Jeff Passan

  • The 2014 Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    Here is the free-agent class of 2014-15, ranked from Nos. 1 to 165. The rankings are based on a number of variables, including each player's history, age and potential, and are as much about predicted performance as market value, providing a general outline as free agency unfolds between now and spring training.

    Bookmark this page in your browser or favorite it on Twitter – and return frequently. As the offseason progresses, Yahoo Sports will update it with news of signings and their impact on the other free agents.

    1. Max Scherzer, SP: To turn down a guaranteed $144 million contract, as Scherzer did last spring, takes an enormous amount of faith in self and elbow. And while Scherzer’s luck on balls in play waned a bit from his 2013 Cy Young season, his strikeout, walk and home run rates were practically identical over the last two seasons. Scherzer, 30, wants $200 million, and even if some of the highest-end teams claim they won’t go crazy on pitching contracts this winter, Scott Boras has a way of making money appear.

    50. Ryan Vogelsong, SP: At that point in the list where consistent 180-inning guys become eminently valuable.

    51. Kyle Kendrick, SP: Consistent 180-inning guy.

  • Sources: Josh Johnson agrees to incentive-laden, one-year deal with Padres

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago

    Starting pitcher Josh Johnson agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal with the San Diego Padres that includes incentives that could net him an additional $6.25 million, sources with knowledge of the deal told Yahoo Sports.

    The deal is pending a physical, though the Padres are familiar with the medicals of the 30-year-old Johnson, who missed all of 2014 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery in April. The Padres paid him $8 million last season and declined a club option for $4 million.

    When healthy, Johnson has been one of baseball’s best pitchers, though since his first full season in 2006 he has been distinctly hit or miss, throwing 183 or more innings three times and 88 or fewer the other four.

    Johnson’s performance bonuses are tied to games started. If he reaches five, he receives a $500,000 bonus. For his 10th start, he would receive another $1 million. At 15 it’s $500,000 more, and 20 nets him another $1 million. For every start after that he makes through his 33rd, Johnson would receive $250,000. The chances of Johnson earning the maximum bonus are minimal, as his surgery was in late April and second-time Tommy John patients often take 14-plus months to return.

     

  • Sources: Justin Upton traded to Padres

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago

    The San Diego Padres acquired star outfielder Justin Upton and another player from the Atlanta Braves for four prospects on Friday, capping a manic week of moves in which they overhauled their outfield and landed three potentially potent right-handed bats, sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Atlanta will receive left-handed pitching prospect Max Fried, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery in August, along with second baseman Jace Peterson, third baseman Dustin Peterson and outfielder Mallex Smith. San Diego will also receive right-hander Aaron Northcraft.

    Upton, 27, will hit free agency after the 2015 season and is expected to merit a contract well above $100 million. Atlanta, building for 2016 and beyond, weighed a number of deals before settling on the Padres, whose offseason has focused strictly on 2015.

    Fried is a potential frontline starter, the seventh overall pick in the 2012 draft who was on the fast track to the major leagues until arm troubles shut him down for most of 2014. Fried, who turns 21 in January, may not pitch until 2016.

    Northcraft, 24, struggled at Triple-A last year after a midseason promotion but is probably close to big-league ready.

  • Source: Padres nearing deal to acquire Will Middlebrooks

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 7 days ago

    The San Diego Padres are nearing an agreement to deal just-acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Boston Red Sox for third baseman Will Middlebrooks, a source familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports, continuing the flurry of trades that has reshaped the team.

    Middlebrooks, 26, struggled in Boston last season and eventually lost his job but fits the archetype of player targeted by new Padres general manager A.J. Preller: buy-low, right-handed hitter.

    Hanigan, 34, is not officially a Padre yet, with the three-team, 11-player deal that sent him and Wil Myers to San Diego still in its final stages. Following a trade for catcher Derek Norris on Thursday, the Padres were set at catcher and could afford to give up Hanigan to fill a hole on the left side of their infield.

    In Boston, Hanigan would likely share time with young Christian Vasquez and gives the Red Sox flexibility to keep top prospect Blake Swihart in the minor leagues or trade him.

    Once the trade is official, the Padres will have acquired outfielders Justin Upton, Matt Kemp and Wil Myers, Norris and Middlebrooks – all right-handed hitters who have flashed 25-plus home run potential.

     

  • Wil Myers trade represents the kind of risky deal Padres must make

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 8 days ago

    At the beginning of the Winter Meetings, held in the city he’s trying to win over, A.J. Preller walked into the beautiful, 50-foot-high-ceilinged lobby of the Manchester Grand Hyatt with one flap of his button-down shirt tucked in and the other flopped over the top of his pants like a forgotten napkin. It’s not so much that the new San Diego Padres general manager doesn’t know how to cut the figure of an executive. He’s just got better things to worry about.

    In his four-plus months running the Padres, Preller has developed a reputation as a manic worker, the sort of guy who will call all 29 teams and do his best to put something together. It’s how the Padres, in their small market, with their flagging attendance, have managed not one but two of this frantic offseason’s biggest moves.

    The Rays’ concerns with him were two-fold. More important than questions of his ability to process changes he must make to succeed in the big leagues were the implications of the stress fracture in his wrist last season. Few injuries debilitate a hitter like one in the wrist, and the mere chance that it’s chronic throws this deal into red-flag territory.

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  • Sources: Twins finalizing four-year deal with Ervin Santana

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    The Minnesota Twins are finalizing a four-year deal for  $55 million with free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana, sources told Yahoo Sports.

    The deal will include a fifth-year option that vests if he throws 200 or more innings in 2018, which would boost the total value to $68 million.

    Santana, 31, pitched for the Atlanta Braves last season after signing a one-year, $14.1 million contract in March. He went 14-10 with a 3.95 ERA in 31 starts and struck out 179 in 196 innings.

    Santana debuted with the Los Angeles Angels in 2005 and spent the next seven seasons with the club, posting a 4.33 ERA during his Angels tenure. He pitched for the Kansas City Royals in 2013, putting together one of his better seasons with a 3.24 ERA in 211 innings.

    He is a durable pitcher who has started 30 or more games in a season seven times and pitched 196 innings or more six times.

    Santana is prone to giving up home runs, allowing a league-leading 39 homers in 2012 with the Angels. Time will tell how he performs at Minnesota's Target Field, which played relatively neutral last season.

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  • Why a camo hat was key to the Cubs landing Jon Lester

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 15 days ago

    SAN DIEGO – The package arrived with a Chicago postmark. Throughout the process of his courtship, Jon Lester received plenty of nice gestures from those interested in signing him – the case of Opus One from one team should go down well – but this was different. Inside the box were a camouflage-colored hat and T-shirt with the sort of logo that looks slightly out of place on such gear: the Chicago Cubs'.

    Nothing can explain Jon Lester's decision to leave behind his time in Boston and more money in San Francisco for the shores of Lake Michigan quite as well as the cheap swag that greeted him in the mail a few weeks ago. It represented everything that mattered to him, which happened to be the same thing that has buoyed the Cubs through a tenuous rebuilding process: trust.

    No matter how many times the Red Sox apologized for screwing up by lowballing him, and no matter how much effort the Giants put in to convincing Lester he was the vital piece to their next championship, nobody could match the trust forged by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, architects of the teams that won Lester a pair of World Series rings in Boston.

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  • Sources: Cubs land Jon Lester with $155 million deal

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 16 days ago

    Prized free agent Jon Lester agreed to a six-year, $155 million contract with the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, sources told Yahoo Sports, launching the upstart Cubs’ return to the high-end free-agent market and rewarding the 31-year-old left-hander with the second-highest average annual salary ever for a starting pitcher.

    The Cubs emerged victorious in a ferocious bidding war that included the San Francisco Giants, who had agreed to offer Lester a seven-year deal for around $168 million, and Lester’s longtime team, the Boston Red Sox, who were runners-up after a final offer of six years and $135 million, according to sources. The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the foray late in the process, too, and presented an offer similar to the Cubs’, but Lester chose to reunite with Chicago president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, the executives who drafted him in Boston.

    “I want to feel wanted,” Lester said at the outset of free agency. “I want to go to a place that appreciates what I do on the field and off the field, as far as with our charitable work, how we represent the team in the community.”

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  • Jon Lester remains the key to the free-agent market

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 17 days ago

    SAN DIEGO – The Jon Lester sweepstakes are nearing their end, and as the lobby at these Winter Meetings on Monday night teemed with empty beer bottles and soused prognosticators, the parties involved waited, waited, waited, hopeful that their phones would ring sometime Tuesday with the news they desired.

    What’s evident at this point, with the dollars rising and teams entertaining throwing in a seventh season that may be enough to sway him, is this: Lester has become the most sought after free-agent pitcher since CC Sabathia, and the teams left in the bidding – the Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers and, yes, Boston Red Sox, who indeed remained a viable option as of late Monday night – are primed to lavish him as such.

    Such a flush market could lead to it working in the buyers’ favor … though this is baseball, and if ever there is a lesson to be learned, it is this: Free agency turns the rational irrational. Even for a pitcher like Jon Lester – a legitimate ace, a workhorse, a top-notch citizen – the bidding jumped to levels beyond what the Red Sox ever expected, more than double their $70 million offer last spring.

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  • Sources: A’s trade Brandon Moss to Indians

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 18 days ago

    The Oakland A’s traded slugger Brandon Moss to the Cleveland Indians for minor league second baseman Joey Wendle, completing a deal Monday morning that had been widely anticipated for nearly a week, sources told Yahoo Sports.

    Moss, 31, is coming off hip surgery following a down second half but brings a potentially powerful bat that the Indians desired. Over his three seasons in Oakland, Moss hit .254/.340/.504 with 76 home runs. He is expected to receive a raise into the $7 million range via arbitration and is under team control for two more seasons.

    Wendle is a 24-year-old second baseman drafted by Cleveland in the sixth round in 2012. After their go-for-it deals last season didn’t pan out, the A’s entered this offseason looking to overhaul their team, first with the signing of DH Billy Butlerand then the trade of third baseman Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie and three prospects.