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
Ten-time Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones is looking to return to Major League Baseball, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, after spending the past two seasons playing in Japan.
Jones, who will turn 38 in April, is reportedly drawing interest from “at least two teams” that are interested in using the five-time All-Star as either a designated hitter or a right-handed platoon player. He last played in the Majors in 2012 when he struggled to a .197/.294/.408 batting line with the Yankees, though he still racked up 14 homers over 94 games. He would return to the Majors with 434 career home runs over parts of 17 seasons.
Over the last two years in Japan, Jones compiled a .232/.392/.441 line with 50 combined homers.
— Paul Casella
The Giants have agreed to a one-year deal with first baseman Brandon Belt to avoid arbitration for the 2015 season, according to a report from CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.
Heyman first reported the news Monday morning, saying the agreement was worth $3.6 million.
Belt saw 61 games of action last year, hitting .243 with 12 home runs and 27 RBIs. Over 419 career games (four seasons) with the Giants, he is a .268 hitter with a .791 OPS.
— Joey Nowak
The Mets have reportedly reached an agreement for a one-year deal with Lucas Duda for the 2015 season, thus avoiding arbitration.
CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported the deal, which he said is worth $4.2 million.
Duda, 28, appeared in a career-high 153 games last season and turned in the most productive offensive year of his career. He hit .253 with 30 home runs and 92 RBIs while posting an .830 OPS.
The Mets have now settled with all their arbitration-eligible players.
— Joey Nowak
We’re one day shy of February, but the revamped Padres might not be entirely done with their offseason overhaul.
New Padres general manager A.J. Preller continues to search for ways to upgrade his team, even after creating a power-hitting outfield via trades for Justin Upton, Wil Myers and Matt Kemp, according to FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal.
Rosenthal tweeted Saturday that Preller has been in touch with the Phillies about left-hander Cole Hamels, and also is interested in young Brewers infielder Luis Sardinas — who was acquired by Milwaukee in the Yovani Gallardo deal — as a potential shortstop solution.
Rosenthal notes that Preller worked with Sardinas in Texas, though there hasn’t been any recent contact between the two teams.
Although the Padres traded away many of their young prospects in acquiring the outfield trio, they were able to hold onto Minor League outfielder Hunter Renfroe and catcher Austin Hedges — ranked No. 48 and No. 51, respectively, in MLB.com’s recent Top 100 Prospects list. Right-hander Matt Wisler (No. 69) probably also would be discussed in potential Hamels talks.
Although Rosenthal notes some are skeptical San Diego has enough to acquire Hamels, it’s clear Preller isn’t shutting the door on landing the lefty ace.
— Cash Kruth
The Blue Jays reported deal with reliever Ronald Belisario has fell through, Mike Wilner of Sportsnet posted in a tweet Friday. The two sides got close but never agreed on a deal, so Belisario remains a free-agent.
Details of why the deal fell through were unclear as of Friday night.
Belisario, who turned 32 last month, is coming off a bit of a down season, scuffling to a 4-8 record and 5.56 ERA in 62 appearances with the White Sox in 2014 before being designated for assignment in November. Prior to last season, he had been a solid middle reliever for the Dodgers.
His deal with the Blue Jays was reported to be a Minor League deal with a chance to make $1.7 million if he made the Majors.
Toronto figures to still be in pursuit of bullpen help for next season.
Right-hander Scott Baker has appeared in just 28 games in the Majors during the past three seasons, making just eight starts, but could get a chance to prove himself as a starter in 2015.
The Yankees reportedly signed Baker to a one-year, Minor League contract on Friday, although the club has yet to confirm the deal. If Baker, 33, makes the Major League roster, his contract will be worth $1.5 million, according to CBS Sports.
The move gives the Yankees potential depth at the back end of their starting rotation if Baker can pitch closer to his performance before undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2012. At the very least, it is a low-risk deal that provides New York with another pitching option.
The Yankees enter the season counting on the health of three starters — Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda — who all missed significant time in 2014 with injury along with right-hander Ivan Nova, who is expected to miss at least the first month of the season to recover from his own Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees have yet to announce their non-roster invites for Spring Training, but Baker will almost certainly be a candidate. He collected a 5.47 ERA in 25 games for the Rangers last season but allowed 15 home runs in 80 2/3 innings, which has been a problem throughout his career and could be problematic at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.
Baker was a solid starter for the Twins prior to the surgery, accumulating a record of 63-48 and an 4.15 ERA during a span of seven seasons.
Edward Mujica could be on his way out of Boston.
Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted Friday afternoon that the Red Sox have recently “expressed a willingness” to trade the right-hander.
Mujica, 30, is slated to earn $4.75 million in 2014. In his first year with Boston last season, he posted a 3.90 ERA with eight saves in 64 relief appearances.
The Red Sox acquired a pair of bullpen arms this week — lefty Robbie Ross via trade with the Rangers and veteran right-hander Alexi Ogando through free agency — allowing the club some flexibility to move Mujica should they find a suitable trade partner.
Mujica signed a two-year, $9.5 million deal with Boston last offseason. He was coming off his first All-Star campaign in 2013 when he converted a career-best 37 saves with the Cardinals, though he was ousted as the club’s closer late in the year by then-rookie Trevor Rosenthal.
— Chad Thornburg
The Red Sox have signed outfielder Daniel Nava to a one-year contract for the 2015 season, avoiding arbitration, the club announced on Thursday.
Nava’s deal is worth $1.85 million, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Nava, 31, was eligible for salary arbitration for the first time in his career. He hit .270 with 21 doubles and four home runs over 113 games with the Red Sox last season.
With Nava now signed, left-hander Wade Miley is the only remaining unsigned Red Sox player eligible for salary arbitration.
The Marlins have designated pitcher Arquimedes Caminero for assignment, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.
Caminero, 27, made six relief appearances for the Marlins in 2014, but spent the majority of the season in Triple-A. The right-hander worked 13 innings with the club in ’13, striking out 12 over 13 innings and posting a 2.77 ERA. The Marlins signed him as an amateur free agent in ’05.
The Marlins have 10 days to either place Caminero on waivers, release him or trade him.