The Astros are looking to upgrade the bullpen this Winter and David Robertson may be their man.
According to the New York Post, the Astros have talked with Robertson’s agent, Scott Leventhal.
While Robertson is one of the top closers on the market, it remains to be seen how much the Astros would be willing to pay.
The right-hander is reportedly looking for a contract around four years and $13 million per year.
Robertson converted 39 of 44 saves in 2014 and posted a 3.08 ERA in 64 1/3 innings.
The Yankees did offer Robertson a one-year $15.3 million qualifying offer earlier this off-season so if the Astros did sign him they would have to relinquish a draft pick.
- William Boor
With Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmerman, Doug Fister, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark, the Nationals have a starting rotation that few – if any – teams in baseball can match.
However, the Washington Post wonders if the Nationals could make a play for Max Scherzer and improve an already terrific rotation.
Scherzer, a 30-year old right hander won the 2013 American League Cy Young Award and was productive again in 2014 as he went 18-5 with a 3.15 ERA.
If the Nationals were able to find a way to land Scherzer it would likely open the door for them to trade one of their current starters.
General Manager Mike Rizzo hasn’t ruled out the possibility of making a trade and if the Nationals do trade one of their young arms, they could likely get some pretty nice pieces in return.
“[Zimmermann is] a key part of the team,” Rizzo said last week at the General Manager meetings. “I would never say definitely [about trading him]. He’s a key part of the team. It would be a tough guy to move. But again, never say never because stranger things have happened.”
- William Boor
Free agent Pablo Sandoval appears to be nearing a decision.
According to various reporters, the 28-year-old third baseman’s list of suitors is down to the Red Sox, Giants and Padres.
John Shea of The San Francisco Chronicle reports the Kung Fu Panda is leaning toward signing with the Red Sox, while the Padres have extended the highest offer.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal also tweeted those three teams extended offers, quoting Sandoval’s agent, Gustavo Vasquez, as saying all offers were “close.”
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe also reports all contract offers are close, with Boston’s at five years for $95 million
Sandoval is a .294/.346/.465 career hitter with 106 home runs in seven Major League seasons, all with the Giants.
- Cash Kruth
Henry Blanco is back with the Cubs, joining manager Joe Maddon’s staff as a quality assurance coach. It might not be the only change. Dave Martinez, who has been Maddon’s bench coach since 2008 with the Rays, was dropped on Friday from the list of candidates for the Tampa managerial opening. Martinez, 50, also is a former Cubs player — 1986-88 — and may be a valuable addition for Maddon in his switch to the National League. The addition of Blanco should help Cubs catcher Welington Castillo. Blanco, 43, played for the Cubs from 2005-08, and was a coach on the Diamondbacks staff.
– Carrie Muskat
The Twins have won the bidding for Korean pitcher Hyeon-jong Yang and are nearing a deal with the left-hander, according to the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. The club has not confirmed.
Yang was posted earlier this month by his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, the Kia Tigers. He won league’s equivalent of a Cy Young Award this season, going 16-8 with a 4.25 ERA in 165 innings, producing a 1.40 WHIP, and 8.6 strikeouts and 4.0 walks per nine.
While those numbers don’t seem impressive in the context of Major League Baseball, the KBO is a hitter-friendly league whose overall ERA was 5.23 in 2014.
Yang, who will turn 27 in March, is listed at 6 feet tall and 172 pounds. He throws his fastball 92-95 mph and features a plus slider.
The Twins are searching for pitching help after finishing 29th in the Majors with a 4.57 ERA in ‘14, ahead of only the Rockies.
– Andrew Simon
The Red Sox may be the current front-runner in the Pablo Sandoval sweepstakes, according to The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo.
Cafardo, citing a Major League source, suggested the five-year, $95 million offer from Boston has the lead on offers from the Padres and his former club, the Giants. The report also indicated Sandoval, 28, is hoping to make a decision soon.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Padres made their offer to Sandoval on Friday. The club’s general manager A.J. Preller also met with the third baseman’s agent Gustavo Vazquez in Miami that day, according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock.
The Blue Jays are also thought to be in the mix for Sandoval, but at Thursday’s introductory press conference for Russell Martin, general manager Alex Anthopoulos downplayed the possibility of another imminent free agent acquisition.
- Chad Thornburg
The Dodgers’ overcrowded outfielder could lead the club’s new-look front office to make a trade this offseason as it looks to shed salary and address other parts of the roster. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman called that “likely the best course of action” at the General Managers Meetings last week.
But which outfielder will be on the move? The most likely candidates are expensive veterans Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, each of whom has more than $50 million remaining on his contract.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported Friday that Kemp is drawing interest and could be a stronger bet to be traded than many have thought, with teams such as the Mariners and Orioles in the mix. Though the Dodgers still owe Kemp $107 million, his recent production and the lack of right-handed power on the market could allow Los Angeles to clear at least a substantial portion of his remaining salary, Heyman writes.
Kemp, who will be 31 this season, has fallen off since finishing second in the NL MVP race in 2011, and the Dodgers no longer see him as a center fielder. Still, he hit a solid .287/.346/.506 in ‘14, with 25 homers and 89 RBIs.
– Andrew Simon
The Cubs will have to wait a little longer for Jon Lester to make a decision regarding where he wants to pitch next year. According to WEEI’s Rob Bradford, Lester will meet with at least two more teams next week. The free agent pitcher already has talked to the Cubs, Red Sox, and Braves. The Cubs made their push on Tuesday when Lester visited Chicago.
The Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo said he has not been contacted to help recruit any free agents, including Lester, who was the first baseman’s teammate briefly with the Red Sox.
“All these free agents have earned the right to be free agents and they deserve to visit all the teams that are interested and do what’s best for their families and themselves,” Rizzo said Friday in Chicago. “It really [comes down to] the best decision for them. The best sales pitch I can give is that we’re an exciting team and this is Chicago.”
Cubs execs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer know all about sales pitches, especially at Thanksgiving time. In 2003, Epstein and Hoyer, then in the Red Sox front office, had Thanksgiving dinner with Curt Schilling, part of their effort to get the right-hander to drop the no-trade clause in his contract and accept being dealt to Boston.
“If we didn’t sign Curt, it probably would have been the worst Thanksgiving of my life,” Epstein said in 2003. “We tried to refuse [the invitation], and Curt said it was a deal breaker, they would be insulted if we didn’t go.”
Lester most likely will spend Thanksgiving at home.
– Carrie Muskat
Andrew Miller has recorded one save in his career, but that’s not going to stop the free-agent left-hander from cashing in big this offseason.
Multiple clubs already have submitted offers of at least three years to Miller, according to FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi, who added that it’s looking more and more like 29-year-old will score a four-year deal.
A former No. 6 overall draft pick back in 2006, Miller never established himself as a starter but has made a highly successful conversion to the bullpen. He posted a 2.02 ERA for the Red Sox and Orioles last year, striking out 103 batters in 62 1/3 innings while dominating both left-handed and right-handed hitters.
As Morosi points out, Miller should have no trouble smashing the record for the highest average annual value for a reliever with no closing experience, which currently sits at $6 million. As many as 22 clubs have shown interest in Miller, so there will be plenty of competition to drive up his price.
– Andrew Simon
Add another outfielder to the trade market.
The Rays have made Matt Joyce available and have discussed the 30-year-old with other clubs, according to Jon Morosi of FoxSports.com. Joyce, who has been with Tampa Bay since 2009, is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter after making $3.7 million in ‘14. He is set to become a free agent next offseason.
Joyce is a career .250/.342/.441 hitter, and the left-handed batter has mostly faced right-handed pitchers, slashing .261/.356/.463 against them. He has posted an above-average OPS+ of at least 108 for five straight seasons.
Defensively, Joyce has spent the bulk of his time in right field but played more in left last year.
– Andrew Simon