Reds general manager Walt Jocketty appeared on MLB Network Radio with host Chris Russo on Wednesday and seemed to put to bed the trade rumors involving Brandon Phillips.
“I told him we are not in any talks to trade him,” Jocketty said. “I’m not saying we wouldn’t trade him but I told him we’re a better team with him here.”
– Mark Sheldon
It’s already been a busy winter for the Padres, who on Tuesday landed outfielder Seth Smith in a deal with the A’s, helping them land the left-handed bat they coveted this off-season.
The Padres dealt from a position of strength — pitching — to get Smith, who general manager Josh Byrnes figures could get 400+ plate appearances in the outfield and off the bench.
Dealing reliever Luke Gregerson, he of the wipe out slider, wasn’t easy for the Padres. But, as history shows us, relievers don’t often fetch a big return — not unless it’s on or before the July 31 Trade Deadline when teams are much more desperate for relief help.
The Padres hope to have Nick Vincent handle the seventh inning, Dale Thayer the eighth and closer Huston Street the ninth inning moving forward. Prospects Kevin Quackenbush and Leonel Campos could make a push in Spring Training to land jobs.
That said, the Padres will likely add one if not two more relievers before the start of Spring Training. Now that they’ve added Smith and starting pitcher Josh Johnson, look for them to turn their attention to finding a left-handed reliever.
– Corey Brock
Reports on Wednesday have the White Sox captain returning for 2014.
Ken Rosenthal reported Wednesday morning that veteran first baseman/designated hitter Paul Konerko will come back for the 2014 season. He’s a free agent and had considered retirement.
MLB.com’s Scott Merkin has confirmed the deal, and reports that it is for one year, and $2.5 million with a portion deferred. An announcement is expected sometime Wednesday morning.
The 37-year-old veteran struggled in 126 games last year, hitting .244 with 12 home runs and 54 RBIs. With Jose Abreu now in the mix, along with fellow veteran first baseman/DH Adam Dunn, it’s unclear how much action Konerko will see next year.
– Joey Nowak
Reds 2B Brandon Phillips has been subject to myriad trade rumors for much of the off-season. But late Tuesday night, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal heard from a source that said otherwise. Rosenthal reports that it is unlikely the Reds will deal Phillips this winter.
The odds were already tough that Phillips could be moved since he has $50 million and four years on his contract. Rosenthal points out that the Reds’ offense would already be depleted if the team lost free agent Shin-Soo Choo.
However, Choo wasn’t expected to stay in the first place when the Phillips rumors started. So that’s not exactly a revelation.
A deal is certainly still possible, especially if a substantial one is offered, Rosenthal wrote. Teams that lose out on free agents Robinson Cano or Omar Infante could have Phillips has a fall back option.
GM Walt Jocketty has maintained that no one is untouchable on the current roster in the effort to make upgrades, including Phillips.
At the moment, Phillips is not on the list to attend Redsfest this weekend. But he was extended an invitation by the club.
– Mark Sheldon
While the dust is still settling from the Yankees’ blockbuster signing of outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal, the club is also close to reaching an agreement with infielder Kelly Johnson, according to the New York Post.
The newspaper reported that Johnson’s deal with the Yankees will be worth between $2.75 million and $3 million. Johnson batted .235 with 16 home runs and 52 RBIs in 118 games last season for the Rays. He provides another option at second base in case Robinson Cano does not return, but projects better as a depth option at multiple positions.
Omar Infante has also received interest from the Yankees as an alternative to Cano, as the club is holding firm to their offer of a seven-year deal in the range of $160 to $170 million.
- Bryan Hoch
The Tigers made the two biggest trades of the offseason to date to create flexibility out of a top-five payroll. They wouldn’t address the reinvestment end of that money until they took care of their most pressing need and signed a closer. Now that Joe Nathan is about to become a Tiger, it’s time, and the Tigers might well spend it making one good run at one of the biggest free agents on the market again.
Both Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com report the Tigers have shown interest in multi-tooled Shin-Soo Choo, the most prominent left-handed hitting outfielder available now that Jacoby Ellsbury is headed to the Yankees. Feinsand cites a source that Choo is Detroit’s top free-agent target.
Choo fits the profile of hitter the Tigers are known to be seeking, balancing out a predominantly right-handed hitting lineup while also adding speed and on-base percentage back into Detroit’s offense. The Tigers saw him up-close for years in Cleveland, where he was a teammate of Detroit DH Victor Martinez. And unlike other speedy leadoff hitters who have hit the market, hitters the Tigers have traditionally judged on how their game would mature as they age and lose speed, Choo brings a skill set that doesn’t hinge on his speed.
The question for the Tigers with Choo is financial, how far they’re willing or able to go to sign him. They just shed the burden of a megacontract by trading Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler. With several players nearing free agency, Max Scherzer and Miguel Cabrera foremost among them, they can’t afford to put themselves in the same bind, though Choo isn’t expected to approach the nine-year deal Fielder signed with the Tigers two winters ago.
– Jason Beck
Why wait for the Winter Meetings?That seemed to be the message across Major League Baseball on Tuesday, by far the busiest day of the offseason thus far. The Red Sox agreed to terms with A.J. Pierzynski to start the day, and Jacoby Ellsbury‘s pending deal with the Yankees served as the other major bookend. Meanwhile, the Rays traded for a catcher and a potential closer they’d been interested in for years. The Tigers found a closer. The A’s bolstered their bullpen — twice, actually — and added to their outfield mix. The Astros made their first big move. The Marlins zeroed in on a big-name catcher. And that’s just the start of it. Seriously, given the way Tuesday played out, what’s left to do next week at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort? Hang out with Mickey and Minnie? There’s a lot left to be settled, of course. Robinson Cano and Shin-Soo Choo are among the high-profile free agents available, and there’s still an expectation that Rays ace David Price will be traded. But before we look too far forward, let’s recap the busy stretch that left baseball’s Hot Stove completely ablaze, as MLB.com’s Richard Justice writes. AL East The Yankees paid up for Ellsbury amid a spending spree reminiscent of their 2008-09 offseason, raising some questions about their pursuit of Cano, as MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch writes. Ellsbury’s deal is for seven years and $153 million, with an eighth-year option. While they were at it, the Bombers officially announced their five-year, $85 million deal with catcher Brian McCann. He’ll be introduced in the Bronx on Thursday. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, New York also is close to signing Kelly Johnson, who could play some second base if Cano signs elsewhere. The Red Sox made their first big move of the offseason, as MLB.com’s Ian Browne reports the World Series champs have agreed to a one-year contract with Pierzynski, reportedly worth $8.25 million. The Rays pulled off a three-team trade with the Reds and D-backs, reeling in catcher Ryan Hanigan and reliever Heath Bell. Tampa Bay also agreed to a three-year extension with Hanigan, as MLB.com’s Bill Chastain reported. With Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton already on board, Andrew Friedman might have an extra catcher to deal. He also has the game’s hottest commodity in Price. AL Central The Tigers reportedly found their closer in veteran Joe Nathan, as MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes. Could Carlos Beltran return to Kansas City? MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel wrote about the free agent’s meeting with the Royals. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, opposing clubs are convinced that Beltran is bound for a KC reunion. The Twins officially announced the acquisition of Ricky Nolasco on a four-year, $48 million deal, the largest free-agent signing in club history. AL West The A’s had another busy day, as MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports, trading for outfielder Craig Gentry and right-hander Josh Lindblom before acquiring setup man Luke Gregerson. They could stay busy at the Winter Meetings, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that Oakland is likely to trade starter Brett Anderson. On the other side of that deal with Oakland, Texas acquired its leading left-field candidate in Michael Choice, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. Also, the Rangers are looking at Kurt Suzuki to pair with Geovany Soto behind the plate. The Astros checked a big item off their offseason to-do list by trading for Dexter Fowler, as MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart writes. The former Rockies catalyst should hit atop their order and start in center field. MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes that the Mariners could make some noise at the Winter Meetings. Meanwhile, ESPNNewYork.com reported that Seattle has emerged as a major player in the bidding for Cano. NL East The Marlins made a big splash, agreeing to terms on a three-year, $21 million deal with former Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Curtis Granderson met with Sandy Alderson on Sunday, and MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo took a look at how the power-hitting outfielder would fit with the Mets. The Phillies added a reliever in Brad Lincoln and a backup catcher in Wil Nieves, reports MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. NL Central Free-agent first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy that he’s been medically cleared for full baseball activities. Hart previously said he’s heard from several interested teams, including the Brewers, Rays, Red Sox and Rockies. Despite plenty of speculation, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports and MLB Network tweeted that the Reds are unlikely to trade second baseman Brandon Phillips. NL West The Dodgers are making progress toward retaining free-agent reliever Brian Wilson, reports MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Colorado has reportedly agreed to terms with a new first baseman in Justin Morneau, as MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. The Rockies also picked up right-hander Jordan Lyles and outfielder Brandon Barnes by parting with Fowler. The Padres bolstered their offense, particularly against right-handed pitching, by acquiring outfielder Seth Smith from the A’s.
With baseball’s hot stove at a full boil and the Winter Meetings a week away, free agent first baseman/outfielder Corey Hart finally got the good news on Tuesday that he had eagerly been anticipating.
“Cleared!” Hart wrote in a text message to MLB.com, indicating he had been medically cleared for full baseball activities by the surgeon who performed the second of Hart’s two knee surgeries this year.
Hart, 31, is a free agent for the first time after sitting out the entire 2013 season, having undergone right knee surgery in January and then left knee surgery in July. He had been rehabbing in recent weeks by running and participating in agility drills, but Hart’s formal foray into the open market was on hold while he awaited final medical clearance from Dr. Neal ElAttrache. The two met Tuesday in Los Angeles.
With his medical clearance in hand, Hart is ready to begin fielding offers from interested clubs. He said last month that a number of teams, including the Brewers, Rays, Red Sox and Rockies, had called to check in, but clubs were not willing to discuss contract parameters until Hart was fully functional.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Hart had yet to receive any offers. Asked this week whether Hart would have an offer in hand from the Brewers before the start of next week’s Winter Meetings, Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin said, “There’s a possibility he will.”
Another potential suitor may have fallen off the board Tuesday, just as Hart was sharing his good news. The Rockies were reportedly moving toward a two-year deal with another first baseman, Justin Morneau.
– Adam McCalvy
The Astros on Tuesday acquired outfielder Dexter Fowler and a player to be named later from the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Brandon Barnes and right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles.
Fowler, 27, hit .263 with 18 doubles, 12 home runs, 42 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, 65 walks and a .369 on-base percentage in 119 games with Colorado last season. The switch-hitting outfielder started 106 games in center field for the Rockies in 2013 and has been Colorado’s primary center fielder for the last five seasons (2009-13).
Barnes, 27, hit .240 with eight home runs and 41 RBIs in 136 games in what was his rookie season in 2013. He appeared in 179 Major League games over the last two seasons (2012-13) with the Astros. Barnes was originally a sixth-round pick by Houston in the 2005 draft.
Lyles, 23, went 7-9 with one save and a 5.59 ERA in 27 games (25 starts) with the Astros last season. He appeared in 72 games (65 starts) for the Astros since his MLB debut in 2011. Lyles was originally a supplemental first-round draft pick by Houston in the 2008 draft.
– Brian McTaggart
MIAMI — The process continues in the Marlins’ pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Miami has strong interest, and has a multi-year offer is on the table. But as of late Tuesday afternoon, nothing was finalized. And nothing was imminent.
The Marlins and Twins are believed to be the two contenders after reports the Rangers were not interested.
The Red Sox have moved in another direction by signing A.J. Pierzynski.
Saltalamacchia, the 28-year-old catcher, is in the process of considering his options.
According to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com, the Marlins have a two-year offer with a club option for a third year on the table.
Financial terms and years have not been confirmed.
The Denver Post reported Saltalamacchia will be heading to the Marlins. At some point, that may occur, but nothing was imminent as of late Tuesday.
The Marlins are not expected to be major players in free agency, and signing a player to a multiyear deal right now is something the team is sorting out.
Clearly, the Marlins are hopeful of landing Saltalamacchia.
As of now, the team isn’t seriously looking at fallback options. That would change if they don’t sign Saltalamachia.
– Joe Frisaro