Josh Willingham Rumors
Matt Capps, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Ramon Hernandez and Darren Oliver were all Type A free agents under the Elias Rankings system, but they will now be treated as Type B free agents, the MLBPA announced. Teams won't have to surrender draft picks to sign them, but the players' former teams obtain a supplementary first round pick whether or not they offer arbitration tomorrow.
Meanwhile, clubs won't have to surrender a draft pick to sign one of the following six players: Heath Bell, Michael Cuddyer, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Madson, Josh Willingham and Francisco Rodriguez. Teams that lose these players after offering arbitration will obtain first round picks in the slot before the signing team plus a supplementary draft pick for a total of two selections.
Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, C.J. Wilson, David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon, Roy Oswalt, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins were also Type A free agents this offseason. They will cost one draft pick to sign. Their teams will obtain two total picks if they decline offers of arbitration to sign elsewhere, as expected. Takashi Saito and Carlos Beltran, two other Type As, cannot be offered arbitration. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the changes.
The Twins spoke to agent Matt Sosnick today and expressed interest in Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham, two of his clients, says Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune. Doumit and Willingham are players the Twins could end up aggressively pursuing, particularly if Michael Cuddyer signs elsewhere.
Doumit is reportedly weighing a few contract offers and may make a decision as soon as this week. Christensen indicates that the Twins haven't extended a formal offer, however, meaning they probably weren't among the clubs Doumit was considering over the weekend.
As for Willingham, we heard earlier in the month that at least ten teams had already expressed interest in the outfielder. Given the lack of power-hitting outfielders on the market, Willingham appears poised to do quite well for himself this winter.
The Astros are likely to leave the NL Central after the 2012 season. Here's the latest on some teams that are staying in the division...
- Seven or eight teams, including the Reds, have inquired on free agent closer Francisco Cordero, agent Bean Stringfellow told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com. Cordero is interested in returning to the Reds on a multiyear deal.
- The Cubs announced that Shiraz Rehman joined their front office as an assistant to GM Jed Hoyer. The 34-year-old spent six seasons with the Diamondbacks after interning with Hoyer, Theo Epstein and the Red Sox in 2005. He'll provide Hoyer with scouting and statistical information for possible acquisitions and coordinate the Cubs' technological efforts.
- Compensation talks between the Cubs and Red Sox for Theo Epstein are progressing amicably, Epstein told Alex Speier of WEEI.com. “I know I’m right, because I know my own faults better than Ben does," Epstein said. "I know my limitations. I’m just not worth that much. But I’m sure it will work out, one way or the other, in a way that satisfies all the parties involved."
- The Cubs will conduct a second round of managerial interviews, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin are the candidates for the position.
- The Pirates checked in on Josh Willingham and Kevin Kouzmanoff, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Pittsburgh has Pedro Alvarez at third and Alex Presley in the outfield, but the team appears to be considering depth options at those positions.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington jokes that he has tried to forget the 2008 trade that sent Jason Bay to Boston, according to Speier. The Pirates obtained Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, Andy LaRoche and Bryan Morris in a deal that Huntington considers his worst trade ever.
- Rod Barajas told reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that he had offers from other teams before signing with the Pirates. He'll be the primary catcher in Pittsburgh, which figured in to his decision.
Let's take a look at some weekend links from around the league....
- Michael Cuddyer is open to returning to the Twins, but even if Minnesota makes him the best offer, there's no guarantee he'll sign there, says Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 (Twitter links). Last night we heard that the Phillies are seriously pursuing Cuddyer.
- Approximately ten teams have expressed interest in Josh Willingham so far, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (via Twitter). O'Brien adds that the Braves, who could use a power-hitting outfielder, are not one of those clubs.
- With the Orioles close to hiring Dan Duquette, MASN's Roch Kubatko (Twitter link) talks to one O's person who calls Duquette "brilliant" and says no one is more connected in Asian and Latin American markets.
- As Alex Speier of WEEI writes, 60-year-old Pete Mackanin, a managerial candidate for the Cubs and Red Sox, would be an unconventional choice - no one 60 or older has been hired for his first full-time managerial job since Bobby Mattick in 1980 with the Blue Jays.
- Jim Thome doesn't seem to be a great fit in Philadelphia, says ESPN.com's Keith Law (Insider link). The Phillies agreed to sign the 41-year-old slugger to a one-year deal and introduced him at a news conference this afternoon.
- Rick Sofield, who has played and coached with Clint Hurdle in the past, is the latest addition to the Pirates' staff, reports Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Mets are attempting to attract potential investors by agreeing to pay an annual interest on minority stakes, according to a New York Post report.
All three of the Athletics’ starting outfielders hit free agency this offseason and with so much uncertainty surrounding the team's future, retaining the trio won't be easy. Here's the latest on the Athletics from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:
- Agent Matt Sosnick told Slusser that the A’s “aren’t going to make an offer” to Josh Willingham unless they get a decision on their stadium situation first. It doesn’t appear that the A’s are currently able to offer a multiyear deal, according to Sosnick.
- Coco Crisp’s agent, Steve Comte, has a similar take on Oakland’s willingness to spend and says GM Billy Beane is limited by the the team’s uncertain stadium situation. “It is difficult,” Comte told Slusser. “I feel bad for any organization that is in the quagmire the A's are in because they do have to overpay to get good players to go there.”
- Crisp is looking to play for a competitive West Coast team and the Giants are a “viable” option for him, according to Comte.
- Slusser reports that Oakland's interest in bringing Hideki Matsui back has cooled off.
- The A’s are expected to offer Willingham (Type A) and David DeJesus (Type B) arbitration, as Slusser notes.
- Rays left-hander David Price opted out of the contract he signed when Tampa Bay drafted him, according to Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. He's still under team control through 2015 as an arbitration eligible player, however. Price could earn $7-8MM in 2012 through arbitration according to MLBTR's projections, so declining his $2.433MM option was merely a formality.
- David Aardsma, who became a free agent today, wouldn't rule out returning to the Mariners, according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times (on Twitter).
- Agent Matt Sosnick told Joe Stiglich of the Bay Area News Group that he expects Josh Willingham to sign a three-year deal and doesn’t expect his client to re-sign with the Athletics (Twitter link).
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears that Yankees executive Billy Eppler was the runner-up to Jerry Dipoto in the Angels' search for a GM (Twitter link).
- The White Sox announced that they hired Jeff Manto to be their hitting coach, Joe McEwing to be their third base coach and Mark Parent to be their bench coach (Twitter link).
- Dave Cameron introduces FanGraphs' top 50 free agents of the offseason. MLBTR's list of top 50 free agents is on its way as well.
A few items about the D.C. nine....
- John Lannan could be a valuable trade chip for the Nats this winter, writes Ben Goessling of MASNsports.com. Lannan will go into the arbitration process for the second time and could possibly double his $2.75MM salary from 2011. It's not like the club couldn't afford paying Lannan a $5.5MM salary, but Goessling speculates that the Nationals could address other needs by dealing Lannan and then signing C.J. Wilson as an even better left-hander for the rotation.
- Also from Goessling, he wonders how the Nats' season would have played out if the team had kept Josh Willingham.
- MLB.com's Bill Ladson looks at Washington's roster and predicts what each player's role on the 2012 team will be. Roger Bernadina, Ross Detwiler, Jesus Flores, Chris Marrero and Drew Storen are all listed as "possible trade chips" and Ladson thinks Ivan Rodriguez and Livan Hernandez (among others) are "all but gone."
- For more MLBTR Nationals coverage, check out our Nats-specific Facebook page, RSS feed and Twitter feed.
Left fielder Josh Willingham has established career-highs in home runs and RBIs this year, with 28 and 94 respectively and three games remain on the schedule. On the other hand, a slipping batting average and walk rate have his OBP at a career-worst .335, and his defense doesn't come highly regarded.
Many teams seeking power this offseason will start with home runs, and among free agents only Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and David Ortiz have more than Willingham, with Carlos Pena even at 28. Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Beltran are at 25 and 22 respectively, and Michael Cuddyer would be at the bottom end of that range had he not missed time due to injuries. Pujols and Fielder come with price tags only a handful of teams can consider, while Ortiz requires a DH job.
Ramirez, Beltran, Cuddyer, Pena, and Willingham form the next tier of free agent hitters. The first three are probably looking at three-year deals paying $10MM or more per year. Pena and Willingham may have to settle for two-year deals. Willingham, in particular, probably will receive less than $10MM per year. I'm thinking something in the two-year, $16MM range.
Pena comes with the wrinkle of a perenially ugly batting average. With Willingham, the warts are his defense, durability, potential Type A status, and this year's OBP drop. Maybe next year his walk rate comes back up a bit, and you're comfortable penciling him in for 130 games instead of 155. The Type A issue could go away too if the A's don't offer arbitration. Or perhaps Willingham will never hit the market, if the team offers and he accepts. As we learned yesterday from Susan Slusser, the Athletics' spending decisions are on hold until they hear about their stadium situation. Agent Matt Sosnick said, "Josh and I both made it clear he'd like to stay, but at this point, I'm pretty sure he'll test the free-agent market."
Losing a draft pick for Willingham would sting, depending on what team signs him. A team like the Indians, with the first unprotected pick at #16, probably wouldn't want to make the sacrifice. The Dodgers and Giants also project to pick in the top 20. Willingham should still have a range of suitors, with the White Sox, Twins, and Reds also among the teams with potential left field openings.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
The Athletics and manager Bob Melvin agreed to an extension earlier this week, but that could be the last deal the A's make for a little while. Josh Willingham's agent, Matt Sosnick, told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle that he approached the club with ideas for a multiyear contract for his client. However, Sosnick was told by GM Billy Beane that the Athletics' spending decisions are on hold until the team's stadium situation is resolved.
"We gave the A's an idea of where we were, and we were told they have interest in bringing Josh back, but before they did anything, they want to see what happens with the stadium," Sosnick said. "Josh and I both made it clear he'd like to stay, but at this point, I'm pretty sure he'll test the free-agent market.... We talked about a time frame, given that Billy would like Josh back, but it seems like Billy is sort of hamstrung right now."
As Slusser writes, the A's have been awaiting a decision on their move to San Jose for over two and a half years. Beane and other club officials have indicated for the first time recently that they expect resolution soon.
According to one of Slusser's sources, the stadium decision will affect the way the A's spend their money this offseason. If San Jose were approved, the club would cut back on payroll and go into "all-out rebuilding mode," while if they remained in Oakland, short-term spending is more likely, in an attempt to increase gate and possibly attract potential buyers.
Links for Wednesday, as the Cardinals, Rays and Angels try to make improbable surges into the playoffs with some late-season magic...
- It appeared that Manny Ramirez was going to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic, but he is ineligible to play there because he has "unresolved drug program violations" with MLB, which is an affiliate of the Dominican League, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (on Twitter).
- Josh Willingham, a free agent after the season, told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that manager Bob Melvin's extension helps make Oakland an appealing destination (Twitter link).
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post chronicles the obstacles that Mariano Rivera had to overcome before throwing a single MLB pitch. The Yankees left Rivera unprotected in the 1992 expansion draft and nearly traded him in 1995.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney predicts that a wide variety of teams including the Marlins and Nationals will be interested in C.J. Wilson this offseason (Twitter link). We heard earlier today that the Nationals are scouting the Rangers left-hander.
- The Royals intend to trade for a starting pitcher this winter, but they don’t intend to trade Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas or Danny Duffy and probably won’t part with Jake Odorizzi or Mike Montgomery, either, Jon Heyman writes at SI.com. They are one of the many teams with interest in Wilson.