Jay Payton Rumors
A few more post-deadline notes from the MLBiverse...
- Apparently the Braves tried to get involved in the Jason Bay sweepstakes in the last hour before the deadline.
- Andy MacPhail feels that the Orioles will actually be more active in August than in July. Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly suggest that several players, including Kevin Millar, Jay Payton and Ramon Hernandez could be had in August. MacPhail also noted that while there "was a pretty high bar set" for teams asking about Brian Roberts, MacPhail made it clear that Roberts was not off-limits and suggested that a deal this winter is not out of the question.
- Jim Bowden does not appear eager to trade Tim Redding, who according to Bill Ladson, is the Nat's only player of value that could be traded in August.
- Walt Jocketty would not commit to an attempt to sign Adam Dunn to an extension.
- Terry Ryan, the Twins former GM, penned a piece for SI.com in which he details what a GM goes through in the weeks and days leading up to the trade deadline. Very interesting read.
Quite a bit of info is floating about this evening regarding the Cubs' quest to add an outfielder. Let's put it all together.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman names Coco Crisp, Jay Payton, Marlon Byrd, and Brandon Inge as possible targets. Inge makes the least sense given his salary and the Tigers' need for him while Curtis Granderson is out.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark confirms Ken Rosenthal's assertion that the Cubs are leading the pack for Reed Johnson. Stark speculates that such an acquisition could prompt the Cubs to trade Matt Murton.
- ESPN's Peter Gammons says Red Sox scout Allard Baird is currently observing the Cubs. Other scouts in 'zona are speculating about a Sean Gallagher for Crisp scenario. Gammons notes that the Red Sox wouldn't mind getting Murton back, either. He thinks the Sox are wary of trading Crisp right now though, echoing a sentiment from Buster Olney.
- Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that the Rangers want Murton plus one of Jose Ceda, Gallagher, or Donald Veal for Byrd. Jim Hendry did recently re-engage the Rangers, according to Grant.
SI.com's Jon Heyman reiterates the Cubs' concern with Felix Pie, setting out the three main trade candidates for the team.
- Coco Crisp probably won't get dealt until he proves he's healthy. Even then, as I've said, $11MM over two years is a lot for a fourth outfielder. The Cubs may have competition from the Rays and A's for Crisp.
- Jay Payton would be a salary dump given the $5MM owed to him this year. The Cubs could take him while passing off the $16.25MM owed to Jason Marquis. The Cubs would love to move Marquis, though Jon Lieber's willingness to pitch out of the pen reduces the urgency. The Cubs are growing frustrated in their attempt to get Brian Roberts from the Orioles.
- Then there's Marlon Byrd; T.R. Sullivan said on Friday that talks weren't dead. Today, Evan Grant wrote that the Cubs will do Byrd straight up for Matt Murton and that's a "take it or leave it" offer.
ESPN's Jayson Stark has a new blog post jam-packed with hot stove rumors.
- The Cubs are getting frustrated with the Brian Roberts situation, wondering if they'll ever complete this trade. The Orioles are scouting players but still haven't given the Cubs the names they crave. I got the exact same vibe from the source who told me Jose Ceda's inclusion was never proposed by the Cubs.
- The Tigers and Phillies are both hunting for bullpen help; Detroit's sights are set higher than Philadelphia's. Unwanted players such as Wes Helms and Brandon Inge aren't in demand. And while Marcus Thames is desirable, he's not enough to get Aaron Heilman from the Mets. Brian Fuentes, also a Yankees target, may be the best available reliever. But Stark says the Rox want a "high-upside young arm" for the southpaw.
- My own guess at some useful relievers who may be available: Damaso Marte, Joe Nathan, Jamie Walker, Chad Bradford, Huston Street, Alan Embree, Kevin Gregg, Jon Rauch, and Chad Cordero.
- Stark names the Cubs, Rays, and Mets as the teams looking for an extra outfielder. No deals appear imminent, though the Rays made an unsuccessful offer to Kenny Lofton. The Mets and Cubs are considering the same names we've heard for a few weeks now. The Cubs are in a holding pattern since they may get Jay Payton in a Roberts deal with Baltimore.
SI.com's Jon Heyman wrote on Monday that the Cubs and Orioles had resumed talks for Brian Roberts. However, Cubs GM Jim Hendry came out on Wednesday and said he hadn't had any trade talks for five or six days. Tonight, the Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec chimes in, confirming Hendry's statement of inactivity.
Zrebiec was able to confirm from two sources that the Cubs offered Ronny Cedeno, Sean Gallagher, Donald Veal, and another unknown player for Roberts. The teams can't agree on the fourth player, and the O's may want a fifth too. The Orioles are said to like top Cubs' prospects like Jose Ceda, Felix Pie, and Tyler Colvin. Andy MacPhail is clearly demanding a high price for two years of his second baseman. Zrebiec also confirms that the Cubs and Orioles have talked about a scenario where outspoken veterans Jason Marquis and Jay Payton are in the deal.
For now, it appears that the Cubs will open the season without Roberts. I'm of the opinion the Cubs would be better off going with Mark DeRosa and Cedeno as their doubleplay combo over Roberts and Ryan Theriot.
According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Cubs and Orioles are talking Brian Roberts trade again. A source of Heyman's "indicated discussions were starting to get serious."
Heyman says one scenario has the O's sending Jay Payton along with Roberts to Chicago. Although he'd fill the Cubs' desire for a right-handed hitting fourth outfielder who can handle center, Payton has to have negative trade value with a $5MM salary for '08 and a .668 OPS last year. The Cubs could send Jason Marquis back, but his two years and $19.25MM might be overcompensating for Payton's bad contract.
Heyman names the usual suspects as possible Orioles targets: Sean Marshall, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, and Ronny Cedeno. Murton could again be stuck as a fourth outfielder in Baltimore; blocked prospect Eric Patterson might make more sense.
WEEI recently posted an interesting interview with Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. Epstein was frank with his answers and didn't duck questions. A few points of interest:
- Epstein observed a "horrible free agent market, bereft of talent." The one surplus he noted was center field, which he feels resulted in the lack of a trade market for Coco Crisp (the best defensive center fielder in the game last year, according to Epstein). Epstein said he learned his lesson with Jay Payton and does not want to be forced to trade Crisp as he was Payton. He won't deal Crisp from a "position of weakness." Michael Silverman believes a team will have to have its center fielder significantly injured for a market for Crisp to develop. Or, a prospect like Felix Pie or Colby Rasmus will have to prove not ready or be traded.
- As for Johan Santana, the Red Sox were "in it, with limits." Epstein said he left the Twins with two solid offers, but Bill Smith wanted a package that would've been "completely irresponsible." He felt that Boston's offer was better than that of the Mets.
Random rumors from the day...
- The Bucs are set with their starting five, unless they can trade Matt Morris. Dejan Kovacevic adds that the Pirates and Johnny Estrada have mutual interest but haven't spoken in a while.
- Roch Kubatko expects the Orioles to shop Jay Payton now that they've acquired Chris Roberson. Really, all of their vets should be fully available.
- Bobby Kielty has interest from three or four teams, but his first choice is Boston. The likelihood of that increases if Coco Crisp is sent elsewhere. Kielty is willing to give up switch-hitting if his new team so desires.
- Troy E. Renck has salary details on Mark Redman and Kip Wells. Redman gets $1MM, with another possible $500K in incentives. Wells gets a $3.1MM base with another possible $1.5MM in incentives.
Pretty much the same old story with the Mets, though Joel Sherman and Mark Hale of the New York Post do have some new tidbits.
- The authors name Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, and Eric Gagne as relievers on the radar. However it seems the asking price is too high for Gagne and the Indians have become the frontrunner for Dotel (they may have passed the Dodgers). Shawn Chacon doesn't catch the Mets' eye, and they don't want Chad Bradford's three-year commitment. They had that option with Bradford this winter. I think that logic is silly - Bradford's pitched well this year, and acquiring him now would be akin to a two-year contract. Sometimes it seems GMs pass over certain players because they simply want to add a fresh name.
- You can add Al Reyes to the mix for the Mets, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
- The Mets think many of the available starting pitchers could be traded in August - Jose Contreras, Kyle Lohse, and Steve Trachsel for example. I don't agree on Lohse - he'll be traded today or tomorrow. But Contreras's contract would probably get through waivers without a claim.
- The Post reports no substantive talks to the Royals about Mark Grudzielanek. An inquiry has been made on Mark Loretta.
- Meanwhile, Newsday says the Twins are open to trading Luis Castillo but don't want any of the current Major League Mets. Dan Graziano of the Newark Star-Ledger seems to disagree, citing a Twins scout at Shea yesterday. Graziano does not believe Castillo would get through waivers unclaimed. He believes the Twins want Double A starter Kevin Mulvey and then some (perhaps Ruben Gotay).
- Graziano says a deal for Castillo could be expanded to include 28 year-old righty reliever Juan Rincon. Rincon had been consistently solid for three years (perhaps aided by steroids) but has seen his strikeout rate and overall performance plummet in 2007. Rincon is under control next year and will make at least $2MM again.
- Graziano notes that the Mets have talked to the A's about Joe Blanton, but Billy Beane wants Lastings Milledge. The Mets can't do that without damaging the current team. The Mets could actually add an outfielder in Jay Payton; the Cubs' interest has waned. The Sammy Sosa rumor also has some legs, as the Mets could bring him in to platoon with Shawn Green if they decide they can tolerate the sideshow.
Ryan McConnell of the New Jersey Star-Ledger posted a run-down of Mets' rumors, mostly old hat by now. Items of note:
- The Mets are being asked too much for both Chad Cordero and Octavio Dotel, causing them to take another look at Eric Gagne. They are also looking at Matt Thornton (White Sox), Shawn Chacon (Pirates), Chad Bradford (Orioles) and Jon Rauch (Nationals). I think they should go for Chad Bradford, silly contract be damned.
- We've all heard about second base possibilities in Mark Grudzielanek, Mark Loretta and Luis Castillo. I think that of these candidates, Grudzielanek is the best defender, while Castillo is the best offensive player, even though Loretta is putting up better numbers this year. All three will be free agents this off-season, with the exception of Grudzielanek if he earns the $4M player option for 2008 which vests with 500 plate appearances, a slim possibility. Castillo is the youngest player and the best choice for the Mets, if they can get him. He's likely be a Type A free agent if the Mets let him go; if they don't, he could be their 2008 second baseman. All in all, though, I'd prefer the Mets stick with Damion Easley and Rubén Gotay.
- Now the kicker. This is what makes trade deadlines fun (and painful). From McConnell:
And, finally, the hot, completely unsubstantiated rumor floating around my workplace was that the Mets and D-Rays were discussing a Lastings Milledge and "a Minor League pitcher" (probably Pelfrey, maybe Humber) for Carl Crawford. It didn't pass my smell test -- I'd think Tampa would command a lot more for their stud outfielder -- but it's fun to think about regardless. Plus, for what it's worth, a Met scout was spotted at Tropicana Field last week.
It doesn't pass my smell test either, but it's still fun to think about, unless you're convinced that Lastings Milledge is the next Gary Sheffield, like I am.
John Peterson writes for the Met-blog Blastings! Thrilledge.