Torii Hunter Rumors
Torii Hunter of the Tigers says he could continue playing after his contract expires following the 2014 season, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets. "I can see myself paying beyond 2014," says Hunter. "I'm slim, trim and ready to go." The Tigers signed Hunter to a two-year, $26MM deal last offseason, a year after Hunter told the press he might retire following the 2012 season. Hunter hit .304/.334/.465 as the Tigers' right fielder in 2013. Here's more from around the American League.
- Pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez will likely void his 2014 option to stay with the Indians, and will instead try the free-agent market, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Jimenez posted a 3.30 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 182 2/3 innings for Cleveland this year. Jimenez agreed to team options for his 2013 and 2014 seasons when he signed a long-term deal with the Rockies before the 2009 season, but he received the right to void the $8MM 2014 option when Colorado shipped him to the Indians.
- Unless there are trades, the Athletics roster isn't likely to undergo dramatic changes this offseason, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. None of Oakland's key position players are set to depart, and they have plenty of starting pitching, even if Bartolo Colon leaves via free agency.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman would prefer to have Alex Rodriguez play in 2014, even if that means the Yankees have to pay his salary, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports. If Rodriguez's 2014 suspension is upheld, that would take the Yankees off the hook for the $25MM they owe him in 2014. "I think if people think there’s some sort of benefit by losing that talent, I mean, you can’t replace it," Cashman says. "It’s not like, ‘All right, well, Alex is gone.’ If he winds up getting suspended and it’s upheld, how do you replace that? It’s not easy."
With the ALCS set to get underway today, here are a few notes on the American League finalists for the World Series:
- Two key current Tigers -- Victor Martinez and Torii Hunter -- could well have ended up with the Red Sox instead, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Both players said that family considerations drove their decisions to head to Detroit. For the catcher-turned-DH Martinez, that meant getting an additional year that the BoSox were not willing to offer.
- An extension for Hunter is not out of the question, tweets Jason Beck of MLB.com, now that Avisail Garcia has been dealt away. Hunter has one year and $14MM left on the pact he inked last off-season with the Tigers. The 38-year-old client of Reynolds Sports Management enjoyed another strong season, though his 114 OPS+ and 2.1 bWAR fell well shy of last year's 129 OPS+ and 5.8 bWAR tally. From my perspective, there would seem to be little reason for urgency in reaching a new deal, as the team may do well to see how Hunter performs next year before committing to him into his forties.
- Tigers president/CEO/GM Dave Dombrowski built the team aggressively and with the World Series plainly in mind, writes MLB.com's Richard Justice. Though he values prospects, says Justice, Dombrowski also knows how to utilize them as organizational currency.
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox are led by a GM, Ben Cherington, who is just one of several to have been groomed at nearby Amherst College, write Michael McDonald and Erik Matuszewski of Bloomberg.com. Neal Huntington of the Pirates and Dan Duquette of the Orioles also have roots at Amherst, and the school's role as a breeding ground could be on the rise.
On this day in 2007, the Twins signed Liam Hendriks as an amateur free agent out of Australia. Hendriks, 24, has struggled in the Majors to date but owns a solid minor league track record. He has twice cracked Baseball America's list of Top 10 Twins prospects and boasts a 2.95 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 155 2/3 Triple-A innings. He'll fight for a rotation spot with the Twins this Spring. Here are some links pertaining to baseball's two Central divisions...
- New Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter told ESPN's Jayson Stark that his comments about the Angels and owner Arte Moreno following the Josh Hamilton signing were a "joke that went bad." At the time, Hunter tweeted that Moreno must have had "some money under a mattress," as he'd been told the team couldn't afford him. Hunter praised the Angels' organization and said he's enjoying his time with the Tigers so far.
- The Indians could look to trade outfielder Ezequiel Carrera near the end of Spring Training, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Carrera is out of options, and the Tribe has no doubt that they would lose the 25-year-old if they placed him on waivers in an attempt to send him to Triple-A.
- Former AL MVP Justin Morneau couldn't have picked a better time to get healthy, writes Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. The 31-year-old Twins slugger is set to hit free agency following the season and could find himself a midseason trade candidate, extension candidate, or the recipient of a qualifying offer with a strong, healthy season.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders if Cardinals top prospect Oscar Taveras could be the next 20-year-old to take the Majors by storm. Taveras, however, doesn't have a clear path to the Majors given the presence of Matt Holliday, Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran.
Vernon Wells will be 35 years old when his $126MM contract expires following the 2014 season, at which point he expects to retire. The outfielder told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that his playing career will end after two more years.
Wells told Gonzalez that he intends to spend more time with his kids once he retires. Yet the three-time All-Star still expects to be involved in baseball. Wells hopes to own an MLB team at some point, and he plans to work with former teammate Torii Hunter. They plan on starting with a minor league team and progressing from there.
"It's definitely something we're interested in doing once we're both done playing," Wells told Gonzalez. "It's fun, man. Instead of playing fantasy GM, you're actually putting together your own team and learning what it takes to pretty much make money in an organization, especially in the minor leagues.”
Wells will earn $42MM between now and the end of the 2014 season, by which point he'll have earned more than $130MM during his playing career. Hunter will have earned $160MM at the MLB level by the time his two-year deal with the Tigers expires.
The Yankees aren’t expected to trade for Wells, even after losing Curtis Granderson for the beginning of the regular season. Wells posted a .230/.279/.403 batting line with 11 home runs in 262 plate appearances for the Angels in 2012.
As February gets underway, Michael Bourn still stands as the best available free agent on the open market. Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (on Twitter) opines that the Mets, Mariners, and Rays are the teams that make the most sense for the center fielder. As for the best starter left on the free agent pile, Bowden sees the Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Brewers, and Orioles as the best fits for Kyle Lohse. Here's more from around baseball..
- Don't look for the Marlins to make any major moves the remainder of the offseason, says Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (via Twitter). The team will enter spring training with the roster it currently has in place.
- Regardless of whether or not Scott Rolen joins the Reds, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that the club is facing a serious roster crunch. It seems that the veteran wants to play in 2013 but money will be a determining factor in his decision. Recently, the Dodgers reached out to Rolen to express interest.
- The Orioles expect to announce the signing of veteran left-handerMark Hendrickson to a minor league contract with a spring training invite early next week, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The O's also hope to announce their deal with Jair Jurrjens and remain interested in bringing Joe Saunders back despite the depth that they've added.
- Torii Hunter says that enjoyed his time with the Angels, but he also felt misled when the club told him they didn't have enough money to keep him before signing Josh Hamilton to a five-year, $125MM deal, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The veteran hooked on with the Tigers this winter in pursuit of a World Series ring.
- The Tigers had a tough time trying to find organizational depth this winter as many players figured that their path to the majors would be blocked, writes George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. Regardless, assistant General Manager Al Avila says that the club is done signing minor league players and is ready for spring training.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
The Dodgers have dominated the headlines in Hollywood for most of the winter but the Angels stole the spotlight today by reaching agreement with Josh Hamilton on a five-year, $125MM contract. Here are a few items about both Los Angeles franchises...
- Hamilton's agents approached the Dodgers and the team did background work on the outfielder, but the Dodgers never seriously considered signing him, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The Dodgers simply didn't have room in the outfield with Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford all locked up to major long-term contracts.
- Don Mattingly and Mike Scioscia will both be under tremendous pressure to manage their respective teams to postseason success in 2013, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. Scioscia is under contract through 2018 but the Angels haven't made the postseason in three years and the skipper seemed to be on the hot seat last year during the team's slow start. As for Mattingly, he is entering the final year of his three-year contract. Hernandez also addresses a number of other questions about both teams as part of his Q&A piece, including if the Angels signed Hamilton as a response to the Dodgers' high-profile moves.
- The Angels are interested in Jonathon Niese and share an interest in R.A. Dickey with the Rangers, reports Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.com. Cerrone believes the Blue Jays also have their eye on both Mets pitchers, with Niese as their first choice.
- There are still some outstanding questions about the Dodgers' financial situation and the status of their rumored multi-billion dollar TV deal with FOX, writes ESPN's Darren Rovell.
- Earlier today we explored the reaction to the Hamilton signing and its impact around the league.
We've already looked at how the Angels' five-year, $125MM agreement with Josh Hamilton has impacted players and teams around baseball, but now let's look at some analysis of the signing itself, including items about how the deal came together for the Angels and how the Rangers missed out on re-signing their slugger...
- An American League executive called the move "last-second knee-jerk stupidity" on the part of the Angels, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter links). However, an NL executive called it a "brilliant move" since the Angels obtained the best player available and added balance to a largely right-handed lineup.
- Former Angels outfielder Torii Hunter had some sharp words regarding his free agent talks with the Angels and owner Arte Moreno (Twitter links). “I was told money was tight but I guess the Arte had money hidden under a Mattress,” Hunter wrote. “Business is business but don't lie.” Hunter clarified in a follow-up tweet that he’s “not upset.”
- One American League executive told ESPN.com's Jayson Stark that the Rangers made the "fatal mistake" of believing no team would go beyond four years for Hamilton. Also from Stark, Moreno's tactic of making take it-or-leave it offers prevented Hamilton from going back to the Rangers to give them a chance to top Anaheim's offer (Twitter links)
- Though Rangers GM Jon Daniels will face public criticism for letting Hamilton get away to a division rival, Daniels is being "privately lauded" by other general managers for parting ways with Hamilton, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- Also from Olney (Twitter link), "Hamilton's medical records have been a concern for other teams."
- Yahoo Sports' Kevin Kaduk runs down the winners and losers of the Hamilton signing.
- The signing looks like "an impulse buy" for Moreno and the Halos, as the team reportedly didn't even discuss signing Hamilton during the Winter Meetings, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal's colleague Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Angels did meet with Hamilton during the Winter Meetings, though it was kept quiet enough that some within the organization didn't even know the meeting took place (Twitter links).
- The Angels know they'll have to trade from their position player depth, but aren't close to any deals yet, Yahoo's Tim Brown reports (on Twitter).
- The Rangers are "really shaken" by losing Hamilton, especially after being unable to sign Zack Greinke or work out trades for Justin Upton or James Shields, writes CBS Sports' Danny Knobler (via Twitter). "Fair to say they don't love any [other] options out there," Knobler adds.
- The Hamilton signing elevates the Angels/Rangers rivalry to an even higher level, writes Yahoo's Jeff Passan.
- My take: I'm not crazy about the signing since the Angels' lineup (and particularly their outfield) wasn't an area of concern, and $125MM is a lot of money to commit to a player with as many red flags as Hamilton. That said, I can understand why they made the move. Money seems to be no object to the Angels, so if they can win a World Series over the next few seasons, the team won't care if Hamilton (or Albert Pujols, for that matter) is a payroll albatross by 2016-17. It also doesn't hurt that the Angels dealt a serious blow to a division rival by keeping Hamilton away from the Rangers. I'd suggest that the Angels hang onto their outfield depth until at least the trade deadline -- given Hamilton and Kendrys Morales' injury histories, it makes sense to have a capable outfielder like Peter Bourjos, who brings much more off the bench than Vernon Wells.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post
Here are some details on three recently-signed contracts...
- Ryan Madson's one-year contract with Angels will pay him $500k each for 45, 90, 135, and 180 days on the roster as long as he is not on the DL with a right arm injury, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He will also receive $250K each for 35, 40, 45, and 50 games finished.
- Torii Hunter's two-year, $26MM contract with the Tigers is slightly backloaded, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. He'll earn $12MM in 2013 and $14MM in 2014, plus $100K bonuses for each All-Star selection, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, LCS MVP, and World Series MVP he wins.
- Evan Longoria's salary for 2013 has been reduced from $6MM to $2MM as part of his new contract with the Rays, reports Marc Topkin of The Tampa Bay Times. The remaining $4MM was converted into a signing bonus. Topkin also has information on the deferments and escalator clauses in the deal.
- The players' union values Longoria's new contract with the Rays at ten years and $131MM according to Rosenthal (on Twitter). The present day value ($136.6MM) has been reduced due to deferred money.
Blockbuster trades motivated by one team's desire for financial flexibility (AKA a salary dump) like the Marlins-Blue Jays deal or the Red Sox-Dodger swap are nothing new in baseball history. On this date in 1947, the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox began a two-day trading frenzy involving 13 players (four Browns and nine Red Sox) and the Browns receiving $375K (worth nearly $3.1MM in today's dollars). Here's the latest news, notes, and comments from the present-day American League:
- The Yankees continue to have conversations with free agent outfielder Scott Hairston, writes the New York Post's Dan Martin. Hairston would bring a right-handed power bat to the outfield mix and could fit into a platoon, as the Yankees have already had preliminary discussions to bring back Raul Ibanez.
- The Yankees still want to trim payroll to $189MM by 2014 for luxury tax and revenue sharing refund purposes, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if Hal Steinbrenner isn't risking a brand worth billions for the millions the team would earn by doing so.
- If the Tigers fail to re-sign Anibal Sanchez, the signing of Torii Hunter will still make the offseason a success, team president and GM Dave Dombrowski told George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. "We'll see where other things take us," Dombrowski said. "If we end up with this major move (Hunter) being our major move of the winter, I would be very happy."
- The Indians have yet to set their 2013 budget, but it is expected to be in the neighborhood of this past season's $65MM, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Paul Hoynes. As a result of this "fluid" situation, GM Chris Antonetti must take any intriguing proposals to ownership.
- Also in that article, Hoynes lists the five best and five worst free agent signings by the Tribe.
- The Red Sox will interview Craig Counsell and Greg Colbrunn for their hitting coach opening, reports Alex Speier of WEEI.com. Counsell, a special assistant to Brewers GM Doug Melvin, will interview tomorrow while Colbrunn, the hitting instructor for the Yankees' Single-A affiliate in Charleston, is in the process of being scheduled for another time during the week. The Red Sox have already interviewed their minor league hitting coordinator Victor Rodriguez, former Diamondbacks hitting coach Rick Schu, and Braves assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher.
Though several notable Indians players as have been the subject of trade rumors this winter, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian doesn't believe the Tribe is "on the verge of a complete overhaul." Bastian thinks that Cleveland could trade "one or two" current stars (such as Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Chris Perez or Carlos Santana) but the fact that the Indians have been looking at veterans like Kevin Youkilis and Shane Victorino indicates that the club doesn't plan to be out of contention for long.
A few items from both the NL and AL Central...
- In his introductory press conference as a Tiger (reported on by MLB.com's Jason Beck), Torii Hunter said he was "scouting clubs" during last season in case the Angels didn't bring him back. The Tigers were his top choice, to the extent that he had his agent Larry Reynolds call Detroit VP John Westhoff to express his interest. "Dave [Dombrowski] and I got this deal done in less than an hour," Reynolds said. "That's unheard of in our business."
- Also from Beck, Dombrowski hinted that the Tigers were still looking for a right-handed hitting left fielder who could platoon with Andy Dirks.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy attended the Brewers' annual medical symposium and explored how the team has been using medical data to keep their pitchers healthy and to look out for warning signs when acquiring pitchers. Over the last decade, the White Sox and Brewers have had the fewest number of days spent on the DL by their pitchers.
- The Brewers are looking for starting and relief pitching but no deals are happening soon, assistant GM Gord Ash told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Ash noted that the three-year deals given to Brandon League and Jeremy Affeldt raised the prices on the relief market: "That kind of pushed it up a little bit....I wouldn't say it's harder now; I'd say more expensive."
- The Cardinals are also looking for bullpen help, and GM John Mozeliak told media (including including MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch) that the Cards may look to add a left-handed reliever in a trade given the rising cost of relief pitching. Mozeliak also discussed such roster topics as extensions, non-tenders, the upcoming Rule 5 draft and the Cards' search for shortstop depth.