Shin-Soo Choo Rumors
Re-signing Hiroki Kuroda, signing Carlos Beltran and watching Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson sign elsewhere --- even for hot stove perennials like the Yankees, Friday was a particularly noteworthy day. Here are some more items from the Big Apple.
- Omar Infante could be the biggest beneficiary of Cano's departure, Mark Feinsand and Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News report. The Yankees already extended an offer to Infante earlier this winter and, now that Infante is the top second baseman on the free agent market, he seems poised to command a larger offer from the Yankees or any suitor. Given position scarcity and the general rise of contracts this winter, Infante is in good shape to top the three-year, $25MM deal predicted for him by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes in September.
- Also from Feinsand (via Twitter), he doesn't think the Yankees are a contender to trade for David Price. The Yankees lack the prospects that the Rays would demand in return, and even if New York did have the minor league talent, it's unlikely that Tampa Bay would trade Price within the AL East anyway.
- Losing Cano won't slow the Yankees down, as the team plans to pursue several other free agents, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports. Besides Infante and the already-signed Beltran, the Yankees will also continues talks with Shin-Soo Choo and Stephen Drew, as well as post a bid on Masahiro Tanaka if he's made available.
- With Beltran already in the fold, it would seem that Choo is no longer be a Yankee target, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman notes.
- For more Yankee-related material, check out this collection of reactions to Cano's signing with the Mariners.
The Orioles have been connected to some of the offseason's major free agent names but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun isn't sure that the O's will be players for Shin-Soo Choo, Ubaldo Jimenez or Nelson Cruz. Choo will be too costly and Jimenez will demand too many years, while Connolly has "not found anyone in the organization that endorses Cruz as a viable option" and lists several reasons why Cruz isn't a fit in Baltimore. Here's some more from Camden Yards...
- Jim Johnson asked the Orioles for a four-year contract worth $45MM-$50MM in extension talks earlier this winter, sources tell MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. An extension would've been one way for the O's to keep Johnson at a lower price rather than pay him a projected $10.8MM in arbitration, though obviously Johnson didn't have a bargain in mind with his demands. The Orioles traded Johnson to the Athletics for Jemile Weeks on Tuesday.
- The Orioles didn't attend Randy Wolf's workout and don't appear to have any interest in the veteran southpaw, Kubatko reports. Wolf pitched in five games for Baltimore at the end of the 2012 season and then underwent Tommy John surgery that October, sidelining him for all of 2013.
- Scott Feldman told Dan Connolly that he was "about 90 percent sure" the Orioles didn't make him a former offer. “It’s really hard to get disappointed with the situation I am in, but I was at least expecting a little bit of interest from them. But it’s not like I’m mad or anything,” Feldman said in the wake of his three-year, $30MM deal with the Astros. That third guaranteed year was likely the breaking point for the Orioles, as they had been rumored to only be interested in giving Feldman two years and an option, at most. MLBTR's Steve Adams has more from Feldman's conference call.
- The Orioles have considered making Bud Norris their closer to replace Johnson, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. This move would only be a "fallback option," Encina notes. While the O's may yet add a starter and need to make room in their rotation, shifting an innings-eater like Norris to the bullpen would be a curious move, in my opinion. Also from Encina's piece, Brian Matusz will be stretched out and given an opportunity to win a rotation job during Spring Training.
- Adam Jones' six-year, $85.5MM extension signed in May 2012 looks like a better bargain in the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's deal with the Yankees, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com opines.
- In Baltimore news from earlier today, the Orioles signed outfielder Francisco Peguero and right-hander Ryan Webb.
1:01pm: A source tells Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times that any trade for Price would have to include Walker (Twitter link).
11:47am: In the wake of Seattle's historic ten-year agreement with Robinson Cano, one Major League executive told Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times that he is "convinced" the Mariners' next move will be to make a push for David Price (Twitter link). Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Mariners believe they have the prospects to land Price, and indeed, that would seem to be the case.
This is only my speculation, but Seattle could look to build a package around top prospect Taijuan Walker and the recently displaced Nick Franklin, who could be deemed expendable with Cano in the fold for the Mariners. The Rays, of course, will likely be open to moving Price this winter. He projects to earn $13.1MM in arbitration (per MLBTR's Matt Swartz) and is controlled through the 2015 campaign. It would make sense for the Mariners to aggressively pursue short-term upgrades in the early years of Cano's contract in order to maximize their chances while he is still in his prime.
Morosi also notes (on Twitter) that the Mariners are still in pursuit of Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz and other free agents. Morosi also reported earlier that the Mariners are one of the teams that is currently in on Mike Napoli, who reportedly has an offer in-hand from a club other than the Red Sox that Boston has yet to beat. It's not clear if that club is the Mariners, but their talks with Napoli are said to have been recent. An upgrade at first base, DH or in the outfield still seems likely for Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, and the addition of Cano could signal to potential free agents that the Mariners are serious about winning.
Free-agent outfielder Curtis Granderson wants four years and $64MM, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. The Mets are interested in Granderson, but they don't want to offer a fourth year. Mike Puma of the New York Post, meanwhile, tweets that Granderson and the Mets probably won't be able to work out a deal tonight. Here are more notes from New York.
- The Mets were interested in Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (on Twitter). The Brewers, however, liked pitcher Will Smith more than a player like Mets first baseman Ike Davis, so they shipped Aoki to the Royals instead.
- If Robinson Cano goes to the Mariners or some other team, the Yankees could pursue Shin-Soo Choo instead, USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweets. The Yankees, of course, already have plenty of outfielders, with Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki in addition to newcomer Jacoby Ellsbury, but after Cano, Choo is the next-best position player on the market.
- Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner says the Yankees are still hoping to keep their luxury-tax figure under $189MM, but they'll also prioritize fielding a strong team, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger reports. Steinbrenner says that the Yankees' offense was its "Achilles heel" in 2013, and they'll continue to look for hitting, as well as trying to re-sign starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.
The Orioles are "active" in discussions for multiple free agent pitchers and hitters, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Among them are outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz as well as starter Ubaldo Jimenez, according to Morosi.
While Baltimore entered the off-season with several needs, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk explained that budget constraints -- especially with Chris Davis and Matt Wieters entering their last year of team control -- left it unclear just how much the club would be able to spend. After clearing the projected $10.8MM salary of closer Jim Johnson, however, executive vice president Dan Duquette may have additional space with which to work.
Discussing the Johnson deal, Duquette indicated that it was in large part driven by "resource allocation." Looking forward, Duquette said the club was "still looking for help in left field" and "would also like to sign some other pitchers."
While any of the above-noted players would fill a need for Baltimore, it would seem to be something of a surprise for one to land there. As Duquette went on to note, "I don't think free agency is the way to build a strong team." And the big dollars expected to be landed by Choo, Cruz, and Jimenez would certainly eat up a big chunk of the present and future payroll for the O's.
After the signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, it's hard to see how the Yankees can sign Robinson Cano and still stay under the $189MM luxury-tax threshold, ESPN's Jayson Stark writes. The only clear path to the Yankees being able to sign Cano and stay under the threshold would be if Alex Rodriguez's suspension were upheld. Here are more notes on Ellsbury's deal with the Yankees.
- Paying $20MM per season for Jacoby Ellsbury makes more sense for the Yankees than it does for other teams, including the Red Sox, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. Not only do the Yankees have a huge payroll, but they also have a stadium that should be favorable to Ellsbury, and they don't have Jackie Bradley Jr. waiting in the wings, as the Red Sox do.
- With Ellsbury in the fold, the Yankees have no plans to trade Brett Gardner, reports Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York. Instead, they'd like to play both of them at the top of the Yankees' batting order.
- Despite already having a relatively crowded outfield, with Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki along with Ellsbury and Gardner, Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger writes that the Yankees could still pursue Shin-Soo Choo, primarily as a backup option if Robinson Cano goes elsewhere. Such a move would make a Gardner trade more likely, McCullough writes.
- Choo has plenty of interest now that Ellsbury is off the board, tweets Yahoo!'s Tim Brown. Brown guesses that the Rangers are favorites to sign Choo.
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.
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.
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 Byrd, Jim McDonald, Willy Miranda, Hal Smith, Gus 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.
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 Beltran, tweets 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.