Washington Nationals Rumors

East Notes: Mets, Blue Jays, Nationals

Mets GM Sandy Alderson says it doesn't make sense for his team to sign a player who will cost more than $100MM, Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal reports. That means they likely won't pursue Shin-Soo Choo, even though he would make sense for their roster. "If you want to look at the data and the way we look at data and associate winning teams with payroll concentration, you realize that there are limits to how effective an overall team can be with their payroll concentrated in a small number of players," says Alderson. The Mets already have $138MM tied up in David Wright. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Wright wants the Mets to follow the Red Sox' lead in free agency, Newsday's Marc Carig writes. "It seemed like it worked for Boston last year. If you can get three or four -- maybe not those marquee free agents -- but three or four guys that are very good, solid, players I think it helps us fill more holes," says Wright, referring, presumably, to Boston's offseason acquisitions of players like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Stephen Drew and Koji Uehara.
  • The Blue Jays plan to turn to the trade market before trying to sign any big free agents, writes Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca. The Jays appear likely to try to deal for Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs, and they already asked about Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan, who may have become superfluous when Cincinnati signed Brayan Pena. They may have also considered a run at Astros catcher Jason Castro. Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos notes that the Jays are not likely to deal veteran players for prospects. They could, however, trade catcher J.P. Arencibia, or a reliever.
  • The Nationals want to improve their bench and bullpen this offseason, the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore writes. They've already made contact with lefty relievers like Javier Lopez and Boone Logan, and they could look into J.P. Howell and Manny Parra as well. They could also look for a left-handed bat for their bench.

NL East Rumors: Brown, Mets, Aceves, Phillies, Price

The latest from the NL East..

  • The Phillies are willing to listen on Domonic Brown, but a rumored Brown-for-Jose Bautista swap isn't happening, tweets Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
  • Jeff Wilpon said the Mets are close to making some sort of transaction earlier today, but GM Sandy Alderson seemed genuinely surprised when that was relayed to him by reporters, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.
  • The Mets are among the clubs with interest in former Red Sox hurler Alfredo Aceves, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  
  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro isn't eager to move young talent, tweets Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  "Everybody is looking for the same thing, and that's young controllable players. There is no reason for us to be moving any of them," the GM said.
  • A trade to land Rays ace David Price would probably call for the Nationals to part with Anthony Rendon, Lucas Giolito, and another prospect or two from the club's top-tier, writes Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider.  Because of the steep price, it's probably not worthwhile.

East Notes: Span, Ruiz, Red Sox, Mets

Denard Span was surprised to hear his name come up again in trade rumors, MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes. Span has been with the Nationals less than a year, having arrived from Minnesota in a trade for prospect Alex Meyer last November 29. "My first reaction was, 'Here we go again,'" says Span. "I dealt with trade rumors the last two years. It surprised me because I've been in Washington for one year. The guys in Washington have been trying to get me for a while, and to hear rumors this quick after one year is surprising." Span hit .279/.327/.380 in his first year in Washington, a bit below his career averages. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • Carlos Ruiz might be a good fit with the Red Sox, suggests FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal hears that one team has already offered Ruiz somewhere in the vicinity of two years and $20MM, and he thinks that team could be the Red Sox. By signing Ruiz rather than Brian McCann or Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston would avoid committing to a contract of more than two years. Signing a catcher for three years or more might not be ideal, with prospects Blake Swihart and/or Christian Vazquez potentially ready to help in the next couple years.
  • Marlon Byrd's deal with the Phillies signals how difficult it will be for the Mets to find power this offseason, Newsday's Marc Carig writes. Byrd's contract, which could balloon to $24MM through 2016 if he can stay on the field, followed in the footsteps of Jose Dariel Abreu's $68MM deal with the White Sox, as well as Hunter Pence's $90MM contract with the Giants. Carig notes, though, that the frenzy for power hitters could be beneficial to the Mets in one respect -- Lucas Duda and Ike Davis might be able to fetch a decent return on the trade market, despite their deficiencies.

Quick Hits: Kazmir, Royals, Rodney, Wilson

Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com hears the Mets aren't considering a reunion with Scott Kazmir.  Earlier today, we heard that the Indians don't expect to hang on to the left-hander as he's likely to command a multi-year pact and they're not willing to go beyond one.  Here's more from around baseball..

  • Royals manager Ned Yost told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter links) that his priorities are starting pitching and second base. Yost also indicated that Carlos Beltran, Brandon Phillips, and Ervin Santana have popped up in discussions.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti is scheduled to talk to agent Dan Lozano about two of his clients, closers Fernando Rodney and Brian Wilson, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer. Cleveland is looking into out-of-house closing options after parting ways with Chris Perez.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he's looking to add "400 innings" to the rotation this winter, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com.
  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he has scouted Masahiro Tanaka extensively and hopes to be in the mix for him, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick.
  • If Carlos Ruiz really has a two-year, $20MM offer on the table, then he probably shouldn't let it sit for too long, opines MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (on Twitter).
  • Nationals assistant GM and VP of player personnel Roy Clark has the club to take a job with the Dodgers, according to Keith Law of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

NL East Notes: Bourjos, Young, Cano, Stanton

People in baseball are trying to figure out the team that has not been named yet that could surprise everyone and come away with top free agent Robinson Cano.  Some have theorized that the Marlins could be that team to shock everyone, but new Miami GM Dan Jennings threw cold water on that idea when asked by Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  “It probably doesn’t fit,” said Jennings, who reportedly offered big bucks to Jose Dariel Abreu before he signed with the White Sox. “We have to know our market and our payroll and our history. And our history is to build around young players and add pieces when it has become very clear that we are ready to win.

  • The Phillies remain in the market for starting pitching and relief help after signing Marlon Byrd earlier today, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.  Starter Bronson Arroyo and reliever Joe Smith are two pitchers that the Phils have discussed.  Meanwhile, they might not be quite done in the outfield and they still have their eye on Angels center fielder Peter Bourjos.
  • A source tells Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter) that the Mets are showing interest in free agent outfielder Chris Young.
  • No surprise here, but Jennings also shot down the notion that the Marlins will trade Giancarlo Stanton.  That certainly won't stop other clubs from trying, however.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including Mike Puma of the New York Post, that the club likely won't be signing anyone to a $100MM contract.  Alderson said that while the Mets broke the $100MM barrier for star third baseman David Wright, he says that those were special circumstances.
  • The Mets are known to have interest in Curtis Granderson, but he could very well wind up outside of their price range, writes David Lennon of Newsday.  It's possible that a $50MM deal will be too rich for the Mets' blood and a $60MM asking price isn't out of the question.
  • The Nationals will likely need to add a more experienced backup catcher this offseason, someone who can step in full-time if Wilson Ramos gets injured again, writes Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com.

NL East Notes: Logan, Nationals, Mets, Samson

The Braves will be moving into a brand new stadium in time for the 2017 season, the team announced today.  The new ballpark is located in Cobb County, about 14 miles northwest of Turner Field.  The move will end the club's tenure at Turner Field after an even 20 seasons --- "the Ted" was originally built as the main venue for the 1996 Olympic Games and then converted into a ballpark for the start of the 1997 season.

Here are some more items from around the NL East...

  • The Nationals are interested in free agent southpaw Boone Logan, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports.  Logan posted strong numbers out of the Yankees bullpen over the last four seasons and is expected to fully recover from recent surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow. 
  • Kilgore notes that Washington is expected to target left-handed relief this winter and besides Logan, the team could also check in on J.P. Howell or Manny Parra, as the Nats had interest in both pitchers last offseason.
  • Also from Kilgore, an American League executive tells him that the Nationals would likely have to part with Anthony Rendon as the key piece of a David Price trade package.
  • Marlins president David Samson discussed Giancarlo Stanton's contract and the Marlins' policy against no-trade clauses in an appearance on MLB Network Radio's Inside Pitch with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on SiriusXM.  Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has a partial transcript of Samson's comments.
  • If the Marlins are serious about convincing Stanton to stay over the long term, MLB.com's Joe Frisaro says the club needs more stability in the dugout.  Frisaro notes that in Stanton's short career, he has already played under five different managers and five different hitting coaches.
  • Of their two first base options, the Mets would reportedly prefer to trade Ike Davis over Lucas Duda, though Andy Martino of the New York Daily News thinks Davis is a better option for the team going forward.
  • From earlier today on MLBTR, Zach Links shared some more NL East notes, and we also posted team-centric collections of about the Phillies and the Mets.

Crasnick On Cano, Tanaka, Price, Ellsbury

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."

NL East Rumors: Drew, Samardzija, Mets, Davis, Nats

This winter at the GM Meetings, the Mets are in the market for an elite shortstop for the first time since 2011 when Jose Reyes was a free agent, writes David Lennon of Newsday.  Lennon believes that Stephen Drew will be out of the club's price range, leaving them to consider Jhonny Peralta or acquiring someone via trade.  If they do spend on someone like the former Tigers shortstop, the Mets could theoretically shift Ruben Tejada over to second base, which would leave Daniel Murphy without a starting spot.  Here's the NL East news out of Orlando, Florida, where our own Steve Adams is on the scene..

  • While the Nationals have been linked to top pitchers David Price and Max Scherzer, Washington is expected to also discuss Cubs’ right-hander Jeff Samardzija, a person familiar with the Nationals’ thinking tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  The Cubs hurler posted a 4.34 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 and his xFIP of 3.45 suggests he was stronger than his ERA shows.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter link) expects the Mets to assess Ike Davis' trade value while they're in Orlando, Florida.  Last week, Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote that Davis is very likely to be dealt, with Lucas Duda getting an opportunity to play first.
  • Martino also says (via Twitter) that there's no indication that there will be major Mets developments right away.

Quick Hits: Jewett, Ohka, Cubs

Dioner Navarro and Geovany Soto represent the best values available at catcher at the start of the free agent season, ESPN's Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Soto, of course, already re-signed with the Rangers for one year and $3.05MM. Navarro, Law writes, should get paid "backup money," but he might put up a starter-caliber performance. His .300/.365/.492 line in part-time duty with the Cubs in 2013 almost surely isn't sustainable, but his skill set could make him a valuable player anyway. Here are more notes from around baseball.

  • The Nationals will allow the Mariners to interview Trent Jewett to be their third-base coach, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets. Sherman, meanwhile, tweets that Jewett is "almost certain" to leave. Jewett was the Pirates' third-base coach for part of the time that new Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon managed in Pittsburgh. Jewett joined the Nationals' organization in 2009.
  • Former big-league pitcher Tomo Ohka is trying to make it back to the Majors as a knuckleballer, NikkanSports.com reports. Ohka began to rely on the pitch after having shoulder surgery in 2011. In 2013, he posted a 3.73 ERA in 21 games with the Toyama Thunderbirds in Japan's Baseball Challenge league. Ohka came to the U.S. in October to train in Arizona. "I threw a lot every day. I was able to confirm that I had been training properly on my own," Ohka says. "I want to give it another shot if given the chance, even if I have to start in the minors." Ohka last appeared in the Majors with the Indians in 2009.
  • Now that they've hired Rick Renteria to be their new manager, the Cubs might be done making big moves this offseason, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. "We’re realistic about where we are and the need to get better," says team president Theo Epstein. "But we’re also realistic about where we are and about where the market is likely to go." That means the Cubs won't trade for David Price, or sign Brian McCann. The Cubs are keeping all their options open, but Epstein notes that they're unlikely to spend as wildly as some other teams: "[W]e’re playing against the big boys, too. And there’s a lot of money out there."

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.

Nationals Willing To Listen To Offers On Denard Span

Officials of competing clubs say that the Nationals appear willing to listen to offers on center fielder Denard Span, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The 29-year-old came to Washington via trade from the Twins, who received pitching prospect Alex Meyer in the deal.

Featuring stellar defense and a league-average bat (.279/.327/.380, 97 wRC+ in 2013), Span also swiped twenty bases last year. Most importantly, he comes with a very attractive contract that would fit in most teams' budgets, making Span a widely attractive trade target. He will be paid $6.5MM next year under the deal, which inludes a 2015 club option at $9MM with only a $500k buyout.

Presumably, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo would only seriously entertain the possibility of dealing Span if he wanted to clear room for a major acquisition. Though Heyman mentions the possibility of the Nats chasing Jacoby Ellsbury, it is also worth bearing in mind that the club could hypothetically add a corner outfielder and shift Bryce Harper to center. At this point, though, it is probably unwise to read too much into the report, as Rizzo could just be gauging how the market values his leadoff man.

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