Seattle Mariners Rumors
The Rangers didn't really expect to re-sign Nelson Cruz this winter, yet did their due diligence by keeping in touch with Cruz's agent Adam Katz, GM Jon Daniels told MLB.com's Lyle Spencer. "We've touched base every week or so," Daniels said. "Nellie's highly regarded here. We have a good relationship with Adam. We made our moves and kind of expected [Cruz] to sign elsewhere. But we'll see where it goes. It's a unique situation for him as a free agent. When we made our decision to sign [Shin-Soo] Choo, it was with the understanding that [Cruz's] best opportunity would be to sign elsewhere. I don't know what's going on with other teams and Nellie."
Here's some more from around the AL West...
- The Rangers' view on re-signing Cruz is "unchanged," FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets, in that the team would only bring him back at a lower price and if he can't find any other suitors.
- Nick Franklin was almost traded to the Diamondbacks last offseason and had been the subject of trade rumors this winter as well since the Mariners' acquisition of Robinson Cano. Despite all of the speculation, Franklin tells Larry Stone of the Seattle Times that he's just focusing on the upcoming season. “I mean, as far as I know, I’ve been traded 20 times, and I’m still here," Franklin said. “It doesn’t really bother me at all. All I can do is control what I can and go out and play the game.”
- A 10-year, $300MM contract for Mike Trout has often been cited as a possible extension for the young superstar, though MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez opines that Trout's representatives might take a lesser deal given that Trout still has four years until free agency and his stock could drop in the interim. Also, a shorter deal would set Trout up for another massive contract later in his career. Gonzalez suggests a seven-year, $200MM extension could work. In my opinion, while the $200MM mark is a major threshold for any player, I'd guess the Angels would happily lock Trout up at that price.
- Athletics manager Bob Melvin told reporters, including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, that there is very little chance top prospect Addison Russell begins the season on the Major League roster. The A's are already set at shortstop wth Jed Lowrie (with Nick Punto and Eric Sogard as backup options), and as Slusser notes, there is little reason to start Russell's service time clock at this point in his young career.
6:20pm: The Red Sox are also talking with Capuano, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Boston recently learned that rotation option Ryan Dempster would take the year off, reducing the team's depth but also relieving it of the obligation to pay him.
Of course, the Red Sox are likely not in a position to promise Capuano a regular turn in the rotation. As Rosenthal tweets, the team is interested in a "swing type" pitcher that is capable of throwing both as a starter and in relief.
9:19am: MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo tweets that the Marlins and White Sox have also been in touch with Capuano this winter.
7:40am: The Mariners are showing "decent interest" in southpaw Chris Capuano, and talks between the two sides are ongoing, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman writes that Capuano has been seeking a two-year deal, though it's not clear if that is still his goal or if his price has come down.
Capuano, 35, battled calf and lat injuries in 2013, and he also was relegated to the bullpen for a portion of the season as a result of the Dodgers' starting pitching depth. The result was a total of just 105 2/3 innings -- 92 2/3 fewer than he threw in 2012. In his two years with L.A., Capuano posted a 3.91 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 in 304 innings of work. His 46.4 percent ground-ball rate in 2013 was his best mark since 2003 when he threw just 33 innings, though it wasn't reflected in his ERA due to struggles in stranding baserunners (68.9 percent) and an abnormally high .334 BABIP.
Heyman writes that the Mariners also had discussions with Ubaldo Jimenez prior to his four-year, $50MM deal with the Orioles, and they've been in talks with Ervin Santana as well. However, signing Capuano to augment their rotation instead of Santana would leave additional funds to add another bat, such as Kendrys Morales or Nelson Cruz.
In the wake of reports that the Angels made a four-year, $52MM offer to Matt Garza in December and pulled it before he could respond, Garza himself confirmed to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that the Halos did make (and quickly pull) an offer. Garza says that he was on vacation with his wife, celebrating their anniversary: "I was on vacation with my wife and I didn’t want to be disturbed, and it was like, ‘Here it is, we’ll pull it in a certain amount of hours.’ I didn’t have a chance to respond, so I just said, ‘Whatever. It is what it is.'" Garza wound up receiving a slightly smaller guarantee from the Brewers ($50MM), though his deal could be worth as much as $67MM if his fifth-year option triggers and he maxes out his contract's incentives. Garza told McCalvy that upon meeting Brewers owner Mark Attanasio, he felt the club genuinely wanted to sign him, and that was a big factor in his decision.
Here's more from the AL West...
- Don't rule out a return to the Mariners for Kendrys Morales, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo hears that the Pirates aren't willing to forfeit the draft pick they would need to sign Morales. He also hears that Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette can't get the financial go-ahead from owner Peter Angelos to meet Morales' asking price.
- Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if it would be the best fit for all parties if Nelson Cruz returned to the Rangers on a one-year deal. Grant speculates on some contract specifics that could allow Cruz to earn more than the $14.1MM qualifying offer he rejected, and wonders it the two sides could agree in advance not to go the qualifying offer route next offseason.
- Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis knows the timing of the flexor tendon injury that has shelved him for the last season-and-a-half was horrible (he was three months from free agency), but the 35-year-old is keeping his head up, writes ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett. Rather than lament his misfortune, Lewis instead said that he prefers to count his blessings: "Baseball has given me the opportunity to play and make good money and do it as long as I have."
- Athletics lefty Tommy Milone might appear to be behind Scott Kazmir, Jarrod Parker, Sonny Gray, Dan Straily and A.J. Griffin on the depth chart, but he's been assured by manager Bob Melvin that he's in the running for a rotation spot, tweets John Hickey of the Bay Area News Group. The A's currently have six starters for five rotation spots, but there's been little talk of them trading an arm.
Angels owner Arte Moreno spoke with Tustin, Calif., officials last week about the possibility of building a new stadium, a team spokesman confirmed today (via Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times). The club is attempting to work out a deal for a new Angel Stadium lease with the city of Anaheim, but talks are "at a stalemate," Moreno comments. Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait has hesitated to accept a proposed deal in which the Angels would spend $150MM to renovate the ballpark but receive a 66-year, $1-per-year lease to develop a 155-acre space in the parking lot, according to DiGiovanna. Marie Garvey, a consultant employed by the Angels, said the club's "preference is to remain in Orange County." Here's the latest out of the AL West:
- Nolan Ryan's new position with the Astros could lead the club to switch its Triple-A team, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. While the Round Rock Express is currently a Rangers affiliate, Ryan is a co-owner of the team. The Astros' deal with their current affiliate will expire after the 2014 season.
- Athletics reliever Ryan Cook is on track to be ready for Opening Day after being shut down for several weeks with shoulder inflammation, Jane Lee of MLB.com reports. Cook appeared in 71 games for the A's in 2013, posting an ERA of 2.54.
- Fernando Rodney says the Orioles, Mets and Indians all expressed interest before he agreed to terms with the Mariners, according to Jose M. Romero of The Associated Press. The signing reunites Rodney with manager Lloyd McClendon, who served as bullpen coach in Detroit during Rodney's tenure there.
The Mariners have signed first baseman Justin Smoak to a one-year deal with a 2015 vesting option, Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (all Twitter links). Smoak will receive $2.6375MM plus a $150K buyout on his $3.65MM option, which becomes a team option if Smoak does not receive at least 525 plate appearances in 2014. Nicholson-Smith also notes that the contract contains escalators, and the option could also vests if Smoak wins certain awards. Smoak had filed for $3.25MM in arbitration, with the Mariners countering at $2.025MM. Smoak is represented by Bledsoe Brothers.
Smoak hit .234/.338/.412 in 521 plate appearances with the Mariners last season, after which the M's added Corey Hart via free agency and Logan Morrison via trade. Since then, they reportedly made Smoak available in the right deal, although they could also enter the 2014 season rotating Hart, Morrison and Smoak between first base and DH.
Ervin Santana's list of suitors includes not only the Blue Jays, Orioles and Mariners (all of whom have been connected to Santana in the past week), but also the Indians, Rockies, Royals and other teams, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Heyman cautions that it's possible that some teams may merely be trying to get Santana on a cheap deal, however.
The Royals would like Santana to return, Heyman writes. The Indians may also be a possibility, although they might be more likely to re-sign Ubaldo Jimenez (which itself seems unlikely). The Reds and Phillies could also be possibilities, although those seem more speculative.
The Blue Jays and Mariners would appear to have an edge in pursuit of Santana, since both teams could be competitive, and neither team would lose a first-round draft pick if they signed him. Perhaps the takeaway here, however, is that, with spring training camps opening and with Santana as one of five qualifying-offer players still on the market, there is plenty of uncertainty, and the team that signs him might not end up being one of the obvious contenders.
As camps open around the game, let's take a look at a few notable free agents who remain unsigned:
- Though long-time shortstop Derek Jeter is now set to retire after the year, and the club faces questions around the infield, the Yankees are still not interested in adding Stephen Drew, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com. Marchand notes that the club could have its eye on a bigger fish as an eventual replacement for Jeter, suggesting the possibility of looking at next year's free agent market or trying to trade for a big-contract star like Troy Tulowitzki or Jose Reyes. But the availability of those options remains unclear, especially given that the Yanks possess a farm that most regard as below average. And while 2015 currently promises a nice crop of free agent shortstops -- headlined, at present, by Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, and Asdrubal Cabrera -- it is far from certain that all of those players will reach the open market.
- Echoing Marchand on the Yankees' interest, ESPN.com's Buster Olney told WEEI's Mut & Merloni (via WEEI.com's Jerry Spar) that Drew's market looks poor. The Pirates make sense in theory, says Olney, but the club seems very unlikely to give up its first-round pick to land him. Olney opines that the shortstop's best bet, at this point, could be to wait and see if a contender loses an infielder to injury. Though he agrees that Drew faces difficult market, Jonathan Bernhardt of Sports on Earth argues that Drew and agent Scott Boras should instead act quickly to speed up negotiations and get the best deal possible.
- Of course, one obvious landing spot all along has been the Red Sox, who could use Drew to bolster the left side of the infield without giving up a pick (other than the one they stand to gain should he sign elsewhere). As WEEI.com's Alex Speier reports, however, Boston has settled into the position that it would be interested in a one-year arrangement. That could take the form of a straightforward one-year deal, or could be structured with a low-value player option for a second season (like Adrian Beltre's 2010 deal) that would spread the contract's luxury tax impact.
- The Twins, who have been mentioned as a dark horse suitor for both Drew and outfielder Nelson Cruz, likely have sufficient payroll space to make an addition, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the team is not willing to meet the demands currently being floated on those players, and has not been in recent contact on either.
- Bean Stringfellow, the agent for starter Ervin Santana, rejected an apparent rumor that the Blue Jays had offered his client a three-year, $27MM deal, reports John Lott of the National Post. Stringfellow also dismissed the rumor that he had earlier demanded five years and $112MM for Santana. Though some clubs may hope to wait out the market for prices to fall, Stringfellow says he is not concerned by that possibility. "The calendar doesn't really affect us in that regard," he said. "The teams need the pitching by Opening Day. That's when the bell rings. I think a lot of clubs might think that as [Opening Day] gets closer, the price comes down. I would simply say to that, 'You're not filling your need for pitching, so I don't know why our value is any less when your need is still as great as what it was.'"
- Though Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos declined to comment on any offers to Santana, he said that the club would remain true to its internal valuations of free agents. "We just haven't been able to line up on value, on years and dollars," Anthopoulos added with regard to the team's possible targets.
- Another team that is reportedly dabbling in the starting pitching market is the Mariners. The club is not just looking at top options like Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (via Twitter), but is casting a "wide net" in its search for an arm.
- Free agent reliever Ryan Madson is looking for a major league deal, sources tell MLB.com's Todd Zolecki. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said that he received good reports from Madson's recent throwing session, but did not leave the impression that Philadelphia was the likely landing spot. "Our reports were good when we saw him," said Amaro, "so he's going to sign somewhere." As Zolecki notes, Philly may be unwilling to give out a major league deal, especially given Madson's injury history and the recent signing of A.J. Burnett.
Reports yesterday indicated that the Mariners have placed their talks with outfielder Nelson Cruz on hold, and this morning, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that they're now trying to add another starting pitcher either via trade or free agency. Seattle has touched base with both Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez but is surveying the market in order to find the best fit (Twitter links). Rosenthal adds that it's unclear how the pursuit of a starter will impact their involvement with Cruz, but it's fair to wonder if the team could afford both Cruz and one of Santana/Jimenez at this stage of the offseason.
While the Mariners have been connected to starters for much of the offseason, it's no surprise to hear those rumors fire back up again in the wake of a finger injury that will cost Hisashi Iwakuma at least the next four to six weeks. The 32-year-old Iwakuma followed up a strong rookie campaign with an explosive sophomore season that saw him finish third in the AL Cy Young voting -- five spots higher than his teammate and co-ace, Felix Hernandez. Iwakuma turned in a stellar 2.66 ERA with a 48.7 percent ground-ball rate, 7.6 K/9 and just 1.7 BB/9 in 219 2/3 innings for Seattle last season.
The Orioles and Blue Jays are also in the mix to add a starting pitcher at this juncture of the offseason, and each has been connected to both Santana and Jimenez. The Orioles did agree to terms with Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon on a three-year deal yesterday, but the small $5.575MM guarantee on that pact shouldn't preclude them from pursuing additional arms, if they feel the price is right.
Should Seattle look to the next tier of remaining starters, Chris Capuano could be available on a one-year deal after a pair of solid seasons that saw him post a 3.91 ERA in 304 innings with the Dodgers. Of course, the trade market offers numerous options as well, although at this point it seems too late for the Mariners to cash in on their previous interest in David Price.
Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz and Cuban right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne held a showcase at the Padres' Spring Training complex today, MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported (via Twitter) that more than 20 teams had scouts on-hand to see the pair. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mariners, Padres and Giants were all there to scout Diaz (Twitter links). According to the San Diego Union-Tribune (on Twitter), Diaz could command as much as $20-30MM as a free agent. However, he is ineligible to sign until next week (Feb. 19) at the earliest. Here's more on the international market...
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Diaz could look to choose a club as soon as Friday or Saturday of next week.
- Sanchez adds that Diaz and Despaigne have also schedule four more showcases in Florida, beginning this weekend, in order to allow clubs whose Spring Training facilities are in that state easier scouting access. Despaigne's next showcase will come in Port Charlotte, Fla. on Saturday, according to Sanchez (Twitter links). The Rays' Spring Training complex is in Port Charlotte, for what it's worth.
- The Dodgers continued their aggressive approach on the international front today, signing 18-year-old Panamanian outfielder Carlos Mosquera, according to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter).
- Cuba sent a team to the Caribbean Series in Venezuela for the first time since 1960, writes Baseball America's Ben Badler (subscription required and recommended). As such, Major League scouts flocked to the series in order to get a first-hand look at some of the talent. Badler says that most scouts left underwhelmed, but four players -- outfielder Alfredo Despaigne, second baseman Jose Fernandez, third baseman Yulieski Gourriel and right-hander Norge Ruiz -- each jumped out. Badler provides scouting reports for each, with the write-ups on Ruiz and Despaigne being lengthier than those on Fernandez and Gourriel. Previously, Badler has written that Ruiz, 19, is establishing himself as a rising star.
Keep former big league shortstop and manager Jim Fregosi in your thoughts and prayers tonight. The six-time All-Star suffered multiple strokes while on a cruise and has been taken off life support in a Miami-area hospital, writes MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby. As a player, Fregosi played in parts of 18 seasons with the Angels, Rangers, Mets and Pirates, batting a collective .265/.338/.398. He went on to manage the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays over parts of 15 seasons, taking Philadelphia to the World Series in 1993. He is currently the Senior Advisor of Player Personnel for the Braves -- a role he has filled for 13 years. Fregosi's larger than life personality has endeared him to teammates, media members and colleagues for decades. We at MLBTR are keeping Fregosi, his family and his many friends in our thoughts tonight and wishing for the best. As you do the same, here are some notes from around the league...
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines what a potential Mike Trout extension could look like, ultimately concluding that while the end result would be a shocking sum, the Angels would be wise to sign him to a nine-year, $260MM or ten-year, $300MM extension if possible. The longer the team waits, says Cameron, the closer it comes to getting into a free agent bidding war over Trout, which could push his price tag up toward $400MM.
- Freddy Garcia did not decide to sign with the Braves until the team offered him a March 25 opt-out clause, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, and that clause will create an interesting battle for the team's final two bullpen spots in Spring Training. That Garcia would rather return to his family than pitch at the Triple-A level makes him a favorite to earn a spot on the team if he pitches reasonably well, and he could even temporarily push Alex Wood to the bullpen, writes Bowman.
- "Impatient is an understatement," Mets third baseman David Wright told Tim Rohan of the New York Times in discussing his desire to be a part of a winning club. However, Wright went on to say that he believes in GM Sandy Alderson's plan. Wright says he'd like to win before he feels like he cannot compete at a high level anymore. Rohan also spoke with Alderson and was told that there are no constraints on the club's payroll, and any lack of spending right now is a philosophical choice.
- In addition to the two-year, $14MM offer from that Mariners that he accepted, Fernando Rodney had offers from the Indians, Mets and Orioles, according to MLB.com's Barry M. Bloom (on Twitter).