A.J. Pierzynski Rumors
The White Sox have signaled to Jake Peavy that they’re unlikely to exercise their $22MM club option for 2013, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Instead, the team is expected to pay a $4MM buyout in a move that would make Peavy a free agent.
The White Sox might try to re-sign Peavy after declining the option, but it seems likely he’ll reach the free agent market. Peavy enjoys playing for the White Sox and would like to return, agent Barry Axelrod told Heyman. The right-hander prefers manager Robin Ventura to former manager Ozzie Guillen and appears to have favorable feelings about the White Sox, Heyman reports.
Peavy could be the second best free agent starting pitcher behind Zack Greinke this offseason (FanGraphs' version of wins above replacement suggests as much). Peavy, 31, has a 3.26 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 36.8% ground ball rate in 198 2/3 innings this year. The shoulder problems that limited him to approximately 100 innings per season from 2009-11 no longer appear to be holding him back.
The White Sox could raise payroll for 2013, especially if they make the playoffs. However, they aren’t currently discussing new contracts with prospective free agents A.J. Pierzynski, Brett Myers, Francisco Liriano and Kevin Youkilis, Heyman reports.
Someone finally got to Aroldis Chapman and, of all teams, it was the light-hitting Pirates. Chapman allowed back-to-back doubles to lead off the 10th inning, allowing his first earned run of the 2012 season and first since September 10, 2011 --- a stretch of 35 straight scoreless innings. Pittsburgh won the game by a 5-4 score.
Here's the latest from the NL Central...
- Joel Hanrahan doesn't think the Pirates will trade him this summer, the closer tells Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Cook opines that Pirates ownership's commitment to re-signing top players will be questioned if Hanrahan doesn't receive a long-term extension. Hanrahan told Cook he didn't think much about trade rumors, though we know he at least reads them on this very website.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow confirmed that his team still has an interest in Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Luhnow wouldn't say if the Astros had submitted a contract offer by today, the reported deadline set by Soler's agents.
- A.J. Pierzynski tells CSN Chicago's Chuck Garfien about how he was almost dealt to the Cubs in 2003, as the Cubs offered the Twins a package of Juan Cruz and Todd Wellemeyer for the catcher. Pierzynski said that he'd like to remain with the White Sox when he hits free agency this winter but if the Southsiders' local rivals from Wrigleyville were to contact him, “if they were the only team that came after me and I wanted to continue to play, how could I say no?"
- Francisco Rodriguez wants to remain with the Brewers through the rest of this season, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy, though the reliever said he'd like to close again, in all likelihood for a new team since John Axford is ensconced as Milwaukee's stopper.
A few news items to wrap up a busy Monday...
- The Cubs, Marlins and Tigers are the three teams most actively targeting Yoenis Cespedes, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Last week, Cespedes said the Cubs were his most ardent suitor, with the Marlins, Tigers, Orioles, White Sox and Indians also showing "more interest" in him.
- White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski tells MLB.com's Scott Merkin that he plans to continue playing after 2012. Pierzynski, 35, has spent the last seven years with the Sox and is a free agent after this season.
- Yadier Molina's future with the Cardinals is debated in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch roundtable.
- Bud Selig's two-year contract extension was officially finalized and announced today, Major League Baseball announced. Selig will remain commissioner through the 2014 season. The extension was approved by a unanimous 30-0 vote amongst team owners.
- Derrek Lee could retire if he doesn't find "a perfect situation," tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Yesterday, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said Lee could be in for a Jermaine Dye-esque "forced retirement" since no team would be willing to meet his desired price.
- The Rays reportedly have interest in Edgar Renteria for a bench spot, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
- The Astros will consider uniform changes and even possibly a name change for 2013, new club owner Jim Crane announced at a press conference today (passed on by Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle).
- Indians catcher Lou Marson could see a lot of playing time against left-handed pitching, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Regular catcher Carlos Santana could play at first base on the days the strong-armed Marson (who threw out 33.3% of baserunners last year) is behind the plate. The right-handed hitting Marson has a .285/.367/.395 career line against southpaws and would add balance to an Indians lineup that is very heavy on left-handed bats.
Congratulations to the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, who will meet in the NLCS after each club won a superb Game Five tonight. This is the first all-NL Central NLCS since the Astros topped the Cards in 2005, and this is the first time Milwaukee and St. Louis have met in the postseason since the 1982 World Series. The NLCS begins on Sunday at Miller Park, with Zack Greinke getting the Game One start for the Brewers.
Some more news as we head into the weekend....
- There is plenty of reaction to Andy MacPhail's decision to step down as the Orioles' president of baseball operations. Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun credits MacPhail with leaving the team in better shape than when he arrived, though this wasn't reflected in the win-loss column. MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli provides a recap of MacPhail's most notable moves in Baltimore. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com expects the next O's GM to have "a more aggressive approach [in free agency]...for better or worse" as opposed to MacPhail's practice of "letting the market play out."
- The White Sox seem to be looking to 2012 as a rebuilding year, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin. After a year of seeing how young players develop in the Majors and seeing how rookie manager Robin Ventura adapts to the job, Merkin says Chicago could push for contention in 2013 if all goes well.
- With this youth movement in mind, Merkin thinks A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko could be approached about waiving their no-trade clauses. Both players were somewhat open to the idea, though both clearly stated they wanted to end their careers with the White Sox.
- How did Juan Carlos Oviedo (a.k.a. Leo Nunez) keep his identity hidden for years? Frances Robles of the Miami Herald examines Oviedo's situation and the risks that some Latin American players take to escape poverty and reach the Major Leagues. Oviedo "was able to keep the secret for long, because he was living the dream that every Dominican boy imagines growing up. If he lied and succeeded, then the end justified the means,” said Charles Farrell, head of the Dominican Republic Sports and Education Academy. “No one was going to fault him for that, no one was going to blow his cover."
- Farrell also tells Robles that by his estimate, there are at least 30 current Dominican players using false identities.
- Ron Gardenhire says the Twins aren't likely to sign a top free agent pitcher like C.J. Wilson, reports MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger as part of a mailbag piece. "I think we're all smart enough to figure out that free agents out there, as far as pitchers go, if they're really good they're probably going to require a little bit more money than we're willing to pay them," Gardenhire said. "All the big shooters. And there's going to be a market for the rest of them."
- Mark DeRosa could be a good fit as a versatile bench bat for the Braves, provided he can stay healthy, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
- With the Astros' possible move to the AL West in mind, Fangraphs' Reed MacPhail analyzes how each of this season's National League teams would've fared playing in the AL West.
Happy 51st birthday to Steve Sax! Sax was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1982, played on two World Series champions, made five All-Star teams, and holds a special bit of pop culture history as one of Mr. Burns' softball ringers on The Simpsons.
Today's news tidbits...
- As part of a Dodgers-related mailbag, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick cites the Blue Jays, Marlins and Indians as teams that could offer Eric Chavez more playing time than the Dodgers could. Toronto's interest in Chavez is well-known, but Florida and Cleveland are new to the mix. Other teams known to be looking are Chavez include the Yankees, White Sox and Mariners.
- The Angels are looking for a leadoff man and bench help, and don't seem to be interested in Vladimir Guerrero, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Orioles look like they're Guerrero's most ardent suitors at this point.
- A.J. Pierzynski tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he was all but officially signed by the Dodgers before the White Sox swooped in with an offer to bring the catcher back to Chicago. "It all came together in a 15-minute span," Pierzynski said. "I was pretty much resigned to the fact I wasn't coming back." Had Pierzynski not returned, the White Sox would have focused on Miguel Olivo as a replacement behind the plate.
- The Chone Figgins-to-Oakland rumor looks to be dead, which Joe Pawlikowski of Fangraphs thinks may be a good thing for the A's.
- The Royals are converting prospect Wil Myers from catcher to outfielder, reports Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
The latest NL West rumors, aside from a certain huge trade...
- The Dodgers were extremely close to signing A.J. Pierzynski before White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf stepped in, tweets Peter Gammons of the MLB Network. The Dodgers have been in the market for a catcher ever since they declined to offer arbitration to Russell Martin.
- Earlier this week we learned that the D'Backs were looking at getting pitcher David Hernandez from the Orioles in a package for Mark Reynolds. This isn't the first time that Arizona has tried to land Hernandez, says Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com (via Twitter). Ghiroli adds that several other teams, including Tampa Bay, are high on the right-hander.
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post (via Twitter) could see the Rockies getting in on outfielder Josh Willingham. We have long heard that Willingham and the Nats would part ways over an impasse in extension talks. Now after the arrival of Jayson Werth, it now seems very likely that Willingham will be moved.
- Meanwhile, the Rockies lost out Lance Berkman because they did not want to give the veteran $8MM and an everyday job wasn't realistic in Coors Field, Renck tweets.
- The White Sox discussed Prince Fielder with the Brewers before completing the Dunn deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal explains how the shortage of available pitching could make it difficult for the Brewers to acquire high caliber young arms in a potential Fielder trade.
- Dunn says he'll DH or play any position, according to Scott Reifert of the White Sox (on Twitter).
- Williams says A.J. Pierzynski and Dunn will accept deferred payment on their new deals to help the White Sox make Paul Konerko a strong offer, Reifert notes on Twitter. Konerko is meeting with the White Sox on Monday, tweets USA Today's Bob Nightengale.
The White Sox have agreed to sign A.J. Pierzynski, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Rosenthal hears that the sides are moving toward a two-year, $8MM deal, but he notes that the catcher's salary is unconfirmed. Jon Heyman of SI.com confirms that Pierzynski will earn $8MM over two years (Twitter link).
9:10pm: The Blue Jays are not close to signing Pierzynski, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The White Sox still appear to be in the mix for the catcher.
6:42pm: The Blue Jays are close to signing A.J. Pierzynski, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Even though John Buck signed with the Marlins and Miguel Olivo declined the team's offer of arbitration, the Blue Jays still have two capable catchers. Jose Molina will return in 2011 and J.P. Arencibia showed power in a late-season call-up and won Pacific Coast League MVP.
Pierzynski, 34 later this month, batted .270/.300/.388 with nine homers in 503 plate appearances this year. He is durable, having caught at least 128 games every season since 2001, but his offense slipped in 2010. He posted his lowest on base and slugging percentages since becoming a full-time player.
The Dodgers, Marlins and White Sox were among the teams interested in Pierzynski, who had a number of other potential suitors. Chicago did not offer the catcher arbitration, so he would not cost the Blue Jays a draft pick.
Exactly ten years ago, the Orix Blue Wave lost a 27-year-old outfielder to the Seattle Mariners. A decade later, Ichiro Suzuki has ten Gold Gloves and 2244 big league hits to his name. Here are today's links...
- Derek Jeter is meeting with agent Casey Close, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter). They met with the Yankees in Tampa today, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- An executive interested in Lance Berkman expects that it would take a one-year deal worth $7MM to sign the switch-hitter, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.
- Passan reports that the A’s continue to talk with right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, though talks appeared to sour earlier in the month.
- The Nationals are still discussing potential deals with Carl Pavano, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (on Twitter).
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that he'll know by the end of next week's winter meetings whether it makes sense to trade Justin Upton.
- A.J. Pierzynski said on The Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 that he's talking to the White Sox and some other teams about potential deals (via ESPNChicago). The White Sox are open to bringing the catcher back, though they didn't offer him arbitration last week.
- Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball looks back at some record salary arbitration cases from over the years. For instance, Tim Lincecum's demand for a $13MM salary last year was the most any first-time eligible pitcher has ever asked for.
- The Rangers have signed a European player for the first time in franchise history. They agreed to a minor league deal with 18-year-old Dutch middle infielder Nick Urbanus, according to the Newberg Report.
- The agent for Brandon Webb told Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the former Cy Young Award winner would have interest in pitching for the Pirates. About six teams are interested in Webb, including Pittsburgh.