November 2012

Cabrera, Blue Jays near two-year deal

The Blue Jays and outfielder Melky Cabrera have agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract, ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas reported Friday afternoon. A source confirmed to MLB.com that the two sides are near a deal.

Cabrera was suspended 50 games in August for violating Major League Baseball’s drug program, testing positive for testosterone. The 28-year-old was leading the National League in hitting at the time, and also had previously been named an All-Star and earned MVP honors at the Midsummer Classic. He finished 2012 hitting .346 with 11 home runs and a .906 OPS for the Giants.

Cabrera, a seven-year veteran, had a breakout season in 2011 for Kansas City, posting 201 hits and a .305/.339/.470 slash line.

Before his then-career year as a Royal, Cabrera failed to live up to his promise with the Yankees (2005-09) and the Braves in 2010.

- Cash Kruth

Nolasco, Stanton part of Marlins’ plans

MIAMI — Expect Ricky Nolasco to be with the Marlins in 2013, and the organization hopes to have Giancarlo Stanton playing in Miami for the foreseeable future.

Marlins president David Samson addressed both players on Thursday during a radio segment on “The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz” on 790 AM The Ticket.

Nolasco, in the final year of his contract, has been the subject of trade rumors of late. But Samson gave a definitive “yes.”

“Yes. Yes, he will,” Samson said when asked if Nolasco would be with the team next year.

Nolasco, the franchise’s all-time victory leader, is signed for $11.5 million, making him the highest-paid player on the roster.

Many fans are wondering about Stanton, who still hasn’t reached his arbitration years. The Marlins have no intention on trading their 23-year-old slugger, who was second in the National League in home runs in 2012.

“Giancarlo is on the team for, I want to say, four years at the minimum,” Samson said. “We’d love to have him end his career here because we think he is that good. If he wants to be with us, we will be able to work out something long term. If not, not. But we’re not even up to that now.”

Stanton will be eligible for arbitration in 2014, and eligible for free agency after the 2016 season.

“Having him in the lineup and healthy is critical,” Samson said. “If he can play a full season his numbers will be quote spectacular.”

Joe Frisaro

Angels like Kuroda, but only as fallback

The Angels are among those interested in signing veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported. But he’s mostly considered a fall-back option if they can’t resign Zack Greinke, a source told MLB.com.

The Angels probably can’t afford to sign both. Not when you consider Kuroda turned down the Yankees’ $13.3 million qualifying offer, a sign he’s looking for more money; or that Greinke’s price tag will probably be at least $120 million on a six-year deal; or that the Angels also have to fill holes in their bullpen; or that Jerry Dipoto paid $3.5 million to buy out Dan Haren’s contract largely because they didn’t want to pay $15.5 million for a back-end starter.

Of course, Kuroda was much better than Haren last year, and there’s a lot to like about him moving forward.

The 37-year-old has talked about finishing his career back home in Japan, so it may only take a one-year deal to sign him. He’s been very consistent in his five years in the big leagues, going 57-57 with a 3.42 ERA and 184 innings per season (including a career-high 219 2/3 with New York in 2012). And he spent his first four years on the West coast, pitching for the Dodgers.

Heyman also listed the Dodgers and Red Sox as interested suitors in Kuroda, adding that he’s a priority for the Yankees.

The Angels have just Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson returning from last year’s rotation — with Garrett Richards being the fifth starter, in an ideal world — so they’re checking in on basically every top arm available.

But the most important thing for them  is to get more clarity on Greinke’s future destination. The sooner that happens, the better an idea they can have on how to allocate their money.

– Alden Gonzalez

Tigers reach two-year deal with Torii Hunter

That didn’t take long. A day after Torii Hunter visited Detroit, the free-agent outfielder and the Tigers reached an agreement on a two-year contract, pending a physical. Sources confirmed the deal, first reported by Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Hunter left Detroit Tuesday night and reportedly did not have an offer. The deal came together quickly Wednesday morning.

Hunter not only fills the corner outfield spot that stood as the lone void in the Tigers lineup, he provides Detroit with the right-handed bat it conspicuously lacked throughout the 2012 season in its struggles against left-handed pitching.

Add in Hunter’s proven tablesetting abilities in the second spot — he goes from batting between Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to slotting between Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera — along with his smart baserunning and still-standout defense, and there’s plenty to like for the Tigers in the deal.

While Hunter gets a multi-year contract that will take him just shy of his 40th birthday, the Tigers get the future flexibility to mix top prospects Avisail Garcia and Nick Castellanos into their outfield. Garcia was a postseason hero for Detroit at age 21, while Castellanos knocked on the door of a September call-up at age 20.

Both could benefit greatly from working with Hunter, whose impact was credited by AL Rookie of the Year and MVP candidate Mike Trout for helping him adjust so quickly to the big leagues with the Angels.

Jason Beck

Marlins not intending to trade Stanton

MIAMI — Major turnover is taking place with the Marlins, but a player not being shopped is Giancarlo Stanton.

The Marlins have no intention to trade their All-Star right fielder. According to a source, the slugger pretty much remains untouchable, at least for 2013.

Miami has Stanton under club control for one more season before he is eligible for arbitration. And he won’t have the necessary service time to become a free agent until after the 2016 season.

Currently, the Marlins are not in discussions with Stanton’s representatives regarding a long-term contract.

Despite being limited by injuries to 123 games, Stanton finished second in the National League in home runs with 37. He’s belted 93 home runs in 373 games since being called up in June of 2010.

The Marlins are finalizing a blockbuster deal that will send Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and John Buck to the Blue Jays.

In return, the Marlins will receive Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis and prospects Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick and Anthony DeSclafani.

Stanton, who turned 23 on Nov. 8, expressed his frustration via Twitter on Tuesday after learning of Miami’s pending trade with Toronto. “Alright, I’m [ticked] off!!! Plain & Simple,” Stanton tweeted.

Tuesday’s trade removes about $160 million of base salary commitments off Miami’s books.

Although the trade is unpopular in South Florida, the Marlins are redirecting and are hopeful they’ve added pieces for a better future. Also, they’ve created payroll flexibility.

Stanton’s role with the organization magnifies now as he has become the face of the franchise.

Joe Frisaro

Red Sox in contact with Bay

The Red Sox are in the market for at least one starting outfielder, if not two, and a familiar name is out there. Jason Bay was a popular run producer during the year-and-a-half he played in Boston, but then went to the Mets, where he has had three horrific, injury-plagued seasons. Some thought that Bay was a bad fit for the Mets right from the outset. Could coming back to Boston resurrect his career?

It is at least a possibility. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted the following: “The Red Sox are among the teams in contact with Jason Bay, as he considers his options for 2013. Looking for opportunity, familiarity.”

Fenway’s friendly dimensions in left field are a far better fit for Bay’s swing than CitiField ever was.

The Red Sox’s interest in Bay could depend on how things go with Cody Ross, who was a positive presence on the field and in the clubhosue for Boston in 2012. Ross is a free agent and said to be seeking a three-year deal. The Braves are among the teams who have shown early interest.

Ian Browne

Reyes, Johnson reportedly heading to Toronto in mega-deal

The Marlins and Blue Jays are on the verge of a massive blockbuster deal that will dramatically alter the balance of the American League East and reshape Miami’s immediate future, according to multiple reports Tuesday night.

The reported mega-deal, broken on Twitter by FOXSports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi, will send almost all of Miami’s highest-paid stars — including shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle — to Toronto in exchange for a huge haul of young players and top prospects.

Baseball sources confirmed to MLB.com that Johnson, outfield prospect Jake Marisnick and catcher Jeff Mathis are involved in the deal, and Justin Nicolino posted on his Twitter account that he is heading to Miami. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that Toronto will also receive $4 million as part of the deal. The deal has been confirmed by several other media outlets, but neither club has commented on or confirmed the trade as of Tuesday night.

Here’s what the trade looks like, based on all the latest information and reports:

Toronto will receive shortstop Jose Reyes, pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, catcher John Buck, utility man Emilio Bonifacio and cash.

Miami will receive shortstops Adeiny Hechavarria and Yunel Escobar, pitchers Henderson Alvarez, Anthony DeSclafani and Justin Nicolino and outfielder Jake Marisnick.

It is no exaggeration to say this trade will have a huge impact on the AL East, as the Blue Jays have added two talented veterans to their rotation and a dynamic hitter, fielder and baserunner at a premium position.

As for the Marlins, they have cleared out almost all of their major financial obligations, significantly lowering their payroll. They might not be done, either, as Rosenthal reported that Ricky Nolasco may not be far behind Hanley Ramirez, Heath Bell, Reyes, Johnson, Buehrle, Bonifacio and Buck in leaving Miami.

The Marlins got a chance to start over last winter, going on an offseason spending spree that quickly assembled new, exciting talent under their new manager in their new, $600 million ballpark with their new jerseys and new Miami moniker. Less than a year later, they have completely dismantled that club and added a big haul of young players through a blockbuster trade nobody saw coming.

-Adam Berry

Orioles interested in trading for 1B, DH and LF

The Orioles are telling teams their priority in the trade market is for first base, designated hitter (which could be grouped together, obviously) and left field and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said Tuesday there are several clubs that they match up with. This brings up a few questions, most notably, where does that leave Mark Reynolds?

The team has until Nov. 30 to offer Reynolds –who is arbitration-eligible– a contract or reach another agreement that keeps him in Baltimore. Otherwise, he will become a free agent and be free to sign anywhere. Reynolds lives in Arizona in the offseason  and would likely factor in the allure of living home during Spring Training –and perhaps returning to the National League — if he does land on the open market, which has a pretty weak class of first baseman as it stands right now. If the O’s let him get to free agency, it’d be hard to imagine a scenario where Reynolds would resign in Baltimore. It’s not impossible, I just don’t see it happening if it gets that far.

The O’s being in the market for a left fielder also begs the immediate question about Nolan Reimold, who is recovering from season-ending neck surgery. The sense right now remains that Reimold will be a full-go in Spring Training, and it will be interesting to see how the Orioles go about adding outfielders. The club is still talking to free agent Nate McLouth about a potential return, although nothing is imminent there.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter prefers to rotate the DH-spot in a perfect world and the team hasn’t been in talks with retaining the free-agent Jim Thome, who is still undecided (at least, publicly) as to whether he will play in 2013.

–Brittany Ghiroli

Tribe notes: Choo on the move?

The Indians are willing to listen  to trade offers for a number of their players, but right fielder Shin-Soo Choo seems the likeliest candidate to be moved. He is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and is represented by uber agent Scott Boras.

Boras is famous for taking his players to free agency rather than exploring contract extensions. That is a large part of the reason Cleveland has not been able to sign Choo to a multi-year deal, despite the club’s efforts. During the recent GM Meetings, Boras continued to lay the groundwork for Choo’s likely exit out of Cleveland by firing a shot at Indians ownership.

“Choo’s let it be known that he has a desire to win,” Boras told a group of reporters. “I think the ownership in Cleveland, foundationally, they’re going to have to illustrate some dynamics with new revenues and where they stand about what they do to show their fan base and their players who they are in competing.

“That’s a new calling that they are going to have to bring forth to give players, and everybody involved, [an idea] about what their intentions are in their ownership.”

Indians GM Chris Antonetti chose not to get into a war of words with Boras.

“I don’t think we really need to react to that,” Antonetti said. “We obviously have to conduct business the way we think it makes sense for the franchise.”

As for Choo?

“We have, on numerous occasions, looked to try to extend Choo’s stay in Cleveland,” Antonetti said. “We’ve looked to extend his contract. We just haven’t been able to reach an agreement.”

Under the circumstances, it makes sense for the Indians to be open minded about trading Choo this offseason, or prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. Otherwise, Cleveland will likely be in line for Draft compensation if/when Choo hits free agency next winter.

Other items of note:

  • Kevin Youkilis fits a need for the Indians. He provides some pop from the right side and can fill the hole at first base. Plus, he can add some veteran leadership to a young clubhouse. All the signs point to Cleveland having interest in the free agent, and the club does. Other teams reported to be interested: Mariners, Marlins, Phillies, Dodgers and White Sox.
  • The Indians have been rumored to have some level of interest in outfielder Jason Bay. Free-agent outfielder Melky Cabrera might also be a player Cleveland targets in its search for outfield help this winter. The list of targets is undoubtedly long, and the Tribe is likely in the early stages of talks at this point.
  • According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Indians are one of several teams who have shown interest in outfielder Shane Victorino. Texas and Boston have also been mentioned as potential suitors.
  • The Indians lack impact pitching prospects at the upper level of their farm system, so that is something the club will look to acquire as part of any trade (for Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Justin Masterson or Chris Perez, among others). So, it was not surprising that ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Tribe has sought young arms as part of trade discussions for Cabrera.

–Jordan Bastian 

Source: Tigers meeting with Torii Hunter in Detroit

Torii Hunter has been to Comerica Park and downtown Detroit several times as a visiting player. On Tuesday, he took a visit as a free agent, meeting with members of the Tigers front office as Detroit took its courtship to an in-person level.

A source confirmed what is being characterized as a meet-and-greet visit, first reported by FOXSports.com. The Tigers have an organizational policy of not commenting on free agents.

It is not necessarily a sign of an imminent deal for Hunter, who is weighing a visit with at least one other club and isn’t believed to have an offer from the Tigers yet. Nevertheless, it’s a sign that the courtship has grown serious. It also reinforces Hunter’s prediction on MLB Network Monday that his free-agent recruitment wouldn’t be drawn-out.

Hunter has played in Detroit on the visiting side for years, so long that he played at Tiger Stadium as a rookie for the Minnesota Twins in 1999. Tuesday’s visit allowed him a chance to meet with team officials in a different setting and get an idea about Hunter’s potential fit on the team.

Jason Beck

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