Fernando Rodney Rumors
Mark Bowman of MLB.com discussed some of Atlanta's options in the free agent market, and here are a few of the more notable pieces of news....
- Relievers Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez "will likely leave Atlanta" for greener free agent pastures, and thus the Braves are looking for new options at the back of their bullpen. Bowman says the Braves have talked to free agent closer Billy Wagner's representatives and "won't necessarily be scared" by Wagner's Type A status since Soriano and Gonzalez are also both Type A's. If those two were to sign elsewhere, the compensation that Atlanta would receive would more than make up for the picks they would lose for signing Wagner. The Braves and Wagner's most recent club, the Red Sox, may end up virtually trading relievers since Soriano and Gonzalez are two names on Boston's lengthy list of possible free agent targets.
- Bowman lists former Brave Octavio Dotel as a potential set-up option, and Fernando Rodney as a signing who could serve as either a set-up man or a closer.
- There isn't anything to rumors that Atlanta will try to trade with Detroit for Miguel Cabrera, or sign free agent Jermaine Dye. Cabrera's big contract is too rich for the Braves' blood, and as for Dye, there is no DH spot in the National League to stash a right fielder who posted a -20 UZR and -24.5 UZR/150 last season.
- Signing Marlon Byrd would make Jordan Schaefer expendable, Bowman reports. Byrd wouldn't necessarily solve Atlanta's need for a right-handed outfield bat, however, given that Byrd's career splits against right-handed and left-handed pitching are pretty even --- a .769 lifetime OPS against southpaws and a .759 OPS against righties. Byrd actually hit significantly better against righties (.835 OPS) last season than he did against lefties (.744 OPS).
- The Braves are prepared to see what other offers Adam LaRoche receives before they decide if they want to bring him back next season.
The Orioles are positioned to be buyers in free agency, according to Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. GM Andy MacPhail says that the club is looking to spend this offseason, but there remains some skepticism in Baltimore as to whether owner Peter Angelos will be willing to open up his checkbook. If the O's decide to dole out dollars this winter, here are some of the players they will and won't be targeting:
- Barring a change in organizational plans, you can cross the Orioles off the list of suitors for outfielders Matt Holliday and Jason Bay.
- The Orioles have contacted the agents of Chone Figgins and John Lackey, but are hardly alone in that regard.
- Adrian Beltre and Pedro Feliz top the O's wish list to replace Melvin Mora at third base.
- At first base, Nick Johnson, Hank Blalock, and Carlos Delgado are options. We know that Baltimore is not the only club keeping tabs on Delgado, as his last employer is said to be keeping an eye on him as well. The 37-year-old slugger ranked #43 on Tim's Top 50 Free Agents list, where it is predicted that he will sign with the Orioles.
- Andy MacPhail & Co. are considering Dodgers pitchers Randy Wolf and Jon Garland, as well as Braden Looper. MacPhail noted that the club is not afraid to take a chance on a hurler with a history of injuries and high upside. Former Oriole Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets, and Rich Harden all fit the bill.
- The O's would gladly add an established closer at the right price. Billy Wagner, Fernando Rodney, and Mike Gonzalez are mentioned as members of a deep crop of available relievers.
- It shouldn't be long before the Orioles agree to terms with pitcher Mark Hendrickson as both sides want to get a deal done. The 6'9 lefty spent time with four different organizations before coming to Baltimore - eight if you count NBA teams.
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki runs down the Phillies offseason, looking at how the club is planning to improve coming off back-to-back World Series appearances. Here's some highlights:
- The Phillies are looking to upgrade at third base, as we've heard before. Chone Figgins figures to be too expensive for their liking, and they'll look for a shorter, more affordable contract. Zolecki names the same possibilities we heard earlier in the week: Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, and Placido Polanco.
- Philadelphia has interest in Fernando Rodney, but it may not be mutual, as Rodney likely would prefer a team with whom he can close. As Zolecki writes, that is "not an option" in Philly.
- The Phillies have seven impending free agents: Paul Bako, Miguel Cairo, Scott Eyre, Pedro Feliz, Pedro Martinez, Chan Ho Park, Matt Stairs, and Jack Taschner. Zolecki says Park and Eyre are the two most likely to return, with Ruben Amaro Jr. already having contacted Park's agent.
- Bako's return hasn't been ruled out, but Amaro has said that he's seeking a backup catcher. Feliz is in a similar situation, with his return not being ruled out but the team looking to upgrade.
- If Stairs returns, it will be on a minor league contract. Taschner and Martinez are not expected to return.
- The futures for Eric Bruntlett, Clay Condrey, and Tyler Walker are in question.
Steve Kornacki of MLive.com has plenty of material from Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski for us this morning, but it's all spread out among several articles. We're here to make things easy for you, so let's round 'em up...
- Dombrowski indicated that no player on his team is untouchable, but "there are some on our club that we want to hold on to." He also added that there was more trade talk at the GM meetings this year than in previous years.
- The team obviously wants to keep Justin Verlander around for a long time, but Dombrowski wouldn't comment about the possibility of locking him up to a long-term deal. "I won't get into that because that is best kept internal," he said. Verlander can become a free agent after the 2011 season.
- Dombrowksi acknowledged that the team is "looking to be fiscally responsible," citing economic changes in the community.
- The Tigers called both Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff this week to let them to know the team won't be pursuing them. We first heard the team won't attempt the re-sign the two a little over a week ago.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports that the team has had contact with the agents for Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon, Placido Polanco, and Adam Everett, but the talks were believed to be just preliminary.
The Phillies are "showing preliminary interest" in free agent reliever Fernando Rodney, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News that he's reached out to five or six free agents, so Rodney is presumably among those.
The FOX writers expect Rodney "to draw heavy interest from a large number of clubs," which comes as a surprise to me. I suppose it all just depends on Rodney's demands - will he take a one-year deal at less than $8MM, and is he open to a set-up role? Here in 2009 I imagine GMs aren't terribly impressed by 37 saves when they come with a 4.40 ERA, 7.3 K/9, and 4.9 BB/9. To his credit, Rodney was one of few free agent relievers with a strong groundball rate (57.9%).
Rodney could benefit from being classified as a Type B free agent rather than Type A. But with relievers, the importance of those designations seems overblown because arbitration offers are far from certain. Jose Valverde, Mike Gonzalez, Rafael Soriano, LaTroy Hawkins, Rafael Betancourt, Kevin Gregg, John Grabow, Billy Wagner, Darren Oliver, Takashi Saito, and Octavio Dotel are Type A free agents, but only a handful will actually be offered arbitration.
- GM Dave Dombrowski replied "Nothing hot and heavy" when asked if there was any trade dialogue ongoing.
- The Tigers would "likely bite on an affordable two-year deal" for Fernando Rodney, but would probably not want to gamble on anything longer.
- Brandon Lyon's agent, Barry Meister, emphasized that his client wants to know what his job description in 2010 will be ahead of time. The Tigers may not be willing to commit to him as closer, and Lyon knows that's where the money is.
- Placido Polanco "has all but been consigned to free agency."
- Henning thinks the "best bet" is that Adam Everett and the team agree to a "mutually pleasing" contract.
- Detroit will make no effort to sign either Jarrod Washburn or Aubrey Huff. Washburn has already said that he isn't expecting to get an offer from his post-trade deadline employer.
- The Tigers have already traded away their most expendable minor league arms, so they aren't blessed with much trade ammo.
- John Lowe of The Detroit Free Press says the Tigers weren't involved in trade talks for J.J. Hardy. Brewers' GM Doug Melvin said he was looking for a centerfielder or cost efficient pitching, and he "did not see a match."
- MLB.com's Jason Beck notes that the Tigers were deep in talks with the Mariners for Michigan native J.J. Putz last offseason, but they can now take him on as a "low-risk, high-reward signing" if they so choose.
Some links to peruse while you eagerly await Game Six of the ALCS...
- Lynn Henning of The Detroit News suggests some salary figures for the Tigers' four key free agents: Fernando Rodney, Brandon Lyon, Placido Polanco, and Adam Everett. He also says there's no way to the team will bring back Aubrey Huff or Jarrod Washburn, nor "is it fathomable that either player will be offered salary arbitration for 2010."
- The Phillies' braintrust has already met about offseason decisions according to Andy Martino of The Philadelphia Inquirer, and a person familiar with the team's thinking tells him that they haven't ruled out offering Pedro Martinez a contract longer than one year.
- Steve Slowinski at DRaysBay.com took a look at the Rays' projected payroll for 2010, and concludes that salary escalations and arbitration raises don't leave the team with too much wiggle room next year, even though they have/will shed some expensive contracts.
- Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti said he "doesn't anticipate any cutbacks in resources" despite the drama between the McCourts, according to the AP (via ESPN).
- Dylan Hernandez of The LA Times says that impending free agents Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf are expected to "depart to greener pastures."
Wait, what do you mean "there are no baseball games tonight?!?"
- James Schmehl of MLive.com says that during the Tigers' annual season-ending meeting, GM Dave Dombrowski acknowledged "that payroll limitations this offseason will prevent the Tigers from keeping every free agent." Detroit's double play combo of Placido Polanco and Adam Everett will be free agents, as will their setup man-closer tandem of Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney.
- Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that Braves scouting director Roy Clark "told the Braves on Tuesday that he's leaving the organization to become an assistant general manager with the Nationals." Clark will have a similar role with the Nats, overseeing player development and the scouting department. He had been Atlanta's scouting director since 2000, drafting such players as Brian McCann, Yunel Escobar, and Jason Heyward.
- Cardinals' pitching coach Dave Duncan said he's going to wait and see what manager Tony La Russa does before making a decision about his future, according to FoxSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi.
- In a mailbag at MLB.com, Marty Noble says the Mets are "boxed in" when it comes to Carlos Beltran because not many clubs can assume the $37MM he's owed the next two years, not to mention concerns about his physical condition.
Following the disappointing finish to the Detroit Tigers' 2009 season, plenty of thoughts have turned to the upcoming winter in Detroit.
- Steve Kornacki of MLive.com indicates the Tigers will feel the need to re-sign either Brandon Lyon or Fernando Rodney to close games, since the club isn't sure that either Ryan Perry or Cody Satterwhite is ready for that role yet. Kornacki also wonders if the Tigers are confident in Curtis Granderson as an offensive catalyst, or if they might try to deal for a speedster like Carl Crawford or Juan Pierre.
- MLive.com's Chris Iott takes a stab at what the 2010 roster might look like. He expects the Tigers to part ways with Jarrod Washburn, Placido Polanco, and Rodney, while retaining Lyon for the ninth inning.
- Detroit squandered their financial advantage over teams like the Minnesota Twins by handing out too many bad contracts, according to Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press. Rosenberg writes that committing big money to players like Dontrelle Willis and Gary Sheffield killed their payroll flexibility and resulted in a subpar offense in 2009. Going forward, Rosenberg hopes the Tigers "show the creative thinking of a good small-market team" when making roster moves.
- The Detroit Free Press's Drew Sharp agrees that the Tigers have to spend wisely. He warns owner Mike Ilitch against succumbing to the temptation of adding another big name like Crawford. Sharp thinks the team would be better off saving some cash and hoping players like Carlos Guillen and Jeremy Bonderman stay healthy in 2010.
It took 163 games to determine the AL Central title in 2009. The Detroit Tigers were, of course, on the losing end. After leading the Tigers to the 2006 World Series in his first year as their skipper, Jim Leyland has been unable to steer the club back to the postseason.
As Keith Law writes, "This one will be hard to get past." Along with Baseball Prospectus and the ESPN Insider staff, Law takes a look at this past season and what the Tigs can do to improve in 2010. An Insider subscription is required to read the article, but here are some of the key tidbits from the piece:
- Law highlights the team's lack of production at the DH spot as one of its biggest shortcomings. However, GM Dave Dombrowski recently said that the team is unlikely to employ a full-time DH next season. If for some reason he has a change of heart, he will find more than a few candidates on the open market.
- Bullpen staples Brandon Lyon and Fernando Rodney are headed for free agency. Law says that Rodney "has the closer's mantle but not closer command." Ryan Perry should be able to step into that role eventually, but currently lacks the control to do so. if the youngster is asked to be the fireman and Lyon and Rodney walk, it'll leave a significant void in the 'pen.
- Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus points out the poor performances of mid-season acquisitions Jarrod Washburn and Aubrey Huff. After posting a 2.64 ERA, 7.4 H/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 20 starts with Seattle, Washburn recorded a 7.33 ERA, 10.7 H/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in eight starts. Huff was supposed to strengthen the middle of the Tigers' lineup but instead floundered as he recorded an OPS of .567.
- Tigers' second baseman Placido Polanco is a free agent after completing a four-year deal worth $4.6MM annually. The article says that retaining him would require $6-7MM per season, a steep price for a player who is not likely to improve much on his 2009 season in which he hit .285/.331/.396 with 10 HRs. Polanco, who turns 34 tomorrow, has been a $50MM value over the last three years according to Fangraphs.
- When Buster Olney polled six GMs asking if Detroit would keep Polanco, they were split. Law & Co. think that there's a good chance that Polanco plays elsewhere next season.
- Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus writes that 24-year-old Scott Sizemore is ready to take over for Polanco at second base. Scouts feel that he will become a well-rounded offensive player who should be able to hit ".280-plus with 12-15 home runs, 60 walks and 15-20 stolen bases annually."
- Because of high-priced commitments to Magglio Ordonez and Dontrelle Willis, the Tigers don't have much financial flexibility. Expect Detroit to find their next closer on the cheap from within the organization.
- Kahrl closes the piece by saying, "they need a major upgrade at DH or left if they're going to offensively afford themselves a luxury like a plus defender at shortstop." Dave Dombrowski will have to get creative as he is handcuffed by several bad contracts.