Results tagged ‘ braves ’

Cubs can only wait for Lester

Will Jon Lester decide to go west and join the defending World Series champions? Will he return to Boston to pitch for the Red Sox? Or, will he pick the Cubs and rejoin Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer? Lester met Monday in Atlanta with a delegation from the Giants, who pitched a return to the Bay area where the left-hander played in the second half of last season with the Athletics.

The Giants, Red Sox and Cubs can afford Lester, who was 16-11 with a career best 2.46 ERA in 32 starts last season for the Red Sox and Athletics. According to reports, the Cubs and Red Sox have made six-year offers to Lester worth $138 million and $130 million, respectively.

Lester, who turns 31 on Jan. 7, also met with the Braves, but they have reportedly dropped out of the bidding for the free agent pitcher, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

All the Cubs can do now is wait. Lester has two World Series rings from his days with the Red Sox, including one from 2007 when Epstein and Hoyer were in Boston’s front office. The lefty could be a key part of the Cubs’ bid to end a 108-year championship drought.

– Carrie Muskat

Extension possible for Braves, Justin Upton

This offseason, the Braves already traded Jason Heyward to the Cardinals before his final year ahead of free agency. Fellow outfielder Justin Upton is in the same position, and rumors have been flying that Atlanta will deal him as well.

Yet it’s not a lock that Upton will be wearing a different uniform in 2015, and the slugger could in fact stick around even longer. John Hart, the Braves’ president of baseball operations, appeared on MLB Network Radio on Sunday, and said the club is not involved in active discussions involving Upton or catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis. While Hart downplayed the possibility of a long-term extension for Upton, he also called it “not out of the realm of possibility.”

Upton will make $14.5 million this coming season, at age 27, and will be expensive to retain after that. He’s a career .274/.354/.476 hitter, averaging 24 home runs and 80 RBIs per year since 2009. In ’14, he slammed 29 homers and drove in 102 runs, while posting an .833 OPS.

– Andrew Simon

Braves expected to remain active

The Braves already executed one of the offseason’s biggest moves, dealing right fielder Jason Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden to the Cardinals for young starter Shelby Miller and prospect Tyrell Jenkins. And it appears that new president of baseball operations John Hart is far from finished retooling the club after last year’s disappointing finish.

The next big name that could be on the move is outfielder Justin Upton, who also is entering the final year of his contract after collecting 29 homers and 102 RBIs in 2014. Teams that have talked with Atlanta about Upton feel there’s a better than 50-50 chance a trade will go down, according to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, with the Padres, Mariners and Reds among those interested. In fact, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported Friday the Braves “are very much shopping” the 27-year-old, with the Mariners as a strong contender.

But Atlanta is working on other fronts as well. It would love to dump unproductive and expensive outfielder B.J. Upton, and catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis also could be available. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez lists the club as one of two front-runners for free-agent Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas, along with the Padres.

At the same time, the Braves will look to add more starting pitching. One possibility — albeit remote — is free-agent left-hander Jon Lester. The Georgia resident met with club officials on Thursday, according to Stark, though Hart called their pursuit of him a “long shot.”

– Andrew Simon

Jon Lester meets with Cubs

Hopefully, Jon Lester brought a warm coat to Wrigley Field Tuesday. According to a source, Lester met with the Cubs in what was believed to be the second stop on the free agent’s offseason tour of prospective teams. The Wrigleyville area was in a deep chill because of an early blast of winter weather. It’s up to Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, who know Lester from their days together in Boston, to convince the lefty that it won’t be this cold on Opening Night, April 5, at Wrigley Field. The Cubs would not confirm the meeting.

After losing in their bid for free agent catcher Russell Martin, Epstein and Hoyer shifted their focus to adding an ace to the rotation. Lester fits that role, compiling a 116-67 record and 3.58 ERA over nine seasons.

Lester will reportedly meet Thursday with the Braves, who do have an edge over the other teams. In the offseason, the pitcher lives in suburban Atlanta, about a half hour drive from the Braves’ ballpark.

Would Lester be willing to make a switch from the American League to the Cubs? MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, interviewed on a Boston radio station Tuesday, said he believes Lester will return to the Red Sox. Boston traded Lester to Oakland on July 31, and the lefty finished the season 6-4 with a 2.35 ERA in 11 starts with the Athletics. Lester was 10-7 with a 2.52 ERA in 21 starts with Red Sox before the trade.

After Lester was dealt to the A’s, he told Boston Herald writer John Tomase that he wouldn’t be opposed to coming back to Boston.

“The [Red Sox] told me [after the trade to Oakland], ‘We’re going to be aggressive. You’re going to get blown out of the water by some of these [other] offers,'” Lester said. “I’m like, ‘I don’t need to be blown out of the water.’ Why would I need to be blown out of the water? That doesn’t make or break your decision, at least for me. I’m not going to the highest bidder. I’m going to the place that makes me and my family happy. If that’s Boston, it’s Boston.”

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs acquire La Stella from Braves

The Cubs’ middle infield just got a little more crowded. On Sunday, the Cubs acquired left-handed hitting infielder Tommy La Stella from the Braves, as well as Atlanta’s No. 4 international signing bonus slot, for pitcher Arodys Vizcaino and three international signing bonus slots. Vizcaino, 24, returns to the Braves, where he began his pro career. The Cubs had acquired the right-hander in July 2012 from the Braves along with pitcher Jaye Chapman for pitcher Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson.

In Sunday’s deal, the net gain for the Braves in international bonus pool slot money is about $832,000, according to Baseball America. Atlanta will get the Cubs’ Nos. 2, 3 and 4 international signing bonus slots. The Braves’ No. 4 slot is valued at $142,000.

Where will La Stella play? A good contact hitter, he’s the type of player the Cubs would like at the top of the lineup. But they already have an overload of middle infielders with Starlin Castro, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara, Logan Watkins, Luis Valbuena and top prospect Addison Russell. At the end of the 2014 season, Castro and Baez were projected as the starting shortstop and second baseman for next year. The Cubs are in the market to add starting pitching, and could possibly deal one of the infielders.

However, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said the deal for La Stella was not a precursor to any other deal.

“Sometimes you have to acquire guys that can get on-base,” Hoyer told ESPN.com. “It’s something we needed.”

– Carrie Muskat

Astros trade Minor League pitcher to Braves

The Astros have traded right-handed pitcher Andrew Robinson, who’s currently at Triple-A Oklahoma City, to the Braves, a source told MLB.com. It’s not know what the Astros are getting in return, but the deal is not a major one. Robinson, who played at Georgia Tech, is 4-4 with a 2.40 ERA in 26 combined games in relief this year at Double-A Corpus Christi and Oklahoma City.

Brian McTaggart

Maholm with the Dodgers?

Lefty Paul Maholm has apparently landed with the Dodgers as multiple reports out of the team’s Spring Training camp — including from MLB.com‘s Ken Gurnick — have him spotted there, and with a locker in the clubhouse. 

Maholm, 31, was a free agent this winter after going 10-11 with a 4.41 ERA in Atlanta last season. The majority of his nine-year career came in Pittsburgh, along with stints with the Cubs and Braves.

He is 76-95 in his career with a 4.28 ERA and 1.39 WHIP.

– Joey Nowak

2/4 Roundup

Arbitration hearings are never the most enjoyable part of Hot Stove season. And now, two high-profile young players won’t have to worry about them anymore.

The Braves made Tuesday’s biggest splash, avoiding arbitration with two of their three remaining eligible players. While closer Craig Kimbrel still is headed toward a hearing, the club signed outfielder Jason Heyward to a deal that buys out his final two arbitration years, while inking first baseman Freddie Freeman to a franchise-record eight-year, $135 million extension.

In other news from around the league:

  • The Mariners could be on their way to adding another power source to a lineup that already has gained the services of Robinson Cano, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison this offseason. Reports surfaced on Tuesday that Seattle is discussing a multiyear deal with free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz, who clubbed 27 home runs in 109 games for the Rangers last year.
  • Seattle also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal with Morrison.
  • The Rangers are among several teams interested in Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, who worked out for the club in Arizona.
  • The Orioles are interested in Yoon, too, and in fact have made the righty an offer. But they also are pursuing a more established arm, such as A.J. Burnett or Bronson Arroyo.
  • The Marlins added a veteran right-handed bat, bringing in Jeff Baker on a two-year deal. Baker could platoon with Garrett Jones at first base and also could see time at third and second.
  • The A’s signed former Rays outfielder Sam Fuld to a Minor League deal that includes two opt-out dates if he has not been added to the active roster.

– Andrew Simon

1/20 Roundup

When Clayton Kershaw signs a contract extension worth $215 million or Japanese free agent Masahiro Tanaka chooses which Major League team will enjoy his services, there is no question the consequences will be significant.

But on the Hot Stove, even small pieces of news can carry big ramifications.

Take the Braves’ inability to reach one-year deals with arbitration-eligible stars Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward last week. The club exchanged salary figures with each player on Friday and appears unlikely to work out any agreements prior the hearings that will come during the first three weeks of next month. As MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes, these cases could impact the franchise’s course for several years to come, with its crop of young standouts growingly rapidly more expensive — and possibly too expensive to keep in the long term.

In other news from around the league on Monday:

  • The Rays settled on a 2014 contract with ace left-hander David Price last week, avoiding arbitration and taking another step toward keeping the former American League Cy Young Award winner in Tampa Bay for another season. While the always creative Rays still could find an enticing trade for Price, it’s looking more and more like he will be the club’s Opening Day starter, as MLB.com columnist Anthony Castrovince writes.
  • The Mariners struck one of the big blows of the offseason by signing free-agent second baseman Robinson Cano, but as MLB.com columnist Tracy Ringolsby discusses, they continue to search for ways to improve following a 71-win season.
  • Rumors have swirled around Tanaka all offseason, through negotiations over a new posting system, the Rakuten Golden Eagles’ decision about whether to let him go, and then the current bidding war among MLB clubs. But the issue of the right-hander’s U.S. destination finally will be settled this week.
  • Minor League signings don’t tend to get much attention, but at Sports on Earth, Jack Moore discusses six who could make an impact this season, including the Rangers’ Colby Lewis and the Brewers’ Mark Reynolds.
  • Milwaukee added another veteran first baseman on a Minor League deal, bringing in Lyle Overbay for his second stint with the club.
  • Rangers lefty Matt Harrison, coming back from an injury-plagued ‘13, is on track to begin the season in the team’s starting rotation, which needs all the help it can get with Derek Holland likely sidelined for the first half. As T.R. Sullivan writes, Texas is mulling its fifth-starter options, which include internal candidates, as well as free agents.
  • With Kershaw’s signing done, the Dodgers could have Hanley Ramirez next on their agenda.
  • In his latest inbox, MLB.com Indians beat writer Jordan Bastian explains why the Tribe is unlikely to trade either shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera or pitcher Justin Masterson before the start of the season, despite both players being one year from free agency.
  • Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch tackles several topics in his own inbox, including the possibility of a Stephen Drew signing or an Ichiro Suzuki trade.

– Andrew Simon

1/17 Roundup

On a day when the Dodgers announced their seven-year, $215 million contract extension with ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw, numerous smaller deals were completed across the Major Leagues.

Friday was the deadline for teams to exchange salary figures with arbitration-eligible players, leading many to work out compromises, albeit none that carry the financial impact of Kershaw’s. For those who didn’t reach agreements, negotiations can continue until hearings take place from Feb. 1-21, at which point the decisions will be in the hands of three-judge arbitration panels.

Here is a look at some of Friday’s big arbitration-related news:

  • The Nationals signed five of their seven eligible players, including All-Star right-hander Jordan Zimmermann and shortstop Ian Desmond. Washington bought out the final two years of arbitration for both players, locking them up for $24 million and $17.5 million, respectively.
  • Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer agreed to a $15.525 million contract with the Tigers, who still have a lot of work to do if they want to prevent him from reaching free agency next offseason.
  • Chris Davis headlined the Orioles’ five signings, getting a raise of roughly $7 million in his second year of arbitration after leading the Majors in home runs and RBIs. Catcher Matt Wieters, also two years from free agency, has yet to reach a deal.
  • Third baseman Chase Headley was among the players to settle with the Padres as he readies for his final season before free agency.
  • While the Braves were able to sign four arbitration-eligible players, they will have to exchange figures with closer Craig Kimbrel, first baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielder Jason Heyward.
  • The Marlins put a stop to all three of their arbitration cases, handing $6.5 million to slugger Giancarlo Stanton in the process. Stanton’s salary will jump from $537,000 in his first year of arbitration.
  • The Yankees also locked up all of their arbitration-eligible players, as outfielder Brett Gardner led the way with a $5.6 million settlement.
  • Another club set to sit out the hearings is Toronto, which rewarded center fielder Colby Rasmus’ strong 2013 with a $7 million deal in his final year of club control.
  • Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who bounced back in a big way after going through a rough ‘12, settled on a $3.6 million contract in his first year of arbitration.
  • Josh Reddick is the only A’s player who remains unsigned after the club came to agreements with four more players on Friday, including offseason acquisitions Craig Gentry and Luke Gregerson.
  • Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker were among the players to come to terms with the Pirates, who closed all of their arbitration cases.
  • A day after settling with ace lefty David Price, the Rays avoided arbitration with each of their six remaining players, including righty Jeremy Hellickson.
  • The Reds have negotiating left to do with starter Homer Bailey and closer Aroldis Chapman and are hoping to ink Bailey to a long-term deal.

– Andrew Simon

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