Former Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart has returned to his family-run agency – Sports Management Partners – which he’ll operate with his wife, Lonnie Murray, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (Twitter link). Stewart previously represented Matt Kemp and Chris Carter, among others, but he had to leave the business when the D-backs hired him in 2014. The fact that Murray remained with the agency while Stewart served as a GM led to conflict-of-interest questions, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic detailed last March. Now for a few updates on notable agency changes that have happened this week: One year before he’s scheduled to hit the open market, Rays right-hander Alex Cobb has switched agencies from ACES to Beverly Hills Sports Council, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Cobb was a high-end starter from 2013-14, but he missed all of 2015 thanks to Tommy John surgery and posted ugly results in his return last season. Over an admittedly small sample size (22 innings), the 29-year-old logged an 8.59 ERA to go with 6.55 K/9 – his lowest since 2011.
The Marlins are interested in free agent relievers Brad Ziegler and Koji Uehara as fallback options if they’re unable to reel in Kenley Jansen or Aroldis Chapman, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Miami could sign both Ziegler and Uehara if it loses out on Jansen and Chapman, per Frisaro (Twitter links). Ziegler and Uehara each carry strong track records, though the former is 37 and the latter will turn 42 in April. The pair finished last season in Boston, where Uehara has pitched since 2013. In other Marlins-related bullpen news, the club is “highly unlikely” to re-sign left-hander Mike Dunn, but it continues “monitoring his status,” tweets Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. More bullpen-related rumors: The Nationals offered “at least $10MM less” than the Giants’ winning four-year, $62MM bid for closer Mark Melancon, the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner told MLB Network Radio on Monday (Twitter link). The Tigers are gauging interest in southpaw setup man Justin Wilson and right-handed reliever Shane Greene, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). This is the second time Wilson’s name has hit the rumor mill since last week. The 29-year-old impressed with a 9.97 K/9, 2.61 BB/9 and 54.6 ground-ball rate in 58 2/3 innings last season.
A uniform partnership between Major League Baseball, Under Armour and Fanatics was consummated in All-Star fashion on Monday, with several of the game’s biggest stars gathering to celebrate a landmark deal that will — literally — change the look of the modern-day ballplayer.
Here’s the latest on the Rays from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (multiple story links)… A source on one of the teams interested in right-hander Chris Archer tells Topkin that the Rays are asking for five or six players in return. Obviously that specific ask could be related to that specific team, but with a price tag generally thought to be quite high, Topkin is doubtful Archer will be dealt. Tampa is getting a lot of attention about its rotation in general, including the Pirates showing interest in Jake Odorizzi. Pittsburgh initially had interest in Odorizzi at last season’s trade deadline, and it would be fascinating to see what kind of deal (if any) the Rays and Bucs could work out, as fellow small-market teams. Welington Castillo is generating enough interest that he is expected to get a multi-year deal, so the Rays could be priced out of his market. One source “wouldn’t expect” the Rays to wind up with Castillo, who has also drawn interest from teams like the Braves and Orioles since he was surprisingly non-tendered by the Diamondbacks this week
White Sox ace Chris Sale may soon be donning a Nationals uniform, as Washington appears to have moved into the catbird seat to pull off a blockbuster deal for the star southpaw. Offering a loaded package of prospects to meet Chicago’s high asking price, the Nationals now have a “legitimate chance” of acquiring Sale and are haggling over the final pieces of a trade, according to MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.
Committing an unprecedented sum of money in an attempt to offset unprecedented lapses in performance, the Giants announced Monday that they obtained the closer they sought by agreeing to a four-year contract with free-agent right-hander Mark Melancon. An industry source confirmed Melancon’s contract is worth a total of $62 million.
The Yankees aren’t balking at Aroldis Chapman’s reported desire for a six-year contract, believing there is mutual interest to work out a reunion with the flame-throwing closer, but they maintained contact with other bullpen options as the Winter Meetings opened Monday at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort & Convention Center.
Committing an unprecedented sum of money in an attempt to offset unprecedented lapses in performance, the Giants obtained the closer they sought by agreeing to a four-year contract Monday with free-agent right-hander Mark Melancon. In announcing the deal, Giants general manager Bobby Evans did not divulge financial details of Melancon’s contract, which will become official pending the obligatory physical examination.
The Marlins have been somewhat surprisingly tied to names like Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the Marlins’ pursuit of the market’s top closers is coming at the urge of owner Jeffrey Loria. Spencer notes that signing any of the “big three” available closers would push Miami well past a $100MM payroll for just the second time in franchise history, but Loria is seemingly comfortable with that fact. According to Spencer, the Marlins’ payroll could rise as high as $115MM next year. Right-hander Mark Melancon is reportedly nearing a deal with the Giants, which would leave Jansen and Chapman as the top two potential targets for Miami. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal reported last night that the Marlins were willing to offer upward of $80MM to Jansen despite the qualifying offer that is attached to his name. And, earlier this morning, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that Loria “loves” Chapman and has been speaking directly to the agents for the top relievers himself thus far. Either Jansen or Chapman would be a massive boost to Miami’s relief corps and would give the team a potentially dominant late-inning trio, as right-handers A.J. Ramos and Kyle Barraclough both have gaudy strikeout numbers. It’s been rumored that the Marlins could field offers for Ramos this winter, though, so there’s obviously some degree of fluidity in the organization’s plans to solidify its pitching staff. Also of note for Marlins fans, FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter) that they’re interested in veteran A.J
There’s plenty of bullpen chatter circulating as the Winter Meetings get underway. Here’s the latest… The latest updates on Mark Melancon last night revealed that the three-time All-Star has received multiple four-year offers, potentially in excess of $60MM in some cases. The Nationals have indeed made a four-year offer to closer Mark Melancon, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, but their offer was for less than $60MM guaranteed. That makes a reunion look unlikely for now, barring an increase in the offer from the Nats. FanRag’s Jon Heyman writes that Melancon is the Giants’ top target, and Greg Holland could be their primary alternative, as opposed to either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. Heyman feels it’s unlikely that they’d pursue either Jansen or Chapman if they fall to land Melancon.