As is typically the case on the final full day of Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings, Day Three was filled with signings and trades of the minor and major variety plus numerous rumors that point to potential future dealings.
The first big news of the day came from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, who reported that Rays left-hander David Price would not negotiate a contract extension with the Mariners in the event of a trade. Seattle has been suggested as a landing spot for Price since the M’s announced a franchise-shifting 10-year, $240 million pact with second baseman Robinson Cano. But, for whatever reason, Price doesn’t want to pitch in the Pacific Northwest. The M’s are unlikely to fork over a top prospect -- or multiple top prospects -- to bring aboard an unhappy player who is just two years from free agency and certain to bolt at the first opportunity. Price has also been linked to the Rangers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Angels and Blue Jays, but no deal appears imminent.
The next bit of major news came from the Pirates’ suite at the Swan and Dolphin hotel in Orlando, Florida. Charlie Morton agreed to a three-year, $21 million contract extension that also carries a $9.5 million club option (or $1 million buyout) for 2017. It’s a big commitment for the low-budget Bucs, but this could easily become a very team-friendly contract if Morton continues the progress he made in 2013. The 30-year-old right-hander registered a 3.26 ERA in 116 innings, mastering a groundball-minded approach. He will make $4 million in 2014 and $8 million in 2016 and 2017. Those aren’t bad salaries for a No. 2 or No. 3 starting pitcher.
Those stories set the tone for a busy afternoon and evening of hot stove activity …
Mariners Beef Up With Hart, Morrison
The Mariners’ all-in, win-now strategy hit the front pages with the Cano contract and on Wednesday the team did some dirty work to further bolster its offensive capabilities.
After considering contract offers from the Brewers and a few other unnamed teams, free agent slugger Corey Hart struck a one-year, incentives-driven deal with the Mariners. He’ll get a $5 million base salary in 2014 and can earn another $8 million through performance-based bonuses. Hart missed the entire 2013 season as he rehabbed dual knee surgeries, but he registered an .857 OPS (127 OPS+) in 424 games between the 2010 and 2012 campaigns and averaged 29 home runs and 83 RBI per year during that highly-productive span. If he pulls of a full recovery, Hart could prove to be a major upgrade to Seattle’s offense. The 31-year-old is expected to hit cleanup behind Cano in 2014 -- once again giving him major fantasy upside.
Seattle’s search for bats didn’t stop there. Within an hour of confirmation on the Hart news, it was announced that the Mariners had traded right-handed reliever Carter Capps to the Marlins in exchange for 26-year-old Logan Morrison. LoMo, as he’s referred to in short, disappointed to the tune of a .242/.335/.375 batting line in 2013 with the Fish. But he tallied 23 home runs and 72 RBI as a 23-year-old back in 2011 and the Mariners will hope that he can achieve his full potential with a change of scenery. Morrison and Hart are expected to see action in the outfield, at first base and as designated hitters. Justin Smoak will remain the everyday first baseman.
Mets Surprise With Two-Year Colon Agreement
The Mets will be without ace right-hander Matt Harvey in 2014 as he travels the long road of recovery from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery and the general consensus was that the club would stay quiet this offseason with an eye toward making a real competitive push heading into 2015. But that’s not how it’s playing out.
The Mets signed outfielder Curtis Granderson to a four-year, $60 million free agent contract last week and then made the biggest splash of Winter Meetings Day Three, inking veteran starter Bartolo Colon to a two-year, $20 million deal.
Colon discussed offers with the Orioles, Rangers, Mariners, Angels, A’s and Royals before settling Wednesday with the Mets. He had a 2.65 ERA (141 ERA+) in 190-plus innings with Oakland in 2013 and seems likely to enjoy similar success in 2014 with New York. Citi Field isn’t quite as pitcher-friendly as the Athletics’ O.Co Coliseum, but it’s not far behind.
Winter Meetings Short Hops
The Nationals acquired left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins from the A’s for speedy minor league outfielder Billy Burns … Shin-Soo Choo is said to be asking for an eight-year contract worth more than $150 million … The Yankees investigated a potential Brandon Phillips trade, but the Reds wanted Brett Gardner in return and that proposal was quickly shot down … Matt Kemp is no longer being shopped by the Dodgers … The Orioles have made an offer to free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz … Boston has reopened negotiations with free agent shortstop Stephen Drew … The Diamondbacks and Angels are among the teams that have contacted free agent starter Matt Garza … Tampa Bay has expressed interest in free agent slugger Mark Reynolds … The Marlins are said to be listening to trade offers for outfielder Justin Ruggiano … The Indians, Cubs, Mariners, Padres and Yankees are among the teams with interest in free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit … The Braves signed Cuban righty Yunesky Maya to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training … John Axford has drawn serious free agent interest from the Indians, Mariners, Mets, Orioles and Cubs … The Marlins have expressed interest in free agent Delmon Young … Free agent left-hander Johan Santana has been contacted by eight different teams … Jerry Hairston Jr. has retired after 16 major league seasons … The Reds are not expected to trade Homer Bailey … Detroit has been floated as a possible destination for free agent right-hander Joba Chamberlain … The Yankees will not go to four years for free agent second baseman Omar Infante … The Brewers, Pirates and Rays are talking to free agent first baseman James Loney … Pittsburgh signed free agent right-hander Edinson Volquez to a one-year, $5 million contract … Free agent utilityman Jeff Baker is drawing interest from 6-7 teams … The Diamondbacks have reportedly made Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka their No. 1 target … The Rockies are interested in free agent outfielder Michael Morse … The Orioles have made a two-year offer to free agent closer Grant Balfour.