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Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times has a slew of information from Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti regarding the team's offseason plans. Colletti feels that his team's pitching and defense have been sufficient, but that the offense is lacking and needs to be bolstered:
"I say the most dramatic way we can improve the offense, that would be the way we would go," Colletti said.
Obviously, that could be an allusion to Prince Fielder or Albert Pujols, but the Dodgers' uncertain ownership and financial situations make a signing of that magnitude a stretch. Dilbeck points out that Colletti has never signed a player to a $100MM+ deal, and that Kevin Brown is the only player in Dodgers' history to receive such a contract. At the same time, however, Dilbeck also notes that the Dodgers do have $25MM in contracts coming off the books, so a run at one of the Top 2 free agents isn't necessarily unfathomable.
In the likely event that neither player comes to the Dodgers, Colletti says that James Loney is someone they'd "love to have back." Loney's overall numbers don't appear all that productive, but he's batting .355/.435/.653 with seven homers in his last 37 games. A strong finish could persuade the Dodgers to bring him back, although doing so would require giving him a raise on this year's $4.875MM salary — a risk given Loney's mostly underwhelming numbers.
Colletti also mentions re-signing Hiroki Kuroda as a priority; even if they were to retain Kuroda though, they'd require a fifth starter. Nathan Eovaldi and Dana Eveland can both be candidates, and of course the free agent market figures to offer plenty of low-budget reclamation projects that could be brought in to fill that role as well.
Beyond that, role players such as Tony Gwynn Jr., Casey Blake, Aaron Miles, and Juan Rivera may all return "in the right situation." For what it's worth, Gwynn told Dilbeck's colleague Jim Peltz that he hopes to return to the Dodgers next season.
When George Kottaras hits for the cycle, left-hander Tom Milone homers on the very first pitch he sees in the Major Leagues and the Tigers come back from an 8-1 deficit for a 9-8 win over the White Sox, you know it's been a wild day in baseball. Let's end it off with some news items…
- The Rangers should offer C.J. Wilson a five-year contract worth between $92.5 and $97.5MM, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor for ESPN Dallas, but not any more than that since Wilson isn't quite one of the game's elite aces. If you think that Wilson isn't worth that kind of money, remember that unless C.C. Sabathia opts out of his deal, Wilson will be clearly the best free agent arm on the market this winter. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes thinks Wilson could even score a $100MM contract.
- Kaja Whitehouse of the New York Post isn't impressed by the Mets' plan of offering ownership "units" worth $20-$30MM to several different investors. She believes the club will find it hard to find investors willing to buy in without getting any say in the franchise's operations.
- Johan Santana threw 30 pitches for Class A St. Lucie today in his first minor league appearance since July 28, reports Adam Rubin for ESPN New York. Mets manager Terry Collins didn't rule out the possibility that Santana could pitch in a Major League game this season.
- The Cubs' new general manager may have a difficult decision to make about Geovany Soto, writes Patrick Mooney for CSNChicago.com. While Soto will have to rebound in 2012, it's hard to imagine any new GM immediately getting rid of a catcher who has performed very well in two of four Major League seasons.
- Bruce Chen tells Tyler Kepner of the New York Times that he wants to return to the Royals next season, what he's learned from pitching for 10 different organizations and how he wants to be like Jamie Moyer. Will MLBTR still be writing posts about Chen in 2025?
- Juan Rivera's performance for the Dodgers has convinced the team that it needs another big bat for next season, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. That big bat is intended for first base or left field, which would mean that the Dodgers would part ways with either Rivera or James Loney.
The Dodgers took Juan Rivera off of the Blue Jays' hands in mid-July and the outfielder has been solid in 40 games for Los Angeles. Rivera is obviously comfortable with his new club and told Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that he would like to stay put.
"I would like to be back with this team," Rivera said. "I hope after the season, or even before, that we can agree on an extension or something."
The 33-year-old was lackluster at the plate for the Blue Jays this year but is hitting .292/.346/.438 for the Dodgers. Rivera is in the final season of a three-year, $12.75MM deal which he originally inked with the Angels.
The Dodgers acquired outfielder Juan Rivera from the Blue Jays for a player to be named later or cash considerations and designated Marcus Thames for assignment, announced the team (Twitter links). Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times tweets that the Dodgers also received cash.
The Jays had to take Rivera and his $5.25MM salary to facilitate the Vernon Wells trade with the Angels in January. Toronto ended up designating Rivera for assignment on July 3rd. Rivera, 33, hit .243/.305/.360 for the Blue Jays in 275 plate appearances, playing both outfield corners, first base, and designated hitter.
Rivera is a right-handed hitter who handles lefties well, which is what the Dodgers thought they were getting when they signed Thames for $1MM in January. Thames struggled mightily in 70 plate appearances, missing about a month with a quad strain.
Here are a few items of note as the Dodgers and Angels finish up the Freeway Series …
- The Tigers dismissed pitching coach Rick Knapp today and promoted bullpen coach Jeff Jones to replace him, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. The move was made in the wake of a rough patch for Tigers pitchers, who gave up 51 runs over a five-game stretch last week, according to Beck.
- The Phillies will likely have a look at Juan Rivera, who was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays this morning, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). The Phils are rumored to be seeking a right-handed bat, and Rivera would fit that bill at a presumably cheap price. For his career, the 33-year-old (today) is hitting .292/.339/.509 against southpaws.
- Nationals right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is making rehab starts and seeking a return to the Majors, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Wang will be a free agent at season's end, so it will be interesting to see if he can piece together a decent couple months' worth of starts.
Rivera, 32, came to the Jays in the trade that sent Vernon Wells to the Angels back in January. In 271 plate appearances in Toronto, Rivera hit just .246/.310/.365 with six homers. He split his time fairly evenly between left field, first base, and designated hitter, though he did make a handful of appearances in right field as well.
Many were surprised to see the Jays demote Snider, a long-time top prospect who played well when he was healthy in 2010, after just 99 plate appearances this season. Snider hit just .184/.276/.264 but showed significant improvement in the minors, hitting .333/.403/.488 in 226 plate appearances. Snider was rated as the game's sixth-best prospect prior to the 2009 season, and is still just 23 years old despite having 208 Major League games under his belt.
Rounding up Sunday's links, as Andre Ethier celebrates his 29th birthday….
- Jon Lester told WEEI.com's Rob Bradford that he didn't talk to Clay Buchholz about the pros and cons of signing a long-term extension before the right-hander inked a four-year pact today.
- Travis Ishikawa admitted he hoped another team would claim him when he was placed on waivers earlier this season, according to MLB.com's Chris Haft. However, now he says he's glad he's still with the Giants organization and is excited to stay on the West Coast, playing for Triple-A Fresno.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette looks back at the trade that sent Xavier Nady to the Yankees. Kovacevic argues that even if three of the four players the Pirates received for Nady don't work out, Jose Tabata alone makes it a steal for Pittsburgh.
- Juan Rivera isn't off to a good start with his new team, as Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun writes. The Blue Jays are reportedly interested in trading Rivera, but his performance so far likely isn't helping draw any interest.
- The Indians will have some roster shuffling to do when injured players return, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who also addresses trade possibilites in a Tribe mailbag.
- Nationals infielder Alex Cora should make a good manager someday, says MLB.com's Marty Noble.
Rivera, 33 in July, is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2011 season and does not factor into the Blue Jays' long-term plans, according to Rosenthal. Rivera projects as a reserve for the Jays if they field an outfield of Travis Snider, Rajai Davis and Jose Bautista, but he could start in the outfield if Bautista is moved to third base.
The Blue Jays didn't especially want Rivera from the Halos, according to Rosenthal, but rather took him on and the $5.25MM he's owed in 2011 to rid themselves of Wells' hefty contract. It's unlikely the Jays will be able to trade Rivera before the beginning of Spring Training, writes Rosenthal, when teams begin developing needs on account of injuries and ineffectiveness.
In 10 seasons with the Yankees, Expos and Angels, Rivera has posted a line of .280/.328/.461.
So much for the Angels' quiet offseason. The Angels and Blue Jays have announced a blockbuster trade that sends center fielder Vernon Wells to Los Angeles in exchange for catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera. Wells waived his no-trade clause to make the deal happen.
Wells, 32, hit .273/.331/.515 with 31 homers for Toronto in 2010, rebounding from an injury-plagued and disappointing stretch from 2007-09 when he managed just a .743 OPS. The number most associated with Wells, however, is his contract. The center fielder signed a seven-year, $126MM extension with Toronto in 2006 that runs through 2014. Wells is slated to earn $23MM next season and $21MM in each of the following three years, though he has the option of opting out of his deal after 2011.
The Halos took a lot of local and national criticism for failing to sign Carl Crawford, Adrian Beltre and other major targets this winter, especially since owner Arte Moreno said he was prepared to spend to get his team back into contention in the AL West. Acquiring Wells will quiet some of those critics, but now the Angels are paying Wells a higher average annual value ($21.5MM) over the next four years than Texas is paying Beltre ($16MM) over five years or Boston is paying Crawford (roughly $20.28MM) over seven years.
Wells presumably takes over in center field for L.A. now that Torii Hunter has been shifted to right, though Hunter (-6.2 UZR/150) was a bit better than Wells (-7.0 UZR/150) in center last season. Wells' defense did improve last year, however, and the former three-time Gold Glover could approach his old form playing on natural grass at Angel Stadium. The Angels could also explore putting Wells in left and give Peter Bourjos for the bulk of playing time in center.
Getting Wells' $86MM salary off the books (especially without sending L.A. any money in return) is a major achievement for Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos, given that the contract was considered perhaps the most untradeable in all of baseball. The Jays also succeeded in keeping Napoli away from a division rival; the Rays appeared to be targeting the catcher/first baseman earlier this evening.
Napoli hit 26 home runs last year, reaching the 20-homer plateau for the third consecutive season. He hit .238/.316/.468 overall, with a career-high 137 strikeouts. The right-handed hitter has a .931 OPS against southpaws in his career, so he is a potential complement to the lefty-hitting Adam Lind at first base. The Jays could combine Napoli with Lind and Edwin Encarnacion at first, or with Jose Molina and J.P. Arencibia behind the plate. Would-be base stealers were successful 73% of the time they tried stealing off of Napoli in 2010; they've been successful 76% of the time in his career.
Napoli, 29, is arbitration eligible this year and eligible for free agency after 2012. He asked for $6.1MM in 2011 and the Angels countered with a $5.3MM offer, as MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes used Napoli as an example of the arbitration process in this October post, predicting his agent could ask for $6-7MM.
Rivera, 32, is set to earn $5.25MM next season, the last year of a three-year, $12.75MM pact he signed with the Halos following the 2008 campaign. The veteran outfielder has a .272/.323/.448 line over the last two seasons, and has a career .832 OPS against left-handed pitching (though that OPS against lefties dropped to .746 last year). Rivera could play right field and allow Jose Bautista to move to third base. Rivera is also a candidate for DH time in Toronto, and could spell Travis Snider against southpaws.
Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports were the first to report on a Napoli-to-Toronto move this afternoon, and then added the news of Wells' involvement, plus details about the outfielder's physical and waiving of his no-trade clause. Mike Wilner of Sportsnet Radio The FAN 590 confirmed the Wells-for-Rivera/Napoli trade package in an e-mail to MLBTR and Shi Davidi of the Canadian Press tweeted the news that no money was being exchanged in the deal.
MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post
The Phillies are also pursuing Jeff Francoeur and may have interest in Matt Diaz. Rivera, who will earn $5.25MM next year before hitting free agency, could become expendable, especially if the Angels add Carl Crawford. Rivera, Francoeur, and Diaz topped my list of possible platoon partners for Brown back in October.