The Nationals bolstered their bullpen on Wednesday, reportedly agreeing to a one-year deal with free-agent reliever Casey Janssen.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal first reported the agreement, which is for one year with a mutual option and a total guarantee of $5 million. The club has not confirmed the report.
Janssen, 33, went 3-3 with a 3.94 ERA and 25 saves for the Blue Jays last season. Over the past three years in Toronto, he compiled 81 saves while posting a 2.94 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 168 appearances.
Janssen could compete for the setup role made available when the Nationals traded reliever Tyler Clippard to the A’s in exchange for shortstop Yunel Escobar earlier this month.
In parts of eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Janssen went 29-24 with a 3.52 ERA and 90 saves in 493 innings.
The Rockies’ ongoing quest to acquire starting pitching could lead them to deal 2014 All-Star outfielder Charlie Blackmon.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi reported Saturday that Colorado has discussed Blackmon with “multiple teams” in an attempt to improve its rotation. Rosenthal and Morosi specifically mention the Braves, Cubs, Orioles and Rangers as teams that could be interested in Blackmon given their need for an outfielder.
Blackmon, 28, hit .288/.335/.440 with 19 home runs and 72 RBIs in 154 games for the Rockies last season.
It’s worth noting that Blackmon’s OPS+, according to Baseball-Reference, was just 104, or just 4 percent above league-average when accounting for the fact that Blackmon played half his games at Coors Field. It was also Blackmon’s first full season in the Majors.
On the other hand, Blackmon can play all three outfield positions, as he did last year, and he’s not even eligible for salary arbitration yet. In fact, Blackmon is still four years away from being eligible for free agency. A player under team control for four years coming off an All-Star year might be at the peak of his trade value.
The Rockies historically have had trouble luring free-agent pitchers to sign due to Coors Field’s hitter-friendly reputation, so their best bet to bolster their rotation might be via trade.
One of the reasons they’re willing to shop Blackmon, according to the FOX Sports report, is that they could then turn around and sign a free-agent outfielder like Colby Rasmus to take his place. As unappealing as Coors Field might be to pitchers, it has the opposite effect on hitters.
Rasmus, also 28, hit .225/.287/.448 with 18 homers and 40 RBIs (and an identical 104 OPS+) in 104 games for the Blue Jays last season. If they were to replace Blackmon with Rasmus, the Rockies’ outfield rotation would consist of Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Dickerson, Drew Stubbs and Rasmus.
The Marlins’ starting outfield is set with Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, but their lack of depth has left them searching for a fourth outfielder.
Could Ichiro Suzuki fit the bill?
According to a tweet from ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, the Marlins’ interest in the 41-year-old outfielder “has begun to intensify.”
The Blue Jays and Orioles also have been linked to Ichiro, who posted a .284/.324/.340 slash line with one homer, 22 RBIs and 15 steals in 143 games for the Yankees last season. The 10-time All-Star and former American League MVP is only 156 hits away from 3,000 in his Major League career.
Ichiro’s experience and speed would be a valuable asset off the bench, but he obviously lacks power — he slugged just .341 over the past two years in New York — and it remains to be seen whether he fits the Marlins’ budget.
As MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro tweeted, the Marlins are on track for a payroll around their target of $65 million. Frisaro notes that total would take Miami out of the bidding for James Shields and put them in line for a reasonably priced fourth outfielder.
Ichiro made $6.5 million each of the last two seasons, but that figure is likely to come down considering his age and declining production, particularly if interested teams view him as strictly a fourth or platoon outfielder.
The Pirates are reportedly close to officially signing Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported on Friday that the two sides are “moving close to a deal,” which is expected to be for four years, as the Jan. 20 deadline approaches. The Pirates already spent $5 million as a fee to negotiate with Kang and his agent, Alan Nero.
Nero told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday that he was “confident we’ll come to an agreement” on Kang, the power-hitting 27-year-old reportedly seeking a contract worth $5 million annually.
Kang hit 40 homers and drove in 117 runs in 117 games while batting .356 with a 1.198 OPS for the Nexen Heroes in the Korean Baseball Organization last year.
It’s still unclear where Kang will fit in with Pittsburgh if the two sides complete a deal, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer recently considered their options.
Kang could back up Josh Harrison at third base, Jordy Mercer at shortstop and Neil Walker at second, and he could be a part of the mix at first base.
The Yankees and Red Sox were among the teams that reportedly had four or more scouts watching teenage Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada when he worked out in Guatemala in November.
Considering that fact and the financial resources available to both clubs, it should come as no surprise that they are reportedly the “heavy favorites” to sign teenage Cuban prospect Yoan Moncada, according to a tweet from FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel.
Moncada is still not eligible to sign with a team. Before he can do so, he must be unlocked by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Because he is under 23 and did not play in a Cuban professional league for at least five seasons, Moncada is subject to the international signing guidelines. In accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, each team is allotted a $700,000 base and a bonus pool based on the team’s record in 2013 for the international signing period, which started on July 2.
One important thing to keep in mind along those lines: Both the Yankees and Red Sox, along with the Rays and Angels, are in the maximum penalty range for the 2014-15 international signing period. That penalty includes a 100 percent tax on their overage and — more relevant to this situation — prohibits them from signing any player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods.
In other words, the Yankees and Red Sox would not be able to sign Moncada if he becomes eligible to sign after June 15. The Rays and Angels are not expected to be mix for Moncada.
Moncada, a switch-hitting middle infielder who can also play third base, has been described as a five-tool prospect and drawn comparisons to the Cubs’ Jorge Soler. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez slotted Moncada atop the list of five Cuban players to watch.
It appears the Reds have acquired the corner outfielder they’ve been looking for while the Phillies continue rebuilding, as Philadelphia is reportedly trading Marlon Byrd to Cincinnati.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal first reported the deal on Wednesday afternoon. According to the report, right-hander Ben Lively is one of the players being dealt to Philadelphia, which also will pick up a “significant” portion of the salary owed to Byrd. Neither team has commented on or confirmed the report.
Byrd, 37, is set to make $8 million next season with an $8 million vesting option for 2016. Over the past two years, he’s hit .277/.323/.476 with 49 home runs and 173 RBIs in 301 games for the Mets, Pirates and Phillies. Byrd figures to round out the Reds outfield alongside Billy Hamilton and Jay Bruce.
As a veteran right-handed hitter with power, Byrd was one of several Phillies expected to be traded this offseason as the club begins a rebuilding process. Philadelphia already dealt longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers.
Lively is ranked by MLB.com as the Reds’ No. 8 prospect. The 22-year-old split last season between Class A Advanced Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola, putting together a combined 13-7 record and 3.04 ERA with 171 strikeouts in 151 innings over 26 starts. He was drafted out of the University of Central Florida in the fourth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
The Rockies have added another catcher to the mix, reportedly agreeing to terms with Nick Hundley on Wednesday. The club has not commented on the deal.
Hundley, 31, is heading to Colorado on a two-year deal worth more than $6 million, pending a physical, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly.
Hundley posted a .243/.273/.358 slash line with six home runs and 22 RBIs in 233 plate appearances for the Padres and Orioles last season, when he was dealt to Baltimore for reliever Troy Patton.
Connolly notes on Twitter that the Orioles also made a two-year offer to Hundley but couldn’t guarantee the same money or playing time.
Before joining the Orioles in May, Hundley had spent his entire career with the Padres. He has hit .238/.294/.386 over parts of seven seasons in the Majors.
The Rockies’ acquisition of Hundley likely will spark trade rumors about catcher Wilin Rosario, as Colorado also has catcher Michael McKenry on its roster, and Rosario was the subject of at least one inquiry at the Winter Meetings.
After rumors began circling early in the day, the Padres and Mariners officially announced their trade Tuesday night.
The Padres acquired right-handed pitcher Brandon Maurer, 24, from the Mariners, while Seattle received outfielder Seth Smith, 32, in return.
The move makes sense for both teams as the Mariners needed another outfielder and the Padres needed to get rid of some of their excess outfielders.
Smith hit .266 with 12 home runs and 48 RBIs in 136 games for San Diego last season, but likely wasn’t going to see much playing time after the Padres acquired Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp.
Smith has hit .270 in his career against right-handers and will likely platoon with Justin Ruggiano in Seattle, who has hit .305 against left-handers in his career.
San Diego still has a ton of outfielders so another move is not out of the question.
In dealing Smith, the Padres acquired Maurer, a 23rd round selection in the 2008 Draft.
The right-hander was just 1-3 with a 4.65 ERA in 38 games (seven starts) for the Mariners last season, but went 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in 12 games (one start) for Triple-A Tacoma.
– William Boor
The Rays reportedly have signed free agent infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, adding another name to a crowded infield picture.
The deal, which has not been confirmed by the club, was first reported by CBSSports.com and FOXSports.com. The length of the contract and financial terms have not been disclosed, but the New York Post reported it will be a one-year pact.
A two-time All-Star with the Indians, the 29-year-old Cabrera hit .241/.307/.387 with 14 home runs and 61 RBIs last year for the Tribe and Nationals. Cabrera played shortstop almost his entire career before the trade but spent a lot of time at second base with Washington.
In parts of eight seasons in the Majors, Cabrera has hit .268/.330/.409 with 87 homers and 451 RBIs. He peaked in 2011-12, batting a combined .272/.335/.443 with impressive power (41 home runs) for a shortstop.
It’s unclear exactly where Cabrera fits in with the Rays, but his signing would seem to suggest another move is in the works. Tampa Bay appeared set to enter the season with Ben Zobrist at second base and Yunel Escobar at shortstop.
Given his production and defensive versatility, Zobrist would be one of the most attractive trade targets on the market if he’s made available, which means he would also demand the biggest return for Tampa Bay. He’s been linked to the Giants and Nationals, among others, in various rumors. Zobrist is set to earn $7.5 million in the final year of his contract with the Rays.
Escobar, meanwhile, is coming off a down year in which he hit .258/.324/.340 and saw his defense slip from the high level he played at in 2013. That seemingly would make him less likely to be dealt. He will make $5 million next season and $7 million in 2016 with a $7 million option for ’17 as part of a contract extension he signed last year.
The Rays also have backup infielders Logan Forsythe and Nick Franklin, both primarily second basemen, on their roster.
The Dodgers continued to rebuild their bullpen heading into the new year, reportedly agreeing to a Minor League contract with former Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos.
Santos is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he went 0-3 with an 8.57 ERA in 21 innings over 26 appearances. Injuries limited Santos to only 61 appearances for Toronto over the last three seasons, but he did manage to compile a 1.75 ERA in 25 2/3 innings in 2013.
Santos was at his best as the White Sox closer in 2011, putting together a 3.55 ERA with 30 saves and 92 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings. For his career, Santos is 7-12 with a 3.89 ERA in 180 appearances.
Santos was drafted by the D-backs in the first round of the 2002 Draft, eventually signed as a free agent with the White Sox in 2009 and was then traded from Chicago to Toronto in 2011.