Rangers manager Ron Washington laid out his offseason wish list Wednesday afternoon in a conversation with MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. Among the skipper's desires? A veteran starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever and a right-handed hitter.
Beyond Scott Feldman and Kevin Millwood, the Rangers have quite a few question marks when it comes to their 2010 starting rotation. Derek Holland, Tommy Hunter, Matt Harrison, Brandon McCarthy, Dustin Nippert and Neftali Feliz are worthy candidates for the final three spots, but Washington would like to add one reliable veteran arm to the mix.
"We need one with experience that could help our younger kids move along," said the Texas manager, "so we don't have to push them into situations they're not ready for or can't handle."
Money problems will probably keep the Rangers out of the sweepstakes for guys like Rich Harden, Ben Sheets, John Lackey and Randy Wolf, but there are some decent veteran arms available this winter. Doug Davis and Justin Duchscherer spring to mind as possibilities. As for left-handed relief specialists, John Grabow and Joe Beimel will be on the market. And right-handed hitters? Well, the Rangers could always re-sign Marlon Byrd. It's hard to imagine them shelling out major cash for a free agent bat.
Another round of links, expertly prepared...
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch believes the Reds might have interest in soon-to-be free agent outfielder Rick Ankiel. The Pirates are also thought to have some level of interest in the former pitcher, who's hit 36 home runs in the past two years and boasts one of the best outfield arms in baseball. (That's looking on the bright side of things, of course).
- As ESPN.com's Jayson Stark notes, Jamie Moyer's season-ending groin injury locks in his 2010 salary at $8MM. $6.5MM of that is base pay, and the other $1.5MM is available through performance-based incentives.
- Ken Griffey Jr. side-stepped another retirement question when the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser spoke with him Wednesday. "It's not really up to me," he said. "Well, some of it is." Stay tuned this offseason for more on Junior's future plans.
- According to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com, the Blue Jays have laid off nearly two dozen employees from the business side of their organization. Cost-cutting in the front office doesn't bode well for any kind of free agency exploits this winter.
7:02pm: As Topkin notes, the Rays sound interested.
“We are very pleased to hear C.C.’s comments,'' executive vice president Andrew Friedman told the St. Petersburg Times just moments ago. "Consistent with our policy, we do not speak publicly about contract negotiations but obviously we have a tremendous amount of respect for Carl both on and off the field. He has been a big part of our past success and I expect he will be a big part of our future success as well.”
6:47pm: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that Crawford is wary of playing next season without a clear future. He either wants to sign an extension this winter or play out the 2010 season with the Rays and then head to free agency.
"I don't like worrying about it," Crawford said Tuesday, "and you can sit there and say you're not worried about it, but to not know what your future's going to be in the next five or six years or so is definitely ... it makes you scared at times. I just hope we can do something. It's uncomfortable worrying about it. I don't like playing cautious."
"You'd be a liar if you say you didn't play cautious when you have to go through contracts and stuff like that. I want to just be able to play baseball, don't worry about nothing else."
4:21pm: Carl Crawford would be open to a long-term extension with the Rays, according to Marc Lancaster of the Tampa Tribune. The first order of business will be the Rays picking up Crawford's $10MM option for next year, which seems like a given. That four-year contract was signed in April of 2005. Now that the Rays are a winning ballclub, Crawford appears willing to forgo his shot at free agency.
Crawford, 28, is hitting .307/.367/.450 in 659 plate appearances this year. He's good for 50+ steals a year, and his speed is a big part of his highly-regarded left field defense.
Back on September 3rd, ESPN's Jayson Stark said the Rays "clearly would like to use the money they saved [from trading Scott Kazmir] to help them hang onto Carlos Pena and/or Crawford, both of whom will be a year away from free agency after this season." The question is, what kind of contract would it take to lock up Crawford? Would $15MM a year be appropriate? Will Crawford aim for the maximum term, or would he prefer a two or three-year extension that allows him to test free agency before his skills decline?
A fresh roundup of links for Wednesday evening...
- According to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, it's highly unlikely the Indians will look within to fill their managing vacancy. Former Tribe pitcher and current Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell has been thrown around as a possible candidate by fans and media types in Cleveland.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution thinks impending free agent Tim Hudson is going to want to re-sign with Atlanta this offseason, even after they reject his $12MM 2010 option. Hudson just built a dream home in nearby Auburn, Alabama and his wife is heavily involved in the community.
- ESPN.com's Jorge Arangure goes in-depth on the Twins' signing of Miguel Angel Sano. Arangure believes agent Rob Plummer did a fantastic job with the deal.
- Gordon Edes of Yahoo! Sports takes a cue from MLBTR's own Mike Axisa with a comparison of soon-to-be free agent outfielders Jason Bay and Matt Holliday.
- As noted by Bill Ladson of MLB.com, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo indicated Wednesday that interim manager Jim Riggleman is a candidate for the permanent gig. "Jim has done a great job. It's going to be an intense offseason and a busy," Rizzo said. "The ultimate goal is to make us a better ball club."
FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal has a new column up with a few interesting hot stove items. Let's dive in...
- If the White Sox are going to move Bobby Jenks, they'll probably do it early in the offseason. The market for closers this winter (both in free agency and via trade) is decently strong and GM Kenny Williams will want to be involved in all negotiations from the get-go.
- Or the White Sox could decide to hand the ninth-inning role to Matt Thornton and find a new setup man among the remaining free agent arms in January.
- Texas wants to re-sign Marlon Byrd, as we've heard before, but the outfielder's demands might not match the Rangers' available resources. Byrd posted career-highs in homers and RBI this season and probably won't be interested in taking any sort of discount.
Rosenthal also appeared on the MLB Network this evening for a chat about Eric Wedge, who was fired as Indians manager this morning. Rosenthal believes Wedge will garner interest from teams looking for a new skipper as soon as next season. "This is going to be a hot guy," said Rosenthal. "Someone is going to hire Eric Wedge on the rebound, and someone is going to get a great manager."
The Marlins are unlikely to tender a contract to outfielder Jeremy Hermida, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. Hermida followed up on a lackluster '08 with a .259/.348/.392 line in 491 plate appearances this year. His defense is not well-regarded, though heading into the season John Dewan of the Fielding Bible said Hermida was "dependable, if unspectacular" and has the physical talent to improve.
In 2006, Hermida graced the cover of Baseball America's Prospect Handbook. A few years later, he's a non-tender candidate. If the Marlins cut Hermida loose, he'll be the youngest member of this winter's free agent class at 26 years old (which the exception of Aroldis Chapman). The Fish will presumably attempt to find a trade partner first.
Sidearmer Chad Bradford is leaning toward retirement, Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times learned. Bradford told Topkin he'll still leave the door open for next year, and probably decide in January. The 35-year-old had elbow surgery in February and back tightness in July, resulting in only 10.3 big league innings this year. Bradford is finishing up a three-year, $10.5MM deal signed with Baltimore before the '06 season. He joined the Rays via a waiver claim last August.
If he's done, Bradford would finish with a 3.26 ERA over 515.6 career innings. He pitched in the playoffs seven different years, allowing just one earned run in 23.3 innings. He'll have earned just under $15MM for his efforts, according to Baseball Reference. Of course, Bradford is best known for being chronicled in Michael Lewis' 2003 book Moneyball.
Despite Bob Nightengale's suggestion that the Diamondbacks "plan to listen to offers for shortstop Stephen Drew," Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic heard that the idea hasn't been discussed and is very unlikely. Piecoro analyzes the situation anyway, and concludes that trading Drew would just create a new problem for the team.
Drew hit .321/.366/.538 over the season's final three months in 2008, leading some to predict a 2009 breakout. That hasn't happened - Drew's power took a nosedive en route to a .256/.318/.428 line. As Piecoro points out, that's still decent production at shortstop. And some metrics suggest Drew has been a positive defensively this year.
Here's the question: what would be an appropriate trade return for three years of Drew? And who would play shortstop for the D'Backs? Do you agree with Piecoro that keeping Drew is the best course of action?
2:51pm: SI's Jon Heyman heard from "people close to the situation" that Colletti is very likely to receive at least a three-year deal.
10:16am: The Dodgers are in long-term contract talks with general manager Ned Colletti, according to Bill Shaikin and Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. Colletti's current contract has a mutual option for 2010.
Colletti has been on the job since November of 2005. His work has been a mixed bag. On the positive side of the ledger (reserving judgment on this summer's trades): the original Nomar Garciaparra signing, the signings of Takashi Saito, Hiroki Kuroda, and Orlando Hudson, and the Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez acquisitions. Colletti's second time around with Randy Wolf has worked out extremely well also.
On the negative side: signings of Brett Tomko, Bill Mueller, Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, and Andruw Jones, the Nomar extension, and the waiver claim of Esteban Loaiza. Hindsight is 20/20, but Colletti also traded Edwin Jackson and Carlos Santana, designated Cody Ross for assignment, and non-tendered Jayson Werth during his tenure.
C - Nick Hundley - $404K
C - Eliezer Alfonzo - $400K
1B - Adrian Gonzalez - $4.75MM
2B - David Eckstein - $1MM
SS - Everth Cabrera - $400K
3B - Kevin Kouzmanoff - $432K+
IF - Luis Rodriguez - $675K+
IF - Edgar Gonzalez - $407K
LF - Kyle Blanks - $400K
CF - Tony Gwynn Jr. - $405K
RF - Will Venable - $402K
OF - Chase Headley - $412K
OF - Drew Macias - $401K
SP - Kevin Correia - $750K+
SP - Chris Young - $6.25MM
SP - Mat Latos - $400K
SP - Clayton Richard - $405K
SP - Tim Stauffer - $400K
Other candidates: Aaron Poreda - $400K, Sean Gallagher - $410K, Cesar Ramos - $400K, Wade LeBlanc - $402K, Cesar Carrillo - $400K, Josh Geer - $402K
RP - Heath Bell - $1.255MM+
RP - Luke Gregerson
RP - Mike Adams - $415K
RP - Joe Thatcher - $404K
RP - Greg Burke - $400K
RP - Luis Perdomo - $400K
RP - Edward Mujica - $410K
Other candidates: Adam Russell - $405K, Ryan Webb - $400K
Non-tender candidates: Shawn Hill, Cha Seung Baek, Luis Rodriguez
The Padres have about $21.5MM committed before arbitration raises to Kouzmanoff, Rodriguez, Correia, and Bell. By my estimate those raises will put the team in the $30MM range for 2010. The Padres had an Opening Day payroll of $42.7MM, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts. New Padres CEO Jeff Moorad told MLB.com's Corey Brock in August that he's comfortable with a $70-80MM payroll, "but it's likely that it will take us a couple of years to get back to that level." While Moorad doesn't expect a huge free agent splash, Padres GM Kevin Towers should realistically have at least $15MM available this offseason.
Towers recently suggested to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune that the Padres could be a .500 team or even a playoff contender next year. The GM added, "I don't know if we need to do a lot this winter."
ESPN's Buster Olney and various Baseball Prospectus writers covered the Padres a few days ago, suggesting the team might add a veteran starter and outfielder despite Towers' comment. The article ponders trading Bell to free up the payroll space needed for bigger-name free agents like Chone Figgins, Randy Wolf, or John Lackey. I like the idea of trading Bell, but the salary relief would just be a side benefit. I'd trade him simply because he may be at peak value and Towers is skilled at building bullpens out of nothing. Problem is, there's a surplus of closers on the market this winter.
Towers has admitted interest in bringing Milton Bradley back, talking with ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. If the Cubs are desperate enough to cover $17MM of the $21MM left on his contract, it'd be as if Towers signed a potential .400 OBP bat to a two-year, $4MM deal. It's a chance worth taking, and it'd leave the Padres with a surplus of outfielders. The Padres are second-to-last in the NL with 3.96 runs scored per game this year, but a Gonzalez-Blanks-Bradley heart of the order could be decent. More silver lining: Headley, Venable, and Kouzmanoff have been offensive assets in the second half.
It'd be nice to have Wolf back, but even the classic San Diego discount might result in a $10MM salary. I'd rather entertain Lackey for $15MM. Either way, a quality veteran addition would push Richard to the fifth starter role and give the team surprisingly strong rotation depth months after trading Jake Peavy.
If Towers truly has a quiet winter and keeps the payroll around $30MM, it'd be a stretch to see the 2010 Padres contending. But with the right free agent strikes and perhaps a shrewd Bell trade, they'd have a chance.