Robinson Cano Rumors

Quick Hits: Santana, Red Sox, Kuroda, Cano, Bay

Even with the high cost of free agent pitching, Ervin Santana's hopes for a $100MM contract seemed a little far-fetched…or are they?  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looked at the binder of information that agents Bean Stringfellow and Joe White prepared about their client and saw a wealth of favorable statistics in Santana's favor, noting his durability, good health, and even comparisons to Zack Greinke.  MLBTR's Steve Adams only predicted a five-year, $75MM deal for Santana on the open market but it only takes one team to make a leap. 

Here's some news from around baseball…

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that the team has "real interest at different levels" in re-signing its six free agents, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports.  Cherington has "had conversations" about bringing back Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Joel Hanrahan and John McDonald, though Abraham reports that the team has most extensively discussed a new deal with Napoli.
  • The Red Sox aren't expected to make acquisitions during the GM meetings this week, Cherington said.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman has "no idea" if Hiroki Kuroda is interested in returning to the club, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports.  “My conversations with his agent, the only information I’ve gotten from that is he hasn’t made any decisions, what he wants to do as far as next year’s concerned," Cashman said.  Kuroda has been rumored to be weighing re-signing with the Yankees, pitching in Japan or retiring, though a return to southern California to be closer to his family probably isn't out of the question either.
  • Robinson Cano's next contract might not meet his expectations simply because the Yankees are the only team with the need and finances to come close to his demands, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes.
  • Jason Bay isn't sure if he will play in 2014,'s Shi Davidi tweets.  The 35-year-old Bay was released by the Mariners in August and only has a .688 OPS in 1361 PA over his last four seasons, most of which were shortened by injury.
  • Agent Barry Praver said that his clients Manny Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano were hoping to again play in the Major Leagues, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links).  Ramirez is staying in shape and would be open to playing in Japan, while Zambrano is pitching in the Venezuelan winter league.
  • Wily Mo Pena is expected to re-sign in Japan, Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (Twitter link).  Pena signed a two-year, $5MM deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks following the 2011 season and enjoyed a big 2012 before suffering through an injury-plagued 2013 campaign.  Nicholson-Smith notes that Pena had interested suitors in both Japan and North America.  Pena turns 32 in January and hit .250/.303/.445 with 84 homers in 1845 career PA with the Reds, Red Sox, Nationals, Diamondbacks and Mariners from 2002-11.

Crasnick On Cano, Tanaka, Price, Ellsbury's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs.  Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year.  It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
  • Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees.  All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers.  Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
  • Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter.  Where will he land?  The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
  • Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals.  Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
  • When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza.  Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid.  One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term.  "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
  • When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
  • Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson.  Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner.  "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."

Yankees Notes: Granderson, Jeter, Chavez, Joba

By all accounts, it looks like the Yankees will be big players in free agency this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  The Yankees may have at least a dozen players in mind, and Heyman adds the names of Scott Feldman and Bronson Arroyo to the long list of free agents who have already been linked to the Bombers.  One would suspect that Feldman and Arroyo would be backup plans should New York not be able to land a higher-profile starter like Masahiro Tanaka.  Here's the latest out of the Bronx…

  • The Yankees "obviously" want Curtis Granderson to reject the team's $14.1MM qualifying offer so they can pursue other free agent outfield options.  While Granderson says he's still considering accepting the one-year deal, he seems likely to find a solid multiyear offer on the open market, his injury-shortened 2013 season notwithstanding.
  • Hal Steinbrenner was the one who negotiated Derek Jeter's one-year, $12MM deal for 2014, Heyman reports.  Steinbrenner is "very involved" in the team's dealings this winter, according to a source.
  • The Yankees have discussed bringing back Eric Chavez, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports.  Chavez would provide needed bench depth, and he wouldn't require a big commitment since he only wants a one-year contract.  There does seem to be mutual interest between Chavez and the Diamondbacks for 2014, however.
  • Joba Chamberlain hasn't received any attention from the Yankees but over a dozen other clubs have checked in on the free agent reliever, WFAN's Sweeney Murti reports (Twitter link).  It has been widely reported that the Yankees will part ways with their former top prospect.
  • The 10-year contracts given to Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols when both men were in their 30's are reasons why the Yankees shouldn't make a decade-long commitment to 31-year-old Robinson Cano,'s Mike Bauman opines.

Yankees Notes: Cano, Rodriguez, Closer, Starters

Baseball's best rivalry … Dodgers-Giants? Yanks-Sox? Or, perhaps, Scott Boras-Jay-Z. As Jerry Crasnick of writes in a fascinating piece, the rapper-turned-mogul's challenge to baseball's old school super agent is a real one, but the success of the gambit could turn on whether or not Jay-Z lands Robinson Cano a contract that befits his status as the game's premier free agent. Here's more on Cano and the Yanks:

Yankees Notes: Cano, Granderson, Jay-Z

Robinson Cano's agent, Jay-Z, may have inadvertently violated the MLBPA's agent regulations by giving his client a $33,900 watch as a birthday gift, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.  The regulations state the following: "No Player Agent or Applicant shall provide, cause to be provided or promise to provide, any money or any other thing of value to any player, or any person related to or associated with such player, the purpose of which is to induce or encourage such player to use or continue to use any person's or firm's services as a Player Agent, Representative, or Draft Advisor.''  Agents are allowed to give their clients gifts, but anything with a value over $500 must be reported, writes Crasnick.  Here's more on the Bombers…

  • Cano's $300MM asking price was the cost for the Yankees to keep him from hitting free agency, not his contract demands for right now, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The ten-year, $300MM proposal was given to the Bombers before the All-Star break.  Meanwhile, a return to the Bronx is still the most likely outcome, Rosenthal writes.
  • In a radio interview earlier today, Curtis Granderson said he is considering accepting the Yankees' qualifying offer of $14.1MM, echoing what his agent said last week, writes Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News.  "Well, it's definitely something you've got to think about and I appreciate the Yankees extending that offer to me," Granderson said during an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. 
  • In today's mailbag, Bryan Hoch of addresses the Yankees' potential pursuit of McCann and their bid to avoid the luxury tax.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.

Yankees Make Qualifying Offers To Cano, Granderson, Kuroda

The Yankees made qualifying offers to Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and Hiroki Kuroda, according to a team press release.

As the top free agent on the market, making the $14.1MM qualifying offer to Cano was a no-brainer and ensures the Yankees will at least receive a draft pick if he signs elsewhere.  Kuroda was considered likely to get a qualifying offer, after the 38-year-old posted a 3.31 ERA in 201 1/3 innings.  There is a chance he could accept, although that would be a mild pay cut from this year's $15MM.  

Granderson was the biggest question mark, after a couple of broken bones limited the slugger to 61 games this year.  Agent Matt Brown recently admitted to Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News there's "definitely a possibility" of his client accepting the offer.  I think Granderson will decline, however, as he can still do well in the free agent market with a draft pick attached.  Granderson has until 4pm central time on November 11th to decide whether to accept.

To keep track of all of today's qualifying offers, check out MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker and filter by Qualifying Offer Type.

Yankees Interested In Infante If Cano Signs Elsewhere

Though the Yankees remain the odds-on favorite to employ star second baseman Robinson Cano for the foreseeable future, GM Brian Cashman has reached out to Omar Infante as a fall-back option, report George A. King III and Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Cashman was vague when approached for comment by the Post, and there is no reason to believe that this report indicates any change in Cano's status.

Infante, who played the last two seasons with the Tigers, is represented by Mato Sports Management. The interest from the Yanks is a second bit of good news for his open market status, since we just learned that the team signing him will not be required to give up draft pick compensation to do so. (Of course, the $14.1MM payday he could have had on a one-year deal might also have been enticing.)

The soon-to-be 32-year-old put up an excellent .318/.345/.450 line in 476 plate appearances last year, leading MLBTR's Tim Dierkes to peg his free agent value at three years and $25MM. But that number could rise if Cano bucks expectations by spurning the Yanks and signing with a team that does not have an obvious need at the keystone, leaving New York amongst the clubs vying for the market's second-best second bagger. That is probably the best case scenario for Infante, who otherwise will likely market his services to teams, like the Royals, that figure to dabble in the mid-tier market.

Nicholson-Smith On McCann, Tanaka, Hudson, Johan

With free agency underway, Ben Nicholson-Smith of reached out to 40 Major League Baseball executives and agents to gauge the markets for both pitchers and hitters. Here are just some of the highlights from each well-crafted analysis constructed by my former MLBTR colleague…

  • Brian McCann hasn't ruled out a return to the Braves, despite the fact that most pundits are projecting him to sign with an American League team on a contract that's far too expensive for Atlanta's liking. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes profiled McCann in September and predicted a five-year, $80MM deal.
  • Many executives and agents that spoke to Nicholson-Smith doubt that Robinson Cano actually has a chance at reaching the $300MM mark that he and agent Brodie Van Wagenen suggested last month.
  • Cuban catcher Yenier Bello is expected to work out for big league teams on Nov. 5 in Tijuana, Mexico. The powerful 28-year-old hasn't yet been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), though MLB cleared him a month ago.
  • While we've heard several scouts predict that Masahiro Tanaka won't live up to the ace standards set by Yu Darvish, Nicholson-Smith found that there are several teams that do view Tanaka as a potential ace/top-of-the-rotation starter.
  • Tim Hudson's agent, Paul Cohen of TWC Sports, told Nicholson-Smith that his client wants to play for two or three more seasons and is interested in signing a multiyear contract this winter. I profiled Hudson last month, projecting a one-year, $9MM contract, but noted that some teams may be interested at two years.
  • Johan Santana wants to return to the Majors and recently began throwing. The two-time AL Cy Young winner didn't pitch in 2013, but he should be able to generate interest as a high-upside signing that comes with little risk.
  • Javier Lopez is seeking a multiyear deal this winter after another strong season with the Giants, and Nicholson-Smith gets the sense that there are many non-closing relievers eyeing multiyear deals. He spoke to some executives who feel that left-handed relief is one of the strengths of this year's market.

Yankees Could Dole Out ~$300MM In Total Salary

The Yankees, as we all know, are working on a plan to keep their payroll below $189MM to reduce their luxury tax bill.  However, that doesn't mean they'll be totally handcuffed this offseason.  The front office is currently working on a plan to stay under budget and spent roughly $300MM in total, sources tell Andrew Marchand of

The Yankees' initial main targets, besides re-signing Robinson Cano, are Masahiro Tanaka, Braves catcher Brian McCann, and Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran, according to sources.  The Bombers believe they can add at least two top free agents this winter without breaking the bank.

A source estimates the Yankees are shedding $85MM-$90MM in payroll this winter, which includes the salaries of retiring players Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte as well as free agents Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Curtis Granderson.  The Yankees have a strong interest in keeping Kuroda and would be open to Granderson if he accepted the one-year qualifying offer, but they aren't obligated to either player.  Beyond that, Derek Jeter exercising his $9.5MM player option (down from $17MM last year) and Alex Rodriguez's suspension being upheld would also help the cause.

Cano and Tanaka appear to be the Bombers' top two targets.  A source said the Yankees realize that Tanaka, while making baseball sense, would also demonstrate ownership's stated goal to reinvest the savings from falling beneath the $189MM threshold.  Beltran, another Yanks target, reportedly pushed to sign with the Bombers during his previous two trips through free agency and is eager to find his way to the Bronx this winter.

AL Notes: A-Rod, Girardi, Starling, Red Sox

In addition to hurling six no-hit innings in Game 1 of the ALCS, Anibal Sanchez made history with his performance that night. As's Gregor Chisholm points out, Sanchez became the first pitcher to record four strikeouts in one inning of a postseason game since Cubs right-hander Orval Overall in 1908. Here's more from the American League as the Tigers and Red Sox prepare to square off for Game 2 of the League Championship Series tonight…

  • In an appearance on ESPN Radio's Ian Connor Show, Yankees GM Brian Cashman shot down the theory that he'd rather have the roughly $25MM that a suspension for Alex Rodriguez would net the team than have A-Rod take the field next season. Said Cashman: "It's not like, all right, we'll take that money and go in this direction. I think … our fan base saw when we lost significant players at various positions, it was not easy to plug holes because the talent just doesn't exist."
  • In that same appearance, Cashman admitted that he thought the Cubs had a real chance to steal manager Joe Girardi from the Yankees before the skipper signed a new four-year deal last week. He also said he has no gut feeling as to whether or not the team can retain Robinson Cano to this point.
  • Royals assistant general manager J.J. Piccolo told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that the team is pleased with the progress that former first-round pick Bubba Starling is making, even if it's slower than many fans hoped. Piccolo added that those who point to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper already being in the Majors at 21 and feeling disappointment that Starling is just at Class-A aren't being realistic. Those comparisons aren't fair to Starling or to other first-round picks, said Piccolo, as Trout and Harper are generational talents in his mind.
  • Newsday's David Lennon cautions that while Red Sox GM Ben Cherington deserves praise for the team's turnaround, there was more to Cherington's model than just adding a slew of middle-tier free agents. While many teams are hoping to emulate that model this offseason, the Red Sox were already well-positioned for the rebound with Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury in place.