The Mariners are letting teams know that Jesus Montero, as well as Justin Smoak, are available in trades. From: Bob Nightengale at USAToday
Also hearing Mariners plan for Hart might be OF and DH. He’s not necessarily slotted in at 1B despite knee problems. From: Jerry Crasnick at ESPN
The Mariners lost LHP Brian Moran to Toronto and RHP Jose Valdivia to the Angels in the Rule 5 Draft. The Blue Jays then traded Moran to the Angels for international cap space. The Mariners did not select any players in the draft. From: Jim Callis at MLB.com
(This gives the Angels two of the Mariners decent farm hands. They selected Jose Valdivia separately themselves.)
The Phillies sign Roberto Hernandez (AKA Fausto Carmona) to fill out rotation and Giants get Mike Morse to play LF and Mariners still in Price trade talks. From: Bob Nightengale at USAToday
Mike Morse gets $6M from SF Giants for 2014. From: Jon Heyman at CBS Sports
Decidedly mixed feelings on Morse. Like the idea of power potential. Don’t like every day role or defense. For me, the Morse deal is filed under “Be careful what you ask for.” —Wendy Thurm of FanGraphs
Former Royals catcher Manny Pina has reached agreement on a minor-league deal with the Mariners. From: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune
“The pending deals that appear to be there would give us flexibility,” Zduriencik said. “It doesn’t mean that anyone on this club is going to get moved. What it does do is add to our depth, if these deals come to fruition. And that’s a good thing. When you have depth, you have more options and that’s the position we’re in and that’s a very good position.”
“The nice thing about our bullpen is we do have a lot of nice young arms,” Zduriencik said. “If we were to give up one, then you could look at [Logan] Bawcom, who we like, Carson Smith, [Dominic] Leone, [Chance] Ruffin we hope, and it depends on what happens with [Hector] Noesi. Who knows what other options will present themselves as we move forward? I think there are low-risk deals that you can take on a guy that’s coming off a bad year or an injury and you invite them to Spring Training with a chance to make the club.” Source: Greg Johns at MLB
The pending acquisitions of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison would appear to close the door on the return of Kendrys Morales as the Mariners reshape their roster for next season. Morales led Seattle in 2013 with a .277 batting average and 80 RBIs while hitting 23 home runs, but turned down the club’s $14.1 million qualifying offer and now is exploring options on the free-agent market. Since the right-handed Hart and left-handed Morrison will likely split time between designated hitter and the outfield and the Mariners still project Justin Smoak as their primary first baseman, it’s hard to see how the switch-hitting Morales would fit. Source:Greg Johns at MLB
It works because they got right-handed bat that can play OF. Now they don’t have to panic for Choo. Just negotiate. Ryan Divish at the Seattle Times
Key development:Mariners now unlikely to sign Shin-Soo Choo as a result of Corey Hart and Logan Morrison acquisitions. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
Executive on the Choo market: “I’m sure others want to get in, but Mariners and Rangers are the lead dogs” From: Joel Sherman at the New York Post
I have heard the same as Bob Nightengale. One GM says he was told in talks that Shin-Soo Choo would cost $140 million over 7 years. From: Mark Feinsand at the NewYork Daily News
GM: “Just cannot see Kendrys Morales signing until after the draft.” From: Peter Gammons at Gammons Daily
Cano will wear no. 22. Number 24 belonged to some guy named “Junior.” From: Wallace Matthews at ESPN New York
The Mariners signed Hart, first reported by Jon Heyman at CBS Sports, shortly after word surfaced that the Dodgers had pulled outfielder Matt Kemp off the trade market. The news on Kemp came from Dave Stewart, who represents Kemp, via Jason Stark at ESPN . The Mariners were viewed by many as the leading candidate to acquire Kemp, who has six years remaining on his contract at $128 million. Source: Bob Dutton at The News Tribune
Information keeps coming in about the Hart deal and what the Brewers were offering against what the Mariners did. Brewers beat writer Tom Haudricourt at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweeted that Seattle’s offer was $6 million in base salary plus $7 million in incentives, while Milwaukee offered a $4 million base salary and $2.5 in incentives. Big difference there. In his article on the deal, Haudricourt also pointed out that that Seattle had another advantage in that as an American League team, Hart would miss fewer days as he could DH and thus have a better shot at those incentives. Source: Shannon Drayer at My Northwest
Sources: Diamond Backs‘ No. 1 target is Tanaka. Continue to explore trades, free agents as they await decision on whether Tanaka will be posted. Sources: Astros in serious discussions with Morse. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Comment From retirenutting: What happens to the Cano leftovers out in Seattle: Ackley, Franklin, Smoak — those guys are short-timers now, right? Like a garage sale?
Dave Cameron: Smoak is unaffected. Franklin will be traded, Ackley is an OF for them now, if he’s not moved too.
AL West Commentary
Rangers like Shin-Soo Choo a lot, but aren’t convinced he’s worth his $22 million a year asking price. Nelson Cruz a more viable option. From: Jeff Wilson at the Ft Worth Star-Telegram
I am on record as Choo’s biggest supporter. I’ve never covered a player who worked harder or cared more, and his durability has been superior to that of Ellsbury. For much of his career, Choo has been wildly underrated. But this wild winter — and that Ellsbury contract, in particular — has the effect of over inflating Choo’s free-agent price, at present, particularly given his well-documented struggles against left-handed pitching. So the Rangers would be wise to stand their ground on this one, lest they wind up bidding against the dreaded “mystery team.” If the Rangers lose out on Choo, it would be hard to characterize it as the end of their word. They’ll still entertain realistic expectations going into 2014. Anthony Castrovince at MLB.com
The Angels are not close to any free agent signings. So if Matt Garza is really close, it’s not with Angels. They are interested though. From: Jeff Fletcher at the Orange County Register
The Rangers Jon Daniels said he’s had a few conversations with Adam Katz, Cruz’s agent, and will continue to talk. From: Richard Durrett at ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth
So they said
“He is very well thought of and we really relish him, but I think at the end of the day, my thought is Taijuan Walker is going to be a Seattle Mariner,” he said. Jack Zduriencik via Shannon Drayer at My Northwest
Mariner’s potential off-season targets
Comment From Tabulous: Why are you so down on Kemp after one injury-prone year? Do you think his shoulder problems are life-long? I’m not knocking you — I’m just trying to see your point of view.
Dave Cameron: He was useless in 2010 too. He’s been replacement level in two of last four years, has serious health concerns, and shouldn’t play CF anymore. As a corner OF who might not be a full-time player, he’s going to have to mash to be a star.
One GM acknowledged delay in Tanaka’s posting decision is “definitely” having an impact on the rest of the free agent market. From: Jon Morosi at Fox Sports
Exec on Choo market: “I’m sure others want to get in, but Mariners and Rangers are the lead dogs” From: New York Post
Sorry, I just don’t see David Price and the Mariners as a realistic match. From: Greg Johns at MLB
Comment From Morgan: Are the reports coming out that the Mariners are considering keeping Franklin as a super utility player accurate?
Dave Cameron: M’s are just saying stuff. If they were going to use Franklin as super utility guy, they wouldn’t have given Bloomquist the two year deal.
Comment From retirenutting: As an M’s fan, do you think there’s any upside left in Ackley to be a Neil Walker sort of 2B with better defense?
Dave Cameron: Not that kind of power, but I still think he could turn into a good player.
Comment From Guest: What are the odds Smoak is on the spring training roster for the Mariners?
Dave Cameron: He’s their starting first baseman.
Just saw David Price’s agent, Bo McKinnis, in lobby. Asked if Price would consider extension with Mariners. Said no. McKinnis’ comments do not rule out a Price trade to Mariners. Price under club control two more years. M’s would have him for that long. Asked McKinnis if Price would consider extensions with other teams. Said yes. Asked which clubs. He declined to answer. From: Ken Rosenthal at Fox Sports
Matt Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, says Dodgers informed him today “they have no plans to move him.” More to come at http://ESPN.com . From: Jason Stark at ESPN
Baseball Best Practice
Major League Baseball plans to eliminate home plate collisions, possibly as soon as next season but no later than by 2015. Sources tell ESPN.com’s Buster Olney that there is a strong desire for MLB’s rules committee to fast track the specific rule changes in time for next season. Under the rules changes being discussed, sources told Olney:
Catchers will not be allowed to block home plate. Runners will not be permitted to target the catchers. The question of whether or not the plate was blocked or the runner targeted the catcher will be reviewable, with an immediate remedy available to the umpires. Catchers or runners who violate the new rules will be subject to disciplinary action.
New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, chairman of the rules committee, made the announcement Wednesday at the winter meetings. Alderson said wording of the rules change will be presented to owners for approval at a Jan. 16 meeting in Paradise Valley, Arizona. “The exact language and how exactly the rule will be enforced is subject to final determination,” he said. “We’re going to do fairly extensive review of the types of plays that occur at home plate to determine which we’re going to find acceptable and which are going to be prohibited. If the players’ association were to disapprove, then the implementation of the rule would be suspended for one year, but could be implemented unilaterally after that time,” Alderson said.
The union declined to comment, pending a review of the proposed change. MLB intends to have varied tiers of punishment.
“I think there will be two levels of enforcement,” Alderson said. “One will be with respect to whether the runner is declared safe or out based on conduct. So, for example, intentionally running over the catcher might result in an out call. So I think that the enforcement will be on the field as well as subsequent consequences in the form of fines and suspensions and the like.” Approval of the players’ union is needed for the rules change to be effective for 2014. Information from ESPN.com’s Buster Olney and The Associated Press was used in this report.
Rakuten Golden Eagles President Yozo Tachibana reaffirmed his team’s preference for Masahiro Tanaka to remain in Japan. Tachibana will depart from baseball’s winter meetings Thursday. He said he will meet with Tanaka to discuss his future shortly afterward. “By my thinking, if Tanaka says he will stay, I think the conversations will end there,” Tachibana told Japanese reporters. The Dodgers and Angels are among the teams who are interested in Tanaka.
Tachibana had previously said the Golden Eagles would attempt to persuade Tanaka to remain with them. The Golden Eagles were prepared to auction Tanaka until a change in rules limited the rights fee they could collect to $20 million.
Tachibana stressed the urgency for a quick resolution. A prolonged process could affect the construction of his team, which is the champion of Nippon Professional Baseball. Source: Dylan Hernandez at the LA Times
Comment From Luke Emija: Dave, what do you see Tanaka getting if he gets posted?
Dave Cameron: $125-$150M.
The Giants didn’t snag a left fielder on the third day of the Winter Meetings, but sources said they advanced enough trade and free-agent options to feel confident they can pivot in more than one direction. They’re keeping tabs on Michael Morse, who also is getting strong interest from the Houston Astros. It’s expected that the Astros will make the highest offer, and it’ll be up to Morse to decide whether to take top dollar and play for a team that expects to lose 90-plus games.
Another free-agent name the Giants like is Franklin Gutierrez, who was once a valuable piece for the Seattle Mariners but has had trouble staying healthy the past two seasons. Gutierrez, like Morse, is a right-handed hitter and could fit in a platoon with Gregor Blanco. He’s also a tremendous defensive outfielder. Source: Andrew Baggarly at CSN Bay Area