Brandon Backe Rumors

Quick Hits: Guerrero, Kawakami, Johnson, Dodgers

Some links from around the majors as the market for Vladimir Guerrero becomes a little clearer…

  • When I looked at possible destinations for Guerrero last week, I listed the Rangers, Angels, Orioles and Blue Jays. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the Rays are not in on Guerrero, which makes sense, since they already added Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez (Twitter link).
  • The Braves would like to trade Kenshin Kawakami this spring, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (on Twitter). The Braves have a number of starting pitching options without Kawakami, especially now that they've signed Rodrigo Lopez.
  • D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told's Steve Gilbert that he considers Kelly Johnson's arbitration case a tough one, but hopes to "create some dialogue" before the sides go to a hearing. As our Arb Tracker shows, Johnson asked for $6.5MM while the D'Backs countered with a $4.7MM offer.
  • Longtime Astros right-hander Brandon Backe, who last pitched in the majors in June of 2009 and is recovering from a pair of shoulder operations, told Stephen Goff of the Houston Examiner that he is working toward a possible comeback.
  • The Dodgers signed right-hander Merkin Valdez to a minor league deal, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America. The 29-year-old appeared in two games for the Blue Jays last year after spending parts of three seasons with the Giants.

Odds & Ends: De La Rosa, Mariners, Thames

Links for Tuesday, as the GM Meetings commence in Orlando and we await the announcement of the NL Cy Young winner…

Odds & Ends: Backe, Ellis, Crisp, Macha, Holliday

Some links to check out as the Rockies try to win their ninth straight…

Brewers Rumors: Backe, Trade Market

Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he has no interest in Brandon Backe. Yesterday, Assistant GM Gord Ash said the Brewers would take a look, but the club decided to pass, partly because Backe has had health problems.

Melvin also repeated that Mat Gamel and Alcides Escobar aren't going anywhere. He'd rather hold onto his top young talent than make a move he later regrets.'s Adam McCalvy hears from Melvin that there are fewer than ten teams that match up well with the Brewers. Melvin says it doesn't look like many impact players will be available, but says the market can change in no time.

Brewers Eyeing Brandon Backe

According to Adam McCalvy at, the Brewers might be interested in signing recently-released RHP Brandon Backe. Says assistant GM Gord Ash: "You have to at least take a look."

The Brewers are currently hurting for starting pitching depth, though they received a nice outing from Mike Burns tonight, as McCalvy notes. By picking up Backe they'd only be on the hook for the pro-rated amount of the league minimum. He might be able to slide into the back end of the rotation, but he's not likely to be an impact acquisition.

It's a little murky on who else has expressed interest in Backe. Any other teams where he might make a decent fit?

Brandon Backe: Free Agent

According to's Alyson Footer, Brandon Backe has cleared waivers and rejected an assignment to Triple-A Round Rock.  He is now officially a free agent.

Backe was designated for assignment last week after allowing 15 runs and 21 hits in 13 innings (one start) for the Astros.  He's 31-29 lifetime with a 5.38 career ERA.  At just 31 years of age, perhaps a few clubs will have interest in providing the right-hander both a change of scenery and a fresh start.

Brandon Backe Designated For Assignment

According to Alyson Footer, the Astros designated pitcher Brandon Backe for assignment to make room on the roster for Felipe Paulino.  Backe, 31, allowed 15 runs and 21 hits in 13 innings.  This year he's dealt with an intercostal strain; he had Tommy John surgery in September of 2006.  Backe still has about $870K coming on this year's contract, so the Astros will have to assume most of that.  Jason Grodsky of has a few comments from Backe and Astros GM Ed Wade.  Backe hopes to latch on as a starter somewhere.

Backe is probably best known for his solid postseason work for the Astros in 2004 and 2005. 

Astros’ Rotation Spots Open; Mets Sign Trio

A few notes popping up:

  • The Houston Astros will have tryouts for the starting rotation at Spring Training. Felipe Paulino and Fernando Nieve are both young arms that will be considered, Alyson Footer of reports. The Astros are tentatively counting on Roy Oswalt, Mike Hampton, Brandon Backe, Wandy Rodriguez and Brian Moehler to fill out their rotation.
  • The New York Mets have finalized deals with utilityman Rob Mackowiak, right-handed pitcher Kyle Snyder and left-hander Jon Switzer to minor-league deals. The three will be competing for 25-man roster spots at Spring Training, Anthony DiComo of reports.

Astros Avoid Arb With Backe, Byrdak

4:10pm:’s Alyson Footer says the Astros signed Byrdak for $1MM.

12:03pm: According to the Houston Chronicle’s Brian McTaggart:

Astros general manager Ed Wade said today the club signed righthander Brandon Backe to a one-year, $1.55 million contract worth more than $1 million more in incentives.

The Astros filed figures for Tim Byrdak, Geoff Geary, and Wandy Rodriguez, but will continue negotiating in advance of the scheduled February hearings.

Stark’s Non-Tender Candidates

With midnight on Friday being the deadline to tender a contract to an arbitration-eligible player, ESPN’s Jayson Stark has some predictions on who could be added to the free agent market…

Pitchers: Daniel Cabrera, Chad Gaudin, Jimmy Gobble, Brandon Backe, Takashi Saito, Tyler Yates, Wil Ledezma

Hitters: Marcus Thames, Gabe Gross, John Buck, Jose Bautista, Chris Burke, Willy Taveras, Jonny Gomes

What does everyone out there think? Any other non-tender possibilities?  MLBTR posted a speculative list a week ago.