Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year, New MLB Rumors

Nelson Cruz is among those still wondering where his next contract is.

Happy New Year to one and all. We are just 43 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. A truly great Valentine's Day gift. There are quite a number of free agents still not signed, but I would expect some trades, mostly minor, to occur prior to spring training.

The biggest news right now is, of course, the chase for Masahiro Tanaka. With the posting fee reduced to $20MM there are plenty of teams that will try to persuade the Japanese star to sign with them. Only a handful will be able to afford the $100MM he's expected (or expecting) to sign for.

ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that, according to some Major League execs, the Seattle Mariners could be big time players in the negotation battle. The Yankees have to be concerned after the ridiculous contract that Mariners gave Robinson Cano. Apparently, they still have quite a bit of cash to play with.

You can onlyhope that Ichiro Suzuki refuses to discuss playing in Seattle with Tanaka and only will talk about playing in New York..and only discuss the positives.

There are other big name pitchers on the market, though the names don't necessarily merit the contracts they are looking for. Matt GarzaErvin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez are tops among them. The Twins, who already signed Phil Hughes and re-signed Mike Pelfrey, are willing to give big money, but not years to a pitcher like Garza. Then again the report was from ESPNradio 1500's Darren Wolfson who also reported last week that the Twins had an interest in Tanaka. I hadn't laughed that hard in a while. Everyone has an interest, but the Twins NEVER spend that kind of money...well, outside of Joe Mauer and that hasn't worked out so well.

The Cleveland Plains Dealer's Paul Hoynes reported that Jimenez is looking for $17MM-$20MM annually. Apparently he needs that much to get counseling for his delusions. Jimenez was phenomenal in the first half of 2010 and has been downright awful in every season since, except for the second half of last year (1.82 ERA). But you don't give a guy that much money based on 13 starts.

Santana is another pitcher who is clearly pricing himself out of the market. The right-hander has been too inconsistent in his career to command an upper dollar contract. The Arizona Diamondbacks are interested in Tanaka, but are more likely to be able to sign Santana, whom they have major interest in.

Bronson Arroyo is still out there, but he appears to be everyone's plan 'B'. Perhaps he's asking for too much money after hearing WFAN's Mike Francesa talk about him like he's Walter Johnson.

No rumor here; good luck to Mark Mulder who is attempting a comeback with the Los Angeles Angels. The left-hander hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2008 due to shoulder problems. He's been working as a commentator since then, but decided to give it another try. The 36-yr old signed a minor league deal with an invite to spring training and reportedly threw in the low 90's during December auditions.

It's not just the big names pitchers still waiting for offers. Outfielder Nelson Cruz, who was one of the players suspended 50 games in 2013 for the Biogenesis scandal, has yet to find a new team. He won't be returning to his old one, the Texas Rangers, after they signed Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130MM contract. Jeff Wilson (Ft. Worth Star Telegram) reported that there are four (unnamed) teams interested in the unsigned 33-year old.

First baseman/DH Kendrys Morales is still looking for a new home as well after one season with the Mariners. Morales may never be the same player he was before he broke his leg in 2010, but he's become a productive hitter again. One that would benefit from a hitters park rather than pitcher friendly Safeco Field. Most of the rumors are writers saying "this team" should sign Morales.

Despite rumors, probably started by his agent Scott Boras, Stephen Drew will not be signed by the Yankees. Brian Cashman stated Monday that the team has no plan to sign Drew.

Two major closers remain unemployed, though one thought he had a job. Grant Balfour agreed to terms with the Baltimore Orioles on a multiple year deal, but some warning bells on an MRI of his right shoulder caused the deal to fall through.

Fernando Rodney was dominant when he closed for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 and had a pretty good year with them in 2013. Teams have to be wary, however, of Rodney inconsistent past. For most of his career, he was not a pitcher you could trust in a big situation.

Time to check some email. I wonder if I got anything from Alex Rodriguez or Randy Levine.

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