James Shields’ free agency has dragged along into February, and appears to finally be entering the final stages.
Rumors about Shields were swirling around all day Tuesday, and now Shields is reported to have multiple offers in his hand and will accept one by the end of the week, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.
Shields was initially expected to command a contract of at least five years, $100 million but his price tag appears to have dropped. He is now expected to sign a four-year deal in the $70 to $80 million range, reigniting some teams’ interest for the biggest prize remaining on the market.
And one of the usual aggressive bidders appears no longer content with remaining dormant. A rival general manager told Morosi that he believes the Yankees are now actively pursuing Shields.
The Yankees have been reluctant all offseason to join in on the bidding on any of the top of the line free agents, not wanting to accept anymore large contracts. They did not make an offer to Jon Lester or Max Scherzer and were thought to be out on Shields as well.
The Yankees are counting on starters such as CC Sabathia, Mashario Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, each of whom spent a significant amount of time on the disabled list last season. Shields, meanwhile, has made 31 or more starts in eight straight seasons.
Morosi also wrote on Twitter that multiple execs have mentioned the Padres as a team they believe has had recent talks with Shields’ agent, Page Odle.
Earlier in the day, the Cardinals were reported as one of the teams “showing interest” in Shields, citing that his new price tag may be too good to pass up.
Miguel Gonzalez and the Orioles have reportedly come to terms on a one-year contract for 2015.
The 30-year-old right-hander avoided arbitration with a deal worth $3.275 million, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Gonzalez is entering his fourth year in the Majors. He’s 30-21 with a 3.45 ERA through three seasons in Baltimore (75 appearances, 69 starts).
The Orioles still have two remaining players — outfielder Alejandro De Aza and closer Zach Britton — up for arbitration with hearings scheduled for this month.
— Chad Thornburg
As the James Shields’ sweepstakes continue to drag on, a report says the St. Louis Cardinals “have shown interest.”
Shields, 33, started 34 games last season, went 13-8 with a 3.21 ERA and was one of the top arms on the market when the off season began, but has yet to agree to terms with a new team.
The right-hander has been linked to multiple teams throughout the off seasons and although the Cardinals initially said they weren’t interested in acquiring starting pitching, things may be changing.
As the off season winds down, Shields asking price may be dropping and the value Shields would provide could be too much for Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak to pass up as the report said Shields “might hanve to end up settling for a four-year deal in the $70-80 million range.”
– William Boor
The Cubs are reportedly closing in on a deal to sign left-hander Pedro Feliciano, who made his name as a workhorse reliever, to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training.
The deal was first reported by Jon Morosi of Fox Sports with a base Major League salary of $700,000. The club has not confirmed.
Feliciano was once one of the stalwarts of the Mets bullpen, leading the league in appearances for three straight seasons from 2008-2010. He turned that performance into a large free agent contract with the Yankees, but he never threw a pitch in pinstripes. He was discovered with a torn rotator cuff before Spring Training in 2011 and the Yankees blamed his injuries as a result of overwork from his years with the Mets.
He never fully recovered, and did not pitch in the Majors again until 2013, when he appeared in 25 games with the Mets.
Feliciano, 38, spent last season with the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate, pitching in 25 games and posting a 5.57 ERA. This deal comes after he performed well during for Santurce during his 19 appearances in Puerto Rico this winter.
Free agent Kyle Kendrick is the newest member of the Colorado Rockies, according to a report from CBS Sports.
The team has not confirmed the report.
Kendrick, 30, spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Phillies and started 30 or more games in six of the past seven seasons.
The right-hander started 32 games last season and posted a 4.61 ERA while going 10-13.
Throughout his career Kendrick has pitched in seven games at Coors Field and allowed 22 earned runs in 37 2/3 innings.
– William Boor
Multiple teams are still trying to put together a package deal for Phillies ace Cole Hamels, but USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that no club has come close to the right package yet.
Nightengale posted in a tweet Tuesday that five or six teams have expressed varying degrees of interest in Hamels, including the Dodgers, Padres, Rangers, Cardinals and Red Sox.
Philadelphia is expected to command a large return on prospects for Hamels, 31, if they are going to move him. He was one of the best pitchers in the Majors last year and is scheduled to receive $23.5 million per year for the next four years — with a $20 million team option for a fifth.
The Phillies have asked for prized catching prospect Blake Swihart, the number 18 prospect on MLB.com’s Top 100 prospect list for 2015, from the Red Sox in exchange for Hamels. Boston has been steadfast in refusing to trade Swihart or outfielder Mookie Betts, which has stalled any potential deal.
Ruben Amaro Jr., the Phillies’ general manager, said recently that nothing was imminent with Hamels and he expects the pitcher to begin the season in Philadelphia.
The Phillies are in the midst of a rebuilding effort, but the club still has a number of veteran players it would like to move, such as closer Jonathan Papelbon.
While rumors surrounding Papelbon have died down recently, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly that trade talks are still ongoing with at least two teams.
“Things are still alive,” Amaro told CSNPhilly.com. “We’re still having discussion — and not just with one club. … It’s complicated. There are a lot of different factors involved.”
The Brewers and Blue Jays are the two clubs that have discussed a potential deal for Papelbon, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reported last week.
A number of factors make trading Papelbon difficult. He will earn $13 million this season and has a $13 million club option for 2016 that kicks in if he finishes at least 48 games this year. Papelbon also has limited no-trade rights, though he told reporters in July that would not be an issue in facilitating a trade.
Papelbon, 34, would help clubs looking for a closer. He had a 2.04 ERA and 39 saves in 43 opportunities last year. His 90.7 save-completion percentage ranked sixth out of 29 qualifying closers in baseball, while his 0.90 WHIP ranked 19th out of 185 qualifying relief pitchers.
The Phillies have a number of moves to make going forward, so Papelbon’s situation is worth monitoring.
The deal is slightly above the midpoint of salary figures filed by Moustakas and the Royals. Moustakas filed for $3.1 million and the club countered with $1.85 million. Moustakas can earn an additional $10,000 if he reaches 525 plate appearances, plus a $50,000 bonus if he is an All-Star.
Moustakas, 26, had a strong postseason for the American League-champion Royals after a bit of a down year. During the regular season, he hit .212 with 15 homers and 21 doubles. He was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career.
The Royals have five remaining arbitration-eligible players: Lorenzo Cain, Danny Duffy, Kelvin Herrera, Greg Holland and Eric Hosmer.
Former Cy Young winner Barry Zito will throw for “a select group of teams” on Tuesday, as he takes the next step in his comeback attempt, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.
Zito, who turns 37 in May, sat out all of last season, but has now decided to try to extend his career. He last pitched in 2013, racking up an unsightly 5.74 ERA over 30 outings (25 starts) for the Giants. As it stands now, Zito has a 4.02 career ERA over 14 big league seasons, including a 4.62 mark and a 1.439 WHIP over his final seven seasons.
He’s reportedly made mechanical adjustments and is prepared to give it one more shot, but it’s unclear at this point which teams will be attending Tuesday’s workout. Regardless, he would likely have to settle for a Minor League deal, at best.
— Paul Casella
Add the Tigers to the growing list of teams with a level of interest in Cuban teenage talent Yoan Moncada. The team brought in the 19-year-old switch-hitting infielder for a workout last week in Lakeland.
Lynn Henning of the Detroit News first reported Sunday the Tigers had seen Moncada work out privately. MLB.com later confirmed the Tigers had brought him in to work out for team officials at the Tigers’ Spring Training complex. Moncada also worked out for the Rays last week down the road at Tropicana Field.
Moncada had a showcase last month in Guatemala before scouts from most Major League clubs. Moncada established residency in the Central American country and has been heading to the states for workouts since. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reports Moncada has also worked out for the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, Giants, Rangers and Brewers, with the Cubs, Phillies and Cardinals also interested.
With that much competition, the Tigers’ interest could simply be due diligence at this point, or it could be the prelude for a push depending on how far the bidding goes. A lot might depend on bigger-market teams’ involvement.
Since Moncada is younger than 23 and didn’t play pro ball in Cuba, he’s subject to international signing guidelines, including the bonus restrictions each team is given. Each team gets a $700,000 base pool plus bonuses based on reverse order of finish the previous season. The Tigers had the sixth-lowest spending pool at $1,946,900, while the Astros had just over $5 million.
Fitting Moncada within what’s left of those pools isn’t likely to happen. The key is having money left to spend, and being allowed to spend it.
The Tigers rarely make big-ticket signings on the international market. They were in the market for Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo last summer and Yoenis Cespedes a few years ago, but they qualified as pro free agents. Moncada’s talent level, however, makes him an exception. The Tigers would be subject to penalties if they signed Moncada, putting a cramp in their efforts to restock a farm system that has been thinned out by trades. The question is whether the impact of Moncada would be worth the lost flexibility in future years.
— Jason Beck