Matthew Pouliot

Justin Upton

Rosenthal: Mariners in mix for four-team Justin Upton trade

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FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says that while the four-team Justin Upton talks are going nowhere fast, they’re not yet dead, not with Rangers GM Jon Daniels working hard to keep them alive.

Rosenthal reports that the Mariners have replaced the Rays as the fourth team involved in talks. They would likely get Rangers left-hander Derek Holland in return for whatever talent they surrendered.

The Rangers’ goal in the proceeding is to get Justin Upton from Arizona, and to accomplish that, it seems they’re going to have to facilitate a deal that would send Asdrubal Cabrera from the Indians to the Diamondbacks.

What’s odd about that whole aspect is that the Diamondbacks and Indians wouldn’t seem to need the Rangers at all, given that the Diamondbacks have young pitching to trade. However, it sounds as though the Indians are more interested in Tyler Skaggs than fellow top prospect Trevor Bauer, while the Diamondbacks prefer to deal Bauer.

So, perhaps it all boils down like this:

Rangers get Upton from Diamondbacks
Diamondbacks get Cabrera from Indians, prospect from Rangers
Mariners get Holland from Rangers
Indians get prospect(s) from Mariners

For the Mariners’ side, it’s hard to imagine they’d trade top prospect Taijuan Walker for Holland. However, Danny Hultzen could be in play. Jesus Montero might be another possibility.

Anyway, the whole mess seems unlikely to come together. However, it’s become pretty clear that the Rangers’ preference is to end the winter with Upton and Zack Greinke and that Josh Hamilton has become the fallback option.

Twins have offers out to Francisco Liriano, Joe Saunders

Francisco Liriano
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Seemingly uninterested in committing to a full rebuild after losing 95+ games each of the last two years, the Twins are more buyers than sellers at the moment. MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports that they’ve made offers to Francisco Liriano and Joe Saunders while waiting for the pitching market to further unfold.

Liriano, of course, pitched for the Twins for 7 1/2 seasons before being traded to the White Sox in July. He was 3-10 with a 5.31 ERA before the deal and 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA afterwards.

The Twins were also interested in Joe Blanton before he took a two-year, $15 million deal with the Angels. They’ve been linked to free agents John Lannan, Brett Myers, Kevin Correia and others.

Meanwhile, there’s been little discussion of the Twins perhaps trading Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau or Josh Willingham, even though GM Terry Ryan acknowledged that the current mix hasn’t worked out.

“I think it’s dangerous to start putting such a high percentage of your payroll on just three or four guys on a team,” Ryan said. “It just doesn’t work. I think it’s a recipe for disaster. When you’ve got 50 or 60 percent wrapped up in three or four guys, historically that hasn’t worked, and I don’t think it’ll ever work.”

As is, Mauer, Morneau and Willingham make up about 60 percent of the current payroll.

Report: Royals at ‘critical stage’ in Wil Myers trade talks

Wil Myers
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I’m not sure what makes this the “critical stage” — perhaps it’s that the Royals are thinking about giving Ryan Dempster the three-year contract he wants  and taking themselves out of the starting pitching market — but FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal is reporting the Royals are nearing a decision on whether to trade top prospect Wil Myers for a starter.

The starters previously mentioned in connection with Myers are the Rays’ James Shields, the Mets’ R.A. Dickey and Boston’s Jon Lester, though the Lester possibility seems to have fizzled out.

The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton says he believes the Royals are just fine with trading Myers for Shields, but that the Rays want more in return. Likewise, the Mets are believed to want more than Myers for Dickey, while it doesn’t appear that the Royals are quite as interested in Dickey anyway.

Myers, who turns 22 next week, hit .314/.387/.600 with 37 homers and 109 RBI between Double- and Triple-A last season. It did come with 140 strikeouts in 522 at-bats, but right-handers with his kind of power don’t come around too often.

Ryan Dempster turns down $26 million offer from Royals, Cubs not involved in bidding

Ryan Dempster
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10:13 p.m. EST update: According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, negotiations between the Cubs and Ryan Dempster are “not happening” and a reunion is “implausible.”

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9:10 p.m. EST update: ESPNChicago.com’s Bruce Levine says the Cubs and Dempster are discussing the parameters of a deal. Dempster spent 8 1/2 seasons with the Cubs before being traded to the Rangers in July.

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Holding out for a three-year contract, Ryan Dempster turned down a two-year, $26 million deal from the Royals, according to the Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton.

Dempster asked the Royals to go to three years, but that appears to be a deal breaker for Kansas City.

Besides Kansas City, Boston and Milwaukee appear to be the prime suitors for Dempster. The Red Sox have already handed out a pair of three-year, $39 million contracts to Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, so what’s one more?

The Angels were also interested in Dempster, but they’ve backed away now, says CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman.

Dempster went 5-5 with a 2.25 ERA in 16 starts for the Cubs and 7-3 with a 5.09 ERA in 12 starts for the Rangers last season. While the latter mark doesn’t speak well of his ability to pitch in the AL, he did have a 70/25 K/BB ratio in 69 innings with Texas.

Scott Boras still trying to entice Tigers on Rafael Soriano

Scott Boras
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With no teams showing much interest in paying $10 million per year and giving up a draft pick for a closer, agent Scott Boras is hoping the Tigers have a change of heart and bid for Rafael Soriano.

MLB.com’s Jason Beck has the quotes:

“I think the Tigers’ position is one where they’re trying to put together their best team and they haven’t made those decisions yet,” Boras said.

Even before being specifically asked about the Tigers, Boras tried to shoot down the concept of a contender going with a rookie in the closer’s role, as the Tigers are thinking of doing with Bruce Rondon.

“The evidence says that there are many young players in our game that are 20, 21 that can hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs and they’re extraordinary talents. Or win 15 games. But there’s never been closers that can come in and get 30 saves,” Boras said. “I think you count on one hand the number of closers under the age of 23 that have ever gone to the big leagues and at a young age put together 30 saves, let alone pitch in the postseason and be effective.”

Of course, Boras rarely shoots his mouth off without already having looked up the facts ahead of time. Just two pitchers under the age of 23 have ever saved 30 games in the majors: Huston Street (37 in 2006) and Neftali Feliz (40 in 2010). Seven more have saved 30 games at age 23 (not including Feliz a second time).

That said, I’d certainly put forth the argument that the reason there are so few 30-save relievers that young is because teams are so conservative about keeping veterans in the closer’s role. Whether a young player hits 30 homers is something that player controls. Saves are a manufactured stat, and there are no shortage of 22- and 23-year-old relievers that have been good enough to save 30 games.