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Seven years ago today, the Diamondbacks came to terms with Justin Upton, the first overall selection in the 2005 amateur draft, on a five-year, $6.1MM contract. The deal marked the largest signing bonus given in a minor league contract for a drafted player, who was not a free agent. Today, Upton is the prime trade target of the offseason. Just within the last 24 hours, we learned there is no match with the Padres, the Braves haven't engaged in Upton talks since before Christmas, and speculation that a deal will happen as soon as Arizona is offered the right mix of players. In non-Upton news involving the Diamondbacks and the rest of the Senior Circuit:
- If the Diamondbacks don't move one of their outfielders, look for Adam Eaton to open the season at Triple-A, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. "That's not in a perfect world what we want to have happen," GM Kevin Towers told Gilbert. "But we're not going to move an outfielder in a lousy deal just to move an outfielder."
- Within the same piece, Towers says discussions have been held with the Diamondbacks' six arbitration eligible players and he expects those negotiations to go down to the wire. You can follow the Diamondbacks' arbitration cases and those of MLB's other 29 teams with MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.
- Acknowledging it sounds crazy and doesn't really think it's going to happen, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post urges the Nationals to sign free agent closer Rafael Soriano. Kilgore sees agent Scott Boras convincing owner Ted Lerner the franchise has a finite window of competing for titles and Soriano is the final, missing piece.
- Earlier today, ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggested the Giants should look into signing Buster Posey to a Joey Votto-type extension. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, however, would be surprised by such a deal because the Giants have been burned by long-term contracts given to Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand. Schulman tweeted a good starting point in Posey talks would be the $53.5MM given to Tim Lincecum during his four-years of arbitration eligibility.
- The Marlins are sifting through the batch of unsigned free agent relievers and are able to sign an inexpensive arm or two with the salary relief leftover from trading Yunel Escobar, according to the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer.
- Rick VandenHurk, released yesterday by the Pirates, will sign with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization, according to Naver, a Korean news service, confirming a report first tweeted by Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net.
The Cubs had interest in both Edwin Jackson and Anibal Sanchez this winter, but General Manager Jed Hoyer said that signing both was never in the cards, tweets Jordan Bernfield of WGN Radio. Hoyer and Sveum met with Jackson in California while Theo Epstein and owner Tom Ricketts met with Sanchez in Florida. Here’s more on the Cubs and other items out of the NL Central..
- Based on comments Epstein made on WEEI’s Hot Stove Show (audio link), it doesn’t sound like the Cubs will be targeting impact players like Michael Bourn, Rafael Soriano, Kyle Lohse, and Adam LaRoche since they are tied to draft pick compensation. Epstein explained that the changes to the draft and international spending mean that high draft picks are more valuable than ever, writes Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that Reds GM Walt Jocketty expects a decision from Scott Rolen on whether he will play in 2013 in the next seven-to-ten days. Fay personally expects Rolen to call it a career.
- Earlier today, Jocketty said that he is looking to sign Mat Latos and Homer Bailey to multiyear deals.
- The Brewers still haven’t made their signing of left-hander Mike Gonzalez official, but that’s likely to happen on Friday, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Gonzalez agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal plus incentives late last week.
At the outset of the offseason, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes published his annual list of the top 50 free agents with predictions. So far 43 of those 50 players have signed (or agreed to sign) new contracts, though Mike Napoli's deal with the Red Sox is on hold due to a hip problem. Here's the latest on the seven remaining unsigned players.
- Michael Bourn (#3) – The 29-year-old center fielder has drawn recent interest from the Rangers, but not much else. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently looked at some potential suitors for Bourn, who will require draft pick compensation to sign.
- Kyle Lohse (#10) – Despite being the best starter left on the market, the 34-year-old Lohse hasn't drawn much public interest. The Red Sox and Angels had interest during the Winter Meetings, though they've since moved on. The Rangers have not discussed him. Like Bourn, Lohse is attached to draft pick compensation.
- Adam LaRoche (#15) – The Nationals and LaRoche were inching towards a new deal as of last week. The Orioles are not in the mix. The 33-year-old is also attached to draft pick compensation.
- Rafael Soriano (#17) – Teams don't love the idea of surrendering a draft pick for a reliever, so interest in the 33-year-old remains tepid. The Dodgers and Red Sox are not interested, and the Tigers downplay their chances of signing him.
- Shaun Marcum (#19) – There's a healthy market for the 31-year-old right-hander, with the Mets, Twins, Padres, and Cubs showing interest. The Brewers have not discussed a possible reunion, however.
- Joe Saunders (#25) – The Orioles, Mariners, Padres, and Mets have all talked to the 31-year-old Saunders recently. The Twins made an offer to the left-hander this offseason as well.
- Jose Valverde (#44) – Valverde, 34, said he was unsure if he would pitch in 2013 back in October. The Tigers will not bring him back and there has otherwise been zero interest this winter.
The Orioles would like to re-sign Joe Saunders and have continued talks with him, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). They'll have plenty of competition for the left-hander, however, as he is drawing high interest from three other clubs. Here's more from around baseball..
- On today’s edition of the Rosters & Rumblings podcast, MLBTR’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and Jason Martinez of MLB Depth Charts discussed the Mariners-Angels trade, the Cubs’ new-look rotation, and some recent trade rumors.
- The Dodgers are still kicking the tires on Joel Hanrahan of the Pirates and free agent Brian Wilson as they look to deepen their bullpen, but they aren't in the mix for Rafael Soriano, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
- The Nationals continue to talk to Mike Gonzalez about returning and the Reds are also in pursuit, Bowden tweets.
- Sources tell Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter) that the Rangers were never serious bidders for Edwin Jackson. The right-hander signed a four-year, $52MM contract with the Cubs earlier today.
- Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik has landed a bigger bat for the middle of his lineup, but that doesn't mean Seattle is done with its roster maneuverings, writes Greg Johns of MLB.com. The Mariners still have financial flexibility since they should several million dollars in the difference between what Kendrys Morales ($4.8MM) will earn compared to Jason Vargas ($7.4MM) in their final year of arbitration eligibility.
- Dexter Fowler told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that Rockies General Manager Bill Geivett told him that it would take a lot in return for them to deal him to the Braves. Atlanta is targeting Fowler along with Emilio Bonifacio and other outfield options.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Brian Wilson | Chicago Cubs | Cincinnati Reds | Colorado Rockies | Edwin Jackson | Joe Saunders | Joel Hanrahan | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Mike Gonzalez | Rafael Soriano | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Washington Nationals
3:00pm: The deal is not complete, but it is in the final stages, a Pirates source tells Bowden (on Twitter).
12:24pm: The Red Sox are moving closer to a trade for Joel Hanrahan, reports ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. One source cautioned there is "still work to be done," however. It's unclear what the Pirates would receive for their closer, though Edes hears they want a "significant return."
Hanrahan, 31, pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 in 59 2/3 innings for Pittsburgh last season. He earned $4.1MM and projects to earn $6.9MM through arbitration next year. Hanrahan is scheduled to become a free agent after 2013.
Andrew Bailey, Boston's incumbent closer, pitched to a 7.04 ERA in 15 1/3 innings in 2012 while missing most of the year with injuries. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford reports they have not discussed free agent Rafael Soriano despite having a protected first round pick. The Dodgers were among the teams with interest in Hanrahan in recent weeks.
Baseball’s most recent collective bargaining agreement introduced new rules regarding draft pick compensation, and the changes were expected to help free agents. However, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that some agents and general managers say certain free agents who obtained qualifying offers are now seeing reduced interest from teams. These players are talented, but general managers are hesitant to give up draft picks. Here are more notes from Olney’s column…
- One GM pointed out that teams aren’t “wild about giving up a draft pick for a reliever," even though Rafael Soriano is a good pitcher. The Yankees almost certainly won’t consider taking him back, according to Olney.
- The Red Sox have targeted players who aren’t linked to draft pick compensation, as Olney points out.
- Adam LaRoche is tied to draft pick compensation and it’s “really hurting him,” Olney writes. The first baseman has been sitting on a two-year offer from the Nationals.
- It appears that the Braves would be fairly comfortable going into the season with Martin Prado playing both left field and third base. They’d use Reed Johnson in left field against left-handers and Juan Francisco at third base against right-handers in that scenario.
Agent Randy Hendricks dismissed the possibility of Roger Clemens pitching in the Mexican League, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (all Twitter links). "He is not going to Mexico no matter how many articles they run for publicity,'' said Hendricks, who also said Clemens only signed with the Sugarland Skeeters this summer so he could play with his son Koby close to home. Here's the latest from around the league as Saturday turns into Sunday…
- People with the Tigers are still "fairly certain" owner Mike Ilitch won't be talked into signing Rafael Soriano, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). He mentions that Ilitch was the driving force behind the Anibal Sanchez deal.
- The Mets do not figure to get outfield help in a potential R.A. Dickey trade, and Joel Sherman of The New York Post says (on Twitter) the team will just patch things up with cheap free agents or trades.
- Sherman notes that the impending Dickey trade and the James Shields trade show that the cost for high-end pitching is very steep (Twitter links). The Zack Greinke deal shows how steep the price can be in free agency.
- Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times has a breakdown of the $2+ billion Guggenheim Baseball Management paid for the Dodgers. Magic Johnson kicked in $50MM while three others contributed $100MM apiece.
With the Winter Meetings completed, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports lists the five winners and five losers from the gathering in Nashville. A sampling: the Red Sox were "winners" for adding solid veterans like Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, while the Angels were "losers" since the additions of Tommy Hanson and Joe Blanton don't represent an upgrade for the club's rotation.
Here's some more news from around the majors…
- The Red Sox "would be expected to jump in" on Kyle Lohse if he was willing to accept a three-year contract, writes ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes. We heard during the Winter Meetings that the Red Sox and Angels were both interested in Lohse.
- Rafael Soriano may have made a mistake by opting out of his guaranteed $14MM from the Yankees in 2013, as there doesn't appear to be much of a remaining market for big-ticket closer contracts, writes SI.com's Tom Verducci.
- Scott Boras talked to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about the Pirates' controversial military training regimen for minor leaguers and the Bucs' failure to sign right-hander Mark Appel, who the Pirates chose with the eighth overall selection in last year's amateur draft. Boras believes the Pirates erred by not informing he and Appel about the pick beforehand: "There was no communication with us (before the draft). We would’ve been happy to have given them an advance (notice) that they could’ve used their pick in (another) way. We certainly would’ve let them know we didn’t have a fit there."
- The average salary amongst Major League players was $3.2MM in 2012, a rise of 3.8% from the 2011 season, reports Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.
It's the middle of the night, but news rarely stops coming in over the course of baseball's Winter Meetings. Here are some links from around the baseball world for those who are still awake…
- One of the reasons that Sean Burnett's two-year, $8MM deal with the Angels was so affordable was because he had surgery to remove a bone spur this offseason, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. For comparison, Jeremy Affeldt signed for three years and $18MM.
- Danny Knobler of CBS Sports writes that the Phillies have a list of five center field targets that includes Michael Bourn, Josh Hamilton, Dexter Fowler, Curtis Granderson and Ben Revere. This is the first they've been linked to Revere, who Knobler says the Twins will move for young pitching despite already having traded Denard Span.
- Scott Boras told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that he's spoken to Giants team president Larry Baer about established closers like Rafael Soriano and Jose Valverde (Twitter link). There doesn't seem to be a match there in my opinion, given Sergio Romo's excellence and reports that the Giants are at their payroll threshold.
- The Rays have hired former Astros scouting director Bobby Heck as as special assignment scout, tweets Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
Most of today's AL Central news consisted of Indians rumblings as the club looked to include Asdrubal Cabrera in a four-team blockbuster that has yet to come to fruition, but here's some more from around the division…
- Talks between the White Sox and Kevin Youkilis haven't reached an advanced stage despite each side knowing what the other is looking for, tweets Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Youkilis is said to have multiple offers, with the Indians intensifying their pursuit.
- Scott Boras continues to push Rafael Soriano on the Tigers, despite the team repeatedly expressing that they have no interest in the closer, writes Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck runs down the Tigers' trade of Andy Oliver to the Pirates, explaining that Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski thought Oliver could benefit from a change of scenery after a roller-coaster tenure in the Tigers organization.