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Jorge Cantu Rumors
In a column for SI.com, Jon Heyman discusses the new-look Rays, examining the team's chances in a competitive AL East. While one Rays person candidly acknowledges "we've got a lot of holes," the general consensus around baseball is that it would be a mistake to discount the defending division champs. Here are a few other highlights from Heyman:
- Rule 5 pick Brad Emaus has the Mets' second base job locked up "no matter whether they pretend there's still a competition ongoing."
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia seems ready to become a starting catcher in the bigs, says one scout. Even so, the Red Sox would like to add a third backstop, if one were available via trade, to start the year in the minors behind Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek.
- Heyman thinks Austin Romine may be the best bet for the Yankees' backup catcher opening. However, as we heard yesterday, Gustavo Molina continues to look like the favorite for the roster spot, according to Ben Shpigel of the New York Times. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports agrees, and suggests the role will be important, given potential concerns about Russell Martin.
- The Rangers made attempts to acquire a closer, but never came close to landing one, which resulted in Neftali Feliz keeping the job.
- Heyman adds Jorge Cantu's name to the list of possible fits at third base for the Marlins.
Let's take a look at some links for Monday night..
- Jane Lee of MLB.com writes that Athletics manager Bob Geren believes that his club has improved by leaps and bounds this winter.
- Recent addition Orlando Cabrera might not hold the Indians' starting second-base job for long, writes Jordan Bastian of MLB.com.
- Yankees captain Derek Jeter is not going to be happy about the comments made by Hank Steinbrenner earlier today, writes Tyler Kepner of the New York Times.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out that Braves GM Frank Wren is now under contract for the same period as manager Fredi Gonzalez, whom he hired to replace Bobby Cox. Earlier today the two sides agreed to a two-year contract extension.
- There may not be a spot in the Blue Jays' bullpen for pitcher Casey Janssen but the veteran says he's not looking for a way out of Toronto, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.
- New to San Diego, Jorge Cantu says that he's ready to produce even though he'll be asked to move around the diamond, writes MLB.com's Tom Singer. The Padres offically inked Cantu to a one-year deal worth $850K towards the end of January.
- Speaking of brand new members of the Pads, Kevin Frandsen is delighted to be back in the National League, tweets Dan Hayes of the North County Times.
The Padres have officially signed Jorge Cantu to a one-year deal worth $850K, the team announced. We had previously heard that San Diego preferred to sign him to a minor league pact. Cantu is represented by the Wasserman Media Group.
Cantu, 29 later this week, hit just .256/.304/.392 in 515 plate appearances for the Marlins and Rangers last season, though he performed at a much more respectable .283/.336/.462 clip from 2008-2009. Capable of playing the corner infield spots and filling in at second in an emergency, he offers some versatility and could platoon with the left-swinging Brad Hawpe at first.
We've already caught up on the American League West teams today. Now let's check out the latest news from their counterparts in the Senior Circuit…
- The Padres are in on Jorge Cantu, but would prefer to sign the infielder to a minor league deal, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). San Diego may be a leading suitor for Cantu, as the Braves are not pursuing him.
- Three of the top four Padres prospects on Baseball America's top ten list arrived in the San Diego organization in the Adrian Gonzalez trade. Casey Kelly (1), Anthony Rizzo (2) and Reymond Fuentes (4) figure prominently into the list of promising young Padres.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that Giants GM Brian Sabean enters the season in wait-and-see mode. That approach worked out for San Francisco in 2010, when the Giants made key in-season acquisitions and won the World Series.
- Steve Foster of Inside the Rockies expects Mike McKenry, Jose Morales and Matt Pagnozzi to compete to back up Chris Iannetta behind the plate.
6:39pm: Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution confirmed that the Braves discussed Cantu, but they have decided not to pursue him. His source says they only wanted him for a bench role and to mainly backup rookie Freddie Freeman at first base (Twitter links).
12:31pm: The Padres and Braves appear to be the front-runners to land Jorge Cantu, writes Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner. In addition to San Diego and Atlanta, Cleveland remains a potential destination for the infielder.
Cantu, who turns 29 next weekend, expressed some disappointment that he wasn't able to work out a deal with his hometown Astros, but is optimistic about securing a contract with another team:
"We've been talking to Atlanta, Houston, San Diego and Cleveland," Cantu said. "We were really trying with Houston, but talks have just ceased with them, which is unfortunate…. Still, San Diego is talking a lot. I like San Diego. They have a winning ballclub and had a great pitching staff last year. I wouldn't mind going over there."
Some items from around the majors…
- The Angels aren't one of the teams reportedly still interested in Rafael Soriano, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. The Yankees are "still trying," in spite of their earlier statements to the contrary.
- Charlie Manuel's agent tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that Manuel and the Phillies have a mutual interest in working out a contract extension before Opening Day. Manuel has one year left on his current deal, and Salisbury speculates that he's looking for a two-year extension worth roughly $4MM per season.
- Armando Galarraga is out of options, eligible for arbitration and has probably been squeezed out of the Detroit rotation by Brad Penny, reports Jason Beck of MLB.com. If Galarraga gets too large of a salary bump in arbitration, the Tigers could choose to trade or just release him before Opening Day.
- The Angels' quiet offseason has been heavily criticized, but Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com reminds us that the Halos still have a very solid team.
- If the Twins don't re-sign Jim Thome, Kelly Thesier of MLB.com says the team could return to what it was looking for last winter: a right-handed hitting backup option in the outfield or at first base. Thesier cites Jorge Cantu and Troy Glaus as possibilities, and we've heard the Padres were considering the same two players. The Twins could also dip into the rest of the DH market, or look to upgrade their bullpen.
- There isn't much historial evidence to suggest that Josh Beckett will return to his ace form over the long run, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald.
You stay classy, San Diego! Here are some items about the Friars…
- The Padres were known to be looking for a platoon partner for the newly-acquired Brad Hawpe at first base, and SI's Jon Heyman tweets that Jorge Cantu and Troy Glaus are candidates, though either is a "remote possibility." Heyman reported last month that the Padres were looking at Cantu and Glaus for their first base opening, and both still make sense given that Hawpe has only played nine games at first in his career.
- In an MLB.com mailbag, Corey Brock writes that San Diego wanted to pick up another veteran catcher this winter, but John Buck's three-year, $18MM deal with Florida raised the price on the entire catching market. For instance, the Padres thought they had a good chance to sign free agent Rod Barajas, who ended up signing a surprisingly high $3.25MM deal with the Dodgers.
- From that same mailbag, Brock says San Diego is looking to add a left-handed bat to come off the bench.
The offseason has been full of surprises and, as Jon Heyman of SI.com points out, we know a relatively small amount about the top remaining free agents. It appears that the A’s, Angels and Rangers have some interest in Adrian Beltre, but that's about all we know about him and it's more than we know about Rafael Soriano. Here are the rest of Heyman's rumors:
- The Padres are not likely to pursue Derrek Lee now that they've agreed to sign Orlando Hudson and seem close to acquiring Jason Bartlett (Twitter link). Jorge Cantu, Brad Hawpe and Troy Glaus are on the team's list of potential first basemen.
- Lee appears to be the Nationals' top target, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli (Twitter link).
- Brian Fuentes has drawn interest from the Orioles and others. The Red Sox and Rockies have been linked to the left-hander, but Boston is not currently focused on him, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
- It's only a matter of time before the Phillies deal Joe Blanton, Heyman says.
- One GM told Heyman that the Royals are "asking for a lot more" than Travis Snider and Kyle Drabek for Zack Greinke. The Blue Jays don't intend to offer that pair up regardless.
- Felix Hernandez has the ten biggest markets on his no-trade list, apparently to give him maximum leverage, according to Heyman (on Twitter).
Jorge Cantu is one of the first basemen the Diamondbacks are seriously considering, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). The Padres, Mariners and Rockies reportedly have interest in the infielder, though Colorado's interest may have disappeared since the team agreed to terms with Ty Wigginton.
Cantu, 29 in January, struggled offensively in 2010, batting just .256/.304/.392 for the Marlins and Rangers. His home run total dropped to 11, down from 16 in 2009 and 29 in 2008. He topped 40 doubles in '08 and '09, but hit just 29 in 2010. Though Cantu has extensive experience at both corner infield positions, GM Kevin Towers is presumably eyeing him as a first baseman, since the D'Backs already have Melvin Mora and Geoff Blum at the hot corner.
Cantu, 29 in January, had a rough year for the Marlins and Rangers in 2010. He hit .256/.304/.392 in 515 plate appearances, logging time at the infield corners.