The Cincinnati Reds are in "advanced talks" with free agent outfielder Grady Sizemore, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. However, Rosenthal notes that a deal is not yet done and that Sizemore could still be lured by another team.
The 31-year-old Sizemore hasn't played in the majors since 2011 due to a series of serious injuries. In his eight-year career with the Cleveland Indians, he established himself as an all-around player who could contribute in all facets of the game. In various years of his career, he has batted as high as .290 in a season, hit as many as 33 home runs, drawn at least 98 walks twice, stolen at least 33 bases twice and won a pair of Gold Gloves while playing center field.
However, injuries began to seriously sap Sizemore's production beginning with his age-26 season in 2009. He played in only 210 games over the three-year period from 2009-11 thanks to a variety of physical problems, including issues with both knees and a pair of operations for sports hernias. He tried to come back in 2012, but his attempt was derailed by back surgery.
A healthy Sizemore would be a big boost to a Cincinnati outfield that lost Shin-Soo Choo to the Rangers via free agency. The Reds are solid in right field with Jay Bruce, but there are question marks associated with projected left fielder Ryan Ludwick (age, injuries) and center fielder Billy Hamilton (youth, inexperience).
Marlins not discussing long-term deal with Stanton
Stanton and the Marlins settled on a one-year, $6.5 million contract on Friday. Stanton was eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career, and can't become a free agent until after the 2016 season. According to Frisaro, the two sides gave their full attention to Stanton's 2014 contract because they both felt that the "timing wasn't right" to discuss a long-term extension.
Indeed, neither side has a reason to rush into anything major. From Stanton's perspective, it would be wise to wait until he posts better numbers before pursuing a big contract. In 2013, he was limited to 116 games due to a hamstring injury and hit only 24 home runs; his slugging percentage dropped from .608 in 2012 to .480 in 2013. He still put up solid numbers, but he is capable of more and could likely command a higher salary after a full, healthy season. From the club's perspective, there is no need to lock up a player who still has three seasons of team control. The Marlins are still determining the future course of the franchise, and flexibility is an important consideration for rebuilding teams.
Frisaro mentions that Miami is open to the prospect of a long-term deal with the 24-year-old Stanton, but also notes that there is a strong chance that the slugger could be traded based on insider predictions and the team's history of dealing expensive star players.
Minor league signings
- The New York Mets signed pitcher John Lannan to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, the team announced Saturday. The left-hander spent 2013 with the Philadelphia Phillies after pitching for the Washington Nationals for six seasons. He is 45-58 with a 4.12 ERA in 148 career starts and could provide veteran depth for a shaky New York rotation. The Mets will be relying on 41-year-old Bartolo Colon, promising youngster Zack Wheeler and league-average arms like Dillon Gee and Jonathon Niese in the absence of injured phenom Matt Harvey, so adding reliable depth to their starting pitching corps is a smart idea. The 29-year-old Lannan is a native of New York. More: Visit Amazin' Avenue.
- The Texas Rangers signed pitcher Rafael Perez to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, according to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The left-handed Perez spent seven years with the Indians, posting a 3.64 ERA and a 2.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 329 innings over 338 appearances. His best season came in 2007, when he pitched to a 1.78 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 60⅔ innings. However, he threw only 7⅔ innings in 2012 due to a shoulder injury and didn't appear in the majors in 2013, so his stock has fallen since that career year. Although the Rangers are searching for a left-hander to replace the injured Derek Holland in their starting rotation, they plan to use the 31-year-old Perez out of the bullpen, reports Cotillo. More: Visit Lone Star Ball.
- Free agent outfielder Nelson Cruz is having trouble drawing suitors due to his high salary demands, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cruz has been looking for a multi-year deal for at least $15 million annually despite his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal, which earned him a 50-game suspension last season. He swatted 135 home runs over his last five years with the Texas Rangers, but that power isn't enough to stop teams from waiting for his price to drop. Cafardo cites the Orioles as one team who is interested, but their recent signing of Delmon Young may have filled their need for right-handed pop. Cafardo also notes that Vernon Wells could be a cheap option for a team looking for right-handed slugging; Wells was released by the Yankees this winter and could therefore be had for the major league minimum.
- Cafardo also reports that free agent starting pitcher Matt Garza may not find the four- or five-year deal that he seeks on the open market due to concerns about his injury-prone nature. Cafardo passes on this quote from an unnamed AL executive: "There may be concerns about him physically. I think most teams are thinking four or five years is just too risky, even if he's a no-compensation guy."
- The St. Louis Cardinals may go to their first arbitration hearing since 1999 if they can't agree with infielder Daniel Descalso, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Descalso has asked for $1.65 million, while the team has offered $930,000. The 27-year-old has spent four seasons with the Cardinals and was part of the 2011 and 2013 teams that reached the World Series.