Happy New Year everyone! Here are some links to close out 2009..
- MLB.com's Marty Noble isn't buying into the talk suggesting that Jason Bay won't be able to hit home runs in Citi Field.
- Cubs GM Jim Hendry will come to regret signing Marlon Byrd, writes Keith Law of ESPN. Law says that while Byrd could play everyday for a non-contender, he's not worthy of being the everyday center fielder for a team with playoff aspirations.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com wishes Danys Baez good luck with the Phillies, his sixth major league club. Although he hopes that Baez will find success with the 2008 World Champions, Kubatko says that they might come to regret the contract they gave him.
The Dodgers have begun discussing a multi-year contract with Matt Kemp, writes Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. However, his agent Dave Stewart says that Kemp might prefer to go year-to-year via arbitration.
Kemp is one of nine Dodgers eligible for arbitration this winter and one of five eligible for the first time in their careers. Gurnick writes that signing position players like Kemp, James Loney, and Andre Ethier to long-term deals would provide the club with a degree of cost certainty. GM Ned Colletti approached Russell Martin two years ago about a multiyear agreement but was rebuffed.
The 25-year-old Kemp hit .297/.352/.490 with 26 HRs in 2009 while playing an above average center field.
Some links on the last day of a year we'll remember for Joe Mauer, Albert Pujols and the World Series Champion New York Yankees...
- Tigers catcher Gerald Laird and his younger brother Brandon Laird, a prospect in the Yankees farm system, were arrested following a brawl at the Celtics-Suns NBA game in Phoenix, Arizona, according to the Associated Press. Gerald lives in Arizona during the offseason while Brandon played in the Arizona Fall League this past year.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports (via his newly minted Twitter account) that Chan Ho Park's name has come up in the Giants' front office.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears that Jason Bay was indeed interested in joining the Mets. The two sides didn't go longer than a day without talking once negotiations got started. An interesting note: Speier hears that the Mets never offered Bay a guaranteed five-year deal.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs considers Marlon Byrd an average player, but likes the Cubs' decision to sign him.
- Cameron tweets that the Mariners are "kicking the tires" on Francisco Liriano.
- Mike Lowell's thumb surgery was a success, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Lowell appears to be available, but health concerns may prevent the Red Sox from dealing the third baseman and some of his $12MM salary (the D'Backs face a similar challenge with Chris Snyder).
- Just because Lowell's still in Boston doesn't mean the Red Sox won't consider other third basemen. Adrian Beltre is one option and R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs doesn't think $10-15MM is an unfair asking price for the Scott Boras client.
- Justin Duchscherer tells Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he returned to the A's because he's comfortable in Oakland and appreciates the club's support through his struggles with depression. Slusser also has details on the incentives in the righty's contract.
- Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave. Blues wants the Yankees to stay away from free agent outfielder Marlon Byrd.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Pirates' failure to sign Dominican prospect Miguel Angel Sano was one of the club's low points this year. As Kovacevic says, "not every signing can be an absolute steal."
A D'Backs official tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that the team's payroll now sits at about $75MM. Piecoro gets the sense that the D'Backs have the flexibility to spend a little more, but not much. That means Jose Valverde could return to the D'Backs if his asking price drops (let's not rule that out; the market for Valverde isn't great right now).
The Cubs signed Marlon Byrd to a three-year $15MM deal today. The 32-year-old will play center field and push Kosuke Fukudome to right. Ken Rosenthal tweeted that the Cubs were nearing a deal with Byrd and Carrie Muskat followed up with the contract's length and value before Gordon Wittenmyer reported the specifics: the Cubs will pay Byrd just $3MM in 2010, $5.5MM in 2011 and $6.5MM in 2012.
A number of teams had been connected to Byrd, including the Braves. He had expressed interest in returning to the Rangers, but wanted a multi-year deal. As a Type B free agent, Byrd nets the Rangers a supplementary rounder in next year's draft.
Byrd, 32, hit .283/.329/.479 in 599 plate appearances with the Rangers last year, hitting a career-high 20 homers. He played mostly in center field, where his defense was below average, according to UZR/150. However, the sample size (889 innings) is limited, and UZR did like Byrd's defense in left.
ESPN.com's Buster Olney offers some storylines to look for in 2010 and turns up some rumors along the way. Here they are:
- The Padres will, "in all likelihood," gauge the market for Adrian Gonzalez this summer and deal him before the July 31st trade deadline. The Mets, Mariners and Red Sox could all bid for the slugger, but the list of suitors could change drastically by mid-summer.
- One GM expects the Mariners to consider offers for Felix Hernandez if they don't lock him up long-term. "They may seriously have to think about trading him," the GM said. Locking Felix up won't be cheap, either. As Olney notes, Hernandez could command C.C. Sabathia-type money ($161MM) if he were a free agent. Luckily for Mariners fans, Felix won't hit the open market until after the 2011 season at the earliest.
- Olney says the Orioles offered Matt Holliday $70MM or so at one point before moving on. Here's a look at some other offers Holliday has received.
- Executives tell Olney that the Dodgers' quiet offseason is giving other teams confidence and emboldening them to make more moves.
12:57pm: Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Scott Boras might consider one or two-year offers for Holliday. However, there are nine-figure offers out there, so, as Miklasz says, a short-term deal seems "highly unlikely." Miklasz hears that Boras won't go for a five-year offer from the Cardinals. The agent seems to be going for a seven or eight-year deal, but the Cards remain confident in their chances of bringing Holliday back.
8:17am: Yesterday we heard that the Cardinals were "working toward an agreement" with Matt Holliday. Talks are picking up and the Cards' offer is apparently considerable. Jon Heyman and Buster Olney suggested that the Cards have offered $100MM or more, Tracy Ringolsby heard that the Cards offered $140MM and Derrick Goold said the sides have even discussed an eight-year deal.
For the second consecutive winter, the Cubs will sign a former Rangers outfielder to a three-year deal. Jim Hendry & Co. are active on other fronts too, as ESPN.com's Bruce Levine reports:
- The Cubs were negotiating with representatives for Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel until they agreed to sign Marlon Byrd yesterday.
- The Cubs would like to add relievers, and possibly a swingman who could start or contribute out of the 'pen.
- Jason Frasor interests the Cubs, who have talked to the Blue Jays about their relievers.
The Phillies signed Tagg Bozied today, MLBTR has learned. Bozied, 30, hit .288/.360/.447 in 240 plate appearances for the Pirates' Triple A club this year after starting the year in Taiwan. He mainly played first base and the outfield corners. Bozied hit .306/.382/.569 for the Marlins' Triple A club in '08.
Bozied was a big-time power prospect in the Padres system several years ago, but he ruptured the patella tendon in his left knee in July of '04 jumping on home plate to celebrate a game-winning grand slam.