Victor Martinez Rumors
On this date 20 years ago, a 26-year-old Barry Bonds took home his first National League MVP Award thanks to a .301/.406/.565 season with the Pirates. He went on to win the award again in 1992, his final season in Pittsburgh, and then five more times with the Giants. The latter part of Bonds' career was clouded by PED allegations, but he did hit .301/.424/.566 in his final three seasons with the Pirates and .305/.438/.600 with far more unintentional walks (825) than strikeouts (685) from 1990-1998, age 26-34. Barry could have retired at that point and waltzed into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
Here's a look at the best the baseball blogosphere had to offer this week...
- We Should Be GMs celebrates Omar Vizquel, the last remaining active player from the 1980's.
- Capitol Avenue Club wonders what's next for the Braves following the Dan Uggla trade.
- Pittsburgh Lumber Co. contemplates Jorge de la Rosa.
- Meanwhile, Pine Tar And Pocket Protectors pieces together Pittsburgh's 2011 rotation.
- Baseball Analysts looks at Japanese pitchers and the hot stove.
- Crashburn Alley says that right now is a prime opportunity for the Phillies to sign Jimmy Rollins to a contract extension.
- Fenway Faithful Reports thinks that Victor Martinez is destined to sign with the Tigers.
- Splashing Pumpkins breaks down some shortstop options for the Giants.
- Baseball Time In Arlington explains the regression that the Rangers could experience.
- FanSpeak believes the Nationals should go all-in to acquire Justin Upton.
- Boston Sports Pulse provides a blueprint for the Red Sox offseason.
- Phoul Ballz looks at Matt Rizzotti, a Phillies' farmhand that will be eligible for this year's Rule 5 Draft.
- The Sports Banter finds some interesting minor league free agents.
- Cubs Billy Goat Blog lists some minor moves that could have a big impact on the Cubs.
- SPANdemonium muses about why teams have to wait a year before trading drafted players.
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The Rockies have contacted the Diamondbacks and White Sox to inquire on Justin Upton and Gavin Floyd, respectively, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Both teams are said to be listening to offers for their respective players.
We've rounded up the rest of today's Upton rumors here, with the latest from Jayson Stark indicating that Arizona seems "genuinely open" to moving their young outfielder. According to a team official that spoke to Renck, the D'Backs would be open to dealing Upton within the division, if the return was significant enough.
Meanwhile, we heard today that the White Sox would be willing to discuss trading Floyd, and Renck says the Sox have asked the Rockies about Ian Stewart. Colorado doesn't currently have a third baseman who could replace Stewart, but as Renck reported earlier, the club has interest in a handful of players who could handle the hot corner.
Despite their interest in potential trade candidates, the Rockies may still use free agency to fill their holes, as owner Dick Monfort admits: "We are really (reluctant) about giving up young players (in trades)." According to Renck, the Rockies also have interest in Scott Kazmir and "continue to monitor" the Victor Martinez situation.
The Red Sox have said that retaining Adrian Beltre is one of their top priorities this offseason, but a source tells Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe that they will not offer him more than four years and $52MM. Cafardo adds that they appear to have a similar limit with Victor Martinez.
A dozen teams are reportedly interested in the 31-year-old Beltre, who is far and away the best third baseman on the free agent market. Interest in the soon-to-be 32-year-old Martinez is plentiful as well, with about half-a-dozen clubs expressing interest in his services at one point or another. While four years and $52MM is certainly a competitive offer, it's possible that Beltre could find more than $13MM annually on the open market, especially coming off a .321/.365/.553 season.
Links from Spanish-language news sources, highlighted by a rumor-packed tweet from un hombre de Bristol (links in Spanish).
- Enrique Rojas at ESPN Deportes says the A's are working hard to sign yet another third baseman. Only this time, it's Adrian Beltre, who reportedly turned down a three-year, $24MM offer from the team last winter.
- In the same tweet, Rojas says the Dodgers are interested in Edgar Renteria and his willingness to play second base, notes that there is a "good market" for Miguel Tejada, and revives an old rumor with a question: "Vic-Mart with the Rays?"
- According to Jorge Ebro at El Nuevo Herald, 17-year old Cuban centerfielder Yasiel Balaguer has defected to Nicaragua with hopes of signing with a Major League team. Ebro cites reports saying Balaguer's big draws are his explosive speed and throwing arm, though he has shown some offensive power as well in the Cuban National Series.
- Former Mariner and Red Wladimir Balentien has told his usual Venezuelan Winter League team, the Leones de Caracas, that he can't play this winter because he has signed with a team in Japan, reports Cesar Augusto Marquez at Lider en Deportes. Marquez doesn't say which team Balentien has joined.
Links for Monday evening...
- Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets that the Royals have signed reliever Steven Shell to a minor league deal. Shell, 27, had a 3.59 ERA in 72.2 innings with the Mariners' Triple-A affiliate last season.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post lists the Cardinals, Phillies, and Rockies as some of the teams that were interested in Hiroki Kuroda before he re-signed with the Dodgers (Twitter link). Kuroda, however, re-signed without fielding offers from other teams according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times.
- Add the Rangers to the list of teams showing interest in Victor Martinez says SI.com's Jon Heyman (via Twitter).
- WEEI.com's Rob Bradford tweets that Hideki Okajima is subject to a normal arbitration calendar this offseason. In the past the Red Sox had to offer him a contract by November 20th.
- Non-tender candidate Kyle Davies hopes to remain with the Royals, says MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. Davies hasn't heard anything from the team regarding his future.
- Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reports that Cliff Lee's agent Darek Braunecker is still unsure if he will attend this week's GM Meetings.
- MLB.com's Jane Lee provides a list of power bat the Athletics could potentially pursue as free agents this offseason.
- The Yankees don't believe that Derek Jeter will ultimately leave New York, but they're prepared for a long negotiation according to Heyman (Twitter link).
- Meanwhile, Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets that there is still no word whether or not Andy Pettitte will return to pitch in 2011.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak doesn't expect any roster moves at this week's meetings according to MLB.com's Matthew Leach. Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com says the team is growing more optimistic about re-signing Jake Westbrook, however (Twitter link).
- Indians GM Chris Antonetti told Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer that it's too early in the offseason to tell whether his team's needs will be filled through trades or free agency.
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith is on location at this week's GM Meetings in Orlando, and you can follow him on Twitter at @mlbtrorlando for the latest breaking news and analysis.
- There is mutual interest between the Marlins and free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski, reports Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post. Capozzi says the team might not be able to afford him, though they could free up payroll space by dealing Dan Uggla.
- FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says that the Dodgers are looking to add power to their lineup, and James Loney is the player they're most most willing to trade. They would then turn around and sign one of the many power-hitting first baseman available on the free agent market.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that the first round of manager interviews includes one or two more candidates while the second round will consist of three or four candidates according to Andy Martino of The New York Daily News (all Twitter links). The second set of interviews could begin in Orlando this week, and Alderson said his father's death on Sunday will not slow things down.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick profiles Giants GM Brian Sabean and the work that lies ahead following his team's World Series victory.
- Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues looks at how signing Lee would impact the Yankees' future payroll. Meanwhile, Brian Cashman told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that he doesn't expect to get any deals done this week.
- Best of luck to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. He's trading in the Blue Jays' beat for the Indians' beat.
Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd told Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post that he’s looking for the "right player" this offseason, not the "best player." As Armstrong explains, that could be bad news for the Rockies fans hoping to see Victor Martinez in Denver:
- The Rockies aren’t likely to make the winning bid on Martinez, though he caught the team’s attention as a potential free agent target.
- Colorado would pursue an innings eater if Jorge de la Rosa proves too expensive to re-sign. The lefty is drawing interest from multiple teams, including the Yankees and Nationals.
- Joe Beimel could return to Colorado, but the Rockies have other left-handed relievers including Matt Reynolds and Franklin Morales, so their need for Beimel isn’t pressing.
- Adding a right-handed hitter is a priority for the Rockies. Their list of candidates includes Conor Jackson, Ty Wigginton and Jermaine Dye. Jackson is a non-tender candidate and may join Wigginton and Dye on the free agent market within a few weeks. The Rockies have already contacted Dye about a potential deal.
Quality catching is extremely hard to come by these days, and Victor Martinez is the best backstop available on the free agent market by a wide margin. Let's review his stock...
- Martinez is as consistent with the bat as they come. He's posted an OPS between .844 and .879 in six of the last seven years.
- A true switch hitter, Martinez is a .301/.379/.482 hitter from the right side and .298/.363/.462 from the left, so the drop-off is minimal.
- Despite the rigors of catching regularly, V-Mart has only been on the disabled list twice in the last seven years. He had surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow in 2008, and fractured his thumb on a foul tip this year.
- He's also versatile, capable of both catching and playing first base. DH is always an option as well.
- Martinez's defense behind the plate leaves plenty to be desired. He's thrown out just 24% of attempted base stealers in his career, and over the last two seasons that mark is just 18.8%.
- At 31 years old (32 next month), his days behind the plate are probably numbered.
- Martinez is a Type-A free agent and will certainly be offered arbitration, so it'll cost a high draft pick to sign him.
Martinez rejected Boston's two-year contract extension offer over the summer, so he's clearly looking to land a big payday while he can. Aside from the Red Sox, the Tigers, Orioles, and Rockies are all said to have interest in the switch hitting catcher, so competition will be steep. He's one of the few true impact bats in this free agent class and will be paid accordingly, though the smart money is on V-Mart ending a potential four-year contract as a full-time first baseman or DH.
In his latest Hardball piece for the New York Post, Joel Sherman previews the upcoming GM meetings and look specifically at what to expect for a few top free agents and trade targets. Here are some of the highlights:
- "Three teams with money will definitely be bidding" on Carl Crawford, according to an American League insider. Those three teams? The Red Sox, Tigers, and Angels.
- People around baseball expect the Angels to spend big this winter, with one of Sherman's sources indicating that it wouldn't surprise him to see the Halos end up with Crawford, Rafael Soriano, and Adrian Beltre.
- Several executives believe the Tigers will make a play for two bats from the top tier of free agents, which includes Crawford, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn, and Victor Martinez.
- Sherman predicts that Werth will sign a contract that lands somewhere in between the deals signed by Jason Bay and Matt Holliday a year ago. Five years and $90MM is the estimate from Sherman.
- According to an NL exec, a Zack Greinke trade may be unlikely because the Royals "are starting from a position of not wanting to trade [Greinke], and when you start there, it is hard to get anywhere." Still, Sherman names the Rangers as a team to watch in the Greinke sweepstakes, particularly if Cliff Lee signs elsewhere.
Happy 133rd birthday to Archie "Moonlight" Graham. Arguably baseball's most famous one-game player (Eddie Gaedel also has a great case for this distinction), Moonlight Graham's only taste of the majors was one half-inning as a defensive replacement for the 1905 New York Giants. That half-inning grew into immortality thanks to his characterization in W.P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe and its film adaptation Field Of Dreams. Graham, who passed away in 1965, went on to become a doctor in Chisholm, Minnesota following his brief playing career.
Onto some news items...
- Dayton Moore tells Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star that the David DeJesus trade won't deepen the Royals' interest in the free agent market. “It’s not cost effective at this time for us to be real aggressive with major-league free agents,” Moore said.
- Even if Aubrey Huff re-signs with the Giants, CSNBayArea.com's Mychael Urban thinks the team should look into signing Carlos Pena.
- Fanhouse's Tom Krasovic looks at the pros and cons of Sandy Alderson's tenure as CEO of the Padres and what Mets fans might expect from their new general manager.
- Add the Brewers, Pirates and Rangers to the list of teams believed to be interested in Jorge de la Rosa, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. We know that list already includes the Nationals, Rockies and Yankees.
- If San Francisco really has soured on Pablo Sandoval due to the Panda's conditioning issues, Fangraphs' Matt Klassen thinks other teams should be contacting the Giants about a buy-low trade.
- During the season, an American League executive told Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com that Adam Dunn will stay in the NL since he genuinely wants to keep playing in the field. However, this executive predicted "Dunn will consider AL teams at least long enough to try to use them as leverage."
- The Mets will interview Jose Oquendo about the manager's job on Monday, tweets ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin.
- Chad Durbin is receiving interest from teams as both a bullpen and rotation option, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. Durbin has made 75 starts in his career, but none since 2007.
- Most of the free agent catching crop will wait until "the lead domino" (Victor Martinez) signs before they look at joining new teams, says Newsday's Ken Davidoff. (Twitter link)
- Chris Coghlan will move to third base next year, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. You can tentatively cross the Marlins off the list of teams exploring the free agent market for help at the hot corner, though it's possible Coghlan could be needed to play second if Florida trades Dan Uggla.
Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez are two of this winter's most sought-after free agents, but don't discount the possibility that both players remain in Boston next season. In a conference call with media (including WEEI's Alex Speier), Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said that re-signing both Beltre and Martinez are top priorities for his club.
“Our first choice for our third baseman in 2011 and beyond would be to bring back Adrian Beltre,” said Epstein. “Victor would certainly be our first choice to be our 2011 catcher and beyond. He did an outstanding job for us in the year and a half he was here. … I know it’s been portrayed in the media a little bit as if we haven’t been pursuing him. … We absolutely want this guy back.”
The Red Sox are one of the few clubs that can afford signing two high-profile free agents like Beltre and Martinez, though Epstein noted that "it always comes down to years and dollars.” The former is the more important factor for Boston. Both players are 31 years old and signing either to a long-term contract might be tricky for a club that has Josh Beckett and John Lackey signed through 2014 to already borderline-regrettable deals. Signing Beltre and Martinez would also make it virtually impossible that the Red Sox could afford Carl Crawford, their other big target of the winter.
Epstein said the club is "not particularly close to anything at this time" and doesn't expect any major signings before the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to free agents. He also said that the Red Sox will trade or sign "at least one" new reliever this winter, though Epstein expects the market for bullpen help to be very busy this winter given the number of quality arms available.