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November 28, 2012

Rumor Roundup

Wednesday, November 28

by Daniel Rathman

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After watching the Angels bullpen blow an American League-high 22 saves last year, general manager Jerry DiPoto was determined to fortify his late-inning staff. DiPoto made his first move to that end on Tuesday morning, striking a one-year deal with Ryan Madson, who missed the 2012 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Meanwhile, after adding Scott Baker to the Cubs rotation earlier this month, Theo Epstein snagged another low-cost righty in Scott Feldman, who will reportedly earn $6-7 million next year.

Here are three other rumors that surfaced amid those signings:

Mets pad offer to David Wright … maybe
On Monday, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported that the Mets had offered Wright a six-year extension worth $100 million—a proposal that Rosenthal heard the third baseman was certain to refuse. On Tuesday, Rosenthal was told that the offer had been bumped up to $135-145 million over eight years, including the $16 million that Wright is already owed for 2013. Under the new offer, Wright, who was worth 5.7 WARP in 2012 and turns 30 next month, would earn an average of $17-18.5 million per year beginning with the 2014 season.

Rosenthal’s report was corroborated by several other reputable writers, including CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman and ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. And ESPN’s Jim Bowden opined that Evan Longoria’s extension with the Rays had set a precedent for the Mets’ talks with Wright, putting his price tag in the reported range, and paving the way for general manager Sandy Alderson to finish the job. All clear? Not so fast.

Just hours after all of those reports surfaced, Wright told MLB Trade Rumors that they are “inaccurate,” and his agent, Seth Levinson, added that he does not “anticipate a deal any time soon.” The specific inaccuracies that Wright was referring to remain unclear, and writers who reached out to him—such as the New York Post’s Ken Davidoff—were unable to glean any additional information. What we know now is that we may not know anything at all.

Although—under Bowden’s logic—a seven-year extension worth $120-130 million for Wright would compare favorably to Longoria’s six-year, $100 million add-on, their situations are somewhat dissimilar, and not merely because some of Wright’s paychecks could be deferred. Wright, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports pointed out, is a year away from free agency, while Longoria was already locked up through the 2016 season. And, despite being nearly three years older than Longoria, Wright has a significantly cleaner injury history, with a stress fracture in his lower back that forced him to miss 58 games in 2011 representing the only long-term ailment amid a slew of nagging nicks.  

If Wright were to match his 2012 output next year and then test the free-agent waters instead of tying himself down now, he would likely find a suitor willing to pay him considerably more than the Mets have put on the table, even assuming that the aforementioned reports are accurate. Numerous high-payroll teams—including the Angels and Dodgers—lack a proven, long-term solution at the hot corner, and each of them would be tempted to roll out the red carpet for a star-level talent like Wright.

From that standpoint, in the ongoing negotiations with Alderson, it appears that the ball is actually in Levinson’s court. Wright’s future with the Mets depends on his preference in the tradeoff between loyalty and maximum earnings. And given the cryptic nature of Wright’s comments to MLB Trade Rumors on Tuesday, and his unwillingness to elaborate when prompted by Davidoff and others, his preference, for all of the recent buzz, remains unknown.

Dodgers determined to price-out competition for Zack Greinke
Speaking of the Dodgers, while Ned Colletti may be following the Wright talks from afar, he is currently focused on this offseason’s top prize, Greinke. Armed with the projected revenues from an almost-completed television deal worth in excess of $6 billion, Colletti has the financial resources to trump all of the right-hander’s other suitors, if a record-setting salary is the righty’s top priority. Hence, in tweeting on Tuesday that the Dodgers are “committed to outbid[ding]” their competition, Bowden wasn’t exactly breaking new ground.

BP’s John Perrotto heard a few weeks ago that Greinke’s asking price is in the neighborhood of $150 million over six years, but Olney’s sources indicated yesterday that the former Angel could top CC Sabathia’s seven-year, $161 million hitch with the Yankees, which still stands as the largest aggregate guarantee ever awarded to a pitcher. If that’s the case, the Dodgers are the runaway favorites to grab Greinke—and that could spell trouble for Ryu Hyun-Jin, whose fate remains in limbo as this much-pricier situation unfolds.

But not all signs point to the 29-year-old Greinke moving 30 miles up I-5. Angels beat writer Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, for example, hears that the Rangers are Greinke’s most likely destination. Talks between all of the interested teams and Greinke’s agent, Casey Close, should pick up at the winter meetings. Given the importance of the Dodgers as a bargaining chip—whether Greinke ultimately heads to Chavez Ravinez or elsewhere—the Dec. 10 deadline for Colletti to sign Ryu could help to speed them along.

Red Sox (unsurprisingly) willing to trade Andrew Bailey
Eleven months ago, Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington gave Boston fans a late Christmas present, acquiring right-hander Andrew Bailey and outfielder Ryan Sweeney from the Athletics for outfielder Josh Reddick and minor leaguers Miles Head and Raul Alcantara. Unfortunately, Bailey, who was supposed to inherit the ninth-inning duties from Jonathan Papelbon, might as well have been a lump of coal.

The 28-year-old spent the first four-and-a-half months of the season on the disabled list with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right thumb, and he made only 19 appearances after joining the team on Aug. 13, racking up a 7.04 ERA and 0.0 WARP. Bailey pitched better than those unsightly numbers would suggest, logging a 4.48 FIP and 14 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings, and some rust was to be expected given the length of his absence, but he took home $3.9 million and did little more than tack another serious ailment onto a laundry list of injuries that dates back to a Tommy John procedure in May 2005.

Now, according to Olney, the Red Sox are willing to cut their losses on Bailey and ponder other solutions to their bullpen mess. That news should come as no surprise: Bailey can be dominant when healthy, but he has hit rock bottom, and his arbitration salaries are only going to climb. As Olney noted in his tweet, Cherington will move Bailey only if he can extract a useful piece in the trade—something perhaps of lesser value than the package he sent to Oakland, but better than a token return commensurate with a salary dump. With plenty of other reclamation projects available on the free-agent market, the outlook for such a deal is foggy at best.

Daniel Rathman is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Daniel's other articles. You can contact Daniel by clicking here

Related Content:  Zack Greinke,  Dodgers,  Red Sox,  David Wright,  Andrew Bailey,  Mets,  Rumors

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