December 2005

Astros Discussing Jose Contreras

First off, my apologies for the confusion in my last post.  Let’s set the record straight about this Astros/White Sox thing.

My source wasn’t referring to the Astros’ interest in Miguel Tejada, but rather Jose Contreras.  Baltimore likes the righthander, but Houston covets him as well.  The Sox are talking to the Astros currently, but have no interest in Brad Lidge.  Their reasoning:  they believe in the young, cheap Bobby Jenks.  The Sox also have concerns about Lidge’s future health after piling on the innings as well as his impending large salary.  That all makes sense; the Sox have no reason to acquire another closer.

Another clarification: the player the Sox are considering for Contreras is Willy Taveras.  The additional prospects are unknown.  Given the massive salary gap between Jose Contreras and Taveras, this deal would free up cash to be used for reinforcements at the trading deadline.  As mentioned before, the White Sox are willing to go up to a $105MM payroll.

Some more quality tidbits on the White Sox’s interest in Miguel Tejada:

Chicago’s offers are non-negotiable.  If Tejada is traded, the deal will be completed within the next two weeks.  Other interested clubs are still submitting and refining their proposals. 

Miguel Tejada Trade: Update

Some more quality details on the possible Miguel Tejada trade:

First issue: White Sox payroll.  My source is saying that adding Tejada would not be a problem – the team’s board of directors are willing to take the payroll up to $105 million.  Should the Orioles accept one of their offers, they’ll still have flexibility for more additions at the July trading deadline as needed.

UPDATE:  There was a miscommunication between my source and I about this deal.  He was not telling me that the Astros were in on Tejada, but rather Jose Contreras.  I’ll go into more detail on this in a separate post.  Sorry for the confusion.

White Sox Make Offers For Tejada

A source close to a major sports representation firm has tipped me off to two offers the White Sox currently have on the table for shortstop Miguel Tejada.

Two formal proposals have been given to the Orioles by Sox GM Kenny Williams.  Williams set a drop dead date of December 31st given other clubs’ outstanding offers for Tejada.

Option 1: Jose Contreras, Juan Uribe, and one minor league prospect for Tejada.

Option 2: Brandon McCarthy, Juan Uribe, 20 year-old southpaw Alex Woodson, and another minor leaguer for Tejada.  In this scenario, the White Sox would get cash back from the Orioles in the third and fourth years of Tejada’s contract.

According to Baseball Prospectus’s WARP statistic, which combines offense and defense into a number of wins above a replacement player, Tejada was worth 3.1 more wins than Uribe in 2005.  Contreras was valued at 5.9 wins for ’05.  However, the White Sox can’t start both McCarthy and Contreras, so it’s really not a loss in pitching value for 2006.  Seems to me that the Sox would much prefer Option 1 if the O’s will consider it.

U.S. Cellular inflates right-handed hitters’ home runs by about 30%.  Tejada would stand to tack on about four home runs due to park effects.  A loss of both Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand would weaken one of the White Sox’s two major strengths from their Championship season: their defense.  Rowand and Uribe were two of baseball’s best defenders at their positions in ’05, and Brian Anderson and Tejada would definitely be a downgrade.  Still, Williams’s offseason moves and the proposed Tejada trades certainly strengthen the club overall for ’06, at least on paper.

Buzz Around The Game

Let’s take a look at what some other sources are reporting today on the rumor front.

Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post mentions that Marquis Grissom’s agent said he will sign with the Cubs.  When you look at Grissom’s 2005, there’s not much to like.  He doesn’t get on base and he’s pushing 40.  On the flip side, Grissom mashed lefties to the tune of .315/.356/.577 in 2004 and he’d make a great platoon partner for Jacque Jones

UPDATE: You probably assumed this, but I’ve verified with a reliable source that the Grissom deal is for one year and will be incentive-based.  Nothing unexpected, but worth a mention.

The Mets are apparently finalizing a deal for Danys Baez where they’d give up either Jae Seo or Aaron Heilman plus prospects.  In my opinion, this trade is going to weaken the Mets in 2006.  I’ve projected Baez to post an ERA near 4.  Click here to read MetsBlog’s take.

From my inbox today: "You would be crediable if your rumors actually came true."  Why do some people spend so much time writing long, incoherent emails about how they don’t like my site?  Just stop reading it if you don’t like it.

Dave Kaplan of WGN Radio Chicago has reported that the Cubs are in discussions for Barry Zito.  Wouldn’t be bad to see a durable pitcher on the North Side of Chicago to complement Zambrano.

As you’ve certainly read, Miguel Tejada still wants out.  More on details on teams in play later today.

Recently At RotoAuthority

Been to RotoAuthority lately?  Here’s what’s been going on over there:

Fantasy Baseball: Guys To Avoid

2006 RotoAuthority Fantasy Baseball Guide Coming Soon

Joe Mauer 2006 Projection

Download an MP3 of me on WGN Chicago’s Sports Central radio show

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New Manny Scenario Discussed?

A source close to the Mets organization has supplied me with a possible trade scenario that is being discussed.  It’s complicated, but I thought I’d put it out there.

Mets trade: Aaron Heilman, Cliff Floyd, Victor Diaz, Brian Bannister
Mets get: Manny Ramirez

TB trades: Julio Lugo, Joey Gathright
TB receives: Aaron Heilman, Victor Diaz, Bronson Arroyo

Red Sox trade: Manny Ramirez, Bronson Arroyo
Red Sox receive: Julio Lugo, Joey Gathright, Cliff Floyd, Brian Bannister

Wow.  I’m not sure if this is any more plausible than the other complicated possibilities floating around, but this is a solid source.  Let’s see if it passes the reality test.

The Mets give up Heilman, Floyd, Diaz, and Bannister for Manny.  That’s a huge bounty, but the only real gem there is Heilman.  Plus, Manny is still a superstar.  Diaz is a good outfield prospect, and Bannister is a B level starter with a low ceiling.  Floyd is a year away from free agency and expendable if Manny is acquired.  The Mets could always try to get Manny and keep Floyd, but Floyd hasn’t played RF since 2002.  I would say this portion is not too far-fetched.

How about Tampa Bay’s side of things?  First off, my guess is that upper management would be reluctant to package Lugo and Gathright together.  As with the Huff/Baez rumors, why not just trade them separately and maximize the return?  The demand is certainly there.  Lugo is a hot commodity right now, and the Rays have been asking for a lot of Gathright (Scott Olsen?).  Arroyo would make a great #2 for TB; I’ve projected him to lead the Red Sox in wins in 2006.  The team doesn’t have a need for Diaz in a stacked outfield.  Then again, he’d be a decent fit at first base.  They’d probably love to have Heilman in the rotation or closing games.  Overall, I’d label this part of the trade as somewhat questionable.

The Red Sox are basically getting three quality Major Leaguers in return for a superstar and a promising young starter.  Given Floyd’s injury record and impending free agency, I can see his inclusion.  Gathright hasn’t proven anything at the Major League level yet; only Lugo is a known quantity, and he’s also got free agency looming.  So if you look at it that way, things seem fair for the Red Sox.  The Mets might even have to throw in some cash to make this work for the Sox.       

New Site:

A frequent commenter here at MLBTradeRumors named Jarid recently launched a Cubs website that you should check out.  Talking Cubs has a cool live chat option and a discussion board if you want to start up a conversation.  The site also has a countdown until Opening Day.  In case you were wondering, we’re 95 days, 12 hours, 52 minutes, and 4 seconds away.

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Cubs Close To Signing Preston Wilson?

I’ve got the latest Cubs scoop tonight.  This is thirdhand information originating from a baseball scout, but I do think it’s legitimate.  The source is telling me that the Cubs are close to signing Preston Wilson

It seems that the Tejada deal is dead and the Orioles have rejected the Cubs’ offer.  Cubs GM Jim Hendry is looking in another direction for some added power in the lineup, and Wilson is his type of player.  By that, I mean that Wilson is an affordable outfielder with average to below average plate discipline.  He’s a career .264/.333/.478 hitter.

The acquisition would push Jacque Jones to left field, a position he hasn’t played since 2003.  Matt Murton would platoon with Jones and face southpaws.  Wilson would take over in right field, a position he’s played for just 19 games in his career.  The source also mentioned that Corey Patterson is as good as gone, although we pretty much assumed that.

Jon Garland Re-Signs With White Sox

A Bruce Levine radio report on ESPN Radio 1000 indicates that Jon Garland has re-signed with the White Sox for three years, $29MM.  The contract is backloaded: $7MM in 2006, $10MM in 2007, and $12MM in 2008.  The contract has a no-trade provision for 2006 only, so the Sox have flexibility if they don’t want to be on the hook for the final $22MM.

The deal is another excellent move by GM Kenny Williams.  With any type of decent showing in 2006, Garland stood to command a five or six year deal averaging as much as $11MM annually.  Perhaps the the 26 year-old simply wanted security and doesn’t expect to repeat his 2005.

The move would likely lead to a trade of Jose Contreras unless he settles for a similar contract.  There has been some speculation that the Cardinals might be interested.  Given that Kenny Williams is on good terms with Walt Jocketty and they speak about players regularly, it’s entirely feasible.

Wild Rumor From Gotham Baseball

Gotham Baseball’s Mark Healey has heard a massive trade rumor from "multiple independent baseball sources."  Of course, it’s subject to change, isn’t close, and all the usual disclaimers.  Here’s the Cliff Notes version of it:

"Mets would send Heilman and Matsui (and $5 million) to Tampa Bay for Lugo. Then New York would send Lugo, Kris Benson, Brian Bannister and Victor Diaz to Baltimore for Tejada, and then send Tejada to the Red Sox for Manny Ramirez."

Let’s stop right there.  My opinion on each step of this possible deal:

Aaron Heilman for Julio Lugo sounds like fair value to me.  Gotham’s sources have the Mets eating $5MM of the $8MM owed to Kaz Matsui in 2006.  That part gels with the information I’ve heard from my Mets source that New York would have to pay at least half of Matsui’s salary to unload him. I’m not sure how the Devil Rays would structure their infield, with Jorge Cantu entrenched at second base and B.J. Upton ready to take over at short.  I had thought the D-Rays would hold out for more than this for Lugo – a good reliever plus someone else’s baggage.  I still feel that they’ll want more.

So then the Orioles are giving up their superstar shortstop, possibly one of the five best players in baseball, for Julio Lugo, Kris Benson, Brian Bannister, and Victor Diaz.  This is where the plausibility of the rumor breaks down for me.  The Orioles have given every indication that they need a star player back for Tejada – they’re not even sold on Mark Prior.  Lugo’s a good player for $5MM, but he hits free agency after that.  Benson is a fourth starter who figures to post an ERA around 4 over the next two seasons while being paid more than $15MM.  That doesn’t add much value for the O’s.  Bannister is a smart young pitcher with a good minor league track record, but Baseball America has said he’s "not overpowering" and "doesn’t have a high ceiling."  Diaz is still a valuable prospect, but could easily turn out to be a career reserve.

To sum it up, the Orioles are giving up Tejada to get a pretty good SS in his contract year, an overpaid fourth starter, a B-level pitching prospect, and a solid outfield prospect.  That’s quantity over quality, and I don’t see it happening.

To finish it off, the Mets ship Tejada to the Red Sox for Manny, effectively giving up nothing impressive for the superstar outfielder, considering the players sent to Baltimore.  Not entirely sold on that step, and I’d heard the Orioles did not want Tejada to play for a division rival.

UPDATE:  Just asked my Mets source whether the above scenario could happen.  He said there’s no way: "Orioles get screwed, the Red Sox get screwed, and the Mets have everything go their way." 

Healey’s article also mentions these comments from a baseball official:

"If Barry Zito doesn’t get dealt before opening day, the A’s are screwed.  No one is willing to pay Beane’s price after what the Braves paid for Hudson [Namely, Dan Meyer, Juan Cruz and Charles Thomas]."

I don’t agree with the baseball official, for what it’s worth.  The A’s hold all the cards with Zito.  They have absolutely no need to unload him, and will boast a deep rotation if they keep Zito until July.  I find it odd that the official cites the Hudson trade as hurting Beane’s ability to make major trades.  The Tim Hudson deal is one where the Braves can be labeled a clear winner.  The highly touted Meyer quickly got hurt and is a question mark, Cruz wasn’t deemed Major League ready by Oakland, and Charles Thomas has completely crapped out.  Perhaps the official meant to refer to the Mark Mulder trade.