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We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
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Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison is drawing serious interest from clubs around baseball and a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that roughly ten teams have checked in. Miami is reportedly willing to listen and the Red Sox and Braves are among the clubs that have called. Here's more out of the NL East..
- The Marlins are fans of Rays third baseman Sean Rodriguez and have discussed him internally, a league source tells Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Frisaro wonders aloud if Morrison for Rodriguez and a pitcher could be enough to get a deal done. Miami may be looking for a stop gap solution at third base until Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in last year's draft, is ready, which could be in 2015.
- Braves GM Frank Wren says he has had plenty of talks with agents and teams so far this winter, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "[We're] putting ourselves in position to add pieces we feel like would help us best," the GM said.
- Wren added that he's targeting starting pitching, bullpen help, and some bench upgrades, but wont' look past anything that can help the team, O'Brien tweets.
- The Braves might be willing to trade some prospects in right deal, but not their premium prospects such as Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh, O'Brien tweets.
- Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News wonders if there's a realistic chance of the Phillies trading Jonathan Papelbon.
Frisaro runs down multiple reasons why the Marlins are likely to trade Morrison.
Rodriguez, in his first year of arbitration, was projected by MLBTR to earn about $1.2MM, so his $1MM salary for 2013 seems about right. The utility infielder spent extensive time at second base, shortstop, and third base for Tampa Bay in 2012, posting a slash line of .213/.281/.326 in 342 plate appearances.
Rays big leaguers B.J. Upton, Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, and Wade Davis are drawing heavy interest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the team's "preference is to use their prospect depth to land a hitter." The Rays specifically feel that they can't match Upton's defensive skills with internal options.
The Rays' farm system is among the best in the game, so they can easily make prospect-only deals. Even if you take Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson out of the mix, Tim Beckham, Matt Moore, Alex Colome, and Matt Sweeney were considered top 100 prospects heading into the season. It's quite possible the Rays go even further down their prospect list. Look at the Angels – they just acquired Dan Haren without surrendering any top 100 guys.
As usual, the Rays have kept their targets close to the vest. Few players have been connected to them in recent weeks aside from Jayson Werth, and Yahoo's Tim Brown tweeted three days ago that a Rays source seriously doubts they get the Phillies outfielder.
Let's finish off our series with the toughest division in baseball…
- Blue Jays: The Jays already traded away most of their top pieces, but they still have three desirable relievers in Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and Kevin Gregg. All three can become free agents after the season. There might be some interest in first baseman Lyle Overbay, who will also hit the open market after the season.
- Orioles: Considering how poorly he pitched before landing on the DL, I'm sure a large part of the Baltimore faithful wouldn't mind seeing Mike Gonzalez go. Alas, that won't happen anytime soon. There always seems to be interest in Luke Scott, who still has two more years of team control left. If they decide to sell at mid-season, Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie could find their way onto the block.
- Rays: The Rays are a player development machine, and they have enough young players to get get pretty much anyone they want. They have enough depth that they could trade one of Reid Brignac or Sean Rodriguez plus one of Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, or Jeremy Hellickson and not miss a beat. If they fall out of it and decide to sell, it doesn't get much better than Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, and Carlos Pena. I believe the term is "stacked."
- Red Sox: Boston has held onto Clay Buchholz for this long, but with his name appearing so frequently on the rumor circuit, it really wouldn't be surprising if they moved him for a big time player. They might still be able to find a taker for Mike Lowell, and there would be interest in Manny Delcarmen if he were made available. They did lose a valuable chip when Junichi Tazawa went down with Tommy John surgery.
- Yankees: They seem unwilling to trade either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, so their best chip is the semi-blocked Jesus Montero. Of course, the Yankees have the ability to absorb even the ugliest of contracts, so maybe we should consider that their biggest trade chip.
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9:36pm: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter) thinks "it's unlikely anything happens" between Tampa Bay and Hudson, noting that the Rays are happy with Zobrist, Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez at second base. He does say, however, that the Rays "have interest in [a number] of free agents."
8:12pm: ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Twitter) that Tampa Bay is "in on Orlando Hudson talks." The plan would be to install Hudson at second base while Ben Zobrist gets moved to right field. Olney says that the move "all depends on the price," which would presumably have to be significantly lower than Hudson's $9MM asking price.
The Nationals have been considered to be the leaders in the Hudson sweepstakes this winter, and MLB.com's Bill Ladson was told today by a source that the Nats "have a good chance" of signing the free-agent second baseman due to Hudson's close ties to Adam Dunn and Willie Harris.
Ladson also went straight to the horse's mouth and talked to Hudson himself, who told Ladson that "progress had been made." The interview also included this interesting passage from Hudson that cited two other teams in the hunt:
"I will sign soon enough. You can put it on the Internet and on TV. I'm going to sign. I can't say exactly when. It will not be long. I can't say if it's with the Nationals, San Diego or Cleveland. I can't say with whom. Something is getting done."
The Padres could be a longshot if, as MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier today, they've completed their winter shopping following the signing of Jon Garland. The Tribe also seem like unlikely suitors given Hudson's contract demands.
2:38pm: The Rays acquired Rodriguez as the player to be named later in the Kazmir trade, according to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse (via Twitter). Rodriguez, 24, is hitting a robust .299/.400/.616 at Triple A this year. A few days ago the Rays acquired Alexander Torres and Matt Sweeney as initial pieces of the Kazmir deal. My question: why didn't another team claim Rodriguez on waivers, just to prevent the Rays from getting a look at him in September?
The Rays seem set in the middle infield for 2010 with Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett, and Rodriguez. Just speculating, but they could choose Akinori Iwamura's $250K buyout over his $4.25MM option.
TUESDAY, 12:33pm: The Angels promoted Wilson but not Rodriguez, causing Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times to speculate that the former is in the Kazmir deal.
MONDAY: Triple-A infielder Sean Rodriguez and catcher Bobby Wilson are candidates to be the player to be named later in last weekend's Scott Kazmir trade, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com. It is unclear if those two are part of a pool of prospects the Rays could consider, or if they've already made their decision.
Both players have big league experience. Rodriguez, 24, is a .282/.381/.502 career hitter in the minors, and has gotten 216 plate appearances with the Angels spread out over the last two seasons. Wilson, 26, has hit .283/.338/.423 in his minor league career, but he's come to the plate just seven times for the Angels over the last two year. Baseball America's 2009 Prospect Handbook notes that he "draws praise for his game calling ability."