Kelvim Escobar Rumors

Odds & Ends: Mateo, Kelvim Escobar, Mariners

Links to kick off the work week…

  • Dominican outfielder Wagner Mateo is scheduled to work out for the Diamondbacks today, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.  Mateo's reps don't share the Cardinals' concerns about Mateo's vision.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Rays came second in the Kelvim Escobar bidding, offering $600K.  Unlike the Mets, the Rays saw Escobar as a second half contributor. 
  • Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post thinks stat lovers themselves "may be the new inefficiency in the market," making Adam Dunn a bargain at three years and $40MM even if his defense doesn't improve.
  • FanGraphs' Dave Cameron explains why the Astros and Royals sit at the bottom of his organizational rankings.
  • SI's Jon Heyman names his "bests" for 2010, with the Angels getting the nod for the best rotation top to bottom.  Heyman also talks about Jarrod Washburn, considered a person of interest for Seattle.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that the Ms are "still pondering backup catching options from outside."  There aren't too many available backstops who can be considered clear improvements.
  • In his latest GM's Corner video for FOX Sports, Jim Bowden gathers all the GMs involved in the Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee deals.  Alex Anthopoulos mentioned that Ruben Amaro Jr. would not include Kyle Drabek or Domonic Brown when Halladay was discussed at the GM Meetings, but relented on Drabek a few weeks later.
  • Dustin Parkes of Drunk Jays Fans says "the team has put its money where its mouth is" by signing Adeiny Hechevarria.

Escobar To Decide About 2010 On April 1

The R-word has been swirling around Kelvim Escobar lately, amidst reports that the 33-year-old Mets reliever may need shoulder surgery again after managing just one start in two seasons. Escobar answers some of these concerns in an interview with Rafael Tejera at the Venezuelan paper El Nacional (link in Spanish), telling Tejera, "If I wanted to retire, I would have done it already."

As for the 2010 season, Escobar insists he hasn't given up on it yet, but he will only make his final decision after picking up a ball again. "In the coming weeks, I'll simply work to strengthen my shoulder, and then it will be April 1 when I return to throwing," he says. "If I feel the same pain that day, I'll have to make the decision I have been considering since I was with the Angels: to rest for a full year and recover."

Other links from the Spanish language beat:

  • With Cuban prospect Leslie Anderson's foot now planted in the door to the tune of $3.75MM for four years with the Rays, the question becomes: When and at what position will he play? A source close to the negotiations tells the Nuevo Herald's Jorge Ebro that the Rays want to see the 27-year-old "wearing the uniform as quickly as possible," while Marc Topkin at the St. Petersburg Times notes that Anderson is widely expected to start off in the minors. Neither brings up the subject of positions, although Anderson's agent Jaime Torres tells Topkin that Anderson will head to Rays camp later this month ready to fight for a spot on the big league roster at first base and all three outfield positions.
  • Another high-average hitter from the Cuban Serie Nacional, shortstop Yadil Mujica, has been cleared as a free agent, tweets ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. In the same day, Mujica switched agents to Legacy Sports, also the new home of Jose Julio Ruiz. A scouting report on Mujica can be found here.
  • Jesus Guzman tells Lider en Deportes' Carlos Rodriguez that he has received no guarantee of making the Giants' opening day roster, but he has received another sort of guarantee from manager Bruce Bochy: Whatever chance he has will be in the outfield, as opposed to the infield, where Guzman has almost exclusively played in the past. After three brief callups in 2009, the Giants designated the 26-year-old Venezuelan for assignment to make room for Bengie Molina this offseason, then invited him back to spring training. Last season at Triple A Fresno, Guzman put up a .321/.379/.507 line in 500 PA while playing mostly first base.

Sweeney, Escobar Discuss Retirement

It's no secret that veterans Mike Sweeney and Kelvim Escobar are nearing the end of their major league careers, but as both of these players discussed on Wednesday, their last days in the majors might have already occurred.

FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi reports that Sweeney will retire if he isn't on a major league roster by opening day.  The 15-year veteran signed a minor league deal with Seattle last month but told Morosi that he has no interest in going back to the minors or in taking a coaching job.  If Sweeney doesn't make the Mariners, he would try to catch on with another club and "would give priority to West Coast teams" so he could be closer to his family in San Diego. 

The injury-plagued Sweeney hasn't had more than 289 plate appearances in a season since 2005, but could still provide a team with a solid pinch-hitting option.  Sweeney hit .340/.377/.434 in 114 plate appearances against right-handers last season, and over his career has had success against both lefties and righties (.864 career OPS vs. RHP, .827 OPS vs. LHP).  Looking just at west coast options, the Angels could be in need of a right-handed compliment at DH if Hideki Matsui needs a day off.

Escobar, meanwhile, may have his career ended not by lack of opportunity, but by injury.  David Waldstein of the New York Times reports that Escobar has been bothered by shoulder pain following a four-week break from pitching after his stint in the Venezuelan winter league.  Such an injury is of particular concern to Escobar given that he has pitched just five major league innings since 2007 due to a number of shoulder problems and labrum surgery in July 2008.  Waldstein says that Escobar will get an MRI if the pain continues, and the right-hander is willing to undergo one more surgical procedure if doctors give him a decent chance of pitching again.  If not, then Escobar said he will call it a career after 12 seasons in the bigs.

Escobar signed a $1.5MM contract with the Mets in December, so it wouldn't be a major financial blow to the club if Escobar couldn't pitch.  It would, however, further weaken the already-thin New York bullpen and it certainly wouldn't look good on the Mets given the team's myriad of injuries last season.

Mets Sign Kelvim Escobar

The Mets signed Kelvim Escobar to an incentive-laden one-year deal this week in the hopes that the former closer can become a force in Jerry Manuel's bullpen. Escobar and the Mets agreed to a major league contract with a base salary of $1.25MM.

Francisco Blavia of Lider en Deportes originally tweeted the deal and John Harper of the New York Daily News reported that the Mets were nearing an agreement with Escobar soon afterwards.  Blavia said (via Twitter) that Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee had also made Escobar offers.

Between 2004 and 2007, Escobar posted a 3.60 ERA and a 2.63 K-BB ratio as a member of the Los Angeles Angels. He missed the entire 2008 season with shoulder problems, and his July 2008 labrum surgery limited him to just five innings of major league work last year. 

That kind of injury history limited the amount of money the Mets would guarantee the righty, but Escobar can earn more if he's healthy in 2010. As's Jerry Crasnick reported, the 33-year-old earns a $125K bonus for making the Mets' Opening Day roster, can make $2MM in incentives based on games pitched and $1MM more based on games finished.

Between Escobar and Ryota Igarashi, the Mets have added a high-upside pair of potential late-inning relievers for less than $5MM guaranteed.

Ben Nicholson-Smith also contributed to this post.

Odds & Ends: Treanor, Barton, Damon, Kelly Johnson

More links as the weekend draws closer…

Multiple Teams Watching Kelvim Escobar

WEDNESDAY, 10:52pm: Peter Greenberg, Escobar's agent, informed FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi that representatives from the Yankees and Twins were also at the throwing session (via Twitter).

WEDNESDAY, 2:54pm: Zavarce tweets that the Rays, Cubs, Brewers, Giants, Pirates, Tigers, Mariners, and A's are on hand to watch Escobar throw.  Several of those clubs are new additions to the list of suitors.

TUESDAY, 10:17am: If you speak Spanish and would like to read Zavarce's full article about Escobar, click here to download a PDF.

MONDAY, 1:08pm: The Mets offered a minor league deal to pitcher Kelvim Escobar, reports Efrain Zavarce for Venezuelan newspaper El Nacional.  According to Zavarce, the Rays are also interested.  We cannot find Zavarce's article online, but follow him on Twitter if you speak Spanish.  Hat tip to ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr., who pointed followers to Zavarce's article and provided translation.

We learned during the Winter Meetings last week that the Mariners, Brewers, Orioles, Mets, and Yankees are other suitors for Escobar, who will pitch as a reliever in 2010 in hopes of preserving his shoulder.

Odds & Ends: Dodgers, Overbay, Nady, Holliday

Some links for your Tuesday morning…

Multiple Teams Eyeing Kelvim Escobar

TUESDAY, 2:49pm: ESPN's Jerry Crasnick tweets that Escobar received a positive medical report today, and could either pitch winter league ball or just audition for suitors.  Crasnick names the Rays, Mariners, Brewers, and Orioles as potential suitors, in addition to the New York teams.

MONDAY, 4:29pm: The Yankees and Mets checked in on free agent pitcher Kelvim Escobar, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Sherman says Escobar might pitch in the Venezuelan winter league to prove his health.  Escobar had labrum surgery in August of 2008.  Yanks GM Brian Cashman told reporters his priorities are "pitching, pitching, pitching, and then left field."

Earlier today, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweeted that the Red Sox met with Escobar's agent Peter Greenberg, who also represents Rafael Soriano.

Red Sox Rumors: Bay, Scutaro, Lackey, Bedard

Red Sox rumors from ESPN's Gordon Edes

  • Edes talked to Jason Bay's agent Joe Urbon, who indicated the timing of Bay's signing won't be affected by Matt Holliday.  Edes' team source says Bay remains Boston's top target.
  • Edes says Marco Scutaro "almost certainly remains at the top of Boston's list" at shortstop.  Scutaro's agent Peter Greenberg left open the possibility of his client signing before Monday's Winter Meetings.
  • One of Edes' Red Sox sources says John Lackey is not a target.
  • We knew of Boston's interest in Rich Harden and Kelvim Escobar, and Edes adds that the Sox are eyeing Erik Bedard.  Edes talked to Escobar's agent (also Greenberg) and learned that Boston is "at or near the top of" his client's list.  The righty plans to pitch in winter ball.  Escobar had labrum surgery in July of 2008.

Angels Offer Arb To Only Figgins, Lackey

Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports that the Angels offered arbitration to just two of their ranked free agents — Type As Chone Figgins and John Lackey.  Los Angeles' other Type A free agent, veteran reliever Darren Oliver, as well as Type B Vladimir Guerrero and unranked free agents Kelvim Escobar and Robb Quinlan did not receive offers from the club.

Though L.A. could have received two draft picks as compensation for Oliver had he turned down arbitration and signed with another club, there's also a chance that teams would be scared off by the prospect of losing a draft pick in order to sign a 39-year-old setup man.  The Angels didn't want to run the risk of Oliver accepting the offer and possibly earning a healthy raise given his career-best 2.71 ERA and 8 K/9 in 2009.