Ryan Hanigan Rumors

Padres, Red Sox Swap Hanigan, Middlebrooks

9:47pm: The Red Sox have announced the one-for-one deal.

10:19am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the agreement is in place, but WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets that the trade is contingent on Middlebrooks passing a physical.

9:56am: The Padres and Red Sox are nearing a trade that would send catcher Ryan Hanigan from San Diego to Boston in exchange for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (Twitter link).

The Padres have yet to so much as make their acquisition of Hanigan official, as the three-team deal that will net him and outfielder Wil Myers hasn’t been announced by the clubs. However, that hasn’t stopped them from shopping around one of their newest acquisitions and figuring out the framework for a deal that seemingly helps both parties involved.

Hanigan, 34, is an excellent defensive catcher coming off a season in which he batted just .218/.318/.324 in his first season with the Rays. He’s owed a total of $8MM over the next two seasons (including the $800K buyout on a $3.75MM club option for 2017) and could pair well behind the plate with Christian Vazquez in Boston.

The 26-year-old Middlebrooks was once one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization, but he’s yet to replicate the .288/.325/.509 batting line he put together in his rookie season of 2012. Since that time, Middlebrooks has dealt with injuries and a rapidly rising strikeout rate, both of which have contributed to a paltry .213/.265/.364 batting line from 2013-14.

Despite those struggles, Middlebrooks still has upside, and he fills a need at third base for the Padres, who can now turn to Derek Norris and Tim Federowicz behind the plate in 2015. The Red Sox were unlikely to find significant playing time for Middlebrooks anyhow after signing both Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez this offseason. While the return of a defensive-minded catcher is certainly less than Sox fans may have hoped for given past hype surrounding Middlebrooks, the swap does improve and deepen Boston’s roster for 2015.

San Diego can control Middlebrooks through the 2018 season, and he won’t be eligible for arbitration until next offseason.


Padres Acquire Wil Myers In Three-Team Trade With Rays, Nats

FRIDAY: The trade is official, with all three teams announcing its completion as reported.

THURSDAY: The deal will likely be officially announced on Friday morning, Roger Mooney of the Tampa Bay Tribune reports (via Twitter).

WEDNESDAY: The Padres, Rays, and Nationals have agreed to a much-anticipated three-team swap — pending physicals — that will deliver important pieces to and from each club, Jim Bowden of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. A rough structure of the deal seemed to have taken form in recent hours, and Bowden has reported its final contours in a series of tweets (links: 1, 2, 3, 4.) The deal is unlikely to be announced before Thursday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays

Outfielder Wil Myers will head to San Diego as the centerpiece of the trade, and indeed the entire pact will depend upon the health of his balky wrist, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports notes on Twitter. San Diego receives young hurlers Gerardo Reyes and Jose Castillo from Tampa as well, joined by veteran big league catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Heading to Tampa from San Diego are backstop Rene Rivera, righty Burch Smith, and first base prospect Jake Bauers. Much of Tampa’s haul, however, will come from another source, as the Nationals will send outfielder Steven Souza and young lefty Travis Ott to Tampa.

For the Nationals, their involvement in this complicated transaction nets them a pair of young players. Righty Joe Ross and shortstop Trea Turner (as a PTBNL) will each head from the Padres to D.C. by way of Tampa.

Unpacking this deal is not easy, but it certainly begins with Myers — not only the marquee piece of this trade, but also the key player in the deal that sent James Shields to the Royals two years ago. Since that time, Myers has had one year of immense promise and one injury-marred, unproductive season. There is risk, not least of which because Myers missed significant time with a wrist injury, but then again San Diego is adding a potentially premier hitter who only just turned 24 years of age and still has five years of control.

Myers will be expected to pair with Matt Kemp — if and when that deal is complete — to deliver a middle-of-the-order threat to what had been a punchless lineup. Both carry a broad spectrum of possible outcomes, which will if nothing else make San Diego a fascinating team to watch for the next several years. One wonders what the trade means for Seth Smith, who played well last year before signing an extension, but who took a step back in the season’s second half and no longer seems to have a place in the corner outfield.

San Diego will also roll some younger arms into a system that is now without a few of its more advanced pitching prospects in Smith and Ross. The right-handed Reyes, 21, spent last year working at the low-A level from the pen. He struck out 10.6 and walked 2.5 batters per nine, en route to a 4.09 ERA in 33 frames. Castillo, an 18-year-old lefty, signed to a $1.55MM bonus out of Venezuela and has spent each of the last two years with the Rays’ Rookie league affiliate, mostly as a reliever. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently gave an update on Castillo in his Rays prospect breakdown, noting that the projectable hurler has a big fastball and has returned to health after sitting out much of 2014 with a tender arm.

Then there is the swap of backstops. New Padres GM A.J. Preller has now moved both of last season’s primary catching options, and replaced them with a mix of the veteran Hanigan and, presumably, top prospect Austin Hedges. Hanigan, 34, came to Tampa last year in an even more confusing three-team swap, and the Rays promptly signed him to an extension. The Rays added him for his OBP skills and defensive chops, and he’ll bring the same out west. He’ll also carry $8MM in obligations over the next two years, including a buyout of a $3.75MM club option for 2017.

In Rivera, the Friars will lose and the Rays will add a 31-year-old journeyman who broke out last year in one of the most surprising, under-reported stories in the league. Rivera posted a .252/.319/.432 line — good for a 117 OPS+ at pitcher-friendly Petco Park — and swatted 11 home runs in 329 plate appearances. He also drew rave reviews for his overall defensive contribution, with Baseball Prospectus rating him among the game’s best behind the plate. Rivera will also be a good bit cheaper than Hanigan, as MLBTR/Matt Swartz project him to earn $1.3MM in his first run through arbitration.

In addition to making that switch behind the plate, Tampa will add a mix of younger players, among them two wild cards. Bauers is a 19-year-old, left-handed-hitting first baseman who has not yet tapped into his power in the low minors. The 19-year-old Ott was taken in the 25th round of the 2013 draft but has seemingly improved his stock since. A 6’4 lefty, Ott struggled upon being promoted to the Class A level, but apparently showed enough to draw Tampa’s interest.

The bulk of the return, however, comes with the effective swap of five years of Myers for 12 (or more) seasons of Smith and, in particular, Souza. The 24-year-old Smith struggled in a brief MLB debut in 2013, missing bats as well as spots (11.4 K/9 vs. 5.2 BB/9 in 36 1/3 frames). But he was excellent in 92 1/3 Triple-A frames that year, working to a 2.63 ERA with 9.9 K/9 against 2.2 BB/9. Unfortunately, after being hit hard upon opening 2014 back in the PCL, Smith was shut down with a forearm strain and has not thrown since. That, combined with pre-existing questions about whether he had the secondary pitches to stick in the rotation, reduce his value significantly.

The real prize for new president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman appears to be Souza, who will present a cheaper and more controllable, but somewhat older, replacement for Myers. Last year’s International League MVP put himself firmly back on the map with a huge .345/.427/.577 triple-slash with 18 home runs and 28 steals in 419 plate appearances, completing a quick ascent back up the prospect ladder after initially languishing in the Nats’ system. As Dave Cameron of Fangraphs notes, the athletic Souza actually projects to be Myers’ equal next year and in some ways probably has just as much upside. Of course, he has not shown that ceiling in the big leagues, as has Myers, but Souza is more controllable with just 72 days of MLB service to his name.

That brings us to the Nationals, who parted with Souza in large part because the team is locked in at the corner outfield for the next several years. In return, GM Mike Rizzo added a 21-year-old righty who was taken in the first round of the 2011 draft and has shown signs of reaching his potential. Ross (Tyson’s younger brother) currently sits at eighth on MLB.com’s list of the Padres’ top prospects, with the publication citing his strong mid-90s heater, good power slider, and still-developing change in his ranking. He’ll be expected to join a talented new wave of arms that may have some big shoes to fill if Jordan Zimmermann and/or Doug Fister are not retained for the long run.

But the true motivation for the Nationals’ involvement probably lies with the player to be named, which will reportedly become Turner once he is eligible to be traded. Taken 13th overall from N.C. State in last year’s draft, the 21-year-old has done nothing but improve his stock since. Over 321 plate appearances at the low-A and Class A levels last year, Turner slashed .323/.406/.448 with five home runs and 23 stolen bases. Of course, his college-polished bat will face bigger challenges as he moves up in the system, but he is said to be a good defender with outstanding speed. MLB.com has him at fifth amongst San Diego prospects, but he is especially important to the Nationals as they look to fill in younger options behind incumbent Ian Desmond, who is of course entering his final year of team control.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Upton, Montero, Rays, Hunter, Pirates

MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince names the ten players most likely to be traded this offseason and the Braves’ Justin Upton tops the list. Castrovince feels the Braves could obtain a similar, if not better, return than they received for Jason Heyward because Upton’s powerful bat has tremendous value.

Here are the latest notes from around baseball:

  • Miguel Montero placed tenth on Castrovince’s list and Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter) wonders if the hiring of Henry Blanco will create traction for the Cubs‘ interest in the Diamondbacks’ catcher, who was a Blanco pupil in 2014. The D’Backs have reportedly spoken with the Cubs, Dodgers, and White Sox about Montero.
  • With Jose Molina gone, the Rays are working to add a backup to Ryan Hanigan, either via trade or signing. They’d like a catcher with more experience than Curt Casali and, preferably, options, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • More from Topkin who reports, in addition to an expected trade of Matt Joyce and/or David DeJesus, the Rays may be looking to deal from depth in reserve infielders and relievers. He identifies Logan Forsythe and Sean Rodriguez as infield trade possibilities and Brandon Gomes as a bullpen arm who could be moved.
  • It may not be “sexy,” but the Red Sox‘s pursuit of Pablo Sandoval makes perfect sense, writes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. The Red Sox appear to be one of the finalists for Sandoval, alongside the Padres and incumbent Giants.
  • Torii Hunter told Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press he favors the Twins among the teams with which he is considering signing. “(Twins General Manager) Terry Ryan and I have talked several times, and there’s definitely a common interest there, for sure,” the veteran said. Ten teams reportedly have interest in Hunter.
  • The Pirates could re-allocate the resources set aside for Russell Martin to pursue rotation and bullpen help, a first baseman, and/or sign some of their young core to extensions, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


Rays Acquire Ryan Hanigan, Heath Bell In Three-Team Deal

The Rays, Reds and Diamondbacks successfully completed a three-team trade today, the teams have announced. Tampa Bay acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan (and promptly extended him) from the Reds and Heath Bell (pictured) from the Diamondbacks. The Reds will receive left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks. Arizona, meanwhile, was able to shed Bell's salary and will receive minor league righty Justin Choate as well as a player to be named later or cash from the Rays.

Bell-Heath

It was expected that Cincinnati would move Hanigan since they agreed to a two-year deal with Brayan Pena.  The 33-year-old had the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs. 

Hanigan will give the Rays three catchers with Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina already in the fold if Lobaton is not one of the outgoing players.  Molina is staying in Tampa Bay after agreeing to come back on a two-year, $4.5MM deal last month.

Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate.  He also has a reputation as a solid defensive backstop, having led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent).  He is also regarded as one of the best in the game at pitch-framing, a skill that he has in common with new teammate Molina.

Bell, 36, is owed $9MM this year in the final season of an ill-fated three-year pact he inked with the Marlins prior to the 2012 campaign. However, Miami is on the hook for $3.5MM of that figure, so the Rays have him for $5.5MM in 2014 while Arizona has him off the books. Bell rebounded from a dreadful 2012 campaign, to an extent, this past season. The veteran closer posted a 4.11 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. Bell saw improvements in his strikeout rate, walk rate and swinging-strike rate, giving the Rays hope that his so-so results were the product of unnatural BABIP and HR/FB marks.

Holmberg, 22, has spent most of the last two seasons at Double-A Mobile, where turned in a 2.75 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 26 starts this past season.  The lefty, who made his lone big league appearance on Aug. 27 vs. the Padres, was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in Arizona's system by Baseball America after the 2012 season.  Baseball America thinks highly of Holmberg's control and likes his chances of reaching his ceiling of becoming a No. 3 or 4 starter.

Choate, 22, posted a 2.88 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 40 2/3 in short-season Class-A this past year. It was the Stephen F. Austin State University product's first year of professional ball, as he signed with the Rays on a minor league deal out of independent baseball.

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports first reported that Hanigan was going to the Reds in a three-team deal (Twitter link). John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer later tweeted that the Diamondbacks were the third team involved. The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro was the first to report the involvement of Bell and Holmberg (Twitter links). Rosenthal added that Holmberg would go to Cincinnati. Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona reported that the Rays were the ones acquiring Bell (Twitter link). MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reported that Choate and a PTBNL or cash were headed to Arizona (on Twitter). Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted the financial details. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweeted that the PTBNL is not on Tampa's 40-man roster. 

Steve Adams contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rays To Extend Ryan Hanigan

2:06pm: Hanigan will get $2.75MM in 2014, $3.5MM in 2015, $3.7MM in 2016, and a club option worth $3.75MM in '17 with a $800K buyout, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter).

1:37pm: USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweets that Hanigan's contract is worth $10.75MM and contains a fourth-year club option that could push the deal to $13.7MM in total value.

1:34pm: The Rays have agreed to a three-year extension with newly acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). The Tom O'Connell client will be guaranteed $11MM over the life of the deal, per Olney.

Hanigan, 33, came to the Rays in a three-team deal involving the Reds and White Sox.  The veteran is coming off of the worst offensive year in his career as he slashed just .198/.306/.261 with a career-low tying two homers.  Hanigan offers Tampa Bay quality defensive play behind the plate as well as a disciplined approach at the plate, characteristics that Rays Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and GM Andrew Friedman certainly appreciates.  

Hanigan led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent).  His 40 percent career mark is about 12 percentage points higher than the league average, which tends to be around 28 percent.  For his career, Hanigan owns a .262/.359/.343 over seven seasons, all of which were spent with the Reds.

Zach Links contributed to this post.


Reds Likely To Move Ryan Hanigan

NOV. 15: Hanigan "is going to be traded," tweets Olney. Multiple teams are interested in Hanigan, and the Reds feel they can get a good prospect in exchange, Olney adds.

NOV. 8: The Reds have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent Brayan Pena, giving them three catchers on their 40-man roster: Pena, Devin Mesoraco and Ryan Hanigan. It appears that Hanigan is the odd man out, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears from a source that Hanigan is likely to be moved (Twitter link). ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Rays and Yankees, two teams with question marks at catcher this offseason, have liked Hanigan in the past.

Hanigan, 33, struggled through the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Hanigan to earn $2.3MM through arbitration this offseason, which should be a cheap enough sum for interested parties to take on. The main culprit in Hanigan's poor season appears to have been a .216 batting average on balls in play. That number figures to trend back toward his career mark of .283, especially when considering that Hanigan's batted-ball profile didn't radically change in 2013. In fact, Hanigan's 21.5 percent line-drive rate was actually a slight increase over his 2012 mark (21.2 percent) and is right in line with his career mark (21.9 percent).

Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate. Detractors may point to the lofty walk rate as a product of him batting eighth in an NL lineup so often (one spot in front of the pitcher), but Hanigan's career walk rate in more than 300 plate appearances out of the seventh slot in the order is higher than his walk rate in 1,110+ PAs in the eighth slot.

Hanigan also carries a reputation as a solid defensive backstop, having led the league in caught-stealing percentage in 2013 (45 percent) and 2012 (48 percent). His 40 percent career mark is about 12 percentage points higher than the league average, which tends to be around 28 percent. He's also known as one of the best in the business in terms of pitch-framing — an art he discussed at length with Ben Lindbergh for a Grantland piece back in May.


Red Sox Notes: Napoli, Payroll, Starters, Ruiz, Hanigan

Power bats are increasingly in short supply, both on the Major League free agent market and in the talent pipeline, writes Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. That could mean big dollars for this year's few legitimate power sources, says Gammons, chief among them Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli. So, is this a classic overpay situation? Maybe not, according to ESPN's Keith Law (subscription required), who pegs Napoli as one of the best values among corner infielders on the open market. Here's more from Boston …

  • Assuming that Napoli declines his qualifying offer, tweets Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan, the Sox will consider other players on the market rather than focusing solely on bringing him back.
  • The Sox' 2014 payroll may be somewhat more constrained than appears at first glance, WEEI.com's Alex Speier explains. This is the first season in which revenue sharing funds will be clawed back from some large-market teams and returned to paying clubs — depending upon their staying below the luxury tax line. Ticking through the club's obligations, and adding some room to add salary during the course of the season, Speier figures the team can add around $32MM in 2014 salaries before the luxury tax becomes a big concern. Or, he notes, the club could shed salary from a relatively deep area like starting pitching to gain additional flexibility.
  • Indeed, while last year's rash of injuries to the starting-rich Dodgers and Boston's own fateful letting-go of Bronson Arroyo provide cautionary tales, there is a reasonable argument to be made for trying to ship out a veteran arm, writes the Providence Journal's Brian MacPherson. In particular, given the thin starting market and big salary demands being tossed around, the Red Sox might reap a substantial return for some of its hurlers.
  • Who would the Red Sox really target in free agency? Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at several recently rumored possibilities, saying that catcher Carlos Ruiz could be a real target for GM Ben Cherington.
  • Assuming Boston isn't willing to top the market for Brian McCann, another backstop option is the Reds' Ryan Hanigan, MacPherson argues. The 33-year-old appears to be expendable after Cinci signed Brayan Pena to a two-year pact, and he could be a reasonably-priced, defensively reliable partner for David Ross

Quick Hits: Jackson, Cubs, Antonetti, Drew, Hanigan

Theo Epstein admitted that the Cubs "got a little ahead of ourselves" in signing Edwin Jackson to a four-year, $52MM contract last winter.  In response to a fan's question at a season ticket-holders event in Chicago, Epstein said the team “didn’t fully understand the scope of our situation, the overall situation with the timing of our business plan, the timing of our facilities and the timing of our baseball plan."  (hat tip to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times).  The Jackson signing was seen a surprise move for the rebuilding Cubs and it hasn't worked out thus far, as Jackson posted a 4.98 ERA over 175 1/3 IP in 2013.

Here are some more items as we head into the weekend…

  • Epstein told reporters (including MLB.com's Carrie Muskat) that he expects Jackson to be a positive for the Cubs next season, though he noted that the team plans to add more "quality" starting pitching this winter.  "Every starting pitcher we acquire is someone we hope is starting Game 1 of the World Series for us," Epstein said.
  • The Indians' biggest needs this winter are bullpen pieces and a complementary bat, Tribe general manager Chris Antonetti tells Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter link).
  • Scott Boras scoffed at projections that Stephen Drew would only find a three-year contract this winter, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  "A three-year deal, for a 30-year-old free agent, really?  Are these writers aware of what Elvis Andrus signed for?", Boras asked.  The Andrus comparison isn't as entirely outlandish as it first appears, since Andrus' eight-year, $120MM extension with the Rangers is only guaranteed for four years and $62MM since Andrus has opt-out clauses.  Still, even that price tag seems quite high — MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted Drew for a four-year, $48MM deal this winter and that was with reservations about the fourth year and the draft pick compensation attached to Drew's free agency.
  • Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan could be a better catching option for 2014 than Jarrod Saltalamacchia even aside from the financial considerations, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron opines (Twitter links).  Hanigan actually has a higher career WAR than Saltalamacchia (8.3 to 6.9) and could be available in a trade, while "Salty" could cost a team around $36MM in free agency.
  • The Dodgers should at least consider trading Yasiel Puig, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon argues.  He would certainly net more in a deal than any club's higher-priced outfielders and the Dodgers could be selling high on Puig since it's unclear whether his style of play will age well.
  • The Angels don't have much payroll room to make big changes for 2014 but MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby thinks the Halos might only need a few tweaks to contend.
  • The Tigers aren't likely to re-sign Ramon Santiago, MLive.com's Chris Iott reports, as the team has younger and cheaper utility infield options available.  Santiago, 34, has played for Detroit since 2006 and spent 10 seasons overall with the Tigers as a backup or part-time starter in the middle infield.

Red Sox Links: Beltran, Hanigan, Hanrahan, Rotation

Multiple reports indicate that the Red Sox are interested in Carlos Beltran, though the extent of that interest is somewhat up in the air. George A. King III of the New York Post reports that Boston is "aggressively" pursuing Beltran but are receiving early competition from the Yankees and Orioles. Elsewhere, the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo tweets that the Red Sox do indeed have interest in the eight-time All-Star, but a team source tells him they haven't been very aggressive to this point. Here are some more BoSox items for your Friday morning…

  • Red Sox assistant GM Mike Hazen appeared on WEEI's Hot Stove Show on Thursday to discuss David Ross and other internal catching options, how other teams may try to copy Boston's offseason strategy from last year and how the team could be more open to giving up their first round draft pick in order to sign a qualifying offer-rejecting free agent.  WEEI.com's Alex Speier has a partial transcript of the interview.
  • Another catching option could be Reds backstop Ryan Hanigan, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes.  Hanigan is expected to be shopped now that Cincinnati has signed Brayan Pena, and Hanigan's defense and on-base ability would certainly be of interest to the Red Sox.
  • Joel Hanrahanspoke with WEEI.com's Rob Bradford and discussed how difficult it was to watch from home in October this season — the first time one of his teams had ever been to the playoffs: "…I didn’t want to take time away from the trainers who are trying to keep the guys on the field who are playing. I didn’t want to be in the way. It was tough for me, but it was a whole heck of a lot of fun watching at home and seeing the success they had." Hanrahan said he's received calls from multiple eams already to check in on his rehab and spoke highly of Boston's training staff and the organization as a whole. According to Bradford, Hanrahan is throwing from 120 feet and hopes to have a few bullpen sessions under his belt prior to the onset of Spring Training.
  • The Sox may have six competent starters under contract for next season — Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, John Lackey, Felix Doubront and Ryan Dempster — but GM Ben Cherington told MLB.com's Ian Browne that he doesn't envision trading one of them this winter.
  • Barring a trade of Dempster or Peavy, WEEI.com's Alex Speier figures that the Red Sox will have just over $32MM to spend and still successfully avoid this year's $189MM luxury tax threshold. That number, theorizes Speier, could be the reason that the Red Sox couldn't afford to gamble on making qualifying offers to all three of Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Saltalmacchia, of course, was the odd man out and didn't receive a qualifying offer.
  • In a separate piece, Speier provides an excellent breakdown of the CBA's calculation of average annual value for luxury tax purposes, explaining how Lester's AAV next season will jump to $9.37MM now that his option has been exercised.

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post


AL East Notes: Smith, Hanigan, Yankees, Orioles

Exactly one year ago, the Rays and Cubs finalized an eight-player deal that sent Matt Garza to Chicago. 365 days later, Garza is on the block again, though so far teams have balked at the Cubs' asking price. Could Garza be back in the AL East before Opening Day? While we wait to find out, here are a few links from the division:

  • Although we heard in recent weeks that Tampa Bay was interested in Rockies' outfielder Seth Smith, the Rays may not have held onto Smith had they acquired him. According to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider link), one deal discussed earlier in the winter involved the Rays trading for Smith and flipping him to the Reds in exchange for catcher Ryan Hanigan.
  • Newsday's Ken Davidoff explains why the Yankees haven't made a move for one of the top starting pitchers (including Garza) available via free agency or trade.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com looks into the Orioles' search for a designated hitter.
  • Check out this morning's Red Sox notes here and last night's AL East notes here.