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- Dan Uggla, Marlins. Uggla is currently neck-and-neck with Hanley Ramirez as the best-paid Marlin, and that puts the second baseman on the trading block. Uggla's 2010 salary has yet to be determined since he's arbitration-eligible, but it'll be a raise from this year's $5.35MM. That Chris Coghlan came up as a second baseman only increases the chance of an Uggla trade. As a perennial 30-home run bat, Uggla should be good value next year even with shaky defense. Uggla might be a consideration at third base for some clubs, though he hasn't played the position since 2005 in the minors.
- Luis Castillo, Mets. A year ago the Mets seemingly wanted to unload Castillo badly. After this year's .387 OBP, the rumors quieted. Castillo is still owed $12MM over two years.
- Akinori Iwamura, Rays. Iwamura faces a $4.85MM club option with a $550K buyout. If the Rays are confident in their ability to trade him, they could exercise the option. We discussed Iwamura in-depth here.
- Kelly Johnson, Braves. We learned earlier this month that the Braves might look to trade Johnson before December's non-tender deadline. Johnson lost his starting job to Martin Prado in July and suffered a wrist injury shortly thereafter. He earned $2.825MM this year and is arbitration-eligible again. He could be a great pickup if he returns to his .800 OPS ways of 2007-08.
- Mike Fontenot, Cubs. Fontenot seems likely to fall just short of the Super Two cutoff, making it an easier decision for the Cubs to retain him. It also makes him more attractive to other clubs. Fontenot struggled with regular playing time this year after posting a .909 OPS in 284 plate appearances in '08.
- Aaron Miles, Cubs. The Cubs could potentially release Miles or eat his contract and trade him for nothing. He's coming off a .185/.224/.242 performance and is owed $2.7MM in 2010. Miles dealt with shoulder and elbow injuries this year.
Infielder Adam Kennedy would like to remain with the Athletics in 2010, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The interest is mutual; his agent has had "very positive" talks with the A's.
Kennedy, 34 in January, hit .289/.348/.410 in 586 plate appearances this year, playing second and third base. According to UZR/150, Kennedy's defense this year did not approach the performance from his heyday. The Cardinals released Kennedy in February, eating most of the $4MM owed to him. The Rays signed him to a minor league deal and traded him to Oakland for a player to be named later in May. The Rays later received Joe Dillon in that deal; he was designated for assignment in August but remained in the organization.
Slusser adds a few notes on other A's free agents:
The A's have not been in contact with free-agent infielder Nomar Garciaparra or starter Brett Tomko, though they plan to check in with Tomko as he recovers from a nerve problem in his right arm.
Rich Harden carries a lot of upside for a Type B free agent. His well-documented injury history will prevent any club from risking offering the right-hander a long-term contract, but a one or two-year deal (perhaps with the second year as a club option, that could become guaranteed if Harden reaches certain performance levels) in the high seven-figure range per season could prove to be a relative bargain. Harden might be amenable to such a deal since it would allow him to cash in on an even bigger contract after the 2011 season when he's just 29 years old.
Harden only pitched past the sixth inning in five of his 26 starts last season as the Cubs wanted to keep him as fresh as possible. The Canadian was skipped for two September starts and spent a month on the disabled list with a strained back, but given the major arm problems that have plagued his career, this actually counts as a fairly healthy showing for the right-hander. Harden recorded an impressive 10.9 K/9 last season, and posted a 2.07 ERA in 25 starts with Chicago and Oakland in 2008.
The Cubs aren't likely to try and re-sign Harden themselves, thus leaving the door open for suitors who are willing to take the risk — and, probably more importantly, also have the financial resources to absorb the loss should Harden not pan out. The Red Sox fit this description to a tee, and unlike last winter's similar buy-low signings of Brad Penny or John Smoltz, Harden has experience pitching in the American League.
What teams do you think will make a play for Harden, and, if your favorite team was the one making the offer, what would be the sort of contract and dollar figure you'd be comfortable seeing Harden in the fold for?
As we look forward to the inevitable battle of the bullpens in Game Two, here are a few newsbits from everywhere but Yankee Stadium in the MLB universe…
- R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs believes that the Red Sox will be making a mistake if they sign Jason Bay to the four-year/$60MM contract that Jon Heyman reported (via Twitter) the club is willing to offer.
- Rangers officials met Thursday with Dennis Gilbert, the lead man of an investment group interested in buying the club, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- The Mariners outrighted Bryan LaHair, Randy Messenger, Marwin Vega and Cesar Jimenez to Triple-A Tacoma, with Jimenez's assignment coming after the southpaw was activated from the 60-day disabled list. Left-hander Justin Thomas was claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh.
- MLB.com's Jen Langosch breaks down the Thomas signing for the Pirates, and notes that the Bucs still have one more 40-man roster spot to decide on before November 20.
MLB.com's Kelly Thesier answered a few e-mails from fans in regard to what Minnesota might have up its sleeve in the offseason, and here are some of the most notable bits of news from the piece…
- Thesier said that though talks between the Twins and Joe Mauer about a contract extension haven't yet begun, "don't take Mauer's patience to mean that the catcher isn't interested in signing an extension." Thesier also noted a possible good omen for Minnesota fans — Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, also represented single-franchise stars Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken Jr.
- Justin Morneau should be recovered from minor wrist surgery in four weeks' time, and looks to start rehabbing his injured back by the middle of November.
- Top prospect Danny Valencia will need a big performance in spring training to win the third base job, given that the 25-year-old didn't even receive a call-up last September.
- Money may be the only thing that prevents Minnesota from re-signing Orlando Cabrera, since the Twins "appreciated" his contribution to their AL Central crown.
With about an hour to go before the start of Game Two, here are some items from around the majors….
- During an appearance on The Dan Patrick Show today, Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said his club will be focused on finding second base help and starting pitching in the offseason, though Colletti played dumb when asked about the possibility of the Dodgers making a play for free agent starter John Lackey.
- With the number of open managerial jobs quickly dwindling, some of the rumored candidates for the filled positions are looking at other options. Former Rockies manager Clint Hurdle (who was up for the Cleveland manager's job that went to Manny Acta) is one of four finalists to be the Rangers' next hitting coach, reports Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- Along those same lines, Bob Melvin may go from being a candidate to be the next Astros manager to being considered for the Mets bench coaching job, says Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News. Rubin also reports that the Mets will name Chip Hale as their new third base coach after the World Series is over.
- According to a team press release, the Pirates have claimed pitcher Justin Thomas off waivers from Seattle.
- In a chat with MASN's Byron Kerr, Adam Dunn said he feels Washington is an attractive destination for free agents in part because Nationals Park is "a really fair ballpark."
Some late-afternoon snacks for you…
- The incomparable Thomas Boswell answers questions on a variety of subjects, including his belief that Jim Riggleman will return as manager of the Nationals next year. As Boswell puts it, "Has any manager in history ever not been retained after he improved a team's winning percentage by .125 and ended the season 7-0? Especially when the team likes him and he's born-raised in that town? I doubt it very much."
- Rob Neyer discusses Atlanta's options, now that it appears they will bring Tim Hudson back.
- And former Brave Mike Mordecai will be Toronto's roving minor league instructor, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
The Orioles have declined Melvin Mora's $8MM option for 2010, likely ending his successful tenure with Baltimore.
Mora struggled in 2009, hitting just .260/.321/.358 in 496 plate appearances this past season. He will be 38 years old, and will likely command far less than his option number as a free agent.
However, for teams looking for a third baseman, Mora might be a reasonable option. He is just a year removed from hitting .285/.342/.483, while his Ultimate Zone Rating was still 1.1 runs saved above average per 150 games in 2009.
Mora criticized Dave Trembley, Baltimore's manager, in August over a lack of playing time. Therefore, once Baltimore announced Trembley's return, it became far less likely the team would retain Mora, even at a lesser cost.
Mora hit 158 home runs with Baltimore after coming over from the New York Mets in a deal for Mike Bordick.
Other Baltimore moves this afternoon included declining the $850K option on catcher Chad Moeller and outrighting outfielder Jeff Fiorentino, pitchers Chris Lambert and Jim Miller and catcher Guillermo Rodriguez after each cleared waivers.
3:04pm: WEEI’s Alex Speier writes, “According to a major-league source, the MLB Commissioner’s Office has ruled that the Red Sox still possess the rights to Reynaldo Rodriguez, a first baseman whom they acquired from the Yuma Scorpions of the independent Golden Baseball League earlier this month.”
According to Speier’s source, the Red Sox went through proper channels to acquire Rodriguez, and the player himself claims he hadn’t reached an agreement with Kansas City.
10:46am: The Royals have signed a prospect whose contract the Red Sox appeared to have purchased. Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports that the Royals signed first baseman Reynaldo Rodriguez. The 22-year-old, who has been playing in Colombian leagues, projects as a corner outfielder, if you ask Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper.
Earlier in the month, Baseball America named Rodriguez the best independent league prospect around. The Royals also signed Adam Frost, a 22-year-old infielder who had been playing in Winnipeg. BA named Frost the second-best indy league prospect, highlighting his speed and gap power.
Top Royals prospect Aaron Crow is no stranger to independent ball (he pitched for the Fort Worth Cats this year) and, as ESPN.com’s Jason Grey notes, many believe Crow could climb quickly through the minors.
The Blue Jays claimed lefty Sean Henn off waivers from the Orioles, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). The 28-year-old appeared in 20 games for the Twins and Orioles this year. He allowed 15 hits and 12 walks in 14.1 innings, striking out 15. His major league numbers aren't impressive, but Henn struck out 10.5 batters per nine in the Twins' system before the Orioles acquired him in September. GM Alex Anthopoulos on his first move:
"The Yankees gave Damaso Marte a three-year $12MM deal, we can't. If we have to claim 10 arms and click on the 10th, it's a good investment with a huge upside."
The Jays designated Michael Barrett for assignment to clear space for Henn on the 40-man roster.