MLB Rumors: The Loudest Trade Buzz, Free Agency Updates for Every Team
While crazy trades and second-tier free agent signings have gone down so far in the 2012 edition of the Hot Stove League, the bulk of the action has yet to come.
Teams are laying the groundwork, biding their time and getting their houses in order for the Winter Meetings that get underway on Dec. 3 in Nashville, Tenn.
That doesn't mean that nothing's going to happen between then and now, for if we've learned anything, it's to expect the unexpected at any time.
Here are the latest hot rumors circulating around your favorite team as we get ready to stuff our faces full of turkey and give thanks for all we have later this week.
Baltimore Orioles: Looking for Help at Multiple Positions
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Orioles telling teams they're priority in the trade market is for 1B, DH & LF. Duquette said there are several clubs that match up with them
— Brittany Ghiroli
To that end, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have significant interest in outfielder/designated hitter Jonny Gomes:
#Orioles still have interest in OF/DH Jonny Gomes, but sticking point will be contract length. Gomes seeking multiple-year deal. O's aren't.— Eduardo A. Encina (@EddieInTheYard) November 14, 2012
Gomes, who celebrates his 32nd birthday on Wednesday, spent 2012 with the Oakland A's, posting a .262/.377/.491 slash line with 18 home runs and 47 RBI in 333 plate appearances.
A right-handed bat, his numbers were significantly better against left-handed pitching than right-handers, making him an ideal platoon candidate.
Boston Red Sox: So Many Catchers, so Little Playing Time
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the signing of David Ross to a two-year, $6.2 million deal doesn't necessarily mean that the Red Sox will move incumbent catchers Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway.
However, Cafardo goes on to note that the Red Sox brought Ross on board with the idea that he would serve as a mentor for the 25-year-old Lavarnway, meaning that Saltalamacchia would be the odd man out in the equation.
That being said, Cafardo doesn't see Boston giving Salty away for free, and in fact says unless the team got what it deemed to be a good offer, they'd hold onto all three catchers.
New York Yankees: Bombers Want Scott Hairston to Change Boroughs
Dan Martin of the New York Post notes that the New York Yankees have already spoken with free-agent outfielder Scott Hairston, who spent 2012 with the New York Mets.
Hairston, 32, is coming off the most productive season of his nine-year MLB career, in which he hit .263 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI in 134 games.
Were he to join the Yankees, he'd likely serve as part of a platoon in the corner outfield spots and as a right-handed bat with power off of the bench.
Also, Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles reports that Hiroki Kuroda prefers to pitch in Southern California next season so that he can be closer to his two daughters, who are attending elementary school.
That's not good news for the Yankees, who can offer Kuroda as much money as it takes but can't compete when geography comes into play.
Tampa Bay Rays: Pitching for Sale
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Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald confirms rumors we've been hearing for weeks that the Tampa Bay Rays are indeed listening to offers for starting pitchers James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson and Matt Moore in an attempt to add a significant bat to the middle of their lineup.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal takes things one step further, saying that the Rays have serious interest in Kansas City Royals outfield prospect Wil Myers, though he notes that the Royals aren't sure if they want to move him, even in exchange for a young, front-of-the-rotation arm like Hellickson or Moore.
Toronto Blue Jays: Backstop Logjam
Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that the Toronto Blue Jays, who shocked the baseball world with their 12-player trade with the Miami Marlins earlier this month, aren't done making shockwaves.
According to Silverman, the Blue Jays are shopping their three catchers: John Buck, part of the Marlins trade; J.P. Arencibia, or prospect Travis d'Arnaud, long thought to be one of the untouchables in the Blue Jays' system.
Of the three, Arencibia and d'Arnaud are the two being pushed more than Buck, according to Silverman.
Chicago White Sox: Adios, A.J.?
According to Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com, the Chicago White Sox are going to part ways with longtime catcher A.J. Pierzynski this winter.
Hayes notes that the White Sox have limited payroll room and that 27-year-old Tyler Flowers is capable of taking over as Chicago's primary backstop.
Flowers, with a total of 108 games under his belt, is an unproven commodity who has yet to prove that he can hit major league pitching, with a career batting line of .205/.307/.388.
This is pure speculation on my part, but with the Red Sox and Blue Jays both shopping catchers—and with both of those teams in need of starting pitching—perhaps a deal can be struck involving, say, John Danks in exchange for either Jarrod Saltalamacchia or J.P. Arencibia?
Cleveland Indians: A Tito and Youk Reunion in the Works?
The Indians are looking at Kevin Youkilis as an option at first base, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
Youkilis is an outstanding defensive first baseman, with a career fielding percentage of .997, and while he didn't spend much time at the position in 2012, logging only 125.1 innings of work between the Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox, he turned nine double plays and did not commit an error.
Not only does it make sense for the Indians on the field, but it makes sense in the clubhouse as well, considering that Youkilis was one of the clubhouse leaders in Boston while new Indians manager Terry Francona was running the show in Beantown.
For any of this to happen, of course, notorious cheapskate owner Larry Dolan needs to approve any scenario where GM Chris Antonetti actually spends money.
With Dolan aiming to keep payroll around the same $65 million the Tribe spent in 2012, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, there's no reason for optimism that adding Youkilis—or any significant free agent—will be signing in Cleveland this winter.
Detroit Tigers: Looking for a Righty for Left
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Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski opened up to MLB.com's Jason Beck about the Tigers' plans for the outfield after signing Torii Hunter to play right field:
We have our own internal debates if [Andy] Dirks is an everyday player. He hit right-handed pitching very well last year, which is the majority of pitching you face. However, we’re also in a spot with the young guys, [Nick] Castellanos and [Avisail] Garcia, you don’t want them to come in here and play 40 games vs. left-handed pitching.
So, as we’ve told both of those guys how we would approach something like that, ‘Hey, it’s up to you. If you win the job in spring training, go win it, but you’re going to have to get a lot of playing time. So where does that leave us if they don’t? Well, we’ll just wait to see what happens as time goes on there, see if we add somebody.
My instinct is that we would add somebody that could hit from the right-hand side that, if those guys don’t make it, could go out there and play with Dirks. But we’ll wait and see.
There aren't as many inexpensive right-handed veteran options as you'd expect on the open market to fill in with Dirks.
Jason Bay, Reed Johnson, Andruw Jones and Ryan Ludwick are some of the names who could be under consideration.
Kansas City Royals: Willing to Deal Offense for Pitching
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According to the Boston Herald's Mike Silverman, the Kansas City Royals are listening to offers on all of their young bats: first baseman Eric Hosmer, third baseman Mike Moustakas, left fielder Alex Gordon, 1B/DH Billy Butler and even highly-touted outfield prospect Wil Myers in an attempt to acquire impact starting pitching.
There's a definite market for all of those players, but according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Royals' GM Dayton Moore really isn't wild about the idea of moving his young core.
However, in the wake of the Toronto Blue Jays moving a chunk of their farm system in an attempt to win now, Rosenthal believes that Moore is feeling pressure to get the Royals back into contention this season, abandoning his "slow and steady" rebuilding approach in exchange for a quick fix.
Minnesota Twins: Payroll Constraints Will Limit Twins This Winter
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Twins GM Terry Ryan knows that his team desperately needs starting pitching, something he reiterated to John Shipley of the Pioneer Press:
"Anybody who is a starting pitcher that we've identified as having some ability, you can assume we've touched base with them."
Shipley notes that while the Twins' wish list of pitching runs the gamut, from Zack Greinke to Brandon McCarthy to Joe Saunders—and everyone in between—that with $74 million already committed to the 2013 payroll, the team realistically has about $25 million to play with this winter.
That will certainly limit the number—and quality—of the pitching that they realistically have a shot at bringing to Minnesota.
Houston Astros: Is a Reunion in the Works?
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Houston Astros owner Jim Crane tells Mark Berman of Fox 26 Sports in Houston that he's already met with former Astros slugger Lance Berkman about a possible reunion:
We had a chat in my office. He was just seeing where we were at. He expressed some interest in maybe working a deal out.
We haven't gotten to that (discuss contract). I think his knee is still up in the air. So we got to get that all worked out. It was a get-acquainted meeting, really.
Berkman, 36, was limited to only 32 games for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012 due to knee problems, but with the Astros moving to the AL West this season, he could be a fit as the team's primary designated hitter.
Not only could Berkman help the team on the field, but having spent the first 12 years of his career in Houston, he could help the team draw at the box office as well.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Mixed News on the Pitching Front
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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times lists the Angels as one team with serious interest in 29-year-old left-handed reliever J.P. Howell.
Howell appeared in 55 games for the Rays in 2012, pitching to a 3.04 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, striking out 42 batters in 50 innings of work.
The Angels are also in the mix for 32-year-old Japanese closer Kyuki Fujikawa, according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News. A power pitcher with a mid-90s mph fastball, Fujikawa has averaged nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings of work over his career in Japan.
But all is not well on the Zack Greinke front, as the Boston Herald's Mike Silverman says that the Angels are behind both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers in their pursuit of the 29-year-old ace.
Oakland A's: Still Searching for an Answer at Short
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ESPN's Buster Olney notes that while the Oakland A's would like to bring Stephen Drew back to play shortstop, they are keeping their options open and aren't in any rush to get a deal done with the 29-year-old free agent.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that 30-year-old Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima is an option for Oakland.
Nakajima, who couldn't work out a deal with the New York Yankees last season and is now a free agent, has posted a .310/.381/.474 over the past six seasons in Japan, averaging 17 home runs a year.
Seattle Mariners: Switching Gears on Offense
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Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik tells MLB.com's Greg Johns that contrary to popular opinion, Josh Hamilton isn't a realistic target for the Mariners this winter.
(Hamilton) might surpass where we're going to be. You have to be realistic about how you're going to allocate your dollars. Some of these things drag out and if you're sitting there waiting on one chip, other chips in front of you might go away and you end up with nothing.
But that doesn't mean that the Mariners are content to go into 2013 with the same issues on offense that have plagued the team for years.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal says that the Mariners covet Kansas City 1B/DH Billy Butler, and that with the Mariners' plethora of young pitching coming up through the system, there's an obvious fit between the two teams.
Texas Rangers: Outfield Is a Priority
There has been no movement on the Josh Hamilton front, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Rangers GM Jon Daniels met with Hamilton's agent, MIchael Moye, but told Wilson that nothing much has changed:
Both sides still feel the same way, and we'll continue to talk. There's no formal timeline. I've tried to give them a little bit of an idea of what we're looking at this winter, and Mike has given us an idea of where they're at in the process.
The Rangers continue to have interest in Arizona's Justin Upton via trade and in Nick Swisher as a free agent, according to Wilson.
Atlanta Braves: Switching Gears in Center Field
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There might be a center fielder with a name that starts with the letter "B" in Atlanta next season, but it's more likely to be B.J. Upton than incumbent Michael Bourn, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
According to Bowman, both GM Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez met with Upton at Turner Field last week, and the team prefers Upton, who is two years younger, to Bourn, given that both are expected to land five-year contracts for roughly the same amount of money.
Upton would allow the Braves to keep an excellent defender in center field, but Upton cannot replace Bourn atop the Braves lineup, meaning that the team would still be in need of a leadoff hitter.
Miami Marlins: Ricky Nolasco Won't Be Traded...
Marlins president David Samson went on the Dan LeBetard Show on 790 AM in an attempt to do some damage control from the latest edition of the Marlins' fire sale, only to be asked whether Ricky Nolasco would be a Marlin in 2013 (h/t Palm Beach Post):
“Yes. Yes, he will. I guess I would say if the phone rings and something crazy happens, but I would expect him to be here.’
If you believe a word that comes out of the Marlins organization at this point, well, I don't know what to tell you.
The team has proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted and they'll tell fans whatever they need to in order to get what they want—like a new stadium.
New York Mets: How Much Is a Cy Young Award Worth?
The Mets are about to find out exactly how much it takes to ink the latest Cy Young Award winner to a contract extension.
Andy Martino of the New York Daily News says that the team knows that R.A. Dickey will take a two-year extension, but that they already made him one offer at two years and that hasn't resulted in an agreement:
Mets sources: team made 2 year offer to Dickey approx 2 weeks ago, sides have been negotiating $. As we've reported, Mets know he'll take 2— Andy Martino (@SurfingTheMets) November 17, 2012
1 more thing about Dickey. It has become clear in negotiations that he will sign for a deal comparable to, & likely less than, Peavy's 2/29— Andy Martino (@SurfingTheMets) November 17, 2012
ESPN's Buster Olney says that Dickey wants at least eight figures a season:
Sources: R.A. Dickey wants more than $10 million a year, if he were to agree to a two-year extension for 2014-2015.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 17, 2012
Mets' GM Sandy Alderson tells Newsday's Marc Carig that the team needs to get going on Dickey (and David Wright) sooner rather than later: "Between Thanksgiving and the winter meetings, the winter meetings themselves, we need to have a little more clarity than we have now, certainly,"
Philadelphia Phillies: Pop the Prority in Philly
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Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer says that the Phillies are making it a point to add power to the middle of their lineup this winter, and with the Phillies searching for outfield help, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to put the pieces together.
Josh Hamilton fits that description—and as ESPN's Buster Olney notes, the idea that Hamilton lands in Philadelphia isn't as far-fetched as we might think:
The Phillies are OK with the high annual salary that Josh Hamilton might command, but they have concerns about the length of the deal.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 12, 2012
There are ways around the length of a deal—team options, vesting options, mutual options—so if money isn't an issue and the Phillies really want to add another big bopper to the middle of their lineup, Hamilton is definitely in play.
Washington Nationals: Who's on First?
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Per Bill Ladson of MLB.com, negotiations between the Washington Nationals and their free-agent first baseman, Adam LaRoche, are moving at a snail's pace.
Said Nats' GM Mike Rizzo: "We've been in contact [with his representative]. We've touched base a couple times since the season ended. We continue to talk and we'll see where it leads us."
It's not as if the Nationals don't have options should they fail to come to terms on a new deal with LaRoche—Michael Morse could be moved to the position, or the Nationals could opt to sign an inexpensive veteran on a one-year deal and deal with the position again next winter.
Chicago Cubs: Kyuji Fujikawa Could Be Closing in Chicago
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The Cubs are one of a handful of teams who have met with 32-year-old Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa, according to Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News.
A power pitcher who throws in the mid-90s and averages nearly 12 strikeouts per nine innings of work, Fujikawa went 2-2 with a 1.32 ERA and 24 saves in just over 47 innings of work with the Hanshin Tigers in 2012.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Fujikawa is seeking a multi-year deal.
Cincinnati Reds: Payroll Going Down?
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If you've been wondering why things have been pretty quiet around the Reds so far this winter, this might explain why.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, an unnamed team source says that the team's 2013 payroll isn't likely to reach $90 million—which as Fay breaks down, makes it virtually impossible for the Reds to add pieces through free agency:
• They have more than $71 million committed to salaries in 2013 already.
• They have seven players eligible for arbitration.
• Last year’s payroll was $87 million. $71 million plus 7 arb-eligible equals $85 million. That’s my conservative guess.
If the payroll isn't going to reach $90 million in 2013, that leaves less than $5 million for the Reds to add a closer, re-sign Ryan Ludwick, or do whatever else it is that they'd like to do this winter.
Milwaukee Brewers: Josh Hamilton Still Doesn't Make Much Sense
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This one just doesn't want to go away, no matter how little sense it makes: so let's re-visit what we know as far as Josh Hamilton to the Brewers goes.
Thanks to Sports Illustrated, we know what Hamilton wants:
Report: Josh Hamilton wants 7 years, $175 million on.si.com/YElLDV— SI MLB (@si_mlb) November 4, 2012
Thanks to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, we know that money is in fact an issue for the Brewers:
no surprise, $ an issue for milw. asked if they're a long shot for hamilton, melvin said "very." hope may be market, narron— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 6, 2012
They weren't willing to go much above $100 million for Zack Greinke, and the Brewers need pitching far more than they need another slugger in the middle of their lineup.
It just doesn't make any sense that they'd spend that kind of money on someone who would be more of a luxury than a necessity.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Looking for Inexpensive Starting Pitching
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Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune says that the Pirates are in the market for multiple starting pitchers, saying that only A.J. Burnett, Wandy Rodriguez are locks to be part of their 2013 rotation while James McDonald, who had an All-Star caliber first half and an absolutely awful second half, is in the plans as well.
Of the free agent options that Biertempfel mentioned the Pirates having interest in, 28-year-old right-hander Carlos Villanueva is by far the most intriguing.
He split time between the Blue Jays rotation and bullpen last season, pitching to a 4.16 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 125 innings of work, but he fanned 122 batters and walked only 46.
Villanueva has good stuff and a chance to start every fifth day without fear of being bumped after one rocky start could be all he needs to finally live up to the potential that made him a highly-touted prospect with the Brewers years ago.
St. Louis Cardinals: Who's the Starting Shortstop?
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With the Cleveland Indians listening to trade offers for 27-year-old shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch believes that the Cardinals should get in on the action and make a move to bring him on board.
Cabrera made his second consecutive All-Star appearance in 2012, finishing the year with a .270/.338/.423 batting line to go along with 16 home runs, 68 RBI, 70 runs scored while going 9-for-13 on stolen base attempts.
He is under team control through the 2014 season, with salaries of $6.5 million in 2013, $10 million in 2014, so he wouldn't be breaking the bank for the Cardinals to add him to their payroll.
Arizona Diamondbacks: The Never-Ending Saga of Justin Upton
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Since the end of the season, we've heard that Justin Upton was back on the block.
Then he was as good as gone.
Now, according to Diamondbacks' owner Ken Kendrick—via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman—Upton is staying put: "I think there's a very high likelihood Justin will be in our starting outfield when we start the new season."
Perhaps one day the Diamondbacks will figure out what they want to do with their underachieving outfielder, but it certainly seems like we are in for another few months of back-and-forth in Arizona regarding his future.
Colorado Rockies: Rockies Still Seeking Pitchers, Won't Trade CarGo or Tulo
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According to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, the fact that the duo can carry a team with their bats in Coors Field isn't the only reason that the Rockies wouldn't consider trading either one:
The pitchers who appeal to the Rockies are affordable strike throwers with high groundball rates, and not even players as good as Tulowitzki and Gonzalez would bring back enough arms who fit that narrow description.
It's an amazing statement, but an accurate one. Not even trading an All-Star can bring the Rockies the pitching that they need to get back to respectability and contend for the NL West.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Favorites for Zack Greinke and Hiroki Kuroda?
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Mike Silverman of the Boston Herald cites an unnamed MLB executive as saying that the Los Angeles Dodgers are the clear favorites to land 29-year-old right-hander Zack Greinke this winter.
Adding Greinke to the top of their rotation alongside Clayton Kershaw would give the Dodgers an ace from either side of the mound and greatly improve their chances of landing a playoff spot in 2013.
Along those same lines, Hiroki Kuroda has told friends that he prefers to pitch in southern California next season to be close to his daughters, who are both in elementary school, according to ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon.
Given his history with the Dodgers, they'd appear to be the favorite to land the 37-year-old right-hander as well.
Were they able to land both veterans, the Dodgers 2013 rotation would look like this:
No.1: Clayton Kershaw
No. 2: Zack Greinke
No. 3: Hiroki Kuroda
No. 4: Josh Beckett
No. 5: Aaron Harang/Chris Capuano
Not too shabby.
San Diego Padres: Dan Haren to Lead Padres Rotation in 2013?
Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune did something that not many people have been able to do—he got Padres GM Josh Byrnes to name one of the players that comprises the team's wish list this winter:
"Attractive and realistic,” said Byrnes of his list. “Guys we want and think we can get. We went through a list of 40 pitchers to come up with eight to 10 we’re really trying to get.”
When it appeared Haren was headed to the Cubs, Byrnes Friday afternoon admitted Haren was among the “eight to 10” starting pitchers the Padres were very interested in.
Dan Haren, a free agent after the Angels declined his $15.5 million option for 2013, would give the Padres a legitimate front-of-the-rotation starter, something they sorely need.
While he had a down year in 2012, going 10-12 with a 4.33 ERA, the 32-year-old finished seventh in the 2011 AL Cy Young award voting, going 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA and 192 strikeouts over 238 innings of work.
San Francisco Giants: Re-Signing Angel Pagan Remains Focus of Team's Attention
CSN BayArea's Andrew Baggerly says that the reigning World Champions are focused on re-signing Angel Pagan this winter—and that they had no interest whatsoever in a reunion with Melky Cabrera, who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Pagan, 31, hit .288 with an NL-leading 15 triples while playing solid defense for the Giants in center field in 2012, his first season with the club.