MLB In Full Bloom 12/20/2013

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54 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

101– Number of days until Opening Day

Christmas is just five days away and the lack of activity in Major League Baseball on Thursday is proof that there are already GMs and Owners that have began their holiday vacation. We did learn on Wednesday that the overall big league average salary rose 5.4 percent in 2013 to a record $3.39 million, according to the annual report released Wednesday by the Major League Baseball Players Association. The increase was the steepest since 2006. The Yankees had the highest average for the 15th consecutive season at $8.17 million and the Los Angeles Dodgers were second at $7.82 million. The Houston Astros were average of $549,603 was the smallest since the 1999 Kansas City Royals at $534,460.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • The Rakuten Golden Eagles are prepared to offer Masahiro Tanaka an $8 million salary to stay with the team next season. Tanaka has expressed his desire to play in MLB next season, but it appears that his Japanese club isn't ready to let him. Even if he isn't posted this offseason, Tanaka will be able to leave on his own after the 2015 season.
  • Grant Balfour's deal with the Baltimore Orioles was pending a physical. Balfour had that physical yesterday and it's seems that the O's have concerns about his physical due to a shoulder issue. There is a real chance that this deal will fall apart.
  • Nelson Cruz and the Texas Rangers appear to be far apart on a contract extension. On Tuesday, Rangers GM Jon Daniels said he doesn't expect to bring Cruz back, so it's not surprising that the two sides a far apart. The Seattle Mariners appear to be the favorites to land Cruz, but it's also been reported that Cruz has no interest in making Seattle his summer home. The Orioles have been rumored to have interest as well.
  • Scott Downs and the Chicago White Sox agreed to a one-year deal on Thursday pending a physical. Downs is a ground ball specialist that is is best suited for a specialist/setup role.
  • Franklin Gutierrez and the Seattle Mariners agreed to one-year deal for $1 million. This is a huge pay cut for Gutierrez who made $7 million last year. The issue is his health as he played in just 41 games in 2013. Gutierrez will be used in games that the Mariners face left-handed starters.
  • Eric Surkamp was designated for assignment by the San Francisco Giants on Thursday. This move was made in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for the arrival of Michael Morse. Surkamp has struggled in his seven starts at the major league level. However, he owns a 2.84 ERA with 541 strikeouts over 484 minor league innings. There will certainly be a team that will pick him up.

MLB In Full Bloom 12/19/2013

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55 – Number of days until pitchers and catchers report

102– Number of days until Opening Day

The New York Times reported today that Masahiro Tanaka will not be posted by Rakuten Golden Eagles. The news is not confirmed, but it is a mystery and something could have been lost in translation from Japanese to English. It has also been reported that the Golden Eagles are willing to make Tanaka the highest paid player in the Japanese league. That offer has been reported to be for $12 million for one year while the highest players in Japan make $5 or $6 million. The implications that will be the most glaring if Tanaka is not posted will certainly be that the new posting system will come under scrutiny, the New York Yankees will lose their #1 target, and interest will grow in other free agent pitchers such as Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, and Ubaldo Jimenez. Nothing is official yet, but if Tanaka is not there for the taking this year the offseason landscape changes dramatically.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Shin-Soo Choo reportedly turned down a 7-year/$140 million offer from the New York Yankees shortly after they signed Jacoby Ellsbury. We are not hearing any denials from the Yankees, so the question now becomes that if he turned down this offer, where else is he going to get that same offer.
  • Joaquin Benoit and the San Diego Padres agreed to a two-year deal for $15.5 million on Wednesday. Benoit heads to San Diego after three successful seasons pitching for the Tigers. Huston Street is still on the Padres' roster, but Benoit's contract is larger than other pitchers who were recently signed as closers, so there is some uncertainty regarding Benoit's role.
  • Jesus Guzman was traded to the Houston Astros by the San Diego Padres for infielder Ryan Jackson. Guzman has split time between first base and corner outfield in recent years and he is a career .259 batting average. Jackson hit .278 at Triple-A Memphis in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. Both players will fill reserve rolls for their new teams.
  • Drew Stubbs was traded to the Colorado Rockies by the Cleveland Indians for LHP Josh Outman. The Rockies envision Stubbs serving as a roving fourth outfielder for the club this season. The Rockies plan to move Carlos Gonzalez to center field next season, which leaves Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson to battle for left field. Stubbs is going to be a popular NL-only sleeper pick, but don't temper your excitement. His speed and power are a nice fit in Coors Field, but a roving fourth outfielder does not provide much value.
  • Ryan Doumit was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Atlanta Braves for LHP Sean Gilmartin. Atlanta will use Doumit as a third catcher and a backup outfielder/first baseman. Doumit hit just .247 while dealing with concussion issues in the second half of the last season. The Braves are banking on Doumit finding his bat, which was really good in 2011-'12 season when he hit .283 with 26 homers and 105 RBI.
  • Eric Chavez and the Arizona Diamondbacks agreed to a one-year contract extension on Wednesday. Chavez had a strong market as the Pirates, Rangers, Angels, other teams expressed interest, but Chavez likes playing at home in Arizona. He only played in 31 games last season due to back and shoulder injuries. He'll back up the corner spots in 2014.
  • Jonathan Sanchez and the Chicago Cubs agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Sanchez has fallen so far from the guy that threw a no-hitter in 2009 to posting an 11.85 ERA over 13 2/3 innings with the Pirates this past season. It's a very low-risk move for the Cubs as the deal includes incentives that only kick in if Sanchez makes it to the majors.

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