Eric Wedge Rumors
Hunter Pence's new five-year deal with the Giants isn't the only extension talk in the Bay Area. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Josh Donaldson is very open to the idea of signing a long-term deal with the Athletics. Donaldson tells Slusser that he and his agent, Hunter Bledsoe, have discussed the possibility, and he would "absolutely love" to sign an extension, provided it's a fair deal.
Said Donaldson: "I'm a guy who's been downplayed my entire career. Even when I was a first-round draft pick (in 2007), I took 10 percent less than the guy before me. I just want something fair, something that's justified." Donaldson's .302/.383/.502 batting line, 24 homers and elite third base defense should earn him some AL MVP votes. Here's more from the AL West...
- Mark Trumbo might be the Angels' best trade chip in their quest for controllable young pitching this offseason, writes MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. The Mariners, Pirates and Royals all had interest in Trumbo this past July, according to Gonzalez, and more teams figure to be interested over the winter. Trumbo told Gonzalez that he doesn't fear the change that would come with a trade like he would have earlier in his career.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who has told the team he won't be back in 2014, told reporters (including Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times) that he wouldn't even accept a five-year extension from the team. Wedge cited a difference between his vision for the team and the vision of GM Jack Zduriencik, president Chuck Armstrong and CEO Howard Lincoln. Wedge felt the team needed to supplement young talent with proven talent and told Baker that he didn't have as much say in personnel decisions as he'd have liked.
- A statement released by the Astros explained the team's position in the wake of a report that Comcast filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition on behalf of the Comcast SportsNet Houston network that the Astros co-own with the Houston Rockets and NBC Universal. Brian McTaggart has the gist of the statement in an article for MLB.com. The statement alleges that Comcast improperly filed the petition to try to block the Astros from terminating the club's media rights agreement with Houston Regional Sports Network. "We will continue to work toward obtaining full carriage so that all of our fans are able to watch the Astros games while making sure that the Astros are able to compete for championships," the statement read.
The Twins could have as much as $40MM to spend this offseason, Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN writes. The contracts of Justin Morneau ($14MM in 2013), Nick Blackburn ($5.5MM) and Mike Pelfrey ($4MM) won't be on the books anymore, and Mackey points out that the Twins have $90-100MM budgeted for payroll in 2014. That doesn't mean they'll actually spend it all, and they haven't been big free-agent spenders in the past. But the possibility should make the offseason an interesting one for Twins fans. Here are more notes from the American League.
- GM Rick Hahn of the White Sox doesn't feel his predecessor, Kenny Williams (who was promoted to executive vice president after the 2012 season), left the organization in a tough spot, reports MLB.com's Scott Merkin. "He left the position of general manager with a club that was in first place for  days," says Hahn. "He left us in a position to have a nine-digit payroll. You are not going to hear any gripes about the condition he left us in." Hahn points to the White Sox's crop of starting pitchers -- which includes Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Hector Santiago -- as evidence that the White Sox aren't in that unfavorable a position.
- Manager Eric Wedge says that "the kids," meaning young players, and their struggles with fundamentals have been a big part of the Mariners' struggles during his tenure. But Dave Cameron of USS Mariner points out that, while the Mariners have given playing time to lots of young hitters in recent years, those hitters -- including players like Kyle Seager and Brad Miller -- have mostly played at least passably, if not well. It's hitters over 25 who have really struggled. Cameron doesn't address how the Mariners' young pitchers have done, but it's clear that the Mariners' young hitters, at least, don't deserve a large portion of the blame for the team's performance.
Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli says he wants to return to the team next season, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. Since he has stayed healthy, Napoli has earned the maximum $13MM value of his one-year deal with Boston for 2013. Napoli thinks there's no reason he shouldn't get a multiyear contract this winter, given that his AVN (a condition that leads to degeneration of bone in his hips) has not progressed. "After last offseason, I can’t really [guess], because after going into last offseason thinking I’d get that multi-year contract, I did my time, I’m a free agent, finally got that time, and look what happened," Napoli says. Here are more notes from the American League.
- It's unclear what the Royals will do with Luke Hochevar next season, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star writes. He has had surprising success out of the bullpen this year, but it's questionable whether a team like the Royals ought to continue to employ him as a setup man after he gets a raise on his $4.6MM 2013 salary in arbitration this offseason. Given that Ervin Santana and Bruce Chen will be free agents, the Royals could also use Hochevar in the rotation, even though he mostly struggled in his career as a starter. Dutton also raises the possibility that the Royals could trade closer Greg Holland and use Hochevar in that role.
- It would be surprising if manager Eric Wedge returned to the Mariners next season, but that doesn't mean the team's problems are primarily his fault, writes Dave Cameron of USS Mariner. In fact, Cameron argues, firing Wedge would merely be part of a larger pattern in which the team fires an employee in order to provide scapegoats for the organization's mistakes. And if the Mariners were to fire Wedge, qualified replacements would not see the position as an attractive one, due to the risk that GM Jack Zduriencik will be fired and his replacement would want to bring in his own manager.
Here's the latest news and headlines from around the league on the day Chase Utley told the world he was back with a home run in his first at-bat since the end of the 2011 season...
- There are very few viable options for the Dodgers as they look to add a middle-of-the-order bat, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Many of the players currently available are either fringe types or vastly overpaid for their services (like this one).
- Olney tweets that Cubs first baseman/outfielder Bryan LaHair has been scouted by the Dodgers, among other teams, but Los Angeles has reservations about his defense. Nonetheless, the Dodgers' need for a quality bat could lead to them overlooking LaHair's shortcomings and acquiring the power hitter before the trade deadline.
- Mariners manager Eric Wedge doesn't like the progress his young team has made this season, but he's not ready to start sending players to Triple-A, writes Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. "It's frustrating because I know these guys are a much better offensive club than what we're seeing them do here at home,'' Wedge said. "I don't want to hear anything about the fences, or this, that and the other. It's about what they're doing at home plate and putting up good at-bats and hitting the ball hard."
- The Angels have a special assignment scout watching the Reds-Brewers series to check up on a few players including Francisco Rodriguez, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. The Angels entered Wednesday night's action four and a half games behind the Rangers for first place in the American League West.