Johnny Estrada Rumors

GM Initiation: Josh Byrnes

We're kicking off a new series here at MLBTR called GM Initiation.  Each post in the series will look at a general manager's first trade.

Josh Byrnes was hired as Diamondbacks GM on October 28th, 2005.  His first deal came on December 7th at the Winter Meetings.  Byrnes and Braves GM John Schuerholz agreed on a deal to send catcher Johnny Estrada to Arizona for relievers Oscar Villarreal and Lance Cormier.  Estrada went on to have a solid '06 campaign for the D'Backs and was used in a trade to acquire Doug Davis after the season.  Both relievers pitched two seasons for Atlanta, with Villarreal posting better numbers.

Byrnes was kind enough to answer a few questions about his first trade.

MLB Trade Rumors: 2005 marked your first Winter Meetings as a general manager.  How would you describe the experience?

Josh Byrnes: The 2005 Winter Meetings were busy. We were exploring many trades to reshape the roster. It was our first time together as a larger group in that type of setting.

MLBTR: Did you enter the '05 Meetings intent on acquiring a starting catcher?  About how many different catchers were you seriously considering?

Byrnes: We were trying to improve in the middle of the field. Later that month, we acquired Orlando Hudson, Eric Byrnes and Chris Young. Estrada was the catcher who made the most sense at the time.

MLBTR: What kind of relationship did you have with Braves GM John Schuerholz prior to the Estrada deal?  How long did it take to put the trade together?

Byrnes: I knew John a little bit. The trade came together fairly quickly. We had a few discussions at the meetings and agreed after a few conversations.

MLBTR: Does the Estrada trade hold significance for you, since it was your first acquisition?  Is the significance diminished because you were such an active trader that month?

Byrnes: I said at the time that the deal carried some significance to me because we did it with John. Certainly, he is one the best (if not the best) GM’s of all time. He is also very passionate about the game and the industry, so it is memorable to have made my first trade with John.

Discussion: The Yankees’ Catcher

3:11pm: It's official now; as's B.J. Rains reports, Molina's headed to the DL.

11:27am: When the Yankees lost Jorge Posada to the DL for two to three weeks, Jose Molina became their starter. Now, Molina's quad is injured and, as Anthony McCarron of the New York Daily News reports, Joe Girardi isn't optimistic about the injury. This leaves the Yankees with Francisco Cervelli behind the plate, a 23-year-old with a solid minor league resume, but only 41 games played above A ball and seven big league plate appearances. So what should the Yankees do if Molina has to spend time on the DL?

  • Let Cervelli play until Posada returns in a couple weeks.
  • Sign a free agent catcher like Johnny Estrada or Paul Lo Duca to fill in.
  • Trade for a catcher.

Week In Review: 7/20 – 7/26

This one will be a bit lengthy, which can be expected as the deadline approaches. Here’s a review of some of the major moves and rumors of the last week:

  • The Yankees acquired Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte from the Pirates for OF Jose Tabata, RHP Ross Ohlendorf, RHP Dan McCutchen and RHP Jeff Karstens . I agree with Tim that Ian Kennedy would’ve been a better centerpiece, but Tabata is pretty highly-touted himself. Kennedy would have made a more immediate impact, while Tabata is only 19 years old.
  • The Dodgers acquired Casey Blake for minor league RHP Jon Meloan and C Carlos Santana. The Dodgers get a nice boost to their lineup without giving up too much, although Santana’s putting together a very impressive season in Class-A ball.
  • The Nationals sent Jon Rauch to the Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league 2B Emilio Bonifacio. Rauch adds to a strong bullpen for Arizona, while Bonaficio could become a very solid leadoff hitter in the future for Washington. They may have been able to get more for Rauch, but I personally like the move, regardless.
  • The Brewers acquired Ray Durham from the Giants for minor leaguers Darren Ford and Steve Hammond. Rickie Weeks has been a disappointment to an otherwise red-hot club. Can Durham provide a bit more stability? The power’s gone, but he can still get on base.
  • The Astros acquired Randy Wolf from the Padres for minor league pitcher Chad Reineke. This one confuses me a little bit; with all due respect, did the Astros forget they were 12.5 games out? I don’t see the logic in buying on a pitcher.
  • The Cardinals traded Anthony Reyes to the Indians for minor league pitcher Luis Perdoma. I don’t get this one either. I feel like the Cardinals could have gotten more, despite Reyes’ struggles in the past. The Indians could make this one look like a steal, in my opinion.
  • The Yankees are in deep discussion with the Mariners about acquiring Jarrod Washburn. Tim cites Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal in saying that the Mariners want a top prospect in addition to the salary dump, but the Yankees are only offering a marginal prospect. Can’t say I blame them. A top prospect for an mediocre pitchers who’s due an additional $14MM? Sounds like Seattle’s getting greedy…
  • A new, and surprising name surfaced in trade talks: Manny Ramirez. Manny has said he would waive his no-trade clause, and based on interviews, has basically said that 2008 will be his last season in Boston. I can’t see Boston trading their (arguably) best hitter in the middle of a pennant race, however. I’d bet on him finishing out the season.
  • Speaking of corner outfielders, the Mets need one, and they know it. Having missed out on Nady and Blake, they will likely zero in on Raul Ibanez. Ibanez makes great sense for them, and the Mariners would obviously like to rebuild. I expect this one to get done.
  • There was a report that Roy Halladay came out and told the Blue Jays that he is unhappy in Toronto, which has provoked the Jays to explore their potential options. Halladay’s price would have to be astronomical, I’d think. He’s signed through 2010 and pitching like it’s 2003 all over again. Personal speculation: I think Halladay to the Cardinals with a Colby Rasums centerpiece would make sense.
  • Crisitan Guzman signed a two-year, $16MM contract extension. Guzman has revived his career after surgery following an awful 2005. I like the signing for the Nats.
  • Jorge Posada could be out for the season. The Yankees are looking for catchers. In addition to the names mentioned there, they could take a shot at signing Johnny Estrada, who was DFA’ed by Washington this week. Estrada was terrible in Washington, but has put up solid offensive numbers for a catcher throughout his career.
  • Brian Fuentes, Huston Street, and George Sherrill are all still potential trade pieces. Fuentes is the most likely to go, I’d say, although the Rockies are asking for quite a bit.
  • Tim updated the left-handed reliever and left field markets.

Estrada Designated For Assignment

To make room for Lastings Milledge, the Nationals designated catcher Johnny Estrada for assignment yesterday.  Estrada, 32, signed a one-year $1.25MM deal with the Nats in January.  He hit .170/.200/.170 in 55 plate appearances, hobbled by a right elbow injury much of the season.

Estrada doesn’t want to go to the minors, and talked about being ready to go home.  It seems unlikely that a contender will pick him up.

Odds and Ends: Helms, Bako, Crisp

I am going to toss today’s non-Santana odds and ends into this post.

  • Paul Hagen runs through some possibilities for the likely-to-be-traded Wes Helms: Marlins, Rays, Twins, Giants, and A’s.  Any teams you’d like to add to his speculation?
  • The Pirates have moved on from Johnny Estrada to Paul Bako.  He’d battle to back up Ronny Paulino.
  • OK this is Santana-related.  Gordon Edes says the Red Sox will listen to offers for Coco Crisp, but are fine with keeping him around as perhaps the game’s best fourth outfielder.  See any good fits for Crisp?

Johnny Estrada Signs With Nationals

According to’s Bill Ladson, the Nationals signed catcher Johnny Estrada to a one-year, $1.25MM deal.  Estrada had been close to a deal with the Pirates. 

Ladson’s source says the signing is not a reaction to Paul Lo Duca‘s knee injury (torn meniscus).  Lo Duca isn’t expected to miss too much of the regular season anyway.

Jim Bowden seems to have created a veteran surplus on his club at multiple positions.

Pirates Rumors: Snell, Estrada, Villone

John Perrotto had some new Pirates’ rumblings in yesterday morning’s column.

  • Don’t be so quick to dismiss the Ian Snell to Seattle rumor.  Perrotto acknowledges it, noting that the Mariners would offer Jeff Clement but the Pirates would probably require Adam Jones
  • Perrotto believes the Pirates have backed off their pursuit of Johnny Estrada, though Dejan Kovacevic hasn’t heard this. I never thought Estrada made much sense for them.
  • Perrotto says the Pirates have an eye on free agent lefty Ron Villone, who pitched for them back in ’02.

Odds and Ends: Estrada, Payton, Kielty

Random rumors from the day…

  • The Bucs are set with their starting five, unless they can trade Matt Morris.  Dejan Kovacevic adds that the Pirates and Johnny Estrada have mutual interest but haven’t spoken in a while.
  • Roch Kubatko expects the Orioles to shop Jay Payton now that they’ve acquired Chris Roberson.  Really, all of their vets should be fully available.
  • Bobby Kielty has interest from three or four teams, but his first choice is Boston.  The likelihood of that increases if Coco Crisp is sent elsewhere.  Kielty is willing to give up switch-hitting if his new team so desires.
  • Troy E. Renck has salary details on Mark Redman and Kip Wells.  Redman gets $1MM, with another possible $500K in incentives.  Wells gets a $3.1MM base with another possible $1.5MM in incentives.

Pirates Looking For Catching Help

Ronny Paulino.  The Pirates’ backstop turns 27 in April and sports a career OPS of .730 (NL average for the position in ’07 was .712).  Paulino nailed 26.7% of baserunners in ’07 and 36.2% in ’06.  For his gamecalling skills I’ll defer to devoted Pirate fans, but he’s got to be improving after two years behind the dish.  In short, there’s no reason to spend money at the catcher position for 2008.

That is exactly what the Pirates are planning, however.  The names on the radar:

  • Johnny Estrada – free agent with few remaining skills, will cost between $3.5-4MM
  • Miguel Olivo – free agent hits for pop and guns runners down, will cost around $3MM
  • Damian Miller – aging backup with little left, will cost around $2MM
  • Michael Barrett – intriguing buy low trade possibility, but could cost $4.5-5MM

I don’t really support any of these moves, but I can at least see the logic in acquiring Barrett on the cheap and hoping to cash in on a rebound year.  But bringing in a vet to split time with Paulino doesn’t seem good for his development.

Today’s Non-tenders: Towers, Prior, Everett, Durbin

Tim’s out for the night, so we’ve got a fresh post started for the non-tenders. has a running list as well.

These guys are the officials as of now:

  • As expected, the Marlins non-tendered catcher Miguel OlivoJohnny Estrada was another casualty; these two make up the market for starting catchers.
  • The Blue Jays non-tendered Josh Towers, a surprising move.  Some NL team could offer him two years and get league average work out of him.
  • Mark Prior has been non-tendered.  Honestly if I were the Cubs, I would’ve tossed the $3.5MM his way just to see.
  • Aaron Miles is now a free agent.
  • The A’s cut Kiko Calero loose.
  • The Padres have non-tendered four: Morgan Ensberg, Jason Lane, and pitchers Jack Cassell and Ryan Ketchner. RotoWorld speculates that the latter two, not arbitration eligible, could be offered minor league deals.
  • The Royals cut the cord on Emil Brown.  He turns 33 soon; he hit an ugly .257/.300/.347 in 2007.  Brown earned $3.45MM in ’07.
  • The Tigers non-tendered Chad Durbin, toss him into the free agent pool.  Guess those trade talks with the Bucs didn’t work out.
  • The Twins have let go Jason Tyner.
  • The Nats have cut bait with Nook Logan and LHP Michael O’Connor.
  • The Dodgers wave goodbye to Mark Hendrickson.
  • The White Sox have non-tendered Andy Gonzalez and LHP Heath Phillips. Joe Crede sticks with the Pale Hose for now.
  • Adam Everett has lost his job with the Astros. It’d be kind of funny if the Orioles signed him.
  • Per RotoWorld, the Angels have non-tendered Dallas McPherson. He’s full of potential, but he’s never come through. He’s only 27, though, so he could still catch on somewhere. Unless, RotoWorld notes, he has an agreement in place with the Angels.
  • The Braves have non-tendered Willie Harris, though he had already been DFA’d.

Joe and Tim