J.P. Howell Rumors

AL East Notes: Valentine, Wilson, Howell, Johnson

Here are some notes from the AL East on the day the Red Sox officially introduced their new manager…

  • The Red Sox and manager Bobby Valentine agreed on a two-year deal, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).  The Red Sox hold team options on Valentine for 2014 and 2015, tweets WEEI.com's Alex Speier.
  • Valentine reached out to David Cone about becoming the new Red Sox pitching coach, reports Jack Curry of the YES Network (Twitter link).  Cone isn't expected to take the job but was "flattered."
  • The Yankees turned down a request by C.J. Wilson's agent for a visit to Yankee Stadium, reports ESPN New York's Andrew Marchand.  That's not a good sign for Wilson's chances of signing with the Bombers, which Marchand believes are "less than five percent."
  • Erik Hahmann of the DRaysBay blog looks at the situation between the Rays and lefty J.P. Howell.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes listed Howell as one of this winter's non-tender candidates.
  • The Blue Jays are still open to bringing back Kelly Johnson next year, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • Also from Morosi, he thinks the Blue Jays could — and should — sign free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
  • Eric Chavez definitely wants to play in 2012 and a number of teams have strong interest in him, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter links). Some West Coast teams are interested in Chavez and the Yankees appear to be in the mix as well.
  • The Rays have some interest in Cuban center fielder Yoenis Cespedes, but probably can’t afford him, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter).
  • The Orioles hired former Phillies GM Lee Thomas as a special assistant, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link). Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com first mentioned the possibility (on Twitter). It's worth noting that Scott Proefrock and Joe Jordan of the Phillies are former Orioles front office employees.

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post

AL East Notes: Yankees, Niemann, Howell

Every American League East team except the Orioles has a winning record. We've already checked in on the Red Sox and Blue Jays tonight, now here's the latest news out of the Bronx and St. Petersburg…

  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman told Dan Martin of the New York Post that he doesn't expect to make a trade this week. However, he continues to go through the motions in search of a possible upgrade. “I go into the marketplace with a team that's a championship-caliber team as it sits," Cashman said. "It's hard to upgrade on that.”
  • Rays manager Joe Maddon told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times that he isn't anticipating major trades (Twitter link).
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that the Rays didn't offer Jeff Niemann and J.P. Howell for Colby Rasmus, contrary to earlier reports.

Rays Re-Sign J.P. Howell

At least one of the Rays' free agent relievers is returning to Tampa Bay. The team re-signed left-hander J.P. Howell, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (Twitter links) who reports that the deal is for $1.1MM plus incentives. The Rays non-tendered the 27-year-old earlier this month, but continued working toward a deal with him. Legacy Sports represents Howell.

The 2004 first rounder missed all of 2010 after undergoing left labrum surgery in May. Back in 2009, Howell was effective for 66 2/3 innings, posting a 2.84 ERA with 10.7 K/9 and 4.5 BB/9 and picking up 17 saves. He was equally effective in 2008, when he posted a 2.22 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings.

The Rays will be able to retain Howell in 2012, since he won't have six years of service time after next season.

Joaquin Benoit already signed elsewhere and Rafael Soriano, Lance Cormier, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, Chad Qualls and Randy Choate are all free agents, so Tampa Bay's bullpen will likely look completely different in 2011.

Rays Rumors: Howell, Johnson, Bartlett

The latest on the Rays, who are looking to re-build their bullpen and acquire a hitter or two:

American League Non-Tenders

This post will list all the American League players non-tendered today, but the best place to track all 200+ arbitration eligible players is our new non-tender tracker.

Odds & Ends: Strasburg, Ruiz, Millwood, Crawford

Links for Wednesday, as we make sense of Angel Pagan's unbelievable night

Looking At The Needs Of Some Contenders

With Spring Training wrapping up around the country, teams are finalizing their rosters and picking the 25 players they'll start the season with. There's always room for improvement, but some contenders have some very obvious weak spots on their rosters. Here's a look at some of them, which may need to be addressed during the season…

  • Angels, third base: Brandon Wood and Maicer Izturis will get the first cracks at replacing Chone Figgins, but if neither is up to par, the Halos might be looking for a fill-in at the hot corner.
  • Braves, outfielder: Superstar in training Jason Heyward will start the year in right, but incumbent centerfielder Nate McLouth had a brutal spring (6-for-51), which may push Melky Cabrera into full-time duty.
  • Rays, setup man: With J.P. Howell on the shelf due to a bum shoulder, the team has no obvious candidate to hand the ball off to new closer Rafael Soriano. Dan Wheeler and Grant Balfour represent solid options, but if Howell misses more time than expected, the Rays might be looking to add a reliever.
  • Twins, closer: This is the most obvious hole of them all. Joe Nathan is out for the season after having elbow surgery, and Jon Rauch will get the first chance to replace him. 
  • Yankees, left field: The team is breaking camp with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames set to share time in left, but we've already seen a scenario laid out in which they might need help sooner rather than later.

That doesn't include all of the clubs that could very well be looking to add a starting pitcher at some point, like the Mariners, Mets, Phillies, Cubs, and Dodgers. Some other holes aren't so obvious though. Maybe the Red Sox could use another reliever (who couldn't?), or perhaps Seattle will go looking for a big bat that fits into their extreme run prevention plan. 

What other areas of need to do you see out there for contenders?

Odds & Ends: Alvarez, Strasburg, Church, Rays

Links for Saturday…

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.

We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements.  Yesterday's list can be found here.

  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals.  Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts.  Willits' contract is worth $625K. 
  • Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter).  Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players.  In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
  • Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter).  The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
  • The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press.  MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
  • Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
  • The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
  • Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
  • Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.


Full Story | 104 Comments | Categories: Alex Gordon | Angel Guzman | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Brandon Laird | Brendan Harris | Brian Tallet | Carlos Gomez | Casey Janssen | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Ray | Colorado Rockies | David Aardsma | Delmon Young | Francisco Liriano | George Sherrill | Hong-Chih Kuo | Houston Astros | Howie Kendrick | Humberto Quintero | J.J. Hardy | J.P. Howell | James Loney | Jason Bartlett | Jason Bergmann | Jason Frasor | Jason Hammel | Jeff Baker | Jeff Francoeur | Jered Weaver | Jeremy Accardo | Jesse Crain | Jesus Flores | John Danks | Jonathan Papelbon | Jonathan Sanchez | Jorge Cantu | Josh Hamilton | Josh Willingham | Kansas City Royals | Kevin Kouzmanoff | Koyie Hill | Leo Nunez | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Luke Scott | Manny Delcarmen | Mark Lowe | Matt Garza | Matt Guerrier | Matt Lindstrom | Miami Marlins | Michael Bourn | Mike Adams | Mike Fontenot | Mike Napoli | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | Oakland Athletics | Pat Neshek | Pedro Feliciano | Peter Moylan | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rafael Perez | Rajai Davis | Ramon Ramirez | Reggie Willits | Rickie Weeks | Robinson Tejeda | Russell Martin | Ryan Ludwick | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Sean Green | Seattle Mariners | Shawn Camp | St. Louis Cardinals | Stephen Drew | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Tom Gorzelanny | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Washington Nationals | Wil Nieves | Zach Duke | Zach Miner

Odds & Ends: Kouzmanoff, Taguchi, Draft

Some links on this frosty Saturday night…

  • Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic spoke to Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes, who took full responsibility for Eric Byrnes' three-year, $30MM contract.  Arizona designated Byrnes for assignment on Friday.
  • The Rays have four remaining arbitration-eligible players in Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, J.P. Howell, and B.J. Upton.  The club will stick with their policy of cutting off negotiations after exchanging figures, which happens at noon on Tuesday, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times.  Tampa Bay does this to try to bring about a settlement and to avoid settling at an artificial midpoint between the two figures.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com isn't terribly upset that the O's weren't the club to land Kevin Kouzmanoff.  Kubatko understands frustrations over the Orioles' lack of production at third, but notes that the 28-year-old's offensive production was nothing to write home about in 2009.  Kouzmanoff hit .255/.302/.420 with 18 HRs for the Padres last season.
  • As we heard earlier today, a committee is being formed to work on changes to the amateur draft.  The committee will look into making the draft worldwide and instituting a slotting system.  Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues doesn't see any changes being made until after 2011, when the collective bargaining agreement expires.
  • The Orix Buffaloes are close to signing So Taguchi, according to a report from Sponichi passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter).  The 40-year-old emerged with the Cubs at the end of last season, making 12 plate appearances in six games.