Chris Duncan Rumors
A wrap-up of items from Wednesday...
- We've heard that the Brewers have begun to explore the possibility of extending Prince Fielder's contract, but ESPN's Keith Law thinks "it makes no sense for the Brewers to keep Fielder" given that the team doesn't look like a contender this season or next. Law also describes Fielder as, "the type of player who doesn't age well."
- Kerry Wood isn't bothered by trade rumors linking him to Minnesota to fill the Joe Nathan void, reports Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Castrovince adds that it's "hard to imagine" the Twins acquiring Wood given the veteran closer's $10.5MM salary in 2010 (plus an $11MM option for 2011 that vests if Wood finishes 55 games this year).
- Speaking of Wood, Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer argues that the Tribe shouldn't deal Wood to a division rival until the Indians know what kind of a team they have this season. If they contend, then they could keep Wood for a pennant race. If they don't contend, Wood will still have trade value at midseason.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times talks to Matt Stairs, who is enjoying his role in the Padres camp as "the grandfather of the team." Stairs said he won't go to the minors if he doesn't make San Diego's opening day roster, and he might just return to his job as a hitting coach for the University of Maine's baseball team.
- MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that Chris Duncan doesn't blame the Cardinals for dealing him to Boston last summer.
- Anthony Ranaudo, thought by some to be the top pitcher available in June's Amateur Draft, may fall down the draft board after battling elbow problems, reports ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that despite Stephen Strasburg's strong outing on Tuesday, "it's not going to change my plans" about how Strasburg will be brought along. Strasburg may well start the season in the minors, but ESPN's Buster Olney thinks it could be a brief stay: "You get the feeling that his time in the minors may be as short as it was for Tim Lincecum." Lincecum, for the record, has made only 13 lifetime appearances in the minors and made just four minor league starts in 2007 before being called up to San Francisco.
The Nationals signed outfielder Chris Duncan on January 19th, according to the team's official transactions page.
Duncan, 29 in May, hit .227/.329/.358 in 304 plate appearances for the Cardinals last year before being traded in July to the Red Sox for Julio Lugo. He was released from the Triple A Pawtucket club about a month later.
Talking to Rob Rains of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat in December, Duncan's agent Barry Meister suggested his client's neck injury and surgery caused his poor performance in 2008-09. Duncan hit .273/.358/.527 in his first two seasons with the Cards. It's been a busy offseason for the Duncans, as Dave re-upped as Cardinals pitching coach and Shelley landed with the Indians.
Four teams are "really serious" about signing Chris Duncan, according to Rob Rains of The St. Louis Globe Democrat. Agent Barry Meister declined to name the teams. Rains believes that "it would be a safe bet that most, if not all, are in the American League."
Duncan, 28, was traded by the Cardinals to the Red Sox for Julio Lugo just before the trade deadline, only to be released about a month later. A career .257/.348/.458 hitter, Duncan's offense has tailed off in recent years, bottoming out at .227/.329/.358 in 304 plate appearances last year. Defensively, he's been bad everywhere he's played.
Personally, I think it would be pretty cool to see some team platoon the lefty hitting Chris with his righty hitting brother Shelley Duncan, who became a free agent earlier in the offseason.
A couple of links as we head toward an afternoon of baseball...
- As Matthew Leach of MLB.com reports, manager Tony La Russa doesn't believe Chris Duncan, who was recently released from the Red Sox, will want to rejoin the Cards. "That's his call," the skipper said Friday. "It's not ours. My guess is he's not real pleased with us."
- Maury Brown of "The Biz of Baseball" has a review of MLB's draft slot recommendation system. His conclusion? It needs fixing.
- Matthew Pouliot of NBCSports.com continues his "Restoring the Rosters" series with a look at the Oakland A's. It's a must-read for all of you Moneyball fans.
- MLBTR's own Mike Axisa takes a closer look at the Dustin Pedroia-Robinson Cano debate over at River Ave. Blues. Joel Sherman first drummed up the discussion with this piece in the New York Post, in which he asked seven MLB executives to choose between the two second basemen.
The Red Sox released outfielder Chris Duncan, according to Dan Barbarisi of the Providence Journal. Duncan came to the Red Sox from St. Louis in the July 22nd swap for shortstop Julio Lugo. Duncan, 28, hit just .188/.255/.294 in 92 Triple A plate appearances for the Sox. Meanwhile Lugo has flourished with a .319/.367/.528 line in 81 plate appearances for St. Louis (with Boston paying the freight). Keep in mind that the Red Sox are also set to receive a player to be named later or cash as part of the trade.
Duncan crushed right-handed pitching in 2006-07, but has been derailed by injuries since.
It's been a busy day for the Red Sox. They acquired Chris Duncan and a player to be named later for Julio Lugo, turning an albatross into a viable left-handed hitter.
They also dealt a pair of prospects for Adam LaRoche, adding a power bat who normally excels in the second half. And according to Jon Heyman's Twitter feed, they may not be finished yet.
"Red Sox dealing up a storm. Now have Chris Duncan (for Lugo). still scouting Victor Martinez, though," Heyman tweets.
No details yet on what it will take to get Martinez, other than continued interest from Cleveland in Clay Buchholz.
5:30pm: The haul for Lugo is bigger than originally thought. The Sox receive a player to be named later or cash along with Duncan, according to the team's press release.
3:32pm: Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the Cardinals will trade Chris Duncan to the Red Sox for Julio Lugo. Via Twitter Miklasz says the Red Sox will still pay Lugo's salary and Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald agrees.
Duncan has a career .851 OPS against right-handers and is under team control through 2012. Reid Laymance of the Post-Dispatch says the Red Sox are expected to assign Duncan to Triple A Pawtucket.
According to an MLB.com press release, the Cardinals avoided arbitration with Chris Duncan and Todd Wellemeyer, signing both for 2009. This is a big year for Wellemeyer, who is eligible for free agency after the season. He gets $4.05MM, while Duncan will earn $825K with another $500K in performance bonuses.
Matthew Leach of MLB.com believes the St. Louis Cardinals and right-handed starting pitcher Todd Wellemeyer are close to a deal to avoid arbitration.
This from Wellemeyer himself: "I know it's getting close, I'll tell you that much."
Wellemeyer, 30, went 13-9 with a 3.71 ERA in 2008.
Leach notes that deals might be close for Chris Duncan and Brad Thompson, too. General manager John Mozeliak said he would like to avoid arbitration with Duncan and Thompson, as well as Rick Ankiel and Ryan Ludwick.
Mozeliak is hopeful that none of the five players will actually go to arbitration. Ankiel is especially challenging given his short tenure as an outfielder, Leach writes.
12:41pm: Marc Topkin heard chatter that the Rays and Cardinals are talking. Perhaps Ankiel or Ludwick could interest Tampa Bay.
Meanwhile Scott Lauber says the Cards may be interested in Madson as a potential closer.
8:36am: Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cardinals remain focused on short-term deals for starters. Possible names include Oliver Perez, Andy Pettitte, Brad Penny, and Randy Wolf. They'll meet with Wolf's agent by tomorrow afternoon.
John Mozeliak now seems open to a two or three-year deal for a reliever. He could trade an outfielder like Ryan Ludwick for a top guy, but shot down the idea of Ryan Madson. Makes no sense, Madson is only under team control for one more year. Schumaker and Chris Duncan are trade bait for Mozeliak.
8:28am: Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun says the Cards have interest in Blue Jays lefty Scott Downs. Downs is owed $7.75MM over the next two seasons.
8:01am: We know the Cardinals chatted with the Braves about Mike Gonzalez and Blaine Boyer. Gerry Fraley says they also had trade talks with the Phillies, hoping to trade an outfielder for a reliever. Rick Ankiel and Skip Schumaker are apparently popular with other teams.