Conor Jackson Rumors

Bay Area Notes: Nady, Lincecum, Manny, Jackson

Moneyball received six Academy Award nominations on Tuesday, joining Pride Of The Yankees and Field Of Dreams as the only baseball-centric movies to ever be nominated for the prestigious Best Picture Oscar.  While I'm not sure if I'd call Moneyball one of the very best films of the year, it's definitely a well-made, entertaining movie, as outlined in my review from last September.

Here are some non-cinematic notes from both the Athletics and the Giants in this roundup of Bay Area news…


Red Sox Notes: Edwin Jackson, Conor Jackson, Payroll

Some news items out of Fenway Park…

  • The Red Sox weren't close to a deal with Edwin Jackson as of late Thursday evening, tweets Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  It was reported two days ago that the Sox had offered contracts to both Jackson and Roy Oswalt.
  • Oswalt is Boston's "No. 1 target," reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston, and if Oswalt signs elsewhere, the Red Sox will then explore a trade for White Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd.  Jackson would be "a long-shot option" to sign.
  • Manager Bobby Valentine is satisfied with his current rotation and admits another starting pitcher is "not at the top of my wish list," reports Joe McDonald of ESPN Boston.
  • "Free agency is not fun these days," Conor Jackson tells WEEI.com's Rob Bradford.  "Obviously at the end of the day you have to be a realist. That’s the big thing. I just want people to be honest with me where I stand with them. I understand nothing is going to be handed to me. I’ve had a couple of bad years so I have to prove I can play everyday again.”  Jackson is looking to find a backup spot and doesn't think it will be in Boston since the Red Sox now have Cody Ross in the fold.
  • The Red Sox are already projected to pass the luxury tax threshold, reports WEEI.com's Alex Speier as part of his breakdown of the club's 2012 payroll and what the Sox hope to gain by sticking to their budget.

Athletics, Jonny Gomes Nearing Deal

The A's are nearing a deal with free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A deal with the ACES client could be completed by Monday.

Conor Jackson and Johnny Damon were also considerations for the A's, who were looking for an outfielder capable of hitting left-handers, according to Slusser. GM Billy Beane has traded for Seth Smith and Josh Reddick and re-signed Coco Crisp this offseason to build his 2012 outfield.

Gomes, 31, posted a .209/.325/.389 line with 14 homers in 372 plate appearances for the Reds and Nationals in 2011. The Petaluma, California native has a career .311/.407/.456 line against left-handed pitching, so his skillset should complement left-handed hitting outfielders such as Smith and Reddick.



Athletics Still Interested In Ludwick, Ross, Jackson

The Athletics recently committed $14MM to retain center fielder Coco Crisp, but they'll continue to talk to free agent outfielders such as Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, and Conor Jackson, reports Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.  Oakland's corner outfield depth chart currently features Josh Reddick, Collin Cowgill, and Michael Taylor after losing Josh Willingham and David DeJesus to free agency and trading Jai Miller and Ryan Sweeney.

Ludwick, 33, shouldn't cost much after a .237/.310/.363 performance in 2011.  Jackson had a similar line.  Ross was somewhat more useful at .240/.325/.405.  His asking price appears to have come down to the two-year, $10MM range.  Other unsigned outfielders include Rick Ankiel, Johnny Damon, J.D. Drew, Kosuke Fukudome, Scott Hairston, Brad Hawpe, Raul Ibanez, Magglio Ordonez, Luke Scott, and Ryan Spilborghs.

ESPN's Buster Olney writes today that some executives believe $40MM is the unofficial budget floor MLB and the union would like to see from teams.  As such, the Crisp signing may allow the A's to avoid a slap on the wrist.  Including projected salaries for Crisp, Brandon McCarthy, and Joey Devine, the A's appear to have about $33MM in commitments to 11 players.


AL West Rumors: Bailey, Jackson, Gonzalez, Rangers

The latest out of the AL West:

  • The Athletics' asking price for Andrew Bailey is currently too high for the Rangers to consider him, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Rangers' read on Bailey matches up with comments made by A's GM Billy Beane yesterday — he said many teams he'd talked to walked away wondering whether any A's were actually available, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.
  • Within Slusser's piece, she writes that the Athletics are considering Conor Jackson as a short-term outfield addition.
  • The Athletics are looking for young, high-upside outfielders in any Gio Gonzalez trade, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Yankees may have to consider a three-team deal if they want to acquire the lefty, since they don't have any outfielders in the high minors that fit that bill.
  • Nothing is imminent, but ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick tweets the Rangers are looking into possible contract extensions for many of their core players, including Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and Mike Napoli.

Red Sox Acquire Conor Jackson

The Red Sox acquired Conor Jackson from the Athletics for Jason Rice, the teams announced. Oakland sent cash to Boston in the deal and the Red Sox transferred right-hander Bobby Jenks to the 60-day disabled list to create 40-man roster space for Jackson.

Jackson, 29, can fill in at the corner positions for the Red Sox and provide a right-handed bat off of the bench. He has a .249/.315/.342 line in 368 plate appearances this year and boasts a career line of .286/.384/.441 against left-handers. The 2003 first rounder was a key contributor for the D'Backs from 2006-08, but his offensive production has fallen off since. Jackson earns $3.2MM this season before hitting free agency.

Rice posted a 3.69 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 85 1/3 innings of relief for Boston's Triple-A affiliate this year. In 256 career minor league appearances, most of which have come out of the bullpen, the 25-year-old has a 3.91 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 5.2 BB/9. The White Sox selected him in the 11th round of the 2005 draft. MLB.com's Jane Lee first reported the move.


Players Who Cleared Waivers

This is a running list of players who have cleared waivers, based on published reports. Once a player clears waivers, he can be traded to any team (barring a no-trade clause). This list can always be found in the sidebar under MLBTR Features. Player names are linked to the source articles.

Updated 8-30-11 at 10:56pm

Starting pitchers

  • Aaron Harang, Padres - Harang's ERA is a respectable 3.92 with 6.7 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.
  • Dontrelle Willis, Reds – Willis has bounced back with the Reds, posting a 4.10 ERA, 6.3 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, 0.68 HR/9, and 56.8% groundball rate in 52 2/3 innings.
  • Carlos Zambrano, Cubs – Zambrano cleared waivers prior to being placed on the disqualified list.  He has a short fuse, lousy stats, and over $22MM remaining on his contract through next year.
  • Rodrigo Lopez, Cubs – Not surprising to see the journeyman clear waivers.
  • Chris Capuano, Mets – Capuano owns a 3.74 SIERA as of August 14th and earns only $1.5MM plus incentives, so it's hard to see why a few teams didn't place claims.
  • Bronson Arroyo, Reds – His peripheral stats haven't changed much, but Arroyo has a 5.31 ERA as of August 15th.  $15MM of his $35MM contract is deferred through 2021 without interest.  The deferrals are voided if he's traded, however.  At any rate, expect Arroyo to stay put.
  • Bruce Chen, Royals – Chen has his moments, but it's not surprising to see him clear waivers.
  • Jason Vargas, Mariners – Like many of the starters here, Vargas' fastball wouldn't break a window.  But he has less than a million bucks left on his contract this year and is under team control through 2013.  He'd fit nicely at the back end of several rotations.    
  • Chien-Ming Wang, Nationals – His three starts this season were his first in over two years, so it's understandable that contenders wouldn't jump to claim him.
  • Tom Gorzelanny, Nationals – Booted to the bullpen last month, the 29-year-old flyballing southpaw has posted strong strikeout rates in recent years but can't hold a rotation job.
  • Ted Lilly, Dodgers – He always has strong strikeout-to-walk numbers, but is prone to the longball.  With over 82% of his $33MM contract remaining ($27MM+), it's no surprise he cleared waivers.

Relievers

  • Joe Nathan, Twins - Nathan won't be traded, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
  • Chad Qualls, Padres – Qualls is enjoying a bounce-back season, though his strikeout rate dipped to 5.3 K/9 this year.
  • Bill Bray, Reds – Bray has been decent this year, and a little tougher against lefties.  He'll be arbitration eligible for the second time this offseason.
  • Hong-Chih Kuo, Dodgers – A dominant reliever last year, Kuo has dealt with a back injury and anxiety disorder as his control has eluded him.
  • Huston Street, Rockies – Between a recent triceps injury and the $9MM+ owed to him through 2012, Street was expected to clear.
  • Brian Fuentes, Athletics – He's owed over $6MM through next year, and has been mediocre for the A's.
  • Jon Rauch, Blue Jays – Rauch is affordable, but he's on the DL for an appendectomy and wasn't great before that.
  • Mike Gonzalez, Orioles – Gonzalez has been dominant in August, and against lefties.  The problem is that he's still owed almost a million bucks.
  • Kevin Gregg, Orioles – Gregg might be the worst reliever holding down a closer's job, and he's owed at least $6.4MM through next year.
  • John Grabow, Cubs – He's been ineffective even against lefties, and he has over $700K remaining.
  • D.J. Carrasco, Mets – The Mets signed Carrasco to a two-year deal in December – their biggest acquisition of the offseason - but optioned him to Triple-A in April.  He stayed there until mid-June.

Position players

  • Aramis Ramirez, Cubs – In July, Ramirez's agent said that his client would consider an August deal but he has since had a change of heart.  The Cubs hold an option on Ramirez's deal worth $16MM.
  • Alfonso Soriano, Cubs – This one was also obvious.  SI's Jon Heyman notes on Twitter that the Cubs are willing to pay a "major, major chunk" of the $58.35MM owed to the left fielder through 2014.
  • Lance Berkman, Cardinals – Berkman has said he hopes to re-sign with St. Louis after the season, when he hits free agency.  Still, it's a surprise to see him clear waivers.
  • Ryan Theriot, Cardinals - Theriot earns $3.3MM this year and will be a non-tender candidate after the season.
  • David Wright, Mets - It's surprising that Wright cleared waivers, but it doesn't mean the Mets have interest in dealing him. Wright earns $15MM next year and can void a $16MM club option for 2013 if traded.
  • Conor Jackson, Athletics – Olney notes that the Red Sox asked about the light-hitting 1B/LF/RF, but there doesn't seem to be any traction there.
  • David DeJesus, Athletics – DeJesus has had a rough year but could at least be useful against right-handed pitching.
  • Hideki Matsui, Athletics – The Athletics have several waiver trade candidates, and Matsui's hot second half and low salary (owed less than $2MM the rest of the season) could make him a popular target.
  • Jason Bay, Mets – With Bay being owed at least $38.8MM through 2013, this was expected.  It's only been 12 games, but Bay is at least having his first good month of 2011.
  • Willie Harris, Mets – The versatile Harris has less than $200K left on his contract.
  • Angel Pagan, Mets – It's been a dismal year for Pagan, who may be in line for a non-tender after the season.
  • Carlos Lee, Astros – No surprise here, as the 35-year-old is hitting .263/.321/.417 and is owed almost $23MM through next year.  El Caballo's ten-and-five rights kick in after the season.
  • Johnny Damon, Rays – Damon blocked an August trade last summer and 12 months later he's a candidate to be traded once again.

Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.


Red Sox Not Pursuing Anyone Aggressively Right Now

The Red Sox are "not pursuing anyone aggressively right now," a source familiar with the team's thinking told WEEI's Alex Speier.  Instead, the team is currently trying to determine which internal solutions will work.  We've heard the Red Sox named as one of the most aggressive suitors for Carlos Beltran, but that may not be the case.

The Sox are still taking their normal approach of "inquiring about anyone who may make an appreciable difference to the team," in the words of the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo.  Cafardo says the Red Sox have inquired on Beltran, Ubaldo Jimenez, Felix Hernandez, Jose Reyes, Jeff Francoeur, Jeff Baker, Michael Cuddyer, Ty Wigginton, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly, Jeremy Guthrie, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson, Ryan Spilborghs, Mike Adams, and others.  The team needs include starting pitching, a reliever, an outfielder, and a shortstop, but the Red Sox may prefer internal options in many cases.


Pirates Notes: Trades, Huntington, Grilli

The Pirates are in first place, but manager Clint Hurdle realizes his team hasn't won anything of substance yet. "They don’t break a trophy in half and give it to you on July 19," he told MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch (Twitter link). Here's the latest from Pittsburgh:

  • ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick explains how the Pirates ascended to the top of the NL Central and repeats that the Pirates have checked out Hunter Pence, Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham, Conor Jackson and other available bats in their search for offensive help.
  • Pirates GM Neal Huntington told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that he's looking to add a position player, a starting pitcher or a reliever (Twitter link). The Pirates have interest in Koji Uehara and others. For a look at what other teams are seeking, click here.
  • Jason Grilli, who is pitching for Philadelphia's Triple-A team, will be in the big leagues within a few days, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The 34-year-old has received at least one Major League offer, which means the Phillies have to promote him or let him leave as a free agent. Grilli has drawn interest from Pittsburgh now that he appears to have recovered from the right knee operation that sidelined him in 2010.

West Notes: Heath Bell, Jimenez, Conor Jackson

The latest on a few NL and AL West teams…

  • Padres closer Heath Bell explained to Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton on XX 1090 that he has not gotten an extension offer from the Padres, but he's leaving the door open (transcript here).  Bell appears willing to take a discount, but admits he doesn't know what he's worth.
  • ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that some baseball people feel Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd tossed Ubaldo Jimenez's name out there to gauge the pitcher's value, as Kevin Towers did during the offseason with Justin Upton.
  • The affordable Conor Jackson figures to be traded, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.  Jackson, once a rising star in Arizona, has a .249/.323/.330 line in 260 plate appearances for Oakland this year.  He'll be owed just over $1MM after the trade deadline, and has been linked to the Pirates so far.