David Eckstein Rumors

Quick Hits: Millwood, Rockies, Ordonez, Eckstein

One year ago today, the Royals and Billy Butler agreed to a four-year, $30MM extension. Butler responded with another strong season, batting .291/.361/.461 with 19 homers and racking up more than 670 plate appearances for the third straight season. Let's take a look at some news from around the league on a less-eventful January 22…

  • On its face, it’s hard to argue with the Mariners bringing in Kevin Millwood to add pitching depth at a minimal cost, writes Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner.  Like with every other move the M's have made this off-season, Cameron writes, the veteran is a nice role player at a good price.
  • The Rockies were willing to give Millwood a guaranteed deal during the winter meetings, tweets Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
  • The market for Magglio Ordonez should pick up once he's medically cleared for full activity, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi says that could happen in two weeks' time.
  • David Eckstein, who decided to retire according to the Boston Globe, had a chance to play with the Mariners in 2011 but didn't take it, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link).
  • John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times looks at the Rays' stadium situation in light of a recent meeting between owner Stuart Sternberg and Tampa Bay mayor Bill Foster. Romano writes that Sternberg wants to begin looking for new locations now, while Foster doesn't want the Rays to leave St. Petersburg on his watch.

Eckstein Not Officially Retiring

Earlier this morning, it was reported that David Eckstein had decided to retire, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that's not the case (Twitter link). Rosenthal quotes Eckstein's agent, Ryan Gleichowski: "If the right opportunity arises, he will play."

Jon Heyman tweeted earlier today that Eckstein had the opportunity to play for the Mariners last season, but turned it down. The 10-year veteran has played for five teams in his career, totaling a .280/.345/.355 triple slash line.

Eckstein didn't play in the 2011 season, so it's unlikely any team would commit a Major League contract to him. Gleichowski's quote suggests that Eckstein will likely be selective, so he may prefer to sign only with a contender or to play close to his native Florida (though that's just my speculation).

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Cafardo On Rays, Lee, Fielder, Cubs, Eckstein

At Thursday's Baseball Writers Dinner, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said that he felt good about his rotation heading into Spring Training, but admitted that the Yankees and Rays have fewer question marks in their respective rotations, writes Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.  The GM might now have the payroll flexibility to bolster the starting five after sending Marco Scutaro to the Rockies for Clayton Mortensen last night.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • After taking care of their first base vacancy, the Rays can now accelerate a deal for B.J. Upton to get a shortstop.  Currently, Sean Rodriguez is slated to play there over Reid Brignac.  Tampa Bay could also use an everyday catcher, with Jose Molina currently slated to start.
  • Astros first baseman Carlos Lee has to approve any deal because of his 10-5 rights, and hasn't been receptive to waiving those privileges in the past.  The veteran is scheduled to make $18.5MM, but the club has said that they are willing to eat half of it to get a deal done.  Cafardo thinks they'd cover even more of it to appeal to a team like the Tigers.
  • One AL East GM thinks that the Prince Fielder sweepstakes will come down to the Rangers and Nationals, with the Brewers and Cubs taking a shot if he settles for a one-year deal and elects to become a free agent again.
  • There has been talk that Victor Martinez’s injury could open the door for the Cubs to unload overpriced players such as Alfonso Soriano or Marlon Byrd, but Cafardo isn't buying it.
  • David Eckstein, who didn't play last season, has decided to retire even though there were teams willing to bring him into camp.  The 37-year-old hit .280/.345/.355 in his ten-year Major League career.
  • If the Orioles, Tigers, or Yankees don’t come through soon, Johnny Damon could be in a real bind as far as finding a job.  Cafardo opines that he would be a great fit in Detroit to replace the veteran leadership of Martinez.
  • With DH openings few and far between, Cafardo also wonders about the futures of Vladimir Guerrero, Hideki Matsui, Magglio Ordonez, Raul Ibanez, and J.D. Drew.
  • Cherington says that he won't consider bringing Drew back to Boston.  Recently, an National League GM told Cafardo that he believes that Drew can be a great bat off of the bench for an NL team.
  • Larry Lucchino won’t say whether he has re-upped with the Red Sox on a long-term deal, but Cafardo takes that as a yes.

David Eckstein Could Return In “Right Situation”

Major League teams haven’t forgotten about David Eckstein, the ten-year veteran who was the MVP of the 2006 World Series. In fact, he says he drew more interest than ever last offseason, including one offer that came four weeks ago and some Major League offers. Though the second baseman has not retired, he told Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that he won’t return unless the circumstances are right.

“It totally has to be the right situation, but when you say that, it’s like you’re disrespecting the clubs that have talked to you,” Eckstein said. “This goes so much deeper than you guys will ever know.”

The 36-year-old says he feels fine physically and made a personal decision to take time off and manage his wife’s acting career. Eckstein posted a .267/.321/.326 line in 492 plate appearances for the Padres last year.

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Dodgers Notes: Carroll, Eckstein, Dye

The Dodgers have only scored 34 runs in their first ten games, but they're 6-4 in the early goings of the 2011 season. Here’s the latest on the club, which just lost its starting shortstop, probably for a month or more…

  • Rafael Furcal’s broken thumb leaves the Dodgers weakened in the middle infield, and they’re preparing to fill the void by playing Jamey Carroll at shortstop and Ivan DeJesus at second base, according to MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (Twitter link).
  • Furcal is not retiring, though he's frustrated by his latest injury.
  • The Dodgers expressed some interest in David Eckstein this offseason, but backed off when they heard he was asking for $2MM, according to Yahoo’s Tim Brown (on Twitter).
  • Recently retired slugger Jermaine Dye tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that the Dodgers showed interest in him this offseason, before they signed Marcus Thames. The Blue Jays and Brewers showed interest after the 2009 season, according to Dye.

Quick Hits: Rays, Wainwright, Lubanski, Eckstein

We wish Luis Salazar the best as he recovers from eye surgery. Doctors were unable to prevent the Braves minor league manager from losing his eye after a line drive hit him in the face. Here are today's links…

  • Braves outfielder Nate McLouth leads off Steve Henson's list of rebound candidates in 2011 at Yahoo Sports. As MLBTR's Mike Axisa has pointed out, it's a make or break year for McLouth.
  • Tyler Kepner of the New York Times examines the Rays' remade bullpen.
  • Adam Wainwright tells B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest that he hasn’t talked to the Cardinals about his two-year, $21MM option for 2012-13. But as the rehabbing right-hander suggests, somebody will pick him up if the Cards don’t.
  • The Marlins released outfielder Chris Lubanski, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). The Marlins signed the 2003 first rounder to a minor league deal in December after he posted an .899 OPS for Toronto's Triple-A affiliate in 2010.
  • The Mets have made it clear to free agent infielder David Eckstein that they have no interest in him, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. One person familiar with the Mets tells Heyman that it's about "fifty-fifty" whether Luis Castillo opens the season as the team's second baseman.
  • Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic explains how after a name change and a suspension, Juan Paniagua got a $1.1MM bonus from the Yankees instead of a $17K bonus from the D'Backs (link at USA Today).
  • Tim Dierkes breaks down the closing situation for all 30 MLB teams in a must-read piece at RotoAuthority

Nationals, Eckstein Have Not Talked Recently

The Nationals and free agent infielder David Eckstein have "not communicated in a long time" according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (on Twitter). Any interest in Eckstein would have presumably been for a bench role, since the team appears ready to start 2011 with Danny Espinosa and Ian Desmond holding down the middle infield.

It's been a pretty quiet winter for Eckstein, other than some news about his return to the Padres being a long shot. His 36th birthday is less than two weeks away, and over the last three years he's hit just .264/.327/.335 in 1,436 plate appearances. He's been relegated to second base defensively for the last two-and-a-half years because of his arm, so it's unclear if he'd even be able to handle the left side of the infield at this point. 

Cards Notes: Pujols, Penny, Punto, Eckstein

In a chat with fans today, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dished out some information about the Cardinals' remaining offseason wants, some free agent rumors and the Albert Pujols extension talks.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Strauss thinks it's "feasible" that Pujols could agree to an extension that doesn't stretch over as many years (maybe a five- or six-year deal) but pays him the highest average annual salary in baseball history.  This way Pujols gets his big payout, but it doesn't leave St. Louis on the hook for a huge salary in the seventh or eighth year of a longer contract.
  • The Cardinals are looking for some infield depth at shortstop and third base, plus another starter to provide rotation depth.  They're looking for players with Major League experience to fill these roles, but on non-guaranteed contracts.
  • There is "little enthusiasm" for bringing back Brad Penny.  Strauss isn't sure Penny would be content with serving as an emergency starter out of the bullpen.
  • If the Cards sign a backup infielder, it will have to be an infielder who is "adroit" at third base in case David Freese can't handle the everyday job.  This seems to rule out a return to St. Louis for David Eckstein, but Strauss says Nick Punto "is a popular name within some quarters of the organization."  We haven't heard much about Punto since the Winter Meetings, where the former Twins infielder engaged in "meaningful negotiations" with Cleveland.
  • The Cardinals believe Mitchell Boggs and/or Jason Motte can develop into a solid closer, so there isn't much interest in Rafael Soriano.

Padres Notes: Eckstein, Hairston Jr.

So far this offseason, the Padres have swapped Adrian Gonzalez for prospects, signed Aaron Harang, agreed to a deal with Dustin Moseley, traded for Cameron Maybin and discussed a trade that would send Jason Bartlett to San Diego. Jed Hoyer's second offseason as GM has been a busy one and more moves are on the horizon for the Friars. Here's the latest:

  • Jerry Hairston Jr. told Dan Hayes of the North County Times that four to five teams are pursuing him and the chase is "heating up" (Twitter link). Hayes reports that the Padres still have interest in Hairston and we know the Yankees would consider bringing the utilityman back to the Bronx.
  • David Eckstein told MLB.com's Corey Brock that he has not been in contact with the Padres (Twitter link). Brock suggests it's an "extreme long shot" that Eckstein returns.

National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

11 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.