Here's a round up of the players that have agreed to deals avoiding arbitration today...
- MLB.com's Lyle Spencer tweets that the Angels and Joe Saunders have agreed to a deal for 2010, avoiding arbitration. Kevin Baxter of The Los Angeles Times reports that the deal is worth $3.7MM, which splits the difference between each side's filing figure.
- The Rangers and Scott Feldman have agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.425MM, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News (via Twitter). He was the team's last remaining arbitration case.
A few Friday night links...
- The Brewers and Corey Hart appear headed to an arbitration hearing after negotiations reached an impasse, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Hart filed for $4.8MM, the team $4.15MM.
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News spoke to a Yankees' executive about the possibility of bringing in some players on minor league deals, and was told “I wouldn’t say we’re done, but probably close to done.”
- Four teams - including the Yankees, Rangers, and Mariners - are interested in Rocco Baldelli's services, reports Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal.
- ESPN's Jorge Arangure tweets that Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz is now free to sign after being "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Asset Control. In a second tweet, Arangure says that Ruiz is expected to command a multi-million dollar contract, and a few months ago we heard that the Red Sox and Tigers had some interest.
- Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun reports that Mark Hendrickson passed his physical today, however his deal with the Orioles likely won't be made official until Monday because the league's offices are closed during the weekend.
- MLB.com's Steve Gilbert says that the Diamondbacks and Edwin Jackson are playing close attention to how Wandy Rodriguez's arbitration case unfolds.
- The Rockies and Cardinals are in the mix for Felipe Lopez, tweets SI.com's Jon Heyman. The 29-year-old had a higher OBP (.383) and SLG (.427) than either Orlando Hudson or Orlando Cabrera in 2009.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson says that the Nationals have spoken to John Smoltz's agent recently, but there is no progress to report and they aren't willing to break the bank for him (both links open in Twitter).
- Meanwhile, Ladson also tweets that the team views the newly signed Miguel Batista as a starter for the back of their rotation, as opposed to an arm for the bullpen.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com says (via Twitter) that Craig Monroe isn't ready to retire to just yet. Over the last three years, Monroe has hit .215/.272/.377 with 23 homers in 693 plate appearances for four teams.
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.
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.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
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.
Links for Friday...
- Heyman tweets that the Angels and Dodgers could pursue Garret Anderson.
- Jon Heyman of SI.com tweets that the Mets are falling behind in their attempts to sign John Smoltz.
- As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com notes, Theo Epstein says the Red Sox do not have a policy against negotiating extensions during the season.
- The Red Sox, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Rockies watched Oscar Villarreal throw today, tweets Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse.
- An MLB executive tells ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that Jermaine Dye turned down $3.3MM from the Cubs before they signed Xavier Nady for the same price (Twitter link).
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets that money may prevent the Nationals from signing Orlando Hudson. Adam Dunn believes Washington is Hudson's first choice.
- The club could go after Adam Kennedy if Hudson signs elsewhere, tweets Ladson.
- The Blue Jays have money, but aren't going to spend for the sake of spending, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
- In case you'd like more on the Johnny Damon-Yankees drama, SI's Jon Heyman talked to the player and GM.
- Alex Rodriguez was "staring at retirement right in the face" last March when diagnosed with a torn labrum in his hip, he told Kim Jones of the YES Network Wednesday night.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs wonders if aging players are the new market inefficiency.
- Cameron compares Jason Bay to Josh Willingham and concludes that the two outfielders are pretty similar.
- In an interview with SNY's Kevin Burkhardt last night, Mets GM Omar Minaya insisted he has full autonomy. Joel Sherman of the New York Post doesn't buy it.
- U.S.S. Mariner's Dave Cameron tweets of rumblings that the Royals and Mariners have discussed Alberto Callaspo.
- The Red Sox signed catcher Gustavo Molina to a minor league deal, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford. Molina, 28 in February, hit .209/.233/.308 for the Nationals' Triple A club last year.
- Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball digs up the true story behind Andre Dawson, the Cubs, and the blank check in '87.
- Twins lefty Glen Perkins explained his grievance to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
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.
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.
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.