MLB Winter Meetings 2013: Analyzing All the Action, Hot Rumors of Day 2
Day two of the winter meeting got off to a bang as the rumored three-team deal between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Angels came together rather quickly and was a reality by early afternoon.
With one more day before the focus turns to the Rule 5 draft on Thursday, expect at least a few more big free agent signings and/or trades to happen over the next 24-30 hours or so.
Here's all the latest from the rumor mill.
Two trades went down on Tuesday, with one being a three-team deal that appears to fill needs for all teams involved.
The Arizona Diamondbacks filled their need for a power-hitting corner outfielder, acquiring Mark Trumbo from the Los Angeles Angels, who can now cross their top priority of acquiring controllable starting pitching off their list after they received Hector Santiago from the Chicago White Sox and Tyler Skaggs from the Diamondbacks.
The White Sox picked up center fielder Adam Eaton from the Diamondbacks in the deal, filling several needs, including some speed and on-base ability at the top of the order.
I named the "winners" and "losers" in the deal earlier today.
A second trade was executed shortly after as the Colorado Rockies acquired left-hander Brett Anderson (pictured) from the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen.
The A's will also pay $2 million of Anderson's $8 million salary in 2014.
In Anderson, the Rockies acquire an oft-injured 25-year-old with plenty of upside. If he can remain healthy and put together a solid season in Colorado, the team has the option of retaining him for another season as $12 million in 2015 or they can pay him a $1.5 million buyout.
In the lone season he was able to stay healthy, Anderson posted a 4.06 ERA with a 2.3 BB/9 and 7.7 K/9 back in 2009. He was a 21-year-old rookie. He's made just 43 starts since. Once the A's signed Scott Kazmir to a two-year deal, it was clear that Anderson's days in Oakland were numbered.
Latest on David Price
The Los Angeles Dodgers may have the right pieces to acquire Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price (pictured), according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, but Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweeted that general manager Ned Colletti isn't in pursuit of a starting pitcher.
While they appear to have enough starting pitching depth—the current projection has Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett as the starting five with Chad Billingsley and option when he's fully recovered from Tommy John surgery—the Dodgers proved in 2013 that you can never have enough pitching.
And while this may very well be Colletti's feeling, as well as every other team in baseball, employing a group of seven very high-priced pitchers isn't the same as having inexpensive 6th, 7th and 8th starters in the minors or in the bullpen. Beckett would be the logical odd man out, but he has little to no trade value because of his bloated contract and injury-plagued 2013 season.
The Mariners may have also cooled on Price, with top prospect Taijuan Walker a necessary inclusion in the deal, as was recently reported by Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Walker isn't likely to be traded, says Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, although the team could try and put together a package of young players headed by catcher Mike Zunino.
Another team that could jump aggressively into the mix is the Arizona Diamondbacks, who filled their need for a power hitter with a relatively inexpensive option in Mark Trumbo. They are interested in acquiring an frontline starting pitcher, according to Rosenthal, but are hesitant to add one on a long-term deal, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
Instead, they could target Price or Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija in a deal, although they no longer have Tyler Skaggs to potentially include as a main piece after he was included in the Trumbo deal.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post has heard from two executives that the Rays aren't aggressively pushing any trade of Price and are likely waiting out the market and hoping a team will meet their high price after missing out on other options.
Free Agent Starting Pitching Update
All is quiet in regards to the top three free agent starters on the market. Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are each in line to receive very big paydays and teams could either be waiting for the price to drop, or they could be more interested in pursuing less expensive options.
One of those second-tier, less expensive options would be 40-year-old Bartolo Colon (pictured), who should get a two-year deal for at least $10 million per season after going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA for the A's in 2013. In all likelihood, that is a much more comfortable deal for most teams as opposed to going at least five years and $75 million to sign Garza, Jimenez or Santana.
One of the teams interested in Colon is the Texas Rangers, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. While they have a solid starting five as long as Matt Harrison returns healthy from back and shoulder surgeries, the ability to move Alexi Ogando to the bullpen gives the team the necessary flexibility to add another starter.
After three stints on the disabled list in 2013, Texas may also feel that Ogando might be best-suited for the bullpen, anyways.
While the Mets feel that Colon is too expensive, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, there appears to be plenty of interest around the league. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports mentions the Orioles as possibilities, as well as the Mets, and Peter Gammons adds the Mariners and Blue Jays to the list of suitors.
Another veteran starter seeking a multi-year deal could also sign soon as several teams are in the mix to sign Bronson Arroyo.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com named the Angels, Pirates and Phillies as teams with interest, while Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported on Monday that the Twins were gaining momentum in talks for the 36-year-old. The Reds are also interested in re-signing him—C. Trent Rosecrans tweeted that the team met with his agent on Tuesday.
Of the teams mentioned, the Pirates aren't likely to sign Arroyo, according to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and the Angels are almost certainly out after acquiring two starters earlier today.
The Reds, in bringing back Arroyo, would be creating a competition for the No. 5 spot between Tony Cingrani and Mike Leake. They could also turn around and trade Leake or possibly even Homer Bailey, who is a free agent after the 2014 season. The Twins have already added free agent starters Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes this offseason, but could still use help in what started as very possibly the worst starting rotation in baseball.
For those teams bargain shopping for a starting pitcher, they could find a nice value in former Orioles right-hander Jason Hammel. According to Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors, the 31-year-old is drawing interest from 12 teams and is hoping for either land a three-year deal or a one-year deal that would allow him to rebuild his value and re-enter the market next offseason.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports named the Braves, Cubs, Royals and Pirates as being in the mix for Hammel, who posted a 5.14 ERA in 23 starts last season. If he can revert to his pre-knee injury form of 2013, when he had a 3.54 ERA in his first 18 starts, he could really put himself in a strong position as a free agent a year from now.
Yankees Prefer to Trade Ichiro over Gardner
After the Yankees agreed to terms with Carlos Beltran on a three-year deal, only a few days after Jacoby Ellsbury agreed to a seven-year deal, it became apparent that the overcrowded outfield situation would make Brett Gardner or Ichiro Suzuki (pictured) available on the trade market.
While the initial buzz was on Gardner on what the Yankees could get in return for him—Marc Carig of Newsday wrote that the Yankees were at least willing to listen to offers in hopes of landing a starting pitcher in return; Andy McCullough of the Star Ledge reported significant interest in Gardner, although he did write that the team wasn't actively shopping him—the Yankees are more inclined to trade Suzuki and hold on to Gardner, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The return wouldn't be great for the longtime Seattle Mariners star, but a team might be willing to take on at least $3-$4 million of his $6.5 million salary for 2014 and offer a fringe prospect or two in return.
At age 40, his skills have certainly diminished—he has a .661 OPS since 2011—but the Yankees could still view him as a solid fourth outfielder option.
Late-Inning Relief Market Developing?
The market for late-inning relievers has been slow to develop, despite Joe Nathan and Brian Wilson already signing deals last week. Several pieces could fall into place soon, however.
Grant Balfour (pictured) has emerged as a top candidate to become the Orioles' next closer and the team was trying to get a deal done earlier today, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
After trading Jim Johnson to the A's, which is, ironically, the team that Balfour closed for in 2012-2013, the O's are looking to fill the void. John Axford is also an option, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
Fernando Rodney is drawing interest from the Mariners, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports. The 36-year-old us unlikely to come at a great value as he did when the Rays signed him prior to the 2012 season and paid him a total of only $4.25 million to post a 1.91 ERA with 85 saves in his two seasons with the club.
It's also unlikely that Rodney is looking to be a setup man after his success in Tampa Bay, so the Mariners might not feel comfortable with Danny Farquhar despite his impressive stint after taking over the closer's job in early August (2.38 ERA, 16 saves in 18 chances).
In an effort to rebuild their bullpen after the retirement of Mariano Rivera, the Yankees are discussing the possibility of signing Joaquin Benoit, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The 36-year-old veteran did an outstanding job as Detroit's closer in 2013, although it's not known what the Yankees' plans would be for him.
They appear to have a need for two late-inning relievers so Benoit could fill a setup role.
In other news involving relief pitchers, the Nationals are searching the trade market for left-handed relief help and are interested in Justin Wilson of the Pirates and Jerry Blevins of the A's, according to Mark Zuckerman of NatsInsider.com. Ian Krol, who had been penciled in as the team's primary lefty out of the 'pen, was traded to the Tigers in the deal for Doug Fister.
In the meantime, Nationals setup men Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen, each of who has closing experience, are drawing interest on the trade market, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. While Clippard is generating more interest, Storen is more likely to be traded, according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
The Cubs are one of the teams with interest in the Nationals relief duo, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. This would likely be a preferred destination for either pitcher because they would likely become the team's closer.
After inking Chad Qualls to a two-year deal over the weekend, the Astros don't appear to be finished in their efforts to improve their bullpen. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com wrote of the team's interest in free agents Jesse Crain and Chad Gaudin, as well as Jose Veras' interest in returning to Houston.
Qualls could get a shot to close, although it would make sense for Crain to be handed the job if he were to sign with the team. It mightbe the Astros' main selling point for the top non-closer on the market.
Former Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain has a one-year, $3 million offer on the table from the Diamondbacks, according to Buster Olney of ESPN, although that report was shot down by a high-ranking official in the D'backs organization, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com.
That price seems lofty for a pitcher who has a 4.25 ERA over the past four seasons as a reliever. At age 28 and with a run of dominance early in his career out of the bullpen, however, he could be considered a high upside pickup.
Phillies Shopping Domonic Brown; Listening On Others
After Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported yesterday that the Phillies were actively shopping outfielder Domonic Brown (pictured), Jayson Stark of ESPN expanded on the rumor today and tweeted that the team is looking for two or three young players in return.
Stark's report that the team doesn't appear to be too enthused about dealing the 26-year-old All-Star conflicts with Passan's report that their actively shopping him, although that could mean that the Phillies just aren't happy with any offers they've received.
After a breakout first half in 2013, in which Brown posted an .856 OPS with 23 homers, his performance fell off drastically in the 2nd half (.723 OPS, 4 HR). This could be a reason that a team isn't willing to give up premium young talent for Brown, despite his power potential and four years of club control.
It was also reported over the weekend by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports that the Phillies were trying to trade closer Jonathan Papelbon, with Jon Heyman of CBS Sports confirming the report and adding that the Phillies could use the savings to sign a starting pitcher.
In addition to Brown and Papelbon, the Phillies are willing to listen on offers for Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, according to Buster Olney of ESPN. The asking price for either would be tremendous, however, and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is likely just finding out if some team would be willing to take on their massive contracts and offer elite prospects in return.
Any trades involving the Phillies would likely need to be consummated quickly, as there aren't many internal options for the aforementioned players and they would have to jump into the free agent market to replace them.
Adding a slugger like Shin-Soo Choo or Nelson Cruz would be a possibility to replace Brown.