Darren Oliver Rumors

Blue Jays Notes: Oliver, Gose, Bench, Arencibia

The Blue Jays have been very busy this offseason swinging a 12-player trade with the Marlins, acquiring R.A. Dickey from the Mets, and signing Melky Cabrera and Maicer IzturisMLB.com's Gregor Chisholm touched on what these moves mean for the franchise and the other roster decisions that still need to be addressed when he recently opened his inbox.

  • This offseason will determine the legacy of GM Alex Anthopoulos, not based on the timeline of winning but on the amount of money spent. Chisholm writes it's a similar investment to the one former GM J.P. Ricciardi made in 2006 by signing A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan and trading for the likes of Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay. When those big moves didn't pan out, it reflected negatively on Ricciardi and ultimately led to his firing.
  • Darren Oliver is still leaning toward retirement and the Blue Jays aren't expecting to hear a final decision until January.
  • Anthony Gose is set to begin the season at Triple-A Buffalo with Rajai Davis assuming the role of fourth outfielder and late-game pinch-runner.
  • The Blue Jays have one bench opening left to fill. With the versatility of Davis, Izturis, and Emilio Bonifacio, look for that final spot to go to somone invited to Spring Training on a minor league contract.
  • In a separate article, Chisholm writes J.P. Arencibia has solidified his spot in the Toronto lineup for the forseeable future. Anthopoulos made the rare move of reaching out to Arencibia telling him not to concern himself with the trade rumors. "Not only does that make me feel good, but it makes you want to go out and work harder, go the extra mile and go the extra distance for this organization," Arencibia told Chisholm. "If they tell me I need to run through a wall, I'm going to try and run through that wall."

Quick Hits: Rockies, Bonifacio, Oliver, Ibanez

The Winter Meetings rumors continue to fly in, so let's round up another batch of them….

  • The Rockies have told reps for free agents that they're attempting to acquire a pitcher via trade, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Colorado would also like to bring back Jeff Francis on a minor league deal, tweets Renck.
  • Although he indicated last night that Emilio Bonifacio could be available, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets today that the Blue Jays don't want to move him, "at least not yet."
  • Darren Oliver remains undecided about whether he'll play in 2013, and hasn't requested a trade, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have exercised their '13 team option on the left-hander.
  • The Astros are planning to take two players in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).
  • The Mariners remain in play for virtually every available hitter, tweets Knobler. Among their targets is Raul Ibanez, who the M's are "pushing" for, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Ibanez would prefer to rejoin the Yankees, but New York hasn't been as aggressive as Seattle, tweets Sherman.
  • According to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter), the Yankees bid higher than the White Sox for Jeff Keppinger, but the utility infielder chose Chicago.
  • In addition to Keppinger, the White Sox plan to bring in another infielder and a catcher, assuming A.J. Pierzynski leaves, tweets MLB.com's Scott Merkin.

AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Oliver, Reynolds, Cherington

We covered some Yankees news in an edition of New York Notes and also noted Boston's interest in Dan Haren earlier today on MLBTR, so let's take a look around the rest of the AL East…

  • The Blue Jays are "leaning toward" hiring a manager with Major League experience, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.  This would seem to make Jim Riggleman and Don Wakamatsu the favorites among the known contenders, as ex-managers Jim Tracy and Manny Acta reportedly aren't under consideration and candidates such as Sandy Alomar, Tim Wallach and DeMarlo Hale have never managed in the bigs.  Rosenthal notes that the Jays could still hire a non-experienced manager if "they are unimpressed by the more seasoned options."
  • Darren Oliver is "not sure at all and he's in no rush to make a decision" about playing in 2013, Oliver's agent Jeff Frye tells Sportnet.ca's Shi Davidi.  The veteran reliever has hinted about retiring, though the Blue Jays exercised their $3MM option on Oliver yesterday to retain Oliver's rights in case the southpaw does return.
  • The Orioles declined Mark Reynolds' $11MM option yesterday, though CSNBaltimore.com's Rich Dubroff thinks the two sides will eventually agree to a new two-year deal for Reynolds given the Orioles' lack of depth at first base.
  • The Orioles have selected the contract of right-hander Zach Clark and added him to the 40-man roster, according to a team press release.  The 29-year-old Clark has a 3.68 ERA in 171 career minor league games (116 of them starts), including a combined 2.79 ERA in 167 2/3 innings at Double-A and Triple-A last season.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said during an appearance on WEEI Radio's Red Sox Hot Stove Show today that the team would like to add a new pitcher to the rotation without dealing any of their own pitching prospects.  The Sox have several internal options for the bullpen but Cherington "would not rule out" adding a new reliever as well.  (Both links are via the Twitter account of WEEI.com's Alex Speier.)
  • The Red Sox should pursue Nick Swisher, Ryan Madson and Mike Napoli this winter, as well as an innings-eating starting pitcher on a short-term contract suggests Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe as part of his five proposals to upgrade the Sox on the free agent market.


East Links: Ortiz, Hunter, Oliver, Marlins, Phillies

Earlier tonight we had some West and Central links, so now let's complete the trifecta with some notes from baseball's two East divisions…


Blue Jays Exercise Option For Oliver, Re-Sign Davis

The Blue Jays have exercised their 2013 option for left-hander Darren Oliver, the team announced. The club also declined their option for Rajai Davis, but re-signed him to a one-year deal worth $2.5MM.

Oliver, 42, pitched to a 2.06 ERA in 56 2/3 innings this season. He'll earn $3MM next year. The 32-year-old Davis hit .257/.309/.378 with 46 stolen bases this year. His club option was worth $3MM.


Quick Hits: Oliver, Nationals, Yankees

The Tigers have a magic number of one tonight, which means a win over the Royals or a White Sox loss would be enough to send Detroit to the postseason for the second consecutive year. Here are today's links as we await a full slate of games Monday night…

  • Agents Jeff Frye and Mike McCann have joined together, MLBTR has learned. Frye McCann Sports represents MLB players such as Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver, Shawn Kelley, Michael Saunders, Adam Moore and Stephen Pryor. Check out MLBTR’s Agency Database for details on all player representatives, including Frye, the eight-year MLB veteran, and McCann.
  • Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post profiles Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, detailing the journey he took from area scout to general manager. Years of scouting enable Rizzo to make determinations about players that inform his moves. “I like to call it knowledge more so than gut,” Rizzo said. I recommend reading the entire piece for an up-close look at the person who leads Washington’s baseball operations department.
  • Derek Lowe and Eduardo Nunez helped the Yankees win a crucial game against the Blue Jays yesterday, but it wasn't long ago that Lowe was unemployed and Nunez was a minor leaguer, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.

AL Notes: Trout, Ventura, Peavy, Twins, Playoffs

Rookie outfielder Mike Trout hit his 30th home run in the opener of the Angels-Rangers doubleheader this afternoon to become the youngest player in MLB history to slug 30 homers and steal 30 bases and the first rookie with a season of 30 homers and 40 steals. Trout is also the first player in MLB history to record 30 home runs, 45 steals, and 125 runs scored in a single season (h/t ESPN, via Twitter). Trout swiped his 48th base in that game and is now just two stolen bases away from joining Barry Bonds and Eric Davis as the only 30/50 players in baseball history. Today's historic performance further fuels the AL MVP debate between Trout and Miguel Cabrera, a debate chronicled by Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Elsewhere on the Junior Circuit:

  • White Sox manager Robin Ventura had to clarify comments he made about his future yesterday, reports CSNChicago.com's Dan Hayes. Ventura said he was only making a joke when he said he just wanted to get through this season. "I plan on being here for two more years, yes,” Ventura said. “Unless they don’t want me to be here.
  • If the White Sox opt for the $4MM buyout of Jake Peavy's contract rather than exercise the $22MM 2013 option, the right-hander may act as his own agent, reports Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times. Barry Axelrod, Peavy's longtime agent, is no longer able to represent him because Axelrod will be taking a position in the Diamondbacks' front office. For his part, Peavy says he wants to remain with the White Sox, "I love Chicago and this team. I hope we'll be able to work something out."
  • The Twins will have to work something out with pitcher Scott Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The club has a $9.25MM team option for 2013 and it seems highly unlikely they'd exercise that and make Baker the team's highest-paid pitcher coming off surgery, writes 1500ESPN.com Phil Mackey. GM Terry Ryan wouldn't say much about Baker's status other than, "If you think he's going to be able to contribute in 2013, the answer is yes (we do have interest)."
  • Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has a feeling some of his coaching staff won't be back after the team's second consecutive 90-loss season, according to MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Garretson. "I have all the faith that they can do the job, but some of these things aren't going to be left up to me, it's going to be left to ownership and [general manager] Terry [Ryan]," Gardenhire said. "If he thinks change is needed, he's going to talk to the owners and we'll go from there."
  • Within the same piece, Bollinger and Garretson confirmed Gardenhire hadn't spoken to Joe Mauer about moving to third base. Gardenhire said he has considered playing Mauer some at third when asked about the possibility during a conference call with season-ticket holders on Thursday.
  • The Blue Jays' Darren Oliver is undecided if he will continue playing in 2013, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Oliver says the main deciding factor will be "my two kids and my wife." The Blue Jays hold a $3MM club option on the left-hander, who has posted a 1.78 ERA, 8.4 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9 in 60 relief appearances this year covering nearly 56 innings. 
  • The Rays ultimately may be known more for not providing enough support to take advantage of one of the best overall pitching performances in recent times; but, there has been a lot accomplished, writes Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin who recounts the good, bad and interesting. 
  • Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com has obtained an assessment of the Red Sox’s top 20 prospects by pro scouts for another big-league team. The young talent will be needed as Boston lost 90 games for the first time since 1966 after being swept by the Orioles today.
  • The Yankees, Rangers and Orioles each clinched a playoff spot on Sunday evening thanks to a Mike Napoli-led Texas victory over the Angels. All three teams remain in the hunt for division titles, but three more regular season games must be played this week before final seeding can be determined. For the Orioles, the return to the playoffs comes after a lengthy absence as Baltimore's last postseason appearance came in 1997.

Daniel Seco contributed to this post.


AL East Notes: Rays, Shields, Red Sox, Oliver

Last night we learned that the Rays discussed a deal with the Angels to send right-hander James Shields to Anaheim for Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger, and possibly Ervin Santana.  Here's more on the Rays and other items out of the AL East..

  • The Rays are telling teams Rays that they're getting encouraging reports on Evan Longoria and if he's back sooner than originally thought, they'll be less likely to move Shields and others, tweets Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • ESPN.com's Buster Olney told Mut & Merloni of WEEI Radio that he doesn't expect the Red Sox to make a move before the deadline, writes Alex Speier of WEEI.com.  Olney also said that rumors of Boston being interested in acquiring Hanley Ramirez were overstated, though reports suggested that their intent was to flip him to a third club.
  • A league source told Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com that the five most sought-after Red Sox are pitcher Matt Barnes, shortstop Jose Iglesias, outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., infielder Xander Bogaerts, and catcher Ryan Lavarnway.  However, Boston hasn't internally discussed making any of them available, making their chances of landing an elite starter slim.
  • The Blue Jays hold a $3MM option on Darren Oliver for next season, but the soon-to-be 42-year-old hasn't thought about whether he wants to pitch in 2013, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

Quick Hits: La Russa, Cordero, Ayala, Oliver, Vizquel

Some links as Monday turns into Tuesday…

  • Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says (on Twitter) Tony La Russa is seriously weighing his career options and hopes to have an answer soon, perhaps before Spring Training. It's been speculated that La Russa could join a team in a front office role after retiring from managing.
  • The Angels have talked to Francisco Cordero's representatives recently according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. He says it's hard to gauge where the team is in the race for the right-hander given all the money they've already spent this offseason, among other things.
  • The Yankees maintain interest in re-signing reliever Luis Ayala according to MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith (on Twitter). Ayala posted a 2.09 ERA with a 50% ground ball rate in 56 IP for New York last season. Last month we learned that six teams were pursuing the righty.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that the Rangers didn't offer Darren Oliver anything close to the $4.5MM he got from the Blue Jays. He says they remain in the market for left-handed bullpen help, and Mike Gonzalez still fits.
  • Omar Vizquel hinted at retirement on his Twitter account today, saying "[if] there is no contract [offer] there will be no other option but to start a new career, [as a] coach," according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (link in Spanish).
  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports that Casey Blake will have to come to the plate 550 times this season to max out the $1MM in incentives in his contract with the Rockies. He'll earn the first $350K in bonuses at 350 plate appearances.
  • Within the same piece, Renck says that Aaron Cook's minor league deal with the Red Sox will pay him $20K per month in the minors. He can make an additional $2MM by making 30 starts in the big leagues, and the escalators kick in at 15 starts. Cook can request his release if he's not on the 25-man roster on May 1st and again on June 1st.

Blue Jays Sign Darren Oliver

10:51am: Oliver is guaranteed a total of $4.5MM, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned.  He'll earn a $4MM salary in 2012 and the 2013 option has a $500K buyout.

9:43am: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos made his biggest free agent signing in two-plus years at the helm, inking lefty reliever Darren Oliver to a one-year, $4MM deal.  The contract includes a $3MM club option for 2013, announced the team.  Oliver is represented by Jeff Frye.

Oliver

Oliver, 41, was a modified Type B free agent per the new collective bargaining agreement, meaning the Rangers will receive a supplemental first round draft pick as compensation (tentatively #51 overall). The Jays will not forfeit a pick. Oliver pitched to a 2.40 ERA in 112 1/3 innings for Texas the last two years, holding lefty batters to a .212/.250/.306 line during that time.  The Blue Jays have added Sergio Santos, Jason Frasor, and Oliver to their bullpen this offseason.

The Rangers and Angels expressed some interest in Oliver this offseason. The market for free agent lefty relievers is dwindling, with Mike Gonzalez and Arthur Rhodes representing the best of the remaining bunch.

T.R. Sullivan and Jon Heyman broke the story.  Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.  Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.