MLB Winter Meetings 2012: Recapping Latest Trades, Free-Agent Signings, Rumors
Ever since the last out of the World Series was recorded, Major League Baseball fans have been eagerly anticipating the start of the winter meetings.
Not only is this the event where most of the top free agents will sign, either with their current team or somewhere new, but this might be one of the most unpredictable offseasons that we have seen in a long, long time.
In free agency, everything starts with Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton. Greinke is the only No. 1 starting pitcher on the open market this offseason. He is just 29 years old and has proven himself to be one of the most durable and effective pitchers in the game over the last five years, throwing at least 200 innings four times since the start of 2008.
Hamilton is the most fascinating free agent in recent memory. He just hit 43 home runs and drove in 128 runs while playing in 148 games. But he is also 31 years old, scuffled badly in the second half of the season and has never been a durable player in the field.
Those are just two of the huge stories in free agency we will be paying close attention to. There are also trade rumors aplenty that will be flying out of Nashville this week. Rumors are what makes these three days so special and intriguing, so pay close attention to what is being said.
We are going to track all the latest news, rumors, rumblings and grumblings to come out of the 2012 winter meetings as it becomes available.
Zack Greinke Buzz
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UPDATE: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:05 p.m. ET
Not so fast on the Dodgers.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Los Angeles has cooled its interest on the highly sought-after free agent:
Sources: Greinke talks reaching critical stage. #Dodgers considering pulling out and moving on to other pursuits.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2012
---End of update---
The Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals all appear to be in the mix for ace right-hander Zack Greinke, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
According to Sherman, the Los Angeles Angels don't appear likely to retain the 29-year-old given his hefty price tag.
Greinke posted a 15-5 record with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 34 starts for the Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers last season. He also racked up 200 strikeouts in 212.1 innings.
He's largely considered to be the best pitcher on the market this offseason.
Mariners Really Want Josh Hamilton
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Josh Hamilton was at the Winter Meetings this week, hoping to find a new team. He left still searching for a long-term contract somewhere, but a familiar foe could emerge as the favorite to sign the former AL MVP.
According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, the Seattle Mariners are in the running for Hamilton's services.
It once seemed like Josh Hamilton had become a forgotten man for the Mariners here this week as they pursued a host of other offensive options. But I’m now told the talks between the two sides have been a lot more serious than anyone has let on and that they are actually “very close” to getting a deal done.
Before they start throwing a party in the "Emerald City," Jim Bowden of ESPN notes that Hamilton still prefers the Rangers, with the Mariners being his backup plan.
Josh Hamilton first choice remains Texas but if they sign Greinke & decide they don"t want to spend on both then Seattle is his fall-back.— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 6, 2012
The Mariners desperately need to find an impact offensive player, so Hamilton will fill an immediate need.
As is always the case with these things, you just have to see how high they are willing to in order to make it happen. According to FOX Sports MLB reporter Ken Rosenthal, the Mariners have indeed revealed what they're willing to pay for Hamilton:
Sources: #Mariners have discussed three-year deals with Hamilton in range of $20M to $25M per season.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 6, 2012
Such a lucrative contract shows that Seattle is more than willing to take a chance on the perceptibly risky yet incredibly gifted slugger. Hamilton would immediately inject life into the Mariners' lineup, and give the team much needed hope.
Yankees Reportedly Offer Kevin Youkilis 1-Year Contract
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With Alex Rodriguez down and Eric Chavez signing with Arizona, the Yankees are in desperate need of a third baseman for 2013. According to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, the Yankees may have found their man in Kevin Youkilis.
The Yankees' offer to Kevin Youkilis is one year at $12M, according to source.— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) December 6, 2012
I understand what the Yankees are thinking, but given the way Youkilis' body has been breaking down over the last three years and his declining stats, that seems like a lot of money, even for a one-year deal.
Youkilis hasn't played in more than 122 games since 2009, and the last time he played more than 140 games was in 2008. His slash line has gone from .307/.411/.564 in 2010 down to .235/.336/.409 last season.
Given that there aren't a lot of options at third base right now, Youkilis might be the best player available. But there is considerable risk if they want him to be their everyday third baseman in 2013.
Update on Potential Four-Team Blockbuster
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On Wednesday, it was reported by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that there was a four-team deal being discussed that would send Justin Upton to the Rangers, Asdrubal Cabrera to the Diamondbacks, prospects to the Indians and the fourth team's role still being determined.
Rosenthal has since updated his report, stating that the Mariners are, in some of the discussions, the fourth team in the deal, but they also appear to be a detriment to any deal getting done.
The Mariners, in the opinion of one of the officials involved in the talks, amount to the biggest roadblock, unsure of whether to push forward with the deal.
Jim Bowden of ESPN reported that the Mariners got involved in the deal to, obviously, service their own interests and take a serious run at Josh Hamilton.
Mariners involvement in 4 team blockbuster proposals is to utilize prospects to make sure TX gets Upton so they can actually sign Hamilton— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 6, 2012
Bowden also reported that the Diamondbacks need the Rangers to include Elvis Andrus or Jurickson Profar if the two sides are going to agree to a deal.
Diamondbacks not budging off needing Andrus or Profar for Upton and more likely to trade two young pitchers for Asdrubral Cabrera— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 6, 2012
A lot of balls are flying in the air right now, and with the Winter Meetings ending today, something is likely to give, one way or another.
Phillies Exploring Every CF Option in the World
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If you are a center fielder on the market, either trade or free agent, odds are good the Philadelphia Phillies have talked about you behind closed doors.
According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, the Phillies have talked about five different center field options for 2013.
The Phillies' five-man list for center field includes two free agents (Michael Bourn and Josh Hamilton) and three potential trade targets (Curtis Granderson of the Yankees, Ben Revere of the Twins and Dexter Fowler of the Rockies).
Before the meetings started, my assumption would have been that the Phillies just end up signing someone (presumably Bourn) and would be done.
However, seeing the way the market has gone for center fielders, as well as the fact the Phillies can't have that much payroll flexibility to get bogged down with another huge long-term deal, their best bet could be in a trade.
Of course, Granderson will cost a pretty penny, if the Yankees even want to move him after the news that Alex Rodriguez will miss most of 2013.
Fowler is a high-upside player, but his home/road splits are alarming. He has hit .295/.395/.487 at Coors Field, compared to .248/.331/.367 everywhere else.
The Phillies do need to make a decision, one way or the other, soon, because they desperately need a starting outfielder, or at least depth in the outfield.
Latest on Zack Greinke
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It's a great time to be Zack Greinke, the best pitcher on the free agent market. He is, in all likelihood, going to get a record-breaking contract from someone.
Earlier this week, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Dodgers and Rangers were the overwhelming favorites to sign Greinke.
The Zack Greinke derby is currently between the Dodgers and Rangers, with a great likelihood that one of those teams will win the services of the top free-agent pitcher in the market, people close to the situation say.
The Dodgers have been viewed as a fairly clear favorite for Greinke, but Texas is showing signs of determination, according to major-league sources.
Scott Miller of CBS Sports wrote that the view among people in Los Angeles is that Greinke will wind up in Texas.
That's an interesting perspective to take. Remember, last year everyone was talking about how the Marlins were making a huge offer for Albert Pujols. If he really wanted to play there, he would have taken the deal and been done with it.
Now the Dodgers are getting that feeling with Greinke. These negotiations are so fluid that anything can change on a dime, but it certainly would be a surprise to see Greinke anywhere other than Los Angeles or Texas next season.
Angels Sign Joe Blanton
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FOX Sports' Joe McDonell reported that the Angels were close to signing Joe Blanton:
Major league sources say Angels close to signing Joe Blanton.— Joe McDonnell (@joeontheradio) December 6, 2012
Then, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman confirmed it with contract details:
blanton gets 2 yrs, $15M— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 6, 2012
Blanton isn't anything special, but he does deal a lot of groundball outs and eat a lot of innings. He had a 4.71 ERA with the Phillies and Dodgers last season, and he will probably fight for the fourth or fifth starter's role with Garrett Richards throughout spring training.
Don't expect him to replace Zack Greinke in terms of production, but he will provide a veteran presence at the back end of the rotation.
Indians Interested in Dee Gordon
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According to FOX Sports' Jon Morosi, the Indians have inquired about Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon:
CBS Sports' Scott Miller also mentions that the Seattle Mariners are chasing Gordon as well, but the Indians are interesting for another reason.
Cleveland is shopping Asdrubal Cabrera, and whispers of a potential blockbuster have been circulating (via CBS Sports' Jon Heyman). Ken Rosenthal mentioned that talks have quieted down, but it doesn't take much to kick start things again.
The Indians could be making plans for the future, and that could be a sign that they expect a deal to get done. Gordon struggled as Los Angeles' every day shortstop last season, but his youth and dazzling speed make him an intriguing option if Cabrera should go elsewhere.
Angels to Sign Sean Burnett
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#Angels have signed LH RP Sean Burnett to a 2-year deal with a club option, source said. Pending physical.— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) December 5, 2012
Burnett's ability to draw groundball outs makes him one of the best southpaw relievers on the market this offseason. Adding him to the fold would make the Angels stronger, especially because quality left-handers are hard to come by in the late innings.
Last season with the Washington Nationals, Burnett posted a 2.38 ERA in 56.2 innings. He will fit in nicely with Los Angeles' new bullpen that features newcomer Ryan Madson, but will not have Jordan Walden in the mix.
Utility Signings Galore
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Wednesday brought with it a flurry of signings involving utility players and injury-prone players trying to re-invent themselves.
Former Mets outfielder Jason Bay has agreed to a deal with the Mariners, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
Source: mariners sign Jason bay. Deal agrees to pending physical— Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) December 5, 2012
Bay has completely fallen off the map over the last three seasons. He has not played in more than 123 games since 2009, when he was still a member of the Boston Red Sox. He hit .165/.237/.299 in 194 at-bats in 2012.
The Yankees' quest to get a third baseman will continue, as Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona reports that the Diamondbacks have signed Eric Chavez.
#Dbacks sign Chavez for One year, $3M. Confirmed. Other than possible blockbuster, appear done here— Jack Magruder (@JackMagruder) December 5, 2012
Chavez was very effective for the Yankees in 2012, hitting .281/.348/.496 and playing adequate defense at third base.
Then there is Jeff Keppinger, who had a great season with Tampa Bay in 2012, signing with the Chicago White Sox for three years, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Keppinger got $12M, 3 yrs w chisox— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 5, 2012
Keppinger has always had a big platoon split, hitting .269 against right-handed pitching compared to .333 against southpaws. He did get the average against righties up to .302 in 2012, but his .332 batting average on balls in play was a career high and points to regression in the future.
Multi-Team Blockbuster Deal in the Works?
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UPDATE: Wednesday, December 4 at 7:34 p.m. ET
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, talks regarding a multi-team blockbuster are at an impasse:
folks involved in 3- and 4-way w/ upton and asdrubal Not optimistic it'll get done here. 1 issue: JU > AC— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 6, 2012
Things can change in a hurry, and D'Backs general manager Kevin Towers did mention being involved in a ton of talks, but nothing appears to be imminent.
---End of Update---
This has been a quiet, almost too quiet, Winter Meetings as far as trades are concerned. All that could be changing in a big way before the festivities are over.
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, Cleveland, Arizona, Texas and Tampa Bay are discussing a potential deal that involves Justin Upton, Asdrubal Cabrera and James Shields, among others.
One proposed deal, according to sources, would send Upton to Texas and Cabrera to Arizona, with Cleveland likely receiving a package of young talent, possibly including Texas infielder Mike Olt (Tampa Bay would not be part of that particular trade).
Rosenthal does say that nothing was close as of Wednesday morning, so take that for what it is worth.
That would be a deal that benefits all involved. The Diamondbacks get the shortstop they so desperately need; the Rangers get an outfielder to take Josh Hamilton's spot who signed long term and has upside; the Indians could start planning for the future with a young, team-controlled player who fills a position of need.
Another deal being discussed, according to Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com, is much smaller in scale, involving the Indians and Diamonbacks.
The Indians and the D-backs have discussed the framework of a deal that centers around Tribe shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and Arizona right-hander Trevor Bauer, an industry source said early Wednesday.
Again, this would be another win for both teams in the short term. The Diamondbacks get their shortstop, and the Indians find a potential top-of-the-rotation starter they need.
Yankees One of Many in on Jeff Keppinger
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UPDATE: Wednesday, December 5 at 7:38 p.m. ET
That sends the Yankees back to the drawing board as they pursue a right-handed corner infielder. MLB.com Bryan Hoch reporter did mention that the Yankees met with Mark Reynolds' agent on Wednesday, but things are uncertain beyond that.
---End of Update---
With the Yankees scrambling to find options at third base, free agent Jeff Keppinger has the versatility to man the hot corner until Alex Rodriguez comes back.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are one of six teams in the mix for Keppinger, who is reportedly seeking a two-year, $10 million deal.
The Yankees began engaging Chavez Monday night about a return. They also were serious contenders among six teams vying for Keppinger, who wants in the two-year, $10 million range that lefty-mashing outfielder Jonny Gomes received from the Red Sox. Keppinnger has received a pair of two-year offers from the Diamondbacks and Rays, both in the $6-7 million range.
Keppinger had a very good year for the Rays in 2012, hitting .325/.367/.439 in 115 games. He does have a wide platoon split in his career, posting an .864 OPS against lefties and .680 against righties.
As long as the Yankees can find someone else to play third base, like Eric Chavez, who can step in against right-handed pitching, Keppinger could be a nice addition.
Giants Sign Marco Scutaro to Multi-Year Deal
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According to FOX Sports reporter Ken Rosenthal, the Giants have locked up NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro for the next three years:
Source: Scutaro in agreement with #SFGiants, $20 million for three years.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2012
It's impossible to say that Scutaro doesn't deserve that contract, even if he will be 37 years old by the time the deal is up.
He was vital to the Giants' World Series run, pacing both the offense and the defense with his consistent play. No Giants fan will forget the resilience it required for him to come back from Matt Holliday's hard slide in Game 2 of the NLCS.
Scutaro isn't a superstar player, but he fits the Giants like a glove. Bringing him back made too much sense for it not to happen.
Rays Reportedly Acquire Yunel Escobar
According to Tampa Bay Times reporter Mark Topkin, the Tampa Bay Rays will acquire Yunel Escobar from the Miami Marlins:
Escobar isn't a tremendous improvement, but he does allow the Rays to move Ben Zobrist back to second base. He's a much better fit there, even if Escobar doesn't provide much at the plate.
Last season, Escobar hit .253 with the Toronto Blue Jays. He was then packaged as part of the blockbuster deal between the Marlins and Jays this fall.
Tampa Bay didn't give up much here, so it's a reasonably safe pick up. He's an upgrade over Elliot Johnson or Sean Rodriguez, and he makes the team's defense better as a whole.
Jacoby Ellsbury on the Block?
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, some rival officials believe that the Boston Red Sox are laying the base for a Jacoby Ellsbury trade:
Rival officials believe that the Red Sox are laying the groundwork for a trade of Jacoby Ellsbury, for the pitching they need.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2012
Boston Globe reporter Pete Abraham echoed those sentiments:
Sources: #RedSox are open to idea of trading Ellsbury, playing Victorino in CF and signing C. Ross or another RF. Keeping doors open.— Pete Abraham (@PeteAbe) December 5, 2012
This would certainly create a blockbuster scenario. Ellsbury has missed a large part of two of the past three seasons, but he is one of the most talented five-tool players in the game when he's on the field.
I wouldn't be surprised to hear his name come up in a potential R.A. Dickey trade situation, seeing as the Mets need an impact player in the outfield.
Victorino makes Ellsbury movable, but it's still a risk when you're dealing with a talented player like this.
Orioles Meet with Nick Swisher
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According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Baltimore Orioles are interested in Nick Swisher:
AL source: Orioles met today with the representatives for Nick Swisher.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2012
Swisher hit .272 with 24 home runs and 93 RBI last season for the New York Yankees. His familiarity with the American League East has to make him more attractive to Baltimore as it tries to bolster its offense for next season.
Buck Showalter loves to mash the ball, and Swisher fits that mentality. He can play corner outfield, or first base, making him even more compatible with the Orioles plans.
Nothing seems imminent, but this is intriguing. Swisher would bring an experienced presence to Baltimore's clubhouse, which could prove to be important as the Orioles try to build off last season's success.
Rangers Officially Add Joakim Soria
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According to Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Steve Berthiaume, the Rangers have made their signing of Joakim Soria official:
#Rangers make it official, signing Joakim Soria to a 2-year deal with a club option for 2015.— Steve Berthiaume (@BertDbacks) December 5, 2012
Soria didn't pitch in 2012 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but he's been one of baseball's most talented closers for the past five years or so.
Texas was eliminated from the postseason, and its bullpen was a major reason for that. Even though Soria is a major reclamation project, this is still a guy that's recorded two 40-plus save seasons since 2008 on bad Kansas City Royals teams.
It's a bit of a risk considering his injury history, but this could be a major success.
Mets Considering Mark Reynolds in the Outfield
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According to New York Post reporter Ken Davidoff, the New York Mets are considering signing Mark Reynolds, but not to play at a corner infield spot:
The #Mets have contemplated the idea of signing Mark Reynolds to play OF. His price ($7 mil-ish) might be too high, though.— Ken Davidoff (@KenDavidoff) December 4, 2012
CBS Sports' R.J. White mentions that Reynolds has only played two games in the outfield so far in his major-league career, making this somewhat of an odd idea, especially if the franchise must overpay to get him.
Reynolds hit .221 with 23 home runs with the Baltimore Orioles last season. He's one of the league's most notorious strikeout artists, but he does have his fair share of power.
If the Mets are desperate, this could work, but it doesn't seem ideal.
Red Sox Reportedly Sign Shane Victorino
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According to WEEI.com reporter Alex Speier, the Boston Red Sox have signed Shane Victorino:
Sox have agreed with Victorino on 3yr deal— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) December 4, 2012
USA Today's Bob Nightengale mentions that the deal is worth $38 million.
This comes on the heels of Boston's acquisition of catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli (via ESPN's Gordon Edes).
Neither player is a superstar talent, but both will contribute. Victorino's switch-hitting approach at the plate and above-average speed makes him valuable, even though he's not getting any younger.
Victorino is an excellent defender, and he plays with a ton of energy. He hit .255 with 11 home runs and 55 RBI last season as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers.
Boston fans who are waiting for a blockbuster signing may be disappointed, but Victorino is still a solid piece. Aside from Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox have a sketchy situation in the outfield, and even Ellsbury can be a question mark because of he's injury prone.
Dodgers Willing to Part with Top Prospects to Land R.A. Dickey
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According to New York Daily News reporter John Harper, the Los Angeles Dodgers are willing to send two touted youngsters to the New York Mets in order to obtain 2012 National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey:
Source says Mets could get speedy SS Dee Gordon and top pitching prospect Zach Lee from Dodgers for Dickey. But that doesn't help OF.— John Harper (@NYDNHarper) December 4, 2012
As Harper mentions, this deal wouldn't fill the Mets' biggest need, but it's still interesting.
Lee went 6-6 with a 4.39 ERA between High-A and Double-A this year, but he's still projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter.
Gordon stole 32 bases last year for the Dodgers, while hitting just .228. He struggled in his first full major-league season, but his slick glove and dazzling speed still makes him an intriguing option as a lead off hitter.
The Mets desperately need help in the outfield, or even at catcher, so it's hard to say that this deal will ever come to fruition. Either way, any rumor surrounding the reigning Cy Young winner is worth mentioning.
Yankees Looking at Kevin Youkilis
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Alex Rodriguez' injury is forcing the Yankees to explore all options at third base, with a familiar foe being the object of their desire.
According to Jack Curry of the YES Network, the Yankees have had discussions with Kevin Youkilis' representatives.
With ARod out, Yanks have spoken with Kevin Youkilis's agent. Word is that Youk would consider 1-year deal if money was at premium amount.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) December 4, 2012
That last part about premium money would scare me, especially considering that Youkilis hasn't been able to play in more than 130 games in a season since 2009.
If they are going to invest that kind of money for one year, they need some kind of guarantee that they will at least come close to getting a return on the investment. Youkilis hasn't proven himself to be capable of handling third base and staying healthy.
Mariners Reportedly Talking Extension with Felix Hernandez
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Despite the constant insistence from fans and analysts that the Seattle Mariners should trade Felix Hernandez to stack up their farm system, the team is not feeling the same way.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Mariners have discussed another long-term contract for Hernandez.
#mariners broached multiyear deal w/ king felix. want to make him "mariner for life." talks very preliminary. sea pushing— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 4, 2012
Hernandez is just 26 years old and still has two years left on the five-year, $78 million contract he signed prior to the 2010 season. There does not need to be a sense of urgency for the Mariners to get a deal done right now.
The man affectionately known as "King Felix" won the 2010 American League Cy Young award and finished fourth in the voting in 2012 after posting a 3.06 ERA and 223 strikeouts in 232 innings pitched.
Hernandez is actually 30 months younger than Zack Greinke, the top free agent on the market this winter, so if the Mariners want to sign Hernandez to a new deal, they will likely have to wait and see what Greinke gets and go from there.
The Mariners are stacked with pitching in the minor leagues, starting with Taijuan Walker, Danny Hultzen and James Paxton. Those three pitchers should be ready to contribute within the next year, so the Mariners could have a very dangerous rotation entering the 2014 season.
Marlins Not Trading Ricky Nolasco
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The Miami Marlins have already made headlines this offseason for one trade, but don't expect them to make another one involving starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco.
According to Jayson Stark of ESPN, Nolasco is still in the Marlins' plans for next season.
#Marlins are telling teams inquiring about Ricky Nolasco that they're not trading him, despite agent Matt Sosnick's remarks yesterday.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 4, 2012
Jerry Crasnick of ESPN wrote on Monday that Nolasco's agent Matt Sosnick said his client wants out of Miami because of the way they handled business with the big trade involving the Toronto Blue Jays.
"Ricky and I have spoken a lot since the end of the season," Sosnick said. "Just watching the way the offseason has transpired for the Marlins and the moves they've made, he and I agree that he would probably be better served playing somewhere else. If he had his druthers, he would pitch for somebody other than the Marlins in 2013 and beyond."
It is going to be hard for the Marlins to sell anyone on playing for them in 2013 and beyond. Everyone who was on that team last season has to be upset with the way everything has played out so far, but all they can do is go out and play the game in front of them.
As for the Marlins, they probably need to lay low on the trade market for a little bit. There is nothing wrong, from a money-making perspective, with what they did. It just looks strange to players, owners and fans.
Diamondbacks Not Getting What They Want for Justin Upton
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The Arizona Diamondbacks are actively shopping Justin Upton at these Winter Meetings, they just aren't finding the pieces that they want to pull the trigger on a deal.
According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Diamondbacks still desperately want a starting shortstop in exchange for Upton.
The #Dbacks have been very aggresssive at winter meetings shopping RF Justin Upton, but no team has stepped up to give them frontline SS— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 4, 2012
The market for shortstops is very interesting right now. The Indians are reportedly shopping Asdrubal Cabrera and are looking for a hefty return. The Rangers don't appear to be inclined to move Elvis Andrus to make room for Jurickson Profar, though that could change with the right deal.
Other than that, there really are no top-tier shortstops who appear to be available. The free-agent market is incredibly thin at the position, with Stephen Drew, who the Diamondbacks just traded last August, being the best pure shortstop available.
If the Diamondbacks are serious about trading Upton, there are likely going to be plenty of suitors willing to talk shop.
Yankees Reportedly Taking Offers for Curtis Granderson
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While the Yankees continue to look for more financial flexibility--no, seriously--they will listen to offers for center fielder Curtis Granderson, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
NYY have been open to talks about Curtis Granderson. If they move his $15m salary, it would provide more flexibility to do other things.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 4, 2012
Granderson's value has changed dramatically since being traded from Detroit to New York prior to the 2010 season. He used to hit for a decent average, draw walks, hit for power and played good defense at a premium position.
Now, Granderson still draws walks and hits for power but doesn't hit for average and his defense has fallen off a cliff. He hit .232/.319/.492 with 43 home runs in 2012. His platoon splits have never been great, as his career line against lefties is .225/.292/.407.
If the Yankees are serious about moving Granderson, it will all come down to what they perceive his value to be. If they believe they are going to get a premium prospect or two for him, especially at his salary, they are likely to be disappointed.
Plus, you have to wonder how much money the Yankees might have to kick in. Teams are always looking for power, and Granderson can hit right-handed pitching, but his value is probably as low as it has ever been.
Indians Want a King's Ransom for Asdrubal Cabrera
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If you want Asdrubal Cabrera to be on your team, you better be willing to pay a hefty price to acquire him from the Cleveland Indians.
According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians are looking for "three to four players, preferably four."
In an interesting tidbit after that, Hoynes also reported that the Indians had the framework of a deal for Cabrera in place with another team that included a starting pitcher and two high-level prospects but it fell apart when the Indians wanted another prospect.
Not knowing what the deal is, or who the other team is, we can't say definitively that the Indians made a mistake. This is a team that is in desperate need of starting pitching and its farm system is filled with high-risk, high-upside players, most of whom are still at the lower levels of the minors.
That is not to say the Indians shouldn't maximize Cabrera's value while they can. He is easily the top shortstop available, either in free agency or via trade, with two years at a very respectable salary left on his contract.
Given all the problems the Indians have right now, this is going to be a huge week for them. It would be a shock to me if they didn't move at least one player between Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo, Chris Perez or Justin Masterson.
Diamondbacks' Jason Kubel Attracting Interest
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It has been widely assumed that if the Arizona Diamondbacks were going to trade an outfielder, it would be Justin Upton, since he would net a hefty return for a team that can compete for a division title in 2013.
Not so fast, my friends.
According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Diamondbacks have also had a lot of action on Jason Kubel.
Much of the offseason trade speculation involving the Arizona Diamondbacks has centered on right fielder Justin Upton.
But sources told FOXSports.com late Monday that the team has had at least as much trade dialogue in recent days about outfielder Jason Kubel.
Kubel did hit for more power than Upton in 2012. (Kubel had 30 home runs, .506 slugging percentage; Upton had 17 home runs, .430 slugging percentage). Based on tools, however, Upton is clearly the superior talent.
Teams could be interested in the fact that Kubel has one year and an option left on his contract, as opposed to Upton, who still has four years and an escalating salary left on his deal.
Mariners Reportedly Looking at Josh Hamilton
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The Seattle Mariners are reportedly looking at free agent star Josh Hamilton, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
Yes, Mariners interested in Hamilton. On much lower level, also interested in Brennan Boesch.— DKnobler (@DKnobler) December 4, 2012
The Mariners didn't get a whole lot of production out of their center field position last season (or their entire offense, for that matter), so it makes sense that they would pursue the most talented center fielder on the market.
Hamilton hit .285 with 43 home runs, 128 RBI and 103 runs last season, but was ridiculed for his play down the stretch. The Rangers lost the AL West to the Oakland Athletics in the final series of the season and then lost to the Baltimore Orioles in a one-game wild-card playoff. Hamilton went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game.
The Mariners would gladly take his regular season production, though. They scored 619 runs in 2012, by far the worst mark in the American League.
Marlins Reportedly Looking to Trade Yunel Escobar
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The Miami Marlins are reportedly seeking to trade shortstop Yunel Escobar, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Escobar was dealt by the Toronto Blue Jays in November in a multi-player trade involving Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle that shook the league.
The 30-year-old Cuban batted .253 with nine home runs, 51 RBI and 58 runs in 2012 with the Blue Jays.
It was expected that the Blue Jays would trade Escobar this offseason.
Angel Pagan and San Francisco Giants Agree to 4-Year Deal
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The defending champion San Francisco Giants signed center fielder Angel Pagan to a four-year, $40 million contract on Monday, according to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports.
Source: Pagan gets $40m over four years with Giants.— Tim Brown (@TBrownYahoo) December 3, 2012
While it does come at a price, there wasn't much out there in the Giants' price range in center field who could offer the same impact as Pagan did last season. Beyond Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn, Shane Victorino would have probably been next on San Francisco's list.
Pagan was an underrated part of the Giants' championship season in 2012, batting .288 with eight home runs, 56 RBI, 95 runs and 29 stolen bases as the leadoff hitter.
In addition to his hitting, Pagan was an excellent center fielder, highlighted by some dazzling plays in the great expanses of AT&T Park. He committed zero errors in 35 chances in the playoffs.
Red Sox and Mike Napoli Reportedly Agree to 3-Year Deal
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According to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune, the Boston Red Sox and free agent Mike Napoli have agreed to a contract.
Red Sox, who earlier added David Ross, have agreed to deal with Mike Napoli. Makes Jarrod Saltalamacchia more in play for White Sox.— Phil Rogers (@ChiTribRogers) December 3, 2012
Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston is reporting that, while the deal is not quite done, it is expected to be finalized today and will be for three years.
Sox expect to reach agreement with Napoli Monday, baseball source says. Deal expected to be 3 years— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) December 3, 2012
The Red Sox have been in the market for a catcher, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia likely being used in trade discussions after setting career highs with 25 home runs and a .454 slugging percentage in 121 games.
Napoli should upgrade an offense that struggled mightily with injuries and lack of depth in 2012. He is never going to be the hitter he was in the second half of 2011, when he hit .383/.466/.706 with 18 home runs in 214 at-bats.
What Napoli does bring is power and patience at the plate. He has hit 80 home runs and drawn 156 walks over the last three seasons. He crushes left-handed pitching, hitting .273 with 44 home runs and a 185-104 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 629 at-bats against southpaws.
Napoli also brings some versatility to the Red Sox, as he is capable of playing catcher, first base and designated hitter. The Red Sox have a pretty good DH already, so he is likely to play mostly at catcher and move to first base when his body needs a break behind the plate.
Red Sox Not Done Spending?
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UPDATE: Tuesday, 12:46 a.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
Looks like the Red Sox have some competition for R.A. Dickey's services.
Fortunately for them, talks between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Dickey didn't go smoothly, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
Sources: Diamondbacks met with Mets on Dickey, talks didn't get far. Mets price said to be very high.— Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) December 4, 2012
--- End of Update ---
UPDATE: Monday, 10:30 p.m. ET by Ryan Rudnansky
It looks like the Red Sox aren't just shopping for big bats this season.
According to Adam Rubin and Joe McDonald of ESPN.com, the Red Sox are one of several teams looking at New York Mets veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
Dickey posted a 20-6 record with a 2.73 ERA and 1.05 WHIP while notching 230 strikeouts in 233.2 innings pitched last season. He was credited with more than one-fourth of the Mets' win total in 2012.
The 38-year-old is under contract for one more season at $5 million, but if the Mets can't reach an extension with him, then they will reportedly look for trade offers.
--- End of Update ---
Even though the Red Sox already got one of the big bats on their wish list, that is not stopping them from exploring the market a little more.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Red Sox are talking to former Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher.
#redsox talking to swisher now. A possibility.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2012
Everyone will look at Swisher's struggles in the postseason as the be-all and end-all for his value, but he is one of the most intriguing options on the market this offseason.
Swisher has a similar skill set to Napoli, though Swisher is a better overall hitter and a much better athlete. He has hit .256/.361/.467 in his career with at least 21 home runs in each of his eight full seasons.
In addition to his power and patience at the plate, Swisher is an above-average defensive player in right field. He is not going to win any Gold Gloves, but he has a good arm with good range and instincts.
The Red Sox have a need in the outfield with Cody Ross a free agent and possibly seeking more years and money than the team is willing to give out.
As long as the Red Sox don't start bidding against themselves, Swisher could be a very nice addition for them. The market for Swisher will likely start to pick up a lot of traction after Josh Hamilton gets his deal.
Nationals Ready to Make a Big Move?
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Not wanting to rest on their laurels after acquiring Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins, the Washington Nationals are exploring all their options on the trade market right now.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post wrote that the Span trade is going to have a huge ripple effect on what the Nationals do the rest of the offseason.
The Span trade obviously shapes the entire offseason. LaRoche re-signing unlikely. Morse to first. One starter, bullpen help, Viera.— Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP) November 29, 2012
Now it seems the Nationals could be talked into moving second baseman Danny Espinosa and outfielder Michael Morse if the price is right.
According to Jim Bowden of ESPN, the Nationals and Rays are talking about a swap of a starting pitcher for Espinosa and Morse.
James Loney and Rays close to one-year deal....Loney would replace Carlos Pena at 1B...also talking to Nats on starter for Morse & Espinosa— JIM BOWDEN (@JimBowdenESPNxm) December 3, 2012
However, Buster Olney of ESPN reported that there has not been much to the talks between the Nationals and Rays, at least so far.
As of this moment, there is not traction in the Rays-WAS conversations. As of this moment.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 3, 2012
The Rays have already done some shopping at the winter meetings, signing former Boston first baseman James Loney to a one-year deal on Monday, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
james loney gets $2M, 1-yr deal. #rays— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) December 3, 2012
There would seem to be a fit between these two sides for pieces being discussed. The Rays have an abundance of starting pitching and can afford to move one of their rotation stalwarts without suffering a significant dropoff.
The Nationals are not overflowing with offense, but if they can keep Jayson Werth healthy and re-sign Adam LaRoche, which would seem to be their thinking if they are entertaining the idea of trading Morse, they should be OK.
It also helps that they will have a full season of Bryce Harper to plug into the middle of their lineup in 2013.
Ryan Dempster's Price Too High for Milwaukee
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If there is a sleeping giant at these winter meetings, it could end up being the Milwaukee Brewers. They have always been one of the more aggressive "small-market teams," not to mention playing in a division that is easy to compete in.
One of their biggest needs is in the starting rotation. According to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, there is mutual interest between the Brewers and free-agent pitcher Ryan Dempster, but something will have to change for the two sides to get serious.
Dempster wants three years, and even at 35 he's likely to get a three-year deal because there aren't a lot of established starting pitchers on the market. And the Brewers don't want to go beyond two years, having been burned at the end of free-agent deals with Jeff Suppan and Randy Wolf.
Dempster could have some detractors after posting a 5.09 ERA with Texas after a deadline deal with the Cubs, but he has proven that he can be very good in the National League, particularly the Central division.
It is smart for the Brewers to make Dempster come to their terms rather than let him name his price and force their hand. There are other pitchers out there who can give the team similar production and cost less.
Of course, the Brewers only had one starting pitcher on the current roster (Yovani Gallardo) throw more than 142.1 innings last season. Desperation can cause teams to do strange things.
Injuries to Force Yankees' Hand
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After the New York media had a panic attack over what it perceived to be a fat Derek Jeter, you can only imagine what will happen to those poor souls with the latest on Alex Rodriguez.
Hear exclusively Alex Rodriguez was playing with re-tear in surgically repaired hip Likely going for another surgery #Yankees (cont)— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 3, 2012
A-Rod will miss at least piece of '13. Hope is surgery will allow for successful player again for #Yankees— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 3, 2012
That news becomes even more significant when you realize that Derek Jeter, who broke his ankle in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, is likely going to need time (via Sherman) to recover from surgery before stepping back in the lineup.
So #Yankees now dealing with both Jeter and eventually A-Rod coming back from surgery. Desperately need left side IF help— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 3, 2012
The Yankees are not expected to be big spenders this offseason as they try to lower their payroll to get under the luxury tax threshold, nor is there any reason for them to spend a lot of money since both Jeter and Rodriguez are going to be back at some point.
What this does mean is that the Yankees will have to at least explore some options at third base and shortstop.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided a couple of interesting names that could be very attractive to the Yankees on a one-year deal.
#Yankees already knew they needed additional help at SS and 3B. FA options include Scutaro, Keppinger. Latter coming off broken right fibula— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 3, 2012