The Rangers have already made up their minds about their first bit of offseason roster construction. They will make a $14.1 million qualifying offer to Nelson Cruz, which will get them draft pick compensation if the free agent outfielder elects to sign elsewhere.
“It’s a relatively easy decision,” Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “We’d be happy to have him back on a one-year deal. And we’re not prohibited from continuing to talk to him while he sees what the market is. If he signs elsewhere, we get a draft pick that helps us as well.” Cruz, 33, is expected to reject the offer in search of a multi-year deal. The bigger issue for the Rangers, who need more power production, is whether they will be willing to extend a two- or three-year offer worth $15 million per season in order to keep Cruz. —Evan Grant at Dallas Morning News
According to a story filed by Jane Lee of MLB.com, Oakland’s roster will largely remain unchanged, though a handful of additions is always inevitable. [Billy Beane] says, “We should be able to increase payroll where it’s needed.”
It’s currently just above $60 million. “Most of these guys are going to come back, which is good,” said Beane. “[It] means there’s less to do during the winter. Most of these guys won the AL West the last two years so they’re worthy of bringing back.” “We do like the nucleus we have here,” added [Manager Bob Melvin]. “You’re always trying to get a little better or add to the mix. It’s not like our resources are such that we can go out and sign a $150 million superstar, so you have to do it within the constraints that we have, and our front office does an awful good job with our payroll of getting a team that’s as competitive as we are.”
The Astros are ready to start spending some money. No, don’t expect $100 million contracts at this point in their rebuilding process, but they’ve reached the point where the payroll will start to increase. The Astros have identified which young players will play key roles next year, and they’ll hit the open market to fill some of their holes through free agency.
Owner Jim Crane told MLB.com in early October that the club could have a payroll between $50 and 60 million next year, a substantial increase from the $13 million payroll last season. That means the Astros could have about $40 million to spread among three or four players on the open market. “If you add three or four key positions and bring in a couple of guys [from the Minor Leagues] that are ready, this team is pretty competitive pretty quickly with the starting pitching we’ve got,” Crane said. “We’re deep in pitching.” Unlike last year, when the Astros signed Jose Veras and then dealt him away at the non-waiver Trade Deadline—a move that decimated the bullpen–the club plans to take a different approach this winter. General manager Jeff Luhnow said the club will sign players with the idea of keeping them around rather than using them as trade bait. —Brian McTaggart at MLB.com
So they said
[Jacoby Ellsbury] said: “I haven’t even thought about it. You don’t get this many opportunities to play in the World Series. When you do, you want to capitalize on it. So, I haven’t thought about [free agency].” —Shira Springer at the Boston Globe
Mariners’ potential off-season targets
Free Agent Profile: Phil Hughes by Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors: As Adams says, “ Likely the most appealing factor for Hughes’ suitors will be the fact that he’s actually been a very solid pitcher away from Yankee Stadium. Hughes checked in with a 5.19 ERA overall in 2013, but that was due to a bloated 6.32 ERA when pitching in the Bronx. On the road, Hughes posted a 3.88 ERA. Over the past four seasons, Hughes has a 4.11 ERA and 3.80 FIP on the road compared to a 5.12 ERA and 5.02 FIP at home. As a right-handed fly-ball pitcher, Yankee Stadium (and its short porch in right field) is perhaps the worst possible setting for Hughes. Hughes is the youngest free agent starter on the market, and while at one point there was talk of the Yankees extending a qualifying offer for that reason, the Yankees don’t figure to bring Hughes back for $14.1MM. He won’t cost his new team a draft pick.”
The Texas Rangers will extend a qualifying offer worth $14.1 million to outfielder Nelson Cruz, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. Cruz hit .266 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI in 456 plate appearances this past season. If Cruz signs with another team this offseason, the Rangers would get a draft pick as compensation. Cruz, 33, was suspended for 50 games for admitting to using performance-enhancing drugs as part of Major League Baseball’s investigation into the now-closed South Florida Biogenesis clinic.
Of their seven free agents, the Pirates are eager to re-sign three: right-hander A.J. Burnett, outfielder Marlon Byrd and shortstop Clint Barmes. That leaves Justin Morneau, John Buck, Kyle Farnsworth and Jeff Karstens at least on the back burner—and most likely out. —Tom Singer at MLB.com
The Angels have only one free agent, pitcher Jason Vargas, and they have until 2 p.m. Monday to decide whether to extend a one-year, $14.1-million qualifying offer to the left-hander who went 9-8 with a 4.02 earned-run average in 24 starts during an injury-plagued 2013 season. The Angels are not expected to make that offer because it would push them up against the $189-million luxury tax threshold for 2014, but that wouldn’t preclude them from pursuing a multiyear deal with Vargas, who has expressed a desire to remain in Anaheim. If they made a qualifying offer to Vargas, who would probably decline it, the Angels would be entitled to draft-pick compensation if Vargas signs elsewhere. —Mike DiGiovanna at the LA Times
Baseball Best Practice
“As Bud Selig retires from his long tenure as Commissioner of Baseball and a new era dawns on MLB, I proffer up Core Values from the Valley’s newest defining company, Facebook, for baseball to beg, borrow and steal. Facebook stated Core Values (with explanation from CEO Mark Zuckerberg in quotes):
Focus on impact “If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems.”
Zuckerberg went on to say that this simple principle is rarely executed effectively, and, as a result, companies end up wasting huge amounts of time and money. For MLB, there are lots of impactful issues on which the League only seems to be nibbling around the edges. Obviously, PEDs spring to mind first. I understand that this a hugely complicated legal, historical and ethical issue well above my pay grade, but the simple fact is that my nine-year-old knows what PEDS are and associates them solely with baseball. It is not just the integrity of the game and its records at stake, it is the future of the game and how our children will gravitate to, or away from baseball as they grow up. Finding a way to make the All-Star game more competitive was not a waste of time, but it was not an impactful issue. Time to hit the big ones on the fat part of the bat. —Andy Miller at Gammons Daily
It wasn’t exactly pretty, and it was definitely a little harder than expected. But a win is a win, and in Game 5 of the Japan Series, you take them any way you can get them. The Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles lost the lead in the bottom of the ninth, took it back on Ginji Akaminai’s RBI single in the 10th, and got an insurance run on Andruw Jones’ infield RBI single later in the frame to edge the Yomiuri Giants 4-2 on Thursday night at Tokyo Dome.
“We should have won the game in the ninth inning,” Eagles manager Senichi Hoshino said. “But even though we had to go one extra inning, I’ll take it.” The Eagles now lead the series 3-2 and get two chances to clinch their first-ever title at home in Kleenex Stadium, with undefeated ace Masahiro Tanaka (26-0 in 2013, including the postseason) waiting in the wings to start either Game 6 or a potential Game 7. “We’re in the driver’s seat now; one game up and going to Sendai to win it all for the home fans,” Hoshino said. —Jason Coskrey at Japan Times
By The Numbers
The big-swinging A’s cut down on regular-season strikeouts. A year after setting the league strikeout record (1,387), they ranked 20th in the majors in 2013 (1,178). But they spent much of the Division Series swinging and missing, whiffing an alarming 57 times in 44-plus innings, 13 by Brandon Moss. —John Shea at San Francisco Chronicle
The Toronto Blue Jays have exercised the 2014 contract options on Casey Janssen, Adam Lind and Mark DeRosa while declining the option on Munenori Kawasaki, multiple sources told sportsnet.ca Thursday. —Shi Davidi at sportsnet.ca
Chat Review: Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs
Comment From person hscer: Think Edgar can get into the Hall maybe 2022 or so if the system’s the same?
Jeff Sullivan: I think a lot of things are going to have to be cleared up, but I definitely think Edgar’s still got a good long-term shot.
Comment From Ades: What is your projection for Franklin Gutierrez in 2014?
Jeff Sullivan: 250 encouraging and bittersweet plate appearances. I might be biased, but I think he’s among the most fascinating free agents out there
Comment From potty: List top 3 RP most likely to lead SEA in SV next year.
Jeff Sullivan: Farquhar, Pryor, and Wilhelmsen
Comment From Prich: Nick Franklin for Rick Porcello: who says no?
Jeff Sullivan: Tigers.
Comment From WWMRD: Who was better, Randy Johnson or Nolan Ryan?
Jeff Sullivan: Randy by a lot. Randy Johnson is my favorite pitcher of my life, so far
Comment From Guest: Which non-playoff team this year is most likely to be a playoff team next year? Texas?
Jeff Sullivan: Them or the Angels