Matthew Pouliot

Ryan Dempster

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

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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.

Report: Angels sign Joe Blanton for two years, $15 million

Joe Blanton
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The Angels are staying busy Wednesday, picking up Joe Blanton on a two-year, $15 million contract to add to their rotation.

The deal includes an option for 2015, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Blanton went 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA for the Phillies and Dodgers last season, though he did post a fine 166/34 K/BB ratio in the process. He’s a pretty good fit in a big Angels Stadium that hasn’t been yielding a lot of home runs of late.

Blanton will presumably be the fourth starter in a rotation that also includes Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hanson, with one more pitcher still to be signed. With Blanton making $7.5 million and Hanson due about $4 million in arbitration, the Angels should still have at least $8 million-$12 million left to spend on a No. 3 starter with Dan Haren and Ervin Santana having departed and Zack Greinke almost sure to join them.

Assuming the Angels do land that additional starter, then Garrett Richards will head back to Triple-A for more seasoning.

Michael Bourn-to-Phillies possibility heating up

Michael Bourn
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Things are no longer quiet with Michael Bourn’s market; Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that the Phillies are “past the tire-kicking stage” with the speedy center fielder.

Bourn to the Phillies became a popular rumor as soon as Shane Victorino was dealt to the Dodgers during the season, opening up a big hole in center field. Bourn opened his career with the Phillies before being dealt to Houston for Brad Lidge five years ago.

The Mariners appear to be the other team in on Bourn at the moment. Expectations are that he’ll want a deal bigger than the five-year, $75.25 million contract that B.J. Upton received from the Braves last month. The Phillies were one of the teams trying for Upton, but it’s believed they were offering less than $12 million per year.

Bourn, who turns 30 this month, hit .274/.348/.391 with nine homers and 42 steals for the Braves last season. He’s won two Gold Gloves for his play in center field, and he was deserving of another this year.

Indians, Yankees both in on Mark Reynolds, Kevin Youkilis

Mark Reynolds
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Both the Indians and Yankees have met with the agent for non-tendered infielder Mark Reynolds in Nashville.

Those two teams are also known to be interested in Kevin Youkilis, who lost one lessor suitor when his old team, the White Sox, signed Jeff Keppinger today. Youkilis has also been mentioned in connection with the Dodgers and Philies, but the Indians and Yankees seem like his best bets for now.

The Indians would likely use Youkilis at first base, though they’d have the option of putting him at third if Lonnie Chisenhall struggles. The Yankees want Youkilis as a stopgap third baseman with Alex Rodriguez out for two or three months.

Youkilis’ close relationship with Terry Francona from their days in Boston could come into play with the Indians. Also, Youkilis is from Cincinnati.

As for Reynolds, he offers 30-homer power, but he’s a poor defender at third base, and he’d likely be more valuable playing first, as he did for the Orioles last season. He’d probably come cheaper than Youkilis, and unlike Youkilis, he doesn’t look like a candidate for a multiyear deal.