Cesar Izturis Rumors

Cesar Izturis Drawing Interest

Cesar Izturis is looking for a Major League deal and has drawn interest from several teams, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). The infielder won’t be re-signing with the Orioles, according to Connolly.

Izturis, 31, has spent the past three seasons in Baltimore, where he has played shortstop, second and third. He missed much of the 2011 season with elbow and groin injuries, but has a .255/.295/.322 line in 11 Major League seasons. UZR suggests the former Gold Glove winner has been an above-average defender in each of the past six seasons. Izturis is a client of Peter E. Greenberg & Associates, the same agency that represents free agent shortstop Jose Reyes.

Odds & Ends: Pena, Mets, Angels, Soriano

The Orioles announced a deal they agreed to a month ago. Cesar Izturis is officially an Oriole again and these are officially the day's links…

  • Stop by at 2pm CDT for this week's chat.
  • The Red Sox signed Tony Pena Jr. to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training, according to ESPN.com's Jayson Stark (on Twitter). Pena, who spent parts of four seasons as a big league shortstop, spent the 2010 season in the upper minors with the Giants and posted a 4.13 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in 76 1/3 innings.
  • The Mets deny that they offered Chris Young a contract, according to Dan Martin of the New York Post. ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported last night that the Mets had offered the tall right-hander a deal that's likely worth over $1MM.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports argues that the Angels have "holes to fill and explaining to do" after missing out on Carl Crawford and Adrian Beltre
  • Rafael Soriano told Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes that he has “no preference” between the AL and the NL (link in Spanish). The closer says he isn’t worried even though he’s on the market after most top free agents have signed.

Orioles To Re-Sign Cesar Izturis, Not Nick Green

6:52pm: The Orioles say that Green has not agreed to a contract, tweets Connolly.

4:35pm: The Orioles have re-signed Cesar Izturis to a one-year deal worth $1.5MM, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). The deal, which is pending a physical, includes $1.7MM in incentives based on plate appearances and games stared, according to Yahoo's Tim Brown (Twitter link). Agent Peter Greenberg represents the shortstop.

The Orioles have already added Mark Reynolds, Brendan Harris and J.J. Hardy to an infield that has become crowded in a hurry. The Baltimore infield also includes Brian Roberts and Robert Andino, so it would not be surprising to see president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail make another move before the season begins. 

Izturis has been Baltimore's starting shortstop for the past two seasons, but he figures to back up Hardy in 2011. The 30-year-old switch-hitter batted .230/.277/.268 in 513 plate appearances, but posted an above-average UZR/150 (5.8) in 1250 innings on defense.

The Orioles have also signed Nick Green to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Sun (via Connolly on Twitter). The 32-year-old picked up just 23 plate appearances last year, but he has a career .237/.305/.348 line in parts of six MLB seasons. Connolly suggests Harris, Andino and Green will likely battle for one roster spot in Spring Training.

Odds & Ends: Jeter, Cameron, Rich Hill

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…

Orioles Rumors: Hardy, Matsui, Thome, Uehara

The O's are talking about a J.J. Hardy trade with the Twins. Here are some more Orioles updates from Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun

  • 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.

Orioles Rumors: V-Mart, Garland, Duke, Manny

We know that the Orioles have varying levels of interest in Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Jorge de la Rosa, as well as J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett, but here's the latest from Charm City…

Orioles Interested In Bartlett, Hardy

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.

MacPhail Discusses Orioles’ Offseason Goals

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.

Odds & Ends: Twins, Izturis, Rangers, Yankees

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…

Izturis “Definitely” Wants To Return To Baltimore

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.