San Francisco Giants Rumors

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

NL West Notes: Hudson, Giants, Rosario, Padres

The Giants announced today that right-hander Tim Hudson underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. The 39-year-old Hudson has an expected recovery time of eight weeks, and the Giants believe that he will be ready to go come Opening Day. Giants VP and assistant GM Bobby Evans told reporters, including Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that Hudson felt increased discomfort in the ankle as he ramped up his offseason workouts. That ankle is the same ankle that was stepped on in a gruesome looking injury in July of 2013 that cut short what was shaping up to be another excellent season for Hudson. The longtime Athletic and Brave returned from that injury to post a solid first season with the Giants; Hudson worked to a 3.57 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 1.6 BB/9 and a 53.1 percent ground-ball rate in 189 1/3 innings. The TWC Sports client is owed $12MM in 2015 as part of a two-year, $23MM contract inked last winter.

Here’s more from the NL West…

  • Evans also told Schulman that the Giants weren’t looking to add a Major League starter before Hudson’s injury, and that won’t change despite the surgery (Twitter link). However, he did note that the team is always on the lookout for depth, suggesting that a minor league addition or two could come in to serve as a safety net of sorts.
  • Rockies GM Jeff Bridich tells MLB.com’s Thomas Harding that he’s had trade talks regarding Wilin Rosario, but “nothing that makes sense” for the club (Twitter link). If no deal is reached, Rosario will play some first base for the Rox in 2015, Harding adds. Rosario, of course, has seen the bulk of action at catcher for the Rockies over the past three seasons, but he grades out as one of the game’s worst defenders behind the dish and has reportedly been shopped for much of the winter. Michael McKenry and newly signed Nick Hundley figure to split most of the catching duties in 2015.
  • While the first offseason of A.J. Preller’s tenure as GM has shown the world that the Padres shouldn’t be counted out on any player, MLB.com’s Corey Brock writes that the current roster is probably pretty close to what the final product will look like on Opening Day. “Especially on the pitching side,” manager Bud Black told Brock. “I don’t know how much more we can do with the pitching.” Brock writes that an acquisition of Cole Hamels or a signing of James Shields are at best “very remote” possibilities for the Friars at this point.
  • Already having introduced Matt Kemp, the Padres today introduced Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks at a press conference, and Kirk Kenney of the San Diego Union-Tribune has some highlights. Preller said today that the addition of these players (and presumably Kemp) “is about trying to build a core group of players. … Guys we feel very good about putting with Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross and Jedd Gyorko and some of the other Padres players that are hopefully going to build a competitive team here for the next four years.” Norris told reporters he considers it a “privilege” to be part of such a dramatic roster reshaping. “You don’t see very many teams do things like this,” he added. “It’s just a pleasure to be part of it. I think it’s something special.” As Dennis Lin of the U-T tweets, Upton offered a concise take on his new club: “We’re gonna be pretty dadgum good.”

James Shields Expected To Get Nine-Figure Deal

James Shields is expected to get at least five years and $100MM, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. Two executives tell Rosenthal that Shields already has a $110MM offer in hand. As Rosenthal notes, however, rumors of an $110MM offer don’t mean that Shields will ultimately sign for that much or more. For example, there were rumors of a $65MM offer for Chase Headley, who ultimately settled for less from the Yankees.

It’s still not clear who will sign Shields. The Marlins and Diamondbacks feel Shields is out of their price range, Rosenthal writes, and the Giants, Padres and Red Sox don’t currently seem highly motivated, either. And the Royals, who have spent on several players already this offseason, don’t appear likely to re-sign Shields. It’s possible that one or more of those teams has more interest than it’s letting on, however. Rosenthal also suggests the Tigers, Yankees and Angels as possibilities, although Shields hasn’t been closely connected to any of those teams.

Mark Polishuk recently polled MLBTR readers about Shields’ likely destination, and the results reflect the uncertainty that seems to exist throughout the industry. Less than 20% of you feel the Giants will sign Shields, followed by the Red Sox, Yankees, and “Other,” which got over 10% of the vote, even with 13 teams in the poll.


Cafardo On Shields, Zobrist, Uggla, Papelbon, Aoki

The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.

In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:

  • It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
  • The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
  • Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
  • Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
  • Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.

 



Giants Out On Shields, Scherzer; Pursuing Zobrist

The Giants are out of the hunt for free agent starter James Shields, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). San Francisco never was in on Max Scherzer, and that remains the case, per the report.

But while an impact free agent arm is not in the offing, the team is still “trying to work a deal” to land outstanding utilityman Ben Zobrist from the Rays. A recent report from Peter Gammons had suggested that match on the veteran, who could potentially plug in at left field for the Giants while serving as a key depth piece throughout the infield. Always a potential piece of trade bait, the pending free agent became a more obvious target when Tampa agreed to terms with Asdrubal Cabrera.

GM Brian Sabean said recently that his organization has limited financial flexibility after re-signing Jake Peavy and Sergio Romo. It appeared at that time that the club would be choosing between a significant addition in the outfield against one in the rotation, and today’s report suggests that San Francisco is perhaps more focused on its lineup.

It would, perhaps, be foolish at this point to rule out entirely the possibility of more aggressive spending given the team’s recent World Series windfall. But the club already appears set to exceed last year’s payroll, and an attempt at two significant additions would bring it well past historical levels, if not even within sight of the luxury tax line.


Fallout From The Asdrubal Cabrera Deal

Here are a few notes on the Rays’ new one-year agreement with Asdrubal Cabrera:

  • Perhaps the key takeaway of the Cabrera signing is that the Rays now have a surplus in their middle infield, suggesting a trade of either Ben Zobrist or Yunel Escobar. Zobrist in particular would be a very attractive addition for any number of clubs, and Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com looks at the possibility that Cabrera’s old team, the Nationals, could trade for Zobrist to play second base, their only obviously weak position.
  • Zobrist is a good fit for the Giants but an even better fit for the Nationals, Grant Brisbee of McCovey Chronicles writes. The Giants might not be able to top the Nationals in a bidding war, since the Nats, for whom second base is their only significant need, could be highly motivated to acquire Zobrist. Brisbee also notes that it’s strange that Cabrera would head to Tampa Bay on a one-year deal with the intention of building his value, since Tropicana Field figures to limit his offensive output.
  • Cabrera’s signing leaves one less player for the Yankees to sign, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes. They could still pursue Cuban infielder Hector Olivera, to whom they’ve been connected, to play second base. Stephen Drew and Rickie Weeks are other possibilities. They could deal for Zobrist, although a trade between the Yankees and their divisional rivals in Tampa seems unlikely. They could also simply go with Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela.

Giants To Re-Sign Juan Gutierrez

The Giants have re-signed right-handed reliever Juan Gutierrez to a minor league deal, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy recently reported. Gutierrez was designated by San Francisco back in November, in advance of the non-tender deadline.

The 31-year-old tossed 63 2/3 frames of 3.96 ERA ball last year for the eventual World Champions, with 6.2 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9. Though he has mostly performed at roughly replacement level for his career, Gutierrez has suffered from his share of bad luck: all major ERA estimators value his work at a significantly better rate than his lifetime ERA. And his career 3.79 SIERA suggests that he can be a serviceable piece from the bullpen.


East Notes: Clevenger, Hamels, Zobrist, Asdrubal, Nats

The Orioles‘ waiver claim of Ryan Lavarnway adds a fifth catcher to the 40-man roster and further clouds the future of fellow backstop Steve Clevenger, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Clevenger’s agent, Josh Kusnick, spoke with Kubatko about his client’s role in Baltimore, noting that while he’s been told Clevenger can win the backup catching job in Spring Training, it’s difficult to see happening after he was passed over last season. Clevenger hit .225/.289/.337 in a small sample of Major League plate appearances last year but slashed a much stronger .305/.366/.389 in 64 Triple-A games. Given the amount of clubs needing depth at catcher, I’d imagine that Clevenger would have interest to other teams.

Here’s more from baseball’s Eastern divisions…

  • In his latest column, Peter Gammons takes a look back at the recent history of trades of ace-caliber pitchers and notes that there’s very little certainty that the Phillies would receive a franchise-altering package for Cole Hamels. Trades of pitchers such as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have not reaped many benefits, while others such as the Johan Santana trade netted one All-Star caliber player (Carlos Gomez) who didn’t break out until he was traded to a third team.
  • Also in Gammons’ piece, he writes that many GMs believe the Giants will eventually trade a prospect package to the Rays to land Ben Zobrist.
  • MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted earlier this week that the Yankees don’t appear to be in on Asdrubal Cabrera at this time and instead appear to be heading toward a Spring Training battle between prospects Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela in addition to minor league signees Nick Noonan and Cole Figueroa.
  • In addition to a very heartfelt holiday wish to all of his readers, Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com penned an excellent look at the Nationals‘ roster yesterday and ran down three players that he feels could be on the move before Opening Day. While Kerzel doesn’t think all three of Danny Espinosa, Tyler Moore and Tyler Clippard will be dealt, he can envision at least one of the three moving. Espinosa’s name is still popular in trade talks, Kerzel hears, so he could be shipped elsewhere if the Nats can acquire another second base option (I’d imagine today’s signing of Dan Uggla is unrelated to Espinosa’s availability, personally). Moore is a popular name when GM Mike Rizzo chats with AL clubs, as he could be a platoon DH/first baseman/outfielder. Clippard’s projected $9.3MM salary may simply be more than the Nats care to spend on a setup ace, and teams like the Blue Jays are known to be looking for a closer, Kerzel points out. Clippard was among the Nats’ most asked-about players at the Winter Meetings, and he would welcome the opportunity to move into a closer’s gig.

Jake Peavy On His New Two-Year Deal With Giants

The Giants have some uncertainty in their rotation behind top starters Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson, but they shored things up by bringing back Jake Peavy on a two-year, $24MM deal. The pact became official yesterday and on a conference call with reporters yesterday evening, Peavy talked about his decision to stay put in San Francisco.  Like Sergio Romo yesterday, Peavy had nothing but praise for the Giants organization and its close-knit locker room.

The veteran says that he had lots of interesting opportunities elsewhere, but ultimately it was an easy choice to return to the Giants.

Not being Jon Lester, I wasn’t flying around everywhere nor did I want to get my door beat in but…we had six or seven teams wanting to make offers,” Peavy said when I asked him about interest from other clubs around baseball.  “Once the market starts to go, it starts to go, and guys start to go to teams fast and teams want to get players fast.”

The veteran, 34 in May, intimated that he spurned more lucrative offers from other teams to remain in orange and black.

I had some really nice offers but I wasn’t chasing the most money.  There were opportunities for that, but I didn’t take those and I feel blessed.  I wanted to be in a situation where A. I can win – [manager Bruce Bochy] and [Giants vice president Bobby Evans] will tell you this, it does nothing but re-energize you and it makes you want to win even more than you previously did.

I feel like I can be a really good major league player and I wouldn’t show up if I didn’t think I could go out and replicate what I did in August and September there and I wanted to get a fair deal – what I thought was very fair deal – and I think for both sides we gave a bit to make that happen and that’s about as good as I can answer.”

Peavy’s desire to return to the Giants has been clear for some time but he “waited for the dust to settle” rather than rushing into a deal.  He was never skeptical about whether he could work out a new pact with the Giants but, rather, he wanted to see how the market played about before signing anywhere.  As he alluded to, that was the smart move for free agent starters on the second-tier or below.  With Lester and others off the board, things became much clearer for Peavy and other veteran starters looking for their landing spot.

At the age of 34, this was Peavy’s first go-round through free agency and it wasn’t a process that he terribly enjoyed.  In the end, though, things appear to have worked out just fine.  Peavy is back with the Giants – and back with Bochy – on a two-year pact.  And, thanks to his full no-trade clause, he knows that he’ll be able to take off his coat and stay a while.


Giants Re-Sign Jake Peavy

Pitcher Jake Peavy has officially agreed to a deal to return to the Giants, as first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  It’s a two-year, $24MM deal with a full no-trade clause, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.  Peavy, a CAA client, will be paid a $4MM signing bonus and salaries of $7MM in 2015 and $13MM in 2016, writes Crasnick.

Jake Peavy

Peavy, 34 in May, posted a 3.73 ERA, 7.0 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.02 HR/9, and 38.5% groundball rate in 202 2/3 innings for the Red Sox and Giants this year.  The Red Sox traded him to the Giants on July 26th with cash for Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree.  Peavy posted a 2.17 ERA in 78 2/3 innings for the Giants after the trade.  While his control improved with the Giants, his sharp drop in homer-to-flyball rate (3.2 percent) isn’t sustainable, even in the pitcher friendly AT&T Park.

While the level of production he showed in the season’s second half is very likely to come back down to Earth, there’s no doubt that a full-time move to AT&T Park and the NL West will be of benefit to Peavy’s numbers.  He’ll provide the Giants with some much-needed stability in the rotation, as the team currently has a great deal of uncertainty behind ace Madison Bumgarner and veteran workhorse Tim Hudson.  Matt Cain is coming off elbow surgery, Ryan Vogelsong is also a free agent, Tim Lincecum hasn’t been reliable for the past three seasons and Yusmeiro Petit, while excellent in 2014, has never held down a rotation spot for a whole season.

Peavy’s contract closely mirrors that two-year, $25MM contract extension that fellow 34-year-old NL West hurler Jorge De La Rosa signed in August, and it’s also in line with what both Hudson and Bronson Arroyo signed for last winter.  While each of the latter two pitchers is considerably older than Peavy, they signed in a free agent market with less quality pitching available.  In a free agent profile back in late October, MLBTR’s Jeff Todd correctly predicted that Peavy would top Hudson and Arroyo, though Peavy’s final deal fell a bit shy of his $28MM prediction.

This marks only the second significant move for Giants GM Brian Sabean this offseason — he agreed to terms on a two-year, $15MM deal with Sergio Romo earlier in the week — though not for lack of trying.  The Giants made a legitimate run at re-signing Pablo Sandoval and have also been connected to Jon Lester, Yasmany Tomas and Chase Headley, among others, but each has signed elsewhere, leaving the Giants to seek upgrades elsewhere.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Cubs Claim Mike Kickham From Giants

The Cubs have claimed lefty Mike Kickham off waivers from the Giants, San Francisco announced (per a tweet from Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News). Kickham was exposed to outright waivers to clear a roster spot for the signing of Jake Peavy, per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter).

Kickham, 26, has been knocked around in limited MLB experience over the last two seasons. But he continues to put up solid numbers in the PCL as a starter. Last season, he tossed 148 1/3 Triple-A frames, carrying a 4.43 ERA and 7.9 K/9 against 3.9 BB/9.

For the Cubs, Kickham represents a southpaw relief option as well as possible starting depth. Chicago has players like Felix DoubrontTsuyoshi WadaZac Rosscup, and Eric Jokisch potentially available as lefties in the pen, but will go without several of last year’s primary LOOGY arms.