Robinson Cano Rumors
In yesterday's Insider-only column, ESPN's Buster Olney broke down the budget problems facing the Orioles this offseason. The team has interest in signing Chris Davis and Matt Wieters to long-term deals, but both are Scott Boras clients and each is just two years removed from free agency. According to Olney, the O's tried to strike up extension talks for Wieters in Spring Training 2013 and were met with a counter-offer in the range of Joe Mauer's eight-year, $184MM deal with the Twins. Coming off the worst offensive season of his career, the price for a Wieters extension is likely down, but that contractual demand shows that the two sides "are speaking a different languague in negotiations," as Olney puts it. More from Olney and the rest of the AL East below...
- Rival executives feel that Jim Johnson represents "the most painless cut" the Orioles could make in order to ease their payroll constrictions, Olney wrote. I agree that for a team with a tight payroll, Johnson's $10.8MM projected salary is too steep a price to pay despite his strong ground-ball and ERA numbers.
- MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski weighs in on Johnson in response to Olney's piece, writing that the decision to non-tender Johnson "would be a bombshell" that he simply cannot picture. Melewski points out that in addition to being one of the team's best arms, Johnson is a leader in the clubhouse and has the complete trust of manager Buck Showalter.
- Even after reaching an agreement to bring Brendan Ryan back into the fold in 2014, the Yankees are still pursuing free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports noted within his report on the Ryan signing. The fit seems a curious one at this point, as the Yankees seem to have bigger needs in the rotation and have already committed $12MM to Derek Jeter.
- Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes that the Yankees are expected to meet with Robinson Cano's camp this week. McCullough's piece also includes the highlights from a recent Brodie Van Wagenen appearance on MLB Network Radio. Van Wagenen, the CAA agent who is partnering with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, said that Jay-Z will be "intimately involved in all areas" of Cano's contract negotiations.
- The Red Sox are likely to dismiss any trade proposals offered to acquire Daniel Nava this offseason, writes WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. As Bradford writes, Nava's ability to play either corner outfield position or even first base gives GM Ben Cherington and his staff the flexibility to cast a wide net of free agent targets. Shane Victorino could play center field with Nava taking one corner outfield spot and Carlos Beltran occupying the other, and he also keeps them from having to get into a bidding war to retain Mike Napoli, Bradford points out in a pair of hypothetical scenarios.
The Red Sox have options besides re-signing free agent Mike Napoli, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd). Boston would like to retain him, but he is drawing interest from other clubs and some execs feel that the Rangers and Rockies will be particularly spirited in their pursuits. However, if Napoli goes elsewhere, the BoSox will net a compensatory draft pick and there are options out there on the open market. Olney wonders if they might go for someone like Michael Young, Mark Reynolds (.881 career OPS in Fenway Park), or Corey Hart, who will be in line for a one-year deal after missing all of 2013. Here's more out of the AL East..
- Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano is prepared to wait things out in order to get the deal he wants, a person close to Cano tells John Harper of the New York Daily News. “He’s ready for this to go past Christmas, into January if necessary,” the person said. “He’s been told all along that it could take time for a market to develop for him, and he’s fine with that.”
- There are no talks of a long-term deal yet between the Red Sox and Xander Bogaerts, but things could change with an impressive 2014 campaign, writes Jason Mastrodonato of MLB.com.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if the Orioles' week of talks at the GM Meetings will lead to anything happening. The O's have limitations, but Dubroff says that they'll go out and get a piece or two if it takes them to the next level.
Here's the latest from the Bronx...
- The Yankees are interested in Kendrys Morales, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Despite Morales' history of leg injuries, Yankees scouts feel the switch-hitter could add first base depth behing Mark Teixeira in addition to taking regular DH at-bats. I'm not sure Morales is a good fit given that the Yankees need to keep their DH spot relatively open for their other veterans on the roster. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted a two-year, $28MM deal for Morales, and given the draft pick compensation tied to him, I'd guess the Yankees would only make a move if they're unable to land other free targets.
- Negotiations with Robinson Cano are expected to begin soon, Hal Steinbrenner told reporters (including Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger) during the GM Meetings. “I’m sure in the next week we’re going to sit down and talk to him. We haven’t really had any communication on any specifics, yet. But it’s the beginning of the process," Steinbrenner said.
- Steinbrenner didn't discuss anything beyond the 2014 season with Derek Jeter during the shortstop's recent contract talks. "I don’t know that Derek has thought that far. He’s got a lot of thinking to do just getting to March. You know what I mean? And I think that’s his focus for right now," the managing general partner said. We heard earlier this week that Steinbrenner himself who negotiated Jeter's one-year, $12MM deal for 2014.
- Also during the talk, Steinbrenner discussed such topics as the Alex Rodriguez situation and the Yankees' recent struggles in player development.
- The Yankees don't have have many prime trade chips, but Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog puts Ivan Nova as the best chip on the team's roster. It seems unlikely that New York would consider trading Nova, however, as the Yankees need both starters and relatively inexpensive players under team control.
People in baseball are trying to figure out the team that has not been named yet that could surprise everyone and come away with top free agent Robinson Cano. Some have theorized that the Marlins could be that team to shock everyone, but new Miami GM Dan Jennings threw cold water on that idea when asked by Joel Sherman of the New York Post. “It probably doesn’t fit,” said Jennings, who reportedly offered big bucks to Jose Dariel Abreu before he signed with the White Sox. “We have to know our market and our payroll and our history. And our history is to build around young players and add pieces when it has become very clear that we are ready to win.”
- The Phillies remain in the market for starting pitching and relief help after signing Marlon Byrd earlier today, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Starter Bronson Arroyo and reliever Joe Smith are two pitchers that the Phils have discussed. Meanwhile, they might not be quite done in the outfield and they still have their eye on Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos.
- A source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter) that the Mets are showing interest in free agent outfielder Chris Young.
- No surprise here, but Jennings also shot down the notion that the Marlins will trade Giancarlo Stanton. That certainly won't stop other clubs from trying, however.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including Mike Puma of the New York Post, that the club likely won't be signing anyone to a $100MM contract. Alderson said that while the Mets broke the $100MM barrier for star third baseman David Wright, he says that those were special circumstances.
- The Mets are known to have interest in Curtis Granderson, but he could very well wind up outside of their price range, writes David Lennon of Newsday. It's possible that a $50MM deal will be too rich for the Mets' blood and a $60MM asking price isn't out of the question.
- The Nationals will likely need to add a more experienced backup catcher this offseason, someone who can step in full-time if Wilson Ramos gets injured again, writes Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com.
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, Sportsnet.ca'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.
ESPN.com'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."
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, MLB.com's Mike Bauman opines.
Baseball's best rivalry ... Dodgers-Giants? Yanks-Sox? Or, perhaps, Scott Boras-Jay-Z. As Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com 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:
- There has been no recent movement in negotiations between the Yankees' front office and Cano's representatives, reports Dan Martin of the New York Post (hat tip to Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues). Martin also explains that Cano has yet to get a read on what other teams might be willing to pay.
- Indeed, Cano has acknowledged that no other clubs have made an offer, according to Christian Red of the New York Daily News. Of course, that is far from surprising at this early stage.
- Meanwhile, the Alex Rodriguez grievance proceedings remain a constraint on the club, according to manager Joe Girardi. As the Associated Press reports (via the Boston Herald), Girardi said that the club needs to know as soon as possible whether it needs to acquire a full-time third baseman for next season.
- The skipper also declined to annoint David Robertson as the team's closer, saying "we've got to see what we can put together as a team as a whole before we do anything." The back of the bullpen may not be the Bombers' biggest area of need, but there are a lot of guys with closing experience hoping that it is on the radar.
- If the Yanks lose Hiroki Kuroda and/or fail to land Masahiro Tanaka, power pitchers could make up the backup plan, the New York Post's Joel Sherman wrote yesterday. Sherman notes Josh Johnson and Dan Haren as possibilities, while his Post colleague George A. King III says that the club could be in on Ubaldo Jimenez.
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 MLB.com addresses the Yankees' potential pursuit of McCann and their bid to avoid the luxury tax.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
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.