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Rick Porcello Rumors
The Indians had Aaron Harang in spring training this year, but released him due to an out clause in his contract, the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes explains. Since then, Harang has pitched very well for the Braves (despite a nine-run outing against the Marlins earlier this week), and Carlos Carrasco has struggled in the Indians’ rotation. Hoynes argues, however, that Harang is more of an NL pitcher, and that he has benefited from the Braves’ defense, which is much better than Cleveland’s. Here are more notes from the AL Central.
- Rick Porcello‘s improvements this season are legitimate, and it may be time for the Tigers to sign him to a long-term contract if they can, MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes. Through five starts, Porcello has a 5.50 K/BB ratio, thanks largely to a reduction in walks, and he’s getting lots of swings and misses. He’s also due to hit the free-agent market after next season, just before he turns 27. That could make him a valuable commodity indeed.
- The Tigers’ bullpen is “a mess,” which was why Detroit was wise to give Joel Hanrahan a guaranteed deal this week, MLive.com’s James Schmehl writes. The Tigers sent Hanrahan to the disabled list upon signing him, since he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery, and it’s unclear exactly when he’ll return. If he does, though, and he’s anything like he was in the past, he could help transform the Tigers’ struggling bullpen into a “dangerous” one, Schmehl argues.
Big-league ballplayers make plenty of money, but that doesn't mean free agency isn't stressful. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal takes a fascinating look at free agency as seen through the eyes of Red Sox players. Chris Capuano reports that, whenever he's a free agent, he sends his agent a list of teams in order of preference, but then has to wait to see if there's mutual interest. He also notes that, typically, playing for a winner becomes more and more important to a player the older he gets. David Ross says that, before the 2009 season, he signed to be a backup with the Braves rather than a starter with the Astros because the Braves offered a two-year deal.
Here are more notes from around the American League:
- Conflicting reports yesterday regarding Ervin Santana has everyone confused. "I really don’t know what’s real and what’s not real in that case," Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette told reporters, including Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- The biggest culprit for Santana's situation is the right-hander's own camp, which dramatically overestimated his market and then was slow to change gears, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required). Olney suggests that, if Santana's demands had been more realistic, he could have at least wound up with a contract similar to Matt Garza's or Ricky Nolasco's, rather than the one-year deal he now appears likely to receive.
- Back to the Orioles, Duquette still has the financial flexibility to improve the roster, but is confident in the pitching they currently have in camp, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. "We have some more resources that we can invest in our team, and we'll take a look at each case as it comes up," Duquette said. "We do have a little more pitching depth with our starting pitching going into the season, and some of the young pitchers we have high hopes for are continuing to develop their skills."
- GM Dave Dombrowski says the Tigers won't be trading any starting pitchers, including Rick Porcello, reports Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. Earlier today, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reported that the Tigers would field offers for Porcello.
- Starting pitcher Justin Masterson, who is eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, has surprisingly suggested to the Indians that he might be willing to sign a shorter-term extension, perhaps three years, but the Indians have not yet responded with an offer, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets.
- The Rangers are trying to develop a long-term answer at catcher, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. Texas hasn't had stability at catcher since Ivan Rodriguez left over a decade ago. "It’s a topic of conversation, absolutely," says GM Jon Daniels. "We’ve had some guys come over here as big-time catching prospects, but we haven’t developed our own long-term championship-caliber starter." The Rangers have beefed up their coaching staff in an attempt to help their catchers develop. The Rangers' best hope of becoming a homegrown regular catcher is, of course, top prospect Jorge Alfaro, who played most of the 2013 season with Class A Hickory.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wonders if Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton could wind up with the Red Sox. Marlins GM Dan Jennings swears up and down that Stanton isn't going anywhere and even if he was for sale, Boston would be one of many clubs in pursuit. If things suddenly changed and the Fish made Stanton available, Cafardo wonders if a package of Will Middlebrooks or Garin Cecchini plus Matt Barnes, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts could get a deal done. More from today's column:
- The Twins have some interest in White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who is getting interest even though he's not everything a club would want in a center fielder, leadoff type. Last season, De Aza slashed .264/.323/.405 with 17 homers in 675 plate appearances.
- Major league sources say the Tigers are still willing to listen to offers on Rick Porcello. While he has shown promise, Detroit would like a hurler with more consistency.
- The bidding for Ervin Santana has reportedly come down to the Orioles and Blue Jays. Cafardo hears the Rockies were also in it for some of the day while the Phillies did their due diligence but did not appear to be in the hunt.
- Bud Norris could be an alternative if Tommy Hunter can’t do the job as Orioles closer, but he also has trade interest and could have some appeal in the NL. For budgetary reasons, the O's probably wouldn't go for Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, but it's possible if the Angelos family believes that they have a chance to win it all.
- One Red Sox player says that he's not crying for free agent Stephen Drew. “Why not accept a $14.1 million qualifying offer for one year?” the player said. “Is that a bad deal? That’s a lot of money. Stephen would be here playing with us by now if he’d done that.”
- Scouts are watching Orioles pitcher Zach Britton closely as he is out of options. Still only 26, Britton is still a pitcher scouts think they can salvage. The O's are aware of his value and the interest other clubs have, but could stash him in the bullpen if they can’t get good value for him.
The Tigers and Rick Porcello have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $8.5MM deal, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). They've also agreed to a $6MM deal for 2014 with Austin Jackson, Sherman tweets.
Porcello, 25, was arb-eligible for the third time this offseason as a Super Two player. The Excel Sports client is controllable through the 2015 campaign and was projected to earn $7.7MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. Porcello relies heavily on his high ground-ball rate and could see an uptick in performance with a new-look — and presumably, defensively superior — infield behind him in 2014.
Jackson, 26, is also controllable through the 2015 campaign, though he is not a Super Two player. A Scott Boras client, Jackson had been projected by Swartz to earn $5.3MM.
An interesting study by Conor Glassey for his website examines which states big leaguers in the past five years were drafted from. As expected, the warm-weather states of California, Florida and Texas dominate the rankings, together accounting for more than 40 percent of drafted players. However, Illinois high schools were found to be surprisingly productive in developing future big leaguers. Let's round up the latest from around baseball:
- Buster Olney runs through Max Scherzer rumors in a video for ESPN, concluding that he will "almost certainly not be" traded this winter. The Tigers are in full win-now mode, and other teams are unlikely to surrender major talent for this year's AL Cy Young winner, as he's not expected to sign a long-term extension with Scott Boras as his agent. Scherzer, who's on track to hit free agency after next season, is projected to earn $13.6MM in his final season of arbitration by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Rick Porcello is "expected" to be traded, Olney says in the same video.
- The avascular necrosis in Mike Napoli's hips has come up in discussions with some clubs, agent Brian Grieper said in an interview with WEEI, but other teams don't consider it an issue. WEEI's Alex Speier notes that Grieper opted not to disclose whether the first baseman had received a multi-year offer yet.
- T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com becomes the latest writer to report that Masahiro Tanaka isn't a top target for the Rangers. Offense is more of a priority for Texas this winter, Sullivan writes.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times previews the Rays' potential targets in trade and free agency this offseason. At first base, the Mets' Ike Davis might be an option, along with Logan Morrison of the Marlins, Mitch Moreland of the Rangers, and another Met, Lucas Duda. In free agency, the Rays could attempt to court Corey Hart, Lyle Overbay or Justin Morneau. Topkin also examines possibilities at catcher and closer.
The Royals are among the clubs with interest in free agent pitcher Phil Hughes, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland knows Hughes well from his time spent with the Yankees and is a fan of his. A return to New York isn't in the cards as both sides recognize that a change of scenery would be best. The latest from the AL Central…
- With Ervin Santana looking for a $100MM contract, the Royals are prepared to move on to look for other pitching options, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes. Besides Hughes, the Royals also have interest in Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson. "We want a bat, but in our meetings, the main thing we talk about is finding someone to put between [James] Shields and [Jeremy] Guthrie," one Royals official said.
- In regards to those bats, Dutton says the Royals have interest in bringing Carlos Beltran back to Kansas City and maybe signing Rafael Furcal as a second baseman. Furcal may have enough suitors to remain at shortstop if he wants.
- A Twins source tells 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson that "we can only hope" on the possibility of A.J. Pierzynski signing with the team. Wolfson notes that Pierzynski might be more apt to sign with a contender, however. The Twins are rumored to be taking an interest in the catching market since Joe Mauer will be a full-time first baseman in 2014.
- With Rick Porcello reportedly being shopped, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wonders the Tigers and Twins could swing an intra-division trade.
- In his latest piece on fixing the Twins, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN looks at how much money Minnesota can spend this winter and how they can best allocate it.
- While the top catching option available (Brian McCann) could land a nine-figure deal, the White Sox appear to match up with free agent Jarrod Saltalamacchia, writes Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com. Chicago would like an improvement behind the plate after neither Tyler Flowers nor Josh Phegley impressed last season.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
The Tigers have told teams that they're open to trading either Max Scherzer or Rick Porcello, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Scherzer has been involved in trade whispers for the last few weeks as the Tigers are considering their options in the event that they can't hammer out a new deal before he hits the open market after the 2014 season.
The 29-year-old Scherzer pitched a career-high 214 1/3 innings, turning in a 2.90 ERA with 10.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 36.3 percent ground-ball rate in 2013. While he earned just $6.725MM in 2013, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects an increase to a whopping $13.6MM in 2014 following his dominant campaign. Scherzer's 2.98 SIERA and 2.74 FIP are both among the seven best marks in baseball and among the six starters with better FIP marks, only Clayton Kershaw has a higher innings total.
Porcello, 25 in December, turned in a 4.32 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 across 177 innings of work. Those numbers and some of the advanced statistics (3.19 xFIP) indicate that 2013 was Porcello's best season yet.
Former Tiger and current Mariner Casper Wells could be headed back to his old team, MLB.com's Jason Beck posits. "Maybe Casper Wells doesn’t make the Mariners roster," says Beck. "Maybe the Tigers can parlay their depth in another spot, maybe an extra reliever, into an extra outfielder." The Tigers currently have an open spot available for a righty-hitting outfielder. If they don't pursue one from outside the organization, that spot could go to Matt Tuiasosopo. Here are more notes from Detroit and Seattle.
- The Tigers shouldn't trade pitcher Rick Porcello because doing so would weaken their depth, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman argues. The better move, Heyman suggests, would be to place Porcello in their starting rotation and use Drew Smyly as an insurance policy. That's a viewpoint Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski seems to appreciate: "Really, one of our big needs is starting pitching depth," says Dombrowski. "If we trade one of these guys [either Porcello or Smyly], then we hurt ourselves more in that area."
- Heyman also notes that Dombrowski isn't nearly as eager as manager Jim Leyland to pursue a closer from outside the organization. "A manager and a general manager are in two different spots," Dombrowski says."I understand from a manager's perspective, he'd rather have one guy he can point to on a daily basis."
- Jesus Montero's injury could complicate Kameron Loe's bid to be added to the Mariners' roster, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Montero was struck in the head on Saturday by Francisco Lindor's backswing, and it's not clear when Montero will be able to return to action. If Montero isn't ready to go to start the season, the Mariners will have to add another catcher to the 40-man roster, perhaps Jesus Sucre. That might make it difficult for the Mariners to find space on their 40-man for Loe, and Loe can trigger an out clause in his contract on Monday.
- Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders is happy to have the offseason behind him, MLB.com's John Schlegel reports. Saunders signed a one-year deal with the M's as a free agent. "It was nerve-racking, not knowing where you're going," he says. "It was the first real free agency for me, and it was an experience, for sure. It's a good one to be over with. I feel bad for Kyle Lohse."
Freddy Garcia hasn't pitched well for the Padres during Spring Training and is open to being moved to the bullpen rather than the starting rotation, the veteran righty tells Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. What Garcia won't accept, however, is a minor league assignment. “The bullpen, why not?” Garcia said. “But I’ll go home at the end of spring training rather than go to Triple-A. I want to pitch. But I’m not going to Triple-A.” Garcia signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January. He is scheduled to start on Saturday, an outing that Center thinks "might be an audition for another team seeking pitching."
Here are some more items about the Friars from Center's recent chat with fans…
- The Padres explored trading for Rick Porcello last winter and asked the Tigers if they had any interest in Jesus Guzman as part of the deal. San Diego reportedly turned down a recent offer of Porcello for Huston Street or Luke Gregerson, though Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski has denied offering Porcello to anyone.
- General manager Josh Byrnes said yesterday that he isn't currently involved in any talks for Porcello.
- Center doesn't see the value in acquiring Porcello since Detroit's asking price is too high for a pitcher who Center feels isn't necessarily better than the Padres' young arms.
- Padres ownership has given Byrnes the go-ahead to make moves and signed off on "a major offseason deal" that Byrnes was interested in but didn't end up coming together.
- Center believes the club's management team wouldn't be in danger of losing their jobs in the case of a 90-loss season "but this is baseball. Things change with the wind."
"[Aroldis] Chapman stands to lose millions of dollars by committing himself to a relief role," writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest column (Insider subscription required). The fact that Chapman likes closing enough to risk these future riches, however, makes Olney think the Reds are making the right move by keeping Chapman in the bullpen as the club pursues a World Series title. "Chapman doesn't have a plow horse's show-me-the-direction approach; he's known to be a complicated guy, and if he were to fight [starting] internally all year, it would be a mess," Olney says.
Here are some more items from Olney…
- Rival executives think Asdrubal Cabrera will be on the trade block if the Indians get off to a slow start. Olney speculates that the Dodgers could be players for Cabrera in the wake of Hanley Ramirez's thumb injury, though for now the Dodgers are satisfied to use internal options on the left side of their infield.
- The Tigers "have not made a single specific proposal to another team, asking for a particular player" in exchange for Rick Porcello. Detroit has told teams that they will listen to offers for the right-hander but only in exchange for Major League players, not prospects. Several teams have been linked to Porcello, with the Padres and Rangers showing the most recent interest.
- "Nothing is close" between the Giants and Buster Posey on a long-term extension. We heard earlier this week that the two sides were still deciding the length of the possible new contract. Olney believes that Joey Votto's recent extension with the Reds could be a model for Posey's new deal since Posey is athletic enough to handle playing third base or first base later his career.