Claudio Vargas Rumors
More links as the weekend draws closer...
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers signed catcher Matt Treanor to a minor league deal. The former Tiger struggled to stay healthy this year.
- The Dodgers signed outfielder Brian Barton to a minor league deal, according to Hernandez. The 27-year-old has hit just .268/.354/.392 in 179 big league plate appearances, all coming in 2008.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson has learned that the Nationals are not interested in Johnny Damon because they're trying to improve their defense.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets that Damon has some interest in signing with the Braves. The outfielder would have to be willing to take a pay cut to join the club, in O'Brien's opinion.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the D'Backs have made Kelly Johnson an offer. The details aren't clear, but Piecoro guesses it's a one-year deal worth $2MM.
- Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti said that any talks with Cincinnati are "all but dead," according to Dylan Hernandez of The LA Times. Yesterday we heard the two teams were exploring an Aaron Harang trade.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Tigers, Giants and Royals have interest in Jack Cust. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick says the Mariners may be the favorites to sign Cust.
- Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com hears that Jose Contreras is narrowing his options down and preparing to sign. His agent says "there are some interesting opportunities in the bullpen."
- Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com says that with his options dwindling, Miguel Tejada might have to slide over to third to be rewarded with a contract.
- Claudio Vargas' deal with the Brewers is worth $900K, says Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel. The righty could also earn another $400K in incentives.
- O'Brien mentions that Adam LaRoche said there's been no contact from the Braves that he knows of. Earlier we learned that some teams were put off by LaRoche's asking price.
- Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that the Padres have named Jaron Madison scouting director. Madison spent the last two years working as the assistant scouting director in St. Louis.
- Venezuelan reporter Efrain Zavarce says that Kelvim Escobar has signed with...a Venezuelan Winter League team. He'll pitch in relief tomorrow, and the Rays will have someone in attendance.
Some links for Friday...
- Jayson Stark and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com expect the Cubs to go after free agent center fielders now that they've dealt Milton Bradley.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer doesn't expect the Reds to deal Aaron Harang in the near future.
- The Chiba Lotte Marines signed Bryan Corey, according to NPB Tracker.
- A source close to Javier Vazquez tells MLB.com's Mark Bowman that it's highly unlikely the pitcher would approve a trade to a west coast team like the Angels. The Braves are still interested in trading Derek Lowe.
- USA Today's Bob Nightengale says it would be an upset to see anyone but the Cardinals sign Matt Holliday.
- Now that the Dodgers have traded Juan Pierre, the Angels are optimistic about unloading Gary Matthews Jr. and his contract, according to Ed Price of AOL FanHouse. The Angels will have to eat some of the $23MM owed to Matthews if they hope to deal him.
- O's reliever Jim Johnson tells Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun that he's glad to have new acquisition Mike Gonzalez around.
- Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News says the Yankees still need another arm. Brian Cashman says the Yankees aren't done.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times expects the Yanks to spend big on next year's free agent class.
- New Blue Jay Kyle Drabek tells the Toronto Sun that he doesn't plan on changing his approach, though he does feel some pressure as a major piece of the Roy Halladay trade.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Pirates evaluate players and then stand by the figures they decide on almost all the time. This approach prevents the Pirates from over-spending and sometimes prevents them from signing their targets (like Miguel Angel Sano).
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that the Brewers expect Claudio Vargas to take his physical today and finalize his deal.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan examines Scott Boras' relationship with mystery teams.
Claudio Vargas will be returning to the Brewers, GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. We learned from McCalvy last week that the Brewers view Vargas as a reliever. In 30.3 relief innings for Milwaukee this year Vargas posted a 1.78 ERA, 5.9 K/9, and 3.3 BB/9.
Random rumors collected from Twitter...
- The Brewers will meet with Mark Mulder's people today, says SI's Jon Heyman. Ken Rosenthal tweets that a meeting with the Royals already occurred today.
- Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star says the Royals like Felix Pie, but are "finding it tough to meet Baltimore's needs."
- The Brewers are working to re-sign pitcher Claudio Vargas, MLB.com's Adam McCalvy learned. They view him as a reliever. UPDATE: McCalvy says the Brewers think they're close.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Ben Sheets' agent Casey Close will meet with both New York teams, among others. A throwing audition appears unlikely. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers would like a medical update on Sheets, who they almost signed before the season.
- Newsday's David Lennon says the Mets met with Yorvit Torrealba's agent this morning. He could be an alternative to Bengie Molina, if the Mets and Torrealba can settle their grievance. Torrealba had a signed term sheet with the Mets two years ago for a three-year, $14.4MM deal, but the Mets pulled out over concerns with the player's shoulder. Lennon's colleague Ken Davidoff says the Giants are still involved on Torrealba.
- The Brewers have a meeting with minor league free agent/knuckleballer Charlie Zink this afternoon, says Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says LaTroy Hawkins will meet with the Astros today in hopes of getting a deal done soon.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick finds the Brewers likely to tender a contract to righty Dave Bush on Saturday. Despite a rough year Bush could get a small raise on this year's $4MM salary.
- WEEI's Alex Speier says five to six teams have checked in on free agent outfielder Brian Giles, the Red Sox not among them.
- Joe Crede doesn't expect to sign until late in the offseason, reports Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press.
After a tremendous run last year that resulted in the club's first playoff berth in a quarter-century, the Brewers sat 13.5 GB of a playoff spot coming into today's action, and sport the National League's worst starting rotation thanks to their 5.22 ERA. As Adam McCalvy of MLB.com writes, the club has a ton of roster decisions to make this offseason, although GM Doug Melvin says "We've got a lot of decisions, and none of them will be discussed until the end of the season."
Some of the issues facing the Brew Crew this offseason are...
- Impending Free Agents: Trevor Hoffman, Claudio Vargas, Mike Cameron, Felipe Lopez, Jason Kendall, Craig Counsell, Frank Catalanotto, and Corey Patterson will all be free agents after the season. The clubs holds a $3.7MM option for David Weathers next year ($400K buyout), and there's a $6.5MM mutual option for Braden Looper ($1MM buyout) that McCalvy says the club "will almost certainly pick up."
- Arbitration Eligibles: Dave Bush, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, Seth McClung, J.J. Hardy, Jody Gerut, and Todd Coffey are all eligible for salary arbitration. Coffey, who's been the club's primary setup man, figures to get a nice raise over his current $800K salary.
- Starting Pitching: As I mentioned earlier, Milwaukee sports the NL's worst starting staff. McCalvy reports that "Melvin promised this week that he would be much more aggressive this winter in his search for answers," and that the club might take a "little more chances and risks" than they're accustomed to taking.
The Brewers also have questions about the key up-the-middle positions. They have to sort out the Hardy-Alcides Escobar situation at short, and decide whether to try and retain Lopez or give Weeks another shot at second base duty. Cameron and Kendall have both made it clear they'd like to return, but those decisions will have to wait until the winter.
Milwaukee also must figure out third base, and whether Mat Gamel or Casey McGehee deserves the job. Prince Fielder has the other corner infield spot locked down, and is under contract for $10.5MM next year before being arbitration eligible in 2011, his final year before free agency. McCalvy also mentions that manager Ken Macha faces a lame-duck year next season, and that Melvin is fielding questions about whether another managerial change may be in order.
ESPN's Amy K. Nelson, via Twitter, passes along a press release saying the Dodgers acquired catcher Vinny Rottino from the Brewers for pitcher Claudio Vargas. Vargas pitched for the Brewers back in '07.
Vargas, 30, spent 2008 in the Mets' organization. He pitched 85.3 innings across various levels, dealing with elbow pain at one point. He'd been released by the Brewers in March.
We've got mostly smaller stuff today, so let's kick it off with an odds and ends.
- The Mets designated Claudio Vargas for assignment. I'm a bit surprised, I think he's still a useful pitcher.
- Pitcher Jon Lieber may retire after the season. 130+ wins, that's a nice career.
- With Tom Gordon's shoulder barking, the Phillies' desire to add a reliever has intensified. Here's a look at the relief market.
- When a 2.93 ERA is considered underperforming, expectations were never reasonable. Anyone else get the impression that if Johan Santana's record was 10-3 instead of 7-6, there wouldn't even be a discussion? Joel Sherman believes the Yankees (if under Brian Cashman) would not go six or seven years to sign C.C. Sabathia in light of the Barry Zito and Santana deals. He wonders whether Sabathia could be lured with a shorter term and higher average annual value.
- Julian Tavarez chose to become a free agent, surprising the Brewers.
- Roy Oswalt reminds us that he has a no-trade clause and hasn't been approached by management about any deals.
- The Adam Dunn-J.P. Ricciardi saga continues.
- I chatted with Ryan Henning about the Twins recently.
- T.J. Simers and Ned Colletti argue about the GM's trading track record.
- The Pirates are looking for pitching. Brett Tomko anyone? Anyone?
- Evan Grant discusses the Rangers' trade options in his mailbag.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets are close to a minor league deal with free agent righty Claudio Vargas. It's a smart move; they need someone who can eat innings at a league average ERA. Four teams were pursuing Vargas.
Vargas, 29 in May, has always posted a decent strikeout rate. If he rediscovers his control from '06 and limits the longball, he could be solid. No risk for the Mets. Vargas initially balked at the idea of going to the minors, but perhaps he couldn't find any better offers.
Earlier this week Pedro Martinez pulled a hamstring in his first start of '08 and is expected to be out until mid-May. The loss of Martinez will likely only cost the Mets seven to eight starts, which might only be a difference in two to three wins over that span. Of course, two or three more wins in '07 and the Mets would have spent October in the playoffs. With the importance of every single start magnified this year for the Mets, it would not be surprising for Omar Minaya to seek outside help as a contingency plan for Martinez (who at this point in his career cannot be counted on to stay healthy for any length of time). One long shot is Rich Harden, whom the A's may be auditioning for possible suitors. Let's take a look at what is being said in the Blogophere...
- The 'Ropolitans don't see the Mets trading any more players in the near future, especially for an injury-riddled player such as Harden.
- Mets Fever doesn't think the Mets have the pieces to land Harden and would rather see the money go to Oliver Perez after the season.
- Mets Merized thinks that Claudio Vargas would provide the Mets with some stability but if he isn't willing to accept a minor league deal they feel the Mets have plenty of in-house options...Mets Merized also feels that the loss of Martinez will not have an effect on the Mets' championship hopes.
- MetsBlog comments on the Vargas rumors and says that a backup plan for Martinez should be Minaya's number one priority...MetsBlog also notes that the Mets should stay away from Harden as he will certainly cost Fernando Martinez.
- Faith and Fear in Flushing is reminded of Mets injuries from years past and won't be expecting any contribution from Martinez in the near future.