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The Blue Jays are in on several top free agents as the offseason kicks off. They’ll meet with Pablo Sandoval‘s agent Gustavo Vasquez today, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Reps for Victor Martinez spoke to the Jays recently, and there’s reportedly a meeting on the books with Russell Martin‘s agent as well. Further details on Canada’s team…
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos preached flexibility yesterday. According to Davidi, Anthopoulos said, “We’re going to try to take the best player available, and we’re not locked into one thing, like we need a defender at first base, we need a pure DH. It depends on what becomes available to us.” Edwin Encarnacion can be deployed at first base or DH, while third base could be opened up by using Brett Lawrie at second.
- Martin, a Canada native, turned down the Blue Jays before the 2010 season because the Yankees offered more playing time behind the plate, according to Davidi. Davidi feels that of all the Blue Jays rumors, Martin may be the one with the most substance.
- The Jays are looking at Anthony Gose and Kevin Pillar in center field next year, barring a trade.
- Infielder Munenori Kawasaki is leaning toward a return to Japan, but Davidi says he might be swayed by a Major League contract.
- The Jays called the Phillies about Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, and Antonio Bastardo, according to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.
- Acquiring a shortstop is atop Cashman’s list, but he says, “I think it’s a limited market to be honest, and I say limited in terms of availability and acquisition cost.” Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has a source saying that beyond Troy Tulowitzki, the Yankees are “kicking the tires” on the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus and the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins. “I don’t think this past season reflects what his true ability is,” said Cashman of free agent Stephen Drew, and the GM has already spoken with Drew’s agent. Beyond Drew, Feinsand says the Yanks don’t seem inclined to pay up for Hanley Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie aren’t high on their list.
- The Yankees have had “a brief conversation” with Chase Headley and “we’re certainly looking forward to continuing the dialogue,” says Cashman. Given doubts about Alex Rodriguez‘s ability to play third base every day in 2015, the Yankees are making a “strong push” to sign Headley, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Cashman thinks Hiroki Kuroda is going through his standard post-season “mental cleansing process” and will soon make a decision about whether or not he wants to return in 2015. Cashman would “be surprised if he doesn’t play,” though isn’t sure if Kuroda will pitch in MLB or Japan.
- Cashman will speak with David Robertson‘s agent during the GM Meetings, and was hesitant to discuss the Yankees’ closer situation until those talks had taken place. “I would have no clue what [Robertson's] market value is going to be,” Cashman said. “Certainly, they’ll have an idea. They turned down the qualifying offer based on a lot of parameters, I’m sure, [and] some discussions they’ve already had. It’s hard to tell.“
- Two of the club’s statistical analysts pushed Cashman to re-sign Chris Young. “They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract,” Cashman said.
- Young’s signing may be the last outfield-related move the Yankees make this winter. “I think right now, we’re kind of settled in the outfield unless something surprising happens in the case of a trade, which I wouldn’t anticipate,” Cashman said. As Bloom notes, this would seem to close the book on any chance of Ichiro Suzuki re-signing with New York.
The Cubs weren’t included on Cole Hamels‘ updated 20-team no-trade list, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). The Cubs are known to be looking for top-of-the-rotation arms this winter, and the remaining four years/$96MM on Hamels’ contract would cost Chicago less than what it would take to sign a top free agent starter like Max Scherzer or Jon Lester. On the other hand, the Cubs would have to give up multiple top prospects to obtain Hamels from the Phillies, so they could prefer to just keep their young talent and spend extra to sign a free agent ace. The Red Sox are thus far the only team known to be on Hamels’ no-trade list.
Here’s more from around the NL Central…
- Right field has sadly become an offseason concern for the Cardinals due to Oscar Taveras‘ untimely death, GM John Mozeliak told MLB.com’s Jen Langsoch. “I think it certainly leaves that position in question,” Mozeliak said. “Clearly internally, we have [Randal] Grichuk and potentially [Stephen] Piscotty to fill that spot. I would also say that it does now force us to explore other options, whether it’s the free-agent market or the trade market….I’m not saying it’s a must, but I also think we need to be prudent and make sure that we understand what that landscape looks like.” The Cards will explore both short-term and long-term options in RF, Mozeliak said. Out of respect for Taveras, Mozeliak waited a week after the outfielder’s passing to begin making calls to agents and general managers, Langosch writes.
- The Reds “are listening” to offers for their starting pitchers but ace Johnny Cueto seems the least likely to be moved, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Cincinnati would probably have to be “absolutely overwhelmed” to deal Cueto, Heyman writes, as the team plans to contend in 2015.
- Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan also hears that Cueto is unlikely to be traded, though rival executives tell Passan (Twitter link) that the Reds are willing to discuss trading Mat Latos and Mike Leake.
- The Reds are “at [a] fascinating crossroads,” FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes in a series of tweets. If the Reds deal Cueto, they might as well deal Aroldis Chapman too as part of a rebuild, Rosenthal opines. Attendance and the fact that they’re hosting the All-Star Game could make 2015 a bit of a “buffer” year for the Reds, though Rosenthal points out that the team might not want to rebuild in a season when they’re hosting the Midsummer Classic. Back in September, I explored Cincinnati’s trade options with their rotation members in a Trade Candidates piece.
- Major League Baseball has opened an investigation into whether or not the Cubs tampered with Joe Maddon when he was still under contract with the Rays, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. The Rays asked MLB to investigate last week. “There was no tampering whatsoever,” Cubs president Theo Epstein told reporters (including ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers). “I’d rather they investigate so we can clear our name and move on from this quickly. We’re giving our full cooperation and we welcome it.”
Here are today’s minor moves from around the league…
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy has published his latest round of Minor League Transactions, and within the piece he notes that the Rockies have re-signed Jair Jurrjens to a minor league deal. Additionally, the Royals have re-signed Cuban lefty Noel Arguelles, Jordan Norberto re-signed with the Rays and Russ Canzler is back with the Phillies. Each of these is a minor league deal.
- The Braves have signed right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman (on Twitter). The Braves are known to be seeking rotation depth, and Wang should provide just that. The former Yankee totaled 172 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level in 2014, posting a 4.12 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 57 walks.
- The Nationals have re-signed right-hander Manny Delcarmen and infielder Emmanuel Burriss to minor league deals with invites to Spring Training, according to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson (Twitter links). Burriss, 30 in January, hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2012 but batted .300/.377/.412 in 510 Triple-A plate appearances for the Nats this past season. The 32-year-old Delcarmen hasn’t seen big league action since 2010, but he, too, had a strong season at Triple-A Syracuse for the Nats in 2014. Delcarmen posted a 3.13 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 60 1/3 innings of relief.
The Red Sox are one of the 20 teams on Cole Hamels‘ no-trade list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Rosenthal notes, Hamels wouldn’t necessarily block a trade to Boston, but he may want a team to pick up his 2019 vesting option ($20MM) in order to waive the clause. That would take Hamels’ total guarantee from four years and $90MM to five years and $110MM, likely making him a bit less attractive as a trade target. Boston has been an oft-rumored potential trade partner should the Phillies decide to move their ace.
More from baseball’s Eastern divisions…
- Yasmany Tomas isn’t close to a deal of any sort, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, had a one-on-one meeting with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at today’s GM Meetings in Phoenix.
- The Mets saw Tomas, but their scouts didn’t love him and they’re not likely to go near the $100MM range to sign him, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He does note that the Mets are looking at outfielders on the trade market and willing to listen on Daniel Murphy again. However, the Mets have been underwhelmed by past offers for Murphy and may just hang onto him, as they’re comfortable giving Dilson Herrera more time to develop in the minors.
- Sherman also reports that the Yankees are “intrigued” by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. The Yankees are trying to get younger and are hopeful of acquiring youthful players that may not have had their best season yet, and Andrus could fit that bill. However, they’re also wary of Andrus’ huge $120MM contract extension, which doesn’t even kick in until next season.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that he won’t allow other teams to dictate his offseason. What he means by that, Blair explains, is that the Jays won’t wait to see where a certain player signs before pursuing another. Blair recalls the 2006 Winter Meetings, when Anthopoulos was an assistant GM to J.P. Ricciardi. Toronto was hamstrung at the Winter Meetings waiting to hear back from free agents Ted Lilly and Gil Meche, both of whom signed elsewhere in the end. According to Blair, there was some stark internal criticism about how the other team’s plans were held up by other clubs. Toronto’s priority is re-signing Melky Cabrera, Blair writes, but the Blue Jays are aware that his QO and past ties to PEDs could lead to a slow-developing market.
Pirates star Andrew McCutchen rarely gives long, opinionated interviews, so his lengthy and relatively candid discussion with Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is surprising. McCutchen, who is controlled through 2018, says that he would like to play the rest of his career in Pittsburgh. He also says, however, that the Pirates’ front office needs to do more to provide him with a championship-caliber supporting cast, and he suggests that the Pirates’ platoon arrangement at first base in particular is a problem. “You can have a platoon in the outfield every now and then,” says McCutchen. “Outfield platoons, I understand. But when it comes to the infield, you need that group of guys who are always going to be there.” The Pirates platooned Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez at first in 2014, and Davis, Sanchez and Pedro Alvarez are candidates to play there next season. Here are more notes from the National League.
- The Phillies want “at least three” top prospects, including two who are ready for the big leagues, in return for Cole Hamels, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes. It’s not currently known who is on Hamels’ limited no-trade list (which he updated at the beginning of the month), but Salisbury suggests that Hamels would have been smart to add the Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers so that he can demand that his new team pick up his 2019 option as a condition of a trade.
- GM Dave Stewart says the Diamondbacks won’t be bidders for Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or James Shields this offseason, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio tweets. Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall has said that the team will look for starting pitching this offseason. There have been few or no indications that the D-backs plan to pursue top-tier pitchers, however.
MLBTR would like to send its deepest condolences to the friends and family of former Major League left-hander Brad Halsey, who died tragically in a climbing accident near his Texas home, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes. Halsey, just 33, spent three seasons in the Majors with the Yankees, Diamondbacks and A’s from 2004-06. He was one of three players traded from the Yankees to Arizona to acquire the legendary Randy Johnson.
As we keep the family and loved ones of Brad in our thoughts, here are a few notes from around the game…
- Hiroki Kuroda has yet to decide whether he wants to return for the 2015 season, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. At this point, Kuroda is weighing one more season in the Majors, one more season in Nippon Professional Baseball or retirement.
- Left-hander Wandy Rodriguez has recovered from knee surgery and will pitch in a winter league this year as he gears up for a comeback, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Rodriguez, who turns 36 in January, pitched just 26 2/3 innings for the Pirates this season before being released. He underwent knee surgery roughly a month later and said at the time that he had received some interest from other clubs. However, he preferred to correct a lingering issue in his knee that had been hindering him, in an effort to be as best-prepared as possible for the 2015 season.
- The Associated Press reports that Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera was charged with resisting arrest after police stopped him for suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana. While DUI charges are not planned, according to the report, Cabrera was cited for possession of marijuana in the car and could face up to a year in jail if convicted of a misdemeanor.
- The Phillies have no plans to move Cody Asche off of third base at this time, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. While the idea of trying Asche in the outfield has been kicked around within the organization, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said the team decided at last week’s organizational meetings that Asche will remain at the hot corner. The plan next season is to platoon Asche and Maikel Franco if the team cannot move Ryan Howard this offseason. It seems that at some point, Asche or Franco will have to move off the position, but Amaro told Zolecki the team views both as third basemen right now. “Maikel Franco is a third baseman who plays some first base,” said Amaro.
As expected, the Marlins have begun extension talks with star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. President of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Spencer that the team has “reached out” to Stanton’s representatives and that “negotiations are ongoing.”
Here’s more from the NL East:
- At present, the Mets are more inclined to fill their needs in the corner outfield via trade than through a free agent signing, reports Marc Carig of Newsday. New York is still hesitant to give up any of its best young talent in a swap. But veterans like Michael Morse, Alex Rios, and Torii Hunter all seem more like fallback options that the team would pursue if value can be had and nothing better has materialized. The Mets are said to prefer to add a right-handed bat.
- One other hypothetical possibility, Nick Markakis, is not presently engaged with the team in any way, according to Matt Ehalt of The Record (Twitter link).
- As they weigh their options at second, the Nationals are not unmindful of the Cuban market that has begun to materialize in recent weeks, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. The primary possible targets, per Wagner, are 26-year-old Jose Fernandez and high-upside youngster Yoan Moncada. The 20-year-old Moncada will draw immense interest, with Ben Badler of Baseball America saying he is talented enough that he would be the odds-on favorite to go first overall in this year’s amateur draft (were he eligible).
- The Phillies are still the favorite to land Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, with A.J. Burnett‘s decision to decline his option possibly burnishing Philly’s chances. That does not mean they are without competition, of course. Other clubs that have seen (or will soon see) Tomas since his showcase include the Rangers, D’backs, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox, and Mariners.
- Also per Heyman, the Phillies could clear yet more payroll space and add young talent through a deal for pitcher Cole Hamels, with the Cubs still showing interest in the lefty.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Burnett | Alex Rios | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Cole Hamels | Giancarlo Stanton | Jose Fernandez 2B | Los Angeles Dodgers | Miami Marlins | Michael Morse | New York Mets | Philadelphia Phillies | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Torii Hunter | Washington Nationals | Yasmany Tomas | Yoan Moncada
The Phillies have several players they could trade this offseason, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that Marlon Byrd is drawing the most significant interest in the early-going. Byrd has a four-team no-trade clause that previously included the Blue Jays, Mariners, Royals and Rays, but Chris Cotillo of SB Nation’s MLB Daily Dish reports (via Twitter) that he has since made some changes to the teams on the no-trade list as the Phillies gear up for the offseason. Players are often allowed to edit their no-trade protection following the completion of a season.
Byrd is owed a very reasonable $8MM in 2015, but the complication in trading him will likely be a vesting option at the same amount for the 2015 season that will trigger if Byrd reaches 463 plate appearances next year. That would lock a team into paying Byrd $8MM for his age-38 season. The option further complicates matters because Byrd can use it as leverage; in July when the Mariners and Royals expressed interest in acquiring him, Byrd reportedly offered to waive the clause only if Seattle or Kansas City would agree to exercise the 2016 option in advance. He could take a similar approach this offseason, identifying four clubs with a need in right field — the Royals and Mariners would make sense — and again attempt to use the option as leverage.
Byrd posted a strong season with the Phillies, batting .264/.312/.445 with 25 homers and plus defense in right field (+3.5 UZR/150, +6 DRS). Given the thin market for outfield bats — Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Nick Markakis, Colby Rasmus, Nori Aoki and Alex Rios are among the available names — it’s not surprising that many clubs would consider Byrd to be a more affordable alternative. The question will be whether a team will meet GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s asking price given Byrd’s age and option, as it seems unlikely that Amaro would be content to simply dump the salary of a productive player elsewhere. Amaro’s asking price on Byrd was said to be rather high at the trade deadline.
Phillies starter A.J. Burnett has declined his player option, the Phillies announced. By turning down his $12.75MM option, Burnett will become a free agent.
Burnett’s decision was one of the more closely-watched option situations around the game, in large part because the outcome was unclear. The Phillies have recently made clear they intend to focus the organization’s energies on rebuilding for the future rather than competing in the near-term, and that — combined with his experiences last year — may have encouraged Burnett to leave the cash on the table.
Indeed, from Philadelphia’s perspective, the savings on Burnett appear to constitute a nice opportunity. As MLBTR’s Brad Johnson wrote in his outlook for the Phils, the decision swing open a significant bit of space between the team’s current obligations and the luxury tax line.
For Burnett, the decision leaves him free to pursue a deal with a contending club, and his agent tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link) that he’ll do just that. Of course, Burnett presumably still carries his preference for joining a team within range of his Maryland home.
Burnett is not quite the commodity he was last year — his 4.59 ERA/4.14 FIP/3.95 xFIP/4.00 SIERA campaign does not have nearly the luster that last year’s 3.30/2.80/2.92/3.03 numbers did. And he is a year older, entering his age-38 campaign. On the other hand, he again posted big innings totals and did pitch through a sports hernia for most of the year.