January 2010

Marlins Sign Jose Veras

The Marlins signed reliever Jose Veras to a minor league deal, tweets Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.

Veras, 30, posted a 5.19 ERA, 7.2 K/9, and 5.0 BB/9 in 50.3 innings last year for the Yankees and Indians.  He was designated for assignment twice during the season, and non-tendered by the Tribe in December.  The Marlins added Derrick Turnbow to their pen earlier today.

Cubs Sign Xavier Nady

The Cubs officially signed Xavier Nady to a one-year deal worth $3.3MM today. GM Jim Hendry was also considering Reed JohnsonJonny Gomes and Jermaine Dye, but he settled on Nady, who could earn an extra $2MM in incentives tied to games played. 

Nady is coming off his second Tommy John surgery, which is uncharted territory for an established everyday player. The 31-year-old appeared in just seven games in 2009, but he hit 25 homers the year before that, so you can see why the Cubs were intrigued.

Next up for Nady: proving he's healthy enough to deserve a big contract next winter. Next up for his agent, Scott Boras: find a home for Johnny Damon.

ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine first reported that the Cubs were close to adding an outfielder. Yahoo's Tim Brown reported that the deal was official and Jon Heyman of SI.com added the terms of the contract.

Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.

Mets Sign Josh Fogg

The Mets signed pitcher Josh Fogg to a minor league deal, reports Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.

Despite poor peripheral stats, Fogg managed to post a 3.74 ERA in 45.6 relief innings for the Rockies last year.  He tossed another 40.3 ugly innings as a starter in the minors.  In his best days, Fogg was able to chew up 30 starts with an ERA around 5.00 for the Pirates and Rockies.

Nationals Agree To Terms With Miguel Batista

The Nationals agreed to terms with pitcher Miguel Batista on a minor league deal, according to a team press release.

Finishing up a three-year, $25MM deal with the Mariners, Batista was a $9MM middle reliever last year.  He posted a 4.04 ERA, 6.6 K/9, and 4.9 BB/9 on the season.  Funny quote from Batista to John Hickey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer before the season:

"You don't pay a guy $9 million to pitch middle relief.  Well, maybe the Yankees do. My concern is to stay healthy and help the team and we will find some neutral ground."

Batista shouldn't have a shot at the closer job in Washington, but he might be able to crack the rotation.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Mets, Damon, Burrell, Lopez

On this date two years ago, the Mets and Twins agreed to a five player deal sending two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana to New York. The Mets and Santana had a 72-hour window to finalize a contract extension, and the two sides eventually agreed to a six-year, $137.5MM contract to make the trade official. Santana has given the Mets over 400 innings of 2.78 ERA ball, while just one of the four players the Twins received in the deal is still with the organization.

Here's some links from around the baseball blogosphere…

  • Blogging Mets isn't sure where the Mets can turn for pitching help now that Jon Garland and Ben Sheets are off the market.
  • The Baseball Opinion wonders if the Sheets and Justin Duchscherer signings were calculated moves by Billy Beane made with the intention of flipping both at the trade deadline.
  • Royals Authority takes a look a Kansas City's crowded outfield.
  • Camden Crazies goes through some different roster permutations for the Orioles.
  • The Sports Banter comes up with some possible destinations for Johnny Damon.
  • Meanwhile, U.S.S. Mariner thinks Damon would be a cost effective way to upgrade Seattle's roster.
  • Rays Index takes the latest Rays' rumors as a sign that they're still trying to trade Pat Burrell.
  • Pro Ball NW gives us five reasons why the Mariners should trade Jose Lopez.
  • TAUNTR chimes in on some of the latest hot stove news.

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.

Indians Explored Moving Carmona To Afford Hudson

The Indians have had perhaps the quietest offseason in baseball so far, their biggest move being the December 1st Kelly ShoppachMitch Talbot swap.  Mark Shapiro's only big league free agent contract went to backup catcher Mike Redmond for $850K.  The inactivity seems to fit with their rebuilding plan – if the Indians wanted to contend in 2010, they probably wouldn't have traded Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez.

The Tribe's inactivity also stems from a lack of cash, based on a report from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  Rosenthal says the Indians "explored the idea of trading right-hander Fausto Carmona to clear money for free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, but the possibility is unlikely to come to fruition." 

The implication is that the Indians don't have $4-5MM in the 2010 budget for Hudson, despite shedding the $16.7MM that would've been owed to Martinez and Lee.  They do have a handful of increasing salaries for '10, Carmona's included.  Carmona has two years and $11MM remaining; his contract is a rare example of a regrettable arbitration buyout deal.  In terms of dumping contracts, the Indians would benefit greatly from big first halves from Jake Westbrook, Kerry Wood, and Jhonny Peralta.

Six Teams Considering Chien-Ming Wang

THURSDAY, 7:45pm: Nero says that Wang is reconsidering his plan not to return from shoulder surgery until a couple months into the season, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN.  Nero says that "four or five teams" are pursuing Wang more aggressively than expected and therefore, his client could sign before Spring Training if he receives the right offer.

Stark mentions the Mets, Dodgers, and Cardinals as potential destinations for the 29-year-old hurler.

MONDAY, 5:32pm: Ken Rosenthal catches up with Chien-Ming Wang's agent, Alan Nero, who reports that a half-dozen teams are currently reviewing Wang's medical records.

Wang is training with an eye on throwing off a mound within a week or two, Nero added.

“We’re anticipating a major-league offer with a substantial guarantee and substantial upside,” Nero said.

The way that works out, timing-wise, Wang should be throwing off a mound right as the teams licking their wounds from losing out on Ben Sheets are ready to take notice.

The two are hardly similar pitchers, however. While Sheets gets more fly balls than ground balls and has a healthy strikeout rate, Wang is quite dependent on his infield defense.

So for those who miss out on Sheets, better check to see if Luis Castillo or Michael Young is playing for your team before going after Wang. If so, you might want to save your money.

Blue Jays Checked In On Johnny Damon

6:40pm: The Jays have talked to Boras about Damon, according to Jordan MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  In a follow up tweet, Bastian quotes GM Alex Anthopoulos telling fans at a  season-ticket holder Q&A session, "I don't want to get your hopes up."  However, Bastian writes that the club has had internal discussions about the veteran slugger, as they have a need at the leadoff spot.

The Jays have also considered bringing Carlos Delgado back, Anthopoulos and manager Cito Gaston revealed in the session.

8:33am: Yesterday we learned from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that agent Scott Boras is "trying to engage" the Reds and Tigers on Johnny Damon.  Today, two Reds beat writers label the Reds an unlikely match.  MLB.com's Mark Sheldon talked to Reds GM Walt Jocketty, who admitted to discussing Damon but says the outfielder doesn't fit financially.  The Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay calls their interest "lukewarm." 

Fay says the Reds called Boras about Xavier Nady and asked about Damon too.  Via Twitter, Fay notes that Reds owner Bob Castellini might adjust the budget for the right free agent addition.  Fay says the Reds are still talking to Jonny Gomes and Orlando Cabrera, and feels something is brewing in Cincinnati.

Yesterday, we learned from Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Rays have interest in Damon as a DH candidate.  The Yankees are out, having agreed to a deal with Randy Winn yesterday.  In another article, Sherman chronicles a last-ditch attempt by Damon to engage the Yanks in the middle of last week.  Public sniping between Boras and GM Brian Cashman followed.  Sherman has more on the Cashman-Boras drama here.

Mets To Re-Sign Fernando Tatis

THURSDAY, 6:30pm: The Mets and Fernando Tatis have reached agreement on a one-year deal, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post

Terms of the agreement are currently unknown, but Puma writes that the 35-year-old will earn less than the $1.7MM he made last season.  However, a baseball source indicates that with incentives, Tatis could approach that figure.

3:00pm: Jon Heyman of SI.com says (via Twitter) that the Mets will sign Tatis. This means Carlos Delgado will have to look for a job elsewhere.

WEDNESDAY, 6:46pm: Adam Rubin of The New York Daily News says a deal should be wrapped up "shortly." 

6:06pm: The Mets are deep into negotiations with Fernando Tatis, reports Mike Puma of The New York Post. A deal could be reached within a matter of days.

GM Omar Minaya contacted Tatis' agent today, and indicated that he wants an answer soon. Tatis earned $1.7MM in 2009, and Puma says he wants a comparable contract for 2010. A deal would seem to eliminate the possibility of a Carlos Delgado return. Puma mentions the Rockies and Mariners as other clubs that have expressed interest in the free agent. 

The 35-year-old Tatis hit .282/.339/.438 with just eight homers in 379 plate appearances last year, though he did see time at six positions. He will be forever remembered as the first (and only) player in Major League history to hit two grand slams in one inning, off the same pitcher no less.

Could John Smoltz Land With Mets?

THURSDAY, 6:12pm: There has been "increased momentum" towards an agreement between the Mets and John Smoltz, writes Ken Davidoff of Newsday. It's believed that the 42-year-old is seeking $4MM guaranteed, plus performance bonuses.

Though the Mets have yet to make Smoltz a formal offer, they have expressed enthusiasm about bringing him aboard.  Likewise, the righty is encouraged by their level of interest.

8:44am:  Smoltz could take the Pedro Martinez path and sign mid-season, believes a source of Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News.  Pedro signed with the Phillies in July and made his debut a month later.

WEDNESDAY, 9:58am: John Smoltz will fit with almost any club, assuming he comes cheaply.  It's unknown whether he can provide significant innings in 2010 as a 43-year-old, but there's something left in the tank given his 73 strikeouts and 18 walks in 78 innings last year.  He's a potential weapon in the back end of a rotation or a bullpen.

Mike Puma of the New York Post says that with Ben Sheets and Jon Garland off the board, Smoltz could be the "last man standing" for the Mets.  While they've been in contact, Puma believes the Mets aren't willing to spend much.  Meanwhile, David Waldstein of the New York Times believes Jarrod Washburn is a possibility for the Mets.

Bob Klapisch of The Bergen Record wrote today that Smoltz is "believed to be leaning toward the Cardinals," but Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cards "appear unlikely to engage" Smoltz given their Rich Hill signing yesterday.

The Phillies and Nationals have been linked to Smoltz this winter, though the Phils may be set after reaching an agreement with Jose Contreras.