The 2014 MLB free-agent market has caught fire this week, and there was no deal that was bigger or more unexpected than Jacoby Ellsbury's seven-year, $153 million move to the New York Yankees.
Ellsbury's mega deal was a fortuitous sign for just about all of the other big-name free agents pursuing their own multi-year contracts. For Robinson Cano, however, the addition of Ellsbury raises serious questions as to whether there is room for both stars in New York.
There's also a new bidder in the pursuit of David Price, and an array of other trade rumblings to debunk. Here's a breakdown of all the latest rumors from the hot stove with a look at which ones are fact and which ones are fiction.
Carlos Beltran has no shortage of options this offseason.
The eight-time All-Star has been linked to a number of clubs, including the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. However, not all of those teams will be open to giving Beltran the three-year deal that he is looking for.
According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Royals are one of the teams that is.
Beltran would come at a steep price both in terms of dollars and the draft pick that the Royals would have to give up. However, Beltran's bat would provide a major upgrade for a Royals team coming off the club's first winning season since 2003.
Now that the Yankees are likely out of the picture, there is an excellent chance that this reunion will take place.
According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, James Loney's asking price has come down, but only by a little: "Source: James Loney started offseason seeking a four-year, $40M deal. Belief is he's now seeking something in the three-year, $27-30M range."
Loney enjoyed a bounce-back season in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays as he hit .299/.348/.430 with 13 home runs. Still, his power numbers are low for a first baseman, especially for a three-year commitment and around $30 million.
The Pittsburgh Pirates could be a potential landing spot for the veteran first baseman.
As David Todd of 970 ESPN Pittsburgh remarks, however, Loney's poor track record is a cause for concern: "James Loney had a very solid 2013. I wouldn’t pay up. Not buying sustainability. Wouldn’t go 3 years. Wouldn’t go $8-10M per."
A more reasonable target for Loney would be a two-year deal for around $7 million per season.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are ready to make a big splash for a second straight offseason. General manager Kevin Towers tells Jerry Crasnick of ESPN that the club expects to be busy at the upcoming winter meetings:
I'm not afraid to move really good players as long as we're getting a real good player back...I think we have the players to get any available pitcher out there on the market. It's just a question of how much we have to give up. It may take a little while. We're not forced to do anything.
Towers is clearly confident in the team's farm system, and for good reason. According to Matt Eddy of Baseball America, Arizona's minor league system ranks as the ninth best in baseball. There's also the consideration that Towers really needs to prove himself in 2014.
Ownership decided in October not to pick up the contract options for Towers and manager Kirk Gibson for 2015 and 2016. Towers' tenuous position coupled with Arizona's deep farm system sets the stage perfectly for a deal to be made.
Snagging a starter appears to be the more likely outcome, but landing an impact bat isn't out of the question.
The Mariners are the latest club to express an interest in Rays ace David Price.
As Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes, the Mariners have the minor league talent and in particular the MLB-ready starting pitching that the Rays are seeking. According to Passan, the Mariners "have considered including" Taijuan Walker as part of a potential deal for Price.
Walker, who is the fourth-best prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com, would represent quite the centerpiece. Plus, a rotation headlined by Felix Hernandez, Price and Hisashi Iwakuma would be downright scary.
The downside to such a deal is that Price only remains under club control for two more years. So, the window of opportunity would be relatively short for the Mariners.
Another issue is that the addition of Price alone wouldn't catapult the Mariners back into contention in the AL West. To do that, the team would also need to add an impact hitter like Robinson Cano.
Seattle certainly can't be ruled out, but Price appears to be a better fit for a team that is closer to contending than the Mariners currently are.
According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees are running a squeeze play on Cano:
The Yankees plan here—besides the obvious to get better—is to signal to Cano with their finalized signing of Brian McCann for $85 million and their agreement pending a physical with Jacoby Ellsbury for nearly double that...they are spending big this offseason. With or without him.
The Yankees would clearly prefer to have Cano with them in 2014. However, the club has a whole slew of other issues to attend to, such as rebuilding a dismal starting rotation. For Cano and the Yankees, it's likely to come down to timing.
As Sherman points out, the Yankees may be interested in other big-name free agents, like Shin-Soo Choo. If Choo were to make up his mind before Cano, that could leave the five-time All-Star on the outside looking in.
Then again, the Yankees are thinking big this offseason. There's no better way to underscore that message than to sign the best player on the market.
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Red Sox can be added to the list of teams that are interested in Matt Kemp: "Matt Kemp is in play for the Red Sox and the Dodgers would eat some money in the right deal. Just a question of whether the Red Sox want to."
With Ellsbury off to the Bronx, the Red Sox would definitely benefit from the addition of another outfielder.
As Cafardo notes, however, the big question is just how much money the Dodgers are willing to "eat." Kemp still has $128 million left on his deal, and it's worth considering that the Red Sox didn't want to go over $100 million for Ellsbury, as per Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe.
Assuming the Red Sox wouldn't go over $100 million for Kemp either, the Dodgers would need to take on upward of $30 million. There's still a chance that Kemp could end up in Boston in 2014. For now, though, there's simply too much money left on his contract for a trade to happen.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.