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Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has been sharing a few Winter Meetings nuggets on this Twitter feed this morning, so let's dive right in and round them up (all links go to Twitter)….
- Heyman classifies both Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera as very available, as the Indians search for long-term assets.
- The Red Sox are very active this week and are willing to discuss anyone, even Jacoby Ellsbury and Jon Lester.
- Ten teams are in on Jason Grilli, as the market for the right-handed reliever heats up. Grilli tweeted early this morning that he was heading for Nashville and has a "full day" on tap.
- The Royals are "one of many" teams looking at Shaun Marcum, who is a Kansas City product.
Teams are calling the Astros on Bud Norris, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan, and Houston is listening. The Royals reached out to the Astros on Norris, and they've also got interest in free agent Shaun Marcum, writes Passan.
As a first time arbitration eligible player, the inconsistent Norris is under team control for three more years and projects to earn $2.9MM in 2013. Norris, 28 in March, posted a 4.65 ERA, 8.8 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 1.23 HR/9, and 39.2% groundball rate in 168 1/3 innings this year, struggling mightily away from Minute Maid Park. The Astros have another asset in shortstop Jed Lowrie. GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters today he's getting offers on Lowrie, but a trade is unlikely.
The Royals added some decent-sized commitments for Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie this year, and they also tendered a contract to Luke Hochevar. Still, as GM Dayton Moore told Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star today about their search for a front-rotation starter, "We’re trying to upgrade with guys who will make a major difference to our team. How many opportunities do you get to do that? Not many."
Here's a look at some news out of the AL and NL West..
- The Dodgers are letting teams know that shortstop Dee Gordon is available, tweets Bob Nightengale of the USA Today. Gordon could represent a fallback option for teams who lose out on Stephen Drew. Earlier today, we learned five teams are in on Drew.
- The Giants are looking for a center fielder and are talking to Michael Bourn, Angel Pagan, and Shane Victorino, tweets CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
- The Angels are aren't acting like they're confident of landing Zack Greinke, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The Angels seem to be trolling for much cheaper starting pitching options like Ryan Dempster and Shaun Marcum, as opposed to Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse.
- The Dodgers' shopping list includes Greinke, a fourth outfielder that can play center, and a backup corner infielder, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Gurnick also says negotiations continue with lefty reliever Randy Choate.
- Padres GM Josh Byrnes doesn't expect to be very busy during the Winter Meetings, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I expect to do one thing, maybe two," said Byrnes. "I’m not expecting to do a lot. We’re filling the holes, not roster reshaping." The Padres are looking for starting pitching and have depth at the corner outfield slots, in the bullpen, and at middle infield. The names most often mentioned as possible trade chips, according to Center, are Luke Gregerson, Joe Thatcher, and Jesus Guzman.
- The Rangers are interested in talking with the Mets about R.A. Dickey at the Winter Meetings this week, a source tells T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The Rangers aren't alone in having interest in the knuckleballer as the Mets have taken calls from six or seven teams looking to swing a trade. The Mets are expected to look for outfield help and catching in a deal.
- The Rockies are considering a run at left-hander Daniel Schlereth as they look to improve their bullpen, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com. The 26-year-old became a free agent this week when he was non-tendered by the Tigers.
- The Rockies are looking to restore their rotation, but not rebuild it entirely, writes Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post. The club will look to bolster their starting five with a veteran presence and they are known to have interest in free agent right-hander Kevin Correia.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Angel Pagan | Anibal Sanchez | Colorado Rockies | Daniel Schlereth | Dee Gordon | Jesus Guzman | Joe Thatcher | Josh Byrnes | Kevin Correia | Kyle Lohse | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Luke Gregerson | Michael Bourn | New York Mets | R.A. Dickey | Randy Choate | Ryan Dempster | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Shane Victorino | Shaun Marcum | Texas Rangers | Zack Greinke
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune shares a few Padres hot stove items in his weekly chat with readers…
- The Padres are interested in Dan Haren, though "it's going to be a wait and see game" if Haren is available in San Diego's price range. We've heard that teams are hesitant to offer Haren more than two years due to lingering questions about Haren's health, so the Padres could get an edge by offering Haren two years (or even two years with an option). Haren is from southern California and has "an excellent working relationship" with Padres GM Josh Byrnes from their time together with the Diamondbacks.
- Shaun Marcum is the Padres' secondary pitching target after Haren, Center reports.
- Center thinks the Padres are more likely to acquire a starting pitcher in a trade rather than in free agency, which fits with what Byrnes told MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith earlier this month at the General Managers' meetings. Center thinks if the Padres traded for a lower-tier, "classic risk-reward acquisition" pitcher like Ubaldo Jimenez, the club could have more payroll space left to sign the likes of a Haren.
- The Padres aren't likely to pick up a major bat this winter, Center believes.
- Center also shoots down the likelihood of the Padres trading for Giancarlo Stanton, Jeremy Hellickson and Ricky Nolasco, with the first two carrying too great a cost in prospects while Nolasco is too expensive and only under contract through 2013.
The Cubs are seeking starting pitching this winter and are targeting buy-low candidates poised for rebound seasons, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun-Times. They've already expressed some interest in Brandon McCarthy and Shaun Marcum.
"I think the contracts we signed last winter are a good model," said GM Jed Hoyer. "I think we have a chance to maybe sign more of those this year with a little bit more money to spend … We might be able to sign more contracts like that or maybe even a little larger than last year, but I think it’s a good model of contract that really served us well."
The Cubs signed Paul Maholm to a one-year, $4.75MM contract with club option last winter before flipping him for prospects at the trade deadline. David DeJesus signed a two-year, $10MM deal last offseason and could be moved for more prospects at some point either this offseason or prior to the trade deadline.
Both McCarthy, 29, and Marcum, 30, have battled injuries these last two seasons but have otherwise pitched well. McCarthy owns a 3.29 ERA in 281 2/3 innings since the start of last year while Marcum is at a 3.60 ERA in 324 2/3 innings during the same time. Both right-handers could seek one-year contracts to rebuild value in hopes of landing a bigger payday next winter, which would suit Chicago well.
The Cubs tried to acquire Dan Haren last week, only to have the deal fall apart at the last minute. The Angels declined his option and made him a free agent, so the right-hander could still be a target for the Cubbies if the price is right. Last night Haren's agent declared his client healthy following speculation that the trade fell apart due to concerns about his back.
Whether the Blue Jays keep manager John Farrell or send him to the Red Sox, the time has come to make a decision, argues Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi. The manager controversy is taking the Jays' attention away from more important offseason business, and Davidi argues that unless the Jays receive quality compensation in return for Farrell, it will make the team look bad to free agents. "An ideal sales pitch doesn’t include: 'Come to Toronto, this manager won’t flee to help our direct opposition,' ” Davidi writes.
Here's the latest from north of the border…
- There is still speculation that the Jays are eager to part ways with Farrell, with one team-connected source telling Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that, “The people there [in Toronto] would charter a jet to get him out.''
- The negotiations between the Jays and the Red Sox about Farrell have advanced beyond the "preliminary" stage, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo broke the news yesterday that the two teams have begun to discuss how the Jays would be compensated in a possible trade of the manager.
- As to what that compensation might look like, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe uses the Theo Epstein and Ozzie Guillen deals as models to conclude that "a pitcher on the cusp of being helpful to the big league team and a Double A prospect" will be suitable, with Toronto also sending "a non-prospect" back to Boston.
- In a radio interview with Jeff Sammut of Sportsnet 590 The Fan (partially transcribed by Sportsnet.ca's Mike Johnston), Shaun Marcum said he'd be open to returning to the Jays as a free agent and cited his good relationships with the training staff, pitching coach Bruce Walton and third base coach Brian Butterfield. "They're on my list, that's for sure," Marcum said. "I enjoyed my time there, I loved the city, loved the coaching staff, so it's definitely a place that I would be interested in." Marcum said he's willing to pitch anywhere and in either league, though he wants to pitch for a team with a chance at the playoffs.
- Carlos Villanueva talks about his free agency, his late-season slump and the Toronto fans with MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm.
- As reported earlier today, the Jays claimed right-hander Tyson Brummett off waivers from the Phillies.
For the first time since baseball expanded the playoff field to eight teams, all four divisional series have gone to a deciding fifth game. The Nationals and Orioles forced Game Fives that will take place tomorrow, so we've got one more wild day of first-round baseball in store before the LCS round. Here are some news items from around the league…
- How the Rangers decide to use Ian Kinsler next season will impact the rest of their offseason moves, writes Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. Durrett suggests that Kinsler should be dropped from the leadoff spot in the batting order and moved to the outfield to make room for Jurickson Profar at second base.
- Shaun Marcum doesn't expect to pitch for the Brewers next season, the pending free agent told Todd Rosiak and Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last week. Marcum said the Brewers "haven't said anything" to him about a contract extension. "I think that ship sailed a long time ago," Marcum said. "It's just one of those things. It's baseball, it's a business and we all understand that. You play to get to free agency, so we'll see what happens."
- Also from Rosiak and Haudricourt, Francisco Rodriguez said he would "love to come back" to Milwaukee. Rodriguez surprisingly accepted arbitration from the Brewers last season, earning himself $8MM in 2012. The club obviously won't repeat the move again this year but Rodriguez could still return on a smaller deal if he can't find a closer's job elsewhere.
- The Rays have asked the city of St. Petersburg for permission to explore potential stadium sites outside of the St. Pete area, reports Stephen Nohlgren of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays' lease at Tropicana Field runs through the 2027 season and St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster "has been adamant" about keeping the team in his city for the duration of the lease, albeit possibly in a new ballpark.
The Nationals and Cardinals began their NLDS today, 79 years to the day of the last playoff game for a Washington franchise. The series will also feature the largest age gap between two managers facing off in the post-season (27 years and 235 days between 69-year-old Davey Johnson of the Nationals and 42-year-old Mike Matheny of the Cardinals), according to the Elias Sports Bureau via a tweet by ESPN.com's Jayson Stark. Other notes and nuggets from the Senior Circuit:
- It is highly unlikely the Braves will attempt to sign Josh Hamilton because they typically don't pursue top-of-payscale free agents who come with questions, tweets the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien.
- Adrian Gonzalez told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he felt he struggled this season because he was "trying too hard." Gonzalez was even disappointed by his career-high 47 doubles. Also in the profile, the Dodger first baseman discussed the responsibility he feels as a Mexican-American athlete in a heavily Latino city.
- The Dodgers will continue to strengthen their starting rotation which could lead them to target Zack Greinke, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Cubs will need to acquire two or three starting pitchers merely to put a representative team on the field, opines Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Wittenmyer adds don't look for the Cubs to sign Greinke or Jake Peavy, as Shaun Marcum and Anibal Sanchez are more in line with the current front-office thinking.
- Jake Westbrook, rehabbing from discomfort in his right oblique, threw a bullpen session this morning and hopes to be available for bullpen duty if the Cardinals advance to the NLCS, reports MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch. The throwing schedule for Westbrook is fluid because he will be leaving the team after Game 2 to be with his wife, who is scheduled to be induced into labor for the birth of their fourth child on Thursday.
- The Cardinals will win the World Series in six games over the Tigers, predicts Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com in his playoff prognostication column.
Royals owner David Glass recently said that the team is "committed to improving (their) starting pitching" while also indicating a willingness to operate at a financial loss to be competitive. Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star has the latest on the team…
- “Our market is what it is,” said GM Dayton Moore. “We’re not going to have a payroll of $100MM. We know that going into it. We embrace who we are … We’ve got to stay consistent with our approach. We’re not going get crazy and go nuts in free agency.”
- There are indications that the Royals have Anibal Sanchez and Kyle Lohse at the top of their free agent target list. Bringing Zack Greinke back for a second tour of duty is unlikely.
- The team's list of secondary pitching targets is believed to include Ryan Dempster, Hiroki Kuroda, Shaun Marcum, Carlos Villanueva, and Carlos Zambrano. They will also monitor pitchers who could have club options declined, like Dan Haren and Ervin Santana.
- “Absolutely … I think any pitcher would be fortunate to pitch here," said right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, an impending free agent the team would like to retain. They are unwilling to go beyond a two-year deal, however.
- Moore acknowledged that there is a chance of working out a new contract with Guthrie during the exclusive negotiating window prior to free agency.
- “I wouldn’t say anybody is untouchable,” said Moore with regards to potential trade talks. “You go into any discussion with an open mind. That being said, there are certain positions on the diamond that are very difficult to replace … You don’t want to compromise in one area just to get strong in another area.”
- Dutton estimates that the Royals could have $20-23MM to spend this winter while keeping the current roster intact.
Shaun Marcum’s an effective pitcher when healthy, but questions about his durability persist as he approaches free agency. One year after reaching the 200-inning plateau for the first time, Marcum has been sidelined for much of the season. The right-hander experienced shoulder stiffness at the beginning of the year, then missed two-plus months with elbow tightness in the middle of the season.
Marcum has pitched well overall, posting a 3.91 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 35.8% ground ball rate in 106 innings. His average fastball checks in at 86.6mph, which ranks 130th among the 136 starting pitchers with at least 100 innings this year. But Marcum never needed an overpowering fastball to succeed in the past, when he held his own against AL East offenses. He uses his fastball far less frequently than most pitchers, changing speeds to generate more than his share of swing and misses. This year he has a career-best 11.3% swinging strike rate.
However, he hasn't pitched particularly well since returning from the disabled list, and has not completed six innings in any of those five post-DL starts. The events of the last few months appear to have reduced Marcum’s chances of obtaining a qualifying offer from the Brewers after the season.
Not only has Marcum spent considerable time of the disabled list, starters such as Michael Fiers, Marco Estrada, Mark Rogers and Wily Peralta have emerged, lessening the impact of Marcum's health issues, Chris Narveson's injury, Zack Greinke's departure and Randy Wolf's ineffectiveness. While the Brewers figure to pursue pitching this offseason, they aren't desperate. They may decide against extending Marcum a qualifying offer in the $13MM range, even though it’d the only way for them to obtain draft pick compensation for the 30-year-old.
If the Brewers don’t consider Marcum a $13MM pitcher and suspect that the industry shares their view, it’d likely make sense to let the Turner Gary Sports client leave for no compensation. However, if they believe they could find trade partners for Marcum at that salary, extending a qualifying offer becomes less risky. In that scenario, draft pick compensation would be within reach. With two weeks remaining in the regular season, it’s almost time for the Brewers to decide…