Shin-Soo Choo Rumors
Reports yesterday indicated that both the Diamondbacks and Tigers are likely out of the Shin-Soo Choo sweepstakes (though I personally question whether or not the signing of Rajai Davis truly removes Detroit from the equation). The Rangers are still said to be in the mix, however. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick provided a rundown of potential Choo suitors yesterday, cautioning never to bet against Scott Boras. Here are Wednesday's Choo rumors...
- A Rangers source says the club isn't optimistic about their chances of signing Choo, writes T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Texas doesn't have a seven-year offer out to the outfielder, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram.
- The Rangers have a seven-year offer on the table to Choo and he is giving it serious consideration, a source tells T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. The deal is worth less than the $153MM deal that Jacoby Ellsbury inked with the Yankees but it's strong enough for Choo to mull over.
- The general sense among teams involved in the Choo sweepstakes is whichever team goes to eight years will land him, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. He's believed to have a seven-year offer in hand already.
- The Mariners are likely out of the picture on Choo after adding Corey Hart and Logan Morrison today, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Scott Boras spoke with more than 100 reporters today and said that he's received multiple offers for Choo, who wants to his time and discuss all of his options with his wife. Boras said he's received offers from teams that are rebuilding and also for teams that are looking to win in 2014. "He really is a player I think is revered," said Boras (ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett reporting).
- "I think we have to move on," Reds GM Walt Jocketty told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer when asked about Choo (Twitter link).
- The Rangers like Choo but not at his asking price, which Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram hears is $22MM annually (Twitter link). Nelson Cruz is a more viable option for Texas, Wilson adds.
- Bob Nightengale of USA Today has heard that Choo is looking for $140MM over seven years (Twitter link). Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News tweets that he's heard the same.
- One executive told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Mariners and Rangers "are the lead dogs" in the Choo market (Twitter link).
- The Reds met to discuss Choo last night, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. However, their inability to clear some payroll by dealing Brandon Phillips first has dimmed their chances, he adds.
As we continue to round up leftovers from Day Two of the Winter Meetings with an eye toward Day Three, let's check in on the latest notes from around the AL East....
- In a piece for ESPN.com, Jerry Crasnick breaks down all the teams that could make a run at Shin-Soo Choo, including the Red Sox, Orioles, and Yankees. Crasnick concludes that the lack of very strong candidates doesn't necessarily bode well for Choo's chances of landing a $130MM+ contract, but cautions, as always, not to underestimate Scott Boras.
- if Stephen Drew is willing to sign for two years or less, he'll likely just return to Boston, tweets Newsday's David Lennon, who adds that the Mets will probably need the Red Sox out of the mix to have a real shot at the shortstop.
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald explains why Cole Hamels' contract with the Phillies may provide a blueprint for any extension talks the Red Sox have with Jon Lester.
- The Yankees' decision to sign three free agents who required draft pick compensation should help keep the team contend in the short term, but may further stunt the growth of the farm system, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal.
The Diamondbacks were reportedly "determined" to leave the Winter Meetings with either Shin-Soo Choo or Mark Trumbo, and they've now landed the latter of the two, calling their role in Choo's market into question. That same report indicated that Choo is seeking something similar to Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142MM contract. Choo is arguably the top remaining free agent on the market, and talks with him were said to be reaching a "critical stage" last night. Here are Tuesday's Choo rumors (Choo-mors? ...Sorry):
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Diamondbacks are now likely out of the market on Choo after acquiring Trumbo.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick wonders if the Diamondbacks' reported interest in Choo was ever more than just a ploy to get the Angels moving on Trumbo. As Crasnick notes, there was never a clear fit in terms of budget (Twitter links).
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that teams that have spoken with the Rangers in the past 24 hours have gotten the sense that Texas thinks Choo will be be far too expensive for them.
- Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reported late last night that the Rangers met with Scott Boras for a second time last night regarding Choo.
- MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan writes that the Rangers' primary offensive targets are Choo and Nelson Cruz, but Sullivan echoes the sentiment that Choo's price tag could be an issue for Texas. Sullivan cites GM Jon Daniels, who stated yesterday that the addition of Prince Fielder figures to be his biggest move this offseason.
- As Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported earlier (on Twitter), the arrival of Rajai Davis in Detroit makes the Tigers less likely to land Choo.
10:36am: Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register hears that there is "zero" chance the D-Backs would part with both Cahill and Skaggs to land Trumbo (Twitter link).
9:31am: One executive that spoke with the Diamondbacks came away with the impression that Arizona is getting Choo, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
9:25am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports (via Twitter) that one potential Trumbo package that has been discussed would send both Cahill and Skaggs to the Angels, which would seem to be a tremendous haul for the right-handed slugger.
9:22am: The Diamondbacks are "determined" to leave the Winter Meetings with Shin-Soo Choo or Mark Trumbo, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). According to Sherman, Choo's asking price is said to be in the range of Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142MM contract, and the Rangers remain in the mix. One thing working in Arizona's favor in regards to Choo is that the outfielder currently resides in Buckeye, Ariz., tweets MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
The Diamondbacks emerged as players for Choo yesterday and are said to be involved in trade talks for Trumbo as well. Reportedly, names like Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Cahill have been discussed with the Angels in talks for Trumbo, who hit 34 homers last season but is seen as a below-average defender in the outfield and comes with OBP issues.
6:52pm: The Diamondbacks are in the hunt for Choo, according to Rosenthal (Twitter link). As we heard earlier, Arizona is also very much in the mix for Mark Trumbo, so as Rosenthal notes, it appears the club has several options, including trying to sign Choo and trade for a pitcher, or acquiring Trumbo and signing a free agent pitcher.
Rosenthal adds in a second tweet that Texas and Arizona aren't necessarily the only two teams in on Choo. Other clubs are likely involved as well.
6:06pm: Talks for free agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo appear to be reaching a critical stage, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Rosenthal reports that the Rangers and at least one other team are in the mix for one of the top free agents left on the market.
Evan P. Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (via Twitter) that, after meeting with Nelson Cruz earlier today, Texas still has a meeting lined up with Choo. The Mariners, Tigers, and Reds are among the other clubs who have been linked to Choo during the offseason.
A club in on Shin-Soo Choo tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post the seven-year, $153MM contract Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to with the Yankees is being used as the guidepost in their negotiations (Twitter link). The club expects the final number to be somewhere between Ellsbury's deal and Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126MM pact with the Nationals. All three players are represented by Scott Boras, per MLBTR's Agency Database.
Several teams have been linked to Choo with varying degress of interest including the Rangers, Mariners, Tigers, Reds, Giants, Astros, and Yankees (before coming to terms with Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted a six-year, $100MM contract for Choo, but the frenzied free agent spending spree this offseason makes that estimate seem quite low. Choo is the highest ranked free agent remaining on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list.
The latest on the Reds..
- At a fan event today, Reds GM Walt Jocketty said that he felt the rumor about Brandon Phillips being availble via trade and of interest to the Yankees was a ploy to put pressure on Robinson Cano, according to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com (on Twitter). "It didn't work," the GM said.
- Jocketty also admitted that it would be "very difficult" to re-sign Shin-Soo Choo with the dollar figures that are being floated around, Sheldon tweets. Choo now stands as the top available free agent on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 list for the offseason.
- Prospect Billy Hamilton is Choo's likely replacement, Sheldon writes in an MLB.com article. While Choo's 116 walks will be difficult to replace, Hamilton should bring more speed to the top of the Reds' lineup, as he stole 88 bases between Triple-A and the majors in 2013.
- The Reds have toyed with the idea of moving Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation and some felt that he might be persuaded to make the move this winter, but he now says that he's not interested in a move, writes C. Trent Rosencrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I’m tired of every year the same thing about me either starting or closing,” Chapman said. “What I have in mind is closing games and that’s it.”
- An AL evaluator tells Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger (Twitter link) that the Reds should consider dealing Homer Bailey to the Yankees for Brett Gardner and a lower-level prospect. Both players will become free agents following the 2014 season.
Aaron Steen contributed to this post.
While the Yankees have already netted several of the offseason's top players, inking Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Hiroki Kuroda for a combined $299MM, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal notes that the Bombers will again field a roster with age and injury concerns. Beltran, for example, will be paid $45MM for his age 37-39 seasons despite missing significant time in the past with knee problems. "They will just repeat the cycle,” one rival executive speaking with Rosenthal commented. “No young players ready, need to win now, blow everyone out of the water (financially) and hope in three years they have young talent.” Let's take a look at the rest of Rosenthal's excellent column:
- Though the Red Sox have responded to the Yankees' spending spree with smaller deals for players such as Edward Mujica and Mike Napoli, Rosenthal writes that Boston holds a major advantage over the Yanks in scouting and player development, as the Ellsbury signing shows. While the Sox are unlikely to target Shin-Soo Choo, GM Ben Cherington may also have a surprise in the works, as Boston has considered trading for Matt Kemp and could also deal one of its starters.
- Choo may receive a deal that's nearly as large as Ellsbury’s $153MM pact, some executives believe. The Rangers, Mariners, Tigers and Reds appear to be likely landing spots, though some officials tell Rosenthal that the Giants and Astros could also get involved.
- Clubs that fail to land Choo will shift their attention to Nelson Cruz, who could also draw interest from the Orioles and Royals.
- The Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rangers and Mariners appear to be best-positioned among clubs looking to acquire David Price from the Rays. The Mariners in particular are expected to try and surround new acquisition Robinson Cano with impact talent in the early phase of his 10-year deal, when he'll be the most productive. Meanwhile, the Dodgers are indicating they're shifting their focus to player development, and are unlikely to offer up elite prospects like Corey Seager. While the Cardinals have the prospects to get Price, they've yet to indicate major interest in doing so.
- To trade Kemp now would be selling low on the outfielder, who missed significant time in 2013 with injuries. However, if the Dodgers are willing to absorb some salary, Kemp will look attractive in comparison with 2015's weak class of free agent outfielders.
- Some baseball sources tell Rosenthal that they think Rakuten Golden Eagles President Yozo Tachibana might follow through on a threat to not post Masahiro Tanaka. Tachibana is considered "something of a maverick" by MLB execs, and Tanaka's value is set to plummet for Rakuten under a posting system in which the maximum fee is $20MM, Rosenthal says.
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark is out with a Winter Meetings preview, noting that the frenzy of signings and trades this week threatens to overshadow an event that's traditionally one of the hot stove's busiest periods. Twenty teams either swapped a player or agreed to terms with a free agent between Monday afternoon and Tuesday night, according to ESPN's count. "I don't ever remember a day like Tuesday ever," an AL official commented. "Not just [during] the week before the Winter Meetings. Ever." Nevertheless, with several top names remaining unsigned and rumors of a David Price trade hanging in the air, Stark notes that there's plenty of hot stove left. Here's a run-through of his Winter Meetings preview, which includes a survey of 17 big league executives (conducted before the Carlos Beltran and Robinson Cano signings):
- Some believe Scott Boras will bide his time with Shin-Soo Choo following how quickly a deal for Jacoby Ellsbury came together with the Yankees, but there's another group that believes the superagent wants to show new rival Jay Z that he can be decisive. Around half of execs polled said they think Choo could sign during the Winter Meetings, or immediately afterward. All speculated he'll land with either the Rangers, Mariners or Tigers, though Detroit is indicating they're not involved.
- The market for starting pitching has been slow to develop because of uncertainty surrounding Masahiro Tanaka, as well as slow-developing rumors for Price and Jeff Samardzija, leaving Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez still on the board. Officials polled varied widely in their predictions for when the two will sign, though many see Garza heading to the Yankees or the Orioles. Draft pick compensation is an issue with Jimenez, who doesn't have a consistent track record.
- Kendrys Morales isn't expected to sign soon, with many NL clubs passing on the slugger because there's a perception that he'll need to DH. "I think he has all the makings of this year's Kyle Lohse," one exec commented. Draft pick compensation is also an issue. "You should never forget how many teams don't want to give up those draft picks," one exec commented.
- Samardzija was seen as the player most likely to be traded during the Meetings among players who are still on the market, though his three votes only slightly surpassed Mark Trumbo's two. Many believe, however, that Samardzija could remain a Cub until later in the winter, or even until the summer trade deadline in July. One exec said he thinks the Angels were more willing to move Trumbo a month ago than they are currently.
- Carlos Beltran was by far seen as the most likely player to sign during the Meetings, though as that's already happened, the title is now held by Choo.
- While the Dodgers, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, Braves, Diamondbacks and Padres all appear to be interested in trading for Price, the group of teams that are actually able to consummate a deal could be much smaller. Rays GM Andrew Friedman appears to be taking his time allowing the market to develop. "Andrew is looking to make the Herschel Walker trade," a source tells Stark, referring to the 1989 NFL trade that involved 18 players and draft picks.
SATURDAY, 4:17pm: The Yankees confirmed the signing via press release. The seven-year contract takes the outfielder through 2020 with a club option for 2021.
WEDNESDAY: Ellsbury is guaranteed $148MM over the first seven years of the contract, and there is a $21MM option for an eighth year that comes with a $5MM buyout, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (on Twitter). Meanwhile, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears that an option year has not yet been agreed upon.
TUESDAY, 11:45pm: Ellsbury's deal includes a no-trade clause, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
8:00pm: The deal includes an eighth-year option that could boost the total value to $169MM, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com (on Twitter).
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicted that Ellsbury would get a seven-year, $150MM deal in his free agent profile earlier this offseason.
7:31pm: The Yankees have agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the two sides were closing in on a seven-year pact. It is believed the deal will top Carl Crawford's $142MM, seven-year deal with one estimate pegging the deal at about $150MM, according to Heyman.
The Yankees have been in simultaneous talks with Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and many other top free agents, including their own Robinson Cano. Things have stalled somewhat with Cano, however, as the Yanks don't want to go far beyond $170MM over seven years and Cano's team looking for about $260MM. Heyman spoke with sources who didn't rule out the Yankees continuing their purusit of Choo or Beltran, but it would seem unlikely at this point. One source told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter) that a deal with Ellsbury or another top outfielder won't preclude the Yanks from re-signing their star second baseman.
ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on Monday that talks were moving faster than expected for the Scott Boras client. Boras is notorious for waiting out the market to find the right deal as he did with Prince Fielder (signed in late January) and Michael Bourn (February).
Ellsbury offers more pop than the typical center fielder, with a career slugging percentage of .439 and isolated power of .141. While his power is more of the doubles and triples variety, which is aided by his speed, he did hit 32 home runs in his stellar 2011 campaign. In that year, Ellsbury led all of baseball with 9.1 wins above replacement, finished second in the AL MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and made the All-Star team. However, the left-handed batter wasn't much of a threat against southpaws this year, posting a .246/.323/.318 line in 237 plate appearances.
The 30-year-old has also consistently posted above average UZR and DRS numbers in center field. While he has come back to earth somewhat since '11, he checked in with 5.8 wins above replacement in 2013, which is second only to Robinson Cano among free agents.
Of course, much of Ellsbury's game is predicated on speed. Now, the Yankees have to hope that Ellsbury can stay fleet-footed for some time and will be able to adjust when his motor eventually wears down.
The Yankees have been vocal about their desire to get under the $189MM luxury tax threshold this winter, but it remains to be seen where they'll stand after the Ellsbury deal and Brian McCann's five-year, $85MM pact. Now more than ever, one has to imagine that the Yankees are rooting for MLB's side in the Alex Rodriguez saga.
The market for Ellsbury has been somewhat cloudy, but the Mariners and Giants were both believed to have interest.
Yankees people envision Ellsbury in center with Brett Gardner moving to left, Heyman writes. The 30-year-old was ranked No. 2 on Tim Dierkes' Top 50 Free Agent Power Rankings. With Ellsbury and McCann in the fold, the Yankees have now forfeited their first and second round picks.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.