San Francisco Giants Rumors

San Francisco Giants trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

NL West Notes: D’Backs, Tanaka, Hanley, Giants

The Diamondbacks consider Masahiro Tanaka to be their "No. 1 target" and are serious suitors for the Japanese ace, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.  Had Arizona not acquired Mark Trumbo, the Snakes were open to spending the $140MM that agent Scott Boras said it would've taken to sign Shin-Soo Choo, and Rosenthal notes that D'Backs management could instead invest that money (the $20MM posting fee and a $120MM contract) towards landing Tanaka.  The D'Backs could have an extra source for information on Tanaka in the form of scout Rick Short, who played with Tanaka from 2007-09 on the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

You can click here for some Tanaka news from earlier today, and here are some more items from around the NL West…

  • Also from Rosenthal's piece, Arizona could be more motivated to sign an ace like Tanaka in free agency since they found the Cubs' and Rays' respective asking prices for Jeff Samardzija and David Price to be too high, Rosenthal notes, not to mention the fact that Price will become more expensive in his final two arbitration-eligible seasons.  The D'Backs rate Tanaka higher than other free agent arms like Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.
  • Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers have reportedly been discussing an extension this offseason and ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon looks at some of the factors involved in giving Ramirez a major new deal.
  • In a Giants-related mailbag, MLB.com's Chris Haft argues that the Giants should've given Brett Pill more time to prove himself rather than give those at-bats to Jeff Francoeur last summer.  Pill's rights were recently sold to the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization and his deal with the club was just finalized today.  As Haft writes, "the sense here is that the Giants jettisoned Pill without fully discovering what they had in him."
  • Buster Posey is just one season into his multiyear extension with the Giants and he's still owed $157MM over the next eight seasons.  While it's far too early to place a verdict on this contract, Grant Brisbee of the McCovey Chronicles argues that the Giants may have saved money by locking Posey up last March as opposed to this offseason, as San Francisco might've had to offer their star catcher a nine- or even a ten-year deal in the $200MM threshold.

Brett Pill Reaches Agreement With KIA Tigers

JANUARY 2, 1:30pm: Pill has passed his physical and been placed on release waivers by the Giants, tweets John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle.

DECEMBER 21, 7:46pm: Dan Kurtz of MyKBO tweets that KIA's press release says Pill will receive a $50K signing bonus and a $250K salary.

7:15pm: The Giants have announced the deal, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Schulman tweets that Pill will remain on the Giants' 40-man roster until the deal is finalized. Pill must pass a physical. Kurtz (Twitter link) reports that the Tigers have also announced the agreement.

8:54am: 29-year-old first baseman Brett Pill has reached agreement on contract terms with the KIA Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization, reports Kurtz (via Twitter). The Giants had previously agreed to send Pill to the Gwangju-based Tigers for a transfer fee of around $500K, if agreement could be reached between Pill and his prospective new club.

The minor league veteran has posted strong power and on-base numbers for several years running at Triple-A, including a stellar .344/.379/.630 line with 18 home runs in 289 plate appearances last season. Pill was less productive at the MLB level, with a career .233/.279/.404 line, and his increased K% and lower BABIP could point to difficulties in handling big league pitching. On the other hand, he has seen just 259 plate appearances spread over three seasons. The Oliver and Steamer projection systems (via Fangraphs) both see Pill as a roughly league-average hitter in the bigs in 2014.

While his power remains intriguing, Pill's offensive and positional limitations drag down his attractiveness to MLB clubs. Blocked at his natural first base in the Giants' organization, Pill had apparently failed to transition successfully to another position. Already on the downslope of the aging curve, Pill's pop was apparently not enough to entice a big league team to give him a roster spot.


Cafardo On Tanaka, Jimenez, Cruz, Lackey, Ichiro

In this week's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the Orioles owe it to their fans to take a shot at a championship by bolstering the roster.  The O's moved Jim Johnson to save on his expected $10MM salary for 2014 but the nixing of Grant Balfour's deal leaves them without a proven closer.  The Orioles, with a few fixes, could be exciting and fun to watch, but they need more if they want to win it all.  More from this week's column..

  • Cafardo cautions not to sleep on the Red Sox in the Masahiro Tanaka hunt and one AL scout says it’s the perfect time for the Red Sox to strike. “They have veteran pitchers in the final year or two years remaining on their deals,” he said. “They’ll be clearing out a lot of payroll soon. I know they feel they have good young pitching on the horizon, but Tanaka should be a very good No. 2 or No. 3 starter on any staff. I would think with their emphasis on pitching, they would get into it.” The Yankees, Cubs, Rangers, and Dodgers figure to be the most aggressive and the Angels, Phillies, Royals, and Blue Jays are expected to get into it.
  • Will the Red Sox's experience with Daisuke Matsuzaka scare them off of Tanaka?  “I don’t think that can enter their thinking. I’m sure they would have gone after Yu Darvish in retrospect,” said one National League GM.
  • Cafardo recently spoke with a few GMs who feel the Yankees may wind up with Ubaldo Jimenez, even if they land Tanaka.  “He had an excellent second half, has great stuff, and he has the type of personality that would fit New York,” one GM said. “He doesn’t let things get to him. He’s good at shrugging off things and turning the page.”  If the Yankees ink both pitchers, it's pretty difficult to see them staying under the $189MM mark.
  • Nelson Cruz is the best available free agent among position players, but his demand of four years at $75MM has turned off teams.  While other PED guys such as Jhonny Peralta have cashed in, teams are worried that Cruz, who more relies on his power is of greater concern for teams who worry that being off the stuff could hurt his power numbers.
  • John Lackey’s name has come up consistently this winter, but the Red Sox aren’t motivated to deal him.  That could change, but the club is enthused about his $500K option for 2015.
  • It'll be interesting to see if the Yankees can move Ichiro Suzuki given their crowded outfield.  The Giants remain a possibility, Cafardo writes.
  • The Dodgers could still trade from their outfield surplus.  When it comes to Matt Kemp, of course, teams want to see how he rebounds from shoulder and ankle surgeries.
  • With Brian McCann aboard and Francisco Cervelli as backup, Yankees catcher Austin Romine is very much available.  
  • Johan Santana is getting closer to making a decision on a minor league deal with a team. There’s been some speculation about the Twins since Santana still resides in Fort Myers, Fla., where the Twins have spring training.  A small-market team such as the Astros could also have some interest.


Mutual Interest Between Phillies, Ryan Madson

Though he's signed Major League contracts with the Reds and Angels in free agency over the past two offseasons, right-hander Ryan Madson has never thrown a pitch in the big leagues for a team other than the Phillies. That may not necessarily have to change this year, as Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports that there's mutual interest from the two sides in a reunion.

Madson inked a one-year, $8.5MM deal with the Reds in the 2011-12 offseason but underwent Tommy John surgery that spring and missed the entire 2012 campaign. He turned around and signed a one-year, $3.5MM contract with the Angels last winter, but setbacks in his rehab continually pushed back his expected return date and ultimately led to his release.

Now 33 years old, Madson hasn't thrown a pitch for a Major League team since Oct. 7, 2011 — Game 5 of the NLDS. Madson punched out Daniel Descalso and Nick Punto in the ninth inning of a 1-0 loss (the Cardinals had taken the lead in the first inning). It seems impossible to think that Madson hasn't toed the rubber in a Major League game since that day, but that is indeed the case.

A return to Philadelphia would mean a return to the city in which Madson broke out as one of the game's best relievers. From 2007-11, Madson posted a 2.89 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 329 2/3 innings out of the Phils' bullpen, racking up 49 saves along the way, including 32 in 2011 — his lone season as the team's primary closer. Any negotiating will be handled by Damon Lapa and Scott Leventhal of All Bases Covered Sports Management, as Madson left the Boras Corporation this past October.

Madson could be looking at a minor league deal after missing the past two seasons. If he secures a Major League contract from a club, it figures to be heavily incentive-laden with a minimal guarantee — perhaps $1MM or so. He'd be a nice upside addition to a Phillies bullpen that likely still needs some help even after the acquisition of Brad Lincoln.

Within that same piece, Salisbury notes that John Mayberry Jr. remains "very much available" after being in play at the Winter Meetings. The Giants showed some interest at that time, he reports, but they've since signed Mike Morse. Salisbury believes that Mayberry was tendered a contract with the intention of trading him and notes that teams will keep an eye on him in Spring Training if he hasn't ben moved by that point.


Giants Notes: Balfour, Surkamp, Pill

The Giants have had talks with Grant Balfour, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Schulman rates the Giants' chances of actually signing Balfour as "meh," however. As Schulman reported earlier today, the Giants are looking for a reliever but likely not a closer, so they would appear unlikely to pay steeply for Balfour's services. Since Balfour's deal with the Orioles fell through, he has been connected to the Yankees and Rays. Here's more out of San Francisco.

  • The Giants lost lefty Eric Surkamp (who was claimed by the White Sox) in part because Brett Pill remains on their 40-man roster, Schulman explains. The Giants are selling Pill's rights to the KIA Tigers in Korea, but until that deal is done, Pill has to stay on the 40-man, or the Giants can't collect their $500K transfer fee. That made Surkamp the odd man out when the Giants needed a roster spot for Mike Morse. In any case, Schulman notes that the Giants might have designated Surkamp anyway once they signed their extra reliever.
  • From the outside, the Giants' move to designate Surkamp for assignment didn't make sense, Grant Brisbee of SB Nation writes. Brisbee suggests that the Giants "probably let the next Carlos Villanueva go," reffering to the Giants' 2004 decision to send Villanueva to the Brewers in a minor trade for Wayne Franklin and Leo Estrella.

White Sox Claim Eric Surkamp

The White Sox have claimed left-hander Eric Surkamp off waivers from the Giants, according to Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Surkamp was designated for assignment by the Giants last week.

Surkamp split the season between Double-A and Triple-A as he recovered from 2012 Tommy John surgery, spending the bulk of his time in Triple-A Fresno. His work in the minor league was excellent, as he pitched to a 2.80 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings.

In his minor league career, Surkamp has a 2.84 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 484 2/3 innings. The former sixth-round pick made his big league debut for the Giants in 2011 and ranked among Baseball America's Top 30 Giants prospects from 2010-13.

Surkamp will provide the White Sox with more pitching depth that is essentially big-league ready. Chicago currently has Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and John Danks as locks for the rotation, with right-handers Erik Johnson, Andre Rienzo and the recently signed Felipe Paulino all as options for the back of the rotation. Surkamp figures to compete with those three for the fourth and fifth slots in the rotation following Hector Santiago's trade to the Angels.


Cafardo On Papelbon, Youkilis, Overbay, Drew

In today's Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo makes the case for Braves pitcher Tom Glavine to earn induction into the Hall of Fame.  For his part, Glavine said he would be thrilled to go in with Greg Maddux and Bobby Cox. “Bobby Cox had the biggest influence in my career and probably the second- or third-biggest influence in my life,” Glavine said. “Greg was a dear friend, and just being around him made me better. I learned so much. We talked so much about pitching and situations, and hitters. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate and influence on my career. To have three of us together like that would be incredible, and Smoltzy next year.”  More from today's column..

  • One of the reasons the Phillies haven’t been able to find a buyer for Jonathan Papelbon is his drop in velocity.  Papelbon, who was regularly 95-96 in his Red Sox days, fell to 91-92 and sometimes less last season. “That was a red flag for me,” said an AL scout. “He didn’t look like the same guy. Whether that was physical or he just didn’t have the adrenaline flowing with a bad team, I don’t know.”
  • Kevin Youkilis' one-year deal could be worth up to $5MM and is apparently more than he could have received anywhere in MLB.  The Yankees had some interest, but at a lower price. The Indians, Giants, and Rays also had interest at one time. Back problems limited Youkilis to 28 games last season with the Yankees, and he simply couldn’t convince the masses he was healthy. 
  • Lyle Overbay's market is lukewarm right now and he'll likely be a January tack-on for someone. Cafardo predicts he'll wind up as a backup or a low-cost option for a team such as the Orioles or Indians.
  • The Mets and agent Scott Boras have discussed parameters but no firm numbers for Stephen Drew and right now, it looks like GM Sandy Alderson is sticking with Ruben Tejada. There’s always the Yankees, but Drew has never played anywhere but shortstop and Derek Jeter doesn’t appear to be moving to another position.  The road, for now, is still leading back to the Red Sox.
  • Agent Scott Boras scoffs at the notion that the market for Kendrys Morales has dried up due to the draft pick compensation issue.  Cafardo says that at some point a team such as the Orioles may give it up to have a superb hitter in the middle of their order and cautions to never underestimate Boras.  
  • Mark Mulder is looking for a minor league deal with incentives if he makes the major league club. He's worked out for the Giants, Padres, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Phillies over two sessions and the second session he improved his velocity from 88 to 92 mph.  The Red Sox have inquired on Mulder, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2008, but probably won’t pursue him.  Back in late November, Giants GM Brian Sabean indicated that he wouldn't be in on Mulder since he's seeking a big league deal.
  • Even with the Yankees' declaration that Brett Gardner won’t be traded, they would listen to the right deal.
  • It's a big surprise that agent Scott Boras couldn’t get Tigers owner Mike Ilitch to outbid the Rangers for Shin-Soo Choo since they have a need for a leadoff hitter. The Tigers are apparently continuing to commit to Austin Jackson at the top of the order and hope his game smooths out.
  • The Rays and Cubs want at least three very good players for David Price and Jeff Samardzija, respectively, whether they're major league-ready or top prospects. 

Giants Designate Eric Surkamp For Assignment

The Giants have designated left-hander Eric Surkamp for assignment, according to the team's transactions page. The move was likely made to clear a roster spot for the recently signed Mike Morse.

The 26-year-old Surkamp made one start for the Giants in 2013, yielding an unsightly seven runs in 2 2/3 innings of work. His work in the minor league was excellent, however, as he pitched to a 2.80 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings. Surkamp split the season between Double-A and Triple-A as he recovered from 2012 Tommy John surgery, spending the bulk of his time in Triple-A Fresno.

In his minor league career, Surkamp has a 2.84 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 484 2/3 innings. The former sixth-round pick made his big league debut for the Giants in 2011 and ranked among Baseball America's Top 30 Giants prospects from 2010-13.


Quick Hits: Santana, Karstens, Mulder, Athletics

The signing of Omar Infante and Jason Vargas took up the money the Royals had earmarked to re-sign Ervin Santana, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter links), and thus with the club at its payroll limit, there is only a "remote" chance of K.C. bringing Santana back on even a one-year deal at a bargain price.  The Tigers, Diamondbacks and Mariners are a few of the teams that have been linked to Santana this offseason, though we probably won't know the full extent of his market (and the market for other top free agent starters) until Masahiro Tanaka's situation has been settled.

Here's some more from around baseball…

  • Jeff Karstens' agent Damon Lapa tells MLBTR's Zach Links that he expects at least a dozen clubs to be in attendance for Karstens' upcoming showcase.  Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that Karstens will throw in January and Lapa indicated to MLBTR that he'll be auditioning in the "mid-to-late" portion of next month.  Lapa won't say what kind of deal he's seeking for his client but he did say that the 31-year-old is "100% healthy."
  • The Giants checked in on Mark Mulderbut the short version is he’s looking for more than we could provide, including a Major League contract,” GM Brian Sabean told reporters, including CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly.  Mulder is attempting a comeback and threw for three teams last month.
  • Athletics owner Lew Wolff told John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group that the A's ownership group hasn't been approached by any interested buyers and Wolff reiterated that the team isn't for sale.  Wolff also said he didn't have any interest in a new ballpark proposal by the city of Oakland that would see a stadium constructed at the Howard Terminal waterfront site.
  • The Cardinals have finished their major offseason work, GM John Mozeliak told reporters (including MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch).  The team will now look to add minor league depth and are prepared to be "opportunistic" if other ways of improving the roster present themselves, Mozeliak said.
  • Scott Boras will face a challenge in finding a big contract for Kendrys Morales considering the slugger's seemingly limited market, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi writes.
  • The Astros probably aren't done making moves and will look for some bargains in January and February, but GM Jeff Luhnow tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle that he would already be satisfied with taking his current roster into Spring Training.  Luhnow also commented on his team's recent acquisitions of Jesus Guzman and Collin McHugh, though he didn't comment on rumors tying Houston to Shin-Soo Choo.
  • "The White Sox have quietly had a terrific offseason," ESPN.com's David Schoenfeld writes, praising GM Rick Hahn for adding the likes of Adam Eaton and Matt Davidson for what Schoenfeld feels were expendable pieces in Addison Reed and Hector Santiago.

Giants, KIA Tigers Close To Brett Pill Deal

The Giants have a deal in place with the Korean Baseball Organization's KIA Tigers to sell Brett Pill to the Gwangju-based club, with just financial details left to be finalized, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports.  Pill is negotiating with KIA Tigers about a new contract, though the deal will fall through if Pill and the Tigers can't come to terms.

The Giants are expected to receive around $500K in the sale, Baggarly notes, which is roughly twice as much as teams usually receive in such transactions.  Earlier today, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted that the Giants were asking for as much as $1MM for Pill's rights and multiple teams in Korea and Japan were interested.

Pill, 29, has blossomed as a prospect over the last five seasons, culminating in a 1.010 OPS in 298 PA for Triple-A Fresno in 2013.  He's received only 259 PA over three seasons at the Major League level, however, and there seemed little hope of more playing time given the Giants' depth at first base, Pill's ideal position.  Brandon Belt looks to be the everyday first baseman in 2014, with Mike Morse also a candidate for playing time and Buster Posey also likely to get more time at first over the years in order to protect him from the rigors of catching.  Pill has also seen time in left field and the Giants have experimented with him at second and third in the minors to try and find a place for his bat in the lineup.