Juan Rivera Rumors

Possible Platoon Partners For Domonic Brown

Jayson Werth is days away from free agency, so if the Phillies intend to re-sign their right fielder, they'll have to bid directly against other interested teams. There's a real chance Werth signs elsewhere this winter, so the Phillies are thinking ahead. Manager Charlie Manuel has acknowledged that he may pair Domonic Brown up with a more experienced player who can handle southpaws and play right field.

Brown, just 23, had no trouble hitting minor league pitching this year (.327/.391/.589 line) but he bats from the left side and the Phillies could ease him into the big leagues by limiting his exposure to left-handed pitching. Here are eight outfielders the Phillies may consider as platoon partners for Brown:

  • Jeff Francoeur, 26 years old, non-tender candidate – Frenchy has his faults, but the 26-year-old can handle lefties. He has a .299/.343/.481 line against them in his career.
  • Matt Diaz, 32 years old, non-tender candidate – Diaz has a .335/.373/.533 line against lefties in his career.
  • Juan Rivera, 32 years old, trade candidate – The Angels will have to part with an outfielder if they sign Werth or Carl Crawford. Rivera, who spent most of the 2010 season in left field, has a career .288/.333/.499 line against lefties.
  • Jose Guillen, 34 years old, free agent – He struggled against lefties this year, but boasts a .270/.327/.460 line against them in his career.
  • Xavier Nady, 31 years old, free agent – Nady, who struggled through the 2010 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery, has a .297/.367/.451 line against lefties in his career.
  • Andruw Jones, 33, free agent – Jones would likely be able to find more playing time elsewhere, so he's not a natural fit in Philly, but his career (.261/.361/.501) and 2010 (.256/.373/.558) numbers against left-handers must have the Phillies salivating.
  • Milton Bradley, 32, trade candidate – Again, Bradley seems like an unlikely target for the Phillies, but he has a .300/.382/.488 line against left-handers in his career and could be available.
  • Willie Bloomquist, 32, free agent – He has a .272/.334/.366 line against lefties in his career – not much pop, but he's far more versatile than the players above. Bloomquist played all three outfield positions and all four infield positions this year, so Manuel could use him elsewhere if Brown wins the job outright.
  • Austin Kearns, 30, free agent – Kearns has a career .261/.383/.416 line against lefties and may have trouble finding an everyday job.
  • Ben Francisco, 29, on the Phillies – Francisco has a .267/.347/.460 career line against left-handers.

Diaz and Francoeur handle lefties well and can play right field, so they would be good fits for the Phils if they are indeed non-tendered. Rivera, Nady, Bloomquist and Kearns would also be legitimate options and none of the players listed figure to cost more than a few million on a one-year deal, so the Phillies are well-positioned to recover if Werth leaves and they consider alternatives to Francisco. Their biggest challenge will be helping Brown improve upon the .210/.257/.355 line he posted in 70 plate appearances this summer.

Angels Rumors: Rivera, Abreu, Crawford

Angels manager Mike Scioscia and GM Tony Reagins told Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that offense is not necessarily the team’s biggest issue heading into the offseason. Here are the details on the Angels’ winter plans:

  • Reagins and Scioscia gave DiGiovanna the impression that the Angels will look to sign a reliable veteran reliever.
  • It appears that the Angels will look to trade Juan Rivera and move Bobby Abreu to DH, according to DiGiovanna.
  • That would leave Peter Bourjos in center, Torii Hunter in right and a Carl Crawford-sized opening in left. The Angels are expected to pursue the Rays outfielder, who hits free agency after the season. Crawford fits on the Angels if Hideki Matsui leaves via free agency and the Angels bench or trade Rivera.

Odds & Ends: Hawpe, Kuroda, Angels, Antonetti

Some more links for Tuesday night, including the latest waiver wire news…

  • Brad Hawpe is one step closer to signing with another team now that he has cleared waivers, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
  • The Dodgers put Hiroki Kuroda on waivers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Kuroda hits free agency after the season, but the Dodgers don't necessarily want to move him. A rival executive guaranteed Rosenthal that the Yankees will be "all over" Kuroda if he reaches them on waivers.
  • Rosenthal reports that the Angels placed Brian Fuentes, Juan Rivera, Mike Napoli and Bobby Abreu on waivers (Twitter link). The Angels are presumably curious about the interest their players draw, even if they don't intend on making a trade.
  • White Sox GM Kenny Williams told reporters including Paul M. Banks of TheSportsBank that he has to "speak in generalities” about waiver claims. Rosenthal reported earlier today that the White Sox will claim Manny Ramirez if he reaches them on waivers.
  • Indians assistant GM Chris Antonetti is taking on more responsibility as he prepares to replace current GM Mark Shapiro after the season, as MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince explains.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told MLB.com's Jason Beck that the Tigers and Red Sox never agreed on a deal involving Johnny Damon (Twitter link). Damon, who has the final say, said today that he intends to stay in Detroit, even though the Red Sox claimed him on waivers.
  • Reds president and CEO Bob Castellini told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he expects the club to agree to an extension with manager Dusty Baker (Twitter link). The Reds offered Baker a deal last week.

Braves Waiting To Deal Lowe

MONDAY, 6:06pm: The wait may be nearing its end.  Now that they have lost Lackey to Boston and appear to have missed out on landing Cliff Lee, the Angels have a pitching void to fill.  This now means that the Angels are "among the favorites" to acquire the Lowe from the Braves, according to an update in Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi's blockbuster deal story.

The Halos could offer outfielder Juan Rivera, who the FOX Sports duo says is the type of right-handed run producer Atlanta is seeking.

SATURDAY, 11:37pm: According to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports, the Braves are waiting until starting pitching on the open market becomes more scarce to deal starter Derek Lowe.  Specifically, John Lackey signing with a club would, arguably, make Lowe more attractive than any other free agent starter.

Morosi mentions two possible teams for the 36-year-old – the Angels and Mariners.  We've heard in recent weeks that the M's are still looking to spend even after committing major money to Chone Figgins.  What destination makes the most sense to you?

Giants Notes: Leadoff, Payroll, Catcher, Rivera

Some Giants updates to ponder as we march on through the night, courtesy of MLB.com's Christ Haft:

  • Brian Sabean said Monday that the Giants plan to use Eugenio Velez or Andres Torres in the leadoff spot for 2010. Yikes, neither is exactly a prime option for that role.
  • Sabean says the payroll will be in the same range as 2009 — the low $90MMs. Haft says the Giants will need every penny due to the massive raise Tim Lincecum is about to receive as part of the aftermath of winning his second consecutive Cy Young Award.
  • The Giants will not use Pablo Sandoval or Ryan Garko at catcher even on a part-time basis in 2010. Sandoval caught 11 games for the Giants in 2008, but Sabean and Co. would prefer not to expose their best hitter to the rigors of catching. Garko won the 2003 Johnny Bench Award at Stanford, but hasn't caught a game in his Major League career.
  • Should the Angels land Jason Bay, the Giants might suddenly perk up and pursue an acquisition of Juan Rivera. Haft points out, though, that given Rivera's big-time production in 2009 and modest contract for 2010 and 2011, the asking price might be tough to swallow for the Giants. 

Jason Bay Rumors: Monday

8:31pm: Reagins told Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times that talks with Bay are "new and developing."

2:36pm: ESPN's Gordon Edes tweets that Angels GM Tony Reagins has not yet arrived in Indianapolis.  So if the Halos did open talks with Bay's agent Joe Urbon, either they didn't involve Reagins or they happened by phone.

12:26pm: The Angels have opened talks with free agent outfielder Jason Bay, according to Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports.  Earlier today, SI's Jon Heyman said the Angels were thought to be dangling Juan Rivera as they entertain Bay.  With Bay expected to earn at least $10MM more per year than Rivera, is the upgrade worth it?  Or can the Angels afford to have both players under contract?

We learned earlier today that the Mariners might not get involved on Bay, despite his reported desire to play near home.

Heyman On Gonzalez, Wellemeyer, Rivera

SI's Jon Heyman kicks off his newest column with thoughts on his top 50 free agents.  A few highlights from the list and elsewhere in the column…

  • Via Twitter Heyman says Mets GM Omar Minaya likes Luis Castillo more than any of the 29 other teams do.
  • Heyman groups the Cubs in as a possible Matt Holliday suitor, which does not seem feasible given the team's payroll situation. 
  • Lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez has "drawn interest from as many as 15 teams."
  • A new name on the Brewers' radar as a "No. 5-type guy": Todd Wellemeyer.
  • Heyman speaks of "indications the Angels might be willing to trade outfielder Juan Rivera."  One such indication popped up earlier this month when Ken Davidoff said the Angels and Tigers discussed a Curtis Granderson deal.  Rivera had a solid year – .287/.332/.478 – and has $9.5MM remaining over two years.

Curtis Granderson Rumors: Friday

3:55pm: The Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers tweets that the Cubs are not yet involved in trade talks for Granderson, "but will become aggressive when the Tigers are ready for offers."

9:38am: The Angels and Tigers have discussed a trade for center fielder Curtis Granderson, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday.  Davidoff says the Halos would use Granderson in left field and either shift Juan Rivera to DH or trade him.  In my opinion, the Angels could fill several needs cheaply for the Tigers with players such as Mike Napoli and Brandon Wood.  Davidoff adds that the Yankees "think very highly" of Granderson and the Cubs are "expected to inquire."  Talking to the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rogers, Baseball America's Jim Callis suggested the Cubs are in the best position of these three suitors to acquire Granderson.

Granderson, 29 in March, hit .249/.327/.453 in 710 plate appearances this year.  His defense is at least respectable.  His contract is reasonable - $25.75MM guaranteed over the next three years.  ESPN's Keith Law, however, considers Granderson a platoon player given his inability to hit lefties.

Productive Free Agent Pickups

Manny Ramirez, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira have all produced since headlining last offseason's free agent class, but they're far from the only free agents to make meaningful contributions this season. Here are the five free agents who have been worth most this year according to FanGraphs. I've included the player's worth, as calculated by FanGraphs, his contract info and some more traditional stats:

  • Raul Ibanez, Phillies – He's been worth $16.1MM this year, but the Phillies are paying him just $6.5MM (plus incentives) in the first year of a deal worth $31.5MM. Ibanez has 26 homers, 75 RBI and an OPS just shy of 1.000.
  • C.C. Sabathia, Yankees -  Sabathia has been worth $15.6MM this year, making a $14MM salary in the first year of a deal that could pay him $161MM. Despite a drop in his K-rate, Sabathia has an ERA below 4.00 in the AL East and leads the league in starts.
  • Mark Teixeira, Yankees – He's been worth $15.1MM so far, so he's on pace to earn the first $20MM of his $180MM deal. He's added 26 homers, 80 RBI and 56 walks to the Yankees' offense.
  • Bobby Abreu, Angels – He's been worth $13.8MM this year and he's making a base salary of just $5MM. What a deal for the Angels, who get an .869 OPS, nearly as many walks as strikeouts and 22 steals.
  • Juan Rivera, Angels -  Another unheralded signing by the Angels. Rivera and Abreu have both approached Teixeira's production this year and the Yanks pay Tex more in one season than the Angels will pay Abreu and Rivera in total over the course of their current deals. Rivera makes a base salary of $3.25MM this year and will make at least $12.75MM on his new deal. He's batting .311 with 18 homers.

How Will The Angels Spend Their Money?

12:02pm: Boras gave a prepared statement regarding the Angels and Tex, saying that the player’s interest has been sincere.  Boras left the door open for the Angels, but why wouldn’t he?

11:28am: So the Angels are out of the running for Mark Teixeira.  Now what?  They’ve re-signed Juan Rivera, making Manny Ramirez a "reach" according to Jerry Crasnick’s sourceMike DiGiovanna has suggestions:

The Angels…could also look to bolster their offense by pursuing a free-agent outfielder such as Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, or, possibly, Manny.  Or, they could look to trade for a hitter such as Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, Garrett Atkins or Joey Votto.  They will probably use some of the money budgeted for Teixeira to sign closer Brian Fuentes, who is seeking a three-year, $30-million deal and has said that the Angels are his first choice.

Votto seems a long shot to be traded.  Acquiring Dye or Atkins would require young pitching the Halos may not be able to spare.  Adding another outfielder would not be ideal, with Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter, Rivera, and Gary Matthews Jr. in the mix for those three spots and the DH spot.  Still, it could be done.  Burrell or Dunn can at least play some first base.  The Konerko idea seems reasonable, if he’d approve the trade.