“Franklin Gutierrez, CF, free agent — Intriguing guy. The Mariners declined a $7.55 million option on Gutierrez, who has been considered one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. Gutierrez never lived up to a four-year, $20.55 million deal with the Mariners because of six stints on the disabled list, but when healthy, the 30-year-old right-handed hitter can still play at a high level.” —Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Those words from a speech by former President Theodore Roosevelt can be found tattooed onto Marlon Byrd’s right arm. —Doug Padilla at ESPN Chicago Cubs via Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors
The period between the end of the World Series and free agency is a window of time designated for teams to make important decisions. With qualifying offers and options up in the air, teams must decide what they are going to do leading into the free agent period. This post will look into the nature of both qualifying offers and options, as well as look into some of the decisions that have already been made. You can read it here. —Ken Woolums at Beyond the Box Score
AL West Commentary
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. –Scooby Axson at Sports Illustrated
So they said
“Having no weaknesses can be just as effective as being loaded with multiple stars.” –Jonah Keri at Grantland
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Jason Vargas (LHP Angels – Age 31): A blood clot in his pitching arm knocked Vargas out for about seven weeks last season, but he was his usual self when he was on the mound. Put him in a big ballpark with a strong outfield defense, and he’ll be a very solid middle-of-the-rotation option, and since he’s not quite as much of a fly ball pitcher as he used to be, he could still be of use in more neutral parks, as well. He could get $30 million for three years, maybe a bit more.
2013 stats: 9-8, 4.02 ERA, 109/46 K/BB in 150 IP. —Matthew Pouliot at Hardball Talk
Marlins GM Dan Jennings told us: “Mr. Stanton is NOT available. He will be in RF at Marlins Park on Opening Day. We are building around him.” —Jim Bowden at ESPN
The Tampa Bay Rays have exercised a club option on outfielder David DeJesus for next season. The 33-year-old started 26 games after being obtained in a trade from the Washington Nationals on Aug. 23, helping Tampa Bay earn an AL wild-card berth. He will earn $6.5 million in 2014. A .279 career hitter, DeJesus batted .251 with eight homers and 38 RBIs in 122 games with the Rays, Nationals and Chicago Cubs last season. –Sports Illustrated
Kendrys Morales (1B-DH Mariners – Age 30): Morales has put in three full seasons since reaching the majors at 23 in 2006, and he’s finished with an .800 OPS in one of them. He’s also mediocre defensively at first base and likely a bigger injury risk the more he plays there. Despite all that, the Mariners are expected to make him a $14.1 million qualifying offer, and he’s probably going to turn it down in the hopes of a three-year deal in the $36 million range. He may well end up disappointed considering the lack of market for designated hitters. 2013 stats: .277/.336/.449, 23 HR, 64 R, 80 RBI, 0 SB in 602 AB. –Matthew Pouliot at Hardball Talk
Dioner Navarro (C Cubs, 30): .300/.365/.492, 13 HR in 266 PA 1.7 bWAR .192 ISO
Draft and Prospects
“As a rule, I don’t like to give up draft picks,” says Orioles GM Dan Duquette. Duquette still believes in building a team through its farm system. That’s for sure. So hat’s prompting him to be a little less protective of his high draft picks this year? He’s not tipping his hand, but the sense is that Duquette feels a lot better about the club’s ability to scout and sign international amateurs, and that allows him to be a little more liberal with his draft picks.
In Duquette’s tenure here, the Orioles have signed Cuban outfielders Henry Urrutia, who has already made the majors, and Dariel Alvarez, who made it to Double-A last season. And the organization has several other international players about whom Duquette feels good. Duquette has said from the beginning that he’ll use all avenues to build the Orioles. The amateur draft is obviously one of the most important roads. But if he can get a piece this winter he desperately wants for 2014, Duquette seemingly would at least consider sacrificing a high draft pick, especially now that other options are starting to yield potential big league help. –Dan Connolly at the Baltimore Sun
Masahiro Tanaka threw 176 pitches in two days! A day after throwing 160 pitches in Game 6 but losing for the first time in thirty starts he threw 16 more pitches to close out Game 7 as the Rakuten Golden Eagles beat the Yomiuri Giants 3-0 in Game 7 of the Japan Series on Sunday to win their first championship.
Rakuten starter Manabu Mima held the Giants to one hit while striking out five over six scoreless innings for the win. Rookie Takahiro Norimoto pitched two scoreless innings of relief and 24-game winner Tanaka retired the side in the ninth. The Giants are the oldest and most successful team in Japanese baseball with 22 championships.
On Saturday, Tanaka tossed a complete game but gave up four runs on 11 hits. He surrendered a game-tying two-run homer to former Major League infielder Jose Lopez in the fifth inning, when Yoshinobu Takahashi later added the go-ahead single. Tanaka finished with 160 pitches, according to David Waldstein of the New York Times.
By The Numbers
James Shields led the majors with a 2.07 ERA on the road. Jon Lester led the Red Sox with a 4.21 ERA away from Fenway. —The Bill Chuck Files
Baseball’s most unbreakable records? Cy Young 511 career wins; Ty Cobb’s .367 lifetime batting average; Johnny Vander Meer’s consecutive no-hitters; Cal Ripken’s 2,632 consecutive games; Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 career strikeouts. —About.com