Stephen Drew Rumors
Longtime Mets broadcaster and Hall of Fame slugger Ralph Kiner passed away today at the age of 91. Kiner made his Major League debut with the Pirates in 1946 and proceeded to lead the Majors in home runs in each of his first seven Major League seasons. Injuries limited his outstanding career to just 10 seasons, but in that decade of work he batted .279/.398/.548 and belted 369 homers. Kiner joined the Mets broadcast team in its inaugural season of 1962 and continued working games until 2013. He went into the Hall as a Pirate in 1975.
MLBTR sends its condolonces to his family, friends and all of the people whose lives Kiner touched. Here is a look at some transactional news relating to the Mets ...
- Stephen Drew's agent, Scott Boras, is seeking an opt-out clause after the first year of a deal, reports ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin. Though the Mets are willing to consider guaranteeing two or even three years to the free agent shortstop, says Rubin, they view the opt-out as a "deal-breaker."
- After watching Fernando Rodney sign with the Mariners, the Mets remain interested in adding a late-inning arm to their pen, reports Rubin. The team hopes it can land a solid option on a minor league deal, Rubin adds.
- The Mets are among the teams that will watch reliever Joel Hanrahan throw in a showcase tomorrow, GM Sandy Alderson said in an appearance today (as reported by Michael Baron of MetsBlog.) We heard earlier today that the Orioles could also be interested in Hanrahan, who figures to appeal to many clubs if he can prove his health.
- In an interview with ESPN.com's Keith Law (audio link), Alderson explained that the club has been prioritizing upside in its player acquisitions. The club has gone after high-ceiling high schoolers in the draft while employing what Alderson terms non-traditional methods of evaluation. Likewise, Alderson said, the team has gone against convention by pursuing relatively older players in the international market. The whole interview is well worth a listen for anyone interested in prospect acquisition and development.
- Meanwhile, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon spoke with Mike Lupica of ESPN New York 98.7 FM (audio link), telling him that he expects the club to be in the mix for a Wild Card this year. Wilpon explained that the club will stick with Alderson's long-term plan, but hopes to stay competitive without Matt Harvey by relying on the organization's wealth of young arms.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has been a busy man today it seems, as his Twitter timeline is rife with updates on free agents in search of work. Here's the latest from Morosi, with all links pointing to his Twitter unless otherwise noted...
- One potential hangup in the Stephen Drew market could be the fact that Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz will be cleared to sign in two weeks. The 23-year-old was declared ineligible to sign after falsifying his age last year (Diaz claimed to be 23 then, in order to be eligible for MLB one year early). Morosi reminds that MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez listed (MLBTR link) the Red Sox and Yankees as two of eight clubs to have shown interest in Diaz back in December, and both have been linked to Drew.
- Morosi spoke with Tommy Hanson's agent, Greg Genske, and was told that Hanson has received multiple offers. Genske said Hanson is in a great place both mentally and physically, which could not be said last year as he dealt with the tragic death of his brother.
- Agent Craig Landis tells Morosi that his client, Jon Garland, is unlikely to pitch in 2014. Garland is not retiring and is willing to sign and pitch in the right circumstances, Landis told Morosi.
- Morosi also chatted with Landis regarding another of his clients -- lefty Joe Saunders. Saunders is fully healthy and plans to pitch this season, according to Landis. Saunders is coming off the worst season of his career, though his 4.23 xFIP was more than a full run lower than his 5.26 ERA. Saunders maintained his career strikeout rate, posted a career-best ground-ball rate but was plagued by a career-worst 14.5 percent homer-to-flyball ratio.
Freddie Freeman's eight-year, $135MM extension with the Braves is a "foreboding barometer" for the Marlins when considering a Giancarlo Stanton extension, writes Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel. Rodriguez points out the similarity in service time for each player, noting that one more strong season would only make it more expensive for the Fish. Stanton already has a large edge in power, though his durability could be questioned in extension talks. More from baseball's Eastern divisions...
- The Orioles will scout Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo, an industry source tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 26-year-old has batted .319/.383/.516 over the past five seasons in Serie Nacional. The speedy Castillo comes with experience at both outfield corners as well as second and third base. The Dodgers are known to have scouted him as well, but he's yet to be cleared by OFAC to sign with a big league club.
- MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski looks at David Lough's long path to the Majors and writes that Orioles hitting coach Jim Presley has been a fan of the 28-year-old since seeing him with the Royals last year. Lough hopes to win the starting left field job in Baltimore this Spring.
- Orioles lefty Troy Patton, who is suspended for the first 25 games of the season, told Melewski that he took Adderall to improve his focus and energy at one point and called it a "stupid mistake." Patton's suspension could have an impact on Brian Matusz, Melewski continues, as the team was looking at giving him another crack as a starter. However, without Patton in the bullpen, the O's would be without their two primary lefty relievers to open the year in that case.
- The Mets are still unwilling to commit multiple years to Stephen Drew, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Agent Scott Boras continues to wait out the market, but it's fair to wonder if Boras will have to drag a few "mystery teams" into the mix for Drew.
Despite their "file and trial" stance with respect to the arbitration process, the Braves made clear today that the club did not extend its refusal to negotiate after exchanging figures to multi-year talks. After inking a two-year pact with Jason Heyward that did not extend club control, Atlanta promptly locked up Freddie Freeman to a long-term deal. The Heyward deal, in particular, reveals another benefit of the file-and-trial approach, writes Eno Sarris of Fangraphs. By holding out on seemingly inconsequential portion of Heyward's salary, Atlanta obtained sufficient leverage to add another year (and attendant cost-certainty) to Heyward's contract. Here's more on the Braves' interesting arbitration season and the rest of the NL East:
- Of course, Heyward's deal also provides security for the oft-DL'ed 24-year-old, though with his talent it is somewhat difficult to imagine any scenario where he would not have been tendered a contract next year. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links) that Heyward's representatives at Excel Sports Management approached the front office about a multi-year deal after exchanging figures. Though his spate of injuries (and correspondingly limited statistical production) hindered discussions, says Sherman, the gap was spanned and agreement reached on the value of Heyward's remaining arb-eligible years.
- In spite of the deals with Heyward and Freeman, Atlanta remains all but certain to face a hearing with closer Craig Kimbrel, reports Jeff Passon of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). With a substantial gap between Kimbrel's $9MM figure and the club's $6.55MM counter in Kimbrel's first year of arbitration eligibility, the outcome of that hearing (scheduled for February 17th) could go a long way toward determining the outstanding closer's future salary -- and, potentially, even what uniform he will wear for the long haul.
- After losing out on bench bat Jeff Baker, the Nationals are still on the hunt for late-off-season value, writes James Wagner of the Washington Post. In particular, says Wagner, the Nats remain very interested in southpaw reliever Oliver Perez, who is reportedly close to choosing a team.
- The Mets are still saying that a Stephen Drew signing remains a "long shot" for the club, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. We heard earlier today that New York had not made an offer to the free agent shortstop.
Let's take a quick look at a few brief-but-relevant notes on some high-profile free agents, the first two of whom remain unsigned:
- The Mets do not have an offer on the table for free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, reports Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Indeed, New York has made no offers to Drew, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
- It has long been clear that Ervin Santana's asking price has dropped from its one-time nine-figure level. But his market value has now dropped so far that Santana may only be asking for three years at present, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- The Angels offered Matt Garza a four-year deal for about the same money he ultimately received from the Brewers, tweets Olney. Los Angeles pulled the deal when Garza did not act upon it, however.
The Mariners are "back in business, showing strong interest" in Nelson Cruz and Fernando Rodney again, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest column. The Mariners, who are said to have some financial leeway by new team president Kevin Mather, is also looking at the trade market for starting pitchers, though they're not currently focused on David Price or Jeff Samardzija. Rosenthal also notes that the Indians aren't having any conversations on Justin Masterson, nor are the Reds inclined to move any of their starters, further limiting the list of trade targets. More highlights below...
- Cruz could be a fallback option for the Rangers, but probably only if he's willing to sign a one-year deal. Bringing Cruz back would allow the Rangers to deal Mitch Moreland.
- Rosenthal wonders if the Reds should be thinking about dealing a starter. While they're trying to extend Homer Bailey, that seems to be a tall order as he's just one year from free agency. Mat Latos, Mike Leake and Johnny Cueto are all only controlled through 2015, and as Rosenthal notes, not all can be long-term pieces.
- The Athletics aren't considering making a run at Stephen Drew and shifting Jed Lowrie from short to second base. The A's are comfortable platooning Eric Sogard and Nick Punto.
- A rival executive wondered to Rosenthal if the Braves would match up with the Mariners on a Dustin Ackley trade, but Rosenthal hears that the Braves aren't looking for a second baseman. They currently have Dan Uggla, who is owed $26MM through 2015, and three fallback options in Ramiro Pena, Tommy La Stella and Tyler Pastornicky.
- Braves GM Frank Wren said he doesn't hold any ill will toward players who go to arbitration hearings -- such as the ones he could face with Jason Heyward, Craig Kimbrel and Freddie Freeman: "We don’t look at it as an antagonistic process. We look at it as a solution to a disagreement on a player’s salary."
For those of you who entered MLBTR's annual free agenct prediction contest, be sure to check out the leaderboard to see where you stand with 39 of the top 50 free agents now under contract. At present, four readers are tied with an eye-pleasing .333 batting average, with eleven others right on their heels with 12 correct picks.
Here are some notes to round out the evening:
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that the team is unlikely to sign shortstop Stephen Drew, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Though this is not the first time he has given such an indication, Alderson said he had only had "sporadic" talks with Drew's agent, Scott Boras. Of course, neither did he close the door on Drew. "We haven't ruled it out, but I think doing anything is unlikely," said Alderson. "... I know there's been a lot of speculation about Drew and the Mets, but at this point, that's what it remains -- speculation."
- Alderson likewise said that New York was not enamored with the possibility of giving out a big league deal for a free agent reliever. New York has recently been linked with closer Fernando Rodney and reportedly made a legitimate run at Grant Balfour before he signed with the Rays. "Acquiring someone with some experience would give us some comfort going into Spring Training, but we don't want to preclude some of our younger pitchers from getting a solid opportunity either," Alderson explained. "So if there's somebody there that we like, we'll pursue them. Otherwise, one of the ways we've approached starting pitching, for example, is to bring in a couple of guys on minor league contracts and have them compete with some of our own internal candidates. We may do the same thing with the bullpen."
- As expected, Nolan Ryan has met with Astros owner Jim Crane, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports. Today's sit-down reportedly included Ryan's son Reid, who is Houston's president of business operations. Details have yet to emerge as to what was discussed and where things stand, but it would appear that the former Rangers CEO could be headed toward some kind of role with the Astros.
- None of the players on the Cardinals' 40-man roster is out of options, says MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, leaving the club with ample flexibility in constructing its active roster. In fact, only three players -- Pete Kozma, Sam Freeman, and Shane Robinson -- are down to their last option. (Of course, players with at least five years of service time can refuse an optional assignment.) That should leave the Cards with the means to stash and shuttle players as necessary over the course of the coming season without exposing them to waivers.
- The Blue Jays are "in the mix" for shortstop Stephen Drew, presumably viewing him as a second base option. Nevertheless, the Red Sox remain the favorites to land him, as they prefer to play Xander Bogaerts at third and appear willing to give Drew multiple years. Boston could dangle an opt-out clause of some kind to sweeten things for Drew, Heyman adds. There was a competing report last night on the Yankees' interest, but Heyman says that the club "seem[s] more interested in Drew than ever" after landing Masahiro Tanaka.
- Toronto, says Heyman, figures to be a major threat to land any of the prominent remaining free agents. As he explained further today, the Jays -- armed with two protected first-round draft picks -- may have made the strategic decision to wait out the market for players that are burdened with draft pick compensation. Likewise, as Heyman wrote today, the Mariners could still figure in on the top of the remaining free agent crop.
- Kendrys Morales is among the players who Heyman says could land with either of those clubs. The Jays like Morales, but presumably would need to deal first baseman/DH Adam Lind to bring him on board. Likewise, the Rangers could potentially be involved, but would likely have to flip Mitch Moreland for a Morales signing to fit. If one of those clubs did land Morales, the Pirates might be a club that could swoop in on the trade market, says Heyman.
- The market for Nelson Cruz is looking thin, Heyman says. Cruz may not want to play in Safeco Field, and other possible landing spots like the Orioles and Rangers are focused on pitching.
- Turning to the mound, Heyman said that Ubaldo Jimenez may now be willing to drop his salary demands and could ultimately land in the three-year, $39MM range. The Blue Jays and Orioles are the most likely clubs to sign Jimenez, according to Heyman, with the O's still concerned about burning a draft pick. Meanwhile, the Indians could still get involved if the price on Jimenez falls even further.
Draft pick compensation is hanging over the market for several prominent, unsigned free agents -- namely, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz, and Kendrys Morales. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports looks at the draft pick situations of some of the clubs that might consider adding one of those names. As we finish a quiet Monday, let's round up some notes on free agent rumors from around the league:
- The Angels do not seem to be operating with much urgency to add a free agent pitcher, tweets Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. If the club does add to its rotation with an open-market contract, says DiGiovanna, it is more likely to go after Jason Hammel or Chris Capuano than Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm.
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said today that the club does not have any outstanding offers for guaranteed MLB deals, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. As MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Tracker shows, Philadelphia has not entered such a pact since inking Roberto Hernandez on December 18.
- After committing a cool half-billion dollars through free agency (if you count Masahiro Tanaka and his release fee), the Yankees appear to be done adding significant salaries for the offseason, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. New York seems to be following through on GM Brian Cashman's statements that the club would not pursue Drew, says Martino, and the team is not currently trying to work out a deal to bring Chase Headley over from the Padres.
ESPN's Buster Olney hears that the Yankees won't be making a run at Stephen Drew and are expected to maintain the status quo (Twitter link). Likewise, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Yanks are likely at their spending limit, adding in a second tweet that a more likely move would be to swap a bad contract such as Ichiro Suzuki's for a comparably priced reliever. More free-agent related notes from around the league...
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN talked with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire yesterday and was told the team is circling back with one more notable free agent. "[Assistant GM] Rob [Antony] just called me the other day and told me they were gonna make another run at a guy, and I'm like, 'Wow that's pretty good,'" said Gardenhire. "So they did it, and whether it works out or not we'll see, and they're not done. ... They're after it. I know that." Wolfson's hunch is that Gardenhire is not referring to Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, but rather a bat or Bronson Arroyo (All links to Twitter).
- Among the teams with interest in reliever Luis Ayala are the Indians, Tigers, and Mariners, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The 36-year-old Mexican has unquestionably delivered results of late. Over the span of 2011-13, Ayala has a 2.58 ERA in 164 innings, landing him right outside the top 30 MLB relievers in ERA (min. 100 IP) over that time frame. Though Ayala's 3.85 FIP and 3.99 xFIP across the last three seasons may be cause to temper expectations, he has succeeded by consistently inducing grounders (51.4% GB%) and limiting homers (0.77 HR/9) at better than league average rates.
- Three teams watched righty Jared Wells throw on Wednesday, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The 32-year-old has not seen MLB action since a brief stint in 2008, and played in Independent ball last year after spending a few seasons in the upper minors.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.