Tampa Bay Rays Rumors
Though he may not be traded at this week's Winter Meetings (and may not be traded this offseason at all), Rays ace David Price figures to be one of the most popular topics of discussion over the coming days. Last week, it was reported that the Mariners could push for Price in the wake of their surprising Robinson Cano signing. We'll keep track of today's rumors surrounding Price's availability right here...
- The Dodgers have made their interest in Price known to the Rays, reports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. However, Hernandez feels that Price is a "long shot" to end up in Dodger Blue. For one, the Dodgers lack the type of impact, MLB-ready prospects the Rays will covet, as their top chips are teenagers Corey Seager and Julio Urias. Beyond that, dealing names like Seager and Urias would go against their desire to rebuild what has become a depleted farm system.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff have narrowed their list of possible selections for the first pick in this year's Rule 5 Draft to roughly 10 players, writes Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One possibility on their list is Pirates right-hander Zack Thornton. The 25-year-old pitched to a 2.63 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 across three levels in 2013, topping out at Triple-A. Here's more out of the AL West in the midst of the calm before the storm that is the Winter Meetings...
- Two general managers told Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that they wouldn't part with Taijuan Walker in a package to land David Price (Twitter link). Last week, it was reported that the Mariners could push for Price but that Walker would need to be included in any trade.
- The Mariners have received a lot of interest in Dustin Ackley, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. As Heyman notes, Ackley had a solid finish to his 2013 season, batting .290/.360/.412 over his final 65 contests.
- Heyman also tweets that the Mariners' targets include David Price, Nelson Cruz, Joaquin Benoit and Corey Hart. Hart was drafted by General Manager Jack Zduriencik when Zduriencik was with the Brewers.
- The record for the highest payout through the arbitration process is $10MM, but one person familiar with the process tells Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times that Angels outfielder Mike Trout could get $15MM in his first go 'round through arbitration, $20MM in his second year, and $25MM in his third trip through the process. Even for a star of Trout's caliber, those numbers seem lofty.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
If the Rays do end up trading David Price, it won't be their first trade of a young starter. The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin revisits four trades of relatively high-profile deals -- those of James Shields, Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir and Edwin Jackson. The Rays got useful players in all four. The Shields deal, of course, produced AL Rookie of the Year winner Wil Myers, and the Garza deal returned Chris Archer. Kazmir brought back utilityman Sean Rodriguez, while the Rays got Matt Joyce back for Jackson. Fans will likely use the Shields deal (which could continue to pay dividends for the Rays as Jake Odorizzi emerges) as a barometer for a potential Price trade, whether that's fair or not. As FanGraphs' Dave Cameron recently pointed out, the Shields trade shouldn't set the market for deals involving frontline starting pitchers. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Phillies are looking for a starting pitcher, and they pursued Scott Feldman and Ryan Vogelsong before those two players signed with other teams, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. (The Phils extended a two-year offer of about $15MM to Feldman before he ultimately signed with the Astros, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.) Salisbury notes that the Phillies' interest in Feldman and Vogelsong is indicative of the sort of mid-grade starter they'll continue to pursue -- don't expect them to make a splash.
- In the wake of the signing of Curtis Granderson, the Mets could redouble their efforts to trade Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, writes Newsday's Marc Carig. Since there isn't much besides Stephen Drew (who should be relatively expensive) on the free-agent shortstop market, and since the Mets' budget will only allow them to spend about an extra $13MM, Carig writes that the Mets are likely to try to find a shortstop via trade.
The Rays will trade David Price, but his two remaining years of team control mean that GM Andrew Friedman can afford to wait for the right return, Marc Topkin writes for the Tampa Bay Times. They're expected to look to improve upon the return they got from the Royals for James Shields, so a package could comprise an elite-level young player such as the Mariners' Taijuan Walker or the Rangers' Jurickson Profar, along with a major league-ready talent and one or two lower-level prospects. Here's the latest out of the AL East:
- While the Rays might play the waiting game with Price, first base is "an area we absolutely have to address," Friedman says in a second Topkin article. They'd like to re-up with James Loney, but not at his three-year, $27MM asking price. Topkin adds that the Rays also appear to be interested in a veteran right-handed hitter who can handle second base, citing reported interest in Mark Ellis and Jamey Carroll.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington says his club may be done with its "heavy lifting" this offseason and is now entering an "opportunistic phase," Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com tweets. The team is "sort of looking at different scenarios, different ideas, and maybe nothing comes of those because we feel pretty good about where we are right now," Ian Browne quotes Cherington as saying in an MLB.com article.
- It's easy to overlook just how bad the 2013 Yankees were, SBNation's Rob Neyer writes. The club won 85 games, but its Pythagorean record suggests a 79-win team, and more nuanced analyses indicate the team was even worse. However, this offseason's slew of free agent signings and healthy seasons from players such as Mark Teixeira should give the Yankees a fighting chance in 2014, Neyer says. The Bombers figure to be better at no less than seven positions next year.
- MLB sources say the Yankees will listen on Brett Gardner, particularly if they're offered a starting pitcher in exchange, Newsday's Marc Carig reports. The Star-Ledger previously reported major interest in the outfielder. Gardner is projected to earn $4MM in his final year of arbitration by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- While there's good sense in the Orioles' decision to allow Scott Feldman and Nate McLouth to depart to other teams, the club must secure replacements, Dan Connolly writes for The Baltimore Sun. Connolly says at least one should be replaced by an upgrade via free agency, citing Bronson Arroyo and A.J. Burnett as acceptable substitutes for Feldman.
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.
Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison is drawing serious interest from clubs around baseball and a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter) that roughly ten teams have checked in. Miami is reportedly willing to listen and the Red Sox and Braves are among the clubs that have called. Here's more out of the NL East..
- The Marlins are fans of Rays third baseman Sean Rodriguez and have discussed him internally, a league source tells Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Frisaro wonders aloud if Morrison for Rodriguez and a pitcher could be enough to get a deal done. Miami may be looking for a stop gap solution at third base until Colin Moran, the sixth overall pick in last year's draft, is ready, which could be in 2015.
- Braves GM Frank Wren says he has had plenty of talks with agents and teams so far this winter, tweets David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "[We're] putting ourselves in position to add pieces we feel like would help us best," the GM said.
- Wren added that he's targeting starting pitching, bullpen help, and some bench upgrades, but wont' look past anything that can help the team, O'Brien tweets.
- The Braves might be willing to trade some prospects in right deal, but not their premium prospects such as Lucas Sims and Jason Hursh, O'Brien tweets.
- Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News wonders if there's a realistic chance of the Phillies trading Jonathan Papelbon.
Frisaro runs down multiple reasons why the Marlins are likely to trade Morrison.
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.
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.
After the departures of Brian McCann and Tim Hudson, the Braves have needs, and may not have much money available to meet them, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in a long essay about what to expect from the Braves in the coming weeks. They could try to trade for a pitcher like Jeff Samardzija, John Lackey or Kyle Lohse, or they could sign Bartolo Colon. Colon is an appealing option for the Braves, O'Brien says, because his age makes him unlikely to receive a huge contract. The Braves also hope to trade Dan Uggla to clear salary. Here are more notes from around the National League.
- Cuban shortstop Erisbel Barbaro Arruebarruena will put on a showcase for clubs this weekend and the Mets will be among the teams in attendance, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Post. The 23-year-old, ranked as the tenth-best prospect in the World Baseball Classic not signed to an MLB club by Baseball America, defected from Cuba in November.
- It appears the Cubs will cede their top pick in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft to resolve a dispute involving former Rule 5 pick Lendy Castillo, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports. The Cubs picked Castillo from the Phillies in 2011, and Castillo missed 91 days of the following season due to injury, then spent the entire 2013 season in the minors. In case of injury, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must stick on their new teams' active rosters for at least 90 days. The Phillies will receive the Cubs' pick after they filed a grievance regarding Castillo. The Cubs don't plan to select a player this year anyway. The Rule 5 Draft will be held next Thursday.
- A recent report listed a number of teams as possible landing spots for David Price, but it would be easy to overpay for Price, FanGraphs' Dave Cameron argues. Price is a great pitcher, but he's only under control for two more years, and will cost a total of about $30MM for those two seasons. Cameron's back-of-the-envelope math suggests Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco, for example, could be worth about $91MM of surplus value over his six cost-controlled seasons, about three times as valuable as Price. The Royals' trade of Wil Myers and other youngsters for James Shields and Wade Davis was an overpay and should not determine the market for Price, Cameron argues.
Zach Links contributed to this post.