Author: Bill Baer

Cliff Lee Getty
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Cliff Lee would need a “perfect fit” to pitch in 2016

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The agent for free agent left-hander Cliff Lee, Darek Braunecker, appeared on MLB Network Radio on Sunday and said that the veteran would need a “perfect fit” to come back and pitch in 2016. Some highlights of Braunecker’s radio spot:

  • Lee is “taking it day-by-day”
  • Lee informed Braunecker that he was going to attempt to make a comeback in 2016
  • It’s going to have to be a “perfect fit” for Cliff and his wife Kristen “from a competitive standpoint, from a financial standpoint, from just an overall opportunistic standpoint”
  • Lee has accustomed himself to being a full-time dad and leaving baseball behind, but Braunecker thinks there’s still “that fire that burns” within Lee — in particular, to win a championship
  • There has been “an enormous amount of interest in the last month”
  • Braunecker has informed teams that they will work “a little bit deeper” into the offseason to make sure that there aren’t any setbacks
  • Lee is working out and has begun his full offseason throwing program
  • Braunecker and Lee are not certain if the lefty is going to do an actual workout or not; it might be a case-by-case basis
  • They intend to make a decision here in the next couple of weeks

Lee, 37, hasn’t pitched since the end of July 2014 due to a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. The Phillies declined his $27.5 million option for the 2016 season, instead buying out that final year for $12.5 million. Lee is certainly looking at just a one-year deal and it would likely be laden with incentives to protect teams in case he suffers another injury.

Astros haven’t discussed extension with Dallas Keuchel

Dallas Keuchel
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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It was reported earlier this offseason that the Astros were expected to discuss a contract extension with their star left-handed pitcher Dallas Keuchel. So far, though, that hasn’t happened, according to Keuchel’s agent Darek Braunecker on Sunday while on MLB Network Radio. Braunecker said:

“At this point, we have not engaged the club in any sort of long-term discussions. It’s common knowledge that we had some discussion during the season last year and it was just preliminary seeing where one another stood. They approached us, just kicked the tires, and [got] a sense where both parties were at the time.”

Keuchel, who turned 28 on New Year’s Day, is in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility and can become a free agent after the 2018 season. An extension would, presumably, cover all three arbitration years plus at least one or two free agency years.

The Astros’ ace, this past season, compiled a 20-8 record, a 2.48 ERA, and a 216/51 K/BB ratio over 232 innings. Both his innings and wins totals led the league. Keuchel received 22 of 30 first place votes to win the American League Cy Young Award over runner-up David Price. Whether he chooses to go through the arbitration process or sign a long-term deal, Keuchel is in for a serious raise after earning just over the league minimum in 2015.

Orioles like Denard Span, but won’t commit beyond one year

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported earlier this week that the Orioles maintain interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span, but due to concerns about his durability, the club isn’t willing to commit beyond one year.

The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means that he does not come attached with draft pick compensation. That makes him a bit more attractive in a free agent market that remains flush with outfielders. Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Yoenis Cespedes, and Dexter Fowler remain unsigned, so Span’s market may take shape once those names are off the board.

Span, 31, suffered a torn labrum in his hip and underwent surgery in August, ending his season prematurely. He finished with solid numbers in his limited playing time, batting .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases in as many opportunities across 275 plate appearances.

Report: Kenta Maeda’s contract is for eight years and $24 million with plenty of incentives

Kenta Maeda
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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On Thursday, it was reported that the Dodgers inked Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda to a contract, but contract details had yet to emerge. Christopher Meola, who broke the news of the Maeda signing, reports that the deal is for eight years and a total of $24 million, but includes an extra $10-12 million per year in incentives. The Dodgers also had to pay Maeda’s team, the Hiroshima Carp, $20 million for the right to negotiate.

Maeda represents the Dodgers’ second starting rotation addition this week in what has otherwise been a quiet offseason. The club inked Scott Kazmir to a three-year, $48 million contract on Wednesday. The two will slot behind ace Clayton Kershaw and ahead of lefties Brett Anderson, Alex Wood, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

Maeda, who turns 28 in April, finished the 2015 season with a 2.09 ERA and a 175/41 K/BB ratio in 206 1/3 innings for the Carp in the Japan Central League.

White Sox interested in Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes, but won’t go beyond three years

Yoenis Cespedes
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY, the White Sox are interested in free agent outfielders Alex Gordon and Yoenis Cespedes, but aren’t willing to go above three-years in a contract with either.

Gordon, who turns 32 in February, reportedly told the Royals they have “no chance” at signing him based on their four-year offer at $12-13 million per year. If that report is true, then that gives the White Sox an idea as to how realistic it is that they could sign him. If they were able to sign him, he wouldn’t cause the White Sox to forfeit their first-round pick as it is protected. Gordon, en route to helping the Royals win the World Series in 2015, hit .271/.377/.432 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI in 422 plate appearances while playing superb defense in left field.

Cespedes, 30, wouldn’t have cost the White Sox their first round pick if it weren’t protected as he was traded during the season, making him ineligible to receive a qualifying offer. The slugger hit a cool .291/.328/.542 between the Tigers and Mets. He went on a tear after joining the Mets, blasting 17 home runs in the span of 31 games between August 12 and September 14, helping push his new club into the post-season for the first time since 2006. Cespedes, due to his age, could command a contract greater both in length and total value than Gordon.