The White Sox are one of three teams inquiring about D-backs catcher Miguel Montero, according to a report Thursday in The Arizona Republic.
Montero, 31, is a two-time All-Star who has drawn interest from the crosstown-rival Cubs and Dodgers, as well as the South Siders.
The White Sox have been looking for a fixture at catcher since letting A.J. Pierzynski leave as a free agent following the 2012 season.
Tyler Flowers was given first crack at the job in 2013, before Josh Phegley took over as the season closed.
Chicago again stuck with Flowers (127 games) and Rule-5 Draft pick Adrian Nieto (48) last season, but Sox catchers combined to hit just .239/.293/.395 with 20 home runs and 64 RBIs.
The Sox aren’t necessarily looking to replace Flowers, because they like how he handles pitchers and calls games — the No. 1 trait they value in catchers. But they have looked for alternatives or complements in the past, including left-handed-hitting Astros catcher Jason Castro last year.
Montero signed a five-year, $60-million contract with Arizona after the 2012 season, a deal thought to be a great investment for a then-28-year-old catcher. But Montero’s average plummeted from .286 to .230 in 2013 as he played in only 116 games because of injuries.
He rebounded last year to make his second National League All-Star team, but finished with a .243/.329/.370 slashline, and the new D-backs regime appears willing to trade him for the right price.
Montero, a .264/.342/.421 career hitter over nine seasons, is due to make $12 million in 2015 and $14 million the next two seasons.
Russell Martin, the jewel of the free-agent catching class, signed a five-year, $82-million deal with the Blue Jays earlier this week. The rest of the remaining free-agent catching options — Geovany Soto, David Ross, J.P. Arencibia, etc. — are viewed more as backups.
- Cash Kruth
The Angels are willing to trade second baseman Howie Kendrick or third baseman David Freese for a pitcher, but that doesn’t make a deal inevitable.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports the Angels are more likely to keep Kendrick than trade him.
The Yankees and Blue Jays have been in contact with the Angels about the second baseman, per Heyman.
Kendrick, 31, is coming off a season in which he hit .293/.347/.397 with 75 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. Because the Angels also have Gordon Beckham and Grant Green, they’d be willing to trade Kendrick for a rotation upgrade.
— Cash Kruth
Ike Davis is adding another glove to his equipment bag.
The Pirates already have Pedro Alvarez, who likely will shift to first base following this season’s throwing woes, so they don’t really need Davis.
Davis, 27, hit just .233 with 11 home runs with the Mets and Pirates this season. More power is there, as evident in his 32-homer 2012, and he got on base at a .344 clip this year.
Davis probably won’t live up to the hype that comes with being a No. 18 overall Draft pick (2008), but becoming more versatile should help him land where he can compete for a job.
— Cash Kruth
Talks between the Orioles and Nick Markakis regarding a four-year deal are “serious,” according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
Dialogue between Baltimore — the only organization Markakis has ever known — and the outfielder broke down earlier this week, but progress was made Wednesday, writes Heyman.
Markakis staying in Baltimore makes sense for both parties. The 30-year-old (who turns 31 next week) has spent all nine of his seasons with the Orioles, who selected him No. 7 overall in the 2003 Draft.
Markakis is a career .290/.358/.435 hitter with two Gold Glove Awards, including this past year.
– Cash Kruth
The Cubs are reportedly in contact with the Nationals regarding a potential trade for right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, according to The Chicago Sun Times.
A source told the Sun Times the teams have mutual interest in the names that have been discussed, while another told the newspaper he expected the deal to get done. That same source also added he expected the Cubs to sign free-agent right-hander Justin Masterson, who struggled in an injury-filled 2014 following an All-Star campaign in 2013.
Zimmermann, who turns 29 in May, is due to make $16.5 million in 2015, the final year of his contract. He was 14-5 with a 2.66 ERA in 32 starts in 2014, throwing 199 2/3 innings.
The Auburndale, Wisc., native has been a workhorse for the Nationals the past three seasons, logging 195 2/3 innings in 2012 and 213 1/3 innings last season while also winning 19 games.
The source told the Sun Times the Cubs initiated the talks involving Zimmermann.
– Cash Kruth
The Mets and Rockies have been linked in trade speculation regarding shortstop Troy Tulowitzki for the past couple of years, but that talk is heating up following the Mets’ signing of Michael Cuddyer.
As Yahoo’s Jeff Passan notes in this tweet, the Mets “fear they can’t afford (Tulowitzki), but still talking.” CBS Sports Jon Heyman also tweets he’s not hearing “any significant talks” between the two teams.
But it’s still fun to talk about, especially with the Cuddyer signing signifying the Mets feel they’re close to competing in the National League East.
Tulowitzki has previously been untouchable, but that stance has changed. Numerous teams will check in with the Rockies regarding Tulo, and they have to listen, given the return they’ll likely receive.
Another team that lines up well with the Mets is the Cubs, who have three shortstops — Starlin Castro, Javier Baez and Addison Russell — and need pitching, of which the Mets have plenty.
As ESPN’s Buster Olney notes, the Mets also could look to Chicago’s South Side for shortstop help and try to acquire Alexei Ramirez.
— Cash Kruth
Veteran outfielder Torii Hunter is drawing interest from at least 10 teams, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal lists the Royals, Twins, Tigers, Cubs, Giants, Rangers and Mariners as teams who have shown interest in the 39-year-old.
Hunter has said his preference is to remain in Detroit, but the Tigers’ first order of business this offseason is to resign designated hitter Victor Martinez. It is unlikely the Tigers will be able to keep both and, considering Martinez also will draw plenty of interest and Hunter has previously signed early — agreeing with the Angels (2007) and Tigers (2012) in November — it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think he lands elsewhere.
Although Hunter is far from the defender he once was — he’s actually a liability in the field according to many metrics — he can still hit. He batted .286 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs this year for Detroit, a year after he hit .304 in an All-Star season at at 37.
Hunter turns 40 in July.
— Cash Kruth
ESPN’s Wallace Matthews writes the Yankees are making a strong push to sign free-agent third baseman Chase Headley.
A source told Matthews the Yankees “are looking at Headley to start at third, play some DH and back up [the oft-injured] Mark Teixeira at first base.”
That’s basically the role New York would like Alex Rodriguez to fill, but the Yankees have no idea what they’ll get out of the 39-year-old A-Rod, who was suspended all of last year and has already had two hip operations.
Headley hit well during his stint with the Yankees last year, slashing .262/.371/.398 with six home runs in 58 games.
Headley, 30, is the second-best third baseman on the market behind Pablo Sandoval. But considering all the money the Yankees owe Rodriguez, it isn’t financially feasible — even for them — to sign another big-money third baseman.
— Cash Kruth
Nick Markakis is looking at other options after talks between the outfielder and the Orioles appear to have stalled, reports Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun.
Markakis’ agent is planning to meet with several clubs at this week’s General Manager meetings but told Connolly the O’s were not one of his client’s suitors at this time.
Per Connolly, Baltimore and Markakis were discussing a four-year contract worth about $10-12 million per year.
Markakis, 31, has spent his entire nine-year career in Baltimore. He’s a .290/.358/.435 career hitter with 141 home runs, 61 stole bases and is a two-time Gold Glove Award winner who, as his agent notes, should draw plenty of interest from multiple teams.
— Cash Kruth
File this under the obvious category, but Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times tweets that shortstop Hanley Ramirez has rejected the Dodgers’ qualifying offer.
Ramirez is considered one of the top bats on the free-agent market and likely will receive the biggest contract of all the free agent position players.
– Cash Kruth