Ubaldo Jimenez Rumors
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.
The Orioles have been connected to some of the offseason's major free agent names but Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun isn't sure that the O's will be players for Shin-Soo Choo, Ubaldo Jimenez or Nelson Cruz. Choo will be too costly and Jimenez will demand too many years, while Connolly has "not found anyone in the organization that endorses Cruz as a viable option" and lists several reasons why Cruz isn't a fit in Baltimore. Here's some more from Camden Yards...
- Jim Johnson asked the Orioles for a four-year contract worth $45MM-$50MM in extension talks earlier this winter, sources tell MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko. An extension would've been one way for the O's to keep Johnson at a lower price rather than pay him a projected $10.8MM in arbitration, though obviously Johnson didn't have a bargain in mind with his demands. The Orioles traded Johnson to the Athletics for Jemile Weeks on Tuesday.
- The Orioles didn't attend Randy Wolf's workout and don't appear to have any interest in the veteran southpaw, Kubatko reports. Wolf pitched in five games for Baltimore at the end of the 2012 season and then underwent Tommy John surgery that October, sidelining him for all of 2013.
- Scott Feldman told Dan Connolly that he was "about 90 percent sure" the Orioles didn't make him a former offer. “It’s really hard to get disappointed with the situation I am in, but I was at least expecting a little bit of interest from them. But it’s not like I’m mad or anything,” Feldman said in the wake of his three-year, $30MM deal with the Astros. That third guaranteed year was likely the breaking point for the Orioles, as they had been rumored to only be interested in giving Feldman two years and an option, at most. MLBTR's Steve Adams has more from Feldman's conference call.
- The Orioles have considered making Bud Norris their closer to replace Johnson, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports. This move would only be a "fallback option," Encina notes. While the O's may yet add a starter and need to make room in their rotation, shifting an innings-eater like Norris to the bullpen would be a curious move, in my opinion. Also from Encina's piece, Brian Matusz will be stretched out and given an opportunity to win a rotation job during Spring Training.
- Adam Jones' six-year, $85.5MM extension signed in May 2012 looks like a better bargain in the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's deal with the Yankees, Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com opines.
- In Baltimore news from earlier today, the Orioles signed outfielder Francisco Peguero and right-hander Ryan Webb.
The Orioles are "active" in discussions for multiple free agent pitchers and hitters, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Among them are outfielders Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz as well as starter Ubaldo Jimenez, according to Morosi.
While Baltimore entered the off-season with several needs, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk explained that budget constraints -- especially with Chris Davis and Matt Wieters entering their last year of team control -- left it unclear just how much the club would be able to spend. After clearing the projected $10.8MM salary of closer Jim Johnson, however, executive vice president Dan Duquette may have additional space with which to work.
Discussing the Johnson deal, Duquette indicated that it was in large part driven by "resource allocation." Looking forward, Duquette said the club was "still looking for help in left field" and "would also like to sign some other pitchers."
While any of the above-noted players would fill a need for Baltimore, it would seem to be something of a surprise for one to land there. As Duquette went on to note, "I don't think free agency is the way to build a strong team." And the big dollars expected to be landed by Choo, Cruz, and Jimenez would certainly eat up a big chunk of the present and future payroll for the O's.
As we continue to work our way through what has been a slow holiday weekend, here are a few interesting notes from ESPN.com's Buster Olney:
- Starting pitching demand may not be sufficient to drive up the salaries of Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Matt Garza, argues Olney. Each member of that trio is rumored to be seeking a major, long-term deal. But as Olney observes, several factors -- including the wait for Masahiro Tanaka, possible trade availability of some major arms, and imperfect track record of all three hurlers -- could conspire to limit their market.
- One team that "seems bound" to land one of that threesome, according to Olney (via Twitter), is the Mariners.
- Ticking through each team in baseball to gauge possible interest in one of these upper-middle-class starters, Olney includes a few interesting notes on some clubs. For instance, Olney twice notes that the Athletics' Brett Anderson is available via trade and could well be dealt if Oakland brings back Bartolo Colon or another short-term starter. He has previously reported that the Royals might be interested in buying low on Anderson.
- The Mets, meanwhile, "have been looking more at second-tier and third-tier free agents." That fits the most recent rumors out of New York, though it is sure to disappoint those who expect the club to ink at least one major free agent. As I discussed in my offseason outlook for the Mets, the club has professed to have $40MM in payroll space for next year, and so far has committed less than a fifth of that by signing Chris Young.
- Likewise, according to Olney, the Rockies are putting out word that they do not have a lot to spend in free agency. Of course, the club reportedly made legitimate runs at both Jose Dariel Abreu and Brian McCann, though it could be that it was only willing to spend big on certain players.
A look at the latest on the Twins..
- The Twins have made a two-year offer to Mike Pelfrey, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, there's still a gap in salary that needs to be bridged. Pelfrey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 to post a 5.19 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a career-low 43.2 percent ground-ball rate in 152 2/3 innings. Pelfrey's FIP (3.99) and xFIP (4.54) both suggest that his ERA could have been lower were it not for a .337 BABIP and 67.2 percent strand rate.
- More from Heyman, who writes that the Twins have inquired on top starters like Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez as well as several others lower on the free agent list, including Phil Hughes and Scott Feldman. The club has been most heavily linked to guys like Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, and Matt Garza to date. Minnesota starting pitchers combined for a league worst 5.26 ERA in 2013.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN previews the Winter Meetings agenda for the Twins. Minnesota has Nolasco atop their free agent wish list, but they'll move on if it's not at the right price. They also like Arroyo and a source says he's seeking a three-year deal in the $27-$30MM range.
- The Twins have told agents that they don't plan on sacrificing their second-round pick in June's amateur draft to sign a free agent, despite a public declaration stating otherwise, Wolfson writes. That would mean that Santana and Jimenez aren't in their plans. Santana's reps already have meetings set up with teams in Orlando and the Twins, as of this morning, are not on that list.
- On the trade front, the Twins are fond of Homer Bailey, according to Wolfson. Wayne Krivsky, special assistant to GM, knows Bailey well from his days with the Reds. Krivsky took over as Cincinnati's GM two years after Bailey was drafted and was in that role when Bailey made his big league debut.
- A Twins official "scoffed at" the idea of trading for Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello but was more receptive to the idea of a Jeremy Hellickson acquisition when asked by Wolfson about both each right-hander.
Clayton Kershaw told Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (on Twitter) his contract negotiations with the Dodgers aren't on hold, but they've haven't resumed since the season ended. Kershaw reportedly turned down a $300MM extension offer from the Dodgers earlier this year due to concerns about the length and size of the deal. While it has been assumed that Kershaw will extend his deal with the Dodgers, the baseball world will surely be paying attention to what will likely be the largest contract ever issued to a pitcher.
Here's the latest from both Los Angeles teams...
- "I think, for us, it wouldn't surprise me if we went [through] the winter without a huge move; not that it couldn't happen," Dodgers president Stan Kasten tells MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. "We are looking more at deepening the organization, to fine-tune it and get into the season and see what we need. Having said that, I'm not ruling anything out. But those people who attach us to every free agent out there are making it up." With Kasten prioritizing the Dodgers' farm system, Gurnick finds it unlikely that the club would move what few top prospects it has in a trade for David Price.
- Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers "are kicking the tires" on such free agent pitchers as Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bartolo Colon and Bronson Arroyo. Given the big salaries some of these pitchers are demanding, you wonder if L.A. would really make a move to sign any given Kasten's earlier comments, though Kuroda, Colon and Arroyo could be had on less expensive, shorter-term deals.
- The Angels aren't one of the teams who have made an offer to Ricky Nolasco, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports (via Twitter). Nolasco is reportedly juggling several three- or four-year contracts offers.
- The rumored discord between Jerry Dipoto and Mike Scioscia could have led to one or both men being fired following the Angels' disappointing season, but Dipoto tells FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi and he and the long-time Halos manager have improved their communication and are on the same page.
- From that same piece, Dipoto reiterated that pitching will be the central focus of the Angels' offseason: "Frankly, we’ve been focused on [pitching] for a couple years and it’s eluded us. We plan on putting our resources toward improving those areas. On the field, that’s where our biggest changes are going to come.”
- The Angels' defense took a sharp decline from 2012 to 2013, and ESPN's David Schoenfeld thinks that the club should hold onto Peter Bourjos as a way of improving their fielding. Schoenfeld also suggests signing Jhonny Peralta, trading Mark Trumbo and acquiring Felix Doubront from the Red Sox.
MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post
Major League Baseball is in a race against the clock to change the rules and eliminate home-plate collisions, writes ESPN's Buster Olney in his latest Insider-only column. MLB GMs were "100 percent" in favor when the issue of a rule-change was raised at the GM Meetings this week, says Olney. As one team lawyer pointed out to Olney, MLB has no choice but to scramble to get something in place for next season: "Everybody has said that there needs to be a change [in the rules], and if somebody gets hurt [in 2014] they could sue and claim that Major League Baseball knew there was a problem and didn’t do anything about it." Here are just a few of the highlights from Olney's highly informative piece:
- Ricky Nolasco already has a three-year offer in hand, and that same team has indicated that it may be willing to extend the offer to four years. Nolasco's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Olney that his client's preference is still to return to the Dodgers.
- Teams are racing to make their best offers to pitchers like Tim Hudson and Bronson Arroyo, knowing that those arms might not require the potential four- and five-year deals that Nolasco, Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez are targeting.
- The Twins have made it clear that they're looking to sign two good veteran arms, and in a separate tweet Olney notes that they're being very aggressive on the free agent market. In addition to their interest in Arroyo, it's possible that they're in on Nolasco, says Olney.
- The Royals have had internal discussions about adding Joba Chamberlain on a one-year deal, and as Olney points out, Kansas City pitching coach Dave Eiland was Chamberlain's pitching coach with the Yankees earlier in his career.
- The Royals would also like to sign Josh Johnson to a one-year deal in an attempt to recreate the magic of last year's Santana acquisition.
- Jhonny Peralta is looking for "huge" money, according to Olney's sources. Olney writes that Peralta is seeking "much" more than three years and $45MM. I predicted a three-year, $36MM pact for Peralta in my recent free agent profile of the former Tiger.
- The Padres haven't had any extension talks with Chase Headley this offseason, and as it stands right now, there are no plans to begin negotiations.
Here's the latest baseball news from the Buckeye State's two teams...
- "We talked about a lot of different ways to bring Ubaldo [Jimenez] back,” Indians GM Chris Antonetti told reporters (including Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer). Hoynes interprets this as meaning that the Tribe made Jimenez a multiyear offer in addition to the $14.1MM one-year qualifying offer, but Jimenez is very likely to sign elsewhere.
- Once a top prospect and the key part of the Brewers' trade package to the Indians for C.C. Sabathia in 2008, Matt LaPorta is now a minor league free agent and may not return to the Tribe. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at LaPorta's career and talks to Indians director of player development Paul Atkins, who doesn't sound optimistic about LaPorta re-signing with the organization.
- Also from that piece, Antonetti didn't comment on whether the team was looking to sign Justin Masterson to a multiyear extension. “I will tell you how much we value Justin and what he’s brought to this team since we acquired him in 2009,” Antonetti said. Masterson emerged as the Tribe's ace last season and is a free agent next winter.
- The acquisition of Brayan Pena means that the Reds "are obviously up to something" in regards to a catcher trade, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The consensus has been that Ryan Hanigan will be dealt but Fay wonders if "a major trade" is in the works that would send Devin Mesoraco elsewhere.
- Fay also notes that if the Reds trade Brandon Phillips, speedster Billy Hamilton could be a potential replacement at second base. Hamilton was originally drafted as a shortstop but was seen by some in the Reds organization as a future second baseman.
- The Reds will hire Jay Bell as their new bench coach, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Bell was serving as the Pirates hitting coach and previously worked as the Diamondbacks' bench coach. Bell and new Cincinnati manager Bryan Price both worked in Arizona's organization at the same time.
ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick checked in with 21 general managers, assistant GMs, player personnel people, and scouts to get their take on some of the biggest storylines of the winter. Here's a look at some of the highlights..
- Almost everyone sees Robinson Cano staying put with 19 votes for the Yankees, one vote for the Dodgers, and one for the Cubs. Nearly everyone sees Cano getting a seven- or eight-year deal worth $160MM-$230MM and no one expects him to approach the $300MM figure he was asking for from the Bombers earlier this year. It should be noted that the GM that picked the Cubs said that he has no inside info to support that pick.
- Nine execs see Masahiro Tanaka landing with the Dodgers while six chose the Yankees. All but a handful of those surveyed think his payout will exceed the $60MM Yu Darvish got from the Rangers. Tanaka is ranked as the top available pitcher by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes.
- Seventeen of the 21 participants in the survey say David Price will get traded this winter. Where will he land? The Rangers got nine votes and the Dodgers got four nods with one vote each for the Nationals, Cardinals, Angels, and Astros.
- Opinions were somewhat split on whether Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo fChoo will provide better value over the course of their next deals. Twelve execs said Ellsbury, eight voted for Choo, and one GM declined to vote, saying that neither one will match what they get.
- When asked to pick the best pitcher between Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, and Ubaldo Jimenez, ten execs chose Garza. Most seemed to agree that the lack of quality starting pitching available will lead to all three being overpaid. One American League scout seemed to like Jimenez on some level but was skeptical of him long-term. "Ubaldo has the best chance to give you impact in the short term, but I am not buying him over the course of 3-4 years," the scout said.
- When asked which former Yankees prospect has a better chance of succeeding elsewhere with a change of scenery, Phil Hughes was the overwhelming choice over Joba Chamberlain.
- Crasnick asked the execs which aging pitcher had the most left in the tank between Roy Halladay, Hiroki Kuroda, and Tim Hudson. Kuroda had the backing of 12 people surveyed, Hudson got eight votes, and Halladay had just one exec in his corner. "Maybe the chances of [Halladay] coming back aren't real good if you look at it objectively," a scout said. "But if the guy wants to [keep pitching] and be successful, I wouldn't put it past him."
The Giants are fans of free agent catcher Brian McCann, but they won't move former MVP Buster Posey to a new position to make room for him, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, they could shift center fielder Angel Pagan to one of the corners and look into outside options like Jacoby Ellsbury. Meantime, their emphasis is on the rotation and they have already shown interest in Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, and many other free agent starters. Here's more out of the NL West..
- Right now, there's no evidence that the Rockies will consider trading stars Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, one GM tells Heyman. That GM said he has been told Gonzalez is "definitely" not available and was left with the impression that Tulowitzki isn't being traded either. Rockies Executive Vice President/Chief Financial Officer & General Counsel Bill Geivett said of Tulowitzki today, "He's not going anywhere," tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Geivett suggested the same of CarGo. Morosi adds that Geivett indicated he'd need to be overwhelmed to trade center fielder Dexter Fowler, but he did not explicitly rule that out.
- Along the same lines, Geivett shot down rumblings connecting Tulowitzki to the Cardinals, writes Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Geivett believes that with the right additions, the Rockies can put themselves in position to contend. "We like our core group of guys. We feel like we have a good crew to build around. I know some people disagree, but we don't feel that we are that far away," Geivett said. "We have to be healthy. We can't have our two main guys missing too much."
- Starting pitching and a power outfield bat are among the items on the Diamondbacks' wish list, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. General Manager Kevin Towers believes that he is poised to be active in trade talks with depth in the middle infield and center field.