Bryan LaHair Rumors
8.38pm: MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (on Twitter) that LaHair can opt-out of the contract after 2013, and the deal includes $2MM in incentives each year. The total value is $4.7MM when you include his signing bonus and buyout.
7:42pm: LaHair's agreement with the Hawks is worth $4MM over two years, reports ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). The Cubs received about $950K in the transaction.
11:12am: The SoftBank Hawks are close to an agreement with Bryan LaHair, according to a Sanspo report passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The Cubs designated LaHair for assignment yesterday, announcing that the team and player were "pursuing an opportunity" for LaHair to sign with a Japanese team.
LaHair, 30, made the NL All-Star team in 2012, but his production diminished in the second half. He finished the season with 16 home runs and a .259/.334/.450 batting line in 380 plate appearances as a corner outfielder and first baseman.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
The Cubs have designated Bryan LaHair for assignment, according to a club press release. The team and LaHair are "pursuing an opportunity" for LaHair to sign with a Japanese team.
LaHair had a peculiar 2012 season, beginning the campaign as Chicago's regular first baseman and breaking out to 12 homers and a .988 OPS over his first 51 games. This hot start was enough for LaHair to make the NL All-Star team, though he cooled off considerably after May and ended up on the bench as Anthony Rizzo took over at first and the Cubs had too many other options in the outfield.
LaHair finished 2012 with a .259/.334/.450 line and 16 homers in 380 plate appearances with almost all of that damage coming against right-handed pitching --- the left-handed hitting LaHair had an .865 OPS against righties and a .292 OPS against southpaws.
With tonight's 3-0 win over the Cubs, the Astros have now recorded three straight shutouts for the first time since 1986. It's a small measure of consolation for a team that has already clinched the worst record in baseball and the first overall pick in next year's amateur draft. Here's the latest from Houston and elsewhere around the NL Central...
- Kevin Correia cracked the 170-inning plateau with tonight's start, earning him a $100K bonus, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Correia will be a free agent this winter and is rumored to be parting ways with the Pirates, given that he's already requested a trade earlier this season.
- Bryan LaHair thinks he has a 50-50 chance of being traded by the Cubs this offseason, he tells ESPN Chicago's Doug Padilla.
- Astros GM Jeff Luhnow is undecided about bringing back Chris Snyder next season, though he's been impressed by Snyder's veteran leadership, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. The Astros and Snyder have a $4MM mutual option for 2013, an option that seems unlikely to be exercised by the club given Snyder's poor hitting this season and the fact that $4MM is a high price for a backup catcher. It's possible the Astros could decline the option and still bring Snyder back on a smaller contract.
- Ron Roenicke tells reporters (including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy) that the Brewers will bring their current coaching staff back next season.
Reds manager Dusty Baker suffered a minor stroke on Friday, the team told reporters (including MLB.com's Mark Sheldon). Baker was already in hospital being treated for an irregular heartbeat and was supposed to be released on Friday. The 63-year-old was released instead on Sunday and is reportedly in good condition, addressing the Reds clubhouse this afternoon. Bench coach Chris Speier has managed the team in Baker's absence and will continue to do so at least through Cincinnati's weekend series with the Pirates, though Baker is hopeful of returning for the Reds' final series of the year.
Here's some more news from around the baseball world...
- Long-time Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek tells Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston that he is "close" to taking a job with the team. Varitek will likely be a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington, though Edes notes that Varitek's teammates from Boston's 2004 World Series squad think he should be the next Red Sox manager.
- Bryan LaHair hopes to return to the Cubs next season, he tells CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney, though the team currently has no spot where he can get regular playing time.
- Eric Stults' good performances in the Padres' rotation may have earned him a spot in next year's rotation, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
- Also from Bill Center, he examines the mixed results the Padres have thus far received from the seven players they signed to contract extensions this year.
- Lance Berkman tells Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle that he hopes to play for a contender next season, which would seem to eliminate him returning to the Astros as a DH. (Berkman has also considered retirement.) Berkman also endorsed ex-teammate Tim Bogar as his choice to be the Astros' next manager.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson discussed the Ike Davis trade rumors, the chances of the Mets extending David Wright and R.A. Dickey and other topics during a visit to the SNY booth during Tuesday's game. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin has a partial transcript.
- Willy Taveras is working out and hopeful of returning to the Major Leagues next season, reports MLB.com's Evan Drellich. Taveras, who turns 31 on Christmas Day, last played in the majors for the Nationals in 2010.
The Dodgers and Cubs have had some discussions about including Alfonso Soriano or Bryan LaHair in a trade for Ryan Dempster, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. The Dodgers continue seeking offense as well as pitching, but it’s a definite longshot that they’ll acquire Soriano or LaHair, Knobler writes.
The Cubs are “desperate” to trade Soriano, who earns $18MM per season through 2014. The Cubs have offered to pay almost all of Soriano’s salary, but he’s drawing minimal interest from other teams, according to Knobler. At least one team has checked in on Soriano, who has 19 home runs and a respectable .274/.324/.503 batting line.
The Orioles have been making calls to other teams in search help at their corner infield positions, and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that they've made calls specifically regarding Placido Polanco, Bryan LaHair and Chase Headley.
General manager Dan Duquette is in search of a high on-base percentage who can hit near the top of the Orioles' batting order. An industry source cautioned Connolly in telling him that the O's talks regarding the trio have been preliminary.
Orioles third basemen have combined to hit .233/.291/.383, and their first basemen haven't fared much better at .237/.316/.415. They've primarily used a combination of Wilson Betemit, Mark Reynolds, and Chris Davis at the positions this season, but all are defensive liabilities and Davis has been shifted to an outfield role.
Connolly speculates that Polanco may be the best fit, as he would cost the cheapest of the three to acquire. Headley figures to be one of the most coveted players that is potentially available this summer, and LaHair is controllable through the 2017 season. Polanco earns $6.25MM this season and has a $5.5MM mutual option with a $1MM buyout for the 2013 season.
Here's some news from the Twitter feed of ESPN's Jayson Stark...
- Two executives who have recently spoken to the Cubs say that Chicago is mentioning Bryan LaHair's name in trade talks. LaHair made the All-Star team after a hot start, though as Stark notes, is hitting just .220/.278/.341 since May 15.
- Stark was somewhat surprised by Edwin Encarnacion's three-year extension with the Blue Jays, as he reports the Jays were gauging trade interest in Encarnacion as late as last week.
- The Orioles' interest in Matt Garza has faded and the O's are now "poking around on Jason Vargas." The Braves are also known to be looking at the Mariners southpaw, as Stark reported last month. MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently examined Vargas as a trade candidate.
The Nationals will win the NL East this year, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes. Bryce Harper appears to have solved the team's center field dilemma in the short term and the team's run prevention has been tremendous. General manager Mike Rizzo says his team's first half success isn't a fluke. “I’m very pleased with it -- don’t get me wrong -- but I’m not shocked by it," he told Morosi. Here are more of Morosi’s notes from around MLB:
- Peter Bourjos would likely intrigue the Phillies if the Angels ask about Cole Hamels, Morosi tweets. The Angels could explore the market for starting pitching depth given Ervin Santana’s first half struggles.
- There was once talk of the Pirates listening to offers on Kevin Correia, but it’s hard to see that happening now that Pittsburgh leads the NL Central, Morosi tweets.
- The Cubs will listen on Bryan LaHair, but their asking price remains high at the moment, Morosi tweets. Here’s more detail on LaHair and other potentially available first basemen.
- A rival executive expects the White Sox to look hard at possible relief help, Morosi tweets. Deunte Heath, Brian Omogrosso, Leyson Septimo, Hector Santiago, Nate Jones and Addison Reed join Matt Thornton in Chicago’s relatively inexperienced ‘pen.
Here's the latest news and headlines from around the league on the day Chase Utley told the world he was back with a home run in his first at-bat since the end of the 2011 season...
- There are very few viable options for the Dodgers as they look to add a middle-of-the-order bat, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Many of the players currently available are either fringe types or vastly overpaid for their services (like this one).
- Olney tweets that Cubs first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair has been scouted by the Dodgers, among other teams, but Los Angeles has reservations about his defense. Nonetheless, the Dodgers' need for a quality bat could lead to them overlooking LaHair's shortcomings and acquiring the power hitter before the trade deadline.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge doesn't like the progress his young team has made this season, but he's not ready to start sending players to Triple-A, writes Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. "It's frustrating because I know these guys are a much better offensive club than what we're seeing them do here at home,'' Wedge said. "I don't want to hear anything about the fences, or this, that and the other. It's about what they're doing at home plate and putting up good at-bats and hitting the ball hard."
- The Angels have a special assignment scout watching the Reds-Brewers series to check up on a few players including Francisco Rodriguez, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. The Angels entered Wednesday night's action four and a half games behind the Rangers for first place in the American League West.
The Reds paid a hefty price to acquire Mat Latos from the Padres this offseason, sending Yonder Alonso, Yasmani Grandal, Brad Boxberger, and Edinson Volquez to San Diego in exchange for the young ace. Latos has been largely disappointing, but turned in his best start of the season tonight, striking out a career-high 13 in a one-run complete game effort. Here are some more links related to the division...
- The Cubs officially called up Anthony Rizzo, the team announced, and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that they now view Bryan LaHair as an outfielder. The Cubs, however, would be willing to move LaHair for "the right offer," according to Morosi (Twitter link).
- The Brewers may be one good week away from contention, but the club could always be one bad week away from selling, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Zack Greinke, Francisco Rodriguez, Shaun Marcum, and George Kottaras would all appeal to other clubs, to varying degrees. Milwaukee's farm system has been depleted by trades for Greinke, Marcum, and C.C. Sabathia and could stand to be replenished, opines Rosenthal. He's careful to note that this could be a dicey PR move, as Milwaukee could surpass 3MM fans on the season and selling would send a bad message.
- Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle details the Astros' draft strategy and how it led to the signing of Rio Ruiz for a bonus that was leaps and bounds above slot ($1.85MM). General manager Jeff Luhnow tells Levine that he considers Ruiz, Carlos Correa (No. 1 overall) and Lance McCullers Jr. (No. 41 overall) all to be first round talents.