Yasuhiko Yabuta Rumors

Royals Prefer Trades

Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star dishes on the Royals…

  • Dayton Moore…step away from the free agent market.  The Royals are moving toward trades, with an eye on the long-term.  Owner David Glass says the plan is to "turn over some of the club."  Moore already made a nice move in flipping Mark Teahen for Josh Fields and Chris Getz.
  • Dutton again mentions the talks between the Dodgers and Royals on a possible A.J. Ellis for Alberto Callaspo deal.  Ellis, 29 in April, posted OBPs over .436 in Triple A for 2008-09.
  • The Royals are probably stuck with Jose Guillen, but David DeJesus and Gil Meche could be trade chips.  Dutton says the Royals prefer to keep Meche though.
  • Dutton says the Royals are more likely to trade for a center fielder than to re-sign Coco Crisp.
  • Via Twitter, Dutton says lefty Lenny DiNardo and reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta elected free agency.

Odds & Ends: Giants, Phillies, Hernandez

Some news and notes from around the majors….

  • Giants blogger Grant of The McCovey Chronicles notes the potential downsides for San Francisco if they were to sign Jason Bay, Jermaine Dye and/or Bengie Molina.
  • With rumors again swirling that the Phillies will make a play for Roy Halladay, Scott Lauber of the News Journal looks at a Baseball America listing of Philadelphia's top prospects, with an eye towards which of these youngsters could head to Toronto in a trade.
  • Speaking of Halladay, The Seattle Times' Larry Stone believes that if the Mariners do decide to move Felix Hernandez, they will do so without being as public as the Blue Jays were about dealing their ace last summer.
  • Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reports that the Royals outrighted pitchers Yasuhiko Yabuta and Lenny DiNardo to Triple-A Omaha, leaving them both eligible for free agency.  Neither move was a surprise, particularly given that Kansas City already declined Yabuta's $4MM option for 2010.
  • Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles signed catcher Michel Hernandez.  The 31-year-old Hernandez will get an invite to spring training to vie for the backup catcher's job.  Hernandez has a .237/.286/.305 career line in 127 plate appearances with Tampa Bay and New York.

Royals Decline Options On Crisp, Olivo, Yabuta

The Royals declined their 2010 options on Coco Crisp, Miguel Olivo, and Yasuhiko Yabuta, according to a team press release.

On Crisp, the Royals chose his $500K buyout over his $8MM option.  It's possible the Royals will offer Crisp an incentive-laden deal (he had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders this summer).

The Royals plan to go in a different direction than Olivo at catcher; they may also non-tender John Buck.  Olivo had a $3.3MM mutual option.  As for Yabuta, the press release says he can "elect free agency if he doesn’t sign a 2010 Major League contract with the Royals by November 16th."  The Japanese reliever has been a $6MM bust; his $4MM club option was an obvious choice to decline.

Royals Facing Option Decisions

Now that the World Series has ended, the clock has started for clubs to make decisions about any player options for 2010. The Royals have three such decision to make, involving Coco Crisp, Miguel Olivo, and Yasuhiko Yabuta.

Bob Dutton of The KC Star breaks down what we might see happen with those three…

  • Decisions on Crisp's and Yabuta's options are due five days after the end of the World Series, Olivo's just three days.
  • The team has shown "little inclination" to pick up Crisp's $8MM option, but his $500K buyout isn't exactly cheap. Crisp was limited to just 49 games last year due to a shoulder injury.
  • Dutton notes that the Royals continue to "express interest in negotiating a new contract with Crisp that contains a low guarantee with significant performance bonuses."
  • Olivo's $3.3MM option is mutual, meaning he can walk even if the team picks up their half. He's expected to push for a mutli-year deal, which would make the Royals look elsewhere.
  • Yabuta has put up a 7.14 ERA in 51.2 IP in two years in KC, so the team figures to walk away from his $4MM option, instead paying him a $500K buyout.

Odds & Ends: Hillman, White Sox, Japanese Pitchers

Let's start the evening off by rounding up a few spare links…

  • According to The Associated Press (via ESPN), Royals manager Trey Hillman will return to the team next season. Kansas City GM Dayton Moore, who originally hired Hillman, had his contract extended through 2014 earlier this week.
  • White Sox GM Kenny Williams was asked if the Jim Thome and Jose Contreras trades indicate that he was throwing in the towel according to Scot Gregor of The Daily Herald, and Williams replied "Hell no. We're still in it to win it.”
  • Patrick at NPB Tracker passes along a report saying that the Yokohama BayStars are looking to import Japanese pitchers currently playing in the States. The article mentions that players like Tomo Ohka, Yasuhiko Yabuta, and Masahide Kobayashi could interest the BayStars, while Patrick throws the names of Kei Igawa and Takashi Saito into the ring.
  • ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. writes that Miguel Angel Sano is not the only big name Latin American free agent stuck in age investigation limbo. Venezuelan pitcher Daniel Sanchez, considered one of the best pitchers available this year, is stuck in the same boat after the Brewers put in a formal request to MLB to investigate his age. An age investigation is a prerequisite to signing any player from Latin America.

Odds And Ends: Royals, Rockies, Rhodes, Braves

Let’s round up some remaining links in this lazy Saturday afternoon:

  • The Royals DFA’d Yasuhiko Yabuta. The White Sox had tried to sign the Japanese reliever last winter but were unsuccessful. Yabuta was 1-3 with a 5.46 ERA and had signed a two-year, $6MM deal with Kansas City.
  • The Rockies tried desperately to acquire a fifth starter before the non-waiver deadline but couldn’t match-up with the Mariners for Jarrod Washburn or the Nationals for Tim Redding; and Paul Byrd had Colorado on his no-trade list. The Rockies will continue to look for a starter via waiver wire claims.
  • Arthur Rhodes was shocked when he learned he had been traded to the Marlins. ”There had been a lot of talk about me being traded to a couple of other teams, but I guess Florida wanted me more."
  • The Braves DFA’d back-up catcher Corky Miller yesterday, and Royce Ring today.
  • Also today (and in that Ring link), the Astros DFA’d Chad Paronto.

Alejandro A. Leal writes for UmpBump.com. Post-deadline rumors? Comments? alexo05 [at] umpbump [daught] com.

Odds and Ends: Jenkins, Piazza, Kuroda

Random rumors for this evening…

  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Rays have contacted Geoff Jenkins‘ agent.  They’re eyeing him to replace Delmon Young in right field.
  • Cubs lefty Scott Eyre exercised his $3.8MM player option for 2008.
  • Terrmel Sledge never quite caught on in the U.S., so he’s headed to Japan.  I thought he was a sleeper entering 2007 as he’d posted a .985 OPS in Triple A in ’06.
  • The Yorvit Torrealba deal is official at two years and $7.25MM with a $4MM mutual option for 2010.  Mutual options never get exercised by both sides so that doesn’t mean much.  Michael Barrett and Paul Lo Duca are the two remaining free agent starting catchers.
  • It’s true, Mike Piazza does have some interest from a Japanese team.  But he also has three MLB teams interested, and he’s much more likely to stay in the U.S.
  • Could Yasuhiko Yabuta lead the Royals to sign Hiroki Kuroda?  It’s a possibility.  The D’Backs are after him as well; Nick Piecoro has some in-depth info about Kuroda.

Odds and Ends: Riske, Bedard, Wolf

And now for your daily jumble o’ rumors.  More to come.

Royals Pursue Guillen, Reportedly Set With Yabuta

The Royals were in on the Torii Hunter sweepstakes, having offered five years and $70 million, with every intention of going higher if necessary. Now that the Angels have locked him up, Jose Guillen has become the "indisputable No. 1 on the Royals’ list of off-season targets."

“Obviously, our objective remains the same,” general manager Dayton Moore said. “We do want to acquire a right-handed bat to hit in the middle of our order, and we’ll keep working through every opportunity imaginable.”

Bob Dutton thinks that losing out on Hunter could have added benefits. In addition to acquiring the cheaper Guillen, the Royals could use the Hunter money to pursue RHPs Hiroki Kuroda or Carlos Silva.
Each is seeking a four-year, $40 million deal. Added with Guillen’s asking price of three years, $30 million (though that could come down with his steroid allegations), that’s the $70 million they were offering Hunter.

Dutton also reports that the Royals have a deal in place for RHP Yasuhiko Yabuta on a two-year deal for between $5 and $6 million, with a club option for 2010. The deal should be announced once Yabuta makes his way to the States for his physical.

Joe Pawlikowski is co-author of River Ave. Blues.

Masahide Kobayashi Signs With Indians

UPDATE: The deal is done – Kobayashi gets $6MM guaranteed over 2008-09 and has a $3.25MM club option for 2010.  This seems like a fine Indians-esque bargain. 

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Indians are close to signing Japanese reliever Masahide Kobayashi.  The 33 year-old is taking his physical today.  The Braves and Mariners were also known to have interest in him.  It’s been said that Kobayashi would prefer to close but it’s not a dealbreaker.

Here’s what Bob Bavasi of JapanBall told me about Kobayashi:

This closer was the number one draft pick by the Chiba Lotte Marines in 1999.  He may be the best available reliever on the free agent market, though he has not made the sort of overtures about wanting to leave Japan as the other two.  During the recent playoffs in Japan, his manager, Bobby Valentine, noted that Kobayashi keeps "looking better every time out.”  True enough, and a reason I like him.

And here’s what Aaron Shinsano and Jackson Broder of East Windup Chronicle said about him:

Lost seven games and ERA rose nearly a point in 2007, but that shouldn’t deter teams from pursuing this 200+ save closer for Chiba Lotte. Throws from the stretch, and has that deceptive delivery that scouts seem to like these days. Has a great forkball that often tails in toward the batter. Not as good as Iwase or Koji Uehara, but might just be an upgrade over, say, The Farns.  Tak adds that he was dropped to the "minors" at the end of the season and many feel his velocity and control are slipping.

OK, Tim here again.  Just wanted to add that Rosenthal also reiterated that the Royals are close on Yasuhiko YabutaMark Gonzales had previously said five teams were still in the running for him.