On a relatively quiet Monday, the Indians made news late in the day by reaching a long-term deal with Michael Brantley. MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian confirmed the new contract is a four-year deal worth $25 million in guaranteed salary, with a club option valued at $11 million for 2018.
While the Indians locked up Brantley long-term, however, they apparently have not had any talks with right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez’s agent in “weeks,” according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Jimenez remains one of the top arms available on the free-agent market, though it remains unclear where he will pitch in 2014.
Other news and notes:
- The Rangers added another potential starter to the mix on Monday, agreeing to terms with right-hander Tommy Hanson on a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training, according to Major League sources. Hanson will enter Spring Training as a candidate to to be Texas’ fifth starter, while right-handers Nick Tepesch and Colby Lewis, and left-handers Robbie Ross and Michael Kirkman will also look to earn a rotation spot this spring.
- Elsewhere in the American League West, the Angels added some bullpen depth, signing veteran reliever Brandon Lyon to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. As of now, Lyon projects to start the season at Triple-A in the Halos organization.
- The Nationals agreed to a one-year deal with Tyler Clippard, the last of the club’s 10 arbitration-eligible players. Though the terms of the deal were not disclosed, CBSSports.com reported that Clippard will earn $5.875 million this season. Clippard had requested $6.35 million and the Nationals had countered at $4.45 million, so the reported agreement checks in slightly higher than the $5.4 million midpoint.
- Veteran free agent Johan Santana is progressing through his rehab program as he attempts to continue his Major League career, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. According to Santana’s agent, Peter Greenberg, the southpaw threw off a mound twice last week and plans to continue that work this week. Santana turns 35 next month.
– Paul Casella
After missing out on Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka and possibly veteran right-hander Matt Garza — Garza remains in talks with the Brewers after a deal seemed imminent on Thursday — the Angels have reportedly turned their sights elsewhere for starting pitching help. On Thursday, after it seemed Garza had been taken off the market by Milwaukee, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweeted that he expects the Angels to either stand pat or strike a bargain-type deal with a pitcher such as Bronson Arroyo, Chris Capuano or Paul Maholm.
On Friday, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the Angels indeed have a “bit of interest” in Arroyo, but they would also feel comfortable entering spring training with their current options.
The Halos’ starting rotation, as of now, consists of Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Garret Richards, Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs. Joe Blanton, Mark Mulder, Wade LeBlanc and Matt Shoemaker could all also potentially enter the equation.
As far as any other options, Gonzalez reported Thursday that the club is unlikely to surrender its 15th overall Draft pick to sign Ubaldo Jimenez or reunite with Ervin Santana. Veteran A.J. Burnett is not considered to be an option either, as it is unlikely he would want to pitch on the West Coast, assuming he pitches at all, in 2014.
– Paul Casella
Right-hander Guillermo Moscoso has elected to continue his career in Japan, agreeing on Thursday to sign with Nippon Professional Baseball’s Yokohama Bay Stars, according to Nikkan Sports.
Moscoso has struggled since his 2011 breakout season, posting a 6.12 ERA over 50 innings with the Rockies in ’12 and a 5.10 ERA over 30 frames with the Giants this past season. This all came after he went 8-10 with a 3.38 ERA in 23 appearances (21 starts) with the A’s in his first full big league season in ’11.
The 30-year-old righty started last season with the Cubs organization, but was traded to the Giants in exchange for cash in July. Moscoso is 13-14 with a 4.28 ERA, while playing for four teams over five big league seasons.
- Paul Casella
Masahiro Tanaka is one step closer to joining the Major Leagues, according to a series of Christmas Day reports.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, citing a source, said that the posting period for the Japanese right-hander started Thursday morning and will conclude by Jan. 24 at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, citing the Sponichi website in Japan, reported that Casey Close will serve as Tanaka’s agent. Close also represents big league All-Stars Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Derek Jeter.
Tanaka’s Nippon Professional Baseball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, reportedly revealed the decision to post him on Tuesday evening. The posting figures to trigger a Major League frenzy, not just because of Tanaka’s talents, but also because of the new posting system regulations.
Under the new posting system, bids cannot exceed $20 million. Also, any Major League team can negotiate freely with Tanaka, with only the signing team ultimately paying the $20 million fee.
It presents a much different situation than two years ago when the Rangers won exclusive rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish after posting a winning bid worth $51.7 million.
The new posting rules figure to allow more teams the chance to pursue Tanaka, who this past season went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in leading the Golden Eagles to the Japan Series title. Overall, despite being just 25 years old, Tanaka has gone 99-35 with a 2.30 ERA over seven seasons in Japan.
Various reports have already mentioned the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Braves, Rangers and Diamondbacks as potential frontrunners to land Tanaka’s servies.
- Paul Casella
Wednesday marked another busy day on the Hot Stove, especially out West where the Rockies made a pair of deals as they continue to try to improve on back-to-back last-place finishes in the National League West.
Colorado on Wednesday landed outfielder Drew Stubbs in a trade with the Indians in exchange for left-handed pitcher Josh Outman. The Rox also acquired lefty Franklin Morales and right-handed reliever prospect Chris Martin from the Red Sox in exchange for infielder Jonathan Herrera.
While it was clearly a busy day for the Rockies, plenty of other teams either made, or are on the verge of making, moves of their own.
Here’s a look at some of Wednesday’s other news and notes from around the league:
- The Angels are reportedly closing in on a one-year deal with veteran Raul Ibanez. The 41-year-old designated hitter connected for 29 home runs and 65 RBIs for the Mariners last season. The Halos are also believed to be interested in Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, if he is made available, as well as free-agent righty Matt Garza.
- The Padres seemingly ended their search for a late-innings reliever, reportedly signing veteran Joaquin Benoit to a two-year deal. The deal is worth $15.5 million, including a $1.5 million buyout for 2016.
- The Braves gave manager Fredi Gonzalez some added flexibility with his lineup, acquiring catcher Ryan Doumit in a trade with the Twins for Minor League pitcher Sean Gilmartin. Doumit provides the Braves with a third catcher alongside Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird, as well as another option at first base or either corner-outfield position. Doumit could also provide some pop off the bench in a pinch-hitting role.
- Infielder Eric Chavez will reportedly return to the D-backs on a one-year contract. Chavez, who hit .281 with an .810 OPS after signing on as a free agent last season, will give the D-backs a left-handed bat off the bench, as well as a veteran backup to Paul Goldschmidt and Martin Prado at first base and third base, respectively.
- Houston continued its busy offseason, acquiring first baseman and outfielder Jesus Guzman in a trade with the Padres for infielder Ryan Jackson. Guzman will be given the chance to play first base for the Astros, while also providing manager Bo Porter with another outfield option. Jackson had been claimed off waivers from the Cardinals less than a month ago.
- The Mariners are reportedly showing continued interest in free agent Ervin Santana, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. With David Price apparently out of Seattle’s reach at this point, the club seems to be focusing its efforts on Santana for the time being.
The Mariners also added to their outfield depth by re-signing oft-injured outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to a one-year deal.
– Paul Casella
The Rockies have reached an agreement with left-handed reliever Boone Logan, multiple news outlets have reported. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports the three-year deal is worth $16.5 million.
The 29-year-old spent his last four seasons with the Yankees, appearing in at least 51 games each year. He went 5-2 with a 3.23 ERA in 61 appearances last season.
Over the course of his eight-year career, Logan has pitched for the Yankees, White Sox and Braves. He was a 20th round pick by the White Sox in the 2002 MLB Draft.
- Joey Nowak
Two of Robinson Cano’s representatives met on Tuesday with Yankees president Randy Levine and general manager Brian Cashman, according to a report by the Associated Press. Despite the meeting, however, the two sides apparently remain very far apart, according to the report’s source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Brodie Van Wagenen and Juan Perez of CAA Baseball met with the Yankees brass on Tuesday — and may meet again on Wednesday. Cano, himself, did not attend the meeting.
Cano’s camp remains set, for the time being anyways, on asking for the 10-year, $310 million contract that Cano said he would seek this offseason. The Yankees have said they won’t be offering up that caliber deal, but Tuesday’s meeting seems to indicate that the two sides are at least making progress.
Rumors surfaced on Tuesday that said the Mets had recently inquired about Brewers slugger Ryan Braun. Though the Mets insist that “inquiry” was nothing more than a four-word exchange at the General Manager Meetings earlier this month, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, the team remains in the market for a power-hitting corner outfielder.
With Braun seemingly not a viable option, the Mets are putting their focus on the likes of Curtis Granderson and Nelson Cruz, among others. Cruz is reportedly seeking a four-year, $75 million deal after missing the final 50 games of the 2013 regular season while serving a 50-game PED-related suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal. Cardinals Jhonny Peralta, who served the same suspension for his Biogenesis connections, recently netted a $53 million deal with the Cardinals.
A number of other rumors were circulating Tuesday, including:
- The Rockies reportedly asked the Angels about slugger Mark Trumbo, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Though considering Colorado’s main trade piece is center fielder Dexter Fowler and the Angels are in the market for pitching help, the Rockies seem more likely to reach a deal with the Royals. Colorado has already missed out in its pursuit of Jose Abreu, Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz, but the Rockies would still like to add a power hitter and bullpen help — and that’s where the Royals come in. The Royals are reportedly willing to move relievers Aaron Crow and Tim Collins, as well as right-hander Wade Davis, who the Rockies tried to acquire from Tampa Bay last offseason before the Rays shipped him to Kansas City.
- Despite the Rangers’ recent acquisition of Prince Fielder, the club is still considering keeping Mitch Moreland, according to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Texas is said to be tossing around the idea of using Moreland, who made all 129 of his starts this past season at first base, at multiple positions — including designated hitter, first base and the outfield — against right-handed pitching.
- After going back-and-forth on the Mariners’ supposed interest in first baseman Mike Napoli, Rosenthal is reporting that the Mariners are indeed interested in the free agent slugger. It remains up in the air just how serious of a push Seattle will make for Napoli, but the Mariners are said to also be interested, on various levels, in a number of other marquee free agents, including Cruz, Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo.
Alfonso Soriano could soon be making a return to the Bronx.
The Yankees are currently working to acquire the Cubs outfielder and a deal is close, according to George King of the New York Post. There are still a number of wrinkles to be worked out with the deal, including how much of Soriano’s remaining contract will be paid by the Cubs, as well as Soriano needing to waive his no-trade clause.
Soriano, who turned down a trade to the Giants last season, is owed approximately $25 million through the end of next season. The Cubs are willing to cover most of that, but are asking for a mid-level prospect in return, according to the report.
Soriano’s bat would add some much-needed pop to a Yankees lineup that ranks 12th in the American League in runs scored, 13th in home runs and 14th in batting average.
The Cubs outfielder is hitting .256 with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs. Ten of those homers have come in Soriano’s last 20 games, including eight already in the month of July.
Soriano made his Major League debut with the Yankees in 1999 and went on to hit .284 with 98 home runs, 270 RBIs and 121 stolen bases over parts of five seasons in pinstripes. As a member of the Yanks in 2002, he led the American League in runs (128), hits (209) and stolen bases (41).
* The Rangers, who scouted the Diamondbacks’ Justin Upton earlier this month, had a scout at Thursday’s Tigers-Indians game, reportedly to check out the Indians’ Shin-Soo Choo according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. With the Rangers scoring the fewest runs of any American League club this month entering play Friday, general manager Jon Daniels could be interested in adding another power bat to the lineup ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. According to a tweet from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, however, Texas may have to look elsewhere with the Indians now likely to hold onto Choo.<p>
* It appears the Angels haven’t given up on Rays starter James Shields just yet according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, though one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking described the Angels’ chances of acquiring a starter as “below average and diminishing” as of Thursday. Rosenthal reports the Angels – who he says are also still in the mix for the Brewers’ Zack Greinke — are not the only team still interested in Shields despite his recent slump. He also lists the Rangers, Braves, Dodgers and Cardinals as potential suitors.
* Though the Rockies currently sit in last place in the National League West, don’t expect them to be major sellers at the trade deadline reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman reports that Colorado wants to keep both Michael Cuddyer and reliever Matt Belisle, though the Rockies could be willing to part with Marco Scutaro, Jason Giambi, Rafael Betancourt, Matt Reynolds and Jonathan Herrera.
* The Dodgers have already landed Hanley Ramirez and remain in talks for the Cubs’ Ryan Dempster — and they’re still interested in more, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. Knobler writes that the Dodgers have expressed interest in acquiring either Justin Morneau or Josh Willingham of the Twins, though the Twins have said it’s unlikely they part with Willingham. It’s also possible that a potential Dempster deal could expand to include either Alfonso Soriano or Bryan LaHair.
- Paul Casella