Shin-Soo Choo Rumors

West Notes: A’s, Mariners, Bourjos, Samardzija, Kemp

The Athletics have reached a new lease agreement with O.Co Coliseum that runs through December of 2015, according to an Associated Press report (via ESPN). The A's will pay $1.75MM in each year of the lease. Here are some more links pertaining to baseball's western divisions…

  • The Mariners are pursuing both Nelson Cruz and Carlos Beltrantweets Buster Olney of ESPN. He wonders — as many do — whether or not Seattle will appeal to major free agents, as they've had difficulty luring top hitters there in previous years.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports definitively writes that the Mariners are interested in Mike Napoli (he'd received conflicting information earlier in the month). Rosenthal also notes the difficulty that the Mariners have had in luring top free agents such as Josh Hamilton and Prince Fielder but notes that Seattle could simply overpay to land their free agent targets. Two separate sources called the Mariners "desperate," and as Rosenthal notes: "Desperate teams spend money. Desperate teams are capable of just about anything." Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury are also on the team's wish list, says Rosenthal.
  • Also from Rosenthal, the Angels learned that Peter Bourjos didn't have enough value to land them the controllable young starting pitcher they coveted on the trade market, and so they elected to use him to fill another hole — third base. While many in the media have pegged the deal as a win for the Cardinals, Rosenthal writes that the common perception of Bourjos' value may not line up with the actual perception among teams.
  • Lastly from Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks know what it would take to land Jeff Samardzija from the Cubs, but their fear is that if they pounce too soon on a deal, they could miss out on a bigger value later in the offseason. The Angels aren't a fit for Samardzija, Rosenthal adds, because the Cubs want young pitching in exchange for Samardzija.
  • The Dodgers' biggest risk in weighing Matt Kemp trades isn't deciding to hang onto him and finding out he's no longer an MVP-caliber player, opines Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Rather, the biggest risk facing the Dodgers is learning that Kemp indeed still is that player, but finding out by seeing him prove it in a Mariners, Red Sox or Rangers uniform. Brown feels it's in the Dodgers' best interest to hang onto Kemp.
  • Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that the Angels' acquisition of Fernando Salas and Joe Smith could make Kevin Jepsen a non-tender candidate.

Rangers More Interested In Choo Than Ellsbury

The Rangers are considering a run at Shin-Soo Choo, but they've apparently scratched the other top free agent outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, off of their list, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Choo fits the bill for Texas if they don't re-sign Nelson Cruz, but a Rangers connected person suggested they aren't likely to secure him if "rumored prices" are accurate.  The Rangers aren't as intrigued by Ellsbury at this time because they are happy with center fielder Leonys Martin.

It's not clear which rumors Heyman's source was referring to, but it has been said that agent Scott Boras has previous deals for Jayson Werth (seven-year, $126MM deal) and Carl Crawford ($142MM over seven years) in mind for clients Choo and Ellsbury.

There are options beyond the free agent market, however.  Heyman notes that the Rangers have also talked to Dodgers about Andre Ethier and Crawford in addition to Matt Kemp.  It has been said that one of the Dodgers' surplus outfielders might be made available this offseason.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels appears to be casting a wide net in terms of free agent possibilities, but if the team is truly pleased with Martin in center field, the Rangers likely only have one space available.  Alex Rios, acquired in August in exchange for infielder Leury Garcia, is under team control for 2014 and figures to patrol right field in Arlington.  However, as a gifted outfield defender, he Rios could likely play any of the three outfield spots, which gives Daniels some flexibility in deciding who to target.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Rosenthal On Wieters, Butler, Choo, Davis

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.


AL East Rumors: Salty, Lackey, Kazmir, Red Sox, O’s

The news is coming in fast and furious today out of Orlando, where our own Steve Adams is on the scene.  Here's the very latest out of the AL East..

  • The Jarrod Saltalamacchia market remains quiet, but the Red Sox would take him back on a shorter deal, tweets Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  Meanwhile, Salty is looking for at least three to four years.
  • More from Edes (link), who tweets that the Red Sox have used their time at the GM Meetings to gauge interest from clubs in their veteran starting pitchers, including John Lackey.
  • A Yankees contingent, led by managing partner Hal Steinbrenner, met with the agents for Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Brian McCann and presumably other free agents at the GM Meetings, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Meanwhile, Steinbrenner has talked with Derek Jeter about the possibility of signing a starting shortstop and he is said to understand their position.  The Bombers could be loaded with shortstop options in 2014: they like Drew and a possible signing of Brendan Ryan won't preclude them from making that happen.
  • Scott Kazmir is high on the Orioles' list of free agent pitching candidates, tweets Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. 
  • The Red Sox need a catcher but don't want to block their prospects so Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (link) could see a two-year deal at a lofty rate for a backstop.
  • Alex Speier of WEEI.com explained why Lackey's average annual value isn't calculated any differently as a result of the minimum salary that he will earn in 2015.  A clause in Lackey's deal calls for him to make the minimum with the Red Sox in '15 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
  • Check out this morning's collection of news out of the AL East.

AL East Rumors: Johnson, Bautista, Granderson, Choo

Yankees free agent Curtis Granderson joined Ken Rosenthal on MLB Network's Hot Stove to discuss his offseason thus far.  The outfielder told Rosenthal that the number one thing he's looking for is to sign with a winner.  More from the AL East..

  • With uncertainty over Alex Rodriguez and the future of Robinson Cano, the Yankees have contacted free agent Kelly Johnson, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Johnson has primarily played second base over the course of his career but he also offers experience at left field and saw some time at third base in 2013.
  • It's not a huge surprise, but teams are inquiring on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (on Twitter).  Whether they are willing to move him is another story.
  • Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran are targets 1 and 1A for the Yankees, a person familiar with their thinking tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Fellow outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury sits a hair behind the other two stars.
  • Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter) also hears that the Yankees are serious about their pursuit of Beltran.
  • Former Red Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves is working out in Mexico and drawing interest from multiple teams, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
  • The Blue Jays' priority is improving the rotation, but they're also keeping an eye out for help at second base and catcher, writes Heyman.  It's no surprise to hear that they're interested in Robinson Cano, but his price tag will probably prove to be too much since they need to direct their bucks towards starting pitching.
  • Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains why Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, and Stephen Drew all turned down the $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Red Sox.

Sherman On Tanaka, Reds, Chapman, Choo

Here's a look at the latest news courtesy of the New York Post's Joel Sherman..

  • Sherman senses genuine worry from several teams about the way the Rakuten Golden Eagles used Masahiro Tanaka over the last few years.  In five postseason starts, Tanaka threw four complete games, including 160 pitches in Game 6 of the championship series.  The next day, he threw 15 more pitches to get the save in the clinching game.  An executive from an interested club said that he still expects significant bidding on Tanaka, but says that the pitcher will have to get through "the most thorough physical ever" to get a deal completed.
  • The Reds haven't showed their hand one way or another, but one team official believes that the ship has sailed on convincing Aroldis Chapman to pitch as a starter and the time to do it would have been last year.  With Bronson Arroyo likely going elsewhere, the Reds may have to think about finding an out-of-house replacement if Chapman won't join the rotation.  It's also possible that they could choose to stand pat and roll with a starting five of Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Mike Leake, and Tony Cingrani.
  • Don't count the Reds out in the bidding for Shin-Soo Choo, even though the price tag could exceed $100MM.  Cincinnati believes Billy Hamilton is ready to handle center field defensively, but they'd prefer he get more time in the minors to further refine his offense.  If they re-sign Choo, they can have him handle center field for one more year and maybe transition him to a corner in 2015, opening up a spot for the speedy Hamilton.

Crasnick On Cano, Tanaka, Price, Ellsbury

ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter.  Here's a look at some of the highlights..

  • Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs.  Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year.  It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
  • Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees.  All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers.  Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
  • Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter.  Where will he land?  The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
  • Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals.  Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
  • When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza.  Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid.  One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term.  "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
  • When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
  • Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson.  Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner.  "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."

Choo Seeking To Exceed Werth’s $126MM Contract

Outgoing Reds outfielder Shin-Soo Choo is being shopped above the seven-year, $126MM contract inked by Jayson Werth with the Nationals before the 2011 season, reports ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). The Scott Boras client, who is unquestionably one of the game's most attractive open market commodities, has long been rumored to be looking for nine figures, though a report yesterday said he was asking more in the $90MM range.  

The Werth comparison does make sense, so far as it goes. Both Werth and Choo hit the market in their early thirties, coming off of high-OBP, mid-140-OPS+ campaigns. Werth has shown somewhat more pop, while Choo reaches base like few others. Each is regarded as a solid glove in the corner outfield. But as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained in profiling Choo, the Werth contract has been viewed as a non-precedential deal. Hence, he predicts, Choo will probably get something more like six years and $100MM. Of course, contextual perception is important; with Werth coming off of an outstanding year, Boras may be able to argue that the contract is hardly the albatross it has been characterized as.

Whether or not Boras can land a Werth-sized deal, there is little question that Choo is hitting free agency at an opportune time. The remaining corner outfield market is thin, Choo returned to his earlier-career levels of performance last year, and new TV money could provide a boost in salaries around the game.


Mets Notes: Choo, Dodgers, Saunders, Trades

We learned of a few Mets items earlier today and a couple of minor league signings for the club.  Here's some more news from Citi Field…

  • Robinson Cano is the only player the Mets value as a $100MM-plus player this offseason, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  Since they won't be in on Cano, the Mets may also not be able to afford Shin-Soo Choo due to agent Scott Boras' nine-figure contract demands.
  • A Mets source tells Heyman that none of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier are currently part of the team's offseason plans.  We heard earlier today that the Dodgers were open to dealing any of the three veteran outfielders and the Mets have been linked to Ethier in the past.
  • Joe Saunders is a good fit for the Mets as a relatively inexpensive veteran innings-eater, several rival talent evaluators tell Mike Puma of the New York Post.  A pitcher like Saunders would help the Mets rotation in the short term while still allowing the team to spend larger dollars on hitters.
  • The Mets could "aggressively shop" Daniel Murphy this winter, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo writes as part of a reader mailbag.  The Mets could be looking to sell high on Murphy as team COO Jeff Wilpon didn't mention the second baseman when discussing players guaranteed roster spots for 2014.  In other mailbag topics, DiComo also doesn't see the Mets spending big on a single player like Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury, and he outlines the club's shortstop depth issue (though re-acquiring Jose Reyes is not a solution).

Mets Notes: Choo, D’Arnaud, 40-Man

Here's the latest out of New York's National League entrant:

  • The Mets have reached out to Scott Boras in regards to free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post via Twitter. The sides "haven't talked dollars," however, a club official told Puma. Per another tweet, that same official expressed uncertainty as to whether a Choo signing was a real possibility, explaining that "it depends at what number."
  • Boras is marketing Choo in the $90MM range, tweets Puma. The 31-year-old ranks third on MLBTR's Tim Dierkes's list of the top fifty free agents, and Dierkes predicted that he would reach a nine-figure deal.
  • Another team source says that the club could be in on basically any free agent other than crosstown star Robinson Cano, according to Marc Carig of Newsday, who emphasizes that the club has had preliminary discussions with a lot of targets. (Twitter links.) 
  • New York's front office is optimistic about adding talent via trade, Carig further tweets
  • With the Mets hoping to add a bat by working out a deal, but unwilling to ship out top young arms like Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News wonders whether GM Sandy Alderson might instead be willing to part with catcher Travis D'Arnaud. Though he notes that there are plenty of reasons why that may not be a wise strategy, Martino adds that many in the organization think highly of prospect Kevin Plawecki.
  • According to Assistant GM Paul DePodesta, the club will likely add "more than a handfull" of prospects to the club's 40-man roster, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin proceeds to tick through the possibilities, noting that only Jacob deGrom and Jeff Walters appear to be definite additions to a big league roster that currently has thirty-six spots occupied.