White Sox GM Ken Williams was asked about 28-year-old Cuban center fielder Yasser Gomez at SoxFest today. Are the White Sox interested? Williams said, "I don't think he is a get. It might be counterproductive [for Gomez's agent Jaime Torres] to deal with just one team." On the other hand, Mark Gonzales says Williams "tried to dance around" a question about Gomez by saying, "We're looking at a lot of players."
Gomez, a speedy outfielder and career .331 hitter in Cuba, hit .397 over a 66-game span in Cuba's 2008 national series tournament. In a video earlier this month from Newsday, the Cuban defector expanded on his Major League dreams.
According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays are looking at multiyear deals for Dioner Navarro and Willy Aybar.
DRaysBay echoes Tampa Bay's desire to lock up the two, which would allow the team to avoid arbitration hearings.
Navarro will have three arbitration years: '09, '10 and '11; and Aybar will have four years: '09, '10, '11 and '12. The Rays, who don't typically negotiate once arbitration figures have been submitted, appear to be willing to negotiate with these two.
Tyler Kepner of The New York Times reports that Bobby Abreu's former general manager Ed Wade believes that Abreu could still be an impact player this coming season:
"He’s still an All-Star-caliber player,” said Wade, now the general manager of the Houston Astros. “He’s probably not the guy that stirs the drink, but if you have the ability to add Bobby Abreu to your lineup and your clubhouse, it’s going to make all the players around him better.”
Abreu, 34, who made about $16MM with the Yankees in 2008, hit .296/.371/.471 in 684 plate appearances last season.
The Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Reds and Braves could still get in on Abreu. Though Abreu had originally sought three-year contract, agent Peter Greenberg has confirmed that the slugger would be open to a one-year deal.
The Braves have signed Casey Kotchman to a one-year, $2.885MM deal, says Joel Sherman.
The salary is a hair above the midpoint of Kotchman's request ($3.25 million) and the Braves counteroffer ($2.475 million).
The deal also includes potential bonuses for plate appearances, as well as awards like the MVP, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger.
3:35pm: Roch Kubatko chimes in on the Looper rumors: "[W]hile I still expect Braden Looper to sign elsewhere, the Orioles retain serious interest in him."
1:18pm: Peter Schmuck at the Baltimore Sun has a guess at the Orioles' likely 25-man roster for Opening Day 2009. Most of the names are hard to argue, but one jumps out as an interesting pick. Schmuck thinks the Orioles stand a chance at signing free agent starting pitcher Braden Looper.
Says Schmuck, "I think the likelihood of Braden Looper signing here is maybe 40 percent, but that's probably more likely than Rich Hill coming over and solving his command problems."
While recent reports have made a Rich Hill-to-Baltimore deal sound more likely than 40 percent, Schmuck is comparing a Looper signing to the combined probability of not only acquiring Hill, but also having him pitch effectively.
An AP report posted at ESPN.com says the White Sox are not expecting to sign any more free agents.
This means the White Sox will go with one of either Chris Getz, Brent Lillibridge or Jayson Nix at second base in 2009, as 2008 second baseman Alexei Ramirez moves to shortstop.
According to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick, the Phillies are interested in Will Ohman. They contacted his agent last week and will continue talks next week.
Now that J.C. Romero's been suspended for 50 games, the Phillies will use Scott Eyre as their main lefty out of the bullpen. Adding Ohman, who was originally seeking a two-year deal for about $8MM, would give Charlie Manuel another lefty to rely on.
Links for Saturday...
- Cameron Smith of the Washington Post thinks the Orioles should pull the trigger on a possible Rich Hill deal immediately.
- MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports that Jermaine Dye remains "unfazed" by all the trade rumors that have involved him this winter.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times suggests Dye doesn't expect to return to the White Sox after 2009.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that Eric Hinske attracted lots of interest. Hinske said eight teams showed "good interest" in him.
- Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post likes the Josh Fogg signing because of his clubhouse presence and his price.
- Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune heard that the Padres will not offer a contract to Brian Lawrence, Steve Trachsel or Scott Elarton (hat tip to Buster Olney).
- Olney heard that the Blue Jays are looking for bargains to stock up their minor league system.
Here are some reactions to the Jason Varitek signing. To recap, the Red Sox will pay him $5MM this year, and they'll have the option of bringing him back for the same price in 2010. If the Red Sox don't exercise their option, Varitek can exercise a $3MM player option with incentives.
- Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports understands how Varitek thought he had more value on the open market than he really did.
- ESPN.com's Rob Neyer says Varitek "gambled and lost," and the Red Sox did well.
- Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe thinks the Red Sox did well to keep Varitek since he provides depth and experience. Massarotti also has details on 'Tek's incentives.
- The Boston Globe's Bob Ryan argues that Varitek's was lucky to get at least $8MM considering he's in "obvious decline."
According to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, the Giants are still talking to Manny Ramirez. Giants president Larry Baer said "we've got interest. But it's one of those things where it's got to fit."
Some executives say the Giants want to prevent the Dodgers from getting Manny on a one year deal, but aren't about to start a bidding war. If they end up with a Hall of Fame player for a year because of it, they'd be happy.
As one executive said, few teams have enough money remaining to sign Ramirez, so the Dodgers could conceivably offer $30MM over two years and still make the highest bid.