Author Archive

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

12/23 Roundup

The Dodgers already have a strong closer in Kenley Jansen, but that hasn’t stopped them from bolstering their bullpen during Hot Stove season, acquiring a pair of experienced ninth-inning men in the process.

Los Angeles, which already had re-signed Brian Wilson and J.P. Howell, took steps to further strengthen its relief corps on Sunday and Monday by reaching reported agreements with former Indians closer Chris Perez and veteran right-hander Jamey Wright. The club’s bullpen could be a force to be reckoned with this season, writes our Phil Rogers.

In other news around the league on Monday:

  • Our Doug Miller takes a look at the players who could be finding new homes during the holiday season in the latest edition of The Week Ahead.
  • Also in the holiday spirit, our Anthony Castrovince proposes the perfect gift for each National League club.
  • The Twins finalized their deals with catcher Kurt Suzuki and right-hander Mike Pelfrey.
  • At Sports on Earth, Jack Moore runs through the top six remaining free agents, with Kendrys Morales grabbing the top spot.
  • Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati Enquirer that his club will account for the loss of Shin-Soo Choo by making speedy prospect Billy Hamilton its starting center fielder and leadoff hitter.
  • After backing out of a deal with Grant Balfour due to concerns over his physical, the Orioles are looking at Fernando Rodney to fill their closer vacancy but also are interested in re-signing Fernando Rodriguez, according to The Baltimore Sun.
  • Meanwhile, Balfour continues to draw interest from other teams, with the New York Post reporting that the Yankees are among those involved. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman also tweeted that the Giants have had “conversations” with Balfour.
  • The Cubs are one of the teams interested in veteran reliever Jesse Crain, according to Bruce Levine of Chicago’s WSCR-AM and 670thescore.com.

– Andrew Simon

Report: Dodgers sign Jamey Wright

The Dodgers have signed veteran right-hander Jamey Wright to a one-year deal, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.

Wright, who turns 39 on Tuesday, pitched for the Dodgers in 2012 before spending last season with the Rays. He has made 192 appearances over the last three years, all but one out of the bullpen, and gone 9-8 with a 3.32 ERA, 167 strikeouts and 83 walks over 206 innings.

The 6-foot-6 former Rockies first-round pick owns a 4.82 career ERA for 10 teams across 18 big league seasons.

– Andrew Simon

12/22 Roundup

The free-agent market lost one of its biggest names on Saturday, when outfielder Shin-Soo Choo agreed to a seven-year, $130 million contract with the Rangers.

As the list of unsigned impact players continues to shrink, the big question hanging over the Hot Stove is whether Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will join the fray. The highly touted right-hander’s Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, has yet to decide whether to make him available via NPB’s recently revised posting system with Major League Baseball.

But the situation appears to nearing a resolution, with Baseball America’s Ben Badler reporting that the Eagles are expected to inform Tanaka of their decision by Wednesday.

In other news from around the league on a quiet Sunday:

  • Former A’s closer Grant Balfour saw his two-year, $15 million deal with the Orioles fall through after issues arose with his physical, but as many as four teams — including the Rays — appear to have interest in the veteran righty.
  • Former All-Star left-hander Mark Mulder, who is making a comeback attempt, has worked out for the Giants, Padres, D-backs, Angels and Phillies, according to The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Mulder last pitched in the Majors in 2008 but is working with a new delivery after injuries derailed his career.
  • Cafardo also writes that free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew seems likely to return to the Red Sox, due in large part to a lack of other strong fits.
  • Agent Scott Boras is trying to get the Mets interested in two of his remaining free agents, Drew and slugger Kendrys Morales, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. However, Crasnick says Drew’s price could be too high for New York, which doesn’t appear to have much interest in Morales.

– Andrew Simon

12/17 Roundup

The pool of potential closers available on the free-agent market shrank on Tuesday, when the Hot Stove was focused on relief pitching.

The Orioles were on the hunt for a closer after trading Jim Johnson to the A’s earlier this offseason, and they now appear set to use some of the savings from that deal on Oakland’s former closer. Grant Balfour, who saved 38 games for the A’s in 2013, reportedly is in agreement on a two-year contract with Baltimore.

The Cubs also might have snatched up a new ninth-inning man after reaching a reported one-year pact with Jose Veras. That would leave Fernando Rodney, Joaquin Benoit, Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez among a dwindling group of free agents with recent success as closers. The Padres appear to be targeting Benoit for an eighth-inning role in front of Huston Street.

In other news from around the league:

  • Highly touted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka has informed his Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, that he wants to be made available to Major League teams. But even with NPB and MLB having a new posting agreement in place, the Eagles do not have to post Tanaka, and it appears they might be reluctant to do so.
  • One club that figures to pursue Tanaka if he becomes available is Arizona, which is looking to add more starting pitching this offseason.
  • The Yankees are close to signing a pair of veteran players, reportedly reaching an agreement on a one-year deal with second baseman Brian Roberts and a two-year contract with left-handed reliever Matt Thornton. Meanwhile, New York still would like to add free agent Mark Reynolds but is facing competition from the Angels and Twins, among others, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network. Jeff Baker is another veteran bat drawing interest from the club, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman.
  • The Braves’ search for additional starting pitching likely concluded with Monday’s signing of Gavin Floyd to a one-year contract, despite the fact that the righty won’t be ready until May as he rehabs from Tommy John surgery. Atlanta had explored trades for the likes of the Rays’ David Price and the Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija but found the asking prices too steep.
  • Our Tom Singer checks in on free-agent righty A.J. Burnett, who has yet to make a decision about whether to retire, return to the Pirates or perhaps pitch for another team. It’s a delay that is making things difficult for Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington.
  • After losing out on Juan Uribe, the Marlins continue to search for a third baseman. The club is looking at both free agents and trade possibilities.
  • The Mets’ top priority is to trade one of its first basemen, Ike Davis or Lucas Duda. The Brewers and Pirates are the two remaining clubs that seem like obvious trade partners for such a deal. Pittsburgh is interested in both Davis and the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland, according to Heyman.
  • The Cardinals’ recent signing of free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis likely will turn out to be their last significant move of the offseason, as GM John Mozeliak acknowledged on Tuesday.
  • On the other hand, Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said his club still is looking hard at free agents, with the bullpen one area to address. Houston already has signed relievers Chad Qualls and Matt Albers.

– Andrew Simon

Cubs sign reliever Veras

The Cubs have agreed to a contract with free-agent reliever Jose Veras, with the righty set to take a physical on Wednesday morning to make it official. The club has not confirmed the move.

Veras will serve as Chicago’s closer, reports ESPN Deportes’ Enrique Rojas, who adds that the one-year deal is worth $4 million plus incentives, with a $5.5 million option for 2015.

The 33-year-old notched 19 saves and a 2.93 ERA in 42 appearances for the Astros last season before being traded to Detroit, where he served mostly in a setup role. In 62 2/3 innings overall, Veras had a 3.02 ERA, with 60 strikeouts and 22 walks.

– Andrew Simon

12/16 Roundup

The most significant Hot Stove news to break on Monday likely wasn’t a trade or a signing. Instead, it might have been Major League Baseball’s announcement that it had agreed with Nippon Professional Baseball on revised protocols for the leagues’ posting system.

The agreement allows NPB’s Rakuten Golden Eagles to post right-hander Masahiro Tanaka this offseason, a move that likely would make him the most sought-after pitcher on the market. While Rakuten would not have to let Tanaka go, owner Hiroshi Mikitani will allow him to leave, reports the Los Angeles Times’ Dylan Hernandez, relaying the news from the Japanese website Sanspo.

In other news from around the league:

  • The D-backs, one of many teams that could go after Tanaka, made a move for another pitcher, trading third-base prospect Matt Davidson to the White Sox for closer Addison Reed. While Davidson was ranked as Arizona’s No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, Reed saved 40 games for Chicago last season. Meanwhile, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers is hoping to work out a contract with veteran third baseman Eric Chavez, tweets our Steve Gilbert.
  • The Dodgers are closing in on a two-year deal to re-sign left-handed reliever J.P. Howell, a source tells our Ken Gurnick. Howell would make $11.25 million, with a $6.25 million vesting option for 2016.
  • The Braves signed free-agent right-hander Gavin Floyd to a one-year contract, taking a chance on a pitcher still recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • The Indians also will give a shot to a veteran pitcher coming off injury, after agreeing to a Minor League deal with righty Shaun Marcum.
  • The Astros added another piece to their bullpen, signing Matt Albers to a one-year contract.
  • The Yankees are considering veteran free-agent infielders Mark Reynolds, Michael Young and Brian Roberts, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network.
  • The Phillies have let other teams know they are “very willing” to trade shortstop Jimmy Rollins, according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, but Rollins has a no-trade clause and will make $11 million this season, with an $11 million vesting option for 2015.

– Andrew Simon

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 650 other followers