The Giants will enter the Winter Meetings in San Diego with three clear needs: a starting pitcher, a left fielder and a third baseman. With former Giant Pablo Sandoval off the board and Hanley Ramirez joining him with the Red Sox, it appears San Francisco is turning its attention toward the next-best free-agent option at third.
That’d be Chase Headley, the former Padres and Yankees third baseman.
According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the Giants are “turning aggressive” in their pursuit of Headley.
Rosenthal notes that it’s “unclear” how that relates to the Giants’ well-documented interest in free-agent lefty starter Jon Lester but categorizes the Giants as having a “solid interest” in Headley regardless.
Headley would certainly fit the bill for the Giants. He turns 31 in May, and he has spent the majority of his career in the National League West with the Padres. He won a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger in 2012, when he finished fifth in the NL MVP voting.
Headley has never been able to match his performance that season, though he still put up a solid .243/.328/.372 batting line with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs in 135 games last year. In 45 career games at AT&T Park, Headley has hit .254/.330/.391 with four homers.
Headley reportedly has a four-year offer in hand worth about $65 million, though it’s unclear from whom that proposal came. The Marlins have been linked to Headley as well.
Right now, the Giants’ top third-base option is utility man Joaquin Arias.
There has been rampant speculation this offseason about the Dodgers’ attempts to trade one of their well-paid outfielders. New president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman even confirmed at the General Managers Meetings that was “most likely the best course of action” for Los Angeles.
At this point, all signs continue to point toward the Dodgers trying to deal Matt Kemp.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted Thursday evening that the Dodgers have been discussing a trade that would send Kemp to the Padres in exchange for a package likely headlined by catcher Yasmani Grandal, with Los Angeles also absorbing some of Kemp’s contract in the deal.
Rosenthal noted that the Dodgers were discussing Kemp with other teams, too, so it’s not as if the Padres are currently the favorites to land him. That’s just one of the deals being discussed involving Kemp.
MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reported that the Dodgers “seem determined” to move Kemp, Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford — but not Yasiel Puig.
Kemp is owed $107 million over the next five years, but he’s coming off a solid year and would have to be considered one of the most talented hitters available via free agency or the trade market. Kemp, who turned 30 in September, hit .287/.346/.506 with 25 homers and 89 RBIs in 150 games for the Dodgers last year.
ESPN’s Buster Olney recently tweeted that the Padres were looking for hitters able to help them “immediately” contend for the National League West title. That’s no small feat with the Dodgers and Giants in the division, but Kemp would be an interesting start.
In other Dodgers outfielder news, Ethier said Thursday he plans to win a starting job with the Dodgers this spring, and he has not asked to be traded.
A number of the top free-agent hitters have already found new homes this offseason, including third basemen Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez, both of whom signed with the Red Sox. As a result, it appears the Hot Stove market may be heating up for Chase Headley.
Interested clubs are being told the free agent third baseman has received a four-year contract offer worth about $65 million, according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, though the report doesn’t specify which team made the offer.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported on Thursday that the Marlins are interested in Headley, who could play third base while Miami moves Casey McGehee to first base.
The Marlins reportedly considered lefty-swinging first baseman Adam LaRoche before he signed with the White Sox, so their interest in the switch-hitting Headley as additional lineup support around Giancarlo Stanton makes sense.
Headley, who will turn 31 in May, hit .243/.328/.372 with 13 home runs and 49 RBIs for the Padres and Yankees last year. His numbers were significantly better after the trade to New York, where he hit .262/.371/.398 in 58 games.
Most reports have linked Headley to the Yankees or the Giants, with New York needing a more reliable option than Alex Rodriguez and San Francisco searching for someone to replace Sandoval. In a column for Sports on Earth, MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince boldly predicted Headley would sign with the Dodgers.
The Orioles contacted Charlie Manuel about their hitting coach opening, but the former Indians and Phillies manager wasn’t interested, according to sources.
Manuel, who turns 71 next month, has long had a reputation as a hitting guru. In 1999, when he was hitting coach for the Tribe, Cleveland scored a franchise-record 1,009 runs, the first team since the 1950 Red Sox and just the seventh in history to reach quadruple digits.
The winningest manager in Phillies history, he is now a senior advisor to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. He was originally hired by the Phillies in 2003 as a Major and Minor League hitting instructor.
The Orioles are looking for a replacement for Jim Presley, who was reassigned at the end of last season.
The corner-outfield free agent market has taken a hit recently. The Mariners are set to announce the signing of Nelson Cruz, the Braves agreed to a four-year deal with Nick Markakis, the Twins added Torii Hunter and the D-backs landed Yasmany Tomas.
So here’s a thought from FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal on Twitter: Might the defending World Series champs turn to Melky Cabrera? Rosenthal reports the Giants have “expressed interest” and quotes an anonymous player saying the switch-hitting outfielder would be a “great addition.”
The cause for concern, obviously, is that Cabrera received a 50-game suspension for taking performance-enhancing substances while playing for the Giants in 2012. Cabrera was eligible to return for the playoffs that year but did not, bringing an uncomfortable end to his time there.
Getting past all that, the question really becomes whether Cabrera is a good fit with the Giants. He hit .346/.390/.516 in 113 games for San Francisco in 2012, though some would call his performance that season into question considering the subsequent suspension.
But Cabrera, 30, is coming off a strong season for the Blue Jays in which he hit .301/.351/.458 with 16 home runs and 73 RBIs in 139 games. He’s sure to be in demand this offseason, with some speculation that he could receive a five-year contract.
And the Giants could certainly use another hitter, whether that’s in the outfield to replace Michael Morse or at third base to replace Pablo Sandoval. Cabrera would fill a need, giving San Francisco an outfield of Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence with Gregor Blanco and Juan Perez as reserves.
There are several other options on the market if the Giants are wary of bringing back Cabrera or don’t want to pay up for him. MLB.com’s Chris Haft suggested free-agent outfielder Alex Rios as an intriguing option for the Giants. Atlanta’s Justin Upton and Boston’s Yoenis Cespedes are among the outfielders reportedly available via trade.
Of course, there are plenty of teams still looking for outfield help. The Mariners, Orioles, White Sox, Royals, Tigers, Rangers, Reds and Padres are among the teams that either have been linked to Cabrera or could use another outfielder.
Free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera quickly shot down a report Friday that he would prefer to not re-sign with the Blue Jays because of the artificial turf at Rogers Centre, Toronto’s home ballpark.
ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted early Friday that the 30-year-old Cabrera’s “preference” is to sign elsewhere this offseason so he doesn’t have to play half his games on the unforgiving artificial turf. Olney then clarified his initial tweet, saying Cabrera would only factor in the grass-versus-turf preference if he received several equal offers.
Cabrera, coming off two seasons with the Blue Jays, took to Twitter on Friday to further deny the initial report by saying he’s open to playing on any surface.
I want everyone to know that I am a baseball player and it doesn’t matter to me what surface I play on. I will be the best player I can be.
— Melky Cabrera (@TheMelkman53) November 28, 2014
After finishing third in the American League East last season, the Blue Jays already made one aggressive move this offseason by signing catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million deal.
One of Toronto’s biggest holes at this point is in left field, where Cabrera played each of the past two years. (For what it’s worth, Cabrera is a career .291/.339/.424 hitter in 147 games at Rogers Centre, and he hit .304 with an .807 OPS in 68 games there last year.)
The Jays are reportedly interested in bringing back Cabrera, who hit .301/.351/.458 with 16 homers and 73 RBIs last year, but not at his current asking price.
There are several other options for Toronto to consider if Cabrera does in fact elect to sign somewhere else. Free agent Nick Markakis would fit the bill, though he’ll likely receive several offers. The Jays could also pursue free agents Torii Hunter, Nori Aoki and Alex Rios or look at someone like the Reds’ Jay Bruce in a trade.
We wrote earlier in this space that the Red Sox are reportedly pursuing two big free-agent infielders, Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. It appears they’ve already come to an agreement with one of them.
FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted late Sunday night that Ramirez will fly to Boston on Monday morning to finalize a deal with the Red Sox. Rosenthal, citing sources, also tweeted that Ramirez’s deal “will be in the range of” $90 million over five years.
What remains to be seen is what the Sox will do with Ramirez.
They have an offer out to third baseman Pablo Sandoval, but Ramirez could play there if Sandoval signs elsewhere. They have young shortstop Xander Bogaerts, but they could deal the former top prospect to acquire a starting pitcher. They have Yoenis Cespedes in left field, but with Ramirez reportedly willing to play anywhere, they could put Ramirez in left and either move around Cespedes or trade him.
Ramirez, who will turn 31 next month, began his career in Boston before he was traded to the Marlins in 2005. Arguably the best overall hitter on the free agent market this offseason, Ramirez batted .283/.369/.448 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs in 128 games for the Dodgers last year.
Ramirez, a friend of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, has spent nearly his entire career at shortstop. He has started 1,069 games at short and only 97 at third base.
Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas continues to draw interest from a number of teams. As MLB.com has reported, the Padres were expected to meet with Tomas’ agent on Saturday and the Braves were also going to meet with the slugger this weekend.
It appears a few more teams are in the mix for Tomas.
According to a tweet from Peter Gammons, Tomas has received offers from the Padres, Braves and Giants. Gammons writes that the Phillies, D-backs and Mariners are “lurking” on Tomas as well.
The Braves and Padres are believed to be the favorites to land the 24-year-old slugger, while the Giants seem likely to ramp up their efforts to acquire Tomas if they can’t retain third baseman Pablo Sandoval.
MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that the Braves likely would have to trade outfielder Justin Upton (and his $14.5 million salary) in order to acquire Tomas or lefty Jon Lester, and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweeted on Sunday that Atlanta wouldn’t necessarily need to trade Upton or Evan Gattis before signing Tomas, as the market for either player should be strong enough throughout the winter.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez has reported that Tomas is looking for a five- to seven-year deal with an average annual salary near $15 million, or he could opt for a short-term, high-dollar deal that allows him to establish his value quickly before hitting the free agent market.
The Red Sox have been frequently linked to free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval over the past few days, with Sandoval now reportedly choosing between Boston, San Diego and San Francisco.
But here’s a new wrinkle: The Red Sox are “trying hard” to sign both Sandoval and free agent Hanley Ramirez, according to CBSSports.com.
Boston has been in touch with Ramirez, who turns 31 in December, since the General Managers Meetings in Phoenix, according to the report.
Citing an industry source, WEEI reported on Sunday that the Red Sox are in “advanced conversations” with Ramirez, and a deal “could come together quickly.” However, there is not yet an agreement in place.
While Sandoval would obviously fit right in at third base in Boston, it’s less certain where Ramirez would play. If Sandoval signs elsewhere, Ramirez could be the answer at third base. If the Red Sox sign both players, Ramirez could wind up in left field or any number of positions.
Ramirez began his career in Boston. The Red Sox signed him as an amateur free agent in 2000, and he played two games for them in 2005 before he was traded to the Marlins. Playing shortstop for the Dodgers last year, Ramirez hit .283/.369/.448 with 13 home runs and 71 RBIs in 128 games.
As CBSSports.com notes, three of this offseason’s biggest free agents are possibly in play for the Red Sox in Sandoval, Ramirez and former Sox lefty Jon Lester. Boston already has extended an offer to Lester.
A.J. Burnett is heading back to Pittsburgh.
The veteran right-hander has agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Pirates, the club announced Friday. The deal is reportedly worth $8.5 million.
Burnett, who will turn 38 in January, went 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA in 393 1/3 innings with the Pirates in 2012-13. He then signed a one-year deal worth $16 million to play with the Phillies last season but struggled to an 8-18 record and 4.59 ERA as Philadelphia went 73-89 on the year.
Burnett declined a $12.75 million player option with the Phillies in order to become a free agent. As MLB.com’s Tom Singer writes, Burnett “refocused himself on joining a team with a chance to win.”
Pittsburgh could lose starters Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez to free agency, making Burnett an appealing option to strengthen their rotation heading into next season. Their starting rotation had been down to Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley and Jeff Locke.