This is Brian Cashman’s disinterested face.
Carlos Beltran is the Yankees’ top outfield target as they look to upgrade from the Ichiro Suzuki/Vernon Wells combination that would currently play right field. A source said the Yankees have “no interest” in either Shin-Soo Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury — both Scott Boras clients — as each is seeking a deal of at least five years. The Yankees would like to sign Beltran to a two-year deal, but they might be forced to give him a third year based on the number of interested teams.
The Mariners are also cold on Ellsbury, but they remain hot on both Beltran and Nelson Cruz. The Cubs are stealthily lying in the weeds on Ellsbury, as a source said that Chicago’s Theo Epstein—who was the Red Sox general manager when Boston drafted Ellsbury in 2005—was hoping to swoop in for the speedy center fielder. —Mark Feinsand at NY Daily News
So they said
“The Mets are like NASA,” [Scott] Boras said, smirking a little more with each word. “They have big rockets, a lot of platforms and very few astronauts.” —Brian Costa at the Wall Street Journal
“Brian Cashman says you can rule out the Yankees signing Brian Wilson. His agent told team he won’t shave beard. True story,” Cashman says. —Andy McCullough at The Star-Ledger
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Free-agent right-hander Ricky Nolasco has multiple four-year contract offers, his agent told Yahoo Sports on Thursday, highlighting the huge market for starting pitching and rising prices for innings-eating arms. “I believe the market for multiple-year starting pitching will start to reveal itself more clearly in the next two to three weeks,” agent Matt Sosnick said, and that market is a bullish reflection of how revenue growth in the game is trickling down to players.
While Sosnick declined to name the teams or size of the contracts, one league source said he believed the starting price on Nolasco “is Edwin Jackson money” (four years, $52 million) and “may end up at Derek Lowe” (four years, $60 million). 2013 represented just the second year in Nolasco’s seven seasons in which he posted a better-than-average ERA, and if that’s worth $13 million to $15 million a year, the market for free-agent pitchers in his class, such as Bronson Arroyo, as well as those perceived ahead of him, such as Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza, could skyrocket. —Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports
Free agent outfielder Chris Young says he would like to play for hometown Astros, but wouldn’t say if he’s contacted them. —Brian McTaggart at MLB.com
Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said that there has been ongoing trade interest in Nate Schierholtz since mid-season. —Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
[Brian Wilson is] “younger than Nathan, less combustible than Balfour, more reliable than Rodney, more experienced than Benoit, more everything than Perez, Wilson has generated interest from the Giants, Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Colorado Rockies, Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox. The Cincinnati Reds might be in, depending on the role they envision for Aroldis Chapman. Wilson would prefer to close, but will take each situation as it comes, so setting up for, say, Kenley Jansen in Los Angeles or Koji Uehara in Boston is a possibility.” —Tim Brown at Yahoo! Sports
Todd Wills at ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth offers a Ranger’s viewpoint on Shin-Soo Choo. Why he makes sense: If the Rangers are looking for a hitter that sees pitchers, Choo is their guy. He averaged 4.23 pitches per plate appearance last season, second to Washington’s Jayson Werth in the National League, who was at 4.24 (by comparison, the Rangers’ leader last season was first baseman Mitch Moreland, who was 12th in the AL at 4.13). Add in his durability and all-around play and Choo would certainly be an interesting addition. Why he doesn’t make sense: Choo is going to cost big money. After Robinson Cano, he’s in a group of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann as the top offensive free agents available. Choo’s overall production the last two seasons suggests he could be a player on the decline. Bottom line: The Rangers should pass and keep their eye on the their prize — McCann, who makes much more sense for the club.
Baseball Best Practice
“You don’t find a carbon copy,” Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said. “You don’t replace the skills, but you can make the team good in other ways and other areas. You explore what available options there are out there to make us stronger in as many areas as possible. Ultimately our goal hasn’t changed the last few days. Just try to put together the best team we can. There’s a lot to go this winter.” —Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe
According to the economic principle of comparative advantage, if every team were equal in every way except for the quality of their fielders, the most extreme contact pitcher on the market would sign with the best defensive team, the second-most extreme contact pitcher would sign with the second-best defensive team, and so on. Meanwhile, the best strikeout pitcher would go to the worst defensive team. That way each pitcher is placed where he will be most valuable to his team. Of course, the real free-agent market is very different from the world of this hypothetical example, but we can still use this framework to analyze which pitchers would be better fits with different types of teams.
Take A.J. Burnett (4.0 WAR) and Bartolo Colon (3.9). FanGraphs sees the two as almost exactly identical in their 2013 values after almost exactly the same number of innings, and in a vacuum there’s no wrong answer to the question of whom you’d rather have in 2014. But Burnett walked, hit, or struck out almost twice as many batters (285) as Colon (146) this year, and as a result opposing hitters put 99 more balls into play against Colon than Burnett in 32 fewer opportunities. Similar talent levels, completely different modus operandi. As a result, a team with an especially good (or bad) defense could see Burnett and Colon as equals yet have a strong preference to sign Colon (or Burnett). —Lewie Pollis at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended] Lewie has done another article well worth reading on a similar subject here.
By The Numbers
Koji Uehara walked a batter on July 3. From Independence Day through the end of the season, he allowed a .238 OPS. —Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs
Iwakuma and Hernandez were a combined 26-16 last year, while the rest of the starters had a 29-42 record. —Greg Johns at MLB
Former Mariner Alex Liddi has signed a minor-league contract with the White Sox.
MLB is withdrawing its proposal for a new bidding system with Japan, making it uncertain whether prized pitcher Masahiro Tanaka will be on the market this offseason. MLB Chief Operating Officer Rob Manfred said Japanese officials had not acted quickly enough on MLB’s proposal for a new agreement and that a new proposal will be forwarded.
“We warned them, told them if this sat too long, there could be shifting winds out there, and suffice it to say there are shifting winds,” Manfred said. Under the so-called “posting system,” agreed to in December 1998, more than a dozen Japanese players have moved to MLB before the nine years of service time they would have needed to become a free agent. Under the system, MLB clubs submit bids, and the highest bidder has 30 days to reach an agreement with the player.
Boston obtained pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka from the Seibu Lions before the 2007 season for $51.1 million, and Texas got pitcher Yu Darvish from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters before the 2012 season for $51.7 million. Those figures don’t include the players’ contracts with the new teams.
“I think the concerns with the system was it was a blind bidding process that led to inflated numbers,” Manfred said, “and that those inflated numbers make that market unavailable to a broad cross-section of our teams.” Tanaka, a 25-year-old right-hander, went a 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA during the regular season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League. Without an agreement, Japanese players would not be able to sign with MLB until they had nine years of service time “If that’s the way we get Japanese professionals, I think that the 30 major league clubs are prepared to live with that result,” Manfred said.
A new agreement would also probably have to be agreeable to the Japan players union There have been comments speculating that it could take up to a $100 million posting fee to obtain the right to negotiate with Tanaka. It would seem that absent an agreement he will remain bound to the Golden Eagles and unavailable to MLB teams. Tanaka needs two more seasons in Japan to qualify for free agency. He would still only be 27-years old at that time. Based on reports from Sports Illustrated and Yahoo! Sports
Comment From Daniel Carroll: For all the crap Jack Z has gotten in Seattle for the “All DH’s all the time” strategy, he certainly didn’t commit an enormous amount of resources to the idea (just a few years of Jaso and some cash). Isn’t 2013 really the anomaly in his tenure?
Jeff Sullivan: He came up with and hyped a bad plan. He also got some lousy luck, albeit luck he wasn’t prepared for (like Gutierrez getting hurt). I think it’s easy to exaggerate how stupid that all was, but it also did nothing to fill us with confidence that the ship’s headed in the right direction. It was essentially a waste of a year
Comment From Bill: Considering the QO-pick and everything else, what contract for Cruz would actually be a good signing for the team? 2/15?
Jeff Sullivan: Honestly? Even that might be too much. He’s 33, he’s not durable, he’s not a good defender, he’s not a good runner, and he’s just an above-average bat. With the QO, I’d just stay away completely.
Comment From Sadwick: I can see Seattle signing Cruz, seems like their particular flavor of mistake.
Jeff Sullivan: You are a bummer
Comment From zmiko: I’m really worried that the Rockies are going to pay for Nelson Cruz
Jeff Sullivan: I’d be terrified
Comment From Prich: Your gut feeling, % that each is dealt this offseason: Ackley, Franklin
Jeff Sullivan: One of them will be traded and my sense is it’ll be Ackley.
Comment From Prich: Are you as down on Franklin’s defense as Dave is?
Jeff Sullivan: I think it is not good.
Comment From Prich: Ackley and a bullpen arm (Maurer, Capps, Luetge) for Porcello: how would you feel about that trade as an Ms fan… as a baseball analyst?
Jeff Sullivan: I don’t think the M’s are in position to be giving up service time for more expensive players like Porcello. Ackley’s a disappointment so far, but Porcello has two years left that won’t be cheap and he’s not a great starter.
Comment From Justin: Ethier to the Mets seems like a fait accompli at this point.
Jeff Sullivan: I feel that way about the Mariners so I’ll see you in hell.
Comment From Matt: Chris Young makes a ton of sense in Boston, right? Possibly platoon with JBJ?
Jeff Sullivan: Chris Young makes a ton of sense for a lot of teams. Underwhelming player, but versatile and at least average.