Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com has the details on reliever Kyuji Fujikawa’s one-year contract with the Rangers, reporting that it’s worth $1 million in guaranteed money plus incentives.
Fujikawa is 34 years old and still needs to prove that he’s fully recovered from Tommy John elbow surgery, but it’s a smart, low-cost gamble for the Rangers.
He was good enough in Japan to get a two-year, $9.5 million deal from the Cubs two offseasons ago, posted a nice 31/8 K/BB ratio in 25 innings as a big leaguer when not injured, and pitched well in the minors.
In making no effort to re-sign free agent Adam LaRoche the Nationals signaled that first base is Ryan Zimmerman’s new full-time position after shoulder problems forced a move for the former Gold Glove third baseman.
Nationals manager Matt Williams, who played 17 seasons as a third baseman and logged just 106 career innings at first base, told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com that he’s “pretty confident” Zimmerman will fare well across the diamond because “he’s an athlete … he can do it.”
Zimmerman said he plans to put in a lot of work at first base during spring training after getting only a crash course there previously:
That’s going to take a lot of work. Everyone thinks you just go over to first base and kind of hide him there, but it’s a tough position. There’s a lot of things I have to learn, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Zimmerman has five years and $74 million remaining on his contract and the Nationals’ outfield is set with Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth flanking Denard Span, so one way or another it’ll work for him at first base.
Free agent third baseman Chase Headley is said to be close to making a decision, perhaps within a day or two, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman dropped an interesting quote on NBC-New York yesterday by saying:
I do know this. Chase wants to be a Yankee.
Cashman went on to say:
He was a tremendous acquisition in the second half. A great leader. A tremendous defender. A switch-hitter with great discipline. He kind of checks off every box that we’d like a prototypical Yankee to look like. If we can find common ground, I’d like to have him man third base as we move forward.
Previous reports have at least one team offering Headley a four-year deal worth around $65 million, but it’s unclear if the Yankees are willing to offer something similar.
Headley hasn’t been able to duplicate his production from a breakout 2012 season, but he has posted a solid .725 OPS in two years since then despite calling pitcher-friendly Petco Park home for most of that time. By comparison, Pablo Sandoval has a .748 OPS during the past two seasons. Sandoval got a five-year, $90 million deal from the Red Sox.
Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that the Mariners have made a three-year contract offer to free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera, but for now at least he’s holding out for a four-year deal.
This morning reports out of Baltimore said the Orioles were willing to sign Cabrera for 2-3 years, but four years was too rich for their blood. Of course, if enough teams express interest in him at three years there’s seemingly a pretty decent chance one of them will cave on the fourth year to get a deal done.
Cabrera hit .301 with 16 homers and an .808 OPS in 139 games for the Blue Jays this year and then turned down a one-year, $15.3 million qualifying offer, meaning any team that signs him will also forfeit a draft pick to do so.
Left-hander Wade LeBlanc, who pitched for the Angels and Yankees this year, has signed with the Seibu Lions in Japan.
LeBlanc has bounced around a lot, playing parts of seven seasons for five different teams while posting a 4.47 ERA in 447 innings.
The 30-year-old former second-round draft pick was non-tendered by the Angels.