January 2010

Crede Unlikely To Re-Sign With Minnesota

Reporting from the TwinsFest fan session, Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (via Twitter) has "got hints" that the Twins won't bring back free agent Joe Crede in 2010. In a follow-up tweet, Christensen said the reason was that it is "too hard to keep Crede on the field, which hamstrings your roster" and that the Twins would prefer to see Brendan Harris play third for now with an eye on prospect Danny Valencia eventually taking over the position.

Crede signed a one-year, $2.5MM deal with Minnesota last February that could have been worth as much as $7MM had he reached all of the contract's many incentive levels.  Unfortunately for Crede, he was limited to just 367 plate appearances last season thanks to the latest in a series of back problems that have plagued the veteran third baseman.  His September surgery to remove fluid from a herniated disk was the third procedure on his back in as many years.  Crede hit .225/.289/.414 last season.

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Saturday

Here are the players who have avoided arbitration by agreeing to contracts today…

  • Brian Wilson and the Giants have agreed to a one-year deal worth "about" $4.4MM, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Rosenthal notes that this total is the midpoint between the two competing figures.  The deal gives Wilson a healthy raise over the $480K he made last season.

Kris Benson Is “100 Percent,” Has Thrown For Two Teams

Gregg Clifton, the agent for right-hander Kris Benson, tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that Benson is recovered from the arm injuries that has plagued him for the last three years and should be signed "within the next few weeks."  Benson has had throwing sessions for two clubs, though Clifton didn't identify who the two interested teams were.

Benson spent the 2007 season recovering from rotator cuff surgery on his throwing arm.  He spent 2008 pitching in the Phillies' minor league system (making it as high as Triple-A) and then joined the Rangers in 2009.  The veteran righty battled elbow tendinitis and pitched in just eight games for Texas last season, posting an 8.46 ERA.

Even at full strength, don't expect a whole lot from Benson; his career ERA+ is exactly 100 and his last standout season came all the way back in 2000 (3.85 ERA, 2.14 K/BB ratio).  Morosi speculates that Benson could be a target for teams who missed out on Ben Sheets, naming the Cubs, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Mariners, Nationals and Reds as possible suitors.  Wherever Benson goes, look for him to sign a minor-league contract that would top out at around $1MM including incentives.

Odds & Ends: Mora, Edmonds, Nelson

Saturday linkage…

  • With Orlando Cabrera "leaning towards" accepting an offer from Cincinnati, Troy Renck of the Denver Post says the Rockies are "a finalist" in the hunt for Melvin Mora.  Renck reports that Colorado, Texas and Seattle are the most interested parties.
  • Jim Edmonds tells MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Edmonds on Wednesday that "he didn't see a fit" for the outfielder in St. Louis.  Edmonds signed with Milwaukee a day later.
  • Righty Joe Nelson is attracting interest from the Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The journeyman reliever broke through with the Marlins in 2008, posting a 2.00 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 54 innings.  His 2009 with the Rays was less than spectacular, but the 35-year-old points to his performance outside May, as he had a 2.38 ERA in the 10 games prior and a 1.40 ERA in 20 games after.
  • Jonny Gomes and the Reds are close to agreeing to a deal, according to ESPN.  Yesterday, GM Walt Jocketty confirmed that the club offered a minor league deal to the 29-year-old outfielder.  Gomes proved to be one of the best minor league signings of 2009, hitting .267/.338/.541 with 20 HRs in 98 games.
  • The Padres have set an arbitration date with outfielder Scott Hairston, though they hope to reach an agreement beforehand, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter).  Brock writes that the two sides could come to terms next week.
  • ESPN's Jorge Arangure (via Twitter) gets the feeling that Cuban prospect Jose Julio Ruiz may sign this week or shortly thereafter.  Ruiz – who has reportedly garnered interest from the Red Sox and Tigers – was "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Asset Control yesterday, allowing him to sign with a major league club.

Pirates Talk: Miguel Sano, Ownership, Prospects

Here's some Pirates chatter, courtesy of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Karen Price and Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • When asked why the team failed to sign Miguel Sano at FanFest, GM Neal Huntington gave a very interesting response. 

    "Take your frustration level and multiply it by a million when I got the phone call (that Sano signed with the Minnesota Twins)," Huntington said. "I didn't get it done. I relied on the agent to live by his word that he'd come back to us and give us a chance to make our final bid. We never got the chance."

    "We were never in the game for a player even looking for $250,000 out of Latin America before," he said. "This may be one time we were overly aggressive — we moved too quickly."

    Team president Frank Coonelly said that the Pirates offered Sano $2.6MM, however he ended up taking $3.15MM from the Twins.  MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch provided more quotes from the Q&A sessions here (Friday's session) and here (Saturday's session).

  • Pittsburgh Penguin co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle made a "very serious" offer to buy the Pirates in a face-to-face meeting with owner Bob Nutting about four months ago, however they did not receive a response. Nutting, who has owned the Pirates for just over three years, has firmly stated that the team is not for sale. 
  • In an Insider only piece at ESPN.com, Matt Meyers explains how the team's hoarding of prospects through trades and the draft will lead to a brighter future for Pirates fans.

Nationals, Dunn Talked Extension Today

SATURDAY, 4:51pm: Dunn could be a fit for a number of American League teams next offseason, including the Red Sox or Rangers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Boston could seek a replacement for David Ortiz while the Rangers, who are under new ownership, may be drawn to the Texas native.

Despite the fact that most baseball people view him as a DH, the Nats seem comfortable with the 30-year-old at first base.  In 66 starts at the position in 2009, Dunn posted a UZR/150 of -25.0.

FRIDAY, 4:49pm: GM Mike Rizzo said the Nats talked with Dunn about an extension this afternoon, according to Chico Harlan of the Washington Post. The Nats and Dunn both say they'd like to reach an agreement, but they hadn't sat down to discuss one before today and the talks are still in their preliminary stages. 

3:05pm: The extension talks are at "stage 0," according to this update tweet from Ladson. 

1:34pm: The Nationals are discussing an extension with Adam Dunn, tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Dunn, 30, is under contract for $12MM in 2010, but he's set to become a free agent after the season.

You get tons of power, walks and strikeouts with Dunn, but not much defense. He broke his personal streak of hitting exactly 40 homers per year at four in 2009 when he hit 38. His exceptionally poor defense limits his value, so he's likely to fit better on AL teams from here on.

Tigers, Verlander Talking Long-Term Deal

SATURDAY, 1:31pm: Tacking on a sixth year to a new contract for Verlander could cost the Tigers an additional $20MM, writes Tom Gage of The Detroit News.

FRIDAY, 4:27pm: The sides will likely reach a deal if the Tigers guarantee a sixth year, according to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Verlander has avoided team options in the past so a club option seems unlikely.

1:10pm: The Tigers have started talking with Justin Verlander about a long-term deal, tweets Yahoo's Jeff Passan. The sides are discussing a five-year $75MM deal, but Verlander wants a sixth year guaranteed. 

Felix Hernandez's five-year $78MM deal would serve as a baseline for a possible Verlander deal. The Mariners bought out two of Hernandez's arbitration years, plus three free agent years. The Tigers are looking to do the same with Verlander, who is on track to hit free agency after the 2011 season.

Verlander, who turns 27 next month, led the American League in wins, strikeouts and innings pitched last year. It was a return to form after a disappointing 2008 season. Verlander has pitched at least 200 innings in each of the last three seasons. He was named AL Rookie of the Year in 2006 and pitched a no-hitter the following year.

Verlander filed for $9.5MM in arbitration earlier this month, while the Tigers offered $6.9MM. 

Nationals Notes: Dunn, Hudson, Payroll

Some notes from the Nationals' Hot Stove Luncheon courtesy of MASNsports.com's Ben Goessling:

Mets Sign Frank Catalanotto

The Mets have signed Frank Catalanotto to a minor league deal, tweets Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger. The deal includes an invitation to Spring Training, according to Bart Hubbuch of The New York Post (via Twitter).

The 35-year-old native New Yorker hit .278/.346/.382 in 162 plate appearances for Milwaukee last year, and he's mostly a corner outfielder/first baseman these days. Catalanotto is a .273/.358/.396 career hitter off the bench, so he could serve as the team's primary lefty pinch hitter. He's also performed significantly better against right handers throughout his career.

The Brewers and Marlins were also believed to have some interest in Catalanotto.

Discussion: Mike Sweeney

Late last night, Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com mentioned (via Twitter) that Mike Sweeney still wants to play this year. The former Royal and Athletic hit a modest .281/.335/.442 in 266 plate appearances for the Mariners last season, though he's had to settle for minor league contracts with invitations to Spring Training in each of the last two offseasons.

Knee and back problems have essentially relegated Sweeney to full-time DH status (just 164.1 innings at first over the last three years), and as we all know, there's always more DH's available than DH spots. However, when comparable righty hitters like Jermaine Dye (.250/.340/.453 in 2009) are turning down $3MM+, Sweeney might actually have a leg up in the market because he'd presumably be willing to come (very) cheap.

There's no better way to start the morning off than with a nice friendly chat, so let's see where everyone thinks Sweeney might land. Just to toss some teams out there, do to Blue Jays, Orioles, Tigers or White Sox seem like fits? What about a pinch-hitter for an NL club?