Scott Kazmir Rumors

Free Agent Rumors: Lannan, Escobar, Youkilis, Drew

With plenty of rumors flying around the lobby of the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, we're making sure we don't let anything slip through the cracks. Here are a few morning updates from around the league on some of this winter's free agents:

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Mets have displayed interest in the recently non-tendered John Lannan, perhaps as insurance if the team trades a starter.
  • Although he hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2009, Kelvim Escobar is healthy in winter ball and is drawing interest at the Winter Meetings, tweets ESPN.com's Buster Olney.

Earlier updates:

  • The Yankees have spoken with Kevin Youkilis' agent, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network (Twitter link). According to Curry, Youkilis would consider a one-year deal if the salary was at a "premium amount."
  • The Mariners are interested in free agent outfielder Nate McLouth, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
  • A rival evaluator tells ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter link) that there's "no way" Stephen Drew would sign with the Yankees to be a part-time or utility player. Drew is seeking a full-time job.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that giving up a draft pick to sign Nick Swisher would be a factor in Boston's pursuit of the outfielder (link via Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com).
  • Mike Silverman of the Boston Herald hears that the Red Sox still have a chance in the Josh Hamilton sweepstakes, but it's a long shot (Twitter link).
  • After getting a clean bill of health on his hand and wrist, Ian Stewart has drawn wide interest from teams looking for third base help, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Tyler Kepner of the New York Times notes (via Twitter) that Stewart could be a fit for the Yankees.
  • Within his latest piece for the New York Post, Ken Davidoff hears that the Mets and Ryan Ludwick are an unlikely match, and wonders if Nick Swisher could end up with the Mariners.
  • The Reds will meet with Ludwick's agent this morning, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The veteran outfielder could accept the offer on the table from Cincinnati, though Fay speculates that the Reds are offering two years and Ludwick wants three. A two-year deal with a third-year option might work for both sides, says Fay.
  • The Athletics will meet with the reps for Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima today, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • The Dodgers, Giants, Brewers, Angels, and Rays are among the teams that have inquired on free agent reliever Mark Lowe, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • Scott Kazmir, who is throwing 90-94 mph in Puerto Rico, is drawing interest from a host of teams and could choose from a handful of offers soon, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, the Mets aren't in the mix for the lefty, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.

Olney’s Latest: Price, Dickey, Mariners, Kazmir

In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney says David Price is available right now for the right offer. Rival executives are convinced the reigning Cy Young Award winner will be traded in the next 13 months as his salary through arbitration becomes prohibitive for the Rays. Here are the rest of Buster's rumors…

  • The Rays and Price are not close to working out a long-term contract extension.
  • The Mets increased their offer to R.A. Dickey, but it's unclear how close the two sides are to a deal.
  • Olney speculates that the non-tendered Nate Schierholtz could be a fit for the Yankees, who are looking for a right fielder to replace Nick Swisher.
  • The Mariners have money to spend, but it appears they will have to overpay to land any premium free agents.
  • Last night we learned the Phillies are pursuing Angel Pagan, and Olney clarifies (on Twitter) that the two sides have been talking for weeks.
  • If the Giants don't re-sign Pagan, Olney says (on Twitter) they would seriously consider signing Shane Victorino.
  • Scott Kazmir is pitching in winter ball and teams have already started to show interest in the 28-year-old left-hander, tweets Olney.
  • The Tigers continue to say they are not in the market for a closer, tweets Olney.

Olney On Orioles, Red Sox, Kazmir, Heisey

Agents and players have considerably more interest in Baltimore as a potential destination now that the Orioles are viewed as a contender, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. "It's winning," one agent told Olney. "Period.” Some free agents now list the Orioles as a team they’d like to join. Here are more notes from Olney, starting in Baltimore…

  • The Orioles are looking for starting pitching and hope to bring Joe Saunders back. Jeremy Guthrie’s three-year, $25MM contract could affect Saunders’ asking price, as Olney points out. 
  • While the Orioles have talked about adding a bat, they’re not expected to be particularly aggressive about free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
  • The Marlins, Indians and Pirates are among the teams that could have trouble luring free agents even if they’re offering competitive salaries.
  • One AL GM credits the Red Sox for building a team that plays well in Fenway Park.
  • Earlier in the offseason there had been talk that the SoftBank Hawks, the Japanese team that recently agreed to sign Bryan LaHair, could pursue veteran free agents such as Mike Napoli or Kevin Youkilis.
  • A number of teams, including the Indians, are scouting left-hander Scott Kazmir, Olney writes. The Astros had some interest in Kazmir during the regular season.
  • Olney suggests arbitration eligible players such as Chris Heisey and A.J. Ellis could be candidates for two or three-year extensions this winter.


NL Central Notes: Hart, Marcum, Garza, Clemens

A few notes from the NL Central to pass along …

  • Brewers outfielder/first baseman Corey Hart told Milwaukee he'd like to remain with the team beyond his current contract, which expires after next season, and is willing to play whichever position he is needed at most, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. Hart, slated to make $10MM in 2013, also said that if the interest in keeping him in Milwaukee is mutual, potential extension talks would be best reserved for the offseason.
  • Brewers right-hander Shaun Marcum, an impending free agent, is nearing a return from the disabled list and understands that he is auditioning for the 29 other Major League teams, McCalvy writes. He also notes that Marcum and the Brewers have not engaged in extension talks.
  • The Cubs announced that they have transferred right-hander Matt Garza to the 60-day disabled list, and though his DL stint will expire before the end of the regular season, manager Dale Sveum added that Garza's been "shut down," according to Doug Padilla of ESPNChicago.com. Ending the season on the DL won't be good for Garza's trade value, but GM Jed Hoyer has said that the right-hander will be part of the team's 2013 rotation.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said he recently sent scouts to look at Roger Clemens and Scott Kazmir of the independent-league Sugar Land Skeeters, according to the Associated Press. Clemens is rumored to be mulling a return to the Majors.

Sugar Land Skeeters Expected To Sign Scott Kazmir

The independent Sugar Land Skeeters are expected to sign left-hander Scott Kazmir, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The Skeeters are based out of Houston, Kazmir's hometown.

A number of teams, including the Mets, showed interest in Kazmir this past winter, when he worked out in front of MLB scouts. The 28-year-old had a disappointing 2011 season that included time on the disabled list, one appearance for the Angels and a 17.02 ERA with more walks than strikeouts at Triple-A. He last pitched at an All-Star level in 2008, when he posted a 3.49 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9.

Former Astros outfielder Jason Lane is also a member of the Skeeters' pitching staff.


Mets Notes: Ownership, Wilpons, Kazmir

The big news out of Citi Field today was the settlement of the lawsuit between the Mets' owners and Irving Picard, the trustee for Bernie Madoff's victims.  Here are some more items about the team, including fallout from the settlement…

  • The Mets have sold 12 minority ownership shares in the club for $20MM each, reports Teri Thompson and Michael O'Keeffe of the New York Daily News.  The deals were settled last week, with the buyers of seven of the shares (four for cable company SNY and one each for Saul Katz, Jeff Wilpon and Steve Cohen) publicly known.  The $240MM generated by the sale of these ownership shares will go towards covering the club's operating costs for the 2012 season.  The Mets have also paid back several team debts, including a $25MM loan from Major League Baseball and a $40MM loan from Bank Of America.
  • "So while the Wilpons may consider themselves the day’s winners, it’s the fans that emerge as the losers," writes Bob Klapisch for FOX Sports.  Klapisch outlines the several hundred millions in debt that the franchise still owes and predicts the Mets may face several more years of low payrolls and uncertainty.
  • Scouting reports on Scott Kazmir "were not great," which is why the Mets passed on a reunion with the left-hander, writes MLB.com's Anthony DiComo.  This mailbag piece also covers such topics as the Mets' training and medical staffs and center field prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis.
  • Earlier today, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith reviewed the Mets' offseason.

Quick Hits: Greinke, Indians, Aybar, Kazmir, Matsui

Angels GM Jerry Dipoto recently said that it's unlikely the club will work out an extension with Erick Aybar before Opening Day. However, Dipoto acknowledged that it's very much a possibility that the club will work out a new deal with the shortstop. Here's more on Aybar and other notes from around the baseball…

  • Zack Greinke helped the Brewers evaluate pitchers prior to the draft according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, asking to see video of prospects before the team chose hurlers Taylor Jungmann and Jed Bradley in the first round. Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel says (on Twitter) that Greinke is at Arizona State scouting right-hander Brady Rodgers with Craig Counsell tonight.
  • Within this article comparing the Phillies to the late-90s Indians, Sam Donnellon of The Philadelphia Daily News says the Tribe had a deal in place to acquire Curt Schilling in 2000. "I banged hard on that one," said then-Indians GM John Hart when asked how he felt after the deal fell through.
  • Aybar told reporters that he hopes to remain with the Angels beyond this season, writes Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The 28-year-old declined to go into details about the kind of deal he’s looking for, but the Halos might not be willing to shell out major money for him with prospect Jean Segura in the fold.
  • The Mets were the only club to watch Scott Kazmir throw yesterday and Sandy Alderson didn't exactly offer a ringing endorsement of the pitcher, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. A reunion between the club and left-hander is unlikely, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter).
  • Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) spoke with someone that said Hideki Matsui isn't close to signing anywhere. The veteran will likely wait and see which teams have needs as spring training goes on.

NL East Links: Marlins, Bourn, Rizzo, Kazmir, Mets

Ten years ago today, the Expos claimed Endy Chavez off waivers from the Mets after the Mets claimed him off waivers from the Tigers and the Tigers claimed him off waivers from the Royals. All of that happened in less than eight weeks, and later in his career Chavez suited up for three different NL East teams in the span of 10 months. Here's the latest from his old division…

  • The Marlins intend to "renew" the contracts of their pre-arbitration-eligible players at the league minimum ($480K) according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. That may prompt the union to file a grievance, contending that the team did not operate in good faith.
  • Michael Bourn told MLB.com's Mark Bowman that he hasn't had any contract extension talks with the Braves. The speedy center fielder is a prime extension candidate, and can become a free agent after this season.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo spoke to MLB.com's Bill Ladson about a number of topics, including the Gio Gonzalez trade and the team's ongoing pursuit of a center fielder.
  • "We'll see [Scott] Kazmir for the first time [on Friday]," said Mets GM Sandy Alderson (on Twitter). "We have an open mind but a spot on the ML staff right away is not realistic." Kazmir threw for scouts last week and is said to be considering the team that originally drafted him.
  • Brian Costa of The Wall Street Journal reports that the Mets have firm commitments from seven potential investors, but want to line up three more and close all ten deals (worth a total of $200MM) at once (Twitter links).
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com says the smart money is on the Phillies and Cole Hamels working out a new contract to keep the left-hander in Philadelphia beyond this season.
  • The Phillies announced that Marti Wolever has been promoted from director of scouting to Assistant General Manager, Amateur Scouting.

Scott Kazmir Considering Mets, Five Other Clubs

Free agent left-hander Scott Kazmir is considering six teams and could decide on his next club within a few days, ESPN.com's Buster Olney tweets. The Mets, who selected Kazmir in the first round of the 2002 draft, are among the interested teams.

Kazmir worked out in front of about ten scouts last week, throwing in the 86-89 mph range. The 28-year-old appeared in one game for the Angels last year, but got released after struggling at Triple-A. The Yankees are not interested, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets.


Cafardo On Soler, Gonzalez, Ibanez, Abreu, Kazmir

In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at the Red Sox's shortstop position after the trade of Marco Scutaro.  Major league evaluators are skeptical that Mike Aviles and Nick Punto can get the job done, which could leave the door open to prospect Jose Iglesias getting the nod.  All eyes will be on manager Bobby Valentine to see how he handles the club's shortstop situation this spring.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • Two GMs told Cafardo that Jorge Soler will go for more than the five years and $15MM-$20MM most thought he would settle for.  Some of the clubs who elected to stay away on Yoenis Cespedes because of the hefty price and question marks about his game have decided that Soler is a better value.  The Red Sox are one of about eight teams in on Soler.
  • Mike Gonzalez is likely headed to the Rangers if they can trade Koji Uehara.  The A's have also been connected to the free agent reliever recently.
  • The Yankees prefer Raul Ibanez to Johnny Damon because of cost.  Damon is seeking about $5MM while Ibanez will likely be in the $1.5MM-$2MM range.
  • Angels veteran Bobby Abreu would have gone back to the Yankees in an A.J. Burnett deal.  The Halos have a logjam with Kendry Morales returning and Albert Pujols at first base and Abreu has been offered around.
  • The Red Sox didn’t attend Scott Kazmir’s workout on Friday and have no plans to watch Brandon Webb throw when he is on display.  That's because Boston decided not to delve into the rehab market for pitchers.  The club has tried a number of pitchers coming back from serious injury and in most cases, it hasn't worked out.
  • Cafardo wonders if Cardinals backup Tyler Greene is worth a look for the Red Sox shortstop mix.  The 27-year-old was once a promising prospect and is out of options this year.