Ubaldo Jimenez has finally found a new employer, but there are still a few premier MLB free agents available on the open market, despite the fact that spring training is underway in ballparks all across Florida and Arizona.
Ervin Santana, Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales are the top targets up for grabs on the free-agent front. While there's been a noticeable lack of trade buzz in recent days, there's been plenty of talk about contract extensions for some of the brightest starts from around the game.
So, here's a look around the league at all the latest trade and free-agency updates.
Note: All Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.
Last winter, the Arizona Diamondbacks took an aggressive step when the club dished out a five-year, $32 million contract to Paul Goldschmidt. After the first baseman finished as the runner-up in NL MVP voting in 2013, that deal is looking ridiculously club-friendly.
As CEO Derek Hall explained to Nick Piecoro of azcentral.com, the team is willing to rework the deal if Goldschmidt maintains his high level of play:
If we need to make adjustments, and if he continues to perform this way—and there's no reason to think he won't—we'll consider that. There's different ways we could do it. We could add on. We could tear it up and start over.
Beginning this season, Goldschmidt will have the chance to show just how underpaid he really is.
Now that the Atlanta Braves have locked up Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel, it appears as though a long-term extension for Andrelton Simmons could be the next order of business. Joel Sherman of the New York Post provides the details:
Hear #Braves want to sign Simmons long term but sides differ on offensive value now/future. Hitting pays huge, defense doesn’t.— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) February 16, 2014
As Sherman observes, the jury is still out on just what type of hitter Simmons will be at the big-league level.
Last year during his first full MLB season, Simmons hit .248/.296/.396 with 17 home runs. The power numbers were impressive, but his minor-league track record suggests that type of output might not be sustainable. Previously, his single-season high for home runs was six, which he accomplished in 2012 while splitting time between Double-A and the Braves.
The Baltimore Orioles have bolstered the club's rotation after agreeing to a four-year, $50 million deal with Ubaldo Jimenez, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Heyman adds that some of the money in the deal is expected to be deferred.
Since Jimenez turned down a qualifying offer from the Cleveland Indians, the Orioles will have to surrender the No. 17 overall pick in the draft. Last year, the right-hander went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA with a 9.6 K/9 ratio.
Now that the starting staff has been revamped, the next step for the club could be determining how to proceed with shortstop J.J. Hardy, whose contract is set to expire at the end of the 2014 season.
The two-time Gold Glover "could demand a deal of at least five years possibly in the $15-$17 million per-year range," according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
If you were the Orioles' front office, how many years and how many dollars would you offer Hardy?
Ryan Dempster has decided to take off the 2014 season, as Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports explains:
BREAKING: Ryan Dempster will not pitch for #RedSox in 2014 due to physical reasons and his desire to spend more time with his kids.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 16, 2014
Rosenthal also adds that as a result of Dempster's decision, the Boston Red Sox will be off the hook for the $13.25 million salary the club owed the veteran right-hander in 2014.
The obvious question that follows is just how the club will re-invest that money. Should the Red Sox front office use the money earmarked for Dempster to re-sign Stephen Drew, or should the club hold onto the money for now and spend it later as part of a midseason acquisition?
Jeff Samardzija is resigned to the fact that his career with the Chicago Cubs is likely nearing an end, as Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The two sides have failed to come to an agreement on a new long-term contract extension, and subsequently Samardzija is expected to be shipped out in advance of the July 31 trade deadline. However, the right-hander is simply focusing on performing on the mound as he explained to Wittenmyer:
All I can do is increase my value as much as possible, and I think in the end it's going to help the organization no matter what. Either it helps the organization by keeping me here and proving to them that I'm that guy, or I increase my value and it helps them get prospects in return.
For now, the second outcome appears to be by far the more likely.
The Chicago White Sox appear to be in no rush to sign Jose Quintana to a contract extension, as Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com reports:
More extension talk. Source does not expect discussions between #WhiteSox and Jose Quintana during spring training.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) February 16, 2014
Last year, the left-hander enjoyed an excellent campaign for the White Sox as he went 9-7 with a 3.51 ERA in 33 starts. Quintana can't become a free agent until after the 2018 season, so the White Sox have plenty of time to mull over a potential new deal for the starter.
It's been a quiet offseason for the Cincinnati Reds. The most recent club acquisition was reliever Brett Marshall whom the team claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs. Chicago had previously snagged the right-hander from the New York Yankees back in December.
GM Walt Jocketty explained to Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that Marshall had "one of the best changeups in the Yankees organization." Last year, Marshall made 24 starts for the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, posting a 7-10 record with a 5.13 ERA. Marshall also made three appearances out of the Yankees bullpen with a 4.50 ERA.
The Cleveland Indians have inked Aaron Harang to a minor-league deal, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. GM Chris Antonetti explained to Hoynes that Harang will be in the running to claim the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
Last year, the veteran appeared in games for the Seattle Mariners and the New York Mets, posting a 5-12 record with a 5.40 ERA in 26 starts. Despite those underwhelming numbers, Harang had a solid end to the season as he went 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA and a 10.2 K/9 ratio with the Mets.
The Colorado Rockies are among a group of teams that are trying to land Ervin Santana at a bargain price, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Back at the end of January, Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post had reported that the team had a "mild interest" in the right-hander.
However, now that Jimenez has signed with the Baltimore Orioles, it appears unlikely that Santana's price tag will drop into the Rockies' price range.
The Detroit Tigers appear "unlikely" to sign reliever Ryan Madson, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com.
Beck confirmed that the Tigers attended a recent workout for Madson, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, which has kept him off a big-league mound for the past two seasons. However, Beck characterized the club's attendance at the workout as nothing more than "due diligence."
In 2011, his most recent MLB season, Madison saved 32 games for the Philadelphia Phillies while posting a 2.37 ERA.
After getting designated for assignment by the Houston Astros, Brett Wallace lost his spot on the team's 40-man roster. However, the fact that Wallace is now a nonroster invitee to camp hasn't changed his approach, as he explained to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com:
"Whether I'm on the roster or not on the roster, my biggest concern coming into camp was being ready to go and playing well and showing them what I could do and try to win a job."
The first baseman, who hit just .221 in 2013, will be fighting for a job with Jesus Guzman, Japhet Amador, Marc Krauss and Jonathan Singleton.
The Kansas City Royals have claimed infielder/outfielder Jimmy Paredes off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles, according to Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. The Royals designated reliever Maikel Cleto for assignment to clear room on the roster.
As McCullough notes, Paredes has had a busy offseason as he was previously claimed by the Miami Marlins in November and the Baltimore Orioles last week.
Last year, Paredes hit .192 in 48 while playing for the Houston Astros. In parts of three big-league seasons, Paredes owns a career .234 average.
Mark Mulder's return from a five-year retirement was supposed to be one of the most intriguing storylines of the entire spring. Instead, on the second day of camp with the Los Angeles Angels, Mulder ruptured his left Achilles tendon, cutting short his comeback bid.
When asked by Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com if he might attempt yet another comeback, Mulder explained:
"I'd love to say yes, but I don't know. I have to wait and see what the doctors say—see what the process is of how healthy I can get it, how good it feels."
The rehab process is expected to take between five and eight months, which means the soonest Mulder could return to the mound would be 2015, according to Gonzalez.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Hanley Ramirez have "privately" begun contract-extension discussions, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
The shortstop recently expressed to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he wants to be "a Dodger for life."
To make that happen, the Dodgers will need to spend a ton of cash, as Ramirez is fresh off a sensational season. Last year, Ramirez hit .345/.402/.638 with 20 home runs and a 190 OPS+ in just 86 games.
An intriguing consideration to factor into the valuation of Ramirez's next deal is the fact that the three-time All-Star could shift to third base as soon as 2015, according to Cafardo.
If you were GM Ned Colletti, how lucrative of an offer would you make to Ramirez to keep the talented infielder as a "Dodger for life"?
The Miami Marlins have been quiet on the transaction wire as of late, but in the run up to spring training, the club did ink Carlos Marmol to a one-year, $1.25 million deal.
Manager Mike Redmond explained to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun-Sentinel, that the team views the right-hander as a potential setup option, assuming he can keep the ball in the strike zone. As Rodriguez notes, Marmol posted an impressive 10.8 K/9 ratio in 2014, but he also walked 7.3 batters per nine innings.
After inking Carlos Gomez to a contract extension last spring, Jean Segura is the Milwaukee Brewers' "primary target" for an extension this year, per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Last year, the shortstop earned an All-Star nod in his first full big-league campaign as he hit .294 with 12 home runs. However, a closer examination of the numbers suggests that the Brewers would be best served by holding out on giving an extension.
During the first half of the 2013 season, Segura hit .325 with an .849 OPS, but after the All-Star break, the shortstop hit just .241 with a .583 OPS.
There's still an outside chance that either Nelson Cruz or Stephen Drew could end up with the Minnesota Twins, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN:
"The Twins haven't ruled out either, per sources, but also aren't willing to meet the current demands sought by their respective agents, Andy Katz and Scott Boras."
As Wolfson explains, the Twins actually have the "financial flexibility" to add either Cruz or Drew. So why isn't the club willing to meet the demands of either Cruz or Drew?
The likely response is that even with the addition of either one of those two players, the Twins would still struggle to match up with AL Central leaders like the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and the Kansas City Royals.
Even Ike Davis is surprised that he's still a member of the New York Mets, as the first baseman explained to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York: "The articles would say I wasn't going to be here, so a little bit of shock that I didn't get traded."
Davis appeared to wear out his welcome in New York last season as he hit just .205 with a .661 OPS. His 2014 season didn't get off to the most fortuitous start either. Davis told Rubin that he was supposed to meet with manager Terry Collins to discuss the upcoming season but had missed the meeting.
When Rubin asked Davis if he expects to still be with the team on Opening Day, he commented: "Once again, that's always up in the air."
So, what do you think Mets fans? Will Davis be with the team to start the year, or will the club ship him out between now and Opening Day?
The New York Yankees have already added Masahiro Tanaka to a revamped rotation, and Ervin Santana could be next, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo lists the Yankees as one of several teams in on talks with the right-hander, and adds: "Don't be surprised if their efforts intensify."
With the news that Derek Jeter plans to call it quits at the end of the 2014 season, the club has already launched into the process of finding his successor.
Cafardo mentions Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians, J.J. Hardy of the Baltimore Orioles and Hanley Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers as potential options. In the case of Ramirez, it's worth noting that his long-term future as a shortstop remains uncertain.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News also adds Jed Lowrie of the Oakland Athletics to the mix. The Yankees were also one of the clubs that scouted Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
If you were part of the Yankees' brain trust, which player would you look to acquire in order to replace Jeter?
The Oakland Athletics have made yet another addition to the club's bullpen. Oakland has claimed left-hander Joe Savery off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies, as the team announced via its Twitter account.
Last year while pitching out of the Phillies bullpen, Savery went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA in 18 games. As Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle explains, the left-hander had "weird" splits in 2013. Left-handers batted .409 off Savery, but right-handers hit just .118.
The Philadelphia Phillies were one of the teams that scouted Ryan Madson at his recent workout, as GM Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. The club got positive feedback on Madson's performance, as Amaro noted: "Our reports were good when we saw him, so he's going to sign somewhere."
However, as Zolecki points out, there are at least two reasons why a return to Philadelphia appears unlikely for Madson.
First, if the Phillies were actually negotiating with Madson then Amaro's comments likely would have been much more vague. Second, the Phillies appear unprepared to hand out the major-league deal that Madson has reportedly been seeking.
The Pittsburgh Pirates appear to be out on Kendrys Morales, as Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe explains:
Kendrys Morales status: Don't rule out Seattle. Word is Duquette can't get financial go-ahead and Pittsburgh won't part with the draft pick.— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) February 17, 2014
The Pirates would certainly benefit from adding a powerful bat like that of Morales at first base, but the switch-hitter does have his drawbacks, aside from the loss of a draft pick.
Most notably, Morales has played just 59 games in the field over the past two seasons. That lack of recent defensive work suggests that Morales would be a poor fit for any NL club.
The San Diego Padres recently hosted a showcase for Cuban standouts Aledmys Diaz and Odrisamer Despaigne (pictured) at the club's Peoria Sports Complex, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com.
As Sanchez reported via Twitter, the workout for Diaz who is a shortstop and Despaigne who is a right-handed pitcher drew quite the crowd.
There are scouts from over 20 teams here to watch showcase for Aledyms Diaz at Padres camp in AZ. pic.twitter.com/m8Ysv6Fjsw— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) February 13, 2014
Diaz is considered to be the more high-profile target of the two. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the infielder could command a deal in the range of $20-$30 million.
The San Francisco Giants were also one of the clubs to attend the showcase of Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
However, it's difficult to gauge just how serious the club's interest level is. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle explained via Twitter that the "Giants look at every player in showcase."
One of the biggest stroylines for the club in 2014 will be what becomes of Pablo Sandoval, whose contract expires at the end of the season. The Giants and Sandoval have both expressed a preliminary interest in working out a long-term contract extension, per Schulman:
Sandoval also said he would be open to a contract extension before the season, an idea that GM Brian Sabean has broached. Sandoval is not asking for an extension, but would listen if approached.
The Giants have shown a willingness to offer their players extensions before they hit the open market, as they recently did with Hunter Pence and Tim Lincecum. However, the decision on Sandoval will be particularly tricky as the slugger has struggled with weight issues throughout his career.
With the injury to Hisashi Iwakuma, the Seattle Mariners' top priority now is to find an additional starting pitcher, per Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune.
Like others, am hearing the #Mariners are taking another look at available starting pitchers and have cooled on pursuit of OF Nelson Cruz.— Bob Dutton (@TNT_Mariners) February 14, 2014
The most obvious option for Seattle would be Ervin Santana. As Dutton observes, signing Santana would only cost the team its third-round selection as the team's fist pick is protected and the second-round selection was already forfeited to sign Robinson Cano.
A rival executive also explained to Dutton that he wouldn't rule the Mariners out of the hunt for Nelson Cruz just yet:
The best deal he can get will still probably be Seattle. They need what he can deliver, but they're in the driver's seat unless an injury creates a need on another team.
Meanwhile, there's still a slim chance that Kendrys Morales could return to Seattle, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. As Cafardo notes, the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates no longer appear to be potential landing spots for the DH/first baseman.
The St. Louis Cardinals were among the array of teams that watched the showcase for shortstop Aledmys Diaz, per Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explained via Twitter, that was not the first time that the club had scouted the highly sought after Diaz:
@KarlBuscheck They have watched whenever possible. Any hesitance would be on the potential for overpaying in an auction vs. bigger wallets.— Derrick Goold (@dgoold) February 17, 2014
The Cardinals don't have an urgent need to add a middle infielder with Jhonny Peralta stationed at shortstop and Kolten Wong and Mark Ellis covering second base.
Still, considering the impressive glove work that Diaz flashes in the video above, it's not difficult to see why the Cardinals are so intrigued by the Cuban.
Note: Video courtesy of Youtube.com.
David Price likes his chances of sticking with the Tampa Bay Rays for the entire 2014 season, as the left-hander explained via the Associated Press:
Right now, I don't think there's a very good chance of being traded because I'm here in spring training. I felt like if I could make it to spring training, that would solidify my place on the team.
Price remains confident for now, but until the July 31 trade deadline passes, there's still a very real possibility that the Rays could deal the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner.
With Opening Day rapidly approaching, Nelson Cruz appears to be running short on options.
The lack of opportunities for the slugger has led Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News to speculate that a return to the Texas Rangers might actually be the "best" option for Cruz at this point.
Grant suggests that the Rangers and Cruz try to come to an agreement on a one-year pact with Cruz serving as the club's DH.
From the team's perspective, such a deal would make perfect sense. For Cruz, though, a one-year deal would be far less favorable, as he would likely have an even more challenging time trying to land a multiyear deal next winter than he has this offseason.
The Toronto Blue Jays remain one of the "most logical suitors" for Ervin Santana, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Blue Jays urgency to strike a deal with Santana is likely to increase substantially now that the Baltimore Orioles have snagged Ubaldo Jimenez.
Toronto also appears to be in the market to upgrade the club's infield. The Blue Jays were among the teams that scouted the showcase of Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports.
With Jose Reyes already established at shortstop, the Blue Jays could consider using Diaz at second base. For now, Ryan Goins and Maicer Izturis are the top two candidates to hold down second base.
The Washington Nationals had a scout at the workout for free-agent reliever Ryan Madson, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
Kilgore reports that "a person familiar with the situation" explained to him that the club was "impressed" by Madson's performance. Kilgore also observes that the Nationals have a strong track record of rehabbing pitchers with elbow injuries, such as Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann.
While the Nationals are certainly not lacking for bullpen options, Madson would nonetheless represent an intriguing buy-low option if he can be signed on a club-friendly deal.
If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck.