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Yunel Escobar Rumors
Escobar, 31, is under team control for 2015 on a $5MM club option. Assuming that is picked up — which would be a given if he repeats his solid 2013 campaign — then his new agents may not have much work to do until he hits the open market before the 2016 season. Of course, another extension is always possible, though it may be difficult to get Tampa to offer up much of a commitment beyond Escobar's age-32 season.
The Rays have exercised their club options over utilityman extraordinaire Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. As Topkin notes, the club's more difficult option decision comes due tomorrow, when Tampa must act on David DeJesus.
Neither move comes as a surprise, given that the option amounts for Zobrist and Escobar ($7MM and $5MM, respectively) are modest compared to their 2013 production. Zobrist slashed .275/.354/.402, a step back from his offensive output over 2011-12. But with stellar defense and baserunning, he nevertheless managed a third straight 5+ fWAR campaign and remains one of baseball's best values and most adaptable players. Escobar put up an exactly league-average wRC mark, but that will play at short, particularly when combined with outstanding fielding. He figures also to provide surplus production going forward after putting up a redemptive 3.9 fWAR in his first year in Tampa.
The best news for the Rays is that the club has virtually identical club options for this pair next year, as well. (Zobrist's jumps in value by $500k, though his buyout also plummets.) Tampa will hope the decision is just as easy next time around.
The Rays allowed the fewest runs of any MLB team in 2012, posting a team ERA of 3.19. Here’s the latest on the 2013 version of the club…
- Wil Myers probably won't start the season at the MLB level, but he's still expected to make an impact with the Rays in 2013, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com writes. Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he's hesitant to create oversized expectations for young players. “The first impression has been very strong. So we’re anxious to spend the next four or five weeks around him and continue his development,” Friedman added.
- The Rays will have extended control over Myers if they delay his debut, as I showed last week. The Rays acquired the 22-year-old in the deal that sent James Shields and Wade Davis to Kansas City.
- Bill Chastain of MLB.com notes that second baseman Kelly Johnson and shortstop Yunel Escobar will become the first middle infielders to start together for three different teams since Jeff Kent and Jose Vizcaino, who did it for the Mets, Indians, Giants and Astros. Johnson and Escobar also played together with the Braves and Blue Jays.
The signing of Felix Hernandez marks a major move in the history of the Mariners organization but will only matter if the deal is the first of many to come, writes Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. “This signing, given the size and length of the contract, is the best evidence that the ownership group is committed to winning and doing what it takes to win,” Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said. Here's the latest news and stories making headlines from around the American League.
- Yunel Escobar made his first comments about his trade to the Rays, reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin. Escobar, with teammate Jose Molina acting as his interpreter, said he "felt really happy" about coming to Tampa Bay adding manager Joe Maddon made him feel very welcome and having former teammates like Molina and Kelly Johnson on the team makes him feel like he's "in the family already."
- GM Chris Antonetti discussed the Indians' starting rotation with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (audio link).
- White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko reiterated he will not make any decision on his future until after the 2013 season, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
- The 2013 Blue Jays offer a lot to like and dislike as CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler breaks down what he's seen so far this Spring Training.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
John Lackey's new slim physique marks one of the many signs that the Red Sox organization has taken a step toward rebuilding a positive culture within the clubhouse, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub req'd). The team has added new faces on the field (Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, among others) as well as brought familiar staff members home (former pitching coach John Farrell returns to Boston as the squad's manager) for what should be a vastly different season than years past. Here's the rest of the news and stories making headlines in both of the East Divisions.
- Jair Jurrjens' contract status continues to remain the status quo according to Orioles GM Dan Duquette, writes Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com (on Twitter). "It's time to get it resolved," said Duquette as Jurrjens looks to rebound from a difficult 2012 season where he posted a 6.89 ERA with 3.5 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 48.1 innings.
- Yunel Escobar's arrival with the Rays organization has manager Joe Maddon excited about what the shortstop can provide the team this season, says Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (via Twitter). After a suspension marred his final month with the Blue Jays, Escobar was dealt to the Marlins in the November mega deal before ending up in St. Petersburg.
- Adam LaRoche says the new free agent compensation system has hurt players like him and is currently keeping Kyle Lohse from finding an acceptable deal, writes Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com (Twitter links). "It shows how important it is to get rid of that rule," LaRoche said to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. "I don't know if that was something the union granted, or they overlooked and didn't realize it could backfire the way it did, or if they were willing to take that risk. In talking with the union a little bit, I think they would love to take that back." For a more in-depth look, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes examines the system and explains why a qualifying offer can be a hindrance for a high-quality, but not elite, free agent.
- A major league executive tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter) that he believes Drew will sign with the A's for one year with an additional player option for 2014.
- If Drew ends up signing elsewhere and the Tigers do indeed find a new shortstop (possibly Drew himself), the A's would likely make a move to acquire Jhonny Peralta. Peralta and his $6MM salary would obviously be expendable to the Tigers in that scenario.
- The two don't immediately line up on paper as a fit given the Tigers' need for a right-handed hitting outfielder (the Tigers aren't interested in Michael Taylor). However, Slusser writes that Detroit likes Jemile Weeks and would contemplate moving him to the outfield. There's no guarantee the A's would move Weeks, however, even though they demoted him to Triple-A this season.
- Hiroyuki Nakajima is still in play for the A's, and he's seeking a three-year deal worth about $5MM annually. Most believe he'll have trouble doing better than one year and an option, though.
- Contrary to some national reports, Grant Green and Brad Peacock were not on the table in the team's Yunel Escobar trade discussions with the Marlins.
- The A's aren't likely to select a player in the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft tomorrow, but there's a good chance that they lose 2007 first-rounder James Simmons to another club. Simmons, the 26th overall selection that year, posted a 2.98 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 K/9 in 63 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A in 2012. The 26-year-old also turned in a dominant performance in the Arizona Fall League.
12:24am The Marlins' trade of Yunel Escobar to the Rays earlier tonight was prompted by the fact that Escobar approached the club saying he was not comfortable at third base just days after telling them otherwise, writes Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said that Escobar's $5MM salary will be re-invested toward finding a suitable third base replacement, either via free agency or trade. Earlier today it was reported that the Marlins have interest in Mark Reynolds, and the team has also been linked to Jack Hannahan tonight, though Hannahan's salary certainly won't approach the $5MM mark. For now, the Marlins aren't close to anything, says Capozzi.
Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel notes, via Twitter, that Zack Cox will get a look in Spring Training but likely isn't ready. The Marlins acquired Cox in exchange for Edward Mujica this past July.
Escobar, a 30-year-old Cuban, hit .253/.300/.344 in 608 plate appearances for the Blue Jays this year. In September, he was suspended for three games by the Blue Jays after displaying an "unacceptable message" on his eye black. He was shipped to the Marlins as part of the November Jose Reyes-Josh Johnson-Mark Buehrle blockbuster, and the Rays appear to be buying low as they often do. Escobar is owed $5MM in 2013 and has $5MM club options for each of the following seasons, on a deal signed in June of 2011. His ability to play an acceptable shortstop generally makes him worth a couple of wins. The Athletics, Yankees, and Cubs had also reportedly shown interest.
The Rays had a need at the position after using Elliot Johnson, Ben Zobrist, and Sean Rodriguez there in 2012. The Marlins prefer to use Adeiny Hechavarria as their shortstop after acquiring from Toronto in the same blockbuster deal. With the trade, Ricky Nolasco becomes the only Marlin earning more than $1.75MM in 2013.
Dietrich, 23, hit .279/.338/.457 in 563 plate appearances across High-A and Double-A this year, playing shortstop and second base. The Rays drafted him in the second round in 2010. Baseball America sees him as a second or third baseman long-term, and given above-average power, suggested prior to the season he had a chance at becoming an above-average big league regular.
Danny Knobler of CBS Sports first reported the deal was close. Photo courtesy of U.S. Presswire.
The Athletics reportedly had meetings lined up in Nashville today with the representatives for Hiroyuki Nakajima and Stephen Drew, as the team's search for a shortstop continues. Here's more on that front, along with the rest of the latest A's notes:
- Oakland is "kicking the tires" on just about every shortstop out there, but isn't close on anyone, says Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
- Yunel Escobar was appealing to the A's in part because he wasn't expected to have significant trade value, so Oakland doesn't want to get in a bidding war for him, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Within the same piece, Slusser notes that GM Billy Beane's preference is for a shortstop that can make an impact in 2013. A long-term piece isn't necessarily something the team wants, with prospect Addison Russell in the pipeline.
- The A's finalized a number of minor league signings, according to Casey Pratt of CSNBayArea.com (via Twitter). Kyler Newby, Luke Montz, Justin Thomas, Garrett Olson, Scott Moore, Darwin Perez, and Mike Ekstrom were added by Oakland.
We received a flurry of Yunel Escobar rumors yesterday once it was revealed that the Marlins were shopping their recently acquired infielder. Specifically, the Athletics had ongoing discussions with the Fish surrounding the controversial shortstop. We'll keep track of today's Escobar rumors with the newest info up top…
- The Rays are still in on Escobar, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Marlins are getting closer to trading the shortstop, but the A's, Yankees, and Cardinals remain involved.
- Despite the fact that they could use a defensive upgrade at shortstop, the Tigers aren't interested in Escobar, or at least don't view him as a fit, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck.
- The A's, Yankees, and Rays are the most likely teams for Escobar, reports Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. Talks with the A's have centered around Brad Peacock or Grant Green, while talks with the other clubs involve younger minor leaguers.
- There's some conflicting info out there on the Yankees' interest in Escobar. Reports yesterday suggested that the Yankees had inquired, and Jayson Stark of ESPN.com tweets that New York is "definitely in" on the shortstop. However, ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Yankees aren't in the mix.
- The other clubs that are "definitely in" on Escobar, according to Stark, are the A's, Cubs, and Rays.