Juan Cruz Rumors

Rosenthal On Cabrera, Cruz, Nady, Swisher

Let’s take a look at the latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

  • The A’s are offering more at-bats to Nomar Garciaparra than the Phillies.  If the A’s sign Nomar, that wouldn’t stop them from adding Orlando Cabrera.  However, Rosenthal’s source says Cabrera and the A’s "are not even close" in terms of his value.
  • Nothing is close with the Juan Cruz situation; "New teams entered the mix after the sign-and-trade option became more realistic."  Rosenthal says it’s still possible that a team will simply sign Cruz and give up a draft pick.  La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the Twins have made an offer to Cruz, but did not speak to his agent yesterday.
  • Even with the Orlando Hudson signing, Blake DeWitt still has a role with the Dodgers pitching in at second base, third base, and even shortstop.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman "didn’t particularly like" any of the offers he’s received for Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady.
  • Rosenthal leaves the door slightly ajar for the Astros and Pudge: "the team continues to indicate that it cannot afford free agent Ivan Rodriguez unless his price drops significantly."  Astros GM Ed Wade said on Wednesday: "We’re not signing Pudge.  Put that one to rest. We have no expectation to sign Pudge."

Nothing Close For Juan Cruz, Twins

4:46pm: Steve Gilbert of MLB.com talked to D’Backs GM Josh Byrnes.  Byrnes is in regular contract with Cruz’s agent Barry Praver, but has nothing new to report and is not talking to any teams about Cruz.

3:47pm: MLB.com’s Kelly Theiser reports that the Twins have not even extended a formal offer to Cruz. She agrees with Neal that Twins fans should not expect a Cruz acquisition, though they definitely are interested.

SUNDAY, 1:27pm: Neal is back with another update, though not a pleasant one for Twins fans. Neal writes that the reports saying the Twins are "closing in on a deal" are not true. The trade, may in fact, be very difficult to pull off:

"It’s going to be hard enough to agree to terms with the agent. Getting the Diamondbacks to agree on a trade might be even tougher. Things could always change but, for now, there’s little reason to feel optimistic that the Twins can land Cruz."

SATURDAY: Bob McManaman of The Arizona Republic reports that the Diamondbacks are "closing in on a likely sign-and-trade deal" with the Twins for Juan Cruz. He adds that "various reports expected the deal to be completed by Saturday." 

FRIDAY: According to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Twins made an offer to reliever Juan Cruz tonight as part of a possible sign-and-trade with the Diamondbacks.  If Cruz accepts the offer, Neal says the teams would then have 48 hours to work out a trade.

Cruz would represent a power arm for the back of Minnesota’s pen; his average heater was 94.3 mph in 2008.  Cruz’s big-time strikeout stuff is accompanied by poor control, however.

Neal Discusses Ayala, Cruz, Cordero

8:48 Neal has another update, reporting that Ayala’s contract is indeed guaranteed. Ayala will get the previously-reported $1.3MM base salary, along with $250K of appearance incentives. $50K for 50 appearance, and then another $50K for every five games after that – up to 70 games.

Ayala also has bonuses for finishing games, which would require an injury to All-Star closer Joe Nathan. He also has bonuses for making the All-Star team, winning ALCS or World Series MVP honors, or finishing in the Top 3 of the Rolaids Relief Award.

Aside from his appearance incentives, none seem plausible. Nothing further on Cruz or Cordero in this update.

9:52am: La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune learned that newly-signed reliever Luis Ayala does not have a guaranteed contract:

The Twins can cut Ayala up until 16 days before Opening Day and be on the hook for just 1/6th of his $1.3MM salary [about $217K]. If they cut him 15 days from the first pitch on in, they are on the hook for about 1/4th of the salary [$325K]. The Twins have a little protection if Ayala doesn’t have a good spring.

That’s good to hear, because Ayala wasn’t really deserving of a guaranteed contract based on his ’08 and the current market.  Neal also has more on Juan Cruz:

If Cruz is moved as part of a sign and trade deal, Arizona is out a first-round pick and sandwhich round pick as compensation. That should influence the types of players the D’Backs would want in return for Cruz. It also stands to reason that several teams, and not just the Twins, would be in on Cruz if draft picks aren’t a factor.  But there are indications that Arizona can’t just sit back and demand a lot for Cruz. Cruz is making noises about sitting out until after the June draft, so Arizona would get nothing for compensation once Cruz signs with a club. So there’s motivation on their part to get something in return for him. The Twins have made a call to the league office to check on the change in the sign-and-trade rules. If they haven’t already been informed of the changes they should know today.

Sitting out is Cruz’s only leverage…is he bluffing?   A bit more on the relief front: Neal was unable to confirm that the Twins attended Chad Cordero‘s audition yesterday.

Indians Might Be All Set

According to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Indians don’t plan on pursuing any more free agents, even in a sign-and-trade scenario.

With their 25-man payroll pushing $80 million, it would be hard for the Indians to take on any payroll, writes Hoynes.

The Indians expressed mild interest in Juan Cruz and Orlando Hudson early in the offseason, but that was before they dolled out a two-year, $20.5MM million contract to Kerry Wood and chose to take on Mark DeRosa‘s $5.5MM ’09 salary.

More From The Sign-And-Trade Front

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle shares some thoughts from the A’s brass on this whole sign-and-trade fiasco:

I spoke to a member of the A’s front office who is doubtful that deals of this nature will be allowed to go through because they so clearly run counter to specific rules.

Slusser also writes that the A’s are not considering tyring such a deal with the White Sox for Type-A free agent Orlando Cabrera.

For one thing, the A’s would lose a second-round pick to Chicago rather than a first-round pick if they were to sign Cabrera, writes Slusser.  And the source told me that losing a second-rounder is not something that would squash a deal.  The A’s aren’t concerned with it at all. Cabrera’s wish for a $9 million-plus salary, though? That could kill things.

Cardinals May Have Interest In Juan Cruz

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals took note of the recent sign-and-trade allowance by MLB.  They’re said to have a "passing interest" in Juan Cruz.  Wouldn’t hurt to add another power arm to the bullpen if the price is right.

Strauss doesn’t say it, but the Cards could also look to pull off a sign-and-trade for Orlando Hudson (pure speculation on my part).  The Cardinals have not been linked to Hudson in recent days; the Dodgers and Royals are the rumored suitors.

D’Backs Working On Sign-And-Trade Deal?

According to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, the Diamondbacks could be hammering out a sign-and-trade deal with reliever Juan Cruz.

"I can’t say too much," Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes said Monday. "But of late, they’ve talked to the union, we have talked to the Commissioner’s Office to see if there is a way where they could sign through us and then we would receive in trade what we would deem as enough value."

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic also has a column on the topic.  Ken Rosenthal and La Velle E. Neal III have done a nice job of explaining this complicated situation.  As Neal notes, the Twins may be interested in Cruz if they aren’t forced to surrender a high draft pick for his services.  Yahoo’s Jeff Passan says the Brewers and Rangers also have interest in Cruz.

MLB To Lend A Hand To Type As

MONDAY: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has more on the topic.  He says:

Major League Baseball, the players’ union, the Diamondbacks and Cruz’s agents are in discussions to facilitate a sign-and-trade involving Cruz that adheres to the collective-bargaining agreement.  Free agents cannot be traded before June 15 without their consent, but the union will permit Cruz and other Type A players to waive that right, according to Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice-president of labor relations.

Rosenthal says the D’Backs are not discussing this kind of scenario with Hudson’s agents, and it’s unknown whether Cabrera and the White Sox are talking about it.  Rosenthal says there would be a window, perhaps 48 hours, for the team to make a deal.  If no deal is made then the player would remain a free agent.

SUNDAY: La Velle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune suggests MLB might allow for a workaround for Type A free agents:

There have been rumblings that Major League Baseball, which is aware that Type A free agents like Juan Cruz and infielders Orlando Hudson and Orlando Cabrera have been hindered by the compensation rules, are willing to make it easier for teams to sign then trade those free agents. For example, Arizona could sign Cruz to a contract that the Twins are willing to take on. The Twins and Diamondbacks would then work out a trade for Cruz. The Twins could land Cruz without losing a draft pick.

No word on what MLB would do to facilitate these sign n’ trades.  Perhaps they’d just give their approval.

Neal notes that the Twins have discussed Cruz internally, but wouldn’t be willing to give up their #23 pick in the June draft for him.  Also keep in mind that the Twins just brought in reliever Luis Ayala.

Cruz, Diamondbacks Continue Talking

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, the Diamondbacks and free agent reliever Juan Cruz continue to engage in dialogue about a possible deal.

"A solution that works for us and works for him is unclear," said GM Josh Byrnes. "We’re at least trying to see how to make this a favorable outcome."

Cruz, a 30-year-old right-hander, posted a 2.61 ERA in 51 2/3 innings last season.  He also fanned 71 batters, but has drawn little to no interest this offseason from any team other than the D-Backs.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Red Sox, Cruz, Angels, Jays, Braves

On this date 14 years ago, Hideo Nomo signed with the Dodgers after "retiring" from professional baseball in Japan, becoming the first Japanese player in the big leagues in over 30 years. Nomo would go on to win 123 games in 12 big league seasons, including two no-hitters. Since then, at least 25 other pitchers have made the jump from Japan to the U.S. and Nomo is arguably still the best to make the move. With several big names still looking for their own big league contract, let’s take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere…

  • Fire Brand of the American League speculates on some in-season trade targets for the Red Sox.
  • MLB Notebook takes a look at the players most affected by the recent signings of Bobby Abreu and Adam Dunn.
  • Jorge Says No! takes a look at the market for Juan Cruz.
  • The Sports Banter reflects on what they consider to be a "disappointing" offseason for the Angels.
  • UmpBump recaps the offseason for the Blue Jays and looks at their projected lineup.
  • Braves Blast rummages through the scraps of what is left for the Braves outfield now that most of the big names have signed elsewhere.

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com. If you have a suggestion for this feature, Cork can be reached here.