John Smoltz Rumors
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com points out that teams aren't handing out long-term contracts as liberally as they were a few years ago. We've seen just eight contracts of three-plus years this offseason, after seeing 13 such contracts in each of the previous two winters. The offseason before that? Players signed 29 contracts of three years or more. Here are Stark's rumors:
- Detroit doesn't seem that interested in Johnny Damon and the Braves haven't spoken with Damon's agent, Scott Boras, in a month and a half. The Rays have checked in, but they have little to spend.
- Erik Bedard and the Orioles have mutual interest in a reunion, Stark hears.
- The Phillies would like to add a veteran left-handed reliever on a minor league deal, but Alan Embree and Ron Mahay are holding out for big league deals at this point, despite the Phillies' interest.
- Kevin Gregg is high on the Rockies' shopping list. They're looking at infield options and hoping to save enough money to shore up their bullpen, too.
- The Blue Jays have told clubs that Scott Downs and Jason Frasor are available. The Cubs have checked in on the pair of relievers.
- The Royals have told teams they're "open minded" about moving Gil Meche or Brian Bannister.
- John Smoltz is in no rush to sign. He's open to waiting for a few months, since he'd like a starting job and some execs question his ability to start for an entire season.
- Ben Sheets will be the first A's pitcher to make $10MM (though some believe Sheets will be traded before the end of the year).
- Mark Prior is throwing off a mound and would like to make a comeback.
THURSDAY, 6:12pm: There has been "increased momentum" towards an agreement between the Mets and John Smoltz, writes Ken Davidoff of Newsday. It's believed that the 42-year-old is seeking $4MM guaranteed, plus performance bonuses.
Though the Mets have yet to make Smoltz a formal offer, they have expressed enthusiasm about bringing him aboard. Likewise, the righty is encouraged by their level of interest.
8:44am: Smoltz could take the Pedro Martinez path and sign mid-season, believes a source of Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News. Pedro signed with the Phillies in July and made his debut a month later.
WEDNESDAY, 9:58am: John Smoltz will fit with almost any club, assuming he comes cheaply. It's unknown whether he can provide significant innings in 2010 as a 43-year-old, but there's something left in the tank given his 73 strikeouts and 18 walks in 78 innings last year. He's a potential weapon in the back end of a rotation or a bullpen.
Mike Puma of the New York Post says that with Ben Sheets and Jon Garland off the board, Smoltz could be the "last man standing" for the Mets. While they've been in contact, Puma believes the Mets aren't willing to spend much. Meanwhile, David Waldstein of the New York Times believes Jarrod Washburn is a possibility for the Mets.
Bob Klapisch of The Bergen Record wrote today that Smoltz is "believed to be leaning toward the Cardinals," but Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Cards "appear unlikely to engage" Smoltz given their Rich Hill signing yesterday.
The Marlins "don't particularly fancy" free agents John Smoltz and Joe Nelson, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, but they're eyeing a slew of others. Spencer names Kevin Gregg, Chan Ho Park, Seth McClung, Kiko Calero, Mike MacDougal, Derrick Turnbow and Jose Veras as relievers on the radar.
The Marlins will be bargain-hunting, of course. Year after year the Fish manage to turn up quality relief seasons from guys signed for nothing. In 2009, it was Calero, Brian Sanches, and Brendan Donnelly. Still, you have to wonder if offering arbitration to Calero would've been a wise move.
Links for Tuesday...
- Orlando Hudson is "making progress on signing with a team," tweets MLB.com's Bill Ladson, however Hudson declined to name the team. In separate tweet, Ladson says a source told him that the Nationals top Hudson's wish list.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Diamondbacks and Rockies are pursuing Derrick Turnbow, who could sign soon.
- MLBTR's resident translator Nick Collias passes along this report from Esteban Rivera of the Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora, in which Carlos Delgado says that the Mets, Orioles, and Royals "have seen him [play] on the island." Omar Minaya said there is still a mutual interest in bringing Delgado back to New York, tweets ESPN's Jorge Arangure
- The final offer Scott Boras presented the Yankees with for Xavier Nady was worth $5MM, tweets Joel Sherman of The New York Post. He adds that the Yanks would have considered him at the price he signed for today, and that they'll only do a minor league deal for Rocco Baldelli (via Twitter).
- Now that Ben Sheets has signed with the A's, Ken Rosenthal at FoxSports.com tweets that the Mets' next target appears to be John Smoltz. A source tells him they haven't aggressively pursued Jon Garland.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart mentions that the Astros and Wandy Rodriguez are set to go an arbitration hearing on February 17th. Wandy filed for $7MM, the team $5MM.
- Meanwhile, Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle breaks down the Astros' offseason in a video.
- Rick Ankiel said that the Nationals, Marlins, and Yankees were in it until the end, reports Doug Tucker of The Brownsville Herald.
- Cody Ross' arbitration hearing has been scheduled for February 15th, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Ross is seeking a $4.45MM salary in 2010, but the Marlins are countering with $4.2MM.
- ESPN's Buster Olney wrote about baseball's internal discussions on how to fix the draft, including some notes about what was discussed at the recent general managers meeting (sub. req'd).
- In a mailbag, MLB.com's Kelly Thesier says the Twins payroll appears to be right around $90MM, and they don't seem willing to spend much more than that.
- Meanwhile, Lyle Spencer of MLB.com writes in his mailbag that the Angels "appear to have stretched the salary budget to its limit," so don't expect any more major moves.
- Ken Davidoff of Newsday lists what he thinks are the best run organizations in baseball (sub. req'd). There's 15 of them, however ten are from the AL while just five come from the NL.
- John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer looks at the list of remaining free agents, and sees only one fit for the Reds: Orlando Cabrera. He's probably too expensive for them at this point, however.
- MLB.com's Marty Noble says in a mailbag that he doesn't believe the Mets' current roster and the Opening Day roster will be the same, but he's not sure where the club can turn to improve.
Adam Rubin of the New York Daily News has the latest on the Mets.
- The Mets are said to be 50-50 on whether to use internal catching options or sign Yorvit Torrealba or Rod Barajas. The current favorite to start is Omir Santos, projected to hit .247/.296/.359 by CHONE.
- The Mets are "very likely to add one more starting pitcher," writes Rubin. John Smoltz, Ben Sheets, and Jon Garland are the names under discussion. The Smoltz talks are described as "active dialogue." We learned earlier today that the A's appear to be a top competitor for Sheets, while SI's Jon Heyman believes the Rangers and Mariners are also in the mix. Heyman tweets that the Mets "don't appear to be the frontrunner for Sheets at the moment."
- Rubin considers a Carlos Delgado re-signing to be "not overly likely" due to concerns about Delgado playing first base. Instead, the Mets could bring Fernando Tatis back.
ESPN.com's Jayson Stark says the Baseball Writers' Association of America needs to establish an award for relief pitchers. He also provides plenty of rumblings from around the league; here they are:
- Stark hears that the only offers Matt Holliday had in-hand when the Cardinals signed him were one-year deals worth $18MM or so.
- The Phillies offered Cliff Lee a three-year extension worth $60MM or so before trading for Roy Halladay. It's unclear whether Lee and agent Darek Braunecker formally turned the offer down, but others believe Lee will seek a longer-term deal once he hits the open market after this season.
- The Phillies are "plenty interested" in Pedro Martinez on a half-season deal similar to the one he signed last year, but one NL club hears that Pedro is looking for a full-season job at "market" dollars.
- The Phillies have backed off on John Smoltz, who wants to start, but they are interested in Jose Contreras.
- The Rockies talked actively to the Marlins about Dan Uggla. Now, the Rockies are more intent on free agent options including Miguel Tejada, Orlando Cabrera and Orlando Hudson.
- They'd also like to bring Jason Giambi back.
- Scouts who have seen Carlos Delgado play first base in Puerto Rico say the slugger should look for a DH job, since his fielding is suspect.
- Stark has the impression that the Cubs have set aside their interest in Ben Sheets as they pursue a bench bat and a setup man.
Some New York news and notes courtesy of Newsday's Ken Davidoff..
- Davidoff's understanding is that the Mets' offer to Joel Pineiro was very similar to the Angels' offer of two-years, $16MM. While it would be natural to assume that the free agent hurler preferred the stability of the Halos franchise to the Metropolitans, he writes that he doesn't know that for certain.
- The Mets would definitely like to sign John Smoltz, though it would cause a logjam of starting pitchers. Davidoff suggests that the team could move John Maine in order to create space for him.
- Speaking of Smoltz, Davidoff hears that the Yankees were interested in the 42-year-old prior to landing Javier Vazquez.
- As we've heard elsewhere, the Bombers are looking for one more outfielder and are considering right-handers Xavier Nady and Rocco Baldelli.
Metsblog's Matthew Cerrone reports that the Mets are interested in signing John Smoltz and one of either Joel Pineiro or Ben Sheets. Cerrone notes that "all three have legit interest in pitching for the Mets on short-term deals," and that signing Pineiro or Sheets would indicate that Smoltz's role in New York would be as a reliever.
The Mets have been linked to this trio and several other starters this winter, but they have yet to make any significant additions to their starting rotation. It's possible that pressure from fans and the New York media might be starting to take a toll on the club. Cerrone cites a report from SI.com's Jon Heyman on The MLB Network in relation to Sheets, where Heyman said the Mets would like to make a "positive" signing in the wake of missing out on free agent catcher Bengie Molina.
Cerrone passed on more info from Heyman and Tom Verducci's discussion of Sheets' throwing session today. More than one scout told Heyman the pitcher looked like "the old Ben Sheets," and both Heyman and Verducci agreed that Sheets will sign a contract similar to Brad Penny's one-year, $7.5MM pact with the Cardinals. Heyman named the Mets, Cubs and Rangers as interested suitors, while Verducci named St. Louis and Seattle as "a likely destination."
The 42-year-old righthander has drawn interest from the Nationals, Phillies, and Cardinals this offseason. Even though his ERA was an ugly 6.35 last season, Smoltz still posted strong strikeout and walk numbers. A National League team seems like the best fit, and a contender could do a lot worse at the back of the rotation.
McCarron adds that the Mets continue to negotiate with Bengie Molina, however things are moving along slowly.
Some more links for the evening...
- Chad Jennings of LoHud.com provides an extensive breakdown of the Yankees' potential outfield options.
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak says his team will decide in the near future "if we have a bullet to use what would we use it on," according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter).
- Ed Price of AOL FanHouse tweets that the Pirates are the leaders for D.J. Carrasco, who is being pursued by three other teams. In a separate tweet, Price adds that the Mets plan to scout Carlos Delgado this weekend in Puerto Rico.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports that Josh Johnson is definitely not switching agents any time soon. Matt Sosnick represents the big righty.
- Justin Sablich lists the best remaining free agents for the New York Times.
- Chien-Ming Wang is telling friends he's prepared to move on from the Yankees, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. Abraham says Wang should be ready to join an MLB rotation in May.
- David Aardsma could come close to tripling his 2009 salary of $419K, according to MLB.com's Jim Street. The reliever is one of five arbitration-eligible Mariners
- MLB.com's Dick Kaegel tweets that Noel Arguelles passed his physical with the Royals, making official the five-year $7MM deal he agreed to earlier in the offseason.
- Larry Larue of the Tacoma News Tribune says Russell Branyan's likely not returning to Seattle now that the Mariners are poised to add Casey Kotchman.
- Matt Cerrone of MetsBlog hears from people connected to the Mets that they are interested in John Smoltz. The NL East is all over Smoltz - the Phils and Nats have interest, too.