Jon Lieber Rumors
ESPN's Jerry Crasnick has a new article up looking at a bunch of free agents.
- Crasnick talked to one American League exec who views Pedro Martinez as "strictly a National League pitcher." Coupled with his price tag and long layoff, the market isn't big for Pedro.
- Ben Sheets is weeks away from a throwing program. He's probably a ten-start guy this year, but interest figures to be strong.
- Jim Edmonds hopes to sign by May. He'll need two to three weeks to get ready. Mark Grudzielanek also wants to play, and tells friends he only needs a week. He'll look for a contender, and the Royals will hope he signs before June so they get that supplemental draft pick. Jacque Jones is another guy who still hopes to play.
- Geoff Jenkins is taking grounders at first base to increase his versatility.
- Jay Payton suffered a shoulder injury lifting weights last month, but once he's healthy a few months from now he still wants to play.
- Nothing appears to be cooking for Frank Thomas and Luis Gonzalez, who could be forced to retire. Dave Roberts hasn't officially retired, but a comeback appears unlikely.
- Paul Byrd's plan remains unchanged: sign with a contender around July.
- Jon Lieber's agent says the pitcher has retired. 131 wins, including 20 in '01. Lieber finishes with a 4.27 ERA in 2,198 innings for the Pirates, Cubs, Yankees, and Phillies. He earned over $46MM, according to Baseball Reference.
Rounding up rumors and links from the weekend...
- SI.com's Jon Heyman says the Mariners are asking the Mets for Jon Niese for Raul Ibanez. Not likely.
- ESPN's Buster Olney says the Braves would require Conor Jackson from the D'Backs in a Mark Teixeira deal, but Arizona is not biting.
- Another quick hit from Olney: the White Sox are surveying the relief market in the wake of Scott Linebrink's shoulder injury.
- Several readers have written in about Phillies' lefty J.A. Happ being pulled early from a Triple A start (2.2 scoreless innings) with no sign of injury. Something to keep an eye on, as the Phillies hunt for a lefty reliever on the trade market. UPDATE: Happ may be getting the call to replace Adam Eaton.
- Even on the DL, Phil Hughes has been in high demand.
- The White Sox let Esteban Loaiza go.
- No team claimed Kei Igawa off waivers. Also, the Yankees designated LaTroy Hawkins for assignment.
- Ned Colletti on the possibility of trading Derek Lowe: "No."
- Jim Bowden and Chad Cordero patched things up, making a re-signing possible this winter.
- The emergence of Jeff Samardzija this weekend may make Scott Eyre or Jon Lieber expendable.
- At least 20 teams have called about one of the Rangers' catchers.
- Jamey Newberg wrote a few days ago that most likely the only way Kevin Millwood can lock in his $12MM for 2010 will be to pitch 180 innings next year.
We've got mostly smaller stuff today, so let's kick it off with an odds and ends.
- The Mets designated Claudio Vargas for assignment. I'm a bit surprised, I think he's still a useful pitcher.
- Pitcher Jon Lieber may retire after the season. 130+ wins, that's a nice career.
- With Tom Gordon's shoulder barking, the Phillies' desire to add a reliever has intensified. Here's a look at the relief market.
- When a 2.93 ERA is considered underperforming, expectations were never reasonable. Anyone else get the impression that if Johan Santana's record was 10-3 instead of 7-6, there wouldn't even be a discussion? Joel Sherman believes the Yankees (if under Brian Cashman) would not go six or seven years to sign C.C. Sabathia in light of the Barry Zito and Santana deals. He wonders whether Sabathia could be lured with a shorter term and higher average annual value.
- Julian Tavarez chose to become a free agent, surprising the Brewers.
- Roy Oswalt reminds us that he has a no-trade clause and hasn't been approached by management about any deals.
- The Adam Dunn-J.P. Ricciardi saga continues.
- I chatted with Ryan Henning about the Twins recently.
- T.J. Simers and Ned Colletti argue about the GM's trading track record.
- The Pirates are looking for pitching. Brett Tomko anyone? Anyone?
- Evan Grant discusses the Rangers' trade options in his mailbag.
- The Cubs and Orioles continue to be linked in trade speculation involving Brian Roberts. The latest from the Chicago Tribune says that an Orioles scout was in attendance for Sean Gallagher's two hitless innings on Saturday. The amount of time it's taking for these two clubs to get their acts together on this deal continues to be mind-boggling.
- The Trib is also reporting that Jon Lieber took a big step towards earning the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation on Saturday, coming through with four shutout innings against the Diamondbacks. Ryan Dempster and Jason Marquis are also in the mix. It figures that the loser(s) of this battle could be trade candidates.
- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun is reporting that Jay Gibbons looks like a natural pick to be the odd man out in Baltimore's outfield, but the two years and $11.9MM left on his contract-- plus the small matter of an appearance in the Mitchell Report and his upcoming 15-day suspension for violating MLB's drug policy-- means he's not exactly going to be the easiest fourth outfielder in the world to move.
- Speaking of expensive fourth outfielders named in the Mitchell Report, Gary Matthews Jr. insists to the Orange County Register that he's perfectly happy with the Angels decision to bring in Torii Hunter. No, seriously.
Time for this week's mailbag. You can hit it up at email@example.com to get in your question for next week.
Do you see the Twins signing a big name middle of the order bopper or trading for one before the opening of the new stadium in 2010? - Jordan
Funny you ask this. I recently asked LEN3 whether the Twins would have a $100MM payroll for the 2010 season, and he said, "I don't see it." So I'll go with his wisdom and say business as usual for the Twins despite the stadium.
Why are the White Sox not aggressively pursuing any pitching? Do they realistically think that Gavin Floyd and John Danks can hold down the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation on a contender? I believe we need to fill the holes with some veteran pitching such as Livan Hernandez who can eat up innings and possibly add Corey Patterson at center field. - Joel
I was just discussing this with a former coworker of mine. I can't see the White Sox sneaking into a Wild Card berth with this rotation, but what's the alternative? I don't like the Livan idea. I would consider signing a couple of swingmen/injury risk types such as Brett Tomko or Bartolo Colon if he looks decent. Just a few low risk/OK reward guys with good stuff who could pay off. There's no place for Patterson in the current Chicago outfield, I wouldn't do that.
Were the Cubs holding off on the Brian Roberts trade until they got Lieber? - Bryant
The Cubs/Roberts thing still seems possible, and trading both Sean Marshall and Sean Gallagher is slightly easier to stomach with Lieber on board. If I were Jim Hendry I would let the whole Roberts idea go though.
What is the likelihood of the Braves signing Mark Teixeira long-term? - Matthew
I'll put it at a 10% chance. This is a $100MM+ contract and he's represented by Scott Boras. He'll probably want to test the open market, and there could be some ridiculous bids.
When, just when will this Santana situation be over?! It's just killing me! - Dan
We all feel your pain Dan. Most folks seem sick of reading similar rehashed rumors about this. I would be surprised if we don't know Santana's fate one month from now. Of course if his fate is to start the season with the Twins, then the rumors will restart in June.
Are there any trade rumors involving Joe Nathan? - Justin
C'mon Justin, you know I'd never hold out rumors on you. If Bill Smith is shopping Nathan around or getting inquiries, all parties are running very tight ships. Desperation for closers seems to kick in midseason, when certain bullpens are established as clearly crappy. So guys like Nathan and Huston Street may be more likely to be moved in June or July.
Why did the Josh Beckett/Mike Lowell for Hank Blalock/John Danks deal fall through back in November of '05? - Oliver
The Rangers believed the deal was done, and hoped to avoid any leaks before it was official. However, a source tipped off the Palm Beach Post. The Post and a Texas newspaper ran with it. It was at that point the Boston front office found out, swooped in, and beat the Rangers' offer. Those reporters altered history.
What do you see the Milwaukee Brewers doing with their pitching surplus? Do you see them maybe using some of their excess pitchers like Capuano and Bush to acquire a young catcher with some upside? - Tyler
We've seen it a million times - these winter pitching surpluses turn into deficits by May. There is certainly a case to be made for the Brewers to just stand pat, though all those arms would be tough to squeeze in given the bullpen acquisitions. MLB.com's Adam McCalvy expects some of the surplus to be traded before Spring Training. I like the catcher idea - Jeff Clement (Mariners), Bryan Anderson (Cardinals), or Taylor Teagarden/Gerald Laird (Rangers) seem like possible matches.
Do the Yankees sign Bobby Abreu after the 2008 season? - Andrew
Andrew notes that the Yanks have some money coming off the books after the '08 season. The right field alternatives are weak, so Abreu could make sense. If he'd take a two or three-year extension midseason I could see Cashman doing it.
Did you ever sell your place in Lombard? - Steve
Thankfully I did. I tried selling by owner for a month and barely got any bites. Then I hired an agent and she sold it in three days.
UPDATE, 1-16-08 at 1:18pm: The deal is for $3.5MM plus incentives. The signing looks solid to me; the Cubs needed a little depth at the back end of their rotation and the risk is very small. Lieber had also spoken to the Reds, but the Cubs were his first choice.
UPDATE, 1-16-08 at 10:45am: Rosenthal confirms the signing; it's a one-year deal. He says Lieber won't have to fight for a rotation spot. That might mean Jason Marquis is headed out of town or Ryan Dempster back to the 'pen (I suppose Dempster could be dealt instead). I guess Sean Marshall is the sixth man if he's not traded.
FROM 1-16-08 at 10:14am:
According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs "appear close to signing veteran right-hander Jon Lieber." Sullivan says Lieber would compete for the team's fifth starter job. Bruce Levine called this rumor earlier this month.
Lieber had some solid years for the Cubs, winning 20 games in '01. He had surgery in July of '07 for a ruptured tendon in his foot, missing the rest of the season. He'll be 38 in April.
We've heard the rumblings for some time. Now there's word from the Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay that the Reds have "had some preliminary discussions with Oakland about right-hander Joe Blanton." The Reds also made some kind of offer for Erik Bedard, but Fay admits that neither trade is likely to occur. That's because the Reds won't trade Jay Bruce and only want to part with one of Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, and Joey Votto (though all three are very good prospects). Note that Billy Beane reportedly wanted Cueto in a Dan Haren deal.
Instead, the Reds are entertaining all sorts of second tier free agents. Wayne Krivsky runs a tight ship, so it's tough to narrow down who the Reds have actually talked to. Fay implies that Livan Hernandez or Jon Lieber could be possibilities. We do know from previous reports that the Reds have shown interest in Lieber, Runelvys Hernandez, Brett Tomko, Josh Fogg, and David Wells.
A trusted emailer wrote in to tell me about a report today from Bruce Levine of ESPN Radio 1000. According to Levine, Brian Roberts is no longer available. The Orioles were apparently asking for Tyler Colvin or Felix Pie plus multiple pitchers, and the Cubs wouldn't do it.
Levine says the Cubs may turn their attention to the Rangers' Marlon Byrd or free agent Jon Lieber.
Here's a rumor of mild interest. 1060West relays a Bruce Levine radio report in which Jon Lieber is mentioned as a possible target for the Cubs. Lieber won 20 games for the Cubs in 2001, but went down with Tommy John surgery the following year. Getting Lieber from the Pirates for Brant Brown in '98 was a nice move by Ed Lynch.
At the right price I think Lieber could be a capable fifth starter for a lot of National League clubs. I wouldn't expect him to demand two years, but you never know. The Mets, Reds, Royals, and Rangers may also be considering Lieber.
Alright let's round 'em up.
- This was one I was going to pass on posting, but it's pretty dead right now. The Astros signed newly acquired reliever Oscar Villarreal to a two-year deal. He was already under team control through 2008. The MLB.com article adds that Ed Wade's interest in Livan Hernandez and Bartolo Colon is low, and talks with Jon Lieber pretty much died.
- The Yankees pulled Robinson Cano out of Winter Ball. The word is that he doesn't want to aggravate a calf injury. You could read into it and speculate he's a part of trade talks. Seems like a stretch though. I believe the Yanks also pulled Melky Cabrera from Winter Ball; we know he's in trade talks.
- R.J. Anderson's book about the Devil Rays and Chuck LaMar is now available for free download.
- J.C. Bradbury says the Aaron Rowand signing is the best free agent signing of the offseason. Personally, I don't hate it. I don't like it too much either though.