It appears likely — though not yet 100 percent certain — that Giants mainstay Pablo Sandoval is on his way to the Red Sox, and the Giants may look to go a different route recouping the lost value. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke to one person with knowledge of the team’s thinking who believed the loss of Sandoval could put San Francisco in play for Jon Lester, and Rosenthal then confirmed with a source that the Giants have indeed shown interest in Lester (Twitter links). Earlier this morning, reports indicated that Sandoval had agreed to a five-year pact with the Red Sox, but his agents have since publicly stated that no agreement is in place with Boston or any other club at this point. Sandoval will make his decision today, his agent told WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, so we’ll have some closure in the near future. If the union with Boston does indeed to come to fruition, Lester makes for a logical, albeit more expensive target for Giants GM Brian Sabean (Boston has reportedly already offered Lester $110-120MM over six years). The Giants have little rotation certainty, despite coming off a 2014 World Series victory.
If the Orioles can’t re-sign Nick Markakis, the team’s “fallback option” is to pursue free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports. Markakis and the O’s looked like they were headed towards a reunion earlier this winter when the two sides were seemingly close to a four-year contract, though there hasn’t since been much progress. Cabrera posted a .301/.351/.458 slash line and a 125 wRC+ in 621 PA last season in comparison to Markakis’ .276/.342/.386 line and 106 wRC+ over 710 PA, though Cabrera’s defensive deficiencies and fewer plate appearances gave him only a slightly higher fWAR (2.6 to 2.5) than Markakis. MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicted Cabrera for a five-year, $66.25MM deal and Markakis for a four-year, $48MM deal in his Free Agent Profiles of both outfielders, so signing Cabrera would likely be a more expensive proposition for the Orioles and he’d cost them a draft pick due to the qualifying offer. If Cabrera’s market is depressed by the QO, however, it’s possible the Orioles could try to sign him for a relative bargain, as they did last winter with Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. The White Sox and Mariners have also shown interest in Cabrera this offseason, with the Royals more loosely linked to the outfielder. The door also hasn’t fully closed on Cabrera re-signing with the Blue Jays, depending on how his market plays out
7:04am: Gustavo Vasquez says no agreement has been reached and that his client is still weighing offers, WEEI.com’s Alex Speier reports (Twitter link). 6:51am: The Red Sox have agreed to a deal with free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). It’s a five-year contract worth in the range of $100MM. Jake Wesley originally tweeted late last night that Sandoval and the Sox had reached a deal. Sandoval is represented by Gustavo Vasquez of the SPS Sports Group. Sandoval’s addition immediately addresses Boston’s need for a third baseman in the wake of Will Middlebrooks‘ disappointing 2014 season, and the switch-hitting Sandoval also adds some balance to a predominantly right-handed hitting Red Sox batting order.
Most Rangers players struggled or were injured in Texas’ disastrous 2014 season, and first baseman Mitch Moreland was no exception. The lefty hit .246/.297/.347 in 184 plate appearances through early June, then had ankle surgery and missed the rest of the year. Now, he’s heading into his second season of arbitration eligibility with a projected $2.8MM salary on the horizon. Moreland is now 29 and is on the fringes, at best, as a starting first baseman. Since a partial season as a rookie in 2010, he hasn’t posted an OPS+ above 106 or an OBP above .321, and as a slightly above average defensive first baseman or below average corner outfielder, he doesn’t provide much value with the glove. Even before his injury, he might have been an acceptable choice as a starter only for a team like Texas that had plenty of stars elsewhere in its lineup. One of those stars is Prince Fielder, who should return from his own injury to take over first base in Texas next year
There’s still a chance the Blue Jays could re-sign Melky Cabrera, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes. GM Alex Anthopoulos is prepared to wait until Cabrera has a sense of what’s available to him in free agency, and if Cabrera doesn’t find an offer to his liking, he could return to the Jays, possibly on a four- or five-year contract. Here are more notes from around the big leagues. Russell Martin signed with the Jays, but the Cubs were key bidders, the catcher’s agent tells Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. “There were times throughout the process where it was Toronto and the Cubs, 1 and 2,” says Matt Colleran. “One day the Cubs [were] going a little ahead, and the next Toronto was ahead. When we got into the [last] weekend the dollars started to come into play, and Toronto was just super aggressive with their approach.” The day before Martin and the Blue Jays agreed to terms, the Cubs reportedly were the front-runners to sign him. The Diamondbacks recently began interviews for their open scouting director position, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.
Hanley Ramirez will go to Boston on Monday to finalize a deal with the Red Sox in the five-year, $90MM range, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter links). Reports emerged this afternoon indicating that the Red Sox were in hot pursuit of Ramirez. As Rosenthal wrote earlier today, the Red Sox‘ endgame with Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval is unclear. It’s possible they want Ramirez to play shortstop, but they already have Xander Bogaerts, who has upside and is a far superior defender. If they want Ramirez to play third, it’s unclear what will come of their outstanding offer to Sandoval (which reportedly was for a similar total of five years and $95MM). They could also try Ramirez at outfield, although he has limited experience there, and the Red Sox have plenty of outfielders. As the previous paragraph suggests, however, there are big questions about Ramirez’s defense, particularly at shortstop
It could be a big week for the Red Sox. Not only are they believed to be one of the three finalists for free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval, but FOXSports.com reports that Boston reached an agreement with Hanley Ramirez.
For a second consecutive year, the National Baseball Hall of Fame player ballot to be released today, in conjunction with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, boasts an embarrassment of riches, this time for the prospective Class of 2015.
After acquiring lefty first baseman Ike Davis from the Pirates, the Athletics are fielding calls on lefties Brandon Moss, Josh Reddick and John Jaso, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The Blue Jays have reportedly asked the A’s about the now-healthy Jaso, with the Athletics showing interest in lefty starter Sean Nolin. (The Jays already have Dioner Navarro and Josh Thole to back up Russell Martin at catcher, although Navarro hopes to be traded.) The Athletics also have keen interest in finding a shortstop, given the likely departure of Jed Lowrie to free agency. Seen in this context, the Athletics’ acquisition of Davis, who cost them only the rights to $270K in international spending, might mostly be an insurance policy in case they trade someone else. If the Athletics don’t deal another player, Slusser writes, they could non-tender Davis. Reddick (who boasts an above-average bat and a good corner outfield glove) and Moss (who’s a liability defensively but who has had three straight seasons of over 20 home runs) would appear to have significant trade value.
This year, teams have until 11:59 ET on December 2 to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. About 40 players are non-tender candidates, per MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes. Included on the list is injured Braves starting pitcher Kris Medlen. Medlen, 29, earned $5.8MM through arbitration last season. He’s likely to earn a similar amount next season and no less than $4.64MM after missing the entire 2014 season due to his second Tommy John surgery. Based only on his statistics – a career 2.95 ERA, 7.62 K/9, and 2.15 BB/9 in 512 2/3 innings – he appears to be bargain