Saturday was a relatively quiet day around the Majors, as the Hot Stove merely simmered with rumors and speculation. But it should start to heat up soon, as the General Managers Meetings will begin Monday in Orlando, Fla., and the Winter Meetings are only a month away.
So now is the time to look ahead, to try to play free-agent matchmaker and to ponder what major trades may shake up the league’s landscape before pitchers and catchers report.
MLB.com’s Richard Justice took a look at some stars who might be on the move this winter. The potentially busy trade market includes Rays lefty David Price, Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp and Angels slugger Mark Trumbo.
Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com broke down the “perfect storm” brewing for free-agent catcher Brian McCann. Heyman reports that the 29-year-old backstop could be in line to receive a $100 million contract, or at least something in that range. It helps McCann’s cause, Heyman writes, that four interested teams — the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Rangers — have the ability to offer big money on the open market.
• Count CC Sabathia among those trying to get Robinson Cano to stay with the Yankees. Sabathia believes signing Cano should be New York’s top priority this offseason and made a sales pitch that can be summed up in two words: “Stay here.”
Also, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch writes, Sabathia said he is recovering well from the left hamstring strain that ended his season early and he is “working out 100 percent.”
• Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reported on Twitter that the Red Sox will wait for Mike Napoli to accept or decline their $14.1 million qualifying offer before looking elsewhere. Passan noted that Napoli still could be brought back if he declines the one-year offer, but Boston won’t limit its options.
• Who else might the defending World Series champions pursue? Fox Sports and MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal wrote “it would be a surprise” to see them land outfielder Carlos Beltran, but perhaps more realistic for them to pursue right-hander Tim Hudson, catcher Carlos Ruiz and some “buy-low” relievers to bolster their bullpen.
• MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan previously reported that the Rangers are willing to talk about trading one of their middle infielders: Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar or Ian Kinsler. Rosenthal writes that such a deal is “starting to look inevitable,” but it doesn’t appear likely that Texas will package Profar with other pieces as part of a mega-trade for someone like Price or Giancarlo Stanton.
• Heyman reports that the Nationals “appear willing to listen to trade inquiries” involving Denard Span, the center fielder and leadoff man they traded for last offseason. Heyman speculates that Washington’s interest in moving Span “could be related” to another potential move, like signing free agent Jacoby Ellsbury.
• Heyman also writes that the Mets consider Shin-Soo Choo to be a “top target,” but they might not have the necessary funds to acquire the free agent outfielder. Heyman writes that agent Scott Boras has made it obvious he’s looking to get Choo a contract equal to or greater than Jayson Werth‘s seven-year, $126 million deal with the Nationals.
• Pirates GM Neal Huntingon went on the radio to explain why Pittsburgh didn’t make a qualifying offer to starter A.J. Burnett, and MLB.com’s Tom Singer broke down how the Bucs might have to “get creative” to bring back Burnett.
• MLB.com’s Corey Brock took a look at how starting pitching factors into the Padres’ offseason needs. Brock writes that San Diego “hasn’t placed pitching atop their offseason wish list” and would be more likely to acquire only top-of-the-rotation types or long-term options via trade, not in free agency.
-The Rangers signed left-hander Martin Perez to a four-year contract through 2017 with club options for 2018, 2019 and 2020. The Rangers’ Rookie of the Year, who will turn 23 in April, was already under team control through the 2018 season, so his long-term extension essentially just buys out his arbitration-eligible years and, if all three options are picked up, delays him from entering free agency another two years.
-The Cubs officially announced the hiring of new manager Rick Renteria, the former Padres bench coach. Renteria and the Cubs agreed to a three-year deal with club options for 2017 and 2018.
-The Dodgers have talked with manager Don Mattingly about a contract extension, according to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick, but no deal is imminent. Mattingly is under contract for next season because a club option vested when Los Angeles advanced to the National League Championship Series.
-Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports wrote that it would make sense for outfielder Curtis Granderson to decline the Yankees’ $14.1 million qualifying offer and explore the free agent market, drawing a comparison to Nick Swisher, who cashed in on the open market last winter. Rosenthal also noted on Twitter that the Yankees might have to pay more than $14.1 million to retain right-hander Hiroki Kuroda considering the threat that he could return to pitch in Japan.
-Agent Scott Boras appeared on ESPN writer Keith Law’s “Behind the Dish” podcast on Thursday to discuss several of his free agent clients. Boras described center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury as a “game-changer for a lot of franchises” and said Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo “have the ability to bat third in the lineup and they have the ability to lead off.”
-Boras said shortstop Stephen Drew “could really change the dynamic of the production” of seven or eight teams’ infield “by having that kind of power and that kind of defense on their team.” Boras also argued that switch-hitting first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales has “a resume that, frankly, few hitters have in this market — the only one other than Cano who you can say has the ability to be a run producer in the middle of the lineup” due to his power from both sides of the plate.
Outfielder Alfonso Soriano revealed Wednesday that he would waive his no-trade clause in order to join the Yankees, and it appears that deal is on the verge of taking place.
Soriano was a late scratch from the Cubs’ lineup Thursday night. According to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein asked manager Dale Sveum to sit Soriano because a trade with the Yankees is “close to being done.”
Sveum told reporters that Soriano’s return to the Bronx, where he broke into the Majors in 1999, is “something he felt comfortable with.”
Soriano played for the Yankees from 1999-2003 before being traded to the Rangers in February 2004 for Alex Rodriguez. The 37-year-old left fielder has been with the Cubs since 2007, when he was signed to an eight-year, $136 million contract.
This year, Soriano is batting .254/.287/.467 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs in 93 games. Soriano’s contract runs through the end of next season, when he is scheduled to earn $18 million. It has been speculated that the Cubs likely will have to cover part of Soriano’s remaining salary in any trade.
According to a Twitter post from ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Cubs are set to receive a “lower-tier pitching prospect” from the Yankees.
In an effort to bolster their bullpen, the Orioles acquired veteran closer Francisco Rodriguez from the Brewers on Tuesday in exchange for infield prospect Nick Delmonico.
Rodriguez, 31, has put up impressive numbers for Milwaukee this season, going 1-1 with 10 saves and a 1.09 ERA. With 26 strikeouts and only nine walks in 24 2/3 innings over 25 appearances for the Brewers this year, Rodriguez should provide Baltimore with another solid late-inning relief option.
One of the most coveted bullpen arms on this year’s trade market, the right-hander has recorded double-digit saves in nine of the last 10 seasons, including a Major League record 62 in 2008 with the Angels. His 304 career saves rank third among active players and 21st all-time.
Delmonico, the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect, posted a .244/.351/.471 batting line in 60 games with Class A Frederick this season, spending most of his time at third base but also appearing at first and as the designated hitter. The 21-year-old was a sixth-round Draft pick by the Orioles in 2011 and hit .249/.351/.411 in 95 games for Class A Delmarva last year.
To make room for Rodriguez on their 40-man roster, the Orioles transferred outfielder Nolan Reimold — out for the season after undergoing corrective neck surgery — to the 60-day disabled list.
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.
It’s no secret that the Padres have a great deal of interest in free-agent starter Edwin Jackson. MLB.com’s Corey Brock wrote a piece Friday detailing San Diego’s desire to bolster its rotation, and Jackson is on the club’s short list.
Indeed, Jackson’s name continues to be linked to the Padres in rumors and reports. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted last week that the Padres are “strongly pursuing” Jackson. Jim Bowden of ESPN and Sirius XM tweeted that the two sides “continue to negotiate” on a three-year contract. And CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman said the Padres, Rangers and other clubs have been “in touch” with Jackson.
Scott Miller of CBSSports.com threw some cold water on the fire, noting that while the Padres are trying to lock up Jackson with a multi-year deal, those negotiations are “just chatter” at the moment.
Jackson, a 29-year-old right-hander, makes a lot of sense for the Padres, as he’s a durable veteran who pitched for San Diego GM Josh Byrnes and assistant GM A.J. Hinch in Arizona. You might even recall Jackson tossing an unusual no-hitter for the D-backs against another one of his former teams, the Rays, while Hinch was at the helm.
The free-agent market for pitchers has proven to be quite expensive this winter, however, and the Padres would prefer to keep their deals to three years or shorter, which means San Diego might have to fill its rotation needs through trades.
Less than a week ago, it was reported that free-agent outfielder Nick Swisher was drawing interest from several teams, including the Red Sox, Phillies, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Indians, and planned to meet with a few of them in person soon. Now, it appears Cleveland is zeroing in on the former Yankees slugger.
ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted Monday that the Indians are “making a push” to sign Swisher. Adding to that, Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 in Cleveland tweets that Swisher is expected to have dinner with Indians president Mark Shapiro on Monday night.
On Thursday, CBSSports’ Scott Miller posted that three or four clubs were seriously interested in Swisher, but he was “not even close” to choosing where he’ll play in 2013.
The 32-year-old OF/1B posted a .272/.364/.473 batting line with 36 doubles, 24 homers and 93 RBIs last year for the Yankees.
The Red Sox have found their everyday shortstop for 2013, reportedly agreeing to a one-year, $9.5 million contract with Stephen Drew. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network first reported terms of the deal.
Drew finished last season with the A’s after the D-backs traded him, putting together a combined .223/.309/.348 batting line with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 79 games. The 29-year-old missed time early on in the year while recovering from an ankle injury suffered in 2011.
For his career, Drew owns a .265/.328/.433 batting line with 77 home runs and 349 RBIs. Regarded as the top shortstop available in a thin free-agent market, Drew reportedly received interest from several teams, including the A’s and Yankees.
Signing Drew for just one year gives Boston time to further develop its two top shortstop prospects, 22-year-old Jose Iglesias and 20-year-old Xander Bogaerts. The move also continues Boston’s flurry of offseason activity. The Red Sox have already agreed to terms with outfielder Shane Victorino, starter Ryan Dempster, reliever Koji Uehara, catcher David Ross and C/1B Mike Napoli, whose deal is not yet finalized.
Drew is the younger brother of J.D. Drew, who spent the final five seasons of his career with the Red Sox.
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.
-Amid rampant speculation that the Nationals are looking to acquire a starting pitcher to slot into their rotation when Stephen Strasburg hits his innings limit, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Washington isn’t willing to part with a top prospect for a starter because John Lannan can fill in just fine.
-ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports a number of interesting tidbits about the starting pitching market, including two about Tampa Bay. Stark writes that the Rays might be willing to move James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson if they decide Evan Longoria has to be shut down for the season and they fall out of the Wild Card race, but only if they can get a good haul in exchange for one of the right-handers — “ideally, some combination of high-end young arms, a young catcher and/or a controllable hitter,” Stark writes.
-Stark has also heard that it’s Wade Davis — not Shields or Hellickson — who might be drawing the most interest among Rays pitchers. MLB.com’s Bill Chastain wrote about Davis’ successful transition to the bullpen on Thursday.
-According to CBSSports.com’s Danny Knobler, the Tigers are looking for a “difference-making starting pitcher” but aren’t sure they’ll be able to get one.
-FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal also wrote about the seemingly thinning trade market for elite starting pitching, noting that it could increase the demand for second-tier starters who become available.