December 2007

More Prior Details

Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune has more details on Mark Prior‘s contract and suitors.

Prior cited the Astros, Cardinals, Mets, and Rangers as the most aggressive; about half the teams in baseball contacted his agent.

Contract details: it has a $1MM base with another possible $3.5MM in incentives.  However, much of the incentive money is tied to the number of starts he makes, so he’ll probably end up earning $3MM or less in 2008.

How bad was the shoulder injury?  How far along is Prior in his rehab?  I’ve talked to some people and read published reports and am unable to draw any consistent conclusion.  Rick Wilton of Baseball Injury Report thinks the chance of a meaningful contribution from Prior in ’08 is close to zero.  Others are a bit more optimistic, but we’ll just have to wait and see.   


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Miguel Olivo Signs With Royals

Press release from the Royals – they’ve signed catcher Miguel Olivo to a one-year deal with options for both sides for ’09.  This is a surprise; there hadn’t been any rumors of KC’s interest.

While allergic to walks, the 29 year-old backstop has above average pop for a catcher.  He’s also adept at gunning down attempted thieves.  Incumbent 27 year-old catcher John Buck also bats right-handed and has decent power.  Perhaps the Olivo signing is designed to push him.



Mailbag: Glavine, Crisp, Livan

Let’s open up the MLBTR mailbag until some new rumors come along.

I won’t necessarily agree with you when you say that Tom Glavine was a bad signing.  By adding Glavine, it gives the Braves three solid options at the top of their rotation. – David

I don’t disagree that Glavine adds depth on a reasonably priced one-year deal.  What changed my opinion of this signing was the loss of the Braves’ 18th overall draft pick in 2008 – to the Mets.

Does it/should it matter that if the Red Sox trade Coco Crisp, there will be zero African American players on the team? – Kevin

Is this accurate?  I haven’t thoroughly combed Boston’s roster.  C.C. Sabathia has expressed concern about this trend across baseball – only 8.5% of Major Leaguers are African American.  Red Sox owner John Henry has acknowledged the team’s obvious past racial intolerance, and said all the right things.  This is a tough issue and I don’t have answers, but let’s not point fingers at the current Red Sox regime either. 

Why don’t the Mets come to their senses and realize that Livan Hernandez is the best option available to them via the free agent market? – Josh

I can almost see Livan being the best available free agent for the Mets, but that doesn’t mean he’s a good idea.  Signing him seems like doing something just to do something.  How much better is Livan than Kevin Mulvey right now?  I would gauge the cost of Joe Blanton or A.J. Burnett but probably wouldn’t dip into the free agent market.

With the looming return of Nick Johnson to the Nationals, the glut of outfielders in Austin Kearns, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, and Wily Mo Pena, and the contract Dmitri Young signed last summer, who becomes the odd man out? I know Young can play OF, but with the three new acquisitions this past six months does this make Johnson expendable? Is there a matchup between the Nats and Giants for Johnson?

On the surface it appears that the Nats have six players for four spots.  However using Dmitri in left seems kind of crazy to me.  So really I consider it as Dmitri and Johnson battling at first base and Kearns/Dukes/Milledge/Pena fighting for the outfield spots.  I could definitely see injuries/bad Dukes behavior removing this logjam.  But if everyone’s healthy and lawful you have to look to move the more expensive guys. 

Young makes $5MM in ’08, $5MM in ’09, and has a very possible vesting option for ’10 at $6MM.  Johnson makes $5.5MM in ’08 and $5.5MM in ’09 and is talking about being ready for Spring Training after his terrible leg fracture in ’06.  If so, Young becomes a pricey bench player.  Kearns makes $5MM in ’08, $8MM in ’09, and has a $10MM club option for ’10 with a $1MM buyout.

Dmitri has the least trade value, given his age and defensive limitations.  Plus, no one offered much for him at the ’07 deadline.  Johnson is injury-prone but makes for an intriguing buy-low high-OBP candidate.  If the Giants are trying to contend, he’d be a good fit.  Kearns is interesting but needs to rebuild value after an off year.  I think Jim Bowden will play Kearns and Johnson regularly for the first few months of ’08 and trade one of them.


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Prior Signs With Padres

UPDATE, 12-26-07 at 4:33pm: Prior gets $1MM guaranteed and can earn another $4.5MM in incentives.

FROM 12-26-07 at 1:05pm:

Ah, some real news.  ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that the Padres have reached an agreement with Mark Prior.  It’s a one-year deal with a low $1MM base.  Olney says incentives could bring the total past $3MM, which is still a very reasonable gamble.  Now Prior can rebuild his value in a great pitcher’s park and re-enter free agency in a year.  Click here to read about the specific shoulder damage Prior had repaired.

Prior is throwing on flat ground currently, and there’s talk of mid-May.  I think three solid months out of Prior would be more realistic, though.  The Padres’ rotation will contain two ex-Cubs, Prior and Greg Maddux.  With Jake Peavy, Chris Young, and Randy Wolf on board, the rotation is certainly impressive on paper.


Best and Worst Free Agent Signings

A mailbag question came in:

So far what do you think are the three best free agent signings, and the three worst? – John

Best

1. Alex Rodriguez – The best, most reliable player in the game. This contract will look better and better as salaries rise.
2. Andruw Jones – Low-risk two-year commitment to a possibly elite center fielder.
3. Mark Prior – Worst case, Prior fizzles and the Padres lose a million bucks.  Best case, they pay four mil for three or even four decent months.

Others I liked: Kosuke Fukudome, Mike Lamb, Masahide Kobayashi, Milton Bradley, Randy Wolf, Eric Gagne

Worst

1. Torii Hunter – Good timing makes Hunter an $18MM player.  Doesn’t seem to fill a major need for the Angels, and now they have a glut of outfielders.
2. Kaz Matsui – What does he bring to the table?  Just the speed?  The Astros should’ve earmarked this money for starting pitching.
3. Scott Linebrink – Four years of a declining middle reliever.

Others I disliked: Luis Castillo, Geoff Jenkins, Tom Glavine


Mailbag Time

How about another MLBTR mailbag?  Email a question to mlbtraderumors@gmail.com.  Easy on the Brian Roberts questions, yeah?


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Mariners Offering Three Players For Bedard?

On Monday, Phil Rogers wrote of the Mariners’ continuing pursuit of Baltimore’s Erik Bedard.  He says the Ms are shopping a package including Adam Jones, Jeff Clement, and Yung Chi Chen.  Rogers notes that the O’s would probably require Brandon Morrow.  This is the first time we’ve seen Chen’s name as part of a Bedard deal.  He doesn’t fall within Seattle’s top 14 prospects, according to Kevin Goldstein.

Our previous Bedard update came four days ago, with info supplied by Jeff Zrebiec and John Fay.  At that time Andy MacPhail said there was a "strong likelihood" that Bedard is the Orioles’ Opening Day starter in 2008.


Twins Back Down On Santana Demand

Murray Chass reports this morning that the Twins have scaled back their demands for Johan Santana, at least with the Yankees.  He says they are now willing to substitute Jeff Marquez for Ian Kennedy.  So the Yankees would have to give up Phil Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and Marquez (and one more player, I’m guessing). 

Marquez is a 23 year-old Double A righty who probably does not fall within the Yankees’ top ten prospects.  He seems a more reasonable demand than Kennedy.  About three weeks ago, Bill Madden said the Yanks could’ve acquired Santana for Hughes, Cabrera, Marquez, and Mitch Hilligoss but bailed out for financial reasons.

Anyway, Chass adds that the Yanks would be hit by luxury tax if they acquired and extended Santana.  For example, a five-year, $100MM deal would result in a constant $7.5MM annually in luxury tax.  This does not seem to bother the Yankees.

Nick Cafardo wrote a few days ago that the Red Sox are standing pat with an offer of Coco Crisp, Jon Lester, Justin Masterson, and Jed Lowrie for Santana.  For what it’s worth, David Ortiz doesn’t think the Sox will get Johan.


Topkin On Percival

I recently named the St. Petersburg Times’ Marc Topkin as Rumor Royalty for the Rays.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for the site.

MLBTR: Who gets more saves in ’08, Troy Percival or Al Reyes?  Is there any chance the Rays shop Reyes now?

Topkin: Percival will get most of the save opportunities, probably all except when he needs a day off. Reyes could be traded, but I think Wheeler is more likely to go. (Unless one of them learns how to pitch lefthanded!)