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Some more links for Saturday…
- Derek Lowe says his priority is winning. Fortunately, all the teams rumored to be in on Lowe (Philadelphia, Boston, the Dodgers and both New York teams) should compete in 2009. So he can stop worrying about that and turn his attention to making gobs and gobs of money.
- Lyle Spencer, who writes for MLB.com’s Hot Stove Blog, says what the Mets reportedly offered Francisco Rodriguez (three years and $36MM) isn’t much better than what the Angels were prepared to pay (three years and $34MM). So maybe K-Rod will stay in Anaheim after all?
It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon, but one gets the feeling there’s a major signing or trade lurking right around the corner. In the meantime, here are some odds and ends:
- Fox Sports’ Jeff Moore looks back at the top trades of the past three offseasons. His number one? Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Mota to Boston for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia.
- The Houston Chronicle’s Richard Justice says everyone knows Astros owner Dayton McLane has told GM Ed Wade "to keep the payroll at around $100 million," but "to keep the current team together would mean a $120-million payroll." Justice says McLane should ‘fess up about his financial shortcomings.
- SI’s John Donovan gives a shoutout to Cot’s Baseball Contracts, which is most writers’ go-to site for baseball contract info.
- NPB Tracker, a site that reads Japanese baseball articles and distills them into bite-size English nuggets, says the Rangers are interested in Kenshin Kawakami, while Koji Uehara is practicing throwing a Major League ball (which is slightly larger than the ball they use in Japan).
- DRays Bay wants the Rays to sign Jason Giambi.
- MASN’s Roch Kubatko says, "The Orioles still haven’t decided what to do with pitcher Daniel Cabrera, but they have until Dec. 12 to figure it out. That’s when they’ll need to tender him a contract and risk going to arbitration, or turn him loose and hope he doesn’t evolve into another Curt Schilling."
Yesterday the Cubs signed free agent pitcher Ryan Dempster to a four-year, $52 million deal (the last year is a player option). Dempster also talked to the Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Yankees, and Mets. Reactions to the deal:
- Newsday’s Ken Davidoff says it "doesn’t seem like a great investment in a 31-year-old without a proven history as a starting pitcher."
- Umpbump’s Paul Moro says "Although he’s on the wrong side of 30, I think that this will be one of the saner deals this offseason."
- Bleed Cubbie Blue says, "Good clubhouse guys aren’t easy to find, and when you have one like Dempster who gets it, in addition to being dedicated to his craft and staying in shape so he can continue to perform at the high level he did in 2008, you keep him."
- Sabernomics says, "Are teams really thinking this guy is a legitimate front-of-the-rotation starter worth $13 million a season for the next four years? … 2008 screams ‘fluke!’"
- ESPN’s Rob Neyer (whose blog is now free) says, "Dempster gave up only 14 home runs in 2008. I don’t believe that number is sustainable."
- Dave Cameron likes the deal for the Cubs, noting that the contract assumes Dempster regresses.
- Ken Rosenthal notes that the Cubs had extra appeal to Dempster because he has 10-and-5 rights with them.
- Dempster has a backloaded contract, but my math says the Cubs will now be above $130MM after arbitration raises. Payroll is expected to rise at least slightly from the $130MM level, but the Cubs don’t have much room in the budget for that lefthanded bat right now.
Tim Dierkes also contributed to this post.
9:51pm: MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel has a source saying Dayton Moore and Jim Hendry have not discussed a deal for Teahen or David DeJesus. Moore wouldn’t comment publicly on the rumor, while Teahen and his agent are unaware of any trade talks. Still, check out Rany Jazayerli’s thoughts on the rumor.
5:02pm: More fallout from the Ryan Dempster signing. The Kansas City Star’s Bob Dutton is reporting the Cubs are once again targeting Mark Teahen to fill their right field vacancy. Dutton says discussions to acquire Teahen "stalled earlier this month, in part, because the Cubs’ wanted to hold onto several young players while discussing a possible trade with San Diego for pitcher Jake Peavy if Dempster signed elsewhere."
Now that Dempster is on board, acquiring a left handed hitting outfield bat is the Cubs’ highest priority. But who would the Cubs trade for Teahen?
The Cubs want to move Japanese import Kosuke Fukudome, but that’s a tough sell — to any team, not just the Royals — because he slumped badly last season over the closing months and is owed $38 million over the next three years.
A more-likely possibility is Felix Pie, a 23-year-old once viewed as a can’t-miss prospect. Pie batted just .223 in 260 at-bats with the Cubs over the last two years after posting strong minor-league numbers.
The Cubs can also offer shortstop Ronny Cedeno or second baseman Mike Fontenot if the Royals prefer to acquire a middle-infield partner for Mike Aviles.
Pie is also out of options and the Cubs seem to have run out of patience, so he is a likely trade candidate. Teahen, meanwhile, has yet to live up to the hype that surrounded his promotion to the big leagues, but he could blossom hitting against weaker NL pitching. Teahen, you might remember, was one of the featured players in the book "Moneyball" and was described as a future Jason Giambi.
Now that the Cubs have essentially taken themselves out of the Jake Peavy sweepstakes by signing free agent pitcher Ryan Dempster, Padres GM Kevin Towers is looking for a new trade partner.
MLB.com’s Corey Brock reminds us that "Towers indicated Monday that the Cubs were essentially his sole focus as far as discussions to trade Peavy, the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner."
Now the Padres may try to rekindle talks with the Braves:
Towers wouldn’t rule out the possibility of circling back around to the Braves, who last week said they were moving on after a deal couldn’t be reached.
"You never know … we certainly made more progress with them," Towers said. "We were able to ID and agree upon a large part of the package."
The Braves have always been the logical landing place for Peavy. Atlanta GM Frank Wren said recently that he had given up on trading for the Padres ace.
The Washington Post’s Dave Sheinin tells us Nationals team president Stan Kasten is tempering expectations that the Nats will make an offer to free agent first baseman Mark Teixeira.
Sheinin quotes Kasten saying, "I don’t want people to have unrealistic expectations" and "You’re way ahead of us here." Then he offers some analysis:
My own take: The Nationals are still formulating the structure of the offer they plan to make to Teixeira. However, they also know they cannot compete with the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and/or Angels when it comes to dollar figures. So they would like to get a better sense of Teixeira’s true market before they make their pitch.
It’s possible the Nationals will never get around to offering Teixeira a contract. The Yankees could start the bidding sky high, like they did with CC Sabathia.
MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports that the Diamondbacks have had informal conversations with the agent for free-agent infielder Ramon Vazquez.
Vazquez, 32, played 70 games at third, 26 at short, 11 at second and one at first for the Rangers in 2008. He is regarded as a good defender and as a left-handed hitter who would fit nicely in a right-handed heavy Arizona lineup.
Vazquez could replace free-agent Orlando Hudson at second base. In 2008, he had the best offensive season of his eight-year Major League career, hitting .290 with a .365 on-base percentage. While it’s likely his offense will decline a bit in 2009, his defense could improve given the chance to concentrate on one position. This could be a nice pick up for Arizona.
Nobody knows for sure where this year’s crop of free agents will end up. But several blogs are asking all the right questions.
- Athletics Nation asks fans "what’s the worst thing Billy could do?"
- The Chicago Tribune’s Paul Sullivan asks, "Should the Cubs sign the Big Unit?"
- The Big Lead looks at the Yankees pursuit of just about every free agent on the market and asks, "How can it not work?"
Tigers president/GM Dave Dombrowski says he isn’t looking to trade Magglio Ordonez, despite speculation that the right fielder is available.
Dombrowski said he hasn’t made a single call about Ordonez.
"We’re not looking to trade Magglio," Dombrowski said. "He’s one of the best hitters in baseball and an important part of our club."
As MLB.com’s Jason Beck rightly points out, this doesn’t mean the Tigers won’t listen to offers for Ordonez.
In September, the Detroit Free Press’ John Paul Morosi said the Tigers would need to trade Ordonez if they were going to fill their many needs. The Tigers are in the market for a shortstop to replace Edgar Renteria, and could also use an upgrade in the rotation, at closer and at catcher. Considering their stated intention not to raise payroll, it’s hard to see how Detroit is going to do all that, or even some of that, without trading Ordonez. But I guess that’s why they pay Dombrowski the big bucks.
Here are some crumbs from the trade rumor loaf:
- Justin Miller, who spent the past two seasons working out of the Marlins bullpen, has reached agreement on a Minor League contract with the Giants.
- The Pirates signed an 18-year-old shortstop from South Africa, Mpho Ngoepe, a switch-hitting shortstop who made a cameo appearance in the recent Instructional League in Bradenton, Fla.
- The Mariners have signed center fielder Steve Moss to a minor league contact. Moss, 24, was a 2002 draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, taken right out of high school. Last year, he batted .299 for the Long Beach Armada and was, according to his manager, ex-Mariner Steve Yeager, the best center fielder in the league.
- Umpbump’s Paul Moro says teams should be wary of Oliver Perez, whose ERA has benefitted from the Mets’ above average defense.
- The team that wins the World Series always cashes in. Will the Phillies have more money to spend this offseason as a result of their championship? And if so, will they spend it on Japanese free-agent pitcher Junichi Tazawa, or on free agent Pat Burrell?