The Giants have a ton of money tied up in the bullpen right now, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, so they're trying to move Jeremy Affeldt or Ramon Ramirez. Many teams seek bullpen help, including the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Twins, Angels, Mariners, Mets, Brewers, Cardinals, and Reds.
Including Affeldt, Ramirez, Brian Wilson ($8.5MM), Javier Lopez ($4.25MM), Santiago Casilla ($1.9MM estimated), and Sergio Romo ($1.3MM estimated), the Giants project to have a $23.25MM bullpen in 2012. That doesn't seem too bad against a $130MM payroll, though it increases to over 23% of the team's spending once you remove the dead weight of Barry Zito and Aaron Rowand.
- The Cardinals offered Pujols a nine-year, $198MM extension in January, confirmed Goold. Though this would be the third-largest contract in baseball history, the average annual value of $22MM would have the game's best hitter outside of the all-time top ten. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak wouldn't comment on whether the January offer still stands.
- Mozeliak explained his Pujols timeline to Goold: "I don't feel like right now everything outside of Albert's situation is urgent. That said, the one takeaway we have to have in the next couple weeks is what is the likelihood of us getting something done (with Pujols). I think directionally, that's what we're looking for as we move into the winter meetings and toward (the holidays)."
- One pressing factor might be the division-rival Cubs, who have "serious interest" in Pujols according to a Goold source, yet the talks so far have been preliminary. Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs are showing interest in Pujols and Prince Fielder. Goold says Pujols has indicated a desire to meet face-to-face with any legitimately interested party, so perhaps a sit-down will occur with the Cubs soon.
- Octavio Dotel's agent Dan Horwits told Goold, "Dotel would like to be a Cardinal. Obviously, the Cardinals have some other contracts to address first, and we understand that." This week the Mets, Reds, Tigers, and Angels have been named as other suitors for the 38-year-old righty.
- J.C. Romero's agent Melvin Roman told Goold he has heard from the Cardinals and expects to have a discussion at the Winter Meetings. The 35-year-old southpaw is open to a one-year deal after allowing 44 baserunners in 24 2/3 big league innings this year. In September, Romero said his first choice was to return to the Rockies.
- Mozeliak commented on his team's shortstop situation to Goold: "If we had to wake up and give Tyler Greene an opportunity (at shortstop) we would be comfortable with that." The Cardinals have an internal debate about whether to give Greene the job, Mozeliak told B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest.com. Rafael Furcal is willing to wait on the Pujols negotiations to a point, though you have to think he'll pounce if a strong three-year offer comes along from another team. Goold believes Jimmy Rollins could be a possibility for the Cardinals at shortstop if Pujols signs elsewhere.
- Regarding the bullpen, Mozeliak told Rains, "There may be some things that we look at in January to add depth to that but I don't think we see anything short term on that now."
- Rains also learned that Bryan Anderson and Tony Cruz will compete for the Cardinals' backup catcher job, and the team has interest in retaining free agent infielder Nick Punto.
Some links as Tuesday turns into Wednesday...
- “Like I’ve always said, there is one person responsible for making those decisions, and one person accountable for those results,” said Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts to reporters (including Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune) when asked about the possibility of signing a player to a mammoth contract. “So if [Theo Epstein] believes strongly that’s what’s in the best interests of the team, then he’s got my support.” Earlier today we heard that the Cubs are pursuing both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder.
- Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution wonders if the Braves will offer Brian McCann a long-term contract extension soon. The six-time All-Star will make $11.5MM in 2012 and the team holds a $12MM club option for 2013, so there's no urgency to get a deal done at the moment.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is currently in the Dominican Republic scouting Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson. On Monday we heard that Washington views Cespedes as an alternative to Fielder.
- The Mariners have interest in Fielder, and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says (on Twitter) that they would make Justin Smoak available in a trade if they manage to sign the free agent slugger.
- Before he agreed to join the Royals, the Red Sox expressed interest in Jonathan Broxton according to Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald. Broxton wanted to sign before the winter meetings, and Lauber's source said that was “a little quicker than [the Sox] were comfortable with."
- There is no more than a "10 percent" chance that Rays GM Andrew Friedman could be convinced to take the Astros GM job according to one executive that spoke to Friedman and ESPN's Jayson Stark (Twitter link).
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman offered a “would not say" to George A. King III of The New York Post when asked if he has any interest in Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. The Seibu Lions posted Nakajima on Monday.
- Kelvim Escobar hopes to pitch in winter ball next month, agent Peter Greenberg told Mike Puma of The New York Post (Twitter link). The 35-year-old righty hopes to get back to MLB despite having pitched in just one game since 2007.
Details are still emerging about baseball's new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Here's the latest on the agreement coutesy of Baseball America's Jim Callis, as well as a Q&A between ESPN's Jayson Stark and MLBPA head Michael Weiner...
- The draft was "perhaps [the owners'] most aggressive objective" said Weiner, adding that they wanted to achieve competitive balance. The union heard from GMs and other executives that weren't in favor of some of the proposed changes.
- "We look to the agents for assistance and for ideas," said Weiner. Scott Boras and "other agents who have been active in advising players in the draft" were consulted during the collective bargaining process.
- The players pushed for HGH testing, but left it up to union to make sure it was done the right way. They were uncomfortable with the collection process (blood withdrawal), which is why there is no in-season testing at the moment.
- The draft has been reduced from 50 rounds to 40 rounds, and any attempt to circumvent the draft pool (i.e. an under-the-table agreement) is strictly prohibited.
- Teams get an extra year of protection for compensation picks, meaning if a team fails to sign the player they took with a pick they received for failing to sign a previous pick, they will get another compensation pick the following year.
- In an interview with Jim Duquette and Kevin Kennedy on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link), GM Dayton Moore said he is looking for someone to backup Alcides Escobar at short, as well as a right-handed bat that can play third base to give Mike Moustakas the occasional break.
- "We will be open minded with continuing to improve our rotation," added Moore during the interview. He expects any upgrades to come via trade (like the Jonathan Sanchez acquisition) rather than free agency.
- Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star hears that the Royals believe the price to add an impact starting pitcher is too high, so they're attempting to build a lock-down bullpen (Twitter link).
- In a another tweet, Dutton says infielder Jeff Bianchi and outfielder Derrick Robinson are the leading candidates to be removed from the 40-man roster when the Royals make the Broxton deal official.
9:56pm: Bob Elliott of The Toronto Sun reports (on Twitter) that Mathieson is joining the Yomiuri Giants for roughly $2MM plus a bonus. He will take over as their closer.
1:35pm: The Phillies announced that they released right-hander Scott Mathieson to allow him to pursue an opportunity with a professional team in Asia. The move leaves 39 players on the club's 40-man roster.
Mathieson, 27, posted a career 6.75 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9 in parts of three seasons for the Phillies. He posted a 3.28 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 5.5 BB/9 in 82 1/3 innings for the Phillies' top affiliate in 2011 and has a 3.75 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in nine minor league seasons.
The latest on the defending American League Champions...
- The Maddux move is official, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan. His title will be special assistant to the GM.
- The Astros obtained permission to speak with Levine, according to Scott Miller of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Greg Maddux is leaving the Cubs and may soon accept a position with the Rangers, according to Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. Maddux, who worked as a special assistant to Cubs GM Jim Hendry last season, would join his brother in Texas. Mike Maddux, the Rangers' pitching coach, interviewed for the Cubs' managerial opening before deciding to remain in Texas.
- Maddux will join the Rangers, according to Grant. He's expected to evaluate and help develop pitchers during the season.
- The Astros contacted the Rangers to obtain permission to interview assistant GM Thad Levine, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The Astros have already obtained permission to speak with Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, but it seems unlikely that Friedman will leave Tampa Bay.
9:31pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that it's a one-year, Major League contract.
4:13pm: The Dodgers are close to an agreement with Kennedy, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Terms of the deal are unknown.
1:22pm: The Dodgers are talking with the representatives for free agent infielder Adam Kennedy about a potential deal, MLBTR has learned. Kennedy, 35, could take over the role Aaron Miles played in 2011 and back up projected Dodgers starters James Loney, Mark Ellis, Dee Gordon and Juan Uribe around the infield.
Kennedy played first, second and third for the Mariners in 2011, posting a .234/.277/.355 line with 23 doubles in 409 plate appearances. Kennedy has signed one-year deals in the $1MM range in each of the past two offseasons. The Mariners signed him to a minor league deal that paid him a $750K plus incentives last offseason. TWC represents Kennedy, a 13-year MLB veteran.
As part of their continuing search for offense, the Mariners have interest in Rockies outfielder Seth Smith according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). It's unclear if there are any talks ongoing.
Smith, 29, is a .275/.348/.485 career hitter in parts of five seasons in Colorado. He's hit at least 15 homers in each of the last three seasons, though the advanced metrics rate his defense in the corner outfield spots as below average. The Braves are fond of him as well.
8:52pm: “I think it’s still a ways to go,” said GM Walt Jocketty to MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. “We’re still hopeful to get something done. We’re glad [Phillips] feels that way.”
4:31pm: Brandon Phillips has made it no secret that he'd like a long-term contract extension from the Reds, and a few weeks ago we heard that the two sides were making progress towards a new deal. Earlier this afternoon, Phillips said (on Twitter) that he spoke to his agent and "it feels good to know that we're moving in the right direction" towards an extension.
The Red exercised Phillips' $12MM option for next season earlier this month, but the second baseman said he would consider it a "slap in the face" if the team picked up the option without talking about a new contract. He also indicated that he wouldn't give the team a hometown discount. Phillips, 30, hit .300/.353/.457 with 18 homers in 674 plate appearances for Cincinnati in 2011.