Vladimir Guerrero Rumors
The Yankees signed Orlando Hernandez to a four-year, $6.6MM contract on this date 14 years ago. El Duque posted a 3.96 ERA in six seasons with New York and also made a number of memorable postseason starts as the Yankees won three consecutive World Series titles. Hernandez expressed interest in making a comeback as recently as last year, before officially retiring in August. Here are today's links...
- Agent Fern Cuza told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that Vladimir Guerrero “still wants to play.” Guerrero is waiting the right opportunity and has a strong preference for contenders (Twitter links).
- Free agent first baseman Derrek Lee is open to the right opportunity and doesn’t plan to officially retire, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets.
- Negotiations between the Royals and Alex Gordon are in their early stages, but are expected to pick up later this spring, according to Rosenthal. Gordon will almost certainly look to sign for more than $55MM, the current Royals record, Rosenthal writes.
- It’s too early to predict which team will select high school right-hander Lucas Giolito, according to Jim Callis of Baseball America (on Twitter). Giolito sprained the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow yesterday.
4:44pm: The Marlins are not pursuing Guerrero, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Miami is content with right-handed bench bats such as Aaron Rowand and Austin Kearns and Guerrero is not a fit in that role.
3:09pm: The Marlins are interested in shoring up their bench by signing Vladimir Guerrero, the veteran told Julio E. Castro C. at the Dominican paper El Caribe (link in Spanish). However, neither Guerrero nor manager Ozzie Guillen is entirely comfortable with what a move back to the National League would signify for the 37-year-old's career.
"The Marlins have shown interest in me, but to be on the bench or to pinch hit for the pitcher. Ozzie Guillen didn't like this, since he said I'm not that class of player," Guerrero told Castro. Guerrero shares this hesitancy, adding, "I don't consider myself a bench player, in spite of my age."
Despite Guillen's reservations, the match makes sense on paper. The Marlins' first options off the bench are currently lefties Chris Coghlan and Greg Dobbs, and Vlad and former Marlin Derrek Lee are the strongest remaining right-handed batters. Guerrero also said he considers himself a friend of Guillen, whom he met when the Venezuelan was the Expos' third base coach in 2001. "In addition to that, I know the Marlins' owner [Jeffrey Loria] very well, and I consider him a great person," Guerrero added.
Earlier this winter, Guerrero was reportedly open with the Yankees about his desire to fill their DH vacancy. In lieu of other offers, he indicated to Castro he was willing to return to the junior circuit after eight seasons away. "For the moment, I'll continue waiting for [the Marlins'] call," Guerrero said.
The Yankees freed up some money yesterday by agreeing to trade A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for two minor leaguers and a total of $13MM in salary relief. They'll save $5MM in 2012 and $8MM in 2013. Reports indicate that they're expected to sign both Raul Ibanez and Eric Chavez once the trade becomes official.
Chavez will fill out the bench like last year, but Ibanez would step in as the left-handed half of a DH platoon with Andruw Jones. Even though Spring Training is right around the corner, there is no shortage of DH-type bats on the open market as our Free Agent Tracker shows. If the Yankees were to decide to pass on Ibanez, they could always turn to Vladimir Guerrero or former Yankees Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui. Guerrero is a right-handed hitter, however. They also signed Russell Branyan to a minor league contract recently.
Given Yankee Stadium's short right field porch and the presence of Jones, it makes sense for the Yankees to pursue a left-handed bat. Ibanez hit .245/.289/.419 overall last year but .256/.307/.440 against righties, which is good but not great. Damon (.255/.314/.401) and Matsui (.242/.318/.336) weren't any better against righties, and in fact Guerrero outperformed all three of those guys against northpaws (.291/.315/.428). The Yankees have no shortage of DH options, but which one is the best?
- "Vladimir Guerrero has made it known to the Yankees that he wants their DH spot," tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, but Raul Ibanez remains the frontrunner. Ibanez had a slightly worse 2011 season, but the Yankees seem to prefer his left-handed bat.
- The Cubs and Red Sox submitted briefs regarding the Theo Epstein compensation issue, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and a decision could come this week.
- Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told WEEI after the Ortiz settlement that he doesn't expect any major moves between now and when pitchers and catchers report Sunday, but added, "We're still working on some stuff." WEEI's Rob Bradford hears there's still no traction with Roy Oswalt.
- Orioles executive director of international recruiting Fred Ferreira will still fly to the Dominican Republic this weekend to scout six Cuban players, including outfielder Jorge Soler, he told Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. The Orioles had interest in Yoenis Cespedes, but Ferreira isn't surprised or disappointed about not getting him.
- Matt Moore, Dylan Bundy, Manny Machado, Travis d'Arnaud, Jake Marisnick, Manny Banuelos, Xander Bogaerts, Gary Sanchez, Brandon Jacobs, Daniel Norris, Will Middlebrooks, Dellin Betances, Hak-Ju Lee, Anthony Gose, Jonathan Schoop, Noah Syndergaard, Ryan Lavarnway, and Mason Williams are the division's best prospects, based on Kevin Goldstein's recently-released top 101 prospects list for Baseball Prospectus. Jacobs, Norris, and Syndergaard didn't merit mentions on Keith Law's top 100 or his "just missed" list for ESPN. On the other hand, Law included Drew Hutchison, Chris Archer, Enny Romero, Mikie Mahtook, Taylor Guerrieri, Aaron Sanchez, and Blake Swihart on his list and Goldstein did not.
Teams say Johnny Damon and Vladimir Guerrero are looking for deals worth $5MM or so, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark tweets. The asking prices appear to be suppressing interest in the pair of designated hitters.
Though Damon and Guerrero are among the biggest names available in free agency, they haven't played the outfield regularly in years and will likely be limited to DH or bench jobs in 2012. At this point in the offseason, most AL teams have a DH in place and clubs have limited funds for complementary players, so the market for Damon and Guerrero doesn't appear strong.
Damon, 38, signed for $8MM in February of 2010 and for $5.25MM at the end of January, 2011. Guerrero also has experience signing late. The 36-year-old signed for $7.6MM in February of 2011.
- Dayan Viciedo says he tried to recruit fellow Cubans Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler for the White Sox, tweets Dave van Dyck of the Chicago Tribune. Cespedes appears to be drawing substantial interest from Chicago’s other team.
- The representatives for Vladimir Guerrero and Raul Ibanez contacted the Yankees about their DH opening, Newsday’s Ken Davidoff tweets. The Yankees have also been in touch with the representatives for Carlos Pena, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, though they aren’t inclined to spend big on a DH.
- Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com has the salary breakdown for Gio Gonzalez’s recent five-year, $42MM extension (Twitter link). The Nationals have two $12MM options for 2017 and 2018, Gonzalez’s second and third free agent years.
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin said right fielder Corey Hart will be asked if he's willing to play some games at first base, tweets Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mat Gamel is the Brewers’ projected first baseman, since Prince Fielder will almost certainly sign elsewhere.
Here are Wednesday's updates on a few players on the free agent market:
- Takashi Saito's agent, Nez Balelo, says six to eight teams have shown interest in his client, who is open to playing in either league, tweets WEEI's Alex Speirer.
- Balelo also tells Speier that Japanese outfielder and six-time NPB All-Star Norichika Aoki will be posted next Monday (Twitter link).
- With milestones in reach, Vladimir Guerrero intends to keep playing, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (on Twitter).
- Scott Kazmir will make his Dominican Winter League debut with the Escogido Lions tonight, tweets Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes.
10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline. For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.
Updated team decisions:
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Frank Francisco (B), Kelly Johnson (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick), Jose Molina (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter). They declined to offer Shawn Camp (B) arbitration.
- The Red Sox announced that they offered David Ortiz (A) and Dan Wheeler (B) arbitration. They declined to offer Jason Varitek (B) arbitration. Jonathan Papelbon (A) already signed with the Phillies.
- The Yankees offered Freddy Garcia (B) arbitration according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch (on Twitter).
- The Royals offered Bruce Chen (B) arbitration, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
- The White Sox announced they've offered arbitration to Mark Buehrle (B) and not Juan Pierre (B).
- The Athletics announced David DeJesus (B) and Josh Willingham (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) were offered arbitration.
- The Rangers announced C.J. Wilson (A) will be offered arbitration. Modified Type B free agent Darren Oliver does not require an offer.
- The Orioles announced they will not offer arbitration to Vladimir Guerrero (B).
- Twins GM Terry Ryan said today on a conference call that he will offer arbitration to Michael Cuddyer (A, will not cost signing team a draft pick) and Jason Kubel (B), and noted that no arbitration offer is necessary for modified Type B free agent Matt Capps.
Teams with decisions still due:
It's been a busy first day of the GM meetings, but we don't want to let anything fall through the cracks. Here's a collection of assorted links from throughout the day:
- The Reds don't intend to make Brandon Phillips available in a trade, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers confirms a rumor we'd heard about previously, telling MLB.com's Ken Gurnick that his team has interest in Hiroki Kuroda.
- The Red Sox aren't the only team meeting with David Ortiz's agent tonight. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweets that the Orioles will also meet with Fern Cuza, and could be interested in Ortiz as well. GM Dan Duquette noted that Cuza also represents Vladimir Guerrero, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com.
- Former Angels pitching coach Marcel Lachemann has rejoined the team as an assistant to new GM Jerry Dipoto, says Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.
- Earlier this week, we heard the Angels were eyeing right-handed relief help. DiGiovanna has more details on their search, naming Octavio Dotel, Todd Coffey, and Matt Capps as some possible targets.
- Cubs GM Jed Hoyer will explore the possibility of bringing back Kerry Wood, says MLB.com's Carrie Muskat.
- At U.S.S. Mariner, Dave Cameron explains why he doesn't think the Mariners should open their wallets to sign Prince Fielder.
- Craig Counsell is open to both playing and "non-playing" offers, tweets Tom Haudicourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Counsell isn't necessarily leaning toward retirement, but would seriously consider it for the right non-playing opportunity.
Vladimir Guerrero told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he hopes to play two or three more seasons in the Major Leagues instead of retiring after the season. The 36-year-old is just three hits behind Julio Franco for the all-time Dominican hits record and one homer away from 450 for his career. Though he could reach both milestones in 2011, he expects to be back next year.
“I feel I can play two or three more years,” he told Connolly. “And I just need to work a little harder this offseason when I go to the Dominican and see what happens.”
Guerrero has 2,583 hits, 449 homers and a .318/.379/.553 line 16 seasons into a career that will probably deliver him to Cooperstown soon after he retires. It seems unlikely that the Orioles will re-sign the 36-year-old, who earned $8MM on a one-year deal in 2011.
Guerrero projects as a Type B free agent, not that it matters much - it’s hard to imagine an offer of arbitration from the Orioles. In 556 plate appearances this year, the nine-time All-Star has a .292/.320/.423 line with 13 homers.