While the market isn't great for Morse this winter, several teams are reportedly interested, even with Morse looking for a one-year deal in the $7-8 million range.
One of them is the Houston Astros. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes Tuesday evening that Morse would fill the Astros' need for a first basemen if healthy.
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Rakuten Golden Eagles president Yozo Tachibana arrived at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday and said he was disappointed with the new proposed posting system and that he isn’t sure whether Tanaka will post before the 2014 season. He said no decision has been made.
Tachibana spoke with reporters in English and then Japanese, and told the Japanese media that he won’t stop Tanaka from posting if that’s what Tanaka wants. Tachibana added that he plans on meeting with Tanaka next week.
Assuming the new posting system is ratified, the maximum bid would be $20 million. If more than one team bids that amount, Tanaka can negotiate with all of them and determine where he wants to play. Because the Japanese club only gets $20 million as opposed to last year, when Yu Darvish’s club received a $51.7 million posting fee, it’s possible Tanaka could stay for one more year. That way the Golden Eagles would get another season of Tanaka to market and then they’d still get the $20 million when he’s posted.
But it sounds as if Tanaka will discuss it with his club officials, including Tachibana, next week and reach a decision.
If you’re the Rangers and Tanaka is posted, why not make a bid? Only the team that ends up signing Tanaka has to pay the $20 million fee. So why not see what happens? Tanaka could add another arm on a long-term deal to the rotation and give the Rangers even more depth. If the bidding gets too high for the Rangers, they can back out. But I'd expect them to at least put in the bid and explore it, though the price may not be something they can end up doing.
But general manager Jon Daniels does not share that opinion.
"He had a decision to make," Daniels said late Tuesday afternoon. "I think one of the byproducts of that decision was that it impacted the club. There’s no two ways around that. But we all understood the position he was in. I can’t speak for everybody, but I don’t view it that way. I don’t think he owes us.
"I think he likes being here. He may factor that in. It’s been an overall positive relationship over the years. I don’t think one side owes the other."
Daniels said there was "nothing new" to report on Cruz. The club met with Adam Katz, Cruz's agent, on Monday and communication lines are still open. Sources indicated earlier Tuesday that the price for Shin-Soo Choo was at a level that was higher than the Rangers wanted to pay and that the club was leaning toward Cruz at this point. But the question is whether the two sides can agree on a deal that makes sense.
Daniels and his staff continue to survey the market to see what is out there and if it fits with the club.
“There are good players out there, but do we want to pay what it would cost in contract or young players?” Daniels said. “Does it make sense for us right now? There are a few select guys we’re still keeping tabs on. But we’re not involved with as many of the big names as we’re rumored to be.”
* Daniels said he met with some teams and agents Tuesday, but had nothing specific to report.
* The Rangers may add some depth to the bullpen, but Daniels said they aren’t really involved in bullpen additions. “If anything, we’ve fielded calls on our guys,” Daniels said.
* Tanner Scheppers is preparing as if he’ll start. “He’s interested in starting, but he’s also interested in closing,” Daniels said. “We know he’s pretty dominant in the eighth inning.” It’s more likely Robbie Ross starts in spring training than Scheppers.
* Daniels said they won't just bring an outfielder in as a "safety net" for Michael Choice, but said there's a "good chance" they'd bring in a veteran guy if he fits with the club.
* Daniels said just because the team may have missed on some injured players in the past, they're not hesitant to do it again. Daniels mentioned Milton Bradley and Eric Gagne were successes on that front and he believes Joakim Soria will be as well. He also noted that Lance Berkman and Brandon Webb were not. "When you take those kinds of chances, you know there's added risk involved," Daniels said. "But we're not afraid to go down that path again. You go in knowing you have a chance to miss, but you hit pretty big when you get an impact player on a small deal like that."
* Daniels and manager Ron Washington will attend a Wednesday morning presentation by MLB regarding replay and how everything will work.
The Rangers want to see that power from Arencibia, who was officially signed Tuesday at the winter meetings. But they hope that along with it comes a steady climb of his batting average and OBP. Perhaps hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington will help the right-handed hitter.
In a small sample size, Arencibia has a .256 batting average (11-for-43) with seven homers, 10 RBIs and eight runs scored. That includes two multi-hit games and a .360 average (9-for-25) with the bases loaded. Arencibia has four home runs in his last four games at the park.
"I don’t know what it is, but whatever it is I’d like to bottle it up," Arencibia said. "I’ve enjoyed the park. One thing I enjoy is the heat. I really do like playing in the hot weather. That’s what I grew up doing in Miami. I enjoy that part of it and the atmosphere. The stadium always has a large amount of fans and that makes playing more enjoyable."
Arencibia gives the Rangers a catching tandem at an affordable price -- for around $5 million -- and he said he has no issues with his role as the backup to Geovany Soto.
"My job is to go out there and try to work with Geo every day, whether it be going over scouting reports or playing," Arencibia said. "It’s about putting the best team out there and helping out pitchers get through the games."
Arencibia, who will turn 28 next month, has a one-year contract for a reported $1.8 million, with $300,000 in reachable incentives.
"For me, winning was a big draw," Arencibia said. "I know from playing against the Rangers and seeing the way they go about their business on the field, they have a winning team and have for quite some time."
"Last year, for whatever it may be, the second half I played banged up," Arencibia said. "I didn't put much stake into [the numbers]. As you mature as a player, the more experience you get.
"For me, the power is the thing that's always been there. I know throughout my career that I can hit for average, and in the big leagues I haven't yet. But I definitely know that's a part of my game that's in there. You get more and more mature."
Arencibia has 62 homers the past three seasons, the fourth-highest total among big league catchers in that span.
Arencibia, drafted 21st overall in 2007, has a .212 career batting average in 380 games. He's played in just 11 games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington and has a .256 average (11-for-43) with seven homers, 10 RBIs and eight runs scored.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It appears the price for Shin-Soo Choo, at least right now, is in the Jacoby Ellsbury range (in terms of years and salary) and that's not a price the Rangers want to pay, according to sources. Ellsbury signed a seven-year, $153 million deal with the New York Yankees this offseason.
One source said it wouldn't be fair to say Texas was "out" on Choo, but they aren't "in" on him at the current rate. His price would have to drop for Texas to get more aggressive. The club is leaning toward Nelson Cruz, if a deal can be worked out. It's possible Cruz could end up in a position of choosing from a slightly longer-term deal with one club or taking a little less to stay with Texas. But we'll see.
The Rangers still want a power bat and Cruz fits in nicely to that plan. They know him and are comfortable with him. The question is whether Cruz's comfort with the Rangers is enough to get him to Texas in a deal that works for both sides.
* Whenever Cliff Lee's name is floated, it's difficult not to think of the Rangers. But beyond the pieces it might take to get him is the $25 million he's owed in 2014, the $25 million he gets in 2015 and the $27.5 vesting option for 2016 (or a $12.5 million buyout). That's a lot of money to pay a 35-year-old pitcher. It doesn't seem very likely at this point.
* The Rangers have "some" interest in Corey Hart as they canvas bats in case the bigger names fall through.
* The club has discussed Michael Morse as well. That's something we detailed in our "Hot Stove Talk" series yesterday. Read that here.
* Lots of chatter about a proposed three-way deal between the Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Angels and Arizona Diamondbacks. Our buddy Keith Law reports that the deal would send Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks with Adam Eaton going to Chicago and Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs ending up with the Angels.
Today's player: Domonic Brown
Because so many of you asked about Brown on Twitter, we'll feature him here. Reports are that the Philadelphia Phillies are dangling Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports says the Phillies want controllable, young pitching.
Brown, 26, hit .272 with 27 homers and 83 RBIs last season, by far the best of his young career. The left-handed hitter started nearly equally in the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 spots in the lineup. He has four more seasons of team control (and is arbitration-eligible after next season). Brown is not considered a solid defender and he hit much better against righties than lefties (showing more power against righties as well).
Why he makes sense: You're talking about a longer-term solution at an affordable price in terms of salary. He's young enough that if 2013 was just the beginning -- a breakout year with the ability to become more -- he could blossom into a solid, everyday player. And it wouldn't be any sort of one- or two-year deal. It's worth noting that Shin-Soo Choo's splits last year were even wider than Brown's as he hit better against righties than lefties as well.
Why he doesn't make sense: He doesn't have the track record of a Shin-Soo Choo and isn't as good defensively. And the Rangers would likely have to part with one of their young starters under contract, something they are going to be hesitant to do now that they have the rotation set and under control for at least the next few years (and beyond, in most cases).
Bottom line: It's another intriguing outfield option should the bidding for Choo get too high. But it comes down to what the Phillies might be asking and if the Rangers want to trade Brown's bat for his defensive inefficiencies.
There is some buzz regarding a deal for Matt Kemp, at least according to the agent for the Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder. Dave Stewart says "something was brewing" regarding his client, reports Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.
The Boston Red Sox, who recently lost free agent Jacoby Ellsbury to the New York Yankees, and Seattle Mariners are viewed as prime candidates. Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and manager John Farrell both reiterated Monday that they are comfortable with Jackie Bradley Jr. penciled in as the Opening Day center fielder in place of Ellsbury, but that, of course, could change.
Here is a quick look of what is happening, or may happen, in Orlando:
- David Price: The race is on to acquire the 2012 AL Cy Young winner, whose value may never be as high as it is now. ESPN.com's Jayson Stark says Rays GM Andrew Friedman will get what he wants in return. “He's not going to budge, certainly not this week,” Stark says.
- Taijuan Walker: Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said Monday he has no plans to trade his top pitching prospect, but that may be what it takes to land Price.
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"We've always had a good relationship with Adam and with the organization and Nellie," Daniels said as he chatted with the club's beat writers during baseball's winter meetings. "Both sides have been upfront. Nothing really to report, but conversations are amicable in nature."
Daniels added that he "didn't know if anything would come of it."
But the club would like to add another bat to the lineup and Cruz is one of the few remaining that has shown power and production in his career. Shin-Soo Choo is also available and the Rangers have interest, as we noted earlier.
Daniels said he didn't have another meeting planned with Katz, but that it was likely they would talk again.
More from Daniels:
- He said for the club to make another move it has to be "the right fit, otherwise we're content with where we're at." But don't take that to mean the Rangers will stand pat. They are interested in further upgrading the lineup and will go about trying to do that at these meetings and beyond.
- The front office has laid the groundwork with clubs already, so Daniels said Rangers brass hasn't had the need for quite as many sit-down sessions as in the past.
- As of now, Mitch Moreland is the club's designated hitter. Texas could look to add a right-handed bat to complement Moreland if the Rangers don't end up dealing him. "Whether it's an everyday guy or somebody that complements what we already have, we're looking at both of those options," Daniels said.
- Daniels said the club isn't "looking to trade" Moreland, but "anything that can fit that makes us better, we're open to." Got that?
"I'd like production," Washington said when asked what he wants. "Probably a middle-of-the-order guy. Run production."
Washington went on to explain that with Leonys Martin set to lead off, barring another signing, he'd rather see the club utilize its resources on someone who can drive in runs from that key portion of the lineup.
Obviously, there are still a few guys on the free-agent market who could do that, but Nelson Cruz has to be close to the top of the list. The Rangers have interest in Shin-Soo Choo, who offers production, but does so from the leadoff spot.
The Rangers met with Cruz's agent on Monday in Orlando, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney. The plan is for the two sides to meet again. Olney notes that the Rangers are comfortable right now with two years and maybe an option for the right-handed hitting outfielder. Cruz wants at least three years. So we'll see when and if this gets done.
If the current team stays basically the same, Washington said he'd use Mitch Moreland in a variety of roles.
"Mitch has played a little outfield. He will play some first base, and Prince will get a spell," Washington said. "He can also slide in the DH spot. So there are still at-bats there from Mitch, and we certainly intend on using them."
The obvious advantage to Cruz is the Rangers know him and know what he can do. But he's 33 years old and the Rangers want to be sure they have what they feel is the right contract length. Cruz has also dealt with his share of injuries, likely the biggest reason Texas would like to keep the contract shorter. Stay tuned.
Today's player: Michael Morse
The Rangers have some interest in Morse, almost as a backup plan should things fall through with other options (as first reported by Joel Sherman of The New York Post). Of course, most of the talk when it comes to filling the left field spot belongs to Shin-Soo Choo. But what if the price for Choo escalates to the point where the Rangers don't want to pay?
Morse would be a more budget-conscious move. But he comes with a risk. Morse was injured much of last season and was eventually shut down in September with a left wrist injury (he was dealing with ligament issues before that). He was acquired from Seattle by the Orioles at the end of August, but ended up playing in just 12 games in Baltimore. He played in 76 for Seattle and hit .215 with 13 homers and 27 RBIs in 2013.
But from 2010 to 2012 with the Washington Nationals, Morse hit .296 and averaged 21 homers and 66 RBIs. He had a .861 OPS in that span.
Why he makes sense: Morse has power and is a right-handed batter who can not only play in the outfield, but also first base if needed. He played mainly in the corner outfield spots in 2013. If Morse is healthy and can revert back to the player he was just two seasons ago, the Rangers could get good value for him on a shorter-term deal than anything they'd pay on Choo.
Why he doesn't make sense: The best combination for Texas would be someone who consistently gets on base, has some power and can lead off. Choo, a left-handed hitter, fits that description much better than Morse. And with some of the big-money teams already signing their outfielders, perhaps with some patience, Choo's price doesn't end up in Jacoby Ellsbury territory and the Rangers are ready to take advantage.
Bottom line: I like Morse as a good backup plan should Texas not get the player they want for left field in free agency or even via trade. If the medicals show the wrist is fine, Morse put up solid power numbers for three seasons before last year. I think it would be worth it to see if it was, in fact, the injury.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Rangers GM Jon Daniels joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to tackle the tough questions after his team failed to advance to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss having Nelson Cruz back in the lineup and how the Rangers are feeling heading into their wild-card play-in game against the Rays.
Play Podcast ESPN Insider and senior MLB analyst Jim Bowden joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the wild-card race and the Rangers' chances of making the playoffs.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why he feels Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish isn't an ace.
Play Podcast Elvis Andrus joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Rangers' stretch run and the morale level in their clubhouse.
Play Podcast Nolan Ryan joins Galloway and Company to discuss the latest Rangers news, including the team's struggles, Ron Washington's job security and a rumored trade with the Braves.
Play Podcast Ron Washington joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Rangers' dismal September, who's to blame for their September struggles and his status as the team's manager.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss how some people are calling for the Rangers to fire manager Ron Washington.