John Thomson Rumors

Lieber, Kim Rumors

Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post has some trade rumor tidbits from around baseball this morning.  To summarize:

  • Renck does not think the Phils truly want to use Jon Lieber as a reliever, and mentions two scenarios floating around.  Lieber could be paired with Aaron Rowand and sent to the White Sox, which I would think would require at least Mike MacDougal.  Would be interesting to see Liebs back in Chicago if old pals KW and "Stand Pat" Gillick can work it out.  Or, he could go to Milwaukee for Kevin Mench.  Such a trade would have to push Claudio Vargas to the bullpen.
  • Renck says the Rockies like Mark Hendrickson despite his mediocrity and their stable of starters.  The Dodgers would like to include Hendrickson as part of a bigger deal for a slugger.
  • Byung-Hyun Kim to Florida is a long shot unless the Rox eat most of his $2.5MM salary.  The Rocky Mountain News reiterates that the interested parties are Florida, Oakland, and Texas.  You can add the Pirates to that list as well.  The Bucs could also trade for Armando Benitez.
  • John Thomson seems likely to be released.  The A’s have been rumored.

Ken Rosenthal’s Latest

Ken Rosenthal has been hard at work with his sources, and he has a new article at FOX Sports.  Some highlights:

  • The Marlins and Dodgers are interested in Byung-Hyun Kim as a reliever, and the A’s could add him as the fifth starter instead of Joe Kennedy.  Kim, a 28 year-old sidearmer, hasn’t closed since ’03 with Boston.  A trade to Florida would make him the ninth inning favorite though.  He’ll earn $2.5MM this year.
  • The Rockies like Mark Hendrickson of L.A., and they may release Josh Fogg this spring.  I wouldn’t discard Kim while acquiring Hendrickson; Kim projects as a slightly better pitcher.  Advantages to acquiring Hendrickson from Dan O’Dowd’s point of view: a slightly better groundball rate and two years remaining until free agency.
  • The Blue Jays want to give Josh Towers a rotation spot.  Towers has nine Ks in nine innings this spring while allowing two runs.  Does spring training really have that kind of influence on a team’s decision-makers?  Towers will make $2.9MM this season, but he’s still pretty far from free agency.  The Jays would like to trade John Thomson; otherwise they may release him.  As a newly signed free agent Thomson can veto any deal.  He’d be wise to take a trade to the NL, in my opinion.
  • Rosenthal thinks the Orioles and Nationals will be competing for Mark Teixeira, who will become a free agent after the 2008 season.  Tex is a Maryland native, which usually doesn’t matter for a Boras client.  But Boras might actually be able to use this to get the two clubs bidding against each other.

Thomson Had Some Words

John Thomson had some interesting things to say in his press conference today.

On Paul Lo Duca:

"As far as just looking at Paul Lo Duca across the field, I’m not really into how he acts behind the plate."

Unfortunately, the Mets and Blue Jays won’t meet in interleague this year to create a showdown.

On the Mets’ and Jays’ outfields:

"And then with Vernon Wells in center field, I’m not really concerned about the outfield with him out there. … Just watching the Mets’ outfield, if Cliff Floyd is still there it’s not a real good fit for him out there. He can hit the ball, but as far as defense, he’s a little shaky."

The thing is, the Mets have a guy in center field, goes by the name of Beltran…he’s not too shabby with the glove.  Other thing is, Floyd is a free agent and won’t be back with the Mets.  Still, in general, the Jays do have a better defensive outfield than the Mets.  Mostly because of Shawn Green.

Thomson says his shoulder is OK now, and can earn $4MM with incentives.

Blue Jays Sign John Thomson

According to the Toronto Star, the Blue Jays signed 33 year-old right-handed starter John Thomson for $500,000 plus incentives.  The 33 year-old has a mild labrum tear and was affected by elbow soreness and a blister in ’06 as well.  The Jays aren’t risking much to see if he can rehab his way to a fifth starter job.  In fact, if Thomson can keep his ERA around 5 he’d be on par with most fourth starters.

Mariners Talking To Thomson, Ohka

According to the Seattle Times, Mariners GM Bill Bavasi has been looking at John Thomson or Tomo Ohka as possible additions.

A month ago, the Mariners requested the medical files on Thomson and seemed close to signing him.  The 33 year-old had a rough year health-wise in 2006, so those files were probably pretty thick.

Haven’t heard much on Ohka in the past few weeks, though the Cards, Nats, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mariners have expressed interest in the past.  Maybe he’s waiting for Mulder to sign first. Here’s my Ohka profile if you’re interested. 

Mariners May Not Sign John Thomson

Seemed like it was nearly a done deal four days ago, but the Seattle Times is reporting that John Thomson is just a fallback option for the Mariners.  You can never have too much pitching, so the Ms might want to just sign him now if it’s affordable. 

So far no other rumors have surfaced regarding Thomson, as much of the starting pitching market has yet to settle.

Mariners Close To Signing John Thomson?

The Mariners requested medical files on starter John Thomson today and could sign him soon.  U.S.S. Mariner says it could be a one-year contract with an option for the second year. In my free agent summary I wrote:

"Thomson turned 33 in October.  Elbow soreness and a blister slowed him down in the beginning of the season, followed by shoulder problems from a mild labrum tear.  He’s going to take the rehab approach and hopes to start fresh in ’07.  Thomson made $4.75MM this year; he spent two years as a solid innings eater from 2003-04.  That seems like a long time ago."

Thomson would probably fit into the #4 or #5 slot in the Mariners’ rotation, leaving room for one more acquisition.   

Assessing The Texas Rotation

The Rangers’ starting rotation currently consists of Kevin Millwood, Adam Eaton, Vicente Padilla, Kameron Loe, and Juan Dominguez.  Guys like C.J. Wilson, John Wasdin, and knuckleballer R.A. Dickey could enter the picture as well.

The front three, while health risks, are fairly solid.  I know the Rangers are enamored of Loe following his 3.42 ERA in 92 innings last year.  But the lack of Ks and abnormally low accompanying hit rate spell darker days ahead.  Still, if Loe can keep his ERA in the low 4s the Rangers would be ecstatic.  So he’s not a problem.

Dominguez just needs to keep his ERA under 5 to maintain the fifth starter spot.  I think he’s capable of that.  Still, if he or Loe flames out or one of the front three gets injured, the Rangers would hate to turn to Wilson, Wasdin, or Dickey again.  I think it’s highly likely that they’ll need to get a lot of starts out of someone not in the current front five.

The safe bet: acquire another veteran starter and use Dominguez in a swing role.  The Rangers have several options here that could be helpful.

According to this morning’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Texas is interested in reacquiring John Thomson.  Thomson is a control pitcher who’s been about league average in preventing the longball.  He ate 217 innings for the Rangers in 2003 while posting a 4.85 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.  The 32 year-old makes $4.75MM and is in his contract year.  The Braves are considering moving him and putting Kyle Davies into the rotation.  In 2005, Thomson missed several months after tearing a tendon in his middle finger.

Then there’s Jason Marquis, also an impending free agent.  He can probably provide 200 innings of a 4.50 ERA, which means a lot in Texas.  Swapping Kevin Mench for Marquis could make some sense.

Other than those two, there’s the pie-in-the-sky idea of luring Roger Clemens.  Seems quite unlikely but would obviously be ideal.  Jose Contreras, Erik Bedard, Matt Clement, and Bronson Arroyo are on the market for the right price.  And though it’s a slim chance, if there’s one team for which Kerry Wood might waive his no-trade clause in July, it’s probably the Rangers.          

Julio Lugo To The Braves

Today the Tampa Tribune’s Scott Carter again brought up the idea of the Rays trading Julio Lugo.  This time, he named names:

"While it remains too early to determine whether any of those players will be traded, Atlanta’s interest in Lugo appears real. Atlanta catcher Johnny Estrada, third baseman Andy Marte and pitcher John Thomson, who had his $4.75 million option for next season picked up recently, are all believed to be available. Meanwhile, Baez and Huff continue to surface in trade rumors with the Mets and Red Sox that erupted at last year’s trade deadline."

RotoAuthority has already busted out 2006 projections for Lugo, so we won’t go into detail about that here.  But is the availability of Andy Marte legitimate?  Marte was ranked the #1 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball Prospectus in 2005.  I asked Scott Carter, the perpetrator of the rumor, to elaborate.  He told me:

"I don’t think you would see any kind of trade straight-up for those two. I’m sure for Braves to depart with Marte, they would want Lugo and possibly Gathright/Gomes or more."

If I’m the Rays, I’m speed-dialing Schuerholz to offer Gathright and Lugo for Marte.  Mark my words, the Devil Rays will be a contender by 2007.