Brewers owner Mark Attanasio has reportedly had talks with Francisco Rodriguez’s agent, Scott Boras, about a potential return to Milwaukee, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
This report comes a day after Attanasio said he would be “very surprised” if the Brewers did not make another signing before Spring Training. The Brewers had been mentioned in potential trade talks involving the Phillies’ Jonathan Papelbon, but those talks seem to have died down in recent days.
As it stands now, the Brewers are limited to Jonathan Broxton when it comes to potential closer options. Rodriguez, meanwhile, is coming off an impressive 2014 campaign in which he locked down 44 saves, while racking up a respectable 3.04 ERA and 0.99 WHIP over 69 appearances.
The market for Rodriguez has been rather quiet this offseason, so a return to the Brewers could end up being the best option for both sides.
— Paul Casella
Royals general manager Dayton Moore said he is “still monitoring” the market for James Shields, but added that the club is unlikely to sign him, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star.
Though Shields’ price tag is likely to drop a bit in the near future, if it hasn’t already, the right-hander will likely remain out of the Royals’ price range. Along with the financial limitations, the Royals already have six pitchers set to compete for the five rotation spots in Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas, Jeremy Guthrie, Edinson Volquez, Kris Medlen and Danny Duffy.
The market for Shields is still largely unclear at this point, but the Marlins, Diamondbacks, Padres and Blue Jays are all among the teams that have been linked to him, one way or another, in recent days.
— Paul Casella
The Marlins are “still discussing” the possibility of pursuing free agent right-hander James Shields, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
The market for Shields remains mostly unclear at this point, with numerous teams being linked — and then unlinked — to him this offseason. The Marlins are certainly one of those teams, as the club has been mentioned as a potential landing spot at times this winter, but ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported earlier this week that the chances Miami will sign him are currently “zero.”
That, of course, could change rapidly, especially if Shields’ price tag begins to drop. The 33-year-old is said to be seeking a five-year, $125 million deal, while some reports have suggested that teams are leaning more towards offering him a four-year pact in the neighborhood of $80 million.
While the market portion of things will shake out in the coming days, the Marlins could certainly use Shields in their rotation. Shields could provide the team with an ace-caliber pitcher until Jose Fernandez is ready to return from Tommy John surgery, at which point the Marlins would figure to have one of the stronger starting pitcher duos in the National League.
It would also bolster the postseason chances for a team that is clearly looking to make a push into October after a busy offseason. Those postseason hopes also get a lift in the short-term by the fact that the Marlins play in the NL East, a division that currently features three teams that are in various stages of rebuilding in the Braves, Mets and Phillies. All signs point toward trying to build an immediate contender in Miami and adding a pitcher of Shields’ caliber could make a significant impact.
— Paul Casella
The Marlins have reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, according to Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio.
The 10-time All-Star will provide the Marlins with added depth as a fourth outfielder behind starters Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. Suzuki, whp turned 41 in October, still hit a respectable .284/.324/.340 over 143 games for the Yankees last season, while also stealing 15 bases.
Though he has played primarily right field since 2009, Suzuki did make brief appearances in both left and center field with the Yanks last season and could make appearances at either spot for the Marlins, if needed.
Most notably, Suzuki is just 156 hits shy of 3,000 for his Major League career. While it’s unlikely that he’d rack up that many hits this season, given his limited role, another solid campaign could position him for another one-year deal and a shot at 3,000 in 2016.
— Paul Casella
Veteran right-hander Ryan Vogelsong has agreed to return to the Giants on a one-year deal, pending a physical, according to multiple reports.
The 37-year-old Vogelsong had been linked closely to numerous clubs in recent weeks, including reportedly visiting Houston to meet with the Astros earlier this week. Instead, Vogelsong will return to San Francisco, providing the Giants with some depth to their starting rotation.
Vogelsong, who went 8-13 with a 4.00 ERA last season, rejoins a pitching staff that already includes five other starters in Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Tim Lincecum. That said, Cain (right elbow and right ankle surgery) and Hudson (right ankle surgery) each have injury concerns, though both are expected to be ready by Opening Day.
Lincecum, meanwhile, has struggled for the majority of the past three seasons and finished last year in the bullpen. Peavy also has his share of question marks after struggling with the Red Sox to begin last season then racking up a 6.19 ERA in four postseason starts with the Giants.
Though it’s unclear at this point exactly how the Giants’ starting rotation will shake out come Opening Day, Vogelsong’s presence certainly provides some much-needed insurance.
— Paul Casella
The Red Sox added some left-handed depth to their pitching staff on Wednesday, signing veteran southpaw Dana Eveland to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.
Eveland, 31, spent last season in a relief role with the Mets, racking up a respectable 2.63 ERA over 27 1/3 innings in 30 appearances. Eveland has pitched for eight teams during his nine-year Major League career, often bouncing back-and-forth between the rotation the the bullpen.
If Eveland indeed makes the club out of Spring Training, he has the potential to land a middle relief role with the Red Sox, while also providing some added insurance for the rotation.
— Paul Casella
Former two-time All-Star Dontrelle Willis is making another comeback attempt, signing a Minor League deal with the Brewers with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.
The 33-year-old has spent the past three seasons pitching in the Orioles, Angels and Giants organizations, though his 2014 campaign ended after just four outings due to a left elbow injury that he suffered in April while pitching for Triple-A Fresno. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2011, going 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA over 13 starts with the Reds.
Willis began his career by compiling a 58-39 record to go along with a 3.44 ERA over his first four Major League seasons with the Marlins from 2003-06, all while winning the 2003 NL Rookie of the Year Award and making two All-Star appearances. Though Willis made 127 starts during those four seasons, injuries limited the left-hander to just 78 appearances over the next five years, during which he racked up a 14-30 record and an unsightly 5.65 ERA.
— Paul Casella
Johan Santana‘s latest comeback attempt has been halted by discomfort in his left shoulder, according to Nelson Medina Arnías of LVBP.com.
Santana, who will turn 36 in March, had been pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League as he attempts to work his way back to the Majors. He will now miss the league final due to the shoulder issue, though an MRI reportedly showed no structural damage.
The latest injury is a significnat blow for Santana, especially considering that he’s already had multiple shoulder surgeries in the past four years. Those shoulder problems forced him to miss all of both the 2011 and 2013 seasons, while he also missed the 2014 campaign after suffering a torn Achilles’ tendon during extended Spring Training with the Orioles last June.
The southpaw last pitched in the Majors in 2012, going 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA and two complete game shutouts over 21 starts. A two-time Cy Young Award winner, Santana led his respective league in ERA three times from 2004-08 and had a strong 2010 campaign (11-9, 2.98 ERA, 1.176 WHIP) before injuries derailed his career over the past five years.
Prior to the injury news, at least six teams — including the Yankees, Blue Jays and Padres — had been rumored to have interest in signing Santana to what would presumably be an incentive-laden deal. It’s unclear at this point exactly what affect this shoulder soreness will have on Santana’s comeback bid, but the chances of him breaking camp with any Major League club have certainly taken a serious hit.
— Paul Casella
The Astros are reportedly close to acquiring Braves catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis in exchange for a trio of prospects, according to multiple sources — though the deal is not finalized just yet. Mark Bowman of MLB.com adds that the Rangers are also still in the mix, if a deal is not completed with the Astros.
The potential return package from Houston would reportedly include right-handers Michael Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman, as well as third baseman Rio Ruiz, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Foltynewicz is ranked as the Astros’ No. 4 overall prospect according to MLB.com, while Ruiz checks in as the club’s No. 9-ranked prospect.
If a deal is completed, it would mean the Braves have traded away their top two home run hitters from 2014 in Gattis and Justin Upton, who was traded to the Padres last month.
Gattis, who could serve as a catcher, outfielder or designated hitter in Houston, is currently under contract through the 2018 season. The 28-year-old posted a .263/.317/.493 batting line this past season, while hitting 22 home runs in just 108 games. He hit 21 homers over 105 games during his rookie season in 2013.
As for the Astros, they currently have Jason Castro penciled in as their starting catcher. Castro is coming off a disappointing 2014 campaign in which he hit just .222/.286/.366 with 14 home runs, though he did rack up a .276/.350/.485 line with 18 homers — all career-bests — in 2013.
— Paul Casella
With the start of Spring Training a little less than a month away, the Braves are still talking to a few clubs that had shown interest in Evan Gattis during the early portion of this offseason. But as of early Wednesday afternoon, it did not appear that a deal was imminent.
If Gattis is traded, his most likely destination would be to the American League, where he could be utilized as both a designated hitter and catcher. The Astros, Rangers and Royals have been among the clubs that have shown interest this winter.
While the Royals now appear to be out of the mix, the Astros and Rangers might still have some interest in the right-handed power hitter, who has already tallied a pair of 20-homer seasons, despite not playing more than 108 games during either of his first two seasons at the Major League level.
There was a point when the Braves were hoping to land a Major League-ready starting pitcher or outfielder in exchange for Gattis. But it appears their most recent discussions have provided reason to believe they would be more likely to gain a crop of prospects if they deal the 28-year-old slugger, who will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2018 season.
Gattis is currently slated transition from the catcher’s position to starting left fielder in Atlanta. While this would create the potential to compile approximately 150 additional plate appearances over the course of the season, it also creates some concern about his limitations with the glove. He was credited with -10 Defensive Runs Saved while logging just 342 1/3 innings (approximately one-third of a full season) in left field during the 2013 season.
— Mark Bowman