January 2010

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Friday

Here's a round up of the players that have agreed to deals avoiding arbitration today…

Odds & Ends: Hart, Yankees, Baldelli, Ruiz

A few Friday night links…

Infield Market Hinging On Hudson?

FRIDAY, 8:32pm: MLB.com's Bill Ladson reports that Hudson is looking for $9MM, but the Nationals are only willing to pay him a third of that. GM Mike Rizzo has spoken to Hudson recently, however they talked about how he would fit with the team, rather than dollars and years.

THURSDAY, 3:15pm: Chico Harlan of the Washington Post hears that the Nationals are waiting on Hudson's decision.

10:32am: Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports suggested yesterday three teams are in on free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson.  Today, Rosenthal says six teams are "showing varying degrees of interest."

The Nationals are one of those clubs, though MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets that Hudson's price is still too high and they're considering either going internal or signing Adam Kennedy or Orlando Cabrera.

Rosenthal indicates Hudson is the "linchpin" of the free agent infield market, with the fates of Kennedy, Cabrera, Felipe Lopez, and Melvin Mora tied to Hudson.  Regarding Mora, a Rosenthal tweet has the Rangers, Rockies, Mariners, and Reds in the mix.

Rosenthal's list of teams that are or could be looking for infield help includes the Nats, Twins, Reds, Tigers, Rockies, Mariners, Rays, and Cardinals.  Morosi likes Kennedy as a match for Detroit.

Athletics Agree To Deal With Michael Wuertz

The Athletics agreed to a two-year  $5.25MM deal with reliever Michael Wuertz. Wuertz will get $2.2MM in 2010, $2.8MM in 2011 and either $250K or $3.5MM in 2012, depending on whether the A's pick up their club option. The 31-year-old righty had filed for $2.9MM in arbitration, while the club submitted $1.9MM. He was the team's last remaining arbitration eligible player. 

Wuertz posted a 2.63 ERA in 78.2 innings last season, as batters made contact on just 58.9% of the swings they took against him. As you can imagine, that was far and away the best rate in baseball.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle and the AP added details after MLB.com's Jane Lee first tweeted the agreement.

Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.

Mariners Sign Eric Byrnes

The Mariners have signed outfielder Eric Byrnes to a one-year deal, according to a team press release.

Arizona released the 33-year-old earlier this month after he hit just .218/.271/.382 in 482 plate appearances during the first two seasons of the three-year, $30MM extension he signed prior to the 2008 season. The Diamondbacks are still on the hook for Byrnes' $11MM salary in 2010, less whatever the Mariners are paying him (likely the league minimum).

To make room for Byrnes on the roster, Seattle designated first baseman Tommy Everidge for assignment, reports Ryan Divish of The Tacoma News Tribune (via Twitter). They had just claimed Everidge off waivers from the Athletics two weeks ago.

Odds & Ends: Anderson, Smoltz, Red Sox, Dye

Links for Friday…

Johnny Damon Rumors: Friday

Johnny Damon is open to joining the Blue Jays, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Damon said in a text message that he is "all ears and eager to help make any team better."

Yesterday we learned that the Blue Jays inquired on Damon. GM Alex Anthopoulos suggested Jays fans keep expectations in check, however. We also heard that Scott Boras, Damon's agent, was trying to engage the Reds and Tigers.

Today, Jayson Stark wrote that the Tigers don't seem that interested. The Braves haven't spoken to Boras in a month and a half and the Rays have little to spend.

Twins, Mauer Begin Contract Negotiations

The Twins have opened contract negotiations with Joe Mauer. Manager Ron Gardenhire told USA Today's Bob Nightengale that talks couldn't be going better with the catcher. Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, confirmed to Jon Heyman of SI.com that talks have begun, but cautions that "nothing is imminent." (Both links go to Twitter).

Mauer will hit free agency after this season if the Twins don't lock him up long-term. That's easier said than done for a small-market team, especially when we're talking about one of the best players in the world. Mauer doesn't turn 27 until April, but he already has three batting titles, two Gold Gloves and an MVP to his name. 

He led the league in batting average, OBP and SLG last year, maintaining his reputation as a strong defender and helping his club make the playoffs. He's under contract for $12.5MM this year, and he'll have the chance to sign for considerably more than $100MM if he hits the open market. 

Stark On Damon, Bedard, Phillies, Smoltz, Gregg

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com points out that teams aren't handing out long-term contracts as liberally as they were a few years ago. We've seen just eight contracts of three-plus years this offseason, after seeing 13 such contracts in each of the previous two winters. The offseason before that? Players signed 29 contracts of three years or more. Here are Stark's rumors:

  • Detroit doesn't seem that interested in Johnny Damon and the Braves haven't spoken with Damon's agent, Scott Boras, in a month and a half. The Rays have checked in, but they have little to spend.
  • Erik Bedard and the Orioles have mutual interest in a reunion, Stark hears. 
  • The Phillies would like to add a veteran left-handed reliever on a minor league deal, but Alan Embree and Ron Mahay are holding out for big league deals at this point, despite the Phillies' interest. 
  • Kevin Gregg is high on the Rockies' shopping list. They're looking at infield options and hoping to save enough money to shore up their bullpen, too. 
  • The Blue Jays have told clubs that Scott Downs and Jason Frasor are available. The Cubs have checked in on the pair of relievers. 
  • The Royals have told teams they're "open minded" about moving Gil Meche or Brian Bannister. 
  • John Smoltz is in no rush to sign. He's open to waiting for a few months, since he'd like a starting job and some execs question his ability to start for an entire season. 
  • Ben Sheets will be the first A's pitcher to make $10MM (though some believe Sheets will be traded before the end of the year).
  • Mark Prior is throwing off a mound and would like to make a comeback. 

Mets, Two Others Interested In Catalanotto

The Mets are one of three teams interested in Frank Catalanotto, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Brewers and Marlins are "believed to be" Catalanotto's other suitors. The 35-year-old hit .278/.346/.382 in a part-time role for the Brewers last year, playing at second and in left and right. 

Like Jim Edmonds, who the Brewers added yesterday, Catalanotto is a left-handed hitter with a significant platoon split. He struggles against lefties, but has a career .819 OPS against right-handers.