Derrek Lee Rumors

Indians Looking At Right-Handed Bats

WEDNESDAY: The Indians are a fit for Houston's Carlos Lee but are wary of the cost, tweets Jon Paul Morosi.  Of course, the Astros would assume a portion of Lee's $18.5MM salary.  

TUESDAY: The Indians are looking at right-handed hitters such as Derrek Lee, Andruw Jones, and Mike Cameron, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Yesterday we heard the Indians have mild interest in Josh Willingham, and on Friday they were linked to Mark DeRosa.

Also, Morosi says the Indians are willing to trade from their bullpen depth to acquire the right bat.


Pirates Interested In McLouth, Talking To Lee

7:31am: Pittsburgh is also talking with Derrek Lee, according to SI.com's Jon Heyman (on Twitter), though the first baseman has other suitors.

D-Lee came to the Pirates in a July trade, and while injuries limited him to just 113 plate appearances in with the Buccos, he absolutely mashed back within the familiar confines of the NL Central. Lee hit .337/.398/.584 and teed off on seven homers. The market for Lee has been pretty quiet thus far.

1:06am: The Pirates may add an outfielder this winter, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter), and they're interesed in reuniting with old friend Nate McLouth.

After a solid 2007 with the Buccos in which he hit .258/.351/.459, McLouth exploded in 2008 by hitting .276/.356/.497. He joined the 20-20 club that season, belting 26 big flies and swiping 23 bags while also leading the Senior Circuit with 46 doubles. That season led the Pirates to sign him to a three-year, $15.75MM extension, but he was traded to the Braves less than four months later for Gorkys Hernandez, Jeff Locke, and Charlie Morton.

After hitting .229/.335/.364 and battling hamstring and oblique injuries over two and a half seasons with the Braves, McLouth would cost only a fraction of the $6.5MM salary he earned in 2011. With Jose Tabata, Andrew McCutchen, Alex Presley, and Garrett Jones all in the outfield mix in Pittsburgh, McLouth would likely have to return in a reduced role.


Olney On Rodriguez, Ibanez, Lee, Yankees

Last night’s arbitration decisions included some particularly interesting cases, and ESPN.com’s Buster Olney offers insight into a few of them:

  • At times “winks and nods” are involved when it comes to Type B free agents. The free agents have been known to agree in advance to decline arbitration offers, since doing so doesn’t hurt their free agent value. 
  • However, GM Doug Melvin says the Brewers did not ask agent Scott Boras to decline the team’s offer to Francisco Rodriguez. "We felt that with us trading some players the last few years that this was a chance to recover with some high picks,” Melvin told Olney. The GM explained that he’s not expecting to obtain many compensation picks in the next couple of years.
  • As Olney points out, Rodriguez faces a similar decision to the one another Boras client, Rafael Soriano, faced last offseason: “take more money to be a setup man, or less to be a closer.”
  • Olney notes that Raul Ibanez’s agents have a good relationship with the Phillies and suggests it’s likely Ibanez has agreed to turn down the team’s offer.
  • There's no understanding that Derrek Lee will reject the Pirates' offer, according to Olney (on Twitter).
  • Olney suggests gentlemen's agreements are likely in place with Aaron Harang, Jose Molina and David DeJesus and that the three players will decline arbitration(Twitter link).
  • The Yankees are quietly confident that Phil Hughes will start Spring Training in improved physical condition and have a bounce-back season in 2012. They will continue to discuss available starting pitchers, even after agreeing to terms with Freddy Garcia.


National League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 National League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make today, and we'll update them in this post 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 automatic decisions only:


NL Central Notes: Furcal, Astros, Lee, Phillips

A pair of legendary former Cubs and Cardinals third basemen (Ron Santo and Ken Boyer) are among the 10 "Golden Era" figures to be considered for induction into the Hall Of Fame by the Veterans' Committee.  Some other news from the NL Central…

  • Rafael Furcal has told the Cardinals that he will wait for the team to hire a new manager before deciding where to play in 2012, reports Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  Paul Kinser, Furcal's agent, says six teams have already contacted him about Furcal's services but "we're not in a hurry."
  • A number of Cardinals writers note in a Post-Dispatch roundtable that the club apparently has no problem in hiring a manager with no Major League experience.
  • Jim Crane's purchase of the Astros will likely be approved at the owners' meetings in two weeks, reports Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle.  Issues such as Crane's compensation for moving the team to the American League are still being negotiated but "for the first time since Crane and Drayton McLane shook hands on a deal almost six months ago, there’s a feeling within MLB that the deal will get done," Justice writes.
  • The Pirates are trying to re-sign Derrek Lee, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.
  • John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer thinks the Reds are looking for an extension for Brandon Phillips in the neighborhood of four years and $48MM.  Fay also discusses several other Reds-related topics with fans as part of the online chat.
  • There are no hard feelings between Theo Epstein and Ryne Sandberg, Epstein tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune.  The two exchanged complimentary phone calls in the wake of the Cubs' statement that their new manager "must have managerial or coaching experience at the Major League level," which Sandberg doesn't possess.

Quick Hits: Pirates, CBA, Cubs, Royals

Some late-night links on this Saturday night …

  • The Pirates are considering exercising shortstop Ronny Cedeno's $3MM 2012 option, but they will likely pass on options for Chris Snyder ($6.75MM), Ryan Doumit ($7.25MM) and Paul Maholm ($9.75MM), according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. As well, Langosch adds the Bucs have interest in re-signing first baseman Derrek Lee but will probably allow Ryan Ludwick to walk in free agency.
  • MLB and the players union are close on a new collective bargaining agreement, tweets Jon Heyman of SI.com, although slotting for draft signing bonuses remains an issue of debate. Commissioner Bud Selig and some small-market teams are in favor of hard slotting, according to Heyman.
  • Cubs president Theo Epstein said he wants to talk to starter Carlos Zambrano before deciding how to proceed in handling the right-hander, according to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, whether that be retaining Zambrano or trying to trade him. As well, Epstein hinted at one of the organization's overarching goals: "We're looking for assets," Epstein said. "We're going to scratch and claw and do everything in our power — in the Draft, internationally, small trades, waiver claims. We need to build assets because we don't have enough of them.
  • Royals GM Dayton Moore told Dick Kaegel of MLB.com that he will "explore trade possibilities to add a starter." Moore said the Royals probably won't try to sign a free-agent starter, however.

NL Central Notes: Astros, Lee, Reds

The NL Central's two playoff representatives both play tonight. The Cardinals host the Phillies in St. Louis and the Brewers could eliminate the D'Backs in Phoenix. Here's the latest on the division's non-playoff teams as we await today's games…


Huntington Talks Offseason

With GM Neal Huntington under contract through at least 2014, the Pirates can focus on the upcoming offseason.  Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke to Huntington yesterday; here are a few highlights.

  • On first baseman Derrek Lee, Huntington said, "We'd like to have him return.  It's a two-way street. He's got to walk through some things. Is he going to play next year? Does he want to play in Pittsburgh next year or does he have a better opportunity to do something different?"  Lee, 36, hit .341/.390/.604 in 100 plate appearances for the Pirates since coming over in a July trade with Baltimore.  If Lee confers with his family and decides to play in 2012, he'll likely be looking at a one-year deal below the $7.25MM base salary he earned this year.
  • Huntington said the odds of the Pirates needing only six starters again in 2012 are slim, implying that the team will look to add rotation depth.
  • Trades will be considered; despite their rebuilding process Huntington said the Pirates have prospects about which they're willing to talk. 
  • The Pirates have drawn 4,337 more fans per game compared to last year, an increase of almost 22%.  The increased revenue will lead to a bigger payroll, but much of the increase will go toward arbitration raises.  The Pirates' 11 arbitration eligible players are Evan Meek, Garrett Jones, Charlie Morton, Chris Resop, Steven Pearce, Brandon Wood, Ross Ohlendorf, Joel Hanrahan, Jeff Karstens, Jose Veras, and Jason Grilli.  We'll have estimated salaries and non-tender predictions for you later this week in our arbitration eligibles series.  The Bucs opened the season with just a $42MM payroll.

Cafardo’s Latest: Epstein, Nationals, Ethier, D. Lee

With October fast approaching, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe polled experts around the league on the relative strength of the potential playoff teams. As expected, the Phillies topped the list, but the experts' choice for the second-best team may surprise you. Check out Cafardo's piece for the full rankings, along with quotes on each club, as we run down the hot stove highlights from the rest of the column:

  • The "baseball community has not dropped" rumors that Theo Epstein could be in the mix for the Cubs' GM opening, says Cafardo. I'd be pretty shocked if Epstein ended up in the Windy City, but if he did, Boston's search for a replacement would probably have them considering many of the same candidates being linked to the Cubs.
  • League rules require the Nationals to conduct a managerial search that includes minority candidates this offseason. However, that process may be merely a formality; the team seems very likely to simply retain Davey Johnson for 2012, if he wants to return.
  • While GM Ned Colletti has said the Dodgers are prioritizing long-term deals for Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, the Dodgers' financial situation isn't entirely clear, leading Cafardo to speculate that Ethier will be a trade candidate this winter.
  • As we heard last weekend, Clint Hurdle would like to see Derrek Lee in a Pirates uniform next season. Michael Sanserino of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has more on that possibility.

Quick Hits: Anthopoulos, Lee, Sabathia

On the one-year anniversary of Stephen Strasburg's Tommy John surgery, let's look at some links from around the league. Strasburg, by the way, will be making his first start back from the injury this coming Tuesday.

  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm about his recent trip to Japan. Anthopoulos acknowledged that he went to see Yu Darvish, but he called it "due diligence" and noted that there are also free agents (like Hisashi Iwakuma) worth looking at. The link offers plenty of quotes, so make sure you click through.
  • Pirates manager Clint Hurdle told Rob Biertempfel of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he's lobbying for the team to re-sign Derrek Lee after the season, but neither Lee nor GM Neal Huntington would indicate that it's a possibility. "I'm not going to close any doors," said the first baseman, "but it's something I haven't even thought about."
  • In a piece for ESPN Insider, Dan Szymborski looked at what the next few years could have in store for Yankees ace CC Sabathia, and also explained how pitchers of similar size performed into their 30s. Sabathia can opt out of his contract after the season, and Szymborski concludes that "losing him is more expensive than keeping him, and there is little evidence that his size will be a problem going forward."