Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle slipped in this nugget:
"The Athletics are likely to also dispatch their winningest pitcher, Joe Blanton, to New York as part of a deal that would fetch one of Billy Beane's longest-held desirables, outfielder Lastings Milledge."
I'm not sure if Ratto is just making this assumption based on past rumors from this winter, or if this is a brand new rumor. But he seems fairly certain that Blanton will be dealt. That would leave the A's with a Haren-Loaiza-Harden-Kennedy rotation, with a fifth starter battle between Chad Gaudin, Jason Windsor, Kirk Saarloos, and the like.
A groundballer like Blanton could be a nice fit for the Mets, whose middle infield defense was among the game's best in 2006.
There have been a handful of reports that the Randy Johnson trade is complete. However, the New York Daily News reports that the deal has hit a snag over money.
The Diamondbacks want the Yanks to kick in some cash, and they also want some of the deferred money they already owe Johnson to be factored into the extension. So there's still some financial ground to cover. Jon Heyman of SI.com indicates that Johnson wants a one-year, $12MM extension.
The general structure of the deal seems in place - two or three of Dustin Nippert, Micah Owings, Ross Ohlendorf, and Brandon Medders. However, it appears the the Padres could still sneak in.
The New York Post believes that Brian Cashman may be stockpiling prospects with a future trade for Johan Santana or Dontrelle Willis in mind. That paper also mentions that the Diamondbacks are only offering minor leaguers for Johnson.
Aside from the aforementioned Roger Clemens tidbit, Nick Cafardo's recent Boston Globe column is packed with interesting info. A brief summary follows.
Cafardo believes the Red Sox will add one more reliever and then sort out the closer situation in spring. The Cordero, Lidge, and Gonzalez talks didn't go anywhere. The idea of returning to Jon Papelbon, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense and isn't out of the question. Failing that, Julian Tavarez could be the favorite. Shaky alternatives (Brendan Donnelly, Mike Timlin, Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen) abound.
A source told Cafardo that Matt Clement wants to prove everyone wrong and could be throwing by springtime. Maybe he just wants to cash in after his walk year. Clement had rotator cuff surgery at the end of September.
Rodrigo Lopez has gotten interest from five teams. A move to St. Louis or somewhere like that could help him quite a bit.
Carl Everett and Sammy Sosa may need to play in the independent leagues to convince some team to give them a shot. Two of baseball's finest role models, right there.
Mark Mulder is still looking at the Cards, Rangers, and Indians for his options. The Tribe has offered two years and $8MM with another $7MM in incentives. The Rangers offer less than $8MM guaranteed but a possible package of $18.75MM instead of $15MM.
The Giants would still like to recruit David Wells despite their signing of Barry Zito. Such a move would push Jonathan Sanchez to the bullpen. The Phillies, Padres, Diamondbacks, and Mets may also be interested in Wells.
As a Randy Johnson trade appears inevitable, talk is starting up again that the Yankees are actually trying to get older. They'd like to replace Johnson with a full season of Roger Clemens, according to Jon Heyman.
Heyman even mentions that Clemens's dislike of Johnson may have prevented him from signing with the Yankees and could be a factor in the trade.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe agrees that the Yankees are trading Johnson with the Rocket in mind. Ah, the drama never ends.
UPDATE: The Sun says the deal is done for three years and $20MM. Not a bad price.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have offered Aubrey Huff a contract in the neighborhood of three years and $18 million. Discussions with Craig Wilson have quieted, as the O's don't intend to sign both.
According to the Newark Star-Ledger, the Randy Johnson to Arizona trade is "nearing its completion."
The D'Backs would still work out an extension with Johnson, and the Yanks still covet Brandon Medders and a young starter or two. According to the New York Post, Micah Owings seems to be at the top of the list with Dustin Nippert and Ross Ohlendorf close behind.
According to the Seattle Times, Mariners GM Bill Bavasi has been looking at John Thomson or Tomo Ohka as possible additions.
A month ago, the Mariners requested the medical files on Thomson and seemed close to signing him. The 33 year-old had a rough year health-wise in 2006, so those files were probably pretty thick.
Haven't heard much on Ohka in the past few weeks, though the Cards, Nats, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mariners have expressed interest in the past. Maybe he's waiting for Mulder to sign first. Here's my Ohka profile if you're interested.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Kei Igawa, Barry Zito and Jeff Suppan are off the board. The Mets want one more solid starter, but don't need to do anything desperate.
One option is to hit up Billy Beane for Rich Harden or Danny Haren. Bob Klapisch reports that Omar Minaya spoke to Beane ten days ago, hoping for a deal of Aaron Heilman and Lastings Milledge for Harden. Beane countered with Carlos Gomez and one of Milledge/Philip Humber/Mike Pelfrey. Those talks are proposals are pretty far apart.
There's speculation the Mets could trade for Jake Peavy, Dontrelle Willis, Brad Penny, Jon Lieber, Rodrigo Lopez, Javier Vazquez, or Jon Garland. Right now that appears to be pure speculation. It's doubtful that the White Sox would deal yet another starter, though Mike Pelfrey could convince Kenny Williams to continue dismantling.
John Delcos says Jeff Weaver wants a four-year, $40MM deal. Taking a one-year deal last winter was a wise choice for Weaver despite his lousy 2006. If the Mets do that, it would be a desperation move.
Brian Lawrence wants to pitch for the Rockies, and they've attended his private workouts. The Nationals acquired Lawrence for Vinny Castilla on November 3rd of last year, only to learn in February he'd be out for the season with a labrum tear. Lawrence is a pitch-to-contact guy with good control. His heavy groundballing style could fit in Colorado.
The same Denver Post article mentions that Javy Lopez's agent has had discussions with the Rox. Teams don't like to turn rotations over completely to rookie catchers, so Chris Iannetta may unfortunately have some company for a season or two. The Rockies previously hoped to sign Rod Barajas.
Tracy Ringolsby writes that the Orioles still want to sign Shannon Stewart on an incentive-laden deal. Seems pointless to me. Ringolsby also says the Padres are the frontrunners for David Wells, who wants $3MM. That makes sense for any NL team, but Wells wants to pitch in California.
Mark Mulder returns from Tahiti soon and will decide whether to become an Indian, Ranger, or Cardinal. For his career's sake, he should probably go back to St. Louis.
One way or another, the Yankees will import a lefty reliever. Ron Villone and Scott Schoeneweis are being discussed.
According to the New York Daily News, the Diamondbacks and Yankees could finish a Randy Johnson trade this weekend.
Arizona will need to talk to Johnson to extend his contract through 2008, pretty much guaranteeing he gets his 300th win as a Diamondback. The Yankees want one of Dustin Nippert, Micah Owings, and Ross Ohlendorf. Nippert seems to be the prize of the trio.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are getting closer to signing Doug Mientkiewicz to play first base and could also snag Mark Loretta as a utility infielder.
On the other hand, a source told the Newark Star-Ledger that there's "nothing imminent" on RJ but things could be resolved within a week anyway.