Seattle Mariners Rumors
It's been a busy day in the coaching ranks. Here's the latest:
- The Mariners have fired pitching coach Carl Willis, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle TImes. After being permitted to interview for other vacancies, but failing to land one, Willis says that Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik told him "it would be too awkward" to keep him on board. According to Baker, that statement was made in reference to the departure of manager Eric Wedge, who Willis was close with. The club also re-assigned bullpen coach Jaime Navarro to a minor league post.
- The Phillies hired Bob McClure as their new pitching coach yesterday, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reported. The Phils would later confirm the signing themselves. McClure, 61, served as the Royals pitching coach from 2006-11 and filled the same role with the Red Sox in 2012. "Bob brings a wealth of experience to our staff," manager Ryne Sandberg said in a statement released by the team. "We talked to many good candidates and couldn’t be more pleased to add ‘Mac’ as our pitching coach."
- The Cubs announced that pitching coach Chris Bosio, bullpen coach Lester Strode, catching/strategy coach Mike Borzello and staff assistant Franklin Font will all return to the coaching staff in 2014.
- New to the Cubs staff will be bench coach Brandon Hyde, third base/infield coach Gary Jones, hitting coach Bill Mueller, assistant hitting coach Mike Brumley and quality assurance coach Jose Castro. Mueller, of course, played 11 seasons at the MLB level recently and won the 2003 AL batting title with the Red Sox.
- The Diamondbacks announced that Dave Duncan will serve as a special assistant to GM Kevin Towers and a Major League pitching consultant. The 68-year-old is best known for his recent work as the Cardinals pitching coach from 1996-2011. He will assist the big league coaching staff's work with pitchers and catchers during Spring Training, evaluate the team's farm system and assist in evaluating draft prospects.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (via Twitter) that the Angels have brough back 2013 hitting coach Jim Eppard as a roving hitting coordinator and hired Terry Francona's son, Nick, as their new coordinator of MLB intelligence. Francona will work closely with Rick Eckstein to prepare scouting plans for each series, Gonzalez adds.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Mariners' search for a closer has them in the market for right-handers Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour, among others, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Mariners are known to be in the market for a ninth-inning arm this winter, and Wilson and Balfour represent two of the highest-profile names at the position.
Wilson, 32 in March, returned in late August and fired 19 2/3 innings of one-run ball between the regular season and the playoffs for the Dodgers. Wilson whiffed 21 hitters and walked only four, flashing an average fastball velocity of 93.2 mph. His strong showing likely helped to convince teams that his second Tommy John surgery is safely in the rear-view mirror. He's caught the interest of the Tigers, Rockies and a slew of other teams.
Balfour, 36 next month, saved 62 games for the 2012-13 A's en route to a 2.56 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9. The Yankees, Tigers, Rockies, Rays and Angels have all already expressed interest in the Australian hurler, who is expected to sign with a new team due to the fact that he'll be too pricey for the A's.
It's a crowded market for relievers, but each can make a case for a multiyear deal. In general, it'd seem beneficial to sign early in the offseason, as this year's free agent class is rife with closer types, led by Joe Nathan.
The issue stems from a late promotion from Triple-A Las Vegas in September. Las Vegas was eliminated from the Pacific Coast League playoffs on September 7. The Mets waited to promote Tejada until September 10, and that left him with two years and 171 days of playing time. The Mets had promoted several players the previous day.
Another day of service time would have given Tejada three full years, thus potentially making him eligible for free agency after the 2016 season. As it stands, the earliest he can be eligible for free agency is after the 2017 season. He will, however, be arbitration-eligible this offseason as a Super Two player.
It is not uncommon for teams to time promotions based on service time considerations. Passan suggests, however, that they are not typically quite as obvious about it as the Mets were in Tejada's case.
If Tejada were to receive the extra day of service time, Passan writes, Charlie Furbush of the Mariners would become eligible for arbitration as a Super Two player. Super Two status is determined by a percentage of players with less than three years of service time, and Furbush would take Tejada's place among that group of players in such a scenario.
Tejada hit .202/.259/.260 in 227 plate appearances for the Mets last season. He currently appears to be in line to start at shortstop in 2014, although the Mets could pursue other shortstops in the offseason.
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.
Angels first baseman (and, of late, designated hitter) Albert Pujols sounds optimistic about his injury situation, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports. The slugger says his injured foot "feel[s] 99.9% healthy," and that it was time for surgery after battling his plantar fasciitis for some nine years. He also noted that he continues to do rehab on his knee to avoid a flare-up. How the 33-year-old returns will be among the most impactful on-the-field storylines in baseball, since the Halos still owe him a hard-to-fathom $212MM over the next eight seasons. Once the best player in the game, Pujols now arguably carries more negative value than anybody due to his age, injuries, and massive contract. Elsewhere in baseball's two western divisions ...
- The Mariners have an ambitious off-season wish list, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter). Atop the list is a starter to slot in behind Felix Hernandez in the rotation, with Olney speculating that Matt Garza could be a match. Otherwise, the team hopes to add a closer and "two frontline power hitters."
- If Seattle is serious about checking all those boxes, it hardly needs to be said, it will need to open its wallet. The club's payroll has sat in the mid-$80MM range at Opening Day the last two years, but has gone as high as $117MM (2008). Seattle's future salary commitments sit right about at league average, though virtually all of its future obligations are to Hernandez. As Wendy Thurm of Fangraphs figures, the club's 2014 commitments presently sit at under $40MM, leaving ample room to spend.
- Though the Astros have a similar set of needs, according to a report from Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, the club will likely set somewhat more modest goals. WIth payroll capacity up to $60MM, Houston will be chasing an outfielder, veteran starter, and bullpen pieces. Manager Bo Porter indicated that the club has been in contact with some free agent options, but is mostly gathering information and waiting for the market to develop. "As the market starts to shake out," said Porter, "we'll get more aggressive for the guys we believe will really make an impact on our ballclub."
- Looking past 2014, the Astros have just one player under contract in second baseman Jose Altuve. The team will, however, start to see a modest increase in its tab next year as players like J.D. Martinez, Brett Wallace, and Chris Carter reach arbitration eligibility, and Jason Castro gets to his second arb campaign. As with the Mariners, Houston's low 2014 obligations (just $14.4MM, per Thurm's estimate) could leave it with significant room to add salary this coming season.
- The Dodgers want to add a starter, but only on a short-term deal, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Los Angeles is not interested in going past two years or losing a draft pick to ink a new arm, says Rosenthal. The former limitation would seem to take the club out of contention for any top-tier arms, while the latter means that the club is not considering an attempt to lure Hiroki Kuroda back to Chavez Ravine.
- While I will not belabor the point, this news makes sense in light of the fact that the Dodgers have far-and-away the greatest salary commitments in the game both next year and beyond.
Here's a look at the latest news from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- Major league sources say it's not a surprise that the Orioles are willing to deal Matt Wieters. The bigger question is how Baltimore would reshape the roster if they made such a move. The O's don't have much breathing room to spend, but Rosenthal suggests the Orioles could gain flexibility by moving the catcher and also closer Jim Johnson, who projects to earn $10.8MM through arbitration. The O's could then find cheaper alternatives at both positions and be aggressive on the open market.
- If the Royals sign Carlos Beltran or another right-handed slugger, they could afford to trade designated hitter Billy Butler, who is signed for $8MM in 2014 with a $12.5MM club option for ’15. The Mariners are among the teams that covet Butler, a major league source tells Rosenthal.
- The Reds haven’t given up on re-signing Shin-Soo Choo, but they probably would need to trade Brandon Phillips and possibly Homer Bailey to create the necessary room, sources say. We've heard that Phillips is a likely a goner, but Bailey a more difficult call since losing him would require the Reds to move Aroldis Chapman to the rotation, unless they acquired another starter. All that might be too much to ask to accommodate the signing of a $100MM+ free agent, but they'd ideally like to have Choo back to give them another year before putting Billy Hamilton in center field. If they lose Choo, they likely would go with Hamilton and seek out a veteran complement in center.
- The Mets appear likely to trade Ike Davis, who is drawing interest from a number of clubs. Rosenthal also cautions not to be surprised if they move Daniel Murphy as well.
- Opinions are split on Jacoby Ellsbury's value. One rival exec's statistical analysis rated Ellsbury as the top Red Sox player last season, ahead of Dustin Pedroia. Others in the industry, however, are wary of Ellsbury’s diminished power since he has hit only 13 home runs over the past two seasons.
- One rival exec described the Rangers' infield logjam as an untenable situation.
Here's the latest from FOX Sports' Jon Morosi:
- The Tigers are "gauging interest" in starting pitcher Doug Fister as well as Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello (Twitter link). Morosi repeats a bit of trade speculation from a reader who suggests that Fister for Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick might be a good fit (link). That doesn't even rise to the level of a rumor at this point, but it's interesting, given the Tigers' need for a second baseman and the Angels' desires to add pitching while keeping payroll down.
- The Giants are interested in free agent pitcher Jason Hammel and have asked to see his medical records (link). Hammel posted a 4.97 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in a down year with the Orioles in 2013.
- The Mariners have Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler on their radar as a potential trade target (link). The Mariners have been connected to any number of outfielders already this offseason, so it's unsurprising that they would be interested in Fowler, who hit .263/.369/.407 in 2013. Fowler is set to earn $7.35MM in 2014.
General Manager Brian Cashman told reporters, including Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger (on Twitter), that you can rule out the Yankees signing Brian Wilson after his agent told the team he won't shave his beard. While you ponder that, here's the latest on Wilson..
- Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) hears that the most interested teams are the Giants, Dodgers, Indians, Tigers, Rockies, Mariners, and Red Sox. The Reds could also jump in, depending on whether Aroldis Chapman moves to the rotation.
Here's a look at the latest from Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, with all links going to Twitter..
- The Yankees are talking to the Cardinals about a deal for third baseman David Freese, a source tells Feinsand (via Twitter). The Cardinals could theoretically part with Freese since they can move Matt Carpenter to third base and use Kolten Wong at second. Freese, 30, would give the Yankees a solid plan B in the event that Alex Rodriguez's suspension is upheld. Even if the suspension isn't upheld, A-Rod will probably have to play a good amount of DH. Freese hit just .262/.340/.381 with nine homers last season but his career slash line of .286/.356/.427 is much stronger.
- A source says the says Mariners have "no interest" in Jacoby Ellsbury but the Cubs appear to be stealthily waiting in the wings (link). The Cubs are probably targeting 2015 to make a move towards contending but its possible that they'll look to make a splash this winter in advance of that.
- According to Rangers source, the club is working to schedule Carlos Beltran for a visit to Dallas (link). Two other teams are believed to be working on the same thing. Feinsand lists the Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Indians, and Mariners as the other clubs showing serious interest and notes that they're all AL clubs (link).
The Mariners have expressed interest in Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). It was reported last week that the Dodgers are open to moving Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford this winter.
Kemp, 29, nearly won the National League MVP in 2011 and was selected to the All-Star team in 2012 but hit only .270/.328/.395 in 290 PA for the Dodgers in 2013. The outfielder still has plenty of trade value, but he is owed $128MM through the 2019 season and Los Angeles may have to foot some of the bill if they move him. Health has been an issue for Kemp in recent years - he played 106 games in 2012 and just 73 last season. Of course, the Dodgers can afford to move one of their outfielders thanks to last year's emergence of Yasiel Puig.