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Condolences to the family and friends of Lee MacPhail, who passed away at the age of 95 today. MacPhail was a long-time executive who worked with the Yankees and Orioles in addition to serving as Commissioner William Eckert's chief aid. He also served as president of the American League and was the oldest living Hall of Famer.
Here is the latest from around the league as Friday turns into Saturday…
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson hears that Adam LaRoche hasn't heard from the Nationals in a few days, but he's still interested in returning to the team (Twitter link). LaRoche turned down Washington's qualifying offer today.
- The Orioles are still talking to Nate McLouth, reports Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). The team is optimistic a deal will get done, but nothing is imminent.
- The Mets have more payroll flexibility than expected, but GM Sandy Alderson told Mike Puma of the New York Post that he's still "realistic" about the players they can acquire (Twitter links). Alderson referenced the "bottom end" of the free agent market.
- "We are not shopping him," said Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez when asked about the Trevor Bauer trade rumors. "Again, if they ask, [GM Kevin Towers'] response is 'Hey, we are willing to listen,' and that's what's happened here."
- Earlier today we heard that the Tigers made a contract offer to Jeremy Bonderman, but the right-hander told MLB.com's Jason Beck that it's news to him (Twitter links). Bonderman cautioned that he usually lets his agent handle contract matters.
- MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports (on Twitter) that outfielder Nick Weglarz is drawing interest as a free agent thanks to his left-handed bat. The 24-year-old hit .239/.349/.413 with 14 homers in 436 plate appearances for the Indians' Double-A affiliate last year.
Jeremy Bonderman hasn’t pitched at the MLB level since 2010, but he’s ready to return to the big leagues, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. Bonderman lost 35 pounds and his arm feels good following reconstructive elbow surgery. He’ll be ready to throw for teams by January and hopes to sign a minor league contract with an invitation to MLB Spring Training. Here are more of Olney’s notes from around MLB…
- Teams checked in about the availability of Brian McCann before the Braves exercised his $12MM option for 2013, Olney reports. The Braves would have wanted a decent return in a trade, but other teams were looking to acquire the catcher cheaply.
- Some Atlanta executives are realistic about their chances of signing Michael Bourn. It doesn’t look like the center fielder will re-sign with the Braves.
- Many executives assume the potential trade that would have sent Dan Haren to the Cubs blew up because of health issues, Olney writes. This means CAA Sports, the agency that represents Haren, will have to convince teams that the free agent right-hander is healthy.
- The Yankees like Russell Martin a lot, but won’t overpay to keep him, Olney writes.
Giants reliever Guillermo Mota is appealing his 100-game suspension due to a positive drug test, reports Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com. In a statement issued through Adam Katz, Mota's agent, the right-hander claims that children's cough medicine was responsible for the banned substance (clenbuterol) that was found in his system. Since this is his second drug-related suspension, Mota will not be allowed to continue playing while waiting for an appeal.
Here's the latest from around the majors….
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin told Trenni Kusnierek of WTMJ 620 radio in Milwaukee that the team "had a discussion" with free agent first baseman Derrek Lee but a signing is "not going to happen." The team will look internally to fill its hole at first base with Mat Gamel out for the season.
- Melvin also said that the Brewers have the financial resources and farm system depth to make trades if necessary, though the club will wait until about a week before the July trade deadline before deciding if any moves need to be made. Melvin predicts less deadline activity in general around baseball this year due to both the Cardinals' late-season hot streak last year and the extra wild card that will have more teams unwilling to give up on their season.
- Jamie Moyer thought he had a deal worked out with the Orioles last fall but Dan Duquette's hiring scuttled the move, reports Caleb Hannan of the Denver News. "They said one thing one day and by the next it was completely different," Moyer said. "They pulled a complete 180." One of the reasons may have been due to an incident between Moyer and Duquette in 1996 when both men were with the Red Sox.
- Jeremy Bonderman tells Chris Iott of MLive.com that he was "burnt out" and didn't expect to return to baseball when he sat out the 2011 season but he's now eager to pitch again. Bonderman underwent Tommy John surgery last month and is hoping to catch on with a team in 2013.
- Teams that write off several seasons in the name of a long rebuilding process run the risk of permanently alienating their fans, writes Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.
Right-hander Jeremy Bonderman had reconstructive elbow surgery yesterday and intends to play in the Major Leagues next year, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports. The 29-year-old Legacy Sports Group client last pitched in MLB for the 2010 Tigers.
Bonderman, Detroit's first round pick in 2001, broke in as a 20-year-old with the 2003 Tigers, starting 28 games for a team that would lose 119. He improved steadily over the course of the next few seasons and eventually posted a 4.08 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 214 innings for the 2006 Tigers team that won the AL pennant. However, he underwent shoulder surgery in 2008 and posted a 5.53 ERA in 2010, his most recent MLB season.
On this date three years ago, the Blue Jays released Frank Thomas. He retired after a brief return engagment with the Athletics, hitting .301/.419/.555 in a career that should garner Hall of Fame consideration. Here's some links for the evening…
- TCU left-hander Matt Purke is out indefinitely with a sore shoulder according to Stefan Stevenson of The Star-Telegram. He will be evaluated by Dr. James Andrews later this week. Purke, who was expected to be one of the top picks in this June's draft, spoke to MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith last month.
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic says (on Twitter) that the Diamondbacks don't have interest in, or room on the roster for Brandon Wood.
- Jeremy Bonderman recently visited his former Tigers' teammates during their trip to Seattle, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. The right-hander told reporters that he feels "great," and that he plans to visit the Tigers in Detroit in a few weeks. That would seem to indicate he isn't close to signing with a team.
- In a piece for ESPN Insider, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus breaks down some factors that are considered when a prospect is promoted to the big leagues or a higher minor league level.
- ESPN The Magazine published a list of the highest paid athletes from 182 countries. A dozen MLB players make the list, but that comes nowhere close to the number of soccer players making big bucks.
The Red Sox have five proven starters and a handful of viable alternatives, but that’s not stopping GM Theo Epstein from looking for more possibilities for the rotation, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox are looking for starting pitching depth and would love to add a veteran who’s open to pitching at Triple-A until he’s needed.
Wakefield, Aceves and Doubront are the team’s primary alternatives to the starting five of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. It also appears that the Red Sox will start Andrew Miller at Triple-A and stretch him out as a starter in the minors.
Though some starting pitching is available, none of it appears to be a logical fit for the Red Sox. The $16MM remaining on Joe Blanton’s contract makes him an unattractive option; it seems doubtful that the Red Sox would meet the Twins' asking price for Kevin Slowey only to stash him in the minors and the Red Sox don’t appear to have much interest in Jeremy Bonderman.
I listed a number of potentially available starters earlier in the week.
We're weeks into Spring Training now, so few notable free agents remain. But some players (min. 50 PAs) and pitchers (min. 20 IP) remain unsigned. Here's a look at the remaining free agents who will play the 2011 season while no older than 32:
- Willy Aybar (28) – The Rays declined Aybar's option and non-tendered him, but he can play first, second and third and has a career .341 OBP. He wouldn't be in line for more than a minor league deal if he signs.
- Jeremy Bonderman (28) – Bonderman may sit the season out, but you have to think he can help someone (the Cardinals?) despite the 5.53 ERA he posted in 171 innings last year. He's only 28 and he has recovered from shoulder surgery.
- Manny Corpas (28) - Corpas will miss the 2011 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He posted a 4.62 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings last year, and defense independent pitching stats suggest his ERA should have been lower, so he would have drawn interest if healthy.
- Hank Blalock (30) - Blalock averaged 29 homers per season from 2003-05, when he made two All-Star teams. That power was nowhere to be seen last year, when he posted a .254/.319/.349 line in 69 plate appearances for the Rays. Blalock just turned 30 last fall, but he probably needs to rebuild value in the minor leagues to make a complete comeback.
- Bobby Crosby (31) – Three teams were interested in the former AL Rookie of the Year earlier in the winter, but he remains on the open market. In 189 plate appearances for Pittsburgh and Arizona last year, Crosby hit .220/.294/.298 and played all four infield positions.
- Ryan Church (32) - Church, who was traded with Crosby from Pittsburgh to Arizona last summer, also struggled in 2010. He posted a .201/.265/.352 line, though he had 59 extra base hits as recently as 2007.
- Ben Sheets (32) – If he wasn't going to miss the season with flexor tendon surgery, Sheets would likely have found a team by now. He won't sign this year.
Jeremy Bonderman, who came back from 2008 shoulder surgery to pitch 171 innings last year, may not pitch at all in 2011. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick hears from a player who says Bonderman doesn't want to keep rehabbing or have to compete for a job in Spring Training (Twitter links).
"More than likely he's going to sit this year out," the player told Crasnick.
Bonderman started 29 games last year, posting a 5.53 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. The 28-year-old, who is about to begin his ninth big league season, is a free agent for the first time.
The Indians, Yankees, Rockies and Tigers were among the teams to show interest in Bonderman this offseason, though those clubs have all since added arms. The Tigers aren't re-signing Bonderman, but their opponents from the 2006 World Series could take a look at him. The Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery and could be intrigued by Bonderman, as MLBTR's Mike Axisa explained last week.
The Cardinals are expected to receive some bad news pretty soon, as it appears as though right-hander Adam Wainwright will miss the 2011 season with Tommy John surgery. Manager Tony LaRussa told Derrick Goold of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch that they "have to overcome this," though St. Louis still has a formidable front of the rotation featuring Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, and Jake Westbrook.
Reliever Kyle McClellan is already working under a starter's program this spring according to Goold, so he could be first in line for the vacated rotation spot. The team could also turn to Brian Tallet, Miguel Batista, Ian Snell, P.J. Walters, or Lance Lynn if needed. What about external options? Let's take a look…
- Kevin Millwood – The 36-year-old free agent is said to be "waiting for the right widespread panic," and Wainwright's injury would certainly qualify. Millwood was rumored to be seeking $4-5MM, and recently declined a minor league offer from the Yankees.
- Joe Blanton – It's long been speculated that the Phillies would try to unload the $17MM owed to Blanton over the next two years, though St. Louis' payroll is said to be "leaking." Philadelphia would likely have to eat a significant portion of Blanton's contract to facilitate a trade, defeating the point of moving him.
- Jeremy Bonderman – Still just 28, Bonderman has been connected to the Indians recently but is still without a job for 2011.
- Chad Durbin – At least one team (the Red Sox) have interest in him as a starter, but he'd have more of an opportunity with the Cardinals. Durbin has 75 big league starts to his credit, but none since 2007. He could also provide bullpen depth if McClellan moves into the rotation.
- Bartolo Colon or Freddy Garcia – both right-handers are with the Yankees on minor league contracts that allow them to become free agents if they don't make the team out of Spring Training.
There's no way to replace a pitcher of Wainwright's caliber, so the Cardinals will have to hope that whoever takes his place in the rotation simply provides quality innings while the rest of the team takes their game up a notch.
Paul Hoynes and Terry Pluto at the Cleveland Plain Dealer have the latest on the Tribe….
- In a mailbag, Hoynes explains that the Indians likely didn't consider bringing back Manny Ramirez because they preferred to add a player who could handle the outfield – like Austin Kearns.
- Within the same article, Hoynes says that the Red Sox have approached the Indians multiple times about the possibility of re-acquiring Justin Masterson. The Indians aren't likely to move the right-hander, but Hoynes points out they'd be "silly not to listen."
- Hoynes also adds that he still thinks Jeremy Bonderman could become an Indian, on a minor league deal. However, he doesn't see the team signing Kevin Millwood unless the veteran's asking price goes down.
- In a separate piece, Fausto Carmona tells Hoynes that he's happy in Cleveland and unfazed by trade rumors involving him: "I never read the newspaper in the Dominican Republic. I can't control the situation. A lot of people see something on the Internet and call me and say do you know about this trade? I just tell them I'm ready to play, no matter what the situation."
- Pluto says he's come around on the Orlando Cabrera signing after finding out it was only for $1MM. He notes that, if Cabrera plays well, the Tribe could turn him into a midseason trade chip as they did with Russell Branyan last year.