The Dodgers and Wilson are only talking about a one-year deal, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). That would allow Wilson to hit the open market in search of a multiyear deal next year, coming off a potentially strong season. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Wilson has made it clear that he's willing to return as Kenley Jansen's setup man.
10:52am: The Dodgers are nearing an agreement with Brian Wilson, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports had recently tweeted that the two sides have been having discussions, noting that Joe Nathan's near-deal with the Tigers could accelerate the timetable.
Having fully healed from his second Tommy John surgery, Wilson returned to the Majors in August, signing a $1MM contract with the Dodgers. Wilson returned in dominant fashion, allowing just one run with a 21-to-6 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings of work between the regular season and the playoffs.
As we work on catching up on things after a busy few days, here's the latest from the AL Central, which has been among the game's busiest divisions of late:
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski made clear today that the trades of Prince Fielder and Doug Fister were connected both to the signing of closer Joe Nathan and the need to lock up major players like Max Scherzer, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. "A very big part of what we were trying to accomplish [was] to get a closer," said Dombrowski. "And when I say that, sometimes you need some flexibility to make some other things happen, too. We do have some players that are on the verge of being free agents that are pretty big players for us, that you want to create some flexibility there to be in the right spot at various times."
- Dombrowski did, however, downplay the likelihood of a major new signing. "I would think that we would not be involved in the big [names]," said the GM.
In the wake of the Fielder-for-Ian Kinsler trade, Dombrowski says Nick Castellanos will start at third base with Miguel Cabrera moving back to first, writes Chris Iott of MLive.com. The news confirms what had been suspected at the time, and jives with rumors linking Detroit to Shin-Soo Choo. It also confirms the broader market effects of the Fielder-Kinsler swap: that deal increased the amount of cash pegged for corner outfielders.
- Indeed, one such player, Carlos Beltran, is fielding interest from several clubs. He is very unlikely to get more than two years from the Yankees or Red Sox, however, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. It also appears that, if he wants to build up bidding for his services, Beltran may need to wait until Shin-Soo Choo leaves the market. Heyman reports that the Tigers, Reds, and Rangers are all very interested in Choo but also see Beltran as an option. While the Mariners are also involved and could be willing to spend big to lure the 36-year-old to the Pacific Northwest, Heyman indicates that the Royals are still perhaps the odds-on favorite to land Beltran out of the crowded field of suitors.
- After signing on for one more go-round with the White Sox, Paul Konerko plans to hang up his spikes afte 2014, tweets Jim Bowden of ESPN.com.
- The Twins' off-season trade talks may have been gummed up by the recent suspension of well-regarded prospect Eddie Rosario, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 22-year-old Rosario cracks the top ten of the Minnesota prospect list, per Baseball America (subscription required, and recommended), which is particularly impressive given the top-end talent ahead of him. With Brian Dozier emerging as an option at second, Rosario had been the most likely prospect to be dangled as trade bait.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan told Berardino that he sees free agency as the more likely route to add MLB players at this point, even after picking up Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes on the open market. "I don't want to give up any of our players," Ryan said. "I'm not saying we won't make a trade. We might. But if you're going to get a quality starter, it's going to be difficult."
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Cubs have signed left-handed reliever Wesley Wright to a one-year deal believed to be for $1.425MM, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Wright, who was recently non-tendered by the Rays, is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.
The 28-year-old came to Tampa for the stretch last year after he was traded via waiver claim from the Astros. He posted a combined 3.69 ERA in 53 2/3 innings for the two clubs. As one might expect, Wright has historically been much more effective against lefties. When facing same-handed hitters, he has posted a career 3.11 K:BB ratio while surrendering only a .655 OPS.
Entering the off-season with four years and 105 days of Major League service, Wright was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $1.4MM in arbitration. Since Wright will fall shy of qualifying for free agency following next year, the Cubs will also have future control over their new left-hander.
The Mariners, Dodgers, Angels, Pirates, Rangers, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays all have interest in David Price and believe they could put together a strong enough package to convince the Rays to deal him, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan writes. The Mariners would be especially interested in Price if they also acquire Robinson Cano, and they might be willing to include Taijuan Walker to make a deal happen, Passan reports. Earlier today, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told the Tacoma News Tribune's Bob Dutton, "[A]lways have felt there would be a time where we have to augment this club. I think we’re at that time" (Twitter link).
Price has two years remaining before free agency, and MLBTR projects he'll make $13.1MM in the arbitration process this winter. The Rays aren't in a position where they must trade him, Passan points out, so they won't be desperate in negotiations. They could target a big-league-ready pitcher to step into Price's place in their rotation, Passan reports, and one would think that Walker, one of baseball's top young starters, would fit the bill. Walker, 21, posted a 2.93 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 141 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2013 before making three starts at the big-league level.