Alex Gonzalez Rumors


National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here.  

Updated team decisions:

Teams with automatic decisions only:



Braves Notes: McCann, Prado, Smith, Jurrjens

Here's the latest on the Braves from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution...

  • Brian McCann was set to earn $8.5MM next season but "maxed out" his contract incentives related to Silver Slugger awards and All-Star appearances, so the star catcher will earn a total of $11.5MM in 2012.  O'Brien said the Braves haven't discussed a long-term extension with McCann but the team usually doesn't pursue such negotiations until later in the winter.  McCann is under contract through next year and the Braves have a $12MM club option on McCann for 2013 that looks like a lock to be exercised.
  • In regards to the Martin Prado trade talks between the Braves and Rockies, O'Brien thinks Atlanta would move Prado for Seth Smith and a center field prospect like Tim Wheeler or Charlie Blackmon.  With Michael Bourn only contracted through 2012, the Braves are looking for center field depth in case Bourn's asking price is too high for their liking.
  • Atlanta "made a run at" Jamey Carroll but balked at giving the 37-year-old infielder a multiyear contract. 
  • The Braves are known to desire a trade package for Jair Jurrjens similar to the one the Royals received last winter for Zack Greinke, but O'Brien says this asking price could be too high for most teams.  "Word out of the GM meetings was that the Braves are demanding so much for Jurrjens that a deal might be unlikely unless they come down in their multi-player/prospect asking price or some teams get desperate for starting pitching later in the offseason," O'Brien writes.
  • "It's unclear" if Atlanta is interested in bringing back Alex Gonzalez on a one-year deal.  The Braves are looking for a short-term veteran to play shortstop until Tyler Pastornicky is ready.
  • GM Frank Wren says his team isn't actively shopping Prado and Jurrjens but are willing to listen to offers.  "I think that [Prado and Jurrjens trade possibility] was wrongly characterized from the very beginning,” Wren said. “What we said and what we stand by is that we’re looking to get better, and however we can get better we will. We’re open minded. We’ll listen if somebody calls."



Twins Notes: Shortstop, Cuddyer, Young

The Twins will likely pursue starting pitching, relief pitching, a backup catcher and middle infield help this offseason after finishing with the worst record in the American League. Here are some notes on the club's offseason plans...



Quick Hits: Clippard, Storen, Ellsbury, Braves

B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman all homered for the Rays tonight as Tampa Bay defeated Boston, 9-2, in the opener of a big four-game series.  The Red Sox now have just a three-game lead over the Rays (and a four-game lead over the idle Angels) for the AL Wild Card.

Some notes from around the league....



Cafardo On Rays, Cameron, Gonzalez, Hale

Jim Hickey has one of the most important roles in the American League this year, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Rays pitching coach is responsible for rebuilding a Rays bullpen that was depleted by free agency. Hickey says he expects at least one of the team's unheralded arms to break out unexpectedly, adding that if there's going to be a 2011 version of Joaquin Benoit, he'd put his money on Juan Cruz. Here are some of Cafardo's other Sunday notes:

  • Domonic Brown has struggled this spring and is now set to undergo surgery on a broken hand. As such, Mike Cameron remains a potential fit for the Phillies. Cafardo argues that "the only problem with a Cameron-Phillies hookup is that he may be a very valuable member of the Red Sox now that he’s completely recovered from abdominal surgery."
  • Alex Gonzalez doesn't like changing teams as much as he has in the last two seasons, and would have liked to stay in Toronto. Now that he's playing in Atlanta, the shortstop tells Cafardo that he'd "love to stay here for a long time." Gonzalez will be a free agent at season's end.
  • DeMarlo Hale was interviewed for two managerial openings this past offseason, and Cafardo wonders if he'll be hired away from the Red Sox next winter. "Right now," Cafardo says, "there doesn’t appear to be an obvious place for a managerial change next season."



Braves Exercise Options For Gonzalez, Infante

The Braves exercised their 2011 options for Alex Gonzalez and Omar Infante, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). The team also signed reliever Scott Proctor to a one-year deal. MLB.com's Mark Bowman reported earlier today that the reliever will likely earn a base salary of $750K or so in 2011. Proctor, who was arbitration eligible, will likely have the chance to earn more through incentives.

The options for Gonzalez and Infante cost just $2.5MM each - a reasonable price to pay for two infielders who exceeded expectations in 2010. Gonzalez, who arrived in the Yunel Escobar trade, batted .250/.294/.447 with 23 hom runs in 2010. He hit most of his homers in Toronto, but added six in Atlanta. The 33-year-old is a good defender with some pop who has a sub-.300 on base percentage in his 12-year MLB career.

Infante, 28, batted .321/.359/.416 this year and made his first All-Star team. He finished third in the league in batting average and played second, third, short, left and right, so picking up his option was just a formality; the Braves weren't about to let him hit free agency.



Braves Notes: Hinske, Gonzalez, Infante, Proctor

The Braves have three free agents and three option decisions; MLB.com's Mark Bowman has the latest.



Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Dodgers, Giants, Fielder, Lee

On this date in 2001, Fred McGriff invoked his no-trade clause to block a deal that would have sent him from the last place Devil Rays to the first place Cubs. The Crime Dog was born and raised in Tampa, but he relented and agreed to the deal 11 days later. Tampa Bay received Manny Aybar and Jason Smith in return for McGriff, who was unquestionably the greatest player in franchise history at the time.

Hear are some links with the deadline rapidly approaching...

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.



Yunel Escobar-Alex Gonzalez Trade Reactions

The Braves sent Yunel Escobar north for a veteran who happens to lead MLB shortstops in home runs (Alex Gonzalez). It's a win-now move for Atlanta, though they also acquire a pair of intriguing prospects in the process. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays acquire a cheap, young shortstop who can play great defense and has a career OBP of .368. So does that make today's trade a win-win? Here's what the baseball writers are saying:

  • Matt Eddy and Nathan Rode of Baseball America break down the prospects involved and explain that Tim Collins could become a "useful reliever" and Tyler Pastornicky could become a sound defender who hits at the top of the order. 
  • Many of Escobar's teammates wanted to see him traded, according to MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney says this is a "tremendous trade for the Braves." GM Frank Wren told Olney that the Braves wouldn't have made the deal were it not for Gonzalez's affordable 2011 option (Twitter links).
  • Danny Knobler of CBS Sports says Escobar was "not an Atlanta Braves type of player." Gonzalez is having a strong season and should fit in, so Knobler says he is an Atlanta Braves type of player, even if he's not a long-term solution at short.
  • Mychael Urban of CSN Bay Area believes the Giants could have used Escobar (Twitter link). I wonder how many Tigers fans are thinking the same thing about their team.
  • The Blue Jays took a risk and acquired Escobar now, because top players are rarely available when they're playing at their best, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos explained to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (Twitter links).
  • Earlier in the season, an Atlanta Brave told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Braves manager Bobby Cox hates Yunel Escobar because of perceived lack of hustle.
  • Joe Pawlikowski of FanGraphs says the deal "doesn’t seem nearly as bad for the Braves as it did at first glance," though the Blue Jays still won.
  • R.J. Anderson of FanGraphs believes the trade "has to be looked upon as a pretty worthwhile risk for the Jays."
  • Bryan Smith of FanGraphs says Jo-Jo Reyes doesn't mean much to the Braves, since they have so much pitching depth. Smith also suggests Tyler Pastornicky had considerable appeal for the Braves, since he runs and has raised his walk rate.



Blue Jays Acquire Yunel Escobar

The Blue Jays acquired shortstop Yunel Escobar and pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes from the Braves for shortstop Alex Gonzalez and minor leaguers Tim Collins and Tyler Pastornicky, according to a team press release.  The Jays designated Ronald Uviedo for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

The move comes as a big surprise, as Escobar was perhaps one of the more valuable commodities in the game when the 2009 season concluded.  Just a few days ago, MLB.com's Mark Bowman wrote that the Braves "simply aren't willing to sell low on a guy who they still view as the game's top defensive shortstop."  Escobar was worth over four wins last year, but his power has disappeared in 301 plate appearances this year.  Escobar will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, so he'll be under the Jays' control through 2013.  Escobar's attitude was a likely factor in the deal; Bowman wrote in June that "there's no doubt that Escobar's flamboyant approach to the game has continued to infuriate some members of the Braves organization."  Back in February, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez went more in-depth on the attitude angle.

Gonzalez will replace Escobar as the Braves' starting shortstop as they enter the second half with a four game lead in the NL East.  He doesn't get on base, but he's already hit 17 home runs on the season and continues to play strong defense.  Gonzalez is owed another $1.23MM this year and has a $2.5MM club option for 2011.  Braves GM Frank Wren told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "This trade improves our club for the second half of the season."

Reyes, a 25-year-old southpaw, has spent most of the season at Triple A.  His strikeout and walk rates are strong in his fourth stint at the level, but he's had problems with home runs and hits.  Baseball America regarded Reyes as the Braves' eighth-best prospect heading into the 2007 season, calling him a "thick-bodied lefthander who does a good job of keeping hitters off balance."  He's dealt with injuries, including Tommy John surgery in '04.

Collins, a 20-year-old lefty, was ranked 19th among Blue Jays prospects by Baseball America heading into this season.  The 5'7" southpaw "gets outs with a solid fastball that tops out at 93 mph and a true 12-to-6 curveball that he spins really well."  Working in relief, Collins has a 15.3 K/9 in 43 Double A innings this year.  Pastornicky, a 20-year-old shortstop, was ranked 17th.  He's described as a player who "doesn't have flashy tools but gets the most out of what he has."  In the best case, he'll become a line drive top of the order hitter with solid defense, indicates BA.  As for Uviedo, the Jays had acquired him from the Pirates in the June Dana Eveland deal.  BA described him as rail-thin and homer-prone heading into the '09 season, but praised his fastball and slider.

My take: this is certainly a win-now move for the Braves, who are confident Gonzalez will provide more over the next few months than Escobar would have.  The Blue Jays, meanwhile, managed the rare feat of acquiring three-plus years of a shortstop with star potential without giving up much.









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