Ruben Tejada Rumors
MLBPA chief Tony Clark addressed today the situation of Ben Wetzler, the Phillies' draft choice who was recently suspended by the NCAA for having an agent present while he negotiated with the club, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. "What we're doing in the short-term is trying to make sure we understand exactly what happened and what led to what happened with that young man in college," said Clark. "Rest assured it's a concern, it's something that we're paying attention to, but outside what's been bantered about through the media, we don't know much else at this point." For their part, the Phillies have yet to offer any comment other than acknowledging that they "did participate in the NCAA investigation." One agent tells Nicholson-Smith that, if the team did report Wetzler's use of an agent, "it was extremely short-sighted and impulsive on the part of the team."
Here are a few more links to round out the evening:
- The Rockies have recently made contact with free agent starter Ervin Santana, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The team's interest may be dependent upon the status of Jhoulys Chacin, whose shoulder issues are still being assessed. A Rockies official denied interest in Santana, however, reports MLB.com's Thomas Harding.
- Though the Dodgers needed a roster spot to make room for new signee Erisbel Arruebarrena, the club elected to designate Justin Sellers for assignment rather than putting Chad Billingsley on the 60-day DL, writes Chris Gabel for MLB.com. That constitutes something of a vote of confidence in Billingsley's ability to return from Tommy John rehab in a relatively short time frame. The 29-year-old is entering the final year of a three-year, $35MM pact, with the club holding a $14MM option ($3MM buyout) on his 2015 season.
- While Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada has reportedly shed some pounds, the club is nevertheless reportedly less than happy with his athletic form, reports Kevin Kernan of the New York Post. If that translates to an underwhelming start to camp, Kernan implies, there could be increasing impetus to sign Stephen Drew. "I would not be surprised if we signed Drew," an official said, "but at the same time, I don't expect it to happen."
- Across town, the Yankees are keeping tabs on reliever Joel Hanrahan after inking another rehabbing former closer in Andrew Bailey, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. As Martino explains, interest in arms like Bailey and Hanrahan shows that the club has some concern with its pen depth.
- The Twins are a very unlikely landing spot for Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Diaz is looking to land a deal like the five-year, $25MM contract given Arruebarrena, says Wolfson, but Minnesota does not believe he is as good as his countrymate.
Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR will be covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections. We'll use this post to keep tabs on players avoiding arbitration today:
- Josh Outman, who avoided arbitration with the Indians last night, will earn a $1.25MM salary in 2014, the Associated Press reports (via ESPN).
- The Rockies have avoided arbitration with lefty Franklin Morales, reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com (via Twitter). Morales was recently picked up from the Red Sox in exchange for Jonathan Herrera, and was projected to earn $1.8MM by Swartz. His salary comes in just below that mark at $1.7125MM, according to a tweet from the Denver Post's Troy Renck.
- Burke Badenhop has settled on a one-year deal with the Red Sox, the club announced in a press release. The right-handed reliever, who was acquired from the Brewers back in November, came with a projected $2.2MM price tag and will in fact earn $2.15MM, according to a tweet from WEEI.com's Alex Speier. Badenhop's last two seasons have been uncannily similar. In both 2012 and 2013, Bandenhop threw 62 1/3 innings, registered 42 strikeouts (6.1 K/9) against 12 walks (1.7 BB/9), and surrendered six home runs. He allowed just one less hit (62) last year than in 2012, though his ERA rose from 3.03 to 3.47 due to a drop in his strand rate.
- The Mets have reached agreement with infielder Ruben Tejada on a 2014 contract, the club announced on Twitter. He will earn a $1.1MM salary in his first year of arbitration eligibility, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, which is in line with his $1MM projection. Tejada struggled to a .202/.259/.260 mark in 227 plate appearances last year, but is still only 24 years old. He will have three more years of arb eligibility since he qualified as a Super Two player.
- The Rangers have reached agreement on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration with southpaw Neal Cotts, the club announced via press release. The deal will pay Cotts $2.2MM, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Cotts will earn $700K over Swartz's projection.
- Outfielder Michael Saunders has reached agreement with the Mariners on a deal to avoid arbitration, reports Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). The 27-year-old will earn $2.3MM (plus incentives) in his first arb-eligible season, Divish tweets, which comes in just above the $2MM projection from Swartz.
The Mets currently appear likely to go with Ruben Tejada at shortstop, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo writes. "The same three alternatives exist: sign a free agent, make a trade or go with what we have, subject to probably bringing in a backup to Tejada," says GM Sandy Alderson. "I'd say right now, it's probably more likely that we will go with Option C, which is Ruben at shortstop with the addition of a backup." That means the Mets appear unlikely to sign Stephen Drew. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Orioles have not yet upgraded at designated hitter, MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli notes. They're still interested in Kendrys Morales, but don't want to part with the draft pick it will cost to sign him. If they don't end up signing Morales, they could just platoon Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia, while sometimes freeing DH up to provide other players with days off from fielding.
- Curtis Granderson of the Mets and Ubaldo Jimenez are likely to be the biggest busts of this year's free-agent class, various GMs tell ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider-only). One GM cites Granderson's home run total will drop in Citi Field, and another says Jimenez's inconsistent delivery will be an issue.
- The Diamondbacks or Mariners would be the best fit for the Rays' David Price, GMs tell Bowden. Arizona could sign Price long-term and has the talent needed to get the Rays to part with him, one GM says.
The Mets are happy with Ruben Tejada as their starting shortstop, special assistant J.P. Ricciardi tells WEEI's Rob Bradford and John McDonald (yes, that John McDonald). "I think in Ruben’s case, he got a lot early in his career and I think he’s starting to realize that he has to work a lot harder than he has in the past, and he has," Ricciardi says. "I think next year he’s going to be a better player than he was this previous year."
Stephen Drew remains a free agent and would provide an immediate upgrade at shortstop. While Ricciardi doesn't go into details about Drew in particular, he makes clear that the shortstop market is not what the Mets would like it to be. "I think in this case there’s a lot of shortstops that are already in place," says Ricciardi.
Last week, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said the Mets were also exploring trade possibilities at the position, but that there was a greater chance than there was at the beginning of the offseason that Tejada would open 2014 as the team's starting shortstop.
While it doesn't necessarily sound like the Mets will be big players for Drew, who rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox, Ricciardi notes that, in general, he thinks the issue of draft pick forfeiture is only a minor consideration. The Mets' first-round pick in 2014, No. 10 overall, is protected, but the team already gave up its second-round pick to sign Curtis Granderson. "One of the things that is happening in baseball right now, that I scratch my head with [is that] young players are so overvalued right now, and I think falls in with the draft picks, too," Ricciardi says. "No one builds through the draft. You add through the draft." Ricciardi says that, to him, proven big-league players are more valuable.
Earlier today, the Yankees reached agreements with both Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton.They're likely to continue adding pieces, however. A source confirmed to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link) that the Yanks have spoken to Mark Reynolds' agent, though nothing is close on that front. Here's the latest on Reynolds, the Yankees and the Mets...
- The Yankees are in on Reynolds, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but they'll face competition from the Twins, Angels and others in their attempt to land him.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have also expressed interest in Jeff Baker as a potential right-handed bat to get some time at second base and third base (Twitter link). Baker mashed against lefties in 2013, posting a .314/.407/.667 batting line with 10 homers.
- Daniel Murphy has seen his name in trade rumors this offseason, but he says his agents came away from the Winter Meetings with the impression that he'll be with the Mets in 2014, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Sources tell Rubin that the Mets continue to listen on Murphy, but the asking price is high.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says that two to three teams are potential trade partners at shortstop, although the chances of Ruben Tejada starting Opening Day at the position are much better than at the end of the season, Rubin writes. "Well, I think it is more likely certainly than it was a couple of months ago, let's say," the GM said. "But we've improved the team at other positions. And so giving Ruben a chance to reestablish himself as an everyday player isn't such a bad thing. But we'll continue to monitor what's there from the trade market and conceivably free agency, although there really isn't much left there. There are two or three teams that are possibilities."
- Alderson also suggested he would be looking for an equivalent return to what others have received for trading first basemen. The Marlins got 23-year-old Carter Capps from the Mariners for Logan Morrison last week.
- The Mets GM expects a fifth-starter candidate to be signed on a minor-league deal. That would allow Jenrry Mejia, Jacob deGrom, and Rafael Montero to compete for a spot out of spring training and help ensure that top prospect Noah Syndergaard would not be blocked from a summer promotion.
- While it's not a huge surprise, Alderson downplayed the Mets' odds of landing Masahiro Tanaka.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson met with reporters in Orlando on the eve of the Winter Meetings. Here are the highlights (all links go to Twitter):
- Alderson acknowleded the Mets will not add another free agent of Stephen Drew's caliber and price tag unless a contract is moved, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets the Mets are telling clubs any other noteworthy deals will come via trades, not free agency.
- The Mets are bracing themselves for the possibility Ruben Tejada will be the Opening Day shortstop, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma.
- "If we have to go into the season with Tejada as our shortstop, we need to make sure we're happy with that given what else we've done," Puma quoted Alderson as saying.
- Alderson wouldn't say how far along the Mets are in resolving their first base situation, Rubin tweets. Sources tell Martino the Mets' strong preference remains trading Ike Davis and keeping Lucas Duda and a deal could happen this week. In a separate tweet, Martino adds the Mets feel Davis could have more trade value in January, but are eager to settle the matter now.
- Alderson isn't totally comfortable with having two prospects in the starting rotation, tweets Rubin.
- Alderson indicated Eric Young, Jr. is more than a reserve leading Rubin to believe Daniel Murphy could still be traded. Martino tweets one team has already been told the Mets are willing to move Murphy this week.
There's been a lot of talk about the Mets following the "Red Sox model" of signing multiple mid-tier free agents to shorter-term deals without sacrificing draft picks this season, but Matt Meyers of ESPNNewYork.com writes that this model won't work for the Mets. New York doesn't have a positional core like Boston had in Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz, nor can the team match Boston's $150MM payroll. Meyers feels that the Mets should follow the Indians' model this winter and look at the Pirates' philosophy long-term. To fans clamoring for big free agent spending, Meyers points out that such actions are precisely what dug the team into its current hole. More Mets links for your Tuesday afternoon...
- David Wright appeared on ESPN New York radio recently, stating that he's not worried about the team's slow start to the offseason and adding that he thinks GM Sandy Alderson "has some tricks up his sleeve." (ESPN's Adam Rubin has some quotes transcribed) Wright elaborated: "In all reality, I think that the offseason doesn't really necessarily kick off until the winter meetings, and that starts right after Thanksgiving ... have some faith because, like I said, I fully expect us to be a much better team moving forward. Hopefully that will begin at the winter meetings or shortly after Thanksgiving."
- Barring a surprise signing of Stephen Drew, it's looking more and more like the Mets will open 2014 with Ruben Tejada as their shortstop, writes MLB.com's Anthony DiComo in his latest Mets Inbox. DiComo points to Cardinals GM John Mozeliak's comments about how steep the prices are for shortstops on the trade market in suggesting that such a move isn't likely to occur. Rafael Furcal may be an upgrade, but as DiComo points out, he's far from a sure thing.
- The large number of holes the Mets have to fill puts Daniel Murphy "at risk of being elsewhere" next season, DiComo adds. The Mets could move Eric Young to his natural position, second base, and address a different hole by trading Murphy.
- Also from DiComo, the Mets would like to find a veteran backup catcher, but that's low on their list of priorities at this point. He tells a reader that while John Buck would likely be a nice it, Buck probably prefers to find a larger role with a team than the Mets can offer.
- The Mets did indeed check in on Ryan Braun, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, though the inquiry consisted of four words, Alderson told Heyman: "What's up with Braun?" Alderson asked Brewers GM Doug Melvin before finding him to be unavailable. The Mets are continuing to pursue corner outfielders Nelson Cruz and Curtis Granderson, however, Heyman writes.
Joe Nathan agreed with Jim Bowden's suggestions of the Tigers, Angels and Yankees as good fits for his services, the veteran closer told Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM. Nathan said that finding a winning team was more important to him than location, he's prepared to be patient and see how his market develops, and he revealed that his old teammate Torii Hunter was trying to recruit him to come to Detroit. Tip of the cap to MLB.com's Jason Beck for providing an audio link to Nathan's interview and a partial transcript.
Here's some more news as we wrap up a busy day around baseball...
- The Phillies have a long-standing interest in Peter Bourjos and would love to have him, but they don't have the young pitching the Angels would want back in a trade, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The Phils would have to get a third team involved to work out a deal, or forget Bourjos entirely and focus on other outfield candidates; Rosenthal suggests Grady Sizemore as a bench possibility.
- Also from Rosenthal, rival scouts figure the Yankees will make a big push to sign international talent since they're already over the bonus pool limit for international signings and will be penalized anyway. It's worth noting that Joe Pawlikowski of the River Ave Blues blog believes Rosenthal may have miscalculated some figures and is actually saying the Yankees will overspend during the next international signing period, which opens on July 2, 2014.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez lists 10 teams who could possibly be trade partners for the Angels in their search for young, controllable pitching.
- Ruben Tejada's possible grievance against the Mets is just the latest sign of strained relations between the shortstop and the team, and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News figures the two sides are close to parting ways.
- The Rays plan to rotate Wil Myers, Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce and David DeJesus at DH this season, a move that will help keep the players fresh and also allow the club to save money on signing a designated hitter, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune writes.
- Five teams have shown interest in Yuniesky Betancourt as a second or third baseman, agent Alex Esteban tells Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith (Twitter link).
- The White Sox aren't used to picking as high as third overall in the amateur draft, MLB.com's Scott Merkin writes, but the club is hoping to use the high pick and larger draft bonus pool to fuel GM Rick Hahn's plan to restock the farm system.
The issue stems from a late promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas in September. Las Vegas was eliminated from the Pacific Coast League playoffs on September 7. The Mets waited to promote Tejada until September 10, and that left him with two years and 171 days of playing time. The Mets had promoted several players the previous day.
Another day of service time would have given Tejada three full years, thus potentially making him eligible for free agency after the 2016 season. As it stands, the earliest he can be eligible for free agency is after the 2017 season. He will, however, be arbitration-eligible this offseason as a Super Two player.
It is not uncommon for teams to time promotions based on service time considerations. Passan suggests, however, that they are not typically quite as obvious about it as the Mets were in Tejada's case.
If Tejada were to receive the extra day of service time, Passan writes, Charlie Furbush of the Mariners would become eligible for arbitration as a Super Two player. Super Two status is determined by a percentage of players with less than three years of service time, and Furbush would take Tejada's place among that group of players in such a scenario.
Tejada hit .202/.259/.260 in 227 plate appearances for the Mets last season. He currently appears to be in line to start at shortstop in 2014, although the Mets could pursue other shortstops in the offseason.
Here's a look at the latest on the Mets and Yankees..
- The Mets and Johan Santana are very likely to part ways this winter but team insiders say that the door is open a sliver of a crack for a return, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. When Martino suggested to one team source that the Mets would definitely cut bait with the left-hander, the person said, “that’s probably fair, but it’s premature to say never.”
- A source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com not to expect multi-year deals this offseason for notable players under the Mets' control. The Mets' best candidates for a deal like Jonathon Niese's five-year, $25.5MM pact from last offseason would be the arbitration-eligible Daniel Murphy, Dillon Gee, and Bobby Parnell.
- Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com asks if the Yankees should make a play for Chase Headley this winter. The Padres third baseman could be moved for the right package, but a baseball official familiar with the team's thinking says they'll need a "compelling offer" and the Bombers don't really have the necessary talent in their farm system to do that.
- Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada has returned to The Legacy Agency as a client after spending time with Praver/Shapiro, tweets Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal. You can keep track of everyone's representation with the MLBTR Agency Database.