Darren Oliver Rumors

Quick Hits: Manny, Braves, Oliver, Tejada

Some links as Thursday turns into Friday…

Blue Jays Close To Signing Darren Oliver

3:11pm: The two sides are still finalizing terms according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (on Twitter). He says it's unlikely anything will get done before next week given the holiday and the need for a physical.

1:07pm: The Blue Jays are close to signing Darren Oliver, reports Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. Both Oliver and the Rangers were interested in a reunion, but the team wouldn't make any commitments due to the potential outlay for other players, namely Yu Darvish.

Oliver, 41, is 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 would not forfeit a pick. The left-hander has 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 batting line during that time. The Angels also expressed some interest in his services.

This post was originally published on December 30th.

Angels Still Exploring Relief Options

The LaTroy Hawkins signing got understandably overshadowed during the winter meetings, but the Angels are still exploring bullpen options according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Gonzalez says they've been in touch with Darren Oliver's representatives and had scouts watch Joel Zumaya's recent showcase.

The Halos have Jordan Walden, Scott Downs, Hisanori Takahashi, and Hawkins slated for the bullpen at the moment, plus they have Kevin Jepsen, Rich Thompson, Bobby Cassevah, and Jerome Williams on their 40-man roster as well. Gonzalez says the Angels can't afford Francisco Cordero, and he adds that GM Jerry Dipoto has not reached out to free agents Luis Ayala and Dan Wheeler either.

Angels, Blue Jays Interested In Darren Oliver

Add the Angels and Blue Jays to the list of American League teams interested in Darren Oliver. Those two clubs, plus the Red Sox and Rangers have shown interest in the veteran left-hander, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.

Oliver, 41, posted a 2.29 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 in 51 innings for the Rangers in 2011. The Jeff Frye client is one of the top left-handed relievers available in free agency. It's worth noting that the Angels signed former Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson earlier this offseason.

The Blue Jays' interest is no surprise. They dealt Marc Rzepczynski last summer and Evan Crawford and Luis Perez are the only left-handed relievers on their 40-man roster at the moment. I'd be surprised if the team hasn't shown interest in most of the competent, available left-handers this offseason and I expect them to acquire one by Opening Day.

Darren Oliver Keeping An Open Mind About 2012

Earlier this week it appeared as though Darren Oliver would be heading back to the Rangers next season, but that's not necessarily the case. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick says that Oliver is keeping an open mind about his 2012 destination, and he's drawing interest from the Red Sox and other clubs (Twitter links).

Oliver, 41, pitched to a 2.29 ERA in 51 innings this past season, striking out 44 and walking just 11. During his two most recent years in Texas, he's held left-handed batters to a .212/.250/.306 batting line with 66 strikeouts and just seven walks in 207 plate appearances. Oliver is one of the few remaining left-handed relievers on the free agent market.

Darren Oliver Likely To Return To Rangers

Darren Oliver "appears to be headed back" to the Rangers, tweets Jon Heyman of the MLB Network. Heyman says the Red Sox are also in the mix for the left-hander, but "Dallas is home."

Earlier tonight, MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan wrote that the Rangers were in search of left-handed relief, and general manager Jon Daniels' preference was to fill that role with Oliver. The 40-year-old Oliver has spent the last two seasons with Texas, posting a combined 2.40 ERA in 112 2/3 innings with a strong 8.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9.

American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll update them in this post throughout the day in advance of the 11pm central time deadline.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 57 Type A/B free agents and their teams' decisions in real-time, click here

Updated team decisions:

Teams with decisions still due:

Modified Procedure For Type A Free Agents

Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Ramon Hernandez and Darren Oliver were all Type A free agents under the Elias Rankings system, but they will now be treated as Type B free agents, the MLBPA announced. Teams won't have to surrender draft picks to sign them, but the players' former teams obtain a supplementary first round pick whether or not they offer arbitration tomorrow.

Meanwhile, clubs won't have to surrender a draft pick to sign one of the following six players: Heath Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madson, Josh Willingham and Francisco Rodriguez. Teams that lose these players after offering arbitration will obtain first round picks in the slot before the signing team plus a supplementary draft pick for a total of two selections.

Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Roy Oswalt, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins were also Type A free agents this offseason. They will cost one draft pick to sign. Their teams will obtain two total picks if they decline offers of arbitration to sign elsewhere, as expected. Takashi Saito and Carlos Beltran, two other Type As, cannot be offered arbitration. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the changes.

AL West Notes: Gonzalez, Bailey, Oliver, Wilson

Mariners outfielder Greg Halman was stabbed to death earlier today. MLBTR extends condolences to Halman's friends and loved ones. Here are some notes from the AL West…

Thad Levine On Bullpen, Feliz, Moreland

The Rangers are looking to bolster their pitching this offseason, assistant GM Thad Levine said today in Milwaukee. Here are more details from MLBTR’s conversation with Levine, who represented the Rangers in place of GM Jon Daniels:

  • Though the Rangers aren’t married to the idea of acquiring left-handed relievers, they’d like to add bullpen depth in some form. Southpaws Darren Oliver and Mike Gonzalez are on the free agent market and the Rangers would welcome either one back under the right circumstances.
  • Ideally, they’ll add relievers who can retire hitters on both sides of the plate, rather than highly specialized players.
  • The Rangers developed Neftali Feliz as a starting pitcher and they’re “very open" to moving him to the rotation, Levine said. The Rangers are confident in their ability to shift certain relievers to the rotation after converting C.J. Wilson in 2010 and Alexi Ogando in 2011.
  • “In the event that the starting pitching market doesn’t play out like we hope, [converting Feliz to the rotation] is certainly an alternative and if we go that route, we’d probably want to try to address the bullpen,” Levine said. The Rangers intend to convert Feliz to the rotation, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols lurk as alternatives for large-market teams without fully established first basemen, but the Rangers aren’t at all concerned with Mitch Moreland, according to Levine. “We consider the setback much more injury-related than performance-related,” Levine said, noting that Moreland played through wrist tendinitis in 2011.