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Brandon Backe Rumors
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 MLB.com'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.
Links for Tuesday, as the GM Meetings commence in Orlando and we await the announcement of the NL Cy Young winner…
- The Pirates' top free agent target is Jorge de la Rosa, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Brewers, Rangers, Nationals, Yankees, and Rockies have also been linked to the lefty. Correct me if I'm wrong, Pirates fans, but aside from Yoslan Herrera it seems the team's last multiyear free agent pitcher signing was Pete Schourek in December of 1998.
- The Mariners are expected to be limited to bargain bin shopping this winter, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. They've got plenty of needs, but expensive free agents don't make sense until they're closer to contention.
- Meanwhile the Softbank Hawks are working on signing Marcus Thames, according to a Sponichi report passed along by NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman on Twitter. Thames, 34 in March, was productive in a part-time role for the Yankees this year.
- Brandon Backe intends to pitch in 2011, his agent told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link). He's recovering from a rotator cuff injury.
- The Rockies will keep an eye on Bartolo Colon in the Dominican Republic, GM Dan O'Dowd told Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, but Renck finds a signing a long shot (Twitter link). MLBTR's Nick Collias filled us in on Colon yesterday.
- The Chiba Lotte Marines re-signed pitchers Hayden Penn and Bill Murphy, tweets Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman ruled out Leo Mazzone but not Rick Peterson for the team's new pitching coach, reports Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post muses on how the Mets should handle well-paid veterans Oliver Perez, Luis Castillo, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes.
Some links to check out as the Rockies try to win their ninth straight…
- Astros Senior Director of Social Media Alyson Footer tweets that Brandon Backe is working out and hopes to throw for scouts this winter with the idea of getting an invite to Spring Training with a team next year. Backe hasn't appeared in a big league game since last June.
- Billy Beane told MLB.com's Jane Lee that the decisions on the 2011 options for Mark Ellis and Coco Crisp likely won't be made until after the season (Twitter link).
- Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel reports that the Brewers and Ken Macha have yet to discuss the manager's club option for next season.
- Matt Holliday volunteered to move to right field after the Cardinals traded Ryan Ludwick according to FoxSportsMidwest.com's B.J. Rains. The idea was to the give the team the flexibility to pursue a player limited to left field if the opportunity presented itself.
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News doesn't agree with the report earlier today that John Ricco is out of contention to take over as the Mets' general manager if Omar Minaya is removed from the role.
- The Boston Globe's Peter Abraham says that Theo Epstein and Brian Cashman might be celebrating the "best deal they never made" — trading for Johan Santana — following the announcement that he requires shoulder surgery.
- Edwin Rodriguez loves managing the Marlins and hopes they factor him into their search for a permanent candidate this offseason, writes Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post.
- ESPN's Buster Olney says the Diamondbacks aren't going to spend a ton of money on their next general manager, but they will pay Kevin Towers what is needed if they decide he's their guy (Twitter links). Olney says the team is likely to decide on their next GM within the next couple of weeks.
- The Phillies have traded "over 20 players" from their farm system over their last four years according to assistant GM Chuck Lamar, but Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer says the team's minor league system is still in good shape. Keep in mind that they've traded for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt within the last 14 months.
- Paul Sullivan of The Chicago Tribune lists nine traits the Cubs' next manager should have.
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.
MLB.com'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.
According to Adam McCalvy at MLB.com, 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?
According to MLB.com'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.
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 MLB.com 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.
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 MLB.com 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 MLB.com reports.
4:10pm: MLB.com’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.
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.