June 2007

Twins Rumors: Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones

One club that doesn’t get a lot of play on MLBTR is the Twins.  They don’t make a lot of big trades or signings.  Although last year they did inquire on Alfonso Soriano.  Today, we don’t have any blockbusters, but do have rumors regarding Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones from La Velle Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Regarding Hunter – he is leaving the door open for a contract extension with the Twins.  He told a radio station yesterday he doesn’t want Vernon Wells money but the Twins still haven’t talked to him about an extension at all.  He sounds bummed about it, but it just doesn’t seem likely the Twins can retain Hunter.  He’s going to need more than three years and more than $12MM annually.  The Twins aren’t in a position to give him even a reasonable discounted contract.

Meanwhile, Neal reveals that the Twins were previously in on Jacque Jones.  That would’ve been an interesting re-acquisition.  However, the Cubs pulled out of the Marlins deal because they didn’t want to eat 90%+ of his contract.  That stance probably knocks the Twins out of the running.

Neal notes that because of commitments for 2008, any deadline acquisition for a hitter made by Terry Ryan this year would likely be a rental.  Which is what makes Adam Dunn so perfect.

Latest On Mark Buehrle

It’s all Mark Buehrle, all the time here at MLBTradeRumors.  The latest:

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times says a lot of the recent confusion stems from semantics.  Sure, Buehrle’s agent and Kenny Williams haven’t spoken.  However, intermediaries from both sides have been in contact about a four-year contract extension.  It appears that if the White Sox leave Florida tonight without a deal in place, Williams will move forward and trade Buehrle.  Cowley says the Mets, Braves, and Dodgers would all be in contention for him.  However, I would not be shocked if talks were to extend into the weekend. 
  • On the other hand, Buehrle’s agent Jeff Berry was very clear yesterday afternoon: "There are no ongoing discussions.  I don’t know what else to say other than there are no ongoing discussions. Maybe the White Sox are trying to gain the interest of other teams."
  • The reports of Buehrle signing a 4/50 contract were definitely premature.  But Buehrle does prefer Chicago over even St. Louis and Ozzie Guillen thinks he’ll stay.
  • Scot Gregor could see an agreement happening today.
  • Barry Rozner seems to indicate that Jerry Reinsdorf has approved four years, and that a sign and trade could be an option.
  • An official with a team looking to acquire Buehrle was told he’s off the market.  The extension should be in the $50-60MM range.
  • Yahoo’s Tim Brown says Kenny Williams asked for Mike Pelfrey from the Mets and Jon Lester from the Red Sox for Buehrle.

Hillenbrand To Be Designated For Assignment

UPDATE: Sure enough, the Yankees are in "serious talks" to acquire Hillenbrand.

Ah, finally a rumor of the non-Buehrle/Jacque variety.  Unfortunately all I’ve got is the latest on Angels (former) DH and malcontent Shea Hillenbrand.

Hillenbrand is to be designated for assignment on Friday, giving Bill Stoneman ten days to trade or release him.  Another year, another DFA.  I imagine there’s a slight chance of pawning him off on the Yankees, who seem to have an odd infatuation with Hillenbrand.  Once they experience him firsthand, that’ll change.  How about Hillenbrand and salary relief for Kyle Farnsworth?  Not that the Angels need him, but the Yankees sure don’t want him.

Hillenbrand at $6.5MM was a bad idea from Day 1.  On the plus side, it’s only money.  The Giants traded away Jeremy Accardo for a couple months of Hillenbrand last year (though to be fair, they received Vinnie Chulk too.)

Mailbag: Nomar To Third Base

Feel free to hit up the MLBTR mailbag at mlbtraderumors@gmail.com.

Today, Peter C. writes:

Grady Little has finally snapped and decided to put Nomar at third and James Loney at first base. What do you think the overall repercussions of this move will be?

  • Nomar’s injury likelihood increases drastically.
  • The switch does not spark Nomar’s bat.
  • With the offensive decline, an $8.5MM salary for 2008, and a lengthy injury history, Nomar is untradeable except in a salary-for-salary type swap.  How about some kind of convoluted trade for Pat Burrell
  • Should he stay, Nomar’s presence will be an inconvenience, but he won’t eat up too much playing time because of injuries.
  • Loney fails to provide the power the Dodgers are looking for over the next several weeks. He may eventually become Mark Grace, but could disappoint in the short term. 
  • Ned Colletti gives up on Loney and uses him in a deadline deal for Mark Teixeira.  I can’t decide who else would go to Texas in this imagined deal.  Jonathan Meloan?  He’s a reliever, though an impressive one.  I can’t see even Colletti trading big-time pitching prospects like Clayton Kershaw or Chad Billingsley.
  • Kind of funny that as I was just finishing up this post, a reader passed along this rumor from Evan Grant.  Grant’s trade proposals don’t deviate too far from my Loney/Meloan package.  He actually suggests the Rangers package Eric Gagne with Teixeira in an attempt to pry away Kershaw.

Thursday Morning Readin’

Some random links to check out today:

  • Lion In Oil interviewed ESPN’s Keith Law.  Some great insight in there regarding the responsibilities of general managers that the general public typically doesn’t consider.  As much as I love the business side of baseball, I’d make a terrible GM.  Definitely more of a 9-5er, that Tim Dierkes.  Actually 9-4:52 so I can catch the train I want.
  • J.C. Bradbury – economist, professor, author, blogger – assigns probabilities of various Braves getting traded if the team falls out of contention.  Atlanta is only 3.5 games out but there’s a month to go before the deadline.  How about the idea of trading Chipper Jones?
  • New WHIFF Profile of Boof Bonser.  If you’re not privy to the WHIFF Profiles, you’re missing out.
  • RotoAuthority considers the fantasy futures of starters posting strong numbers in Double A this year.
  • Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus weighs in on the Cubs’ trade of Michael Barrett and the Cubs’ disturbing trend of trading players when they reach rock bottom.  And contributing to the demise of said players.
  • Jacob Jackson identifies the best unemployed GM in baseball – Paul DePodesta.

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Buehrle Extension Possible

UPDATE: Ozzie Guillen makes some comments that seem to hint that extension talks are ongoing.  And Ken Rosenthal’s sources generally believe the Sox are close to signing Buehrle.

UPDATE: Now Gonzales says the White Sox sent their assistant GM to St. Petersburg, where Mark Buehrle’s agent is.  So there could be some talks after all.

I don’t know who to believe anymore.  It’s starting to sound like Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times has been fed some bad information.  The Sun-Times had the Red Sox as frontrunners for Mark Buehrle, and then today broke the story of an impending contract extension instead.

The Chicago Tribune has been singing a different tune the whole time, and now Mark Gonzales reports that there are no extension talks.  Gonzales spoke to Buehrle’s agent.

Fun stuff, all this manipulation and deception.  4/50 sounded too good to be true; perhaps the same person has been feeding bad information to Joe Cowley and 670 The Score.  A White Sox spokesman would not confirm the report from The Score. 

Jacque Jones Update

Jacque Jones is still a Cub, with yesterday’s Marlins deal quashed.  Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune writes that Tribune owner Sam Zell was not the reason the trade died, contrary to other reports.  Money caused the snag, but not Zell.  Sullivan says talks with the Marlins are unlikely to be revisited.

On a side note, all of the Tribune baseball writers are blogging!  They must be thrilled.

Gordon Wittenmyer of the Sun-Times says Cubs GM Jim Hendry has had recent talks with the Padres, Rangers, White Sox, and others.  Jones had a pinch-hitting appearance in today’s game, grounding out to Todd Helton.

White Sox Buehrle Extension Close?

UPDATE: Readers are writing in saying 670 AM The Score in Chicago is reporting that Buehrle is "likely" to sign an extension for four years and "around" $50MM.

In a surprising turnabout, White Sox starter Mark Buehrle is off the trading block.  Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times has the exclusive – the two sides might agree on a contract extension by week’s end.  It’s possible that Buehrle has reduced his demand from five years to four.  Would 4/60 get it done?  Cowley says the White Sox remain Buehrle’s #1 choice for the future, by a long shot.  Even over the Cardinals, apparently.

While the White Sox may lock up Buehrle, they’re still looking to trade Tadahito Iguchi and Jermaine Dye.  Additionally, Jose Contreras or Javier Vazquez may be shopped.  In Vazquez, the Sox would still probably own the best starter on the trading block.  The Astros and Braves were known to be scouting last night’s White Sox-Devil Rays game.

Marlins Trade For Jacque Jones Nearly Dead

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal says this deal has pretty much died.  I knew $1MM sounded too good to be true for the Cubs.  Scott Miller of CBS Sportsline has more details: the Cubs were set to pay roughly 97% of Jones’ remaining salary but the deal unraveled at the Commissioner’s Office.  It seems that the Cubs couldn’t get approval there because of their impending sale.


According to Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Marlins have traded for outfielder Jacque Jones.  Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post says the Cubs are kicking in only $1MM of the $7.1MM remaining on Jones’ contract.  The Cubs will get a pitcher from Class A Greensboro, possibly 23 year-old lefty Graham Taylor.

The Cubs’ motivation is to free up a roster spot while paying less than half the money still owed to Jones.  Jim Hendry got the best of Larry Beinfest in the Derrek Lee/Hee Seop Choi deal, but Beinfest exacted his revenge two years later by stealing three useful pitchers for Juan Pierre.

If Jones can play a credible center field, the Marlins will come out ahead here.  My guess is that Jones will return to his career offensive levels once out of the Chicago spotlight.  He should still be benched against lefties though.

Teams Scouting Yankee Pitching Prospects

According to Jim Baubach of Newsday, Yankee farmhands Ian Kennedy and Joba "The Hutt" Chamberlain have become quite popular.  The stands become packed with scouts each team either pitches for the Yanks’ Double A Trenton club.

The White Sox sent one of their top pro scouts to watch the Trenton Thunder recently, despite the Yankees’ insistence that Kennedy and Chamberlain are not available. 

All sorts of other teams have been scouting both pitchers, including the A’s, Rockies, and Orioles.  Chamberlain is the upside choice, while Kennedy is the back-rotation command guy.