Conor Jackson Rumors
Let's take stock of each team's top trade chips, starting today with the NL West...
- Diamondbacks: Arizona moved two of its best trade chips this winter in Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth, and there's obviously no way Justin Upton will be moved. The cupboard is a little bare right now, but Stephen Drew could be available for the right price. He has two more years of team control left after 2010. Conor Jackson, who won't be a free agent until after 2011, could be attractive as well. Top prospect Jarrod Parker is recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- Dodgers: Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw are deal breakers, but Chad Billingsley could be dangled after popping up in rumors during the offseason. The 25-year-old posted a 5.21 ERA in his final 19 appearances last year, though his peripheral stats were in line with what they had been in previous seasons. He won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season.
- Giants: Tim Lincecum and Pablo Sandoval aren't going anywhere and Matt Cain just signed a new extension, so Brian Sabean's best trade chip is lefty Jonathan Sanchez. The 27-year-old owns a career 9.3 K/9 and won't be eligible for arbitration until after the 2012 season. Madison Bumgarner's stock is down while he battles with Missing Velocity Disease, and Buster Posey isn't going anywhere.
- Padres: Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell aren't just San Diego's two best trade chips, they're among the best in the game. Gonzalez is one of the baseball's premier power hitters at age 27, and will make just $4.75MM in 2010 with a $5.5MM club option for 2011. Bell has emerged as one of the league's most dominant closers, and won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2011 season.
- Rockies: Everyone wants to get their hands on Troy Tulowitzki, but it's just not happening. Brad Hawpe is the player most likely to be moved, and there should be interest given his annual .890 OPS's and 25+ homers. He has a $10MM option for the 2011 season with a cheap $500K buyout, and Colorado has a glut of young and productive outfielders to replace him.
The D'Backs avoided arbitration with Conor Jackson, agreeing to sign the left fielder to a $3.1MM deal for 2010, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Jackson, who earned $3.05MM last year, won't be a free agent until after the 2011 season.
The 27-year-old dealt with Valley Fever in 2009 and made just 110 plate appearances, hitting .182/.264/.253. It was easily Jackson's worst showing in the major leagues; his OPS topped .800 in each of the three seasons before last year.
A look at the latest from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports...
- The Cubs and Giants were interested in reliever Rafael Betancourt before the Rockies offered arbitration to him yesterday. The Phillies were named as another suitor. The writers are not sure whether the Cubs and Giants maintain interest now that Betancourt will cost a draft pick (assuming the Type A free agent turns down the Rockies' offer). The Giants would have to surrender their #24 pick, the Cubs their #49. Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News gave the impression yesterday the Giants prefer to keep their first-round pick. As for the Cubs, one source with knowledge of the situation said there's nothing to it at this time.
- The Blue Jays have mild interest in Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit, who is guaranteed $9.15MM over the next two years. Doumit was sidelined by wrist surgery and a concussion this year. Looking at the trade market for catchers, the Jays have already inquired on Chris Snyder and Doumit, while Kelly Shoppach is now a Ray.
- While the Braves like D'Backs first baseman/left fielder Conor Jackson, Arizona would only trade him for a young starting pitcher. A Jackson trade appears unlikely and the Braves have not expressed interest recently. Jackson seems back on track and should be tendered a contract after a strong showing in the Domincan winter league.
ESPN's Peter Gammons touched on a bunch of hot stove topics in his latest blog post, so let's round everything up...
- Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain will come to Spring Training as starters, but the Yankees haven't ruled out a run at John Lackey, Ben Sheets, or another starter. The feeling inside the organization is that the payroll will be scaled back a bit.
- One Tigers source emphatically told Gammons "there will be no fire sale. [Owner] Mike Ilitch wouldn't allow it."
- At least one GM says that switching agents raises some character questions about Aroldis Chapman.
- Conor Jackson's stint in winter ball convinced the team he's healthy, and he'll be in their first base/left field mix next year. Jackson made our list of non-tender candidates.
You could hardly think of two more dissimilar players than Omar Vizquel and Nick Johnson, but Evan Brunell of The Hardball Times took a look at where these two free agents may end up playing in 2010.
First, Vizquel. Brunell thinks that Vizquel's desire to play for a higher-profile club than Texas may stem from the fact that playing for a big-market team may improve Vizquel's chances of being voted into the Hall of Fame when his career is over. There's also the fact that the 42-year-old shortstop would no doubt love to get another chance at a World Series title after coming so close with Cleveland in 1995 and 1997.
With these factors in mind, Brunell feels that Philadelphia is the ideal destination for Vizquel, as he can serve as a backup to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and whomever the Phillies get to play third base. Vizquel's presence as a late-inning defensive replacement would also mean that the Phils could focus their third baseman search on finding a solid hitter, not necessarily a top gloveman.
As for Johnson, Brunell points to Arizona as a good landing spot for the first baseman. The Diamondbacks' .324 team OBP last season (22nd in MLB) would get a big boost from Johnson's career .402 OBP (.426 in 2009). In signing Johnson to a one or two-year contract, Brunell argues, the D-Backs would buy some more development time for prospect Brandon Allen, whose presence would also serve as cover in case Johnson's well-documented injury history again becomes a problem.One flaw in Brunell's argument is that he doesn't account for Conor Jackson, who may avoid being non-tendered by the Snakes if he shows in winter ball that he is fully recovered from Valley Fever. If Jackson is back, then he would provide a cheaper alternative at first base than Johnson while still providing solid production --- Jackson posted a .292/.371/.451 line in his three full seasons with Arizona from 2006 to 2008.
What do you fans think? If you're a Phillies or Diamondbacks supporter, are you on board with the idea of Vizquel or Johnson in the fold? Or are there some other teams who would be better fits for these two players?
Happy birthday to Hall-of-Famer Whitey Ford and (future Hall-of-Famer?) Zack Greinke. MLBTR's gift to these two star pitchers is this batch of news items...
- John Hickey of the Seattle PostGlobe outlines some of the holes that the Mariners have to fill for 2010, and speculates that free agent and Los Angeles resident Adrian Beltre might be targeted by the Angels and Dodgers.
- Peter Gammons thinks that if it weren't for Manny Ramirez's player option, the Dodgers would part ways with the controversial left fielder, reports WEEI's Alex Speier.
- MLB.com's Steve Gilbert writes that if Conor Jackson can stay healthy in the Dominican Winter League, he can avoid being non-tendered by the Diamondbacks.
- Joe Mauer's big brother Jake has been named the new manager of the Twins' Class A-Advanced affiliate in Fort Myers, reports Benjamin Hill of MLB.com.
- Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner discussed Jim Riggleman's chances of being named manager, some recent front office hires and his club's overall plans for the future in a chat with Bill Ladson of MLB.com.
Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes was forthcoming, talking to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic today. Highlights:
- Payroll will likely be higher than the season-ending mark of $73MM. They have about $60MM committed for 2010, assuming Conor Jackson is retained. GM Josh Byrnes may have $15MM+ to spend.
- Byrnes has until the December 12th non-tender deadline to decide on Jackson, who must be paid at least $2.44MM if tendered a contract. Byrnes intends to use that time to gather information, but his comments had a positive vibe.
- Free agents Doug Davis and Chad Tracy are not expected to return in 2010 (Tracy has a $7MM club option that will certainly be declined). It'll be interesting to see who the D'Backs acquire to replace Davis.
- Brandon Allen does not have a lock on the first base job. Second base will probably be filled internally.
- Byrnes admitted "the roster crunch on Eric Byrnes is pretty real," implying the could release the outfielder and eat $11MM.
John Perrotto of Baseball Prospectus brings us his latest from around the leagues:
- When they come off the DL, Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins will be used in relief. So, the Twins are hoping to add a starter who can pitch in the playoffs. This means they have until tomorrow at midnight to do so.
- The Yankees would like to re-sign Johnny Damon to a one year deal and give Austin Jackson a second year to develop at Triple-A, while pursuing Matt Holliday and Jason Bay in the offseason.
- The Marlins and Giants are frontrunners to land Brad Penny.
- The Cardinals expect to exercise Ryan Franklin's $2.75MM club option and then sign an extension with their closer for 2011.
- The Royals want to extend G.M. Dayton Moore who is signed through 2010.
- Perrotto says the Cubs are likely to deal Milton Bradley this winter, even if it means eating a large portion of the $21MM owed to him through 2011.
- Jermaine Dye will more than likely not see his $12MM option exercised by the White Sox after a dip in production in tandem with the salary demands of Alex Rios and Jake Peavy.
- For the postseason, the Dodgers are seeking "a left-handed bat with power" for their bench.
- The Nats are auditioning Livan Hernandez as a veteran innings eater for 2010.
- The Diamondbacks may non-tender Conor Jackson.
- Brewers manager Ken Macha said G.M. Doug Melvin "scoured the area for pitching" before the deadline but was unable to add a starter because he refused to trade Mat Gamel or Alcides Escobar.
- After making seven trades this year, the Pirates are the youngest team in the MLB.
This should have been one of Conor Jackson's best years. He had plate discipline, moderate power and was entering his age 27 season. Now, after an extended bout with valley fever, Jackson's value has tumbled and he doesn't have a guaranteed job next season. He told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that his disappointing season has created uncertainty about the team's offseason plans.
If the D'Backs offer Jackson a contract, they can't offer him less than $2.4MM under baseball's arbitration rules because he makes $3.1MM this year. Last offseason, when Jackson was coming off three straight years with an OPS over .800, the club had an easy call. But Jackson has hit poorly since then, so the team could decide to non-tender him.
8:51pm: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has the financial details; the contract is worth $3.05MM.
8:35pm: MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports that the Diamondbacks have agreed to a one-year contract with outfielder Conor Jackson.
An arbitration hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, so the deal was struck just in time. Financial terms are not yet available, but the sides probably settled near the midpoint of the numbers that were filed at the end of January. The Diamondbacks submitted a $2.45MM bid and Jackson's representatives countered with a request for $3.65MM.
GM Josh Byrnes has not required an arbitration hearing in his time with the Diamondbacks.