Brian Lawrence Rumors

Dessens Deal Falls Through; Giants To Sign Lawrence

Elmer Dessens' minor league deal with the Giants fell through and the Giants agreed to a minor league deal with Brian Lawrence, according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). Lawrence, who last pitched in the majors in 2007, will report to minor league camp.

Dessens, who would have earned $600K at the major league level, posted a 2.30 ERA and a career-low strikeout rate in 53 appearances for the Mets last year. He drew interest from teams in both leagues before agreeing to sign with the Giants, so it's possible that another club will sign him this spring.

Lawrence, 34, spent last season in the Marlins organization at Triple-A New Orleans. He started 25 games and logged 142 2/3 innings with a 4.42 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9. The longtime Padres starter averaged over 200 innings from 2002-05 and has a 4.19 ERA in 963 career innings.

Padres Sign Brian Lawrence

According to a press release, the Padres have signed righthander Brian Lawrence to a minor league deal. He allowed two runs in six innings in a start for the Triple-A Portland Beavers on Wednesday night. Prior to signing, Lawrence had been with the Orange County Flyers of the independent Golden Baseball League.

Lawrence last pitched in the big leagues in 2007 for the Mets. He spent five years with the Padres from 2001-2005, drawing Opening Day assignments in 2003 and 2004.

Padres Eyeing Livan Hernandez, Cliff Floyd

Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to Padres GM Kevin Towers, who said last week he’s interested in starter Livan Hernandez and outfielder Cliff Floyd.  The Padres are no longer targeting a $40MM payroll, so it seems they can afford to add a million or two for these two free agents.  The Padres have two open spots in the rotation.

Hernandez, 34 in February, posted a 6.05 ERA and 3.35 K/9 in 180 innings last year for the Twins and Rockies.  He earned $5MM.  Floyd, 36, hit .268/.349/.455 in 284 plate appearances for the Rays last year; he suffered a slightly torn labrum in the World Series.  He earned $2.75MM and had an ’09 option for the same amount declined in November.

Center adds that the Padres had free agent pitchers Brian Lawrence, Steve Trachsel, and Scott Elarton work out at Petco Park recently but decided not to invite them to Spring Training (Ben mentioned this on Saturday; just a reminder).  Trachsel was designated for assignment by the Orioles in June of last year and was thought to be considering retirement.

Odds And Ends: Hill, Dye, Hinske, Fogg

Links for Saturday…

Braves Purchase Brian Lawrence’s Contract

32 year-old righty Brian Lawrence made six starts for the Mets last year and 16 in Triple A.  He’d missed all of ’06 due to rotator cuff and labrum surgery.  Before that, he’d been a useful innings eater.

This year Lawrence found himself playing independent ball for the Camden Riversharks playing alongside familiar names such as Ryan Drese and Jamal Strong.  He posted a 3.21 ERA in eight starts.  Today, the Braves purchased Lawrence’s contract and assigned him to Triple A.

Latest Mets Rumors: A-Rod, Silva, Blanton

Plenty of action around the Mets lately; Omar Minaya has his work cut out for him.  Hat tip to MetsBlog for several of the links.

  • The sensational storyline here is that Minaya will meet with Scott Boras to discuss Alex Rodriguez.  However, Boras and Minaya might spend more time discussing Kyle Lohse and Eric Gagne than A-Rod – the Mets’ focus is pitching.
  • Newsday’s Ken Davidoff reminds us of past trade talks regarding Joe Blanton, Jose Contreras, and Jon Garland.  Those talks may be re-opened, though Davidoff notes that the White Sox aren’t enamored of Lastings Milledge.  Additionally, the Mets will meet with Carlos Silva‘s people this week.
  • Buster Olney discusses the Mets’ pursuit for pitching today in his blog.  They need a horse, somebody who can chew up innings.  Aside from the aforementioned Silva and Blanton, Olney names Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren, Scott Kazmir, and Dontrelle Willis as possible targets (though Marc Lancaster considers the declaration of Kazmir’s availability to be "dubious at best."  Meanwhile one exec thinks the Rays would only make him available if "his arm is about to blow.")  Olney’s guess is that the Mets will acquire Blanton.  The Mets have some combination of Mike Pelfrey, Philip Humber, Lastings Milledge, Carlos Gomez, and Aaron Heilman to offer.  There are pros and cons to dealing each.
  • There are other concerns besides pitching: second base and catcher.  Besides the forthcoming monster offer to Jorge Posada, the Mets are considering Paul Lo Duca and Yorvit Torrealba as fallbacks.  Ramon Castro is looking for a two-year deal, and hopes it’s with the Mets.  However, the Rockies have their eye on him
  • Pedro Martinez expects to pitch beyond 2008.  Whether that will be for the Mets or someone else, who knows.
  • Marlon Anderson‘s two-year deal will be announced today, according to Adam Rubin.  The Mets will pass on Jose Valentin and Brian Lawrence‘s options.   

Rosenthal’s Latest: Lohse, Hunter, Contreras

The latest trade and signing rumors from Ken Rosenthal:

  • Rosenthal believes Alex Rodriguez‘s ability to play shortstop could increase the number of suitors.  Take a look at the free agents – there may not be a single viable option at short this winter.  Still, the number of suitors for Rodriguez is severely limited by his massive contract requirement.  Not too many clubs aside from the Yankees and Red Sox can get in on $240MM over eight years or whatever.  The lack of available, reasonably priced shortstops could compel the Braves and Orioles to aggressively shop Edgar Renteria and Miguel Tejada.
  • As a 29 year-old free agent starter with decent stuff, Scott Boras could sell Kyle Lohse as the next Gil Meche this winter.  Meche’s work in the season’s first three months would only aid the wishcasting.  I put up a little Lohse history here, writing that his deal will likely fall somewhere between Jason Marquis and Meche.  Other free agent starters who will be under 30 for the 2008 season: Carlos Zambrano, Jason Jennings, Joe Kennedy, and Byung-Hyun Kim.
  • Rosenthal believes the Rangers will bid on Torii Hunter this winter unless they acquire a proven center fielder this summer.  He mentions that Jon Daniels set his sights on Shane Victorino but the Phils would rather trade Michael Bourn.  Unless the Rangers get a proven guy they will still go after Hunter.
  • The Mariners scouted Jose Contreras and Matt Morris recently, but both were lousy.  I still think Jennings could sneak in there as the best available starter, but he too hasn’t pitched well in July.  Definitely seems like the Mariners will snag some kind of starter.
  • Rosenthal disputes Evan Grant’s report of the Brewers and Indians showing interest in Kenny Lofton.  The Brewers are getting Bill Hall back soon and the Indians have some outfielders on the road to recovery as well.  Perfect, this frees him up for the Cubs!
  • Rosenthal mentions the same teams I did for Kevin Millar, but sees an August deal as a possibility.  Waiting until August doesn’t seem to make sense for the Orioles, as things get trickier then.
  • The Padres could trade Scott Linebrink in order to make payroll room for a starter.  Or they could just sign Brian Lawrence.  I discussed some other options for the Friars here.

Mets Sign Brian Lawrence

UPDATE: Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post spoke to Lawrence’s agent, and he’s signed with the Mets.  Omar is just stockpiling arms.

Is it just me, or has there been a ton of interest in Brian Lawrence, dating back to this offseason?  He was admittedly a decent innings eater for the Padres for four years, but he missed all of ’06 and couldn’t crack the Rockies’ rotation.

Nonetheless, the Tigers have offered Lawrence a Triple A contract.  I suppose there’s nothing to lose here except a million bucks or so.  The Tigers have received excellent work from their front three starters, but are rightfully concerned about Chad Durbin and Mike Maroth eating up 40% of the starts until Kenny Rogers returns.

UPDATE: The Detroit Free Press says Lawrence likely won’t sign with the Tigesrs.

The Baltimore Sun says Lawrence’s name has come up within the Orioles’ front office; they’re currently running with both Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Burres in the rotation.  That was not the plan.  Lawrence might not be any better than those two, but it makes sense to stockpile some arms when Steve Trachsel is your third starter.

UPDATE: According to the Washington Post, the O’s contacted Lawrence’s agent on Saturday. 

Also, the Denver Post lists the Padres, Mets, and Mariners as other possible suitors.  Perhaps we can add the Cardinals to that list in the wake of the news about Chris Carpenter‘s surgery.

Mets Trolling For Pitching

Like many teams, the Mets could use another starting pitcher.  I like the depth Omar Minaya came in with, but another rehab project or two wouldn’t hurt.  You have to respect this approach to building a rotation as opposed to just signing Barry Zito.

David Lennon of Newsday says that Minaya is indeed working the phones, looking for a deal similar to last year’s Orlando Hernandez acquisition.  A minor league contract for Brian Lawrence is one option.  What other starters might Minaya gamble on?

The Indians are one club with an apparent surplus of starters, once the main guys are healthy at the same time.  The price might be too high for Fausto Carmona, though Paul Byrd could be had if salaries can be worked out.  Byrd has looked decent in the early going, but he’s earning $7MM.  Byrd made 55 relief appearances for the Mets back in 1995-96.

If for nothing else than the confusion angle, MInaya could consider another O. Perez (Odalis of the Royals).  The Dodgers are already paying a large chunk of Perez’s $7.75MM salary.  A little Rick Peterson tutoring could do him some good.

It wouldn’t be a minor deal, but the White Sox could start offering up Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, and Mark Buehrle in coming months.  Greg Couch of the Sun-Times thinks a fire sale is in order.

The Angels could spare a Dustin Moseley, but will probably hang on to Joe Saunders for depth.  It seems like the A’s are willing to trade anyone in the right deal.  The Brewers go seven-deep with starting pitchers.  The Cubs are about ready to cast off Wade Miller.  And the Rockies are still stuck with Josh Fogg and Byung-Hyun Kim.

I’m interested to see who Minaya comes up with here; he’s usually pretty clever when bargain-hunting.

Three Teams Interested In Lawrence

Brian Lawrence couldn’t crack Colorado’s rotation, so the 31 year-old soft-tosser is now a free agent.  Since teams aren’t willing to give up much on May 2nd, Lawrence has multiple suitors.  The Denver Post reports that the Orioles, Tigers, and Padres have interest.

Tim Brown reported yesterday that Detroit is on the prowl for pitching, and the loss of Jaret Wright created a vacancy for the O’s.  Most likely, though, Lawrence returns to the Padres and tries to re-establish himself at Triple A.  He had flirted with San Diego in the offseason before David Wells signed. Boomer has not fared well in the early going.  Nor has Clay Hensley, but both have earned another month to set things right based on past results.

The Padres may feel an extra need for pitching depth if top pitching prospect Cesar Carrillo needs elbow surgery.  A healthy Carrillo likely would’ve been better than Hensley, Wells, or Lawrence (PECOTA called for a 4.63 ERA; ZiPS said 4.21).