Joel Zumaya Rumors
The LaTroy Hawkins signing got understandably overshadowed during the winter meetings, but the Angels are still exploring bullpen options according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Gonzalez says they've been in touch with Darren Oliver's representatives and had scouts watch Joel Zumaya's recent showcase.
The Halos have Jordan Walden, Scott Downs, Hisanori Takahashi, and Hawkins slated for the bullpen at the moment, plus they have Kevin Jepsen, Rich Thompson, Bobby Cassevah, and Jerome Williams on their 40-man roster as well. Gonzalez says the Angels can't afford Francisco Cordero, and he adds that GM Jerry Dipoto has not reached out to free agents Luis Ayala and Dan Wheeler either.
In his latest column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo writes that the Red Sox have to be wary of an American League where the competition continues to get stiffer. With the Albert Pujols-led Angels and the improving Blue Jays aiming to contend for the postseason, the Red Sox may need to continue making moves to avoid missing the playoffs for a third straight year, says Cafardo. Here are some highlights from his piece:
- Other GMs say Ben Cherington has been active in discussing potential moves. The Red Sox have looked into a number of pitchers on the trade market, including Gio Gonzalez, Jair Jurrjens, Gavin Floyd, and John Danks. According to Cafardo, the Sox probably don't have the caliber of prospects the Athletics want for Gonzalez.
- An AL executive on how the Rays might fill their roster holes: "They could just continue to bottom-feed and keep all of their pitching. There's that January market that they've done very well with, and as long as they keep making the right decisions, their pitching is so good it will keep them in that playoff hunt every year."
- Cafardo is skeptical that the Cubs are legit contenders for Prince Fielder, saying right now the team's mindset is "let’s not spend until we’re ready to spend and right now we're not ready to spend." It makes sense then that Cafardo also hears Chicago's bid for Yu Darvish was low, as detailed in MLBTR's Darvish rumors.
- The Astros seem willing to take on some salary in a Wandy Rodriguez trade. We heard during the Winter Meetings that Houston didn't want to eat any of Wandy's contract to move him, so perhaps the club modified that stance after Jeff Luhnow took over as GM.
- One NL scout who watched Joel Zumaya pitch this week said the righty "didn't have much of a breaking ball but threw 93-96 on his fastball. Somebody will bite on him."
MLB announced that baseball’s 30 owners unanimously approved the five-year collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association today. Here are some other notes from around MLB...
- The Marlins remain in the mix to sign Greg Dobbs, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The Nationals are also interested in the free agent utility player.
- The Mets remain in regular contact with free agent shortstop Jack Wilson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- Though the Indians never made Josh Willingham a former proposal, they indicated that they were willing to offer a two-year deal in the $15MM range, according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter links). Willingham has agreed to terms with the Twins, but GM Chris Antonetti says the Indians are still considering external options.
- A scout tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that just about every team in baseball saw free agent right-hander Joel Zumaya throw in Houston yesterday (Twitter link).
- Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki is in Seattle and may sign a minor league deal with the Mariners in the relatively near future, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times (Twitter links). The deal may not be finalized until after the holidays, but he will sign with Seattle, Stone reports.
It's late on the East coast but it's not even 11:30pm in San Diego, so here's some Padres rumors for the Friars fans who are still awake:
- The Padres have spoken with Francisco Rodriguez about replacing Heath Bell, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter). Then again, Davidoff notes that they've spoken to "pretty much all the available closers."
- Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the Padres have about $20MM to spend.
- From that same piece, Center writes that GM Josh Byrnes will be active on Wednesday and also that he hopes to have all seven arbitration-eligible Padres signed by the Dec. 12 non-tender deadline.
- The Padres are unlikely to release anyone from their full 40-man roster to create an opening for Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, writes Center.
- Center also adds that the Padres will be one of several teams to watch Joel Zumaya throw next week.
- The Tigers were approached earlier in the offseason about trading for Wandy Rodriguez, but their limited interest quickly faded.
- Detroit won't be one of the teams watching Joel Zumaya throw next week, but they have a standing minor league contract offer (with a Spring Training invitation) for the right-hander if he wants to come back.
- While the Tigers have ruled out pursuing Yu Darvish, they're keeping an eye on other Asian pitchers. GM Dave Dombrowski on the subject: "I don't think we're on the verge of [signing] anybody from the Asian market, but we're aware of some players that are there."
- The Tigers announced that they've signed six players to minor league deals: Quentin Berry, Matt Young, Jerad Head, Audy Ciriaco, Argenis Diaz, and Ramon Garcia.
The latest on the Mets's search for bullpen help, with the newest updates on top...
- Rauch and the Mets had "good talks" today and are making progress, tweets Rubin.
- The Mets have a list of about 11 attainable relievers, says Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Rubin adds Octavio Dotel and Jason Isringhausen to the names mentioned below.
- Jose Reyes' agent met with the Mets about other clients such as Endy Chavez, Cesar Izturis, and Ronny Cedeno, which was described as "a little awkward."
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post is getting a strong feeling the Mets are closing in on a late-inning relief type, other than Francisco Cordero. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News hears the same, and says to think Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, and Brad Lidge types. Martino thinks a deal could happen tonight. Alderson told reporters the Mets are more likely to sign two lesser-priced relievers than one expensive guy.
- The Mets will probably send someone to see Joel Zumaya throw next week, tweets Sherman.
- Alderson will meet with Scott Boras today, though he told reporters Francisco Rodriguez is unlikely.
- The Mets' five or so top prospects will not be traded, Alderson told reporters including Rubin.
- The Mets have interest in bringing 40-year-old righty Miguel Batista back, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
Free agent notes I found lying around on Twitter...
- Righty Chris Young should be ready for spring training following shoulder capsule surgery, his agent told MLB.com's Corey Brock.
- Aaron Rowand is looking for a big league job, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports. The Phillies said no.
- Manny Ramirez is calling teams directly in his search for employment, tweets Bob Klapisch.
- Reliever Frank Francisco is likely to sign elsewhere in the wake of the Blue Jays acquiring Sergio Santos, GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters today.
- Infielder Miguel Tejada hopes for a Major League deal, tweets Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
- More than a dozen scouts are expected to watch Joel Zumaya throw next week, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney. The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, and Padres are among the team's that will be in attendance.
- Sidney Ponson has no intention of pitching again, writes MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko. Currently, Ponson is contemplating whether to purchase a boat. I say go for it, big guy!
Some news items to wrap up the evening as we inch closer to the Winter Meetings....
- Carlos Pena would be a fit with the Blue Jays, Brewers, Cubs, Mariners, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox and Yankees, opines SBNation's Rob Neyer. The Yankees tried to claim Pena on waivers last August but the Cubs pulled him back.
- Joel Zumaya said the Red Sox expressed an interest in him as soon as he hit free agency, reports MLB.com's Jason Beck. Boston will be one of the 10 or more teams present when Zumaya throws a mound session in two weeks. The right-hander underwent elbow surgery in March and didn't pitch last season.
- Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (via Twitter) lists, in order, the Yankees, Rangers and Phillies as the top candidates to sign Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler.
- The Orioles interviewed Rick Peterson for their open minor league pitching coordinator's position, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Peterson (former pitching coach of the Brewers, Mets and Athletics) is also a candidate to be Bobby Valentine's new pitching coach with the Red Sox.
- Also from Rosenthal, the Royals "backed off" pursuing free agent starters due to their large number of minor league pitching prospects and also because the club wants to remain flexible since they know not every young arm will properly develop. The Royals re-signed Bruce Chen and their other major starting acquistion this winter (Jonathan Sanchez) came via a trade.
- The Cardinals could make an acquisition or look internally to fill their middle infield needs, writes MLB.com's Matthew Leach, but the team won't know how much they have to spend until Albert Pujols makes his decision.
The Tigers defeated the Rangers tonight and they now trail two games to one in the ALCS. Detroit could even the series at two games if they win at home tomorrow afternoon. Here are today's links...
- The Angels have D'Backs exec Jerry Dipoto and Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer on their list of GM candidates, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link). We recently introduced Dipoto and Oppenheimer as part of our GM Candidates series.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane told Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner that he'll complete the ownership transfer to Jim Crane, though it could take three or four weeks (all Twitter links).
- The Astros announced that they have agreed to one-year deals with hitting coach Mike Barnett and pitching coach Doug Brocail.
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes learned that Jason Bartlett's $5.5MM club option for 2013 vests if he picks up 432 plate appearances in '12 (Twitter link). That would give the Padres infielder 1050 trips to the plate in 2011-12.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams admitted to reporters that he considered Paul Konerko as a possible player-manager before hiring rookie skipper Robin Ventura. "He would probably drive himself nuts right now playing and managing at the same time," Williams said, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
- Nolan Ryan wouldn't predict the Rangers' chances of re-signing C.J. Wilson, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. Ryan says the Rangers will start negotiating with Wilson's agent once their season ends.
- Joel Zumaya told reporters, including Jason Beck of MLB.com, that he'd like to re-sign with the Tigers after the season. The hard-throwing right-hander didn't pitch this year because of elbow soreness and has started throwing again.
- As J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explains, young players are being squeezed out of independent baseball. But some, such as Marshall Schuler of the Frontier League, could become options for MLB teams.
Before the season, MLBTR writers identified 13 players who were set for 'make or break' years. These players had experienced ups and downs in their respective careers and were positioned to re-establish themselves as difference makers at the Major League level and set themselves up for success in free agency.
Players whose seasons met or exceeded preseason expectations:
- Aramis Ramirez - Ramirez had a strong season, hitting 26 homers and posting a .306/.361/.510 line as the Cubs' everyday third baseman.
- Edwin Jackson - Jackson, a free agent after the season, completed 199 2/3 innings with a 3.79 ERA, 6.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 43.8% ground ball rate.
- Bobby Abreu - Though Abreu's power dropped off, he managed a .353 on-base percentage and 21 steals. His 2012 option vested in July, so he should be back in Los Angeles for a fourth season with the Angels.
- Carlos Beltran - A highly-coveted midsummer trade target, Beltran spent time on the DL with a strained right hand and wrist in August. His season line was .300/.385/.525, so agent Scott Boras will likely receive multiyear offers for the switch-hitter.
- Jeff Francis - Francis pitched 183 innings with a 4.82 ERA, 4.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. He wasn't spectacular, but he made his starts, quieting questions about the condition of his left shoulder.
Players who had disappointing seasons due to injury or poor performance:
- Scott Kazmir - Kazmir spent time on the DL, made one appearance for the Angels and posted a 17.02 ERA with more walks than strikeouts at Triple-A before getting released. The 2011 season could not have gone much worse for the former first rounder.
- Nate McLouth - McLouth's .228/.344/.333 line is better than it was last year and features a respectable on-base percentage, but he missed the second half with oblique and abdominal injuries.
- Jonathan Broxton - It was a lost season for Broxton, who recently had surgery to remove loose bodies in his right elbow and is looking at an incentive-based one-year deal in free agency.
- Grady Sizemore - Sizemore got off to a hot start, but finished the season with a .224/.285/.422 line. Knee and abdominal issues limited him to 71 games and there's no guarantee that the Indians will pick up his $9MM option for 2012.
- Joel Zumaya - Zumaya didn't pitch in a Major League game after undergoing elbow surgery in March.
- Ryan Doumit - A sprained left ankle limited the 30-year-old to 77 games. When healthy, he posted a .303/.353/.477 line, but it doesn't appear likely that the Pirates will pick up his $7.25MM option.
- Casey Blake - Blake hit .252/.342/.371 in 239 plate appearances and spent considerable time on the DL with a cervical strain. He had surgery in September and the Dodgers will decline his $6MM option for 2012.
- Matt Capps - Capps saw his strikeout rate (4.7 K/9), ground ball rate (41.6%), average fastball velocity (92.9 mph) and innings total (65 2/3) drop this year, while his ERA rose nearly two runs to 4.25. At least he stayed healthy, unlike many on this list.