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Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he is "shocked" and "broken-hearted" that reliever Jose Valverde hasn’t signed yet, according to the Detroit Free Press (on Twitter). Valverde and Kyle Lohse are the only players from MLBTR’s list of top 50 free agents who have yet to sign. Here are some links from around MLB as we await their decisions…
- Mets owner Fred Wilpon insists that he's financially solvent and willing to spend. Less than a year from now he'll have the chance to prove it, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes.
- Jacoby Ellsbury said he loves playing for the Red Sox, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). However, the center fielder has decided to defer to agent Scott Boras when it comes to his contract status. Ellsbury, a free agent this coming offseason, ranks fourth on MLBTR's initial Free Agent Power Rankings.
- Red Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino suggested the team could discuss an extension with Ellsbury this spring, Alex Speier of WEEI.com reports. "We’d very much like to have him here," Lucchino said.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs believes the low-cost options built into the contracts of pitchers such as John Lackey and Felix Hernandez could represent the beginning of a positive trend for MLB as a whole.
- Trevor Bauer told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that he doesn't have "hard feelings" toward his former team (Twitter link). The Diamondbacks traded Bauer to the Indians in December and Miguel Montero had some critical words for the right-hander earlier this week.
The Indians have been very busy during the first days of 2013 officially announcing the free agent signings of Nick Swisher and Brett Myers. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian reports the team will open the season with a payroll hovering around $66-68MM (not including the $2.75MM buyout of Travis Hafner's 2013 club option and the $3.5MM sent to the Reds in the Shin-Soo Choo trade). As a result, GM Chris Antonetti has said the team's financial resources have been exhausted. The lone remaining hole in the lineup is designated hitter. Bastian says the Tribe could rely on internal options like Mike Aviles, Yan Gomes, Ezequiel Carrera, Tim Fedroff, and Rule 5 selection Chris McGuiness. Even bringing back Hafner is a possibility according to Antonetti, "I think some of that is going to depend upon other opportunities for Travis and his thoughts on returning, as well as what opportunities we may have for him compared to other guys." Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer has more news and notes concerning the Indians:
- Hoynes adds Matt LaPorta to the list of in-house DH options, but says Antonetti could still sign a hitter or bring one in on a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.
- Hoynes thinks Delmon Young would look good as the Tribe's DH, but doesn't see it happening at this time because of his asking price and character issues.
- The Indians will still consider trading Asdrubal Cabrera or Chris Perez, but only if the return is comparable to what they received in the Choo deal.
- The starting rotation looks like Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Myers, and Zach McAllister. Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco are the leading candidates for the fifth spot.
- With the flush of spending of this season, does this put extra pressure on the front office to win now? Hoynes doesn't sense any panic in the hallways of power, especially since new manager Terry Francona can opt-out of his deal if certain members of management lose their jobs.
- Phil Mickelson will not be part of the Padres' ownership group, reports Tod Leonard of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The golf star said he isn't "able to make that kind of long-term commitment to the city and to the team."
- It doesn't seem logical for the Rangers to give Edwin Jackson (what would have to be) a four-year, $50MM contract, opines MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. We heard earlier tonight that the Rangers and Cubs were the final two contenders for Jackson's services.
- Major League Baseball has ruled that the $2MM the Angels will donate to Josh Hamilton's charitable foundation will count towards the team's luxury tax payments and be counted as "noncash compensation," reports The Associated Press. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal noted the charitable portion of Hamilton's contract earlier today.
- It can be difficult for players to mentally adjust to the "baseball limbo" that is the offseason rumor mill, ESPN's Jerry Crasnick writes.
- Money has been no object for Tigers owner Mike Ilitch as he pursues a World Series title, but ESPN's Buster Olney wonders if the Tigers' next owner will be able to keep the club's payroll in the $150MM range given the limitations of Detroit's market. (An ESPN Insider subscription is required to read Olney's column.)
- Nick Swisher will not be visiting the Giants during his tour of potential destinations, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. With the Giants not having enough payroll space left to pursue Swisher, I think we can finally put this rumor to bed.
- The Twins and Carl Pavano don't appear to be a fit, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger writes. The two sides met during the Winter Meetings and though Pavano has pitched well in Minnesota, he turns 37 in January and missed most of last season with an injured shoulder. I agree with Bollinger that the Twins would probably want a more reliable option than Pavano given that several other projected members of the Twins rotation are also coming back from injuries.
- Baseball people suggest Trevor Bauer has a better chance of becoming an impact player than Didi Gregorius, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. The Diamondbacks sent Bauer to the Indians last week in the three-team deal that brought Gregorius to Arizona. As Piecoro explains in detail, however, there were some questions about Bauer's personality and his ability to be a team player.
MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post
Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher and the 2013 Angels will all benefit from Josh Hamilton's recent agreement with Los Angeles, ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes. However, Mike Scioscia, Torii Hunter and the Mariners probably won’t benefit from the deal, according to Olney. Here are some more reactions to the deal, and a look at the impact it will have. Now for some more of Olney’s notes from around MLB…
- The Hamilton deal was made over the head of the Angels' baseball operations department, Olney reports (on Twitter).
- Rival general managers had correctly predicted Anibal Sanchez would sign with the Tigers, Olney writes. The Tigers have made it known for weeks that they'd be willing to listen to offers for Rick Porcello, according to Olney. It now seems as though Porcello has become a trade candidate.
- Peter Bourjos drew lots of trade interest in the first few weeks of the offseason, Olney reports. While Bourjos could be moved, the Angels have told teams they're keeping Mark Trumbo.
- The Diamondbacks had talked to other teams about deals involving Trevor Bauer before this year's trade deadline, Olney reports.
One AL GM said the Indians got “incredible value” for Shin-Soo Choo by obtaining Trevor Bauer in last night’s three-team trade, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. While evaluators love Didi Gregorius’ glove, they wonder if the Diamondbacks’ new infielder will hit enough to merit an everyday job. Here's the latest from Olney (some Twitter links)…
- Free agent right-hander Brian Wilson is expected to have opportunities to close, Olney writes. The Giants non-tendered their longtime closer last month, making him a free agent.
- Agents and executives wonder what will happen with free agent center fielder Michael Bourn, Olney reports(on Twitter). In my view the Rangers and Mariners appear to be two possible destinations for the Scott Boras client.
- The Indians could still trade Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson and Vinnie Pestano, as Olney points out (on Twitter). There’s “not much action” on Chris Perez, however.
- Some evaluators say the Red Sox are poised to move on the pitching market as prices drop, according to Olney(on Twitter). GM Ben Cherington figures to add starting pitching depth at some point, as his projected rotation consists of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Franklin Morales.
- It’s apparent that the Mariners aren’t the top choice of the best free agent hitters. Olney suggests Seattle will end up signing a leftover player, though they’re pressing to land someone of note.
- Phillies officials have privately maintained that they’d be prepared to offer Josh Hamilton a three-year deal.
8:12pm: The Diamondbacks announced that they have acquired shortstop Didi Gregorius, left-handed pitcher Tony Sipp, and first baseman Lars Anderson from the Indians in exchange for right-handed pitchers Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw. The Reds are receiving Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald in the swap and are sending Drew Stubbs to Cleveland as well. The Indians will send the Reds approximately $3.5MM to account for the differences in projected salaries between Choo and Stubbs, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
The Reds will use Choo in center field even though he hasn't played there for the Indians since 2009 and has played just ten MLB games at the position in total. The Reds are banking on the 30-year-old's offensive production being able to make up for whatever they might lose defensively. The veteran owns a .289/.381/.465 slash line across eight major league seasons.
Choo, a Scott Boras client, is set to hit the open market after the 2013 season. The Indians have been said to have him available via trade, albeit with a high price tag. The Reds will plug Choo in as the leadoff hitter, a role they have been working hard to fill. The club spoke with the Twins about Ben Revere before he was traded to the Phillies and also had conversations with the Rockies about Dexter Fowler.
Stubbs, 28, struggled at the plate in 2012 as he posted a .213/.277/.333 batting line with 14 home runs in 544 plate appearances. The former eighth-overall pick in the 2006 draft has a .241/.312/.386 across four big league seasons with the Reds.
It was believed that the initial acquisition of Gregorius by the Indians would pave the way for them to deal fellow shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, but they instead flipped Gregorius and kept Cabrera. The 22-year-old Gregorius won't be arbitration eligible until 2016 and won't see the open market until 2019. The Netherlands native split time between Double-A and Triple-A last season, hitting .265/.324/.393 with seven homers in 561 plate appearances. The 27-year-old Cabrera, meanwhile, is set to earn $6.5MM in 2013 and $10MM in 2014 before hitting free agency. Gregorius entered 2012 as the Reds' sixth-best prospect, according to Baseball America. The publication also had him ranked as the organization’s best defensive infielder and deemed him to have the best throwing arm in the farm system.
Sipp posted a 4.42 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 63 relief appearances last season. The 29-year-old was a fixture in the Indians' bullpen, making 248 relief appearances with Cleveland from 2009-12.
The Indians acquired Anderson at the trade deadline this year from the Red Sox in exchange for Double-A starter Steven Wright. The 25-year-old posted a .250/.353/.396 slash line in 111 games for Triple-A Pawtucket and Triple-A Columbus. Anderson has also played in 30 big league games for the Red Sox across three seasons.
Bauer, 21, was the third overall selection by Arizona in the 2011 Draft out of UCLA. Baseball America had Bauer as the ninth-best prospect in baseball entering 2012. The hurler spent most of 2012 between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno where he had a combined 2.42 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 in 22 starts. Bauer became the first member of the 2011 draft to appear in the big leagues when he made four starts for the Diamondbacks in July.
Albers, 29, spent 2012 with the Red Sox and D'Backs, posting a 2.39 ERA with 6.6 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 63 relief appearances. For his career, Albers owns a 4.68 ERA with 6.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 across seven big league seasons.
Shaw, 25, spent the bulk of last season in the Arizona bullpen where he had a 3.49 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 64 relief appearances. The right-hander was taken in the second-round of the 2008 draft by the Diamondbacks and has seen time in 97 big league games across the last two seasons.
8:04pm: The portion of the deal involving the Diamondbacks and Indians has not been finalized, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (via Twitter).
7:50pm: The deal sending Shin-Soo Choo to the Reds has been completed, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The Reds will also receive Jason Donald in the trade, Heyman confirms (via Twitter).
The three-team deal that was being worked on had Shin-Soo Choo and Jason Donald going to the Reds, Didi Gregorius to the Diamondbacks, and Drew Stubbs plus an Arizona pitcher going to the Indians, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Patrick Corbin or Trevor Bauer will likely be the Arizona pitcher going to Cleveland, Rosenthal tweets.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com first reported that the Reds were close to acquiring Choo in a deal with the Indians netting them Stubbs and Gregorius. Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reported that the D'Backs were involved, making it a three-team deal. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the framework of the trade.
The Rangers lost out on a trade target when the Royals acquired James Shields last night, just days after losing out on free agent target Zack Greinke. Things aren't going exactly as they've planned this offseason, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a host of Rangers updates in his latest column…
- A rival executive told Rosenthal that the Rangers are either going to overpay Josh Hamilton or overpay Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers for Justin Upton. Rangers GM Jon Daniels is so focused on Upton that he figures to eventually land him, writes Rosenthal.
- It's not completely out of the question that the Rangers could acquire Upton and still sign Hamilton now that Greinke is off the table.
- Anibal Sanchez is a long shot for the Rangers, but he's on their radar. A trade for R.A. Dickey is also unlikely at this point.
- The team is said to prefer lower-cost starters and could pursue someone like Chris Capuano in a trade to provide an upgrade over Martin Perez.
- The Rangers are interested in A.J. Pierzynski, who would obviously push Geovany Soto into a backup role. Pierzynski's left-handed bat would help to balance a heavily right-handed lineup.
- Ian Kinsler isn't big on the idea of shifting to first base one year into his five-year extension in order to allow Jurickson Profar to play second base, but he will play wherever he's asked.
- Daniels tells Rosenthal he's not planning on Kinsler switching positions yet and is considering all possible scenarios for the 2013 roster.
- A three-team deal with the Rangers, Diamondbacks and Indians was "very close" to happening at the Winter Meetings. The foundation of the deal was Upton to Texas, Cabrera to Arizona, and Mike Olt and one of Trevor Bauer or Patrick Corbin to Cleveland. Presumably, other names were involved.
The Rangers, Diamondbacks, Rays and Indians discussed three and four-team deals in Nashville this past week without agreeing to any trades. However, talks involving Justin Upton and others aren't dead, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported yesterday. Here's the latest with the most recent updates up top…
- Here's how close the Rangers have been to acquiring Upton. Wednesday night a Rangers official phoned an Astros official and said "we got Upton," according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (on Twitter).
- There has been some frustration with the Mariners this week, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). Some consider Seattle a "speed bump" in the process of working out a multi-team deal, Olney writes.
- The Diamondbacks have been working to acquire James Shields from the Rays as part of the three and four-team trades being discussed, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter). The Rays might be increasingly willing to move Shields, who has also drawn interest from the Royals. Olney suggests the Diamondbacks could move a young pitcher if they obtain Shields in a multi-team trade. Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer are among the potential trade candidates on Arizona’s roster.
A ridiculous number of three and four-team trade scenarios have been discussed at the Winter Meetings, most of them seemingly involving Arizona's Justin Upton winding up with the Rangers. We'll track the latest on the discussions right here:
- The Upton talks aren't dead and never have been, an involved official tells Ken Rosenthal, but it doesn't have more legs than it did two weeks ago.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels left the Winter Meetings without a deal, telling reporters including Jeff Wilson, "I would have guessed something would have happened here. And I would have been wrong. It hasn't gotten to the point where something had fallen through that I thought was going to get done."
- The Rangers, D'Backs, and Rays are still at the Winter Meetings, working on an Upton blockbuster according to Rosenthal. A friend of Rays top exec Andrew Friedman says that while Friedman has never done a three-way trade, he's determined to get one done.
- D'backs GM Kevin Towers made it clear that he seeks a shortstop he controls for more than two years, so it seems Elvis Andrus or Asdrubal Cabrera would not be sufficient, tweets Jim Bowden of SiriusXM and ESPN.
- Rosenthal has one possible outcome: Upton to the Rangers, a Rays starter to the D'Backs, and Mike Olt and other prospects to the Rays. The scenario doesn't seem to satisfy the needs of the D'Backs and Rays, but we'll see.
- There's nothing close on the Upton front, Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told Bob Nightengale.
- Bowden adds (also via Twitter) that the Mariners' reasoning for being in these talks is to use their prospects to ensure that Upton lands with Texas, which will open the door for them to sign Josh Hamilton. The Mariners are reportedly in serious talks with Hamilton, who considers them his fallback should he not sign with Texas.
- Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that the Diamondbacks will not budge from their insistence that Andrus or Profar be included in a trade with the Rangers. As such, they're more likely to trade two young pitchers to the Indians to land Cabrera.
- The fourth team in some permutations of the blockbuster is the Mariners, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. One official in the talks sees them as the biggest roadblock, as they're unsure whether to move forward and surrender prospects. A source tells Rosenthal the player the Mariners want most in these talks is Derek Holland of the Rangers. Rosenthal says Rangers GM Jon Daniels is driving the trade, "feverishly trying to land" Upton. In the end, the FOX writer says the four-team blockbuster "appears unlikely to happen."
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers said today, "I've had more multi-team talks this year than ever before. In every discussion it seems three or four teams are involved."
- One scenario had Upton going to the Rangers, Cabrera to the D'Backs, and Martin Perez and more to the Indians, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
- The Indians are pushing for the Diamondbacks to include Tyler Skaggs in a deal for Cabrera, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. However, Arizona would prefer to move Trevor Bauer.
- Although the Diamondbacks like many of the Rangers' prospects, such as Mike Olt, Leury Garcia, and Cody Buckel, they continue to want Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar in return for Upton, tweets Passan. At this point, it seems more likely that the D-Backs would move Upton in a multi-team scenario that nets them Cabrera rather than trading straight-up with the Rangers.
11:29am: Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers tells Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (Twitter link) that he prefers to deal directly with one club, since three- or four-team talks "kind of muddies the waters." He's still exploring all possibilities though. Heyman, following up on his Rangers/Upton report, says the current scenarios involve three or four teams (Twitter link). The Royals may also be in on talks with the D-Backs and Indians, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (via Twitter).
11:11am: The Rangers are "working hard" trying to acquire Upton, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link).
10:44am: The Rays, Rangers, Indians, and Diamondbacks have re-opened the four-team trade talks mentioned below, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link).
9:17am: One executive involved in the Bauer/Cabrera discussions tells Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) that it has some legs, but is probably a long shot.
7:46am: The D-Backs and Indians have discussed the framework of a deal centering around Cabrera and Trevor Bauer, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports. The sides have been talking about the deal for two weeks, but talks have picked up at the Winter Meetings. There's no indication that a deal is close to completion at this time, however.
7:25am: It wouldn't be the Winter Meetings without talk of potential blockbuster trades, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Rays, Rangers, Indians and Diamondbacks have discussed several combinations of three-, four- and even five-team trades.
It all boils down to the fact that the Rangers would like to add Justin Upton and/or James Shields, the Diamondbacks want Asdrubal Cabrera, and the Rays would like to trade a pitcher to improve an offense that ranked 11th in the AL in runs scored and 12th in OPS (and that's before losing B.J. Upton). The Rangers, in all of this, would likely be dishing out prospects to other teams.
Rosenthal is quick to note that while many possibilities have been discussed, it's not necessarily likely that a blockbuster gets completed. The Rangers are splitting their attention between trade talk and the pursuit of Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton.
Rosenthal writes that so many combinations have been discussed, several team officials he's spoken to aren't even sure which possibilities are still alive and which are dead. If no blockbuster happens, various combinations of these teams are still in negotiations regarding standard two-team exchanges.
The Winter Meetings are often the site for blockbuster trades. Recent examples including 2009's Ian Kennedy–Curtis Granderson–Max Scherzer–Austin Jackson three-team deal and the eight-player trade that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers in 2007.