May 2007

Latest On Giambi

A slew of stories in today’s papers featured Jason Giambi, as reporters approached him yesterday regarding the Angels trade rumor.  Giambi said, "News to me," which I find kind of hard to believe.  I think it’s safe to say that someone in his camp told him about yesterday morning’s New York Post article from George King.

Giambi’s broken quotes seemed to indicate that he never asked for a trade, and that he has no desire to go to L.A.  As you know, he has the right to veto any trade.  An Angels spokesman denied interest, but what else is he going to say?  Bill Stoneman did the same, and publicly passed on Troy Percival as well.

The MLB Players Association and Commissioner’s Office are currently trying to figure out how to interview Giambi about his recent steroid comments to USA Today.  Giambi mentioned that he’s "probably tested more than anyone else," which is in part because of his amphetamine use

This story is already getting kind of old…we need some more pristine trade rumors to surface.  Give us some decent Ken Griffey Jr. rumors or something.  Giambi has a no-trade clause, tons of baggage (including his age), and a nearly immovable contract.  The Yankees are probably stuck with him.

Healey’s Latest

Mark Healey of Gotham Baseball has some new rumors for us this morning.

  • There’s talk that if the Twins are more than five games out at the trading deadline, they’ll start dealing veterans.  An obvious one is Luis Castillo, earning $5.75MM this season.  He has long been connected to the Mets.  He almost signed with New York as a free agent and the team has tried trading for him before.  Healey believes Lastings Milledge is too much to give up, so don’t look for a straight up swap of those two.  Though I imagine the Twins would love having Milledge to man center field in 2008.
  • The Reds are ten games under .500 and ten out in the NL Central.  Healey speculates that Adam Dunn, Ryan Freel, and Dave Weathers are the Reds’ most tradeable commodities.  The Reds recently extended Freel through 2009, though – I think they want him around as a fan favorite.  Dunn I can see being moved.  He earns $10.5MM this year with a $13MM club option for ’08.  He’s got an unsurprising line of .263/.366/.538; that’s worth $13 mil these days.  The Dodgers or White Sox seem like good fits.   

Craig Wilson Clears Waivers

According to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1B/LF Craig Wilson has cleared waivers and become a free agent.  The 30 year-old can be had for the Major League minimum.  Some have speculated he might return to Pittsburgh, but so far the team hasn’t contacted Wilson’s agent.

The Orioles had interest in Wilson last winter, though the Aubrey Huff signing probably quashed that.  I could see the Padres getting involved, as they have expressed interest in the past.

Baseball Prospectus projected a mildly useful .256/.339/.476 from Wilson for 2007, but he was awful for the Braves at .172/.304/.259 in 58 ABs.  Based on his BP comparables, Wilson can go in one of two directions to finish out his career: Pete Incaviglia or Glenallen Hill.  Hill at least built a nice post-30 career as a 250-350 AB guy with good pop.  I’ll never forget some of the home runs Hill hit at Wrigley…click here to read some amusing trivia on him.

Cubs Offering Murton For Relief Help

According to John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus:

"The Chicago Cubs desperately need bullpen help, and reportedly would part with outfielder Matt Murton in the right deal."

For a team built to win now, that might make sense.  Sure, you’d rather see the more expensive Jacque Jones go, but teams would of course rather acquire the younger, cheaper Murton.  Murton, 25, only has 87 ABs this year.  Cubs fans hoped to see him get a full-time look following a solid .297/.365/.444 season, but Lou Piniella hasn’t complied.

What kind of deals might work here?  To the Nationals for Jon Rauch or Chad Cordero?  To the White Sox for Mike MacDougal?  That’d be a tasty crosstown deal.  Is he enough to bring in Scott Linebrink, Eric Gagne, or Akinori Otsuka?  I have a hard time pinning down Murton’s market value because I’m a Cubs fan.  He seems a touch more than a tweener, perhaps a guy who can become a healthy version of a late-20s Rondell White.

The Cubs got White from the Expos at the 2000 trading deadline for Scott Downs.  Downs was a 21 year-old southpaw coming off a 1.35 ERA and 11.36 K/9 in Double A the year before.

Angels Interested In Jason Giambi

I definitely did not see this one coming.  According to George King of the New York Post, the Angels are interested in trading for 36 year-old Yankees slugger Jason Giambi.

The interest surfaced prior to Giambi’s public semi-admission of steroid use and subsequent MLB investigation.  The Angels will wait it out to see whether the Yanks are able to void his contract.  As Peter Abraham said yesterday, it’s not likely.

Giambi earns $21MM this year and another $21MM in 2008.  He has a $22MM club option for ’09 with a $5MM buyout attached.  Now, no club would exercise the option, so essentially the Yankees owe $47MM for 2007-08.  Take out the money Giambi has already been paid this year, and the remaining commitment is about $41.4MM. 

In theory the Yanks could eat about $15MM, and the Angels would send over some fairly valuable players in Chone Figgins and Jose Molina.  However, I don’t think Arn Tellum would instruct Giambi to approve the trade with nothing in return.  That full no-trade clause could be a major obstacle.  Typically a player wants his option exercised to waive his no-trade rights, and Giambi’s ’09 option is crazy.  Yes, Giambi would be close to home once again, but I doubt that alone would be enough.

Assuming he can stay healthy, Giambi would give the Angels a much-needed dose of OBP and power.  The Halos rank tenth in the league with a .326 OBP and also tenth with a .394 SLG.  Giambi is just what the doctor ordered for their offense, and they might be able to get him without surrendering any top prospects or young pitchers.

Will Gagne Become Trade Bait?

Rangers closer Eric Gagne has quietly tossed 7.1 scoreless innings this season.  He hasn’t pitched back-to-back days since returning from a hip injury, but the Rangers haven’t been winning much either.  At 17-27, the Rangers are battling with the Royals for the worst record in the American League.

T.R. Sullivan writes in today’s mailbag that beyond Mark Teixeira, Gagne is the obvious candidate to be traded this July.  Gagne is on a low-risk one year deal for $6MM, plus many tiers of incentives based on games finished and awards.  According to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, Gagne also has "no-trade protection."  I’ll have to do some digging to try to determine exactly what that means.

Abraham On Giambi’s Contract

Good read over at the LoHud Yankees Blog: Journal News beat writer Peter Abraham discusses why voiding Jason Giambi‘s contract is highly unlikely.  Check it out.

The only point on which I might disagree is the first – that the Yankees could not find a DH to replace Giambi.  I’ll grant that they won’t dig up a .970 OPS guy, but we don’t know if the 36 year-old Giambi can still play at that level.  Jack Cust has shown us that high OBP minor league lifers who can’t play defense are freely available.

Heyman’s Proposed Trades

Jon Heyman of has seven trades that need to happen.  Some of them we’ve seen in speculation many times before.  But Heyman does identify interesting landing spots for Jon Rauch and Al Reyes.  As far as Chad Cordero to the Tribe…I think Mark Shapiro will pass on that one.

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More Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal’s been a busy man today.  He’s got another column up for; go read it.  The high-level version:

  • Rosenthal sees the Yankees declining Bobby Abreu‘s 2008 option and turning to Melky Cabrera or a big name free agent for right field.  I agree; you can check out my other assessments of 2008 club options here.  Might be time to switch my predictions on Juan Uribe, Jose Guillen, and Paul Byrd.  I can now see Uribe declined and the other two exercised. Byrd has come alive, and Guillen’s strong May has sparked the chance of the Ms taking their $9MM option for ’08.
  • Torii Hunter‘s having a well-timed career year, but the Twins can’t trade him unless they’re out of contention.  Tough situation.  The Twins are 7.5 games back in the Central, 7 out of the wild card.  If it’s double digits in July the decision gets easier.
  • It wouldn’t be easy for the Cardinals to trade Scott Rolen right now, based on the factors outlined here.
  • Erick Aybar remains an excellent trading chip for the Angels.  His .600 OPS doesn’t help his value, but it’s pretty much what PECOTA expected.  There’s a small chance Aybar becomes Barry Larkin, but to me he looks like the next Cesar Izturis.

Foulke To Attempt Comeback?

We here at MLBTR love to follow players on the comeback trail.  Next on the list is 34 year-old reliever Keith FoulkeNick Cafardo of the Boston Globe quotes Foulke’s agent saying that Foulke will have surgery to have bone chips removed from his elbow and will then consider returning to the game.  Hat tip to RotoWorld on this one.

Foulke retired back in mid-February after feeling some elbow pain.  He abandoned $5MM from the Indians, but could pitch for the Tribe after all.

Cafardo has some even more comeback nuggets for us in the same column – the agent for Hideo Nomo and Mac Suzuki says both hope to return to the bigs.  Nomo hooked on with the White Sox Triple A club last year, but had elbow surgery in June.  This wouldn’t exactly be a comeback as Nomo wanted to return all along.  Suzuki returned to Japan for the 2003-04 seasons, and surfaced with the Iowa Cubs last year. 

See where Nomo and Suzuki rank among the 28 Japanese players in MLB over the span of 1964-2006 by downloading a spreadsheet I created for this post.