November 2007

Rockies Talking To Redman, Trachsel

UPDATE, 11-30-07 at 11am:  Troy E. Renck spoke to Dan O’Dowd, who indicates the Rox are not close on Redman or Trachsel.  They like that pair, but Brett Tomko and Jason Jennings continue to catch O’Dowd’s eye.

FROM 11-29-07 at 2pm:

According to Tracy Ringolsby, the Rockies already have their 2008 rotation picked out: Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis, Ubaldo Jimenez, Franklin Morales, and Jason Hirsh.  Of course, counting on each to make 30 starts would be folly.  With that in mind, Dan O’Dowd is looking for some veteran filler.  Specifically, he’s trying to sign Mark Redman and Steve Trachsel.  Trachsel in particular would like to become a Rockie.

Trax is 37; he pitched 159 innings over 29 starts in 2007.  He’s always working out of a jam, given the amount of baserunners he puts on.  And he definitely pitches to contact.  Whenever a pitcher walks more than he whiffs, that’s not good.  The Cubs deemed him to be worth less than $4.75MM, declining his ’08 option for that amount.  I’m thinking one year, $3MM.

Redman will be 34 in January.  At one point he could almost be called an innings-eater, but the lefty doesn’t appear to have much left in the tank.

The Rockies have also been linked to Matt Clement, Cliff Lee, Brett Tomko, Jason Jennings, and Ian Snell this winter.

The LaTroy Hawkins Derby

Wow, who knew 35 year-old reliever LaTroy Hawkins would be such a hot commodity?

  • It started when the Rockies decided on October 31st that Hawkins was not worth a net of $3.5MM for one year.  In hindsight that might’ve been one to exercise.  The Rockies still hope to sign Hawkins but for one year.
  • The Tigers have had preliminary dialogue with Hawkins’ agent, with a two-year, $7MM deal the demand.  Detroit has backed off on Octavio Dotel and expect David Riske to finalize his deal with the Brewers soon (the Crew had interest in Hawkins before getting Riske).  As for Jeremy Affeldt, the Tigers have "mild interest." 
  • The Yankees are another team known to be targeting Hawkins.  Troy E. Renck throws the Rangers into the mix as well.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Yankees Close With Loretta?

UPDATE, 11-30-07 at 10am: Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post has more on this situation.  The Rockies got in touch with Loretta’s agent recently but weren’t optimistic on getting a deal done.  While Loretta is close with the Yanks, he will let the Rockies’ second base situation play out before signing because Colorado is his first choice.

FROM 11-30-07 at 8:40am:

Ryne Crabb of The Transaction Guy writes of a Buster Olney radio report wherein the Yankees were said to be close to signing Mark Loretta.

Before we punch Robinson Cano‘s ticket to Minnesota, remember that the Yanks have liked Loretta in the past as a first base and/or backup infield option.  It may be as simple as that.  To his credit, Loretta posted a .352 OBP last year (though he was awful after the break).

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Blue Jays Like Lo Duca, Clement, Armas

J.P. Ricciardi is going bargain-shopping this winter.  The Jays won’t be in on any big-name free agents.  Instead, names like Paul Lo Duca, Matt Clement, and Tony Armas are on Ricciardi’s shopping list.

The Jays like the idea of pairing Gregg Zaun with another veteran backstop, but don’t want to give out a deal greater than one year.  It doesn’t seem like Lo Duca would go for that, but sometimes the last catcher standing has to settle.  It happened to Bengie Molina in ’06 and he was coming off a decent year.  The Marlins could pluck one of Lo Duca or Michael Barrett and the other one could get screwed.

The Jays have good rotation depth: Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Dustin McGowan, Shaun Marcum, Casey Janssen, and Gustavo Chacin.  That front three stacks up with anyone’s when healthy.  You can never have too much pitching, however, so projects like Clement and Armas are being considered.  Clement worked with Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg in Florida.  The Padres might be the favorite, but plenty of teams are interested.

Erik Bedard Rumors

The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec has the latest regarding ace Erik Bedard.  Some rank Bedard as the best available starter, all-in-all – he’s under team control for longer than Johan Santana, doesn’t have no-trade rights, and has better stuff than Dan Haren.

  • The Orioles and Bedard’s agent never actually exchanged salary figures, and now contract extension talks have come to a stop.  Andy MacPhail isn’t concerned but no one seems to expect the O’s to pony up the money needed to retain their ace beyond 2009. Johan Santana should set the bar; Bedard may become a $20MM pitcher.
  • Zrebiec lists the Yankees, Mets, Mariners, Angels, and Dodgers as teams that have inquired on Bedard.  It’s surprising to see the Red Sox omitted from that list.
  • The Mets made an offer: Carlos Gomez, Aaron Heilman, and perhaps Phil Humber.  That’s an OK starting point but the O’s could do better.
  • The Dodgers have also had talks with the O’s, with Matt Kemp, Jonathan Broxton, and Clayton Kershaw coming up.  That’s certainly worth mulling over.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Peavy, Guillen, Barrett

Ken Rosenthal checks in with another fine rumor-filled column.

  • Johan Santana doesn’t seem a great fit for the Angels, partly because he’ll be very expensive and the Halos actually do have a payroll limit.
  • Jake Peavy knows he’d have to take a discount to stay in San Diego…but even a $15MM per year type deal would be unprecedented for them.  He’s under the Padres’ control through ’09.
  • Rosenthal’s sources are divided on whether the Mets will go after Jose Guillen.  Such a scenario is possible if Lastings Milledge and/or Carlos Gomez are dealt.  It’s said that the Mets are still very interested in Livan Hernandez.
  • Chase Headley is very popular.  Rosenthal confirms Scott Miller’s rumored offer of Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth for him, not that the Padres would consider it.  Otherwise the Red Sox are asking for him for Coco Crisp.
  • The Padres will probably offer arbitration to both Mike Cameron and Michael Barrett.  That brings the risk that Barrett accepts, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
  • We already knew the Padres and Rays were in on Geoff Jenkins; add the Phils to the mix.  The Cubs, Giants, Rangers, and Royals have also been linked to him.

Phils Not Interested In Mora

Steve King reported yesterday that the Phillies were interested in third baseman/outfielder Melvin Mora.  Not so, according to Todd Zolecki of the Philadelphia Inquirer.  The specific words were "no chance."  I saw this debunked elsewhere as well; can’t recall where at the moment.

As I said before, Mora doesn’t have much value and I’d imagine any team willing to pay his entire salary could have him for a song.

White Sox Looking At Fukudome, Bay

According to Ken Rosenthal, the White Sox have cooled on Aaron Rowand as they do not want to give him a five-year contract.  Instead, they’ve set their sights on Kosuke Fukudome and Jason Bay.

This isn’t the first time they’ve been linked to Fukudome; Dan Graziano noted back in August that the Sox had scouted him.  The White Sox could entertain using Fukudome in any of the three outfield positions.  He could easily handle left field if Joe Crede is traded and Josh Fields plays third.  He could probably get by in center.  And he’s probably better than Jermaine Dye in right, so maybe it would be Dye switching to left.

New Pirates GM Neal Huntington perhaps hasn’t made an impression on the team’s fans yet.  A Bay trade this winter will be big for him in terms of PR.  It’d be a sell-low move, however.  I do think the White Sox could throw something together to make it work.

Meanwhile Mark Gonzales says the Sox still like Coco Crisp as a center field possibility.  The only problem is that Crisp could be headed to Minnesota in a Johan Santana deal.  That will have to unfold before Crisp becomes available to other teams – unless the other team makes a ridiculous offer.

Zrebiec On O’s and Free Agents

The Baltimore Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec was recently named Rumor Royalty for the Orioles.  Jeff answered a few questions for MLBTR.

MLBTR: Andy MacPhail has said he doesn’t expect to be in on many free agents, but there was a rumor that the O’s are entertaining Jose Guillen [note: written prior to debunking]. Do you expect them to spend any money on free agents this winter?

Zrebiec: First, the Guillen report was inaccurate. He’s exactly the type of player the Orioles are not interested in at this stage. As for other free agents, I see the Orioles making a couple of small, low price/low risk signings to fill out their roster.

For example, I could see them signing a veteran starter on the cheap, somebody in the Steve Trachsel mold. I wouldn’t rule out them signing a reliever, though it won’t be at anywhere close to the contracts they gave out last year for Bradford, Walker and Baez. And if Tejada is traded and I fully expect him to be, signing a guy like Cesar Izturis could appeal to them. They’ve liked him in the past.

But for the most part, I think you’ll see them try to fill their holes in trades and then patching a couple of spots up with one or two signings. I think it was telling that MacPhail didn’t have one extensive meeting with an agent at the GM meetings.

MLB Trade Rumors: Astros Sign Kaz Matsui

Bruce Levine of ESPN 1000 reports had it first: the Astros have signed second baseman Kaz Matsui to a three year deal worth $15-16MM.  Ed Wade saved Jim Hendry from himself.  Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald and Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle confirm the signing.  Richard Justice speculates that the ‘Stros could shop Chris Burke now, and maybe even package him with Luke Scott. 

Matsui is the early favorite for worst free agent signing of the winter.  He is probably not worth half the money, and a three-year commitment for him is insane.  Since he joined the Rockies in August of 2006, Matsui hit .256/.305/.370 away from Coors Field.

Not that Matsui is a legitimate starting second baseman, but the signing clearly leaves Tadahito Iguchi as the one free agent starter at the position.  That is, unless David Eckstein opts to market himself as a second baseman.