MLB Winter Meetings 2013: Analyzing All the Action, Hot Rumors of Day 3
Day 3 of the winter meetings was the busiest yet, with a good mix of trades and free-agent signings throughout the day. The Mariners had one of each as they began their quest to build the team around star second baseman Robinson Cano, who agreed to a 10-year, $240 million deal last week.
There are still several hot rumors swirling around and teams are running out of time to get things done in a face-to-face negotiation. Front office executives will likely leave Orlando at the conclusion of Thursday's Rule 5 draft.
Here's a recap of the day's action, as well as all of the latest from the rumor mill.
By the end of Tuesday, it appeared that free agent Corey Hart was close to making a decision on which team he'd sign with. That choice was made earlier Wednesday as the 31-year-old agreed to a one-year, $6 million deal with the Seattle Mariners that could pay him as much as $13 million with incentives.
The M's weren't done, though. Just a short time later, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported that the Marlins were trading Logan Morrison to Seattle for reliever Carter Capps.
I chimed in with my thoughts on what the two moves mean for the team's post-Cano plan.
Two minor trades were also made on Wednesday, with the trade-happy Oakland A's sending left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins to the Washington Nationals for minor league outfield prospect Billy Burns, and San Diego and Houston matching up on a deal that has right-hander Anthony Bass headed to the Astros. The two teams also exchanged players to be named later or cash.
After trading Ian Krol to Detroit in the deal that landed them Doug Fister, the Nationals were in the market for a left-handed reliever. The A's, who also have lefties Sean Doolittle, Fernando Abad and Pedro Figueroa on the 40-man roster, as well as newly acquired Drew Pomeranz (who the team thinks can fill a bullpen role), were a logical match because of their depth.
One other notable free agent found a new home Wednesday as the New York Mets and starting pitcher Bartolo Colon agreed on a two-year deal that will pay him $20 million for his ages 41-42 seasons, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. He'll fill the No. 1 starter void with Matt Harvey expected to miss the season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Pittsburgh Pirates also landed a starting pitcher, inking Edinson Volquez (pictured) to a one-year, $5 million deal. The deal is only worth mentioning because of the potential that the Bucs can straighten out another talented, yet inconsistent pitcher as they did with Francisco Liriano in 2013.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted that the move wouldn't preclude the club from re-signing A.J. Burnett, although Volquez would likely become a very expensive middle reliever should the team enter the season with a healthy starting five that would include Burnett, Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez and Charlie Morton, who was signed to a three-year, $21 million contract extension earlier in the day.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports the deal buys out Morton's final year of arbitration and includes a $9.5 million club option for 2017.
First Base Options for Brewers
With Corey Hart moving on to Seattle, the Brewers will turn their attention elsewhere to find their next first baseman. And if general manager Doug Melvin has his way, it will be a more well-rounded player than they've had in the past.
"I'd like to find a 1B who can play first. We've had so many guys who haven't played first," said Melvin, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Not only does James Loney (pictured) fit that description, the left-handed hitter would be a solid fit in a very right-handed-heavy lineup. His asking price could be more than the team would like to pay, though, according to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
With Logan Morrison also off the market, the team could continue to pursue a deal with the Mets for Ike Davis or possibly Mitch Moreland of the Rangers. Interestingly enough, Seattle's acquisition of Hart and Morrison could also put last year's starting first baseman, Justin Smoak, on the trade block.
Garza Nearing Deal?
Matt Garza (pictured), one of the top-three free-agent starting pitchers on the market, could be the first domino to fall after Jayson Stark of ESPN tweeted that the 30-year-old right-hander was 24-48 hours from signing.
Stark wrote that there is a lot of buzz surrounding the Diamondbacks, who are known to be making the acquisition of a No. 1 starter their top priority. The Angels are also in the mix, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, while Jon Heyman adds the Twins to the list of interested teams.
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers prefers signing a free-agent starter to a short-term deal, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, while Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register says the Angels aren't close to a deal with any player.
After dishing out $49 million to Ricky Nolasco and another $24 million to Phil Hughes, the Twins are still in need of rotation help and could end up committing over $150 million to three starting pitchers if they were to ink Garza.
Ibañez a Fit with the Halos?
After trading away outfielders Peter Bourjos and Mark Trumbo to fill other needs on the roster, the Los Angeles Angels are in the market for another hitter and free agent Raul Ibañez (pictured) is on their radar.
According to Jayson Stark, the Angels and the 41-year-old Ibanez are closing in on a deal. The team saved approximately $4 million in the deal that sent Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks (Trumbo's expected salary in arbitration would account for the savings) and could reinvest that to add Ibañez.
The veteran would likely log most of his at-bats as the designated hitter, although he did play 99 games in left field in 2013 for the Mariners. His value lies in his bat, which produced a .793 OPS and 29 homers in 124 games.
Infante Close to Making Decision, Phillips in Play?
The Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees are each in pursuit of free-agent second baseman Omar Infante (pictured), whose signing could trigger trade talks for Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips and possibly Rickie Weeks of the Brewers.
Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports reported that the 31-year-old Infante is in talks with the Royals and two other teams, while Jon Heyman confirmed that the Yankees were another team in the mix. Other teams who could be in search of second base help include the Orioles and Blue Jays.
Once Infante goes off the board, the free-agent market would no longer offer any strong second base options and those teams still looking for help could approach the Reds or the Brewers about a trade.
Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the 32-year-old Phillips was still "in play," despite mixed reports on his availability this offseason, while Adam McCalvy of MLB.com tweeted that Weeks' future in Milwaukee is "up in the air" after manager Ron Roenicke confirmed that Scooter Gennett has the edge in the battle for the starting job.
It's pure speculation that Weeks, who is due $11 million in 2014, would be available, but Gennett's presence makes it likely that the Brewers would move the former All-Star after he struggled for much of the past two seasons.
The Latest on Masahiro Tanaka
With Major League Baseball and Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball having agreed to terms on a new posting system—there would be a maximum post fee of $20 million, according to the Japan Times—there is a chance that Masahiro Tanaka's team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, will not post their star pitcher for the 2014 season.
While Ken Rosenthal reported that team president Yozo Tachibana was undecided on whether they would post Tanaka or not, $20 million is substantially lower than they would have received under the old system. Yu Darvish's posting fee was $51.7 million, while Daisuke Matsuzaka cost the Red Sox $52.1 million for the rights to negotiate a deal with him in the 2006 winter.
If a deal can be finalized and Rakuten allows Tanaka the opportunity to pitch in the majors next season, there's a strong likelihood that a bidding war would ensue between several teams who would have no problem bidding $20 million to be included.
The Diamondbacks are expected to make the 25-year-old Tanaka (pictured) their top priority, according to Rosenthal. While they're hesitant to give free-agent starters a long-term deal, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets that they'd go longer for Tanaka.
Other teams expected to be in on Tanaka include the Cubs, according to Bruce Levine of WSCR, the Rangers, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and the Yankees, according to Jeff Passan.
It's far from a guarantee that it will actually happen, but this is certainly shaping up to be one interesting bidding war if it does.
Ban on Home Plate Collisions by 2015?
Major League Baseball plans to enforce a ban on home plate collisions as early as the 2014 season, if the MLBPA can approve it quick enough, and no later than 2015.
The chairman of MLB's rules committee, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson, announced the news earlier today.
“This is, I think, in response to a few issues that have arisen,” Alderson said. “One is just the general occurrence of injuries from these incidents at home plate that affect players, both runners and catchers. And also kind of the general concern about concussions that exists not only in baseball but throughout professional sports and amateur sports today.”
While the rule is not finalized, Buster Olney reports the new rules will ban the blocking of the plate by catchers and targeting of the catcher by the runner. Questionable plays will be reviewable and players subject to disciplinary action.
When the topic came up early last month, I wrote that it would be the right move. It would just be a few decades too late.