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December 13, 2012

Rumor Roundup

Thursday, December 13

by Will Woods

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Welcome to the Rumor Roundup! I’m not Daniel Rathman (who'll be back tomorrow), and that means this won’t be as good as it should be. Seriously, he’s fantastic; you’ll realize that about halfway through this. But we do have some rumors percolating—some big, some small—so let’s get right into it. We’ll start with a story near and dear to my heart.

R.A. Dickey Isn't Happy with the Mets
Because R.A. Dickey’s rags-to-riches, back-to-rags-then-back-to-riches story apparently isn’t cliché enough, the Mets ace and 2012 NL Cy Young winner made like a network sitcom and used the company holiday party as a forum for frank discussion of his contract status. As Mike Puma and numerous others tweeted, the Mets are “not happy” with either the venue or the sentiment. Said Dickey:

"In the context of the market, you want what you think is fair. I feel like we're asking for less than what's fair because that's how it's been for me. There is a surprise sometimes when things don't get done quickly and you already think you're extending the olive branch. At the same time, they have a budget they have to adhere to. I don't know those numbers. And I try not to take it personally."

Adam Rubin’s story indicates that Dickey, who is under contract for $5 million in 2013, is asking for $26-28 million over the following two seasons. The Mets have been reluctant to offer more than $20 million combined over 2014 and 2015.

Meanwhile, two major pitching transactions over the weekend may have contrasting effects on Dickey’s future in Queens. The Royals/Rays blockbuster, in which Kansas City parted with a slew of prospects for James Shields, appeared to put a potential trade partner on the sidelines. Then Zack Greinke signed with the Dodgers for six years and $147 million. The Mets have to be watching these deals go down, hoping on the one hand that the Rays’ impressive haul begets a similar package under their Christmas tree, while on the other hand praying the Greinke deal doesn’t whet Dickey’s appetite. But Dickey is watching these deals too, and with a pair of pitchers he’s outperformed over the past few years establishing a high market value, perhaps the odds of an extension just went down.

The bottom line here is that Dickey is right about asking for less than what’s fair—comically, almost ridiculously right. The Mets have, however unwittingly, earned themselves a ton of leverage in these negotiations; their original offer was an incredible $16 million for 2014-15. (Have I mentioned that Dickey won the Cy Young award last season?) Dickey countered with an offer that would make you think he’s half the pitcher Greinke is. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to project Dickey’s future, but if the Mets can make payroll with David Wright, what’s the holdup for a player who clearly wants to stay?

Red Sox in on Ryan Dempster
And speaking of potential trade partners dropping out of the Dickey race, more bad news may be on the horizon for the Mets, as the Red Sox appear to have zeroed in on Ryan Dempster, per Ken Rosenthal. Dempster, who struck out 8.0/9 IP but whose performance dipped after a mid-season move to Texas, has already rebuffed multiple offers from Boston, including two-year deals worth $25 and $26 million. He will turn 36 in May.

Boston’s rotation nominally includes Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront and John Lackey—heavy emphasis on “nominally”—but their best starter last season may have been Franklin Morales, the hard-throwing lefty who pitched mostly up to the standard of his 28 relief outings in nine starts and struck out a batter per inning overall. You may also remember last winter’s acquisition of Andrew Bailey, which, well, could have gone better (even without the Josh Reddick renaissance). So, in a perfect world where Lackey comes back from Tommy John surgery, Doubront and Buchholz come of age, Lester rebounds and Morales continues his 2012 form, could Dempster be an option at closer, where his prior experience and impending Jerry Remy impression would lift morale? Probably not, but I’d submit that his versatility makes him all the more appealing to Ben Cherington, who watched his staff crumble at both ends last season.

Josh Hamilton Wants a Texas Return
I’m told we just went 700 words without a Rangers rumor, so now comes news that the lines of communication between Josh Hamilton and Jon Daniels are wide open. Jon Heyman reports that Hamilton’s heart lies in Texas and that he’s even told Daniels he would have the chance to match any offer. One such offer appears to have come from Philadelphia, where the Phillies are hurting at, potentially, all three outfield positions, depending on how you feel about Domonic Brown and Darin Ruf. Earlier in the week, Gordon Edes reported that the Red Sox were still players for Hamilton, but Heyman rebuffed that via Twitter earlier today.

Heyman says the Mariners, long considered a top contender for Hamilton, are still very much in the running, but it appears that Jack Zduriencik is planning for life without Hamilton, which appears to involve Brennan Boesch. Yeah. According to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Sports, the Tigers might want a piece of Seattle’s left-handed relief corps, which consists of Oliver Perez, Lucas Luetge, and Charlie Furbush. Boesch’s numbers took a serious dip in his first season as Detroit’s most-of-the-time right fielder (-1.1 WARP), but he has shown 20-homer pop (prorated) in a large ballpark, and… you know what? After the Hamilton item, this has to be depressing for Mariners fans. Let’s just move on.

Will Scott Rolen Un-Retire?
Finally, enraged by news that Jack Hannahan will make two whole million American dollars to play major-league baseball for the Cincinnati Reds, Scott Rolen is considering self-exhumation and a possible return to Cincinnati, writes Danny Knobler. Of course, “ravaged” really doesn’t do Rolen’s injury woes justice—he managed 92 games last season and hasn’t been a productive starter since 2010—and at 38, he seemed destined for retirement. But Rolen recently indicated that he’d like to give being an active player another shot in spring training; it seems the words, “you’re being replaced by Jack Hannahan” have a rejuvenating effect. It won’t be just Rolen vs. Hannahan, of course, as Todd Frazier was the best of the three in 2012 and appears set to beat them both to the starting third base spot. Whether Rolen has anything left to offer is highly questionable, but a clubhouse leader and hitter of his maturity staying healthy in a bench role might be a useful asset as Cincinnati looks to repeat in the NL Central.

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

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