Ricky Nolasco Rumors

Reactions To Ricky Nolasco Signing

Last night, the Twins inked Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49MM deal after weeks of being linked to the free agent hurler.  The pact eclipses Josh Willingham's three-year, $21MM contract, the Twins' previous record contract for a free agent.  Here's the latest reactions and fallout to Nolasco's deal..

  • Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet breaks down the Nolasco signing and what it means for the Twins.  Nolasco may not be a true ace, but he does project as Minnesota's top starter.  The price tag (and years) may have surprised some, but ultimately, Minnesota addressed their biggest need.
  • The Twins are still in on other starting pitchers, tweets LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune.  It'll be interesting to see what Minnesota's next move will be, because one in not going to cut it in Neal's opinion.
  • A source close to a couple free agent pitchers, including Matt Garza, doesn't think that the Twins are done with bolstering the rotation, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.  The Twins still have the money to make that happen.
  • Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter) spoke with Willingham, Nolasco's teammate of three years.  The outfielder is happy to be reunited with the hurler, but he didn't give him a recruiting pitch before he signed.

Cafardo On Cano, Saltalamacchia, Nolasco, Navarro

Other than Alex Rodriguez's legal matters, nothing has been handled worse this offseason than Robinson Cano's contract negotiations, opines Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  The switch from Scott Boras to Jay-Z doesn't look like it's panning out and the $310MM figure that was floated out has done him a world of harm.  In Cafardo's view, Yankees fans should be excited about the $85MM contract given to Brian McCann because it means that less money is available to spend on Cano.  More from today's column..

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia is still very much on the Twins’ radar as they try to replace Joe Mauer after his move to first base.  Now positioned as the best available catcher, Salty could get a three-year deal in the $30MM range.  The teams who like the 28-year-old feel his throwing, right-handed hitting, and hitting approach have improved.
  • Teams like the Twins and Blue Jays are circling Ricky Nolasco, but nobody has been able to seal a deal.  However, Cafardo notes that the free agent pitching market has yet to fully develop as teams are trying to get help via trades. The Red Sox, for example, have received several inquiries about their starting pitchers.
  • One talent evaluator says that he' would be cautious about signing switch-hitting catcher Dioner Navarro.  “He’s great on a one-year or shorter-term deal. Problems are his weight, his work ethic, and flexibility behind the plate, so it gets a little scary on a multi-year deal. He can flat-out hit, so if you have the catch/throw guy, he’s not a bad complement to that,” he said.
  • The Angels could still be a strong trade partner with the Red Sox even after the Peter BourjosDavid Freese deal. The Sox have an interest in first baseman Mike Trumbo and could be tempted on power reliever Kevin Jepsen while the Halos are in need of a starting pitcher.

Pitching Notes: Johnson, Arroyo, Hudson, Colon

Now that Tim Hudson has signed with the Giants, executives around baseball think the pitching market will begin to open up, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweets.  One GM predicts Josh Johnson will be the next hurler to sign, and there has been no shortage of interest in the right-hander, as agent Matt Sosnick claimed that he'd spoken to nearly every team about his client.  The Rangers and Royals have both been linked to Johnson, and the pitcher himself reached out to the Padres and Giants to express his interest.

Here's the latest about some of the offseason's available starters…

  • One team that doesn't appear to be in the mix for Johnson are the Blue Jays, his most recent club.  The Jays haven't made any progress with Johnson, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports, and there aren't any signs that they're even continuing negotiations.  Johnson was open to returning to Toronto though his contract demands seem to be higher than the Jays are willing to pay.
  • Bronson Arroyo listed the Giants, Twins, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.  Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.
  • The Braves offered Hudson a two-year contract earlier this week but it wasn't enough, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.  The Braves' previous offer to Hudson was a one-year deal worth less than $9MM (his annual salary in each of the previous four seasons) which clearly wasn't enough with so many other teams in the mix.  O'Brien says the Braves could add another veteran to replace Hudson.
  • The Athletics were second in the Hudson race behind the Giants, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link).  That's a bit of a surprise for the low-payroll A's but Hudson would've made sense on a short-term deal, plus he has long-time ties to the franchise.
  • If the A's had signed Hudson, they would've ended their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links).  Hudson would "probably more trustworthy" an option than Colon in the Oakland rotation, though the A's still have interest in re-signing Colon at a "price they deem reasonable."
  • In an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Scott Feldman said his agent had heard from "15 teams or so" but "it's been a slow-developing market so far" (Twitter links).
  • The Twins still haven't made a formal offer to Ricky Nolasco, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets.  This is no change from the last update about Nolasco and the Twins, though the club is definitely interested in the free agent righty.

Giants Notes: Hudson, Lopez, Arroyo, Haren

The Giants' two-year, $23MM deal with Tim Hudson is drawing praise from several pundits.  MLBTR's Steve Adams, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron and ESPN's Keith Law all see the contract as a possible steal for the Giants since even coming off a fractured ankle, Hudson doesn't carry as many question marks as other starters who may command much larger deals.  Here's some more on the Giants…

  • The Giants don't like any of the free agent options to fill their hole in left field and will look to trade for outfield help at the Winter Meetings, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports.  The club could end up settling for a left-handed hitter to platoon with Gregor Blanco in left.
  • Also from Baggarly, the Giants have made some progress in talks with Javier Lopez.
  • The Giants are still looking for a left fielder and one more starting pitcher, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.  Olney guesses that Bronson Arroyo or Ryan Vogelsong could be that pitcher, depending on which contract is the better fit (Twitter links).  Vogelsong would obviously come at a much lower price than Arroyo, though if San Francisco could cheaply address their left field situation, I could see them spending extra to acquire Arroyo.
  • The Giants checked in on Dan Haren, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link) but "other teams [were] far more aggressive," according to a source.  The Twins and Yankees have been linked to Haren so far this offseason.
  • Also from Schulman, it seems as if the Giants aren't going to offer any starter more than three guaranteed years.  This could keep them from landing Ricky Nolasco, who is looking for a four-year contract.

Twins Pushing Hard For Nolasco; Padres, Giants Also In Play

SUNDAY, 8:25am: Nolasco to the Padres is "not happening," tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com.

FRIDAY, 8:07pm: Add the Giants to the list of teams tabbed by an unnamed GM as possible suitors for Nolasco, Berardino tweets. Word yesterday was that San Francisco was not terribly motivated to pursue Nolasco since the club wasn't interested in giving him a fourth year.

7:34pm: The club has yet to make a formal offer to Nolasco, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who says that the Twins are "not as far along with Ricky Nolasco as multiple reports have indicated."

6:35pm: Minnesota is "on [Nolasco] hard," a rival GM tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Competitors for Nolasco's services include the Padres, that same GM noted.  

7:55am: The Twins are making a strong push for Ricky Nolasco, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Yesterday afternoon, it was reported that Nolasco had a pair of four-year offers, although as recently as last night, reports out of the Twin Cities indicated that Minnesota had yet to make an offer.

ESPN's Buster Olney wrote yesterday that the Twins are highly active on the market for pitching this offseason and plan to add at least two solid veteran starters. They've also been one of the most aggressive teams in pursuit of Bronson Arroyo to this point.

Nolasco, 31 in December, finished the season with a 3.70 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate in 199 1/3 innings. He's not an ace, but he would be a boost to a Twins rotation that posted the worst ERA (5.26), K/9 (4.9) and innings total (871) in all of Major League Baseball last season. Nolasco comes with the added benefit of having been traded midseason, meaning he was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer and therefore won't cost a draft pick. His agent, Matt Sosnick, recently explained his strong relationship with the Twins and GM Terry Ryan to Parker Hageman of Twins Daily.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

Matt Garza Open To Returning To Twins

Matt Garza is open to a return to the Twins, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports. Wolfson offers more on Garza, via Twitter, stating that he hears the Twins are more interested in Garza than Ricky Nolasco, despite earlier reports that the Twins are making a "strong push" for Nolasco.

The Twins met with Garza's agent, Nez Balelo of CAA Sports, at this week's GM Meetings in Orlando, Wolfson writes. However, as of this morning, Minnesota hasn't made a formal offer to any of its free agent targets.

Garza has worn three different uniforms since last donning a Twins jersey in 2007. Minnesota selected him in the first round of the 2005 draft and ultimately traded him to the Rays along with Jason Bartlett in an ill-fated deal that netted Delmon Young and Brendan Harris. It's worth pointing out that current GM Terry Ryan was in the GM's chair when Garza was drafted, but had stepped away from the position when Garza was traded. Bill Smith was the Twins' GM at the time of the Garza trade, but he's since been fired, and Ryan has reprised his role as Twins GM.

Garza turned in his seventh straight season of a sub-4.00 ERA in 2013, hurling 155 1/3 innings of 3.82 ERA ball with 7.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. He opened the season on the disabled list but made all of his starts upon returning. Like Nolasco, he was traded midseason and therefore won't require a draft pick to sign.

Los Angeles Notes: Kershaw, Payroll, Nolasco, Dipoto

Clayton Kershaw told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (on Twitter) his contract negotiations with the Dodgers aren't on hold, but they've haven't resumed since the season ended.  Kershaw reportedly turned down a $300MM extension offer from the Dodgers earlier this year due to concerns about the length and size of the deal.  While it has been assumed that Kershaw will extend his deal with the Dodgers, the baseball world will surely be paying attention to what will likely be the largest contract ever issued to a pitcher.

Here's the latest from both Los Angeles teams…

  • "I think, for us, it wouldn't surprise me if we went [through] the winter without a huge move; not that it couldn't happen," Dodgers president Stan Kasten tells MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.  "We are looking more at deepening the organization, to fine-tune it and get into the season and see what we need. Having said that, I'm not ruling anything out. But those people who attach us to every free agent out there are making it up."  With Kasten prioritizing the Dodgers' farm system, Gurnick finds it unlikely that the club would move what few top prospects it has in a trade for David Price.
  • Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers "are kicking the tires" on such free agent pitchers as Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bartolo Colon and Bronson Arroyo.  Given the big salaries some of these pitchers are demanding, you wonder if L.A. would really make a move to sign any given Kasten's earlier comments, though Kuroda, Colon and Arroyo could be had on less expensive, shorter-term deals.
  • The Angels aren't one of the teams who have made an offer to Ricky Nolasco, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (via Twitter).  Nolasco is reportedly juggling several three- or four-year contracts offers.
  • The rumored discord between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia could have led to one or both men being fired following the Angels' disappointing season, but Dipoto tells FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi and he and the long-time Halos manager have improved their communication and are on the same page. 
  • From that same piece, Dipoto reiterated that pitching will be the central focus of the Angels' offseason: "Frankly, we’ve been focused on [pitching] for a couple years and it’s eluded us. We plan on putting our resources toward improving those areas. On the field, that’s where our biggest changes are going to come.”
  • The Angels' defense took a sharp decline from 2012 to 2013, and ESPN's David Schoenfeld thinks that the club should hold onto Peter Bourjos as a way of improving their fielding.  Schoenfeld also suggests signing Jhonny Peralta, trading Mark Trumbo and acquiring Felix Doubront from the Red Sox.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post

Interest In Ricky Nolasco Picking Up

7:22pm: The Twins haven't made any offers to Nolasco, according to 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson (via Twitter).  The Giants have talked to Sosnick "in passing" about Nolasco but are "not really interested" since they aren't willing to give him four years, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter links).

4:34pm: Ricky Nolasco has received multiple three- and four-year offers, agent Matt Sosnick tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also spoke to Sosnick, who told him that Nolasco has two four-year offers (Twitter link) but has had no talks with the Dodgers yet. ESPN's Buster Olney recently reported that Nolasco had at least one offer of three years from a team that showed a willingness to go to four years if necessary.

Passan quotes Sosnick: "I believe the market for multiple-year starting pitching will start to reveal itself more clearly in the next two to three weeks." As Passan points out, that timeline lines up well with next month's Winter Meetings in Orlando. Sosnick declined to get into specifics on the offers, but one league source of Passan's indicated that Nolasco could command somewhere between Edwin Jackson money ($52MM) and Derek Lowe money ($60MM). If the bidding for Nolasco gets to that point, I'd expect Nolasco to take the deal and sign. It seems reasonable to assume that the four-year offers they have in hand have yet to escalate to that level.

Nolasco, who turns 31 in a month, finished the season with a 3.70 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate in 199 1/3 innings. That strikeout rate was the highest number he's posted since 2010, and the walk rate is right in line with the excellent marks he's posted throughout his career. As Olney reported, Nolasco's preference is to return to the Dodgers, but he's also drawn interest from the Twins to this point.

Olney’s Latest: Nolasco, Twins, Joba, Royals, Peralta, Headley

Major League Baseball is in a race against the clock to change the rules and eliminate home-plate collisions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest Insider-only column. MLB GMs were "100 percent" in favor when the issue of a rule-change was raised at the GM Meetings this week, says Olney. As one team lawyer pointed out to Olney, MLB has no choice but to scramble to get something in place for next season: "Everybody has said that there needs to be a change [in the rules], and if somebody gets hurt [in 2014] they could sue and claim that Major League Baseball knew there was a problem and didn’t do anything about it." Here are just a few of the highlights from Olney's highly informative piece:

  • Ricky Nolasco already has a three-year offer in hand, and that same team has indicated that it may be willing to extend the offer to four years. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Olney that his client's preference is still to return to the Dodgers.
  • Teams are racing to make their best offers to pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo, knowing that those arms might not require the potential four- and five-year deals that Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are targeting.
  • The Twins have made it clear that they're looking to sign two good veteran arms, and in a separate tweet Olney notes that they're being very aggressive on the free agent market. In addition to their interest in Arroyo, it's possible that they're in on Nolasco, says Olney.
  • The Royals have had internal discussions about adding Joba Chamberlain on a one-year deal, and as Olney points out, Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland was Chamberlain's pitching coach with the Yankees earlier in his career.
  • The Royals would also like to sign Josh Johnson to a one-year deal in an attempt to recreate the magic of last year's Santana acquisition.
  • Jhonny Peralta is looking for "huge" money, according to Olney's sources. Olney writes that Peralta is seeking "much" more than three years and $45MM. I predicted a three-year, $36MM pact for Peralta in my recent free agent profile of the former Tiger.
  • The Padres haven't had any extension talks with Chase Headley this offseason, and as it stands right now, there are no plans to begin negotiations.

Twins Notes: Willingham, Johan, Rotation, Sano

Josh Willingham's three-year, $21MM contract is the largest free agent contract the Twins have ever issued, but agent Matt Sosnick told Parker Hageman of Twins Daily that Willingham actually turned down a more lucrative offer from a team that was farther west than the Twins are from his Alabama home. More from Hageman's piece and some other Twins-related items below…

  • Sosnick also told Hageman he "loves the Twins" and that there's no GM in the game he respects more than Terry Ryan. His respect for the Twins' honesty and player development led him to turn down more money for German outfield prospect Max Kepler back in 2009 to sign with Minnesota. Kepler still signed for $800K, which was, at the time, the largest bonus ever signed by a European prospect.
  • Within his piece, Hageman notes that he also spoke with Ryan about the upcoming offseason. Ryan "flinched" when talking about signing pitchers on the wrong side of 30 to multiyear deals, as they're more likely to break down.
  • The Twins are one of several teams to reach out to Johan Santana's agent and request his medicals, writes La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Santana's agent, Ed Greenberg, told Neal that his client "still loves Minnesota" and enjoyed working with pitching coach Rick Anderson, who is still serving the same role on the Twins' coaching staff.
  • Neal also reports that the Twins have checked in with the agents for Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco (who is represented by Sosnick), Dan Haren and Scott Feldman, though their specific level of interest in each is unknown. Ryan told Neal that he thinks the quick turnarounds of the Indians and Red Sox will be good for non-contending teams' chances at signing free agents, as they served as examples that a team's fortunes can change quickly. The Twins won just 66 games in 2013 — just two and three games fewer than the Indians and Red Sox won in 2012, respectively.
  • Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported earlier in the week Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are done for their respective seasons in the Arizona Fall League and Dominican Winter League. Buxton has been battling a left (non-throwing) shoulder strain, and Sano has been diagnosed with a strained UCL in his throwing elbow. Sano's injury sounds more serious, but he's been examined by Dr. James Andrews, who agreed with the team's medical staff that no surgery is necessary. Paul Molitor, the newest member of the Twins' coaching staff, told Berardino that Sano's elbow troubles aren't related to his throwing mechanics.