John Smoltz Rumors
The Twins are looking at a giant hole in their bullpen with closer Joe Nathan on the shelf thanks to a torn elbow ligament, though they haven't rushed into finding a replacement. ESPN's Buster Olney notes (via Twitter) that there is some hope Nathan will be able to pitch though the injury, but they won't know for sure until he tries to throw.
In a second tweet, Olney opines that there's an experienced, veteran closer available on the free agent market that might be a good fit for Minnesota, and his name is John Smoltz. The caveat is that he and his surgically repaired shoulder/elbow would work a Trevor Hoffman-like schedule, pitching just 50 or so innings, far below the 70 IP per season Nathan has averaged since joining the team.
The now 42-year-old Smoltz last worked out of the bullpen full-time in 2004, and as you know his performance while pitching in relief is quite good. He has said he's content to wait for the right deal, even if that means waiting until mid-season. Minnesota has some decent in-house options with Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Jose Mijares, and even Francisco Liriano, so they have the luxury of letting things play out early in the season. If no one steps up, Smoltz could be attractive to pass up during the summer.
There aren't many options for teams looking to sign a dependable starter, but the free agent market isn't completely barren yet. Of all the free agents remaining, only three pitchers logged more than 100 innings last year. Here's the latest on all eight starters to pitch as many as 40 innings last year (or what Roy Halladay logs in an average month):
- Braden Looper, 194.2 IP - The Dodgers are interested on a minor league deal and the D'Backs aren't likely to pursue him, despite Brandon Webb's questionable status for Opening Day.
- Jarrod Washburn, 176 IP - The Twins and Mariners seemed to lead the way for Washburn early on, but the Scott Boras client said yesterday that he doesn't expect to return to Seattle. The D'Backs don't appear likely to pursue Washburn and we haven't seen the Orioles connected to him for a month.
- Mike Hampton, 112 IP - He will miss the 2010 season after undergoing rotator cuff surgery.
- John Smoltz, 78 IP - Smoltz hasn't ruled out the Braves, but the Cardinals don't appear to have the money to sign him and the Nationals haven't spoken to him recently. Jon Heyman of SI.com says Smoltz is content to wait for the right deal, which may mean a mid-season signing.
- Bartolo Colon, 62.1 IP - The former Cy Young Award winner wants to pitch, but wasn't publicly linked to any teams this winter.
- Sidney Ponson, 58.2 IP - There has been no reported interest in Ponson this winter.
- Adam Eaton, 49 IP - There has not been interest in Eaton, either.
- Pedro Martinez 44.2 IP - The Phillies have been linked to Pedro throughout the offseason. Pedro may wait to sign in-season, as he did last year.
Links for Monday...
- John Smoltz and Pedro Martinez will likely eventually sign with National League clubs, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He names the Cardinals, Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers as potential players for the two veteran right-handers.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tells MLB.com's Matthew Leach that his club is going to be patient about assessing their bullpen, and is not currently seeking right-handed relief help.
- Troy Percival is in Angels camp as a guest instructor, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. He has no plans to try another comeback.
- I named my undervalued hitters for fantasy baseball leagues over at RotoAuthority.
- Former A's and Padres exec Sandy Alderson has been tasked with revamping MLB's Dominican Republic office, reports ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr.
- Indians third baseman Jhonny Peralta told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports he'd like to remain in Cleveland beyond this year, though Morosi sees a good chance of a trade. Peralta earns $4.6MM this year, and has a $7MM club option for 2011 with a $250K buyout.
- Joe Posnanski profiles Joakim Soria, suggesting the Royals should've tried him as a starter at some point.
- ESPN's Rob Neyer learned from Michael Lewis that Jonah Hill has replaced Demetri Martin as the actor who will play Paul DePodesta in Aaron Sorkin's Moneyball movie. Brad Pitt is still slated to play Billy Beane.
Links for Tuesday...
- SI's Tom Verducci lists his 13 most interesting non-roster invitees.
- Aaron Boone has officially retired and joined ESPN as an analyst. USA Today's Bob Nightengale first reported in October that Boone was likely to hang up the spikes.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that John Smoltz currently prefers to start, but he'll be more open to relieving if he signs midseason. The Cardinals apparently do not have the funds to re-sign Smoltz.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets that Kris Benson is no longer talking to the Nationals, despite the pitcher's assertion yesterday.
- WEEI's Alex Speier tweets that the Red Sox released southpaw Jose Capellan.
- MLB.com's transactions page says Boston also released righty Edwin Moreno, who they signed to a minor league deal a month ago. Augusto Cardenas first tweeted of the move on Thursday, saying that Moreno will play in Mexico instead.
- Speier also has an article about David Ortiz reaching a career crossroads. Speier finds it unlikely that the Sox exercise Ortiz's $12.5MM club option for 2011.
- In an interview with Rob Dibble and Steve Davis, Kris Benson said that he and the Nationals were "still talking." There's been word of the Nats' interest in the 35-year-old as of late, though Benson says he's not in a rush to sign anywhere.
- Ladson writes that Washington has not had any recent conversations with John Smoltz. The Nationals are reportedly one of ten teams that have expressed interest in the 42-year-old.
- On his blog, Ladson writes that the Nationals are trying hard to add another veteran starter after striking out on Chan Ho Park and Braden Looper. It should be noted that the Nationals did not confirm extending offers to either pitcher.
For Martinez, such a move mirrors his 2009, when he waited until July to sign with the Phillies. He was effective for them, pitching to a 3.63 ERA in regular-season 44 2/3 innings, along with several strong postseason starts.
Smoltz improved greatly as the 2009 season progressed, faltering badly with Boston but pitching to a 4.26 ERA with St. Louis.
The peripheral numbers for both pitchers suggest that they can help major league teams this season. However, considering that neither one has pitched 200 innings since Smoltz did in 2007, this seems like a wise decision for both of them.
10:47am: Smoltz is seeking at least $3MM, reports David Waldstein of the New York Times. Waldstein feels that the Mets' near-agreement with Hisanori Takahashi takes them out of the running for Smoltz.
9:58am: Free agent pitcher John Smoltz was noncommittal in his talk with Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In reference to his next team, Smoltz replied, "Nothing is closed for me." He has nothing in the works and hasn't decided whether he'll wait until midseason to sign.
Understandably, Schultz gives extra play to the possibility of a Braves reunion. It'd be a nice way to go out, and Smoltz remains in contact with Braves manager Bobby Cox. Still, as far as opportunities go, the Braves appear set with their rotation and the back end of the bullpen.
Ten teams have expressed interest in Smoltz at various points this winter, according to reports: the Nationals, Mets, Phillies, Yankees, Cardinals, Dodgers, Mariners, Astros, Rangers, and Orioles.
The Orioles have some interest in Jarrod Washburn, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. However, Morosi's source says that Scott Boras would have to lower his client's price "pretty far" for the Orioles to become serious bidders for Washburn.
A few Friday night links...
- The Brewers and Corey Hart appear headed to an arbitration hearing after negotiations reached an impasse, reports MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. Hart filed for $4.8MM, the team $4.15MM.
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News spoke to a Yankees' executive about the possibility of bringing in some players on minor league deals, and was told “I wouldn’t say we’re done, but probably close to done.”
- Four teams - including the Yankees, Rangers, and Mariners - are interested in Rocco Baldelli's services, reports Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal.
- ESPN's Jorge Arangure tweets that Cuban first baseman Jose Julio Ruiz is now free to sign after being "unblocked" by the Office of Foreign Asset Control. In a second tweet, Arangure says that Ruiz is expected to command a multi-million dollar contract, and a few months ago we heard that the Red Sox and Tigers had some interest.
- Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun reports that Mark Hendrickson passed his physical today, however his deal with the Orioles likely won't be made official until Monday because the league's offices are closed during the weekend.
- MLB.com's Steve Gilbert says that the Diamondbacks and Edwin Jackson are playing close attention to how Wandy Rodriguez's arbitration case unfolds.
- The Rockies and Cardinals are in the mix for Felipe Lopez, tweets SI.com's Jon Heyman. The 29-year-old had a higher OBP (.383) and SLG (.427) than either Orlando Hudson or Orlando Cabrera in 2009.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson says that the Nationals have spoken to John Smoltz's agent recently, but there is no progress to report and they aren't willing to break the bank for him (both links open in Twitter).
- Meanwhile, Ladson also tweets that the team views the newly signed Miguel Batista as a starter for the back of their rotation, as opposed to an arm for the bullpen.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com says (via Twitter) that Craig Monroe isn't ready to retire to just yet. Over the last three years, Monroe has hit .215/.272/.377 with 23 homers in 693 plate appearances for four teams.
Links for Friday...
- Heyman tweets that the Angels and Dodgers could pursue Garret Anderson.
- Jon Heyman of SI.com tweets that the Mets are falling behind in their attempts to sign John Smoltz.
- As Rob Bradford of WEEI.com notes, Theo Epstein says the Red Sox do not have a policy against negotiating extensions during the season.
- The Red Sox, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Rockies watched Oscar Villarreal throw today, tweets Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse.
- An MLB executive tells ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick that Jermaine Dye turned down $3.3MM from the Cubs before they signed Xavier Nady for the same price (Twitter link).
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson tweets that money may prevent the Nationals from signing Orlando Hudson. Adam Dunn believes Washington is Hudson's first choice.
- The club could go after Adam Kennedy if Hudson signs elsewhere, tweets Ladson.
- The Blue Jays have money, but aren't going to spend for the sake of spending, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.
- In case you'd like more on the Johnny Damon-Yankees drama, SI's Jon Heyman talked to the player and GM.
- Alex Rodriguez was "staring at retirement right in the face" last March when diagnosed with a torn labrum in his hip, he told Kim Jones of the YES Network Wednesday night.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs wonders if aging players are the new market inefficiency.
- Cameron compares Jason Bay to Josh Willingham and concludes that the two outfielders are pretty similar.
- In an interview with SNY's Kevin Burkhardt last night, Mets GM Omar Minaya insisted he has full autonomy. Joel Sherman of the New York Post doesn't buy it.
- U.S.S. Mariner's Dave Cameron tweets of rumblings that the Royals and Mariners have discussed Alberto Callaspo.
- The Red Sox signed catcher Gustavo Molina to a minor league deal, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford. Molina, 28 in February, hit .209/.233/.308 for the Nationals' Triple A club last year.
- Larry Granillo of Wezen-Ball digs up the true story behind Andre Dawson, the Cubs, and the blank check in '87.
- Twins lefty Glen Perkins explained his grievance to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.