Jose Contreras Rumors
On this date back in 1983, Dodgers' hurler Fernando Valenzuela became the first player in baseball history to receive a seven-figure award through the arbitration process. During his first two-plus seasons as a big leaguer, Fernandomania had been named the Rookie of the Year, appeared in two All Star Games, and won a Cy Young Award. The arbitration panel awarded him a $1MM salary in his first year of eligibility, nearly tripling his 1982 salary.
As the last few present day arbitration cases wrap up, here are some links to check out from around the baseball blogiverse...
- Mets Paradise reviews the Amazin's offseason, and says they aren't a finished product even if the team believes they are.
- Capitol Avenue Club examines a potential Adrian Gonzalez-to-Atlanta trade, and notes that it's the same situation as the Mark Teixeira swap of 2007.
- Turn Two looks at some AL and NL position battles.
- The Sports Banter tries to find homes for the best remaining free agents.
- Phillies Nation grades the Jose Contreras pickup.
- Gear Up For Blue Jays Baseball breaks down Kevin Gregg and the rest of Toronto's bullpen.
- Tipi Talk wonders if Rafael Perez could contribute to the Indians as a starting pitcher.
- Dodgers Digital answers questions about how the Dodgers' roster decisions will affect their Triple-A affiliate.
- AdamAdkins.net ranks the top five catchers in the game today.
- Brew Crew Ball provides an easy-to-use guide for creating your own Spring Training story.
The Phillies acquired arguably the best pitcher in baseball earlier this offseason. As Spring Training approaches, Roy Halladay starts training every morning at 7 am and his team is considering some less formidable options in an attempt to add depth. Here are the details, from a pair of beat writers:
- MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes that the Phils would like to add a starter, noting that any additions would likely come on minor league deals.
- Scott Lauber of the News Journal tweets that Pedro Martinez interests the Phillies, though his current price asking price exceeds the team's budget. Pedro wants $5MM or more to pitch a full season.
- In another tweet, Lauber says Jose Contreras believes pitching in relief can lengthen his career.
The Phillies officially signed righty Jose Contreras to a one-year, $1.5MM deal today. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said he'll be stretched out in Spring Training as a starter but is best suited for the bullpen. Enrique Rojas of ESPN first reported the agreement on Friday.
Contreras, 38, posted a 5.42 ERA with 7.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 21 starts for the White Sox before getting traded to the Rockies in late August. Contreras pitched well as a reliever in his brief stint for Colorado.
Troy Renck of the Denver Post looks at a number of Rockies-related items in his latest blog entry....
- Eric Goldschmidt, agent of veteran infielder Melvin Mora, says his free-agent client is "definitely interested" in playing for Colorado. Renck points out that Mora's versatility would make him a logical signing for the Rockies, given that their other recent bench signing (Jason Giambi) can only play first base. Mora could decide on his future by the end of the week as he picks from between "roughly" five interested teams.
- Speaking of Giambi, Renck said that his clubhouse presence was a big factor in his re-signing with the Rockies. Troy Tulowitzki credited Giambi with "helping...with the mental side" of baseball.
- Renck says the Rockies are "expected to sign" reliever Justin Speier to a minor-league contract. Released by the Angels in August, Speier pitched for Colorado from 2001 to 2003 and has a 2.55 K/BB ratio in 12 major league seasons.
- Eric Gagne is "becoming a more likely non-roster invite than Derrick Turnbow." We heard yesterday from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter) that Arizona is also interested in Turnbow, so perhaps Colorado doesn't want to get into a bidding war with its divisional rival.
- Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd told Renck he was "surprised" when Jose Contreras signed with Philadelphia. O'Dowd said the Rockies wanted to use Contreras out of the bullpen while the Phillies offered him a chance to start. Interestingly, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said today (as reported by Todd Zolecki of MLB.com) that Contreras will only start during spring training and will be a reliever by Opening Day.
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.
At least five teams - the Cubs, Cardinals, Rockies, Phillies, and Padres - are named as suitors for free agent righty Jose Contreras in a tweet from Newsday's Ken Davidoff.
Perhaps Contreras' stuff will play up in the NL. The 38-year-old posted a 7.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, and 4.92 ERA in 131.6 innings for the White Sox and Rockies last year. He whiffed a batter per inning in his Rockies stint, though we shouldn't read into 17 innings. Contreras averaged 92 mph on his fastball last year, so it appears something is left in the tank. Swingman candidate D.J. Carrasco just got a $950K minor league deal with the Pirates; maybe Contreras will sign a similar deal.
8:30pm: A report from ChicagoBreakingSports.com notes that recent acquisition Carlos Silva will likely fill the role of long reliever for the club, making Contreras an unlikely fit in Chicago. Furthermore, the 38-year-old will likely attract better offers from teams that see him as a starter.
As for Spilborghs, a major league source told Troy Renck of the Denver Post that reports of the Cubs' interest in him are overstated. Renck's gut feeling tells him that the Rockies' asking price will be too high to get a deal done.
3:27pm: With plenty of holes remaining throughout their roster, the Chicago Cubs are looking at free agents and trade options at a variety of positions, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. Let's check out a few highlights from Levine's latest article....
- The Cubs have talked to Jose Contreras' agent, Jaime Torres, about possibly signing the right-hander. Contreras would provide some versatility for the club, who could use him out of the bullpen, or as a possible 4th or 5th starter.
- According to major league sources, the Cubs and Rockies have had discussions about a trade that could send Ryan Spilborghs to Chicago. If such a deal were to occur, Spilborghs would take over as the Cubs' fourth outfielder, a role Reed Johnson held last year.
- Marlon Byrd and Scott Podsednik remain the top two candidates for the Cubs' center field opening.
- Kiko Calero is another bullpen arm the team is considering.
Some D-Backs tidbits courtesy of Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic..
- The club is still waiting to hear back from Kelly Johnson on the offer they made to him last week - believed to be for about $2MM. Johnson's people told the D-Backs that he has better offers out there, but if all things were equal he'd prefer to play for them.
- Arizona continues to be interested in free agent Randy Winn, but it seems as though Winn is looking to be a starter. While the Diamondbacks can't guarantee him that, Piecoro says that he would likely get a fair amount of at-bats with them.
- The D-Backs remain interested in bringing back Jose Valverde, but at their price. A "scenario the Diamondbacks would consider" would be to offer him a one-year deal at a lower base salary than he is seeking (perhaps in the $5MM range) with a promise not to offer him arbitration after 2010. This way, Valverde could hit the open market unencumbered by draft pick compensation. Piecoro notes that he has "no idea" if Valverde would agree to that.
- While they don't feel as though adding a starting pitcher is a neccessity, Arizona will monitor righty Jose Contreras. The 38-year-old posted a 4.92 ERA with 7.2 K/9 for the White Sox and Rockies last season.
More links as the weekend draws closer...
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy reports that the Brewers signed catcher Matt Treanor to a minor league deal. The former Tiger struggled to stay healthy this year.
- The Dodgers signed outfielder Brian Barton to a minor league deal, according to Hernandez. The 27-year-old has hit just .268/.354/.392 in 179 big league plate appearances, all coming in 2008.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson has learned that the Nationals are not interested in Johnny Damon because they're trying to improve their defense.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets that Damon has some interest in signing with the Braves. The outfielder would have to be willing to take a pay cut to join the club, in O'Brien's opinion.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the D'Backs have made Kelly Johnson an offer. The details aren't clear, but Piecoro guesses it's a one-year deal worth $2MM.
- Dodgers' GM Ned Colletti said that any talks with Cincinnati are "all but dead," according to Dylan Hernandez of The LA Times. Yesterday we heard the two teams were exploring an Aaron Harang trade.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Tigers, Giants and Royals have interest in Jack Cust. ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick says the Mariners may be the favorites to sign Cust.
- Jorge Arangure Jr. of ESPN.com hears that Jose Contreras is narrowing his options down and preparing to sign. His agent says "there are some interesting opportunities in the bullpen."
- Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com says that with his options dwindling, Miguel Tejada might have to slide over to third to be rewarded with a contract.
- Claudio Vargas' deal with the Brewers is worth $900K, says Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel. The righty could also earn another $400K in incentives.
- O'Brien mentions that Adam LaRoche said there's been no contact from the Braves that he knows of. Earlier we learned that some teams were put off by LaRoche's asking price.
- Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that the Padres have named Jaron Madison scouting director. Madison spent the last two years working as the assistant scouting director in St. Louis.
- Venezuelan reporter Efrain Zavarce says that Kelvim Escobar has signed with...a Venezuelan Winter League team. He'll pitch in relief tomorrow, and the Rays will have someone in attendance.
News and notes from around the big leagues tonight...
- Derek Lowe tells MLB.com's Mark Bowman that he doesn't expect to be back in Atlanta in 2010 and feels rather disrespected by being put on the trade market just a year after signing with the Braves: "I would have never even considered going there if I knew that ultimately this was going to happen."
- The Providence Journal's Joe McDonald considers Theo Epstein's comments from the Mike Cameron press conference to be a virtual farewell to Jason Bay's time in Boston.
- As if the Mike Gonzalez and Garrett Atkins signings weren't enough, the Orioles also "made a pretty good run" at trading for Adrian Gonzalez at the winter meetings, tweets ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes.
- Scott Merkin of MLB.com is reporting (via Twitter) that Jason Botts has been given an invitation to spring training by the White Sox. Botts played in Japan last season after posting a .230/.325/.344 line in 326 plate appearances with Texas from 2005 to 2008.
- MLB.com's Todd Zolecki (via Twitter) quoted Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. as saying "Right now, it doesn't look good," in regards to Chan Ho Park re-signing with Philadelphia.
- ESPN's Jayson Stark talks with Baseball America's John Manuel about how the Phillies' farm system looks in the wake of the big Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee deal.
- Jose Contreras wanted a three-year contract from the Rockies, but the club "didn't bite," reports Thomas Harding of MLB.com. Harding notes that Colorado may have to wait to see what happens with Rafael Betancourt's possible arbitration case before they can make a move toward signing relievers like Contreras or Joe Beimel.
- If the Nationals can't sign any relief help, they will move a willing Collin Balester into the bullpen, reports MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Jake Westbrook seems fit after his stint Puerto Rican Winter League, reports MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. It was rumored that the Tribe would have been in the market for a veteran starter (maybe Carl Pavano) to anchor their staff had Westbrook suffered a setback from his Tommy John surgery in 2008.