Yoenis Cespedes Rumors

East Links: Yankees, Jones, Cespedes, Rays, O’s

Mets GM Sandy Alderson joined Twitter with the handle @MetsGM today, opening with a joke about the team's financial situation. He told Newday's David Lennon (Twitter link) that he'll "probably keep doing it for a while … or at least until [I run] out of material." Here's the latest from baseball's two east divisions…

  • The Yankees want Garrett Jones from the Pirates in any trade involving A.J. Burnett reports ESPN's Buster Olney, but Pittsburgh isn't interested in moving him and talks haven't progressed (Twitter links). Yesterday we learned that the Pirates are not on Burnett's no-trade list.
  • Yoenis Cespedes met with the Marlins and toured their new ballpark on Wednesday, but he could head back to the Dominican Republic as soon as today according to ESPN's Jayson Stark. Agent Adam Katz said "nothing is scheduled for now" when asked about meetings with other clubs.
  • Rays GM Andrew Friedman said it was a "dream scenario" to make the upgrades they did without sacrificing depth during an interview with 620AM radio, says Marc Topkin of The Tampa Times (Twitter link). Tampa added free agents Carlos Pena, Luke Scott, and Jose Molina this offseason.
  • The Orioles merged their pro and amateur scouting departments under new GM Dan Duquette, but the club will now have two more scouts covering the minor leagues according Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.

Quick Hits: Dodgers, Padres, Cespedes, Ramirez

The Dodgers signed 26-year-old right-hander Hideo Nomo on this date 17 years ago. Armed with an exceptionally deceptive delivery, Nomo struck out 236 batters and was named NL Rookie of the Year in 1995. Here are tonight's links, starting in L.A…

  • Michael Heisley, a billionaire who owns the Memphis Grizzlies of the NBA, is bidding on the Dodgers, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports. The 75-year-old led one of the 11 bids that made it through the first round of cuts, Shaikin writes.
  • The Padres have the top farm system in baseball even though they don’t have a top-25 prospect, ESPN.com’s Keith Law writes. The Rays and Blue Jays round out Law’s top three and the White Sox rank 30th.
  • Jonathan Papelbon, Prince Fielder and Heath Bell make appearances on Dave Cameron’s list of the ten worst offseason moves at FanGraphs.
  • Free agent left-hander Horacio Ramirez will throw in front of scouts in Arizona tomorrow, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. The 32-year-old appeared in 12 games for the Angels last year, spending most of the season with their Triple-A affiliate.
  • Marlins officials met with Yoenis Cespedes in Miami today, showing him around the city and providing him with a tour of their new park, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com writes. Cespedes is currently blocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, though MLB has declared him a free agent.

Latest On Yoenis Cespedes

Yoenis Cespedes is in the U.S. and plans to meet with the Marlins tomorrow. The latest on the Cuban outfielder, who may have a deal by the time Spring Training begins:

  • Marlins president David Samson hinted to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that Miami might be ready to make its move. “I don’t know how tomorrow will go. But it would not surprise me if it ended with an offer,” Samson said (all Twitter links). Samson said the Marlins will go to lunch with Cespedes tomorrow and show him their new ballpark. The Marlins will "do something spectacular" for Cespedes, Samson said.
  • Cespedes told reporters he'd like to play in Miami, Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald tweets. MLB.com's Joe Frisaro hears the Marlins are the frontrunner at this point (Twitter link).
  • An American League source tells Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the Marlins are likely to sign Cespedes.
  • Cespedes is arriving in Miami today to meet with Katz, tweets Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, and he's expected to meet with the Marlins tomorrow for a ballpark tour.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that executives from other teams may visit Cespedes later in Miami as well.  The Orioles are planning a scouting trip to see Cespedes within seven to ten days, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
  • As of Sunday, Cespedes still had not been unblocked by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, even though he's a free agent and can negotiate with MLB teams.  Katz explained, "I think we can come to terms with no execution of contract and no playing."  Katz is "reasonably confident" Cespedes will be signed in time for camp this year.
  • Cespedes awaits face-to-face meetings with his agents and interested teams, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com.  The goal is to have Cespedes in big league camp by the third week of February.  Industry sources tell Levine bidding could reach $60MM over six years.  In January, Cespedes named the Cubs as his most interested suitor.

Cafardo On Lannan, Bourjos, Cespedes, Vazquez

Jason Varitek is facing a very difficult decision, and the catcher has been considering the very difficult reality of retirement, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  Varitek, who turns 40 in April, would seem to be a good fit in Minnesota.  The Twins will likely carry three catchers as Joe Mauer will need time to DH and rest and Ryan Doumit will mostly DH while also backing up Mauer.

Varitek isn't the only veteran wondering about his baseball future.  Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Magglio Ordonez, and Vladimir Guerrero also hope to continue playing in 2012.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • There is a lot of speculation that the Nationals will deal John Lannan to the Angels for Peter Bourjos, with the Halos putting Mike Trout in center field.  The Nats beat Lannan in arbitration last week and were said to be aggressively shopping the left-hander.  
  • Alternatively, the Nats could move Jayson Werth to center and sign a right fielder.  Cafardo adds that it now appears that Yoenis Cespedes is not in their plans and they have cooled on B.J. Upton.
  • Javier Vazquez is retired for now, but Cafardo wonders if a team could convince him to play.  An AL GM remarked that Vazquez would be a perfect fourth or fifth starter on a contending team and believes that the pitcher looks as good as he's ever been.
  • Scott Boras is no longer representing Manny Ramirez.  Ramirez signed on with Boras in early 2008 and the agent negotiated the slugger's two-year, $45MM contract with the Dodgers the following year.
  • Boras wound up receiving eight offers in total for Prince Fielder, including the winning bid from the Tigers.
  • A couple of agents are frustrated after dealing with the Red Sox front office/ownership lately as compared to what they were used to in the past.  However, there has been quite a bit of praise for GM Ben Cherington.
  • Right-hander Brandon Webb hasn't given up on pitching and according to one American League executive, the plan is for the 32-year-old to throw for teams sometime in March.
  • Mark Prior is also looking to attempt one more comeback.  The right-hander, who spent some of last season with the Yankees, had surgery for a sports hernia and the problem isn't completely corrected.  Like Webb, Prior could work out for teams as early as March.
  • Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger was supposed to be in Red Sox minor league camp but instead ripped up his elbow long-tossing over the winter.  The veteran will unfortunately miss the season.
  • Cafardo feels that the Red Sox missed an opportunity to sign Edwin Jackson to a good value deal at one year, $10MM and shouldn’t let Roy Oswalt slip away now.

Giants Notes: Cespedes, Ramirez, Torres

Yesterday, Giants GM Brian Sabean talked to the press about the possibility of signing Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum to contract extensions.  Here's more on San Fran..

  • Not a huge surprise here, but Sabean said that the Giants won't go after Yoenis Cespedes, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.  "The price tag is probably beyond what his talent is," the GM said.  The outfielder still has a number of suitors including the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, and Tigers.
  • Sabean said that Ramon Ramirez was included in the Andres Torres-Angel Pagan trade in December to even out the money, Schulman tweets.  Back in December, the GM admitted that if the Giants hadn't traded Ramirez, they would have tendered the right-hander a contract.
  • Speaking of Torres, a competing baseball exec told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter) that he sees the former Giant as a fifth outfielder, even though he is slated to start in center field for the Mets.  Heyman agrees with that assertion.

Marlins Notes: Cespedes, Sanchez, Oviedo

The Marlins’ offseason is nearing completion, but there’s business to attend to before Opening Day. Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has the latest from team president David Samson…

  • Samson isn’t sure whether Yoenis Cespedes will visit the Miami area before deciding where to sign, but the sides continue to talk. “Our offseason is not dependent on signing Cespedes at all,” Samson said.
  • Samson ruled out an extension for Anibal Sanchez, at least for now. Sanchez’s arbitration hearing will take place tomorrow, so we’ll soon know whether he’ll earn $8MM or $6.9MM in 2012. I examined Sanchez as an extension candidate earlier this week.
  • Samson doesn’t expect Juan Carlos Oviedo to be on the Marlins’ Opening Day roster, but he said the 29-year-old right-hander will likely be in Spring Training. MLB may discipline Oviedo for falsifying his identity.
  • Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson are ready for the season, Samson said.

Quick Hits: Dodgers, Cruz, Cespedes

A few odds and ends to pass along as Nolan Ryan (65) and Ernie Banks (81) celebrate birthdays. Jackie Robinson would have turned 93 today …

  • The Magic Johnson-Stan Kasten ownership group could be the leader to purchase the Dodgers, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, as that group will likely procure the financial backing of billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. Soon-Shiong is a close friend of Johnson's and once purchased Magic's minority stake in the Lakers.
  • The Rangers and Nelson Cruz are working on avoiding an arbitration hearing, the outfielder tells Enrique Rojas of ESPN.com. Cruz also said that while the sides are negotiating for a one-year agreement, they are leaving open the door to a multiyear pact.
  • Yoenis Cespedes will likely visit the Marlins within the next week, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Miami has long been considered among the leaders to sign the 27-year-old outfielder who recently defected from Cuban, although the the Cubs and other teams "remain deeply involved," per Rosenthal.

The Latest On Yoenis Cespedes

Here's the latest on Yoenis Cespedes, who was officially declared a free agent last week…

  • "We are aware of the [Spring Training] dates," said agent Adam Katz to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). "We expect him to be in camp with one of the clubs." Katz also called the market for Cespedes "meaningful and aggressive."
  • The Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, and Tigers are five of the six clubs that have been in serious talks with Cespedes, reports ESPN's Jim Bowden (Twitter links). He is expected to travel to the United States in the next 7-10 days for face-to-face meetings.
  • Baseball America's Jim Callis said he would rank Cespedes in the 7-15 range of their top 100 prospects list, and that he would take over as the top prospect of pretty much any team that signs him.

NL East Links: Nats, Mets, Morrison, Cespedes

As the Phillie Phanatic hangs out with Tina Fey and the gang on 30 Rock, here's the latest from the NL East…

  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told media (including Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post) that the Nats are still "not done with our bullpen," even after signing Brad Lidge.  Rizzo said he is still looking to improve the rotation if possible but said the Nationals will stick with internal options for the center field job.
  • ESPN New York's Adam Rubin looks at the difficulties facing the Wilpon family as they try to keep ownership of the Mets.
  • The Mets could have the biggest one-year payroll drop in baseball history, reports Rubin.
  • Signing Yoenis Cespedes would be a "big risk" for the Marlins, opined outfielder Logan Morrison while appearing on Sirius XM Radio's First Pitch yesterday (passed on by the Miami Herald's Clark Spencer).  Morrison thinks the club should try to sign him, but in reference to Cespedes' athletic feats in his famous YouTube intro clip, Morrison said "…you don't need to catch balls behind your back in games, and you don't need to jump 100 feet in the air and leg press 20,000 pounds, or whatever the heck he's doing. It's all about playing the game the right way and applying your skills to the game. And if he can do that, then he'll be very, very dangerous."
  • The Phillies' payroll and its proximity to the luxury tax threshold is examined by Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Quick Hits: Francis, Cespedes, CBA

A few stray items to pass along as the night winds down …

  • Jeff Francis, who agreed to terms with the Reds on a minor league deal, can earn a base salary of $1.5MM if he makes the big league club, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. The deal could be worth as much as $3.25MM with incentives and includes a March 28 opt-out clause, reports Crasnick (Twitter links).
  • The Orioles remain interested in signing Yoenis Cespedes, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, and will send a contingent to further scout the Cuban free agent in next week's Carribean Series in the Dominican Republic.
  • Several general managers of small- and mid-market clubs are concerned the new labor agreement has furthered the divide between baseballs haves and have-nots, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com. In particular, the greater the number of teams that continue to shell out massive contracts, the more it encourages players on small-market clubs to refrain from signing extensions prior to free agency.
  • Brad Lidge told the Phillies he wanted to stay in Philly, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN, but they apparently had no interest in retaining the right-hander. We heard earlier today that the Phils made a "lowball" offer to Lidge, who instead agreed to terms with the Nats.
  • MLBTR's Tim Dierkes appeared on Tuesday's BP Podcast with Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. You can download the mp3 or listen through iTunes.