Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman was one of a handful of athletes named in an Al Jazeera undercover report on performance enhancing drug use in sports. The report linked NFL quarterback Peyton Manning as well as Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and Taylor Teagarden.
Zimmerman and Howard share an attorney, William Burck of Quinn Emanuel, who called the allegations “inexcusable and irresponsible” in a statement to MLB Trade Rumors.
Major League Baseball and the Nationals have also issued statements on the matter. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports had MLB’s comment on Twitter:
The Nationals tweeted their statement:
The Phillies have yet to release a statement about Howard.
Utilityman Elian Herrera announced on Twitter that he agreed to a contract with the Dodgers. Eric Stephen of SB Nation’s True Blue LA confirmed that it is a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.
Herrera, 30, was with the Dodgers between 2003 and 2013 and spent the last two seasons with the Brewers. He has a meager .666 OPS in his major league career, but he has experience playing all three outfield positions as well as second base, third base, and shortstop, so he’ll provide some organizational versatility for the Dodgers.
The Cardinals are in search of outfield help as Matt Holliday is entering the last year of his contract and Jason Heyward signed with the division rival Cubs recently. There are only four big-name free agents remaining: Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, and Dexter Fowler. As Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suggests, the Rockies’ trio of outfielders intrigue the Cardinals.
Carlos Gonzalez would be the most expensive as he has the most to offer, as he hit 40 home runs in 603 plate appearances this past season. He has $37 million remaining on the final two years of his contract, so he wouldn’t be an exorbitant strain on the payroll. However, Gonzalez has frequently been injured and his numbers away from the hitter-friendly Coors Field aren’t impressive. He’s also easily neutralized by left-handed pitchers. So there’s certainly some concern about how much the 30-year-old could offer.
Corey Dickerson, 26, posted an .869 OPS in 234 plate appearances in 2015, but he was hampered by plantar fasciitis. He won’t be eligible for arbitration until after the 2016 season and he’ll be under team control through 2019, so that’s certainly appealing to the Cardinals, who will lose Holliday soon.
Charlie Blackmon, 29, offers power and speed as he’s hit 36 home runs and stolen 71 bases over the last two seasons. But his home/road splits are also rather disparate: he has a career .887 at Coors Field and a meager .653 away from it. Blackmon is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility and can become a free agent after the 2018 season. Given his age, he’s less of a long-term solution.
Hochman notes that the Rockies would likely ask for first baseman Matt Adams and a pitching prospect in a potential trade.
Update (6:30 PM EST): Changed some phrasing used in the title and in the body of this post.
Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is one of a handful of elite free agents remaining as the new year approaches, and the Tigers appear to be waiting for him to lower his asking price, according to Bob Nightegale of USA TODAY.
The Tigers have had a busy offseason, adding Jordan Zimmermann, Francisco Rodriguez, Mark Lowe, Mike Pelfrey, and Cameron Maybin. Anthony Gose would man left field if the season were to start today, so Cespedes would be a nice upgrade to complement J.D. Martinez in right and Maybin in center.
Cespedes, 30, hit .293/.323/.506 with 18 home runs and 61 RBI in 427 plate appearances with the Tigers before they traded him to the Mets at the trade deadline earlier this year.
Other free agent outfielders left include Justin Upton, Alex Gordon, and Dexter Fowler.
Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, citing a Japanese media source, reports that Kenta Maeda was at Dodger Stadium on Thursday, Christmas Eve. As he notes, the deadline for Maeda to sign is January 8.
The Dodgers have yet to bolster a starting rotation that lost Zack Greinke. They appeared to sign Hisashi Iwakuma, but backed out of a deal after seeing the results of his physical. Iwakuma then signed back with the Mariners. Maeda, no doubt, would be a useful addition. The Dodgers would have to pay the Hiroshima Carp — Maeda’s team — $20 million for the right to negotiate, and then they would have to come to terms on a contract. If Maeda and the Dodgers aren’t able to reach an agreement, the Dodgers would get their $20 million back.
Maeda, 27, has spent all eight seasons with Hiroshima in the Japan Central League. He has a career 2.39 ERA with 1,233 strikeouts and 319 walks in 1,509 2/3 innings. Though the numbers are impressive, the competition in Japan isn’t nearly as good as it is in the majors. Per the Davenport Translations, Maeda’s 2.09 ERA and 175/41 K/BB ratio over 206 1/3 innings last season comes out to 4.09 and 110/51 in the majors.
Along with Maeda, the Dodgers have expressed interest in free agent lefties Scott Kazmir and Wei-Yin Chen.