According to Ben Maller, the Mariners are considering trading Adrian Beltre to clear room on the payroll for Barry Zito.
While he hasn't lived up to expectations as a Mariner, Beltre may yet earn his contract. He's only 28 next year, and his .285/.340/.552 line after the break fosters hope. He also plays superb defense by most accounts. If Beltre, a Scott Boras client, were a free agent right now, would he top three years, $36MM? Certainly.
Given that the Mariners don't have a viable replacement for Beltre, shopping him seems unwise. The Padres wanted him back in July, but they've since acquired Kevin Kouzmanoff. Just speculating, but the Orioles could make some sense.
UPDATE: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Derrick Goold confirms this rumor at the bottom of his column today, but doesn't have details.
Fantasy leaguers, take note - reliever Keith Foulke is close to signing a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2008 with the Indians. It's still not too late for another team to jump in with a better offer, however.
Foulke would join Joe Borowski as candidates for save opportunities. Foulke, a 34 year-old changeup artist, posted an excellent 5.1 K/BB in 2006. He would join free agent additions Borowski, Roberto Hernandez, and Aaron Fultz in a revamped Cleveland bullpen. Revamped and more expensive, but is it actually better? That's an open question. All four of the new relievers are shaky bets; I guess Mark Shapiro is going for safety in numbers.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Angels have signed Shea Hillenbrand to a one-year deal. ESPN adds that the contract includes an option for 2008. RotoWorld has the dollars: $6MM in 2006 with a $6.5MM vesting option for '08. Should the Halos use him at first base, it could indicate a trade of Casey Kotchman or Kendry Morales is on the horizon.
Hillenbrand, 31, hit .277/.313/.451 in 530 ABs between the Blue Jays and Giants this year. His 21 homers were a career high. By comparison, the average American League first baseman hit .280/.352/.467 in 2006.
Hillenbrand's reunion with John Gibbons won't occur until the Angels face the Blue Jays on August 14th.
Over at Baseball Prospectus, Will Carroll elaborates a bit on some rumored big names mentioned yesterday as trade candidates.
Carroll indicates that John Schuerholz is hard at work and a host of star players are emerging from the rumor mill. We know the Braves have been shopping Adam LaRoche; Andruw Jones could be available as well if he'll waive his no-trade. Available long-term CF options for Atlanta floated by Carroll: Rocco Baldelli, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Markakis. The last two names are new to me; Markakis is probably capable of moving to CF.
As if that weren't enough, Carroll names Tim Hudson, Mark Teixeira, and Dontrelle Willis as other trade candidates. I'm sure any such deal would be quite complicated. As Buster Olney mentioned recently, it would probably make sense to trade Willis now before he gets injured or posts another uninspiring season.
Will Carroll posted yesterday at BP Unfiltered with some info from the rumor mill.
Carroll confirms that growing sentiment that the Rangers are out on Barry Zito. He also volunteers some new info: the Giants offered a four-year deal to the southpaw. That would have to be at least $70MM. Carroll expects a decision from Zito next week.
He also hints at a big three-team deal with three major players involved. Will cruelly decided not to name names.
For the fantasy baseball geeks out there, check out my Randy Johnson projection at RotoAuthority. And for the Yankee fans, here's my take on Kei Igawa (yes, I know that he has a third pitch). Where do you stand on these two southpaws? Make your projection and have it preserved forever in the comments. Other odds and ends:
Lot of Alex Rios rumors floating around, but nothing I can confirm. I did verify that Rios placed at #41 on D.A. Humber's Top 50 Awesome Players list.
Southside Sox weighs in on the McCarthy/Danks trade. Well reasoned. And then on the other end of the spectrum, there's this. The silliest argument against Kenny Williams's decisions this winter: "Remember when the Sox had a fifth starter competition, with guys I never heard of, and it didn't work out? That proved that John Danks et. al can't possibly succeed."
Word on the street is that Baseball Prospectus injury analyst Will Carroll may be taking his baseball services over to ESPN.
Does anyone else feel a void in their life without Buster Olney's blog for a week?
According to the New York Daily News, you can add the Angels and Dodgers to the list of teams interested in the suddenly-available Randy Johnson. Furthermore, Roger Rubin and Bill Madden name the Padres as Johnson's most likely suitor right now. This thing has expanded beyond his hometown Diamondbacks.
The paper writes that the Yanks already have some offers on the table. From the Dodgers' point of view, their interest in Johnson may only be in keeping him away from division rivals. Perhaps a starter would go back to New York in such a deal.
Johnson's agent hasn't been looped in yet, but Brian Cashman will need the pitcher's consent in any deal.
Merry Christmas! I'm sporting a new fleece and decided to duck in with a quick Christmas trade rumor.
While it was denied a week ago, it sounds like discussions are indeed taking place that would bring Randy Johnson back to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Johnson's agent and D'Backs general partner Ken Kendrick are mum on the subject.
Ed Price reports that the Yankees don't want to pay any of the $16MM owed to the Big Unit in 2007. Arizona's rotation currently consists of Brandon Webb, Livan Hernandez, Doug Davis, and a competition between Juan Cruz, Dana Eveland, Edgar Gonzalez, and Enrique Gonzalez. The Diamondbacks are packed with promising youngsters like Conor Jackson and Dustin Nippert.
Johnson had back surgery after the season ended; he turned 43 this year. He may not be ready for spring training. ZiPS, which projected pitchers better than anyone last year, predicts a 3.71 ERA for Johnson in 2007 - even as a Yankee. PECOTA chimes in with a 3.52 projection; it's easy to be deceived by the 5.00 ERA. More attention should be paid to his 1.24 WHIP in 2006 - that's more than respectable.
UPDATE: Amy Nelson of ESPN reports that Arizona has offered a package of at least three players for Johnson. Word is that Chad Tracy could be among them. They'd want a window to negotiate a contract extension. Nelson also mentions that the Padres have interest and could offer Scott Linebrink.
Additionally, Jon Heyman writes that Johnson initiated the trade idea and that the Giants could be in the mix. The Yankees seem to be looking for young pitching in return. Heyman speculates that they could become a possibility for Barry Zito if Johnson is dealt.
This is may be the best rotation in the NL Central:
Oddly, I am projecting Suppan to be the worst pitcher on the staff. Overall I expect a 3.95 ERA from these five.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch recently spoke to Cards GM Walt Jocketty, and has an article full of updates.
The Cardinals are still trying to bring back Mark Mulder and/or Jeff Weaver, but aren't interested in other free agent pitchers. Jeff Suppan would have to offer a discount, which is unlikely. The Cards have a two-year offer out to Mulder. Weaver might wait out both Zito and Suppan before signing. Outside options like Brian Lawrence and Tomo Ohka might be out of the picture.
It also appears that Jocketty doesn't have any trades on the horizon despite their earlier interest in Carl Pavano. Right now, the rotation appears to be Carpenter, Wells, Reyes, Wainwright, and Looper.
The Cards will bring back Rick Ankiel on a minor league deal. Preston Wilson hopes to return as well.