The Mariners have Rockies CF Dexter Fowler on their outfield wish list for trades, sources say. Fowler is available in the right deal. —Jon Paul Morosi at Fox Sports
Agent Scott Boras, who wants to goad teams into spending more on free agents, criticized the Mets, Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros for not spending enough and playfully suggested the Tampa Bay Rays seek a more financially beneficial home. “I think there’s a lot of cities that may attract them,” he said. “Maybe New Jersey would like that winning percentage.” After missing the playoffs for only the second time in 19 years, the New York Yankees are in a shopping mode. In addition to trying to retain second baseman Robinson Cano, they’re interested in catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Carlos Beltran, among others. They need pitching, too. But there aren’t any aces on the free-agent market, so teams could bid up the prices of pitchers projected as a No. 2 or No. 3 on a staff. “I don’t think there’s any question about that,” Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik said. “The market sets itself.” How long this will take is unclear.
“There’s a certain amount of hesitation on really the agent side as well as the club side in terms of what the market is and what’s going to happen next,” Mets GM Sandy Alderson said. “I’m sure there’s some clubs that are looking to jump in and get something done right away and are prepared to do it under any circumstances, and so that’s why I think you may see something over the next week or two. I don’t think necessarily you have to wait til the winter meetings. I don’t know what effect a late Thanksgiving will have.” By Ronald Blum AP via the Wall Street Journal
AL West Commentary
The Rangers are hot after Brian McCann, but a few GM’s are thinking the Rangers still have interest in Jacoby Ellsbury. Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
Three consecutive seasons of triple-digit losses haven’t deterred player interest in the Astros. Player agents know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel for the Astros. One agent at the general managers’ meetings spoke Wednesday of the attractiveness of opportunity. Coming to Houston, he said, could give a free agent a chance to play a prominent role, something other teams might not be able to offer.
“It’s a double-edged sword,” Astros GM Jeff Luhnow said. “Someone looking to win a World Series title next year may not think about the Astros as the first place to go sign. But having said that, we also have an opportunity. You can be a starter in our rotation, potentially be an everyday outfielder on our club. You can be the guy. We play indoors. We play in a controlled environment where you know you’re going to play every night. It’s in the middle of the country. There are no state taxes. There’s a lot of attractive reasons.” By Evan Drellich at the Houston Chronicle
In responding to a reader’s question, “What scenarios, if any, would the Angels be willing to go over the luxury-tax threshold?” Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com, (the Angels MLB beat writer) said: “Based on my understanding, this is not flexible. But teams have an entire season to get under the luxury-tax threshold, so as long as they’re confident they can do that, the Angels probably won’t shy away from a player just because he puts their Collective Balance Tax payroll slightly over $189 million (the threshold at which first-time offenders will be taxed 17.5 percent in 2014).
As a refresher, a team’s CBT payroll is calculated as the average annual value of all 40-man-roster contracts, plus benefits. My (very rough) projection for the Angels’ current CBT payroll — accounting for salaries in the books, arbitration projections and minimum contracts — is approximately $175 million, which would give them about an extra $14 million of wiggle room. More money can be freed up via trades and non-tenders, of course. But, barring a change in ideology, owner Arte Moreno will not go over the tax threshold. It isn’t really about paying the tax; it’s actually a source of pride with a lot of owners to never exceed what’s essentially Major League Baseball’s soft spending limit.” Alden Gonzalez at MLB.com
So they said
“That would be a positive one, yeah,” agent Scott Boras said Wednesday when asked about the Astros’ declared intention to spend this winter. “The Astros are … they’re like Disneyland. If the kids come, it’s a great attraction.” From Evan Drellich at the Houston Chronicle
“It’s not easy making jokes at [the Mets] expense. There’s too much competition.” Brian Costa at the Wall Street Journal
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
“Bartolo Colon, 40: He looked like he was finished in April 2010, but that’s when he underwent a surgery in the Dominican Republic in which doctors injected fat and bone marrow stem cells in Colon’s elbow and shoulder. One of the doctors was known to have used human growth hormone in such procedures, though, he said, not in this one. Colon has since tested positive for synthetic testosterone in 2012. There is no disputing that Colon has revived his career since the surgery and in the timeframe of his PED use. In the three seasons before that operation he was 13-16 with a 5.20 ERA in only 38 games. He is 36-25 with a 3.32 ERA in 80 games in three seasons since. Colon has become one of the game’s premier two-seam fastball specialists, with uncanny movement and command.” Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated
Since people are asking, I think Matt Kemp has negative trade value. Too much risk for 6/$130, just sign Ellsbury instead. Dave Cameron of FanGraphs
The Brewers are considering bringing back Corey Hart to fill their first-base need. It appears Milwaukee may favor a return of Hart over some other first-base options, such as Ike Davis and Justin Morneau, though there are concerns about Davis’ double knee surgery. Milwaukee has viewed a tape of Hart doing a light drill and he appears to be doing well in it. Word is, he should be ready for the 2014 season after missing 2013 with knee trouble. Hart, a career Brewer, has said publicly he’d play in Milwaukee for a discounted rate. He hit 30 home runs and batted .270 in 2012. By Jon Heyman at CBS Sports
Carlos Beltran began his illustrious career with the Royals. What if, after a nine-year absence, he returned to Kansas City?
“I think it would be a great story if it happens for me to go back,” Beltran said Wednesday. So, yes, he has considered the possibility, although his free agency has attracted the interest of “probably seven to 10 teams” that also include the Cardinals, Red Sox and the Yankees. On Monday, he turned down the Cardinals’ qualifying offer of one year at $14.1 million. “Right now, there are just a lot of teams that have interest in my services, but we haven’t talked about the number of years or the money; everything is preliminary right now,” Beltran said in his first interview on the subject. Although Beltran was not specific, there is no doubt the switch-hitting slugger is looking for a multiyear contract. “Right now, the way I feel, I can play 10 more years,” Beltran said. “That might sound crazy, but physically I feel so good. I just want to be with a team that I can help accomplish what they’re looking for, and that would be, hopefully, going to the postseason.”
Ten more years? Well, he chuckled at that, but it is just how good he feels at 36. His knees, notably his right knee most recently repaired in 2010, allowed him to play 145 regular-season and 17 postseason games this year. “I don’t think you can play 145 games if you have a really messed-up knee,” he said. “It’s impossible.” Of those games, 137 were in right field, and that is where Beltran wants to stay, even if he goes to the American League with its designated hitter. “Right now, the way I feel, I want to play in the outfield — that’s what I really enjoy; that’s where I really have fun. Maybe later on, I might consider DHing here and there, but right now, that’s not something I’m considering.” By Dick Kaegel at MLB.com
It is a bit counter-intuitive that the agents for McCann and Beltran — B.B. Abbott and Dan Lozano, respectively — would want to do a deal before the market develops, unless they are overwhelmed. “Exactly,” a source with direct knowledge of the negotiations said when this reasoning was put forth. The source said the Yankees are keeping their options open and have not ruled out Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury as possibilities, though, Beltran is their top outfield choice because the length of his contract would be shorter. By Andrew Marchand at ESPN New York
Baseball Best Practice
What kind of impact will last year’s market have on this one? None. Look around your town: are used car lots going out of business? It’s buyer beware, but when teams can limit their exposure to one or two years, they can justify the risk. (Of course, the way teams drop $7 million on pitchers like Brett Myers while short-changing their research and development staffs by not paying the best coaches and instructors well is a lousy way of prioritising a business.) Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated
It simply isn’t prudent, GM Sandy Alderson of the Mets argued, to have two players signed to deals exceeding $100 million. And David Wright is already signed to a $138 million deal. “If you want to look at the data and the way we look at data and associate winning teams with payroll concentration, you realize that there are limits to how effective an overall team can be with their payroll concentrated in a small number of players,” Alderson said. “It’s just a historical fact.” Brian Costa at the Wall Street Journal
By The Numbers
Hisashi Iwakuma had the highest WAR of any AL pitcher at 7.0, with Scherzer third (6.7) and Darvish fifth (5.8). Iwakuma’s win total was limited by 13 no-decisions — despite a 2.86 ERA in those starts — and he became just the second pitcher in Major League history to have five starts of at least six innings in which he recorded a no-decision despite not allowing an earned run. Greg Johns at MLB