Brendan Ryan Rumors
5:13pm: The Orioles are moving on to other targets, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). Those alternatives include trade candidates Brendan Ryan, J.J. Hardy and free agent Orlando Cabrera.
4:48pm: Reimold is off the table, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). He isn't going to Tampa and he's probably staying put.
4:13pm: The trade is "not happening," a source tells ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (on Twitter).
3:37pm: There will be no deal today, according to Ghiroli (on Twitter). The sides are close, but a trade now seems less likely than it did earlier.
1:26pm: The Rays are talking with the Orioles about Bartlett, and it's for more than Reimold, tweets Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.
11:49am: A possible deal sending Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett to the Orioles for outfielder/first baseman Nolan Reimold is heating up, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. He has one source who expects the trade to happen today.
The Rays are one of few teams with a shortstop surplus, and Bartlett may earn over $5MM in his last year before free agency. Reimold had a strong rookie season for Baltimore in '09 but had a lost 2010.
We know that St. Louis GM John Mozeliak met with the agent for Albert Pujols today in regards to a possible extension, but as Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch informs us, their immediate to-do list is far shorter.
Following the club's acquisition of Lance Berkman, the Cardinals are now focused on exploring trade interest for defensive whiz Brendan Ryan and securing a backup catcher. The $8MM allocated to Berkman, as well as the same figure that was allocated to Jake Westbrook and the acquisition of Ryan Theriot have left the redbirds with little financial flexibility.
Mozeliak adamantly denied rumors of continued interest in Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett, stating two reasons:
"One is, we've already made a trade for a player," he began. "And Number 2 is, after we did the Berkman deal, (finances) are something we have to become aware of, too. We're pretty comfortable now with what we've done in the middle infield."
Strauss says the Cardinals would want a pitching prospect or fringe major leaguer in return for Ryan's services. Mozeliak made his intentions clear when he prioritized their plans for Ryan in order: trade him for immediate help, trade him for depth, or retain him as a backup.
Ryan's bat doesn't bring much to the table -- he hit just .239/.279/.294 last season -- but his reputation as a defensive sensation is well-deserved. His UZR has increased in each of the past three seasons, and his cumulative UZR/150 at shortstop over that time is 11.4, second only to Jack Wilson (among players with 1500 innings or more). He's capable of swiping a base (25 SB over the past two seasons, career 75% success rate) and is arbitration-eligible for the first time, meaning he won't see a significant salary in 2011.
The Cardinals filled their backup catcher role with Jason LaRue from 2008-2010, but LaRue retired this season after suffering an injury in a team brawl with the Reds. Earlier today, they were linked to Gregg Zaun, who missed most of 2010 with an injury of his own. However at age 39 and coming off that injury, he should fit into the club's pay range.
As it stands, St. Louis is projected to have approximately a $106MM payroll, which includes a small allocation for a backup catcher in the mold of Zaun. Other options in that price range could include (my own speculation) Josh Bard, Gerald Laird, and Henry Blanco.
3:25pm: The Pirates are aggressively pursuing Accardo, according to Kovacevic (on Twitter).
2:51pm: The latest on the Pirates:
- The Pirates are deeply interested in Jeremy Accardo, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Dodgers are also known to be in on the recently non-tendered reliever.
- A couple of teams have approached the Pirates about center fielder Andrew McCutchen, tweets ESPN's Gordon Edes, but they'd have to be overwhelmed.
- The Pirates and Justin Duchscherer have mutual interest, reports Kovacevic.
- The Pirates have shown some interest in Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. She estimates Kawakami would only cost the Pirates $1-2MM and no significant players, as the Braves are just looking to unload part of his $6.667MM salary.
- Langosch says the Pirates have mild interest in Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan. Kovacevic says the Pirates continue to discuss shortstops with many teams, including J.J. Hardy with the Twins.
- Kovacevic adds that the Pirates would love to trade Ryan Doumit. He says they'd only trade Evan Meek or Joel Hanrahan for a very significant return.
Ron Santo, the longtime Cubs star and broadcaster, died overnight. Condolences to his family, friends and many fans. Here are today's links...
- ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick profiles Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, who expects to be a players' manager, partly because his experience as a player allows him to relate to those who are struggling to produce.
- The Orioles offered Adam Dunn a four-year deal worth about $40MM before he agreed to sign with the White Sox, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).
- The Pirates have had "ongoing discussions with multiple free-agent starters, and would be pleased to sign more than one starting pitcher to compete for a spot in the rotation," president Frank Coonelly told fans in a chat on MLB.com. The team made Jorge de la Rosa an offer and is also open to upgrading in right field, at first base or at short.
- The market for Kevin Correia is heating up, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). The right-hander is in "active negotiations" with two or more teams.
- Ryan Zimmerman tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he wouldn't mind signing a Troy Tulowitzki-like extension (Twitter link).
- "It's no secret we want Cliff [Lee], and we will do what we can to get him," Hank Steinbrenner told ESPN.com. Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker insists he never said he's looking to match C.C. Sabathia's $161MM deal.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock suggests Brendan Ryan might be a better trade target for the Padres than Jason Bartlett (Twitter link).
The Cardinals feel that Ryan Theriot is an upgrade at shortstop over incumbent Brendan Ryan. Ryan is now expendable, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: "The Cardinals have let other teams know Ryan is available, and they'll look to trade him during next week's winter meetings in Florida, if not sooner."
Ryan doesn't want to leave, but he doesn't have any say in the matter. He's arbitration eligible for the first time, but his dismal offensive career numbers should keep his salary down. The Fielding Bible's love for his 2010 defense might not provide much ammo for his agents at WMG in an arbitration hearing.
Starting shortstops are hard to come by, but the Pirates, Orioles, and Padres might be the only teams in the market.
The Cardinals have slipped to eight games back of the Reds in the NL Central race, and the division title is looking increasingly out of reach for St. Louis. So rather than focusing on this season, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previews the coming winter, asking a few questions about what the team's future holds. Here are some highlights of Strauss' piece:
- Locking up Albert Pujols is the club's top priority; the Cards will likely have trouble adding another impact bat until they know what sort of money they'll be committing to their top hitter for the next several years.
- "Strong opinion exists" at the major league level that the Cards' Triple-A and Double-A affiliates won't produce an impact position player for at least the next couple seasons. Strauss points out that the team hasn't signed many minor league free agents in recent years, and that the organization might have to rethink that strategy to provide depth and insurance for the big league roster.
- The Cards may need to look into acquiring more offense at its middle infield spots, since Brendan Ryan (.573 OPS) and Skip Schumaker (.680 OPS) have contributed very little at the plate.
- It's still up in the air whether Tony La Russa will be back to manage in St. Louis next season. If he does, there are questions about his relationship with Colby Rasmus. According to Strauss' club sources, Rasmus requested a trade earlier this year due to his frustrations with the Cards' skipper.
Astros righty Roy Oswalt indicated yesterday that he would be willing to re-structure his contract to accommodate a trade to the Cardinals, and that his 2012 option worth $16MM would not be a deal-breaker if the team approached him about a deal. The Phillies are still trying to unload Jayson Werth to help facilitate a trade for Oswalt while the Dodgers and Astros have exchanged some names. The Twins, however, are not in on the 32-year-old right-hander.
That's a quick summary of what we learned yesterday, so here is today's batch of Oswalt rumors...
- Philadelphia remains more focused on Oswalt than Haren, tweets Heyman.
- The Phillies could swing a three-way trade involving Jayson Werth in order to land Oswalt, writes Ed Price of Fanhouse. Earlier tonight, we learned that the Phillies could also use Werth to get the prospects needed to land Dan Haren.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane says that there's nothing imminent right now, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.
- In addition to the aforementioned Phillies, the Yankees, Dodgers, and Cardinals will all be watching Oswalt's start tonight, according to the Houston Chronicle's Zachary Levine.
- The Dodgers' chances of landing Astros ace Roy Oswalt do not look good, Rosenthal says in his latest Full Count. In fact, some major league executives think that Houston won't trade Oswalt at all. The fact that the Astros were seeking both major league-ready position players and prospects in a deal with Los Angeles may indicate that they're not all that anxious to move the hurler.
- The Phillies, along with a dozen other clubs, will scout Oswalt tonight as he takes the mound against the Reds, tweets Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia.
- Rosenthal tweets that the Astros asked the Dodgers for both big league-ready position players and prospects in a deal for Oswalt.
- Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that the Astros rejected a proposal from the Cards earlier this week that would have sent Brendan Ryan and one other player to Houston.
- The Yankees may be in on Dan Haren, but they aren't in on Oswalt, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.
Four years ago today, the Rays sent Aubrey Huff and cash to the Astros for Ben Zobrist and Mitch Talbot. The Astros finished 1.5 games out in '06 despite Huff contributing 13 home runs, and GM Tim Purpura chose not to offer arbitration after the season. On to today's links...
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Yankees have no plans to acquire a starting pitcher - "Cliff Lee was a special case." Speaking of Lee, he told MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that the trade from the Phillies did not sour him on the team, and he's not opposed to any club once he reaches free agency.
- The Blue Jays had a scout at this weekend's Cardinals-Astros series, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss wonders if shortstop Alex Gonzalez could be a match for the Cards, and he notes that the Jays have had previous interest in Brendan Ryan.
- Mariners president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln weren't aware of the full extent of pitcher Josh Lueke's 2008 trouble with the law, reports Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. Lueke went to Seattle as part of the Lee trade.
- Talking to WEEI's Alex Speier, Red Sox GM Theo Epstein explained that in the case of Casey Kelly and other prospects, he'd rather challenge them against advanced competition than allow them to compile numbers and trade value at more age-appropriate levels.
- In the same article, Speier notes that the Red Sox have agreements, pending physicals, with a pair of international free agents. One is a righthanded pitcher, the other an outfielder.
- As part of an extensive Q&A with Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times, Commissioner Bud Selig says he would not consider contracting the Athletics or Rays if their ballpark situations are not resolved.
The "window is closed" on the idea of the St. Louis Cardinals signing a free-agent shortstop, according to GM John Mozeliak. Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes that if the team needs to add a fallback option for the rehabbing Brendan Ryan, they'll explore the trade market rather than signing a free agent.
Given the lack of shortstops left available on the free agent market, we can assume that the GM's comments refer primarily to the team's interest in Felipe Lopez. Last we heard, the Cardinals were one of a handful of teams interested in the infielder, but Mozeliak's comments suggest that the club isn't likely to bring Lopez back to St. Louis. In 43 games for the Cardinals in 2008, Lopez hit a scorching .385/.426/.538.
Mozeliak added that the club should know more about Ryan's health by "the first or second week of March when he truly tests some things." We know that the Cards have a little money to spare, but it sounds like they might wait for more details on Ryan's recovery before deciding how to spend it.
SATURDAY, 3:53pm: Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter) hears it's highly unlikely that the Padres will make a move on Lopez.
WEDNESDAY, 5:12pm: Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports are reporting that free agent infielder Felipe Lopez has four suitors, two of whom are San Diego and St. Louis.
We've heard about the Cards' interest in Lopez already this winter, and Morosi/Rosenthal note that Brendan Ryan's wrist surgery might be a main reason why St. Louis is keeping an eye on Lopez. For the Padres, Lopez would be essentially a depth signing, though David Eckstein and Everth Cabrera aren't exactly rock-solid everyday options in the middle infield. Cabrera is entering just his second season, and Eckstein has never posted an OPS in any of his nine major league seasons that has come within 50 points of the .810 OPS that Lopez achieved in 680 plate appearances last season..