Craig Counsell Rumors

Odds & Ends: Cubs, Towers, Phillies, Torre, Lee

Tuesday night links, as Scott Baker makes his first start for the Twins in nearly three weeks….

  • Jim Hendry will officially interview Ryne Sandberg for the Cubs' manager job, reports Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago. According to Levine's sources, the club also plans to talk to Pat Listach, Bob Melvin, and Bob Brenly.
  • A "reliable source" told Jim Bowden (Twitter link) that the D'Backs are set to offer Kevin Towers their GM job. Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona says no job offer has been made yet, though the team met with Towers again today (Twitter link).
  • Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly reports (via Twitter) that the Phillies have signed Franklyn Zavala, a 16-year-old Dominican pitcher, for a $330K bonus.
  • Understandably, Joe Torre's comments about the possibility of managing the Mets didn't sit well with current manager Jerry Manuel, as Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger writes. Torre apologized for his comments, telling Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he's "closing the door on managing the Mets – and probably everybody else" (Twitter links).
  • Astros manager Brad Mills avoided the question of whether Carlos Lee would play more first base in 2011, says MLB.com's Pete Kerzel. Alyson Footer, the team's director of social media, notes in a pair of tweets that first base is Lee's strongest position and she'd like to see him there next year.
  • Pat Gillick won't rule out taking another general manager job if the right situation arises, writes Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
  • Craig Counsell tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link) that he'll be back in 2011, either for the Brewers or another club.

Market For Craig Counsell

Brewers infielder Craig Counsell recently cleared waivers, suggesting no team was willing to take on the prorated portion of his $2.3MM salary (currently $600K).  Counsell can now be traded to any team, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Brewers seek "a legit return."  Rosenthal notes that the Brewers received Chris Dickerson for Jim Edmonds, though I'll point out that Edmonds was having a stronger season at a lower salary and did get claimed on waivers by multiple clubs.  In terms of the Counsell market, Rosenthal says the Cardinals inquired and backed off while the Braves have yet to inquire.

Counsell, 40 in a few days, is hitting .246/.317/.305 in 188 plate appearances this season.  He's mostly played on the left side of the infield this year, but has plenty of career experience at second base.  Counsell has had a disappointing season, though it seems to amount to a dip in playing time and batting average.  He's not a clear upgrade for a contender, so he could stay put unless the asking price drops in the 15 days leading up to the waiver trade deadline.


Blum, Counsell Clear Waivers

Infielders Geoff Blum and Craig Counsell have cleared waivers, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). The Astros and Brewers can now trade their respective veterans to any team. The Braves and Cardinals both lost third basemen, so Blum and Counsell could draw interest. Blum ($1.5MM, mutual option for 2011) and Counsell ($2.1MM) both make modest salaries, play second third and short and can hit the open market after the season.

Here's MLBTR's complete list of players to clear waivers.



Olney’s Latest: Rockies, Lee, Diamondbacks, Royals

In today's blog post at ESPN, Buster Olney speculates about some possible trade targets for the Rockies now that Troy Tulowitzki is going to miss the next six to eight weeks with a fractured wrist. Among those mentioned: Dan Uggla, Craig Counsell, Julio Lugo, and Cesar Izturis. Uggla would obviously be the most expensive, but Colorado would boast a dynamic offensive middle infield once Tulo returns.

Here are the rest of Olney's rumors…

  • Sources tell Olney there is no clear signal from the Mariners indicating that they're ready to trade Cliff Lee, but presumably that will come soon. He compares a potential Lee trade to the CC Sabathia trade, meaning that the sooner he's dealt, the more Seattle will receive in return.
  • The Diamondbacks continue to gather intel about possible trades, but they are not close to making another deal at the moment.
  • The Royals have a pair of outfielders in Rick Ankiel and David DeJesus who could be fits for the Red Sox. J.D. Drew suffered a hamstring injury yesterday, and Boston was already without Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida, who are both on the disabled list. Mike Cameron is playing through an abdominal tear as well.

Brewers Re-Sign Craig Counsell

2:05pm: Haudricourt tweets that Counsell will receive $2.1MM plus a possible $500K in incentives for games played.

12:38pm: The Brewers re-signed Craig Counselltweets Tyler Barnes, the team's VP of Communications.  Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel tweets that it's a one-year pact worth "a bit more than $2MM."  A new deal had been expected.  Counsell is coming off a fine season in which he hit .285/.357/.408 for the Brewers and played second base, third base, and shortstop.


Brewers Notes: Correia, Counsell, Non-Tenders

Some Brewers tidbits courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt:

  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Haudricourt that he called the Padres earlier today and inquired about Kevin Correia.  Even though he made his interest known, San Diego never followed up and instead signed the righty to a one-year deal.
  • Melvin also confirmed that he has a tentative agreement in place for veteran Craig Counsell to return in 2010.  He expects it to be finalized Monday.
  • The decision to non-tender Seth McClung, Mark DiFelice, and Mike Rivera was not financially motivated, according to Melvin.  For up-to-the-minute news on other players not being tendered, check out our running post.

Counsell May Sign By Monday

Barry Meister, who represents free agent infielder Craig Counsell, told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that his client may have a deal finalized with the Brewers (or possibly another team) by Monday.  Milwaukee made an initial offer to the 39-year-old veteran on Dec. 4, and then reportedly upped it yesterday.  The conventional wisdom has been that Counsell will re-sign with the Brewers, given that he lives in the Milwaukee area and that both the player and team have seemed eager to work out a deal.  No dollar amounts have been mentioned, but it would surely be a raise from the one-year/$1MM contract that Counsell received from the Brewers last winter.  Despite Counsell's age, the offer may also be for more than one year in length.

Counsell has spent the last three seasons in Milwaukee and also played for the Brewers in 2004.  He hit .285/.357/.408 over 459 plate appearances in 2009, notching a career-high in OPS for a season in which he had more than 189 PAs.  Solid numbers aside, Counsell's value to the Brewers in 2010 will be to provide veteran leadership backing up the club's young infield corps of Mat Gamel, Alcides Escobar and Casey McGehee.

Should the talks between Counsell and the Brewers fall apart at the eleventh hour, we know that the Reds and Dodgers have also shown interest in the veteran utilityman.


Olney On Damon, Halladay, Molina, Carroll

ESPN's Buster Olney kicks off his latest blog post with a poignant look at his relationship with Peter Gammons.  As for the rumors…

  • Olney says the Yankees and Johnny Damon appear to be far apart in early contract negotiations.  Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News believes the Yanks will turn to Hideki Matsui, Mike Cameron, or Mark DeRosa if Damon won't take a two-year offer within two weeks or so.  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says Damon seeks three or four years at $13MM annually, while the Yanks are at two years, $19MM (Bobby Abreu's contract). 
  • Olney heard the Blue Jays' asking price of the Phillies for Roy Halladay "is about the same" as it was in July.  That doesn't seem logical, but we are talking about two different GMs here.  Olney was able to confirm the reported Halladay demands the Jays made of the Yankees: Jesus Montero, Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes, and more.
  • The Mets' initial offer to catcher Bengie Molina contains a vesting option.  Olney doesn't speculate, but do you think the Mets were willing to guarantee the first two years? 
  • The Dodgers, Indians, and A's are among the teams eyeing Jamey Carroll, who seeks a two-year deal.  Carroll may look at Craig Counsell's yet-unsigned deal as a precedent.

Twitter Rumors: Smoltz, Damon, Mulder, Felix, Counsell

Twitter madness…

  • Surprisingly, Ken Davidoff of Newsday writes of an "increasing expectation around MLB" that the Yankees will eventually re-sign Hideki Matsui.
  • Crasnick talked to one exec who says Scott Boras wants three years and big money for outfielder Rick Ankiel.
  • The Royals talked to the Dodgers about Juan Pierre, writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, but the Dodgers would have to eat too much money to make it work.
  • ESPN's Jayson Stark says the Phillies are now looking hard at John Smoltz as a possible "back-of-the-bullpen weapon."  Smoltz's agent apparently told the Phils that the pitcher has no problem with Citizens Bank Park.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney heard "the Yankees are in the process of negotiating with Johnny Damon's camp."  He adds that the Yanks "intend to use market forces to pressure Damon to make a decision quickly."  I'm sure Scott Boras will love that.
  • Brewers GM Doug Melvin plans to visit free agent lefty Mark Mulder in January to discuss a possible contract, says Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says there have been no Felix Hernandez negotiations this week after an initial four-year offer from the Mariners.
  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times that they'll tender contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players.  No big surprise, though it's a large group of players.
  • Scott Lauber of the News Journal talked to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said Astros GM Ed Wade stole Brandon Lyon from the Phillies.  The Astros committed three years and $15MM to Lyon despite holes at shortstop and third base.
  • MLB.com's Adam McCalvy says the Brewers upped their offer to Craig Counsell this morning and GM Doug Melvin is confident they'll get it done.  The Reds are still in the mix for Counsell, says MLB.com's Mark Sheldon
  • La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune heard last night that Twins infielder Alexi Casilla is available.

Reds Rumors: Counsell, Carroll, Gomes

MLB.com's Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds have interest in Craig Counsell. The Brewers have made Counsell an offer, but his versatility and .357 OBP interest other teams.

The Reds like that Counsell can play short, but they worry that another target doesn't have enough recent experience at the position. We found out yesterday that Jamey Carroll would love to play for the Reds, but they feel that Carroll, who hasn't played short since 2007 cannot be relied upon there, so they won't pursue him.

Meanwhile, Jonny Gomes still hopes to return to Cincinnati, but the team hasn't made any progress with its arbitration-eligible outfielder.