Results tagged ‘ Corey Hart ’

12/13 Roundup

Baseball’s Winter Meetings ended on Thursday, but that doesn’t mean the Hot Stove came to a halt on Friday.

Even with general managers, agents and media members gone from Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the action continued, and the free-agent market continued to grow thinner. A pair of players reportedly agreed to new contracts, with first baseman James Loney set to return to the Rays on a three-year deal and second baseman Omar Infante heading to Kansas City on a four-year agreement.

In other news from around the league:

  • The Yankees introduced new center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, making his seven-year, $153 million contract official.
  • Former Yankee Robinson Cano saw two pieces of lineup protection added to his new club, as the Mariners held an introductory press conference for Corey Hart and Logan Morrison. Those additions do not signal the end of Seattle’s offseason shopping, however.
  • The Rockies finalized their two-year agreement with first baseman Justin Morneau and also have reportedly signed lefty reliever Boone Logan to a three-year pact.
  • The Red Sox made their two-year deal with Mike Napoli official. Teammate David Ortiz, whose contract with  the Red Sox expires after the 2014 season, is looking for a one-year extension.
  • The Pirates announced a pair of one-year contracts, re-signing shortstop Clint Barmes and adding right-hander Edinson Volquez.
  • The Tigers announced their one-year agreement with reliever Joba Chamberlain.
  • Our Paul Hagen runs down the top names still available after the Winter Meetings.
  • With free-agent options dwindling, the Brewers could turn to the trade market to fill their need for a first baseman, our Adam McCalvy writes.
  • Might the Braves really trade stud closer Craig Kimbrel? Our Mark Bowman tackles that question in his latest inbox article.
  • Outfielder Jason Kubel, coming off a rough 2012 with the D-backs and Indians, is returning to the Twins after signing a Minor League deal with an invitation to Major League Spring Training.
  • The D-backs signed right-hander Daniel Hudson and catcher Henry Blanco to Minor League deals with Spring Training invites. Hudson, who hasn’t pitched since early ‘12 due to injury, was non-tendered earlier this month.
  • The Marlins continue to have interest in free-agent third baseman Juan Uribe, writes our Joe Frisaro.

– Andrew Simon

Mariners sign Corey Hart, acquire Logan Morrison

The Mariners reached a deal with free agent first baseman-outfielder Corey Hart on Wednesday, our Greg Johns reports. The deal, which the team has not confirmed, won’t be official until Hart completes a physical on Friday.

The deal is for one year, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and MLB Network.

Hart missed all of last season while recovering from knee surgery, but the 31-year-old, a nine-year veteran, had an .857 OPS for the Brewers from 2010-12, averaging 29 home runs and 83 RBIs.

Seattle also pulled off a trade for first baseman Logan Morrison, sending right-handed reliever Carter Capps to the Marlins.

Morrison also has battled injuries, playing a total of 178 games over the past two years. The 26-year-old left-handed batter hit .242/.333/.375 with six home runs in 333 plate appearances for Miami last season.

Capps, 23, had a 5.49 ERA in 53 appearances with the Mariners in 2013, striking out 66 in 59 innings.

– Andrew Simon

Hart gets full medical clearance, ready for offers

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

 

A look at the Rockies’ plans with Hawkins and Brothers, plus notes on batting and pitching pursuits

The Rockies’ pursuit of veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins, which resulted in a one-year, $2.5 million guarantee that will become official once Hawkins passes a physical, can be seen in an odd way as a compliment to young lefty Rex Brothers, who served capably as closer when veteran Rafael Betancourt was injured.

Brothers, who turns 26 on Dec. 18, went 19-of-21 on save chances and finished with a 1.74 ERA last season. At times he struggled putting away hitters early in innings but he still struck out 76 (against 36 walks) in 67 1/3 innings. It certainly is a signal that he could become even more effective.

But before Betancourt went through a right groin strain, an appendectomy and finally a season-ending elbow injury, many of Betancourt’s save opportunities came partly because of Brothers’ effectiveness as a setup man. Brothers’ club-record 30-inning scoreless streak, which covered 32 games, ran from April 10 to June 27. Only the final nine games of the streak came while he was in the closer role.

As the season progressed, several games ended with Brothers not even taking the mound, because the middle relief and setup men pitched away the lead. It’s the old sabermetric argument: Why have the best option sitting in the bullpen while lesser pitchers blow it?

Hawkins ended up an effective closer for the Mets late last season. He earned all 12 of his saves and blew just one from Aug. 6 to season’s end. He struck out 18 against one walk and held opponents to a .222 batting average in those 23 appearances. At 41, he still throws hard enough and deceptively enough to be trusted with the final inning. The Rockies believe if he holds the closer job, it frees them to use Brothers when the game is tight before the ninth. And if plans change and Brothers at some point ends up the closer — which has been his plan his entire career — Hawkins gives them an attractive option in a setup role.

The Rockies still want to shore up the setup roles through free agency. Signing Hawkins as closer likely takes them out of the chase for Brian Wilson and Grant Balfour, who could be invited to pitch the ninth inning by another club. But a hard throwers such as Jesse Crain, Joe Smith or Jose Veras could further fill the Rockies’ needs.

The attempt to load up the back of the bullpen makes for intriguing competition and decisions when it comes to holdovers from last season. The club likes the 96 mph-plus fastball that righty Chad Bettis brought last season when used in relief, and will keep him there rather than revisit him in the rotation. They tested righty Adam Ottavino in late innings and there were some encouraging numbers, such as a 2.00 ERA at Coors Field. Righty Mitchell Boggs finished up with the Rockies after struggling mightily with the Cardinals when forced into the closer role, and the club is having internal discussions about returning him to a starter role. Boggs started 15 of his first 24 big-league appearances when breaking in with the Cards in 2008 and 2009.

The Rockies also continue to be in the market for starting pitching, although it’s unclear exactly where they’ll look. They’re often leery of accomplishment elsewhere because of the Mike Hampton-Denny Neagle experiment a few years back, but Tim Hudson profiled well. However, Hudson decided to take his passion and intensity to the NL West with the Giants.

Left-handed hitting outfielder-first baseman James Loney continues to be a prime candidate for the corner bat the Rockies seek. Corey Hart, coming off a knee injury, told a satellite radio audience on Tuesday that the Rockies, Red Sox and his former team, the Brewers, have checked in with him. Not much will be known until next month, when he is cleared for full activity. What isn’t clear is how strongly the Rockies are pursuing first baseman Mike Napoli, whose ability to make a pitcher work would fit nicely at first base. However, with his 2013 team, the World Series champion Red Sox, and others in the mix, the Rockies may drop out of the bidding the way they did with catcher Carlos Ruiz, who re-signed with the Phillies on Monday.

– Thomas Harding

11/14 Roundup

Although the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., finished on Wednesday, the baseball world remained plenty busy on Thursday.

The Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera’ and the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen were named the American and National League Most Valuable Players, respectively. The owners gave unanimous approval for funding an expanded instant replay system at their quarterly meeting, another key step on the way toward implementing it for the 2014 season. And Rob Manfred, Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer, revealed that MLB and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have hit a snag in their negotiations over the posting-fee system, casting doubt on whether highly touted right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will become available to MLB teams this offseason.

Even with the meetings over, rumors continued to circulate, with Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reporting that free-agent right-hander Ricky Nolasco already has received multiple four-year offers, in the neighborhood of $52-60 million. In other news from around the league:

AL East

  • With rumors flying about whether the Rays will trade ace left-hander David Price, our Bill Chastain examines the pros and cons of such a deal, which would be nothing new for the Rays. The club previously has gotten strong returns for pitchers Matt Garza and James Shields.
  • Jake Peavy’s championship-winning stay in Boston could be short-lived, with our Phil Rogers writing that the Red Sox could look to deal the veteran right-hander. He speculates that the Angels could be one of several clubs to have interest in Peavy.
  • Speaking of players leaving Boston, ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes reports that shortstop Stephen Drew will not return to the Red Sox, who aren’t likely to match other teams’ multiyear offers.
  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos might have his work cut out for him as he tries to improve his club while staying within Toronto’s budget this offseason.
  • The Orioles might be considering trading catcher Matt Wieters and closer Jim Johnson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports and MLB Network.
  • Derek Jeter said he feels healthy and is “100 percent” sure he will be the Yankees’ everyday shortstop this season.

AL Central

  • Our Rhett Bollinger addresses some Twins issues, including Joe Mauer’s move to first base and the club’s interest in A.J. Pierzynski.
  • The Royals believe they need to add only one starting pitcher this offseason, writes Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star. That could mean re-signing Ervin Santana or replacing him.

AL West

  • The Rangers agreed to a one-year contract with versatile infielder Adam Rosales, who was eligible for arbitration.
  • Free-agent outfielder and Houston native Chris Young tells our Brian McTaggart that he would like to play for the Astros.

NL East

  • The Marlins are looking to build around their young core, including Giancarlo Stanton and Jose Fernandez, rather than continuing to deal away pieces. On the other hand, Rosenthal tweeted that Miami is listening to offers for first baseman Logan Morrison.
  • Veteran right-hander Alfredo Aceves “appears to be a good possibility” to sign with the Mets, reports ESPN’s Buster Olney.
  • Free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz has been drawing plenty of interest this offseason, but our Todd Zolecki says he still could be a fit in Philadelphia.

NL Central

  • The Brewers have a hole to fill at first base, and while they could look to sign a free agent like James Loney or Justin Morneau or trade for someone like the Mets’ Ike Davis, another appealing option is to bring back Corey Hart. The veteran missed all of last season while recovering from knee surgery and is a free agent.
  • Speedy Reds prospect Billy Hamilton is playing winter ball in Puerto Rico and could get a chance to be the club’s center fielder if free agent Shin-Soo Choo signs elsewhere.

NL West

  • Dodgers club president Stan Kasten isn’t ruling out anything but said he doesn’t expect to make any splashy moves this offseason that would add significantly to the team’s already large payroll.
  • As the Rockies seek a replacement for retired first baseman Todd Helton, sources have told The Denver Post’s Troy Renck that they are interested in free agents Mike Napoli and James Loney.

– Andrew Simon

Teams inquire about Rockies’ Fowler

The idea that the Cardinals and Rockies would discuss a trade involving shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was the big rumor going into the General Managers Meetings in Orlando this week, but that never happened. However, industry sources said several teams inquired about the availability of center fielder Dexter Fowler. As the Denver Post’s Troy Renck reported this week, the Rockies have asked Carlos Gonzalez, who has extensive experience in center, if he would switch from left to center if Fowler is dealt.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com explains the Rockies’ position, and his report involving the Mets and first baseman Ike Davis could point to a possibility, and Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com (via Twitter) identifies the Mariners as a suitor. ESPN Insider AJ Mass reports that the Reds and Rockies have talked, with three-time Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips possibly coming to Denver, and the Reds moving speedy Billy Hamilton from center field to second.

But the Rockies have a lot of thinking to do before dealing Fowler. Although Fowler suffered finger, ankle and knee injuries and saw his numbers drop (.263, .369 OBP, .407 SLG, after .300/.389/.474 in 2012), the Rockies aren’t forgetting his .399 OBP before he was hit on the right hand by a pitch in June and the spiral began. Fowler also finished with 12 home runs, one shy of his career high, in 119 games.

The Rockies are already seeking a power bat for a corner position, either right field or first base, help in the starting rotation and a hard-throwing veteran for their bullpen. Any deal would most likely have to address one of the existing needs and replacing Fowler.

Fowler is due $7.35 million in 2014, and is still under club control for 2015.

In other Rockies Hot Stove-related developments:

–The Rockies, who have depended on the Draft and player development (more successfully in the past than with the current team), are reluctant to lose a 2014 pick by signing a player who received a qualifying offer from his former club. It wouldn’t hurt the Rockies as much as another team because the pick would be their second-highest rather than the first-rounder because the Rockies select in the top 10. Still, if the Rockies fill their corner bat hole through free agency, it will more likely be a player that doesn’t cost compensation — for example, James Loney, Justin Morneau, Corey Hart — than Carlos Beltran, Nelson Cruz or Mike Napoli, all of whom turned down qualifying offers.

– The Rockies made a play for catcher Carlos Ruiz but got sticker shock after hearing rumors he had received a two-year, $20 million offer, but they continue to monitor the situation and could be in play if the bidding doesn’t go that high.

– Thomas Harding

How would Carlos Beltran look in purple pinstripes?

Open-market musings:

How would Carlos Beltran look in right field for the Rockies?

The club is weighing various options in free agency, with a big bat being one of the priorities. While trads are an option, the Rockies are more likely to go the free agency route. That’s what they did two years ago when they signed Michael Cuddyer, who paid off for them by winning the National League batting title this year.

Don’t be surprised if the Rockies don’t at least seriously consider making a run at Beltran, who made his first World Series appearance this year while with the Cardinals. He’ll be 37 to start next season, but was quite productive in 2013 — .296, .339 OPB, .491 SLG. Those aren’t far from the numbers over his career. With a team that includes Carlos Gonzalez, Troy Tulowitzki and Cuddyer, it could be a fit. He could come in at two years and $30 million, as the MLB Trade Rumors Web site predicts. The Rockies had interest in him in the past.

Of course, there are many was for the Rockies to spend their money on a slugger, who can fit in at either first base or right field with Cuddyer playing the other position. Nelson Cruz, who is expected to turn down the Rangers’ qualifying offer and test the market, Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, James Loney (.338, nine home runs, 54 RBIs, .957 OPS in 55 games at Coors Field) and Corey Hart also could fit the bill. Brian McCann can catch and play first base, but at the top of his earning value in terms of money and years it’s doubtful the Rockies will be a serious competitor for his services.

The Rockies will attempt to bring in a pitching leader, and are expected to inquire about Tim Hudson — despite the fact the Braves, Royals, Indians and and Red Sox have already identified themselves as contenders — and Josh Johnson. The price figures to be high for Ricky Nolasco or Ervin Santana, as SI.com and others report, but the Rockies need a stalwart and can’t be counted out in those sweepstakes. Matt Garza, who could score big in free agency, and Jason Vargas also could be possibilities.

Also, add the name of righty reliever Jesse Crain to the list of publicly identified free-agency targets. The Denver Post has identified Brian Wilson, Grant Balfour, Joe Smith and Jose Veras as bullpen possibilities. ESPNNewYork.com reported the club is looking at LaTroy Hawkins.

The Rockies are also pursuing free-agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, although the Phillies are making a push to keep him. If the Rockies sign him, the intriguing situation is what becomes of catcher Wilin Rosario, a slugger who doesn’t have Ruiz’s experience or ability defensively.

– Thomas Harding

Rockies seek experience

The early reports on the Hot Stove have the Rockies seeking power and experience in the bullpen and skill behind the plate.

The Denver Post has reported the Rockies have expressed interest in Brian Wilson, Grant Balfour, Joe Smith and Jose Veras. In addition, ESPNNewYork.com reported Thursday that the Rockies are courting veteran LaTroy Hawkins, who was a leader and effective pitcher on the 2007 World Series team and is still going strong at age 41.

The Denver Post also mentions Carlos Ruiz as a catching target. To sign Ruiz, the Rockies are going to have to be creative to get Wilin Rosario’s power bat into the lineup with regularity. The team used Rosario at first base last season and right field has been mentioned. Still, there are forces in the organization who see Rosario as an asset because of his power. However, Ruiz is considered strong defensively and in working with a pitching staff, while Rosario is a work in progress. Another possibility behind the plate is Brian McCann, although the price tag may be higher than the Rockies are willing to pay. McCann also can play first base.

– Thomas Harding

Still, the team is looking for improvement offensively, with first base and right field as the positions to target. Look for the Rockies to evaluate Justin Morneau, Marlon Byrd, James Loney, Corey Hart and Nelson Cruz among others.

Roundup: Blue Jays, Braves swap shortstops

In a rather surprising All-Star break move, the Blue Jays in essence acquired young shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Braves in exchange for veteran shortstop Alex Gonzalez. Left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes also is going to Toronto, with Minor League lefty Tim Collins and Minor League infielder Tyler Pastornicky migrating to Atlanta’s organization. 

Escobar, still considered one of the more talented shortstops in the National League despite his off-year (.238 batting average, .618 OPS, zero homers), will be heading into his first of three arbitration years this offseason, while Gonzalez (batting .259 with 17 homers) has a $2.5 million club option. 
Both are very good defensive players, but right now, it’s Gonzalez who seemingly gives the Braves their best chance to maintain their NL East division lead, while Escobar could — if a change of scenery serves as a big beneficiary — give the Blue Jays a young, talented shortstop for years to come. 
Here’s more from around the league … 
* The Brewers are reportedly shopping All-Star and Home Run Derby participant Corey Hart, with the Giants, Rays, Padres and Braves rumored to be interested. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, the Brewers asked the Giants for Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner in exchange for Hart. Giants general Brian Sabean, however, is reluctant to part with those two. 
* Torii Hunter is playing GM a little bit. Hunter, the Angels center fielder signed through 2012, told MLB.com’s Bill Ladson he’d like to have Adam Dunn in Anaheim, and according to The Los Angeles Times, he’s been working on speedster Carl Crawford, too. 
* Don’t expect a 2010 reunion between Pedro Martinez and the Phillies, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Martinez hasn’t even thrown off the mound yet. 
* The injury-ravaged Red Sox have spoken to the Royals about outfielder David DeJesus, according to FOXSports.com. The Web site said the two clubs talked less than two weeks ago and said they’d remain in touch. The Royals have been scouting the Red Sox’s farm system, but names haven’t been exchanged, FOXSports.com added. 
* The Braves, seeking a right-handed-hitting outfielder, have shown interest in the Marlins’ Cody Ross. Florida finds itself 10 games back in the NL East heading into the second half of the season and could be sellers before the Trade Deadline. 
– Alden Gonzalez

Vazquez could return to the NL East

All is quiet on the Braves trade front.  But one of their former pitchers could change the landscape of the National League East if the Yankees acquire Cliff Lee. 

If they add Lee to their rotation, the Yankees are expected to attempt to trade Javier Vazquez.  This morning a National League scout said the buzz he’s hearing among his peers is that Vazquez could be dealt to the Phillies in exchange for Jayson Werth. 

Vazquez enjoyed one of the finest seasons of his career in Atlanta last year and continued his success against National League opponents by going 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA in four Interleague starts for the Yankees this year. 

But with Chase Utley sidelined until at least the latter portion of August, the Phillies may not feel comfortable moving one of their top offensive threats simply to attempt to improve their shaky rotation. 

The Braves don’t appear to have much interest in Corey Hart and they definitely won’t be dealing Mike Minor or any of their top young pitching prospects unless they gain a much more attractive return than Hart, who would only be under team control through the end of the 2011 season.

Once the Braves get a better feel about how productive Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth could be when they return from the disabled list, they’ll determine whether they want to add a starter or a bench player to their offensive mix before the July 31 trade deadline.

– Mark Bowman

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