ORLANDO, Fla. — Inside Baseball from the General Manager meetings in Orlando, with notes on (nearly) all 30 MLB teams:
- Arizona is open to bringing back Fernando Rodney, who did a nice job for the D-backs after a rough start in April; they were rewarded for sticking with him. “He did a great job for us,” D-backs GM Mike Hazen said.
- They are going to “stretch out” Archie Bradley in spring but anticipate he will be part of the pen mix after he was so successful in that role last year.
- The D-backs are looking mostly for help in the pen and outfield.
- J.D. Martinez might be tough for them if he indeed seeks $200+ million. “He carried us down the stretch,” said Hazen, who didn’t sound like he was giving up.
- My Manager of the Year vote: Torey Lovullo, Dave Roberts, Bud Black, in that order — the same way they finished.
- John Hart, the former baseball president of the Braves, has been moved out of the department to become a “consultant” of unknown responsibility following the rules violations scandal that previously claimed the jobs of GM John Coppolella and top international scout Gordon Blakely. But word may not have gotten to Hart yet.
- The Orioles met Wednesday with CAA, the agents for Jason Vargas, one of their pitching targets.
- They are one of many teams looking at Tyler Chatwood.
- The O’s could still bring back Chris Tillman, who’s looking to reset with a one-year deal.
- The Cubs and Dodgers are known to be two teams to have inquired about Zach Britton, but the Cardinals and others could fit, too. The wild card may be Peter Angelos. The question is: Would he be willing to trade Britton now, when he and Manny Machado are both one year from free agency?
Boston Red Sox
- The Red Sox met Wednesday with Alan Nero, the lead agent for star free-agent first baseman Carlos Santana.
- They are looking closely at all the pitching markets – both starter and relief — and the trade and free-agent market, too. The Cubs have made great hay with trades, but with multiple openings (they had three pitchers who were free agents – Jake Arrieta, Wade Davis and John Lackey), they aren’t ruling out any avenue. “It depends on the asking price, and what we’d be getting,” GM Jed Hoyer said.
- They haven’t ruled out trading one or more from their fantastic young positional core. Some suggest Kyle Schwarber would be better off in the AL, where he could DH at least some of the time, but Hoyer said they still believe he can play the outfield, and that he will improve with another year from his surgery, and once his brace if off. “I think he’ll be fine. A lot people forget, he had major surgery,” Hoyer pointed out.
- Among other pitchers, the Cubs are looking at Alex Cobb, who is said to have a very close relationship with new pitching coach Jim Hickey.
Chicago White Sox
- The White Sox are looking into potential trades for stars Jose Abreu and Avisail Garcia. Though GM Rick Hahn pointed out that the market “wasn’t necessarily kind” to right-handed power a year ago, about 10 teams are seeking a first baseman, and Abreu may turn out to be a cost-efficient alternative following his excellent season. Both Abreu and Garcia are free agents in two more years, so the timetable of the White Sox and the two players don’t necessarily line up.
- The Reds are not optimistic they’ll ultimately be able to keep Zack Cozart, who should find bigger deals elsewhere.
- The Reds are in much better shape than they were a year ago, as Luis Castillo, Robert Stephenson, Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle give them reason to hope their rotation will be much improved in 2018. Their bullpen took a nice leap forward in ’17.
- The Rockies continue to express interest in bringing back star closer Greg Holland.
- Tyler Chatwood is drawing huge interest. Not only is there an expectation Chatwood will do better away from Coors, he is the youngest of the top five pitchers, is the hardest thrower by average velocity and also features a very good spin rate, which was the stat Houston used to sign Charlie Morton for the $14 million, two-year deal that is now seen as about the best of last winter. Chatwood will decimate that figure.
- Manager A.J Hinch a rising star, can be a free agent in two years (he has a year and an option left), and the Astros wisely are strongly considering an effort to lock him up long-term.
- The Astros are showing interest in top free-agent catcher Jonathan Lucroy.
Kansas City Royals
- Royals owner David Glass is said by big-league sources to be considering a possible two-year extension for beloved GM Dayton Moore after declining the Braves’ request to interview Moore to become their new baseball president and lead their baseball ops department, as he is allowed to do. Braves former GM John Schuerholz called Moore soon after John Coppolella was forced out as GM and then asked Glass for permission to interview Moore, which Glass did not grant. Moore and Glass subsequently discussed the Royals’ commitment to Moore, but in the meantime, the Braves hired Alex Anthopoulos as GM, ending Moore’s chances at an interview. Moore, whose current deal runs through 2020, has “no leverage” and would have to depend on “the goodness of Glass’s heart,” according to someone familiar with the situation. But it would seem to be a nice way to repay an employee who’s done a fantastic job.
- Royals people expressed some pessimism about keeping top target Eric Hosmer, who may be priced out. Ultimately. they may wind up keeping Mike Moustakas, though. While a Royals person named Justin Turner ($64 million, four years) as a comp, Moustakas is a few years younger and can probably beat that.
- Agent Scott Boras did not have complimentary words for the new Marlins ownership team’s immediate goal to cut payroll and trade superstar outfielder Giancarlo Stanton after buying the team for $1.2 billion.
- Teams think it’s going to be tough to trade Martin Prado considering his 2017 was wracked by injuries.
- They haven’t ruled out taking a look at one of the big-time pitchers, but it doesn’t seem like a likelihood – at least not yet.
- They have extra outfielders, and they are taking calls. Nobody is seen as untouchable, but Lewis Brinson is probably close.
- The Brewers could consider trying to lock up some productive young players this spring, including Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, Orlando Arcia and a couple others.
- The Twins gained $3 million in additional international slot money after voiding the contract of Jelfry Marte due to a vision issue. They are said to be in the “top three” in terms of international monies now, along with the Rangers and Yankees.
- The Twins have checked in on Wade Davis and Greg Holland, as well as many other relievers.
- They are looking for multiple starters and multiple relievers, and they are serious.
New York Mets
- The Mets have checked in on both Carlos Santana (first reported by FanRag Sports) and Lorenzo Cain.
- They are looking at top set-up guys to beef up the back end of their bullpen, such as Brandon Morrow, Mike Minor and former Met Addison Reed, who brought them three hard-throwing pitching prospects in trade.
- A few ex-Mets have look like considerations, anyway. They are looking at Jay Bruce – though were startled to read of the $90 million price tag. They also haven’t ruled out Jose Reyes, though they never met with Reyes’ longtime agents Peter and Ed Greenberg.
- Travis d’Arnaud got married.
New York Yankees
- The Yankees now have five known managerial candidates – Rob Thompson, Aaron Boone, Eric Wedge, Hensley Meulens and Chris Woodward. GM Brian Cashman has asked his top lieutenants for a couple more suggestions if they have them. Many see Tim Naehring, who is one of the Yankees execs being canvassed, as an excellent candidate, but Naehring, described as an ego-less type, is still believed not to have interest in leaving the front office to become manager (in his current job he gets to live in Cincinnati). Cashman declined comment on whether there would be more candidates, but Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner thought there could be one or two more, but certainly no more than 10 total.
- The Yankees would trade Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley, and be willing to offset some of their deals presumably, as they hope to get below the $197 million luxury tax threshold. Brian Cashman said they have been planning to get below the threshold for years, and suggested nothing will dissuade them from it – unlike last time, when spring injuries to Mark Teixeira and others caused them to make pickups that put them over the threshold. The Yankees see Ellsbury as a possible fourth outfielder now. Agent Scott Boras pointed out that Ellsbury was very good after returning from a concussion suffered crashing into the center-field wall.
- Boras blamed Matt Holliday’s falloff to a virus that sapped his strength after a strong start last year.
- Roy Halladay was remembered for the great pitcher and person he was at his Celebration of Life ceremony at the Phillies’ spring site at Clearwater, Fla., this week. Phillies owner John Middleton, asked how the Phillies were doing this week, understandably answered, “We’re in mourning.” Middleton, who spoke, later recalled Halladay as a “unique” individual who was completely down-to-earth as they come. Middleton remembered that Halladay always texted ahead if he was just a few minutes late. He will be missed by the Phillies, the Jays and all of baseball.
St. Louis Cardinals
- While the Cardinals have been tied to the big-time starters, baseball president John Mozeliak says their top priorities, 1 and 1A as he put it, are a big bat and the bullpen.
- They remain serious about Giancarlo Stanton, and have the pieces to make it work – if he wants to come.
- They are expected to be players for Wade Davis or Greg Holland, and would make sense for Zach Britton as well.
- The Cardinals have extra outfielders, and teams are inquiring about Randal Grichuk in particular.
San Diego Padres
- The Padres are serious about their pursuit of star free agent Eric Hosmer. It still looks like a long shot from here, but good for them to give it a shot.
San Francisco Giants
- The Giants say Hunter Pence could be moved to a part-time role.
- Giancarlo Stanton is the biggest outfield star the Giants are looking at. But they are investigating just about any outfielder on the market. Center field, in fact, is said to be the focus. Lorenzo Cain is someone they’ve looked at, and Jon Morosi of MLB.com mentioned trade possibilities as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Billy Hamilton as some others.
- The Mariners have a nice history with Japanese players (Ichiro Suzuki and Kazuhiro Sasaki) and feel like they have a real shot at Shohei Otani.
- They acquired Ryon Healy from the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday and are still looking at the outfield in addition to pitching.
Tampa Bay Rays
- Closer Alex Colome would bring back a haul, if the Rays would consider trading him. The Cardinals were linked to Colome by Jon Morosi of MLB.com. The Cubs, Cardinals, Twins and Rockies all are seeking a closer.
- Jose Bautista, a Tampa resident, would seem to be a logical candidate for a job there, though Rays people haven’t opined on this. (They pursued him last winter.)
- Melvin Upton, Jr. came to the GM meetings and appeared to be in fantastic shape.
- They Rangers have one big need: Pitching.
- They are believed to have looked into Lance Lynn, Tyler Chatwood, other starters and a whole host of relievers already.
Toronto Blue Jays
- The priority is some middle-infield reinforcements due to the injuries last year to Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis.
- They could also use an outfielder, but another year for longtime star Jose Bautista would seem to be unlikely.
- Bautista’s agent Jay Alou said he only took three days off this year in his determination to have good year, not the usual 10. “He’s healthy and he’s ripped,” Alou said. “If I’m a betting man I bet on him.”
- Bautista is getting married Thursday to his long-time girlfriend.
- GM Mike Rizzo told Joel Sherman of the New York Post and MLB Network he expected they would speak to Bryce Harper about an extension this winter. You’d think the chances are small – if not infinitesimal – but they did wind up locking up Stephen Strasburg in the year before he would have become a free agent.
- Rizzo said he hopes Daniel Murphy will be ready for opening day after microfracture surgery.