San Francisco Giants Rumors
WEDNESDAY, 10:42am: Lopez will receive a three-year deal, but the agreement is not yet finalized, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).
TUESDAY, 3:07pm: Giants vice president Bobby Evans tells Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that the two sides have agreed on base salary and years but are still working out the other elements of the contract. There's nothing in writing yet, according to Evans (Twitter links).
2:33pm: The Giants close on multi-year deal with Lopez, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
Lopez, 36, pitched to a 1.83 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 39 1/3 innings in 2013, primarily working as a lefty specialist for the Giants. Lopez was incredibly good in that role, limiting opposing left-handers to a minuscule .156/.208/.222 slash line.
Lopez just wrapped up a two-year, $8.5MM contract with the Giants and is said to be looking for another multiyear deal on the free agent market. The Giants acquired Lopez from the Pirates in exchange for John Bowker and Joe Martinez after the Buccos had signed him to a minor league deal in the 2009-10 offseason. He's spent the past three-and-a-half years with the Giants, earning a pair of World Series rings and posting a 2.26 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 147 1/3 innings of relief.
Josh Johnson reached out to the Giants and Padres to let them know they were his first choices for a new team, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (all Twitter links). Both teams play close to Johnson's home in Las Vegas and also have pitcher-friendly ballparks that are ideal for a hurler looking to rebuild his value on a one-year contract. Schulman isn't sure if the Giants made Johnson an offer, though Johnson's chances of joining the club have likely dimmed now that San Francisco has signed Tim Hudson. Starting pitching isn't an offseason priority for the Padres, though a healthy and in-form Johnson projects as the ace of San Diego's rotation.
Here are some more items from around the NL West...
- The Rockies' one-year, $2.5MM agreement with LaTroy Hawkins "blew away" the Mets' offer to the veteran reliever, a source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Colorado also outbid the Braves, who didn't need Hawkins in either a closing or setup role, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link).
- Now that the Rockies have signed Hawkins, Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Sulia link) opines that the club needs to pursue the likes of Edward Mujica, Joe Smith or Jose Veras to further upgrade their shaky bullpen. Renck also looks at how the Hawkins signing impacts Rex Brothers' role as Colorado's "closer of the future."
- Also from Renck (Sulia link), the Rockies and left-hander Jorge De La Rosa haven't begun talks on a contract extension. De La Rosa's current deal is up after the 2014 season and Renck reported last month that both sides have interest in continuing their relationship. The southpaw also tells Renck that he is recovered from the thumb injury that bothered him down the stretch last season.
- The Dodgers have received "moderate to moderate-plus" trade interest in Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, an official tells Yahoo Sports' Tim Brown. We heard last week that the Dodgers were open to offers for Kemp, Ethier or Carl Crawford in order to free up payroll space and a spot in the outfield. Brown's piece outlines the Dodgers' offseason priorities, beginning with Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw.
- Juan Uribe is looking for a three-year contract, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). The Dodgers are interested in bringing Uribe back but not at that length, which Heyman admits is "probably a stretch." Indeed, Tim Dierkes said that Uribe would be weighing one- or two-year offers in MLBTR's free agent profile of the third baseman.
- The Dodgers would be better off trading to upgrade their rotation than signing a free agent hurler, ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon opines. "With the exception of [Masahiro] Tanaka, it’s an exceptionally flawed market for free agent starting pitchers and it seems like the Dodgers are more than aware of that. Much as they’d like to improve their rotation, they might be better served to sit this one out," Saxon writes.
- In other NL West news from earlier today, we collected some more Giants news items and MLBTR's Tim Dierkes reported that the Dodgers signed Brendan Harris to a minor league deal.
Now that Tim Hudson has signed with the Giants, executives around baseball think the pitching market will begin to open up, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan tweets. One GM predicts Josh Johnson will be the next hurler to sign, and there has been no shortage of interest in the right-hander, as agent Matt Sosnick claimed that he'd spoken to nearly every team about his client. The Rangers and Royals have both been linked to Johnson, and the pitcher himself reached out to the Padres and Giants to express his interest.
Here's the latest about some of the offseason's available starters...
- One team that doesn't appear to be in the mix for Johnson are the Blue Jays, his most recent club. The Jays haven't made any progress with Johnson, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports, and there aren't any signs that they're even continuing negotiations. Johnson was open to returning to Toronto though his contract demands seem to be higher than the Jays are willing to pay.
- Bronson Arroyo listed the Giants, Twins, Phillies, Angels, Dodgers and "maybe" the Orioles as teams he thinks have called to express their interest in his services, the veteran righty said during an interview with Casey Stern and Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. Arroyo discussed what he's looking for in a team and what his contract expectations are during the interview; MLB.com's Mark Sheldon has a partial transcript and an audio link to the full interview.
- The Braves offered Hudson a two-year contract earlier this week but it wasn't enough, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The Braves' previous offer to Hudson was a one-year deal worth less than $9MM (his annual salary in each of the previous four seasons) which clearly wasn't enough with so many other teams in the mix. O'Brien says the Braves could add another veteran to replace Hudson.
- The Athletics were second in the Hudson race behind the Giants, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Twitter link). That's a bit of a surprise for the low-payroll A's but Hudson would've made sense on a short-term deal, plus he has long-time ties to the franchise.
- If the A's had signed Hudson, they would've ended their pursuit of Bartolo Colon, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Hudson would "probably more trustworthy" an option than Colon in the Oakland rotation, though the A's still have interest in re-signing Colon at a "price they deem reasonable."
- In an interview with Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, Scott Feldman said his agent had heard from "15 teams or so" but "it's been a slow-developing market so far" (Twitter links).
- The Twins still haven't made a formal offer to Ricky Nolasco, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets. This is no change from the last update about Nolasco and the Twins, though the club is definitely interested in the free agent righty.
The Giants' two-year, $23MM deal with Tim Hudson is drawing praise from several pundits. MLBTR's Steve Adams, Fangraphs' Dave Cameron and ESPN's Keith Law all see the contract as a possible steal for the Giants since even coming off a fractured ankle, Hudson doesn't carry as many question marks as other starters who may command much larger deals. Here's some more on the Giants...
- The Giants don't like any of the free agent options to fill their hole in left field and will look to trade for outfield help at the Winter Meetings, CSNBayArea.com's Andrew Baggarly reports. The club could end up settling for a left-handed hitter to platoon with Gregor Blanco in left.
- Also from Baggarly, the Giants have made some progress in talks with Javier Lopez.
- The Giants are still looking for a left fielder and one more starting pitcher, ESPN's Buster Olney reports. Olney guesses that Bronson Arroyo or Ryan Vogelsong could be that pitcher, depending on which contract is the better fit (Twitter links). Vogelsong would obviously come at a much lower price than Arroyo, though if San Francisco could cheaply address their left field situation, I could see them spending extra to acquire Arroyo.
- The Giants checked in on Dan Haren, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Twitter link) but "other teams [were] far more aggressive," according to a source. The Twins and Yankees have been linked to Haren so far this offseason.
- Also from Schulman, it seems as if the Giants aren't going to offer any starter more than three guaranteed years. This could keep them from landing Ricky Nolasco, who is looking for a four-year contract.
The Giants made another move to fortify their rotation by signing right-hander Tim Hudson to a two-year, $23MM contract. Hudson will earn $11MM in 2014 and $12MM in 2015, and the deal contains a no-trade clause. The agreement became official once Hudson passed a physical, which was not a foregone conclusion given the ugly ankle fracture that prematurely ended Hudson's 2013 season.
The 38-year-old suffered the freak ankle injury when Eric Young stepped on his foot on a play at first base on July 24. However, prior to the injury, Hudson had reversed a slow start to the season and caught fire over a span of 10 starts. From June 1 through July 24, Hudson turned in a 2.73 ERA with a 50-to-19 K/BB ratio -- a stretch that left his season line at 3.97 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 55.8 percent ground-ball rate. That marks the seventh consecutive season of a sub-4.00 ERA for Hudson and the 13th such season in his strong 15-year career.
Hudson drew interest from as many as half the teams in the league, but news that he could approach $24MM over two years likely caused some interested parties to back off. Hudson had a surgical screw removed from his ankle 11 days ago and should be running by the end of the month. The Braves made an offer to retain him, but Atlanta's efforts topped out at one year and a lower salary than the $9MM he made in 2013. In addition to Atlanta, the Red Sox were said to be highly interested in Hudson. The Indians, Royals, Rangers and A's all expressed interest as well.
Hudson becomes the third member of MLBTR's Top 50 Free Agent list to sign, though his two-year contract and $11.5MM annual value is significantly better than the prediction I offered in my free agent profile for Hudson. Hudson is represented by agent Paul Cohen of TWC Sports.
Hudson will join a GIants rotation that will be fronted by Madison Bumgarner and Matt Cain and also features a returning Tim Lincecum. Sabean has been highly aggressive to this point, landing Hudson in the early stages of free agency and reaching extensions with Lincecum and Hunter Pence to prevent them from ever hitting the open market.
News that the two sides were nearing an agreement on a two-year, $23MM contract was first reported by Steve Berman. John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links) broke the news that Hudson and the Giants had agreed to terms and had the salary breakdown. CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly confirmed Hudson's no-trade clause, which was first reported on by ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter links).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
Here's a rundown of the latest minor moves from around the league...
- The Giants signed catcher Guillermo Quiroz and right-handers Caleb Clay and Mason Tobin to minor league deals, Baseball America's Matt Eddy reports (via Twitter). Quiroz appeared in 43 games for San Francisco last season and was designated for assignment in August.
- The Orioles announced the signings of five players, via the Norfolk Tides Twitter feed. Left-hander Nick Additon, right-handers Tim Alderson and Brock Huntzinger and outfielders Chih-Hsien Chiang and Kyeong Kang have all inked minor league deals.
- The Cardinals have signed catcher Ed Easley to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, the club announced. Easley was drafted 61st overall by the Diamondbacks in 2007 and has a .262/.338/.357 slash line over 2217 PA in Arizona's system. He enjoyed a big year at Triple-A in 2013, posting an .872 OPS in 328 PA.
- The Diamondbacks have signed left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets. The Aussie spent his age-30 season with Boston's Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket where he pitched to a masterful 1.55 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 52 1/3 innings of relief work. Rowland-Smith posted an outstanding 0.94 WHIP and held opposing lefties to a mere .192/.244/.274 batting line, though his .200/.268/.278 line from opposing righties is equally impressive. He hasn't appeared in the Majors since 2010, and all 362 2/3 of his big league innings have come in a Mariners uniform.
If we could rewind to the start of the eighth inning of the Braves' 8-2 victory over the Mets on July 24 and see that Tim Hudson would agree to a two-year, $23MM contract with San Francisco (as he did earlier this afternoon), we'd assume that the Giants had a relative steal on their hands. Fast forward a few minutes, and the reason for the perceived bargain would become clear; Hudson suffered an ankle fracture that inning that ended his season and cast some doubt on his readiness for 2014.
Hudson has since had a surgical screw removed from the ankle, hopes to be running by the end of the month. While he comes with a great deal of uncertainty, Giants general manager Brian Sabean and his staff have decided to roll the dice on Hudson's health, knowing that should his ankle hold up and be ready for Opening Day, they'll have a bargain on their hands.
Consider that this time last offseason, Ryan Dempster received a two-year, $26.5MM contract coming off a season that saw him finish with a 5.09 ERA (4.08 FIP) in the 69 innings he spent with the Rangers. Had Hudson finished the year as strongly as he'd been pitching (2.73 ERA over his previous 10 starts), he could have been in line for $30MM over the next two seasons or even a three-year deal -- a goal that Bronson Arroyo has been rumored to have a shot at reaching. From Opening Day 2010 through the date of his injury, Hudson had topped Arroyo in terms of innings pitched while turning in better ERA, strikeout and ground-ball numbers. Hudson's a year older, but he'd be in the conversation to match or exceed Arroyo's eventual contract, and that figures to greatly exceed $23MM.
Sabean's contract for Tim Lincecum (two years, $35MM) drew some flak that seemed to be well-deserved at the time, but the prices for starting pitching on the open market are clearly going up. Pitchers such as Ricky Nolasco seem destined to easily eclipse $50MM, while Ervin Santana, who was little more than a salary dump a year ago at this time, could be in line for $75MM or more. Sabean decided to retain Lincecum at a rate that may end up being in line with market value and elected to use a non-arm injury to acquire Hudson at a rate that's likely below what even last season's market value would have been.
There's certainly risk in adding a 38-year-old starter coming off season-ending ankle surgery, but weighed against the risk of adding an inconsistent starter such as Nolasco, Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez on four- or five-year deal, this seems to be a chance worth taking for the Giants. By adding Hudson and retaining Lincecum for a combined $58MM over the next two seasons, the Giants have risked a similar total to what Nolasco will command over four years and solidified the No. 3-4 spots in their rotation over a shorter term in the process.
The posting system standoff between MLB and Japan's NPB could temporarily benefit the Red Sox if Masahiro Tanaka is kept away from the Yankees, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The dispute over the posting system could drag on long enough for Tanaka to not make it over to the U.S. in 2014. The Bombers are going to improve one way or another and upgrade their rotation, but Tanaka is the one potential addition they consider to be an elite pitcher. Here's more from today's column..
- The Blue Jays need at least two starting pitchers and dealing Jose Bautista could land them one. “It’s a name we’re hearing through backchannels right now, but wouldn’t be surprised if he’s available,” said an NL general manager. Red Sox skipper John Farrell is a fan of Bautista from his days in Toronto, but it’s doubtful the Blue Jays would deal within the division, even though Boston has pitching to spare.
- Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval can be had in a deal, but his weight issues are of concern to clubs. The Giants have tried everything to get Sandoval to slim down and it's worked at some points, but not last season. Cafardo notes that Sandoval can also play first base and may have a market at either position.
- For Jacoby Ellsbury to re-sign with the Red Sox, he would have to be willing to accept a five-year deal that likely would not surpass $100MM. The Mariners, Rangers, Yankees, Tigers, Giants, and Phillies seem to have some level of interest, but whether they dive into the 6-8 year range at $20MM plus per year remains to be seen.
- The Orioles likely won’t deal Matt Wieters unless it’s in a blockbuster that would improve their pitching.
- Even though there’s been talk about an extension, there's growing sentiment that the Padres will trade Chase Headley this offseason to improve in a couple of different areas. New CEO Mike Dee says that he's willing to spend in order to strengthen the club long-term.
- Alfredo Aceves re-hired agent Tom O'Connell to represent him recently, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database. According to O'Connell, the pitcher called and apologized for firing him in the first place. There's now a "good possibility" that the pitcher will land with the Mets.
SUNDAY, 8:25am: Nolasco to the Padres is "not happening," tweets Corey Brock of MLB.com.
FRIDAY, 8:07pm: Add the Giants to the list of teams tabbed by an unnamed GM as possible suitors for Nolasco, Berardino tweets. Word yesterday was that San Francisco was not terribly motivated to pursue Nolasco since the club wasn't interested in giving him a fourth year.
7:34pm: The club has yet to make a formal offer to Nolasco, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, who says that the Twins are "not as far along with Ricky Nolasco as multiple reports have indicated."
6:35pm: Minnesota is "on [Nolasco] hard," a rival GM tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Competitors for Nolasco's services include the Padres, that same GM noted.
7:55am: The Twins are making a strong push for Ricky Nolasco, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Yesterday afternoon, it was reported that Nolasco had a pair of four-year offers, although as recently as last night, reports out of the Twin Cities indicated that Minnesota had yet to make an offer.
ESPN's Buster Olney wrote yesterday that the Twins are highly active on the market for pitching this offseason and plan to add at least two solid veteran starters. They've also been one of the most aggressive teams in pursuit of Bronson Arroyo to this point.
Nolasco, 31 in December, finished the season with a 3.70 ERA, 7.5 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and a 43 percent ground-ball rate in 199 1/3 innings. He's not an ace, but he would be a boost to a Twins rotation that posted the worst ERA (5.26), K/9 (4.9) and innings total (871) in all of Major League Baseball last season. Nolasco comes with the added benefit of having been traded midseason, meaning he was ineligible to receive a qualifying offer and therefore won't cost a draft pick. His agent, Matt Sosnick, recently explained his strong relationship with the Twins and GM Terry Ryan to Parker Hageman of Twins Daily.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Pour a tall cup of coffee and open up a Baseball Reference tab. It's time for this Saturday morning's minor moves, via the Pacific Coast League and International League transaction pages (except where otherwise noted) ...
- The White Sox have signed lefty David Purcey to a minor league deal. The 31-year-old had rejected an outright assignment from the Sox in late October to become a free agent. Purcey made 24 apperances for the Sox's major league club in 2013, posting a 2.13 ERA but walking 6 batters per nine innings.
- The Dodgers signed first baseman/outfielder Jamie Romak to a minor league deal, according to MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter). Romak's deal includes a July 1st opt out. The 28-year-old posted a .242/.322/.461 slash line with 22 homers in 134 games for the Cardinals' Triple-A affiliate last season.
- Right-handed reliever Mark Lowe, 30, has signed with the Rays, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). Lowe was battered in just eleven appearances with the Angels last year, but posted a 3.60 ERA across 2009-12 and has continued to notch high strikeout totals while being stashed in the upper minors.
- The Cardinals signed third baseman Scott Moore, a thirty-year-old who has thrived at Triple-A but has yet to have a real shot in the bigs. Last year, over 485 plate appearances in the Oakland and San Diego organizations, he hit .271/.353/.448 with fourteen long balls. In his most extended MLB action, a 2012 stint with the Astros, Moore hit a more-than-respectable .259/.330/.448 with nine home runs in 228 plate appearances.
- Right-hander Jim Miller is back with the Yankees on a minor league pact after making just one MLB appearance last year, an ill-fated inning-and-a-third that resulted in three earned runs. The 31-year-old had been a solid member of the A's pen just one year prior, however, as he registered a 2.59 ERA in 48 2/3 innings for Oakland. Miller did flash a 13.1 K/9 rate during his 63 1/3 Triple-A innings last year, a somewhat intriguing mark given his manageable walk rates. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com had the news first on Twitter.
- Lefty reliever Will Startup will stay with the Tigers after he notched a 3.41 ERA in 58 Double-A innings last year. Startup reached Triple-A as a 21-year-old back in 2006, but before joining Detroit had landed with the Sugar Land Skeeters in 2012.
- The Giants have inked two righties to minor league deals, bringing aboard Jason Berken and Daryl Maday. Berken, 29, has thrown in 110 MLB games, including 28 as a starter, and recorded a 5.36 ERA over 248 2/3 innings. He spent last year at the White Sox' Triple-A affiliate, where he managed a 3.80 ERA in 161 innings -- all as a starter -- and posted 6.5 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9. Meanwhile, at 28 years of age Maday has yet to see San Francisco, but will continue to keep the dream alive in the Giants system. He has bounced between Double-A and Triple-A since 2008, and now serves primarily as a reliever. Last year, Maday notched a cumulative 4.17 ERA in 49 2/3 innings, with 7.1 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
- The Pirates signed first baseman Miles Durham and catcher Francisco Diaz to minor league deals. At age thirty, Durham has spent his entire career in the Pittsburgh organization, other than a brief Independent League stint, and apparently served as a player-coach last season. Dia, 23, has all the markings of a light-hitting backstop (two career home runs in 1,115 plate appearances), though he has reached base at a productive clip in the low minors.
- Longtime Yankees farmhand Walter Ibarra has agreed to play short in the Cubs organization on a minor league pact. The 26-year-old reached Triple-A for the first time last year. Known for his defense, Ibarra failed to himpress with a cumulative .276/.308/.367 slash across 212 Double-A and Triple-A plate appearances in 2013.
- And the Nationals have reached agreement with a player by the name of Josh Johnson -- not the starting pitcher, but the middle infielder and third baseman who has been in the Nats' system since 2010. Last year, playing at both of the two highest minor league levels, the 27-year-old Johnson put up an impressive .293/.390/.458 line in 300 trips to the plate. He was especially impressive in his short time at Syracuse, where he had a .924 OPS and was a perfect six-for-six in stolen bases in just 111 plate appearances. Washington also added catcher Sean McCauley to the fold on a minor league pact. The 24-year-old was brought back to professional baseball by the Nats last year in a coaching capacity after losing his career to injury.
- The Rangers have signed righty Zach Russell away from the Cards' system. The 24-year-old reliever topped out with a brief Double-A stint last year, but struggled there.