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Cubs catcher Welington Castillo wants to be part of the future in Chicago, but he understands that in order for that to happen he likely has some more improvement to do, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Castillo, 27, is entering his prime-age seasons but doesn’t hear his name mentioned alongside younger core players like Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro. Castillo specifically mentions that he recognizes the fact that baseball is a business and he can’t assume that he will be in a starting role. Cubs GM Jed Hoyer again said to Wittenmyer that the team plans to add at least one everyday veteran this winter, leading Wittenmyer to speculate on Russell Martin, who would give the Cubs a major defensive boost behind the plate. While catching coach Mike Borzello feels that Castillo is “the best in the business” at blocking pitches, Castillo ranks at the bottom of Baseball Prospectus’ Blocking Runs Added stat and ranks 72nd among 97 catchers in extra strikes via pitch framing (also via B-Pro). Hoyer, however, did give Castillo a vote of confidence: “I really believe in Welly. … He doesn’t get mentioned a lot when we talk about our established young veterans, but he can be in that mix as well.”
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers also has quotes from Hoyer on his desire for veteran leadership, and Rogers wonders if the club would pursue a veteran such as Jonny Gomes to help out in left field. While he notes that Gomes, of course, wouldn’t be an everyday player, “a quasi-starter who has winning experience might be the best option” given the lack of starting-caliber bats at positions of need for the Cubs, Rogers opines. He, too, notes that Martin would be a good fit in Chicago, though.
- Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks at the extraordinary preparation and conditioning that have contributed to Russell Martin‘s brilliant season. Brink spoke to Martin’s coaches and teammates about what he means to the club, with GM Neal Huntington stating that the club is going to do everything it can to re-sign its catcher. Perhaps most interesting, however, is the fact that Brink notes that the Pirates offered Martin a two-year, $17MM deal and a three-year, $21MM deal when signing him prior to the 2013 season. Martin explains to Brink that he didn’t want to sign for three years, because he felt he could improve his stock on a two-year pact, which he has done in dramatic fashion.
- One veteran scout tells Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Cardinals outfielder Peter Bourjos is the best defensive center fielder he’s seen in 38 years as a scout. Bourjos and Randal Grichuk were acquired from the Angels with the idea that one of them would be the team’s everyday center fielder in 2015, writes Hummel, but Jon Jay‘s solid offense has muddied the picture and left the Cardinals with choices to make. Bourjos has hit better of late, boosting his season batting line to .241/.305/.367, and he drew praise from manager Mike Matheny as well. It’ll be interesting to see how the Cardinals decide to proceed, not only in the next few weeks, but in the offseason as well.
The Phillies have promoted relief prospect Ken Giles to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Matt Gelb of the Inquirer reports. Giles struck out an incredible 29 batters in 15 innings at Double-A Reading, walking five while posting a 1.20 ERA while throwing a fastball in the high 90s. The Phillies’ bullpen has struggled this season, and they recently outrighted Shawn Camp and promoted Luis Garcia. They aren’t promoting Giles all the way to the big leagues right now, but he might be capable of helping soon. Here are more notes from the National League.
- Teams are beginning to speculate that the Cardinals could trade Matt Adams or Allen Craig once they promote top prospect Oscar Taveras, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes, echoing a report from ESPN’s Buster Olney earlier in the week. “I’m not going to get into who we might trade, but we can’t rule out anything as the trade deadline approaches,” Cards GM John Mozeliak tells Heyman. Taveras can also play center field in addition to right, and Heyman suggests that the only current Cardinals outfielder who isn’t a trade candidate is left fielder Matt Holliday. Taveras is currently hitting .288/.341/.488 for Triple-A Memphis.
- The promotion of Joey Butler and demotion of Randal Grichuk indicate that Peter Bourjos has played his way back into the Cardinals’ lineup, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Butler profiles as a bench outfielder, whereas Grichuk had primarily been playing center field at Memphis. “You’re going to see Peter out there on a pretty consistent basis if he keeps putting together consistent at-bats and keeps doing things the right way,” says manager Mike Matheny. “It would be hard for Randal to get the kind of time that would make it make sense for him to be here with Peter playing the way he is.” Bourjos was a key part of the Cardinals’ offseason, as they acquired him (along with Grichuk) in an attempt to upgrade their outfield defense. He got off to a very slow start, but has tripled and homered in his last two games.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Al Alburquerque | Alejandro De Aza | Alexi Ogando | Alfredo Simon | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Bobby Parnell | Boston Red Sox | Brandon Moss | Brett Cecil | Brian Duensing | Brian Matusz | Chicago Cubs | Chris Johnson | Cincinnati Reds | Cleveland Indians | Colorado Rockies | Craig Gentry | Detroit Tigers | Dillon Gee | Drew Storen | Drew Stubbs | Emilio Bonifacio | Eric Hosmer | Ernesto Frieri | Esmil Rogers | Gaby Sanchez | Gordon Beckham | Gregor Blanco | Houston Astros | Ivan Nova | Jake McGee | James Russell | Jason Castro | Jeremy Hellickson | Jerry Blevins | Jesus Guzman | Joe Thatcher | John Mayberry Jr. | Jon Jay | Jonathan Herrera | Jordan Schafer | Jose Lobaton | Juan Francisco | Juan Nicasio | Junichi Tazawa | Kansas City Royals | Kyle Blanks | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Luis Valbuena | Marc Rzepczynski | Mark Melancon | Matt Joyce | Miami Marlins | Mike Dunn | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Neftali Feliz | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Pedro Alvarez | Pedro Strop | Peter Bourjos | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Sean Rodriguez | Shawn Kelley | St. Louis Cardinals | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Tommy Hunter | Tony Abreu | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Trevor Plouffe | Troy Patton | Vin Mazzaro | Washington Nationals | Wilson Ramos | Yusmeiro Petit
Mike Hegan, a longtime former player and broadcaster, passed away on Wednesday at age 71. Hegan posted a .712 OPS in 2452 PA over 12 seasons with the Yankees, Brewers and Athletics from 1964-77, picking up a spot on the 1969 AL All-Star team as a Seattle Pilot (before the franchise moved to Milwaukee) and earning a World Series ring with the A's in 1972. After retirement, Hegan moved to the broadcast booth and spent 12 seasons as a Brewers TV broadcaster before moving to his hometown of Cleveland in 1989 and spending 23 seasons calling Indians games on both TV and radio. The MLBTR staff sends our condolences to Hegan's family and friends.
Here's the latest from around the majors…
- Masahiro Tanaka's posting period opened this morning and the Yankees have already contacted Tanaka's agent Casey Close, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. Earlier today on MLBTR, we collected more Tanaka-related news, and I opined that Tanaka's market may be larger than expected.
- The Mariners will also be "a factor" for Tanaka, a baseball official tells Roger Rubin of the New York Daily News. “They have a following in Japan. They enjoyed what they had when Ichiro (Suzuki) was on the team. They want the chance for moves like getting [Robinson] Cano to pay off. And they envision [Felix] Hernandez paired with Tanaka at the top of the rotation," the official said.
- The White Sox are confident that the torn left UCL that sidelined Adam Eaton for half of the 2013 season is no longer a problem, GM Rick Hahn told CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes. “The elbow injury wasn't something we felt, and our medical people felt, would be a long‑term issue….We certainly paid attention to what he looked like coming back from that injury, but it was the kind of thing that shouldn't be a lingering issue," Hahn said. Hayes also talks to Eaton himself about his recovery from the injury. Chicago acquired Eaton as part of the three-team trade with the D'Backs and Angels that sent Mark Trumbo to Arizona and Tyler Skaggs/Hector Santiago to L.A.
- The Cardinals' low-profile additions of Peter Bourjos and Mark Ellis could pay big dividends and make the team better in 2014, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer opines.
- The Reds' window for making a big trade "may be closing," MLB.com's Mark Sheldon writes. The team should make a few moves in January, however, and could add a free agent bat if a discount price can be found.
- Former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi contacted SB Nation's Rob Neyer about Bavasi's trade of Shin-Soo Choo to the Indians in 2006. While Bavasi said he was under pressure from Seattle's upper management to improve the club, he doesn't excuse himself for moves that backfired, saying "the Choo and [Asdrubal] Cabrera trades were a product of my own stupidity and good work by the Indians."
- Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith lists three potential suitors for 10 of the top remaining free agents.
- Finally, it was on this day in 1919 that arguably the most important trade in baseball history was agreed upon — Red Sox owner Harry Frazee's deal to sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees. CBS Sports' Dayn Perry has some of the history behind the infamous sale, and MLB FanCave tweeted a picture of the actual transfer contract.
The Athletics have reached a new lease agreement with O.Co Coliseum that runs through December of 2015, according to an Associated Press report (via ESPN). The A's will pay $1.75MM in each year of the lease. Here are some more links pertaining to baseball's western divisions…
- The Mariners are pursuing both Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltran, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN. He wonders — as many do — whether or not Seattle will appeal to major free agents, as they've had difficulty luring top hitters there in previous years.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports definitively writes that the Mariners are interested in Mike Napoli (he'd received conflicting information earlier in the month). Rosenthal also notes the difficulty that the Mariners have had in luring top free agents such as Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder but notes that Seattle could simply overpay to land their free agent targets. Two separate sources called the Mariners "desperate," and as Rosenthal notes: "Desperate teams spend money. Desperate teams are capable of just about anything." Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury are also on the team's wish list, says Rosenthal.
- Also from Rosenthal, the Angels learned that Peter Bourjos didn't have enough value to land them the controllable young starting pitcher they coveted on the trade market, and so they elected to use him to fill another hole — third base. While many in the media have pegged the deal as a win for the Cardinals, Rosenthal writes that the common perception of Bourjos' value may not line up with the actual perception among teams.
- Lastly from Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks know what it would take to land Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs, but their fear is that if they pounce too soon on a deal, they could miss out on a bigger value later in the offseason. The Angels aren't a fit for Samardzija, Rosenthal adds, because the Cubs want young pitching in exchange for Samardzija.
- The Dodgers' biggest risk in weighing Matt Kemp trades isn't deciding to hang onto him and finding out he's no longer an MVP-caliber player, opines Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Rather, the biggest risk facing the Dodgers is learning that Kemp indeed still is that player, but finding out by seeing him prove it in a Mariners, Red Sox or Rangers uniform. Brown feels it's in the Dodgers' best interest to hang onto Kemp.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that the Angels' acquisition of Fernando Salas and Joe Smith could make Kevin Jepsen a non-tender candidate.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Carlos Beltran | Chicago Cubs | Jacoby Ellsbury | Jeff Samardzija | Kevin Jepsen | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mike Napoli | Nelson Cruz | Oakland Athletics | Peter Bourjos | Seattle Mariners | Shin-Soo Choo | St. Louis Cardinals
The Angels and Cardinals have officially announced a trade that will send center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals in exchange for third baseman David Freese and right-hander Fernando Salas.
Bourjos (pictured) turns 27 at the end of Spring Training and is a defensive wizard in center field that owns a career .251/.306/.398 batting line. He slashed .274/.333/.377 in an injury-shortened season after being hit by a pitch on the wrist and requiring surgery. He also posted an impressive .271/.327/.438 batting line with 12 homers and 22 steals in 2011, showing off that he's capable of being a plus offensive player in a full season as well. The speedster has a career 20.2 UZR/150 rating in more than 2,600 innings in center field. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projected a $1.1MM salary for Bourjos in 2014.
Freese, 30, had a down season at the plate in 2013, slashing .262/.340/.381 with just nine homers. He was significantly better in 2012, when he belted 20 homers and batted .293/.372/.467 in 144 games. Freese is typically regarded as a solid defender at third base, but both The Fielding Bible and Ultimate Zone Rating graded his work poorly this season. Freese began the season on the DL with a back strain, and if that pain lingered throughout the season, it could explain his decline on both sides of the game. Swartz projects Freese to earn $4.4MM in 2014.
Grichuk, 22, was just added to the Halos' 40-man roster this week to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The Angels selected Grichuk 24th overall in the 2009 draft — their first of two consecutive picks. The second pick netted superstar Mike Trout. He ranks as Anaheim' No. 4 prospect, per MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, who calls Grichuk "a solid defensive outfielder with a strong arm and still has the chance to be a good run-producing corner outfielder," noting that he's overcome injury issues that plagued him early in his career. Grichuk entered the season as the Angels' No. 6 prospect, per Baseball America, and BA's JJ Cooper tweets that he'd likely have ranked second on the upcoming 2014 version of the list. He's more likely to rank 10th on the Cardinals' list, adds Cooper.
Salas, 28, was solid in the first two seasons of his career with St. Louis but has struggled a bit more in 2012-13, posting a 4.36 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 86 2/3 innings. He's been a bit unfortunate in terms of balls in play and strand rate in the past two seasons, leading FIP to peg him at 3.60 in that same span. Swartz projects a $700K salary for Salas in 2014, as he will be arbitration eligible for the first time this winter.
The Angels had a clear need at third base after trading Alberto Callaspo to the A's last July, and the Cardinals were in the market for a defensive upgrade from Jon Jay, whose center field defense has graded out as a negative over the course of his career. In that sense, the two sides line up well for a trade, though Freese comes with just two years of team control compared to Bourjos' three.
All told, the Angels are dealing three years of Bourjos and one of their top prospects for two years of Freese and three years of Salas in addition to agreeing to take on roughly $4MM in additional salary in the 2014 season.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that Bourjos was headed to the Cardinals (on Twitter). MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez confirmed that the Angels would receive Freese in return. Yahoo's Tim Brown reported (via Twitter) that other players were involved, and the Angels would get Salas in the deal (Twitter link). Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was the first to report Grichuk's involvement (on Twitter).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Joe Nathan agreed with Jim Bowden's suggestions of the Tigers, Angels and Yankees as good fits for his services, the veteran closer told Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. Nathan said that finding a winning team was more important to him than location, he's prepared to be patient and see how his market develops, and he revealed that his old teammate Torii Hunter was trying to recruit him to come to Detroit. Tip of the cap to MLB.com's Jason Beck for providing an audio link to Nathan's interview and a partial transcript.
Here's some more news as we wrap up a busy day around baseball…
- The Phillies have a long-standing interest in Peter Bourjos and would love to have him, but they don't have the young pitching the Angels would want back in a trade, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The Phils would have to get a third team involved to work out a deal, or forget Bourjos entirely and focus on other outfield candidates; Rosenthal suggests Grady Sizemore as a bench possibility.
- Also from Rosenthal, rival scouts figure the Yankees will make a big push to sign international talent since they're already over the bonus pool limit for international signings and will be penalized anyway. It's worth noting that Joe Pawlikowski of the River Ave Blues blog believes Rosenthal may have miscalculated some figures and is actually saying the Yankees will overspend during the next international signing period, which opens on July 2, 2014.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez lists 10 teams who could possibly be trade partners for the Angels in their search for young, controllable pitching.
- Ruben Tejada's possible grievance against the Mets is just the latest sign of strained relations between the shortstop and the team, and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News figures the two sides are close to parting ways.
- The Rays plan to rotate Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce and David DeJesus at DH this season, a move that will help keep the players fresh and also allow the club to save money on signing a designated hitter, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune writes.
- Five teams have shown interest in Yuniesky Betancourt as a second or third baseman, agent Alex Esteban tells Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith (Twitter link).
- The White Sox aren't used to picking as high as third overall in the amateur draft, MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes, but the club is hoping to use the high pick and larger draft bonus pool to fuel GM Rick Hahn's plan to restock the farm system.
Mark Trumbo is the Angels' most wanted player via trade, but the Halos are very reluctant to trade him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "He fits us," said someone connected to the Angels. Meanwhile, Erick Aybar, Howie Kendrick, Peter Bourjos and Chris Iannetta also are getting a fair number of trade inquiries, and they could move one of them. Here's more of Heyman's latest..
- One club with interest in Jacoby Ellsbury says that agent Scott Boras has set Carl Crawford's $142MM contract as a benchmark in discussions, Heyman writes. One rival GM who isn't in on Ellsbury argued that Crawford was better and more durable at the time of his deal.
- The Astros, Orioles, Rays, Brewers and Rockies all have checked in on Mets first baseman Ike Davis, despite his awful 2013 campaign, according to Heyman. In the case of Milwaukee, however, they may prefer re-signing Corey Hart instead.
- Heyman suggests that the Marlins and Cubs could discuss a swap of top prospects and officials from both sides agree that they could have something to discuss. The Cubs have high-end position prospects such as Kris Bryant (who may be untouchable), Javier Baez, and Albert Almora, while Miami has a stockpile of strong young arms.
- We learned last week that Ervin Santana's asking price was $100MM and today Heyman hears that agents Bean Stringfellow, Joe White, and Jay Alou are seeking a five-year, $112MM pact. The agents are going around with a book of arguments to support their case, including some comparisons to Dodgers star pitcher Zack Greinke.
- The A's have joined the fray for free agent Nelson Cruz, but the small-market club could run into problems when it comes to dollars and years, Heyman writes. Oakland has been looking for a right-handed-hitting outfielder after declining to pick up the option on Chris Young, but Cruz would be a much bigger splash than anyone anticipated.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Chris Iannetta | Colorado Rockies | Erick Aybar | Ervin Santana | Houston Astros | Howie Kendrick | Ike Davis | Jacoby Ellsbury | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Mark Trumbo | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | Oakland Athletics | Peter Bourjos | Tampa Bay Rays
People in baseball are trying to figure out the team that has not been named yet that could surprise everyone and come away with top free agent Robinson Cano. Some have theorized that the Marlins could be that team to shock everyone, but new Miami GM Dan Jennings threw cold water on that idea when asked by Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “It probably doesn’t fit,” said Jennings, who reportedly offered big bucks to Jose Dariel Abreu before he signed with the White Sox. “We have to know our market and our payroll and our history. And our history is to build around young players and add pieces when it has become very clear that we are ready to win.”
- The Phillies remain in the market for starting pitching and relief help after signing Marlon Byrd earlier today, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Starter Bronson Arroyo and reliever Joe Smith are two pitchers that the Phils have discussed. Meanwhile, they might not be quite done in the outfield and they still have their eye on Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos.
- A source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter) that the Mets are showing interest in free agent outfielder Chris Young.
- No surprise here, but Jennings also shot down the notion that the Marlins will trade Giancarlo Stanton. That certainly won't stop other clubs from trying, however.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including Mike Puma of the New York Post, that the club likely won't be signing anyone to a $100MM contract. Alderson said that while the Mets broke the $100MM barrier for star third baseman David Wright, he says that those were special circumstances.
- The Mets are known to have interest in Curtis Granderson, but he could very well wind up outside of their price range, writes David Lennon of Newsday. It's possible that a $50MM deal will be too rich for the Mets' blood and a $60MM asking price isn't out of the question.
- The Nationals will likely need to add a more experienced backup catcher this offseason, someone who can step in full-time if Wilson Ramos gets injured again, writes Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com.
The Angels' desire for young, controllable pitching is no secret, and ESPN's Buster Olney reports that they've indicated to other teams a willingness to trade center fielder Peter Bourjos or first baseman Mark Trumbo to acquire such talent (Twitter link).
Bourjos and Trumbo both have three years of team control remaining, and each is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects that Bourjos, who turns 27 in March, will earn $1.1MM in 2014. Trumbo, set to turn 28 in January, is projected by Swartz to see his salary jump to $4.7MM.
The salary gap between the two is sizable due to the fact that arbitration rewards Trumbo's power-oriented game while overlooking Bourjos' speed- and defense-oriented game. In terms of WAR, both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference feel that Bourjos has actually been more valuable through 354 big league games than Trumbo has through 450. Bourjos has been worth 9.0 fWAR and 8.4 rWAR to Trumbo's 6.6 fWAR and 7.6 rWAR.
Trumbo has shown more durability than Bourjos, appearing in at least 144 games in each of the past three seasons and slashing .251/.300/.473 with 95 home runs in that time. On-base percentage is unlikely to ever be one of his strong points, but his right-handed power is among the game's best, and he's been a solid defender at first base by both UZR and DRS.
Pointing out Bourjos' lack of games played isn't entirely fair, given that the majority of the time he's spent on the disabled list has come as a result of being hit by a pitch on the wrist two different times. He does have a pair of hamstring-related DL stints as well, though the hamstring issues have amounted to less time on the shelf than his wrist woes. Over the past three seasons, Bourjos is hitting .262/.321/.401 (104 OPS+). Since his promotion to the Majors, he's tied with Michael Bourn for second among center fielders in defensive value added, according to Fangraphs, trailing only Carlos Gomez for the league lead.
The free agent market offers little in the way of reliable, right-handed power at first base, with Mike Napoli representing the best option. Corey Hart belongs in that conversation too, but he was unable to take the field in 2013 after surgery on both knees. Likewise, the center field market is bleak beyond one high-priced star and another coming off an inury-riddled season. Jacoby Ellsbury may sign the second-biggest contract of the offseason, and Curtis Granderson was hit by a pair of pitches that resulted in a pair of broken bones and nearly 100 games on the DL. With little help on the free agent market, three years of Bourjos or Trumbo will be highly desirable alternatives that should net at least one solid young arm, should the Angels pull the trigger on a deal.
The Angels are also said to be willing to trade Howie Kendrick this offseason, and Erick Aybar was discussed at this year's trade deadline, so he could be on the block as well. Also on the trade front, the Blue Jays are interested in Hank Conger or Chris Iannetta. Angels GM Jerry Dipoto figures to be in for a busy offseason and will have plenty of avenues to explore in order to add the young pitching he's looking to acquire.