Yunel Escobar Rumors

Rays Close To Deal For Yunel Escobar

The Rays are close to a deal with the Marlins for shortstop Yunel Escobar, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.  Knobler says middle infield prospect Derek Dietrich will go to Miami.

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 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 Rays had a need at the position, and the Marlins prefer to use Adeiny Hechavarria, acquired from Toronto in the same blockbuster deal.

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.


Marlins Shopping Escobar; Nolasco Wants Out

Tuesday, 1:42am: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the Cubs and Yankees have also checked in on Escobar. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle also recently confirmed that the A's are in ongoing discussions with the Marlins about Escobar.

Monday, 9:05pm: A's GM Billy Beane met with Marlins officials today, hears MLB.com's Jane Lee.  However, Lee does not know if the meeting involved Escobar.

6:23pm: The Rays are pursuing Escobar and the A's could be in play, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

5:58pm: The Marlins are "actively shopping" shortstop Yunel Escobar, tweets MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.  The Marlins are in trade talks with at least two teams, tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.  Escobar, acquired in last month's blockbuster trade/salary dump with the Blue Jays respresents one of the Marlins' bigger contracts at $5MM. The Marlins also acquired shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in the trade, so Escobar has been penciled in as the team's third baseman.

The Marlins' highest-paid player, pitcher Ricky Nolasco, would prefer a trade, agent Matt Sosnick told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick.  Neither Nolasco nor Sosnick has directly requested a trade, however, tweets Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  Nolasco, 30 in December, posted a 4.48 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.85 HR/9, and 46.6% groundball rate in 191 innings this year.  He'll earn $11.5MM in 2013.


A’s Discussing Escobar With Marlins

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A's are indeed engaged in ongoing discussions with the Marlins regarding Yunel Escobar, as was previously speculated. Slusser's piece contains plenty of A's material, so here's the latest on the reigning AL West Champs…

  • Not surprisingly the Escobar discusssions aren't believed to be centered around anyone on the Athletics' Major League roster.
  • Slusser reports that the A's have heavy competition for Brandon McCarthy, as the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Royals, Red SoxWhite Sox and Twins have already met with the right-hander, and the Angels and Rangers are expected to join the fray.
  • McCarthy would consider a one-year deal to prove that he has successfully recovered from his frightening head injury and brain surgery late in the 2012 season.
  • Hiroyuki Nakajima is more concerned with playing time than salary, according to Slusser, which could increase Oakland's appeal to the Japanese shortstop.


Passan’s Latest: Myers, Fowler, Asdrubal, McCarthy

The Royals have been shopping top prospect Wil Myers but only in exchange for starting pitching, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan.  Earlier this week, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reported that Kansas City was known to be at least listening to offers for Myers and top position players like Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer.  The only untouchable Royals appear to be Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez due to their team-friendly contracts — "executives consider [Perez's deal] the best in the game," Passan writes.

The Royals have discussed trades with the Rays, Mariners, Diamondbacks and Athletics, Passan reports.  While Myers would be of interest to any team, he is of particular value to low-payroll teams like the Rays and A's given that Gordon and Butler have large contracts and Moustakas/Hosmer are Scott Boras clients.

Here are some more items from Passan…

  • The Rockies' asking price for Dexter Fowler is "absurd," one rival executive tells Passan.  It appears to be a buyers' market for center fielders right now, though another executive warns that "it will shake out" as the offseason progresses.
  • The Indians are shopping Asdrubal Cabrera, though "not at Black Friday prices," an executive says.  Cabrera is one of a few shortstops on the trade market, along with the Astros' Jed Lowrie and the Marlins' Yunel Escobar.
  • Teams are more worried about Brandon McCarthy's history of arm injuries than with his season-ending brain surgery.  If McCarthy's medicals are clear, however, a team executive thinks the right-hander will get a multiyear contract.
  • Anibal Sanchez's demands for a six-year, $90MM contract are "crazy, and he's probably going to get it," an executive tells Passan.

Marlins Links: Beinfest, Union, Escobar, Raburn

The Marlins' controversial blockbuster deal with the Blue Jays "will be a factor" in Miami's ability to attract future free agents, club president of baseball options Larry Beinfest admitted to media members (including MLB.com's Joe Frisaro).  Though the Marlins could face "some disdain in the marketplace," Beinfest said his team has no plans to change its policy of not offering no-trade clauses.

"It is what it is. We will deal with it," Beinfest said.  "We won't know until we get into those negotiations with free agents, or we show over a sustained period of time that we operate in a certain manner. It's definitely not great for the club, and we're going to have to deal with it."

Here are some more items from south Florida…

  • MLBPA head Michael Wiener said the union will monitor the Marlins during the 2013 season to make sure that the team is complying with the collective bargaining agreement, reports Ronald Blum of the Associated Press.
  • Though the Marlins didn't officially acquire Yunel Escobar from Toronto until yesterday, they were shopping the shortstop to other teams last week, reports Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan (Twitter link).  Escobar is set to make $5MM in 2013 and the Fish hold $5MM club options on him in both 2014 and 2015, though even this team-friendly deal might be too pricey for the Marlins at this time.
  • Ryan Raburn, released today by the Tigers, is "a realistic option" for the Marlins, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.  The versatile Raburn could provide depth at several positions for Miami and has a career slash line of .256/.311/.430 over seven seasons in Detroit.

Blue Jays, Marlins Complete Blockbuster Trade

Commissioner Bud Selig has approved the blockbuster trade that the Blue Jays and Marlins agreed to last week.  The Blue Jays announced the 12-player trade, which sends Jose ReyesJosh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio and cash considerations to Toronto for Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Justin Nicolino, Anthony Desclafani and Jake Marisnick.

The deal, which calls for the Marlins to send the Blue Jays $4MM, required the approval of the commissioner's office.  The Blue Jays are taking on tens of millions in future payroll obligations, while the Marlins are moving the contracts of Reyes and Buehrle less than one full year after signing them as free agents.

Ultimately the deal "represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both clubs," Selig said in a statement approving the trade.

Reyes, 29, hit .287/.347/.433 with eleven home runs in 716 plate appearances last season.  The batting line wasn't quite as impressive as the .337/.384/.493 he put up in his contract year with New York, but it was promising to see the shortstop appear in 160 games after missing 191 games across the previous three seasons.  Despite the club's disappointing performance last season, Reyes said over the summer that he didn't have any regrets about signing with Miami.  

Buehrle's deal, like Reyes', is heavily backloaded with the hurler set to earn $11MM in 2013, $18MM in 2014, and $19MM in 2015 after making just $6MM in 2012.  The contract also includes a $4MM signing bonus that's deferred without interest.  While considering a number of offers, Buehrle was said to be prioritizing a no-trade clause, something he didn't end up receiving from the Marlins.  The veteran had a 3.74 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 31 starts for Miami last season.  

Bonifacio played just 64 games in an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.  The 27-year-old can fill a number of different roles, having experience at all three outfield positions, second base, shortstop, and third base.  Buck, 32, earned his first All-Star selection in 2010 as a member of the Blue Jays.  His offensive production regressed in the two years since, posting a .213/.308/.358 batting line for the Marlins.

While the Marlins gave up a substantial amount of talent in the trade, they won't be coming away empty handed.  Hechavarria was a highly-regarded prospect in the Blue Jays' organization and his play reportedly had Toronto executives ready to part with Escobar in the right trade.  Of course, this megadeal sends both shortstops out of town.

Escobar struggled at the plate last season, hitting .253/.300/.344 with nine homers in 608 plate appearances.  The infielder does come with a team-friendly contract, however, as he'll earn $5MM in 2013 with team options for the same amount in '14 and '15.  For his career, the 30-year-old has a .282/.353/.390 batting line in six seasons with the Braves and Blue Jays.  Mathis, 29, came to the Blue Jays last season in a trade for Brad Mills that helped ease the Angels' catching glut.  The veteran will earn $3MM across the next two seasons with a club option for 2015 worth $1.5MM.

The Marlins also picked up a quartet of quality youngsters in the trade.  Alvarez, 22, made 31 starts for the Blue Jays last season with a 4.85 ERA and 3.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.  Nicolino, taken in the second-round of the 2010 draft, has received high praise for his aggressive pitching and willingness to pound the strike zone.  The Florida native cruised through Single-A ball last year, posting a 2.46 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.

Marisnick, 21, was rated as the No. 67 prospect in the country and the No. 3 prospect in the Blue Jays' organization after the 2011 season by Baseball America.  The publication also considered the former third-round pick to have the best defensive skillset and arm of any outfielder in the Toronto farm system.  DeSclafani, taken in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft, posted a 3.37 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in his debut season for Single-A Lansing.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post.


The Latest On The Marlins-Blue Jays Blockbuster

The baseball world is still reeling from the Blue Jays-Marlins blockbuster, which still has yet to be made official. A total of 12 players will change hands once things are finalized. Here's the latest on the trade…

  • It has taken some time to collect all 12 players for their physicals, which is why Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) reports the trade won't be completed until Friday or Saturday.  Rosenthal notes that Jose Reyes was on vacation in Dubai at the time of the deal and is just returning to Miami tonight.
  • Commissioner Bud Selig told Bob Nightengale of USA Today that the trade is currently being reviewed (Twitter link). Selig said he is "not happy," but so far doesn't he see a reason to disallow the deal according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • Selig has heard a lot of grumbling from other owners about the trade, writes Ken Davidoff of The New York Post. Clubs from the AL East, NL West, and NL Central are not happy with the on-field ramifications of the swap.
  • "A couple of years from now we might look back on this as a warning sign," said an official to ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider required). There is concern within the game that the latest collective bargaining agreement hurt small market clubs and that similar blockbuster sell-offs may become more frequent.
  • The Marlins plan to start Adeiny Hechavarria at shortstop with Yunel Escobar playing third base, Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. However, the Marlins haven't ruled out flipping Escobar to a third team.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes (on Twitter) that the Marlins will receive a combined 32 years of team control over the players in the trade. The Blue Jays, however, will receive just 12 years of control.

Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.


Blue Jays To Acquire Johnson, Reyes, Buehrle From Marlins

The Blue Jays have reached agreement on a deal with the Marlins that will send right-hander Josh Johnson, left-hander Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Emilio Bonifacio, and catcher John Buck to Toronto for shortstop Yunel Escobar, infielder Adeiny Hechavarria, right-hander Henderson Alvarez, left-hander Justin Nicolino, outfielder Jake Marisnick, catcher Jeff Mathis, and right-hander Anthony DeSclafani.  The deal, which will also call for the Marlins to send $4MM to the Blue Jays, is awaiting MLB approval.

The shocking trade effectively means that the Marlins are hitting the reset button on a team which had a payroll in the range of $100MM on Opening Day last season.  The Marlins brought out the checkbook last winter to draw fans to their brand new stadium, signing Reyes to a six-year, $106MM deal and Buehrle to a four-year, $58MM deal.  Neither player had a no-trade clause as per club policy.  Miami now has roughly $16MM in non-arbitration commitments heading into 2013.

Meanwhile, the blockbuster deal could make the Blue Jays a serious threat in the AL East.   Johnson, the first player first known to be involved in the deal, turned in a solid 2012 season after missing the bulk of 2011 with inflammation in his right shoulder.  The 28-year-old wasn't as quite as sharp as he was in 2009 and '10 but still posted a 3.81 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.

Reyes, 29, hit .287/.347/.433 with eleven home runs in 716 plate appearances last season.  The batting line wasn't quite as impressive as the .337/.384/.493 he put up in his contract year with New York, but it was promising to see the shortstop appear in 160 games after missing 191 games across the previous three seasons.  Despite the club's disappointing performance last season, Reyes said over the summer that he didn't have any regrets about signing with Miami.  

Buehrle's deal, like Reyes', is heavily backloaded with the hurler set to earn $11MM in 2013, $18MM in 2014, and $19MM in 2015 after making just $6MM in 2012.  The contract also includes a $4MM signing bonus that's deferred without interest.  While considering a number of offers, Buehrle was said to be prioritizing a no-trade clause, something he obviously didn't receive from the Marlins.  The veteran had a 3.74 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 31 starts for Miami last season.  

Bonifacio played just 64 games in an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.  The 27-year-old can fill a number of different roles, having experience at all three outfield positions, second base, shortstop, and third base.  Buck, 32, earned his first All-Star selection in 2010 as a member of the Blue Jays.  His offensive production came back to earth in the two years since, posting a .213/.308/.358 batting line for the Marlins.

While the Marlins gave up a boatload of talent in the trade, they won't be coming away empty handed.  Hechavarria was a highly-regarded prospect in the Blue Jays' organization and his play reportedly had Toronto brass ready to part with Escobar in the right trade.  Of course, this megadeal sends both shortstops out of town.

Escobar struggled at the plate last season, hitting .253/.300/.344 with nine homers in 608 plate appearances.  The infielder does come with a team-friendly contract, however, as he'll earn $5MM in 2013 with team options for the same amount in '14 and '15.  For his career, the 30-year-old has a .282/.353/.390 batting line in six seasons with the Braves and Blue Jays.  Mathis, 29, came to the Blue Jays last season in a trade for Brad Mills that helped ease the Angels' catching glut.  The veteran will earn $3MM across the next two seasons with a club option for 2015 worth $1.5MM.

The Marlins also picked up a quartet of quality youngsters in the trade.  Alvarez, 22, made 31 starts for the Blue Jays last season with a 4.85 ERA and 3.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.  Nicolino, taken in the second-round of the 2010 draft, has received high praise for his aggressive pitching and willingness to pound the strike zone.  The Florida native cruised through Single-A ball last year, posting a 2.46 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.

Marisnick, 21, was rated as the No. 67 prospect in the country and the No. 3 prospect in the Blue Jays' organization after the 2011 season by Baseball America.  The publication also considered the former third-round pick to have the best defensive skillset and arm of any outfielder in the Toronto farm system.  DeSclafani, taken in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft, posted a 3.37 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in his debut season for Single-A Lansing.

The trade was initially reported by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports with additional details coming from ESPN.com's Buster Olney, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, and Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel.


Quick Hits: Pagan, Upton, Rodriguez, Yankees

Many teams now find themselves flush with cash thanks to lucrative national and local TV contracts, making this a promising offseason for free agents, writes Buster Olney of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd).  "There's so much money out there, it's scary," said a highly ranked executive.  Top free agents such as Zack Greinke are obviously in line for major paydays, but other free agents such as Angel Pagan, Ryan Ludwick, and Mike Adams could be in for more money than they ever imagined.  More from around baseball..

  • Even after moving Chris Young, the Diamondbacks could part with Justin Upton and go with an outfield of Gerardo Parra, Adam Eaton, and Jason Kubel with A.J. Pollock in reserve, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Arizona could also move Kubel and keep Upton instead, but financially it would make more sense to move Upton as he is owed $38.5MM over the next three years.
  • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times imagines that the Rays would have interest in Alex Rodriguez as a DH if the Yankees were willing to eat enough of his contract.  The embattled third baseman is owed $114MM over the next five years and holds a complete no-trade clause.
  • Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News lists some possible destinations for Rodriguez in 2013.
  • Yankees' GM Brian Cashman told ESPN Radio he will listen to offers for Rodriguez (h/t MLB.com's Evan Drellich). "It's not like I'm going to hang phones up on anybody who wants to make any overtures about anything. You're talking about realistic stuff and unrealistic stuff. I don't think it's realistic at all for us to be moving forward with anything but Alex Rodriguez at third base."
  • Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) suggests that the Yankees blow up the team in an effort to get younger and more athletic.  Bowden's proposed plan calls for the club to start by convincing Rodriguez to waive his no-trade clause and filling his spot with the likes of a Chase Headley.
  • The Orioles should have interest in Scott Feldman, if the Rangers decline his $9.25MM option, reasons CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff. The Orioles need additional rotation depth and a long reliever, roles Feldman has performed before. The right-hander is also liked by manager Buck Showalter, who was the Rangers' skipper when Feldman made his debut in 2005. 
  • The Blue Jays will look to trade Yunel Escobar but it won't be easy because of his reputation, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com
  • The revival of Mark McGwire's baseball career stems from the opportunity former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa gave the slugger as the team's hitting coach, writes Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. For McGwire, he's brought staggering results to the St. Louis lineup as the team has led the National League in batting average over the past three seasons under his tutelage.  

Daniel Seco contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Upton, Escobar, Farrell, Red Sox

As the Orioles host the Blue Jays and the Rays play at Fenway Park, here's the latest from the AL East…

  • It seems as if B.J. Upton is entering his final days with the Rays, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
  • It shouldn't be seen as a foregone conclusion that the Blue Jays will part ways with Yunel Escobar, opines MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm in a series of tweets.  The Jays aren't in the habit of selling low on players, plus Chisholm argues that Escobar is still an asset given his team-friendly contract and the Jays' need for a second baseman.
  • Also from Chisholm, the Jays were never "actively" looking to deal Escobar before the trade deadline and trade rumors about the shortstop were "drastically overblown." 
  • The Escobar controversy and the Blue Jays' poor record may hurt John Farrell's standing as the perceived favorite to become the next Red Sox manager, an unnamed baseball executive tells ESPN Boston's Gordon Edes.  The executive also suggests that Boston should hire a new manager quickly and make it clear that he is the consensus choice, as opposed to the feeling last winter that team ownership hired Bobby Valentine over GM Ben Cherington's objections.
  • Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe makes a few predictions and thoughts about what the Red Sox need to do this offseason.  Abraham guesses Farrell, Tim Bogar or Torey Lovullo will manage the Sox next year, David Ortiz and Cody Ross will re-sign and the Sox will hire a "director of pitching" to oversee pitchers throughout the organization.
  • Ichiro Suzuki's recent performance has spurred the Yankees and changed the conversation about his playing future, says Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  "Two weeks ago, the big talk about Ichiro was that his most likely destination next season was Japan. Now, you hear talk that the San Francisco Giants could represent a likely landing spot," writes Baker.  Though the Giants have a history of signing veteran free agents and their outfield will be in flux this winter, I'm not sure they're a good fit for Ichiro given his age and demands for playing time.
  • MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith compiled another set of AL East notes earlier today.