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Josh Bell Rumors
The Pirates spent $30.6MM on the 2008-10 drafts, more than any other team. This year they upped the ante, spending over $17MM on 24 players – the largest draft expenditure in baseball history. Yesterday, the Bucs inked first overall pick Gerrit Cole for a record $8MM bonus, and then surprised the industry by succeeding in signing second round pick/first round talent Josh Bell for $5MM. Bell, who had a strong commitment to the University of Texas, more than doubled the record for a player drafted outside of the first round. Both players are represented by Scott Boras, as our agency database shows. Today's Pirates draft links…
- Talking to Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, GM Neal Huntington explained the team's pursuit of Bell: "His family is obviously strong, they're intelligent and hard-working people, and we had nothing but respect for their perspective. We wanted the opportunity to explain who we were, how we do things, and we were hoping Josh was ready to take the step to professional baseball if we were to find a common financial ground, and we were able to do that."
- Cole can make more than $9MM in guaranteed money if he reaches the Majors by 2013, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. Price has Huntington explaining that Cole's record minor league deal was the way to go: "There are times where a pure minor league contract and minor league signing bonus, paid out over nine months, is better than a major league contract paid out over five-plus years, depending on how the deals are structured."
- Just for good measure, the Pirates also set a ninth-round record by signing high school righty Clay Holmes for $1.2MM, according to Baseball America's Jim Callis. Holmes was one of many over slot deals for the Pirates.
The Pirates signed second rounder Josh Bell for $5MM, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). The team has confirmed the deal. The high schooler appeared to be one of the toughest signs in the draft.
Albert Pujols will miss four to six weeks with a fracture in his left arm, further confirmation that no NL Central club appears ready to run away with the division. The 40-33 Brewers would deal a catcher, the defending champion Reds are eyeing arms and the Pirates are lurking around the .500 mark. Here's the rest of tonight's NL Central-related news…
- Cardinals GM John Mozeliak told Matthew Leach of MLB.com that he isn't ready to determine how aggressive the Cardinals will be in trade talks leading up to the July 31st deadline. The GM acknowledged that Pujols' injury opens "some potential opportunities out there that maybe [the team] wouldn't have explored 48 hours ago."
- Here's more reaction to Pujols' injury from earlier tonight.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America hears that Pirates draft pick Josh Bell is set on going to the University of Texas, where he has committed to playing. Despite that, Callis likes the pick for Pittsburgh, which should have plenty of money to dangle in the prospect's direction.
- Adam McCalvy and Audrey Snyder of MLB.com explain how one lucky Brewers fan signed a one-day contract with his favorite team.
Let's take a look at some draft-related items as Day 2 wraps up:
- The Brewers took just one Scott Boras client across the first two days: his son, Trent Boras. The younger Boras is a USC commit, but the club will try to convince him otherwise, tweets Adam McCalvy of MLB.com.
- The Mets could have gone the safe route and taken players that would help them in the immediate future, but instead they went for high-risk, high-reward types, writes Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal.
- Astros first-round pick George Springer sounds as though he's very signable, tweets Stephen Goff of Examiner.com.
- The Pirates are hoping that they will be able to sign high school outfielder Josh Bell, just as they were able to come to terms with pitcher Stetson Allie last year, writes MLB.com's Laura Myers. Allie was a UNC commit, but the Pirates got him to sign with a $2.25MM bonus.
- Blue Jays top pick Tyler Beede says that the decision on whether to sign will be based on money, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Toronto selected Beede with the 21st overall pick in the draft.
- The Braves didn't take a high schooler until the 11th round (Seth Morando, an infielder from Buchanan High School in California), but that doesn't mark a shift in philosophy for the club, writes Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
- With pick No. 685, the Reds selected left-hander Amir Garrett, a left-handed pitcher out of Findlay College Prep in Nevada, who has committed to play basketball for St. John's. The chances of him signing, however, are "infinitesimal", according to Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus (via Twitter). A source close to the family told Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated that Garrett would sign if he were selected in the first seven rounds and offered a bonus of around $1.5MM.
It was just three years ago that the Astros drafted right-hander Jordan Lyles in the supplemental first round of the 2008 draft (38th overall), but now the 20-year-old will make his big league debut in place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday. Some team will draft the next Lyles nine days from now, so here are some news and notes for the meantime…
- Conor Glassey of Baseball America reports that high school outfielder Josh Bell sent a letter to the Major League Scouting Bureau informing teams that he doesn't want to sign a professional contract and will instead follow through on his commitment to Texas. Bell, who is being advised by Scott Boras, is "a surefire first-rounder on talent" according to Glassey.
- Jim Callis of Baseball America reports that Texas A&M righty Josh Stilson will miss the rest of the season due to a SLAP tear in his shoulder. Callis notes that Stilson, a likely first rounder before the injury, has been worked hard during his college career.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo wrote about the top high school pitchers available this year, including Dylan Bundy, who "some claim he's the best pitcher, period, in this class."
The typical Winter Meetings barrage of links…
- There's trade interest in newly-blocked third baseman Josh Bell, Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Yahoo's Steve Henson, though Bell can play first (Twitter link).
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka's agents are meeting with the Twins today, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. He says the Japanese infielder seeks a three-year deal.
- Dan Uggla and the Braves have talked a bit about an extension, tweets Heyman.
- The Angels have deflected trade talks about other closers because they're focused on Rafael Soriano, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- Ty Wigginton is the Rockies' top target for a right-handed bench bat, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and they're meeting with his agent today.
- MLB.com's Scott Merkin talked to free agent reliever Bobby Jenks, who would like to return to the White Sox if possible. Manager Ozzie Guillen told Merkin that if Jenks does return, he would not be guaranteed the closer job (Twitter link).
- Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters, "Joey Votto told me he wants to stay. He just wasn't ready to say he wants to stay the rest of life."
3:54pm: MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli spoke to Orioles' president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who denied that Bell's promotion had anything to do with a pending trade of either Tejada or Ty Wigginton (Twitter link).
3:08pm: With Luke Scott headed to the disabled list, the Orioles have called up top prospect Josh Bell from Triple-A according to a team press release. Bell was acquired from the Dodgers in the George Sherrill trade last year, and he's batting seventh in tonight's lineup.
This is Bell's first time in the big leagues, so the team has already delayed his free agency and arbitration eligibility by one season. The 23-year-old was hitting .266/.311/.455 with 24 doubles and ten homers in 309 Triple-A plate appearances before being called up.
Since Bell is a third baseman, it's reasonable to think that this move is the first step towards a Miguel Tejada trade, with the team getting a look at his replacement before they go ahead and take the plunge. The Phillies, Twins, and Angels could all be suitors for the 2002 AL MVP, who is in tonight's lineup as the designated hitter.
Some links for Saturday..
- Paul Hoynes of The Plain Dealer hears that Eric Wedge is taking this year off by choice. The former Indians skipper, who is still under contract with the club for one more year, was connected to the Mets' bench coach job for a while.
- The strong play of Nats rookie shortstop Ian Desmond could bump Cristian Guzman from the starting lineup, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com. However, it will be difficult for Washington will find a taker for Guzman's $8MM salary.
- Newly acquired Dodger Garret Anderson knows that he's fighting for a very limited role with club, writes MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Anderson played in 135 games for the Braves last season, hitting .268/.303/.401 with 13 HRs.
- Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Giants pitcher Byung-Hyun Kim has the right to opt out of his contract on March 15th if he doesn't think he'll make the 25-man roster. The 31-year-old – who last pitched in the majors in 2007 – signed a minor league deal with San Francisco in February.
- Bobby Valentine told Marlins beat reporters that he was never spoke with club owner Jeffrey Loria about managing the team, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. Bobby V said the speculation was unfair to skipper Fredi Gonzalez, who led guided Florida to 87 wins and a second-place finish in the NL East.
- Arizona GM Josh Byrnes said that the club wants to look at internal candidates first if Brandon Webb is unable to start the regular season, tweets MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Byrnes added that the club, as always, will keep an eye on the waiver wire as Spring Training winds down (also via Twitter).
- Despite the impressive play of Josh Bell, Miguel Tejada will be the Orioles' starting third baseman barring a "dramatic" event, writes Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun. The O's signed Tejada to a one-year, $6MM deal in late January.
- Joe Posnanski takes a look at the history of the Rule 5 draft. Fun Fact: The Rule 5 draft goes back more than 100 years.
The Orioles aren't expected to be major players on the free-agent market this winter, but if the team does make a move, it will likely be to acquire a veteran presence at first and/or third base.
Speaking to MASN Sports' Steve Melewski, Baltimore team president Andy MacPhail said that given the Orioles' young outfield and second-year catcher Matt Wieters, he would "like to put more proven bats" in the lineup to compliment the team's young stars. The O's have prospects Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell in the pipeline at first and third, respectively, but since MacPhail said he doesn't see either making the leap to the majors in 2010, the experienced hitters that MacPhail wants will have to come at the corner infield spots.
Baltimore already has Luke Scott (a team-leading 25 homers in 2009) penciled in at either first base or DH, and utilityman Ty Wigginton is available to play third. Prospect Michael Aubrey (an .826 OPS in 95 plate appearances last season) is also in the 1B mix, possibly in a lefty-righty platoon with Wigginton that would lock Scott into a DH/LF split with Nolan Reimold and would then leave third base open for either a free agent or a player to be acquired in a trade. The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly predicted the O's would sign Pedro Feliz, while there has been some speculation that the Orioles will make a trade with Florida for Dan Uggla and then move Uggla from second to third base.
In his Offseason Outlook series entry about Baltimore, Tim Dierkes listed names like Adrian Beltre, Carlos Delgado and Nick Johnson as possible targets for the Orioles. These players would fit the "short-term" designation that MacPhail mentioned, but since MacPhail didn't rule out the possibility of "the right deal for the right player, even if it was a longer-term deal," would there be any other bigger-name corner infielders that you could realistically see Baltimore signing?
More links for the afternoon…
- Jon Weisman of the LA Times reports that the Dodgers could be close to signing Garrett Gould.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic notes that it looks like Doug Davis is staying put, even though the Brewers claimed him on waivers.
- The recently-traded Josh Bell and Carlos Carrasco appear on this week's edition of Baseball America's prospect hot sheet.
- Tyler Hissey of Around the Majors says the Red Sox did well to acquire the sure-handed Alex Gonzalez, even if he's only a minor upgrade for them.
- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that Orioles manager Dave Trembley doesn't have to worry about his job security through the end of the season.