As the hot stove season begins to heat up, we will start seeing a number of rumors and transactions throughout baseball. Here are some of the recent developments and rumors in the division that we’ve yet to mention.
Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez declined his half of his 2014 option. After the World Series ends, teams have five days to negotiate exclusively with free agents to-be, then it’s open season for all teams. The Indians will have to decide whether or not to offer Jimenez (and their other free agents to-be) the $14.1 million qualifying offer by Monday at 5 p.m. If a qualifying offer is made, the player must decide whether or not to accept it by 5 p.m. on Monday, November 11.
- The Tribe also announced two more non-roster invites to spring training – infielder Ryan Rohlinger and RHP J.C. Ramirez. The 30-year-old Rohlinger spent the 2013 season with the Columbus Clippers where he hit .266/.353/.367. Ramirez, 25, spent the 2013 season in the Phillies organization, where he split time between their Double-A Reading club and their Triple-A Lehigh Valley club, as well as 18 games with the major league club. With the Phillies, he had a 7.50 ERA and a 1.87 WHIP, but had better numbers against right-handed hitters. Ramirez has the distinction of being another player traded for Cliff Lee at one point – Seattle sent him to the Phillies in 2009 for Lee.
- The Indians declined Jason Kubel’s $7.5 million option for 2014 (big surprise) and instead exercised the $1 million buyout. Kubel was acquired as a left-handed bat for the stretch run, but was rarely ever seen. I actually forgot he had been with the team until I saw that the Indians declined his option. The player to be named that the Indians sent to Arizona in the deal was Matt Langwell.
Tigers: Manager Jim Leyland stepped down after the season, and the Tigers have announced that they’re hiring Brad Ausmus as their new manager. Even though he does not have any managerial experience (outside of managing Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic preliminary rounds last fall), I think he’s an interesting choice. With a roster like the Tigers’, any manager was likely to do a decent job. Although I felt that way about the 2012 Red Sox, and we all saw what a smashing success Bobby Valentine was in Boston (sarcasm, obviously).
- There are rumors that the Tigers would consider shopping Max Scherzer during the offseason since he will be a free agent after the 2014 season and has Scott Boras for an agent. The thinking is that the Tigers won’t be able to afford him with a lot of guaranteed money already out to Justin Verlander and Prince Fielder, and with Miguel Cabrera’s impending free agency after the 2015 season. I still find it hard to believe they move Scherzer, unless they are beyond blown away. Owner Mike Illitch is 84-years-old and would love to see a Tigers World Series championship. They’ve been “all-in” over the past few seasons – it seems like no cost is too great for them. It’s actually one of the reasons I was hoping to see a Tigers victory this postseason; I thought they may be more likely to trade some pieces if they finally won.
- The Tigers declined the 2014 option on reliever Jose Veras, which was kind of surprising considering their need for bullpen arms. Perhaps they thought the roughly $4 million price tag was a bit too steep, or they just think it will be a buyer’s market when it comes to relief pitchers this offseason. They also announced that they would not bring back catcher Brayan Pena for the 2014 season.
Royals: The Royals picked up James Shields’ 2014 option, which was expected. Pitchers Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen are both free agents this winter.
- The team named former Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu as their bench coach and will be bringing back manager Ned Yost.
- There are rumors that the Royals would be willing to listen to offers on Billy Butler.
White Sox: The White Sox already made a big splash this postseason when they signed Cuban first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu to a six year, $68 million deal. Even though they have said this doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be bringing back Paul Konerko for the 2014 season, it does create a bit of a jam at first/DH.
- There are rumors that the Blue Jays have interest in White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham.
Twins: There’s a possibility that the Twins could seek a reunion with Jason Kubel and Justin Morneau this offseason.
- I’m already terrified of Twins minor leaguers Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. They’ve looked fantastic in the minors thus far, and could be a huge threat if/when they make it to the twin cities.