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San Francisco Giants Rumors
There’s already been some Pablo Sandoval chatter today, with the Red Sox reportedly making an offer and agent Gustavo Vasquez set to chat with the Giants via phone tonight. Vasquez and Sandoval are wrapping up a visit to Boston today, and there’s plenty more on the Kung Fu Panda…
- The Blue Jays met with Sandoval’s camp at last week’s GM Meetings, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. While the meeting is said to have gone well, no offer has been made at this point.
- However, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that while there’s been no offer to this point, within the next 24 hours, the Blue Jays are indeed expected to make a formal offer to Sandoval. That report adds a third seemingly serious club to the mix. Of course, it’s worth remembering that the Jays do have a team policy against contracts of more than five years, and Sandoval is said to be seeking a six-year deal north of $100MM.
- Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com heard from a source that emphatically denied a rumor out of San Francisco that said the Giants were “out” on Sandoval at this point. The Giants are still “very much” in play for Sandoval, McAdam reports, though he does note that it’s unclear how lengthy of a contract the team is willing to issue.
- Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle shoots down another portion of the apparently erroneous report to which McAdam referred, noting that Sandoval never asked for a seven-year deal from the Giants, who are still definitely in the mix (Twitter link).
- ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that even if the Giants don’t end up securing Sandoval, they’ll be able to walk away from the situation knowing they made a very strong, very legitimate effort.
- WEEI.com’s Alex Speier examines why it is the Red Sox prefer Sandoval to Hanley Ramirez, despite the fact that Sandoval is seeking a $100MM+ contract and comes with a significantly lesser offensive track record. Speier lists age, defense, durability and also makeup, which he notes is a concern for the Sox regarding Hanley. While Sandoval’s age and defense are larger factors, his excellent clubhouse reputation is an asset as well.
- The Red Sox and Giants remain the main players, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, but the Padres, White Sox and Blue Jays are all still in the mix. Heyman notes that while the Marlins have been a speculative fit in recent months, there’s been no contact from Miami at this point.
19-year-old Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada remains one of the most intriguing names to watch over the coming months. As he waits for OFAC clearance after being declared an MLB free agent, let’s check in on the latest:
- While it remains possible that the Cubs and Rangers — currently sitting out the big bonus side of the international amateur market due to past overages — could try to convince Moncada to wait until the summer to sign, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America, the young Cuban seems likely to come available too sign to make that the most plausible outcome. Badler ticks through the teams that, in his estimation, are best situated to make a serious run at Moncada. He lists the Nationals, Giants, Tigers, Rays, Angels, Braves, Red Sox, and Yankees, noting that New York would figure to be the favorite if they decide the want Moncada.
- Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs discusses an under-the-radar aspect of the CBA’s provisions regarding international signing penalties. Those dollars, which are steadily rising as multiple clubs blow past the signing limits — with Moncada potentially representing by far the greatest single outlay — are set to be utilized by the league for various, seemingly largely discretionary, purposes relating to international operations. One possibility contemplated in the CBA, funding for the implementation of an international draft, is particularly relevant here. As McDaniel explains, the burgeoning penalty dollars could conceivably go a long way towards a push for a draft. That, in turn, increases the incentives for teams to spend now rather than avoiding the penalties regarding limitations on future bonuses.
- Both Badler and McDaniel have, of course, been all over the Moncada market. You’ll want to give their pieces a full read to understand all the nuances. And remember that you can click on the Yoan Moncada tag to catch up on all the recent chatter.
The Mariners were in the mix for free agent catcher Russell Martin, reports MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince. It is not clear exactly what Seattle’s plans would have been with young backstop Mike Zunino, had they managed to land Martin, but it seems fair to assume that the club was only looking at the catching market for that specific player. Going forward, though, this report supports the idea that the M’s are indeed prepared to spend on the open market.
Here’s more from out west:
- Gustavo Vasquez, the agent for third baseman Pablo Sandoval, plans to speak with the Giants by phone this evening after wrapping up a lengthy visit to Boston yesterday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. His client could be on the horn as well, says Rosenthal. It is not yet known whether Sandoval came away from his visit with the Red Sox with a firm offer in hand.
- Veteran Giants righty Tim Hudson says he is likely to retire after 2015, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com). “I have one more year left on my contract, so I’m pretty sure that’s going to be it after this season,” Hudson said. “I just started my workouts yesterday, which is kind of crazy to me.”
- The Astros are readying for another, “fresh look” at the possibility of working out extensions, GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. Last year, of course, the club pursued several long-term deals with younger players, ultimately locking up Jon Singleton. Renewed exploration of a deal with catcher Jason Castro remains possible, said Luhnow, though Drellich reports that no talks are taking place at present. The catcher has consistently said he would be interested in a new deal to stay in Houston for the long run, though his name has come up as a possible trade candidate.
- Discussions went pretty far down the line last year, with Drellich reporting that the club made Castro an offer after his stellar 2013 season. Per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, that offer would have promised the now-27-year-old around $10MM for 2015-16 while conveying two option years (covering Castro’s first two seasons of free agent eligibility) to the team. Had they been exercised, the deal’s total value could have reached about $25MM. It is not hard to see why he declined that proposal, as Castro is projected by MLBTR/Matt Swartz to earn $3.9MM this year even after a rough 2014 campaign.
- MLB.com’s Corey Brock takes a closer look at Ed Lewis, the Diamondbacks‘ newly-minted director of baseball analytics and research. Needless to say, Lewis’s background — he is a veterinarian by training — is an unusual one for a MLB executive. But chief baseball officer Tony La Russa says that Lewis has a track record of working with baseball numbers. “Ed gave me my first introduction to advanced analytics when he worked with our offensive preparation in St. Louis and I’ve always been impressed with his intelligence and integrity,” said La Russa (via press release). “It was clear that [GM Dave Stewart] and [president/CEO Derrick Hall] were also very impressed by his wealth of knowledge. He is a scientist who is mathematically inclined and he knows the game. Most importantly, he understands our approach to it.”
The Giants and Red Sox have been rumored to be the main suitors for Pablo Sandoval all offseason, and the switch-hitting third basemen has discussed a five-year deal in the $80-90MM range with each club, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links). Crasnick adds that things could come together quickly for Sandoval, and says that Boston is a serious player for his services.
Sandoval is known to be in Boston right now and met with the Sox yesterday in addition to having a second meeting scheduled for today (as Tim Dierkes tweeted this morning). The Padres are also said to have expressed recent interest, but some expected suitors such as the Yankees, Marlins and Blue Jays have shown limited interest at best.
Five years is a significant offer, of course, but agent Gustavo Vasquez had no issue in telling the media that he was seeking a six-year pact for his client and cared more about the length of the deal than securing a gaudy average annual value. Tim penned a Free Agent Profile for Sandoval just yesterday, pegging him for that six-year term when all is said and done.
Pablo Sandoval has a case as the best free agent hitter this offseason, and demand is strong. The third baseman reached free agency at age 28, putting an exclamation point on his year with another huge postseason.
Sandoval is a career .294 hitter who has hit .315 or better in multiple full seasons. Known for his incredible hand-eye coordination, he makes contact about 87% of the time. His consistency in this area has been uncanny, as he’s never dipped below 86.5% or risen above 86.9% in any of his six full seasons. What’s more, Sandoval has no clear weakness, as Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs explained. He can hit pitches in and out of the strike zone, he can hit all types of pitches, and he can hit with two strikes. In 2008, Sandoval told Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated, “I like every pitch, no matter where it is.”
Sandoval’s weighted runs created plus (wRC+) of 114 from 2013-14 ranked ninth among third basemen. This stat is park and league-adjusted, giving Sandoval some credit for playing in a pitchers’ park.
Sandoval’s postseason heroics in 2012 and 2014 are legendary. He won the World Series MVP in 2012, hitting .500 with three home runs as part of an excellent postseason overall. This year, he raked to the tune of .366/.423/.465 in the postseason. Just 28 years old, Sandoval has already collected three rings with the Giants.
Though he’s a big guy, Sandoval plays a solid third base. His ultimate zone rating and defensive runs saved marks were both above average this year.
We’ve mentioned that Sandoval is just 28 years old. Such youth is a rarity for a free agent, and it’s a function of Sandoval reaching the Majors at age 21 and not signing an extension that gave up free agent years. The unique cases of Cuban free agents aside, Sandoval is the youngest prominent free agent hitter along with Colby Rasmus, who was born on the same day.
For all his postseason success, Sandoval’s regular season was his worst with the bat since 2010. His 6.1% walk rate was a career-worst for a full season, and it resulted in an unspectacular .324 on-base percentage. And while Sandoval flashed 25 home run pop early in his career, he’s averaged about 15 per 600 plate appearances over the last three seasons. He’s slugged just .416 over the last two campaigns, 67th among qualified hitters. This year in the regular season, Sandoval was roughly the hitter Trevor Plouffe, Daniel Murphy, or Brett Gardner was. Those are above average hitters, but not middle of the order cornerstones.
Sandoval’s baserunning has always been a detriment, bringing his overall value down. He has totaled 7.9 wins above replacement over the last three seasons, 81st in baseball among position players. He’s in a virtual tie with guys like Jon Jay and Jed Lowrie, who might be described as useful but are certainly not considered stars or among the best as their respective positions. By measure of WAR, Sandoval ranked 14th among third basemen this year, seven spots below fellow free agent third baseman Chase Headley.
Sandoval is listed at 5-foot-11 and 245 pounds, making him one of the game’s heaviest regular position players. He’s been at least 30 pounds heavier than that at different points. Using pounds per inch, Daniel Meyer of Beyond the Box Score noted, “Deep into the history of the past 143 years of recorded baseball history no player of Sandoval’s proportions has played more than a season’s worth of games at third base,” making Sandoval a trailblazer in what he’s done already. His weight raises questions about how well he’ll age, his future durability, and when he might have to move off the hot corner. Talk about Sandoval’s weight and conditioning have followed him throughout his career, as chronicled by Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today in February this year.
Since he received and turned down a one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer from the Giants, signing Sandoval will require draft pick forfeiture.
Sandoval was born in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela. He was born left-handed but learned to throw with his right hand at the age of nine so he could play catcher. Switch-hitting followed his switch-throwing a few years later. The Giants signed him in 2003 at age 16, as a catch-and-throw specialist behind the plate.
Sandoval is an exuberant player who usually has a smile on his face and is beloved by fans. He is nicknamed Kung Fu Panda, a name bestowed on him by teammate Barry Zito in 2008 when Sandoval scored a run by jumping over the catcher’s tag. The nickname took off, with thousands of Giants fans making Panda gear ubiquitous.
Sandoval has two daughters and resides in Venezuela in the offseason.
So far in free agency, Sandoval has been pursued heavily by the Giants and is in Boston today for a meeting with the Red Sox. The Padres, Blue Jays, and White Sox have also been connected, and agent Gustavo Vasquez met with most or all of the teams at last week’s GM Meetings. Just to expand the field as far as possible, teams such as the Yankees, Tigers, Astros, Angels, and Marlins don’t have third base entirely locked down even if they haven’t been linked to Sandoval recently. Sandoval has been a member of the Giants for his entire career, and after past championships the Giants retained their players. Prior to the season, the Giants reportedly tried to start the conversation with a three-year, $40MM offer with Sandoval seeking five years and $100MM+.
With Aramis Ramirez having re-signed with the Brewers, Sandoval’s third base competition consists of Headley and perhaps Hanley Ramirez. Headley holds the advantage of not being eligible for a qualifying offer. Plus, his defense-oriented profile won’t cost nearly as much. The trade market at third base is light, with perhaps Luis Valbuena, David Freese, Casey McGehee, Pedro Alvarez, and Plouffe in the mix.
Perhaps because of the postseason, his age, or the promise Sandoval showed in years like 2009, this is a player who is valued by the market well beyond his regular season statistics.
Vasquez has come right out and said his client is focused on the length of his deal and that six years would be reasonable given his age (Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reporting). Most agents don’t speak about that publicly, and most also seek one year more than they might privately expect the player to receive. I think in this case, Vasquez really does expect six years, and Sandoval will receive such an offer in the end. It is difficult to picture seven years unless that seventh year comes very cheaply.
Expectations seem to be for an average annual value of $18-20MM for Sandoval. I’m going with a six-year, $114MM deal.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Braves, Cubs, Giants, Red Sox, Royals and Twins are six of the teams thought to have asked for Justin Masterson’s medicals or otherwise checked in on the right-hander, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links). Though Masterson is coming off an injury-plagued season, he is drawing significant interest and could find a two-year deal on the open market. The Indians, Masterson’s former club, are also reportedly in the mix for the 29-year-old.
It’s no surprise that Masterson is generating this much free agent buzz, as the righty averaged 199 IP from 2010-13 and was one of the game’s best starters during the 2013 season. As MLBTR’s Zach Links noted in his Free Agent Profile of Masterson, a team could be in for a major bargain if the righty regains his old form. Whether he signs for one year or two, Masterson seems destined for a short-term deal as he’s banking on that return to form and the opportunity to set himself up for a more expensive multiyear deal next winter or after the 2016 season.
The six teams Crasnick lists present an interesting array of suitors, incorporating the two pennant winners, three teams looking to return to contention in 2015 and the rebuilding Twins, who can offer Masterson a pitcher-friendly ballpark to help rebuild his value. Team defense is also undoubtedly a big factor for Masterson, an extreme ground ball pitcher with a 56.6% career grounder rate.
NOV. 13: Yang will be posted next Monday, the 17th, reports Feinsand in an updated piece. Feinsand notes that the Yankees might show interest in the lefty, and he lists the Cubs, Astros, Giants and Red Sox as other clubs with potential interest.
NOV. 4: Another high profile Korean pitcher and his KBO team have decided to take a run through the posting system. As Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports, lefty Hyeon-jong Yang will be posted by the Kia Tigers in the next few weeks.
Yang joins countryman (and fellow 26-year-old southpaw) Kwang-Hyun Kim in preparing for the posting process. Kim outperformed Yang last year, registering a 3.42 ERA to the 4.25 mark notched by Yang in a notoriously hitter-friendly environment.
Feinsand’s sources tell him that Yang has a low-to-mid 90’s fastball and useful slider (as well as a curve and change) that could hold appeal. According to the Yonhap News Agency, which recently reported that Yang was interested in coming to North America, Yang’s 2014 season was fairly characteristic of his results. Over his career, per Yonhap, he has struck out 740 over 860 1/3 frames.
3:40pm: MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes hears that three of the four teams set to meet with Tomas would have been seen as “very unlikely” suitors, suggesting they’re of the dark horse variety (Twitter link). Meanwhile, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the Padres are no longer seen as a fit for Tomas.
Hall of Fame reporter Peter Gammons hears that Giants special assistant Felipe Alou is pushing the team to sign Tomas as a third baseman (Twitter link). Gammons also hears that the Phillies would likely have to clear some money in order to add Tomas.
Additionally, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday that Oakland has scouted and discussed Tomas, though they wouldn’t be involved at the rumored $100MM price tag. She speculates that if Tomas were open to a shorter-term deal that allowed him to hit free agency faster, Oakland would be in play.
3:26pm: Alou is still expected to meet with four MLB GMs in the Dominican in the next two days, he tells Arangure (Twitter link).
2:05pm: Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas is scheduled to fly to the United States tomorrow to meet with his agent, Jay Alou Jr., Jorge Arangure of Vice Sports reports on Twitter. A deal appears imminent, per Arangure, and could come as soon as this weekend.
Tomas, 24 tomorrow, has drawn significant interest around the league from clubs intrigued by the possibility of fielding his power bat through his prime years, a rare opportunity in the current market. There have been varying reports as to Tomas’s timeline for signing, with some suggesting that he is moving quickly with a small group of frontrunners and others indicating that a wide-open battle for his services is just beginning.
Argangure’s report does not give any indication of the team with which Tomas could be nearing a deal. Needless to say, Tomas ‘s ultimate destination will have an important bearing on the rest of the free agent market.
Here’s the latest on Pablo Sandoval, with the newest items at the top of the post…
- The Marlins and Yankees have yet to express any interest in Sandoval, MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Both teams were cited as possible suitors for the Panda’s services before the offseason began.
- Sandoval could be something of an underrated value, as WEEI.com’s Alex Speier compares the slugger to past comparables in similar free agent situations.
- Sandoval’s market seems to be down to the Giants and Red Sox, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Boston is “weighing other options” and in need of a “big play” to dislodge San Francisco as the favorite to sign the Panda. Rosenthal cautions that things could change rapidly, of course, if another team sees an opportunity to get into the bidding. The White Sox and Blue Jays have also been linked to Sandoval this offseason but their “interest seems limited.”
It would be “the longest of long shots” if the Yankees acquired Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus this offseason, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. Andrus’ eight-year, $120MM extension begins in 2015 and the Yankees aren’t interested in paying that type of superstar money to a player who hasn’t yet delivered on that level. “You would have to hope he turned a big corner if you took on that contract,” an executive tells Feinsand. “If he never gets any better, that’s a lot of money for a good — but pretty ordinary — player.” Ironically, the Yankees’ long-standing interest in Andrus was part of the reason why Texas extended him in the first place, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. It’s worth noting that Andrus has opt-out clauses in his deal after both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so the financial commitment may not quite be as lengthy as it seems.
Here’s some more from around the AL East…
- There isn’t any truth to reports that the Orioles made a three-year, $30MM offer to Billy Butler, a member of the organization tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. While the O’s have had interest in Butler, Kubatko feels the team wouldn’t spend that much on a full-time DH.
- The Orioles will meet with Nick Markakis‘ agent Jamie Murphy today, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter). The O’s are still seen as the favorites to sign Markakis, though the Blue Jays and other teams are interested in the veteran outfielder. Earlier this week, Murphy said that the Orioles weren’t one of the several teams he planned to speak with about his client during the GM Meetings.
- Though Yoenis Cespedes‘ name has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) that those rumors aren’t “based in any sort of evidence. We’re happy to have him. We felt like as we were building a lineup for next year, adding that power element in the middle of the lineup was critically important to us. So now that we have it, we’re not really anxious to give it away. We believe he’s very important in 2015, and 2015 is very important to us.”
- Cherington spent “an extended period of time” talking with Jon Lester‘s agents last night, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.
- The Rays interviewed Giants bench coach Ron Wotus about their managerial opening yesterday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Of the ten candidates on the Rays’ list, the team still has to speak to Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville and Kevin Cash before getting into the second round of interviews.
- In other AL East news from earlier today, we published a collection of Blue Jays notes, the Yankees signed lefty Jose De Paula and the Orioles are shopping right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.