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Winter Meetings Recap: Victorino deal appears close

Winter Meetings Recap: Victorino deal appears close
December 4, 2012
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Day two of the winter meetings is almost in the books. The news and rumors will surely continue into the night, and if anything of substance regarding the Indians has legs we will provide the update on Twitter @TonyIPI and on the “news” page here on the site.

Here is a recap of all the Indians news from today:

- The big news of the morning was the news that came out from Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer that the Indians came close to dealing shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera yesterday. According to Hoynes, the Indians had the framework of a deal in place where they would get a Major League pitcher and two high-end prospects in return for Cabrera. The deal fell apart when the Indians requested a fourth player – another prospect – be thrown into the deal. The other interesting thing is the team acquiring Cabrera would move him to another position, though it was not specified if it would be third base or second base. There are all kinds of possibilities as to who that team would be, though a move to third base or second base would appear to be a small clue as to who it was. The Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Athletics, and Mariners continue to be the best potential landing spots for Cabrera because of the good young pitching the Indians would surely target, put the fact that he could end up at third base or second base really adds a few more teams to the list. Maybe the mystery team was the Yankees as they are looking for replacements for the injured Alex Rodriguez at third base, or perhaps it was the Giants as they could lose second baseman Marco Scutaro in free agency. In any case, momentum for a Cabrera deal appears to be building. I initially thought he would not be traded this offseason, but now I would be surprised if he is still with the team at the end of this week. I think by the end of the winter meetings that Cabrera will be with a new team, and (hopefully) the Indians have found a good collection of young pitching to move forward with.

- Talks with outfielder Shane Victorino he really intensified over the past 24 hours, and it appears there is a good chance that he will be signed to a deal by someone before the meetings conclude on Thursday. There are reportedly just three teams left in the bidding for him: the Indians, Red Sox and an unknown third team (possibly the Cubs). Several reports are coming out that the Indians are very aggressive and one of the most serious suitors for him, and new manager Terry Francona reached out to him early in the offseason. As mentioned yesterday, he is looking for a three year deal for about $30 million, but is expected to sign for a little less money than that. However, for the Indians to sign him, they may have to overpay and give him the figure he wants and maybe even a fourth year. The Indians pursuit of Victorino should be interesting to follow over the next 24-48 hours to see where they go with the negotiations.

- It should be important to note that a signing of Shane Victorino or the acquisition of any high profile outfielder should not be a sign that Shin-Soo Choo is dealt this offseason. In fact, whatever the Indians do on the outfield front probably has no bearing one way or another on pushing the Indians to a deal of Choo. What a deal for a significant player could do is affect what they do with Cabrera, and I see a Cabrera trade aligning itself more with a signing of a Victorino or other like player. A Victorino-like signing would be a way for the Indians to backfill the lineup with a solid Major League contributor if they trade Cabrera for some much needed young, impact pitching. As for Choo, the interest in him this offseason is cool, and there is a growing belief in the industry that the Indians will retain him for next season and reconsider trading him at the July trade deadline. A lot of people think if he has another good season and the Indians fall out of contention that his value in July would be as good or better than it is now and he would be one of the most sought after rentals for a postseason push.

- The free agent pitching market has been slow to develop this offseason, and probably will not begin to shake itself out until top prize right-hander Zach Greinke is signed. Once he signs then the signings could come fast and furious. One of the names out there that the Indians are said to have interest in is right-hander Edwin Jackson. He is looking for a multi-year deal of three or four years, but may ultimately have to settle for a three year deal for around $11-12 million a year. The Indians are still considered a long shot to sign him, but I know there are some in the organization that really like him and feel he would be a very good addition to their staff to bring a consistent, reliable performer that can haul innings.

- The market for first baseman/third basemen Kevin Youkilis has been slow to develop, but one of the main suitors for his services continues to be the Indians. There are reports that the Indians continue to keep in regular contact with  his agent and the Indians could be one of the top landing spots for him. He is looking for a two-year deal, something the Indians are fine with offering him, it will just come down to how much money he is paid over those two years. There are reports he could be looking for as much as $10 million a year for each of those two seasons, but the Indians would probably only prefer to pay him $7 to $8 million a season. The money is not that far apart, so ultimately it could come down to whether or not his agent can add another strong suitor into the mix to drive his price up and push him elsewhere. He is not expected to be signed before the conclusion of the winter meetings, but a lot of the groundwork and momentum for a deal will be made this week.

- According to outfielder Grady Sizemore’s agent, he had microfracture on his right knee in September. The recovery from such a surgery generally can take nine to ten months, which means he probably would not be able to play until June or July at the earliest next season. He had microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2010 and made a successful return in 2011, but chronic issues with his right knee and back plagued him the last two seasons with the Indians. At this point there is not a team that would be willing to sign him to a guaranteed contract next season, and there is a belief in the industry his career may be over. But, considering he is still just 30-years old and because of his talent, some team may sign him to a minor league contract for the 2013 season to see what happens with him. Considering how well the Indians know and respect him, the Indians could be one of those teams.

- Reports are coming out of the winter meetings that right-handed pitcher Roberto Hernandez is looking for a one year deal. According to Jesse Sanchez of he has five teams interested in him, and one of those teams is the Indians. The Indians’ interest in him would appear cool at the moment as they have much bigger targets for the starting rotation they are looking at in the trade and free agent market, but he could be a fallback option if they are unable to acquire any of their higher targets. The Indians declined his $6 million club option for 2013 and made him a free agent, and you would have to think he is looking at a one year deal for around $3 to $4 million.

- According to Paul Hoynes, the Indians have fielded calls from the Padres asking about the availability of right-handed starters Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez. There are several teams inquiring about Masterson – namely the Red Sox – but this is a first with regard to Jimenez. Masterson is a pitcher the Indians would likely only part with if they get a sizable return AND they are able to acquire a starting pitcher or two in a trade or in free agency. If they are able to add a starting pitcher or two, then the thought is they could use the money they saved by trading Masterson on that pitching acquisition and also use Masterson to fill an immediate need or two in the lineup. Jimenez is probably a different case where if the Indians were to get a fair return they would seriously considering unloading him and wipe their hands clean of him.

- Right-hander Dan Haren signed a one year $13 million deal with the Nationals today. The Indians and several other clubs were interested in him because of his ability to impact a starting rotation on such a very short contract, but this was a deal he signed to rebuild his market value and go to a team he feels he can best do that with. The Nationals will be one of the best teams in baseball again next season, and he should have a great shot of building his value for a big pay day next offseason by pitching for a highly competitive team.

Quick hits

- Teams continue to call the Indians and inquire into the availability of right-handed reliever Vinnie Pestano. Earlier today Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that one of those teams is the Mets. The Indians are not shopping Pestano but will listen to offers for any player. He is unlikely to be dealt and even though he is only a reliever would require a king’s ransom for the Indians to let him go.

- Pay attention to what happens with free agent first baseman Adam LaRoche. He is a player the Indians have interest in signing, but the Nationals and Orioles are said to be his best potential landing spots. If the Nationals do resign LaRoche, there is talk they will move Mike Morse in a deal for bullpen help. The Indians have always liked Morse, and they will surely be one of many teams that look to acquire him.

- Left-handed pitcher Scott Kazmir is looking to sign with a team and is getting solid interest at the winter meetings. He has battled some consistency and health issues the past few years and did not sign with a Major League team last year. He is reportedly throwing 90-94 MPH in the Puerto Rico Winter League and has looked much healthier. Multiple teams are in on him and the Indians are one of them.

- Right-hander Jeremy Bonderman is looking for a job again and has a few offers for minor league contracts with spring invites. The Indians have been in on him in the past, so there is a good chance they are one of those teams interested in him this offseason.

- Outfielder Jason Bay is reportedly close to a deal with the Mariners. The Indians were a team that expressed interest in signing him early in the free agent process, but it looks like he opted to play for a team close to where he lives (he lives in the Seattle area).

Follow Tony and the Indians Baseball Insider on Twitter @TonyIBI. Also, his new book the 2014 Cleveland Indians Baseball Insider which profiles the Indians' Top 100 Prospects and more is available for sale.

User Comments

December 4, 2012 - 8:42 PM EST
Best news of the day! We dont waste coin on a washed up has been!
December 4, 2012 - 8:37 PM EST
Less than Dave, I hope you were kidding on that 3-year $6M deal for Sizemore. I wouldn't even guarantee the guy a penny right now. He's about done.

In any case, this is one of those instances when I am glad the Indians fell short. Actually, they offered him the better deal, but he was attracted to Boston. But who cares, all that matters is he saved the Indians from themselves on this one. The good news is that Cody Ross and Nick Swisher now appear to be realistic options for the Indians.

Joe, this was good news and shows the Indians more aggressive nature and their new approach. They did not get the deal done (thankfully) but I now believe more than ever they are gonna make a splash or two this offseason.

Brian, I think what a lot of people are missing on signing a Victorino-like player and then trading Cabrera is that the sole reason they would trade Cabrera is to bring back frontline pitching. Something they cannot get on the open market, nor do they have the prospects to acquire. Cabrera is their best trade chip for that much needed pitching, so that is what they are doing there.....and the signing of a Victorino-like player is just a way to backfill and help offset some of the loss with his offense (Aviles in my opinion is a better or as good defender, so no loss there).
December 4, 2012 - 7:12 PM EST
Yeah, just saw the same thing. 3 years $39 is a huge overpay by the Red Sox. Honestly I'd rather have Ross ... what's the word on him? I haven't heard his name mentioned. Would rather have him than Victorino, really, since the price was always going to be less ... was it thought the Red Sox would retain him? Swisher was rumored to be of interest to the Red Sox too. Strange for them to pay Victorino that much, you'd think they could've gone an extra year and got Swisher for a little more, and he'd have been a better fit.

December 4, 2012 - 7:08 PM EST
Why would the Indians trade A Cab and then sign Victorino? It seems like the tribe always trades away their stars and then spends too much money on average free agents.

I would much rather see that $30 million spent on extending Masterson, Brantley or Pestano. We're not going to win a world series in the next three years without Cabrera, so that just seems like a huge waste.

We need to rebuild! Our rotation is nowhere close to good enough to compete for the playoffs anytime soon.
December 4, 2012 - 7:06 PM EST
I think Rob is 100% correct.
December 4, 2012 - 7:05 PM EST
Here we go again. Lip service. We will end up with nothing again.Tired of it all. Almost had a deal, almost signed him..... but nothing, except a bunch of 4 A players. Like a trip to a bad dentist... lots of fillin(g)s but no crowns ! This is really sad. We should have seen something by now. Anything !!!!
December 4, 2012 - 6:39 PM EST
I read that Victorino is signing with Boston for 3 years and $39 million. If true, should make Cody Ross a viable option.
December 4, 2012 - 6:11 PM EST
After some of these deals (Victorino, Pagan, etc.), it should be obvious that a full on rebuild is going to be necessary. Indians with a payroll around 70 million, are unable to commit 15-20% of that to one slightly above average player of this caliber. Just unload everything possible to pick up AA and AAA starting arms. Sort through these guys and hopefully a few become the future rotation and use the rest to acquire pieces in 2-3 years to surround the talent at A ball currently. I'd rather lose 100 games a year for the next 2 years with young players than to scrap heap shop to try and finish at .500.
December 4, 2012 - 4:36 PM EST
I like Mike Morse at 1B. The Indians have a ton of what iffers there- Lars Anderson, Mike McDade. Jan Gomes, the Hazelton hammer who can't play D. Maybe one of them will elevate, but Morse is a top notch 1B if healthy.
Less than Dave
December 4, 2012 - 4:10 PM EST
I'd take Grady back for like a 3 year deal at $2 mil/year... the guy is extremely talented and only 30 years old. Once healthy I could see him really turning it around.. I don't think his career is over, but he likely won't do much this year
December 4, 2012 - 3:50 PM EST
Kazmir must have gotten a Bartolo Colon shake or two in the winter league. He was absolutely brutal for Sugar Land in the Atlantic League. Please no Sizemore or Fausto, time to move move on. Victorino at 12 mill per for 3-4 years is scary, but they are going to have to overpay to get guys to show interest. Dump Ubaldo for anything you can get from SD, drop Choo in on that trade too so he can hit .260 with 8 bombs in his free agent year. Boras would have an aneurysm!

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