According to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cubs declined their $3MM option for 2009 on backup catcher Henry Blanco. However, the Cubs are expected to re-sign him at a lower salary. Blanco, 37, hit .292/.325/.392 in 128 plate appearances as Geovany Soto's backup and mentor.
According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Online, the Orioles have internally discussed free agent shortstops Orlando Cabrera, Rafael Furcal, and Edgar Renteria. They're also considering trade possibilities. The Orioles' #5 overall draft pick next year is protected, but they'd have to surrender their second rounder if they sign Cabrera or Renteria. The market for Furcal will be robust if he doesn't re-sign with the Dodgers.
Possible names on the trade market: J.J. Hardy, Julio Lugo, Jack Wilson, Khalil Greene, Ronny Cedeno, and Chin-lung Hu.
1:48pm: Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe says it's official, Wakefield will be back with Boston in '09.
8:42am: According to Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald, the Red Sox are expected to exercise Tim Wakefield's 2009 option today. Wakefield recently completed his year-end physical and MRI.
Wakefield, 42, posted a 4.13 ERA in 181 innings this year. In an unmatched show of loyalty to the Sox, the knuckleballer gave the team a perpetual $4MM option. Once again it was an easy decision to exercise.
According to the AP, the Blue Jays exercised their 2009 option on catcher Rod Barajas. The Jays chose the $2.5MM option over the $500K buyout, as expected.
Barajas, 33, hit .249/.294/.410 in 377 plate appearances. Month to month, it was an erratic season.
Rockies center fielder Willy Taveras hit .251/.308/.296 in 538 plate appearances this year, a major drain on the team's offense. Defensively, Taveras had a big year in 2006 but has been below average since. Quad and knee injuries may be the culprit, though Taveras has been able to steal bases.
Taveras wants to play every day, but it probably won't be for the Rockies. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post fully expects him to be traded this winter. Taveras was claimed off waivers in August, possibly by the Nationals, Phillies, or Mets (obviously no trade agreement was reached). Taveras is arbitration-eligible, and there's been no indication the Rockies are considering non-tendering him.
A look at what is being written around the Blogosphere...
- MetsBlog says Magglio Ordonez may not be the best option but could be a good backup plan should other scenarios not play out (ie. Manny Ramirez).
- Talking Chop thinks Ordonez is a good fit for the Braves noting that the team has significant money to spend this offseason.
- River Ave. Blues is not excited about the possibility of Ordonez in the Yankees' outfield, noting that it makes more sense to re-sign Bobby Abreu for less money.
- Was Watching wonders if the Yankees would have to sign C.C. Sabathia in order to trade for Matt Holliday. They feel it would be strange for the Yankees to go after Holliday one year after bowing out of the Johan Santana sweepstakes.
- Over The Monster takes a look at whether the Red Sox should re-sign Jason Varitek and what other options are available.
It seems that teams have received the official Elias rankings, so we'll have to see if they're posted publicly today. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that Milton Bradley is officially a Type B free agent. Bradley was right around the Type A/B borderline.
This is good news for teams other than the Rangers that may wish to sign Bradley. As a Type B, he can be signed without his new team surrending a draft pick. The Rangers will still snag a supplemental pick if they offer him arbitration and he declines and signs elsewhere.
The latest on the White Sox...
- GM Ken Williams wants a younger, more athletic club, but still expects to compete in 2009. Players such as Chris Getz, Josh Fields, Jayson Nix, Jerry Owens, Brian Anderson, and Clayton Richard could play prominent roles on next year's team. Sox Machine offers their take on Williams' comments.
- Chris De Luca of the Chicago Sun-Times lists Brian Roberts, Coco Crisp, Chone Figgins, and Orlando Hudson as potential Sox targets. Williams didn't talk much about his wish list yesterday, suggesting that last year's openness hindered his progress. If the Sox sign Hudson, they'll give their #24 pick in next year's draft to the D'Backs.
- Joe Cowley of the Sun-Times says trading starter Javier Vazquez is Williams' top offseason priority. Cowley believes Williams could look for an infielder in return. Vazquez will earn $23MM over the next two seasons, and has a limited no-trade clause to block trades to NL and AL West teams.
- Also in Cowley's article - free agent catcher Toby Hall seems likely to re-sign.
According to Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald, Ken Griffey Jr. said he wants to play three more seasons. Junior is a free agent now, and the White Sox will probably not re-sign him. Though Griffey is a Type B free agent, the Sox probably won't risk offering him arbitration.
Could Griffey finish his career back with the Mariners? It's not known if interest is mutual, as Ms GM Jack Zduriencik would not comment. Griffey, 39, hit .249/.353/.424 in 575 plate appearances this year. Larry LaRue offers commentary on the Griffey idea in a blog post.
It was an easy call on Delgado, given the $4MM buyout. The 36 year-old first baseman hit .271/.353/.518 in 686 plate appearances.