Joe Blanton Rumors
Blanton, with two years and $17MM remaining on his contract, became prominent in rumors when the Phillies committed five years and $120MM to Cliff Lee. Those talks had seemingly cooled as we drew nearer to Spring Training, but Blanton's name resurfaced earlier Wednesday in connection with the Cardinals when it was announced that their ace, Adam Wainwright, could be headed for Tommy John surgery.
Even still, Amaro hardly shut the door on Blanton trade talks for good with his assurance that the right-hander would be starting for the Phillies in April. There's plenty of time to get a deal done thereafter.
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.
Even now that Andy Pettitte has announced his retirement, it seems the debate over whether he'll pitch again won't die. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe talked to one scout who, following Pettitte's press conference, was still unconvinced the left-hander is done for good.
"I get the feeling his career isn’t over. For one, he can still pitch at a high level. Secondly, he didn’t retire with any conviction. The stuff about going back and forth on whether or not to pitch leads me to believe he’ll decide to pitch again."
Whether or not the scout is on to something, the Yankees are looking elsewhere for starting pitching. Cafardo has a couple notes on their search among this week's hot stove updates....
- We heard yesterday that the Indians were "making progress" with Kevin Millwood, who is talking to multiple clubs. Cafardo names the Yankees, Mets, and Tribe as teams still in on the right-hander, with salary as the primary hang-up. Given Scott Boras' success so far this offseason, it would actually be somewhat surprising if he and Millwood don't eventually get what they're asking for.
- The Yanks will "see what they have" with pitchers like Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Sergio Mitre before they consider trading for someone like Joe Blanton.
- The Red Sox are eyeing former Yankee Alfredo Aceves as a potential injury rehab project.
- According to Cafardo, it would be the "shock of the century" if Adrian Gonzalez and the Red Sox don't come to terms on a contract extension by the end of Spring Training.
One year ago, the Orioles officially signed Miguel Tejada, bringing him back for his second stint with the club. Unfortunately for the O's, the veteran infielder couldn't match the numbers he'd previously put up in Baltimore, posting a .670 OPS before a July trade sent him to the Padres. While we wait to see what January 23rd will bring this year, here are a few links to browse:
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman would prefer to run a small market team, opines Bill Madden of the New York Daily News, who is beginning to think Cashman may walk away from the Yankees when his contract expires following the 2011 season.
- ESPN's Adam Rubin provides a breakdown of the Mets' 2011 payroll following Jeff Wilpon's statement that the team payroll will be in the $145MM-plus range.
- Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer makes a case for Joe Blanton's value, then says the Phillies need to sell that argument to just one other team. Brookover opines that shedding some money by dealing Blanton could give the Phils a little wiggle room to address other potential areas of need.
- Within a multi-sport mailbag, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer addresses the Indians' third base picture, which could include Jason Donald, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Jared Goedert.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at what the Giants can expect from Mark DeRosa this season. DeRosa is entering the second and final year of the $12MM deal he signed last winter.
- In their newest blog entries, the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck and MASN's Roch Kubatko each discuss the most recent Orioles rumblings, with a focus on Vladimir Guerrero.
It's been widely assumed that the Phillies would trade Joe Blanton after signing Cliff Lee, if for no other reason than to shed the $8.5MM he's owed in each of the next two seasons to create some salary relief. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that might not be the case, however.
"I don’t feel comfortable doing it," said Amaro. "He’s going to pitch for the Phillies, probably for the entire season ... We do not need to trade the man."
The number of teams looking for starting pitching is plentiful, but one rival GM told Rosenthal there was "not a chance" that his team would want Blanton unless the Phillies ate a significant portion of his salary.
The 30-year-old right-hander pitched to a 4.82 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 175.2 innings last season. It was the first time he failed to throw at least 194 innings in a full season in his career, but you can blame that on an oblique strain that robbed him of all of April.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki that right field, the bullpen and the bench are areas his team could potentially improve upon before the season starts. “I'm looking forward to seeing some competition in all three of those areas," Amaro said. Here are more Phillies-related notes from Zolecki:
- The Phillies don’t have to clear payroll, but they could explore deals that create flexibility for later on in the season. The team is still open to moving Joe Blanton, who will earn a total of $17MM in 2011-12. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes recently listed some potential destinations for the right-hander.
- Philadelphia hasn’t ruled out a reunion with Chad Durbin. The sides exchanged offers last week.
- The Phils would “obviously” like to extend their relationship with manager Charlie Manuel, Amaro said. Manuel is in the final year of his contract, but the sides won’t necessarily reach an agreement before the regular season begins. For a comprehensive look at 'lame duck' managers and GMs, check out this piece by MLBTR's Mark Polishuk.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe names ten teams who might reap the benefits of bargain shopping as the winter winds down. The Rays, Mets, Yankees, and Angels top the list of clubs Cafardo thinks could make discounted moves in the coming weeks. Here are the rest of his hot stove notes:
- While the Mets will be hunting for affordable starting pitching options, don't expect the Phillies to trade Joe Blanton within the division.
- The Angels are making sure they don't bid against themselves on Adrian Beltre, and could eventually land the third baseman for a lesser price than Scott Boras is seeking.
- The Indians could make some more moves if they want to continue stockpiling prospects. Other teams would have interest in players like Chris Perez, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, and Fausto Carmona, while Cleveland would "love to trade" Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner.
- The Nationals "know it’s tough to get players to buy into the future of the team," writes Cafardo. As such, they may eventually commit to Adam LaRoche for the three years he's looking for.
- Jim Masteralexis, Manny Delcarmen's agent, says several teams are interested in his client, and Cafardo warns not to bet against the Rays.
- Carl Pavano may make a decision this week, and it appears that while he'd prefer to return to Minnesota, the Nationals will offer the better contract. Of course, we already saw one top free agent pitcher choose comfort over more guaranteed money, when Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies.
In today's column, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe asked ten baseball people to select the ten most significant moves/non-moves of the offseason. Unsurprisingly, Adrian Gonzalez, Zack Greinke, Carl Crawford, and Cliff Lee topped the list. Here are the rest of Cafardo's rumors...
- Talks between the Braves and Dan Uggla have slowed because he's seeking more money, but an extension should get done during the first week of January. Cafardo reported that the two sides were close to a five-year deal worth $60-61MM about two weeks ago.
- The Orioles still have interest in Kevin Gregg and the Red Sox still have interest in Brian Fuentes, but other free agent relievers like Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Octavio Dotel, Aaron Heilman, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima and Jon Rauch remain in limbo.
- Carl Pavano is holding out for three years, with the Nationals, Twins, and Rangers still showing interest. Cafardo adds the Mariners to the mix, with the caveat that they free up some money first.
- The teams considering Pavano could also turn to Joe Blanton, who would certainly come cheaper.
- The Red Sox "haven’t heard anything close to the value they would need in return" for Daisuke Matsuzaka.
- The Angels and several other teams made a run at Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason, but the Sox "never heard any offer resembling proper value."
- Cafardo wonders if Adrian Beltre is looking at a much smaller payday than originally anticipated. Last we heard, the Angels pulled their five-year, $70MM offer to the third baseman, but they remain in the mix to sign him.
- David Aardsma is still trade bait and the Mariners wouldn't mind moving him for starting pitching depth. Earlier this week we heard Seattle wanted an impact bat for its closer.
This has been a pretty good few months for Giants fans. Not only did their team end a 56-year World Series drought, but now TV announcers Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper are close to six-year extensions to continue broadcasting Giants games, reports Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Onto some other Thursday news...
- Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com looks at Hal Steinbrenner's "frugal approach" and how it won't go over well in New York if the Yankees don't win.
- Andy Pettitte has delayed his retirement decision long enough that if he does choose to return next year, he's already behind on his preseason preparations, observes ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
- In an MLB.com mailbag, Ian Browne thinks the Red Sox will look to acquire a veteran backup infielder or "a Bill Hall-type who can play the infield and outfield."
- The Yankees have "had internal chats" about signing Manny Ramirez, tweets Jack Curry of the YES Network. Curry rates the odds of Ramirez in pinstripes as even slimmer than those of the Yanks signing Johnny Damon, which Curry says "is also unlikely."
- With the pitching market so thin, baseball sources tell MLB.com's Todd Zolecki that the Phillies shouldn't have any trouble dealing Joe Blanton and might not even have to eat much of the $17MM Blanton is owed through 2012.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez and Matthew Leach go point/counterpoint on whether or not the Rays should be shopping Matt Garza.
- Buck Showalter denies reports that the Orioles have made a three-year, $21MM offer to Adam LaRoche, tweets MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli.
- ESPN's Keith Law chats with fans about a number of topics, including the Zack Greinke trade, Kerry Wood's deal with the Cubs, and various teams' minor league systems and prospects.
- Speaking of the Greinke trade, MLB.com's Mark Sheldon explains why Cincinnati didn't make a move for the ace right-hander and discusses other Reds-related matters in a fan mailbag.
- In a separate piece, Sheldon writes that the Reds will look internally to replace Arthur Rhodes, who agreed to a contract with Texas today.
A year ago today, the Yankees acquired Javier Vazquez from the Braves for a group of players led by Melky Cabrera. Neither headliner did much in 2010, but the two lefty relievers in the deal - Michael Dunn and Boone Logan - did well and the Braves acquired a promising young arm in Arodys Vizcaino. As we await the next big trade of the 2010-11 offseason, here are today's links...
- Cardinals assistant GM John Abbamondi is leaving for San Diego, where he'll be a VP with the Padres, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter links).
- Luis Montanez told Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com that he has drawn interest from some AL East teams and some Japanese teams. The 29-year-old outfielder posted a .223/.257/.323 line in 266 plate appearances for the Orioles from 2008-10.
- The D'Backs have avoided incentive-based contracts in the past, but as MLB.com's Steve Gilbert explains, GM Kevin Towers has been creative with the contracts he's worked on this offseason. Click here for more contract details from around the majors.
- Cork Gaines of Rays Index explains that Tampa Bay's Opening Day payroll projects to be much lower in 2011, perhaps under $40MM.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explains that former Ray and Type A free agent Grant Balfour could end up returning to Tampa Bay, though it seems unlikely.
- The Phillies will have almost no flexibility to acquire players next summer unless they trade Joe Blanton to free up salary, according to Rosenthal.