After the Mariners signed second baseman Robinson Cano to a ten-year, $240 million contract two weeks ago, many predicted that the next shoe to drop would be a trade with the Rays for David Price. But reports indicated that the Rays would only let go of the left-hander if the Mariners included Taijuan Walker in the deal, and talks stagnated. Since then, the Rays haven’t been in any rush to offload their ace.
Via Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times:
That could change — if not in the next couple of weeks that typically are quiet in baseball than in January — as teams, some that have talked to the Rays and some that maybe have not, reassess needs and options, perhaps with more desperation. Resolution of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka’s status is a factor; if he isn’t available, that should increase the demand for Price (as well as remaining free agents Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana) because there would be one fewer frontline starter to be had.
But there is no deadline, no drop-dead date by which the Rays have to make a deal or tell Price he isn’t being traded.
Price is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. He earned just over $10 million in 2013 and will earn significant raises over each of the next two seasons, which may motivate the Rays to trade him sooner rather than later. The Rays currently have just under $40 million committed to ten players and have operated with an Opening Day payroll between $61-64 million over the last two years.
Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.
Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.
The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.