December 2012

Marlins would listen to offers for Stanton

MIAMI — Giancarlo Stanton is a force in the middle of the Miami Marlins. But like any player in the organization, the 23-year-old slugger is not considered “untouchable.”

But that doesn’t mean the Marlins are actively looking to deal Stanton or that the club is planning on trading him anytime soon.

Still, Stanton speculation is running high.

On Sunday, the All-Star right fielder’s name surfaced once again after a Sirius/XM/MLB Network Radio report.

Marlins assistant GM, Dan Jennings, was a guest on the “Front Office” show, with hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette.

Jennings was asked if the Marlins would listen to offers for Stanton. Per company policy, the team does so on any player.

“Oh, I think that’s been our M.O.  I know in the 10 years I’ve been here that’s our M.O.,” Jennings said during the radio segment. “We’ve never not listened to a deal on any player. Sometimes I chuckle when I hear people say, ‘This guy’s untouchable,’ and ‘That guy’s untouchable.’  You know what? They may be untouchable until someone either overwhelms you or you get a package back that makes such a significant improvement on your club going forward. So we’ve always been willing to listen.”

Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest has long stated the same points.

“I think Larry, he’s never said, ‘No.’ But what we’re not going to do is move a player for less than what we value their ability,” Jennings said. “In Giancarlo Stanton you’ve got a [23-year-old] guy that we think going forward has got a chance to be a .300 hitter and [hit] 50 home runs and be a guy that is a big-time run producer. So while we’re not shopping him, certainly not looking to move him, yeah, if someone knocked on our door and said, ‘Hey, would you guys consider this and this and this,’ you have to listen.”

Basically, Jennings repeated the team policy, and there isn’t anything new here, other than a team official publicly addressing Stanton by name.

Yes, the Marlins would move Stanton, but only for a tremendous haul, which means, he would essentially clean out the top prospects of any organization. It would basically take four or maybe five players to complete a deal for Stanton.

Stanton will not be arbitration eligible until 2014, and he isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season. So the Marlins are in no rush to trade Stanton. Yet, it remains highly unlikely he will agree to a long-term contract.

It is appearing more inevitable that sometime before he reaches free agency that Stanton will be moved, because the Marlins are reloading their roster, and will look to add as many quality pieces in the next few years.

– Joe Frisaro

 

 

Marlins not pursuing Alvarez or Diaz

MIAMI — Two touted Cuban prospects will work out for MLB scouts on Jan. 5. Don’t expect the Marlins to pursue either one of them.

According to a source, Miami has zero interest in either Dariel Alvarez or Aledmys Diaz, two Cuban natives who were declared free agents earlier this month.

Alvarez is a 24-year-old outfielder, and Diaz, 22, is a shortstop.

The Marlins are not expected to attend their workout.

A year ago, the Marlins aggressively pursued Cuban-born outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who ended up signing with the A’s. The organization was in a different situation then, looking for a big year with an expensive roster that has since been broken up.

At this point, the Marlins are not willing to spend multi-million dollars on unproven international players.

While the Marlins don’t like to use the word “rebuilding,” there is little pretense about what the franchise is looking to accomplish right now. Although it is unpopular to part with proven players like Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle, Miami is in the process of restocking the organization from the bottom up.

At the big league level, they may be bracing to take their lumps for a couple of years, but the hope is they will develop the necessary foundation to come out of the stretch stronger in the future.

And there are some solid prospects like Jose Fernandez, Christian Yelich and Jake Marisnick who aren’t that far away from being big league ready.

Development is about to take on a greater importance, since the club isn’t expected to be a serious player on the free agent market for at least a year or two.

To turn things around as quickly as possible, the Marlins will be looking to find impact players in their First-Year Player Draft, as well as making sure they receive value in return on any trades that may be made in the near future.

So don’t look for any quick-fix, high-cost signings, or for Miami to be in the mix for Alvarez or Diaz.

Joe Frisaro

Report: Red Sox talking to LaRoche

When we last heard from first baseman Adam LaRoche and the Nationals, there had been “a little bit of progress” toward a new contract. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are still trying to finalize a deal with free agent Mike Napoli, with Boston GM Ben Cherington noting that he’s “got to keep active” looking for a Plan B at first base if Napoli doesn’t work out.

Perhaps LaRoche could be Plan B for the Red Sox. Ken Rosenthal of FOX and MLB Network reported on Thursday morning that the two sides are talking about two- and three-year deals.

It’s well established at this point that LaRoche wants a three-year contract, but the Nationals have been firm in their desire to stick to a two-year deal. Back on Dec. 1, LaRoche told MLB.com that he’s “made it as clear as I can that I want to come back” to the Nationals. LaRoche posted a .271/.343/.510 batting line with 33 homers and 100 RBIs in 2012, winning a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger while leading Washington to a first-place finish in the NL East.

There is still plenty of uncertainty regarding Napoli’s status in Boston. It’s been more than three weeks since his three-year, $39 million deal was first reported, but the contract has not yet been made official. According to Rosenthal’s report, Boston’s doctors found a problem with one of Napoli’s hips during a team physical, and the Red Sox are attempting a “major renegotiation” with him.

While LaRoche could very well be Boston’s preferred Plan B to Napoli, Rosenthal acknowledges that this development could also be an attempt to create leverage for both sides. If Boston lands LaRoche, Napoli would be left without a contract, so he could feel pressured into accepting the renegotiated deal. And while the Nationals have an ideal replacement at first base in Michael Morse, they might feel pressured to take LaRoche’s desire for a three-year deal more seriously if the Red Sox are indeed considering signing him.

Astros not in free agent discussions

Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said in a text Saturday the team is not in “active discussions at this time with free agents.” The text came after Luhnow was asked about Jose Lopez telling reporters at a press conference in Venezuela he was closing to signing with the Astros. Lopez said he was flying to Houston on Wednesday, presumably for a physical.

Lopez, 29, hit .246 with four homers in 248 plate appearances with the Indians and White Sox last year. He played first base, second base, third base and right field. He best year was in 2009, when he hit 25 homers with 96 RBIs for Seattle.

-- Brian McTaggart

Report: Liriano to Pirates

The Pirates agreed to terms on a two-year, $14 million contract with pitcher Francisco Liriano, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Friday.

The deal is pending a physical.

Liriano, 29, was 6-12 with a 5.34 ERA in 34 games, including 28 starts, for the Twins and White Sox last season. He spent most of his career with Minnesota and had his best year during an All-Star 2006 season when he was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA.

– Mark Sheldon

Dec. 20 roundup

  • The Cubs added two pitchers Thursday, agreeing to terms with right-handers Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva, according to reports.
  • While the Cubs added Thursday, the White Sox lost, as longtime White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski agreed to a one-year deal with the Rangers, pending a physical, a source told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan.
  • In other pitching news, the Tigers have talked to the Mariners and Orioles about right-hander Rick Porcello, according to FoxSport.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.
  • The Twins have interest in free agent right-hander Rich Harden, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Our own Rhett Bollinger indicated the Twins are interested in adding another arm on Twitter.
  • In the National League East on Thursday, the Phillies signed reliever Mike Adams, while the Marlins added Placido Polanco.

12/19 Cubs shopping for pitching

The Cubs aren’t finished shopping for pitching, and are reportedly pursuing free agents Edwin Jackson and Carlos Villanueva. The Cubs lost out in their bid for Anibal Sanchez, who rejected a five year, $77 million offer and signed with the Tigers for $80 million. Now Chicago is apparently taking aim at Jackson, 29, who was reportedly seeking a three- to four-year contract after making $11 million last season with the Nationals. The Padres were among the teams believed to be in the mix for Jackson, but there were reports Wednesday that they would not offer more than a three-year deal. Jackson went 10-11 last season and compiled a 4.03 ERA in 31 starts. In his career, he’s 14-9 with a 3.95 ERA in 38 games (36 starts) against the National League Central.

The Cubs already have added free agent pitchers Scott Feldman and Scott Baker, signing both to one-year contracts. But the team wants more depth, especially if Baker and Matt Garza are not ready. Baker is coming back from Tommy John surgery and Garza has just started throwing for the first time since July 21. He was shut down then because of a right elbow injury.

On Wednesday, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network reported that the Cubs had signed Villanueva. However, a source told MLB.com that the two sides were still finalizing details and no deal was done. Villanueva, 29, made 16 starts and 22 relief appearances last season for the Blue Jays, compiling a 4.16 ERA over 125 1/3 innings.
The right-hander, who made $2.2775 million in 2012, has pitched for the Brewers and Blue Jays, making 29 starts in the last two seasons with Toronto. In his career as a starter, he is 16-22 with a 4.80 ERA in 56 games.

– Carrie Muskat

Angels trade Morales for Vargas …

The Angels, a source told MLB.com, have traded designated hitter Kendrys Morales to the Mariners in exchange for starting pitcher Jason Vargas.

Vargas, a 29-year-old left-hander, went 14-11 with a 3.85 ERA in 33 starts last year. Morales batted .273 with 22 homers and 73 RBIs in 2012, his first season removed from a couple of ankle surgeries.

More coming on MLB.com soon.

– Alden Gonzalez 

12/19 Cubs & Jackson?

The Cubs’ pursuit of Anibal Sanchez was a little bit of a surprise considering the team’s approach to free agents has been to buy low. Now, there are reports that the Cubs are interested in free agent pitcher Edwin Jackson. ESPN’s Jim Bowden said the Padres refused to give Jackson a four-year contract, and it’s down to the Cubs and Rangers. Jackson is reportedly seeking $12 to $13 million per year after making $11 million last season with the Nationals.

Let’s look at the numbers. In the last four years, Jackson is 45-41 with a 3.98 ERA in 127 starts and one relief appearance. According to my MLB.com colleague T.R. Sullivan, there have been 63 Major League pitchers who have made at least 100 starts over the last four years, and Jackson has the 35th best ERA in that group. He’s 43rd with 8.99 hits per nine innings, 37th with 2.97 walks, and 34th with 7.29 strikeouts per nine.

More numbers to consider. Since Jackson joined the White Sox at the July 31, 2010, Trade Deadline, he has gone 26-22 with a 3.80 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 74 starts (464 1/3 innings, two complete games) and averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings. Teams have hit .264 against him. In that same span, Sanchez has gone 22-28 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.28 WHIP in 75 starts (462 2/3 innings, four complete games) and averaged 8.5 strikeouts per nine for the Marlins and Tigers. Teams have hit .257 against him.

The Cubs are looking for pitching. Jackson turned 29 in September; Sanchez turns 29 in February. The red flag is that Jackson has pitched for seven different teams, and six in the last five years.

The Cubs reportedly offered Sanchez $77 million over five years. Would they give Jackson four years and $50 million? Would you?

– Carrie Muskat

Is there still room on the Angels’ 2013 payroll?

The acquisition of Josh Hamilton was, in many ways, a two-for-one signing because it also allows general manager Jerry Dipoto to trade a suddenly-expendable player for another starting pitcher.

Question is: Can the Angels take on more payroll in the process?

Hamilton’s five-year, $125 million contract will pay him $17 million in 2013 ($15 million in salary, plus a $10 million signing bonus that’s dispersed evenly over the course of his five-year contract). That, in addition to arbitration projections and minimum contracts, puts the Angels’ 2013 payroll at roughly $159 million, which is about where they finished at last year.

Asked about expanding it further in case of adding a pricey arm, Angels president John Carpino basically said it would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

“Instead of putting [the payroll] at a place where it’s, ‘This is where we’re at,’ it’s, ‘What’s the opportunity cost of doing it?'” Carpino said at Hamilton’s Saturday news conference. “So, if something became available that’s an opportunity cost, it just comes down to wanting to win. But it also has to make sense fiscally.”

Teams are a lot more willing to give up a would-be free agent than a cost-controlled arm, of course.

That’s why, with R.A. Dickey off the board, names like Ricky Nolasco of the Marlins ($11.5 million in his walk year), Gavin Floyd of the White Sox ($9.5 million in his walk year) and Matt Garza of the Cubs (projected $10 million in his final arbitration year) seem to be the most feasible. Rick Porcello of the Tigers (projected $4.7 million in his second arbitration year) has also been mentioned.

Peter Bourjos, who’s still a year away from arbitration and will make about $500,000 in 2013, appeals to many teams. Kendrys Morales, Vernon Wells and — seemingly to a lesser extent — Mark Trumbo can also be made available.

The Angels’ preference would be to acquire a young, pre-arbitration starter who won’t add to the budget (Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore of the Rays comes to mind). But whether or not that situation presents itself remains to be seen.

– Alden Gonzalez

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