- GM Brian Cashman told John Harper of the New York Daily News that he talked to Derek Jeter's agent, Casey Close, to clarify comments he made earlier in the week about a potential move to the outfield for the captain.
- As Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out, both the Yankees and the Rangers pursued Cliff Lee aggressively, then "gambled on a former Cy Young winner who has been devastated by shoulder injuries in recent years." But Colon is a back-of-the-rotation arm, not a true alternative to Lee. Brandon Webb, the Rangers' new addition, is no sure thing either.
- The Yankees are upbeat about the chances that Andy Pettitte returns for another season, according to Sherman. They're still considering free agents like Justin Duchscherer and Jeremy Bonderman, though.
- The Yankees believe history is a 'pull' for Pettitte, Sherman writes. He can progress through Yankees records and add to his Hall of Fame case if he plays more.
- Manager Joe Girardi showed the kind of sway he has with the Yankees when he voted in favor of adding Rafael Soriano, according to Sherman.
Five teams have watched Justin Duchscherer throw this winter, and the Orioles will be the sixth when Duchscherer throws a bullpen session for the club on Friday. The right-hander tells MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli that his choice will likely hinge on whichever team gives him a chance to start games next season.
"I just don't feel like with the injuries I've had, I don't think that would be beneficial for my career to be [a reliever] for a team," said Duchscherer. "For me it's black and white. I want to start, that's the whole mindset I have. I haven't even thought of being a reliever….I want a team that's going to be honest with me and say, 'If you're healthy, you are going to start.'"
After missing the entire 2009 season due to an elbow injury, Duchscherer pitched just 28 innings for Oakland last year before undergoing hip surgery. With this injury history and his fairly limited starting experience (just 32 of his 224 career Major League games have been starts), a bullpen stint wouldn't be out of the question, but Duchscherer has drawn interest from enough teams that it appears he'll find a starting spot somewhere.
Duchscherer is two weeks ahead of his usual offseason training schedule due to his abbreviated season last year, and he described his health as "pretty much 100 percent."
"I'm doing [these bullpens] as a precaution, so I know how I feel," the right-hander said. "And so far everything has gone good."
The Athletics, Pirates, Red Sox and Yankees have all shown some interest in the right-hander this winter. Duchscherer dismissed the idea that his past issues with depression would keep him from playing in the pressurized New York market. Over 34% of MLBTR readers polled feel that Duchscherer is the best free agent starter still on the market.
Pitchers and catchers are due to report in about three weeks, and by now all of the high-end free agents have come off the board. Heck, even second tier options have signed by now. That leaves just reclamation-type projects and players with considerable flaws, especially when it comes to pitching.
As MLBTR's Free Agent Tracker shows, starters like Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Bonderman, Freddy Garcia, Doug Davis, Rodrigo Lopez, Todd Wellemeyer and Brian Moehler remain unsigned. Andy Pettitte is clearly the best of the unsigned bunch, but it's the Yankees or retirement for him, and right now it looks like the latter is winning out. Neither Pedro Martinez, Braden Looper, or Jarrod Washburn have appeared in a big league game in over a year. John Maine, Justin Duchscherer and Jamie Moyer are coming off injuries, Tommy John surgery in Moyer's case.
There are still a number of teams looking for rotation help, including the Yankees, Orioles, Nationals, Pirates and Indians. Which of those unsigned starters represents the best option?
As the Orioles' roster rounds into shape heading into Spring Training, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun has a few items of note …
- The Orioles still have interest in free-agent pitcher Justin Duchscherer, although the O's were not one of the two teams for which the right-hander recently worked out, as reported by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Duchscherer will likely hold another open workout for any interested teams to check him out in the next week or so, Zrebiec notes, and he thinks the O's will be there. Duchscherer's son lives in New Jersey, which is relatively close to Baltimore, and the righty is looking to join a team he can start for, which the Orioles can offer.
- The Orioles have not been aggressively pursuing free-agent slugger Vladimir Guerrero, contrary to a report by ESPNDeportes.com earlier on Thursday. If Guerrero's market shrinks enough, the O's may be interested, Zrebiec writes, but otherwise they plan on moving forward with Luke Scott as their designated hitter, and Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie platooning in left field.
- The Orioles have not officially announced their list of non-roster invitees to Spring Training, but Zrebiec reports the following players will be among them: Armando Gabino, Raul Rivero, Josh Rupe, Adam Donachie, Michel Hernandez, Caleb Joseph, Ryan Adams, Brendan Harris and Tyler Henson.
Happy birthday to Astros manager Brad Mills, who was born 54 years ago today in Exeter, California. Here are some news items to help the 'Stros skipper celebrate his big day…
- Justin Duchscherer recently held private workout sessions for two American League clubs, tweets ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. The Yankees, known to be interested in the right-hander, weren't one of the two teams. The Pirates, Red Sox and Athletics (Duchscherer's former club) have all expressed some degree of interest in the free agent hurler this winter.
- As part of an mailbag piece, MLB.com's Lyle Spencer discusses the Angels' search for a leadoff hitter and notes that "it doesn't appear that the Angels are in play" for Johnny Damon. Spencer also raises the point that if there actually is a rift between the Halos and Scott Boras, signing Damon could be an important olive branch between the club and the agent, esepcially given that Kendry Morales and Jered Weaver are both Boras clients.
- Did the Cubs really need to trade Tom Gorzelanny? ESPN.com's Justin Havens asks this question and points out that Gorzelanny and Matt Garza had surprisingly similar 2010 seasons.
- Sean Marshall's two-year contract is examined by Jack Moore of Fangraphs, who compares it to Grant Balfour and Brian Fuentes' recent deals with the Athletics. While Moore thinks the Cubs should probably have not made a multi-year commitment to Marshall, "if a team is going to go multiple years with a reliever, better to do so with young, arbitration eligibles like Marshall than veterans like Balfour and Fuentes."
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez looks at how various teams filled the holes left behind by departing free agents this winter.
The Yankees are 'stepping up' their pursuit of Justin Duchscherer, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. It's not clear whether the Yankees are interested in the right-hander as a starter or as a reliever.
Duchscherer, who dealt with depression issues in Oakland, also missed time because of serious injuries. He underwent right elbow surgery that sidelined him for the entire 2009 season and started just five games in 2010, missing time after a left hip operation.
A two-time All-Star, the 33-year-old has a 3.13 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 454 2/3 career innings. The Yankees have also expressed interest in Jeff Francis and Jeremy Bonderman as they look to solidify a pitching staff that may not include Andy Pettitte.
5:57pm: Renck reports the Harden-A's agreement is unconfirmed (Twitter link). The Rockies are out on Harden. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the A's have talked to Harden, who appears to have better offers elsewhere (Twitter links). Slusser notes that the A's are still talking to Justin Duchscherer.
5:09pm: The A's will sign Rich Harden, Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports (Twitter link). Harden spent the first five and a half seasons of his career in Oakland, where he posted lofty strikeout numbers and a 3.42 ERA between trips to the DL.
The 29-year-old continued to encounter health issues in 2010, but the low ERA and remarkable strikeout numbers were nowhere to be found. Harden battled glute and shoulder injuries this year and posted a 5.58 ERA with 7.3 K/9 and 6.1 BB/9 in 92 innings for the Rangers.
Seven teams other than Oakland reportedly had some interest in Harden: the Yankees, Twins, Rays, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Mariners, and Rockies.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser has some updates regarding Oakland's offseason plans:
- Oakland increased its offer to Japanese righty Hisashi Iwakuma, but the two sides were still unable to agree on a deal. Iwakuma was looking for around $12MM per season, and the A's were unwilling to spend more than $36MM, including the posting fee. The A's will have interest in Iwakuma again next offseason, when he is a free agent and doesn't require a posting fee. However, relations may be strained after Iwakuma's agent Don Nomura told the AP the A's "never showed any respect" toward his client.
- The A's may take the $19.1MM posting fee that will be returned and focus on other areas, including Hideki Matsui. Oakland GM Billy Beane met with Matui's agent, Arn Tellem, Monday at the Winter Meetings. According to Slusser, Matsui has "strong interest" in playing for the A's. Derrek Lee and Nick Johnson are potential alternatives.
- According to this tweet from Slusser, if the A's look to add a veteran starter, it may be a familiar face, coming in the form of Justin Duchscherer.
3:25pm: The Pirates are aggressively pursuing Accardo, according to Kovacevic (on Twitter).
2:51pm: The latest on the Pirates:
- The Pirates are deeply interested in Jeremy Accardo, reports Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Dodgers are also known to be in on the recently non-tendered reliever.
- A couple of teams have approached the Pirates about center fielder Andrew McCutchen, tweets ESPN's Gordon Edes, but they'd have to be overwhelmed.
- The Pirates and Justin Duchscherer have mutual interest, reports Kovacevic.
- The Pirates have shown some interest in Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami, reports MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch. She estimates Kawakami would only cost the Pirates $1-2MM and no significant players, as the Braves are just looking to unload part of his $6.667MM salary.
- Langosch says the Pirates have mild interest in Cardinals shortstop Brendan Ryan. Kovacevic says the Pirates continue to discuss shortstops with many teams, including J.J. Hardy with the Twins.
- Kovacevic adds that the Pirates would love to trade Ryan Doumit. He says they'd only trade Evan Meek or Joel Hanrahan for a very significant return.
Yesterday it was Jayson Werth; today the Red Sox have expressed interest in free agent righty Justin Duchscherer according to WEEI's Rob Bradford. Bradford adds that Duchscherer "has made it clear to clubs that he is only interested in pursuing opportunities as a starter." The Pirates have also expressed interest, reports Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
We examined Duchscherer's free agent stock here. The 32-year-old righty has made only 32 starts over the past three years due to injuries and clinical depression, but after having both hips and his elbow surgically repaired he remarked to MLB.com's Jane Lee, "I can't imagine what else could go wrong." He should require less than this year's $1.75MM guarantee, I imagine. The Red Sox and Pirates had interest in him a year ago as well.