Rangers, Cubs, Reds Covet Jarrod Washburn
There seems to be a consensus among sportswriters that Jarrod Washburn will end up a Texas Ranger. I've spoken to Chicago Sun-Times writer Chris De Luca about Washburn, and he thinks new GM Jon Daniels is willing to overpay for a decent starter this winter.
Steve Phillips also picked the Rangers as Washburn's destination. We all agree on his worth - a bit overrated after the 3.20 ERA, but a useful if somewhat overpaid 3rd starter. I ranked him 19th on the RotoAuthority Top 50 Free Agents List, just behind Jeff Weaver.
De Luca also thinks the Cubs are a possible suitor given Washburn's desire to play near his hometown of LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The Brewers seemed like a logical choice, but De Luca informed me that Milwaukee has stated that they will not pursue Washburn. GM Doug Melvin has publicly stated that he won't pay $8MM+ for a starter after the lackluster results of last year's free agent signings.
It's sounding more and more like the Cubs will come up with another starter to add to the stable. Then they'll deal from that depth to acquire an outfielder. GM Jim Hendry may be more inclined to make a big splash with A.J. Burnett than give a lot of money to Washburn. Unlike last season when he had to get Sammy Sosa off the books, Hendry will act early and often. The Cardinals' interest in Burnett may motivate Hendry to make a better offer to the starter. The Cards' flirtation with Greg Maddux a few years back certainly influenced his ultimate return to Chicago.
A dark horse in the Washburn sweepstakes is the Reds. We know they'll bring in some sort of starter - ESPN expects Cincinnati to make a run at Paul Byrd. Washburn is younger than Byrd, but Byrd allows fewer baserunners due to pinpoint control. One thing's for sure: Cincinnati is a lot closer to LaCrosse than Arlington is.
If the Reds pass on both Washburn and Byrd, expect Kenny Rogers to be on their radar. He's shown an above average ability to limit the long ball, a skill the Reds have come to appreciate after the Eric Milton debacle.