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The Brewers, Red Sox and Phillies are the three biggest winners of the offseason so far for Jon Heyman of SI.com. Heyman provides some rumors, but not before including the Nationals and Pirates on his list of offseason winners. Here are the details:
- The White Sox "flirted with the idea" of trading Gavin Floyd, but decided to keep their rotation together until Jake Peavy returns. The Rockies inquired on Floyd earlier in the offseason.
- Kevin Gregg is talking to clubs other than the Orioles. Two weeks ago, Gregg's agent told the Baltimore Sun that "a few teams" were still involved and those clubs still appear to be in the mix for the former Blue Jays closer.
- The Yankees checked in on Rafael Soriano, according to Heyman. Joel Sherman of the New York Post and ESPN.com's Buster Olney suggested earlier in the month that the Yankees' interest in Soriano was cautious at best.
Links for Thursday, exactly one year after the D'Backs signed Kelly Johnson. Former Arizona GM Josh Byrnes deserves credit for this shrewd addition. Here are today's links…
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes talked baseball with Roy Shelton of NetDugout.com.
- The Rangers do like Adrian Beltre, but as MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan explains, they could be showing interest partly to drive up the third baseman’s price for the Angels. Click here to vote on Beltre's next team.
- Matthew Carruth of FanGraphs shows that lots of talented players, including Cliff Lee, have moved from the AL to the NL this offseason. The Senior Circuit "looks like it is making inroads against the American League for next season."
- Dan Wheeler explains to John Tomase of the Boston Herald that he realized he had to trust his stuff in the 2004 NLCS against the Cardinals. Wheeler and Bobby Jenks are two of most recent additions to the group of well-established right-handers in Boston's 'pen.
- In a separate piece, Tomase examines the Red Sox 'pen, which was "an unquestioned weakness" last year, but could be a strength in 2011. Lefties Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller and Rich Hill will compete for a spot and Matt Albers and Scott Atchison will also be in the mix.
Some teams have completed their offseason shopping, and lots of deals still lie ahead for others. Here's a summary of the remaining team needs, sorted by division (links go to detailed breakdowns of divisional needs):
- Orioles: First baseman, right-handed reliever, left-handed reliever, starter.
- Red Sox: left-handed reliever.
- Yankees: starter, right-handed outfielder.
- Rays: closer, DH/first baseman.
- Blue Jays: hitter, left-handed relief help.
- White Sox: Swingman or reliever.
- Indians: Veteran starting pitcher, third baseman, utility infielder, Shin-Soo Choo extension.
- Tigers: Starting pitcher, lefty reliever.
- Royals: Starting pitcher, reliever.
- Twins: Starting pitcher, reliever(s), backup infielder, Jim Thome situation, Francisco Liriano extension.
- Angels: Third base, outfielder/DH, leadoff man.
- Athletics: Reliever.
- Mariners: Starting pitcher, left fielder, reliever, backup infielder.
- Rangers: Designated hitter, possible extensions for Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson.
- Braves: Backup outfielder who can handle center field.
- Marlins: Left-handed hitting bench bat.
- Mets: Starting pitcher, lefty reliever, fourth outfielder.
- Phillies: Taker for Joe Blanton.
- Nationals: Starting pitcher, first baseman, reliever.
- Cubs: Starting pitcher.
- Reds: Lefty reliever, left-handed hitting outfielder/leadoff hitter, backup shortstop, Joey Votto extension.
- Astros: Lefty reliever.
- Brewers: None.
- Pirates: Veteran reliever, starting pitcher, taker for Ryan Doumit.
- Cardinals: Albert Pujols extension, pitching depth.
- Diamondbacks: None.
- Rockies: Starting pitching depth, lefty reliever, Carlos Gonzalez extension.
- Dodgers: Right-handed hitting left fielder.
- Padres: Backup infielder.
- Giants: Backup shortstop, sixth starter.
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has already examined the remaining needs for teams in the AL Central, AL West, NL East, NL Central and NL West. To round out the series, I'm going to take a look at the remaining needs for the AL East clubs:
- Orioles: First baseman, right-handed reliever, left-handed reliever, starter. The Orioles are targeting Derrek Lee, and Adam LaRoche has been on their radar all offseason. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Andy MacPhail move on to DH types if he doesn't sign Lee or LaRoche. The club is also interested in right-handed relievers like Kevin Gregg, Jon Rauch and Grant Balfour and could bring a lefty like Will Ohman or Mark Hendrickson aboard. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reported ten days ago that the O's would like to add a veteran pitcher and had spoken to Marcus Thames' agent.
- Red Sox: left-handed reliever. Felix Doubront, Rich Hill and Andrew Miller give the Red Sox three southpaws, so they may have all the left-handed relief they need. But Boston has been linked to Brian Fuentes all month and could pursue him. Jed Lowrie's strong finish to the 2010 season means the Red Sox don't have a pressing need for infielders, but MLB.com's Ian Browne recently suggested that the team could add a utility type player. Boston could also listen to offers for Mike Cameron, but he does provide value to the Red Sox.
- Yankees: starter, right-handed outfielder. The rest of the Yankees' offseason centers on Andy Pettitte's decision, since that will determine whether Brian Cashman has to pursue a Jeff Francis/Freddy Garcia type or rely on Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. The team will likely add a fourth outfielder who bats right handed and consider utility infielders and relievers.
- Rays: closer, DH/first baseman. The Rays' biggest need is for back-end bullpen help, and they have expressed interest in a number of free agents. Rafael Soriano will sign elsewhere, but the Rays could look for a bargain arm. They could enter the season with some combination of Matt Joyce, Justin Ruggiano and Leslie Anderson at DH, but many free agent bats are available and DHs like Jim Thome and Johnny Damon would be fits in Tampa. The Rays have limited resources, and it seems like they're content to open the season with the relatively inexperienced Elliot Johnson as the backup middle infielder. The rotation is deep enough for the Rays to consider trading a starter, such as Matt Garza or James Shields.
- Blue Jays: hitter, left-handed relief help. The Blue Jays will likely add a bat at some point, and they have the flexibility to add one at a number of positions. Adding a first baseman or DH could limit playing time for Adam Lind or Edwin Encarnacion, but the two would create a strong offensive platoon. If the Blue Jays want to play Lind and Encarnacion every day, they can add a third baseman or right fielder and play Jose Bautista at the vacant position. The team lost Scott Downs this winter and could puruse left-handed relievers. David Purcey, Brad Mills, Rommie Lewis and Jesse Carlson give the team internal options, but Jon Heyman of SI.com reported that the Jays have some interest in Brian Fuentes.
The team that opened the bidding for Adrian Beltre has reportedly removed itself from the sweepstakes for the third baseman and now the top position player available doesn't appear to have many suitors left. The A's aren't bidding, and though the Rangers maintain some interest, they aren't an ideal fit for Beltre.
The Angels, who made Beltre a significant offer earlier this winter, remain the most logical fit for his services. They have since pulled their offer, but have continued interest despite agent Scott Boras' asking price. It seems likely that Beltre will return to the AL West, but let's not put it past Boras to involve more teams. Beltre will sign with some club within a couple months – which one will it be?
The A's are one of six teams with legitimate interest in Chad Qualls, the reliever's agent told Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group (Twitter links). Alan Hendricks acknowledged that he has spoken with the Athletics, but says no "substantial" discussions have taken place yet. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported earlier today that the A's will look at Qualls and Hideki Okajima.
Qualls will not cost a draft pick since he is a Type B free agent, but the Rays will receive an extra 2011 selection if the right-hander signs a big league deal elsewhere, since he turned down their offer of arbitration. In 59 innings for the D'Backs and Rays last year, Qualls posted a 7.32 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9.
The Mets, Twins and Rockies have been linked to the 32-year-old this offseason, but it seems unlikely that the Rockies will sign Qualls now that they have obtained Matt Lindstrom. The Royals, Orioles, Mariners, Nationals, Pirates, Blue Jays and Rays could also be on the lookout for right-handed relief help.
Links for Wednesday, four years after the Giants signed Barry Zito to a seven-year, $126MM deal…
- Michael Morse, who broke out with 15 homers in limited playing time last year, could be pushed into a platoon role if the Nationals sign a first baseman, as Ben Goessling of MASNSports explains.
- Yankees president Randy Levine said to Peter Botte of the New York Daily News what lots of Yankee fans are thinking: the club needs Andy Pettitte in 2011. Meanwhile, Mark Teixeira says the left-hander is leaning toward retirement.
- In the same piece, Levine acknowledges that the Yankees discussed Manny Ramirez, but downplayed the team's interest.
- Mark Rodgers, the agent for Andrew Miller, told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that the lefty received big league offers from at least three teams, including the Rangers and Giants, before signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox.
- The Phillies could fill Chad Durbin's role internally with someone younger, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Click below to read a transcript of today's chat with Tim Dierkes.
The Angels and Blue Jays have more upcoming arbitration cases than any other major league teams. Toronto and Los Angeles both have eight remaining arbitration eligible players, one more than the Giants, Padres and Rockies, who lead the National League with six apiece.
Teams and arbitration eligible players file for arbitration early next month in the first part of the process that determines players' 2011 salaries. If teams and players don't reach an agreement by January 18th, they exchange salary figures. If the sides don't reach a deal by the end of the month, they schedule a February hearing that would take place in front of a panel of arbitrators who decide between the player's pitch and the team's.
The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with their eligible players last offseason, the team's first under GM Alex Anthopoulos. The organization has avoided arbitration hearings for 13 consecutive offseasons, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the team settle with Jose Bautista, Shawn Camp, Rajai Davis, Yunel Escobar, Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch, Carlos Villanueva and Brandon Morrow.
The Angels have as many arbitration eligible players; the club faces potential hearings with Erick Aybar, Alberto Callaspo, Howie Kendrick, Jeff Mathis, Kendry Morales, Mike Napoli, Jered Weaver and Reggie Willits.
Most teams have 3-5 arbitration eligible players, but the Red Sox, Phillies and Pirates have just two. Kyle McClellan is the Cardinals' lone remaining arbitration eligible player.
Be sure to keep track of every arbitration case using MLBTR's new Arb Tracker, which you can find under the Tools tab at the top of the site.
Last week we looked at starting pitchers who could reach free agency after the 2012 season. Today, let's see which bats might be available.
The following position players are among those on pace to have six-plus years of service time for the first time once the '12 season ends: Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Delmon Young, Stephen Drew, Miguel Montero, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Luke Scott, and Carlos Quentin. Others currently in the four-plus service time class, such as Mike Napoli and James Loney, will need strong 2011 seasons to avoid being non-tendered. Hamilton looks like the only candidate for a $100MM+ deal, unless someone else posts massive 2011-12 seasons. Of course, any of these players could be extended before the '12 season ends.
As far as position players on multiyear deals that will expire after '12, in most cases we'll see veterans who won't qualify as top bats: Torii Hunter, Carlos Lee, Aaron Rowand, and Marlon Byrd for example. There are a pair of big names, though: David Wright and Ichiro Suzuki. Wright will turn 30 in December of 2012, and if his next two campaigns go well he could land a huge contract. Ichiro will turn 39 after the '12 season.
More than a dozen position players have contract options for 2012, which if exercised would make them eligible for free agency after that season. Yadier Molina, Aramis Ramirez, Rafael Furcal, Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, and Nick Swisher are the interesting names here, though some could be free agents after '11 if the options are declined.
A similar-sized group has options for '13, which if declined will make them free agents prior to that season. Names here include Brian McCann, Aubrey Huff, Travis Hafner, Mark Reynolds, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Youkilis, and Curtis Granderson. The most appealing players, however, figure to have their '13 options exercised.
Current free agent hitters could join this group by signing two-year deals or one-year contracts with options that are picked up. Still more names will be added from those who sign one-year deals now and again after the season, as well as those non-tendered after '12.
As of right now Hamilton and Wright project as the top bats for the 2012-13 offseason, though others like Upton, Young, Drew, Ethier, and Kemp could join the discussion by posting a pair of big offensive seasons.
Cot's Baseball Contracts was instrumental in creating this post.