Josh Willingham Rumors
The latest from Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com...
- Several teams would target Edwin Encarnacion if the Blue Jays make him available in trades, Heyman writes. However, the Blue Jays’ main priority is putting together an effective and healthy rotation.
- Teams see Alfonso Soriano of the Cubs as a designated hitter, not an outfielder, Heyman writes. One general manager says the Cubs could trade Soriano if they absorb all but $2MM of his contract. The Cubs are indeed willing to pay a “very substantial portion” of the $45MM or so remaining on the contract, Heyman writes. One scout suggested the Rays could be a fit for Soriano, who seems willing to waive his no-trade clause to facilitate a deal to a contender.
- The Twins are believed to be more willing to trade Denard Span than Josh Willingham, writes Heyman. They do not appear to be actively engaged in talks yet, but they would seek a young starting pitcher in return for Span.
- The Dodgers are one of several teams inquiring about Chase Headley, writes Heyman. The Padres are willing to listen on their third baseman and Heyman says they will consider intra-division trades.
The Twins are looking to add pitching depth to their organization, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports. General manager Terry Ryan said he’s not set on acquiring a certain type of pitcher -- he’s just looking for outs.
"We don't have enough pitching," Ryan said. "We need pitching, and we need it bad."
The Twins are 29th in baseball with a 5.05 team ERA. Only two teams have obtained fewer innings from their starters and no team induces fewer strikeouts per nine innings (5.8 K/9).
The Twins selected pitchers with seven of their first nine selections in this year's draft and they’ve signed every one of those arms except J.T. Chargois and Luke Bard. Executives from other teams have wondered if the Twins would trade players such as Denard Span and Josh Willingham for young pitching, according to Olney.
ESPN's Buster Olney shared a number of items (via his Twitter feed) about a variety of hot stove topics and rumors...
- The Red Sox might be forced to deal Kevin Youkilis due to a "roster crunch" at the corner infield positions and players returning from the DL. Rival executives, however, think Youkilis currently has "no trade value" so it doesn't make sense for Boston to move him right now.
- The Angels and Yankees are "still waiting for needs to be defined" before exploring trades, while the Red Sox are only focused on acquiring starting pitching.
- Many baseball executives believe the Padres will trade Carlos Quentin, though Olney reports the Padres "would like to" offer Quentin a long-term extension sometime this summer. Olney's phrasing may relate to the uncertain status of the Padres' ownership situation.
- Teams have checked in on Josh Willingham but have been told that he isn't available. Some believe this could change but others believe Twins GM Terry Ryan "is, generally speaking, conservative with in-season deals" so the Twins could hold onto their slugger.
- The Pirates are looking for hitting but thus far found few sellers willing to deal.
- The Dodgers are asking about first basemen as they look to upgrade from James Loney but have "no reason to go crazy" finding a second base replacement for Mark Ellis, who will return from the DL at some point.
- The Rockies aren't seen as a team with much to trade, as their roster is split between "untouchables" (i.e. Troy Tulowitzki) and "role players" (such as Rafael Betancourt).
- Jim Thome could be a trade target for AL teams but Olney believes Phillies GM Ruben Amaro would first ask Thome if changing teams was something the respected veteran would want.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has plenty of news in his latest edition of Rumblings & Grumblings. Let's dive in and take a look..
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro says that his value assessment on Cole Hamels hasn't changed but he will have to take his other free agents into account this winter. "But the biggest thing is all the other decisions we have to make...at third base [Placido Polanco], in center field [Shane Victorino], and at right field [Hunter Pence] and catcher [Carlos Ruiz] in two years. And we haven't solved our left-field situation, either," Amaro said.
- Amaro says that he is high on Ruiz but will consider the club's payroll as a whole before considering a long-term deal. The GM also pointed out his age (33) and demanding position. The Phillies hold a $5MM club option for next year on Ruiz, which would put him on the open market on the verge of his age-35 season.
- The Phillies GM also seems confident that the club won't be in a position to cave before the deadline and become sellers. For the Phillies to pull the plug and sell, he says the club would have to "fall out of contention pretty significantly."
- The Tigers might want to consider waiting around for the Rockies' Marco Scutaro as a solution at second base. Clubs that have checked in with the Rockies say they're still at least a month from selling but Scutaro, Rafael Betancourt, and Jeremy Guthrie are all likely to be available when they do.
- There's been a surprising amount of trade talk surrounding Twins outfielder Josh Willingham but teams that have kicked the tires on him have been rebuffed.
- The Pirates are telling other teams that they're likely to approach this deadline like they did last year's, looking to add. They've indicated that they're likely to trade arms for bats, especially hitters they can control beyond this year.
- Meanwhile, potential shoppers wonder if the Pirates are willing to move enough quality to make a splash. Pittsburgh is hinting that they'll keep James McDonald, A.J. Burnett, and probably Erik Bedard if they have a shot to win. If that's the case, they'll instead be shopping the likes of Charlie Morton, Kevin Correia, Jeff Karstens, and prospect Rudy Owens, which won't net them the same kind of return.
- Despite reports to the contrary, Roy Oswalt never received offers from the Phillies or Cardinals according to Amaro and a source who spoke with the Cards' brass, respectively. While there was other interest, it seems that this was a one-team negotiation with Oswalt and the Rangers.
On this day last year, the Padres traded Brandon Gomes, Adam Russell, Cesar Ramos, and Cole Figueroa to the Rays for Jason Bartlett and a player to be named later (though Tampa would eventually send cash instead). Here's some notes from around the league...
- The Reds have had conversations with Jason Kubel, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). GM Walt Jocketty told Fay (Twitter link) that the club does not have the type of money to sign someone to a Josh Willingham-type deal.
- Even after trading for Mat Latos, Reds GM Walt Jocketty still plans on using Aroldis Chapman as a starter, tweets John Fay of the Cincinnatti Enquirer. Jocketty did leave room for a change of heart, however, noting that things could change later on.
- We should soon find out which team won the bidding for Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, tweets Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- ESPN's Keith Law feels that the Rockies overpaid for Michael Cuddyer, who he considers to be a part-time player (ESPN Insider link). In Law's opinion, Colorado is receiving perhaps a one win upgrade over Seth Smith, but paying $7-8MM more than Smith would earn.
- In that same piece, Law says that he likes the Twins' gamble on Josh Willingham better, but notes that he should be a DH rather than an outfielder and that the contract is still a gamble because Willingham showed signs of decline in 2011.
- Willingham told MLB.com's Jane Lee that leaving the Athletics wasn't an easy decision, but GM Billy Beane was honest and up front about the fact that he could probably only offer a one-year deal through arbitration.
- Juan C. Rodriguez of the Miami Sun-Sentinel provides some details on the heavily backloaded contracts that Heath Bell, Jose Reyes, and Mark Buehrle received from the Marlins. Bell's vesting option triggers if he finishes 55 games in 2014, or a combined 100 between 2013-14. He and Buehrle both took signing bonuses deferred withiout interest, and all three have contractual obligations to donate to charity each season.
- Law (via Twitter) prefers Aaron Cunningham to Cory Burns. The Indians acquired Cunningham from the Padres in exchange for Burns yesterday.
It was on this day in 2002 that the Twins released an oft-injured, underachieving first baseman by the name of David Ortiz. The Red Sox signed Ortiz a month later and "Big Papi" went on to lead Boston to two World Series titles. This isn't exactly the best memory for Minnesota fans to look back upon, so let's instead focus on these Twin-related news items...
- Josh Willingham's two preferences were to play for the Twins and Reds, agent Matt Sosnick tells Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link).
- The Twins's three-year, $21MM deal with Willingham saves the team some money from the three-year, $24MM contract they offered Michael Cuddyer. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Twins plan to put those savings towards finding pitching help.
- Assistant GM Rob Antony tells Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN Twin Cities radio that the Twins want to add a starting pitcher. "I would say the door is still open for Jason Kubel, but pitching is a priority," Antony said, adding that Kubel would have to lower his salary demands to work out a return to Minnesota. (Both links are two Mackey's Twitter account.) We heard earlier today that the Twins had increased their efforts to sign Kubel to a new contract.
- Fangraphs' Jack Moore doesn't think the Twins should re-sign Kubel, arguing that the compensatory draft pick the Twins would receive if Kubel (a Type B free agent) signed elsewhere brings more value to the club.
MLB announced that baseball’s 30 owners unanimously approved the five-year collective bargaining agreement with the MLB Players Association today. Here are some other notes from around MLB...
- The Marlins remain in the mix to sign Greg Dobbs, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. The Nationals are also interested in the free agent utility player.
- The Mets remain in regular contact with free agent shortstop Jack Wilson, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- Though the Indians never made Josh Willingham a former proposal, they indicated that they were willing to offer a two-year deal in the $15MM range, according to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter links). Willingham has agreed to terms with the Twins, but GM Chris Antonetti says the Indians are still considering external options.
- A scout tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that just about every team in baseball saw free agent right-hander Joel Zumaya throw in Houston yesterday (Twitter link).
- Japanese shortstop Munenori Kawasaki is in Seattle and may sign a minor league deal with the Mariners in the relatively near future, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times (Twitter links). The deal may not be finalized until after the holidays, but he will sign with Seattle, Stone reports.
The Twins announced that they have agreed to sign Josh Willingham to a three-year, $21MM deal. The contract provides Willingham with the chance to earn an additional $1MM through incentives, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter). Willingham, who has passed his physical, is represented by Sosnick Cobbe Sports.
Willingham, 33 in February, is a modified Type-A free agent under the new collective bargaining agreement. The Twins will not have to surrender a draft pick to sign him, but the Athletics will still receive two picks as compensation for the loss. One will be a supplemental first round pick, the other a pick one spot ahead of Minnesota's second rounder since their first rounder is protected.
The Twins hit an AL worst 103 home runs in 2011, so Willingham provides some much needed pop. He hit a career-best 29 homers for Oakland this past season, and has cleared the 20 homer plateau four times in the last six years. He's also shown a knack for drawing walks and getting hit by pitches, leading to a solid .361 career OBP despite a .262 batting average. The Twins figure to use him in left field, where UZR has consistently said he's below average defensively.
MLBTR's Tim Dierkes ranked Willingham 24th on his list of the top 50 free agents, predicting he would sign with the Reds. Crasnick first reported the agreement, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal (on Twitter) and Joe Christensen of The Star Tribune added detail.
Michael Cuddyer is drawing lots of interest and with Josh Willingham agreeing to sign with the Twins, it won't be long before the market for Cuddyer becomes easier to read. Here are the latest details on Cuddyer:
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com say (on Twitter) that the Mariners are talking to Cuddyer as well.
- The Rockies offer to Cuddyer was larger than the three years and $25MM the Twins offered him, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). Cuddyer is seeking $30MM+ and has been mulling Colorado's offer for days.
- The Twins maintain that their deal with Willingham is not yet finished, and that they are still talking with Cuddyer according to Joe Christensen of The Star Tribune (on Twitter).
- There has been no immediate movement between the Rockies and Cuddyer following the news of Willingham's agreement with the Twins, reports MLB.com's Thomas Harding (on Twitter).
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that there is at least one team besides the Rockies pursuing Cuddyer, and it's hardly a given that he heads to Colorado (Twitter links). The Giants and Red Sox are not the teams interested in Cuddyer, according to Morosi (Twitter links).
- Cuddyer's original asking price was $36MM over three years and he continues to seek $30MM for three years, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- A person close to Cuddyer told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he'll likely decide on his next team within three or four days. It appears that the Twins' most recent offer to Cuddyer -- $24MM over three years, according to Christensen -- is essentially a final offer. Jason Kubel remains high on the Twins' list as well, but the team will sign just one of Willingham, Cuddyer and Kubel.
- The Twins are feeling some confidence that they'll end up with either Cuddyer or Willingham, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
- Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the Rockies are pushing for Cuddyer or Carlos Beltran.
3:43pm: Though the Indians aren't entirely out on Willingham, they haven't made him an official offer, according to MLB.com's Jordan Bastian (Twitter link).
2:23pm: The Indians are out on Willingham, Rosenthal tweets. At this point, we know the Twins and up to two more teams remain in the mix.
1:56pm: The Indians are believed to be in the mix for Willingham, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Rays and Rockies are out.
1:15pm: Agent Matt Sosnick told Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Josh Willingham "has three viable options" available to him. The free agent outfielder and his wife will make a decision within 48 hours, possibly as soon as today.
The Twins are one of Willingham's three options and though Sosnick didn't mention the other clubs by name, it wouldn't be surprising if the Indians and Rockies remain in the mix. Both clubs were linked to Willingham over the weekend. The Rockies and Twins also have interest in free agent Michael Cuddyer.
Willingham is a Type A free agent who declined his team's offer of arbitration, but it won't cost a draft pick to sign him under modified free agent compensation rules. Many other clubs, including the Rays, have expressed interest in Willingham this offseason.