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Prince Fielder Rumors
Jason Varitek is facing a very difficult decision, and the catcher has been considering the very difficult reality of retirement, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Varitek, who turns 40 in April, would seem to be a good fit in Minnesota. The Twins will likely carry three catchers as Joe Mauer will need time to DH and rest and Ryan Doumit will mostly DH while also backing up Mauer.
Varitek isn't the only veteran wondering about his baseball future. Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, and Vladimir Guerrero also hope to continue playing in 2012. Here's more from Cafardo..
- There is a lot of speculation that the Nationals will deal John Lannan to the Angels for Peter Bourjos, with the Halos putting Mike Trout in center field. The Nats beat Lannan in arbitration last week and were said to be aggressively shopping the left-hander.
- Alternatively, the Nats could move Jayson Werth to center and sign a right fielder. Cafardo adds that it now appears that Yoenis Cespedes is not in their plans and they have cooled on B.J. Upton.
- Javier Vazquez is retired for now, but Cafardo wonders if a team could convince him to play. An AL GM remarked that Vazquez would be a perfect fourth or fifth starter on a contending team and believes that the pitcher looks as good as he's ever been.
- Scott Boras is no longer representing Manny Ramirez. Ramirez signed on with Boras in early 2008 and the agent negotiated the slugger's two-year, $45MM contract with the Dodgers the following year.
- Boras wound up receiving eight offers in total for Prince Fielder, including the winning bid from the Tigers.
- A couple of agents are frustrated after dealing with the Red Sox front office/ownership lately as compared to what they were used to in the past. However, there has been quite a bit of praise for GM Ben Cherington.
- Right-hander Brandon Webb hasn't given up on pitching and according to one American League executive, the plan is for the 32-year-old to throw for teams sometime in March.
- Mark Prior is also looking to attempt one more comeback. The right-hander, who spent some of last season with the Yankees, had surgery for a sports hernia and the problem isn't completely corrected. Like Webb, Prior could work out for teams as early as March.
- Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was supposed to be in Red Sox minor league camp but instead ripped up his elbow long-tossing over the winter. The veteran will unfortunately miss the season.
- Cafardo feels that the Red Sox missed an opportunity to sign Edwin Jackson to a good value deal at one year, $10MM and shouldn’t let Roy Oswalt slip away now.
- The Indians had interest in Jackson but "were not close" to matching the contract Jackson received from the Nationals, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
- Jackson turned down a three-year, $30MM offer to sign his one-year deal with Washington, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at how Jackson, Ryan Madson and Francisco Rodriguez (all Scott Boras clients) settled for "pillow contracts" this winter to better position themselves for larger deals next year.
- Prince Fielder, however, never considered a one-year deal, Boras tells James Schmehl of MLive.com. Boras also says Fielder could have signed earlier in the offseason but was on vacation with his wife, delaying his meetings with interested teams.
- Jimmy Rollins' $11MM option for 2015 will vest if he makes 600 plate appearances in 2014, or if he makes a combined 1100 PAs in 2013 and 2014, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (Twitter link).
- Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall says he has been contacted by some potential Dodgers owners about a job in Los Angeles, but Hall tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he's very happy with the Snakes. Hall has four years remaining on his contract with Arizona.
- David Ortiz's arbitration case with the Red Sox is analyzed from both sides by former Astros president Tal Smith, in conversation with Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- Fangraphs' Wendy Thurm begins a series looking at which players were the best values at each position over the last two decades, starting with catcher, first base and second base.
- "The Indians’ bullpen has much more flexibility and depth heading into camp this year," writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian in his breakdown of the Tribe's relief options.
The Blue Jays held their State of the Franchise event tonight and president Paul Beeston, general manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell offered insights into the team’s past moves and future plans. The details:
- Beeston expects the Blue Jays to make the postseason two or three times in the upcoming five seasons, Mike Wilner of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 tweets.
- Beeston said the Blue Jays did not view Prince Fielder as a fit because of his contract demands, Wilner tweets. Fielder signed for nine years, but the Blue Jays don’t offer players anything more than five.
- Anthopoulos said two free agents turned down more years and more money from the Blue Jays to sign elsewhere this offseason, Wilner tweets.
- Anthopoulos said the following about Carlos Beltran: "some guys don't want to play on turf, no matter how much you pay them. Some guys don't want to DH." (quote via Wilner on Twitter)
- Farrell said former MLB catcher Kevin Cash will be an advance scout for the Blue Jays in 2012, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star tweets. The Blue Jays signed Cash as an amateur free agent in 1999 and he played in Toronto for three years. He last appeared in the Major Leagues in 2010.
Happy birthday to right-hander Gavin Floyd, who is 29 years old today. With the number of Floyd trade rumors we've heard this winter, you wonder if this could be Floyd's last birthday as a member of the White Sox. Here's the latest from the AL Central…
- Indians manager Manny Acta told reporters at a Town Hall event today (including MLB.com's Jordan Bastian) that he wants the team to pick up another bat. "I do hope that something happens," Acta said. "Chris [Antonetti] has worked really hard…about trying to acquire a hitter or two. It's not a secret, we need some help offensively." For his part, Antonetti said he was "hopeful that we'll be able to improve the team between now and the start of Spring Training," (all Twitter links).
- The Tigers' nine-year, $214MM contract with Prince Fielder "was an ownership-driven, impulsive deal, which is why the Tigers will contend for a World Series and why the contract makes poor baseball sense," writes Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci.
- John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press recounts the history between Tigers owner Mike Illitch and agent Scott Boras.
- The Tigers apparently have no plans to move Brandon Inge, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. The team sees Inge as a fallback option if Miguel Cabrera can't handle playing third base.
- Denard Span told media (including MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger) he's feeling better after suffering a concussion last July and offered to play a different position if it helps the Twins. Manager Ron Gardenhire, however, said he plans to use Span in his usual center field spot.
- White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf tells Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com that he and Jim Thome have a handshake deal in place for Thome to work for the Sox in some capacity after he retires.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams said his club is "maxed out" of money for the Major League roster, reports Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). Williams "played coy" when discussing Cuban free agents, however — the Sox are known to be one of Yoenis Cespedes' suitors.
Here's the latest out of the Motor City regarding Prince Fielder's huge contract and some other items of note …
- Contrary to many large, backloaded contracts, Fielder's nine-year deal is structured so that he'll earn $23MM in each of the first two years, and $24MM in each of the seven years thereafter, according to the Associated Press (via ESPN).
- Fielder's deal also includes a limited no-trade clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, told Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that he did not receive an offer from the Tigers on Prince until after news broke of Victor Martinez's season-ending knee injury (Twitter link).
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski said Detroit is "most likely" out of the running for free agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, although he cautioned that "you never can tell," tweets Jason Beck of MLB.com.
- The Tigers might still sign another pitcher, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, although it would likely be on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.
The Dodgers pushed hard for Prince Fielder for weeks and thought they had a legitimate chance of signing him, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. They offered a seven-year deal worth a little more than $160MM that would have provided the first baseman with the chance to opt out after four seasons. Fielder would have earned $26MM or so for the first four years of the deal and $20MM-plus for its final three years.
The Dodgers met Fielder at an undisclosed location a few weeks ago and outgoing owner Frank McCourt approved the team's proposal. Though the Dodgers aren’t unhappy with James Loney, they wanted to add an elite bat to their lineup. The Nationals and Tigers were also finalists for Fielder, whose nine-year, $214MM deal becomes official at a press conference in Detroit this afternoon.
The meeting between Boras and the Dodgers took place in Dallas, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown. Dodgers execs visited Boras at his Newport Beach offices about a week ago, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times tweets.
Prince Fielder, who hit baseballs out of Tiger Stadium as a 12-year-old, is on his way back to Detroit, where his father, Cecil Fielder, starred for seven years. The Tigers have officially agreed to sign the free agent first baseman to a nine-year, $214MM contract.
The agreement — the fourth largest in baseball history behind Alex Rodriguez's mega-contracts and Albert Pujols' recent deal with the Angels — will keep Fielder in the Motor City through his age 36 season for an average annual value of $23.78MM. It doesn't include any opt-outs, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio and ESPN.com tweets.
Though the market for Fielder seemed far from robust at times this offseason, agent Scott Boras has found an unexpected suitor once again. Over the years, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch and GM Dave Dombrowski have dealt extensively with Boras regarding clients such as Kenny Rogers, Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez.
Fielder will play first base and Miguel Cabrera will change roles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Victor Martinez will miss most or all of the 2012 season with a torn ACL, so it's possible that Cabrera will DH this year. He has only played 14 games at third base since being traded to Detroit after the 2007 season, but a return to the hot corner seems to be a possibility for Cabrera.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com suggests a return to third base is likely for Cabrera and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that Cabrera was "really excited" about the Tigers' new addition (Twitter links).
Fielder's considered a below average defender at first base, but he's a force at the plate. He posted a .299/.415/.566 line with 38 home runs in 2011, finishing in the top five in MVP balloting for the third time in the past five seasons. He has a .282/.390/.540 line in seven seasons in Milwaukee, where he averaged 37 home runs per 162 games played. Concerns about Fielder's stocky physique do exist, but Boras defended his client's build at the December Winter Meetings.
“Everyone talks to me about Prince’s body, but when you have that 5’11” strike zone, that is a huge advantage and that’s why that on-base percentage is sitting there," he said. "Those pitchers have to put the ball into a smaller window and I believe that it’s more difficult to do.”
This June the Tigers will surrender their first round pick (27th overall) to the Brewers, who offered Fielder arbitration earlier in the offseason. Milwaukee will also obtain a second compensatory pick for losing Fielder, the seventh overall selection in the 2002 draft. Fielder is among the Brewers' all-time leaders in many offensive categories, including home runs (230), on-base percentage (.390), sluggling percentage (.540) and walks (566).
Cecil Fielder, whose off-and-on relationship with his son has been well-documented, hit 245 home runs in a Tigers uniform, good for fifth on the franchise's all-time list. The elder Fielder led the American League in home runs in 1990 with 51 and in 1991 with 44.
When MLBTR polled readers in mid-December, just 5.6% of 27,000 respondents expected Fielder to sign a nine or ten-year deal. He ranked second on MLBTR's list of top free agents this offseason, trailing only Pujols.
The deal figures to provide lots of leverage for Joey Votto, who will hit free agency after the 2013 season if the Reds don't extend him first. On the other hand, free agent designated hitters such as Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Raul Ibanez and Vladimir Guerrero lost a potential suitor this afternoon.
Heyman tweets that the Nationals and a third mystery team were in on Fielder until the end. Heyman first reported the agreement on Twitter and Yahoo's Tim Brown first reported that the sides were close to a deal.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
On this day last year, the Rangers traded Frank Francisco and cash considerations to the Blue Jays for Mike Napoli. Toronto pulled the trigger on the swap just four days after acquiring Napoli from the Halos. Here's a look at tonight's links..
- The Braves have set a player payroll budget of $94MM for this year, leaving them with several million dollars still to spend, chairman and CEO Terry McGuirk told Tim Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. McGuirk also said that Liberty Media has expressed no intention of selling the club in the near future. Also of note is that the club is locked into a 25-year local TV deal that will prevent the franchise from cashing in on MLB’s trend toward higher telecast rights fees.
- The Rangers' bid for Prince Fielder was much shorter than nine years, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
- The Reds are probably done handing out big league deals this offseason, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Earlier tonight, the club reached agreement on a minor league deal with Jeff Francis.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter) ranked Yoenis Cespedes' most probable destinations in the following order: Cubs, Marlins, Orioles, and White Sox.
- Peter Ueberroth says he's heard from several groups bidding on the Dodgers but rebuffed them all, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (via Twitter).
- C. Trent Rosecrans of CBSSports.com examined what's left on the open market.
- Free agent Raul Ibanez believes that a three-day session that he had in December with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo will be key to a bounce back season in 2012. Last season, Ibanez hit .245/.289/.419 in 575 plate appearances for the Phillies.
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette is zeroed in on improving the club's on-base percentage this winter, writes Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun.
- Rival executives applaud Fielder for signing on with a winning club rather than signing with a struggling club just for the money, Heyman tweets.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com's reports (on Twitter) that the Marlins briefly considered trading Hanley Ramirez to free up money so they could sign Prince Fielder, but they decided against it. Prince is in Detroit now, and Hanley will come to camp as the third baseman.
- The Marlins are prepared to make a significant offer to Yoenis Cespedes according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. He says it'll be four-to-six years in length. Cespedes recently gained residency in the Dominican Republic, and is waiting to be declared a free agent by MLB.
- Meanwhile, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that Cespedes has told teams he would prefer not to play in Miami. However, Friasro tweets that Cespedes has no issues playing for the Marlins.
The Tigers agreed to sign Prince Fielder to the biggest contract in franchise history and the fourth biggest in MLB history less than 24 hours ago, so there’s lots of Tigers chatter today. Here are the latest links…
- Some ‘MLB bigs’ say the Fielder contract is too long and for too much money, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. The first baseman agreed to a nine-year, $214MM deal.
- One rival general manager says Fielder has elite makeup, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney tweets. “He's great that way," the GM said.
- People in baseball aren’t sure if the Fielder signing takes the Tigers out of the running for Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets. Cespedes has gained residency in the Dominican Republic, but he's not yet a free agent.
- Tigers outfielder Brennan Boesch joined Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio and said he's eargerly awaiting hitting in the same lineup as Fielder. Boesch added that he had no idea Fielder was joining the Tigers.
- Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer told John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press that "[his] phone has blown up talking about [the news]. It is Christmas come late."
- Here are some more reactions to the Fielder deal.