Results tagged ‘ Mike Napoli ’

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

Jones in, LoMo soon out in Miami?

Ken Rosenthal has reported the Marlins are close to signing first baseman/outfielder Garrett Jones to a deal in Miami, possibly setting off a domino effect of other moves. Rosenthal says it likely means Mike Napoli won’t be coming to Miami, and there could be a deal imminent involving Logan Morrison

Jones lost his job in Pittsburgh down the stretch last season to Justin Morneau (who is reportedly about to settle down in Denver), and then was let go this winter by the Pirates.

– Joey Nowak

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

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

11/2 Roundup

With the deadline for exercising or declining options looming at 5 p.m. ET on Monday, teams continued to make those decisions on Saturday. Below is a recap of those moves, plus news on the Mariners’ managerial search and more.

  •  The Rays will bring back their same middle infield in 2014 after picking up options on second baseman Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar. However, they still must decide whether to do the same for outfielder David DeJesus and reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo.
  • The Red Sox declined a team option on reliever Matt Thornton, while two of the team’s free agents — first baseman Mike Napoli and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia — would like to return. In other news, second baseman Dustin Pedroia soon will undergo surgery on his left thumb after playing the whole season with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.
  • Joey Cora is among a handful of finalists to become the Mariners’ new manager.
  • Roger McDowell will return as pitching coach of the Braves after signing a new two-year deal.
  • As expected, the Giants declined their option on pitcher Barry Zito, according to the MLB Players Association. Zito becomes a free agent after completing his seven-year contract with San Francisco, which also declined an option on outfielder Andres Torres.
  • Also per the MLBPA, the Orioles declined their option on lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, who underwent Tommy John surgery after signing a two-year deal before the 2012 season and never appeared in a game for Baltimore.

– Andrew Simon

Red Sox reel in Napoli

The Red Sox landed one of their top targets of the winter, agreeing to terms on a three-year deal. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the deal is worth $39 million.

Napoli gives the Red Sox the type of power they need, and is a right-handed bat who can complement star lefty slugger David Ortiz.

While Napoli has primarily been a catcher in his career, there’s a strong chance he will get the bulk of his playing time in Boston at first base.

With Napoli on board, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington can now focus on other needs, such as finding an outfielder, a starting pitcher and possibly a shortstop.

Ian Browne

Report: Napoli, Rivera for Wells

According to FOXSports, the Angels have agreed to deal catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Vernon Wells, who waived his no-trade clause in the report by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi.

Wells has $86 million coming in the remaining four years on his contract and can opt out after drawing $23 million in 2011. He could move into center field or play left with Peter Bourjos in center field and Torii Hunter in right. Wells had 33 homers and 88 RBIs in 2011 and owns three Gold Gloves. He is 32 and has spent his entire career in Toronto, emerging as a regular in 2002.
 
The Blue Jays could combine Napoli with former Angels teammate Jose Molina behind the plate, along with J.P. Arenciba and also give the slugger playing time at first base, where he performed capably last season in Kendry Morales’ absence. Napoli is arbitration-eligible and has asked for $6.1 million while the Angels proposed an offer of $5.3 million. He led the club with 26 home runs last year.

Rivera is owed $5.25 million on the final year of his contract. Combined, Napoli and Rivera would account for roughly half of Wells’ 2011 salary. Adding Wells would lift the Angels’ payroll into the $150 million range, but they are receiving an unspecified amount of cash in the trade.

The swap would leave the Angels with Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger as their catchers. – Lyle Spencer

Rockies, De La Rosa in holding pattern

The general managers meetings in Florida offer a good time for teams to survey the free-agent landscape. And according to the Denver Post, things are about as expected with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa, a player the Rockies want to keep. Interest is strong: former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle has taken over the Pirates and identified De La Rosa as his top target, according to the newspaper, and the Nationals, as reported by MLB.com’s Bill Ladson last week, and Orioles are already in the mix. The Yankees and Rangers could jump in, depending on what happens with lefty Cliff Lee. The paper says the key, as has been the case all along, is if the offers are at three years, the Rockies will compete — and they offer an environment in which De La Rosa has been successful. If it goes beyond three years, De La Rosa is likely gone, and the Rockies could look for a free agent such as Carl Pavano or Javier Vazquez, or seek a trade.

The paper also reported that the Rockies are unlikely to re-sign right-handed hitting utility man Melvin Mora, who wants a contract quicker than the Rockies want to move on him. With the Athletics not looking to trade Conor Jackson, the Rockies could take a look at the Nationals’ Josh Willingham or the Angels’ Mike Napoli for right-handed hitting help.

Thomas Harding

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