Albert Pujols

UPDATE: Albert Pujols likely to return to Cardinals, Marlins target Prince Fielder


6:00 p.m. EST update: Agent Don Lozano called the Marlins and told them they’re out of the running for Pujols, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. He also reports that Pujols “continues to negotiate with clubs other than the Cardinals.”

4:40 p.m. EST update: Sources tell Bill Madden of the New York Daily News that Pujols and the Cardinals are “a few million dollars apart” on a 10-year contract. It’s worded as more of an encouraging report, than a discouraging one. While the Marlins haven’t given up publically, most everything indicates that they’ve moved on and are now pursuing C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and maybe Prince Fielder.

3:15 p.m. EST update: Still no word from the Pujols camp, but ESPN’s Jim Bowden writes that the “Marlins have clearly moved on from Pujols.” MLB Network’s Tom Verducci says they’ve made a six-year offer to C.J. Wilson.

2:05 p.m. EST update: More from Heyman:

marlins already in pursuit of prince. Signs indicate cards likely to get pujols

1:45 p.m. EST update: While there’s still nothing official, the feeling around the lobby is that it will be St. Louis. Jon Heyman’s latest tweet sums it up:

There’s sense marlins best chance for pujols mighta been last nite. Bad sign when he gave no answer then took meeting w/ stl


Sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Albert Pujols is likely heading back to the Cardinals and the Marlins have started to shift their attention towards Prince Fielder.

Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post wrote minutes earlier that the Marlins think they’re still in it and that they “gave it a major best shot.” Still, the pendulum does seem to have swung back the Cardinals way after where it was leaning last night.

There are also mixed messages on whether the Marlins would really pursue Fielder if they miss out on Pujols. Most believe they’d concentrate on pitching instead, with Mark Buehrle and C.J. Wilson topping their list. Jon Heyman, though, just tweeted that the Marlins will definitely talk to Fielder if they don’t get Pujols.

Both the Cardinals and Marlins are believed to be offering Pujols about $220 million over 10 years. One big difference: the Cardinals can guarantee him no-trade protection, while the Marlins won’t break team policy to do so. The Cubs have also made Pujols an offer, which is believed to include a significantly higher salary but to be only five or six years in length.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
Leave a comment

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.