“Ellsbury is the Boston free agent who most frequently is linked with the Mariners, but don’t be surprised if the M’s take another run at first baseman Mike Napoli, whom they pursued as a free agent last offseason. The Mariners consider right-handed power to be their biggest need, and Napoli appeared in 139 games — the second-highest total of his career — after being diagnosed with avascular necrosis in both of his hips last winter.” —Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Dave Cameron has Brian McCann as the centerpiece of his off-season plan and feels the Mariners could sign him for six years for $90 million. Given that the M’s will probably have to overpay the market for any free agent slugger, Dave looks like he’s low-balling McCann’s price to come to Seattle. He’d also cost a draft pick and bonus-pool money.
Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger reports Brian McCann could be the solution to the Yankees catching problem. In addition, talent evaluators believe his left-handed swing is tailor-made for Yankee Stadium, and his personality would shine in pinstripes. “He’s made for New York,” one rival executive said. “This guy is as mentally tough as it gets.”
The bidding for McCann will be fierce. In addition to the Yankees, Boston and Texas are reportedly interested. One executive polled yesterday suggested McCann would receive a six-year, $100-million contract. Another predicted the package would top $120 million. With some of their financial flexibility tied up in Alex Rodriguez’s appeal hearing, the Yankees may be forced to hunt for more affordable alternatives.
Andy Martino of the NY Daily News adds that like all free agents, he is primarily interested in years and dollars — and, according to major league sources, the Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox are early rivals for McCann, with Texas identified as a team with particularly strong interest. Those monied clubs could be joined by others, and will make McCann expensive. Some executives predict that the long-time Atlanta Brave will be paid more than $100 million, a figure that one baseball official called “insane.”
There is a lot of head scratching in the sport about why the Cubs or Mariners waited so long to interview Ausmus, and didn’t rush to hire him. “You have a Hall of Fame-caliber general manager in Dombrowski, who had no previous ties to Ausmus at all, and his team was in the playoffs for a lot of October,” said one evaluator, “and he saw enough in him to move fast. Why didn’t somebody else? It doesn’t make sense. There aren’t a lot of great manager candidates right now.” —Buster Olney at ESPN
AL West Commentary
Chat Review: Steve Adams
Comment From Blake: As a Ranger fan, what new faces can I expect to see in the Ballpark in Arlington next year?
Steve Adams: I’ll be picking Brian McCann to join the Rangers in this year’s Top 50 Free Agent contest, barring a major shake-up at the last minute.
Comment From Guest: Hey Steve. Angels in dire need of bullpen and starting pitching help…can you see Brian Wilson there as a free agent and a trade for David Price involving Trumbo and Bourjos?
Steve Adams: Wilson I can definitely see a trade for Price doesn’t fit what they’re looking to do, which is acquire cheap, controllable young pitching that won’t push them over the luxury tax threshold, so I don’t see them getting into that mix
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Right-hander Randy Messenger, who has spent the last three seasons dominating Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers, has set a Nov. 15 deadline to entertain offers from major league teams, said his agent, Matt Sosnick. Messenger, 32, has a standing three-year offer from Hanshin that, with incentives, is worth up to $15 million. He is seeking a two-year deal in the $8 million to $10 million range to return to MLB. While multiple teams have offered a one-year deal – one team went to one year plus an option – none has reached two years yet, Sosnick said. After reinventing himself as a starter in Japan with the help of a split-fingered fastball, the 6-foot-6, 260-pound Messenger has thrived. He led the Central League in innings pitched and strikeouts this season with 196 1/3 and 183, and his 2.89 ERA was fifth among starters. It was his third straight sub-3.00 ERA season, though with run scoring up across NPB this season, it marked Messenger’s best year compared to the rest of the league. Scouts this season saw Messenger’s fastball reach up to 96 mph, though one said he sits closer to 92-93. His splitter and slider give him a strong enough off-speed complement that the scout believes he could be a back-end major league starter. From 2005-09, Messenger was a reliever with the Marlins, Giants and Mariners. —Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports
Ricky Nolasco (RHP Dodgers – Age 31): With his strikeout rate on the way back up, Nolasco had the second best season of his career in 2013. Even with the ugly fade at the end, he was particularly good for the Dodgers, going 8-3 with a 3.52 ERA and a 75/21 K/BB ratio in 87 innings after coming over from the Marlins. Since missing most of 2007, Nolasco has been very durable, averaging 31 starts per year. He’s not really the kind of guy a contender would want for one of the top three spots in the rotation, but since the large-market teams could look at him as a No. 4 and the small-market teams could view him as an innings-eater for the top of the rotation, he should be quite popular. 2013 stats: 13-11, 3.70 ERA, 165/46 K/BB in 199 1/3 IP. —Matthew Pouliot at Hardball Talk
Chat Review: Steve Adams
Comment From Carl: Can a team hypothetically give a player qualifying offers in consecutive seasons?
Steve Adams: Sure. If Granderson accepts his QO, for instance (I don’t think he will, just using him as an example), he could get another one following the 2014 season.
Comment From Alan: The White Sox, could they be a dark horse for Tanaka?
Steve Adams: They could be a dark horse, yeah, but that’s a lot of money to invest in a pair of very unproven players. Have to imagine his big-time splitter would be particularly useful at the Cell.
Comment From Brian: 2/16 seems low for Kazmir. Would you be surprised to see him get 3/30?
Steve Adams: I’d be surprised at a team willing to guarantee him three years, especially at $10MM annually. Still have no idea how he’d hold up over 200 innings; even 2/16 or 2/18 or so has plenty of risk.
The Cardinals announced that they have dumped catcher Rob Johnson from their 40-man roster. As a consequence of this move, he has elected free agency, Johnson spent most of the season in Triple-A, but found his way onto a big league roster for the seventh straight season. In 829 Major League plate appearances he’s a .200/.275/.295 hitter.