Shin-Soo Choo Rumors

AL West Notes: Kemp, Mariners, Choo, Astros

Tonight's look at the AL West..

  • The Mariners have been among the most aggressive suitors for Matt Kemp, sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, but they are looking at free agents too.
  • The Rangers met with free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, but the odds that Texas will land him are still long, writes Evan Grant of the Dallas News.  One source says that the Rangers are one of four clubs actively engaged in talks with Choo.
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow told reporters, including MLB.com's Brian McTaggart, that he'll likely have "another deal or two" done with regards to pitching by this time next week.
  • Luhnow also said that it would make sense to evaluate Dexter Fowler as a leadoff hitter, but it would be up to Bo Porter and the staff to decide that, tweets Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle.

Shin-Soo Choo Is Tigers’ Top Target

The Tigers are in heavy pursuit of a left-handed bat and Shin-Soo Choo is their top target, sources tell Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.  The TIgers have been said to have interest in Choo, but this is the first time that we're hearing that he is a priority over all other free agent targets.

The Rangers have been heavily linked to Choo and are prefer him over Jacoby Ellsbury, but they're said to be wary of the price tag that could be hitched the Scott Boras clients.  The Reds would also like to keep Choo, but at $100MM+, he probably won't fit into their budget.

Choo's .423 on-base percentage ranked fourth in all of baseball this year, and easily topped Robinson Cano for the best among all free agents.  The South Korea native is ranked third on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agent Power Rankings.

Detroit freed up a great deal of money with last week's blockbuster that freed them from $76MM of Prince Fielder's contract.  


AL Notes: Tigers, Royals, Bonifacio, Rays, Astros

If MLBTR had only been around in 1954. On this date 59 years ago, the Yankees and Orioles completed the largest trade in baseball history by naming the eight players to be named later in the 17-player deal. Two weeks prior, the Yankees received Don Larsen (yes, that Don Larsen) Billy Hunter, and Bob Turley from the Orioles in exchange for Harry ByrdJim McDonaldWilly MirandaHal SmithGus Triandos, and Gene Woodling. Let's take a look at what's simmering on the Hot Stove in today's American League:

  • The Tigers are one more bold move away from entering Spring Training with the "Best Team in Baseball" designation, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. Signing Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, or Curtis Granderson would qualify as that bold move, in Justice's opinion.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore tells the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton his staff will convene Monday morning to determine the fate of their nine arbitration eligible players. "I don't look for us to do anything that is too surprising," said Moore. "We might not tender everybody, but we might. There are some things that we’re kind of working on.
  • Also within Dutton's article, Royals officials acknowledge Emilio Bonifacio is drawing steady interest from other teams, so second baseman Chris Getz may be tendered as insurance against a deal involving the utilityman. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz predicts a $3.3MM arbitration award for Bonifacio and $1.3MM for Getz. 
  • The Rays are likely to tender each of their nine arbitration eligible players and then possibly flip one or more in a trade, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. David Price is the most obvious arbitration eligible trade candidate, but Mooney also lists outfielder Sam Fuld and lefty relievers Cesar Ramos and Wesley Wright as possible chips. If the Rays do tender all nine players, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz expects their arbitration salaries to total $26.6MM.
  • The Astros are already preparing for the 2014 amateur draft as they expect to interview several candidates for the first overall pick by the end of the year, according to the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. The club's approach to the interview process and its slight variations based on whether the player is in high school or college is also detailed by Drellich.
  • On Thanksgving Day, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined the managers and GMs entering the final year of their contract. Today, Jim Margalus of SouthSideSox.com concludes the most front office stability can be found in the AL Central.  


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."