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Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas will celebrate his 24th birthday on Friday, and it will surely be a happy one given the lucrative contract on the horizon. Yesterday, agent Jay Alou explained the Phillies’ standing in the Tomas derby, telling reporters including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, “There are several teams that I could say are frontrunners, but yes (the Phillies are one of them).” Surprisingly, the Phillies have yet to make a formal offer, but Alou says, “It will all get going soon.”
Today’s Tomas rumors…
- Tomas is drawing interest from the Orioles, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal also notes on Twitter that the chase for Tomas is still heating up, with two teams set to visit him in the Dominican next week and others still weighing pursuit.
- The Royals have entered the Tomas sweepstakes, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Royals don’t feel that Tomas has the same type of advanced hitting skills that countryman Jose Abreu brought to the division-rival White Sox, but they have a need for a right fielder and feel his defense is at least adequate. The Royals like Melky Cabrera as well but Tomas would allow them to preserve their first-round pick, whereas Cabrera received and rejected a qualifying offer from Toronto.
- The Phillies, Padres and Giants have each seen Tomas three times, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He also reports that agent Jay Alou rejected an eight-year offer (though he doesn’t specify the value), preferring a five to seven year term to get Tomas onto the open market again around his age-30 season. The Mariners also like Tomas but aren’t expected to outbid other clubs, according to Heyman.
- Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Rangers aren’t likely to sign Tomas. Starting pitching is said to be the team’s top priority, and sources tell Wilson that the Rangers have informed Alou that their resources will be dedicated to that goal.
- How about the $100MM figure that has been bandied about for Tomas? “I don’t know where that came from, but he’d be happy and I’d be happy,” says Alou. In my September profile of Tomas, I posited a seven-year, $105MM contract. More recently, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports went with eight years and $100MM, an agent who spoke to Heyman said seven years and $93MM, and a GM said eight years, $100MM. Eight years is an interesting call, because that would mean Tomas would be giving up a potential valuable free agent season. Seven would be more aligned with typical MLB service time for a top prospect, who can put in just shy of seven years before reaching free agency if called up a few weeks into the season.
- Yesterday, Jorge Arangure Jr. had an excellent profile of Tomas for Vice Sports. In it, Arangure said Tomas will likely choose a team from the Phillies, Yankees, Red Sox, Mariners, and Padres, who have all scouted the player several times. Tomas’ Dominican-based trainer Raul Javier, asked when the player would sign, replied, “Very soon.”
- The Astros’ 2015 payroll still projects to be in the $70MM range, explains Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. The team has about $17.7MM committed for 2015 for four players, plus around $21MM for their seven essential arbitration eligible players, a few of whom could be traded. It’s easy to see that this team has some money to spend.
- Drellich says “there’s little expectation the Astros would add a player who received a qualifying offer,” but admits that the team will be more open to giving up a draft pick this winter. “We have two protected picks. So a qualifying offer is not necessarily an impediment to how we would behave compared to a team that had a pick that was their only pick, and that was No. 13 or 15 or something like that. So we have that advantage,” said GM Jeff Luhnow. The Astros would give up the competitive balance round pick they acquired from the Marlins in the summer if they sign one of the 11 qualified free agents. The Astros were linked to Hanley Ramirez earlier today.
- Outfielder Engel Beltre has elected free agency after refusing an outright assignment to Triple-A from the Rangers, writes Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. GM Jon Daniels said, “He’s exploring other options. We are as well. We haven’t closed the door. We haven’t made him an offer at this point.” Beltre, who missed the entire 2014 season with a fractured tibia, was a key piece of the Rangers’ return from the Red Sox for Eric Gagne at the 2007 trade deadline.
- Acquiring a shortstop is atop Cashman’s list, but he says, “I think it’s a limited market to be honest, and I say limited in terms of availability and acquisition cost.” Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News has a source saying that beyond Troy Tulowitzki, the Yankees are “kicking the tires” on the Rangers’ Elvis Andrus and the Phillies’ Jimmy Rollins. “I don’t think this past season reflects what his true ability is,” said Cashman of free agent Stephen Drew, and the GM has already spoken with Drew’s agent. Beyond Drew, Feinsand says the Yanks don’t seem inclined to pay up for Hanley Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie aren’t high on their list.
- The Yankees have had “a brief conversation” with Chase Headley and “we’re certainly looking forward to continuing the dialogue,” says Cashman. Given doubts about Alex Rodriguez‘s ability to play third base every day in 2015, the Yankees are making a “strong push” to sign Headley, according to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com.
- Cashman thinks Hiroki Kuroda is going through his standard post-season “mental cleansing process” and will soon make a decision about whether or not he wants to return in 2015. Cashman would “be surprised if he doesn’t play,” though isn’t sure if Kuroda will pitch in MLB or Japan.
- Cashman will speak with David Robertson‘s agent during the GM Meetings, and was hesitant to discuss the Yankees’ closer situation until those talks had taken place. “I would have no clue what [Robertson's] market value is going to be,” Cashman said. “Certainly, they’ll have an idea. They turned down the qualifying offer based on a lot of parameters, I’m sure, [and] some discussions they’ve already had. It’s hard to tell.“
- Two of the club’s statistical analysts pushed Cashman to re-sign Chris Young. “They felt, from an analytical standpoint, his year wasn’t as bad as it played out, that there was a potential bounce-back situation with it. We signed him up on what we think is a fair-market value, fourth-outfielder type contract,” Cashman said.
- Young’s signing may be the last outfield-related move the Yankees make this winter. “I think right now, we’re kind of settled in the outfield unless something surprising happens in the case of a trade, which I wouldn’t anticipate,” Cashman said. As Bloom notes, this would seem to close the book on any chance of Ichiro Suzuki re-signing with New York.
The Astros are one of roughly 12 teams who have checked in with free agent righty Jason Hammel, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich reports. While Hammel makes sense for a lot of teams as a less-expensive option behind some of the pricier names on the pitching market, he seems like a particularly solid fit for an Astros team that is looking to upgrade its rotation without expending a lot of payroll. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd, in his Free Agent Profile of Hammel, predicted the right-hander would receive a three-year, $30MM deal this winter — exactly what Houston spent to sign Scott Feldman last offseason.
Here’s some more from around the AL West…
- Also from Drellich, Jose Veras‘ Barry Praver says his client is interested in returning to the Astros next season.
- The Athletics have called about free agent shortstops Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports. Shortstop is an area of need for Oakland this winter with incumbent Jed Lowrie also a free agent.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reports (including Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News) that the team could consider trading from its shortstop depth. “Its an area of strength for us. We’ve talked about the possibility for a while. We just have to decide if now is the time to make a move there,” Daniels said. Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar are the two biggest names yet a deal involving either player wouldn’t be likely until Spring Training, when Profar can show that he’s healthy after shoulder injuries sidelined him for all of the 2014 season. Earlier today, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that the Yankees were “intrigued” by Andrus. Prospects Luis Sardinas and Hanser Alberto could also be trade chips, either in small deals or as parts of larger trade packages.
- Two sources tell Evan Grant that Colby Lewis will likely re-sign with the Rangers. Daniels said that if he “had to guess, I think it gets done,” though noted that Lewis has “never been healthy and a true free agent before. This is the first real chance he’s had to find out his true value.”
- Kevin Jepsen could be a trade candidate if the Angels wanted to deal from their right-handed relief surplus, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez opines. Jepsen has two more years of control left as a Super Two player, and his rising price tag could make him expendable for the Halos, Gonzalez speculates.
At least ten teams have reached out to express interest in Torii Hunter, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today, and the free agent’s most aggressive suitors are in the very familiar AL Central. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals, Twins, Tigers, Cubs, Giants, Rangers and Mariners have all shown some early interest in Hunter (Twitter links). Hunter’s preference is to remain in Detroit, he adds, but his fate may be tied to that of Victor Martinez, as the Tigers likely can’t re-sign both.
Though Hunter turns 40 next July, he still enjoyed a productive season at the plate in a fairly pitcher-friendly home environment, hitting .286/.319/.446 with 17 homers in 586 plate appearances. His defensive game, however, appears to have slipped as Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at -18 runs and Ultimate Zone Rating agreed (-18.3).
Given his age, I’d think Hunter’s priority would be signing with a team he expects to contend in 2015 rather than maxing out his contract or perhaps making a sentimental return to his former Minneapolis stomping grounds.
The Red Sox are one of the 20 teams on Cole Hamels‘ no-trade list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Rosenthal notes, Hamels wouldn’t necessarily block a trade to Boston, but he may want a team to pick up his 2019 vesting option ($20MM) in order to waive the clause. That would take Hamels’ total guarantee from four years and $90MM to five years and $110MM, likely making him a bit less attractive as a trade target. Boston has been an oft-rumored potential trade partner should the Phillies decide to move their ace.
More from baseball’s Eastern divisions…
- Yasmany Tomas isn’t close to a deal of any sort, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, had a one-on-one meeting with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at today’s GM Meetings in Phoenix.
- The Mets saw Tomas, but their scouts didn’t love him and they’re not likely to go near the $100MM range to sign him, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He does note that the Mets are looking at outfielders on the trade market and willing to listen on Daniel Murphy again. However, the Mets have been underwhelmed by past offers for Murphy and may just hang onto him, as they’re comfortable giving Dilson Herrera more time to develop in the minors.
- Sherman also reports that the Yankees are “intrigued” by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. The Yankees are trying to get younger and are hopeful of acquiring youthful players that may not have had their best season yet, and Andrus could fit that bill. However, they’re also wary of Andrus’ huge $120MM contract extension, which doesn’t even kick in until next season.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that he won’t allow other teams to dictate his offseason. What he means by that, Blair explains, is that the Jays won’t wait to see where a certain player signs before pursuing another. Blair recalls the 2006 Winter Meetings, when Anthopoulos was an assistant GM to J.P. Ricciardi. Toronto was hamstrung at the Winter Meetings waiting to hear back from free agents Ted Lilly and Gil Meche, both of whom signed elsewhere in the end. According to Blair, there was some stark internal criticism about how the other team’s plans were held up by other clubs. Toronto’s priority is re-signing Melky Cabrera, Blair writes, but the Blue Jays are aware that his QO and past ties to PEDs could lead to a slow-developing market.
Top Rangers prospect Joey Gallo has left the Legacy Agency for Wasserman Media Group, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. Wasserman currently represents big-name clients like Yasiel Puig, Giancarlo Stanton, Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley and Javier Baez. Still, Gallo’s move is a big one for his new agency — MLB.com currently ranks the third baseman the No. 6 prospect in baseball.
Gallo has raced through the minors since being drafted in the first round in 2012, hitting 40 homers between Class A+ Myrtle Beach and Double-A Frisco as a 20-year-old in 2014, with an overall line of .271/.394/.615. He does have weaknesses — those 40 home runs came with 179 strikeouts, suggesting that it might be difficult for him to harness his power in the Majors. Still, his raw power is hard to top.
The Dodgers‘ front office shakeup isn’t over yet. As Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles reported first, the Dodgers announced that they have hired Gabe Kapler as their farm director and Padres scouting director Billy Gasparino as their new director of amateur scouting (All Twitter links). Additionally, the team will hire Red Sox special assignment scout Galen Carr, per Saxon, though his role in the Dodgers’ front office is yet unreported. The Dodgers, of course, have already poached Andrew Friedman from the Rays (president of baseball ops) and Farhan Zaidi from the A’s (GM) in addition to hiring former Padres/D’Backs GM Josh Byrnes as their new senior VP of baseball ops. The new-look group is made up of some of the most respected executives from around the game.
Here’s more from the game’s Western divisions…
- On a conference call with Padres season-ticket holders last night, general manager A.J. Preller spoke candidly about the team’s interest in Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas (Twitter link): “We’ve had the chance to see Yasmany Tomas and we’re in the process of determining his value for the Padres. We’re in the game.” San Diego has been said to be one of the front-runners for Tomas, and he’d certainly provide the team with some much-needed offense if he lives up to the hype surrounding him.
- The Rangers will be on the lookout for a backup catcher to pair with Robinson Chirinos this offseason, writes MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Sullivan looks at the crop of free agents and notes that A.J. Pierzynski, Gerald Laird and J.P. Arencibia have all played with the Rangers in the past, but he wonders if the team will spend a bit more money on a name like Nick Hundley rather than bringing in familiar faces.
- The Angels announced today that they have promoted Mike LaCassa to assistant director of player development and promoted Jonathan Strangio to manager of Major League Operations (Twitter link).
The Rockies‘ decision to make a qualifying offer to outfielder Michael Cuddyer makes more sense in light of reports that the club could be open to making some larger moves, possibly involving stars Troy Tulowitzki or Carlos Gonzalez, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. For his money, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding believes the likeliest scenario involves a trade of first baseman Justin Morneau, whose remaining contract is attractive given his production last year. I discussed this very issue last night with Denver Post writer Nick Groke for today’s podcast, which will be made available shortly.
Here’s more from out west:
- The Padres gave the Dodgers permission yesterday to interview scouting director Billy Gasparino, Corey Brock of MLB.com tweets. It may be more of a done deal, in fact, according to a report from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
- Turning to the major league side of things, the Dodgers face yet another offseason with questions about an outfield logjam, as Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes. With Joc Pederson now clearly having proven himself at Triple-A, Petriello takes a look at the available options. The likeliest, in his opinion, is a trade involving Carl Crawford.
- The Rangers expect to be more active on the trade market than in free agency, as Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com reports. “I think just by nature free agents will cost more money,” said GM Jon Daniels. “I think we have some areas of depth and have a chance to get some players with a little bit more cost control.” Daniels went on to discuss some general possibilities. “I feel pretty good about our [minor] league system just based on the players we’ve been asked about, and other teams feel about it the same way,” he explained. “It’s a pretty unique market, there’s quite a few pitchers who might be on the market, and that’s probably the strength of the marketplace in free agent and trade standpoints. I don’t know how quick it will be, but I think we’ll be able to address our needs.”
As expected, the Marlins have begun extension talks with star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports on Twitter. President of baseball operations Michael Hill tells Spencer that the team has “reached out” to Stanton’s representatives and that “negotiations are ongoing.”
Here’s more from the NL East:
- At present, the Mets are more inclined to fill their needs in the corner outfield via trade than through a free agent signing, reports Marc Carig of Newsday. New York is still hesitant to give up any of its best young talent in a swap. But veterans like Michael Morse, Alex Rios, and Torii Hunter all seem more like fallback options that the team would pursue if value can be had and nothing better has materialized. The Mets are said to prefer to add a right-handed bat.
- One other hypothetical possibility, Nick Markakis, is not presently engaged with the team in any way, according to Matt Ehalt of The Record (Twitter link).
- As they weigh their options at second, the Nationals are not unmindful of the Cuban market that has begun to materialize in recent weeks, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports. The primary possible targets, per Wagner, are 26-year-old Jose Fernandez and high-upside youngster Yoan Moncada. The 20-year-old Moncada will draw immense interest, with Ben Badler of Baseball America saying he is talented enough that he would be the odds-on favorite to go first overall in this year’s amateur draft (were he eligible).
- The Phillies are still the favorite to land Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, with A.J. Burnett‘s decision to decline his option possibly burnishing Philly’s chances. That does not mean they are without competition, of course. Other clubs that have seen (or will soon see) Tomas since his showcase include the Rangers, D’backs, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Red Sox, and Mariners.
- Also per Heyman, the Phillies could clear yet more payroll space and add young talent through a deal for pitcher Cole Hamels, with the Cubs still showing interest in the lefty.
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