Phil Hughes Rumors
The latest on the Yankees...
- Before Andy Pettitte signed with the Yankees, Lance Berkman tried to recruit the left-hander for the Cardinals, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. Berkman said he was in regular contact with Pettitte and would have approached the front office if he had obtained the go-ahead from his friend and former teammate.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if the Yankees will look to extend Phil Hughes or Ivan Nova to a Derek Holland-like extension in order to cap costs and avoid MLB's luxury tax.
- There was a split between upper management and the field staff over whether to sign Johnny Damon or Raul Ibanez, Tom Verducci of SI.com writes. Damon told the Yankees he would play for whatever they were offering Ibanez, but it wasn't enough.
- Agent Scott Boras says Damon has received nibbles, but no offers. “We have heard from teams who say 'We have interest in the guy but we want to see what our players are going to do,'" Boras said.
The AL East included four of the junior circuit's eight 80-win teams a year ago, and you could make the argument that the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox and Blue Jays are just as strong entering the 2012 campaign. The latest links from the division...
- As Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains, the Red Sox didn't realize they had obtained two future All-Stars when they sent reliever Heathcliff Slocumb to Seattle for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe in 1997. Speier passes along quotes from Dan Duquette, scout Gary Rajsich and Lowe in this look back at the franchise-altering deal. Rajsich considered Lowe a future above-average setup man at the time. Even then, the scout thought Varitek could be a frontline starting catcher.
- Duquette explained to Speier that Manny Ramirez wasn't a fit for the Orioles this winter. "I thought since I was so generous with Manny last time around, he should have paid me this time around. He didn’t quite see it that way," Duquette quipped, making reference to the slugger's eight-year, $160MM contract with the Red Sox.
- Duquette also discussed the Varitek-Lowe deal in detail.
- The Yankees say there's a competition between Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia for the final spot in their rotation, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the competition is essentially rigged. Hughes will win if the competition is close, and Garcia will head to the bullpen unless a starter gets injured.
Here's the latest from the AL East...
- Brian Cashman said there is still a chance Eric Chavez could return to the Yankees, reports ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand. Chavez could have the edge over other DH types like Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui since Chavez can still play the field.
- Mike Axisa of the River Avenue Blues blog sees Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier as an intriguing trade deadline possibility for the Yankees. Ethier would ideally be paired with Andruw Jones as a lefty-righty DH platoon.
- The Yankees still see Phil Hughes as a starting pitcher long-term and aren't likely to trade Hughes given that his trade value is "at a low point," writes MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. Last month for Roto Authority, I wrote that Hughes could be a nice dark horse fantasy option if he's healthy and able to win the No. 5 spot in New York's rotation.
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski that he wants to get Adam Jones' 2012 salary settled before exploring a multiyear extension with the center fielder. "I've said several times that we like Adam Jones as a player and if we were to consider a long-term deal, that is something that we can certainly consider," Duquette said.
- Melewski also reports that Jones' arbitration case is set to be heard on February 17. The Orioles' other two outstanding arb cases (Jeremy Guthrie and Brad Bergesen) are scheduled for February 6 and 8, respectively.
- The Orioles are still looking for another bat, and it will probably have to come through the free agent market, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The O's had "tepid interest" in Casey Kotchman but had already moved on before Kotchman agreed to terms with the Indians today.
- The Red Sox have hired veteran scout Gary Hughes as a special assistant to the club, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Hughes has spent 45 years in a variety of different scouting and front office positions for numerous teams, including the last nine years as Jim Hendry's special assistant with the Cubs.
- The New York Times Co. has sold 100 shares of its ownership stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Red Sox, reports MLB.com's Evan Drellich. The sale will net $30MM for the Times Co. Between this and a larger sale in July, the Times Co. is down to roughly a third of the 750 units it bought in Fenway Sports Group in 2002. Major League Baseball still has to approve the sale.
In advance of tomorrow's 11am central time deadline to exchange arbitration figures, settlements will be rolling in today. Follow all of the action with MLBTR's arbitration tracker. The latest for players under $4MM:
- The Braves and Eric O'Flaherty avoided arbitration, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. O'Flaherty will earn $2.49MM, just shy of his projected $2.6MM salary.
- The Orioles and Jim Johnson have avoided arbitration, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets. The right-hander will earn $2.625MM in 2012, just north of his projected $2.5MM salary.
- The Red Sox avoided arbitration with Franklin Morales, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets. The left-hander had a projected salary of $1MM and agreed to an $850K deal.
- The Rays avoided arbitration with J.P. Howell, agreeing to a $1.35MM deal for 2012, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. Matt Swartz had projected a $1.4MM salary for the left-hander.
- The Royals avoided arbitration with Chris Getz, agreeing to a $967,500 deal for 2012, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. Matt Swartz had projected a $1.2MM salary for the infielder.
- The Nationals announced they've avoided arbitration with catcher Jesus Flores. Flores, who is represented by Praver/Shapiro, received $815K, MLBTR has learned.
- The Brewers avoided arbitration with outfielder Nyjer Morgan, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The ACES client received $2.35MM, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
- The Royals announced they've avoided arbitration with catcher Brayan Pena, a client of Wasserman Media Group. Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star says the deal is worth $875K; Matt Swartz had him at $900K.
- Orioles pitcher Darren O'Day avoided arbitration for a deal worth $1.35MM, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Matt Swartz had projected the same for the Beverly Hills Sports Council client.
- Yankees righty Phil Hughes agreed to a deal worth $3.2MM plus performance bonuses, tweets his agency CAA. The 25-year-old gets a $500K raise after a lost 2011 season.
- The Tigers announced they've avoided arbitration with lefty Phil Coke. Coke, a client of Full Circle Sports Management, gets a $1.1MM base salary with $50K in incentives for appearances or starts, MLBTR has learned.
- The Angels avoided arbitration with infielder Alberto Callaspo, signing him to a one-year deal worth $3.15MM, tweets ESPN's Keith Law. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz nailed this one, projecting a $3.1MM salary. Callaspo, a client of Eric Goldschmidt, received a $1.15MM raise for his second time through arbitration.
- At times “winks and nods” are involved when it comes to Type B free agents. The free agents have been known to agree in advance to decline arbitration offers, since doing so doesn’t hurt their free agent value.
- However, GM Doug Melvin says the Brewers did not ask agent Scott Boras to decline the team’s offer to Francisco Rodriguez. "We felt that with us trading some players the last few years that this was a chance to recover with some high picks,” Melvin told Olney. The GM explained that he’s not expecting to obtain many compensation picks in the next couple of years.
- As Olney points out, Rodriguez faces a similar decision to the one another Boras client, Rafael Soriano, faced last offseason: “take more money to be a setup man, or less to be a closer.”
- Olney notes that Raul Ibanez’s agents have a good relationship with the Phillies and suggests it’s likely Ibanez has agreed to turn down the team’s offer.
- There's no understanding that Derrek Lee will reject the Pirates' offer, according to Olney (on Twitter).
- Olney suggests gentlemen's agreements are likely in place with Aaron Harang, Jose Molina and David DeJesus and that the three players will decline arbitration(Twitter link).
- The Yankees are quietly confident that Phil Hughes will start Spring Training in improved physical condition and have a bounce-back season in 2012. They will continue to discuss available starting pitchers, even after agreeing to terms with Freddy Garcia.
Yesterday we learned that the Tigers have strong interest in Rockies' ace Ubaldo Jimenez, showing a willingness to include top prospect Jacob Turner, who is being called up to start today but not as a showcase. However, Detroit may be out for now and the chances of any Jimenez deal may have slipped below 50%. The latest:
- Pomeranz and White will be in the deal if it happens, Renck tweets.
- Jimenez was scratched from his start tonight, Heyman tweets.
- The Yankees infuriated the Rockies by taking their top prospects off of the table and offering Phil Hughes and others instead, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter).
- The Rockies are moving toward a deal with Cleveland, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (on Twitter).
- White has been scratched from his one-inning rehab outing, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports (on Twitter).
- There are indications that Pomeranz and White could be available in a possible deal, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
- The Rockies asked for Pomeranz, Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
- The Rockies and Indians are in serious talks, Renck reports (on Twitter). He hears that a deal would center around Pomeranz, Alex White and Jason Kipnis.
- Renck gets the "strong sense" that Cleveland hasn't given up (Twitter link) and Morosi says Indians prospect Drew Pomeranz was scratched from his Double-A start today (Twitter link).
- The Red Sox, Reds and Indians are in on Jimenez, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees aren't talking actively with Colorado and won't include Nova, Betances, Banuelos or Montero in a deal for Jimenez (Twitter links).
- The Rockies haven't dropped their demands and are still asking for three players, according to Jack Curry of the YES Network (on Twitter). The Yankees still won't part with Montero, Betances and Nova for Jimenez.
- Two teams have enhanced their offers, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
- Rival teams believe the Rockies match up best with the Indians, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
- The Rockies will have a scout watching Nova tonight at Yankee Stadium, tweets Sherman.
- The price on Jimenez has come down a tad, tweets Jon Heyman. He says the Rockies are no longer asking for Banuelos from the Yankees; Betances, Nova, and Montero would work. That's similar to what Joel Sherman wrote earlier today. The two teams have not talked today, tweets Troy Renck. Renck believes the Yankees currently will not put both Montero and Betances in the deal - just one.
- One executive who has been speaking with the Rockies and Reds believes the teams "have discussed an expanded version that could include someone like Seth Smith, because the Reds also have been targeting controllable bats," reports ESPN's Jayson Stark.
- The Red Sox haven't been in contact with the Rockies about Jimenez since Thursday, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. And the Reds aren't currently discussing Jimenez with the Rockies, tweets Jon Paul Morosi.
- The Yankees are all over Jimenez, a source tells ESPN's Tim Kurkjian.
- The Yankees are hearing that the Rockies may lower the price on Jimenez today, tweets Ken Rosenthal, but still not to a point that they consider realistic. Renck tweets that the Rockies' price hasn't changed during the process.
- The Indians, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Reds are still in on Jimenez, tweets SI's Jon Heyman, and he's not counting out the Yankees.
- In addition to Turner and maybe Rick Porcello or Max Scherzer, the Rockies asked the Tigers for outfielder Brennan Boesch, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Knobler notes that Turner is starting for the Tigers today.
- The Indians were willing to discuss southpaw pitching prospect Drew Pomeranz, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Pomeranz is ranked anywhere from #14 to #35 among all teams by prospect experts. Red Sox third base prospect Will Middlebrooks and righty Anthony Ranaudo are of interest to Colorado, adds Renck.
- The Rockies want Ivan Nova and two of Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Jesus Montero from the Yankees, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman writes, "to say the Yankees and Rockies are not finding common ground on Jimenez’s value is an understatement." The Red Sox, Tigers, and Indians remain involved, while the Reds are "less heated to make a deal."
- "Rival executives believe that if the Rockies lower their asking price at all today, it will signal clear intent to move the pitcher," tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
As Bartolo Colon, Phil Hughes and Rafael Soriano work their way back from injuries, their general manager is surveying the trade market for possible targets. Yet Brian Cashman doesn’t see many quality arms available, so he expects his strongest pitching reinforcements to come from within the organization, according to Newsday’s Ken Davidoff.
"I'd be shocked if I could trade for anything better than what I'm getting off the DL, both with starters in Colon and Hughes and in the bullpen with Soriano," Cashman said.
The trade market develops quickly, especially in late July, so the Yankees may find an elite starter or reliever on the market eventually. They’ll look everywhere for possible upgrades with an emphasis on improving the rotation, according to Davidoff.
C.C. Sabathia has been one of the best pitchers in the league, Colon and Freddy Garcia have been pleasant surprises and A.J. Burnett has been passable. Fifth starter Ivan Nova has a 4.19 ERA with 5.0 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 56% ground ball rate in 86 innings. Though Brian Gordon has been fine as a spot starter, the Yankees presumably want to limit their reliance on him. As a group, the rotation ranks 12th in MLB with a 3.81 ERA (3.84 xFIP).
Even before reports of David Einhorn's $200MM investment in the Mets surfaced, things could've been worse in Queens, writes Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post. Vaccaro points out that New York's baseball history includes plenty of stretches more dismal than the one endured by the present-day Mets, and breaks down his top five. Here are some other Sunday morning notes on the Mets and Yankees:
- Einhorn got a first-hand look at Jose Reyes on Saturday, but refused comment when asked about the possibility of re-signing the shortstop, says Kevin Kernan of the New York Post.
- Whenever Felix Hernandez faces the Yankees, as he did Saturday night, it seems invariably to lead to speculation about King Felix someday wearing pinstripes. However, as Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes, that's not about to happen anytime soon.
- Phil Hughes took "a step in the right direction" this weekend, throwing off a mound for the first time in over a month, according to Feinsand.
- The New York Post's Steve Selby argues that if there's one player who deserves to be cut some slack when he struggles, it's Derek Jeter.
- Five days after releasing him, the Yankees re-signed left-hander Jose Ortegano to a minor league deal, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter).
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings of the Journal News that Phil Hughes' shoulder is feeling better after a cortisone shot. It appears that it will be at least a couple of weeks before Hughes starts throwing again.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean last spoke with Mets GM Sandy Alderson in January, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter). Sabean strongly dismissed Jose Reyes trade rumors, speaking to Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. Though the Giants have reportedly discussed Reyes, a deal is not at all imminent. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes examined how Reyes could fit on the Giants yesterday.
- Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles weighs in on whether the Giants should deal for Reyes and concludes that he's probably not worth what the Mets will want for him.
In the interest of equal time, here are some noteworthy items on the Yankees..
- Kevin Millwood had a strong showing in the minors today, allowing just one hit across seven scoreless innings, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN. The Yanks brought Millwood in on a minor league deal that will balloon if he can hit certain incentive triggers.
- Earlier today, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi told the press that the club had planned to send Phil Hughes to Triple-A to work through his troubles, tweets Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. Hughes ultimately convinced the Yankees that that wouldn't be the best course of action for his "dead arm".
- Russell Martin is proving GM Brian Cashman's doubters wrong with his strong performance thus far, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. Cashman remarked before the season that the $4MM base deal could wind up being a bargain for the club.