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1/16 Roundup

With Major League teams scheduled to exchange salary figures with arbitration-eligible players on Friday, Thursday’s most popular Hot Stove activity was finding a way to prevent the awkwardness of continuing the arbitration process.

The Rays’ David Price was the most high-profile of several players who agreed to one-year deals, thereby avoiding arbitration. The 2012 American League Cy Young winner will make $14 million in his second-to-last season of club control.

Price, the subject of frequent trade rumors, told reporters during a conference call that he wants to remain with Tampa Bay, although the deal does not guarantee the club won’t trade him before or during this season.

In other news from around the league:

  • Others who avoided arbitration with one-year deals included Ike Davis with the Mets, Jim Johnson and John Jaso with the A’s, Chris Heisey with the Reds, Ross Detwiler with the Nationals, Wilton Lopez with the Rockies and Tim Collins with the Royals.
  • Even with Clayton Kershaw locked up with a massive contract extension, the Dodgers could be far from done making big moves, writes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Los Angeles remains a possible destination for Japanese free agent right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, and shortstop Hanley Ramirez could be in line for his own extension heading into the last year of his contract.
  • Kershaw’s seven-year, $215 million deal could have implications for the other defending Cy Young Award winner, the Tigers’ Max Scherzer. As MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes, Scherzer figures to benefit as he enters his third year of arbitration. The Tigers will have to pay up big if they want to keep him off next winter’s free-agent market.
  • Cubs manager Rick Renteria said he was part of a contingent that met recently with Tanaka in California. Many MLB owners apparently are convinced the Cubs will “blow away the field and sign Tanaka to a monster deal,” according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
  • The Orioles and free-agent righty Bronson Arroyo are engaged in “ongoing discussions,” according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, who adds that the Dodgers are also involved.
  • The Brewers have drawn close to signing first baseman Mark Reynolds to a Minor League contract. Reynolds would figure to compete for playing time at first base, a weak spot for Milwaukee.
  • The Indians announced their Minor League deal with outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who is bringing his Tony Plush persona back to the U.S. after spending 2013 in Japan.
  • The Mariners added to their catching depth by signing veteran John Buck to a one-year deal.
  • The Royals brought in a pair of veteran pitchers on Minor League contracts, signing righties Brad Penny and Guillermo Mota.
  • Other Minor League signings on Thursday included catcher Michael McKenry with the Rockies, infielder John McDonald with the Angels, pitcher Henry Rodriguez with the Marlins and infielder Chris Getz with the Blue Jays.

– Andrew Simon

Reports: Brewers close to signing Reynolds

The Brewers are close to signing free agent Mark Reynolds, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports also tweeted that Milwaukee is “making a push” for the veteran slugger, who could fill the club’s hole at first base.

Reynolds split last season between the Indians and Yankees, hitting .220/.306/.393 with 21 home runs and 67 RBIs. The 30-year-old, who also has played for the Orioles and D-backs over seven seasons, is a career .233/.329/.464 hitter. He has hit as many as 44 homers in a season and also struck out as many as 223 times. Reynolds began his career as a third baseman but has spent significant time at first in recent years.

– Andrew Simon

Report: Retirement coming for Michael Young?

Veteran free-agent infielder Michael Young is “strongly considering retirement” despite receiving interest from four teams this offseason, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network. The 37-year-old, a 14-year veteran, wants to spend more time with his wife and three sons, according to Rosenthal.

Young spent last season with the Phillies and Dodgers, playing mostly third base and first base and hitting .279/.335/.395 with eight home runs and 46 RBIs in 147 games. The seven-time All-Star played his first 13 seasons with the Rangers and is a .300 career batter, with 2,375 hits to his credit.

– Andrew Simon

1/8 Roundup

The Hot Stove took a back seat to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, when Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas saw their tickets to Cooperstown punched.

But even with the spotlight on former players, news continued to trickle in about some who still are in uniform, including a few who are looking for a new one.

  • Free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz carries one of the most powerful bats on the market, and his name has been tied to several teams. But the veteran remains unsigned as the offseason drags on, an issue MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby explores in his latest column.
  • Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti addressed several topics, revealing that he has talked with the agent for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, while also engaging in extension talks with Clayton Kershaw and Hanley Ramirez. Colletti also is looking to add an infielder.
  • The D-backs have a “plan of attack” in their pursuit of Tanaka, but they’re not offering up much in the way of details.
  • With Tanaka set to meet with Major League clubs in the coming days, the Japanese media is reporting that he flew to the U.S. on Wednesday, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. David Waldstein of The New York Times reported that Tanaka is currently in Chicago.
  • As part of a Q&A with MLB.com’s Bill Ladson, Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond addresses the possibility of a contract extension and says it isn’t a distraction for him. Desmond and teammate Jordan Zimmermann are potential candidates for extensions, as both have two seasons remaining before free agency.
  • The Tigers and shortstop Jose Iglesias agreed on a new one-year contract.
  • The Marlins re-signed veteran righty Kevin Slowey to a Minor League deal, with an invitation to Spring Training.

– Andrew Simon

1/7 Roundup

The Dodgers have transformed into the financial powerhouse of the West, and up the Pacific Coast, the Mariners have flexed their muscles this offseason. Both figure to be serious players in the bidding for coveted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, but could a couple of other clubs from the region also emerge as serious challengers?

The Angels will get involved, as MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez writes, and they could use the rotation upgrade. But with long-term deals for the likes of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton already in place, another large contract could push them past the luxury-tax threshold before even considering a potential extension for Mike Trout.

The D-backs would love to add Tanaka as they seek to unseat the Dodgers in the National League West. They intend to be serious players for his services, writes MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, but like with the Angels, such a deal could prove to be “a financial stretch” in Arizona.

In other news from around the league on Tuesday:

  • Braves president John Schuerholz told Jim Bowden of Sirius/XM radio that his club is not a contender for Tanaka. Meanwhile, Tanaka will meet with the Cubs and White Sox this week, reports Luke Stuckmeyer of Comcast SportsNet. However, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin tweets that the Sox aren’t currently “major players” in the bidding.
  • Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. discussed his team’s offseason, addressing potential interest in Tanaka and former closer Ryan Madson, as well as a recently signed television deal worth a reported $2.5 billion.
  • The representatives for free-agent righty Ubaldo Jimenez are telling clubs that he expects a multiyear deal with an annual salary of at least $14 million, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network.
  • Reds righty Homer Bailey addressed his involvement in offseason trade rumors during an interview on MLB Network Radio on Sirius/XM.
  • Tuesday’s Minor League signings brought catcher Ramon Hernandez to the Royals, infielder Robert Andino to the Pirates and outfielder Xavier Nady to the Padres.

– Andrew Simon

1/6 Roundup

Like fellow pitcher David Price, Homer Bailey has seen his name come up in trade rumors this offseason because of his climbing salary and upcoming free agency.

The Reds would like to sign the right-hander to a long-term extension before he hits the open market next winter, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon writes, but general manager Walt Jocketty acknowledged that Bailey’s asking price will make that difficult.

In other news from around the league on Monday:

  • Sheldon also examines the remaining group of free-agent center fielders and reports that the Reds have not reached out to Nyjer Morgan, who played in Japan last season.
  • MLB.com Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch tackles several fan questions in his latest inbox column, including the club’s options at third base and closer.
  • Veteran left-hander Johan Santana, who is coming off shoulder surgery, could be headed toward a reunion with the Twins.
  • Brewers general manager Doug Melvin offered an explanation as to why his team is having one of the more quiet offseasons in the Majors.
  • MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo takes a look at the Mets’ biggest areas of need with Spring Training approaching quickly.
  • The Orioles have interest in free-agent righty Bronson Arroyo, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.
  • Olney also reports that free-agent lefty Chris Capuano is willing to be patient as he looks for a two-year contract.
  • The Mariners are considering making more additions this offseason, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network. But the front office will need to persuade ownership in order to snag the likes of Price, Masahiro Tanaka or Nelson Cruz.
  • The Indians added depth to their roster, signing veterans Scott Atchison and Jeff Francoeur to Minor League deals that will allow them to compete for spots in the bullpen and on the bench, respectively.
  • Two catchers signed Minor League deals, with Taylor Teagarden going to the Mets and Humberto Quintero going to the Mariners. Also, outfielder Chris Dickerson signed a Minor League deal with the Pirates.

– Andrew Simon

1/2 Roundup

The Hot Stove tends to focus on what teams can add. But sometimes, a team’s best move could be to prevent one of its players from joining next offseason’s Hot Stove discussion.

The Tigers might be one of those clubs, writes MLB.com’s Jason Beck. While Detroit is no stranger to making significant trades or signings after Jan. 1, general manager Dave Dombrowski could choose to focus on a contract extension for reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer. It will take a sizable offer to lock up the right-hander for the long term, but that might prove preferable than letting Scherzer hit the open market next winter.

In other news from around the league on Thursday:

  • After turning the calendar to 2014, MLB.com’s Doug Miller surveys the Hot Stove scene and takes stock of who remains available.
  • Baseball America’s Ben Badler made a list of the 10 teams most likely to sign Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka and put the Mariners at No. 1, followed by the Yankees and Dodgers. Wherever he goes, Tanaka is likely to taste plenty of success, writes our Mike Bauman.
  • The Twins are “kicking tires” on another free-agent righty, Matt Garza, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com.
  • The Phillies and Tigers are among at least six teams that have tried to trade for Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner this offseason, according to Peter Gammons of Gammonsdaily.com. However, Yankees GM Brian Cashman will only part with Gardner if he has to do so in order to acquire starting pitching, Gammons writes.
  • The White Sox announced their one-year deal with free-agent left-handed reliever Scott Downs, who will make $4 million and have a club option for 2015.
  • The Rays claimed left-handed reliever Pedro Figueroa off waivers from the A’s, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
  • The Mariners signed a trio of players to Minor League deals, including veteran reliever Ramon Ramirez.

– Andrew Simon

12/28 Roundup

These days, the Hot Stove is all about Masahiro Tanaka.

Now officially the hottest commodity on the market after being posted by his Japanese club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka “finds himself in the perfect storm,” as Major League clubs vie for his services, writes our Tracy Ringolsby. With the posting fee — which goes to the Eagles — now capped at $20 million, Tanaka is sure to make more money than other recent Japanese exports.

One of the clubs that appears set to offer Tanaka big bucks is the Yankees, who already have reached out to the 25-year-old’s representatives.

In other news from around the league on Saturday:

  • The Padres announced their two-year contract with reliever Joaquin Benoit, with the veteran righty set to earn a guaranteed $15.5 million in the deal, which also includes an option for 2016. General manager Josh Byrnes also said the club will try to add one or two more relievers this offseason.
  • Mark Mulder is reportedly focusing on the West Coast as he tries to make a comeback after an injury-induced five-year absence from the Major Leagues.
  • The Royals signed infielder Jason Donald and outfielder Melky Mesa to Minor League deals.

– Andrew Simon

12/27 Roundup

The starting-pitching market currently is focused on Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, whose recent posting opened up what is sure to be a hotly contested bidding war. The 25-year-old is expected to command at least $17 million per season, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

But another free agent who didn’t throw a single Major League pitch last season also seems to be drawing plenty of interest. Lefty Mark Mulder, a 36-year-old former All-Star who last played in 2008, has been making a comeback attempt with a revamped delivery after injuries derailed his career. The experiment has been promising enough that Mulder is mulling over offers from seven teams, with The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reporting that the Angels are “emerging as [a] front-runner.”

In other news from around the league on Friday:

  • Tanaka could be the latest addition in an aggressive offseason for the Mariners, although GM Jack Zduriencik declined to comment on any interest he might have. Meanwhile, the hype machine is working at full force with Tanaka, writes our Terence Moore.
  • Shin-Soo Choo, who signed a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Rangers, was introduced at the Ballpark in Arlington, with both sides describing it as a “perfect fit.” That financial commitment could make it difficult for Texas to sign Tanaka and almost certainly means that free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz won’t be returning.
  • The Angels officially added a powerful left-handed bat, finalizing their one-year contract with veteran slugger Raul Ibanez.
  • The Cubs announced their one-year contract with free-agent righty Jose Veras, who is set to take over as the club’s new closer.
  • The Mets continue to shop first baseman Ike Davis, reports the New York Post’s Mike Puma, who tweeted that the club is talking to the Brewers, Orioles and Pirates.
  • Former Cubs and Rays outfielder Sam Fuld, is deciding between Minor League deals from five teams, according to Zach Links of MLBTradeRumors.com. Each offer includes an invitation to big-league Spring Training.

– Andrew Simon

12/24 Roundup

Major League general managers got perhaps their biggest Christmas present a little early, when Nippon Professional Baseball’s Rakuten Golden Eagles reportedly announced late Tuesday night that they will post star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.

The right-hander, who went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan this season, is certain to command serious interest from several teams, who can submit a maximum bid of $20 million in order to earn the right to negotiate with him. ESPN’s Jim Bowden listed the Yankees, Angels, D-Backs, Rangers and Dodgers as some teams to watch as the situation develops.

The Eagles’ decision also could open the floodgates for the starting-pitcher market. With Tanaka in limbo, the likes of Bronson Arroyo, Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana remained unsigned.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick talked to Arroyo and reported that the Yankees have “touched base” with the durable 36-year-old righty, while the Angels, Orioles and D-backs also could be good fits. Arroyo told Crasnick that his last team, the Reds, has not offered him a one-year deal, and that he hasn’t been close to signing with the Twins, although those clubs still could be options.

In other news from around the league:

  • The Dodgers announced the signings of free agents Juan Uribe, Chris Perez, J.P. Howell and Jamey Wright, and general manager Ned Colletti said after those moves he is “pretty much done” tweaking his roster for 2014. Colletti also deflected a question about his club’s interest in Tanaka and reiterated his belief that center fielder Matt Kemp, recovering from a broken ankle, will be ready for Opening Day.
  • The Blue Jays re-signed infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a Minor League contract, with an invitation to Spring Training. A fan favorite in Toronto last season, when he hit .229/.326/.308 in 289 plate appearances, Kawasaki will compete for a bench spot and possibly playing time at second base.
  • Left-handed reliever Jordan Norberto has agreed to a Minor League deal with the Rays, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser. Norberto posted a 2.77 ERA in 39 appearances for the A’s in 2012 but didn’t pitch in the Majors last season, undergoing Tommy John surgery in June, a month after Oakland released him. Slusser also reports that Norberto still must serve his 50-game suspension that came as a result of the Biogenesis investigation.
  • There is mutual interest in a reunion between the Phillies and reliever Ryan Madson, CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury reports. Madson played for Philadelphia from 2003-11 and saved 32 games with a 2.37 ERA in his final season there before having his past two years wiped out by elbow injuries. According to Salisbury, Madson will audition for teams soon after New Years and likely will have to take a Minor League deal.

– Andrew Simon

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