Comment From Jack Z: Am I trading for kemp?
Steve Adams: I have a hard time seeing it, but I’m sure the two sides will at least discuss it briefly at the Winter Meetings, and we’ve seen crazier trades recently (Gonzo/Crawford blockbuster)
Comment From Mariners: Will the Mariners finally spend some big money?
Steve Adams: Zduriencik strikes me as someone who’s going to be highly aggressive this winter. I’d expect at least one big signing, possibly a couple of them. They need bats and he knows his job is on the line at this point.
Comment From Connor A.: Thoughts on what the A’s need? Not much IMO.
Steve Adams: Could use an upgrade at second base or shortstop, whichever isn’t filled by Jed Lowrie. Maybe a bullpen arm or a veteran starter, but I agree, they’re a good-looking team.
Comment From Nic: What can we expect the Angels to do this offseason?
Steve Adams: Add a bullpen arm, maybe a cheap 3B option and then trade for some controllable young starting pitching. They may sign a veteran guy too, but I don’t foresee it being a big-name free agent.
Comment From Alex: Does Bartolo Colon return to the A’s?
Steve Adams: I think they’ll be in the mix right until the end. Their interest in Hudson (they were the runner-up) shows they’re going to be aggressive in finding a veteran arm to me, Colon likes it there and they like him.
So they said
“Giving Carlos Ruiz, a 34-year-old catcher with platoon problems who’s coming off a PED suspension a three-year deal is absolute lunacy.” —Keith Law at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
“The reality is Ruiz’s deal may be really good news for A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, two catchers in that tier below McCann.” —Richard Durrett at ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth
“Until he [Robinson Cano] gets a little more realistic, we have nothing to talk about,” Yankees team president Randy Levine told ESPN New York’s Wallace Matthews.
“I think there’s a lot of cities that may attract [the Tampa Bay Rays]. I don’t know, maybe New Jersey would like that winning percentage.” —Scott Boras
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
The Red Sox, major league sources said, have had more extensive talks with Mike Napoli and his agent Brian Grieper about a new contract. Napoli hit .259 with an .842 OPS in 139 games for the Sox in his first season in Boston. He was second on the team with 23 home runs and 92 RBIs. Napoli has said several times since the end of the World Series that he would prefer to stay with the Red Sox. “We absolutely have an interest in having him back,” Boston GM Ben Cherington said.
Free-agent slugger Corey Hart said Tuesday the Milwaukee Brewers are one of four teams who have shown interest in signing him but said nothing would happen until he gets medical clearance to play Dec. 3. In an interview on MLB Network Radio, Hart said the Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and Colorado Rockies have contacted his agent, Jeff Berry, but are awaiting a clean bill of health before considering formal offers. Hart, 31, missed the entire 2013 season after surgery on both knees, and the Brewers never found a suitable replacement at first base. “I’ve talked to the Brewers and hopefully things work out,” he said. “But being a free agent, you never know what’s going to happen. I don’t know what they’re going to offer compared to other teams, so we’re just kind of playing a waiting game there.”
The outfielder-turned-first baseman had surgery on his right knee in January and his left knee in July, ending any hopes of playing in 2013. “What’s so hard right now is I don’t get cleared until Dec. 3,” Hart said.
Hart said he has lost 20 pounds while rehabbing his knees and could return to the outfield if that’s the best situation for him. The Brewers have interest only at first base; their top priority after the position became an unproductive revolving door last season. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is staying in touch with Berry but hasn’t tipped his hand as to whether Hart is his first choice. “It’ll just be more or less where teams really want me,” said Hart, who sent workout videos to interested teams to show how well he is moving. “We’ve talked to a few teams that like the fact I play both, but a lot of times people calling right now, it’s the first-base market. I don’t know if that’s going to be the case, but we’re kind of waiting and seeing what teams really want me to do.” Hart made $10 million last season but said in late September he’d be willing to take less money to return to the Brewers. If another team greatly outbids the Brewers, it might be tempting to go elsewhere, but Hart said family consideration come first. He lives in the Phoenix area, which could give teams that train there an edge. —Based on a piece by Tom Haudricourt at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
It is believed the Rangers, Yankees and Cubs have discussed Jacoby Ellsbury with Boras. The Seattle Mariners, according to reports, are not interested. But that isn’t necessarily indicative of much. “The number of premium players at that level who get to free agency now are rare and teams recognize that,” Boras said during a wide-ranging discussion with reporters. “I think they view those players as difference makers. It’s a real opportunity for a franchise.”
Boras is marketing Ellsbury and another free-agent client, Shin-Soo Choo, as being able to hit third in a lineup.
“They have the power to bat third. They can drive in 90 runs batting first, second or third. So their offensive thrust is not confined to the top of a lineup,” Boras said. Boras had an explanation as to why Ellsbury hit 32 home runs in 2011, but has only 13 over 880 at-bats in the two years since. “The fact is that Ells conditioned himself and did things to become what he needed to become to help [the Red Sox], this style of team. That was stealing bases, being a leadoff hitter, being on base and getting to second base as much as possible,” he said. “That’s really what he geared himself to.” —Peter Abraham at Boston.com
Comment From Jeff: I don’t like the Twins going after Nolasco. Do you really think he’s worth it? I think any team that signs him is gonna overpay big time
Steve Adams: He’s probably not worth what he’s going to sign for, but such is the nature of free agency. Few big contracts actually end up looking like bargains. I don’t think he’s a complete disaster at 4/52 in today’s market… I wouldn’t go up into the $60MM+ range though.
Comment From Logan: Would 4/56M be good enough to sign Jimenez?
Steve Adams: Three weeks ago I’d have said yes, but we’re seeing a really aggressive market for starting pitching. It’d get him listening, for sure, but if I’m his agent, I’m at least seeing if teams are willing to go five years. If no team’s willing to offer that, something like 4/56 or 4/60 could get him.
Comment From Sabean: Who’s my Leftfielder.
Steve Adams: Based on some of the comments Andrew Baggarly just tweeted from Sabean, they may not bring in a new everyday left fielder. It’d be fun to see them roll the dice on a guy like Grady Sizemore though, if they want an option without actually committing any real money to the position.
Comment From Joel: Who gets traded from the Dodgers outfield and to whom?
Steve Adams: My guess is Ethier is the odd man out. Could be a fit for the Mariners or Rangers.
Comment From Bret: What kind of a deal does Dioner Navarro land?
Steve Adams: He’s a tough call since he’s the only real option on the market after McCann, AJ and Salty. A two-year deal seems aggressive to me, but for a guy who was looking like he’s finished not long ago, a cheap two-year deal ($6-7MM?) might be appealing. Otherwise something like 1/4? He’s a tough one to gauge, and I think he’ll wait until the other big catchers are off the market
Comment From Ryan: Any fit for Chris Young the OF on the Cards?
Steve Adams: I like Chris B. Young as a fit almost anywhere. He can mash left-handed pitching and handle center field, and if he rebounds at all to be close to being respectable against right-handed pitching you’ve got a steal, great buy-low guy for me.
Seven Players Chosen as MLB Ambassadors; Diamondbacks and Dodgers Travel to Australia ahead of 2014 Opening Series. Major League Baseball players will travel this offseason to share their passion for the game with fans and young players from developing baseball countries. In November, All-Star Curtis Granderson, Roger Bernadina of the 2013 Netherlands World Baseball Classic team and Chris Dickerson will visit France and the Netherlands as part of the fourth-annual “European Big League Tour.”
In December, Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals will travel to China and the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Mark Melancon will visit South Africa. Yan Gomes of the Cleveland Indians, the first Brazilian-born player to play in the
Major Leagues when he debuted in 2011, will represent baseball in his home country this December. In February, relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins will serve as a pitching instructor at the MLB Brazil Elite Camp.
In addition, Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks and A.J. Ellis of the Los Angeles Dodgers will head to Sydney, Australia in advance of the 2014 Opening Series which will take place March 22 & 23 at the historic Sydney Cricket Grounds. The Series will mark the first-ever regular season games played on the continent. Diamondbacks All-Star first-baseman Paul Goldschmidt recently promoted the event during tours in Australia and New Zealand.
Ben Badler of Baseball America reports that after a failed attempt to flee the country in September, right-hander Raicel Iglesias has left Cuba. Iglesias, 23, will be exempt from the international bonus pools and be able to sign without restrictions once he is granted residency in a third country and cleared to sign by Major League Baseball and the United States government. Major league scouts (and Baseball America) have been able to see Iglesias pitch in person outside of Cuba twice this year. At the World Baseball Classic in March, Iglesias pitched at 88-92 mph. When Cuba visited the U.S. in July for a five-game friendship series against the U.S. College national team, Iglesias looked more impressive, throwing 92-95 mph while varying the speed and shape of his sweepy 76-81 mph breaking ball to get swings and misses. Further details are available at Baseball America.
By The Numbers
Only Cliff Lee was better at getting ahead in the count 0-2 than Phil Hughes in 2013. Opponents had a 213 OPS+ against Hughes after he was ahead 0-2. From Mike Axisa of River Avenue Blues
Just 70 catchers have reached 400 plate appearances in a season in which they were 34 or older, and a third of them were worth 1 WAR or less. —Keith Law at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
The Diamondbacks have signed left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, Jerry Crasnick at ESPN tweets. The Aussie spent his age-30 season with Boston’s Triple-A affiliate in Pawtucket where he pitched to a masterful 1.55 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 52 1/3 innings of relief work. Rowland-Smith posted an outstanding 0.94 WHIP and held opposing lefties to a mere .192/.244/.274 batting line, though his .200/.268/.278 line from opposing righties is equally impressive. He hasn’t appeared in the Majors since 2010, and all 362 2/3 of his big league innings have come in a Mariners uniform. —Steve Adams at MLB Trade Rumors