Darin Erstad Rumors

Odds and Ends: Gregg, Hawkins, Tavarez

UPDATE, 12-5-07 at 1:12pm: Per Troy Renck, the Rockies denied interest in Tavarez.

UPDATE, 12-5-07 at 9:22am:  The Rockies are one NL team confirmed to have an interest in Tavarez.  He pitched for the Rox in 2000, making 12 starts.

FROM 12-5-07 at 12:31am:

Early Wednesday collection of randomness…

Odds and Ends: Tavarez, Lieber, Stewart

Another collection…

Brown’s Latest: Erstad, Livan, Tomko

Yahoo’s Tim Brown checks in with his own set of rumors after working the floor a bit.

  • Darin Erstad is popular – the Padres, Mariners, Astros, and Rays have inquired.  His mystique lives on.
  • The Phillies appear to have a serious interest in Livan Hernandez, though he doesn’t seem to be what they need.
  • Brett Tomko‘s agent met with the Rockies today.  Brown says the Pirates, Nationals, Marlins, Reds, and Rangers are after him too.  Separately it’s been said that the Astros are in on him too.  The Padres made a weak $1.5MM offer to Tomko.

Odds and Ends: Fukudome, Eckstein, Lowell

Ah yes, the odds and ends post, where I cobble together the day’s random links.

  • The Rangers have mild interest Scott Podsednik.  Pods had two separate stints in the Rangers organization but never reached the bigs with them.
  • The Big Lead has an interesting interview with Yahoo baseball guy Jeff Passan, wherein a run-in with Jose Lima is recounted.  Passan also takes on Fire Joe Morgan a bit.
  • Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog is hearing that Kosuke Fukudome is looking for three years and $30MM.  Sounds fair.
  • The Angels are considering signing David Eckstein and/or Darin Erstad, for some reason.
  • Bob Dutton reports that the Royals can be patient with their offer to Torii Hunter, while the White Sox want a quick resolution.  Bonus: a rather large, but not too pixellated picture of Hunter at the Dutton link.  Hunter, by the way, could save $750K per year if he signs with the Rangers because Texas has no state income tax.  Hunter is also considering the Las Vegas 51s for that same reason, I heard. 
  • Per Buster Olney, the Dodgers put in a three-year offer to Mike Lowell.  He takes this as a sign they weren’t serious, but Ned Colletti has shown a tendency to offer fewer years and more per year.  He did this with Rafael Furcal and Jason Schmidt.  So maybe the Dodgers put out a 3/45 offer or something.
  • The Phils picked up oft-injured outfielder Chris Snelling from the Rays for cash.  He’s yet to accumulate 100 big league at-bats in a season, but maybe that’ll change in 2008.
  • Ed Wade + relievers = trouble.  Doug Brocail is on the radar.
  • McCovey Chronicles lists some realistic position player targets for the Giants, including Jeff Clement, Andy Marte, and Adam Lind.

Random Rumors: Erstad, Gagne, Podsednik

Here’s a smattering of random rumors.

  • The Twins have tried and failed to acquire Mike Piazza, Jermaine Dye, and Kevin Mench.  Instead of Dye, the White Sox offered up 33 year-old outfielder Darin Erstad, he of the .671 OPS. The Twins passed.
  • Eric Gagne will apparently earn Type A status as a free agent, despite pitching only two innings in 2006.  Rob Bradford has the details.  This was apparently a big factor for the Red Sox in making the deal.
  • The Chicago Sun-Times debunks a rumor that the Cubs are trying to trade for Scott Podsednik.  How come I wasn’t told about this rumor previously?  Who started it?  I feel left out. 
  • The Pirates and Tigers are still talking about Jack Wilson.  Apparently the deadline version of the deal died when the Bucs asked for Craig Monroe.  Really?  The deal died over that guy?
  • Gordon Edes has a Major League source indicating that the Orioles are "the kind of team that might have interest" in Wily Mo Pena.  That’s not the same as saying that they do have interest, however.

White Sox To Sign Erstad

Pending a physical, the White Sox will sign center fielder Darin Erstad to a one-year deal with an option.  The Sox don’t have much certainty in left or center field, so Erstad will have plenty of opportunity.  The average AL CF hit .275/.334/.437 in ’06, which is probably out of Erstad’s reach.

Brian Anderson seems to have fallen out of favor with Chicago, leaving Ryan Sweeney as Erstad’s main competition in center.  Scott Podsednik is expected to hold down left field again once he recovers from groin surgery, though he’ll have to hold off Josh Fields.

To hear PECOTA tell it, the Sox should go with Sweeney and Anderson at the same time above all other options.

Erstad Options

According to Ken Rosenthal, free agent center fielder Darin Erstad is expected to choose a team this week.  The 32 year-old has a slight chance at signing with the Angels or Cubs, but is more likely to choose between the Marlins or White Sox.

It appears that Florida is Erstad’s best shot at regular playing time, given that his competition is Alex Sanchez.  With Chicago Erstad would split time with Brian Anderson and perhaps Ryan Sweeney.

Rosenthal reports that the Cubs hope to acquire a young, cheap CF to hold the fort until Felix Pie is ready.  This comes despite the recent proclamation that Alfonso Soriano would play center. Pie has an interesting PECOTA projection – Baseball Prospectus forecasts a .289/.342/.481 line from him as a 22 year-old in the Majors.

A’s Make Offer To Erstad

MLB.com reports that the A’s have made a one-year offer to 32 year-old first baseman/center fielder Darin Erstad. Oakland needs a solid fourth outfielder for the Jay Payton role, as Milton Bradley and Mark Kotsay are not pictures of health.

RotoWorld reports that the Cubs, Mariners, Rays, and Rockies have interest in Erstad as well.  The OC Register throws the Orioles and Cards in the mix too. The Angels are probably out.

Teams Showing Interest In Erstad

Darin Erstad has had his ankle surgically repaired, and feels that he could play center field regularly.  According to the L.A. Times, six teams have expressed interest.  Among them: the A’s, Orioles, Rockies, and Mariners.

Erstad earned $8.5MM in ’06 in the last year of his contract.  There’s a chance the 32 year-old could still hit like a league average center fielder (a .760 OPS or so).  He’ll have to prove that he’s still fast and mobile enough to play credible defense.  If he wants a starting job, he could find center field vacancies on the White Sox, Marlins, Nationals, Brewers, or Cubs.

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Angels Should Pursue Javy Lopez

Javy Lopez and his agent have been making a stir lately, pushing for a contract extension or a trade.  Lopez is in the last year of a three-year deal, and will make $8.5MM in 2006.

A recent Baltimore Sun article mentioned:

"The Orioles have had some discussions with teams about Lopez, including a potential trade for Angels first baseman/outfielder Darin Erstad during the winter meetings, but the Angels weren’t interested in making the deal."

In between the flurry of rumors back in December, this is one I missed.  The Angels should not have dismissed this trade so quickly.

Erstad makes the same salary as Lopez in 2006, so that’s a wash.  The team plans on employing him in center field in 2006, and another season of .273/.325/.371 wouldn’t look quite so bad with the position change.  Still, the average American League center fielder hit .268/.322/.407 in 2005, so his bat’s not exactly an asset.  His defenders will point to his glovework; Erstad won a much-deserved Gold Glove playing center field in 2002.

But will Erstad be the same center fielder he was four years ago?  Highly unlikely.  My guess is that he’ll play average defense at this point at best.  Chone Figgins would be a better overall solution in center field.  That would allow Dallas McPherson to get another crack at third base, where he’s still primed to hit 30 HR in a full season.  The Angels would upgrade significantly behind the plate by bringing in Lopez, as Jeff Mathis could learn on the job as a backup.  Acquiring Lopez for Erstad would be an excellent move for the Angels.