December 2011

Blue Jays Close To Signing Darren Oliver

3:11pm: The two sides are still finalizing terms according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter). He says it's unlikely anything will get done before next week given the holiday and the need for a physical.

1:07pm: The Blue Jays are close to signing Darren Oliver, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. Both Oliver and the Rangers were interested in a reunion, but the team wouldn't make any commitments due to the potential outlay for other players, namely Yu Darvish.

Oliver, 41, is a modified Type-B free agent per the new collective bargaining agreement, meaning the Rangers will receive a supplemental first round draft pick as compensation (tentatively #51 overall). The Jays would not forfeit a pick. The left-hander has pitched to a 2.40 ERA in 112 1/3 innings for Texas the last two years, holding lefty batters to a .212/.250/.306 batting line during that time. The Angels also expressed some interest in his services.

This post was originally published on December 30th.


Orioles Interested In Joe Saunders

The Orioles have had several conversations with Joe Saunders' representatives, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). Legacy Sports represents the left-hander, who is a Falls Church, VA native.

Saunders, 30, posted a 3.69 ERA with 4.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 44.5% ground ball rate in 212 innings this past season. He has averaged 200 innings per season since 2008 without striking out more than five batters per nine innings in any of the past four seasons. The former 12th overall pick had an average fastball velocity of 89.6 mph in 2011.

The Rockies, Marlins, Red Sox and Tigers also appear to have some interest in Saunders, who was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks earlier in the month. Saunders and Jeremy Guthrie would provide the Orioles with a pair of solid but unspectacular innings eaters atop their rotation. Tsuyoshi Wada, Tommy Hunter, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz and Dana Eveland are other possibilities for Baltimore's rotation.


Poll: Which Team Will Sign Ryan Madson?

Ryan Madson probably lost another potential suitor when the Red Sox traded for Andrew Bailey. The Rangers, Blue Jays, Marlins, Mets and Padres are among the other possible Madson suitors that have acquired other closers this offseason. However, the Angels, Reds, Rays, White Sox, Astros and Dodgers could be in the market for closers, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter) and I’ll add the Orioles to the list of potentially interested clubs.

Madson won't come cheap, of course. He appeared to be close to signing a $44MM contract with the Phillies early in the offseason, and the non-deal gives us a sense of agent Scott Boras’ asking price. Though the market for closers doesn’t currently seem strong, we shouldn't forget that Boras found a three-year deal for Rafael Soriano last offseason, after demand for closers appeared to have diminished.

Madson’s the best free agent reliever remaining; where will he sign?

 



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Red Sox Notes: Kalish, Bailey, Reddick

The Red Sox obtained Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney from the Athletics yesterday, sending Josh Reddick, Miles Head and Raul Alcantara to Oakland. Here's the latest on the Red Sox as reaction to and analysis of the trade continues…

  • Ryan Kalish says he had left shoulder surgery in November in addition to his September neck operation, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Kalish may be ready for game action by May or June, but he doesn’t have a clear timetable. The Red Sox have Sweeney and Darnell McDonald in right, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them pursue other options.
  • The Red Sox never got the sense that Ryan Madson’s price was going to drop enough to make him a viable option, tweets Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.
  • Bailey would have been traded to Texas if the Red Sox hadn't included Reddick in the deal, Peter Gammons of MLB Network tweets.
  • The Red Sox are now shooting for a starter, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman lists Hiroki Kuroda, Matt Garza, Roy Oswalt, Joe Saunders and Edwin Jackson as possibilities.
  • Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett told FanGraphs' David Laurila that Head can hit despite the fact that "he's not going to win any beauty contests." Jim Callis of Baseball America told Laurila that Head's stocky frame makes him difficult to project. "I do think he can hit, but he’s limited to playing first base and you just don’t see that many 5'10", 5'11" first basemen in the big leagues," he said.
  • ESPN.com's Keith Law says Oakland got fair value for Bailey, whose health is an unknown, and Sweeney, whose raw power hasn't translated during games. Reddick provides the Athletics with additional years of control and Head and Alcantara could also prove useful. However, the Red Sox aren't likely to miss the trio of players they gave up and they obtained a proven closer.

Olney On Fielder, Byrd, Suzuki

The Rangers, Reds and Yankees have some of the top infields in baseball, when offense and defense are considered, ESPN.com's Buster Olney writes. Olney suggests the Royals, Blue Jays and Indians have infields that are potentially on the rise. Here are his latest rumors…

  • Some rival executives strongly believe that the Nationals will be the eventual landing place for Prince Fielder. Agents say now is the time for Fielder to take advantage of the market and sign a long-term deal, according to Olney. Click here for the latest on Fielder, who was linked to the Nationals again today.
  • Olney suggests the Red Sox and Nationals could have interest in Cubs outfielder Marlon Byrd, who will earn $6.5MM in 2012, the final year of his contract. The Red Sox could play Byrd in right and the Nationals could use him in center.
  • Though trading catcher Kurt Suzuki isn’t a priority for the Athletics, Olney suggests he’ll likely be playing elsewhere by the time next summer’s trade deadline passes (Twitter link).

White Sox, John Danks Agree To Extension

Despite many rumors to the contrary, John Danks isn’t going anywhere. The White Sox announced that they have agreed to sign the left-hander to a five-year, $65MM contract extension. Danks will earn $8MM in 2012 and $14.25MM annually from 2013-16.

John Danks

Danks would have been eligible for free agency following the 2012 season, his final year as an arbitration eligible player. Matt Swartz projected a 2012 salary of $7.6MM for the 26-year-old CAA client, who earned $6MM in 2011. That means the White Sox are paying $14-15MM for each of the four free agent seasons the deal buys out (Danks' age 28-31 seasons).

Jered Weaver's recent $85MM extension also covered one arbitration season and four free agent years. However, Weaver has superior career stats, was headed for a massive reward through arbitration and has finished in the top five in AL Cy Young balloting in both of the past two seasons. Weaver's deal was definitely out of reach for Danks and agent Jeff Berry.

Another comparable pitcher, Chad Billingsley, signed a three-year extension worth $35MM this spring. His deal covers his final season of arbitration eligibility and his first two seasons of free agency, which means Danks obtained two more years of security. However, Billingsley signed his deal (it's a team-friendly one) two full seasons before free agent eligibility, while Danks was just one season away from the open market. Danks and Billingsley are similar pitchers who have been compared to one another for years through the arbitration process.

Danks posted a 4.33 ERA with 7.1 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 43.8% ground ball rate in 170 1/3 innings for the White Sox this past season. Only 16 pitchers in baseball have produced more wins above replacement since 2008 (15.6).

Cole Hamels, Matt Cain, Zack Greinke, Jeremy Guthrie, Francisco Liriano, Shaun Marcum, Jonathan Sanchez and Anibal Sanchez are among the 2013 free agents who might look to use Danks' recent deal as a point of reference should they discuss possible extensions with their current teams.

Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported the news (Twitter links). Doug Seyller reported the agreement on Twitter and appears to have broken the story. Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


Braves, Rays, Mets Interested In Ryan Theriot

The Braves, Rays, and Mets are among the teams looking at Ryan Theriot, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). The Reds and Rockies are also said to have interest in the infielder, who was non-tendered earlier this month.

Theriot, 32, hit .271/.321/.342 in 483 plate appearances for the World Champion Cardinals last season. He only stole four bases (in ten chances) though, ending his streak of three consecutive seasons with 20+ steals. Theriot had been in line for a $3.9MM salary his third time though arbitration according to our projections.


Astros Interview Keith Law

The Astros kicked off a new era when they hired Jeff Luhnow to be their new GM earlier this month, and now they’re looking to fill out the rest of their front office. Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports report that the Astros have interviewed ESPN’s Keith Law for a number of front office roles, including the position of scouting director. They have not yet made him an offer, however.

The FOX duo report that Law met with Luhnow and club president George Postolos last week. Before joining ESPN in 2006, Law spent four and a half years with the Blue Jays as a special assistant to then-GM J.P. Ricciardi. 


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Prince Fielder Rumors: Thursday

Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said yesterday on MLB Network Radio that there's every reason to expect Adam LaRoche to play first base in Washington next year. "We've more or less decided that Adam is going to be our first baseman unless something extraordinary, out of the ordinary happened," Rizzo said. However, reports continue to link the Nationals to free agent first baseman Prince Fielder. Here's the latest on Fielder with the most recent updates up top:

  • A Nationals player told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the club is on on Fielder. "We're in the market. We're still shooting for him," the player said. It's possible the player knows something Rizzo isn't saying publicly, but it's just as possible that the player spoke out of turn about a topic he hasn't been fully briefed on. We can be reasonably sure of one thing — that the unnamed player wasn't LaRoche himself.

Mariners Interested In Kevin Millwood

The Mariners have interest in free agent right-hander Kevin Millwood, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Seattle is looking at veteran pitchers who could join Felix Hernandez, Michael Pineda and Jason Vargas in the projected 2012 rotation.

Millwood posted a 3.98 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 1.3 BB/9 and a 42.2% ground ball rate in 54 1/3 innings for the Rockies over the course of the final two months of the 2011 season. The 37-year-old Scott Boras client spent most of the year pitching for the top minor league affiliates of the Yankees and Red Sox, posting a 4.32 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 89 2/3 minor league innings. The Rockies are the only other team that's been linked to Millwood so far this offseason.