- Mets Acquire Eric O’Flaherty, Designate Alex Torres
- Dave Dombrowski Out As Tigers GM; Al Avila Named Replacement
- Rangers Release Wandy Rodriguez
- A.J. Burnett Expected To Miss Four Weeks With Flexor Strain
- Athletics Claim Danny Valencia
- Red Sox President Larry Lucchino To Be Replaced
- C.J. Wilson Likely Out For Season
- Dodgers, Braves, Marlins Complete 13-Player Trade
- Blue Jays Designate Danny Valencia, Ezequiel Carerra
- Orioles Designate Chris Parmelee
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- Dave Dombrowski Out As Tigers GM; Al Avila Named Replacement
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Ryan Madson Rumors
Perhaps notable among this year's wave of stories on early-spring physiques, a trimmer Pablo Sandoval has reported to Giants Spring Training, writes Chris Haft of MLB.com. Sandoval is aware that many will credit the weight loss to his impending free agency, but says he was motivated by his teammates and the desire to win a championship. Haft notes that Giants GM Brian Sabean indicated during the Winter Meetings this year that he'd consider a multiyear deal for Sandoval if he reported to camp in shape. More late-night links from around the majors:
- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez says he plans to offer encouragement to Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton, who both struggled mightily in 2013 (via MLB.com's Mark Bowman). "I'm going into the season, right now, thinking Danny is going to play second base," Gonzalez said.
- New Dodgers infielder Alexander Guerrero's transition from shortstop to second base "has not come easily," Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Guerrero's struggles at the position reportedly motivated the Dodgers' signings of Chone Figgins and Justin Turner.
- The Orioles will announce their deal with Suk-Min Yoon on Sunday, and both sides expect a press conference on Monday, Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com writes.
- A deal between the Tigers and free agent reliever Ryan Madson is unlikely, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck. Detroit had a scout in attendance at Madson's recent workout, but the team's interest is likely "limited to due diligence." While GM Dave Dombrowski has hinted at the possibility of adding another reliever, the Tigers prefer a minor league deal, Beck says.
As camps open around the game, let's take a look at a few notable free agents who remain unsigned:
- Though long-time shortstop Derek Jeter is now set to retire after the year, and the club faces questions around the infield, the Yankees are still not interested in adding Stephen Drew, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. Marchand notes that the club could have its eye on a bigger fish as an eventual replacement for Jeter, suggesting the possibility of looking at next year's free agent market or trying to trade for a big-contract star like Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes. But the availability of those options remains unclear, especially given that the Yanks possess a farm that most regard as below average. And while 2015 currently promises a nice crop of free agent shortstops — headlined, at present, by Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, and Asdrubal Cabrera — it is far from certain that all of those players will reach the open market.
- Echoing Marchand on the Yankees' interest, ESPN.com's Buster Olney told WEEI's Mut & Merloni (via WEEI.com's Jerry Spar) that Drew's market looks poor. The Pirates make sense in theory, says Olney, but the club seems very unlikely to give up its first-round pick to land him. Olney opines that the shortstop's best bet, at this point, could be to wait and see if a contender loses an infielder to injury. Though he agrees that Drew faces difficult market, Jonathan Bernhardt of Sports on Earth argues that Drew and agent Scott Boras should instead act quickly to speed up negotiations and get the best deal possible.
- Of course, one obvious landing spot all along has been the Red Sox, who could use Drew to bolster the left side of the infield without giving up a pick (other than the one they stand to gain should he sign elsewhere). As WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports, however, Boston has settled into the position that it would be interested in a one-year arrangement. That could take the form of a straightforward one-year deal, or could be structured with a low-value player option for a second season (like Adrian Beltre's 2010 deal) that would spread the contract's luxury tax impact.
- The Twins, who have been mentioned as a dark horse suitor for both Drew and outfielder Nelson Cruz, likely have sufficient payroll space to make an addition, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the team is not willing to meet the demands currently being floated on those players, and has not been in recent contact on either.
- Bean Stringfellow, the agent for starter Ervin Santana, rejected an apparent rumor that the Blue Jays had offered his client a three-year, $27MM deal, reports John Lott of the National Post. Stringfellow also dismissed the rumor that he had earlier demanded five years and $112MM for Santana. Though some clubs may hope to wait out the market for prices to fall, Stringfellow says he is not concerned by that possibility. "The calendar doesn't really affect us in that regard," he said. "The teams need the pitching by Opening Day. That's when the bell rings. I think a lot of clubs might think that as [Opening Day] gets closer, the price comes down. I would simply say to that, 'You're not filling your need for pitching, so I don't know why our value is any less when your need is still as great as what it was.'"
- Though Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to comment on any offers to Santana, he said that the club would remain true to its internal valuations of free agents. "We just haven't been able to line up on value, on years and dollars," Anthopoulos added with regard to the team's possible targets.
- Another team that is reportedly dabbling in the starting pitching market is the Mariners. The club is not just looking at top options like Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter), but is casting a "wide net" in its search for an arm.
- Free agent reliever Ryan Madson is looking for a major league deal, sources tell MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he received good reports from Madson's recent throwing session, but did not leave the impression that Philadelphia was the likely landing spot. "Our reports were good when we saw him," said Amaro, "so he's going to sign somewhere." As Zolecki notes, Philly may be unwilling to give out a major league deal, especially given Madson's injury history and the recent signing of A.J. Burnett.
The Brewers will have a record payroll in 2014, COO Rick Schlesinger tells MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "No matter how you measure it, and there are a lot of different ways to measure it, I can tell you that it's going to be north of $100 million," Schlesinger said. The COO went on to add:
"The way I look at it, you look at the growth of the industry in general, and how we're doing in revenues locally, and it makes sense. … The fans over the year have supported us, the national television dollars are increasing, the health of the game from a revenue perspective has never been greater, so it's only natural and fitting that we use those monies to invest in our product."
Here some more Brewer-centric notes for your Thursday afternoon…
- General manager Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that reports of the team's record $3.2MM agreement with Dominican prospect Yirver Gilbert Lara are premature. Haudricourt acknowledges that Melvin could simply be denying the agreement because MLB prohibits formal agreements until July 2 (teams frequently have pre-arranged deals in place), but Melvin also flatly denied reports that Lara was traveling to the U.S. for a physical. "There's nothing to that," the GM said.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers were among the teams to watch Ryan Madson's most recent throwing session. Melvin characterized the Brewers' presence as a matter of due diligence, noting that he hasn't contacted Madson's agent since the showcase. He did, however, say that it sounds like Madson threw fairly well.
- More from Haudricourt, who hosted a lengthy chat with readers of the Journal-Sentinel today. Among the topics discussed are the Brewers' bench and glut of first base options — Haudricourt cannot see Mark Reynolds, Lyle Overbay and Juan Francisco all making the club — as well as Milwaukee's farm system, manager Ron Roenicke's job security and Tyler Thornburg's role in the wake of the Matt Garza signing.
Here are some notes from the game's eastern divisions:
- After watching rehabbing reliever Ryan Madson throw on Friday, the Nationals came away impressed, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. Reportedly throwing in front of representatives from 15 clubs, Madson is said to have touched 93 mph during the session.
- Nationals rotation candidate Taylor Jordan suffered a broken ankle over the off-season, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Jordan seems to be ready to go, though manager Matt Williams says the club will keep a close eye on him to ensure that ankle issues do not impact his motion and create bigger problems.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke again about the club's shortstop situation, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. He tempered expectations of a Stephen Drew signing, saying that it remained possible but only "under the right circumstances." Alderson also said that the team was looking to the trade market, but a rival executive tells Carig that New York would probably need to give up young pitching to add anything worthwhile up the middle.
- The Orioles have stepped up their interest in Ervin Santana since losing out on Bronson Arroyo, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Though he is not sure how heavily the club will pursue the free agent starter, Connolly says that Baltimore is definitely still in the mix.
- Speculation arose that South Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon may have signed with the Orioles after a picture was apparently sent from his Twitter account purportedly showing him donning an O's cap. But two high-ranking team officials tell MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko that they have heard nothing about an agreement with Yoon (Twitter link). Likewise, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) that no agreement has been reached. Baltimore has certainly been linked to the 27-year-old, but as of now it is just one of five clubs in the mix, according to Rosenthal.
- Filling in for the suspended Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees expect to use Kelly Johnson as the left-handed side of a platoon at third, reports Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. GM Brian Cashman said that the team would pick from among "a cast of characters that are going to compete for that spot on the right side."
Johan Santana will throw for interested teams at some point soon, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com tweets. When he does, the Twins will be in attendance. Yesterday, Santana himself indicated that he had begun throwing off a mound, the latest step in his recovery from shoulder surgery. Here are more notes on free agents, all of them pitchers.
- Brian Burres threw for teams on Thursday, and he will throw again on Monday in Florida, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. Burres last appeared in the big leagues in 2011 with the Pirates. He spent 2012 in the Giants' system, and 2013 in Taiwan.
- The Red Sox continue to "check in on" reliever Joel Hanrahan, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports (via Twitter). Hanrahan's agent told MLBTR yesterday that Hanrahan would host a showcase for interested teams in March. Hanrahan is making his way back after a 2013 season mostly lost to elbow troubles.
- The Red Sox watched Ryan Madson on Friday in Arizona, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets. Like Hanrahan, Madson is a once-dominant reliever trying to make his way back after dealing with elbow problems. The Phillies are among the teams that have shown interest in Madson, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2011 as a Phillie.
Here's the latest on free agent situations around the league:
- Bronson Arroyo's decision came down to the Diamondbacks and the Orioles, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets, with Arroyo's preference to stay in the National League playing a role in his decision to sign with Arizona. Baltimore's best offer was "competitive" with the two-year, $23.5MM guarantee that Arroyo landed, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
- Reliever Ryan Madson hit 93 mph on the radar gun during an audition today in front of 15 clubs, reports Crasnick (via Twitter). Multiple teams have expressed interest in the one-time relief ace, who is working back after missing each of the last two seasons due to elbow issues. Madson's former club, the Phillies, are one of the teams that planned to watch Madson, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reported earlier today.
- Another rehabbing pitcher, former ace Johan Santana, tweeted today that he started throwing off of a mound this week. Last we heard, Twins GM Terry Ryan suggested that Santana probably would not be ready to throw competitive pitches until the summer.
- Multiple teams have shown interest in free agent reliever Brandon Lyon, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 34-year-old threw 34 1/3 innings of 4.98 ERA ball for the Mets last year, but advanced metrics (3.98 FIP, 4.48 xFIP, 4.38 SIERA) put a somewhat more positive spin on things.
- Free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel told SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (hat tip to Cotillo, on Twitter) that he is still open to playing. But having yet to hear from clubs with interest, Ankiel says he is "in a holding pattern."
Last night we heard the the Indians have begun to schedule their arbitration hearings, with right-hander Vinnie Pestano's set to come on Friday and Josh Tomlin's set to come on Feb. 14. The team can still work out a deal with either pitcher between now and those dates, but hearings are becoming more likely each day. More AL Central news…
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are expected to be among the teams in attendance for Ryan Madson's showcase on Friday. The former Phillies closer hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2011 and has been connected to the Mets and the Phillies in recent weeks.
- Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe isn't dreading the arrival of top prospect Miguel Sano, even though the 20-year-old Sano could take Plouffe's everyday job at third base, writes Dave Campbell of the Associated Press. Rather, Plouffe has befriended the Dominican slugger and looks forward to his arrival in Minnesota, even if it pushes Plouffe into a utility role: "I want to help the team win. That's all I really care about. Miguel is a great player, and if he comes up and helps our team, we want him. … If Sano's going to come up and help us, let's go."
- Although recently DFA'ed Royals infielder Emilio Bonifacio's $3.5MM salary is "probably an overpay," Mike Petriello of Fangraphs feels that he could be an improvement to nearly half the teams in the Majors. Bonifacio's baserunning has been the eighth most valuable in the game dating back to 2010 despite having 1,000 or so fewer PAs than most ahead of him on the list, and he's able to back up at third base and center field in addition to playing a solid second base, Petriello argues.
7:23pm: While the Mets are indeed looking for a late-inning reliever, and could give out a MLB deal to get one, the club is unlikely to land Rodney, a source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (via Twitter).
4:44pm: Though the Mets recently announced the signing of Kyle Farnsworth to a minor league deal, the team still has some money allotted for a "closer type" reliever, reports ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin, citing a source that is not affiliated with the club.
Fernando Rodney is believed to be New York's top target, but Rubin's source wouldn't rule out Kevin Gregg, Joel Hanrahan or Ryan Madson either. Other relievers on the market that come with closer experience include Carlos Marmol, Andrew Bailey and Brandon Lyon, though Lyon spent last season with the Mets with less than favorable results (4.98 ERA in 34 1/3 innings). Those next three names are just my speculation, not names that were mentioned by Rubin or his source.
Rubin writes that incumbent closer Bobby Parnell is confident that he will be healthy following surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. However, as Rubin points out, the Mets have little in terms of a fallback plan should Parnell go down with another injury. Hard-throwing Vic Black projects to be next in line for the closer's throne, and he has a total of 17 big league innings under his belt.
MLB.com's Jim Callis has an interesting breakdown of the dollars committed to the game's top prospects. Over $228MM has already been committed by teams to the prospects listed among MLB.com's top 100. Meanwhile, ESPN.com's Keith Law has released his own prospect rankings (Insider links), naming the Astros' system as the game's best and tabbing Byron Buxton of the Twins as the best overall prospect. In his own top 101 prospects list, Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus agrees with Buxton as the top choice, which certainly appears to be the consensus. And Baseball America has completed its listing of the ten best prospects by team.
Here are some more links from around the game:
- The Twins are keeping tabs on free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN, but are a long shot to land him. Minnesota is probably only interested if Cruz drops his price fairly significantly, Wolfson adds, guessing that the club would probably only be involved at two years with an average annual value at or below the $10MM mark.
- Likewise, the Twins are waiting for the price to fall on South Korean hurler Suk-min Yoon, Wolfson reports (Twitter links). When Wolfson floated the number of two years and $10MM total to his source, he was told that cost was likely too steep for Minnesota.
- Free agent reliever Ryan Madson plans to hold a full public workout on February 7th, reports Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The 33-year-old threw yesterday for an unknown club that is reportedly a leading candidate to land him, Crasnick adds.
- Starter Scott Baker chose the Mariners over offers from the Indians, Rangers, and Royals, reports Wolfson (via Twitter). The Twins never had interest in a reunion, Wolfson adds.
- Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers were discussing a deal in the range of $200MM to $205MM over the summer, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. By waiting until he wrapped up a Cy Young campaign, Kershaw was able to secure a deal with a $215MM guarantee.
Here's a roundup on players likely to sign minor-league contracts.
- The Phillies, Red Sox and Royals are among the teams in on Ryan Madson, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. Rosenthal also tweets, however, that Madson is unlikely to sign until after teams watch him pitch off a mound in February. Madson, who has struggled to return from elbow troubles, has not pitched in the big leagues since 2011, when he was with the Phillies.
- DH Jack Cust worked out for the Orioles this week, but it's unclear whether the team wants to sign him, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. "It's still under consideration," executive vice president Dan Duquette says. Cust did not play in 2013, but he posted a .243/.400/.442 line at the Triple-A level in 2012.
- Former Mariners and Padres reliever Jared Wells will work out for teams next week, MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets. Wells, 32, last pitched in the Majors in 2008. He played independent ball in 2013.