J.C. Romero Rumors
THURSDAY: Romero is on the verge of a deal with the Cardinals, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (on Twitter).
WEDNESDAY: The Cardinals are nearing a one-year deal with free agent left-hander J.C. Romero, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). MDR Sports Management represents the 35-year-old reliever.
Romero spent the 2011 season with the Phillies and Rockies. He posted a 4.01 ERA with 6.9 K/9, 5.5 BB/9 and a characteristically high 54.4% ground ball rate in 24 2/3 innings. With Arthur Rhodes on the free agent market, Marc Rzepczynski is the Cardinals' lone proven left-handed reliever, so GM John Mozeliak's interest in adding depth makes sense.
Derrick Goold and Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have a round-up of what the Cardinals could be planning now that Albert Pujols has left town...
- The Cardinals "have explored what the market is" for Carlos Beltran. Beltran would see most of his playing time in center field, since Allen Craig is slated to be the everyday right fielder.
- Jimmy Rollins' desire for a five-year contract will probably keep the Cards out of the bidding unless Rollins is willing to accept a shorter-term deal. The team is still talking to Rafael Furcal and would like to bring back Nick Punto as a veteran backup, should the Cardinals decide to look within and give Tyler Greene a shot at the everyday shortstop job.
- The team is looking for a left-handed reliever and have spoken to representatives for Mike Gonzalez and J.C. Romero.
- The planned $110MM payroll for 2012 won't be lowered because Pujols is gone, said GM John Mozeliak.
- In regards to the Jake Westbrook/Kyle Lohse trade rumors, Mozeliak said no deals materialized and one of the starters would be dealt only if the Cards need to "reallocate" some money towards another move.
- The Cardinals offered Pujols a nine-year, $198MM extension in January, confirmed Goold. Though this would be the third-largest contract in baseball history, the average annual value of $22MM would have the game's best hitter outside of the all-time top ten. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak wouldn't comment on whether the January offer still stands.
- Mozeliak explained his Pujols timeline to Goold: "I don't feel like right now everything outside of Albert's situation is urgent. That said, the one takeaway we have to have in the next couple weeks is what is the likelihood of us getting something done (with Pujols). I think directionally, that's what we're looking for as we move into the winter meetings and toward (the holidays)."
- One pressing factor might be the division-rival Cubs, who have "serious interest" in Pujols according to a Goold source, yet the talks so far have been preliminary. Yesterday, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported that the Cubs are showing interest in Pujols and Prince Fielder. Goold says Pujols has indicated a desire to meet face-to-face with any legitimately interested party, so perhaps a sit-down will occur with the Cubs soon.
- Octavio Dotel's agent Dan Horwits told Goold, "Dotel would like to be a Cardinal. Obviously, the Cardinals have some other contracts to address first, and we understand that." This week the Mets, Reds, Tigers, and Angels have been named as other suitors for the 38-year-old righty.
- J.C. Romero's agent Melvin Roman told Goold he has heard from the Cardinals and expects to have a discussion at the Winter Meetings. The 35-year-old southpaw is open to a one-year deal after allowing 44 baserunners in 24 2/3 big league innings this year. In September, Romero said his first choice was to return to the Rockies.
- Mozeliak commented on his team's shortstop situation to Goold: "If we had to wake up and give Tyler Greene an opportunity (at shortstop) we would be comfortable with that." The Cardinals have an internal debate about whether to give Greene the job, Mozeliak told B.J. Rains of FOXSportsMidwest.com. Rafael Furcal is willing to wait on the Pujols negotiations to a point, though you have to think he'll pounce if a strong three-year offer comes along from another team. Goold believes Jimmy Rollins could be a possibility for the Cardinals at shortstop if Pujols signs elsewhere.
- Regarding the bullpen, Mozeliak told Rains, "There may be some things that we look at in January to add depth to that but I don't think we see anything short term on that now."
- Rains also learned that Bryan Anderson and Tony Cruz will compete for the Cardinals' backup catcher job, and the team has interest in retaining free agent infielder Nick Punto.
The latest out of the NL West...
- Signing Tim Lincecum to a multiyear deal is at the top of the Giants' agenda, reports SI's Jon Heyman. The Giants are aiming for at least a four-year deal, which would buy out two years of free agency. Though Matt Cain is a year closer to free agency, Heyman says the focus is more on Lincecum. Heyman believes Lincecum's agents at Beverly Hills Sports Council could file as high as $25MM in arbitration this winter, in my opinion a risky move if the Giants come in around $20MM. For more on Lincecum's historic arbitration case, click here.
- The Rockies will not dabble financially in marginal players, explained GM Dan O'Dowd to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. They do have interest in Paul Maholm, Jeff Francis, and J.C. Romero, though, according to Renck, after bigger free agent targets such as Grady Sizemore and Roy Oswalt.
- The Dodgers will lower their payroll in 2012, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. The team's opening day payroll was about $120MM in 2011. So far this offseason they've added $6.5MM in 2012 salaries for Mark Ellis and Juan Rivera. Here's my offseason outlook for the club.
- Unlike Ellis' deal, Aaron Hill's new contract with the Diamondbacks is not backloaded. He'll earn $5.5MM in each of the '12 and '13 seasons, tweets Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Piecoro has an updated look at Arizona's payroll, and concludes that they'd need to non-tender Joe Saunders to be able to afford one of the better free agent pitchers on the market. MLBTR readers are split remarkably evenly as to whether Saunders will be tendered a contract on December 12th.
Notes from the NL West as the D'Backs could clinch an improbable division title tonight....
- Major League Baseball has asked a federal bankruptcy judge to order that the Dodgers be sold, reports Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. The filing even threatened that the Dodgers could be suspended from the league in order to keep Frank McCourt from being able to keep the team via a new television contract.
- The Giants will use Buster Posey as a catcher next season, though manager Bruce Bochy said a position change might come "down the road," reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- Kevin Millwood will be looking for a Major League contract this winter, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Millwood and the Rockies have a mutual interest in each other, but as noted earlier this month, the Rockies would prefer to bring the veteran starter back on a minor league deal.
- From that same item, Renck says J.C. Romero's first choice would be to re-sign with the Rockies, and Colorado players are expecting some changes to the coaching staff.
- You can't blame the Diamondbacks for the Dan Haren trade in 2010, argues Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, since nobody saw the club turning things around as quickly as they did this season.
- Bobby Borchering, the Diamondbacks' first-round pick in the 2009 draft, is being transitioned to left field, tweets Piecoro. Borchering has played first and third base in his first three pro seasons.
Let's take a look at some items out of the NL West..
- After a potential August trade to San Francisco failed to come to fruition, Padres closer Heath Bell believes that he will still be a member of the club next season. "I think I'm coming back next year. We're not talking, but I feel like something is going to happen," the closer said, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter).
- The Rockies will have to make some roster moves after activating closer Huston Street and setupman Matt Lindstrom. The game of musical chairs could end with J.C. Romero being designated for assignment, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- An unknown team claimed catcher Ramon Hernandez before he was pulled back off of waivers and Reds skipper Dusty Baker guesses that the Giants were the team to claim him, writes Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News.
The tightest division race in the National League is happening out west, where the Diamondbacks have taken a two-game lead over the Giants on the strength of five straight wins. ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider link) likens Arizona to a No. 14 seed in an NCAA tournament, holding a lead late in the game and gaining confidence that they can pull off an upset. Here are this morning's notes from around the NL West:
- The D'Backs didn't go out and acquire a replacement for Stephen Drew when he fractured his ankle, and Willie Bloomquist is making the decision look good, writes Olney. Since Drew's injury, Bloomquist is hitting .295/.349/.423 as the team's regular shortstop.
- J.C. Romero tells Troy Renck of the Denver Post that his friend LaTroy Hawkins had good things to say about the Rockies' organization, which pushed the lefty toward Colorado. Romero will throw a bullpen and take a physical today, and could be added to the Rockies' roster if both go well.
- Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times wonders what's next for the Dodgers' Casey Blake, who is "not the least interested in calling it a career" and "has no desire in going out on some injury-riddled, less-than-fulfilling season," according to Dilbeck.
- The Athletics have called up two former members of NL West clubs, both of whom were involved in trades earlier this season, writes John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle. Brandon Allen, formerly of the Diamondbacks, and Bruce Billings, acquired from the Rockies in the Mark Ellis deal, will join the A's for today's game.
Here's the latest from the NL West...
- Lefty reliever J.C. Romero is with the Rockies today according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter), but he has not signed. Troy Renck of The Denver Post says (on Twitter) that Romero will see a doctor and throw a bullpen tomorrow, and if all goes well, he could be added to the roster as soon as Monday. The Yankees released Romero earlier this week.
- Bill Shaikin of The Los Angeles Times reports that the Dodgers are currently on pace to lose more than $42MM in annual revenue since 2009, their last playoff appearance. Shaikin also has a breakdown of some payments the team made in recent years, including more than $5K for Red Sox tickets.
- A source told Henry Schulman of The San Francisco Chronicle that the Astros asked the Giants for one of their untouchable prospects "plus plus" in exchange for Hunter Pence before the trade deadline (Twitter link).
- Tyler Kepner of The New York Times wrote about the Padres and their knack for finding relievers in uncommon places, including Josh Spence. The left-hander from Australia has a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 innings since being called up, and lefties have hit just .140/.159/.279 off him.
- Despite a 38-56 record in their lasts 94 games, SI.com's Jon Heyman says (on Twitter) that the job of Rockies manager Jim Tracy is not in jeopardy.
There's now almost no chance that MLB will expand the playoffs by next year, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com. It's far from a lock that the postseason will expand under baseball's upcoming collective bargaining agreement, despite heavy rumblings about expanded playoffs. The union views postseason changes as part of a series of related possible changes, which is why we won't necessarily see more playoff teams by 2012, according to Stark. Here are the rest of his rumors...
- Incoming Astros owner Jim Crane has told commissioner Bud Selig privately that he wants to keep the Astros in the NL Central. However, MLB might look to move Houston to the AL West to even out baseball's divisions.
- Johnny Damon cleared waivers and can now be dealt to any team, according to Stark. Rival teams say Damon didn't draw heavy trade interest last month.
- Stark hears that the MRI the Indians took of Ubaldo Jimenez came back "remarkably clean."
- Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who has often been mentioned as a possible successor to Selig, isn't lobbying to become the next commissioner, according to a longtime associate. "If he did it, he'd do it out of loyalty to the game. But I wouldn't say he has a burning passion to do it."
- The Rockies are saying they'd like to swap Ian Stewart for another player who could use a change of scenery. However, other clubs recognize that Stewart is a non-tender candidate, so his trade value is not high.
- The Rockies could take a flyer on J.C. Romero, according to Stark.
- One NL scout says Dontrelle Willis looks as good as he has in three or four years.
The Yankees released J.C. Romero at his request, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 35-year-old has a 2.21 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 17 minor league appearances this year.
It's been a busy year for the left-hander, who started the season in Philadelphia, where he posted a 3.86 ERA with more walks than strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings. The Phillies released him in June and he signed with the Nationals within a week. The Yankees signed him in July, soon after the Nationals released him.