An already thin third-base market got a little slimmer on Thursday, with veteran Michael Young choosing to retire rather than pursue offers from a few teams. With Young off the market, Placido Polanco and Cody Ransom are the top third basemen available.
As MLB.com’s Richard Justice writes, Young was adored by teammates, coaches and fans over a 14-year Major League career. During his 13 seasons with the Rangers, Young not only established himself as the face of the franchise, he was a perennial Gold Glove candidate and an offensive threat.
Although Young’s retirement dominated the headlines on Thursday, the Hot Stove did see some more action:
* With Spring Training right around the corner, MLB.com’s Phil Rogers examined the remaining free agent crop and put together an interesting team of available players. A.J. Burnett, Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, Ubaldo Jimenez and Tommy Hanson are among the top starting pitchers still on the market, not to mention Jason Hammel and Paul Maholm. Several talented relievers are also available, most notably closer Fernando Rodney.
As for position players, such big names as shortstop Stephen Drew, slugger Kendrys Morales and outfielder Nelson Cruz are all looking for work. The Hot Stove will surely heat up as these players move closer to signing deals.
* Meanwhile, left-hander Bruce Chen and the Royals are close to completing a one-year contract; Chen needs to undergo a physical before the deal becomes official.
Chen’s almost certain return to Kansas City’s rotation is likely to have an impact on Santana, who posted a 3.24 ERA with the Royals last year. MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel predicts Santana is “not likely to follow Chen back through the Royals clubhouse door.”
- Austin Laymance
In a free-agent market light on shortstops, Stephen Drew would figure to be a hot commodity, coming off a year in which he played solid defense at the position and produced a .777 on-base-plus-slugging percentage for the Red Sox. Yet the 30-year-old seems to be running out of options, with Spring Training rapidly approaching.
On Tuesday night, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo that it is “unlikely” his club will sign Drew. On Wednesday, our Bryan Hoch reported that the Yankees are not considering bringing in Drew, while Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com and MLB Network wrote that the A’s also are not interested.
All of those factors could make a return to Boston more likely for Drew, who is tied to Draft pick compensation after receiving a qualifying offer.
In other news from around the league:
- The Phillies could be a team to watch in the competition for veteran right-hander A.J. Burnett, a free agent who recently decided to pitch this season. Signing Burnett would be a great move for Philadelphia, one that just might get it back to the postseason, writes MLB.com columnist Richard Justice. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Tom Singer offers an idea for how the Pirates could manage to bring back Burnett.
- Bronson Arroyo told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark that while 12 teams have contacted his agent this offseason, he has not come close to a deal with any of them. Arroyo and Burnett are drawing some interest from the Blue Jays, but Toronto appears more focused on fellow free-agent right-handers Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, according to Rosenthal.
- After a 15-year career that included six All-Star teams, a World Series title and 366 home runs, Lance Berkman told MLB.com that he has decided to retire. Berkman spent an injury-plagued 2013 with the Rangers.
- Right-hander Scott Baker, who returned from Tommy John surgery at the end of last season, signed a Minor League deal with the Mariners and figures to compete for a spot in their starting rotation.
- Former Phillies closer Ryan Madson, who has missed the past two seasons due to injury, held a private workout for an unknown team on Tuesday and is planning a public audition for more clubs on Feb.7 in Phoenix, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
- The Cardinals and infielder Daniel Descalso agreed to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration, while the Cubs did the same with outfielder Justin Ruggiano.
- The Reds bolstered their infield depth by signing veteran Ramon Santiago to a Minor League contract.
- For the third time this offseason, the Twins signed a former member of the organization to a Minor League deal, this time bringing back reliever Matt Guerrier.
- The Angels added Chad Tracy to the mix in their crowded competition for bench spots.
- The Royals acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Mariners for a player to be named later and designated left-hander Everett Teaford for assignment.
– Andrew Simon
The Angels have signed quite the collection of potential left-handed bench bats, with Brennan Boesch, Carlos Pena and Chad Tracy all reportedly signing minor league deals with invitations to major league Spring Training.
MLB.com‘s Alden Gonzalez has the news here about Pena and Boesch, whom Gonzalez says will compete for a bench spot this spring.
Pena, also a solid defensive first baseman, signed a one-year, $2.9 million contract with the Astros last winter and hit .209 with 8 HRs and 25 RBIs in 85 games before he was released on July 31. The 35-year-old signed with Kansas City in August, but had a season-ending appendectomy in September.
Boesch, who played at UC Berkeley before being drafted in the third round by the Tigers in 2006, played in 380 major league games from 2010-12 in Detroit and appeared in 23 for the Yankees last season.
The Baltimore Sun‘s Dan Connolly reported Wednesday that the Angels also signed veteran Chad Tracy (not to be confused with former manager Jim Tracy’s son, who signed with the Orioles) to a minor league deal with an invite to big-league Spring Training. The former D-back and National has proven valuable off the bench in Washington the last two seasons.
– Joey Nowak
The Yankees are saying that they have reached their spending limit for the offseason and consider themselves out on free agent shortstop Stephen Drew, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said last week that the Masahiro Tanaka signing represented the team’s final big splash of the winter, and thus far the organization has been proceeding as though that is the case. Their stance toward Drew has been chilly at best, as the club does not want to commit to a multi-year deal with the 30-year-old infielder, who also has Draft compensation attached because the Red Sox gave him a qualifying offer.
Drew’s name has popped up in connection to the Yankees because of their uncertainty at multiple infield positions. Shortstop Derek Jeter played in just 17 games last year, second baseman Brian Roberts has missed 445 games over the last four seasons and the Yankees are tentatively planning on a third base platoon that will involve Kelly Johnson and Eduardo Nunez.
- Bryan Hoch
This Hot Stove season is still going strong, but some already are looking ahead to the next one.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is among those, saying in a Sunday night TV interview that “it might be time to move on,” if Boston doesn’t give him a multiyear extension. The 38-year-old slugger is heading into the final season of his current deal, but MLB.com’s Ian Browne writes that it “seems more likely than not” that Ortiz will remain with the Red Sox for the remainder of his career.
In other news from around the league on Monday:
- MLB.com’s Doug Miller looks at the offseason’s unfinished business in The Week Ahead.
- One of the few impact bats remaining on the market belongs to outfielder Nelson Cruz. As MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez writes, Cruz has been linked to the Orioles and Mariners, although it’s not impossible that he could return to the Rangers on a one-year deal.
- Veteran infielder Michael Young, currently a free agent after finishing 2013 with the Dodgers, likely will retire or return to Los Angeles for another season.
- As part of his latest inbox, Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch throws some cold water on the idea of free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew coming to the Bronx.
- Left-hander David Huff could make a run at the No. 5 spot in the Giants’ starting rotation or fill a long relief role after the club acquired him from the Yankees last week.
- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is still looking for a center fielder to back up Ben Revere but might have to turn to the trade market for a solution.
- The Indians and right-hander Justin Masterson have halted negotiations on a long-term extension while they try to compromise on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
- A handful of utility infielders signed Minor League contracts on Monday. The Indians picked up Elliot Johnson, the Brewers landed Pete Orr, and the Reds acquired Chris Nelson, while CBSSports.com reported that the Rockies agreed to a deal with Paul Janish.
– Andrew Simon
There are a number of teams surely interested in Michael Young‘s services should the veteran decide to play again in 2014, but he told reporters this weekend that if he does not retire, he will most likely play for the Dodgers.
The LA Times‘ Dylan Hernandez wrote that it’s a “safe bet” that Young will play for Los Angeles if he comes back for a 15th season. He was traded from Philadelphia to L.A. on August 31, and appeared in 21 games for the Dodgers at the end of the season.
MLB.com‘s Alden Gonzalez also wrote Sunday that Young “hasn’t been in any big hurry” to make a decision, but he wants to be respectful to all his suitors. Young has a Dodgers offer on the table if he wants it.
The seven-time All-Star hit .279 with eight homers and 46 RBIs in 147 games between the Phillies and Dodgers last year. He’d most likely play second base for the Dodgers in 2014.
“I’ve made no secret I’ve loved my time in L.A.,” Young said, according to the Times. “Great teammates, coaching staff. It’s a first-class organization, top to bottom. As far as baseball is concerned, the Dodgers are it for me.”
– Joey Nowak
The Rockies have signed infield utility man Paul Janish to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league Spring Training, CBSSports.com‘s Jon Heyman reported on Monday.
Janish, 31, appeared in 52 games for the Braves last season and has six season of big-league experience. He’s played second and third base, as well as shortstop, for Atlanta and Cincinnati.
– Joey Nowak
Any loose ends in the Brewers’ deal with Matt Garza were tied up on Sunday afternoon, as Milwaukee finalized and made official its four-year contract with the right-hander.
MLB.com‘s Adam McCalvy reported the four-year contract guarantees $50 million with another $4 million available in incentives, plus a vesting option for a fifth year at $13 million, depending on Garza’s workload over the first four years.
It’s the first of the free agent starting pitching dominoes to fall since the Yankees’ signing of Masahiro Tanaka, and there could be plenty more this week. But before getting too far ahead, let’s take a look at some more of Sunday’s Hot Stove news.
- Reds starter Homer Bailey was “diplomatic” when talking about contract negotiations, MLB.com‘s Mark Sheldon wrote from the Reds Caravan in Cincinnati. Bailey is one of two Reds players eligible for arbitration (the other is closer Aroldis Chapman) and will be a free agent after the 2014 season. His agent Casey Close — who represents Tanaka, among other stars — has been engaged in talks with general manager Walt Jocketty about a multi-year deal. ”There is [interest], but it has to be something that works out for both ends,” Bailey said. “That’s kind of tough to do. You see a lot of the signings that are going on, so, of course, it’s going to raise eyebrows on my behalf. Obviously, with a mid-market team, it’s tougher for them, also. We’re just going to have to see how everything goes.”
- Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis is also open to negotiating a long-term contract, MLB.com‘s Jordan Bastian reported Sunday, but he wants to take care of that business before Opening Day. ”We haven’t talked about it yet [this offseason],” Kipnis said. “My guess is, if we were going to, it’d probably start in Spring Training, when everybody comes there. They’ve got their hands full with other stuff to take care of first. There’s arbitration cases on other players. It’ll come after — when the time is right.” The Indians are still working on contract talks with Justin Masterson, Michael Brantley, Vinnie Pestano and Josh Tomlin, who are all arbitration-eligible.
- After a dismal 2013 that included rotator cuff and wrist injuries and a Triple-A demotion, Danny Espinosa is intent on working his way back onto the Nationals’ big-league roster, and potentially even the starting lineup. According to Chase Hughes from Nats Insider, Espinosa has been assured by general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams that he will have plenty of chances to work for that opportunity.
- The Pirates “probably won’t go after a pitcher” if A.J. Burnett decides to hang up his spikes and retire, the Boston Globe‘s Nick Cafardo reported. Burnett is still mulling the decision. Cafardo has that news and plenty more tidbits in his weekly Sunday baseball notes column.
- The Mariners made one of the largest splashes of baseball’s offseason by signing second baseman Robinson Cano, but general manager Jack Zduriencik said the team is not yet finished. ”We need to do a few more things,” Zduriencik said. “I’d like to add a couple more things to help us.” MLB.com‘s Greg Johns wrote from Mariners FanFest that Zduriencik will meet with new team president Kevin Mather in the next few days to discuss moves, which are most likely to include complementary additions.
– Joey Nowak
While the Hot Stove was quite busy on Friday, things were relatively calm on Saturday. However, a few tasty tidbits did come up.
Here’s a look at some of the day’s news and notes from around the league:
* Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told ESPN Dallas’ Richard Durrett that it is unlikely the team will sign former infielder Michael Young. He said the team will look for players within the organization to fill the utility spot.
* If starter Ubaldo Jimenez is unable to get a multi-year contract, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes he could return to the Indians for a one-year deal at or below $14 million.
* While Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski won’t address the team’s interest in outfielder Nelson Cruz, he did tell Jason Beck of MLB.com that he’d be “surprised if we made any major moves”.
* The Brewers signed outfielder Jeremy Hermida and infielder Joe Thurston to minor league deals on Saturday. Hermida played the entire 2013 season with Triple-A Columbus in the Indians organization. Thurston last appeared in the Majors in 2010 and played in Mexico in 2013.
* Pitcher Barry Enright tweeted that he signed a minor league deal with the Phillies. Enright struggled in 2013, posting a 7.12 ERA in 1161/3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels organization.
– Quinn Roberts
The Hot Stove saw a lot of action on Friday, most notably a multiyear contract extension for White Sox manager Robin Ventura. Though the club did not release the terms of the agreement, the extension comes with Ventura entering the final season of his original three-year deal.
While Ventura’s immediate future has been secured, there remains some uncertainty surrounding free agents Matt Garza and Tyler Colvin, each of whom appeared to have contracts in place this week.
Here’s a look at Friday’s news from around the league:
* Garza technically remains a free agent despite reports on Thursday that the right-hander and the Brewers agreed in principle to a four-year, $52 million contract. There appears to be a holdup with the deal and a source familiar with the negotiations said on Friday to “stay tuned.”
* In a similar development, the Orioles had a potential deal with Colvin fall through because of a back issue during the outfielder’s physical. Baltimore wants to reduce the contract to a Minor League deal.
* The Giants acquired left-handed pitcher David Huff from the Yankees in exchange for cash considerations. Huff had been designated for assignment on Wednesday after New York signed coveted Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka.
* The Phillies avoided salary arbitration with Ben Revere, agreeing to a one-year contract with the center fielder. Philadelphia has now signed all of its arbitration-eligible players.
* The Cubs inked left-hander Travis Wood to a one-year contract, avoiding arbitration and leaving them with three arbitration-eligible players in second baseman Darwin Barney, outfielder Justin Ruggiano and right-hander Jeff Samardzija.
* The Dodgers officially announced the signing of veteran utility man Chone Figgins to a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
* The Red Sox reportedly signed Jose Mijares to a Minor League deal, and invited the left-hander reliever to Major League Spring Training.
* Daisuke Matsuzaka returned to the Mets on a Minor League deal, which includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Dice-K will likely compete with John Lannan and Jenrry Mejia for a spot in the rotation.
* Freddy Garcia will have another opportunity to make an impact with the Braves, as the veteran right-hander agreed to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, according to multiple sources.
* The Mariners agreed to Minor League deals with veteran left-handed reliever Joe Beimel and right-hander Mark Rogers, inviting both to Major League Spring Training.
* Following years of success against the Marlins, veteran infielder Ty Wigginton will try to make an impact for Miami this season. Wigginton signed a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League Spring Training, as the club looks to potentially add an experienced bat off the bench. He’s posted a .286 average against Miami during a 12-year big league career.
– Austin Laymance