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Over the weekend, the Astros locked up second baseman Jose Altuve to a low-risk four-year, $12.5MM extension that carries a pair of club options at $6MM and $6.5MM. All told, Altuve can be controlled through the 2019 season if the Astros choose, and those six years would cost a total of $25MM. Here's more out of the AL West…
- In light of Altuve's extension, Brian T. Smith and Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle note that a position change is a possibility for top prospect Delino DeShields Jr., whose path to the Majors as a second baseman is now blocked. The No. 8 overall pick in the 2010 draft, DeShields is hitting .290/.388/.399 with 30 steals in 71 games this season at high Class A. Last season, he swiped 101 bases in 135 games. General manager Jeff Luhnow said for the time being, DeShields would finish the season as a second baseman.
- The Rays are believed to have checked in on Mariners bats such as Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports in the most recent edition of his Stock Watch column. He speculates that the Yankees and Rangers would also make sense as potential trade partners for Seattle.
- From that same piece, Heyman adds that Joe Saunders is likely more available than either Morales or Ibanez. After a brutal start to the season, Saunders has a 2.37 ERA over his past nine starts. The Mariners are currently deciding when to begin a sale, says Heyman.
In a video report, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal passes on some updates on developing trade situations around the league. Here are the main takeaways:
- The Cubs have had relatively detailed talks on an extension with free-agent-to-be Matt Garza — including years and dollars — but Rosenthal says it remains much more likely that the starter will be dealt. There is a solid chance that a deal could be made before Garza's scheduled July 22 outing, says Rosenthal, with Chicago seemingly willing to accept less in return if a team is willing to eat more of the remainder of Garza's $10.25MM deal.
- Echoing previous reports, Rosenthal lists the Dodgers, Nationals, Red Sox, and Rangers as the teams most prominently in on Garza. He does note that there may be a few other teams who could make such a move. We've recently heard of interest from the Indians as well, though cold water has already been thrown on that idea.
- Rosenthal adds via Twitter that the Rangers have two scouts watching Garza pitch tonight, with the Tigers, Orioles, Pirates, and Blue Jays also scouting the game. Of course, as Rosenthal further tweets, the other clubs are more likely interested in Chicago's relievers and position players.
- While Rosenthal says that the Cardinals would be a nice fit for a starter like Garza, he says that it remains extremely unlikely that GM John Mozeliak would part with any elite talent to make such a deal. Rosenthal says that Cards could be on the starter market, but only if the club feels it cannot rely on internal options like Chris Carpenter.
- Meanwhile, Rosenthal says St. Louis does not feel any urgency to make a move at shortstop. While Pete Kozma is far from perfect, it would be hard to upgrade the position substantially at a non-prohibitive price.
- One obvious trade candidate, Raul Ibanez of the Mariners, is somewhat unlikely to be dealt in spite of his cheap, expiring contract and solid performance this season. As we've heard elsewhere recently, Rosenthal says that GM Jack Zduriencik would be hesitant to deal the once-and-current Mariner without consulting with him. According to Rosenthal, Seattle is more likely to trade other veterans like reliever Oliver Perez and starter Joe Saunders.
- The Rockies could be interested in making a deal for the Yankees' Phil Hughes, but Rosenthal says that they would be looking at him as a bullpen piece rather than a starter. If the Yanks are in fact looking for a significant return for Hughes, of course, the Rockies would seem hard-pressed to get an overly attractive price on the pending free agent.
- One other player the Rockies are looking at is starter Vance Worley of the Twins, who is currently working out his issues (with some success) at Triple-A. According to Rosenthal, Minnesota is loathe to ship off Worley at a discount because they view him as a rebound candidate and maintain team control through 2017. Worley's extended minor league stay could make him even cheaper, as he may lose his expected Super Two status and figures to earn less whenever he does reach arbitration.
Here's a look at the latest news from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com..
- Mariners reliever Oliver Perez has drawn interest from the Orioles, Braves, and other clubs, according to Heyman. Perez has reinvented himself as a bullpen arm in the last two years with the Mariners, posting a 2.00 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 across 63 innings in Seattle. Competing execs note that Perez is more cost-efficient in terms of prospects and cash than a guy like Matt Thornton. The veteran would cost another team the prorated portion of his $1.5MM for the rest of the year.
- Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez could also bring a strong return to General Manager Jack Zduriencik & Co and the Rays are among the clubs that have inquired on their hitters. However, parting with them would cause them to go into a free fall and also adversely affect the top prospects on the big league roster. For his part, Jack Z isn't anxious to move anyone. "We'll see how this week goes. I'm not going to be the aggressor,'' the GM told Heyman earlier this week. "I'm not shopping anyone.''
- Seattle people have been wondering if the Yankees might call about Morales thanks to their rash of injuries. The Rangers could also come calling.
- A Mariners person said they've gotten calls on injured center fielder Franklin Gutierrez, but his injury history hurts his value. Closer Tom Wilhelmsen has drawn interest and the Red Sox have had interest in the past, but Zduriencik is said to be hesitant to trade him since he's under control for a few more years. Brendan Ryan, who is no longer the starting shortstop, could also be of interest to someone as a defensive specialist in the infield.
- Opinions are mixed, but one rival executive tells Heyman that Phil Hughes could fetch quite a bit in a trade. Another rival exec quipped that the Bombers might trade Joba Chamberlain for a pine-tar rag. We learned earlier today that the Yankees are aggressively pushing both pitchers.
Baseball America released its updated rankings of the sport's top 50 prospects, headlined by Twins outfielder Byron Buxton. For Baseball America subscribers, BA's J.J. Cooper also has lists of 10 prospects who missed the top 50 but are still having breakthrough seasons, preseason top-100 prospects who missed the new list, how the thirty preseason top-100 prospects who have already made the Major Leagues are faring and also a look at five organizations who have made strides and five who have struggled.
Here are some items from around the baseball world…
- The Red Sox still have interest in Michael Young, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets, but "serious names have not been discussed" between the Sox and Phillies in trade negotiations.
- The Cubs have reportedly explored extending Matt Garza's contract but CSN Chicago's David Kaplan doesn't believe it and neither does an American League executive. "Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] know that they have a great asset. They will not cave on what they want in return," said the AL exec. "They will play this thing out until they get what they want. He's too valuable to not trade. When you are in a rebuild you need to move assets to fuel the plan. Garza should help to do that. I'd be stunned if he is a Cub Aug. 1." (Twitter links here)
- Reds general manager Walt Jocketty confirmed that he had spoken to Jeff Francoeur's agents at CSE, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (via Twitter). "He's talking to other clubs as well. [I'm] not sure it's a fit," Jocketty said. Francoeur is known to have drawn interest from at least two other teams since he was released by the Royals. Francoeur could be a right-handed hitting stopgap for Cincinnati until Ryan Ludwick returns from the DL in August.
- Also from Fay, he thinks the strong recent performance of the Reds' bullpen should shift the team's trade deadline focus to hitting instead of relief pitching. Fay opines that the Reds should look to acquire Twins outfielder Josh Willingham, who I'd guess would be too expensive for the Reds' liking (owed roughly $9.35MM through 2014) and is on the DL until August following knee surgery.
- The Mariners have a number of trade chips on the roster but Larry Stone of the Seattle Times feels the team's toughest decisions will concern Raul Ibanez and Kendrys Morales. On paper the 41-year-old Ibanez is an obvious candidate to be dealt, though Ibanez's popularity on and off the field in Seattle will make the M's consult him before any possible deal. I examined the case for Morales as a trade candidate back in April.
- Every Major League transaction is a complicated process, and they get even more complex when they have to be made quickly. MLB.com's Corey Brock outlines how the Padres had to move fast to replace the injured Yasmani Grandal, which led to a shakeup of catchers at all levels of the organization and a lot of roster juggling that eventually led to Rene Rivera being called up from Triple-A Tucson to Washington for the next day's game.
The Mariners have officially signed Raul Ibanez to a one-year contract, the team announced. The deal is worth $2.75MM guaranteed with another $1.25MM in performance bonuses. The ACES client played in Seattle from 1996-2000 and 2004-2008.
Ibanez, 40, hit .240/.308/.453 with 19 homers in 425 plate appearances for the Yankees last season. He was considerably more productive against righties (.248/.319/.492) and at Yankee Stadium (.273/.349/.545), and he wound up starting 76 games in the outfield due to Brett Gardner's injury. The Yankees, Rangers, and Phillies also had interest in signing him.
The Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales last week, who gives the team a logjam at first base and DH along with Jesus Montero, John Jaso, Justin Smoak, and Ibanez. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes did not rate Ibanez as one of this winter's top 50 free agents. The Mariners designated D.J. Mitchell for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement while The Associated Press, WFAN's Sweeny Murti, and MLB.com's Greg Johns added details (Twitter links). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News looks at the Yankees' offseason so far and examines deals the team hasn't made given budgetary concerns (all Twitter links)…
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman blames the team's lack of pursuit of Raul Ibanez on the club's priority of acquiring a right-handed hitting outfielder. Beyond finding an outfielder, Cashman says that the team does not have an unlimited budget and must work within its means.
- Feinsand points to right-handed outfielder Matt Diaz as a potential fit for the Yankees. Diaz has regained his health, should be an inexpensive sign and would bring a career batting line against lefties of .324/.364/.498.
- The Yankees will open the 2013 season with a payroll over $200MM but remain in a situation similar to last year where Cashman had to move expensive contracts before adding anyone new.
The Mariners have "serious interest" in Raul Ibanez, reports George A. King III of The New York Post. King reiterates that the Yankees, Rangers, and Phillies also have interest in the veteran slugger.
Ibanez, 40, hit .240/.308/.453 with 19 homers in 425 plate appearances for the Yankees last season while playing more outfield than expected due to Brett Gardner's elbow injury. He spent the 1996-2000 and 2004-2008 seasons in Seattle.
The Mariners acquired a DH-type in Kendrys Morales earlier this week, though he could shift to first if the team is willing to give up on Justin Smoak. Playing Ibanez in the outfield regularly is another option, though it's not advisable.
As the Yankees take aim at a third consecutive AL East title, the Mets are working toward their first division title since 2006. Here's the latest on New York's two MLB teams…
- While Sandy Alderson and the Mets appears to have done well to obtain top prospects Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard for R.A. Dickey, the GM will ultimately be assessed by how those players fare at the MLB level, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Sherman shows that the prospects traded for Cy Young winners haven’t done particularly well in the Major Leagues in recent years.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman said he’s open to talking to free agents or discussing trades with other clubs, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. The GM confirmed that he continues talking to Raul Ibanez and his agent, but declined to discuss his interest in free agent outfielder Scott Hairston. Ibanez could become the Yankees’ DH and Hairston could balance out the team’s lefty-heavy outfield.
TUESDAY, 5:28pm: With Kevin Youkilis in the fold, the Yankees will next look to finalize a deal with Ichiro Suzuki, a source tells Jack Curry of the YES Network (via Twitter). The pact could happen in the next 48 hours.
MONDAY, 3:47pm: The Yankees are moving closer to a deal with Ichiro and the sides are expected to agree to terms within the next few days, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).
10:08am: The Yankees will likely re-sign Ichiro Suzuki, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported last night. The Yankees are showing strong interest in the free agent outfielder, Rosenthal writes. “They are all over him,” one person told FOX Sports.
If the sides complete a deal, Ichiro would join two other left-handed hitters in New York’s outfield: Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner. The team is exploring the idea of adding a right-handed complement to the group, according to Rosenthal. However, bringing Ichiro back wouldn’t prevent the Yankees from re-signing the left-handed hitting Raul Ibanez.
Ichiro, a client of agent Tony Attanasio, would likely obtain a one-year deal from the Yankees, Rosenthal reports. A one-year deal would suit the Yankees, since they are aiming to avoid the $189MM luxury tax threshold by 2014. Ichiro ranked 40th on MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported on Friday that the Yankees continue to talk with Ichiro, who is now 39 years old.
The Yankees missed out on a couple of their free agent targets today when Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez agreed to deals with the White Sox and Diamondbacks respectively. Now, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter) that the Yanks could lose out on another free agent, as postseason hero Raul Ibanez is drawing interest from the Mariners, Phillies, and Rangers.
We heard back in November that there was mutual interest in a reunion between the Yankees and Ibanez. However, a report earlier today suggested that the Mariners were pushing hard for the veteran, with New York not moving as aggressively. Ibanez has history in Seattle and Philadelphia, as well as New York.
The Yanks have talked to Ibanez's agent in Nashville, GM Brian Cashman confirmed last night.