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Several player agents tell Larry Stone of the Seattle Times that the Mariners' chances of attracting free agent hitters have improved now that Safeco Field's fences are being moved in. That said, while the shorter fences will help, "players look at all of those factors, but in the end, it still comes down to where they can get the best contract. And it always will," one agent says.
Here are some items from a very busy day in baseball….
- The Dodgers met with Zack Greinke on Thursday, tweets Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports.
- In an interview with 1500 ESPN Twin Cities radio (via Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN), Twins assistant GM Rob Antony said his team will likely pursue free agents over trades at the Winter Meetings. "We probably don't have a lot of pieces that we do have to trade for starting pitching [with Denard Span now gone]," Antony said. "We'll probably be a little more aggressive and spend our time at the winter meetings talking to agents rather than clubs."
- Russell Martin said the Yankees told him they didn't have the money available to match Pittsburgh's two-year/$17MM offer, reports David Waldstein of the New York Times. The Yankees didn't make Martin an offer and have yet to make any offers to position players this offseason, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (both links are to Twitter).
- The Yankees aren't likely to pursue either A.J. Pierzynski or Mike Napoli, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York.
- The Pirates considered pursuing Napoli but didn't think he could stay healthy and effective as a full-time catcher in the NL, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Royals offered Ryan Dempster a two-year, $26MM contract but are no longer bidding on the Canadian right-hander now that his price tag has risen, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. At least six teams besides Kansas City have been connected to Dempster this offseason.
- Also from Dutton, the Royals offered Scott Feldman a one-year, $4.5MM deal before the righty agreed to a one-year, $6MM contract with the Cubs earlier this week.
- MLB.com's John Schlegel lists 10 potential bargain signings on the free agent market.
- The week's minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
- Orioles GM Dan Duquette tells MASNsports.com's Mel Antonen (Twitter link) that negotiations with Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders have been a "little slow" to develop.
Happy birthday to Rangers outfielder Craig Gentry, who celebrates his 29th birthday today. Gentry is a threat against left-handed pitching (an .859 OPS against southpaws in 2012) and has emerged as one of baseball's best defensive outfielders, posting a 27.5 UZR/150 over his four-year career. Here's the latest from Arlington…
- Not much has changed between the Rangers and Josh Hamilton, GM Jon Daniels told reporters (including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan) during a conference call. Daniels says that he has stayed in touch with Michael Moye, Hamilton's agent, and they will talk again once Moye and Hamilton have fully tested the free agent market.
- If Hamilton left, finding a new outfielder is "not necessarily our first priority," Daniels said, noting that he is happy with Texas' internal outfield options.
- Daniels didn't comment on Zack Greinke, but noted that while he's happy with his rotation, "you're always looking out for starting pitching…always looking to upgrade Do we have to? Not necessarily. It's something we're looking at." We've heard that the Rangers, Angels, Dodgers and Nationals seem to be Greinke's most fervent suitors.
- Two rival executives tell CBS Sports' Scott Miller that they think Hamilton will re-sign with Texas. “As long as Hamilton is willing to take a shorter contract, and I think he’s going to be forced into that," said one NL executive. Miller also looks back at the original trade that brought Hamilton to the Rangers from the Reds, discussing the deal with then-Cincinnati GM Wayne Krivsky.
- The Rangers made Russell Martin a two-year contract offer, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. Martin agreed to a two-year, $17MM deal with the Pirates earlier today.
9:14pm: The Pirates originally offered Martin a two-year contract according to George A. King III of The New York Post, but they've since increased the offer to three years and upwards of $22MM. Meanwhile, Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports the Pirates never made an offer as high as $25MM.
3:08pm: Martin sees potential in the Pirates and has a favorable opinion of manager Clint Hurdle, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (all Twitter links). One executive believes the dynamic between the Pirates and Yankees would get interesting if the Pirates offered Martin a three-year, $24MM contract. Other teams remain in the mix on Martin.
8:15am: The Pirates appear to be making a serious attempt to sign free agent catcher Russell Martin, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Though the Rangers and Mariners are also suitors for Martin, he will likely choose between the Yankees and Pirates. The decision could occur before next week’s Winter Meetings, as Martin is expected to choose within several days.
The Pirates might out-bid the Yankees for Martin, Heyman reports. Pittsburgh could offer $25MM over three years, but the Yankees don’t appear to be in that range. It appears that the Yankees are offering a two-year deal, though if they sweeten their offer in terms of years or salary, that could be enough to bring Martin back to New York.
Andrew Marchand reported yesterday that Martin seeks a four-year deal worth $9-10MM per season.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
It's a good time to be a free agent catcher with power. Interest in Russell Martin remains strong, and the market for Mike Napoli seems similarly active. Here’s the latest on Napoli on a day that he had been scheduled to meet with the Rangers…
- The Rangers remain focused on Napoli, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Their interest in Martin will increase only if Texas believes Napoli’s asking price is too high.
- The Red Sox are in contact with Napoli, Nick Swisher and Cody Ross and all three free agents remain in play for Boston, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Napoli, Swisher and Ross appear to be the top targets for the Red Sox, who seek help at first base and in the outfield. One executive said he views the Red Sox as the favorite to sign Napoli. Like Swisher, Napoli has the versatility to play multiple positions, a bonus for the Red Sox.
It's been a busy baseball day in New York, as the Mets made David Wright a nine-figure contract offer while the Yankees moved closer to re-signing Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Here's the latest out of the Big Apple…
- "Negotiations are progressing, that's all I can really say about it," said R.A. Dickey when asked about contract talks with the Mets during an appearance on ESPN's Mike & Mike (audio link). The knuckleballer admitted to being loyal to the club since they gave him a chance when others passed.
- David Lennon of Newsday says (on Twitter) it appears the Mets want to sign Wright to a new contract before wrapping things up with Dickey.
- Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York hears Russell Martin is seeking a four-year contract worth $9-10MM annually (Twitter link). He doesn't believe the Yankees will go that far.
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post reports (on Twitter) the Yankees are not having serious talks with Ichiro Suzuki at this time.
Free agent catcher Russell Martin is receiving significant interest from the Pirates and Mariners, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Yankees remain the favorites to sign Martin, but it appears that they'll have to duke it out with the Bucs and M's in addition to the Rangers.
Interest from the Pirates and Mariners makes sense as Pittsburgh has a glaring need at the position while the Mariners are looking for offense at a variety of spots, including catcher. The Mariners have Jesus Montero and John Jaso, but Montero is likely to see more time at DH next season.
Rosenthal writes that the Rangers in particular pose a significant threat to the cost-conscious Yankees who are looking to get under the $189MM luxury tax threshold by 2014. However, the Bombers might be willing to stretch for Martin if it requires about $2MM more than they would like to spend.
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com…
- The Yankees and Russell Martin are discussing a new contract, though Martin appears to be talking to at least one other team. Talks involving the free agent catcher are “heating up,” according to Heyman. The Yankees made progress with Martin over the weekend, though the sides were apart on dollars several days ago. The Rangers have Martin on their list and other teams, such as the Pirates, Mariners and White Sox, are considering catchers.
- The Yankees are confident they can re-sign Ichiro Suzuki, Heyman reports. The Yankees expect to reach a deal with the free agent outfielder, who has said he hopes to return to New York.
- The Red Sox, Braves and Giants appear to be looking at Nick Swisher, Heyman reports. The market for Swisher seems strong enough for him to obtain a deal of at least four years and executives see the outfielder signing for $12-14MM per season. The Red Sox like Swisher’s versatility since they have openings at first base and in the outfield. Meanwhile, the Braves and Giants are also looking for corner outfield help.
On this date in 1957, Yankees outfielder Mickey Mantle won the AL MVP, narrowly edging out Ted Williams of the Red Sox for the award. Williams had superior numbers on a per at bat basis, but Mantle played in more games, had more wins above replacement and the Yankees won the pennant. Here are today's AL East links…
- The Orioles acquired Trayvon Robinson for Robert Andino because Robinson is more affordable and the O's already have lots of options at second base, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun writes. However, if the out of options Robinson doesn't make the team out of Spring Training, expect executive VP Dan Duquette to move on.
- The Yankees haven't made Russell Martin a contract offer yet, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. In fact the Yankees haven't made offers to any free agents, including Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. King's sources suggest Martin can command three years at $8-10MM per season as a free agent.
- ESPN.com’s Buster Olney discussed the Orioles and Red Sox earlier today. Here’s MLBTR’s look at the highlights from Olney’s piece.
- You can read about the offseason outlook for each AL East team here.
- It appears A.J. Pierzynski will play for a team other than the White Sox in 2013, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. While the sides are both interested in working out a new free agent contract, factors such as payroll space, timing and Tyler Flowers could mean Pierzynski signs elsewhere.
- The Rangers are considering Russell Martin, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports (Twitter links). With Napoli on the open market, the Rangers are looking to free agency for potential replacements. Rival executives expect the Rangers to non-tender Geovany Soto, Olney reports. Back in August I explained why Soto could be non-tendered this offseason.
- Check out MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker for a detailed look at available catchers.
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com..
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman doesn't expect Hiroki Kuroda or Nick Swisher to accept their qualifying offers, Heyman tweets. We learned last night that Rafael Soriano will reject his as well, but the sides are still talking (Twitter link).
- Even though the Giants have been getting calls on Brandon Belt, they won't be trading him, according to Heyman (via Twitter). The club's current goals are to goals are to re-sign Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro while fortifying their bullpen. That includes retaining Jeremy Affeldt, if they can.
- The Red Sox don't see Zack Greinke as a fit for Boston but they are still thinking a bit about Josh Hamilton, Heyman tweets. It remains unlikely that the Red Sox will go for the free agent slugger, however. Earlier today, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote that the Phillies could be one surprise suitor for Hamilton.
- The Mariners have reached out to catchers Russell Martin and Mike Napoli, tweets Heyman. Heyman adds that General Manager Jack Zduriencik is also looking at corner outfield bats. Nick Swisher is one corner bat that the Mariners are considering, Heyman tweets.
- The Giants have been getting lots of calls on Brandon Belt, according to Heyman (via Twitter). Belt comes with solid upside and quality defense and is not yet arbitration-eligible.