MLB Rumors: The Loudest Trade Buzz, Free Agency Updates for Every Team

Ely Sussman@@MrElyminatorCorrespondent INovember 26, 2012

MLB Rumors: The Loudest Trade Buzz, Free Agency Updates for Every Team

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    MLB free-agent negotiations and trade talks have taken on a new sense of urgency with the annual winter meetings approaching on Dec. 3-6. Every team is focused on particular players or areas of need.

    Already this offseason, deals have involved former All-Stars Heath Bell, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Chris Young. And Jeremy Guthrie, Torii Hunter and Brandon League are newly-signed to lucrative contracts.

    But the best is yet to come.

    Anticipate who will move where—and when it could become official—with these latest updates.

Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Is Jason Kubel a trade candidate?

    Speaking to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, major league sources wondered if the Arizona Diamondbacks might shop Kubel and retain Justin Upton.

    Many teams aren't deterred by the 30-year-old's contract, which calls for $7.5 million next season and a 2014 club option of equal value. Plus, completing a trade for Upton leaves the D-Backs with "an all-left-handed hitting outfield."

    But Rosenthal questions whether moving Kubel helps Arizona address its needs at shortstop and atop the starting rotation.

     

    Team interested in Jeff Keppinger despite broken leg.

    The Diamondbacks liked the infielder before he fractured his right fibula, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, and they aren't backing off now.

    Keppinger underwent surgery soon after suffering the injury. He expects to be at full strength by spring training.

    Presumably, the veteran utility guy would see action at shortstop and/or third base if he came to the desert.

Atlanta Braves

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    B.J. Upton wants to decide on future this week.

    The Atlanta Braves have gone to great lengths to impress free agent B.J. Upton. A behind-the-scenes tour of Turner Field, steak dinner in downtown Atlanta and meeting with the legendary Bobby Cox were all parts of the recruiting effort.

    Tampa Bay Times staff writer Marc Topkin says we'll soon know whether or not the courtship was successful. Upton plans to decide between the Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and a third "mystery team," tweets ESPN.com's Jim Bowden, with final offers due prior to the winter meetings.

    If signed, he would replace Michael Bourn in center field.

     

    Braves, several other clubs competing for Reed Johnson.

    Atlanta has plenty of competition for the veteran outfielder, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

    Johnson dominates left-handed pitching and went 18-for-43 as a pinch-hitter in 2012.

    Though merely a platoon player, he's poised for a nice payday. Jonny Gomes—a less consistent righty batter—signed for two years and $10 million earlier in November.

     

    Non-tender candidates: Jair Jurrjens and Peter Moylan.

    Cutting ties with a pair of arbitration-eligible pitchers would give the team more money to splurge on the aforementioned free agents.

    This tweet comes from David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal Constitution:

    To clear that up: Non-tender deadline Friday. Jurrjens is #Braves most likely to be NT'd. Moylan also a candidate.

    — David O'Brien (@ajcbraves) November 27, 2012

Baltimore Orioles

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    Free agents will view Baltimore Orioles differently after winning season.

    ESPN's Buster Olney wholeheartedly believes that.

    Winter used to always unfold the same, predictable way in Charm City. The sub-.500 O's would settle for scraps after the top available players committed to play elsewhere.

    Remember last year? Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun recalls that Baltimore pulled off its two biggest transactions—the acquisition of Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom for Jeremy Gurthrie and the signing of Mexican right-hander Miguel Gonzalez—in February and March, respectively.

    But a longtime player representative tells Olney that free agents prioritize winning above all other factors. After amassing 93 victories and a postseason berth in 2012, the Orioles can certainly use that to their advantage.

    Joe Saunders experienced the culture change first hand and Baltimore would like him to return.

Boston Red Sox

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    Mike Napoli spent Nov. 24 with Boston Red Sox management and ownership.

    Owner John Henry, manager John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington represented the team in a meeting with the free agent this past Saturday (via Jen Royle, SB Nation Boston). The two sides discussed numbers, but Boston refrained from making an official contract offer.

    Jim Bowden of ESPN.com tweets that Napoli is "determined" to get a four-year deal.

     

    Boston "open-minded" about re-signing Cody Ross.

    The Jonny Gomes signing won't deter the Red Sox from inking another productive outfielder.

    ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider access required) writes that Ross could retain his job in right field, even though negotiations between he and the team have been recently stagnant. The soon-to-be 32-year-old reportedly seeks a guarantee in the three-year, $25 million range.

     

    Red Sox have ongoing negotiations with Nick Swisher's agents.

    His adequate first-base skills and 2,000 career innings at the position make him especially intriguing. Nobody else in this free-agent class can match his year-to-year consistency at the plate, either.

    Signing Swisher would require a much more lucrative deal, but Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports that the Red Sox have been talking to his agents.

Chicago Cubs

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    Bryan LaHair DFA'ed, sold to Japanese team.

    The first baseman/outfielder is guaranteed $4.7 million over two years as the newest member of the SoftBank Hawks, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors. He can opt out of the deal after 2013 if unhappy in Nippon Professional Baseball.

    In selling him overseas, the Chicago Cubs get $950,000.

     

    Scott Feldman agrees to sign for 2013.

    It didn't take long for Chicago to pump the profits back into the team.

    Feldman pitched parts of eight seasons with the Texas Rangers, but they declined his $9.25 million club option earlier this offseason. He'll contend for a spot in the Cubs' rotation.

    The hope is that he can regain his 2009 form (17-8, 4.08 ERA, 1.28 WHIP in 189.2 IP).

    The one-year deal includes with a $6 million base salary and $1 million in performance-based incentives, tweets Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. Right-hander Scott Baker accepted a similar offer from the Cubs earlier this month.

Chicago White Sox

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    GM Rick Hahn favors external options at third base.

    Brent Morel isn't likely to open up 2013 as the Chicago White Sox's regular third baseman, according to the Chicago Tribune.

    Back pain and dietary abnormalities sidelined him for much of last season. When activated again for a minor league rehab assignment, the 25-year-old couldn't regain his pre-injury form.

    Hahn prefers to keep Dayan Viciedo in left field and insists that free agent Kevin Youkilis is a candidate to start at the hot corner.

     

    MLB teams inquiring about Chicago's pitching surplus.

    "We've been asked a lot about our starters and our bullpen guys," Hahn tells the Tribune.

    Though he has no intention to move a proven arm, the first-year general manager will listen to all trade proposals.

Cincinnati Reds

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    Jonathan Broxton, Cincinnati Reds converge on multi-year deal.

    Cincinnati was a major beneficiary of Broxton's bounce-back year (4-5, 2.48 ERA, 1.26 WHIP in 58.0 IP). He provided reliable late-inning relief in August and September as the team pulled away from its NL Central competition.

    Sources of CBS Sports baseball insider Jon Heyman say the potential closer has agreed to a contract that spans at least three years.

    Committing to Broxton means Aroldis Chapman will be transformed into a starting pitcher.

     

    Scott Rolen undecided about 2013.

    The Reds are deep enough to vy for a World Series title, with or without Rolen.

    The franchise must prepare for both scenarios while the 38-year-old contemplates his future. Cincy wants the third baseman back on its roster, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reports, but he simply isn't ready to decide.

    Todd Frazier would presumably become an everyday player in the event that Rolen retires.

Cleveland Indians

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    Cleveland Indians listening to offers for Asdrubal Cabrera.

    The Tribe is eons from contention with a shaky pitching staff, underwhelming lineup and limited payroll.

    Time to start fresh.

    Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports learns that Cleveland is shopping its shortstop at an exorbitant price tag. He notes that mediocrity at the position across Major League Baseball allows the club to do so.

     

    Shin-Soo Choo also available.

    He's a Scott Boras client looking to maximize his earnings as a free agent next winter. Not surprisingly, Choo has repeatedly declined to discuss a contract extension with the Indians.

    Teams interested in his talent presume that he'll be a one-year rental, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider access required).

Colorado Rockies

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    Asking price for Dexter Fowler also "absurd."

    Jeff Passan examined center field, too, where buyers have an abundance of options.

    Still, because so many teams seek upgrades, the Colorado Rockies think Fowler can command a lot in return following an effective season.

Detroit Tigers

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    Detroit Tigers looking for alternatives to Jhonny Peralta.

    The team's infield had a laughable lack of defensive range in 2012. Because Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are entrenched at their corner positions, Detroit's only means of changing that is messing with the middle men.

    Peralta is owed a reasonable $6 million salary next summer, but the Tigers are "willing to trade him if they can find a more athletic shortstop" (via Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports). He posted an uncharacteristically low 85 OPS+ last season.

     

    They could move Rick Porcello to make room for Anibal Sanchez.

    Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander comprise three-fifths of the starting rotation. Detroit believes Drew Smyly can join them next summer.

    That leaves on opening for either Rick Porcello or Anibal Sanchez.

    Dave Cameron of FanGraphs writes that the former is dependent on ground balls his teammates will never get to (ESPN Insider access required). A change of scenery should lead to better results.

    Besides, the Tigers need every cent possible to match Sanchez's six-year, $90 million asking price. A major league executive calls the request "crazy," but expects somebody to step up (via Jeff Passan, Yahoo! Sports).

Houston Astros

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    Lance Berkman might return to Houston Astros at hometown discount.

    "I want to be compensated like a guy who is a major league three-hole hitter," Berkman tells Mark Berman of FOX 26 Sports Houston. "Obviously," he adds, "I would be willing to take a little bit less because it's my hometown."

    He spoke with team owner Jim Crane at a "get-acquainted" meeting earlier this month.

    Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays have mild interest in the veteran slugger.

Kansas City Royals

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    Kansas City Royals committed to acquire more starting pitching.

    Alcides Escobar and Salvador Perez are the only "near-untradeable" K.C. players as the Royals work to revamp their starting rotation, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports. However, Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star stresses that the team would rather move prospects for a quality arm.

    Still, the front office is at least "willing to listen" about Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, and even power-hitting prospect Wil Myers.

Los Angeles Angels

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    Ryan Madson ready to sign one-year deal with Los Angeles Angels.

    The Angels need the Scott Boras client to bolster their bullpen and took advantage of the fact that Madson is a California native. The 32-year-old was born in Long Beach and raised in nearby Moreno County.

    Incumbent closer Ernesto Frieri will likely move to a setup role to accommodate him, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

    Madson never threw a pitch in 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, but expects to handle the ninth inning when healthy again. He'll officially get the gig if his pending physical comes back clean.

Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Los Angeles Dodgers hold initial meeting with Ryu Hyun-jin.

    The Dodgers won 30 days of exclusive negotiating with the Korean southpaw through the posting system. Their bid was north of $25.7 million.

    Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reminds us that the window is already more than halfway closed, set to expire on Dec. 10.

    Hyun-jin is a seven-time Korea Baseball Organization All-Star represented by Scott Boras. The über agent likens him to Mark Buehrle in terms of both body type and repertoire.

Miami Marlins

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    Virtually everybody inquiring about Giancarlo Stanton.

    A major league source says that the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies and many other MLB teams have contacted the Miami Marlins about their 23-year-old superstar (via Nick Cafardo, The Boston Globe).

    The Fish affirmed their commitment to rebuilding by completing a recent blockbuster with the Toronto Blue Jays. They could receive a similar boatload of top prospects in any trade involving Stanton.

    He contributed 37 HR and 86 RBI last summer despite undergoing midseason knee surgery. The outfielder isn't even eligible for arbitration until the 2013-14 offseason.

Milwaukee Brewers

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    Are the Milwaukee Brewers a sleeper for Michael Bourn?

    David Schoenfield of ESPN.com thinks so.

    Milwaukee's pitching staff is a weakness and Schoenfield suggests that the team could improve it via trade. The Brewers could peddle Carlos Gomez to the Tampa Bay Rays, for example, and set aside just enough money to make Bourn a legitimate offer.

Minnesota Twins

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    "Growing sense" that Brett Myers is a good fit.

    Myers came out of the bullpen for the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox last season, but proved to be a durable starter as recently as 2011.

    Insiders with the Minnesota Twins believe he'll be wooed to join the team's pitching staff. "He could be reasonably priced and probably would embrace the chance to become a rotation leader, pitching at spacious Target Field," writes Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune.

    Minnesota lost Scott Baker to free agency earlier this month, meaning that only Scott Diamond is guaranteed a starting job in 2013.

New York Mets

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    R.A. Dickey negotiations progressing...slowly.

    Anthony McCarron of the Daily News writes that the knuckleballer aims to match Jake Peavy. The Chicago White Sox extended him through 2014 for $29 million with a vesting option for 2015.

    The New York Mets and Dickey's camp have exchanged offers, but talks will inevitably continue into December.

    The 38-year-old will not discuss anything once the regular season begins.

     

    David Wright offered seven-year extension.

    New York's franchise player had a six-year, $100 million offer to consider on Monday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports.

    Fellow All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria agreed to an identical extension that same day, while Ryan Zimmerman accepted the same from the Washington Nationals this past summer.

    But Wright now has a more lucrative proposal on the table (via Andy Martino, Daily News).

New York Yankees

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    Pettitte announces return, new contract being finalized.

    It won't be a repeat of 2012, when the accomplished left-hander came out of retirement in mid-March to bolster the New York Yankees rotation. Pettitte already has his mind made up.

    After earning just $2.5 million, ESPN's Buster Olney and Joel Sherman of the New York Post report he'll crack eight figures on a new agreement (about $11 million).

    An ankle injury limited Pettitte to 14 starts last year (regular season and postseason combined).

     

    Ichiro Suzuki eager to re-sign.

    Suzuki is another aging-but-awesome player who could return in 2013.

    Agent Tony Attanasio acknowledges that "his preference is to stay" after three enjoyable and productive months in the Bronx (via George A. King III, New York Post). He explains that the Yankees will deal with their pitching staff—Pettitte and Mariano Rivera—before turning their attention to his client.

    The future Hall of Famer batted .322/.340/.454 with five home runs and 14 stolen bases once New York acquired him from the Seattle Mariners. He also did his best to carry the offense in October with a .275 batting average and five runs batted in.

     

    Yankees have "renewed" interest in Jeff Keppinger.

    Despite denial from GM Brian Cashman, "others in the industry" tell FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal that signing Keppinger would mean regular DH duty for Alex Rodriguez.

    The utility infielder is coming off a stellar year where he finished with a .325/.367/.439 triple-slash line and only 31 strikeouts in 418 plate appearances. In addition, he could occasionally spell Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter at second base and shortstop, respectively.

Oakland Athletics

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    Oakland Athletics hesitant to trade young pitching.

    Don't expect the A's to get serious about Asdrubal Cabrera, Yunel Escobar or Jed Lowrie, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider access required). All those shortstops are being shopped for young starting pitching, which GM Billy Beane is generally "loathe to trade."

    Meanwhile, Stephen Drew spent time in Oakland last season and remains unsigned as a free agent. With no hyped successor coming through the pipeline, the Athletics can promise him more playing time—in 2013 and beyond—than suitors like the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers.

Philadelphia Phillies

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    Josh Hamilton reportedly no longer an option.

    GM Ruben Amaro Jr. won't admit it, but agents to recently speak with the Philadelphia Phillies say the high-risk, high-reward slugger isn't on their wish list anymore (via ESPN.com's Jayson Stark).

    Earlier this offseason, the franchise seemed open to signing Hamilton to a three-year deal with no restriction on the average annual value.

    The Phillies are among the favorites to lock up B.J. Upton. Even if that falls through, they expect to pursue other free-agent outfielders.

Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Pittsburgh Pirates are serious suitors for Russell Martin.

    The soon-to-be 30-year-old represents an all-around improvement over Rod Barajas, last season's primary backstop. Understandably, Martin comes at a greater expense.

    Jon Heyman reports that the New York Yankees are involved and that he prefers to re-sign with them.

    The Pirates will need to out-bid an American League juggernaut, but sources say they might offer three years at close to $25 million. A fourth year would seal the deal.

     

    Lots of competition for Jason Grilli.

    Despite his age (36) and past struggles with strike-throwing, Grilli is reportedly getting calls from eight MLB teams. Player-turned-agent Garry Sheffield tells Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe that the reliever is in no hurry to commit.

    The cash-strapped Bucs are always longshots to sign a popular free agent. Unless Sheffield is exaggerating the interest, Pittsburgh has almost certainly lost its eighth-inning reliever.

San Diego Padres

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    Dan Haren is the top pitching target.

    Bill Center of U-T San Diego confirms that the right-hander has "an excellent working relationship" with San Diego Padres GM Josh Byrnes from their time together in Arizona. Haren is originally from southern California, which gives the Padres somewhat of a recruiting edge.

    They certainly have the need for an established starter following a summer where so many of their rotation candidates dealt with serious injuries.

     

    Daisuke Matsuzaka expresses interest.

    Another potential bounce-back candidate is reaching out to the Padres, Center reports.

    Matsuzaka labored throughout the 2012 season and wants a fresh start at age 32. "It seems he liked the city and the ballpark when he pitched at Petco Park in the first World Baseball Classic."

    He also won his only MLB start at Petco in 2007 (6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 9 SO).

    In six seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Matsuzaka went 50-37 with a 4.52 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. He was worth 8.3 WAR to the team, but just -0.7 WAR since 2009.

San Francisco Giants

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    San Francisco Giants optimistic about Marco Scutaro.

    In his ESPN Insider column, Buster Olney writes that the defending world champs believe they can "work something out" with their beloved second baseman.

    Barely a month into his Bay Area stint, Scutaro said he loved the competitive atmosphere.

    Of course, he holds a lot of bargaining power in this thin free-agent class. Scutaro batted a gaudy .362/.385/.473 with the Giants and earned NLCS MVP honors.

     

    Angel Pagan less certain to return.

    More from Olney, who explains that Pagan seeks more guaranteed years than San Francisco is comfortable offering.

    He is also somewhat of a regression candidate after mashing 61 extra-base hits last season.

Seattle Mariners

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    Seattle Mariners pursuing Mike Napoli.

    Every season since 2009, Seattle has finished with the fewest runs scored among American League teams. Adding a powerful, middle-of-the-order bat would certainly help end that streak.

    The catcher/first baseman seeks a four-year deal and ESPN.com's Jim Bowden tweets that the M's "might be willing" to guarantee him one. Napoli held a face-to-face meeting with Mariners executives late last week.

    But in a more recent update, Bowden implies that Seattle is on the outside looking in:

    Mike Napoli determined to get 4th year...waiting on Red Sox or Rangers to blink (Mariners still in it)

    — JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) November 25, 2012

St. Louis Cardinals

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    Rafael Furcal healthy, shortstop no longer a team need.

    St. Louis Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak says the veteran shortstop will be ready for spring training. An MRI confirmed that Furcal's elbow ligament had completely healed and would not require Tommy John surgery, tweets Inside Pitch co-host Jim Bowden.

    He batted .264/.325/.346 in his age-35 season before succumbing to injury.

     

    Cardinals still looking for left-handed reliever.

    Mozeliak desperately wants to pair an established southpaw with Marc Rzepczynski, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He's even open to bringing in reinforcements on a multi-year deal.

    Goold points out that Dennys Reyes (2010-11) is the only left-handed bullpen arm to get such job security since Mozeliak started calling the shots.

    Sean Burnett and J.P. Howell might draw interest from St. Louis this winter.

Tampa Bay Rays

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    Jeremy Hellickson is most likely starting pitcher to go.

    Acquiring an accomplished, pre-arbitration eligible player from the Tampa Bay Rays is typically like pulling teeth.

    Hellickson is an exception, however, because it seems his results and actual skill don't correlate. Statistical analysts point to his "lucky" BABIP, or the sizable gap between his career ERA and FIP.

    Tampa Bay can sell high on him before reality bites.

Texas Rangers

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    Texas Rangers waiting for Justin Upton demands to drop.

    Texas is an ideal trade partner for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are trying to unload their right fielder. Few other teams with the willingness to add Upton to their payroll have a high-ceiling shortstop and pitcher to offer in return.

    Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the Rangers still covet the 25-year-old, but will wait until the Snakes "back off on their demands for either shortstop Elvis Andrus or infielder Jurickson Profar."

     

    Mike Napoli coming to town on Wednesday.

    Along with the Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners, Napoli's former team is considered a finalist for his services. Arlington will be the last stop on his pre-winter meetings recruiting trip.

    The free-agent slugger launched 54 home runs with a .275/.379/.552 triple-slash line while in Texas from 2011-2012.

Toronto Blue Jays

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    Josh Johnson's agent "receptive to talking" about contract extension.

    Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was so determined to acquire Johnson that he agreed to take on several other back-loaded contracts and surrender promising prospects. Obviously, he views the fireballer as much more than a one-year rental.

    Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star spoke with Matt Sosnick—Johnson's representative— who would be glad if the 28-year-old accepted a long-term deal with the Jays. Sosnick once owned a Toronto nightclub and "thinks highly of the city and the organization."

    Johnson is owed $13.75 million in 2013, the final season of his existing contract.

    Starters Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero are all signed through at least 2014.

Washington Nationals

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    Adam LaRoche wants at least three years guaranteed.

    MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports that the first baseman is keeping his family in mind throughout negotiations. Specifically, he prefers to sign a lengthy deal so that they can get comfortable in one location.

    GM Mike Rizzo has been in constant contact with LaRoche's representative, but the slow-moving process doesn't seem close to a resolution.