MLB rejected an A's request to move to San Jose six months ago, the Sports Law Blog reports (via Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle). "MLB denied the Athletics’ relocation request on June 17, 2013, one day before this lawsuit was filed," a case-management statement reads. "On that date, Commissioner [Bud] Selig formally notified the Athletics’ ownership that he was not satisfied with the club’s relocation proposal." As Slusser notes, San Jose's anti-trust lawsuit against MLB was filed the day after the June 17 rejection.
However, a source tells Slusser that MLB only decided the specific proposal for a San Jose stadium was insufficient, saying it merely required more information. The league therefore hasn't denied the A's request to move outright, but hasn't approved anything, either, placing things in a holding pattern of sorts. The situation is much the same as it was nearly five years ago, when Selig first established a committee to investigate the A's stadium situation.
Sam Liccardo, a San Jose city councilman pushing the lawsuit, says he too was unaware of the June 17 letter until recently. “It’s surprising, but I don’t think it changes anything,” Liccardo commented. “I don’t think it matters. The litigation continues.”
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is out with a Winter Meetings preview, noting that the frenzy of signings and trades this week threatens to overshadow an event that's traditionally one of the hot stove's busiest periods. Twenty teams either swapped a player or agreed to terms with a free agent between Monday afternoon and Tuesday night, according to ESPN's count. "I don't ever remember a day like Tuesday ever," an AL official commented. "Not just [during] the week before the Winter Meetings. Ever." Nevertheless, with several top names remaining unsigned and rumors of a David Price trade hanging in the air, Stark notes that there's plenty of hot stove left. Here's a run-through of his Winter Meetings preview, which includes a survey of 17 big league executives (conducted before the Carlos Beltran and Robinson Cano signings):
- Some believe Scott Boras will bide his time with Shin-Soo Choo following how quickly a deal for Jacoby Ellsbury came together with the Yankees, but there's another group that believes the superagent wants to show new rival Jay Z that he can be decisive. Around half of execs polled said they think Choo could sign during the Winter Meetings, or immediately afterward. All speculated he'll land with either the Rangers, Mariners or Tigers, though Detroit is indicating they're not involved.
- The market for starting pitching has been slow to develop because of uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka, as well as slow-developing rumors for Price and Jeff Samardzija, leaving Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez still on the board. Officials polled varied widely in their predictions for when the two will sign, though many see Garza heading to the Yankees or the Orioles. Draft pick compensation is an issue with Jimenez, who doesn't have a consistent track record.
- Kendrys Morales isn't expected to sign soon, with many NL clubs passing on the slugger because there's a perception that he'll need to DH. "I think he has all the makings of this year's Kyle Lohse," one exec commented. Draft pick compensation is also an issue. "You should never forget how many teams don't want to give up those draft picks," one exec commented.
- Samardzija was seen as the player most likely to be traded during the Meetings among players who are still on the market, though his three votes only slightly surpassed Mark Trumbo's two. Many believe, however, that Samardzija could remain a Cub until later in the winter, or even until the summer trade deadline in July. One exec said he thinks the Angels were more willing to move Trumbo a month ago than they are currently.
- Carlos Beltran was by far seen as the most likely player to sign during the Meetings, though as that's already happened, the title is now held by Choo.
- While the Dodgers, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Braves, Diamondbacks and Padres all appear to be interested in trading for Price, the group of teams that are actually able to consummate a deal could be much smaller. Rays GM Andrew Friedman appears to be taking his time allowing the market to develop. "Andrew is looking to make the Herschel Walker trade," a source tells Stark, referring to the 1989 NFL trade that involved 18 players and draft picks.
Matt Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, has never attended the Winter Meetings, but he will this winter as he has a "strong feeling" that his client could get moved, writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com. "This is the first time we've experienced this," Stewart said. "This is the first time we've heard it this much, and the first time we really believe something could happen." The Dodgers, of course, have a surplus of outfielders and Kemp is drawing interest from mutliple clubs. More from the NL West..
- The Diamondbacks still want a corner outfielder after missing out on Carlos Beltran and have their sights set on the Angels' Mark Trumbo, among others, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). The D'Backs have plenty of pitching depth to get a power outfield bat with the likes of Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, and Wade Miley (link).
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti says he has made a few different offers to free agent third baseman Juan Uribe but hasn't had much dialogue lately because they're waiting for his answer, tweets Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- Meanwhile, Colletti says that he won't "sell off an outfielder" just for the sake of doing it, especially with the list of free agent outfielders over the next couple of winters being a little underwhelming, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.
- Free agent outfielder Michael Morse is still on the Giants' radar, but the club believes its best route to landing a left fielder is via trade, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. While GM Brian Sabean is actively trying to lower expectations for a trade to take place, Schulman hears he has been active on the phones (link). Even though Sabean isn't the type to make a trade just for the heck of it, Schulman wouldn't be surprised to see a deal take place at the meetings (link).
Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison is drawing serious interest from clubs around baseball and a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that roughly ten teams have checked in. Miami is reportedly willing to listen and the Red Sox and Braves are among the clubs that have called. Here's more out of the NL East..
- The Marlins are fans of Rays third baseman Sean Rodriguez and have discussed him internally, a league source tells Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Frisaro wonders aloud if Morrison for Rodriguez and a pitcher could be enough to get a deal done. Miami may be looking for a stop gap solution at third base until Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in last year's draft, is ready, which could be in 2015.
- Braves GM Frank Wren says he has had plenty of talks with agents and teams so far this winter, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "[We're] putting ourselves in position to add pieces we feel like would help us best," the GM said.
- Wren added that he's targeting starting pitching, bullpen help, and some bench upgrades, but wont' look past anything that can help the team, O'Brien tweets.
- The Braves might be willing to trade some prospects in right deal, but not their premium prospects such as Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh, O'Brien tweets.
- Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News wonders if there's a realistic chance of the Phillies trading Jonathan Papelbon.
Frisaro runs down multiple reasons why the Marlins are likely to trade Morrison.
SATURDAY, 4:17pm: The Yankees confirmed the signing via press release. The seven-year contract takes the outfielder through 2020 with a club option for 2021.
WEDNESDAY: Ellsbury is guaranteed $148MM over the first seven years of the contract, and there is a $21MM option for an eighth year that comes with a $5MM buyout, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears that an option year has not yet been agreed upon.
TUESDAY, 11:45pm: Ellsbury's deal includes a no-trade clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
8:00pm: The deal includes an eighth-year option that could boost the total value to $169MM, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter).
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that Ellsbury would get a seven-year, $150MM deal in his free agent profile earlier this offseason.
7:31pm: The Yankees have agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the two sides were closing in on a seven-year pact. It is believed the deal will top Carl Crawford's $142MM, seven-year deal with one estimate pegging the deal at about $150MM, according to Heyman.
The Yankees have been in simultaneous talks with Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and many other top free agents, including their own Robinson Cano. Things have stalled somewhat with Cano, however, as the Yanks don't want to go far beyond $170MM over seven years and Cano's team looking for about $260MM. Heyman spoke with sources who didn't rule out the Yankees continuing their purusit of Choo or Beltran, but it would seem unlikely at this point. One source told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) that a deal with Ellsbury or another top outfielder won't preclude the Yanks from re-signing their star second baseman.
ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on Monday that talks were moving faster than expected for the Scott Boras client. Boras is notorious for waiting out the market to find the right deal as he did with Prince Fielder (signed in late January) and Michael Bourn (February).
Ellsbury offers more pop than the typical center fielder, with a career slugging percentage of .439 and isolated power of .141. While his power is more of the doubles and triples variety, which is aided by his speed, he did hit 32 home runs in his stellar 2011 campaign. In that year, Ellsbury led all of baseball with 9.1 wins above replacement, finished second in the AL MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and made the All-Star team. However, the left-handed batter wasn't much of a threat against southpaws this year, posting a .246/.323/.318 line in 237 plate appearances.
The 30-year-old has also consistently posted above average UZR and DRS numbers in center field. While he has come back to earth somewhat since '11, he checked in with 5.8 wins above replacement in 2013, which is second only to Robinson Cano among free agents.
Of course, much of Ellsbury's game is predicated on speed. Now, the Yankees have to hope that Ellsbury can stay fleet-footed for some time and will be able to adjust when his motor eventually wears down.
The Yankees have been vocal about their desire to get under the $189MM luxury tax threshold this winter, but it remains to be seen where they'll stand after the Ellsbury deal and Brian McCann's five-year, $85MM pact. Now more than ever, one has to imagine that the Yankees are rooting for MLB's side in the Alex Rodriguez saga.
The market for Ellsbury has been somewhat cloudy, but the Mariners and Giants were both believed to have interest.
Yankees people envision Ellsbury in center with Brett Gardner moving to left, Heyman writes. The 30-year-old was ranked No. 2 on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agent Power Rankings. With Ellsbury and McCann in the fold, the Yankees have now forfeited their first and second round picks.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Astros have brought reliever Chad Qualls back to Houston with a two-year deal with a club option for 2016, the team announced in a press release. The vet gets $6MM over the first two years with a potential $3.5MM for the option season, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
Qualls, 35, was drafted by the Astros in the second round in 2000 and was a quality set-up man for the team from 2005-07. After the '07 season he was traded to the Diamondbacks in the Jose Valverde trade, and the righty went on to pitch for the Rays, Padres, Phillies, Yankees, Pirates, and Marlins.
Qualls pitched to a 2.61 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 66 outings last season for the Marlins. The well-traveled veteran hasn't spent two consecutive seasons in the same city since 2008/09, but the multi-year pact might keep him in one place for a little while longer.
The Astros have shown a willingness to take a step forward early on in the offseason, striking a three-year, $30MM deal with Scott Feldman and trading for Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler earlier this week.
For his career, Qualls owns a 3.79 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 across ten big league seasons. Qualls is represented by Jim Murray of Excel Sports Management, according to the MLBTR Agency Database.
Today's minor moves..
- Former MLB slugger Wily Mo Pena has signed in Japan with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. The 31-year-old drew interest from Japan and in the states before agreeing to the $1.5MM pact. Pena spent parts of eight seasons playing for the Reds, Nationals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Seattle Mariners before signing a two-year, $5MM contract with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks following the 2011 season.
- The Reds Triple-A affiliate announced that they have re-signed catcher Corky Miller. Miller saw 17 games of action for Cincinnati last season but spent the bulk of the year in Louisville where he slashed .200/.295/.333 in 157 PAs.
On this date in 2001, the Yankees and Mets completed a rare trade with each other. The Bombers sent outfielder/DH David Justice to the Mets for third baseman Robin Ventura. The teams have exchanged players only six times in the last 50 years and nine times in total, with most deals involving minor leaguers or players of little consequence. Here's this week's look around the baseball blogosphere..
- Hidden VIgorish looks at players who underperform their FIP, including Tim Lincecum.
- Konsume says the big winners in Jacoby Ellsbury's new deal are the Red Sox.
- The Shea Faithful says that Curtis Granderson is a good step forward for the Mets.
- NASORB is happy to see Robinson Cano in Seattle.
- D Rays Bay breaks down the surplus value that Tampa Bay should seek in a David Price deal.
- Inside The Zona loves the Heath Bell deal from the D'Backs' perspective.
- Baseball Hot Corner wonders if Price is worthwhile for the Blue Jays.
- Outside Pitch previews the winter meetings for the Braves.
- Kingdome Of Seattle Sports looks at the importance of the Cano signing for the M's.
- Replacement Level Red Sox examines Boston's first base options.
- i70 Baseball says the Cardinals are likely done with major moves.
- The Giants Cove is worried.
- Blue Jays Plus is pretty frustrated as well.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, email Zach at ZachBBWI@gmail.com.
SATURDAY: The Yankees have issued a press release announcing Kuroda's re-signing.
FRIDAY: The Yankees and Hiroki Kuroda finalized a one-year, $16MM contract last night that will allow the right-hander to earn up to $500K worth of incentives, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Kuroda, a client of Octagon's Steve Hilliard, will earn $250K for reaching the 190-inning and 210-inning milestones, according to Sherman.
Kuroda will turn 39 years old in February and was reported to be weighing a return to Japan or a return to a Southern California team in order to be closer to his family, who currently reside in that area due to Kuroda's days with the Dodgers. Kuroda turned down a qualifying offer from the Yankees in November, getting tagged with the potential cost of a draft pick had he signed with a different MLB team. Instead, Kuroda will return to New York for a third season. Over the past two years, Kuroda has posted a 3.31 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 421 innings in Yankee pinstripes. Kuroda earned $15MM in 2013, so a $16MM salary represents a slight raise, as predicted in MLBTR's September free agent profile.
The Kuroda signing restores some much-needed depth to the Yankees' rotation, which had only C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova penciled in. With Robinson Cano agreeing to a contract with the Mariners today, the Yankees are now flush with payroll flexibility to bid on the best remaining starters. Masahiro Tanaka will likely be the top target if posted, while traditional free agents Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, and Ubaldo Jimenez remain on the board. The Yankees have already committed $254MM to free agent position players this offseason, most notably $153MM to Jacoby Ellsbury and $85MM to Brian McCann.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Unsurprisingly, the Yankees and Red Sox are at the center of the draft pick movement relating to players who declined qualifying offers. After all, they made six of this year's thirteen QOs, all of which were declined. (Click here for a refresher on how things work, courtesy of former MLBTR writer Ben Nicholson-Smith.)
Yesterday, we saw quite a few moves that had draft pick implications. The Yanks added Hiroki Kuroda and Carlos Beltran. Meanwhile, the club saw outgoing free agents Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson sign with the Mariners and Mets, respectively. Finally, Boston agreed to terms with Mike Napoli.
With Kuroda and Napoli rejoining their former clubs, their signings will not result in any draft pick changes. But the Yankees' other signings, in concert with their earlier deals with Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, mean that the team stands to lose one pick in the aggregate: New York will give up its first round pick while sacrificing the two compensatory picks it would otherwise have received for the departure of Cano and Granderson. (As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports via Twitter, an MLB official confirmed this result.)
As things stand, the Mariners and Mets also stand to sacrifice a pick (both of which will be second-rounders), while the Cardinals, Red Sox, and Braves are each in line to gain a compensatory selection. The remaining free agents that are tied to compensation are Shin-Soo Choo, Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kendrys Morales, and Ervin Santana.