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Ryan Dempster Rumors
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.
The Angels could shift their focus away from top free agent starting pitching and pursue relief depth if Zack Greinke’s asking price increases beyond their limit, Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports. Adding Japanese right-hander Kyuji Fujikawa to the bullpen might provide the Angels with enough depth to avoid spending on Greinke and other free agents whose asking prices could increase when Greinke signs.
The Angels are one of the top suitors for Greinke, along with the Dodgers, Nationals and Rangers, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com and MLB Network Radio reports (all Twitter links). However, the Angels haven’t made a play on Anibal Sanchez or Kyle Lohse, according to Bowden. The Angels, Rangers, Red Sox and White Sox are among the teams in play for free agent reliever Mike Adams, Bowden reports.
Dempster, 35, posted a 3.38 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 43.5% ground ball rate in 173 innings for the Cubs and Rangers in 2012. The 15-year veteran saw his average fastball velocity dip below 90 mph, but he continued generating swings and misses. His 10.4% swinging strike rate was right around his career mark of 10.8%. LSW Baseball represents Dempster, who has also been linked to the Dodgers, Twins and Cubs this offseason.
5:12pm: The Dodgers "are not in" on Kuroda, an industry source tells Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter link). Feinsand adds that the Angels appear to be out of the running for Kuroda as well.
4:00pm: The Yankees are seen as the favorites to sign free agent starter Hiroki Kuroda, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. In fact the Yankees are "very confident" they'll sign Kuroda, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Stark suggests Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees if he's pitching in MLB next year. However, Heyman reports that the Yankees sense a threat from Japan, where Kuroda pitched before joining MLB.
The Dodgers, Angels and Red Sox have also expressed interest in Kuroda, who is linked to draft pick compensation after declining a qualifying offer from the Yankees. It appears the Dodgers and Angels are shifting their focus elsewhere, Stark writes. The Dodgers are now pursuing Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Ryan Dempster and others, according to Stark. The Angels are also targeting Greinke.
Here's the latest from Bob Nightengale of USA Today…
- The Dodgers are "aggressively pursuing" Torii Hunter according to a team executive. GM Ned Colletti wouldn't confirm the team's interest, but he did say that he did not have any trade talks about Andre Ethier during the GM Meetings this week.
- The Dodgers will have meetings early next week to formulate a plan that involves signing Hunter and acquiring a frontline starter. They've already spoken to representatives for Zack Greinke and Anibal Sanchez, but are out on Ryan Dempster.
- The Rangers tried to acquire Andrelton Simmons from the Braves so they could flip him to the Diamondbacks in a deal for Justin Upton. Arizona wants a young shortstop, but Texas is loath to give up Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar. Atlanta wouldn't budge, however.
Here's the latest on the Twins from Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN…
- So far, the Twins have reached out to free agents Brandon McCarthy, Anibal Sanchez, Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and Brett Myers. They're interested in Myers as a starter. They've also reached out to Brandon Webb even though he hasn't thrown a pitch in the big leagues since 2009.
- The club continues to have regular conversations with Alan Nero, who represents right-hander Scott Baker. The two sides are working on a new contract after Baker's $9.25MM option was declined.
- The Twins have not shown any interest in Jon Garland and were not present when the right-hander threw for teams during an audition back in September.
- Talks with reliever Jared Burton about a contract extension are underway. Matt Swartz projects a $2.1MM salary for the right-hander next season, after which he'll become a free agent.
- The Twins have inquired about reliever Randy Messenger, though the Hanshin Tigers in Japan will not allow the right-hander out of his contract.
- The team has not contacted Bill Bray after he hit free agency. Special assistant Wayne Krivsky acquired the left-hander during his tenure as Reds GM.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has another batch of news items out of the general managers' meetings in Indian Wells, California…
- While the Rays have the pitching depth to move two of their starters, they're likely to move just one of their pitchers. David Price and James Shields are the biggest trade chips, though most in the industry feel Tampa Bay will keep both aces to make a play for the AL East title in 2013. There is "no chance" Price is dealt this winter, one rival executive tells Rosenthal, though Price could be moved next offseason.
- The Brewers are interested in free agent right-hander Ryan Dempster.
- The Mets' willingness to trade R.A. Dickey is seen by "many in the industry" as a tactic to get Dickey to accept a club-friendly extension, which Rosenthal thinks is a flawed strategy.
- Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima is now a free agent who can sign with Major League teams without going through the posting process. Rosenthal says the shortstop-needy Diamondbacks and Athletics are "at least mildly intrigued" by Nakajima and the Giants could also pursue Nakajima as a second baseman if they can't re-sign Marco Scutaro. The Yankees won the right to negotiate with Nakajima last winter after submitting a winning posting bid of $2MM, but Nakajima couldn't come to terms with New York and he re-signed with the Seibu Lions. The 30-year-old Nakajima has a .310/.381/.474 batting line and 104 homers over the last six years with Seibu.
Though it can be argued that misses in free agency were the cause of Boston's disastrous 2012 season, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald thinks that shrewd free agent signings could help the team quickly return to prominence. Here's the latest from Fenway Park…
- The team has "shown only preliminary interest" in Ryan Dempster, reports Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter link). Lauber notes that the Sox also didn't make a major push for Dempster at the trade deadline, though that could have been because they already considered the season lost.
- Red Sox officials were "seen meeting on" free agent catcher Russell Martin at the GM meetings, tweets CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. Signing Martin "might require more moves" for Boston, given the presence of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Lavarnway behind the plate.
- Though the Diamondbacks are said to be looking for a third baseman, shortstop or starter in a Justin Upton trade and the Red Sox have several young players at those positions, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe doesn't think the Red Sox would part with any of their young core at this time.
- “Just because the Red Sox are coming off one losing season, I don’t lump them in with the non-contenders,” one player agent tells Scott Lauber. “Knowing what we know about the Red Sox, the market they play in, they’ll be back in the fray.” Another agent, however, predicts that veterans pursuing short-term deals on World Series contenders (such as Boston targets like Hiroki Kuroda or Torii Hunter) might avoid the Red Sox since the club doesn't look like it will turn things around by next season.
- GM Ben Cherington said the team is focusing on other needs besides at shortstop, reports Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. This would seem to indicate that the position is Jose Iglesias' to lose, though Abraham predicts the Sox will sign a veteran backup at short.
- Assistant GM Mike Hazen discussed Boston's young talent, the idea of trading prospects for established stars and other topics in a radio interview on WEEI's Red Sox Hot Stove Show. WEEI.com's Alex Speier has the partial transcript.
The Blue Jays are casting a wide net in their search for pitching, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. They have already shown interest in Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, and Ryan Dempster, among others.
Toronto is also one of several clubs to inquire about Scott Baker, joining the Red Sox, Cubs, and Rangers. The Twins recently declined the right-hander's option but hope to sign him to a new deal. The Blue Jays have made no secret of their goal to add pitching this offseason, either through trades or free agency. Free agents can begin signing with new teams tomorrow morning.
It was on this day in 1962 that Joe Morgan signed his first pro contract, joining the Houston Colt .45s as an amateur free agent. Morgan spent his first nine seasons in Houston before being traded to the Reds and establishing himself as arguably the best second baseman in baseball history.
Here's the latest from the NL Central…
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer confirmed to ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla that the team had made "contact and it was preliminary" with Ryan Dempster, though Hoyer was quick to minimize the importance of the meeting, saying "it was sort of a bump-into thing." It was reported earlier today by MLB.com's Carrie Muskat that the Cubs had been in touch with Dempster's agent.
- "We’ve got the connection with (hitting coach) Johnny Narron but we don’t have the connection with U.S. Bank,” Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the chances of the Brewers splurging on Josh Hamilton this winter. Melvin noted that he would like to acquire relief pitching this offseason but was wary given the rising prices of quality bullpen arms.
- Also from Haudricourt, he hears from Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash that the club has no plans to re-sign either right-hander Jose Veras or outfielder Nyjer Morgan, both of whom were outrighted off Milwaukee's 40-man roster over the last two days.
- The Cardinals have signed 16-year-old Dominican outfielder Henry Alvarado to a $150K contract, reports Ben Badler of Baseball America. Alvarado is described as being best suited to left field or possibly first base, and he "stands out for his righthanded bat, sound approach and occasional power."