March 2008

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Tigers Sign Fultz

The Tigers have signed left-hander Aaron Fultz to a contract with AAA Toledo. Fultz, an eight-year big-league veteran, was released this week by Cleveland.

Bobby Seay is currently the only left-hander in Detroit's bullpen. So if Fultz can get his act together, there's probably a spot for him on the big league club.

PECOTA projects Fultz will have a 3.92 ERA in roughly 45 innings pitched in 2008. But, as we all know, predicting what a reliever will do from one season to the next is far more difficult that predicting a position player, or even a starting pitcher.

Coley Ward writes for Umpbump.com. You can reach him here.



Brewers Make Offers To Braun And Fielder

When the Brewers renewed Prince Fielder's contract at the beginning of the month, he wasn't happy about it. He told the press, "My time is going to come. It's going to come quick, too."

He may have been more right than he knew.

The Brewers have submitted multiyear contract proposals to Fielder and Ryan Braun. Each deal would buy out at least one year of free agency and include an option for an additional year past that.  No word yet on how much money is involved.

Bet on Braun getting at least as much as Troy Tulowitzki -- six years, $30MM. Braun last year enjoyed what was arguably the greatest rookie season ever (though, as many have noted, he can't field a lick). He is eligible for arbitration after the 2010 season and for free agency after 2014.

Fielder, who is represented by Scott Boras, is eligible for free agency after 2011. Not sure what it will take to buy his happiness. Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was recently awarded $10MM in his first year of arbitration. Fielder could expect a similar payday next season.

This is a savvy move by Brewers owner Mark Attanasio. If Braun and Fielder turn down these contracts, at least Attanasio can say he tried -- and he'll still control the rights to Braun for the next seven seasons, and Fielder for the next three.

Coley Ward writes for Umpbump.com. You can contact him here.



Astros Release Woody Williams

3:47pm: According to the AP, Williams plans to retire rather than scavenge for another job.

10:36am: According to Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle, the Astros released 41 year-old starter Woody Williams.  The Astros will pay Williams $6.5MM to not play for them.  It's good to see Ed Wade looking at Williams as a sunk cost, opting for a better pitcher in Chris Sampson

Williams joins guys like Russ Ortiz, John Thomson, Jeff Weaver, and David Wells in the free agency ranks.



Mariners Keep Dickey

The Mariners have sent Minor League catcher Jair Fernandez to the Twins, allowing them to keep Rule 5 Draft pick R.A. Dickey, who Seattle acquired from Minnesota in the Major League portion of December's Rule 5 Draft.

Dickey had a hot spring. The knuckleballer went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in seven spring contests for the Mariners. Now he's headed for AAA Tacoma.

Fernandez, 21, hit .260 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in 52 games at Class A Wisconsin of the Midwest League last year.

Dickey cleared waivers before the Mariners and Twins worked out the deal, which allowed Seattle to send Dickey to the Minors.

The Seattle Times Mariners Blog explains the transaction, sparing none of the gory details.

Coley Ward writes for Umpbump.com. You can contact him here.




Tigers Roster Set, No Trades Likely

The Tigers have been at the center of a number of recent trade rumors. There was the Huston Street rumor, and the Mike Wuertz rumor. But the one player that seemed the most likely to go, Brandon Inge, is still a member of the Tigers and now it appears that he will not be going anywhere in the near future.

Jim Leyland was asked yesterday if there would be any last-minute deals.

"My boss (general manager Dave Dombrowski) said it was OK to tell you that's the team."

In fact it now looks like Inge will be the everyday center fielder, at least for the time being, as Curtis Granderson will start the season on the DL. Inge's $6.2MM salary for 2008 suddenly doesn't seem like that much of a burden.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.



A Look At Nathan Haynes

As you know, the Rays snagged outfielder Nathan Haynes off waivers yesterday from the Angels.  I liked this move; let's take a closer look at the 28 year-old outfielder.

MLB.com's Lyle Spencer speaks of Haynes' "sprinter's speed" and defensive talents at all three outfield positions.  Haynes' prospect status expired years ago, but he seems equally as valuable as many free agents signed for millions in the last few years.  I think there's still a lot of talented late-20s players who just need a chance, guys like Haynes, Marcus Thames, and Jack Cust.  Haynes' path has been slowed by many knee and hernia issues.

PECOTA has Haynes hitting .265/.334/.405 this year; ZiPS is far less optimistic.  I'll be curious to see how this no-risk move pans out.



Odds And Ends: Lahey, Gibbons, Freel

A couple minor notes this morning...

  • The Phillies claimed reliever Tim Lahey off of waivers from the Cubs. Lahey was the top pick in the Rule 5 draft from the Twins' system. The Cubs had to expose Lahey to waivers prior to offering him back to the Twinkies. Rule 5 rules still apply with the Phillies, so Lahey must remain on their 25-man roster all season or be offered back to Minnesota.
  • John Fay notes that after the Reds latest round of cuts the roster sits at 26 which could open the door for a trade. He doesn't offer any potential names, but Ryan Freel still seems like the most logical choice.  By the way, LEN3 notes that the Reds called the Twins about Freel and the Twins weren't interested.
  • Peter Schmuck thinks that the Orioles might be reluctant to cut Jay Gibbons while Major League Baseball continues to renegotiate the league's drug policy. Gibbons is facing a 15-day suspension for use of PEDs but many believe the suspension will be lifted under the new agreement which ironically is supposed to stiffen penalties. Schmuck feels that if Angelos decides to keep Gibbons, it could undermine Andy MacPhail's efforts to rebuild the Orioles.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.



June Draft Order

Baseball America's Jim Callis has the June '08 draft order, with supplemental and compensation picks accounted for. The Rays have another #1 pick - who's it going to be?  Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein expects the Rays to pick corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, shortstop Tim Beckham, or starter Aaron Crow.  Here's a scouting perspective on Crow, by the way.



Jays Close To Long-Term Deal With Rios?

SATURDAY, 9:41am: The six-year, $65MM offer is on the table for Rios.  If the sides can't make a deal this weekend, the talks will be pushed until after the season.

TUESDAY, 11:57am: This deal remains close, but not done.  The Jays have a firm Sunday deadline with their offer to Rios.

MONDAY, 11:02pm: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Blue Jays are nearing a long-term extension for right fielder Alex Rios.  The six-year deal would cover two arb years and four of free agency, starting with the '09 season.  The amount would be around $65MM, apparently with a 2015 option for about $15MM.  The Vernon Wells-Rios outfield tandem would be together through 2014 at least.

It seems like a discounted price for Rios, who is only 27.  He's an above average hitter for his position, and may play the best right field defense in the game.  Those last two arb years may have cost the Jays $20MM going year to year.  So it's kind of like buying out Rios' first four years of free agency at a reasonable $11.25MM per.  Right fielders Kosuke Fukudome and J.D. Drew received higher average annual values on their deals.



Open Thread: Best/Worst Trades For Every Current GM

Slow news day here at MLBTR, so let's try something a little different to get us warmed up. I have been working on a little side project and could use your help.

What would you consider the best and/or worst trade that your team's current GM has ever made? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.


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