Yu Darvish Rumors

Prince Fielder Rumors: Wednesday

Prince Fielder remains available, but as MLB.com's Tom Singer shows, most elite free agents sign considerably earlier on in the offseason. In fact, there's a chance Fielder will sign the latest megadeal in baseball history. Here are the latest rumors on Fielder, as we await concrete news of his next destination…

  • The Nationals are “patiently and aggressively” pursuing Fielder, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. Nationals principal owners Ted and Mark Lerner met with agent Scott Boras at the owners’ meetings this evening, according to Kilgore. Boras touched base with other owners, including Jeffrey Loria of the Marlins.
  • MLB.com’s Bill Ladson hears that there’s a 99% chance that the Nationals will not sign Fielder. 
  • Someone with knowledge of the Rangers’ finances doubts they’d invest in Yu Darvish and Fielder, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Morosi notes that the Nationals are viewed as the favorites for Fielder.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com suggests Fielder may not sign until the Rangers finish negotiating with Darvish next week (Twitter link). Heyman notes that the Rangers are a “team of interest” when it comes to Fielder.

Rangers Offering “Dice-K Money” To Darvish

The Rangers are offering "Dice-K money" to Yu Darvish, sources tell Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and there's no evidence a deal is close.  Daisuke Matsuzaka received a six-year, $52MM deal from the Red Sox about five years ago.  Heyman says it's not clear whether the Rangers' offer to Darvish is for five or six years.  The deadline to work out a deal is January 18th at 4pm central time.  The Rangers won the exclusive right to negotiate with Darvish for $51,703,411, which would be returned to them from the Nippon Ham Fighters if they fail to reach an agreement with Darvish.

In October, I polled five agents and one team executive and most predicted a five or six-year deal in the $72-75MM range for Darvish.

West Links: Dodgers, Rangers, A’s, Mariners, Pujols

Time for some links from baseball's two West divisions…

  • "I think so," said Dodgers GM Ned Colletti when asked if he was done with his free agent shopping, reports Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times (on Twitter). They re-signed Mike MacDougal to a one-year deal today, the tenth free agent they've signed this winter.
  • The Rangers continue to have dialogue about long-term contract extensions with core players like Ian Kinsler and Derek Holland, reports Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas. "Our general feeling is to try not to negotiate during the year, but we've made exceptions," said GM Jon Daniels.
  • Daniels also refused to comment about the Rangers' talks with Yu Darvish, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. "It's best for us to lay low," said the GM. "The less noise around that, the better."
  • Athletics GM Billy Beane told MLB.com's Jane Lee that he has some interest in a few free agent outfielders, and he's also exploring trade possibilities (Twitter link). Bullpen help is another possibility, says Joe Stiglich of The Bay Area News Group (on Twitter).
  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said they are "still keeping our ears open" regarding veteran starters even after signing Hisashi Iwakuma, reports Shannon Drayer of MyNorthwest.com (on Twitter).
  • ESPN's Buster Olney says (on Twitter) that the union calculated the value of Albert Pujols' contract with the Angels at $246,841,811. Ronald Blum of the AP has a breakdown of the perks in the contract, such as a suite on road trips.
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post has the details of Wil Nieves' minor league contract with the Rockies (on Twitter). The backstop will earn $700K in the majors and $14K per month in the minors. He's also been invited to Spring Training.

Rangers Notes: Napoli, Fielder, Darvish, Bullpen

Yesterday we heard that Yu Darvish was in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex to see the area as well as the Rangers' operations first-hand. No deal is close though, and the two sides have 13 days to get one done. Here's the latest from Texas, courtesy of MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan

  • "We love Mike and we're not closing the door on anything but right now we are focused on a one-year deal," said Daniels in reference to a long-term deal for Mike Napoli. The backstop is arbitration-eligible for the final time and projects to earn $8.5MM in 2012. The two sides were discussing a long-term deal last month.
  • Daniels made it clear the team is not interested in Prince Fielder as their focus right now is on Darvish. If something falls apart with the righty, Sullivan speculates that they could turn their attention to Fielder.
  • The Rangers are still interested in upgrading their bullpen, with lefty relief being a primary focus. Texas recently lost southpaw Darren Oliver to the Blue Jays.

Darvish Visiting Dallas; No Deal Close

Yu Darvish is currently in the Dallas-Forth Worth Metroplex with his father to see the area and get a first-hand look at the Rangers' operations, reports Jeff Wilson of The Star-Telegram. The two sides are not close to a deal, however. "He isn't [there] for a press conference," said one of Wilson's sources, who notes that Darvish will return to Japan this week to begin his offseason workouts. Here's the latest on the right-hander…

  • The two sides have until January 17th to reach a deal, reports Maury Brown of The Biz of Baseball (on Twitter). We're exactly two weeks away.
  • "There's no reason to think this won't get done," said a high-ranking baseball person to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. "There's no reason to think this has to go to the deadline, either." Most contract negotiations through the posting process have gone right down to the wire.
  • Heyman's sources have suggested that Darvish would seek at least $65MM over five years.
  • The Yankees bid just $15MM for Darvish, reports Heyman (on Twitter). 

Olney On Rays, Quentin, Polanco, Marlins, Darvish

After ranking MLB's best rotations, bullpens, infields, outfields, and lineups in December, ESPN.com's Buster Olney opened up 2012 with his overall power rankings.  The Rays are ranked No. 1 thanks in large part to their outstanding rotation.  This year, Matt Moore joins the mix and Olney writes that the left-hander has the numbers and the ability of Stephen Strasburg without the same level of hype behind him.  Of course, the club still has some issues to address, such as the identity of their first baseman and designated hitter.  However, Olney feels that their pitching makes them the top club in baseball at present.  Here are some highlights from today's column..

  • It's possible that the Padres could negotiate a very team-friendly two- or three-year deal with the Carlos Quentin before arbitration.  However, it's hard to imagine the club investing heavily in the outfielder before gauging how much he can stay on the field and how his power translates to pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
  • The Phillies would still like to find an alternative to the oft-injured Placido Polanco.  In October, skipper Charlie Manuel said that he would be in favor of an upgrade at third base if possible.  The club dangled Polanco in early December when it seemed as if they might lose Jimmy Rollins to free agency and look to sign Aramis Ramirez to play third.
  • The Cubs are talking with a number of teams about Matt Garza, including the Marlins.  A lot of baseball scouts are not wild about the quality and depth of the prospects in Miami's farm system.
  • Yu Darvish is not yet signed with the Rangers, but rival executives don't believe he has much leverage and will eventually work out a deal.

AL West Notes: Athletics, Fielder, Rangers

The Athletics completed their third major trade of the offseason this afternoon, sending Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to Boston for Josh Reddick and prospects Miles Head and Raul Alcantara. Here’s the latest on the AL West, starting in Oakland…

Pitching Links: Edwin, Marlins, Saunders, Felix

Here's the latest on the arms race from around the majors…

  • Edwin Jackson and John Danks have comparable numbers over the last three years, which is why Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog thinks Scott Boras will use Danks' recent extension with the White Sox as a model for Jackson in free agency.  "Now I know hearing five years and $65M+ for Jackson is a little wacky, just because he [doesn't] come off as the type of pitcher deserving of that kind of commitment…but I refuse to bet against Boras," Axisa writes.
  • "Anytime you hear a pitcher's name, you can safely say the Marlins are in," a National League source tells Clark Spencer of the Miami HeraldMatt Garza, Roy Oswalt, Wandy Rodriguez and Joe Saunders are all mentioned as possibilities for the Fish, though if the Marlins didn't have the minor league talent to acquire Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos, it's hard to see them being able to deal for Garza.  Rodriguez is a possibility since I'd guess Houston's larger concern is getting his salary off the books rather than obtaining a large haul of prospects.
  • Speaking of Saunders, he talked to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic about the negotiations between he and the Diamondbacks.  Arizona offered Saunders a two-year, $12MM deal and Saunders' camp countered with a three-year, $27MM deal.  The D'Backs never made a counter, and though Saunders said he then offered to take a two-year contract worth around $16MM, the club non-tendered him and moved on.  I've got to side with the D'Backs in this case — with the rest of their rotation so cost-controlled, if you're going to splurge on a starter, you can spend your money on a better pitcher than Saunders (perhaps Hiroki Kuroda).
  • The Mariners not only shouldn't trade Felix Hernandez, argues Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710 Seattle, but if the team absolutely feels the need to swap a starter, they should deal Michael Pineda instead.  Dreyer calls Pineda "replaceable…There is a very good chance that by the end of next season Danny Hultzen could be Michael Pineda on the hill in regards to development, path, and what he brings to the rotation."
  • Kevin Goldstein of ESPN (Insider subscription required) presented 10 Major League scouts and executives with a field of Matt Garza, Zack Greinke, Ian Kennedy, Ricky Nolasco and Justin Verlander and asked the question, "Based on talent alone, would you take Yu Darvish ahead of this pitcher?"  Aside from the Verlander comparison, Rangers fans will heartily enjoy the other answers.

AL Central Notes: Cespedes, Darvish, Twins

The White Sox agreed to sign John Danks to a five-year, $65MM extension yesterday. MLBTR has you covered if you’re wondering what the deal means for similar pitchers, trade candidates and Danks himself. Here are more details from around the AL Central…

  • The White Sox may be “in strong” on Yoenis Cespedes, reports Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. One White Sox person forcefully told Knobler "we are not rebuilding," despite Kenny Williams' statements to the contrary.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski confirmed to James Schmehl of MLive.com that the team didn't submit a bid on Yu Darvish.
  • The Twins, who announced a one-year, $3MM deal with Jason Marquis today, likely have $1-2MM remaining for a relief pitcher, tweets Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN.

Rangers Won Darvish Bidding Easily

The Rangers won the rights to Japanese right-hander Yu Darvish with a $51.7MM bid this week and though the Toronto Star reported yesterday that the Blue Jays weren't far behind, reports today indicate the Rangers outbid rival teams by a significant margin.

Jeff Blair said this morning on Sportsnet 590 the FAN that the Blue Jays "did not bid $50MM, as the Toronto Star is reporting. That's totally, absolutely false and inaccurate" (hat tip Drunk Jays Fans). Buster Olney of ESPN.com believes the Blue Jays were in, but not close and suggests “nobody, including Toronto, was within country miles” of the Rangers’ bid (Twitter links). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com agrees that no one else was close. The Rangers easily out-bid the Blue Jays and the Yankees bid in the $15-17MM range, according to Heyman.

Darvish posted a 1.44 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 232 innings this past season and he hasn't posted an ERA above 2.00 since 2007. The Rangers have until January 18th to work out a deal with him. If the sides don't agree to a deal by next month's deadline, Darvish will stay in Japan and the Nippon Ham Fighters won't obtain any cash from the Rangers.