When the dust settled on a busy first day at the Winter Meetings, Mike Napoli had come to terms with the Red Sox, Joakim Soria had joined the Rangers, Angel Pagan had re-signed with the Giants, and Jason Marquis had agreed to spend another year with the Padres. Here’s a look at the smoke that came along with those fires:
Mets pooling trade offers for R.A. Dickey
General manager Sandy Alderson got one monkey off his back last week, when he found common ground with David Wright on a seven-year extension. Now that the cornerstone third baseman is locked up, Alderson can turn his attention to Dickey, who is set to earn $5 million through a club option that the Mets exercised on Oct. 30. Numerous reports from Nashville indicated that the knuckleballer is a popular trade target, an unsurprising revelation given his affordable salary and Cy Young season. Whether any of the interested teams will meet Alderson’s asking price, though, is another matter entirely.
A joint report by ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin and ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald mentioned that at least eight teams have inquired with Alderson about the 38-year-old Dickey, who—with a 3.7 WARP output—was more valuable in 2012 than top free agent Zack Greinke has been in any of his last three seasons. The Red Sox were one of those eight teams, but McDonald heard that Alderson asked for both of the team’s top two prospects, infielder Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., a price tag that general manager Ben Cherington almost certainly found unpalatable. Alderson may have been shooting high, or he may not be found of Boston’s mid-range minor leaguers, but at any rate, if that report is accurate and the request commensurate with what Alderson told the other seven parties who met with him on Monday, then the situation likely won’t be resolved this week.
Filtering through a slew of reports that surfaced throughout the day, the aforementioned septet also includes the Blue Jays, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Rangers, and Royals. The Blue Jays rumor, from Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio, was the only one that mentioned a specific player who could head back to the Mets, but J.P. Arencibia lacks the upside to be the headliner in Toronto’s package. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who added Arizona to the above list, tweeted that talks with general manager Kevin Towers “did not get very far.” And Los Angeles, whose interest was noted by MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick, is much more likely to upgrade its rotation via free agency, given that general manager Ned Colletti has an abundance of money and a thinned farm system in the aftermath of his August blockbuster with Boston.
Considering the unique circumstances surrounding Dickey’s availability—which include not only his late-blooming career, but also his Cy Young status and the Mets’ financial situation—the disparity between Alderson’s wants and interested teams’ valuations should not come as a shock. Red Sox fans immediately decried the Bogaerts-Bradley rumor, but, as the Rubin-McDonald report pointed out, only six times has a defending Cy Young winner opened the ensuing season in a different uniform. Alderson is right to treat Dickey as “a difference-maker.” The challenge is finding a buyer willing to mortgage its future for a late-30s pitcher with an unpredictable aging curve.
With Pagan and Upton gone, Shane Victorino’s options expand
Remember when Pagan was inching toward a deal with the Phillies, leaving the Giants and other outfielder-needy teams scrambling for back-up plans? All of that changed yesterday afternoon, when the center fielder opted to stay in San Francisco. Now, with B.J. Upton having already signed a five-year deal with the Braves, Victorino appears to be the next man up.
The former Phillie, who spent the last two-plus months of the 2012 season with the Dodgers, has no shortage of suitors, according to a Nov. 26 article from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman. You can scratch the Giants off of Victorino’s then-seven-team list, but Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald confirmed on Monday that the Red Sox are still in the hunt, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tossed the Indians into the mix, while noting that the outfielder’s market is “not fully defined.” ESPN’s Buster Olney piggybacked on the Tribe talk, and added that general manager Chris Antonetti “began doing [his] background work” on Victorino more than a month ago. In his earlier report, Heyman also mentioned the Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees; Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe played matchmaker, noting that Victorino fits Cherington’s job description.
The 32-year-old Victorino is said to be seeking a three-year deal worth about $30 million, and that float from his agent, John Boggs, apparently drove Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. to ponder alternatives, possibly including Dexter Fowler. With the Braves and Giants already set, Bourn still searching for a new home, and trade options such as Fowler emerging, Boggs’ leverage is limited. On the other hand, Alex Speier of the Red Sox’ flagship station WEEI wrote on Monday that Cherington is amenable to the idea of committing to Victorino through 2015. If that’s the case, then the not-fully-defined market could define itself rather quickly, with Boggs eliminating the teams that shy away from three-year proposals and choosing the highest-value offer remaining. Since demand is likely to diminish as center-field vacancies continue to be filled, Victorino’s best bet may putting pen to paper before the end of the week.
Alex Rodriguez’s injury leaves Yankees searching for infield help
General managers searching for short-term infield help now have an unexpected and unwelcome competitor: Brian Cashman, who revealed on Monday that his third baseman will miss at least the first two months of the 2013 season while recovering from surgery on his left hip. Rodriguez previously underwent surgery on his right hip in 2009, and considering that his recent injury history is also littered with knee woes, Cashman’s pursuit of an insurance option for the left side of his infield is more than justified. According to Yahoo Sports! Jeff Passan, however, Cashman remains hopeful that Rodriguez will be able to resume his regular duties at the hot corner, rather than shifting into a full-time designated hitter role, when he is healthy enough to return.
Who are Cashman’s targets, and whose plans could he dent?
ESPN’s Jim Bowden believes that the Yankees will “step up” their interest in Stephen Drew, who has played exclusively at shortstop since his major-league debut in 2006, but who might benefit from a shift to third, where his range—always mediocre and potentially diminished by the serious ankle injury that sidelined him from July 2011 through June 2012—would be less of a liability. Drew’s other suitors include the Athletics, Cardinals, Red Sox, and Tigers; St. Louis (Pete Kozma, Ryan Jackson), Boston (Jose Iglesias), and Detroit (Jhonny Peralta) already have internal options but are looking for upgrades, while Oakland, which acquired Drew from Arizona in August, needs him to plug a hole. Olney expects the A’s to join the bidding for Marlins shortstop Yunel Escobar if Drew, whose $10 million club option they declined earlier this offseason, chooses to bolt.
Bowden mentions Kevin Youkilis as a second free-agent possibility for the Yankees, and Jeff Keppinger—who should recover from a broken fibula by the time teams report for spring training—is on their wish list, too. The latter would pose a nuisance to the Cubs, Diamondbacks, and Rays, and radio host Brandon Tierney also speculated that the Yankees could throw a wrench into talks between the Giants and Marco Scutaro. The outgoing second baseman is said to be “on the front burner,” now that San Francisco has come to terms with Pagan.
As a slew of names are bandied about, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Yankees are likely to either seek a one-year placeholder or a player willing to accept a frontloaded contract. Cashman told Olney on Monday that his $189 million payroll cap for 2014 is firm, regardless of Rodriguez’s health status or any other unforeseen wrinkles. With Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, and Mariano Rivera all facing uncertain futures, and extension negotiations looming for Robinson Cano, Cashman has scant resources to devote beyond 2013.