Gary Sheffield Rumors

Odds & Ends: Evans, Sheffield, Slowey, Hechavarria

Links for Thursday…


Free Agent Racism?

Twins second baseman Orlando Hudson hinted that racism is why Jermaine Dye is out of work, reports Yahoo's Jeff Passan.  Hudson's comments:

"You see guys like Dye without a job.  Guy with [27 home runs and 81 RBIs] and can't get a job. Pretty much sums it up right there, no? You've got some guys who miss a year who can come back and get $5, $6 million, and a guy like Jermaine Dye can't get a job. A guy like Gary Sheffield,  a first-ballot Hall of Famer, can't get a job.  We both know what it is. You'll get it right. You'll figure it out. I'm not gonna say it because then I'll be in [trouble]."

Passan is correct in that the perception of racism in the free agent market is a problem.  But let's look at individual cases referenced in the article:

  • Gary Sheffield hit well in 312 plate appearances for the Mets last year, but was lousy the year prior.  The 41-year-old is a big negative on defense.  He battled knee, back, and hamstring injuries, and sat out a game in August when the Mets declined his request for a contract extension.
  • Passan provides good examples in Kenny Lofton and Ray Durham.  But Lofton was said to be asking for $2.5-3MM by some, $6MM by others.  In the spring of '08 Lofton was a near 41-year-old part-time player with suspect defense.  Durham, 37 at the time, turned down an $850K offer from the Nationals.  He was still able to hit, but his defense was questionable.  Isn't it possible that the common thread here is age and defense rather than race?  Luis Gonzalez and Jim Edmonds couldn't find anything after the '08 season either.
  • Passan names three white players who did get paid this winter:  Aubrey Huff, Garrett Atkins, and Xavier Nady.  Presumably Passan is implying that if these three got $3-4.5MM, Dye should've too.  However, Huff and Atkins were both named by team execs are two of the worst signings of the offseason.  It's very possible that the Giants and Orioles just made bad signings.  One exec told me he preferred Hank Blalock, who signed a $925K minor league deal, to Huff.  And the Cubs made similar offers to both Dye and Nady.  Nady was coming off a lost season, but he's younger and had more first base experience. 
  • Dye has been picky; he said yesterday that to move his family to Washington, D.C. he'd require "a little bit more."  When the Rangers were interested, there was word that Dye did not want a full-time DH job.  Dye appears unwilling to settle for the $1.5-2MM players like Jim Thome and Russell Branyan received. 
  • Hudson referred to players who missed a year and got $5-6MM.  Presumably he's talking about Ben Sheets, but the situation isn't comparable to Dye.  Coco Crisp snagged $5.5MM (also from the A's) coming off a 49-game season cut short by surgeries on both shoulders.  The pair of moves was about the A's making injury upside plays.  Unlike the older free agents forced out of the game, Crisp is known for his defense.
  • Hudson's point deserves consideration, but he has to acknowledge the shift toward defense and youth as well.

Odds & Ends: Helton, Gaudin, Hensley, Papelbon

Links for Monday…

  • Troy Renck of The Denver Post has the details of Todd Helton's new contract extension. He can void the deal if two of three general partners sell their controlling interest in the team, and it contains $13.1MM in deferred money at three percent interest.
  • The Yankees could look to move Chad Gaudin soon, according to Rosenthal (via Twitter). In another tweet, he mentions that Clay Hensley can opt out of his contract with the Marlins if he's not on the roster by April 1st.
  • Jim Bowden shows off his post-trade fist pump in his latest GM's Corner video for FOX Sports.  Bowden asked a slew of GMs about their processes for making deals; Frank Wren estimated that less than ten percent of discussions lead to trades.
  • In considering Jonathan Papelbon's future, WEEI's Alex Speier demonstrates just how risky large multiyear deals for relievers have been.
  • FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal says the Blue Jays "will not settle for fringe prospects in return" for relievers Scott Downs and Jason Frasor, and they could use them to continue the rebuilding effort.
  • Rosenthal adds that Gary Sheffield is talking to a NL club, though it's not clear which one. 
  • Meanwhile, Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com notes that both Jamey Wright and Austin Kearns have out clauses in their contracts, but a club official said the provisions will not impact the makeup of the team. A source added that there are "no trades on the horizon" for Cleveland.


Olney On Santos, Trades, Sheffield

In today's blog post at ESPN.com, Buster Olney writes about White Sox pitcher Sergio Santos, who made the transition from being a flamed-out shortstop prospect to a hard throwing relief candidate. Santos was part of the Troy Glaus-Orlando Hudson swap back in 2005, but moved to the mound in 2008 after hitting .226/.268/.332 in over 1,500 Triple-A plate appearances. Santos is out of options, so he'll have to clear waivers to be sent to the minors. 

Here's some other hot stove topics Olney touched on…

  • Some baseball people said that conversations leading to trades haven't really started yet. "I'd say that'll happen in another week or so, like clockwork," said one scout. "Everybody wants to get a sense of their own team and their own needs, and who they're going to move, before they start talking trade."
  • Gary Sheffield did not want to settle for a pinch-hitting role, and the feeling was that he did not want to be sent to the minors. Olney doesn't think it would be a surprise if he waited until mid-season to sign, Pedro Martinez-style, but it also wouldn't be a surprise if he never played again. 

Gary Sheffield’s Next Team

Gary Sheffield still wants to play. Actually, he wants to play a lot. Ten days ago, a source told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that Sheffield was still looking for an everyday job. But ask Jermaine Dye how easy it is for aging sluggers to find jobs these days. Dye is five years younger than Sheffield and hit 17 more homers last year, but he hasn't seen an offer he likes. It is not surprising to see the 41-year-old Sheffield unsigned at this point in the offseason.

His defense is far from passable (-12.7 UZR last year in 500 innings), but he adds value with his bat. Sheffield, who is just 311 hits away from 3000, posted a .276/.372/.451 line in New York last year.

The Mets have not contacted Sheffield, but the slugger told the New York Post earlier in the month that he had "things on the table" from other clubs. Let's take a look at how Sheffield would fit on some MLB rosters, starting in the American League, where he can DH:
  • The Blue Jays have Jose Bautista and Randy Ruiz competing for at bats in the outfield and at DH, so the competition is not overwhelming. There's very little chance the rebuilding Jays could turn Sheffield into something valuable at the deadline (that applies to any club).
  • The Rays already have one positionless player. Pat Burrell joins Matt Joyce, Fernando Perez, Gabe KaplerReid Brignac, Sean Rodriguez and Dan Johnson in pursuit of limited roster spots, so Sheffield doesn't appear to be a fit in Tampa.  
  • Like the Rays, the Red Sox, Indians, Royals, Angels, Rangers and A's have little need for an extra DH.
  • The Marlins don't have much outfield depth after Chris Coghlan, Cameron Maybin and Cody Ross
  • The Cardinals and Astros have limited outfield depth, too.
  • The Nationals have been adding veterans all offseason long, but they have enough outfielders already. 

There doesn't appear to be an everyday job out there for Sheffield. At this point, it appears likely that he'll have to retire, wait for someone to get injured, or accept a minor league deal and a limited role.


Odds & Ends: Maya, Sheffield, Rays, Yankees

Monday night linkage..

  • Jon Heyman of SI writes that the Dodgers and Rockies have watched Eric Gagne throw and both teams have shown the willingness to take a chance.  A few weeks ago we learned that Colorado was thinking about extending a non-roster invite to the 34-year-old.
  • The Red Sox might not be close to signing Cuban pitcher Yuniesky Maya, a source familiar with the negotiations tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.  There's a good chance that Maya will instead choose a team that offers a better opportunity to immediately enter its starting rotation.
  • MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes that Gary Sheffield would not be a good fit for the Nationals as he wants to play every day.  Ladson spoke to a major league source who believes that Sheffield will not accept a role as a backup.
  • Jason Beck of MLB.com fielded a question from a reader, asking why the Tigers dealt Curtis Granderson, only to pursue Johnny Damon instead.  Beck says that the Granderson trade brought Detroit financial flexibility and prospects.  He also credits agent Scott Boras for helping to create an opportunity for Damon.
  • Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg told 620-AM WDAE that the club's payroll will drop below $60MM in 2011, despite having a payroll north of $70MM this season.  Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times points out that while the club didn't plan to make any big additions this year, they found room for Rafael Soriano after dealing Scott Kazmir and Akinori Iwamura.
  • If Mike Jacobs doesn't make the Mets major league roster, Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News doesn't expect him to play for the club's Triple-A affiliate.  Even though his minor league deal doesn't have an out-clause, Rubin is "virtually positive" that the Mets would accommodate him with a trade or release.
  • In his latest mailbag, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch supports Yankees GM Brian Cashman's decision to wait to negotiate with upcoming free agents Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera.  Hoch believes that both players should be confident that they'll both be taken care of eventually.

Mets Have Not Contacted Sheffield

George A. King III of The New York Post spoke to free agent Gary Sheffield, who said he has not heard from the Mets but did seem to indicate that teams are interested in bringing him aboard. 

“There are things on the table that I have to accept or not accept," the former Mets and Yankees slugger told The Post on Wednesday. “Right now I have not made up my mind." 

“I have a few things to weigh," said Sheffield.

There hasn't been much interest in the 41-year-old this offseason, and last we heard was that Sheff was considering two unidentified teams but still waiting for offers. 

The Tigers released the nine-time All Star last March, eating basically all of his $14MM salary in the process. The Mets picked him up for the league minimum, and gave him 312 plate appearances during which he hit .276/.372/.451 with ten homers.


Odds & Ends: Brewers, Cubs, Looper, Baer, Wigginton

Links for Monday…


Cafardo On Damon, Ohman, Sheffield, Wang

Scott Boras tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he has seen some "very creative proposals" for Johnny Damon's services. The market for Damon seems limited, but teams like the Blue Jays, Tigers and A's could be fits at some price. Here are the rest of Cafardo's rumors:

  • The Blue Jays, Orioles and Royals seem most aggressive in their pursuit of reliever Will Ohman.
  • Gary Sheffield is considering two unidentified teams and waiting for offers from them.
  • Boras is trying to find interest for Jeff Weaver. 
  • There's interest in Chien-Ming Wang, but teams aren't offering the two-time 19 game winner much money.

Odds & Ends: Calero, Nats, Byrnes, Fogg, Timlin

Links for Thursday…