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Raul Ibanez Rumors
The Winter Meetings rumors continue to fly in, so let's round up another batch of them….
- The Rockies have told reps for free agents that they're attempting to acquire a pitcher via trade, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Colorado would also like to bring back Jeff Francis on a minor league deal, tweets Renck.
- Although he indicated last night that Emilio Bonifacio could be available, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets today that the Blue Jays don't want to move him, "at least not yet."
- Darren Oliver remains undecided about whether he'll play in 2013, and hasn't requested a trade, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have exercised their '13 team option on the left-hander.
- The Astros are planning to take two players in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- The Mariners remain in play for virtually every available hitter, tweets Knobler. Among their targets is Raul Ibanez, who the M's are "pushing" for, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Ibanez would prefer to rejoin the Yankees, but New York hasn't been as aggressive as Seattle, tweets Sherman.
- According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Yankees bid higher than the White Sox for Jeff Keppinger, but the utility infielder chose Chicago.
- In addition to Keppinger, the White Sox plan to bring in another infielder and a catcher, assuming A.J. Pierzynski leaves, tweets MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
The Yankees have been eerily quiet so far at the 2013 Winter Meetings. Still, here's the latest from GM Brian Cashman's media briefing.
- Cashman confirmed he's talked to the representatives for Kevin Youkilis, A.J. Pierzynski, Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, and Ichiro Suzuki (MLB.com's Bryan Hoch reporting).
- It's still probable that the Yankees' catcher is already on the roster, and the team is focused on a corner outfield replacement for Nick Swisher as well as left side infield depth (Joel Sherman of the New York Post reporting).
- Cashman described the third base market as "a very limited sandbox to play in."
We rounded up one set of free agent rumors earlier in the day, but as we approach late afternoon in Nashville, it's about time for a fresh batch….
- Recently non-tendered third baseman Jack Hannahan has a big league offer from an AL Central team, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. It could be the Twins, who met with his rep yesterday according to Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500.
- The Mariners contacted Raul Ibanez's agent, tweets Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
- Shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima seeks a three-year deal, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan, but teams are hesitant.
- Takashi Saito, who turns 43 in February, would like to pitch another year in the U.S., tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown.
- The Mets have considered the idea of signing Mark Reynolds to play in the outfield, but his price tag may be too high for their liking, tweets Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
- Davidoff also tweets that the Yankees have met with Eric Chavez's agent at the Winter Meetings and expressed an interest in bringing back Chavez.
- Brewers manager Ron Roenicke tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio that the Brewers have "definite interest" in Jason Grilli, but only at a reasonable price (Twitter link). Milwaukee continues to seek both starters and relievers, but doesn't have the money to make a play for someone like Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse, says Scott Miller of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Jeremy Bonderman, who is attempting a comeback, could have a deal in place by the weekend, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
Postseason hero Raul Ibanez would like to re-sign with the Yankees this offseason and the interest is mutual, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. The Yankees have “significant interest” in the 40-year-old, according to Davidoff. The club has asked Ibanez to wait while they focus on pitching, and that hasn’t diminished his interest in returning to the Bronx.
“If I get an opportunity to play for the Yankees again,” he told Davidoff, “it would be fantastic.”
Ibanez provided power throughout the regular season, hitting 19 home runs and posting a .240/.308/.453 batting line as a designated hitter and corner outfielder. The 40-year-old had a remarkable postseason, hitting two memorable home runs in the ALDS and another in the ALCS. He shouldn't face left-handed pitching at this stage in his career, and manager Joe Girardi acknowledged as much by using Ibanez against right-handers for 85% of his 425 plate appearances.
Four years ago today, the Yankees traded a package headlined by Wilson Betemit to the White Sox for Nick Swisher. After helping New York to the 2009 World Series and three other playoff appearances, Swisher is now in line for a big multiyear contract as a free agent this winter. Here's the latest from the AL East…
- Dan Martin of The New York Post reports that the Yankees have had "preliminary discussions" about bringing Raul Ibanez back as a platoon player next season. The 40-year-old played more than the club would have liked this year due to Brett Gardner's injury.
- The Orioles are telling teams that their priorities in the trade market are first base, left field, and DH according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli (on Twitter). GM Dan Duquette said several clubs match up well with their needs.
- Rival executives tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is "itching" to make a trade (Twitter link). Toronto is targeting starting pitching.
- Meanwhile, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm listed the Blue Jays' 12 out of options players (Twitter links): Brett Cecil, Rajai Davis, Jeremy Jeffress, Adam Lind, Jeff Mathis, Mike McCoy, Dustin McGowan, Luis Perez, Esmil Rogers, Sergio Santos, Cory Wade, and Bobby Wilson.
- Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe wonders (on Twitter) how far the Red Sox will extend themselves to sign Mike Napoli now that there is competition from the Yankees. He notes that Boston went the extra mile to sign David Ross.
- Jerry Sands, who was acquired in the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, could be a platoon answer for the Red Sox at first base or in either corner outfield spot, according to CSNNE.com.
The Yankees are considering a defensive change for next season, shifting Curtis Granderson to left field and Brett Gardner to center, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Granderson's defense has declined in recent years, as he has posted negative UZR/150 ratings in four of the last five years, including a -18.2 UZR/150 in 2012. Gardner, on the other hand, has a career 30.6 UZR/150, ranking him amongst the best defensive outfielders in the game.
Here's the latest from both the Yankees and Mets…
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn't plan to offer Rafael Soriano a deal similar to the one he signed after the 2010 season that established Soriano as Mariano Rivera's set-up man and understudy at closer, reports ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews. "I don't think Soriano would sign here if he's not going to be the closer," Cashman said. "And I don't think we would do again what we did before. He's going to want closer money and I doubt he would want to come back here as a set-up man." Soriano is a free agent after opting out of the last year of his deal, and agent Scott Boras said Soriano is looking for a four-year contract to close. Soriano could still return to the Bronx, of course, if Rivera retires and the Bombers suddenly have a hole at the back of their bullpen.
- Also from Matthews, he reports that the Yankees will make qualifying offers to Nick Swisher and Hiroki Kuroda. Swisher will almost surely turn this offer down but Kuroda "might accept it." The Yankees have interest in bringing back Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez on short-term contracts, while the club also would like to re-sign Andy Pettitte and Russell Martin.
- The Yankees haven't received any calls from teams interested in Alex Rodriguez, reports USA Today's Bob Nightengale. It could be a moot point, as Nightengale hears that Rodriguez isn't willing to waive his no-trade clause for any team.
- The Mets are continuing to talk to David Wright about a multiyear extension but talks are "stuck in neutral" and there is "nothing imminent" between the two sides, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post and Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (both links to Twitter).
- ESPN's Jim Bowden believes Wright and the Mets will agree to a new long-term contract, but if they can't, Bowden suggests five teams who could become trade destinations for Wright.
On this date back in 2000, the Blue Jays gave Carlos Delgado the richest contract in baseball history in terms of average annual value, a four-year pact worth $17MM per year. Delgado hit .282/.405/.555 with 146 homers during the life of the deal. Here's the latest from his former division, the AL East…
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post hears that Robinson Cano is seeking a ten-year contract at "top-of-the-market dollars." The Yankees will retain Cano for 2013 with their $15MM club option, but it's unclear if they will break team policy to discuss an extension before he hits free agency.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Farrell didn't always see eye-to-eye, reports Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun. He says Farrell wanted to release Omar Vizquel in July and wasn't pleased the club didn't acquire starting pitching at the deadline. The Jays and Red Sox are currently making progress in talks to send Farrell to Boston.
- Raul Ibanez told reporters (including Kristie Ackert of The New York Daily News) that he is "not even thinking about" free agency at the moment. The 40-year-old hit .240/.308/.453 in 425 plate appearances for the Yankees this season, including a number of huge homers in the postseason.
- The Red Sox must focus on quality over quantity in their search for starting pitching this offseason, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal. Four of the team's five rotation spots already seem to be accounted for, so there is room for a high-end arm.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com wrote about the Orioles' second base job, which is up in the air. Brian Roberts is still recovering from hip surgery, and both Robert Andino and Omar Quintanilla are non-tender candidates.
- Meanwhile, Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com lists five players the Orioles should look to sign long-term, including Jim Johnson and Matt Wieters.
The Yankees have averaged more than 97 regular season wins per year since 1996. Here's the latest on the 2012 club via Joel Sherman of the New York Post…
- Yankees officials say Michael Pineda is a hard worker and his teammates say he’s mixing in well, Sherman reports. There’s been some concern about Pineda’s velocity and conditioning this spring, but Sherman points out that it’s wise to avoid definitive statements based on Spring Training information.
- The Yankees say they aren’t worried about Raul Ibanez’s spring struggles, Sherman tweets. Ibanez has been facing more left-handed pitching than he will during the regular season.
- The Yankees offered Dontrelle Willis a minor league deal this offseason, Sherman tweets. The Yankees might look into signing Willis, who was released by the Phillies this morning.
The AL East figures to be one of the game's most competitive divisions in 2012. Here are the latest links from Florida, where all five AL East teams are preparing for the season…
- Raul Ibanez doesn’t have emotional, historical or financial ties keeping him on the Yankees’ roster, so Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders how long the club will stick with Ibanez if his struggles continue. But as Sherman point out, it’s still just March 15th.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman and third baseman Alex Rodriguez tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Blue Jays are becoming a serious threat in the AL East. “They aren’t a secret anymore,” Rodriguez said. “They are knocking on the door,” Cashman added. “It is undeniable that they are going to win and win for a while.” Blue Jays ownership could support a top ten payroll in time and “that isn’t a guess, that’s a fact,” GM Alex Anthopoulos said.
- John Tomase of the Boston Herald reports that the relationship between Red Sox GM Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine seems to be starting off well. If the Red Sox name Jose Iglesias their starting shortstop, it'll be a sign of just how much Valentine's opinion matters. The front office has maintained the defensive whiz needs more seasoning.
- Mark Melancon's interleague experience could help him transition from the NL Central to the AL East, Brian MacPherson Providence Journal writes.
- Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com ranks the AL East rotations, placing the Orioles fifth. They have intriguing arms such as Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta, but their rotation is filled with uncertainty from top to bottom this spring.
The Yankees have found their new designated hitter, officially announcing an agreement with Raul Ibanez that was first tweeted by ESPN's Buster Olney yesterday. The framework for a deal was done weeks ago with the ACES client, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, who pegs the value at $1.1MM. Plate appearance incentives can bring the total to $4MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Never known for his defense, Ibanez has spent most of his career as a left fielder. He dabbled at DH with the Mariners and Royals before signing with the Phillies after the '08 season, notably appearing 69 times in that role for the 2001-02 Royals. Only eight other free agents hit more home runs in 2011 than Ibanez's 20, but he batted just .245/.289/.419 overall in 575 plate appearances. The Yankees hope the 39-year-old can take advantage of their short right field porch. Ibanez has a .304 OBP against lefties over the last three seasons, so he could be complemented by Andruw Jones, a right-handed hitter.
In a February 18th poll, about 32% of MLBTR readers felt Ibanez was the best DH option for the Yankees, which edged out other free agent choices such as Johnny Damon, Vladimir Guerrero, and Hideki Matsui. Ibanez was linked to the Yankees as early as January, but they preferred to dump some of A.J. Burnett's contract on the Pirates before finishing a DH deal. That move opened a 40-man roster spot for the Yankees. The Phillies offered Ibanez arbitration in November, which almost certainly involved a handshake agreement he'd decline. In June, the Phillies will receive a supplemental draft pick for their loss.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.