Cesar Izturis Rumors
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.
Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports reports that the Rockies received some bad news today, finding out Troy Tulowitzki has broken his left wrist and will likely miss at least the next six weeks. While the Rockies can't hope to sufficiently replace their superstar's production, GM Dan O'Dowd said the team may look into trading for infield depth, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
Yesterday, we examined another club that might need a shortstop: the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels have since expressed optimism about Erick Aybar's health, meaning an infield acquisition probably won't be necessary. However, many of the same names we mentioned as possibilities for the Halos could be options for the Rockies. Stephen Drew is an unlikely target for a team in need of a stopgap solution, but the Rockies could look at players like Adam Everett, Cesar Izturis, Omar Vizquel, and Ryan Theriot.
In the meantime, former first-round pick Chris Nelson has been called up to replace Tulowitzki on the roster, and Clint Barmes and Jonathan Herrera should see increased playing time. If they're unable to contribute more offensively than they have to date, the Rockies could be forced to make a move.
The Orioles may be 30 games under .500, but they’re not going to make deals for the sake of making deals. President of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli that the club is open to making trades this summer and that’s a good thing, since opposing general managers regularly call to ask about his players.
"You can imagine the guys that are popular," MacPhail said. "Our young pitching is popular, but that's part of the cornerstone of what we are trying to do."
Jeremy Guthrie, who has a sub-4.00 ERA and won’t become a free agent until after the 2012 season, could be one of the appealing arms MacPhail is referring to. Some of Guthrie’s teammates - Ty Wigginton, Miguel Tejada, Kevin Millwood, Cesar Izturis, Will Ohman and Luke Scott - could be easier to obtain. But that doesn’t mean they’re going anywhere.
"We wouldn't [trade] just for the sake of moving payroll," MacPhail said.
If the Orioles determine that they can get something back for Millwood, he is “open" to the idea of switching teams, though he will not demand a trade. Last summer the O's traded Aubrey Huff, Gregg Zaun and George Sherrill away.
The Mets, Reds, Cardinals, Twins, Cubs, Brewers and Giants could all potentially look for middle infield help. Here are some trade candidates, listed from largest 2009 salary to smallest:
- Miguel Tejada - His $13MM salary would be too much for some teams if the Astros made him available, but his 32 extra base hits and low strikeout numbers sure look good.
- Julio Lugo - He makes $9MM this year and the same amount next year, so the Red Sox would presumably take on salary in any deal. The 33-year-old is hitting .370 since the beginning of June.
- Cristian Guzman - At $8MM this year and next he's not cheap, but he's consistently hit for a high average in recent years.
- Jack Wilson - He makes $7.25MM this year and his team will have to buy him out for $600k to avoid paying him even more in 2010. However, he's a good defender who puts the ball in play and has doubles power.
- Freddy Sanchez - He'll make over $6MM this year and his 2010 option for $8MM will likely vest. It's a lot of money, but the former batting titlist is a better hitter than most middle infield trade candidates.
- Dan Uggla - The most powerful option available may not be available, after all. The Marlins are in it, so they may keep Uggla and his $3.5MM salary.
- Orlando Cabrera - He's posted a .610 OPS this year and he'll make $4MM- not an enticing combination, but the A's are falling far out of the race.
- Felipe Lopez - At just $3.5MM, his .771 OPS looks good, in spite of the big strikeout total.
- Jamey Carroll - As a free agent-to-be on the Indians, he's a candidate to be moved. The 35-year-old has a .735 OPS to go along with his $2.5MM salary.
- Cesar Izturis - He'll earn $2.4MM this year and $2.6MM in 2010. He's on the DL, recovering from an apendectomy, and his slow recovery is making it less likely that he'll be traded.
- Yuniesky Betancourt - His $2MM salary is deceptive, as he's still guaranteed about $10MM before his deal expires. That figure, plus his .609 OPS mean he'll likely be staying put, but he could be had.
- John McDonald - He's barely played at all for the Jays, but McDonald, who makes $1.9MM, could work for a team looking for a defensive specialist.
- Yunel Escobar - He makes just $425k this year and Buster Olney says the Braves would consider dealing him for a bat.
- Blake DeWitt - The Dodgers have Orlando Hudson playing second base, so DeWitt could be expendable. He's making just $405k, but his Triple A numbers are uninspired.
- Adam Kennedy - The A's are just paying Kennedy the major league minimum and he's produced an OPS approaching .800 for them.