Justin Masterson Rumors
Today is free agent Cliff Floyd's birthday. He is 36 years young. His knees are not. Also, on this date 18 years ago, the San Diego Padres sent Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter to the Blue Jays for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez, in one of the biggest trades ever featuring young, proven talent. Got one that can top that? Let's hear it in the comments...With little action so far this year, the Hot Stove Season is ugly, Don Mossi ugly. Let's take a look at what is being written in the blogosphere...
- Mets Geek takes a look at three recent rumored deals that may be sitting on Omar Minaya's desk and ponders whether or not the Mets should make each trade.
- The Detroit Tigers Weblog breaks down what a Jack Wilson trade would mean for the Tigers.
- Fire Brand of the American League feels that with the recent additions to the bullpen, the Red Sox may be better suited to insert Justin Masterson into the rotation, rather than sign a high-priced free agent.
- Ump Bump suggests that the Angels could get more bang for the buck if they sign Adam Dunn over Mark Teixeira.
- The 'Burgh Blues picks through the scraps and identifies eight players they would like to see the Pirates invite to Spring Training, including Richie Sexson, Sidney Ponson, Mark Prior and Matt Clement.
- MLB Notebook takes a look at the big guns in the free agent market and feels that the Yankees are no longer in a position to set the pace. Rather, they argue that the Angels now control the market.
- East Windup Chronicle feels that some are underestimating the amount of potential Major League talent playing in Japan, noting the number is "at least 30" and considerably more if they had the opportunity to start in the minors out of high school.
- Bernies Crew likes the Jorge Julio signing by the Brewers, noting the move gives the team much needed flexibility and depth in the bullpen.
The Texas Rangers have excess catching, and the Tigers, Reds, and Red Sox are all looking to benefit from that surplus.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com has the Tigers and Reds at the top of the list of teams interested in the oldest of Texas' catchers, Gerald Laird. Laird is arbitration eligible, and therefore the most attractive option for a trade from the Rangers' perspective. Joshua Roenicke of the Reds and Zach Miner from the Tigers are mentioned as potential trade bait in exchange for Laird.
Sullivan says the Red Sox are more interested in one of Texas' younger catchers: either Jarrod Saltalamacchia, or Taylor Teagarden. Clay Buchholz would not be included in any deal, but Michael Bowden and Justin Masterson may be available.
In a separate article that followed from a conference call with Texas GM Jon Daniels, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News points out that the Rangers are not in cost cutting mode. A Laird trade might give that appearance. Another note from Grant's article - the Rangers aren't in on Koji Uehara or Kenshin Kawakami.
- The interest shown in Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla has been "tentative at best."
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels wants Clay Buchholz from the Red Sox for one of his catchers, but Sullivan says the Sox made it clear Buchholz is not available under any circumstances. Sullivan suggests the Sox might be more inclined to trade Justin Masterson or Michael Bowden if they bolster their minor league pitching depth by signing Junichi Tazawa.
- Sullivan wonders if swapping John Mayberry Jr. for Greg Golson gives the Rangers the outfield depth to trade Marlon Byrd (perhaps because Golson is capable of playing center field).
- A club official told Sullivan it's "doubtful" that the Rangers would be interested in Jose Valverde.
- Wes Littleton has drawn trade interest; he was designated for assignment last week.
According to Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald, a slew of catchers are being shopped to the Red Sox. Among them: Jeff Mathis, Mike Napoli, Brian Schneider, Miguel Montero, John Buck, Ramon Hernandez, Bengie Molina, Carlos Santana, Kelly Shoppach, Victor Martinez, Jesus Flores, Kenji Johjima, Jeff Clement, Yorvit Torrealba, and the Rangers' guys. Silverman says the Braves, Cardinals, and Rays also have catchers available. It seems that teams are asking for players like Justin Masterson, Clay Buchholz, or Lars Anderson in some cases.
On the Jason Varitek front, Scott Boras told the AP yesterday that he's had no financial discussions with the Red Sox. He expects the matter to be discussed after Thanksgiving. Curt Schilling commented last week about Varitek possibly playing fewer games in 2009, but Boras shot down the idea of a reduced role.
The Red Sox traded center fielder Coco Crisp to the Royals for reliever Ramon Ramirez today; tip of the cap to Brian McRae for the scoop. Let's round up the reactions and consequences.
- MLB.com's Dick Kaegel says Royals GM Dayton Moore will now attempt to rebuild his bullpen, perhaps by trading an outfielder or first baseman. Kaegel says "word from Chicago downplays the Cubs' reputed interest" in Mark Teahen.
- MLB.com's Ian Browne says Red Sox GM Theo Epstein will bring in a fourth outfielder to replace Crisp. Browne suggests free agents Gabe Kapler or Rocco Baldelli.
- Ken Davidoff says the Sox now have the flexibility to move Justin Masterson into the rotation, reducing the leverage of the agents for Derek Lowe and A.J. Burnett.
- Craig Brown of Royals Authority expects the Royals to trade Teahen now.
- Dave Cameron gives the slight edge to the Royals in the trade.
- According to ESPN's Peter Gammons, the Reds were also part of the "surprisingly small market for Crisp."
- Matt Porter of the Boston Globe profiles Ramirez.
- ESPN's Keith Law says both teams may be disappointed, and 2008 may have been Ramirez's career year.
Let's take a look at Peter Gammons' Saturday blog post.
- Gammons indicates that Brad Penny is working hard this offseason, and teams such as the Cardinals, Red Sox, Rangers, and Blue Jays "appreciate" his past success.
- The Mets are apparently worried about Bobby Jenks' declining strikeout rate, a sentiment echoed by Joel Sherman. Sherman talked to a Mets official who said the chances of acquiring Jenks are "close to zero."
- The Rangers apparently wanted Clay Buchholz or two of Justin Masterson/Nick Hagadone/Michael Bowden for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Red Sox aren't biting.
- The Rangers would probably have to trade Hank Blalock ($6.2MM) to make room for Kerry Wood.
Next up we'll dig into the latest Rangers rumors, courtesy of Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
- The Rangers are expected to pick up their $6.2MM option on Hank Blalock today. It doesn't seem that Blalock will spend much time at third base if he's with the Rangers in 2009. Instead, he'd play first and DH. Of course, a trade is possible.
- The Rangers may look at outside options for third base, and they've been in touch with Casey Blake's agent. The Rangers have an eye on defense, which might rule out Garrett Atkins. Grant finds Joe Crede questionable, though he might be a decent fit given his glovework.
- The focus of the GM meetings for Texas has been shopping catching for pitching. The main suitors are the Red Sox and Marlins, with the Tigers a fallback. Names in the mix could include Scott Olsen, Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden, and Justin Masterson. Over at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson profiles the Rangers' four catchers.
The Red Sox could make a pitch for Jake Peavy, according to Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald.
"It stands to reason the Padres would want two of the team’s three best young arms - Clay Buchholz, Michael Bowden and Justin Masterson - plus another position player.
If the Sox were to include highly regarded first baseman Lars Anderson in a package with two of their best pitching prospects, talks between the clubs would certainly become interesting. But officials with other clubs believe the Sox consider Anderson to be virtually untouchable."
Beyond the names mentioned above, Sox prospects Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick need more seasoning before they can be considered "near major league ready." The Red Sox didn't let go of their prospects for Johan Santana so I'm not sure they'd do so for Peavy, unless they've lost any confidence in Clay Buchholz.
- Jorge Posada could rejoin the Yankees as early as Wednesday (a few reports suggested Tuesday). Kat O'Brien of Newsday says the Yanks will hold on to both Jose Molina and Chad Moeller for "a while" after Posada returns, but as Peter Abraham points out on the LoHud Yankees blog, the Yankees have a real need for a set-up man now that Joba Chamberlain is starting.
- Juan Uribe has been activated from the 15-day DL, and although Ozzie Guillen said he wasn't guaranteed playing time, they had to make room on the roster nonetheless. DeWayne Wise was designated for assigment.
- The news that Clay Buchholz has been optioned to Pawtucket comes as a shock to yours truly, but it underscores just how much starting pitching the Red Sox have right now, even with Daisuke Matsuzaka currently on the 15-day DL. Free agent pickup Bartolo Colon has worked out so far as a low-risk, high-reward signing. They've also got a good spot-starter in Justin Masterson, currently in Double A. And as if that weren't enough, Curt Schilling could start throwing off a mound June 6. The odd man out could bring something useful in a trade. Just idle speculation, and I know there's no such thing as too much pitching...but the Red Sox do have some holes to fill.
I love lists, and here's one from Peter Abraham at The Journal News that details who he thinks is in the hot seat. In other words, who might be traded or released if current trends continue. There are a number of managers and GMs on the list, but we like to focus on players here. I'm going to go through the list and take stabs-in-the-dark whether a player is likely to be dealt or if they're just fluff for Mr. Abraham's article - and then we can discuss in the comments.
Jason Giambi - An announcer this year said that Giambi's defensive range extended from his right knee to his left knee. As a fielder, he's decent with no range; however, as a hitter Giambi has never been considered a slow starter, as Abraham notes he is a career .281 hitter in April. Still, like Carlos Delgado, Giambi has shown some recent spurts of life in his bat, and he does have 7 HR (one shy of the league leading 8) and 20 RBI. PECOTA projects .230-24-73 with a .362 OBP. If he can bring his average up, he'll be roughly on target for that projection. If he can't, Abraham thinks the Yankees "might as well give someone else a chance." So far, Joe Girardi's been supportive and patient calling the slump a product of bad luck. Prediction: Staying put.
Travis Hafner - Abraham sees .256 with 27 HR in almost 700 ABs and wonders if the Indians would rather trade him to a team who believes he can turn it around than risk eating the remaining $56MM on Hafner's contract. At 31, Hafner is an oddity. Last year the slumping behemoth of a man saw his power drop by almost 20 HR. He's currently continuing that trend with his OPS at a mere 640 and w/o a homerun since April 17 (!). During an ESPN game, they were discussing how his timing - particularly with his front foot-plant - is off making it hard for him to get ahead of pitches. So his problem seems both perceptual and mechanical - but why can't Pronk seem to correct this? I'd be worried because his contract is slowly going from bothersome to disastrous. PECOTA is not a believer, projecting .275-28-98 - hardly a rebound. He's making $6.3MM this year and is on the books for another $70MM until 2013 (with a $2.75MM buyout in his last year). Is there a batting coach out there on a big-market team that can fix this? Wouldn't count on it. Prediction: Staying put.
Richie Sexson - In the Year of the Slumping First Basemen, Richie Sexson is not at all unlike Giambi or Delgado. Abraham pulls no punches with Richie, calling him "one of the worst hitters in baseball during the last two seasons and shows no signs of coming around." He's making $14MM this year, owed approx. $11.2MM more, and then he's surely done in Seattle. I agree with Abraham that $11.2MM will "buy him another month or two" but the Mariners have options and I'd expect them to explore them by trading Sexson and eating some of the contract - maybe sooner rather than later as cutting your losses is (almost) acceptable practice this season. Sexson has never been the hitter Delgado, Giambi, or Hafner have been and has been intolerably bad for just too long. Prediction: Shipping off.
Mike Timlin - Making $3MM this year, Abraham notes Timlin has allowed 9 runs in 7 1/3 IP and with a small contract would be an easy piece to move. But I ask why? Relief pitching is a commodity, and Timlin - known to the Red Sox as the captain of the bullpen - brings to the team a fair deal of intangible value, particularly as they integrate Craig Hansen and Justin Masterson into their relief corps. 7.1 IP is hardly a sample worth examining as he's basically still in spring-training-form. Last year he had a 3.42 ERA in 50 IP and while he's not the 2.24 ERA Timlin that saved 13 games when Keith Foulke went down, he's serviceable. If he fails to progress and becomes a liability then maybe the Red Sox will move him from mop up duty to another team. Still, I doubt it. Prediction: Staying put.
Let's hear your thoughts. Who did Abraham forget? Who disagrees?
By Nat Boyle