September 2008

Lohse Signing May Complete Cards’ Rotation

Today we have more on the Kyle Lohse signing from Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  After several weeks of negotiation, Lohse agreed to a backloaded four-year, $41MM deal with full no-trade protection (Rob Neyer calls this a "dreadful use of resources.")  Scott Boras is certain Lohse could’ve gotten more money and years on the open market, but this doesn’t seem like much of a discount.  It was Lohse who told Boras to initiate extension talks.

Strauss finds it unlikely the Cards will ink another starter to a long-term deal now, instead going after a swingman type.  Chris Carpenter is expected to choose rehab over surgery; if that doesn’t work out the team’s plans could change.  Strauss says the Cardinals have not talked to Braden Looper about a new contract.  He seems likely to sign elsewhere.

Right now the Cardinals are situated with a rotation of Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Lohse, Todd Wellemeyer, and Joel Pineiro.

Giants Rumors: Aurilia, Vizquel, Cain

Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News did some quick blogging from Brian Sabean’s press conference today.  Here’s a full transcript.  Hot stove notes:

  • Rich Aurilia could be re-signed, but Omar Vizquel won’t be back.  The Giants will buy Vizquel out for $300K.
  • With Pablo Sandoval penciled in at first base, the Giants may be reluctant to trade catcher Bengie Molina (my own speculation on the Molina part).
  • Matt Cain is said to be "untouchable" in a trade.  So we’ll stop with the Cain trade scenarios for now.
  • Possible offseason needs include bullpen help and a run-producer.  The relief help could come via free agency, while the bat would probably come via trade.  That bat would not be a guy with one year left on his contract (Matt Holliday comes to mind).

Will D’Backs Let Randy Johnson Leave?

Tracy Ringolsby of the Rocky Mountain News takes a look at the possibility of Randy Johnson leaving the Diamondbacks this winter.  Ringolsby says the D’Backs aren’t sure if Johnson will remain committed after he gets the five wins needed to reach 300.  Plus, Johnson doesn’t travel with the team these days.  Arizona GM Josh Byrnes weighed in on the Big Unit, saying they’ll wait a few weeks before engaging in contract talks with him.

Johnson is an interesting free agent.  He’s 45 years old, yet he posted a solid 3.91 ERA in 184 innings this year.  His control is excellent, and he’s still a strikeout pitcher even though his average fastball is down to 90.8 mph.  He earned a $10MM salary this year, with additional signing bonus money coming in the future.  We’ll have to ask Eddie Bajek whether Johnson’s shutout last weekend nudged him into Type B territory.  If so, the D’Backs will have to decide whether to offer arbitration.

Marlins Release Sergio Mitre

According to the AP, the Marlins released righty Sergio Mitre today.  He would’ve been a non-tender candidate later in the year anyway.  Mitre had Tommy John surgery in July, so he’ll miss at least half of the ’09 season.  Mitre, 27, can be a decent back-rotation starter when healthy given his strong groundball rate.

Kyle Lohse Signs Extension

6:04pm: The deal is official – four years, $41MM according to the AP.  Lohse also gets a full no-trade clause.  It’s a bit better than the Silva price.

10:19am: According to Derrick Goold and Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals plan to finalize a four-year extension for starter Kyle Lohse this morning.  Sources tell Goold and Strauss the deal will be similar to Carlos Silva‘s four-year, $48MM contract.

It may be tempting to call this a loss for Scott Boras, since his client chose not to test the open market.  Lohse settled for $4.5MM in March this year after turning down a three-year, $21MM offer from the Phillies.  However, Boras still comes out a winner as the Cardinals are not getting any kind of discount.  Plus, taking the Phillies’ offer would’ve been a mistake.

I’m with Viva El Birdos on this one – there’s no upside to signing Lohse at this price. What are the odds this deal looks solid even halfway through?

Goold and Strauss say the Cardinals earmarked about $15-16MM for the rotation this winter.  That means Lohse is the big signing and the other pitcher will be a bargain buy.  The Cards will use another $15MM or so to fill other needs.  Brian Fuentes and Orlando Hudson could be considerations.

Heyman’s Latest: Manny, K-Rod, Cashman

Lets discuss the latest column from’s Jon Heyman.

  • The Mets are "disinclined" to go after Manny Ramirez or break up the Jose ReyesDavid WrightCarlos Beltran core.
  • Heyman, like Ken Davidoff, feels the Mets can’t afford to sit out the Francisco Rodriguez sweepstakes.  If not him, then at least Brian Fuentes.
  • Heyman says Brian Cashman "appears likely" to return as Yankees GM.  He notes that Cashman wouldn’t have ended up in Seattle anyway because of the return of Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln.

A’s Rumors: Street, Crosby, Embree

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle has a slew of A’s hot stove info for us today.

  • Pending free agents include Mark Ellis, Frank Thomas, Emil Brown, and Keith Foulke.  All except Ellis are certainly goners.
  • Huston Street trade talks may resume with the team that claimed him in August.  All we know is that it was a non-contender.  Street is under team control through 2010, and could earn $5MM next year.
  • The A’s aren’t planning to trade Justin Duchscherer, and are currently just hoping his hip will be OK for ’09.
  • Shortstop Bobby Crosby will earn $5.25MM next year.  He racked up 605 plate appearances this year, the most since his rookie year.  However, he didn’t hit or play acceptable defense.  Interest in him will not be high.
  • Lefty reliever Alan Embree spoke of "positive dialogue" between him and Billy Beane regarding his next year.  Embree posted a 4.96 ERA, so maybe the A’s will decline his $3MM option and re-sign him for less.
  • Kirk Saarloos is a non-tender candidate.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Mariners GM, Burnett

Check out Ken Rosenthal’s Full Count video from last weekend.  Some highlights:

  • The Mariners are looking for fresh blood in their GM search.  A few names in the mix: Kim Ng, Jerry DiPoto, and Tony LaCava.  If the Mariners opt for experience they could try to lure Brian Cashman or even Brian Sabean.
  • Rosenthal notes that an offer of essentially four years, $54MM from the Jays won’t cut it for A.J. Burnett.  Instead of $13.5MM a year, he’ll receive $15-20MM per according to Rosenthal.  Ken sees the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets in the mix if C.C. Sabathia winds up on the West Coast. 
  • Jeff Blair muses on Burnett in the Globe and Mail today.  He sees Burnett getting between $15-18MM per year, and more than the four years the Jays are willing to give.  Interesting note from Buster Olney last weekend – he says the Braves have been scouting Burnett closely.

Odds and Ends: Manny, Laird, Strasburg, Chipper

Let’s gather up today’s linkage.

Pirates May Dabble In Free Agency

Dejan Kovacevic spoke to Pirates GM Neal Huntington, who said the Pirates do plan to participate in free agency this winter.  They’re looking for a power bat, a veteran starter, and a righthanded setup man.

We learned a couple of weeks ago that the Pirates might have $10-15MM to spend.  The power bat might fit best in right field, where Steve Pearce is penciled in.  Pearce slugged .579 this month, but just .417 in Triple A.  Casey Blake could make sense, or maybe Wily Mo Pena if he declines his $2MM player option.  There’s no obvious fit though.

Veteran starters such as Paul Byrd, Mike Hampton, Pedro Martinez, Odalis Perez, or Kenny Rogers could help tutor young Pirate pitchers.  Randy Johnson could be an interesting signing as well.  The righthanded setup man market includes Juan Cruz, Rudy Seanez, LaTroy Hawkins, Chan Ho Park, David Weathers, Bob Howry, and Kyle Farnsworth.