Scott Hairston Rumors
Let's take a look around the National League ...
- Pitcher Tim Stauffer was called up by the Padres, meaning that the team will not risk losing him to a June 1 opt-out clause, notes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Returning for the second time in his career from major arm surgery, Stauffer was thrown right into the fire and worked 1 2/3 effective innings last night against the Nationals.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. believes his club has the pieces in place to be much better offensively and is not looking for outside help at the moment, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. "I don't see us making any trades any time soon," Amaro said. "There's too many teams that are in it, not enough teams that are out of it." Amaro is preaching patience with struggling hitters like Delmon Young and Ryan Howard: "Right now we have to be patient to see if Delmon starts swinging it. And Ryan [Howard] is going to have to start swinging it. If those guys do then we'll be OK. If they don't we'll have to figure out what we're going to do." As Salisbury notes, the Phillies rank near the bottom of baseball in most major offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.304, 25th); OPS (.683, 26th); and runs scored (3.61, 27th).
- Prospective free agent Matt Garza will make his season debut for the Cubs this Tuesday, tweets Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. Garza, who last checked in at eighth on Tim Dierkes's 2014 Free Agent Power Rankings, will be an interesting player to watch over the coming weeks. Depending upon his performance and the intentions of the Cubs, he could be an extension candidate, prime mid-season trade bait, and/or a major 2014 free agent target.
- To make room in the rotation for Garza, Miles further notes, the Cubs will bump Carlos Villanueva to the bullpen. The right-hander, who is in the first half of a two-year, $10MM deal with the Cubs, has struggled since a promising start to the 2013 campaign. After allowing just five earned runs and logging 29 1/3 innings in his first four starts, Villanueva has conceded eighteen earned runs and lasted only 23 1/3 innings over his next four outings. Pitching from the pen, Villanueva is much less likely to profile as a potential trade candidate for the Cubs.
- In spite of a nice 2012 season in which he slashed .263/.299/.504 and hit 20 home runs over 398 plate appearances for the Mets, outfielder Scott Hairston says that the team never formally offered him a contract this offseason. As Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports, Hairston felt that New York "wanted to go in a different direction," leading him to look elsewhere for a multi-year deal and regular playing time. He ultimately landed a two-year deal with the Cubs that guarantees him $5MM. Now, both player and team seem to be regretting how things turned out: the Mets outfield has been terrible, and Hairston has struggled in limited action for Chicago with a .125/.154/.354 line over just 52 plate appearances.
The Cubs have announced outfielder Tony Campana has been designated for assignment. The move was made to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Scott Hairston, whose two-year contract was made official in a team press release.
Campana's main asset is his speed as he led the Cubs in stolen bases last year with 30, the ninth best total in the National League. The 26-year-old finished 2012 with a slash line of .264/.308/.299 in 192 plate appearances. Campana became expendable after the Cubs bolstered their outfield this winter, according to MLBTR's Transaction Tracker, with the free agent signings of Hairston and Nate Schierholtz.
"It was a difficult call for us," Cubs President Theo Epstein was quoted as saying by Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "I think it speaks to the fact that our 40-man roster is starting to have better depth on it. We preferred not to take a pitcher off at this juncture. So, looking at the position player group, it seemed to make sense to us to make this procedural move with Tony."
Epstein said he would like to keep Campana in the organization, but added he could be a weapon for a contending team in a certain role. The Cubs have 10 days to trade Campana or place him on waivers.
JANUARY 29th: The deal guarantees Hairston $5MM over two years and includes an additional $1MM in incentives, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter).
JANUARY 23rd: The Cubs have reached an agreement with outfielder Scott Hairston for a two-year deal pending a physical, reports FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter). The Excel Sports Management client could receive up to $6MM over the course of the two years including incentives, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com (via Twitter).
Hairston, 32, enjoyed a career year in 2012 with the Mets as he posted a .263/.299/.504 batting line while playing each of the outfield positions. The veteran's ability to hit left-handed pitching made Hairston a top commodity this offseason given his .867 OPS against southpaws this season.
Adding Hairston to the Cubs' outfield mix should lessen some of the offensive burden for left-handed hitters like David DeJesus and Nate Schierholtz, both of whom struggle against left-handed pitchers. Schierholtz and Hairston project to serve as what could be an effective platoon in right field given Schierholtz's success against right-handed pitchers (.811 OPS over the past two seasons).
- Cashman told reporters, including MLB.com's Mark Newman, that he had conversations with the Diamondbacks about Justin Upton but Arizona was never focusing on making a deal with them. That fits in line with a report from ESPN.com's Buster Olney earlier this month that indicated that several teams were anxious to get in on the talks but were struggling to get a response from GM Kevin Towers & Co.
- Cashman also said that he's aware that he needs to strengthen the bench and find a right-handed bat for the outfield. However, he doesn't feel as though it all has to come together by Opening Day and suggested that he could explore mid-season deals to make that happen.
- Meanwhile, the GM says the Yankees were never close to signing Scott Hairston either, despite being linked to him for a good portion of the winter, writes Dan Martin of the New York Post. Cashman added that the club isn't opposed to multi-year deals but did say that they'll have to be careful about it. Hairston agreed to a two-year deal with the Cubs earlier this week.
- General Manager Brian Cashman told ESPN 98.7's Michael Kay there is a chance that Alex Rodriguez will miss the entire season after undergoing hip surgery, writes Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. "It is a very complicated surgery. Any time someone has a surgery, there is always a chance there are complications. That didn't take place in this case. But is it possible? Sure, it is possible, but is it likely? I don't think so," Cashman said. If Rodriguez does have to retire at some point due to his hip issue, the Yankees are insured for most of his contract.
- A person with knowledge of the Mets’ plans wouldn’t rule out the possibility that the team could sign free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. This would be a surprise, especially since signing the Scott Boras client would lead to the forfeiture of the Mets’ top draft pick this year, the 11th overall selection. GM Sandy Alderson told Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger earlier this month that he had strong reservations about surrendering that selection.
- David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears that Scott Hairston probably isn’t an option for the Braves anymore (Twitter link). By the way, MLBTR extends a hello to Jerry Hairston Sr., who gets information about his son's free agency from this website (via McCullough on Twitter). Hairston Sr. played at the MLB level for 14 seasons, but he pre-dates MLBTR. There are still lots of Hairston rumors thanks to Scott and Jerry Jr.
- Recent trades have improved depth throughout the Marlins' organization, vice president of player development Marty Scott told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. "It continues to give us more depth," Scott said. "We do not have a need to rush everybody."
The Mets completed a nine-figure contract extension and made a blockbuster trade this winter, but they’ve been quiet in free agency. Mike Puma of the New York Post has the latest on their current pursuits...
- The Mets watched free agent reliever Brian Wilson this weekend, and weren’t impressed, Puma reports. The Mets don’t consider the rehabbing right-hander to be worthy of a big league deal at this point. Wilson, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, wasn’t interested in a minor league contract, according to Puma. The Mets could watch him pitch later on, but right now he’s not physically ready in the view of Mets personnel. “He’s got a ways to go,” one person said. The Mets were known to have interest in Wilson.
- It’s believed that the Mets countered Scott Hairston’s asking price of two years and $8MM with a one-year, $2MM offer, Puma reports. One source suggested to the Post that the Mets will find a way of adding an outfielder even if they don’t re-sign the free agent Hairston.
3:18pm: The Mets balked when Hairston asked for $8MM over two years, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). The Yankees aren't involved, but the outfielder still seems upbeat, Heyman adds.
The Yankees, Mets, Braves and Phillies have been linked to Hairston this winter. At one point the two New York teams were viewed as finalists for the right-handed hitting outfielder, but the Mets now appear to be targeting bigger names.
Hairston hit 20 homers and posted a .263/.299/.504 batting line for the Mets this past season. The 32-year-old played all three outfield positions, spending most of his time in the two corner spots. He faced left-handed pitching in precisely half of his 398 plate appearances and, as usual, he excelled against lefties with a .286/.317/.550 batting line and 11 home runs.
Hairston, an Excel Sports Management client, earned $1.1MM in each of the past two seasons. He could be looking for a two-year contract in the $10MM range following Jonny Gomes’ deal with the Red Sox.
6:16pm: The Diamondbacks are unlikely to acquire Porcello, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).
10:53am: The Tigers would likely ask for a shortstop, a late-inning reliever or a right-handed hitting outfielder in a trade for Porcello, Morosi adds. Detroit doesn't appear to be a finalist for Scott Hairston, who could decide between the Yankees and Mets.
8:14am: The Diamondbacks have talked to the Tigers about trading for starter Rick Porcello, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). Morosi confirms that the Mariners have also had talks with Detroit about Porcello. The Angels, Pirates, Padres, Orioles and Cubs have also been linked to Porcello this offseason.
The 24-year-old posted a 4.59 ERA with 5.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 53.2% ground ball rate in 176 1/3 innings this past season. He earned $3.1MM in 2012 and has a projected salary of $4.7MM for 2013. He’s under team control through 2015.
Arizona has many internal starting pitching options, including Ian Kennedy, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, Tyler Skaggs, Josh Collmenter and Patrick Corbin. Plus, Daniel Hudson could return from Tommy John surgery midseason. However, GM Kevin Towers has shown this offseason that he’s willing to add to apparent areas of depth. Last month Towers signed Cody Ross even though the Diamondbacks' outfield seemed full to most outside observers.
The Mets like Scott Hairston, but view the free agent as a fallback option in case they can’t obtain a bigger name outfielder, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter links). The Mets would be happy to re-engage the Diamondbacks about Justin Upton, according to Heyman. However, they found Arizona’s asking price on Upton to be high earlier in the offseason.
We now have a precise sense of the Diamondbacks’ asking price for Upton. It appears that GM Kevin Towers agreed to a deal that would have sent Upton to Seattle for Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor and Taijuan Walker. However, Upton invoked his no-trade protection and blocked the deal (latest details here).
The Mets' outfield currently includes Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda, Mike Baxter, Jordany Valdespin, Andrew Brown and Collin Cowgill. GM Sandy Alderson has been eyeing outfielders all winter, but has yet to acquire an established player.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith was on hand yesterday as the Blue Jays formally introduced R.A. Dickey to the press at the Rogers Centre yesterday. The knuckleballer would still be in Queens if the Mets were willing to match his asking price, but Dickey isn't dwelling on that as he is looking forward to playing in Toronto. “No, in fact I’ve moved on from that point to being thankful that they didn’t. It’s important for me to say that I’m very thankful to the Mets for the opportunity to cultivate a pitch. But it’s also important to not live in the past," said the 38-year-old. Here's today's look at the Mets..
- While speculation is that teams are looking to sign Scott Hairston to a one-year deal, there is a belief the Mets could go to two years in order to re-sign the outfielder, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. However, a baseball official says that Hairston isn't close to signing anywhere.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson suggested that limited room on the 40-man roster is partially to blame for the club not having signed a free agent to a major league deal yet, Rubin writes. However, one has to assume that the Mets' financial limitations are the bigger factor. Alderson said that the Mets could be gearing up for some "significant activity" on the open market next offseason after they get out from under some large contracts.
- In trying to re-sign Hairston to a one-year deal, the Mets are mindful of prior multi-year deals for role players like Ramon Castro and Endy Chavez, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post tweets. Yesterday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Yankees no longer appear to be in on the outfielder.
- The Mets are making the right call by not giving manager Terry Collins a contract extension at this time, opines Michael Baron of MetsBlog.com.