San Francisco Giants Rumors

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

Yasmany Tomas Rumors: Tuesday

Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas will celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday, and it will surely be a happy one given the lucrative contract on the horizon.  Yesterday, agent Jay Alou explained the Phillies’ standing in the Tomas derby, telling reporters including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, “There are several teams that I could say are frontrunners, but yes (the Phillies are one of them).”  Surprisingly, the Phillies have yet to make a formal offer, but Alou says, “It will all get going soon.”

Today’s Tomas rumors…

  • Tomas is drawing interest from the Orioles, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal also notes on Twitter that the chase for Tomas is still heating up, with two teams set to visit him in the Dominican next week and others still weighing pursuit.

Earlier Updates

  • The Royals have entered the Tomas sweepstakes, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Royals don’t feel that Tomas has the same type of advanced hitting skills that countryman Jose Abreu brought to the division-rival White Sox, but they have a need for a right fielder and feel his defense is at least adequate. The Royals like Melky Cabrera as well but Tomas would allow them to preserve their first-round pick, whereas Cabrera received and rejected a qualifying offer from Toronto.
  • The Phillies, Padres and Giants have each seen Tomas three times, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He also reports that agent Jay Alou rejected an eight-year offer (though he doesn’t specify the value), preferring a five to seven year term to get Tomas onto the open market again around his age-30 season. The Mariners also like Tomas but aren’t expected to outbid other clubs, according to Heyman.
  • Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers aren’t likely to sign Tomas. Starting pitching is said to be the team’s top priority, and sources tell Wilson that the Rangers have informed Alou that their resources will be dedicated to that goal.
  • How about the $100MM figure that has been bandied about for Tomas?  “I don’t know where that came from, but he’d be happy and I’d be happy,” says Alou.  In my September profile of Tomas, I posited a seven-year, $105MM contract.  More recently, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports went with eight years and $100MM, an agent who spoke to Heyman said seven years and $93MM, and a GM said eight years, $100MM.  Eight years is an interesting call, because that would mean Tomas would be giving up a potential valuable free agent season.  Seven would be more aligned with typical MLB service time for a top prospect, who can put in just shy of seven years before reaching free agency if called up a few weeks into the season.
  • Yesterday, Jorge Arangure Jr. had an excellent profile of Tomas for Vice Sports.  In it, Arangure said Tomas will likely choose a team from the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, and Padres, who have all scouted the player several times.  Tomas’ Dominican-based trainer Raul Javier, asked when the player would sign, replied, “Very soon.”

Ten Teams Showing Interest In Torii Hunter

At least ten teams have reached out to express interest in Torii Hunter, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today, and the free agent’s most aggressive suitors are in the very familiar AL Central. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals, Twins, Tigers, Cubs, Giants, Rangers and Mariners have all shown some early interest in Hunter (Twitter links). Hunter’s preference is to remain in Detroit, he adds, but his fate may be tied to that of Victor Martinez, as the Tigers likely can’t re-sign both.

Though Hunter turns 40 next July, he still enjoyed a productive season at the plate in a fairly pitcher-friendly home environment, hitting .286/.319/.446 with 17 homers in 586 plate appearances. His defensive game, however, appears to have slipped as Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at -18 runs and Ultimate Zone Rating agreed (-18.3).

Given his age, I’d think Hunter’s priority would be signing with a team he expects to contend in 2015 rather than maxing out his contract or perhaps making a sentimental return to his former Minneapolis stomping grounds.


Pablo Sandoval To Meet With Four Teams This Week

SUNDAY: Sandoval’s camp will also meet with the Giants, Blue Jays and White Sox, Cotillo reports.

SATURDAY: The Red Sox will meet with Pablo Sandoval and agent Gustavo Vasquez at the GM meetings in Arizona next week, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish was the first to report the scheduled meeting. The Red Sox reportedly headed into the offseason with Sandoval and Chase Headley as their top priorities. Sandoval rejected a qualifying offer from the Giants last week, and is instead reportedly seeking a nine-figure deal, possibly for six years. Cafardo notes that, along with the Red Sox and Giants, the Blue Jays and White Sox currently seem to be the most interested in Sandoval.

Boston would want to use Sandoval as its third baseman, Cafardo reports, although he notes that, unlike the Giants and other NL teams, the Red Sox could also eventually use Sandoval at DH if his physique prevented him from staying at third. The switch-hitting Sandoval’s ability to hit from the left side would also be a benefit for Boston. With Sandoval in the Majors, the Red Sox could send Will Middlebrooks, who can still be optioned, to Triple-A Pawtucket.



Pablo Sandoval Seeking Six-Year Deal

Pablo Sandoval is seeking a six-year contract on the open market, his agent Gustavo Vasquez tells Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Given his client’s age, Vasquez doesn’t feel that a four- or five-year deal is a sensible target. “Maybe if he was 30 or 31 we could talk about four or five years,” Vasquez said to Schulman. “But he’s 28. He deserves more than that.”

Vasquez explained to Schulman that the six-year term of the contract is more important to Sandoval than the average annual value. That comment isn’t surprising, as a player will typically downgrade a contract’s AAV as the years increase. While he said Sandoval has no specific dollar figure in mind, other reports have indicated a target north of $100MM. So, while the AAV of the deal may be somewhat flexible, it seems Vasquez must be eyeing at least a $17MM annual salary for his client.

The Giants have yet to make a formal offer and instead have been discussing various options regarding the length of the deal, according to Vasquez. He’s already spoken to multiple teams about Sandoval and is expected to have several face-to-face meetings at next week’s GM Meetings in Phoenix. The agent notes that Sandoval isn’t necessarily interested in dragging out the process and would sign quickly if he received an offer he likes.

As Schulman writes, he got a different sense from Giants GM Brian Sabean regarding an offer to Sandoval at the team’s postseason debriefing. Sabean told reporters that the Giants have explained to free agents Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong that they first need to sort of Sandoval’s situation before moving onto them, and his comments did imply that they’ve made some form of offer: “We’ve told both Peavy and Vogelsong we need time to sort things out. Again, it goes back to Pablo. Pablo is the only one we’ve engaged as far as an offer and moving forward. The other four free agents know where we stand.”

Sandoval figures to be an attractive option on the free agent market this winter, though it remains to be seen whether any team will be be comfortable with his desired six-year term. The Red Sox have been linked to him on multiple occasions, and the Marlins are another team reported to have interest. Sandoval would also make sense for the White Sox. The Yankees have a definite need in the infield, though to this point, they’re not focused on Sandoval and are said to prefer to re-sign Chase Headley.


Olney On A-Rod, Hanley, Mets, Peavy

In his latest ESPN Insider-only blog (subscription required), Buster Olney looks at the latest chapter in the Alex Rodriguez saga — a report from the Miami Herald indicating that Rodriguez admitted his PED use to the DEA in January — and opines that the Yankees need to do everything in their power to be free of him. Olney wonders if the Yankees could release or suspend him and invoke the player conduct clause in their standard contract in an effort to legally absolve themselves of the remaining $61MM commitment in light of his confession. Industry perception, Olney writes, is that the conduct clause is superseded by the language in the CBA, but no one has ever really made a challenge using the player conduct clause. And, he writes, the worst-case scenario would be paying him the remainder of his salary while getting nothing in return — an outcome which could happen even with Rodriguez in uniform. Of course, it’s not a given that Rodriguez doesn’t have some productivity left in his bat, but it’s hard to fault Olney for doubting the possible contributions of a 39-year-old who has appeared in just 265 games since Opening Day 2011.

More from Olney’s piece…

  • Hanley Ramirez‘s strong desire to play shortstop — or the infield in general — will be a detriment to his free agent stock, Olney writes. He suggests that Ramirez announce to teams right now that he is willing to play a corner outfield position, shortstop or third base next season in order to create the strongest market possible for his services. Olney rightly points out that the idea of Ramirez in a corner outfield spot would broaden his appeal to numerous clubs and help to create a bidding war for his services. It doesn’t seem that Ramirez is changing his plans anytime soon, however. As Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times pointed out today (Twitter link), Ramirez has changed his Twitter bio to read “MLB Shortstop.”
  • Olney has gotten indications that the Mets will be aggressive with at least one free agent signing and one trade this offseason, and he lists the familiar matchup of the Cubs as an ideal trade partner. Starlin Castro‘s name arises as a speculative target for Olney, though he adds that the price tag could be prohibitive: Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler.
  • The Giants are interested in working out a new deal with right-hander Jake Peavy following his excellent work for the Giants after their July acquisition. Peavy struggled in the playoffs, but his regular-season work in San Francisco was excellent: a 2.17 ERA (3.03 FIP/3.91 SIERA) with 6.6 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 78 2/3 innings (12 starts).

NL East Notes: Stanton, Mets, Nationals, Tomas, Hamels

As expected, the Marlins have begun extension talks with star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. President of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Spencer that the team has “reached out” to Stanton’s representatives and that “negotiations are ongoing.”

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • At present, the Mets are more inclined to fill their needs in the corner outfield via trade than through a free agent signing, reports Marc Carig of Newsday. New York is still hesitant to give up any of its best young talent in a swap. But veterans like Michael Morse, Alex Rios, and Torii Hunter all seem more like fallback options that the team would pursue if value can be had and nothing better has materialized. The Mets are said to prefer to add a right-handed bat.
  • One other hypothetical possibility, Nick Markakis, is not presently engaged with the team in any way, according to Matt Ehalt of The Record (Twitter link).
  • As they weigh their options at second, the Nationals are not unmindful of the Cuban market that has begun to materialize in recent weeks, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. The primary possible targets, per Wagner, are 26-year-old Jose Fernandez and high-upside youngster Yoan Moncada. The 20-year-old Moncada will draw immense interest, with Ben Badler of Baseball America saying he is talented enough that he would be the odds-on favorite to go first overall in this year’s amateur draft (were he eligible).
  • The Phillies are still the favorite to land Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, with A.J. Burnett‘s decision to decline his option possibly burnishing Philly’s chances. That does not mean they are without competition, of course. Other clubs that have seen (or will soon see) Tomas since his showcase include the Rangers, D’backs, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox, and Mariners.
  • Also per Heyman, the Phillies could clear yet more payroll space and add young talent through a deal for pitcher Cole Hamels, with the Cubs still showing interest in the lefty.

NL Notes: Morales, Cuddyer, Morse, Romo, Tomas

Free agent lefty Franklin Morales, most recently of the Rockies, has moved his representation to the Boras Corporation, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The 28-year-old had a rough 2014. He put up a 5.37 ERA over 142 1/3 innings, including 22 starts, while striking out a below-average (against his career) 6.3 batters and walking 4.1 per nine.

Here’s more from Colorado and the rest of the National League:

  • The Rockies‘ extension of a qualifying offer to free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer was the big surprise on the QO front. Colorado’s rationale for the move, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets, is to remain flexible to trade from its outfield depth. Cuddyer, meanwhile, had hoped to land a three-year deal, per Rosenthal, and the offer makes that a more difficult proposition. In my view, it makes little sense to create outfield depth to trade from by adding a contract with negative trade value; the move seems irrational unless the club has good reason to believe that Cuddyer will turn down the QO.
  • While teams can always simply price in the loss of a draft choice in assessing how much to offer a compensation-bound player, the presence of the QO can in some cases be a significant enough deterrent that it keeps a team out of the market altogether. That appears to be the case for the Mets vis-a-vis Cuddyer, as Marc Carig of Newday reports that New York had been quite interested in pursuing the veteran but has little interest in giving up the 15th overall pick in doing so.
  • The Mets may, however, be more willing to pursue non-QO-bound Michael Morse, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Morse would represent an option in the outfield and, perhaps, part-time platoon mate at first.
  • Giants righty Sergio Romo hopes to re-sign with San Francisco, he told MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (via host Jim Bowden). But the former closer is looking forward to testing the market, and should draw plenty of interest.
  • Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas worked out at third base in a tryout yesterday with the Diamondbacks, according to a tweet from his agent Jay Alou Jr.  The 24-year-old had been talked about primarily as a corner outfielder. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com first tweeted that Tomas had spent time with the D’backs.

Pablo Sandoval Rejects Qualifying Offer

TUESDAY: Unsurprisingly, Sandoval has officially rejected his qualifying offer, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).

MONDAY: The Giants have officially extended a one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer to third baseman Pablo Sandoval. He’ll have a week to accept or decline the offer, though as one of the top free agents on this year’s market, he will assuredly be declining the offer.

The 28-year-old Sandoval hit .279/.324/.415 during the regular season and followed it up with a strong postseason performance. His youth, combined with plus defense at third base and a solid offensive track record will make him among the offseason’s most desirable bats. If he isn’t retained by the Giants, they’ll get a draft pick at the end of next year’s first round as compensation.

Sandoval joins a growing list of players to receive qualifying offers, all of whom can be followed in MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker.


Free Agent Profile: Sergio Romo

Sergio Romo is one of several big name relievers on the open market this winter.  Despite his hiccups in 2014, he’s expected to find an attractive offer from a club betting on a rebound in 2015.

Strengths/Pros  

In 2013, Romo looked like one of the top closers in the majors.   The right-hander pitched to a 2.54 ERA with 8.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 65 appearances (52 to close out the game) and rightfully earned his first career All-Star selection.  In fact, while he found widespread recognition in 2013 as the Giants’ full-time closer, his body of work as a whole deserves a tip of the cap.  Across seven seasons, Romo has proven himself to be a strong late-inning reliever, as evidenced by his career 2.51 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9.  Simply put, he has a track record of being aggressive enough to make hitters whiff while keeping the walks way, way down. Sergio  Romo (vertical)

Aside from strong strikeout numbers and even stronger walk numbers, Romo’s resume shows that he is more durable than a lot of his peers.  Since 2010, Romo has made no less than 64 appearances in a season.  It’s not hard to imagine that continuing in 2015 and beyond since Romo doesn’t throw a tendon-tearing 100 mph fastball.

This past season obviously wasn’t Romo’s best, but there’s reason to believe that he can return to his old form.  Romo’s HR/FB ratio of 13.0% in 2014 was the highest of his career and a regression towards his career average of 8.1% would go a long way towards tamping down his ERA.

Romo’s numbers haven’t been boosted by a home field advantage as his performance has pretty much been the same within the confines of AT&T Park as they have been on the road.  Romo hasn’t shown much of a platoon split either.  He has also been very strong through three postseason runs and has the experience of pitching in three World Series on his resume.

It should also be noted that the 31-year-old (32 by Opening Day) won’t be tied down by a qualifying offer this winter.  And, while the sabermetric community may roll its eyes at the mention of saves, Romo is just one year removed from a 38-save season.

Weaknesses/Cons  

Suffice to say, Romo didn’t have the kind of walk year he was hoping for.  His strikeout and walk numbers were more or less there (9.2 K/9, 1.9 BB/9) but his 3.72 ERA left much to be desired and his 3.40 xFIP only granted him so much slack.  Romo’s regular season efforts netted him a -0.3 WAR, the first negative posting of his career.  In general, Romo’s xFIP has been about a half-run higher than his ERA would indicate, though a career mark of 3.02 is hardly a poor number.

Romo’s velocity has dipped a bit over the years, and he can’t afford to lose much more off of his 88 mph average from 2014.  Among free agent right-handed relievers, Romo’s fastball had the slowest average.  In fact, his heater was the fifth-slowest among all qualified relief pitchers in 2014.

Of course, losing the closer’s mantle this summer could hurt Romo’s stock and perception.  He’ll likely be considered as a closing option by some clubs, but some may prefer him in a setup capacity.

Personal  

Romo has two sons and greatly enjoys spending the bulk of his off time with them.  He also has multiple charitable efforts in the state of California and is something of the gym rat.  Romo makes his offseason home in Phoenix, Arizona.

In a lot of ways Sergio patterns his parenting style after his own dad, Frank.  “If I become half the dad my dad is, I’ll be happy,” Romo told ESPN The Magazine’s Tim Keown.

As Keown detailed, Frank pushed Sergio to join the Navy out of high school but relented by giving him two years to pursue his baseball dream.  It’s safe to say that was a good call.  Romo turned into one of the stronger set-up men in MLB and in 2012, he got his chance to close when Brian Wilson suffered an unfortunate elbow injury and Santiago Casilla developed blisters.

I have to admit, I wasn’t ready for what happened [in 2012],” Romo said. “I was afraid of a lot of the attention I got. I leaned on my teammates. I credit them for allowing me to be better than I think I really am. They brought the best out of me, and I didn’t have time to think about myself and my doubts. Many times I would think, ‘Man, how can they have so much faith and I’m sitting here doubting myself?’

Market  

Given his struggles in 2014, it’s hard to say whether the Giants would want to welcome back Romo, particularly if it would require a raise from his current $5.5MM salary.  In early May, the Giants were hoping to lock Romo up for the long term.  Now, that’s far from a given.  In the spring, Romo appeared poised to stand as the top free agent closer this winter.  Since then, Romo has arguably been leapfrogged by David Robertson, Andrew Miller, Luke Gregerson, and other available late-inning options.

Even if he’s not in the top-tier of eighth or ninth-inning guys, he’ll still get plenty of interest.  The Yankees, if they lose Robertson, might want to fortify their bullpen with a less expensive option like Romo.  Ditto for the Orioles and Andrew Miller, who Tim Dierkes sees fetching a four-year, $32MM deal.  Recently, our own Steve Adams suggested the Indians as a possible fit for the veteran and teams like the White Sox, Astros, Dodgers, and Red Sox could also get in the mix.  There will be tons of clubs on the lookout for bullpen arms, so agent Barry Meister figures field calls from a number of GMs.

Expected Contract

Romo is one of many notable bullpen arms available this winter and with so many options out there, he may not want to drag his feet in finding a deal.  Waiting until after the New Year could mean settling for something far less lucrative than what he’s hoping for today.  Still, if he’s intent on exploring the open market, he may have to wait for the dominoes to fall.

Romo will have more suitors once the runners-up for Robertson, Miller, and the like start to search out other options.  Then again, maybe it won’t come to that.  After topping the Royals, the afterglow of the Giants’ third World Series title in five years could help to facilitate a reunion early on in the process.

Ultimately, I see Romo signing a three-year, $21MM deal this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Outrighted: Quiroz, Bochy, Axford, Gomez, d’Arnaud, Richardson, Elmore

According to the International League and Pacific Coast League transactions pages, the following outrights and related minor moves took place today:

  • The Giants have outrighted catcher Guillermo Quiroz and righty Brett Bochy. Quiroz, 32, saw just three MLB plate appearances this year and has only once made more than 100 trips to the plate in a single season despite seeing action in ten MLB campaigns. Bochy, son of manager Bruce, got his first taste of the bigs this year, allowing two earned runs in 3 1/3 innings.
  • After designating them for assignment recently, the Pirates have outrighted relievers John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez. Axford, 31, will look for a chance to bounce back after posting three seasons and 189 innings of 4.24 ERA work from the pen. Gomez, meanwhile, tossed 62 frames of 3.19 ERA ball after a solid 2013, but his peripherals do not quite back up the results.
  • Pittsburgh also outrighted utility infielder Chase d’Arnaud. The 27-year-old has fairly minimal MLB action, but owns a .251/.316/.370 line over 1,426 Triple-A plate appearances over parts of four seasons. He has spent his entire career in the Pirates organization.
  • The Yankees have outrighted outfielder Antoan Richardson after he racked up five stolen bases over the course of just 13 games (and 17 plate appearances) in New York. Richardson, 31, has been a consistent high-OBP and speed threat in the upper minors, but has yet to receive a real opportunity at the big league level.
  • Also outrighted was utilitman Jake Elmore of the Reds. Cincinnati claimed Elmore from the Athletics in early August. He ultimately saw just 12 plate appearances with the Reds, and is still looking for his first consistent MLB role at age 27.
  • Previously outrighted players Adam Moore of the Padres, Scott Elbert of the Dodgers, Matt McBride of the Rockies, and Evan Reed and Don Kelly of the Tigers have all elected free agency.