Jeff Passan

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

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 18 hrs 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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  • The 2014 Ultimate Free-Agent Tracker

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 21 hrs 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: Twins finalizing four-year deal with Ervin Santana

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10 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.

  • Sources: Nick Markakis agrees to four-year deal with Braves

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 14 days ago

    Outfielder Nick Markakis and the Atlanta Braves agreed on a four-year contract, major league sources told Yahoo Sports, ending the 31-year-old’s career-long association with the Baltimore Orioles and likely precipitating a further overhaul by Atlanta.

    As negotiations with Baltimore lingered for weeks, the Braves stepped in with an aggressive pursuit of Markakis that paid off with a return to his native Georgia. Markakis is expected to hit leadoff and play right field for Atlanta, replacing Jason Heyward, whom the Braves traded to St. Louis in mid-November.

    Markakis spent the first nine years of his career with Baltimore, and his return was considered something of a fait accompli across baseball, particularly because of Orioles owner Peter Angelos’ fondness for him. The Orioles had discussed a contract in the vicinity of four years and $40 million with Markakis, who hit .276/.342/.386 and won a Gold Glove last season. The Braves were believed to be offering somewhere in the neighborhood of $44 million.

  • By trading Josh Donaldson, the A’s were just being themselves

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 19 days ago

    Stars come from all sorts of places, from free agency and the draft, from international signings and middle-of-the-night defections, even from the back end of a long-ago trade nobody thought much of at the time and nobody remembers now. Quick: How did the Oakland A’s get Josh Donaldson? The only ones who know are absolute die-hards or cheaters who snuck a peek at Donaldson’s page on Baseball-Reference.com.

    Here’s the answer: He was the high-upside, could-bust piece of a deal, along with Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and Eric Patterson, for … Rich Harden and Chad Gaudin. And that was in 2008, when Donaldson was a catcher, nearly five years before he grew into one of the best third basemen in baseball with Oakland. The A’s developed Donaldson, nurtured him, extracted his talent and rode him to the postseason twice.

    The feeling is the same as 2013 because Donaldson in the middle of a lineup with Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion and Reyes and Martin sounds awfully promising. Lawrie frustrated Toronto with his injuries and inconsistency, and Toronto could fill a hole by trading Dioner Navarro, Martin’s predecessor.

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  • Red Sox once again prove money still rules baseball

    Jeff Passan at Yahoo Sports 24 days ago

    Bud Selig’s tenure as baseball overlord ends in a little more than a month, and with it he’ll take a legacy whose narrative he shaped through constant repetition. The game, Selig said again and again, is more competitive than ever because of its economic policies. Anyone can win.

    Part of this is true. An expanded postseason, married with inherent October randomness, does allow for a greater feeling of opportunity. And yet every offseason, as the hot stove burns, the same sense washes over a game that tries to deny something that shapes it to the core.

    Money still rules baseball more than it does any professional sport.

    As inefficient as free agency is – as much as it pays for past performance and ignores the vagaries of aging – it exists as a Band-Aid for teams that struggle at developing players and a weapon for those, like Boston, which excel at building a muscular farm system. Were the Red Sox not a financial behemoth, one of the sport’s three powerhouses alongside the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers, they would see a perfectly palatable path to respectability through their wide swath of future major league talent currently in the minors.