Josh Willingham Rumors

Quick Hits: Figgins, Pelfrey, Twins, Willingham

The Phillies, who have openings at third base and in the outfield, checked in with the recently released Chone Figgins, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  However, the extent of the club's interest is unclear at this time.  More from around baseball..

  • No less than seven teams have interest in right-hander Mike Pelfrey, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  The Mets non-tendered Pelfrey last week but they still have interest in re-signing him for less than the $5.875MM he earned last season.
  • The Twins don't want to trade Josh Willingham but there are multiple teams interested in the leftfielder, according to Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter).  An AL executive recently told Mackey that the club might not get much more than a No. 4 starter for Willingham, despite his team-friendly contract.  Willingham is owed $14MM through 2014.
  • Rays GM Andrew Friedman figures to be a popular man during the meetings as he may dangle James Shields or Jeremy Hellickson to acquire offense, Morosi writes.
  • The Mariners need to increase their risk tolerance if they hope to take a major step forward at this week's meetings, opines Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times.  For the M's, that could mean spending a lot more money on payroll or trading away young prospects for proven players.
  • One exec tells Morosi (via Twitter) that this year's Rule 5 draft class is one of the best that he has seen.  The draft will take place on Thursday.

AL Central Links: Willingham, Butler, Tigers, Cabrera

Here's the latest from the home of the American League champion Tigers….

  • The Twins might not receive much more than a No. 4 starter in exchange for Josh Willingham, an AL executive tells Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities Radio.  "There's no doubt Josh has a very good contract, but I really doubt a team would trade a viable starting pitcher for a guy with a strong bat but who is limited defensively," the executive said.  "It's a lot easier to find a left-field or DH-type than to trade a good starting pitcher for one and then have to backfill the rotation spot."  The 33-year-old Willingham is owed $14MM through 2014 and posted an .890 OPS last season, but another AL executive says Denard Span is a better trade chip for Minnesota.
  • The Orioles have asked the Twins and Royals about Willingham and designated hitter Billy Butler, reports MLB.com's Paul Hagen.  Both the Twins and Royals are desperate for pitching and while the O's have some good young arms, I don't think Baltimore has the pitching depth to spare in either the majors or minors.
  • The Tigers want to keep backup catcher Gerald Laird but he will probably leave for a team that will give him more playing time, tweets Danny Knobler of CBS Sports.
  • The Tigers are generally active early in the offseason, though FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link) thinks this won't be the case this winter as the club's plans were pushed back by their World Series appearance.
  • Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sees Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera as a good trade target for the Cardinals, and he suggests a few young Cards prospects who could go to Cleveland in exchange for the All-Star.

AL Central Links: Leyland, Willingham, Choo

The White Sox may be in first place in the AL Central but they're apparently going to be making some front office changes this winter.  Here are some more items from around the division….

  • Jim Leyland remains the right person to manage the Tigers, even though the team trails the White Sox in the AL Central, Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press writes. Leyland has questionable job security with two weeks remaining in the regular season.
  • The Twins have a number of offseason needs but manager Ron Gardenhire told reporters (including MLB.com's Zack Meisel) that starting pitching is his team's top priority.
  • Josh Willingham recently said he'd be open to an extension with the Twins, a prospect that Seth Stohs of the Minneapolis Star Tribune thinks the club should wait to explore until after the 2013 season.  Willingham is finishing the first season of a three-year, $21MM contract and I'd agree that Minnesota should be in no rush to extend an outfielder who will be 35 years old when his current deal expires.
  • Shin-Soo Choo's trade value and his worth on the free agent market after 2013 will be limited by his inability to hit left-handed pitching, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Choo, a left-handed hitter, has just a .556 OPS against southpaws this season and a .246/.334/.353 line against lefties for his career.
  • MLB.com's Jordan Bastian looks at the Indians' pitching struggles this season how the Tribe will try to fix the problem this winter.  Pitching upgrades are likelier to come through trades than by spending on free agents, as Bastian asks, "What team should spend big after a 90-plus loss season? The time has come again to shift the focus back to building a better foundation. The current core is not breeding confidence, especially on the mound."

MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post



Mariners Seek Controllable Hitters

2:35pm: The Mariners are trying hard to obtain Brandon Belt, Dave Cameron of FanGraphs reports (on Twitter).

1:32pm: Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik is looking to acquire hitters who could contribute for the next two or three seasons, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports. The Mariners aim to improve an offense that currently ranks last in the American League with just 3.9 runs per game. 

The Mariners are more focused on players such as Josh Willingham and Allen Craig than players like Shin-Soo Choo and Hunter Pence. Choo and Pence are eligible for free agency after the 2013 season, while Willingham is under contract through 2014 and Craig won't even be arbitration eligible before the 2013-14 offseason.


Central Notes: Cardinals, Reds, Willingham, Ryan

Three of baseball's hottest teams reside in the NL Central, where the Reds (15 wins in their last 17 games) hold a two-game lead over the Pirates (15-6 in their last 21 games) and a 5.5 game lead over the Cardinals (seven wins in their last eight games).  Let's check out the latest from both leagues' Central divisions…

  • The improved performance of the Cardinals' rotation "takes a little pressure off in terms of feeling like we have to do something," GM John Mozeliak tells MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch.  "If you were to go after a starter, who are you really bouncing out? And how are you improving? That's why I don't think the urgency is quite there for rotational help as maybe it was, say, three or four weeks ago." It seems as if St. Louis will trade for a reliever if they do make a deadline move for pitching, Langosch notes, though the bullpen has also recently been better.
  • The Reds are looking to start their trade deadline shopping, with a leadoff man atop their wishlist, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • The Indians were only willing to offer two guaranteed years to Josh Willingham last winter given the slugger's injury woes, reports MLB.com's Jordan Bastian.  Willingham ended up signing a three-year contract with the Twins and is enjoying a superb season, while the Tribe is still looking for a big right-handed bat for their lineup. 
  • Twins interim GM Terry Ryan told Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities that he hasn't spoken to team owner Carl Pohlad about taking over the position on a permanent basis. "We haven't talked about it at all and I don't anticipate talking about it until we get to the latter part of this year," Ryan said.  "We have not had a good year. We've got a lot of work to do here. I'm not in any position to say that interim is going to be off me."
  • "It's business as usual" for the Royals heading into the deadline, GM Dayton Moore tells MLB.com's Dick Kaegel. Moore wouldn't comment on rumors about Jonathan Broxton, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jeff Francoeur or Jose Mijares.

Dodgers, Cubs Have Discussed Soriano, LaHair

The Dodgers and Cubs have had some discussions about including Alfonso Soriano or Bryan LaHair in a trade for Ryan Dempster, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com reports. The Dodgers continue seeking offense as well as pitching, but it’s a definite longshot that they’ll acquire Soriano or LaHair, Knobler writes.

The Cubs are “desperate” to trade Soriano, who earns $18MM per season through 2014. The Cubs have offered to pay almost all of Soriano’s salary, but he’s drawing minimal interest from other teams, according to Knobler. At least one team has checked in on Soriano, who has 19 home runs and a respectable .274/.324/.503 batting line.

The Dodgers have also talked about the possibility of acquiring Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham of the Twins, Knobler reports.


Stark On Marlins, Phillies, Dodgers, Garza, Twins

Here's the latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark

  • One official who spoke with the Marlins brass estimates that the odds Josh Johnson remains with Miami are "95 percent." The Red Sox, Angels, Rangers, White Sox, Blue Jays, and Royals have all checked in.
  • Carlos Lee, Ricky Nolasco, Heath Bell, and Gaby Sanchez are all very available. Other than Johnson, Giancarlo Stanton will be the toughest player to pry away from the Fish.
  • The Phillies have talked about trading Cliff Lee following the Cole Hamels extension and they haven't discouraged other teams from inquiring, but their game plan right now is to keep their trio of aces intact.
  • Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton are good bets to be dealt and the Phillies will listen on Hunter Pence. They want multiple young big leaguers to plug holes at third base, in the outfield, and in the bullpen in return.
  • The Dodgers are in on a number of starting pitchers, including Nolasco, Blanton, Kevin Millwood, and Jason Vargas in addition to Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza. They've also checked in on outfield and first base help, including Victorino and Justin Morneau.
  • Clubs have not been assured by the Cubs that Garza will make another start before the trade deadline due to his triceps issue. He's more likely to be dealt in the offseason.
  • In the wake of acquiring Wandy Rodriguez, the Pirates are sending signals that they could trade away a starter like Jeff Karstens or Kevin Correia.
  • The Twins' asking prices for Morneau ("pricey"), Denard Span ("more pricey"), and Josh Willingham ("it made me laugh") are high. Minnesota insists they will listen on anyone and Stark says Morneau is the bat they're most likely to move. Francisco Liriano is "nearly 100 percent" likely to be traded.
  • The Orioles continue to look for pitching, someone they consider a number three starter or better. Garza and Vargas have their eye but Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado are off the table. They've gotten hits on Jake Arrieta but won't move him unless they get a similar young arm with several years of team control remaining in return.
  • The Brewers will trade Randy Wolf "for nothing if you take the money," according to one official. 
  • The Rays have "got a big market" for Wade Davis

Rosenthal & Morosi On White Sox, Tigers, Angels

White Sox GM Kenny Williams has already traded for Kevin Youkilis and Brett Myers, but he may not be done dealing yet, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports write. The White Sox want to add a starting pitcher and Zack Greinke is high on their list of potentially available arms, Rosenthal and Morosi report. Here are the rest of the notes and rumors from the FOX reporters…

  • The White Sox are eager to move Gavin Floyd, Rosenthal and Morosi report. 
  • Though the White Sox don’t have a deep farm system, they could flip Floyd for prospects and use those prospects to acquire Greinke from Milwaukee, Rosenthal and Morosi suggest.
  • A National League executive suggested to Morosi that Anibal Sanchez will be the third-best free agent starter this offseason behind Greinke and Cole Hamels (Twitter link). 
  • Morosi expects the Tigers to extend catcher Alex Avila at some point (Twitter link). Avila, the son of Tigers assistant GM Al Avila, has a .237/.339/.381 batting line this year. He has battled hamstring issues in 2012, his final year as a pre-arbitration eligible catcher.
  • The Blue Jays remain in buy mode, Morosi notes. Toronto executives believe a second-place finish in the AL East is possible (Twitter link).
  • The Blue Jays, Yankees, Giants, Indians, Diamondbacks and Cardinals all had scouts at last night’s Marlins game, according to Morosi (Twitter link).
  • Josh Willingham is available, but prohibitively expensive, one GM told Rosenthal (Twitter link).
  • Josh Johnson, James Shields and Greinke are among the starting pitching options the Angels could consider, Rosenthal writes.

Heyman On Upton, Hanley, Twins, Lannan

Arizona GM Kevin Towers could wait until the offseason to trade Justin Upton instead of moving him within the next eight days. A patient approach makes sense for the Diamondbacks if it allows them to maximize their return, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Here are some more notes from Heyman…

  • One general manager doesn’t know where he’d play Hanley Ramirez on defense. "He's not a third baseman, he's not a shortstop anymore. I wouldn't know where to hide him," the GM told Heyman.
  • The Twins don’t seem interested in trading Josh Willingham, but a long list of teams would have interest if Minnesota makes the outfielder available.
  • John Lannan made a successful spot start for Washington over the weekend, but it’s clear he’s not in the team’s long-term plans. Heyman suggests it’d be best if the Nationals can find a way to trade the left-hander, who earns a $5MM salary in 2012.

Rosenthal & Morosi On Brewers, Victorino, Twins

The Giants are interested in Indians reliever Chris Perez, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported this morning. Here are more notes and rumors from the FOX reporters…

  • The Brewers are not ready to declare themselves sellers, but after losing three straight games to the Reds over the weekend Milwaukee is moving in that direction, Rosenthal reports. “We’ve put ourselves in a position where it’s a tough hill to climb,” GM Doug Melvin acknowledged. The Rangers, Angels, Braves and Nationals are among the teams that have shown some level of interest in Zack Greinke, according to Rosenthal. The 44-50 Brewers could also trade Randy Wolf, Francisco Rodriguez and George Kottaras, among others.
  • The Phillies and Dodgers have discussed Shane Victorino, Morosi reports (on Twitter). However, there’s no momentum toward a deal at this point.
  • The Blue Jays are still looking for a starting pitcher even after acquiring J.A. Happ, Morosi notes (on Twitter).
  • The Twins haven’t put Josh Willingham on the trade market yet, but he’s in high demand, Morosi reports (on Twitter).
  • The Twins are inclined to listen to trade offers for Francisco Liriano, because they could obtain power arms for the future by completing a deal, Morosi reports.
  • MLBTR summarized more rumors from Rosenthal earlier today.