Jim Edmonds Rumors

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  • With Orlando Cabrera "leaning towards" accepting an offer from Cincinnati, Troy Renck of the Denver Post says the Rockies are "a finalist" in the hunt for Melvin Mora.  Renck reports that Colorado, Texas and Seattle are the most interested parties.
  • Jim Edmonds tells MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Edmonds on Wednesday that "he didn't see a fit" for the outfielder in St. Louis.  Edmonds signed with Milwaukee a day later.
  • Righty Joe Nelson is attracting interest from the Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  The journeyman reliever broke through with the Marlins in 2008, posting a 2.00 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 54 innings.  His 2009 with the Rays was less than spectacular, but the 35-year-old points to his performance outside May, as he had a 2.38 ERA in the 10 games prior and a 1.40 ERA in 20 games after.
  • Jonny Gomes and the Reds are close to agreeing to a deal, according to ESPN.  Yesterday, GM Walt Jocketty confirmed that the club offered a minor league deal to the 29-year-old outfielder.  Gomes proved to be one of the best minor league signings of 2009, hitting .267/.338/.541 with 20 HRs in 98 games.
  • The Padres have set an arbitration date with outfielder Scott Hairston, though they hope to reach an agreement beforehand, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com (via Twitter).  Brock writes that the two sides could come to terms next week.
  • ESPN's Jorge Arangure (via Twitter) gets the feeling that Cuban prospect Jose Julio Ruiz may sign this week or shortly thereafter.  Ruiz – who has reportedly garnered interest from the Red Sox and Tigers – was "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Asset Control yesterday, allowing him to sign with a major league club.

Brewers Sign Jim Edmonds

The Brewers officially signed Jim Edmonds to a minor league deal that will pay the outfielder $850K if he makes the team and up to $1.65MM more in incentives. Edmonds will come to Spring Training with a chance to make the club as an extra outfielder. The Brewers have to grant Edmonds his release if he's not on the major league roster by March 25th.

He last played in 2008, when he split his time between the Cubs and the Padres. He hit .235/.343/.479 thanks to a strong finish in Chicago. He posted an .883 OPS against righties, but his sub-.500 OPS against lefties suggests the Brewers are better off sitting Edmonds against southpaws. Though he was one of the best outfielders of his generation, he played poorly over the course 840 innings in 2008.

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the Brewers were close to a deal with Edmonds and added detailsTom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweeted when the move became official.

Two Teams Left In Edmonds Sweepstakes

There are only two teams left competing for the services of Jim Edmonds reports Rob Rains of The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, and the Cardinals are not one of them. It's unknown what kind of salary either team is offering, or if they're even guaranteeing him a roster spot, but Rains says the Cards likely would have offered him just the league minimum.

The 39-year-old Edmonds first made waves about a possible comeback last week, and he was reportedly contacted by multiple clubs soon thereafter. The Yankees are said to be looking for an outfielder, however GM Brian Cashman said that they aren't interested in Edmonds at all.

Damon, Yankees Have Been Talking

SATURDAY, 3:12pm: Yanks GM Brian Cashman denies that the club is waiting on Damon before looking into other outfield options, reports Chad Jennings of the LoHud Yankees Blog.

Additionally, Cashman stressed that the team has "had no discussions on Jermaine Dye" and is "not on Jim Edmonds at all."

2:30pm: In a text to Marc Carig of the Star-Ledger, Damon says that he "should have a team in a week" (via Twitter).

1:56pm: Heyman reports (via Twitter) that Damon has "days" to take a "low deal" from the Yankees.  Assuming he says no, the club will sign another outfielder from the group of Reed Johnson, Xavier Nady, Randy Winn, Jim Edmonds, and Jermaine Dye.

FRIDAY, 6:17pm: SI.com's Jon Heyman was on MLB Network's Hot Stove show tonight, and said that the Yankees and Johnny Damon have spoken recently. Here's his exact quote:

"He did meet or talk to the Yankees in the last couple of days. Still doesn't look like a great chance of happening though believe it or not. They are talking, but the Yankees have these budgetary constraints. They've been telling other teams they have about 2 million dollars to spend. I think for Damon they would probably go over that. I mean this is a guy who's had 100 runs scored 9 times and 24 home runs.  Terrific player, but I would still say more likely Braves or Tigers, at this point."

Two days ago we heard from former Yankee Jerry Hairston Jr. that the team never made him an offer because they're "waiting on Damon's price to come down," however GM Brian Cashman shot that report down.

It's certainly getting late in the offseason, however just for a frame of reference, Bobby Abreu didn't sign with the Angels until February 12th of last season. Damon might have a little more waiting to do.

Multiple Clubs Contacted Jim Edmonds

Jim Edmonds would like to return to the St. Louis Cardinals, but he's open to playing elsewhere and three or four other teams have at least some interest in him. The 39-year-old outfielder told the Team 1380 in St. Louis that the Yankees are one of the teams that has contacted him (transcription from Rob Rains of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat).

Edmonds maintains that he would like to return to the Cardinals, but says he has no illusions about taking the everyday center fielder's job from Colby Rasmus.

"Colby is the center fielder. My job would be to help him and replace him when he needed help," Edmonds said. "I wouldn’t get in Colby’s way."

Edmonds, who is open to playing for the MLB minimum, says he needs a couple weeks to start hitting.

Edmonds Talks Cards Comeback

12:03pm: SI's Jon Heyman writes that Cohen told him says it's "better than 50-50" that Edmonds signs by the end of next week.

WEDNESDAY, 9:01am: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports talked to Edmonds' agent Paul Cohen yesterday.  Edmonds is serious about playing in 2010.  He's open to a platoon arrangment, possible time at first base, and teams in either league.  Morosi believes Edmonds will lean toward teams with smaller ballparks. 

MONDAY, 2:10pm: B.J. Rains of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat has comments from La Russa regarding Edmonds.  La Russa initially thought Edmonds was joking, but now says a "serious discussion" is in order.

8:05am: At Tony La Russa's animal rescue benefit last night, Jim Edmonds publicly challenged his former manager to bring him aboard for the league minimum in 2010 (MLB.com's Matthew Leach reporting).  Leach is unsure whether Edmonds was serious, however.  Prior to Edmonds' comments, Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweeted that the Cardinals were "not entertaining inviting Edmonds to camp."  GM John Mozeliak specifically told Strauss's colleague Derrick Goold (Twitter), "That wasn't in the plans."

Last offseason it appeared that Edmonds planned to play in 2009.  But like Frank Thomas, Luis Gonzalez, Geoff Jenkins, and a handful of other veterans, Edmonds was left out in the cold. If nothing else, Edmonds demonstrated in '08 that he could still hit right-handed pitching.

Cardinals Notes: Ludwick, Schumaker, Ankiel

Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak conducted a Q&A session with fans this afternoon.  Here are some highlights courtesy of Joe Strauss (via Twitter) and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, as well as Matthew Leach of MLB.com

  • Mozeliak says that discussions with Skip Schumaker and Ryan Ludwick – both of whom are arbitration eligible – are confined to one season.  Ludwick had a down year in 2009 as he turned in an OPS of .775, his lowest as a Cardinal.  The two parties avoided arbitration last year by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $3.7MM.  The figure was an even compromise as the outfielder requested $4.25MM and the organization submitted $2.8MM.  Meanwhile, Schumaker is arbitration eligible for the first time in his career and should see a pay bump as he has had similar offensive production this season at second base after moving in from the outfield.
  • The return of Rick Ankiel would be a "longshot" according to Mozeliak as the club cannot offer him the at-bats that he wants.  We haven't heard any word of Ankiel being close to signing with a club, but his agent Scott Boras claims to be having "a lot of conversation" about the 30-year-old.
  • St. Louis is not entertaining the idea of inviting Jim Edmonds to camp.  The 39-year-old last played in 2008 for the Padres and the Cubs, where he posted .235/.343/.479 and 20 HRs in 401 plate appearances.
  • Mozeliak confirmed that the club will watch Ben Sheets throw next week, though Leach writes that he's not likely to be a fit for St. Louis.

Free Agent Matchmaker: Braves Need An OF

A look at the remaining 2009 free agents reveals a number of household names still without a job. True, most of these are over the hill veterans, but in many cases they can help contending teams fill roster gaps. Over the next few weeks we'll look at which team/player combinations make sense. Since we're right around the 1/3 mark of the season, now is the time for teams to take chances on these guys. Since they'll probably need at least a few weeks to get into game-playing condition, acting soon would mean having them around the halfway mark.

The 23-23 Braves are lacking in the outfield. Of their Opening Day starters, Jordan Schafer holds the highest OBP at .322. His .301 SLG and .209 BA make his low OBP look even worse. After a hot start Jeff Francoeur has stumbled, and now posts a paltry .629 OPS. Garrett Anderson and his .300 OBP and .322 SLG have been sitting more in favor of Matt Diaz, whose numbers have been more than acceptable in his 93 plate appearances. Still, the Braves could use someone else to shore up the outfield. They could look to a trade, but they might as well scour the free agent market first.

The crop of free agent outfielders have a common problem: lack of mobility. The Braves already have Anderson, so adding another no-glove outfielder who is also a gamble with the bat makes little sense. Maybe Jay Payton could help, but he didn't exactly post sterling statistics as a 35-year-old in 2008. In fact, the Braves would probably be better off just sticking with Diaz-Schafer-Francoeur than signing someone like Payton.

One name on the list sticks out: Jim Edmonds. Yes, he's 39, so his range is going to be limited. In fact, he posted a -14.1 UZR (-23.3 UZR/150) last year as a CF for the Padres and Cubs, so he might only be a help defensively at a corner. But if he can put up even 85 percent of his OPS with the Cubs last year, he'd be a definite upgrade over Francoeur at this point. He could make sense as a replacement if the Braves decide to bench or trade Frenchy.

Yet there is a name which does not appear on the official MLBTR list, and who might not only be willing to play, but would be a mobile outfielder who still has some skills left, even at 42 years old. Yes, that's Kenny Lofton. He's an outside the box pick, mainly because of his age and that he hasn't played in a game since 2007. Way back when the off-season started, Lofton expressed a desire to play in 2009. The downside is that Lofton doesn't just want to play: he wants to get paid. It's doubtful even the desperate Braves will pay Lofton the $6 million he made in '07, even if prorated.

Still, Lofton put up good defensive numbers in 2007 and had a .781 OPS to boot. But if we're talking about the 85 percent production as we did with Edmonds, it doesn't seem as attractive. Even so, he could represent an upgrade over Schafer in center, given his defense and what we'll assume will be league-average offense for a center fielder.

The question facing the Braves right now is of whether checking out these two free agents is more attractive than dealing prospects for outfield replacements. They're in a decent spot with their pitching, and that could become even stronger if Tommy Hanson jumps out of the gate and/or Tim Hudson comes back. With the Mets battling injuries and pitching issues of their own, and with the Phillies doing much the same (more on the pitching front than injuries), the Braves are certainly in the NL East race. They'll certainly look to upgrade in the outfield. Will it be through some gambles on free agents? Or will they reach into their bag o' prospects and try to acquire a younger player?

Joe Pawlikowski is a writer for River Ave. Blues.