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Gerald Laird Rumors
10:23am: The Tigers aren't close to a deal with Shoppach, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (on Twitter).
10:04am: The Tigers are close to signing a catcher, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Free agent Kelly Shoppach is one of the team's targets and Morosi reported earlier in the week that the Tigers are considering Jose Molina, Matt Treanor, Ramon Castro and former Tiger Gerald Laird as possible backups.
Alex Avila will start for the Tigers, who want Victor Martinez's bat in the lineup every day. GM Dave Dombrowski has said the Tigers view Martinez as the team's regular DH and third catcher, which means the team is on the hunt for someone who can spell Avila regularly.
The Tigers had already locked up Brandon Inge, Jhonny Peralta, Joaquin Benoit and Victor Martinez by November 23rd of last year. Here’s the latest on the team as they start the current offseason more quietly…
- The Tigers seem to believe they can find help via trades, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. The club has given up a lot in the past but they are willing to deal anyone but their top minor league prospects.
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press that the Tigers didn’t offer contracts to Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll or Aaron Hill, three middle infielders who recently signed two-year deals. Should the Tigers pursue free agent middle infielders such as Clint Barmes or Kelly Johnson, they’d likely be looking at a two-year commitment given the deals we’ve seen so far and the number of teams with openings at second or short.
- The Tigers are considering Jose Molina, Matt Treanor, Ramon Castro and former Tiger Gerald Laird as possible backup catchers, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). All four backstops are free agents who could give Alex Avila an occasional breather while keeping Martinez’s knees fresh so he can contribute on offense.
The Cardinals signed catcher Gerald Laird on a one-year deal, the team announced. SI's Jon Heyman reports that the contract will pay Laird $1MM. He can earn another $300K in incentives. Laird will serve as Yadier Molina's backup, replacing Jason LaRue.
Laird, 31, hit .207/.263/.304 in 299 plate appearances for the Tigers this year, catching 670 2/3 innings. He gunned down 34% of attempted basestealers, so the Cardinals will never be easy to run on in 2011. Laird's offensive woes in his two-year Detroit stint have relegated him to backup duty, and his starts could be particularly rare given Molina's durability.
Laird is represented by Scott Boras. Our transaction tracker reveals that he's the fourth Boras client to sign this winter. The free agent market for catchers is down to four viable options, three if Bengie Molina retires.
4:41pm: The Mets are talking to Paulino about a one-year deal worth $1.3MM, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
3:51pm: The Rockies, who have been linked to a number of free agent catchers, are exchanging offers with Paulino, according to Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
11:13am: The Mets are in on a group of right-handed hitting catchers such as Paulino, Gerald Laird, Miguel Olivo, Russell Martin, and Dioner Navarro, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. They prefer a one-year deal.
10:11am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets are still talking to a lot of catcher possibilities, Paulino included (Twitter link).
8:45am: The Mets are closing in on catcher Ronny Paulino, reports ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. New manager Terry Collins has described Josh Thole as a "number one catcher," so presumably Paulino will serve as his backup.
Paulino, recently non-tendered by the Marlins, hit .259/.311/.354 in 316 plate appearances this year while catching 740 1/3 innings. He was hit with a 50-game PED suspension in August.
10 American 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.
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Scott Downs (A) Jason Frasor (A) Kevin Gregg (B) Miguel Olivo (B), according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm (on Twitter).
- The Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano (A), Jesse Crain (B) and Orlando Hudson (B) and declined to offer arbitration to Matt Guerrier (A), Brian Fuentes (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Rays offered arbitration to Grant Balfour (A), Carl Crawford (A), Rafael Soriano (A), Randy Choate (B), Brad Hawpe (B) and Chad Qualls (B), according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. They did not offer Dan Wheeler (A) or Carlos Pena (B) arbitration. It seems possible that Hawpe has agreed in advance to turn down arbitration.
- The Orioles won't offer arbitration to Koji Uehara (B) or Kevin Millwood (B), according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links).
- The Angels declined to offer Hideki Matsui (B) arbitration, the team announced.
- The Rangers offered arbitration to Cliff Lee (A) and Frank Francisco (A), but not to Vladimir Guerrero (A) and Bengie Molina (A), according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- The Yankees will offer arbitration to Javier Vazquez (B), but not to any of their other free agents, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday on Twitter. Andy Pettitte (A), Derek Jeter (A), Mariano Rivera (A), Lance Berkman (B) and Kerry Wood (B) were the team's other ranked free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the Yankees would offer Vazquez arbitration and noted that the right-hander has agreed to reject the offer, a common gentleman's agreement that can take place with Type B free agents. Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger first reported on Twitter that the Yankees would not offer Jeter arbitration.
- The Red Sox offered arbitration to Adrian Beltre (A), Victor Martinez (A) and Felipe Lopez (B), but not to Mike Lowell (B) or Jason Varitek (B), according to the team.
- The White Sox offered arbitration to Paul Konerko (A) and J.J. Putz (B), but not to A.J. Pierzynski (A) or Manny Ramirez (A) according to the team (on Twitter).
- As expected, the Tigers announced that they will not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, including Scott Boras clients Magglio Ordonez (A), Johnny Damon (B), and Gerald Laird (B).
Full Story | 80 Comments | Categories: A.J. Pierzynski | Adrian Beltre | Andy Pettitte | Baltimore Orioles | Bengie Molina | Boston Red Sox | Brad Hawpe | Brian Fuentes | Carl Crawford | Carl Pavano | Carlos Pena | Chad Qualls | Chicago White Sox | Cliff Lee | Dan Wheeler | Derek Jeter | Detroit Tigers | Felipe Lopez | Frank Francisco | Gerald Laird | Grant Balfour | Hideki Matsui | J.J. Putz | Jason Frasor | Jason Varitek | Javier Vazquez | Jesse Crain | Johnny Damon | Jon Rauch | Kerry Wood | Kevin Gregg | Kevin Millwood | Koji Uehara | Lance Berkman | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Magglio Ordonez | Manny Ramirez | Mariano Rivera | Matt Guerrier | Miguel Olivo | Mike Lowell | Minnesota Twins | New York Yankees | Orlando Hudson | Paul Konerko | Rafael Soriano | Randy Choate | Scott Downs | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Victor Martinez | Vladimir Guerrero
Steve Adams already looked at the stock of one impending free agent in A.J. Pierzynski earlier today, now let's turn our attention to another AL Central catcher. The Tigers informed Gerald Laird that they will not attempt to re-sign him after the season just a week ago, so the soon-to-be 31-year-old backstop will hit the open market for the first time in his career.
Let's see what his stock looks like heading into the winter…
- Laird is arguably the best in baseball when it comes to shutting down the opponent's running game. His 34% caught stealing rate was second base among AL catchers this year with at least 650 innings caught this season, and over the last five years he's thrown out a studly 37.6% of base runners.
- He's extremely durable for a catcher, hitting the disabled list just once since 2004. Like all other catchers though, he'll occasionally miss a day or two with bumps and bruises. It comes with the territory.
- As a Type-B free agent, a team will not have to surrender a draft pick to sign Laird. It's unlikely that the Tigers would offer him arbitration anyway.
- Laird isn't much of a hitter these days, bottoming out at just .207/.263/.304 in 299 plate appearances this year. Over the last three seasons he's put together a .238/.303/.342 batting line.
- Laird's a Scott Boras client, so negotiations don't figure to be easy.
The offensive bar for catchers is pretty low right now, with backstops around the league hitting just .249/.319/.381 in 2010. Given the lack of offense found at the position, teams are focusing more on defense behind the plate, so Laird's cannon arm has definite value.
Jose Molina, a similar no-hit/all-throw catcher, was only able to find a one-year deal worth $400K guaranteed (plus incentives and an club option) last offseason, and even then he had to wait until mid-February. Laird is likely facing a similar situation; a one-year, low base salary contract with some performance bonuses to be a backup somewhere. Catchers are always getting hurt, so even if he settles for a minor league deal he'll probably get an opportunity at some point next summer.
GM Dave Dombrowski announced that the Tigers will not pick up Magglio Ordonez's $15MM club option for 2011, reports Tom Gage of The Detroit News. Dombrowski did say that the team remains open-minded about bringing Ordonez back, however.
Meanwhile, Dombrowski also said the team wants to bring third baseman Brandon Inge back, and confirmed that the two sides have discussed a multi-year deal. Jhonny Peralta is another player they'd like to bring back according to Gage. The Tigers did however inform Johnny Damon and Gerald Laird that they will not be re-signed, according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter). Dombrowski added that they "most likely" will choose not to pursue Jeremy Bonderman either.
Ordonez's option was likely to vest if not for a season ending-ankle injury in late-July. He hit .303/.378/.474 with more walks (40) than strikeouts (38) in 365 plate appearances before the injury, a nice rebound from a down 2009 campaign. Inge is in the final season of a four-year, $24MM deal, though his .247/.321/.392 batting line is the worst of any full season of his career. Thankfully his defense at the hot corner is strong, with a +10.3 UZR since 2008. A multi-year offer might be too good for Inge to pass up.
Peralta was acquired from the Indians at the trade deadline, and hit .254/.315/.399 in 238 plate appearances for Detroit. He played mostly shortstop after the trade, the most action he's gotten at the position since 2008. The Tigers hold a $7MM club option for his services next season, but they'll likely buy that out for $250K and attempt to negotiate a lower salary.
Damon hit .271/.355/.401 after signing a one-year, $8MM deal last offseason, while Laird mustered just a .218/.289/.313 batting line in his two seasons with Detroit. He's fantastic defensively though, having thrown out 72 of 189 potential base stealers (38.1%) during that time. The 27-year-old Bonderman stayed healthy for the first time since 2007 this year, though he posted a 5.53 ERA in 171 innings. He's just wrapping up a four-year, $38MM deal and will hit free agency for the first time.
Sunday links, as the Rays look to extend their league-best winning streak to five games….
- Andy Pettitte tells Newsday's Ken Davidoff that his participation in the government's indictment of Roger Clemens won't impact his baseball future. The 38-year-old also says he doesn't expect to still be playing at age 40.
- Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post tweets that the Marlins have no timetable for when they'll hire a permanent manager, though they have a short list of four or five candidates.
- Like teammate Jeremy Bonderman, Gerald Laird isn't sure whether he'll be a Tiger next year. "If a better opportunity presents itself, I'll probably take that route," the backstop told Tom Gage of the Detroit News (Twitter link)
- GM Neal Huntington discusses the Pirates' upcoming offseason with Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, noting that the club may pursue a platoon partner for Garrett Jones at first base.
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun wonders if the Orioles will aggressively go after an impact bat this winter.
- John Ely may be pitching himself out of the Dodgers' 2011 plans, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.
As the Giants pick up a major win over the Rockies tonight, here are some news items….
- The Marlins face a tough decision with the out-of-options Andrew Miller, writes Joe Capozzi of The Palm Beach Post.
- Gerald Laird is looking for regular playing time next season, so it could mean the end for his time in Detroit what with Alex Avila having locked down a regular catching job, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck.
- "I think there’s probably a better chance that [Prince Fielder]’s not with us than he is [next season]," Ryan Braun said to Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel before what could be Fielder's last home series as a Brewer.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post (via Twitter) predicts that Miguel Olivo will return to Colorado next season even if he doesn't reach his vesting option.
- C.C. Sabathia doesn't think his friend and former Indians teammate Victor Martinez will re-sign with Boston this winter, tweets Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman.
- Matt Cerrone of the MetsBlog would like to see Bobby Valentine managing the Mets next season, with Wally Backman (who's been rumored as another managerial candidate) as the team's bench coach.
- Now that we know Stan Kasten won't be back as Washington's president next season, MASNSports.com's Phil Wood thinks Kasten would be a prime candidate to be baseball's next commissioner. Wood also thinks the Nationals will promote their next president from within the organization.
- With Yadier Molina shut down for the rest of the season with a knee injury, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the Cardinals should look for a veteran backup for the workhorse catcher over the winter.
- A number of Padres coaches are being interviewed for open managerial jobs, writes MLB.com's Corey Brock.
Full Story | 22 Comments | Categories: Alex Avila | Andrew Miller | Boston Red Sox | C.C. Sabathia | Colorado Rockies | Detroit Tigers | Gerald Laird | Miami Marlins | Miguel Olivo | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | Prince Fielder | San Diego Padres | St. Louis Cardinals | Victor Martinez | Washington Nationals | Yadier Molina
Let's continue our look at each club's top trade chips today with the AL Central…
- Indians: The Tribe have dealt their Opening Day starter in each of the last two seasons, and there's a good chance they'll do it again with Jake Westbrook in 2010. The 32-year-old righty will earn $11MM this season, the last one on his contract. After dumping Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez in cost-cutting moves last year, expect them to shop Westbrook around for prospects this summer.
- Royals: All four of Kansas City's outfielders come off the books after this season (assuming some options are bought out for six figures), so Rick Ankiel, David DeJesus, Scott Podsednik, and even Jose Guillen could be moved in a deal for a young player. The team would obviously have to eat a lot of money to move Guillen. The contracts of relievers Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth also expire after the season, so there might be some interest in them.
- Tigers: Detroit isn't going to move any of their young power arms, but if they eat a large chunk of salary like they did with Nate Robertson, there might be interest in Jeremy Bonderman and/or Dontrelle Willis. Young backstop Alex Avila could make Gerald Laird expendable as well. The Tigers have four lefty relievers on their 40-man roster (Phil Coke, Fu-Te Ni, Daniel Schlereth, and Brad Thomas), and that demographic is always in demand.
- Twins: Minnesota has one of the best trade chips in the league, blocked catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Lefty Glen Perkins is pitching in Triple-A and seems to have fallen out of favor with the club after filing a grievance, so he could be made available as well. He has four years of team control left.
- White Sox: GM Kenny Williams isn't shy about emptying out the farm system in a trade for an established big leaguer, which has left him with little minor league ammo. Their best young prospects are catcher Tyler Flowers and starter Daniel Hudson, who would seem to have a future with the club, but I'm not going to put anything past Williams. Flowers could make A.J. Pierzynski or Ramon Castro expendable, ditto Hudson and Freddy Garcia. Gordon Beckham should be untouchable, obviously.
Full Story | 39 Comments | Categories: A.J. Pierzynski | Brad Thomas | Chicago White Sox | Cleveland Indians | Daniel Hudson | Daniel Schlereth | David DeJesus | Detroit Tigers | Dontrelle Willis | Freddy Garcia | Fu-Te Ni | Gerald Laird | Glen Perkins | Jake Westbrook | Jeremy Bonderman | Jose Guillen | Juan Cruz | Kansas City Royals | Kyle Farnsworth | Minnesota Twins | Phil Coke | Ramon Castro | Rick Ankiel | Scott Podsednik | Top Trade Chips | Tyler Flowers | Wilson Ramos