The Orioles are doing their due diligence in searching the free-agent market for another outfielder, checking in on Nick Swisher and Ryan Sweeney -among others – as they continue to negotiate with Nate McLouth’s camp.
The overwhelming sense is McLouth is the Orioles’ first choice and he is reportedly seeking only a one-year deal to re-establish himself in the market, although executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette declined to discuss the length of any potential contract.
Swisher, 32, is an interesting name, but with the deals secured by Angel Pagan (Giants) and Shane Victorino (Red Sox) it’s tough to imagine the Orioles being able to work out a deal that works in their current payroll constraints. And even if they could, it doesn’t seem Baltimore is all that enticed by a high-energy, theatrical player such as Swisher, with a source noting that the meeting was “very preliminary” in nature.
Manager Buck Showalter has done an admirable job turning around the clubhouse atmosphere and the team’s chemistry was a big part of what they did last year. I’m not saying that Swisher’s a bad guy, but any addition will be weighed carefully in the front office, particularly when you look at the sizeable chunk signing Swisher would almost certainly demand.
Sweeney was non-tendered by Boston on Friday, and could be a potential depth signing or insurance if the club doesn’t land McLouth. The 27-year-old made three trips to the disabled list last season, ending 2012 when he broke his hand punching a door in the clubhouse following a bad at-bat on July 30. A left-handed hitter, Sweeney played in 63 games for the Red Sox and he hit .260 with 18 doubles, two triples, no homers and 16 RBIs. He has a career.293/.347/.402 line against right-handed pitching.
The Orioles also reportedly checked in with Nate Schierholtz –the 28-year-old was non-tendered by the Phillies — although ESPN reported Wednesday morning that the Yankees are considered a frontrunner for his services.
The Indians have offered Jason Bay a one-year contract, according to a source, and the free-agent outfielder is nearing a decision on where to sign. Seattle, and others, remain in play. Bay has a history with Indians manager Terry Francona from their days in Boston.
As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince wrote overnight, the Indians have talked to the D-backs about a trade that would involve shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and highly-touted pitcher Trevor Bauer. It would likely take another player or two for the Tribe to pull the trigger.
Multiple reports have indicated that the Indians and De-backs are also involved in a potential four-team trade. The Rays, Rangers and Royals have all been mentioned as possible partners.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported that the Indians — after missing out on Shane Victorino — have interest in outfielder Nick Swisher.
Free-agent Jack Hannahan has received “genuine” interest from five teams, with two offers on the table at the moment. Cleveand remains interested in re-signing the infielder, but that seems unlikely given that he has opportunities to start or platoon elsewhere. The White Sox, Twins, Reds and Yankees are among those who have checked in on Hannahan.
The Astros acquired the starting pitching they sought when they made a trade with the Rockies late Tuesday to land right-hander Alex White and a Minor League arm in exchange for reliever Wilton Lopez and a player to be named
Less than a week after the Astros tried to send Lopez to the Phillies, they were able to use the arbitration-eligible relief pitcher to acquire White and right-hander Alex Gillingham. White appeared in 23 games (20 starts) for the Rockies last season and was 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA.
Lopez has been a workhorse member of the Astros’ bullpen the past three years, going 6-3 with a 2.17 ERA last season in 64 games. He also had a career-high 10 saves after assuming the club’s closer role following the trade of Myers and ineffectiveness of Francisco Cordero.
– Brian McTaggart
The D-backs have an offer on the table for veteran backup catcher Rod Barajas, according to an industry source.
Barajas, 37, made his big league debut with the D-backs in 1999 and appeared in 211 games with Arizona and later joined Texas after the 2003 season. He’s also played for the Phillies, Mets, Blue Jays and Dodgers during his career.
Barajas appeared in 104 games for the Pirates last season. The D-backs hope starter Miguel Montero can catch 130-135 games next season.
– Jesse Sanchez
The Dodgers have talked to the St. Louis Cardinals about a trade for utilityman Skip Schumaker, who could double as a back-up to center fielder Matt Kemp and second baseman Mark Ellis. Schumaker, who lives in Orange County, is a devoted disciple of new Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire. Schumaker would also add a needed left-handed bat to the bench. The Dodgers also are considering free agents Nate Schierholtz and Eric Chavez for the bench. — Ken Gurnick
The Dodgers made a multi-year offer to Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, but it was rejected. If Ryu doesn’t reach a contract agreement with the Dodgers by Sunday, he would revert back to his club in Korea and the Dodgers would be refunded a $25.7 million posting fee. The Dodgers are still hoping to add Ryu and top free-agent Zack Greinke to their starting rotation, but also are talking to the Mets about an R.A. Dickey trade. — Ken Gurnick
Felix Hernandez has two years at $40.5 million remaining on his contract with the Mariners, who’d like to lock him up for a longer term at some point this offseason.
Hernandez, 26, is often the subject of trade speculation from teams wondering if Seattle would be willing to move him in exchange for much-needed offense, but general manager Jack Zduriencik continues to steadfastly say his ace isn’t going anywhere.
Zduriencik plays things close to the vest, but indicated again Tuesday that keeping Hernandez long-term is a priority.
“We’ve always had a great relationship with the agency that represents him. It’s still that way,” Zduriencik said. “To get into any talks about extensions or anything, I wouldn’t want to publicly do that. But he’s made it clear he’d like to stay here and we’ve made it clear we’d like to keep him. And that’s the best way to answer that.”
– Greg Johns
The Angels continue to sound like a club that isn’t counting on resigning Zack Greinke.
Obviously, things can change very quickly, and Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto has a recent track record of being very coy about his pursuit of big-name free agents (see: 2011 Winter Meetings). But the price tags continue to be sky high — with Dan Haren signing for $13 million and Shane Victorino reportedly getting a three-year, $39 million deal from the Red Sox — and the Angels continue to seem content with simply adding one middle-tier starter and one back-end reliever.
On Tuesday afternoon, Day 2 of the Winter Meetings from the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, FOXSports.com’s Jon Morosi tweeted that the Dodgers “have become [the] clear favorite to land Greinke,” echoing a sentiment that has been widely reported/speculated for most of the offseason. The Angels, who continue to be portrayed as a dark horse, want to avoid what happened last season, when they committed a lot of money to the rotation and were essentially tapped out in August, unable to add to a bullpen that badly needed an upgrade.
The Nationals dropped out on Greinke with the Haren signing, seemingly making it a three-team race. If Greinke’s price gets to $150 million, the Angels are likely out. If he’s willing to settle for something less, they have a chance.
But this is still the most likely scenario for Dipoto: Sign one No. 3 starter to slot between Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, and Tommy Hanson and Garrett Richards/Jerome Williams (Ryan Dempster, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy, etc.); sign one more back-end reliever to complement Ryan Madson, Ernesto Frieri, Scott Downs and Kevin Jepsen (Mike Adams, Sean Burnett, Koji Uehara, etc.).
Dipoto wouldn’t go into much detail in his daily briefing with local reporters on Tuesday, but he did re-iterate that he’s “100 percent” only looking at pitchers and that free agency — not the trade market — is almost his sole focus. The Angels did circle back with Haren, talking to him as recently as Monday, and a source said they improved on their original offer (one-year at $4 million with an $8 million vesting option) before buying out his contract.
Asked whether he was close on any pitchers, Dipoto said …
“Can’t say for certain that I’m getting warm on anything, but again, we’ve picked up the targets that we’re most interested in, we’ve had great discussions — in some cases multiple layers. We’re making progress, the extent of which I can’t tell you. I don’t know if anything gets done today, tomorrow, or post-[Winter Meetings], but I am certain that we’ll line up with a team on the field, and time will make the proper decision.”
– Alden Gonzalez
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Trade talks have picked up regarding Yunel Escobar, and the Rays and A’s are among the teams most interested.
The Marlins are planning on dealing Escobar, quite possibly before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel.
Escobar, a veteran infielder, was acquired by the Marlins on Nov. 19 from the Blue Jays. A career shortstop, Miami was considering playing Escobar at third base.
In return, the Marlins are likely to receive a Triple-A pitcher.
In other news, the Marlins main their firm stance that they will not trade slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Plenty of teams, including the Yankees, have inquired about the All-Star right fielder. The Marlins are telling teams Stanton is not available.
Also, the Marlins do not intend on trading Ricky Nolasco. On Monday, the right-hander’s agent, Matt Sosnick, made it public that Nolasco would prefer to be dealt before the start of Spring Training.
Nolasco is lined up to make $11.5 million in 2013, the final year of his contract. There is a chance he still could be moved by the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
– Joe Frisaro
Brewers and Mets officials met at the Winter Meetings to discuss New York knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner being dangled in trade talks. But Brewers GM Doug Melvin said there was no match.
“I just talked to them briefly, but there is nothing to that,” said Melvin, who was Rangers GM when that team drafted Dickey in 1996. “We never got into [exchanging names]. It doesn’t appear to be a match.”
The Mets’ asking price for Dickey is said to be high. He pitched for the Brewers’ Triple-A club in 2007 and was Pacific Coast League pitcher of the year while tinkering with his now-famous knuckleball.
– Adam McCalvy