One thing we’ve learned from the insanity of previous winter meetings is: Once teams get caught up in the madness, anything is possible. Source: Jason Stark at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
“I salute the Mariners for going big and bold. They’ve won the winter. Let’s see if the summer is next.” From: Larry Stone at the Seattle Times
I’ve already said that even if Price is extended, Walker could end up the better pitcher before 6 years is up. Also feel that Miller has a chance to be one of best SS in AL before 2015 is out. Add in the $ and that is a no-brainer deal breaker. Spend the $ and get a [free agent starter]. From: Rick Randall at Seattle Clubhouse
So they said
Life got so insane for a while there it prompted one National League executive to ask: “Did we invent a trade deadline in the offseason that I didn’t know about?” Source: Jason Stark at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
“They [the Yankees] will just repeat the cycle,” one rival executive said earlier this week. “No young players ready, need to win now, blow everyone out of the water (financially) and hope in three years they have young talent.” Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
“That’s what the players are getting. Young, talented players with the skills that he has, that’s what they’re getting. I couldn’t believe the Yankees let that walk away. He’s the face, as long as he played for the Yankees; he was the face of that ballclub. He was backing up everybody. He makes the game look so easy. … Now, we’re not going to be able to see him that much, thank God. He’s going to the West Coast. Wishing him the best. He’s a good friend of mine, and like I said, well deserved.” David Ortiz on the WEEI Bradford Files podcast
“You should never forget,” said one exec, “how many teams don’t want to give up those draft picks.” Source: Jason Stark at ESPN [Insider needed and recommended]
Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln groused in December 2000 when Rangers owner Tom Hicks signed Alex Rodriguez away from the Mariners with a 10-year, $252 million deal, “Why did he sign with Texas? Obviously, some fool stepped out of the woodwork to pay him so much he couldn’t refuse it.” From: Larry Stone at the Seattle Times
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
[LA GM Ned] Colletti: “We can’t sell off [an outfielder just] to sell off.” FA OF list next couple years is “not overloaded.” From: Bill Shaikin at the LA Times
Brett Gardner hit .273 with 10 triples and eight homers last season. He has played elite-level defense in leftfield and centerfield and has brought an element of speed on the bases to a largely lumbering Yankees offense. In parts of six seasons, Gardner has swiped 161 bases, including a career-high 49 in 2011. Ellsbury, who is expected to take over in centerfield, brings skills that are similar to Gardner’s. Team officials envision Gardner and Ellsbury teaming to provide a defensively elite tandem in the outfield and a dynamic look to the top of the lineup.
But with Gardner projected to earn roughly $4 million in his final year of arbitration, he’s affordable to virtually every team in the league. And because the Yankees have few top-level prospects to offer up in trades, he stands as their best bet to trade for pitching help. Though the Yankees also need a second baseman to replace Cano, they are believed to be targeting pitching help in a potential trade involving Gardner. A rival executive said parlaying the outfielder for a starting pitcher might be “a stretch.” Nevertheless, a slim free-agent market for starting pitching has provided enough motivation for the Yankees to listen. Source: Marc Carig at Newsday (Franklin and one of Beavan, Ramirez or Maurer might work but Gardner is a free agent after 2014.)
There might be a financial benefit to trading Price before the end of the ’14 season, as the Rays deferred $4.1 million from his 2013 deal (technically a signing bonus) and could try to get the acquiring team to pay that. Price has no control over whom the Rays make a deal with, but he could have a say if that team got a window from the Rays to negotiate a long-term deal as a prerequisite and he didn’t want to do so. For that reason, the Rays are unlikely to grant such a request. Source: Marc Topkin at Tampa Bay Times
Source: Yankees receiving significant interest in Brett Gardner and willing to trade him. They’re not shopping him, but they’re listening. From: Andy McCullough at The Star-Ledger
The Blue Jays say J.A. Happ can rebound in 2014 if he has health on his side. The left-hander posted a 4.56 ERA during a difficult 2013 season that included an extended stint on the disabled list following head and knee injuries sustained when he took a line drive to the head. Yet he might be capable of more going forward. “We feel good about J.A., where he’s at, how he ended the year, how well he threw the ball,” Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters, including Shi Davidi. “The other thing, too, J.A. was throwing with a knee brace the entire time. Is that an excuse? No, but normally he doesn’t throw with brace. His velocity was back, we saw some 93s, 94s, and I thought his last three outings looked really, really good. J.A., as the fifth starter, has a chance to give us a really solid year.”
Other teams might view Happ as a trade chip, since his contract will look reasonable in light of free agent deals signed by mid-rotation starters such as Feldman, Vargas and Hughes. Happ earns $5.2 million in 2014 on a contract that includes a $6.7 million option for 2015. Having already committed well over $100 million to their 2014 payroll, the Blue Jays could consider moving Happ to create additional flexibility. Source: Shi Davidi at sportsnet.ca
Choo. The next big free-agent domino, and the expectation among some executives is that his deal will be almost as lucrative as Ellsbury’s $153 million jackpot. The most obvious fits for Choo are the Rangers, Mariners, Tigers and Reds, and some execs also include the Giants and Astros. The Rangers, who traded for Prince Fielder but lost out on Napoli and Beltran, do not seem particularly confident about their chances. But others view them as the favorite. Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reported Friday night that the new posting system for Japanese players remains on track to be announced next week. One problem: [Masahiro] Tanaka’s team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, might not post him. Rakuten’s president, Yozo Tachibana, said as much Thursday in an interview with a Japanese newspaper. Some in baseball believe that Tachibana is not simply posturing, a troubling development for the Yankees, Angels, Cubs and all the other teams that want a crack at Tanaka.
Under the new system, the highest posting fee a Japanese team can receive is $20 million. The Rangers, by contrast, bid $51.7 million for the negotiating rights to Yu Darvish in Dec. 2011. As an asset, Tanaka is about to be devalued. And Tachibana, whom executives describe as something of a maverick, might keep him in Japan to make a point. Under the new system, if multiple teams express a willingness to pay the maximum fee of $20 million, a player can pick the club he likes best, effectively operating as a free agent. As before, the posting fee will not count in luxury-tax calculations. Thus, the lower fee will hurt clubs with tax concerns such as the Yankees and Angels — teams that were banking on making a sizable chunk of their investment in tax-free dollars.
If Tanaka is not posted, it will be good news for free-agent pitchers such as Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza, whose values will only increase if the Japanese righty is unavailable. Bronson Arroyo and Bartolo Colon are alternatives for teams seeking pitchers on shorter deals. Source: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
By The Numbers
There has only been 20 qualified seasons of a 1.200+ OPS, and Ruth and Bonds have 11 of them. Thomas owns one. Source: YCPB You Can’t Predict Baseball
By next August, average age of the 8 members of the Yankees lineup we know about now will be 34. Can’t imagine what could go wrong there. From: Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus
Eric Thames is going to play for the NC Dinos in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) next year his agent tells Venezuelan reporter Ormuz Sojo. From Evan Drellich at the Houston Chronicle
Former MLB outfielder Wily Mo Pena has agreed to sign a one-year contract with the Orix Buffaloes of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, an industry source told sportsnet.ca. The 31-year-old free agent drew interest from both sides of the Pacific before agreeing to terms on the deal, which is valued at $1.5 million.