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Cesar Izturis Rumors
Another eventful Winter Meetings has come to a close. Even with the pre-meetings action involving Adrian Gonzalez, Jayson Werth, and Shaun Marcum, we had plenty to talk about this week. Carl Crawford signed the biggest deal of the offseason so far. Paul Konerko stayed with the White Sox after some drama. Carlos Pena found a pillow contract with the Cubs. J.J. Putz assumed the Diamondbacks' closer role. The Orioles rebuilt the left side of their infield with Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy. The Pirates, Mariners, Padres, Royals, Rockies, Mets, and others made additions as well. On to today's links…
- Check out a couple of Rule 5 draft reviews from MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo and Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein. And of course, a pair of great links from John Manuel of Baseball America. We've got the picks from the Major League phase listed here.
- Newsday's Ken Davidoff has the financial breakdown on Derek Jeter's new contract.
- The Red Sox have already gotten inquiries on outfielder Mike Cameron, tweets ESPN's Jayson Stark. The team plans to keep him but is willing to listen. Cameron will have to take on a part-time role with Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, and J.D. Drew filling Boston's outfield.
- The Red Sox are expected to reach an agreement to re-sign Rich Hill in the next few days, reports Dan Barbarisi of The Providence Journal. Hill, who grew up a Sox fan, hopes to crack the bullpen this year.
- The Tigers' talks with Carl Crawford didn't get far, GM Dave Dombrowski told MLB.com's Jason Beck. Dombrowski explained that a team can only have so many $20MM players, and the Tigers already have two.
- Orioles president Andy MacPhail hasn't ruled out Cesar Izturis returning, tweets MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. Izturis is a tougher fit after the Orioles acquired Hardy and Brendan Harris.
- The team did not offer Carlos Pena or Paul Konerko contracts before the first basemen signed in Chicago, according to president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail.
- It's likely that the team's shortstop will be Hardy, Jason Bartlett, Brendan Ryan or Cesar Izturis, MacPhail said. The Padres appear to be close to a deal for Bartlett, which would limit the Orioles' options.
- MacPhail says the club has expressed interest in a number of DH types. Vladimir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui and Jim Thome are believed to be among the team's targets.
- The team, which selects fourth in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, is considering a number of players.
- There are no updates on Kevin Gregg, but Zrebiec reported yesterday that the team has offered the former Blue Jays closer a two-year deal.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post hears (on Twitter) that Nick Green could end up in Baltimore.
- MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports that the O's continue to have discussions with Koji Uehara, Ty Wigginton, and Cesar Izturis. The issue with the first two is contract length, and the fate of the last two is tied to what kind of bat the team brings in.
- Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun wonders if Victor Martinez is exactly what the Orioles need. He says that "by all accounts," Peter Angelos, Andy MacPhail, and Buck Showalter are high on V-Mart and he is "one of their top offseason priorities."
- MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko speculates that Jon Garland could again be connected to Baltimore, as he has been for the last two offseasons. He doesn't see either Zach Duke or Manny Ramirez fitting in with the O's.
The Orioles have discussed potential trades for Jason Bartlett and J.J. Hardy with the Rays and Twins, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles discussed trading David Hernandez to the Rays for Bartlett, but the deal seems unlikely at this point.
Hardy is a non-tender candidate after a 2010 season in which he missed time with a bruised wrist and batted .268/.320/.394 in 375 plate appearances. The 28-year-old continued to play strong defense, according to UZR.
Like Hardy, Bartlett is heading into his final year as an arbitration eligible player. He earned $4MM in 2010, while Hardy made $5.1MM. Bartlett batted .254/.324/.350 in 532 plate appearances. If they trade the 31-year-old, the Rays could pencil Reid Brignac in at short.
O’s president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail wouldn’t comment on specific players, but said he has had some “productive disucssions” at the GM Meetings in Orlando. The team could still bring back free agent shortstop Cesar Izturis.
We heard a few Orioles-related tidbits earlier today, and now MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli provides another handful. Ghiroli discussed the Orioles' offseason with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, and MacPhail shared some thoughts on how the O's intend to approach free agency and trades this winter.
- The team's primary goal will be obtaining a middle-of-the-order hitter, with no specific position in mind. MacPhail suggests that adding an impact bat would benefit the rest of the lineup, by taking some pressure off the Orioles' current hitters.
- MacPhail sounds skeptical about acquiring pitching through free agency or trades, calling that approach "fragile and expensive" compared to developing young arms. However, he acknowledged that the club could once again look into acquiring a Kevin Millwood-esque veteran: "You want to have an innings eater because you never know what to expect from the youngsters. So someone like that would certainly be attractive to us."
- When approaching the free agent market for hitters, the Orioles would rather not take a flier on a Garrett Atkins type again. They are hoping to add players who are less risky than Atkins was, though MacPhail concedes that sometimes the way the market develops makes it necessary to take a gamble.
- Ghiroli speculates that, while the O's may not be able to attract the very best free agents like Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford, they will likely look hard at the group of players in the tier or two below: Victor Martinez, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Jon Garland, and Brandon Webb, to name a few.
- Ghiroli predicts that the Orioles will stay in contact with most of their impending free agents, especially Ty Wigginton, Cesar Izturis, and Koji Uehara.
- The O's also made a minor roster move today, adding reliever Jim Hoey to their 40-man roster, reports Ghiroli.
Seven years ago today, Luis Castillo popped a ball up into the stands at Wrigley Field and a fan caught it, even though Moises Alou was right there. The Cubs were five outs away from clinching a World Series berth, but they ended up losing the 'Steve Bartman game' and the 2003 NLCS. Here are your links for Thursday…
- The Twins aren't expected to bring Orlando Hudson back or pick up Nick Punto's $5MM option, according to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier.
- Cesar Izturis, a favorite of Buck Showalter's, seems more likely to return to Baltimore than other Orioles free agents, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. Last month, Izturis told MLBTR that he "definitely" wants to return to Baltimore.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post that he's "comfortable" with the fact that the Yankees didn't complete their near-trade for Cliff Lee. The lefty will take the Yankees on in the ALCS and he figures to be a difference-maker.
- Mark Teixeira told Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that he and Alex Rodriguez are happy for Michael Young and the Rangers. Both Teixeira and Rodriguez spent years in Texas before joining the Yankees, but they don't figure to show much mercy in the League Championship Series.
The Orioles haven’t won more than 64 games since Cesar Izturis signed with Baltimore two winters ago, but he’d still like to return in 2011 if the Orioles are interested in re-signing him.
“Definitely, definitely,” Izturis told MLBTR this weekend. “It’s been good here the last two years and they’ve treated me well so far and I’m going to be here if they want me. If they want me, I’ll be here. If not, I want to play every day.”
Earlier in the season, Izturis told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that the Orioles are his first choice and that hasn’t changed, especially since the team is winning under new manager Buck Showalter.
“We have turned around completely,” Izturis said. “The numbers are up there, more wins and we’re playing much better for him.”
The team is better, but Izturis has had a disappointing year at the plate and he knows it. The switch hitter is batting .236/.280/.273 this season with 11 stolen bases (16 attempts). Izturis has played basically every day for the O’s and his defense has been good, according to UZR. The defensive metric ranks Izturis as an above-average fielder and has for eight of the last nine seasons.
Izturis now earns $2.6MM in the second season of his two-year $5MM deal. He doesn’t figure to sign for as much guaranteed money this offseason, but light-hitting, sure-handed shortstops can find major league deals. Adam Everett signed for $1.55MM last winter, though the Tigers ultimately released him.
You might see Ty Wigginton in an Orioles uniform next season, but it’s less likely that the club re-signs Kevin Millwood or Julio Lugo. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he has preliminary interest in re-signing some of Baltimore’s free agents, though final decisions are months away. Here are the details:
- Ty Wigginton: The Orioles have interest in re-signing Wigginton, and the infielder told Connolly that he would consider returning in 2011. "I enjoy getting to go out and compete and put on a Baltimore Orioles uniform,” Wigginton said. “I think I can definitely be a good fit; we'll just have to see how everything works out."
- Koji Uehara: The reliever said he’s not thinking about next year, but confirmed that he wanted to pitch for an MLB team. Uehara, who projects as a Type B free agent under the Elias Rankings, would do well to sign for a couple million, as Tim Dierkes explained today.
- Cesar Izturis: The shortstop says he’d like to spend the rest of his career in Baltimore, and the O’s have’t ruled out bringing him back.
- Corey Patterson: Connolly points out that if Patterson re-signs, the sides will likely reach a deal late in the offseason.
- Kevin Millwood: Millwood may seek out a pitcher-friendly environment after years of pitching in Baltimore and Texas. An arbitration offer seems unlikely for the projected Type B free agent.
- Mark Hendrickson: The Orioles have a $1.2MM option for the lefty’s services in 2011, so he could return.
Some news from the city of Omar, McNulty and Stringer Bell…
- Former Oriole and current MASN broadcaster Rick Dempsey interviewed today for the club's managerial job, and Dempsey talked about the experience with Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. Connolly notes that this is the fourth time Dempsey has been interviewed in regards to a managerial opening with the club.
- Connolly also reported that former Indians manager Eric Wedge had his second interview today.
- Earlier today, MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reported that Josh Bell's promotion doesn't mean that a Ty Wigginton or Miguel Tejada deal is imminent. In a more detailed blog entry, Ghiroli added this quote from Baltimore president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail: "I might have [a trade] on the horizon…We've had conversations, and the more you get close to the end of the month the more conversations you are going to have. But there's nothing right around the corner that I'm aware of."
- Ghiroli adds that MacPhail also denied that Cesar Izturis could be made available for a trade if Tejada was switched back to the shortstop position.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Wigginton "would be a great target" for the Phillies as a replacement for Chase Utley.
In today's blog post at ESPN, Buster Olney speculates about some possible trade targets for the Rockies now that Troy Tulowitzki is going to miss the next six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist. Among those mentioned: Dan Uggla, Craig Counsell, Julio Lugo, and Cesar Izturis. Uggla would obviously be the most expensive, but Colorado would boast a dynamic offensive middle infield once Tulo returns.
Here are the rest of Olney's rumors…
- Sources tell Olney there is no clear signal from the Mariners indicating that they're ready to trade Cliff Lee, but presumably that will come soon. He compares a potential Lee trade to the CC Sabathia trade, meaning that the sooner he's dealt, the more Seattle will receive in return.
- The Diamondbacks continue to gather intel about possible trades, but they are not close to making another deal at the moment.
- The Royals have a pair of outfielders in Rick Ankiel and David DeJesus who could be fits for the Red Sox. J.D. Drew suffered a hamstring injury yesterday, and Boston was already without Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida, who are both on the disabled list. Mike Cameron is playing through an abdominal tear as well.