September 2010

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Scott Boras To Represent Rafael Soriano

Agent Scott Boras has added another one of the offseason's most intriguing free agents to his client list. Rafael Soriano hired Boras to represent him, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.

As Boras recently pointed out to Jon Heyman of SI.com, Soriano is “one of the top closers in the game.” The 30-year-old leads the American League in saves (44) and has a 1.76 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 63 appearances. MLBTR's Luke Adams recently pointed out that Soriano has set himself up for a multi-year deal, possibly even a three-year contract.

Boras, who has negotiated massive free agent deals for the likes of Matt Holliday, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, recently added Jayson Werth to his list of clients. Soriano, Werth, Adrian Beltre and Carlos Pena highlight Boras' free agents this offseason.

The Rays' chances of re-signing Soriano seem slim, but they could obtain two picks in next year's draft if Soriano turns down arbitration and signs elsewhere. Soriano, a projected Type A free agent, could theoretically accept an arb offer, as he did a year ago, but that probably won't concern the Rays. Soriano seems unlikely to accept arbitration and the Rays could trade him if he does, just as Atlanta did last offseason.



Olney On Crawford, Rangers, D’Backs

Home field advantage in the Division Series and League Championship Series hasn't given teams the advantage you might expect, as ESPN.com's Buster Olney shows. But the Rays, Yankees and Twins presumably want home field advantage anyways and there's no question that the teams' respective owners would like the extra revenue. Here are the rest of Olney's rumors:

  • Some MLB executives expect the Red Sox and Angels to get into a bidding war over Carl Crawford this offseason. He’d be a good fit on either team, though Mike Cameron would likely become a bench player if the Red Sox signed Crawford or Jayson Werth.
  • High-ranking executives wouldn’t be surprised to see the Rangers’ payroll rise to $90-100MM. The team opened the 2010 season with a $65MM payroll, so that would be a substantial increase.
  • There seems to be a very good chance that Adam LaRoche and Mark Reynolds, who have combined  to strike out 375 times this season, will not be on the D’Backs in 2011. LaRoche will probably hit free agency this winter, but Reynolds has $13MM remaining on his contract and would have to be traded.



Mozeliak: Cardinals Have Many Needs To Address

The Cardinals have a number of needs to address this offseason and GM John Mozeliak repeated to Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that ownership is prepared to boost the team’s payroll if necessary. The Cardinals will look to add starting pitching, relievers, catchers and other position players this offseason. Throw in Tony La Russa’s uncertain future and Albert Pujols’ looming free agency and Mozeliak has a busy winter ahead.

The Cardinals will need a fifth starter and they’ve already initiated discussions with Jake Westbrook, who has pitched well in St. Louis so far. Miklasz reports that the team will likely look to “spruce up” its left-handed relief, too.

The club will also look to add offense to complement Pujols and Matt Holliday. Mozeliak told Miklasz that he’d like to acquire "a couple of guys who can hit 15 to 20 homers." The front office also intends to add pop behind the plate and will likely look for a backup catcher who can contribute offensively.

The 82-76 Cardinals would also like improved middle infield defense and better baserunning. It's been a disappointing season for the Cardinals, but Mozeliak seems prepared to make a number of changes before the 2011 campaign begins.



Westbrook, Cardinals Have Mutual Interest

Jake Westbrook and the Cardinals have mutual interest in working out a deal to keep the starter in St. Louis, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. GM John Mozeliak says the club “obviously has interest” in re-signing Westbrook and has reached out to the pitcher’s representatives. Discussions haven’t picked up yet, but Westbrook says he wouldn’t mind signing a deal before other teams have the chance to bid on him.

"I'm definitely going to be open-minded about pretty much everything," Westbrook said. "If they had interest, I've definitely enjoyed my time here. I've gotten to know the guys well. The organization is definitely one that everybody knows about, that I've certainly heard a lot about, and now, firsthand, I've gotten to see that everybody was right."

The Cardinals have experience locking up starters on the cusp of free agency; they signed Kyle Lohse to an extension two years ago this week and locked up Joel Pineiro in October of 2007. Lohse will figure into the team’s 2011 rotation if healthy, but the Cardinals could still use starting pitching depth. Westbrook won’t cost as much as Lohse did ($41MM), but as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes explained yesterday, he could be in line for a two-year deal worth $15MM or so.

Westbrook has put together 195 solid innings this year, posting a 4.38 ERA between Cleveland and St. Louis. In 11 starts since joining the Cards, the right-hander has pitched especially well, posting a 3.88 ERA.



Ted Lilly Seeks Three-Year Deal

The agent for Ted Lilly anticipates mutual interest between his client and the Dodgers, but suspects other teams might make better offers.

“I’m just not sure the Dodgers at this point are going to get to a range that will be very easy for us to achieve come December,” agent Larry O’Brien told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. “I’m pretty confident that there’s a minimum three-year deal out there for Ted.”

Lilly, who turns 35 in January, has pitched well for the Cubs and Dodgers this season. He has an overall ERA of 3.71 with 7.6 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 186.2 total innings. He and teammate Hiroki Kuroda will be among the more appealing free agent starters not named Cliff Lee.

As Rosenthal points out, Lilly currently projects as a Type A free agent, but not by much. It may not matter, since the Dodgers would have to offer arbitration to obtain compensation picks and that doesn’t seem likely given their recent history.



Ten Bargain Signings For 2010

The 2010 season is no exception to the rule that hindsight is 20-20. If we knew last winter what we do now, there's no way that players such as Chone Figgins would have signed for more than these ten players combined. No one on the list below signed for more than $3.5MM last winter, but all of these players went on to reward their teams with productive seasons:

  • Matt Capps, $3.5MM - Capps has a 2.51 ERA with 41 total saves for the Nationals and Twins. 
  • Darren Oliver, $3.5MM - The lefty has a 2.52 ERA with more than one strikeout per inning in 63 games for the Rangers.
  • Takashi Saito, $3.2MM - Another bargain reliever, Saito has a 2.52 ERA with 11.6 K/9 in 55 games.
  • Aubrey Huff, $3MM - Huff has hit .289/.382/.510 with 26 homers in San Francisco.
  • J.J. Putz, $3MM - Putz has a 2.92 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning in 58 games.
  • Miguel Olivo, $2.5MM - Olivo is batting .269/.314/.444 in 422 plate appearances so far in 2010.
  • Kelly Johnson, $2.35MM - One year removed from a tough season in Atlanta, Johnson has 26 homers.
  • John Buck, $2MM - Buck hit his 20th homer tonight and made the AL All-Star team.
  • Russell Branyan, $2MM - Branyan was an absolute steal last year, but he was a bargain once again in 2010, hitting 25 total homers.
  • Jim Thome, $1.5MM - Who saw this one coming? Thome has an OPS over 1.000 and 25 homers. Bill Smith and the Twins deserve a ton of credit for this signing.

Click here to check out some recent minor league deals that turned out well.


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Odds & Ends: K-Rod, Angels, Tamura, Matsui

Links for Wednesday, before the Giants ask Tim Lincecum to help extend their NL West lead...

  • Lawyers from the MLB Players Association and MLB will meet in New York tomorrow to discuss the union's grievance with the Mets. As the AP reports, the sides will discuss the team's decision to place Francisco Rodriguez on the disqualified list.
  • Top prospect Mike Moustakas told reporters that he and other Royals minor leaguers welcome the attention they're attracting this year. 
  • The Angels let scouting director Eddie Bane go, according to John Manuel of Baseball America. Bane was a candidate for the D'Backs GM job earlier in the month.
  • Japanese outfielder Hitoshi Tamura has interest in playing major league baseball, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. The 33-year-old has 27 homers this year and represented the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks at the All-Star game.
  • Jason Varitek told reporters, including MLB.com's Ian Browne, that he's well aware of the fact that he may only have a handful of games remaining in a Red Sox uniform.
  • Through an interpreter, Hideki Matsui told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he'd consider signing with the A's if they expressed interest in him this offseason.
  • Todd Helton made it clear to Troy Renck of the Denver Post that he isn't retiring after the season.
  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic heard that Brandon Webb was throwing just 81 mph in his instructional league outing (Twitter link). Webb told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that he had fun and felt good.
  • The D'Backs, who will see Webb and Rodrigo Lopez hit free agency this winter, will look to add starting pitching, but GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that he believes starters may be easier to obtain through trades than major league free agency.



Nationals Seek Top Starting Pitcher

The Nationals would like to add a leadoff hitter and re-sign Adam Dunn this offseason, but their main priority is starting pitching. GM Mike Rizzo told reporters, including MLB.com's Bill Ladson, that the team will be monitoring the pitching market this winter (Twitter link).

"We need a front-of-the-rotation guy to put everybody in their proper place in the rotation," Rizzo said. "That's the number one priority going into the offseason. We definitely have depth - prospect wise - to pull off a deal for a pitcher."

James Shields, Matt Garza, Zack GreinkeKenshin KawakamiDerek Lowe and Carlos Zambrano are among the starters who could become available on the trade market this winter. Lowe and Kawakami can't be considered top-of-the-rotation pitchers at this point, but Shields, Garza and Greinke are hard to beat.

The Nationals seem likely to have some interest in Cliff Lee this offseason. Lee will be a free agent, along with Ted LillyHiroki Kuroda and others.

The Nationals will start next season with some combination of Livan HernandezJason Marquis, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan, Chien-Ming Wang, Craig Stammen, Luis Atilano, J.D. Martin, and Ross Detwiler in their rotation depending on trades and non-tenders. Stephen Strasburg, who wowed fans and opponents alike in his brief big league debut, will miss most or all of the 2011 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.



The Marlins' Offer To Dan Uggla

Dan Uggla and the Marlins have interest in working out a long-term deal, but according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, Uggla's representation is asking for more than twice as much as the Marlins are offering; Uggla would like a five-year $58MM deal, but the Marlins are offering "in the range of three years and $24MM."

If the Marlins go to arbitration with Uggla this offseason, he should earn $10MM easily. He earns a $7.8MM salary this year and seems destined for another big raise given his offensive stats (32 homers, 100 RBI and counting). In a sense, a $10MM salary in 2011 is a given. On top of that, the Marlins are effectively offering a two-year $14MM deal.

Sure, it'd be nice for the Marlins if Uggla, one of the best second basemen in the game, wants to stay in Florida so badly that he'll take a paycut to do so. But Uggla could pocket $10MM in 2011 and hit the open market 13 months from now in search of $40-50MM more. Most second basemen don't hit 30 homers with the same consistency Uggla does, so he'll have no trouble finding multi-year offers if he hits the market next winter. 

The Marlins' offer does not appear to be worth taking, but the sides have six months before the 2011 season, so the team's proposal is by no means final. And if he's discouraged by the Marlins' offer, Uggla can look across the locker room to teammate Josh Johnson, who signed an extension last offseason after it seemed unlikely that he and the Marlins would agree on a multi-year deal.



Poll: Will The Nationals Re-Sign Adam Dunn?

Adam Dunn is what he is: one of the few hitters in baseball capable of reaching 40 homers annually and a consistently below average defender. He knows it, the Nationals know it and so do all of Dunn’s other potential suitors. His game hasn’t changed much recently and his strengths and weaknesses will likely remain constant for the next few seasons.

The Nationals would like to build a better defensive team and, with no DH slot, must find room for Dunn on the field if they re-sign him this offseason. Any team would love to add 40 homers to its lineup, but after two years, the Nationals realize that Dunn’s defense is a liability. They are said to like Carlos Pena, another powerful first baseman on the brink of free agency, partly for his glovework.

Despite Dunn’s defense, the Nationals have had interest in re-signing him all season long. At this point it seems likely that Dunn will reach free agency, but the 30-year-old could be a fit in Washington in 2011. Ryan Zimmerman wants the slugger back and so do the Nats fans who have been encouraging the team’s front office to keep him. But their wish won’t necessarily come true...

Will the Nationals re-sign Adam Dunn?

Click here to vote and here to view the results.









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