The Kung Fu Panda is said to be looking for a bear-sized contract this winter.
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Pablo Sandoval's agent, Gustavo Vasquez, told the San Francisco Chronicle Thursday that he's seeking a long-term deal for his client. And when he says long, he means long.
“Pablo is 28,” Vasquez said. “He is still young. Maybe if he was 30 or 31 we could talk about four or five years. But he’s 28. He deserves more than that.”
What Sandoval "deserves" and what he gets are two separate things, but it's not hard to imagine him finding at least one suitor willing to meet his demands. Given the exorbitant contracts handed out in recent years and the lack of quality free agents at the hot corner -- with Aramis Ramirez exercising his $14 million option to stay with the Brewers, the next best option behind Sandoval is Chase Headley -- a desperate team could meet Sandoval's demands.
If Vasquez is to be believed, the discussions have already begun. The agent said he's spoken with a "few teams" about Sandoval, and Vasquez said it could take only one attractive offer for Sandoval to find a new home.
"He'll sign fast," Vasquez said of Sandoval's free agent mindset.
Which teams have shown interest in the 28-year-old is still unknown. Whatever team signs him, in the event he doesn't return to the Giants -- a return isn't out of the picture, either, as Giants general manager Brian Sabean said the team has already made an offer -- will have to forfeit a draft pick, as Sandoval was offered and rejected a $15.3 million qualifying offer from the team. A six-year deal could push the $100 million mark.
Vasquez said he's already got some meetings lined up for next week's general manager meetings as well, so it appears the Panda is in high demand.
Those general manager meetings should include plenty of trade discussions.
Among those being talked about, it seems, will be Alexei Ramirez. Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reported Thursday that "numerous teams" have already called the White Sox about the 33-year-old shortstop. Levine counted the Yankees, Mets and Dodgers among the teams with interest in Ramirez.
It's hard to figure the White Sox' motivation to move Ramirez. They didn't sign Jose Abreu and deal for Adam Eaton last winter to undergo a complete rebuild, and with Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Avisail Garcia in place it's not as though the postseason is out of the realm of possibilities in 2015. If the Sox had an option to replace Ramirez it might make more sense, but Tim Anderson is still at least a year away and there's no viable alternative knocking on the door in the minors for the club. Still, with a team-friendly contract and some shortstop-needy clubs calling, the team might be made an offer it can't refuse.
Another middle infielder, Howie Kendrick, is also expected to garner some interest this offseason, and Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports the Blue Jays have "placed multiple calls" to the Angels regarding the second baseman. The Jays have some young arms that could interest the Angels -- more on that in a minute -- and Kendrick would be an answer at second base for a team that Munenori Kawasaki start 49 games at the position in 2014.
The Angels began to address their pitching need earlier this week when they dealt backup catcher Hank Conger to the Astros in exchange for Nick Tropeano and Carlos Perez. Conger wasn't a starter due to the presence of Chris Iannetta, but Tropeano could be in the mix for a starting rotation spot next season after he posted a 3.03 ERA and 120/33 K/BB ratio over 124 2/3 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City this past season. The right-hander wasn't a can't-miss prospect with the Astros, but he showed up on a few lists of their best prospects last year. With a good Angels club, he could gain some relevancy in AL-only leagues as early as next season if he pitches well in spring.
The Rockies are also expected to listen on stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Both players have sizable contracts and would require a team to deal a number of valuable assets, making a trade of either one unlikely, but the Rox may decide the roster has too many holes to hold onto the costly, oft-injured veterans.
Changes At The Top
The game of front office and managerial musical chairs is almost over as a few more chairs were filled this past week.
The biggest was the Cubs' introduction of Joe Maddon as manager on Monday, but the Twins also got their guy in Paul Molitor when they announced him as their next manager Tuesday. That leaves only the Rays, who were left out in the cold when Maddon opted out of his deal, as a team still searching for a manager. The organization announced a list of candidates Thursday, naming Raul Ibanez, Dave Martinez, Charlie Montoyo, Manny Acta, Ron Wotus, Don Wakamatsu, Craig Counsell and Kevin Cash as candidates. Ibanez' inclusion is interesting, as the 42-year-old was sweating out a Game 7 as a member of the Royals' roster just over a week ago.
On the front office side, the Dodgers introduced Farhan Zaidi as their new general manager and announced Josh Byrnes as their new senior vice president of baseball operations. In the end, both will still answer to president Andrew Friedman.
In Arizona, J.J. Putz was hired as a special assistant to Diamondbacks' president/CEO Derrick Hall. Putz never officially retired, but it appears his playing career is over.
Quick Hits: Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he envisions Tim Lincecum as a starter once again in 2015. Lincecum struggled for much of 2014 as a member of the rotation, and it's hard to see him finding much success in a sequel ... Cody Asche could get a look in a corner outfield spot next spring, opening the door for top prospect Maikel Franco to step in as the everyday third baseman for the Phillies. Franco was rated as the no. 17 prospect in baseball prior to the 2014 season by Baseball America ... Dustin Pedroia, who had wrist surgery in early September, told WEEI that he's "back to 100 percent" healthy. Pedroia had a miserable (by his standards) 2014 season prior to the surgery, but with a healthy wrist he could turn out to be an undervalued commodity on draft day next spring ... Alex Rodriguez, a source close to him said, has been working out "like a fiend" in recent months in anticipation of playing for the Yankees next season. The expectation is that A-Rod will be the team's primary designated hitter next year ... there was some thinking that the A's would listen to offers on Josh Donaldson this winter, but the team has put those rumors to rest. Club officials said they have no intention to deal the 28-year-old despite the expectation that he'll earn a hefty raise as a first-time arbitration-eligible player this winter.