Ubaldo Jimenez Rumors
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.
The Indians' best free agent pitchers -- Ubaldo Jimenez, Scott Kazmir, Joe Smith, and Matt Albers -- are all expected to be lured away by better offers to throw elsewhere in spite of the club's interest in retaining them, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Here is Hoynes' take on that group of arms, and other news out of Cleveland:
- Jimenez is expected, unsurprisingly, to reject the Indians' $14.1MM qualifying offer. MLBTR's Steve Adams predicted that Jimenez would be able to find three years and $39MM on the open market, and could possibly even score an Edwin Jackson-like four-and-$50MM+ deal.
- Kazmir and Smith are both seeking more years than the Indians want to give. Cleveland wants to do a one-year deal with the former and would go to two for the latter, but they are seeking at least one additional guaranteed season.
- GM Chris Antonetti feels the club is protected if these pitchers find greener pastures, however, noting that the organization has "seven quality major league alternatives in the starting rotation with Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister, Carlos Carrasco, Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer." Nevertheless, a veteran starter and pen pieces are definitely on Antonetti's wish list, says Hoynes. The club has already made contact with Tim Hudson, and Hoynes lists a series of other possible targets.
- As for the relief corps, Hoynes says to expect an internal candidate -- most likely, Cody Allen or Bryan Shaw -- to be tapped as the closer. As MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth has explained, Allen looks to profile as a worthy replacement for outgoing ninth inning man Chris Perez. Antonetti said that the team has "some talented pitchers in the back end of the bullpen." An opportunistic move on one of the closer types that are available in free agency is certainly possible, but seems not to rank atop the club's priorities.
- Indeed, a pricey spend on a closer may not make sense for a club that -- according to Hoynes -- projects to maintain a payroll in the $80MM range. With about $70MM already wrapped up after consider the team's arb-eligibles, Antonetti doesn't have a ton of room to work with. Though last year's free agent binge was made possible by ownership's TV network sale, Hoynes adds, the anticipated $25MM national broadcasting cash infusion will be enjoyed by every other club as well. It is worth noting, also, that the annual salaries of both of last year's big free agent signees -- Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn -- take big jumps this year ($4MM and $6.5MM, respectively), which accounts for a substantial part of the increased payroll pressure.
- Finally, look for the Indians to open discussions with Justin Masterson about an extension, says Hoynes. As he notes in the piece, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently opined that it would probably take a five year pact somewhere between the $65MM given John Danks and Jered Weaver's $85MM.
The Yankees are planning to make Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka a "top priority" this winter and are considered the team to beat in bidding for the 25-year-old, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. Writes Passan: "If re-signing Robinson Cano is priority No. 1 for the New York Yankees this offseason, securing the rights to Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka is No. 1a."
The Yankess "are going to be bold" in bidding for Tanaka, Passan continues. Previously, Passan has spoken with executives who believe that Tanaka's posting fee could top $75MM, although we still don't quite know how the posting system will work going forward. Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball have been working on alterations to the posting process for quite some time, and George A. King III of the New York Post reported earlier today that a resolution could still be several weeks away. Under the previous system, Tanaka could have been posted on Nov. 1.
Passan writes that Yankees officials aren't concerned about previous failures of Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa on the big stage in New York, adding that they liken Tanaka's makeup and personality to that of Hideki Matsui.
The Yankees are in the market for two starting pitchers to pair with CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova next year, Passan continues, and they're intrigued by Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Dan Haren. The Yankees are not expected to be in the market for Ervin Santana, he adds, as they don't feel that he would fit well in New York. Jimenez and Santana would cost the Yankees a draft pick due to the fact that each is all but certain to reject the qualifying offers received on Monday. Garza and Haren did not receive qualifying offers.
The Yankees figure to have some deep-pocketed competition for Tanaka, as the Dodgers are expected to be aggressive in pursuing him, and he's on the Angels' radar as well. Despite the success of Yu Darvish, reports have indicated that the Rangers aren't expected to be big-time players for Tanaka, of whom they don't think as highly as Darvish. The Giants, another team that has spend liberally of late, aren't expected to be serious players for Tanaka either, despite having some interest.
The Yankees' motivation may be greater than that of any other suitor, as Tanaka fits within their desire to reduce payroll below the $189MM luxury tax threshold. Tanaka's posting fee won't count against that tax, and his average annual value could be notably lower than the current crop of Major League free agent pitchers.
The Indians say they want to keep starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. The team extended Jimenez a qualifying offer on Monday, although Jimenez is expected to decline it. "We’ve been consistent since the season ended," says GM Chris Antonetti. "We’d like to have Ubaldo back. He played a huge part in our success last year, especially in the second half." Hoynes had previously written that there was "no chance" the Indians would sign Jimenez long-term, however, arguing that Tim Lincecum's contract with the Giants set the market too high for the Indians to be able to keep Jimenez. It would still be surprising, then, if Jimenez wound up staying in Cleveland. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.
- Chris Carpenter's playing career appears to be over, but Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says he and Carpenter have discussed a possible future role for Carpenter with the organization, MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch reports. Carpenter already lives in St. Louis, and might be amenable to continuing on with the Cardinals in some sort of non-playing capacity.
- The Twins are currently focusing on pitching in the free agent market, ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson tweets. They may later turn their attention to finding a hitter, Wolfson suggests, but so far they haven't. The Twins allowed 788 runs in 2013, worse than any team except the Astros, so finding a couple extra arms appears to be crucial for Minnesota this offseason.
As expected, the Indians have extended a qualifying offer to free agent Ubaldo Jimenez, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (via Twitter). The one-year, $14.1MM QO ensures that the Indians will receive draft pick compensation if he goes elsewhere.
Jimenez could find a ripe market this winter given the lack of quality starting pitching available. Many believe that the two-year, $35MM deal given to Giants hurler Tim Lincecum also boosts the value of the 29-year-old. A long-term deal for Jimenez in Cleveland seems unlikely, but they'd happily take him back in 2014 for $14.1MM.
Jimenez, who turns 30 in January, posted a 3.30 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate in 182 2/3 innings this season. Things were rocky for Jimenez in 2011 and '12, but his turnaround in 2013 has completely altered his stock heading into free agency.
Let's take a look around the developing starting pitching market ...
- The Blue Jays are still deciding whether or not to make Josh Johnson a qualifying offer, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Davidi says that the hurler's health is the primary consideration, and adds that he would be "a near certainty to accept if he gets an offer." Johnson's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Davidi that he has not "talked about it much" with club GM Alex Anthopoulos, but said there were "good reasons to qualify [Johnson] or not qualify him."
- Sosnick also spoke with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, providing a host of good information on Johnson, who he says may still receive (and could accept) a qualifying offer from Toronto. If Johnson hits the open market, his agent says he will certainly seek a one-year deal "to rebuild his value." With no interest in a multi-year deal, contract negotiations figure to be simplified somewhat, and could open the door to more teams with interest. Sosnick says Johnson is "looking for a good pitching atmosphere, a good defense behind him and a team with a good chance to win." He predicts that the big righty is "probably going to be the most approached free-agent pitcher out there" and will ultimately land a deal "somewhere around what the qualifying offer is."
- Twins VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff threw some cold water on the possibility of a move on Johnson, Berardino further reports. Radcliff said that Johnson is coming off of a "horrible" year and "if he wants $10 million, we're not going to be involved with that."
- Sosnick reps not only Johnson, but fellow free agents Ricky Nolasco and Randy Messenger. He says that the Twins seem to have interest in every member of that trio, but his "sense is they're most interested in Nolasco."
- One other possible target for Minnesota is Ubaldo Jimenez, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com (via Twitter). Of course, Jimenez is widely expected to come with draft compensation attached, though the Twins enjoy a protected top-ten pick (fifth overall). The team has apparently told at least one free agent's representatives that it will be aggressive on the market.
- The Dodgers could conceivably hatch a strategy to trade for David Price and add Masahiro Tanaka via the posting process, a rival GM tells Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. By doing that instead of signing a top free agent starter, the club could avoid the loss of its first-round draft choice and the bonus pool allocation that comes with it. Of course, the Dodgers would need to part with more advanced talent to snag Price.
The Indians exercised their $8MM club option on right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, but as expected, he has voided the option and become a free agent, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Because Jimenez voided the option, the Indians will not have to pay the $1MM buyout.
Jimenez, who turns 30 in January, pitched to a 3.30 ERA with 9.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 43.9 percent ground-ball rate in 182 2/3 innings this season. Those numbers don't tell the whole story of how dominant Jimenez was for most of the season; 28 percent of the earned runs allowed by Jimenez occured in his first four starts. From April 29 through season's end, Jimenez pitched to a 2.61 ERA with 9.7 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9.
As I noted in my free agent profile for Jimenez, he will be one of the most desirable free agent pitchers on the market due to his relative youth, dominant finish and previous success with the Rockies in 2009-10. At the time, I projected a three-year, $39MM contract for Jimenez, but if I could take that prediction back, I'd probably increase it in the wake of Tim Lincecum's two-year, $35MM contract with the Giants. Jimenez and his agents at SFX seem unlikely to settle for a one-year, $4MM increase over Lincecum, who was himself an NL West ace at the same time as Jimenez before enduring a similar decline to the one Jimenez experienced from 2011-12. A three-year deal with a higher average annual value or even a four-year deal in the range of Edwin Jackson's $52MM contract with the Cubs definitely seems possible for Jimenez at this point.
Jimenez was originally acquired by the Indians in a July 2011 blockbuster that sent former first-round picks Drew Pomeranz and Alex White to Colorado along with right-hander Joe Gardner and first baseman Matt McBride. The wheels immediately came off for Jimenez in Cleveland, though Colorado didn't fare much better. White and Pomeranz, the two centerpieces, both flopped with the Rockies. White was sent to Houston in an offseason trade that netted setup man Wilton Lopez (White required Tommy John this season), and Pomeranz has yet to establish himself.
I noted in Spring Training that barring a turnaround for Pomeranz or Jimenez, the trade looked like a lose-lose deal. Jimenez has clearly swung the deal in the favor of the Indians, as he helped propel them to an improbable playoff berth this season, and Cleveland now stands to gain a compensatory draft pick once Jimenez inevitably turns down a $14.1MM qualifying offer (the deadline for an offer is Monday).
In addition to Jimenez, Cleveland is also set to lose lefty Scott Kazmir to free agency. If the Indians are unable to retain either free agent, it would make sense to see GM Chris Antonetti pursue a veteran starting pitcher on the free agent market to supplement their current rotation of Justin Masterson, Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber and Zach McAllister.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Fielding Bible released its list of the best defensive players in all baseball, and one of only two back-to-back names is Alex Gordon of the Royals. (Of course, the other -- Yadier Molina -- has accumulated six total nods.) Elsewhere in the AL Central ...
- First baseman Paul Konerko is apparently unsure of how to interpret the White Sox' signing of Jose Dariel Abreu, He said he doesn't "know what the story is behind that" -- referring to Abreu's long-term deal -- as reported by Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (via Twitter). A meeting between player and team has yet to be put on the schedule, according to Kane.
- Meanwhile, Abreu's deal has seen mixed reactions. Count Dan Farnsworth of Fangraphs in favor of the deal: he predicts that Abreu will be one of the game's 25 best hitters, making him well worth his contract.
- The Indians will "almost certainly" make a qualifying offer to starter Ubaldo Jimenez, says Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Echoing other recent reports, Bastian says that the team would like to retain him on a one-year deal in the QO range, but will not be interested if his price tag approaches the $35MM given the similarly situated Tim Lincecum. While opinions have varied as to whether Lincecum's deal will have a real impact on the open market, it could have a fairly direct bearing on Jimenez since it takes one competitor out of the free agent supply.
- Bastian also opines that the Indians will most likely shop for a mid-tier rotation piece while aiming to extend Justin Masterson. MLBTR's Charlie Wilmoth recently previewed the Tribe's offseason, discussing the internal rotation options and noting that the club could well need a replacement for Jimenez.
- Brad Ausmus has interviewed for the Tigers' managerial opening, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports via Twitter. For more details, see this article from John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press.
As the World Series shifts to St. Louis this weekend, here's the latest from around baseball...
- The Indians "would love" having Ubaldo Jimenez back on a one-year, $14.1MM qualifying offer contract (with an option for 2015) but not on an expensive long-term deal, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer says on a podcast with Chris Fedor. Tim Lincecum's two-year, $35MM contract from the Giants has put the cost of pitching out of Cleveland's range for Jimenez, who the Tribe feel has been too inconsistent to merit a multiyear commitment.
- "There is so much money in the game, free agency is crazy," an anonymous GM tells Peter Gammons (Twitter link). The GM also believes Lincecum's deal will end any chance of Jimenez returning to Cleveland and that Jacoby Ellsbury will earn a contract worth more than $100MM in free agency this winter.
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, meanwhile, thinks Ellsbury's eventual contract could approach the $150MM threshold (Twitter link).
- There is at least one mystery candidate on the Cubs' short list of potential managers, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Rick Renteria, Torey Lovullo, A.J. Hinch, Manny Acta and Dave Martinez have already been connected to the job and Eric Wedge is the latest candidate to be scheduled for an interview. As to the identity of the unknown candidate, Wittenmyer says it isn't Sandy Alomar, Mike Maddux, Jose Oquendo, Don Mattingly, Jim Leyland or any of the Cubs' current coaching staff.
- NC State left-hander Carlos Rodon headlines the list of the top 30 prospects of the 2014 amateur draft, according to ESPN's Keith Law and Christopher Crawford (Insider subscription required). Rodon is considered the favorite to be the first overall selection in June and the Astros are already looking at him.
There is "no chance" that the Indians will sign Ubaldo Jimenez to a long-term deal, and they may not even extend a qualifying offer, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes. Tim Lincecum's two-year, $35MM new deal with the Giants demonstrates that, in this market, Jimenez will be out of the Indians' price range. The Indians have an $8MM option on Jimenez for 2014, but Jimenez received the right to void it when the Rockies traded him. The Indians can still use Jimenez, who posted a 3.2 WAR in 2013, so at least extending a qualifying offer would seem to be an easy decision, but Hoynes suggests that even the qualifying offer might be in question. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Giants might have interest in Brian McCann as a lefty power source, reports CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. That possibility would, as Heyman notes, be a little strange, since the Giants have one of baseball's best catchers in Buster Posey, and also a very good first baseman in Brandon Belt. A source close to the Giants tells Heyman that "it may depend on how much playing time McCann seeks," which is also somewhat odd, since it's not as if McCann is a borderline starter, or bench fodder. Other clubs surely view McCann as a starter and will be willing to pay him as such.
- The Diamondbacks' payroll will increase in 2014, perhaps to $100MM, AZCentral.com's Nick Piecoro writes. Aaron Hill, Martin Prado and Brandon McCarthy will all have increased salaries in 2014, which means that the DBacks' payroll will likely come in at around $93MM even before considering any free agents they might add.