Yoan Lopez poised to break international signing record
While many are waiting for the Office of Foreign Assets and Control (OFAC) to clear infielder Yoan Moncada to sign with major-league organizations, a countryman and namesake is likely to beat him to the punch.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez wrote Monday that right-hander Yoan Lopez is commanding enough interest to project that his first stateside contract will exceed the $8 million the Angels gave to infielder Roberto Baldoquin earlier this offseason. Moncada will almost certainly smash Lopez’ record when the opportunity arises, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves: Lopez has plenty to offer in the majors, too.
Sanchez wrote that Lopez—a 21-year-old believed to be ready to compete for a big-league job—is expected to come to terms quickly so that he can report to spring training on time. He complements a low-to-mid-90s fastball with a cutter, curve, change, and slider—the full menu he’d need to stick in a rotation if his command and endurance prove adequate.
The Yankees, who are front and center in the bidding for Moncada, are involved with Lopez, too, and might be the most logical fit because their rotation is presently shallow. But Sanchez’ sources noted that general manager Brian Cashman has a good deal of competition, with three NL West clubs—the D’backs, Dodgers, and Padres—at least dabbling in the race.
Of course, because of the required investment, the same constraints that could handicap the Moncada sweepstakes also apply to Lopez. As Sanchez pointed out, the teams that have already breached their spending caps and reached the maximum penalty are the Angels (because of Baldoquin), Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees. Conversely, the aforementioned NL West orgs have not yet incurred the 100 percent overage tax, but would be fined accordingly if they were to ink Lopez. Then there are the Cubs and Rangers, who, as Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors explained, face restrictions stemming from earlier splurging and have essentially no hope of landing the righty.
A deal for Lopez could materialize in short order, because he has already received OFAC clearance and held both a showcase and private workouts for interested teams during the past two months.
At least three teams inquiring about Dillon Gee
There’s another, older, more established right-hander who seems to be popular within NL West front offices. That would be Dillon Gee, a back-end type with whom the pitching-rich Mets could part to obtain prospects or useful pieces at other spots.
FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted yesterday that the Giants, Padres, and Rockies have phoned Mets GM Sandy Alderson about Gee, whose name first surfaced in rumors around the Winter Meetings. There’s been a whole lot of smoke and no fire to this point, but while teams can never have too much pitching, the surplus in Queens just might be excessive enough to make Alderson feel comfortable pulling the trigger.
Superficially speaking, the Rockies have the thinnest rotation among the three listed suitors, though Gee’s contact-heavy style might not play very well at Coors Field. New GM Jeff Bridich is actively scouring the bargain bin for right-handed starters, per FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi, with ex-Giant Ryan Vogelsong on the radar, as well.
Given the Giants’ penchant for re-signing veterans in the wake of recent championships, Vogelsong might well find his way back to the Bay Area, where age and fragility are of great concern beyond Madison Bumgarner. Question marks surround Matt Cain (ankle, elbow) and Tim Hudson (ankle), who’ve undergone surgeries to remove bone chips from the aforementioned body parts. While Cain missed a good deal of the 2014 campaign, Hudson limped to the finish line with a bum hip. July pickup Jake Peavy, who re-upped for $24 million over two years, is far from a workhorse. Tim Lincecum is likelier to be an $18 million sunk cost than to reemerge as a useful starter, and Yusmeiro Petit, who’d bump him from the rotation in the former case, served as a swingman last year and would see a significant innings bump if he were pressed into full-year rotation duty.
Then there are the Padres, who are tough to peg as an underdog given the aggressiveness with which GM A.J. Preller has approached the trade market in his first winter at the helm. Petco Park would be a fine environment for Gee, who could serve as insurance for Josh Johnson and Brandon Morrow, the injury-prone righties who currently round out the staff. The 28-year-old Gee is entering his second year of arbitration eligibility; he agreed to a $3.6 million paycheck to forgo his first shot at a hearing.
This rumor is notable for two reasons. First, it adds an unlikely suitor to the mix for the second-best starter still available via free agency. Second, it suggests that the asking price for said starter is not nearly as high as previously reported.
Rosenthal’s source indicated that the Diamondbacks will only play on Shields if his cost is south of $100 million. Assuming it is, that would mean there was something amiss with the $110 million offer Shields reportedly turned down, or at least temporarily shelved, earlier this winter. To wit:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 13, 2015
As noted, the above tweet echoes earlier word from Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that whichever team tendered the $110 million outlay got a “thanks, but no thanks” from the apparently picky right-hander. There’s been no indication of the source of the rejected overture.
The Giants were in play on Shields earlier, but publicly dropped out because they felt the price was too high. It’s unclear whether they might reenter the bidding now that a nine-figure commitment—considered a lock just 10 days ago—isn’t necessary.
But don’t sleep on the Marlins. MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro wrote back on January 7th that they were waiting for Shields’ price tag to fall from the $100 million range. They just might have gotten their wish.
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