NL Central Notes: K-Rod, Pena, Phillips, Pirates

Here's the latest from Albert Pujols' former division…

  • "A handful of teams" are interested in Brewers reliever Francisco Rodriguez, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.  Though Rodriguez's 2012 salary is projected as around $13MM through arbitration, the Brewers don't necessarily plan to trade him until they know if Rodriguez is content being John Axford's set-up man.  Yesterday, MLBTR's Steve Adams examined how Rodriguez's decision to accept arbitration affects the Brewers' offseason plans.
  • Carlos Pena is "in play" as a possibility for the Cardinals, tweets Jon Heyman of MLB Network.  Heyman hasn't heard anything yet about the Cards possibly entering the Prince Fielder sweepstakes.
  • David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears from a friend of Tony La Russa that the ex-Cardinals skipper had already made up his mind about retirement two months before the World Series.
  • The Reds met with Brandon Phillips' agents on Wednesday and presented a new contract offer, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  “I don’t know if they were completely happy…they didn’t agree to it,” said Reds GM Walt Jocketty.  Fay's piece also mentions that the Reds were planning to make a pick in yesterday's Rule 5 draft, but the player was gone before Cincinnati would draft in the 14th overall spot.
  • The Pirates took the "portfolio approach" at the Winter Meetings, GM Neal Huntington tells Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The Bucs addressed several needs during the Meetings and Huntington said the team has enough payroll flexibility to make more moves if necessary this offseason.
  • Contract details for some of these new Pirates are provided by's Jenifer Langosch.
  • The Astros have some quality prospects, but John Manuel of Baseball America writes that their farm system still needs major help after years of bad drafts.

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