Chris Tillman Rumors
On this date 21 years ago, the Blue Jays signed free agent starter Jack Morris to a two-year contract. The right-hander had recently led the Twins to a memorable World Series win over the Braves, out-pitching John Smoltz with ten shutout innings in the deciding seventh game. Morris won 21 games for the 1992 Blue Jays, and Toronto captured its first World Series title. Though Morris struggled in 1993, the Blue Jays successfully defended their title. Now 57, Morris is a candidate for Hall of Fame induction. Here are today's AL East links...
- Stephen Drew will obtain $500K if he reaches 500 plate appearances in 2013, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Drew agreed to terms with the Red Sox on a one-year, $9.5MM deal yesterday.
- The Orioles have spoken with at least six teams about possible trades, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reports. The Orioles are seeking a middle of the order bat, but aren't willing to trade their best prospects to obtain one. While there's some interest in pitchers such as Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton, there are indications the Orioles wouldn't want to trade more than one of them. Plus, their trade value isn't particularly high.
- The Blue Jays are prioritizing present gains over future potential, Shi Davidi writes at Sportsnet.ca. But it's not about a one-year gamble for GM Alex Anthopoulos. "This allows us to really put what we feel is a contending team together for an extended run, for a three-to-five year period," Anthopoulos said. An interesting note from Davidi's piece: Zack Greinke will out-earn Dickey's $30MM contract about a month into the 2014 season. The two contracts were signed under different circumstances, of course, but it’s still noteworthy.
- Curtis Granderson expects to hit free agency after the 2013 season, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. The Yankees have a team policy of waiting until players hit free agency before negotiating extensions, and Granderson doesn’t expect GM Brian Cashman to make an exception for him. “I’m just excited to play this year, and then, once we get to the end, we’ll take it at that point,” he said.
- In a separate piece, Davidoff suggests that the best-run teams -- he cites the Rays as one example -- look to contend every year instead of targeting specific windows.
Earlier this week we learned that the Orioles are close to a deal with Korean right-hander Chong Tae-Hyon and the pact should become official after he undergoes a physical. Here's more on the O's..
- Mark Reynolds' propensity for striking out didn't faze the Orioles much when they traded for him last winter, writes Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com. The O's acquired the 28-year-old from Arizona for relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio roughly one year ago. Manager Buck Showalter is leaning towards playing Reynolds at first this year with Chris Davis at third base.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com takes a look at Baltimore's rotation and notes the club would be willing to deal Chris Tillman. Tillman, 23, posted a 5.52 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 13 big league starts last year.
- While the Orioles are waiting to see if Yu Darvish will be posted, fellow NPB pitcher Wei-Yin Chen is another name to keep an eye on, writes Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. Earlier this month, Tim Dierkes wrote that the 26-year-old left-hander could be signed for less than $20MM over four years.
- The Orioles' interest in adding relief pitchers could open the door for Jim Johnson to return to the rotation and Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com is all for it. Melewski could see Johnson thriving in a starting role as he has enough quality pitches to make the transition.
- Chris Tillman's name has been mentioned in connection with the Mark Reynolds trade rumors, tweets Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic thinks the D'Backs "seem to like" David Hernandez more, but Hernandez would be just one piece of what's likely to be a pitcher-centric package (Twitter links).
- The O's are one of three teams known to be exploring a Reynolds deal, but they're the ones with "the heaviest interest" in the third baseman according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. The Blue Jays and Padres, in fact, "strongly deny" that they're even pursuing Reynolds.
- "Some progress has been made" between the Orioles and Koji Uehara, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The club has been keeping in touch with Uehara's agent and Zrebiec says team officials "feel pretty good" about their ability to re-sign the reliever.
- Zrebiec also notes that Baltimore has been in discussions about a number of free agent relievers and have contacted the representatives of Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain, Scott Downs, Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier and Kerry Wood. The O's "have at least one offer out" to one of these pitchers, Zrebiec says.
- Baltimore has contacted Bobby Jenks' agent, reports Zrebiec in another piece.
- From that same article, Zrebiec writes "the next person I speak to in the organization who feels the O’s have a shot at Konerko would be the first." The Orioles' interest in Konerko is "largely overblown" and most insiders feel Konerko will re-sign with the White Sox.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe has a few hot stove notes in his latest column, but before he gets to those, he discusses Ken Griffey Jr.'s career, noting that the Mariner "walked away very quietly, with little fanfare, just as he said he would." Here are the rest of the highlights from Cafardo's piece:
- It doesn't appear any teams, besides maybe the Rangers, are too interested in Mike Lowell. Cafardo lists the Angels, Mariners and White Sox as potential matches, though a Sox official says Lowell "doesn’t fit for us right now."
- The Angels, meanwhile, seem committed to giving Mike Napoli playing time at first base for now, diminishing any interest they'd have in Lowell.
- The Diamondbacks have had internal discussions about trading Dan Haren, but one baseball executive expressed doubt that Arizona will pull the trigger. The exec pointed out that rebuilding from scratch isn't necessary in the NL West, since almost every team could be just a couple moves away from contending.
- Kurt Suzuki will likely be the Red Sox' top trade target this winter.
- A scout offers his opinion on the Orioles' young arms like Chris Tillman: "They’re kind of stuck and maybe have even taken a step backward. But sometimes that happens. Every kid has a hump they have to get over once they hit the big leagues." Last night, we discussed the possibility of the O's having a fire sale and turning their roster over to their youngsters for the remainder of the season.
3:10pm: MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan believes the Orioles have cooled on Millwood. He says the Rangers were interested in Chris Tillman (which is crazy) while the O's offered David Hernandez and Brandon Erbe (Erbe alone seems fair).
9:00am: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says no deal is imminent and the Rangers are in serious talks with multiple teams about Millwood. As you know, the Rangers allowed Millwood to record "The $12 Million Out" last September, letting his $12MM option vest for 2010. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic guesses that the D'Backs could be in the mix for Millwood if talks for Edwin Jackson fail, and Morosi agrees.
6:56am: The Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck reports that while it may have started as speculation, the rumors of Kevin Millwood going to Baltimore are starting to become more of a reality.
Schmuck reports that the Orioles are getting closer to acquiring Millwood for one of their second-tier pitching prospects. The Rangers are likely to eat some of Millwood's contract no matter what, I assume, but Schmuck writes that the number is dependent on which prospect the Orioles surrender.
Schmuck also adds that the Orioles have "at least a passing interest" in Joel Pineiro. Pineiro's agent Adam Katz tells MASN's Roch Kubatko that Baltimore's interest in Pineiro and Rich Harden has just been "preliminary tire-kicking," however.
The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly details the questions facing a Baltimore team with some young offensive talent, some terrific young pitching on the way, and a lot of extra cash.
Connolly writes that while the 64-98 record Baltimore had in 2009 was the third-worst in team history, "there is a sense that the future has promise because of the emergence of young starting pitchers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielders Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie."
Left unsaid, of course, is the emergence of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continuing to be a tremendous player.
The good news? The Orioles, according to Connolly, went from roughly $77MM owed in payroll at the start of the 2009 season-including $9MM to Jay Gibbons and Ramon Hernandez- to a $30MM commitment for 2010, not including raises through arbitration.
The bad news is that there aren't many marquee free agents (though there is Jason Marquis), and those that do qualify- Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey- aren't great fits, particularly Bay and Holliday in an overcrowded outfield.
Connolly captures the problem of desires vs. realistic options perfectly here:
"The preference is to find a right-handed or switch-hitting first baseman in his prime, like the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira. But there's no one who fits that profile in this year's class. The best free-agent options might be left-handed-hitting first basemen Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock or right-handed do-it-all Mark DeRosa."
So what's an Oriole to do?
5:31pm: Baker update: Sherrill made an appearance in Baltimore to take his physical this morning. The O's may not need to examine the three young pitchers coming over. Bedard has yet to fly out to Seattle but this thing should be done by week's end. Meanwhile Jason Churchill (righthand sidebar of his site) is 100% convinced the trade will happen and expects an announcement soon.
3:53pm: Sean Welsh of the Baltimore Examiner says the deal could be completed soon but not finalized today.
12:47pm: Geoff Baker checks in, mostly to dismiss any rumor of Brian Roberts being added to the deal. I hadn't heard that one from any legitimate outlet.
10:51am: The Sun has an update: this deal is nearing completion, pending physicals. Jones is officially in Baltimore for his physical. The deal may be announced later today.
MONDAY, 7:48am: This Baltimore Sun article was posted at 2:48am CST today. Jeff Zrebiec said no one's taken a physical yet, but "officials from both sides remain confident a deal can be reached."
SUNDAY, 10:43pm: John Hickey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer says Adam Jones went to Baltimore today for that long-awaited physical. Hickey says this physical is the only remaining impediment to the Mariners swapping Erik Bedard for Jones, George Sherrill, Tillman, Mickolio, and Butler. Sounds like we might have an announcement on Monday or Tuesday.
SUNDAY, 11:39am: Larry Stone of the Seattle Times gives his take on the Erik Bedard situation. The money quote:
All current indications are that, after all the histrionics of the past week, the Mariners and Orioles will really, truly, actually, once and for all, no turning back, no mulligans, no backing out, no passing go, get this trade done. But check back tomorrow, because nothing is for certain in this messed-up deal.
Stone also adds that Adam Jones was not in Baltimore for a physical on Friday, contrary to other reports. He also gives some details about the three tall pitchers rumored to be part of the deal - Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio, and Tony Butler.
UPDATE, 1-30-08 at 5:19pm: MLB.com's Jim Street says a last-ditch attempt by the Orioles to sign Bedard to a five-year contract is holding up the trade. Street says Bedard's agent told Andy MacPhail it would take seven years and $100MM, however. Street touches on the Jones degenerative hip thing, indicating that the Orioles heard this but it turned out to be unsubstantiated.
UPDATE, 1-30-08 at 4:38pm: Geoff Baker checks in. He's not able to corroborate the MLB.com report. He was able to dismiss the Adam Jones hip stuff. Baker's heard that Angelos was angry about the Jones leak though. Baker does not buy Andy MacPhail's talk of other clubs being in the mix - the Mariners have a very strong offer.
FROM 1-30-08 at 3:56pm:
Talks were thought to be stalled, but multiple MLB sources said Wednesday that Baltimore and Seattle are close to finalizing the deal the two teams have been discussing for weeks. The trade would send Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard to the Mariners for outfielder Adam Jones, pitchers George Sherill and Chris Tillman and as many as two additional prospects.
Molony's article was published at 1pm CST today. 5 for 1 would be quite a package. Jason Churchill of Prospect Insider still sees a 4 for 1 coming together by week's end (righthand sidebar).
UPDATE, 1-28-08 at 8:58pm: The drama continues. Baker believes the deal is still alive, and heard the original quotes from Jones with his own two ears. Jones did say he was traded to the Orioles and that he was off to Baltimore for a physical, despite the KOMO 1000 backpedaling. In other words, the Orioles asked him to kindly stop talking.
Jeff Zrebiec has the latest from the Baltimore side. The O's are holding this up over "unspecified complex issues," which might mean Angelos' approval. Zrebiec believes the framework of a deal has been agreed upon, and that Jones was at one point scheduled to fly to Baltimore for a physical. Zrebiec also got in touch with Mariners GM Bill Bavasi, who apparently pulled Jones from winter ball simply because he "met his goals."
UPDATE, 1-28-08 at 5:46pm: According to KOMO 1000 News Radio, Jones has been ordered not to play but remains in Venezuela. He was also misquoted by the Venezuelan press - he did not mention getting traded.
UPDATE, 1-28-08 at 4:51pm: I honestly didn't think Angelos would interfere with this one. But according to Ken Rosenthal, the deal is on hold and possibly off because of him. Then again, we knew it was on hold until Tuesday anyway because of Angelos' availability.
FROM 1-28-08 at 1:43pm:
Let's get a fresh post going for the Erik Bedard rumors.
- According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Bedard to Seattle trade awaits Peter Angelos' approval. Angelos will not be available today to evaluate the deal because of a family matter. So this should drag a bit more.
- Stark still expects the deal to get done but verifies that Adam Jones was not sent to Baltimore for a physical.
- Jerry Crasnick says both Jones and George Sherrill have been told to take physicals in anticipation of the deal. Sherrill disputes this in the Seattle PI, though.
- Stark and Crasnick say the current package from Seattle is Jones, Sherrill, Chris Tillman, and a fourth unknown prospect. Tillman, however, hasn't yet been informed of a trade.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec was able to get in touch with Erik Bedard this evening. Bedard's quotes paint a story of his team not attempting to sign him to an extension. He says how there are a lot more talks about trading him than signing him. He accuses the Orioles of "playing it both ways." Bedard is certain about one thing - he has no desire to be part of a rebuilding effort.
Andy MacPhail says Bedard's agent suggested a one-year deal and denied the Orioles' multiyear overtures. MacPhail's version sounds more accurate, given that Bedard's agent acknowledged the Orioles' "conceptual" talks about signing him through 2010.
Zrebiec thinks a deal could happen with the Mariners next week, of course centered around Adam Jones. The Orioles covet Chris Tillman and Carlos Triunfel as well, though Triunfel may be untouchable.