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Bryan LaHair Rumors
Here's the latest from the NL Central…
- Reds GM Walt Jocketty is "not even considering" signing Roy Oswalt, reports John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Jocketty also said he is planning to talk with Brandon Phillips' agents about a contract extension for the second baseman at some point during the spring.
- Zack Greinke said "nothing's changed" about his extension talks with the Brewers and didn't want to talk about the subject to reporters today (including Todd Rosiak of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel). Greinke also added that he has no immediate plans to hire an agent.
- The Brewers should wait before giving Shaun Marcum a contract extension, or perhaps they should let Marcum hit free agency next winter altogether, writes Eric Seidman for Fangraphs. "All of [the Brewers] rotation efforts this year should be focused on keeping Greinke, the better and younger pitcher who is more likely to remain among the elite throughout the life of the deal," Seidman writes. Marcum recently said that he'd love to remain in Milwaukee, though the Brewers haven't yet approached him about a long-term deal.
- Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer told Bryan LaHair that the Cubs had no interest in Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder, LaHair tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. As such, LaHair was able to ignore the rumors and focus on preparing for his first starting job in the big leagues. Over at Roto Authority, I recently looked at the fantasy potential of LaHair and the newly-acquired Anthony Rizzo.
The Cubs agreed to send Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins for Chris Volstad today. The Cubs take on nearly all of Zambrano’s salary, but in doing so they obtain Volstad, a valuable ground ball pitcher who has consistently made his starts since joining the Marlins’ rotation in 2008. He’s arbitration eligible this offseason and under team control through 2014. Before the trade, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein joined 720 WGN in Chicago for an extended interview. Here are some highlights:
- Epstein said Matt Garza is a “top of the rotation type” starter. In general, players like Garza can become long-term assets by signing extensions or becoming trade chips, Epstein said. David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com hears that the Cubs continue asking "for [the] moon" in trade talks about Garza (Twitter link).
- Rules limiting amateur spending in the new collective bargaining agreement won’t necessarily slow the Cubs down. "It just means we have to be better and more accurate with our drafting than the competition," Epstein said.
- Epstein said he'd be greatly disappointed if the Cubs don't re-sign Kerry Wood. Wood signed a below-market $1.5MM deal last offseason but is said to want a market value deal this winter.
- The Cubs expect to start Bryan LaHair at first base. The 29-year-old posted a .331/.405/.664 line with 38 home runs at Triple-A in 2011. He also posted an .885 OPS in 69 plate appearances with the big league club.
- Epstein addressed Zambrano, saying "change needs to happen and change will happen." Not long after the interview, the Cubs agreed to send the right-hander to Miami.
- Epstein explained that some disappointing players can recover from poor seasons to produce again. "It's a game played by human beings and the ability to bounce back is very real," Epstein said.
- The Cubs value Sean Marshall, but felt it made sense to trade him for players who can contribute beyond 2012 (Travis Wood and two prospects), especially since Marshall isn't likely to be tied to draft pick compensation next offseason.
- The Cubs are "very committed" to Carlos Marmol as their closer.
The Cardinals and their fans may still be celebrating Friday's World Series victory, but it won't be long before a pair of the club's most prominent members will face decisions on their futures. Cards president Bill DeWitt III spoke to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports about Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa, two men without contracts for 2012:
"I don't want to prognosticate at all, but in the next week or so we'll hear from [La Russa]…. Albert may take a little while, I guess…. Who knows? Maybe we'll get something done in the quiet period (during which teams are only permitted to negotiate with their own free agents). But if you've waited this long, you're probably going to see what's out there."
Here are the rest of the morning's notes and rumors from the NL Central:
- Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is surprised by DeWitt's lack of urgency regarding Pujols, and wonders if it's a good idea to allow the slugger to be wooed by teams who may be more aggressive than the Cardinals.
- Fielding Reds-related questions for the Dayton Daily News, Hal McCoy says it's unlikely that Cincinnati makes a play for Roy Oswalt.
- The Pirates will likely look at second- or third-tier free agents, but they won't make a huge splash this winter, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel says the Bucs will be shopping for a catcher, a first baseman, and starting pitching, naming Jason Varitek, Rod Barajas, Jeff Francis, and Chris Young as a few possible targets.
- In a Twitter exchange, Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus discuss Bryan LaHair of the Cubs and former Pirates outfielder Lastings Milledge, two players being eyed by Japanese teams. Goldstein suggests the Cubs would like to hang on to LaHair, but hears rumblings that Milledge could sign in Japan as early as next week (all four Twitter links).
ESPN's Wayne Drehs has the story of Pat Looney, the man who almost became a scapegoat for Cubs fans in 2003 instead of Steve Bartman. ESPN's Bartman film airs tonight at 7pm central time. The latest on the Cubs:
- Red Sox GM Theo Epstein is unlikely to leave Boston for the Cubs post after a "moment of epic failure," in the opinion of Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
- There's a good chance Carlos Zambrano joins Ozzie Guillen in Miami, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.
- Cubs sources expect the team to reconcile with Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg before next season, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Sandberg managed the Phillies' Triple-A club this year but is said to be open to managing the Cubs with Jim Hendry out of the picture.
- Brewers' third baseman Casey McGehee told the Sun-Times he can relate to Bryan LaHair having to shake off the 4-A label. The 28-year-old LaHair hit .331/.405/.664 with 38 home runs in 523 Triple-A plate appearances this year.
The Cubs currently project for the seventh overall pick in next year's draft. Once that is determined, things should get interesting on the North Side. The latest:
- The Reds will discuss the idea of signing third baseman Aramis Ramirez if he reaches free agency, writes Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. I think signing Ramirez would really push the Reds' payroll to the limit, assuming they also pick up Brandon Phillips' club option. The Cubs must decide between Ramirez's $16MM club option and a $2MM buyout within five days of the end of the World Series, so the team's new GM may not yet be in place. After the Cubs decide, Ramirez has five days to make his choice on the option (declining would mean forfeiting the buyout). Ramirez wants to stay, but he recently told ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine he desires a two or three-year deal.
- One scenario raised during informal discussions (presumably ones including owner Tom Ricketts) has the Cubs hiring current Reds GM Walt Jocketty, which could then lead to the team snaring Tony La Russa to manage and Albert Pujols to play first base, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Jocketty declined to comment, saying that he's happy in Cincinnati, but also lavished praise on the Cubs job and noted that the team extending farm director Oneri Fleita "shouldn't be" a hindrance. Wittenmyer says the Cubs are gathering information on Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane, Dan Evans, and Ned Colletti so far. Ricketts has yet to ask permission to speak to any GM under contract, writes Levine. In a chat conducted yesterday, Levine guessed Rick Hahn would be the next Cubs' GM.
- Also in that chat, Levine wrote that Ricketts has identified the Cubs' primary need to be two or three starting pitchers. The beat writer does not think the team will spend their money this offseason on position players. He predicts a payroll in the $120-130MM range.
- Numerous Japanese teams have been scouting and are prepared to make offers to Cubs first baseman Bryan LaHair, reports Levine. LaHair is intrigued but hopes to remain in the Majors. The 28-year-old snagged Pacific Coast League MVP honors by hitting .331/.405/.664 with 38 home runs in 523 plate appearances, and he's carried that success to the bigs in an eight-game stint. Former Cubs first baseman Micah Hoffpauir went the Japan route a year ago, but is hitting .245/.325/.429 for the Nippon Ham Fighters this year.
The Cubs are 62-81, well on their way to earning a top draft pick in 2012. Here's the latest from Chicago…
- Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena have made it clear that they want to remain with the Cubs next year, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Until the Cubs hire a general manager to replace Jim Hendry, it's difficult to say whether Ramirez and Pena are likely to return.
- Ramirez tells the Sun-Times that Chicago isn't Milwaukee and wouldn't have the patience for a long rebuilding process.
- Reds manager Dusty Baker, who managed the Cubs under Hendry, told Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he hopes his old boss finds a new job in baseball. The Cubs fired Hendry last month.
- The Cubs appear to be leaning toward bringing Pena back, but Bryan LaHair, this year's Pacific Coast League MVP, told Sullivan that he's hoping to make an impression on the Cubs this month and earn a chance in 2012.
Let's take a look at today's notable minor league deals, with the most recent updates at the top:
- The Yankees signed Doug Bernier, Buddy Carlyle, Neal Cotts and Gustavo Molina to minor league deals, the team announced. The club officially announced its deals with Andy Sisco and outfielder-turned-pitcher Brian Anderson.
- The Pirates have welcomed back Donald Veal just two weeks after non-tendering him, Eddy tweets. Veal underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this year.
- The Rays picked up right-handed reliever Jonah Bayliss, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (via Twitter). Bayliss turned in a 3.58 ERA with 8.4 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 for Houston's Triple-A club last season.
- The Athletics signed right-handed reliever Vinnie Chulk, tweets Eddy. Chulk appeared in 28 games for Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate in 2010 and spent the other half of the year with the Hiroshima Carp. His numbers overseas left much to be desired but the righty carries more than 250 games of big league experience.
- First baseman Andy Tracy has hooked on with the Diamondbacks, tweets Baseball America's Matt Eddy. The left-handed hitter, who turned 37-years-old on Saturday, has spent the last three years with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate. In 2010 he hit .275/.373/.492, numbers that are slightly better than his career averages.
- The Nationals signed outfielder Jonathan Van Every, according to Eddy (via Twitter). The 31-year-old boasts a career .471 slugging percentage in Triple-A and can play all three outfield positions. Van Every played in 39 games for Boston's varsity squad across the last three years.
- Washington picked up another versatile, left-handed hitting outfielder in Buck Coats, Eddy tweets. Coats, who spent the first seven years of his career with the Cubs, has a lifetime slash line of .294/.352/.407 at the Triple-A level.
- The Cubs invited first baseman Bryan LaHair and outfielder Brad Snyder to Spring Training, according to MLB.com's Carrie Muskat (on Twitter).
Today's minor signings…
- The Padres signed third baseman/left fielder Jesus Guzman to a minor league deal, MLBTR has learned. Guzman, 26, hit .321/.376/.510 with 18 home runs in 492 Triple-A plate appearances for the Giants' affiliate this year, his second extended stint at the level. He'd been designated for assignment in January to make room when the Giants re-signed Bengie Molina, but remained in the organization for the 2010 season.
- The Tigers re-signed righty Enrique Gonzalez to a minor league deal, MLBTR has learned. Gonzalez, 28, posted a 3.41 ERA, 7.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, and 1.2 HR/9 in 66 Triple-A innings across eleven starts this year, also racking up 26 big league relief frames. He'd been designated for assignment in August and outrighted shortly thereafter.
- The Cubs re-signed first baseman/left fielder Bryan LaHair to a minor league deal, MLBTR has learned. LaHair, 28, hit .308/.385/.557 with 25 home runs in 478 Triple-A plate appearances this year, his fifth stint at the level.
The Cubs have signed first baseman Bryan LaHair to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com.
LaHair, 27, received 150 plate appearances with the Mariners in 2008, hitting .250/.315/.346. The lefty swinger is a career .284/.352/.480 hitter in over 1,700 Triple-A plate appearances, so he'll get a chance to show he can contribute something off the bench.
As we look forward to the inevitable battle of the bullpens in Game Two, here are a few newsbits from everywhere but Yankee Stadium in the MLB universe…
- R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs believes that the Red Sox will be making a mistake if they sign Jason Bay to the four-year/$60MM contract that Jon Heyman reported (via Twitter) the club is willing to offer.
- Rangers officials met Thursday with Dennis Gilbert, the lead man of an investment group interested in buying the club, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- The Mariners outrighted Bryan LaHair, Randy Messenger, Marwin Vega and Cesar Jimenez to Triple-A Tacoma, with Jimenez's assignment coming after the southpaw was activated from the 60-day disabled list. Left-hander Justin Thomas was claimed off waivers by Pittsburgh.
- MLB.com's Jen Langosch breaks down the Thomas signing for the Pirates, and notes that the Bucs still have one more 40-man roster spot to decide on before November 20.