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January 23, 2013

Rumor Roundup

Wednesday, January 23

by Daniel Rathman

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The Phillies breathed life into the flagging Hot Stove with a one-year deal for Delmon Young, whom general manager Ruben Amaro expects to be his regular right fielder. While you imagine the hilarity enabled by that move, here’s an mélange of the other rumblings that recently made the rounds…

Survivor: Kyle Farnsworth finale coming soon
A week ago, Farnsworth had six suitors. Then, he had three. Now, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, he is down to two. And, if the dwindling list of viable destinations is any guide, the winner of the million-dollar prize aging right-hander will be announced on CBS via Twitter in the coming days.

Crasnick tweeted that the Rays, Farnsworth’s most recent employer, are one of the finalists for his 2013 services, but the identity of the other remains uncertain. The 36-year-old Farnsworth missed the first three months of last season while nursing a strained elbow, his first stint on the disabled list since 2009. Farnsworth’s control was initially erratic when he returned to the mound on June 30, but he was effective against like-handed hitters (.210 TAv), routinely hit 95 mph with his heater, and logged a 22-to-9 K:BB in 31 appearances after the All-Star break.

The only other team with confirmed interest in Farnsworth is the Brewers, whose general manager, Doug Melvin, listed the hard-throwing northpaw as one of his targets in a radio hit with XM’s Jim Bowden last month. Farnsworth might also be heading for a third tour of duty with the Tigers—who, at least for the moment, appear content to hand rookie Bruce Rondon the ninth-inning reins—or joining the Mets, who were unimpressed with Brian Wilson in a workout earlier this month and might now view Farnsworth as the best veteran on the market. Other possible fits include the Blue Jays, who lost Jason Frasor to the Rangers in free agency and could use Farnsworth in his middle-inning role, and the Marlins, who may be compelled to add guaranteed salaries to their payroll after feeling heat from the MLB Players Association.

Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller discussed the Marlins’ payroll pressure, which emerged in Barry Jackson’s Miami Herald column on Sunday, during yesterday’s Effectively Wild podcast. Jackson noted in his piece that two other unemployed veterans, Bobby Abreu and Freddy Garcia, have expressed interest in joining Mike Redmond’s team, though it’s unclear if the stories are related, or if they simply want to play in Miami, where both reside. Assuming that owner Jeffrey Loria caves in to union pressure and instructs Larry Beinfest to bump his payroll above $40 million, Farnsworth—who might fetch a useful prospect at the trade deadline if he performs well over the first half of the season—could be a more attractive option than either Abreu or Garcia. While the Marlins’ bullpen situation is fluid, they have abundant options in the outfield and a plethora of younger arms set to compete for rotation spots this spring.

Mariners debating extension offer to Felix Hernandez
I wrote in yesterday’s Roundup about the Nationals’ openness to a long-term hitch with two of their key players, but on Tuesday, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal shed light on a potentially more intriguing development. After bringing in several bats to help revive his dormant offense, Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik may now be turning his attention toward locking up his ace, whose existing contract expires after the 2014 season.

The 26-year-old Hernandez delivered his best effort yet in 2012, producing 3.6 WARP and firing a perfect game against the Rays on Aug. 15. He earned $18.5 million for that body of work and is set to pocket $39.5 million (plus awards bonuses) over the next two seasons, after which he will have amassed more than nine years of service time. Rosenthal’s sources indicated that Seattle’s offer—which one of them believes is hypothetical at this point—would tack on about $100 million over four years to the existing agreement, resulting in a total about $8 million shy of the $147 million, six-year pact that Zack Greinke received from the Dodgers earlier this winter.

Only time will tell where the talks between Zduriencik and Hernandez’s agents, Alan Nero and Wil Polidor, will go from here, but each side could soon be forced to render a critical decision. For Hernandez, the tradeoff would be between immediate insurance followed by a postponed foray into the free-agent market at age 32 and a chance to land a record-setting payday as a 28-year-old superstar. For the Mariners, who are faced with a slowly ticking clock, the challenge would be deciding how long to cling to King Felix if common ground proves elusive. Zduriencik has repeatedly refuted any notion that Hernandez might appear in trade talks, but his ability or inability to make progress in extension negotiations could alter the landscape come this time next year.

Tuesday’s report from Rosenthal suggests that the Mariners are anxious to get the ball rolling. All we can do for now is stay tuned.

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

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