Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that J.D. Drew will receive four guaranteed years from the Red Sox at $14MM annually. The fifth year is expected to be an option.
That is a lot of money for a player with Drew's health history. The contract will take him through his age 34 season.
The Phillies were about to seal a multiyear deal with Joe Borowski, but they are reconsidering after giving him a physical. That Borowski may have been pitching with some shoulder issues does not surprise me; he always seemed to have a "tough it out" mentality with the Cubs.
Borowski will be 36 next season. A rotator cuff surfaced in his right shoulder way back in the summer of 2004, but Dr. Lewis Yocum suggested rehab at that time. A three-year, $12MM deal or something similar could be bad news.
Check out Mark Healey's latest Rumor Mill over at Gotham Baseball. Some highlights:
Currently Healey's sources don't have any indications that Barry Zito will end up in New York. San Diego remains a possibility.
Healey mentions a Bill Shanks report for Scout.com that indicated Tom Glavine is close to returning to Atlanta for $7-8MM with an option.
Are we really going to resurrect this one again? We already have the Manny and Clemens storylines repeating themselves; it's only fitting that silly Dontrelle Willis proposals are bandied about.
George King of the New York Post remarks that the Yankees "could put together a package headed by Melky Cabrera and Humberto Sanchez to lure the Marlins into moving Dontrelle Willis out of Miami."
Those are two pretty good young players, but the Marlins could do better. Sanchez is interesting but untested, and Cabrera doesn't seem like the center fielder the Marlins covet. At least not at that price. An affordable Willis should net a true stud prospect, a guy with star potential. It's unclear whether George King is speculating or if this info is based on something.
Baseball Digest Daily reports that the Brewers have inked Craig Counsell to a two-year deal with a club option for 2009.
Did Doug Melvin really put out this kind of commitment to a utility infielder? Counsell could see a lot of playing time if Rickie Weeks or J.J. Hardy fall out of favor or are hurt again. Hardy in particular will see his playing time drop.
A deal cannot be described as close, but Ken Rosenthal indicates that the A's appear to be the frontrunners for the services of catcher/possible DH Mike Piazza.
If Oakland could snag him for the speculated price of one year and $7MM, they could have another fine free agent bargain.
In addition, the A's have spoken to the agents for Alan Embree and Cliff Floyd. An Embree acquisition would allow Joe Kennedy to replace Barry Zito in the rotation.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has a roundup this morning of Walt Jocketty's remaining agenda.
With one starter (Kip Wells) and a second baseman (Adam Kennedy) now in tow, the mission is to find two more starters and an affordable outfielder.
Goold names Jason Schmidt, Jeff Suppan, Jeff Weaver, and Mark Mulder as players whom Jocketty has contacted or will contact soon. As Larry Borowsky of Viva El Birdos has told us, the Cards always target a top flight starter before settling for less (see Burnett, A.J. last year and many more).
The outfielder of choice seems to be Luis Gonzalez, who's been a speculative Cardinal for what seems like a month now.
Just noticed a nugget from Buster Olney's blog yesterday morning:
"The Rangers lost out on Adam Eaton; I'm hearing that they are closing in on a deal to re-sign Vicente Padilla."
If true, this is a positive for Texas. Padilla is a much better choice and will probably require one year and a few million more annually. The Jays, Mets, and Cubs may be on the outskirts depending on where various free agents fall.
Here's some commentary on deals and signings I missed while I was off in Cancun.
- Yanks win Kei Igawa bid for about $26MM. Ugh. This is ugly. Why are the Yankees so enamored of this guy? Just because he's a fresh face? I'm going to reprint Keith Law's scouting report. But I've made one minor substitution, see if you can find it.
"John Smith, who is not from Japan, is primarily a two-pitch pitcher, with a below-average fastball in the 84-88 mph range with a little run, and a plus 74-79 mph curveball with a late two-plane break."
Not that I'm any huge fan of Adam Eaton, but how is talking to Igawa worth more than three years of Eaton? Oh well, it's only money.
- Orioles build expensive bullpen. People said the Cubs were dumb for spending most of their money last winter on Scott Eyre and Bob Howry. Well who's laughing now? Eyre and Howry, mostly...both guys pitched as well as anyone could've hoped and the Cubs were still awful. I keep saying this - one can draw a lot of similarities between the buffoonery of the Orioles and Cubs this decade. This connection is almost as brilliant as the time I wrote a college paper about the similarities between 12 Monkeys and Terminator. Two of my top five movies, by the way.
- Cards sign Adam Kennedy and Kip Wells. Ah, there's something I like. Nice work Walt! Kennedy throws down some league average hitting and quality glovework at a decent price. Love the Wells signing even more - four mil for one year? He must've wanted to pitch in St. Louis because someone should've topped that. Reading this scouting report, Wells sounds like the ideal Dave Duncan fixer upper.
- Dodgers sign Randy Wolf (hometown discount). And we thought the Padres had cornered the hometown discount market. Wolf at one year guaranteed is a steal and could be the best Tier 2 free agent starter from this winter's crop.
- Indians sign Dellucci. You really can't go wrong on this signing. Platoons are the new OBP.
- Phils sign Eaton. I read this and said aloud, "Eh." My wife looked at me funny for grunting at the computer. If I were a Phillies fan, I'd be kind of annoyed by this signing. It seems as if Pat Gillick couldn't find a way to spend the money he had earmarked for a big bat so he went with Eaton and Wes Helms. This is not exciting.
- Davis, Eveland, Krynzel to Arizona; Estrada, Vargas, Aquino to Milwaukee. I have to echo what Jeff said - advantage Brewers. Davis was getting pricey and less effective and surely planned to leave via free agency. Vargas is a comparable, cheaper guy. I like a rotation of Sheets, Capuano, Bush, Vargas, and Gallardo next summer.
- Astros sign Carlos Lee, Woody Williams. No worries about the Williams signing. But that is a large chunk of change and years for C-Lee. By most accounts Lee's defense is average on a good day, so almost all of the money is for his bat. That's not a $16.6MM bat. Not to defend the Soriano signing, but Sori should age better and could play a premium defensive position.
- Angels sign Gary Matthews Jr. Most analysts hate this. Fortunately I am just some guy and not an official analyst, so I can disagree. I don't hate it. For this deal to be a true stinker, I'd have to be convinced that Matthews is not a good defensive CF. The panel of ten experts from Bill James's Handbook this year ranked him fourth in the game for defense at the position. The bar isn't too high to be an above average offensive CF. Sum it up, and I see a player who's above average in both aspects of the game. Would you rather have a dinosaur like Dave Roberts or Kenny Lofton chasing flies out there? The Angels can afford to overpay in terms of years.
- Rangers sign Catalanotto. Sure, three years is a lot for a platoon guy. But Cat's affordable and this should work out just fine.
I just updated the list of free agent starting pitchers, which can be found at this link. I will keep this and the other free agent position links found on the sidebar up to date as players sign this winter. Think of it as my own primitive free agent tracker.