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A.J. Ellis Rumors
Agents and players have considerably more interest in Baltimore as a potential destination now that the Orioles are viewed as a contender, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. "It's winning," one agent told Olney. "Period.” Some free agents now list the Orioles as a team they’d like to join. Here are more notes from Olney, starting in Baltimore…
- The Orioles are looking for starting pitching and hope to bring Joe Saunders back. Jeremy Guthrie’s three-year, $25MM contract could affect Saunders’ asking price, as Olney points out.
- While the Orioles have talked about adding a bat, they’re not expected to be particularly aggressive about free agent outfielder Josh Hamilton.
- The Marlins, Indians and Pirates are among the teams that could have trouble luring free agents even if they’re offering competitive salaries.
- One AL GM credits the Red Sox for building a team that plays well in Fenway Park.
- Earlier in the offseason there had been talk that the SoftBank Hawks, the Japanese team that recently agreed to sign Bryan LaHair, could pursue veteran free agents such as Mike Napoli or Kevin Youkilis.
- A number of teams, including the Indians, are scouting left-hander Scott Kazmir, Olney writes. The Astros had some interest in Kazmir during the regular season.
- Olney suggests arbitration eligible players such as Chris Heisey and A.J. Ellis could be candidates for two or three-year extensions this winter.
The San Francisco Giants have the opportunity this evening to give the National League its third consecutive World Series win, the Senior Circuit's longest such streak in three decades. If Game Four starter Matt Cain wins tonight, he will become only the third pitcher in MLB history to record three series clinching victories in one post-season. As the Giants try to bring the Commissioner's Trophy to the NL West for the second time in three years, here's the latest from that division:
- Major League Baseball presented Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw with the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who most embodies the humanitarian vision of the late Pirates star, prior to the start of Game 4 of the World Series, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- The Rockies have expressed interested in interviewing Giants bench coach Ron Wotus for their managerial opening, reports the Denver Post's Patrick Saunders. Saunders also confirmed Matt Williams, the Diamondbacks' third base coach, is the sixth candidate to be interviewed joining Rockies bench coach Tom Runnells, Jason Giambi, former Rockies shortstop Walt Weiss, ex-White Sox and Mets manager Jerry Manuel, and former Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin.
- Weiss would be an inspired choice to become the Rockies next manager, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Weiss was universally respected for his knowledge and work ethic by his teammates and he knows the Rockies' culture, having played for the team and worked as a special assistant for general manager Dan O'Dowd, opined Renck.
- Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis, in his World Series column for the Los Angeles Times, understands the logic of those who believe it is difficult for teams in Southern California to win the World Series because of the cold weather conditions in October.
- MLB is in discussions about the possibility of starting its 2014 season in Australia, reports Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. A MLB spokesman said the possibility of playing in Australia is not currently being explored. Dilbeck also referenced a report in the Sydney Morning Herald where the preference of the Australian promoters is a series between the Dodgers and Diamondbacks in Sydney.
- Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie Robinson, told Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times she will be joining the Dodgers' board of directors representing her family and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. A Dodgers official said the team is finalizing an agreement with the Robinson family but declined to comment publicly in advance of an announcement.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
The Dodgers lead the NL West by the slimmest of margins (half a game) over the Giants, but their American League counterpart isn’t so well-positioned. The Angels are just two games above .500 after losing four games in a row and they’re now 4.5 games behind the Wild Card leaders. Here's the latest on Los Angeles' two teams…
- Catcher A.J. Ellis explains how this year's trade deadline unfolded from the point of view of the Dodgers’ players in a guest column at Buster Olney's ESPN.com blog. Ellis acknowledges that players refresh MLBTR in search of news as the trade deadline approaches. "Few of us would admit to religiously checking websites like MLBTradeRumors and Twitter feeds looking for rumors, but we do," he writes.
- Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times would not be surprised if the Angels try to engage the Red Sox in trade talks about a possible John Lackey for Vernon Wells deal this offseason (Twitter links). Wells, who has $42MM on his contract after 2012, could be a fit in Fenway Park, DiGiovanna writes. Lackey, who pitched in Anaheim from 2002-09, has $30.5MM remaining on his contract after 2012.
- The trade that sent Zack Greinke to Anaheim hasn't worked out as well as expected for the Angels, Tom Haudricourt of the Journal Sentinel writes. Greinke has a 6.19 ERA in five starts since being traded.
Jason Castro's 2011 season came to a quick end when the news broke that Castro had suffered a torn ACL in his right knee. The injury leaves the Astros with Humberto Quintero and J.R. Towles as their top internal options behind the plate, and it's possible that Houston is content to stick with this duo. Quintero is a solid defender, if nothing else, and Towles is just a couple of years removed from being considered a top prospect himself, so the Astros might be willing to give Towles one last chance to prove himself at the Major League level.
As with any notable injury, however, the hot stove is already heating up with speculation about who Houston could pursue if the team looked outside its organization. Brian McTaggart of MLB.com and David Golebiewski of Fangraphs have both already chimed in on the situation, so let's take a look at their possible candidates…
- Ryan Doumit. Pittsburgh is known to be shopping the veteran, and willing to eat some of his $5.1MM salary for the right talent in return. MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, however, wonders if the Astros would really give up anything of value for just one year of Doumit.
- A.J. Ellis. He isn't exactly a proven veteran, but Ellis could be available. Ellis and Dioner Navarro are battling to be Rod Barajas' backup in Los Angeles.
- Jesus Flores. The Nationals could be the most fitting trade partner here, given the number of catchers on their roster. Flores has looked healthy in Spring Training and could probably be obtained at a low cost.
- Tyler Flowers. His future with the White Sox suddenly became blurry following a mediocre 2010 season in Triple-A and A.J. Pierzynski's new two-year contract with the club. Flowers is just 25, however, and was ranked by Baseball America as the 60th-best prospect in the game heading into last season. It's very unlikely that Chicago has already given up on Flowers.
- Bengie Molina. Unlike these other players, Molina is a free agent, and would cost Houston nothing but money. We heard last month that Molina was on the fence about returning next season since he couldn't find a team that would offer him regular playing time.
- Brian Schneider. McTaggart observes that Ed Wade and Ruben Amaro Jr. have collaborated before, most notably on the deal that sent Roy Oswalt to Philadelphia last summer. Schneider and Carlos Ruiz make a nice lefty-righty platoon, however, and it's unlikely the Philles would want to break that combination up.
- Kelly Shoppach. John Jaso is pencilled into the starting job in Tampa Bay, so the Rays could listen to offers for their veteran backup, who makes $3MM in 2011.
McTaggart also notes the Yankees' minor league depth at catcher, but says they're an unlikely trade partner since the Astros would be looking for a Major League-ready catcher. Besides, New York is dealing with their own injury problems behind the plate, as Francisco Cervelli will be sidelined with a broken foot.
Saturday night links, as Troy Tulowitzki's jaw-dropping September continues….
- Fort Washington, Pennsylvania product Sean Coyle is now represented by Sosnick-Cobbe Sports, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The shortstop received a $1.3MM bonus from the Red Sox as a third-round draft pick out of high school this year. Sosnick-Cobbe already represents the draft's other big-name Pennsylvania native in the Phillies' Jesse Biddle, who was drafted in the first round. There may be another million dollar draft pick from the state next year in Derek Fisher, a high school outfielder hailing from Rexmont.
- Clay Buchholz would love to see Victor Martinez return to the Red Sox next year, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.
- Terry Francona tells MLB.com's Ian Browne that he was "thrilled" the Red Sox signed John Lackey last winter, and that he hasn't lost any confidence in the investment.
- A.J. Ellis' recent play for the Dodgers could put him in line for a bigger role next year, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
The Dodgers do not plan to bring in a catcher after losing Russell Martin for four to six weeks with a pulled groin, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Instead, they will rely on A.J. Ellis to fill the void, with Brad Ausmus serving as the understudy. Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes that Torre has faith in the rookie.
The post notes that Paul Bako is likely the top remaining free agent catcher. The 37-year-old hit .224/.308/.336 in 130 plate appearances for the Phillies last season. Another notable catcher without a job is Michael Barrett, though he missed the majority of 2009 due to injury.
A few Thursday evening links to browse through….
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports that the Houston Astros will decrease their spending in 2010, after the team's payroll exceeded $100MM the first time in 2009.
- Filing for free agency may have just been a formality for Jason Schmidt, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. The 36-year-old righty looks headed for retirement.
- Dick Kaegel of MLB.com hasn't heard anything that substantiates rumors of an Alberto Callaspo–A.J. Ellis swap between the Royals and Dodgers.
- Evan Brunell of The Hardball Times is "horrified" that the Phillies are considering Placido Polanco for their third base opening.
- Jenifer Langosch at MLB.com fields Pirates-related questions from readers. Most of them react to Pittsburgh's recent acquisition of Akinori Iwamura.
Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star dishes on the Royals…
- Dayton Moore…step away from the free agent market. The Royals are moving toward trades, with an eye on the long-term. Owner David Glass says the plan is to "turn over some of the club." Moore already made a nice move in flipping Mark Teahen for Josh Fields and Chris Getz.
- Dutton again mentions the talks between the Dodgers and Royals on a possible A.J. Ellis for Alberto Callaspo deal. Ellis, 29 in April, posted OBPs over .436 in Triple A for 2008-09.
- The Royals are probably stuck with Jose Guillen, but David DeJesus and Gil Meche could be trade chips. Dutton says the Royals prefer to keep Meche though.
- Dutton says the Royals are more likely to trade for a center fielder than to re-sign Coco Crisp.
- Via Twitter, Dutton says lefty Lenny DiNardo and reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta elected free agency.