December 2012

Ryu Rejects Dodgers Offer

The Dodgers made a multi-year offer to Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, but it was rejected. If Ryu doesn’t reach a contract agreement with the Dodgers by Sunday, he would revert back to his club in Korea and the Dodgers would be refunded a $25.7 million posting fee. The Dodgers are still hoping to add Ryu and top free-agent Zack Greinke to their starting rotation, but also are talking to the Mets about an R.A. Dickey trade. — Ken Gurnick

Mariners looking to extend Felix Hernandez’s contract

Felix Hernandez has two years at $40.5 million remaining on his contract with the Mariners, who’d like to lock him up for a longer term at some point this offseason.

Hernandez, 26, is often the subject of trade speculation from teams wondering if Seattle would be willing to move him in exchange for much-needed offense, but general manager Jack Zduriencik continues to steadfastly say his ace isn’t going anywhere.

Zduriencik plays things close to the vest, but indicated again Tuesday that keeping Hernandez long-term is a priority.

“We’ve always had a great relationship with the agency that represents him. It’s still that way,” Zduriencik said. “To get into any talks about extensions or anything, I wouldn’t want to publicly do that. But he’s made it clear he’d like to stay here and we’ve made it clear we’d like to keep him. And that’s the best way to answer that.”

– Greg Johns

Angels still not sounding confident on Greinke

The Angels continue to sound like a club that isn’t counting on resigning Zack Greinke.

Obviously, things can change very quickly, and Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has a recent track record of being very coy about his pursuit of big-name free agents (see: 2011 Winter Meetings). But the price tags continue to be sky high — with Dan Haren signing for $13 million and Shane Victorino reportedly getting a three-year, $39 million deal from the Red Sox — and the Angels continue to seem content with simply adding one middle-tier starter and one back-end reliever.

On Tuesday afternoon, Day 2 of the Winter Meetings from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted that the Dodgers “have become [the] clear favorite to land Greinke,” echoing a sentiment that has been widely reported/speculated for most of the offseason. The Angels, who continue to be portrayed as a dark horse, want to avoid what happened last season, when they committed a lot of money to the rotation and were essentially tapped out in August, unable to add to a bullpen that badly needed an upgrade.

The Nationals dropped out on Greinke with the Haren signing, seemingly making it a three-team race. If Greinke’s price gets to $150 million, the Angels are likely out. If he’s willing to settle for something less, they have a chance.

But this is still the most likely scenario for Dipoto: Sign one No. 3 starter to slot between Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and Tommy Hanson and Garrett Richards/Jerome Williams (Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, etc.); sign one more back-end reliever to complement Ryan Madson, Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen (Mike Adams, Sean Burnett, Koji Uehara, etc.).

Dipoto wouldn’t go into much detail in his daily briefing with local reporters on Tuesday, but he did re-iterate that he’s “100 percent” only looking at pitchers and that free agency — not the trade market — is almost his sole focus. The Angels did circle back with Haren, talking to him as recently as Monday, and a source said they improved on their original offer (one-year at $4 million with an $8 million vesting option) before buying out his contract.

Asked whether he was close on any pitchers, Dipoto said …

“Can’t say for certain that I’m getting warm on anything, but again, we’ve picked up the targets that we’re most interested in, we’ve had great discussions — in some cases multiple layers. We’re making progress, the extent of which I can’t tell you. I don’t know if anything gets done today, tomorrow, or post-[Winter Meetings], but I am certain that we’ll line up with a team on the field, and time will make the proper decision.”

– Alden Gonzalez

A’s, Rays among teams interested in Escobar

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Trade talks have picked up regarding Yunel Escobar, and the Rays and A’s are among the teams most interested.

The Marlins are planning on dealing Escobar, quite possibly before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.

Escobar, a veteran infielder, was acquired by the Marlins on Nov. 19 from the Blue Jays. A career shortstop, Miami was considering playing Escobar at third base.

In return, the Marlins are likely to receive a Triple-A pitcher.

In other news, the Marlins main their firm stance that they will not trade slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Plenty of teams, including the Yankees, have inquired about the All-Star right fielder. The Marlins are telling teams Stanton is not available.

Also, the Marlins do not intend on trading Ricky Nolasco. On Monday, the right-hander’s agent, Matt Sosnick, made it public that Nolasco would prefer to be dealt before the start of Spring Training.

Nolasco is lined up to make $11.5 million in 2013, the final year of his contract. There is a chance he still could be moved by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Joe Frisaro

Brewers, Mets discussed Dickey

Brewers and Mets officials met at the Winter Meetings to discuss New York knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner being dangled in trade talks. But Brewers GM Doug Melvin said there was no match.

“I just talked to them briefly, but there is nothing to that,” said Melvin, who was Rangers GM when that team drafted Dickey in 1996. “We never got into [exchanging names]. It doesn’t appear to be a match.”

The Mets’ asking price for Dickey is said to be high. He pitched for the Brewers’ Triple-A club in 2007 and was Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year while tinkering with his now-famous knuckleball.

– Adam McCalvy

 

 

Showalter on McLouth, Reynolds, trades

Today was manager Buck Showalter’s day to meet with the media at the Winter Meetings in Nashville, and here the Hot Stove highlights…

*Asked if he was getting antsy that they hadn’t made any moves, Showalter said it was actually the opposite. It appears that the Orioles value for their players in higher than other clubs and so far Baltimore won’t budge.

*Free agent outfielder Nate McLouth and Showalter spoke on the phone earlier today and the expectation is McLouth’s agent will meet with executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette at some point today. The Orioles want McLouth back and he wants to come back, assuming the two sides can work out a fair deal.

*Speaking of returns, Showalter said the club has not ruled out a return for first baseman Mark Reynolds, who was non-tendered on Friday. Reynolds is a free agent along with Omar Quintanilla –who was also non-tendered– and the O’s aren’t eliminating either player as an option for next season.

–Brittany Ghiroli

A’s to meet with agent for Nakajima

NASHVILLE, TENN. — According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, A’s officials are slated to meet with the agent for free-agent Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima in Nashville today. It’s an intriguing option for the A’s, who are among several teams scouring a shallow shortstop market — most of which boast bigger payrolls than Oakland, ones that could help land Stephen Drew. The A’s are not out on Drew, but let’s take a look at the lesser known Nakajima:

The 30-year-old shortstop was in negotiations with the Yankees last winter, after New York won posting rights to him. But the Yankees failed to sign Nakajima, who wasn’t so much interested in salary figures as he was playing time, which wasn’t offered to him on an everyday basis — factors that figure to be in play this time around, too. The A’s are likely willing to promise him just that, with utility infielders Adam Rosales and Andy Parrino their only other in-house options at this point.

Nakajima enjoyed a successful 2012 campaign with the Seibu Lions in Japan, where he finished with a line of.311/.382/.451, to go along with 13 home runs. Since 2007, the infielder has averaged 20.5 homers per 162 games, along with a .310 average and .381 on-base percentage. Furthermore, he boasts above-average defensive skills.

Nakajima, who represented Japan at the 2008 Olympics and in the ’09 World Baseball Classic, already met with D-backs officials — also shopping for infield help on the left side — in Arizona in November, though a deal was reportedly never on the table. The D-backs, however, are believed to still be interested in him.

The A’s, meanwhile, figure to be keeping all of their options open, particularly since they’re in no hurry to make a move, and that includes both the free-agent and trade markets.

– Jane Lee

Rhodes trying to make a comeback

Arthur Rhodes, the 43-year-old left-hander who won a World Series ring with the Cardinals in 2011, has told folks close to him that he has not given up hope of pitching in the Majors again. He is seeking to latch on — it would be via a Minor League deal — with a club this offseason in order to have a chance to win a roster spot out of Spring Training.

Rhodes’ last appearance came during the ’11 World Series. He was not signed last winter despite drawing some interest and therefore didn’t pitch in 2012. Now, he is making one more go at a chance to return to the mound.

Rhodes likely won’t know until late in the offseason whether or not a club has interest in giving him a chance.  That’s because Rhodes, a 20-year veteran, won’t be pursued until the rest of the left-handed relief market has been picked through.

– Jenifer Langosch

SF likely to pick up Sabean, Bochy options

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was a foregone conclusion that the Giants would exercise the 2014 options on the contracts of general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy. Those moves could occur as early as Tuesday afternoon, when club president and chief executive officer Larry Baer is expected to address the issue.

Given the Giants’ two World Series triumphs in the last three years, contract extensions for Sabean and Bochy would be within the realm of possibility.

Sabean, the longest-tenured GM in the Major Leagues, is entering his 17th season on the job. He has been the architect of teams that recorded a 1,392-1,199 record for a .537 winning percentage.

Bochy, who began managing the Giants in 2007 after 12 years as the skipper of the San Diego Padres, owns a 1,454-1,444 career record. He has steered teams to the postseason six times. Besides his pair of World Series appearances with the Giants, Bochy also reached the Fall Classic in 1998 with the Padres.

Together, Sabean and Bochy have helped the Giants record four consecutive winning seasons, the team’s longest such streak since 1997-2004.

– Chris Haft

Indians’ talks with Victorino intensifying

The Indians have been eyeing free-agent outfielder Shane Victorino all offseason, but talks appear to be gaining steam here in Nashville. According to multiple reports, Cleveland remains a primary suitor for the outfielder.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick called the Indians the “prime” suitor in the current negotiations, which also reportedly include the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs. The Phillies are believed to be involved to a lesser extent, while the Braves and Reds have backed off for now.

The general consensus is that the 32-year-old Victorino will warrant a three- or four-year deal, and it might take a four-year pact to convince him to join the Tribe. According to Crasnick, manager Terry Francona personally reached out to Victorino earlier this offseason.

Last year, Victorino posted a slash line of .255/.321/.383/.704 across 154 games between stints with the Phillies and Dodgers. He mixed in 11 homers, 29 doubles, 39 stolen bases, 55 RBIs and 72 runs scored.

Over the past three seasons, Victorino has hit .264/.334/.432/.766, and he has appeared in at least 131 games in each of the past seven years, averaging 146 games over that span.

On Monday, Indians GM Chris Antonetti said the club was comfortable with Michael Brantley in center field, though he also has the ability to shift to left. Victorino can also play both spots. In L.A., he spent 48 of his 53 games in left field for the Dodgers.

Victorino would potentially give Cleveland an experienced leadoff man as well. Last year, Shin-Soo Choo spent a lot of time in that role for the Indians, but the club is currently listening to trade offers for the right fielder.

–Jordan Bastian

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