Trade fits for Jacoby Ellsbury.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
If the Red Sox had won one more game and made the playoffs in 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury may well have won the AL Most Valuable Player. He has proved he is capable of great work.
But because of circumstances, there would appear to be an extremely limited market for him if the Red Sox decide to trade him for pitching this winter -- and that's an option they're able to seriously explore now that they have signed career center fielder Shane Victorino. Maybe an Ellsbury deal is even likely at this point, which would go a long ways toward explaining why the Sox have maintained contract talks with free agents Cody Ross and Nick Swisher.
Ellsbury will become eligible for free agency next fall, and he's represented by agent Scott Boras, so the presumption is and will continue to be that he won't sign a contract extension with the Red Sox or any other team before hitting the market. Ellsbury has been plagued by injuries in two of the past three seasons, so it would behoove him to have a strong 2013 before going out and selling his wares.
For many, many teams, it makes no sense to trade for Ellsbury now. Cubs president Theo Epstein knows Ellsbury well, but Chicago isn't close to contending, so there's no reason for the Cubs to swap assets for Ellsbury now. The same could be said for the Indians and a lot of other clubs working to get back to the top of their division.
Some small-market teams must desperately cling to their young pitching, which is what the Red Sox are looking for. Some teams, such as the Royals, have other priorities.
But here are some teams that could theoretically be a fit in an Ellsbury deal. (WARNING: SPECULATION AHEAD)
1. Atlanta Braves
They want to win now and Ellsbury would be perfect for their every-day lineup, placed at the top. The Braves could stack up this way with Ellsbury:
3B Martin Prado
RF Jason Heyward
1B Freddie Freeman
2B Dan Uggla
C Brian McCann
LF B.J. Upton
SS Andrelton Simmons
The Braves have the pitching talent to deal to make it happen in Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran.
2. Cincinnati Reds
They could use a leadoff hitter and a center fielder and they have some depth in their rotation, especially with Aroldis Chapman slated to make the transition from the bullpen into the starting five. Homer Bailey made great strides in the second half of last season, posting a 3.21 ERA -- in fact, the Reds have talked to him about an extension. He could be a fit for the Red Sox. Maybe Mike Leake, still early in his career, could interest Boston. It all depends on how they evaluate the Cincinnati staff. The Reds also have Mat Latos, but it's hard to imagine Cincinnati swapping the talented right-hander for a one-year rental, given all that they traded for him last winter.
If the Reds got Ellsbury, this is what their roster framework could look like in 2013:
2B Brandon Phillips
1B Joey Votto
LF Ryan Ludwick
RF Jay Bruce
3B Todd Frazier
C Ryan Hanigan
SS Zack Cozart
With starters Bronson Arroyo, Latos and Bailey, plus bullpen arms in Sean Marshall, Jonathan Broxton and Chapman, it's a team capable of winning a World Series. Though they probably feel the 2012 team was, too.
3. Texas Rangers
We don't know yet if they'll re-sign Josh Hamilton, but either way, Ellsbury could fit, and could do tremendous damage at the top of their lineup, in the Rangers' home ballpark. Texas has a range of pitching prospects it could deal. The Rangers are good enough to be in win-now mode every year.
4. Philadelphia Phillies
They desperately need some outfield help, and the Red Sox have had interest in Cliff Lee in the past and have the ability to absorb his extraordinary salary -- he's owed $87 million over the next three seasons. Among lesser options the prospect-thin Phillies could offer would be Vance Worley, though again, it all depends on how the Red Sox would evaluate him. Boston is not going to get a huge package of players in return for Ellsbury, given that he's so close to free agency.
5. Seattle Mariners
Ellsbury is far from a perfect option for them, because they're probably still a ways away from seriously contending. But if the Mariners were desperate to change the conversation in Seattle, and they want an alternative to the expensive Michael Bourn, the Mariners have the young pitching to make a trade.
Other long shots: Arizona, which has been discussing a lot of possibilities and could use an outfielder in return if it swaps Justin Upton; San Diego, which has the prospect power to make a play on any major player it targeted. The Padres are becoming a sleeping giant, given the depth of their organization.
Elsewhere, people have discussed Boston's moves so far. The signing of Shane Victorino is adding fuel to the Ellsbury trade talk, writes Scott Lauber. Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be on the block. Boston's signings are no sure thing, writes John Tomase.
The signings are being widely panned in the industry. As this offseason began, one team assessed Victorino's market value at something in the range of $6 million or $7 million for one year. A lot has changed in a month, for sure. The Red Sox are changing the culture of the team, writes Nick Cafardo.
• Dale Sveum was shot in the ear and his reaction was classic Dale Sveum: No big deal.
• The Rays traded for Yunel Escobar, and slowly, their possible lineup is taking shape. Here are the players who will likely hold positions:
1B James Loney
2B Ben Zobrist
3B Evan Longoria
OF Desmond Jennings
OF Matt Joyce
OF Brandon Guyer
On one hand, the addition of Escobar makes sense for them, because he has a tremendous team-friendly contract and, when he's at his best, he's a great value. On the other hand, the Rays have to play an efficient style to win and Escobar is known as a player who makes a lot of mistakes, in his decision-making, in his defense, in his baserunning, in his situational hitting. So, we'll see how it goes.
Andrew Friedman believes Escobar learned from his eye-black mistake. By the way: Other teams are convinced the Rays will deal one of their starters, with the Royals seen as the most likely trade partner.
• The Marlins say they'll keep Ricky Nolasco. They have been cajoled by MLB about not stripping down to the bone, and Nolasco is one of the very last recognizable players on their roster.
• The Diamondbacks have been extremely creative and aggressive in their attempts to land a shortstop. Among their discussions to fill that spot has been a four-team concept that would have netted them Asdrubal Cabrera from the Indians -- presumably, young pitching would have gone to the Indians. That deal was dormant as of Tuesday evening, although some involved hoped that it would be resurrected.
As Nick Piecoro writes, they have a lot of balls in the air.
• The Phillies may be eyeing Michael Young.
• The Nationals agreed to terms with Dan Haren. Three key words: Pending a physical. The Cubs and other teams passed on possible deals for Haren -- a highly respected pitcher -- because of concerns about his right hip.
The deciding factor for him was winning. He could solidify their rotation, writes Amanda Comak.
Meanwhile, the Nationals won't budge on their two-year offer to Adam LaRoche. He doesn't have a lot of places to possibly land to begin with, and the draft-pick compensation attached to him if he signs elsewhere is an impediment for him.
From Adam Kilgore's story:
Though nothing has advanced between the two sides, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo and LaRoche's agent, Mike Milchin of the SFX agency, continue talking. Rizzo reached out to Milchin on Monday night and the two have already met face-to-face during the winter meeting at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.
"I still feel optimistic that we can get him signed," Rizzo said during his Tuesday session with reporters. "He wants to be here and we want him here. I'm optimistic."
• The Phillies are quiet amid the frenzy.
• Stephen Drew's agent is here talking to a number of teams, but one official says the notion of him signing with the Yankees as a superutility player doesn't fit with what Drew will want -- a chance to be an every-day shortstop. The teams that could theoretically want him for that: Detroit and Oakland.
• The Giants' offseason work is just about done, with the signing of Marco Scutaro.
• Kelvim Escobar, who hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2009, is throwing well again in winter ball and is drawing interest.
Moves, deals and decisions
1. The Tigers don't have time to wait for Brennan Boesch any longer.
2. Gene Lamont has been shifted from third base coach to bench coach.
3. The Tigers are maintaining faith in Rick Porcello, at a time when their chances of signing Anibal Sanchez appear remote.
4. The Royals won't trade Wil Myers to get R.A. Dickey.
5. The Cardinals are monitoring the second base market. The Giants thought they were their biggest competition for Marco Scutaro.
6. Bengie Molina has a new role on Mike Matheny's staff.
7. The Indians lost out on Shane Victorino. They probably were used for leverage.
8. Jack Hannahan is drawing interest, as Paul Hoynes writes. He could make a lot of sense for the Yankees, because he'll be relatively inexpensive, and he's a left-handed hitter.
9. The Reds remain very optimistic about signing Ryan Ludwick.
10. Carlos Marmol is the Cubs' closer for now.
11. The White Sox are laying a lot of groundwork.
12. The Brewers are unlikely to make a big splash this offseason. They are talking with Ryan Dempster, and as written here last week, he could be a fit for them because of his preference to live near Chicago.
Leon Halip/Getty Images
New York's budget may mean Granderson is shipped elsewhere.
13. The Yankees find themselves priced out of the market. They are talking with Kevin Youkilis, along with Jeff Keppinger and just about anybody who can play the left side of the infield. Curtis Granderson's days with the Yankees may be numbered.
14. Houston has high hopes for prospect Alex White. The Astros swapped Wilton Lopez.
15. The Braves signed a backup catcher. The Braves could sign Reed Johnson, but won't sign Matt Diaz, writes David O'Brien.
16. Jon Daniels says the talk of the Rangers making progress on a deal with Josh Hamilton is overblown … but the two sides will be talking.
17. The Mets continue to discuss trade offers for R.A. Dickey here.
18. Mariano Rivera may or may not try to pitch in 2014.
19. Joe Girardi will go into next year as a lame-duck manager.
20. Jose Tabata will have to earn his playing time.
21. A Dodgers offer was rejected. They still plan to start Hanley Ramirez at shortstop.
22. The Mariners could be in the market for two outfielders. Unless the Phillies swoop in to sign Michael Bourn, it's hard to see where he's going to get a big payday unless he goes to the Mariners.
23. The signing of Dan Haren might help the Angels' pursuit of Zack Greinke, writes Jeff Fletcher.
24. The Padres are quiet here.
Dings and dents
Manny Machado overcame a meningitis scare.
Victorino's deal doomed to fail.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Shane Victorino's three-year, $39 million contract with the Boston Red Sox vaults to the top of the rankings of the worst contracts signed so far this offseason, giving him virtually the same total dollars that Angel Pagan -- a superior player -- will receive in a contract that's a year longer.
The Sox have now squandered a substantial amount of the payroll flexibility they obtained over the summer when they traded Adrian Gonzalez to the Los Angeles Dodgers just to rid themselves of two awful contracts, yet they have little to show for their recent spending spree.
Victorino is a platoon outfielder at this point, and paying him $13 million a year, even with the rapid salary escalation we're seeing this offseason, is mad as pants. His bat speed was noticeably slower in 2012, especially later in the season, and despite being a switch-hitter, he doesn't really hit right-handed pitching:
That's a .244/.311/.390 composite line over 1,388 plate appearances, and at age 32 he's extremely unlikely to suddenly learn how to hit from the left side. Victorino delivers the bulk of his value in the 150 or so plate appearances he gets against left-handed pitching each year and should be platooned against most right-handers, which means the Red Sox just paid $13 million a year for the equivalent of a fourth outfielder.
Victorino remains a good defensive outfielder, more due to his above-average arm and his foot speed than good reads on balls hit to him in center, and he can add value on the bases because he reads pitchers well, even though overall his instincts for the game are poor. He could handle center for a year if the Red Sox chose to trade Jacoby Ellsbury and wanted to give top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. another full season in the minors before promoting him, and then slide to right or left, with Ryan Kalish in the other corner if he can stay healthy. But if Victorino plays mostly right field, he'll face a higher offensive standard, and they'll likely find themselves looking for a platoon partner for him sooner rather than later, while wondering what better values were available for the money they gave him.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Phillies are the team most in need of a center fielder and their former farmhand Michael Bourn is the only major center fielder left on the market. So there should be room for a deal there, unless the team chooses to sign Josh Hamilton and hope he can hold up in center, or try to swing a trade for Ellsbury using their few remaining young assets, such Domonic Brown, Vance Worley, or Trevor May.
Rumors.Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Could A's eye Gordon?
PM ETDee Gordon | Dodgers Recommend0Comments1EmailThere is a shortage of quality shortstops in baseball putting a premium value on the good ones, and stretching that value down to the top defenders and those with some upside. Los Angeles Dodgers youngster Dee Gordon falls into the latter category and is drawing trade interest. Among the clubs that have contacted the Dodgers about the 24-year-old is the Seattle Mariners, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.
The Dodgers appear to have a plan on the left side of their infield that includes Hanley Ramirez at shortstop and Luis Cruz manning third base. This leaves Gordon without a place to play, suggesting the most value he has to the club is via trade.
For Seattle, Gordon could allow a trade of Brendan Ryan, who could earn more than $3 million via arbitration. The M's picked up middle infielder Robert Andino last month giving the team some depth. Such a trade could also free up the Mariners to deal prospect Nick Franklin in a trade for a hitter.
The A's, who considered Yunel Escobar but ultimately passed, could be one of the teams asking about Gordon.
- Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Robert Andino, Brendan Ryan, Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Dodgers, Dee Gordon
Sluggish market for Choo
PM ETShin-Soo Choo | Indians Recommend0Comments2EmailThe Cleveland Indians are believed to be shopping right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, but so far the market has been slow, and the deal the Minnesota Twins made in sending Denard Span to Washington may be having a negative effect on the Tribe's attempt to get value in return, tweets FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.
Span, who is under contract for three more seasons, brought back Alex Meyer, a high-upside starting pitcher, but one who has yet to reach Double-A. Choo is only under contract through 2013. As a result, his value is blurred.
Choo's value could improve once the top outfielders on the free agent market sign, leaving clubs still in need with fewer options. One place Choo may fit well is Atlanta. The Braves have young pitching, and the Indians need that very same thing.
- Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Shin-Soo Choo, Denard Span, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves
AM ETNick Swisher | Yankees Recommend0Comments6EmailFree agent Nick Swisher is waiting for Josh Hamilton to sign and prefers the San Francisco Giants, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Swisher is believed to like the idea of playing in New York or Los Angeles, but none of the four clubs in those two cities appear to be a fit.
Swisher may be the No. 2 outfield bat on the market behind Hamilton and could fit in Boston, who is said to be in on him.
The Giants, who just re-signed Angel Pagan and tendered a contract offer to Hunter Pence, may not have the payroll left to compete for Swisher, especially after re-signing infielder Marco Scutaro, too.
If Swisher's market sinks a bit, the Seattle Mariners could be a fit, though Swisher is almost certainly going to want to play for a team with a chance to contend.
Swisher could fit in Texas, with or without a Hamilton re-signing. The Rangers could use Swisher in a corner outfield spot or at first base, or both.
The Red Sox are also a possibility, with time available at first base and in the outfield.
- Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Nick Swisher, New York Yankees, Texas Rangers, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox
Kubel on the block
AM ETJason Kubel | Diamondbacks Recommend0Comments1EmailThe Arizona Diamondbacks have been in the news quite a bit this offseason, having dangled Justin Upton in trade talks and acquiring Heath Bell from the Miami Marlins. Their next move may be a trade of outfielder Jason Kubel, rather than one including Upton, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
In 2012, Kubel posted his best season since 2009 including a career-best 30 home runs. he's not generally considered a good defender, but could have good value to an American League club that can use him at designated hitter.
Kubel signed a 2-year deal with Arizona last December and is set to earn $7.5 million in 2013. His contract includes a club option for 2014 at the same price, or a $1 million buyout. The salaries are affordable for almost every team in the league, suggesting even the Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays could have interest.
- Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Jason Kubel, Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays
Market for lefty relievers
AM ETFree Agent Relievers Recommend0Comments0EmailThe relief pitching market again has seen the bar set quite high with Jeremy Affeldt's three-year, $18 million deal to remain in San Francisco. Affeldt was the top left-hander on the market, leaving a mediocre crop for the rest of the league.
Furthermore, Oliver Perez re-signed with Seattle and veteran Brian Fuentes, 37, announced his retirement last week. Sean Burnett, Randy Choate, Tim Byrdak, J.P. Howell, Pedro Feliciano and Mike Gonzalez remain on the market.
Veteran Darren Oliver is key to the free agent market for lefty relievers, as he's considering retirement. If he hangs up the spikes the Blue Jays may be in the market for one of the aforementioned southpaws, adding demand to the limited supply.
Right-hander Koji Uehara could be an alternative for clubs, as the 37-year-old held right-handed batters to a .188 average in 2012 and has historically been very good against them thanks to plus-plus control and a big-time changeup.
With Perez in the fold, Seattle could be willing to part with one of their other two solid lefty relievers in Lucas Luetge and Charlie Furbush.
- Jason A. Churchill
Tags:New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Lucas Luetge, Charlie Furbush, Oliver Perez, J.P. Howell, Tim Byrdak, Sean Burnett, Jeremy Affeldt, Brian Fuentes, Randy Choate, Pedro Feliciano, Mike Gonzalez, Koji Uehara
High price for Dickey
AM ETR.A. Dickey | Mets Recommend0Comments2EmailWe mentioned previously that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is a popular guy at the winter meetings as he ponders trade options for Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
The Mets are also discussing an extension with Dickey, who will make $5 million next season (the same as Scott Baker with the Cubs). Dickey's agent Bo McKinnis, tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com there is enough difference of opinion that he would not be surprised if a trade is completed. "I'm not saying that's our first choice, but if it happens, I'm not going to be surprised," the agent said.
The Mets continue to drive a hard bargain in any trade talk, with one rival executive telling Joel Sherman of the New York Post: "the price is through the roof. He's good, but he's a 38-year-old knuckleballer."
One team that has experienced sticker shock is the Kansas City Royals, who have no intention of surrendering top outfield prospect Wil Myers for Dickey, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star.
As many as eight teams have expressed interest in Dickey.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:New York Mets, Kansas City Royals, R.A. Dickey
A's seek a shortstop
AM ETOakland Athletics Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Oakland Athletics had significant interest in Yunel Escobar before the shortstop was traded from the Marlins to the Rays on Tuesday.
Shortstop remains an issue for the A's, with Susan Slusser reporting the club met Tuesday with Hiroyuki Nakajima's agent, Greg Genske, and possibly getting together with Scott Boras, the agent for Stephen Drew.
The A's were more than pleased with Drew's performance after acquiring him in August, but they apparently have no interest in the type of five-year deal that Boras reportedly is seeking.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Stephen Drew, Oakland Athletics
Braves pursue Reed Johnson
AM ETReed Johnson | Braves Recommend0Comments1EmailThe Braves are looking to bring back free agent outfielder Reed Johnson, and that could signal the end of the Atlanta career of Matt Diaz, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta JC.
GM Frank Wren says the club has had conversations with the agent for Johnson, who posted .290/.337/.398 numbers in 269 at-bats last season with the Cubs and Braves, including 18 pinch hits.
.The 35-year-old Johnson would fill the need for a righty-hitting bat off the bench. Diaz, who hit .220 with two homers in 108 at-bats, is no longer an option.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Matt Diaz, Reed Johnson, Atlanta Braves
Phils interested in Young?
AM ETMichael Young | Rangers Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Texas Rangers are unsure as what role Michael Young will play in 2013, particularly if they are able to re-sign outfielder Josh Hamilton.
Young was the primary designated hitter for the Rangers but also played a fair amount in the infield. As Richard Durrett details on ESPNDallas.com, Young could be in line for fewer at-bats. If the Rangers re-sign Hamilton and still have the rest of their outfield group, including center fielder Leonys Martin, manager Ron Washington could try to get at-bats for David Murphy and Nelson Cruz at DH.
Jeff Wilson of the Star Telegram says the Phillies, among the teams looking to add a bat, could be interested in Young, who has 10-5 rights and would have to approve any trade. Ranger general manager Jon Daniels said Monday he was not looking to deal Young.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Michael Young, Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers
AM ETZack Greinke | Angels Recommend0Comments2EmailThe Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly shopping right-hander Aaron Harang and southpaw Chris Capuano, a sign that they are indeed the frontrunners for free agent right-hander Zack Greinke, as reported by Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com via Twitter.
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark says Greinke is handling the courting process at a very deliberate pace, and that has left the rest of the free agent starting pitching market "in a state of near paralysis." Once Greinke decides, the other dominoes could fall quickly.
Several clubs could be fits for either mid-rotation starter via trade, including a long list of clubs searching for starting pitching tweeted by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
Capuano is signed through 2013 at $6 million with a club option for 2014 at $8 million. The 34-year-old pitched 198 innings in 2012 and posted a solid 3.72 ERA and figures to be a very attractive chip for the Dodgers.
The Red Sox checked in on Greinke, but ESPN Insider's Jim Bowden reports via Twitter that the it didn't get any further than said tire kicking.
If Greinke lands with the Dodgers, the Angels, Rangers and Red Sox could move on to Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse or potentially look into a trade for Cliff Lee.
- Doug Mittler and Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels, Chris Capuano, Kyle Lohse, Anibal Sanchez, Zack Greinke, Cliff Lee
Any progress on Hamilton?
AM ETJosh Hamilton | Rangers Recommend0Comments0EmailThere was some buzz around Nashville that the Rangers and Josh Hamilton were making progress on a multi-year deal, but Texas general manager Jon Daniels told Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com he has not communicated Hamilton's agent, Mike Moye, at the winter meetings as of Tuesday.
Daniels did acknowledge that he could meet with Moye shortly either late Tuesday night or Wednesday.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com tweeted Tuesday afternoon that progress has been made in contract talks between the former MVP and the Rangers. Rosenthal says the deal would likely be for four years and that it remains a possibility that another club could offer five years or more.
The Red Sox have also been mentioned as a potential suitor, but Boston's signing of Shane Victorino could make that far less likely. The Phillies have been linked to Hamilton, too, but they may not have the payroll flexibility to make a competitive offer without trading a significant contract, such as left-hander Cliff Lee.
- Doug Mittler and Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Phillies, Cliff Lee
Fowler deal more likely?
AM ETDexter Fowler | Rockies Recommend0Comments7EmailAs free agent outfielders continue to come off the board, the Colorado Rockies have an increasingly valuable bargaining chip in Dexter Fowler, wrote Troy Renck of the Denver Post on Tuesday.
In an updated story, Renck says keeping Fowler in Colorado could be as risky as trading him for a pitcher, given the outfielder's value may never be as high as it is now.
The Giants' Angel Pagan (four years, $40 million), the Braves' B.J. Upton (five years, $75 million) and Boston's Shane Victorino (three years, $39 million) already have signed, and the price of Josh Hamilton and Michael Bourn won't be cheap, That could prompt the Rockies to seriously consider offers from desperate teams for Fowler, who is coming off a breakout season (.300/.389/.474).
Possible targets include the Phillies, Reds and Braves, all of whom are seeking a leadoff hitter.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Atlanta Braves, Dexter Fowler, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies
Reds, Ludwick close to a deal?
AM ETRyan Ludwick | Reds Recommend0Comments0EmailReds general manager Walt Jocketty sounded optimistic Tuesday that the club would be able to retain free agent outfielder Ryan Ludwick, and Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that night the two sides were "getting close" to a deal.
MLB.com's Mark Sheldon later tweeted that the rumor of a deal being imminent was "not so true," but there was nothing to suggest the talks had collapsed either.
Ludwick ended up as one of baseball's best bargains in 2012 after signing a one-year, $2.5 million with Cincinnati as a free agent and batting .275 with 26 home runs and 80 RBI. The Reds have been linked previously to Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino, two outfielders who have landed elsewhere, so there could be more of an incentive for Jocketty to make a deal.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Ryan Ludwick, Cincinnati Reds
Third base options in the Bronx
AM ETNew York Yankees Recommend0Comments2EmailWith Alex Rodriguez headed for hip surgery that could sideline him for half the season, the New York Yankees have stepped up their search for a third baseman. GM Brian Cashman confirmed that he met Tuesday night with the agent for Kevin Youkilis, telling Andrew Marchand" "Beggars can't be choosers."
But just how serious will the Yankees be about adding their long-time Red Sox nemesis who finished last season with the White Sox? It seems unlikely the Yankees would be willing to offer an annual contract in the range of $12.25 million that Youkilis made last season, but desperate times require desperate measures. The White Sox also have expressed some interest with retaining Youkilis.
Marchand says the Yankees also are interested in Jeff Keppinger and Eric Chavez, among others.
Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com tweets the Yankees "really want" Keppinger, who is drawing plenty of interest and could get a deal somewhere in the three-year, $13 million range.
Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News suggests the Yankees could use a platoon at third in A-Rod's absence, particularly if they bring back Chavez, who is no longer viewed as an everyday player.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez, Kevin Youkilis
Second base questions in St. Louis
AM ETSt. Louis Cardinals Recommend0Comments0EmailThere have been conflicting reports as to whether the St. Louis Cardinals made a serious push for Marco Scutaro, who ended up taking a three-year, $20 million deal to stay in San Francisco.
The question remains whether the Cardinals at comfortable at second base, where manager Mike Matheny used a rotating cast last season before settling on Daniel Descalso down the stretch. The Cardinals also are counting on shortstop Rafael Furcal to be return from elbow surgery, and his progress is believed to be encouraging.
As for outside options, Derrick Goold of the Post Dispatch says the Cardinals are one of the teams to check on the cost of free agent Stephen Drew, who split last season between Arizona and Oakland.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Daniel Descalso, St. Louis Cardinals
Extension for Bailey?
AM ETHomer Bailey | Reds Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Cincinnati Reds have talked to Homer Bailey about a long-term extension and plan to do the same with fellow righthander Mat Latos, tweets John Fay of the Enquirer.
Bailey, who won 13 games with a 3.68 ERA, made $2.4 million this past season and is eligible for arbitration. At this stage, Bailey looks like the fourth starter behind Johnny Cueto, Latos and Bronson Arroyo, a slot that could change if Aroldis Chapman lands in the rotation.
- Doug Mittler
Tags:Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds
One of each for Texas?
AM ETTexas Rangers Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Texas Rangers have been linked to trades for Justin Upton and free-agent deals for Josh Hamilton and Zack Greinke, and Ken Rosenthal writes Tuesday night that it's not likely the clubs gets Hamilton and Greinke, meaning one or the other, probably due to financial cost. Rosenthal adds that their plans is to add one premium bat -- Upton or Hamilton -- and one premium arm -- Greinke or James Shields.
If the Rangers ink Hamilton and as a result are out on Greinke, they may be out on Upton, too, considering they may need their trade assets to land a starting pitcher, perhaps or Shields or Cliff Lee.
Whether or not the Rangers have enough young talent to acquire both Upton and Shields or another impact starting pitcher remains to be seen. Greinke could break CC Sabathia's record for guaranteed dollars, which would mean north of $160 million, and the Dodgers are believed to be the favorites heading into Day 3 of the winter meetings.
- Jason A. Churchill
Tags:Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Justin Upton, James Shields, Cliff Lee, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers
Rockies add reliever
AM ETColorado Rockies Recommend0Comments0EmailThe Colorado Rockies have long been after starting pitcher upgrades and while that continues, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reported early Tuesday that the club also would like to add a late-inning relief option. Renck reports Tuesday night that the club is nearing a deal with the Houston Astros for right-hander Wilton Lopez.
MLB.com's Thomas Harding reports the Rockies acquired Lopez and a player to be named or cash from the Astros for righty starter Alex White and minor league right-hander Alex Gillingham.
Lopez was traded to Philadelphia last week but the deal fell apart. A source told Rumor Central that Lopez's elbow didn't check out with the Phillies after taking a physical, thus they pulled out and moved on to other options.
The Rockies are likely to use Lopez to set up closer Rafael Betancourt, potentially sharing the role with Rex Brothers, a left-hander.
- Jason A. Churchill