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Hot Stove: Rangers rumored to be hot on trail of Justin Upton 12.05.12 at 12:51 pm ET
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The Rangers appear to be the most aggressive in the pursuit for Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton, according to reports such as a tweet from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

There are reports that the Rangers are involved in multi-team discussions in their attempt to acquire Upton. One such scenario — reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal — is said to involve Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, Rays right-hander James Shields and Rangers prospects.

Upton, 25, has spent six seasons in Arizona, hitting .278/.357/.475 with 108 home runs, 363 RBIs and 80 stolen bases in 731 carer games. In 2012 he hit .280/.355/.430 with 17 homers, 67 RBIs and 18 steals in 150 games.

Upton is a two-time All-Star (2009, 2011). He finished fourth in National League MVP voting in 2011 after hitting .289/.369/.529 with 31 homers, 88 RBIs and 21 steals in 159 games.

He has three years and $38 million remaining on his contract.

Read More: 2012 Hot Stove, justin upton,
Trade Deadline: Justin Upton to remain a member of the Diamondbacks 07.24.12 at 3:24 pm ET
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After weeks of speculation, it appears Justin Upton will remain the Diamondbacks’€™ right fielder this season as team president Derrick Hall said Tuesday that there is ‘€œclose to a 100 percent chance nothing happens.’€

“We’ll field all proposals and conversations,’€ Hall said. ‘€œYou never know. But I would be surprised if anything happens in the offseason, either.”

Upton, who finished last season fourth in the NL MVP voting after hitting .289 with 31 home runs, was the subject of many trade rumors since before the All-Star break when the Diamondbacks were listening to trade offers for him.

The 2005 first-overall selection struggled at the beginning of this season but has been heating up lately, hitting .417 in his last seven games to improve his average to .276.

Upton was rumored to have interested teams such as the Blue Jays, Pirates, Tigers, Braves, and the Rangers. The Red Sox, Yankees, Cubs and Indians were all blocked from trading for Upton thanks to a clause in the 24-year-old’€™s six-year, $51.25 million contract extension he signed in 2010.

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline, diamondbacks, justin upton,
Trade Deadline: Yankees reportedly ‘in on everybody’ 07.22.12 at 9:52 am ET
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With outfielder Brett Gardner likely out for the season with upcoming elbow surgery the Yankees “are in on everybody,” a source told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.

The Yankees have reportedly inquired into Shane Victorino of the Phillies, Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks and Denard Span of the Twins.

Philadelphia may shop Victorino or let him leave and collect a draft choice when the season ends. If the Phillies are willing to part with Victorino before July 31, Heyman reported the Yankees would be interested.

It seems unlikely Upton will land with the Yankees and a  source told Heyman the Twins are asking for a lot in return for Span.

This season Victorino, who has played seven of his eight years with Philadelphia, is batting .253 with 38 RBI. Arizona’s Upton is batting .274 for 41 RBI while Span has a .276 batting average and 29 RBI.

Read More: 2012 Trade Deadline, Brett Gardner, Denard Span, justin upton
A trade revisited: How close was Jacoby Ellsbury for Justin Upton? 11.16.11 at 10:29 am ET
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MILWAUKEE — A year ago, the GM meetings were dominated by one name.

Kevin Towers was in his first offseason as general manager of the Diamondbacks. He needed to gauge the market value of his players. That, in turn, meant that no one was untouchable in trade conversations, including his single greatest asset: Outfielder Justin Upton.

Upton was coming off of what was, for him, a down year, hitting .273 with a .356 OBP, .442 slugging mark, .798 OPS, 17 homers and 18 steals in 133 games. But for a player with superstar potential (and, in fact, one superstar-caliber season on his resume in 2009), he was signed to a tremendously appealing contract, a six-year, $51.25 million contract that ran through 2015, when Upton would be just 27. Few players in the game were so young with such strong track records, such bright futures and such appealing cost certainty.

Virtually every team in baseball was interested, and the Red Sox were no different. Indeed, the Sox were as aggressive as any team in the majors in trying to pry Upton from the Diamondbacks.

“That was a team we matched up fairly well with. I don’€™t want to get into who the players were,” Towers recalled on Tuesday. “They certainly had the type of package, the right package, where something could have happened but didn’€™t. Nothing really ever got that close.”

Even so, it is fascinating to revisit the type of players who were discussed, given one of the players whom the Sox were discussing. Jacoby Ellsbury and Daniel Bard were both frequently discussed names in a potential deal. And given Ellsbury’s MVP-caliber season, in which the centerfielder hit .321 with a .376 OBP, .552 slugging mark and .928 OPS with 32 homers and 39 steals while also nabbing a Gold Glove in center field, the most talked about potential deal of last year’s GM meetings remains an intriguing subject of inquiry.

Upton had a monster season, hitting .289 with a .369 OBP, .529 slugging mark, .898 OPS, 31 homers and 21 steals while helping to lead the Diamondbacks to the playoffs. He just turned 24, and he represents an anchor of Arizona’s playoff aspirations for years to come. He is signed for four more years, during which he will still be ascending towards his prime.

Ellsbury, meanwhile, has two more years (in his age 28 and 29 seasons) before he reaches free agency. He is in line for significant pay increases through salary arbitration. The eight-year, $160 million deal that the Dodgers recently reached with Matt Kemp offers some indication of the type of long-term deal that Ellsbury would require if the Sox were to prevent him from reaching free agency.

While Ellsbury had, by virtually any measure, the better season than Upton in 2011 (a remarkable fact given what Upton did for Arizona this year), the contract issue complicates the assessment of whether the Sox or Diamondbacks would have been better off had a trade been consummated. (In that light, it’s also worth noting that Bard, like Upton, is under team control for four more years, and he represents a key figure in the late innings for the Sox, particularly with the departure of Jonathan Papelbon.)

At any rate, the whole thing is simply a theoretical exercise, since Towers ended up holding onto Upton and the Sox kept Ellsbury and Bard.

“I never got very close. It was going to be one of those where it had to be a win deal. But being new to the organization, I had to find out what his value was,” Towers said of his talks about Upton last year. “With San Diego, I had at least 15 years to know, going into every winter, how people valued my players. Arizona, I was kind of going in blind. If a handful of guys are untouchable, I’€™ll never find out, but nothing ever came real close.”

One year later, Towers added, he has no plans to renew his examination of Upton’s value.

“Haven’t had any discussions about him,” he said with a laugh. “And I haven’t heard Ellsbury’s name, either.”

Read More: Arizona Diamondbacks, Daniel Bard, Hot Stove 2011, Jacoby Ellsbury
Hot Stove roundup, 9 a.m.: Committee meets on expanded MLB playoffs 12.08.10 at 9:10 am ET
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Commissioner Bud Selig‘s committee of managers and executives met Tuesday, on the second day of the winter meetings in Orlando, and discussed both expanded playoffs and increased use of video review by umpires. No specific recommendations were made yet, but there appeared to be strong sentiment for adding two wild-card teams to create a 10-club postseason, most likely for 2012. A new wild-card round would likely be set up as a best-of-three or single-game elimination. When they met last month, more general managers seemed to favor the best-of-three series. As for replay, it hasn’t been determined whether to increase its use. The group will meet again in conjunction with owners’ meetings scheduled for Jan. 12-13.

Quick hits:

‘™¦ Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Tuesday, the club announced at the winter meetings. This is his second such procedure on his non-throwing shoulder in a year. The shoulder bothered Sanchez late in the regular season and during the playoffs, when the Giants beat the Rangers to win the World Series. The procedure is essentially to cut the biceps tendon and clean up the back of his shoulder, said athletic trainer Dave Groeschner. The 32-year-old Sanchez also had surgery on the same shoulder last December and began the season on the disabled list. He is expected to be in the Giants’ starting lineup come opening day 2011.

‘™¦ The Diamondbacks continued to build their bullpen by agreeing Tuesday on a two-year, $10 million contract with free agent reliever J.J. Putz. The 33-year-old Putz went 7-5 with three saves and a 2.83 ERA in 60 games for the White Sox last season.

‘™¦ Justin Upton isn’t going anywhere ‘€” at least for now. Trade talks involving the Diamondbacks’ 23-year-old right fielder have “just about died,” a source familiar with the discussions to ESPN.com. While the Diamondbacks will still listen to offers, the club is no longer motivated to trade him because it has begun filling some of the holes it would have plugged by dealing Upton. The Diamondbacks were looking to get anywhere from three to five “can’t-miss” young players for Upton. No team was willing to pay that hefty of a price tag, so the club ultimately decided to move on and try to build around the All-Star.

‘™¦ A “person familiar with the negotiations” told The Associated Press that outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. has reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year, $675,000 contract with the Dodgers. Gwynn, son of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, batted just .204 this year with three home runs and 20 RBIs. The 28-year-old became a free agent last week when the Padres failed to offer a 2011 contract.

‘™¦ Craig Counsell‘s agent asked the Brewers for more time to considered his options, tweeted MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. The Brewers are eager to hear whether or not the veteran infielder will return. McCalvy also tweeted that the Brewers will continue to pursue catching options, even though signing Wil Nieves is nearly a done deal.

‘™¦ Vladimir Guerrero may continue to call the AL West home. Hideki Matsui remains at the top of the A’s lengthy list of possibilities to fill the designated hitter spot, but The San Fransisco Chronicle learned Tuesday that obtaining Guerrero has become a more viable possibility than previously thought. The A’s put in a call about Guerrero early in the process, but indications were that the 35-year-old would only consider a one-year deal to stay with the Rangers and a three-year deal elsewhere. However, Guerrero is now willing to talk to all four AL West teams about a one-year contract with an option.

Read More: Bud Selig, Freddy Sanchez, Hideki Matsui, Hot Stove
Minor Details: Avoiding trade disasters 12.03.10 at 1:12 pm ET
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This week’s episode of the Minor Details podcast examined the importance of an organization’s ability to scout its own prospects. The significance is substantial, since an organization that undervalues its prospects risks a potentially disastrous trade along the lines of the 1990 deal made by the Red Sox of then-prospect Jeff Bagwell for middle reliever Larry Andersen. At the same time, an organization that overvalues its prospects risks inaction, and missed opportunities to trade for players who can help a club or even stars.

This week’s guests on Minor Details are former Arizona Diamondbacks GM (and Red Sox assistant GM) Josh Byrnes and former Red Sox player and manager Butch Hobson, who served as Bagwell’s manager with Double-A New Britain in 1990. (The significance of the Bagwell deal resurfaced this week, as the Astros great is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time.) Byrnes talked about the state of the trade market, some of his past trades and the idea of trading outfielder Justin Upton, who played for Byrnes in Arizona.

To listen to the podcast, click here. Some highlights: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Arizona Diamondbacks, Butch Hobson, Dan Haren, jeff bagwell
Terry Francona on D&H: ‘Real confident’ despite Martinez’ departure 11.23.10 at 12:22 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley Show on Tuesday to discuss the state of the Red Sox. His visit coincided with the breaking news of catcher Victor Martinez departure for the Tigers on a four-year, $50 million deal.

“My phone started ringing about 20 minutes ago. I was like, ‘€˜Maybe we need to reschedule,’€™” Francona joked.

Francona praised Martinez as a player and person, and noted his appreciation for the switch-hitter’s efforts with the Red Sox. He did take some solace that Martinez is leaving the Sox for the AL Central, rather than an American League East rival.

“He’€™s going to take that to a new team. Fortunately, it looks like it’€™s not in our division. These things happen. When guys get to free agency, there’€™s a lot of decisions to make. One is by the player, one is by the organization and one is by other teams,” said Francona. “Sometimes it works out where a guy doesn’€™t come back. That doesn’€™t mean we’€™re not going to be any good. I feel real confident. The winter has to play itself out. It’€™s just beginning. It will be really interesting.”

Francona said that he talked to Sox GM Theo Epstein as recently as Monday night about Martinez’ contract status. The manager had no qualms with the organization’s decision.

“We’€™re pretty much on the same page on a lot of things. Being the manager is a little bit different, making the lineup out, is a little bit different than having to be the care-taker for the organization and looking at it four years down the road. I try not to lose sight of that,” said Francona. “Wanting to have Victor in the lineup next April is a no-brainer. When you have to make a decision and you’€™re talking $40, $45, $50 million, four years down the road, that’€™s not quite as easy. I respect that.

“If we went down to Fort Myers and we didn’t have a catcher, I’d be anxious,” said Francona. “I’ve been here long enough to know that this is the way it goes. When you’re the Red Sox and you have a high payroll and veteran players, you’re going to have free agents. That’s just the way it is. Theo and his guys have to walk the fine line of protecting — we talk about loyalty, and we certainly believe in that — but not going too far and have guys maybe in the last couple years of their contracts not doing what you want. It just seems like in this day and age, teams don’t mind paying money as much as they want to limit the years sometimes. … I understand it’s Nov. 22 and Victor is going somewhere else. Saying that, I have a feeling that be Feb. 15, we’ll have a team set in place.”

Francona spoke highly of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, though while he said that the Sox believe he can develop into an everyday catcher, he also cautioned that it might not be ideal to confer that responsibility on the 25-year-old out of the gate. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: carl crawford, David Ortiz, Detroit Tigers, Jacoby Ellsbury
GM meetings recap: What Wednesday meant to the Red Sox 11.18.10 at 7:35 am ET
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Wednesday marked the second full day of the GM meetings in Orlando. For a look back at Day 1, click here.

In 2008, there was not a single transaction that occurred at the GM meetings. In that context, two years seems like quite a long time ago.

This year’s GM meetings feel less as if they are transpiring in the shadow of Disney as much as they are in the middle of a bazaar. There’s been plenty of activity, both real and stage-setting.

While Red Sox GM Theo Epstein told reporters that he did not anticipate that the club would do anything of note before leaving Orlando, three notable transactions took place to further shape the market for offseason deals:

–The Tigers signed free agent Joaquin Benoit, an outstanding performer for the Rays in a huge bounceback 2010 season, to a somewhat staggering three-year, $16.5 million contract. Benoit had a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 innings while pitching on an incentive-laden deal for the Rays in 2010. Implications for the Red Sox: The Sox are no fans of multi-year deals for relievers, and while they were prepared to bite the bullet on a deal spanning multiple seasons for relief arms, this deal — for a middle reliever — will no doubt embolden pitchers like Scott Downs and Brian Fuentes to shoot very high. With three years now a baseline for the relief market (for a pitcher who is one year removed from missing an entire season), the Sox’ task of adding bullpen arms became more challenging, especially with the top 2010 performer no longer available.

–The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Rajai Davis from the Athletics in exchange for a pair of minor leaguers. Implications for the Red Sox: Limited, especially since the Blue Jays were not expected to be major players for the outfielders (such as Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth) whom the Sox are more likely targeting.

–The Chibe Lotte Marines of the NPB will make shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka available to Major League Baseball clubs via the posting process. Implications for the Red Sox: Assuming that the 26-year-old, who led the Pacific League with a .346 average, is acquired and signed by a major league team other than the Red Sox, it could take away a potential suitor should the Sox decide to try to move either Marco Scutaro or Jed Lowrie. Alternately, the Sox could make a bid for Nishioka, in which case the club could more freely market Scutaro or Lowrie (much as the A’s did by acquiring pitcher Hishasi Hiwakuma and then dealing starter Vin Mazzaro to the Royals as part of the deal for outfielder David DeJesus).

While those were the deals that actually got done, there was yet another wave of rumors and statements to help illuminate where the Red Sox stand in the offseason. Here, broken down by area, were the major developments from Wednesday.

OWNERSHIP, PAYROLL AND OVERALL OFFSEASON STRATEGY

–Red Sox chairman Tom Werner appeared on The Big Show and shed light on the Sox’ commitment to return to the postseason next year. (For a transcript of his remarks, click here.) He observed that the Sox had the second highest payroll in the majors last year, and that they anticipated “a robust payroll, probably as high as last year if not higher.” He also suggested that the team will move aggressively to improve its roster, and made clear that he and Sox ownership have no intentions of treating 2011 as a “bridge year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bridge year, carl crawford, casey kelly
Source: Red Sox interested in Justin Upton, but ‘nothing even close’ 11.17.10 at 5:32 pm ET
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ORLANDO — According to a major league source familiar with the situation, the Red Sox are interested in acquiring outfielder Justin Upton – no surprise, since most major league clubs would be interested in a 23-year-old budding superstar — but there is “nothing even close” in talks between the Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks.

According to USA Today, both the Yankees and Red Sox have talked with the Arizona Diamondbacks about the availability of outfielder Justin Upton. The report, which cited anonymous sources from all three organizations, suggests that the Yankees have fallen short of the Diamondbacks’ demands, the Sox “remain engaged:”

“While the Yankees’ package has not met the Diamondbacks’ demands, according to officials from New York and Arizona, the Red Sox still are engaged in talks.

“If somebody wants to overpay,” Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers said, “I’ll be more than willing to listen. It’s just a thing where people are kicking the tires right now. That’s it.”

USA Today was the first to report that the Diamondbacks are listening to offers on Upton, but a major league source told WEEI.com yesterday that there were “no legs” to talks between the Sox and Arizona, whose new GM, Kevin Towers, has been a frequent trading partner of Sox GM Theo Epstein.

Even so, discussion about Upton’s availability have persisted, and given both the talent (the former All-Star is just the 25th player in major league history to hit 60 or more homers through his age 22 season) and affordability (he has five years and $49.5 million remaining on the six-year deal he signed last spring) will ensure that he will remain of significant interest.

The Arizona Republic reported that the Diamondbacks would want four or five players — three of them either big leaguers or big league-ready — in any deal regarding the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft.

Read More: Arizona Diamondbacks, gm meetings, justin upton, kevin towers
GM Meetings Recap: What Tuesday meant to the Red Sox at 8:47 am ET
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In recent years, the GM Meetings have been described as nothing more than a prelude to the real work of the offseason. This year, work has started early.

There was a flurry of actual activity on the first day of the general managers’ meetings in Orlando. Among the most notable developments:

–The Marlins closed in on a three-year, $18 million deal with John Buck (more on that here). Implications for the Red Sox: Buck represented the best catching alternative to Victor Martinez on the free agent market. That said, Rob Bradford reports that “the Sox’ interest in Buck was limited due to the cost the 30-year-old was going to command in the open market, along with the fact Buck had produced at a high level offensively (.281, 20 home runs) for just one year.”

Still, even if the Sox had only limited interest in Buck, they now lose the option of using him to bluff regarding their fallback plans for Martinez. Moreover, the fact that Buck received a three-year guarantee means that it will be hard to imagine a deal for Martinez of less than four or even five years.

–The Marlins traded Dan Uggla to the Braves in exchange for infielder Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Mike Dunn. (More on the deal here.) Implications for the Red Sox: Hypothetically, Uggla might have represented an alternative to Adrian Beltre in the third base market of Carl Crawford/Jayson Werth in the left field market had the Sox failed to sign any of them. That said, he is viewed as an imperfect fit for just about any position, so the significance of his move to the Braves is relatively low, except for the fact that it further strengthens the already considerable leverage of Beltre as the best third baseman available this offseason.

–The Cardinals re-signed free-agent Jake Westbrook to a two-year, $16.5 million deal. Implications for the Red Sox: Not many, although Westbrook’s signing does thin out an already weak class (behind Cliff Lee) of free agent starters. Conceivably, then, if the Sox decided to make a starter such as Daisuke Matsuzaka or Felix Doubront available, the fact that Westbrook and Ted Lilly are off the market could only help them.

That was the actual news at the GM Meetings. As for the rumors related to the Red Sox, broken down position-by-position: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Adrian Beltre, bill Hall, Dan Uggla, David Ortiz
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