The Jon Lester market has moved into the appropriate financial neighborhood. The Cubs have reportedly offered Lester a contract for more than $135 million over six years. It was not that long ago that the Red Sox appeared to be leading the race with an offer that was reported to be for $110 million-$120 million over six years.
TUESDAY: The Kia Tigers announced that they have rejected the winning bid for Yang, as was first reported (in Korean) by San Kang on Twitter (h/t: Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). As a result, there may end up being no certain resolution as to whether it as the Twins or Rangers who ultimately posted the highest bid. Regardless of which club won the bidding, Yang won’t be jumping to Major League Baseball until next offseason at least. He can be posted once again next November. However, as Jeeho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency in Korea tweets, Yang will be eligible to jump to Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball in 2015 if the Tigers let him. Yoo also tweets that Yang can be eligible for unrestricted free agency following the 2016 season, at which point he wouldn’t need to be posted to sign with a Major League club. MONDAY, 7:15am: The Rangers haven’t been told they’re the high bidders for Yang, MLB.com’s T.R
The Cubs have reportedly extended a six-year offer to Jon Lester that is worth an amount “north of” $135 million, according to CSNChicago.com.
After losing Pablo Sandoval to the Red Sox, the Giants are casting a very wide net and have reached out to agent Scott Boras regarding top free Max Scherzer, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Giants appear to be scouring the trade and free agent markets for upgrades, as Heyman reports that they’ve at least initiated talks with free agents Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, Chase Headley, Torii Hunter, Justin Masterson and of course Yasmany Tomas (their interest in Tomas has been well-documented). Beyond that, they’ve kicked the tires on Atlanta’s Justin Upton, and their interest in Jon Lester was reported yesterday as Sandoval looked to be on the verge of departure. San Francisco’s interest in Scherzer isn’t terribly surprising. The team will bring back ace Madison Bumgarner and stable veteran Tim Hudson, but Matt Cain is returning from elbow surgery and Tim Lincecum‘s reliability has taken s nose-dive in recent years. Both Ryan Vogelsong and Jake Peavy are free agents. Yusmeiro Petit was excellent in 2014 but totaled only 129 2/3 innings between the regular season and postseason. He’s certainly done enough to warrant a look in the rotation, but the lack of innings could be cause for concern. In terms of their offensive targets, Heyman hears that the Giants are more likely to go with a cheaper option to replace Sandoval at third base, instead spending bigger on a replacement in left field for Mike Morse. He notes that they’ve taken a “close look” at Upton and have even reached out to former Giant Melky Cabrera, though one team source described Cabrera’s departure from the Giants as “awkward” to Heyman.
At today’s press conference to announce the signing of Hanley Ramirez, Red Sox owner John Henry told reporters, including WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, that his team is willing to exceed the $189MM luxury tax threshold in 2015. “The way it’s structured we can blow through one year,” Henry said. “Again for next year we have tremendous flexibility so we could go could through for one year and not overly effect us.” Henry added that his previous comments about aversion to long-term contracts were overblown and stated, “You can’t win unless you engage in free agency.” The Red Sox’ early actions this offseason have exemplified that line of thinking, as the team today announced the signing of Ramirez to a four-year, $88MM contract (with a vesting option for a fifth season) and Pablo Sandoval to a five-year $95MM contract. Additionally, they inked Koji Uehara to a two-year, $18MM pact before he even hit the open market. Boston’s spending doesn’t seem the least bit likely to stop there, as both Henry expressed that he is hopeful of securing a reunion with Jon Lester, who is a well-known target of GM Ben Cherington. Boston is believed to be looking at to add at least two starting pitchers this season and has also been linked to trade target Cole Hamels and free agent James Shields, among others.
Rangers pitcher Derek Holland spent Tuesday afternoon teaching fifth-graders at Rankin Elementary School about the importance of exercise and good nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Veteran right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, who came to the United States with such fanfare back in 2007, appears to be considering an offer to return to playing in his native Japan, according to a report from the Japan Times. The report indicates that Matsuzaka has “apparently decided” to make his way back to the Nippon Professional Baseball league. The Fukuoka Softbank Haws are interested in signing Matsuzaka, who is a free agent. Comments from the club’s president, Yoshimitsu Goto, implied that negotiations had taken place and were fairly advanced. “Pitchers who can start are a valuable commodity, so we will do our best to get him,” he said. “We hope to get this done in the coming days.” Matsuzaka, 34, pitched for the Mets each of the last two years after a promising start to his career with the Red Sox fizzled out.
The Indians appear at least slightly open to the possibility of tinkering with their status at third base, especially if it can improve their defensive outlook, and free agent Chase Headley may be their top contender.
MLB.com’s Bernie Pleskoff takes a look at the Astros’ Andrew Aplin and how his game of solid hitting and reliable fielding can help the big league club.
The Red Sox have designated Ryan Lavarnway for assignment to clear roster space for the signing of Pablo Sandoval, the club announced (per a tweet from Alex Speier of WEEI.com). Lavarnway, a 27-year-old catcher, was once considered one of the game’s top 100 prospects. But he has failed to earn a consistent chance at a big league role despite making appearances on the MLB roster over each of the last four seasons. Since first earning a call-up in 2011, Lavarnway has not demonstrated the kind of power and on-base ability that created such hope for his future. Of course, that does not mean that other clubs will not be willing to take a shot on a still-young player with Lavarnway’s talent base. He slashed .283/.389/.370 with three long balls last year across 257 plate appearances at Triple-A.