SUNDAY, 12:29pm: Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News hears from an informed baseball source that the Twins have in fact won the bidding. The value of the Twins’ bid has not been announced and sources have thrown out estimates ranging from $700K to ~$1.5MM.
Both the Kia Tigers and Yang are disappointed with the size of the bid, but the pitcher is pushing the Tigers to accept it so that he can pursue his dream of pitching in the majors. The team has previously said that it would accept a bid for Yang as long as it was of “a reasonable amount,” but never specified the monetary figure. The KBO has said that it will inform MLB of the Tigers’ decision by 4pm CT on Friday, November 28th.
10:51am: The Twins are insisting that they haven’t been told they’ve won the bidding for Yang, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter).
SATURDAY, 10:18am: The Twins have won the bidding for Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang and are nearing agreement on a deal, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Kia Tigers posted Yang earlier this week. The Twins have a 30-day negotiating window with Yang.
Yang, who will be 27 in March, posted a 4.25 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 165 innings in Korea in 2014. Those numbers don’t sound that impressive at first, but each team scores an average of 5.63 runs per game in the offense-heavy KBO, far higher than in the Majors, and Yang’s season earned him the KBO’s equivalent of the Cy Young award. Yang is viewed as a mid-rotation starter with No. 2 starter upside, the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand reports. Yang has a smooth delivery and throws 92-95 MPH.
Feinsand had named the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Astros as teams that could have interest in Yang. The Red Sox also reportedly had interest. The Padres recently won the bidding for another KBO pitcher, Kwang-hyun Kim, for $2MM, although the top bid for Yang was expected to cost more.
The Twins were expected to pursue starting pitching this offseason, and Yang should give them an option to accompany Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson and Ricky Nolasco. Twins starters posted a league-worst 5.06 ERA in 2014.
The Astros are known to be seeking relief help and they might be aiming high. Houston has reached out to Scott Leventhal, the agent for David Robertson, to express interest in the Yankees closer, an industry source told Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. Still, it’s not known whether the Astros are willing to approach the four-year, ~$52MM deal that Robertson is after. More from the AL and NL West..
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe asked about a dozen GMs in Phoenix about the Yankees’ situation and not one of them thought the Bombers would stay away from a major signing. For all the talk about the Cubs being a major player for Jon Lester, the Red Sox are still fearful that it’ll be the Yankees that swoop in and grab him. More from today’s column..
The Indians have designated left-hander Scott Barnes for assignment, according to Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer (on Twitter). The move will help the Tribe create room for right-hander Charles Brewer, who was acquired from Arizona last night.
Barnes, 27, has made 22 big league appearances for the Indians over the last two seasons, though he has spent more time pitching for their Triple-A affiliate. This past season, Barnes pitched to a 3.69 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 in 24 relief appearances and one start.
As the MLBTR DFA Tracker shows, there are now 16 players in DFA limbo.
Major League Baseball's offseason is anything but. The games may have ended in October, but the action is still ongoing. And judging by all the moves that teams have made through the first few weeks of November, there aren't any signs that they are slowing.
Taking into account the number of signings and trades that already are in the books as well as those still to come, here's a look at a batch of clubs that are in position to be most aggressive when it comes to transaction action this "off" season.
There are a lot of question marks when it comes to the MLB free-agent market for closers.
The class is headlined by American League All-Star David Robertson, but after that, nearly all of the late-inning options are attached to a red flag or two. What follows is a ranking of the top 10 potential impact closers on the free-agent block.
The most important factor taken into consideration in the ranking process was how effectively a given reliever pitched last year—and in the second half of the season in particular.
Another crucial part of the equation was whether the pitcher has a track record of successfully closing out games in the past. There was also an emphasis on the ability to produce swings and misses, as strikeouts are often required in high-leverage late-game situations.
There are 10 potential impact closers who crack this list. However, because the market is so light, in some cases, the key word is "potential." Remarkably, the reliever who claims the second spot in the rankings has just one big league save.
Even though they missed out on catcher Russell Martin in free agency, the Chicago Cubs still have plenty of targets left in play. Most free agents they currently have an interest in would be more of role players, with the exception of ace Jon Lester. Any other elite pitching they pursue this offseason could be in the form of a trade.
However, before they consider any trades, they have to see how Lester and other pitchers respond to their offers. Given its extreme youth in the outfield, the team could also go after a veteran outfielder to platoon with one of the youngsters.
Based on how free agency has gone so far and how well each player could fit in with the Cubs in their current state, here are updated odds on the team landing their remaining top five free-agent targets.
Every MLB team has its own to-do list each offseason, but for a handful of clubs, filling one specific area of need could be the difference between contending and watching from home come October.
For teams on the rise or already on the fringe of contention, sometimes one piece can make all the difference in the push to reach the postseason.
So, with that in mind, let's take a quick look at three teams that could be just one big offseason addition away from contending in 2015.
Cleveland Indians: A No. 2 starter
The Cleveland Indians were the surprise playoff team of 2013, as they went 92-70 to claim the No. 1 wild-card spot in the American League.
However, an offseason that saw them lose Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir left the starting rotation unstable heading into the season, and the team wound up taking a step backward, finishing third in the American League Central at 85-77.
That's not to say there were not bright spots in the rotation, though, as Corey Kluber emerged as a bona fide ace on his way to AL Cy Young honors and a handful of young arms came on strong in the second half. In fact, the rotation became a legitimate strength after the All-Star break, as a number of guys picked their games up after the break.
Clearly, that is a group that has the makings of a very solid rotation, but the question is just what to expect from everyone not named Kluber in 2015.
The peripheral numbers for Carlos Carrasco are solid, as he posted a 2.44 FIP and 0.985 WHIP, but it's still hard to see him matching his second-half success over a full season of work.
Danny Salazar and Trevor Bauer were both wildly inconsistent, while T.J. House was never viewed as anything more than organizational depth before his surprisingly strong rookie season.
This is not meant to be a knock on those four guys, but the Indians have to be realistic in their expectations for them heading into 2015.
At the end of the day, adding a proven veteran to slot behind Kluber in the No. 2 starter spot could help take some pressure off of those younger guys and set the team up to potentially have one of the better rotations in the American League.
A run at the market's top arms is probably out of the question, but adding someone like Ervin Santana or Francisco Liriano could be enough to push the Indians over the top.
Chicago Cubs: A legitimate ace
It's been a long three seasons since Theo Epstein and Co. took over in the Chicago Cubs front office, but the 2015 season may finally be a turning point for the beleaguered franchise.
After tearing things down and rebuilding from the ground up, the franchise has assembled one of the best farm systems in all of baseball and a terrific collection of high-ceiling position players.
Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Arismendy Alcantara all got their feet wet in 2014 with varying levels of success, and they should be joined at some point in 2015 by last year's Minor League Player of the Year, Kris Bryant, as well as infielder Addison Russell.
That young core, alongside incumbent All-Stars Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, give the Cubs an offensive attack with limitless potential.
There will no doubt be some growing pains, as this team has a great chance of leading the league in strikeouts next season. However, it could very well lead the league in home runs as well, and it should only get better moving forward.
It's the pitching staff that remains the big question mark.
The emergence of Jake Arrieta last season was huge, as the 28-year-old finally turned potential into production in going 10-5 with a 2.53 ERA (2.26 FIP) on his way to a ninth-place finish in NL Cy Young voting.
Prospect Kyle Hendricks also continued to exceed expectations upon his arrival in the big leagues, going 7-2 with a 2.46 ERA (3.32 FIP) to finish seventh in NL Rookie of the Year voting. His stuff is by no means overpowering, but his command has drawn comparisons to Greg Maddux.
As good as those two were, though, they are best suited as the No. 2 and No. 3/4 starters on a contender. Arrieta pitched like an ace last season, but relying on him to be that guy could be asking too much, and either way, he has not proved enough to this point to be counted on to lead the staff.
No, the future ace of the Chicago Cubs staff will almost certainly be a hired gun, whether he comes via free agency or a trade.
With just $35.5 million on the books for 2015, the team has a ton of money to spend, and the Cubs have made it no secret that Jon Lester is their top target this offseason.
Whether it is signing Lester, changing course and making a run at Max Scherzer or using their position-player depth to pull off a trade for someone like Cole Hamels, adding an ace-caliber arm to the mix could be enough to make the Cubs legitimate contenders in 2015.
Seattle Mariners: A right-handed power bat
After a 71-91 showing in 2013, the Seattle Mariners made a splash last offseason when they gave Robinson Cano a huge 10-year, $240 million deal. They also added Fernando Rodney, Corey Hart, Logan Morrison and a handful of other pieces, as they looked to reach the postseason for the first time since 2001.
The result was an impressive 16-win improvement and a team that was in contention for a playoff spot right down to the final day of the regular season, but in the end, the Mariners missed out on a postseason berth once again.
With a solid rotation, led by Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and emerging young arms James Paxton and Taijuan Walker, and a bullpen that was the best in baseball last season with a 2.59 ERA, pitching is a clear strength.
On the other hand, the offense ranked 18th in the league at 3.91 runs per game, and there is a clear hole in the middle of the lineup that will need to be filled.
Left-handed hitters Cano and Kyle Seager were both All-Stars last season, and they will again be asked to do a lot of the heavy lifting next year, but the team badly needs a right-handed run producer to slot between them in the cleanup spot.
In fact, any sort of right-handed production would be an improvement, as the team's righties combined for a .604 OPS (30th in MLB) with 42 home runs (29th) and 180 RBI (30th) this past season.
Corey Hart was signed to be that guy last offseason, after the team passed on Nelson Cruz, but he wound up hitting just .203/.271/.319 with six home runs and 21 RBI.
Whether it is another run at Cruz, a trade for Justin Upton or something else entirely, the Mariners are close enough to contending that finding that right-handed power bat could be enough to make them a playoff team in 2015.
All stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference, unless otherwise noted.
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