Kevin Kouzmanoff Rumors

Padres Notes: Ausmus, Johnson, Kouzmanoff

The San Diego Padres have about $5-8MM to spend before the 2010 season begins, according to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. In his latest piece, Center details how the bargain-hunting Padres could spend that money….

  • San Diego's needs include a right-handed center field bat, a backup catcher, a veteran pitcher, and a utility infielder.
  • With so many free agents remaining, the team isn't necessarily in any rush to fill their holes. GM Jed Hoyer says that there will "be some bargains out there as spring training approaches. There will be players, although you might not be able to be selective."
  • At catcher, the Padres are looking for a player to act as a mentor to Nick Hundley and the Padres' pitching staff, while only playing a game or two a week. Center notes that Brad Ausmus would be a good fit.
  • Center also speculates that Reed Johnson would be a logical and potentially affordable outfield target.
  • Since many teams have filled their third base holes, and Adrian Beltre and Miguel Tejada are still on the market, the chances of the Padres trading Kevin Kouzmanoff have seriously diminished.

Odds & Ends: Johnson, Kouzmanoff, Berkman

Here's a stocking stuffed with news items on this Christmas Eve…

  • Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues breaks down the details of Nick Johnson's contract with the Yankees.  If Johnson reaches all of his incentives and his mutual option for 2011 is picked up, he can make a total of $14.5MM over his two-year deal.
  • MLB.com's Corey Brock says the Kevin Kouzmanoff trade talks that were swirling at the winter meetings have "cooled," and he thinks Kouzmanoff will remain a Padre unless San Diego receives an overwhelmingly good offer.  Perhaps the Padres want to keep Kouzmanoff to anchor their lineup in case they happen to deal away Adrian Gonzalez
  • In a discussion of Lance Berkman's future plans, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com says that "the older [Berkman] gets, I think the less likely he is to play elsewhere."  The Astros star is under contract next season and the team has a $15MM option on Berkman for the 2011 season that it will surely pick up if Berkman matches his 2009 line of .274/.399/.509.  McTaggart notes that the Astros have been hesitant to rebuild since they still feel they can contend with quality veterans like Berkman and Roy Oswalt in their relative primes.  As we learned last September, however, Berkman might rather retire after 2011 than be a burden on the organization.
  • From that same piece, McTaggart says Houston's acquistions of Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz last winter have made the team leery of signing another injury-prone starter like Ben Sheets, especially since Sheets would come at a much higher price.
  • Top Reds prospect Todd Frazier seems to be capable of playing anywhere on the field, but doesn't appear to be Cincinnati's answer at shortstop, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • What team made the best trades in the 20th century?  According to one author, it was the Cleveland Indians.
  • Speaking of Cleveland, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com says the Tribe will put Rafael Perez back in the bullpen next season in spite of the left-hander's excellent starting outings in winter ball.

Giants Make Offer To DeRosa?

3:30pm: Baggarly believes DeRosa is one of multiple offers the Giants have out to free agents.  He's less certain that Johnson and Scott Podsednik received offers.

1:15am: Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports says that DeRosa is the team's top third base target because he's cheaper then Beltre, and versatile enough to move if Pablo Sandoval can stick at third.

THURSDAY, 12:22am: Baggarly writes that the Giants "might be making a subtle misdirection play to get the Florida Marlins to take a lesser return" for Uggla.

1:07pm: MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets that we should not rule out the Giants on Uggla – "there is still smoke."  He notes that the Marlins never asked for Madison Bumgarner in return.

WEDNESDAY, 12:59am: According to Baggarly, the Giants are hoping to sign one infielder from a group that includes DeRosa, Nick Johnson, and Adrian Beltre. Hudson is also a possiblity, while Adam LaRoche is a "back-burner option." Baggarly also notes that Sabean doesn't sound too enthusiastic about pursuing Jermaine Dye, despite previous reports of the Giants' interest in the veteran: "We want to stay young," Sabean said. "That's a blanket statement, not a comment against Dye."

TUESDAY, 7:50pm: Baggarly reports that the Giants are not a serious bidder for Dan Uggla. His salary (which could be $7MM or so) and his weak glove limit the team's interest. 

6:50pm: Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News has the latest on the Giants:

  • Johnny Damon is not a fit for the Giants.
  • Bengie Molina will not return: in the words of Giants GM Brian Sabean, "that ship has sailed."
  • It's possible that Juan Uribe will reconsider the Giants' contract offer (for one year, plus an option).

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has more:

  • The Giants will move Freddy Sanchez to third base if they sign Orlando Hudson.
  • Mark DeRosa , however, would fit in at the hot corner if the Giants sign him.
  • Rosenthal confirms that the Giants and Padres have discussed a Kevin Kouzmanoff trade, but says the Padres aren't enticed by the Giants' youngsters.
  • Rosenthal hears that Sabean has at least considered signing Jason Bay.


Padres Discussing Kouzmanoff

618pm: Stark hears that the Padres offered Kouzmanoff up for Lewis and Frandsen. That doesn't match with the reports below, which suggest the Padres wanted more. Stark agrees with Nightengale that the Padres wanted more than Glen Perkins in return from the Twins.

WEDNESDAY, 5:21pm: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that the Padres are aggressively trying to move Kouzmanoff. The Twins and Giants are interested.

TUESDAY, 5:39pm: The Twins offered Perkins for Kouzmanoff, but the Padres want more, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.

4:50pm: MLB.com's Corey Brock hears that Kouzmanoff has drawn interest from as many as eight teams. The Padres aren't interested in Lewis or Frandsen.

1:47pm: USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweets about an NL West trade discussion: the Giants are talking to the Padres about third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, but the Padres want more than Fred Lewis and Kevin Frandsen.  I'm guessing the Padres would prefer not to pay Kouzmanoff the $3-5MM he'll get through arbitration.

Meanwhile La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the Padres would like to discuss Kouzmanoff with the Twins.  He wonders if they'd be interested in Glen Perkins, who is available.  Neal notes that Pedro Feliz's agents would like to talk to the Twins as well.


Twitter Rumors: Capps, Felix, Harden, Pierre

A fresh batch of Twitter rumors, for those of you with extra-short attention spans…

  • MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch learned that the Pirates plan to tender a contract to Matt Capps.
  • Stubborn Dodgers GM Ned Colletti says he has no regrets about not offering arbitration to Randy Wolf, reports Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. TimesHernandez also notes that the Dodgers are considering Ronnie Belliard, Craig Counsell, Juan Uribe, and Jamey Carroll as second base options.  The Reds also like Carroll, says MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • Yahoo's Steve Henson says the Rockies are open to re-signing Jason Marquis at a reduced number (less than the $9.875MM he made in '09).
  • SI's Jon Heyman believes Felix Hernandez is seeking six years and $100MM, while the Mariners are thinking four years plus an option at less than $50MM.  That phrasing makes a possible divide seem larger than it is, since those last two years of the deal would be the most expensive (more than $15MM per year).  At any rate, Shannon Drayer and Mike Salk learned that no numbers have been exchanged on Felix yet.
  • La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen wants Mike Redmond to back up A.J. Pierzynski.
  • MLB.com's Steve Gilbert says the Rangers may have interest in arbitration-eligible D'Backs infielder Augie Ojeda.  The Rangers added Joe Inglett off waivers, but were said to still be looking at utility infield candidates.
  • Morosi tweets that Rich Harden is "willing to sign a one-year deal with a lot of incentives."  Will he exceed Brad Penny's $7.5MM base salary?  Morosi names the Red Sox, Yankees, and Mariners as the most serious suitors. 
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the Tigers have interest in Juan Pierre, and are "looking for a third team to supply the pitcher L.A. needs."  Odd, since the Tigers have more bad pitching contracts than anyone.  The Tigers apparently prefer to unload Carlos Guillen.
  • Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the Pirates are not interested in bringing back Brian Giles.
  • ESPN's Jayson Stark says the Red Sox "have two or three teams they could trade Mike Lowell to right now" if they'd take a similar contract back.  Looking at our Bad Contract Swap Meet I don't see any obvious matches for one year and $12MM.
  • There's been some tire-kicking with the Phillies and Ron Mahay, writes Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Red Sox were linked to Mahay by Michael Silverman on MondayMartino also says the Phillies met with John Smoltz's agent this morning, "but discussions remain informal."
  • Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star characterizes the White Sox and Red Sox interest in Coco Crisp as "low-level," but says that's still more than the Royals have shown.  Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports says the White Sox would consider Crisp, Mike Cameron, and Marlon Byrd. ESPN's Mike Salk notes that the Mariners spoke to Byrd's agent.
  • Dutton also has the Red Sox eyeing Ryan Shealy on a minor league deal.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports names the most asked-about Padres: Heath Bell, Kevin Kouzmanoff, and Adrian Gonzalez (in that order).  He says the Padres are "not hearing anything compelling on Bell."  MLB.com's Corey Brock says about eight teams inquired on Kouzmanoff.  Surprised not to see Kevin Correia mentioned by Rosenthal.  He'd be a great affordable option for a team like the Brewers.  ESPN's Buster Olney heard from rival execs who expect the Padres to get second-line prospects for Kouzmanoff and Correia.
  • The Mets appear to find a Luis Castillo deal unlikely, says Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
  • ESPN's Jayson Stark says the Yankees are shopping their #1 pick in tomorrow's Rule 5 draft, which they acquired for Brian Bruney.  If they don't trade the pick, Yahoo's Steve Henson says the Yankees could use it on pitcher Arquimedes Caminero.

Twins Rumors: Third Base, Harden

2:34pm: Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke to DeRosa's agent Keith Grunewald, who said talks with the Twins have been nothing more than preliminary.

10:49am: Neal has more, questioning the Feliz and Uribe links.  Also, Neal spoke to someone from Rich Harden's agency and came away thinking the Mariners are the favorite (the Twins have not been in contact recently).

9:28am: Let's take a look at the Twins' third base situation.  Yesterday afternoon, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports said they're considering free agents Adrian Beltre, Pedro Feliz, Mark DeRosa, and Juan Uribe, though Beltre and DeRosa might be too pricey.  He did not see Boston's Mike Lowell as a target.  ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. has the Astros and Orioles in on Feliz, in addition to the Twins.

La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote early this morning that the Twins are "very interested in DeRosa."  A trade for Kevin Kouzmanoff is another possibility, while re-signing Joe Crede hasn't been ruled out.


Orioles Rumors: Millwood, Uggla, Atkins, Beltre

WEDNESDAY, 10:02am: Millwood update: Zrebiec says the Rangers originally wanted David Hernandez and a low-level prospect for Millwood, and were willing to pay $3MM of the $12MM owed to the veteran.  Meanwhile Zrebiec's colleague Peter Schmuck says Chris Ray could be involved and the Rangers would pick up most of Millwood's salary, in one scenario.

TUESDAY, 9:36pm: Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the O's are still exchanging trade proposals with the Rangers for Kevin Millwood. T.R. Sullivan reported that the Rangers wanted Chris Tillman initially, but talks have since developed. The Orioles are among the frontrunners for Millwood.

The O's met with the Marlins about Dan Uggla, but the Marlins want two pitching prospects in return and the Orioles are reluctant to hand that kind of package over. The Marlins have one less suitor for Uggla, according to Andrew Baggarly, who says the Giants aren't serious bidders, so that could lower the asking price for the arbitration-eligible infielder.

Here are even more O's rumors:

  • Kevin Kouzmanoff and Garrett Atkins interest the O's to an extent.
  • Joe Crede and Pedro Feliz remain options for Baltimore, but Adrian Beltre has priced himself out of reach.
  • We heard about their interest in Hank Blalock, Carlos Delgado and Nick Johnson earlier today.
  • They also have "tepid" interest in Russell Branyan.
  • The Orioles aren't particularly intrigued by Joe Blanton and Derek Lowe, who are both available via trade.
  • Vladimir Guerrero, Adam LaRoche, Jose Valverde and Kevin Gregg all interest the O's slightly.
  • They do have interest in Rafael Soriano, and spoke with the Braves about him.
  • They're not interested in J.J. Putz.
  • MLB.com's Spencer Fordin reports that the Royals engaged the O's in Felix Pie trade talks without ever coming close to a deal.

Padres Needs Continue To Grow

You can add catching to the list of San Diego needs now that the Mets have signed Henry Blanco, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune.

With the Mets inking the veteran backstop to a one-year deal last week, the Padres now find themselves without a complement to Nick Hundley behind the dish. The organization is currently split on whether or not Hundley is a starting or backup catcher, according to Center. San Diego had discussed re-signing Blanco, but Center now wonders if they'll instead explore the trade market for options.

He names Heath Bell and Kevin Kouzmanoff as the Padres main most desirable trade chips not named "Adrian Gonzalez." As Center points out, there are numerous late-inning relief options on the market. While that might normally hamper a reliever's trade value, you've got to imagine Bell as an exception. The National League saves leader will cost significantly less than most other available options, as he's arbitration eligible after earning just $1.255MM last season.

Kouzmanoff is arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason, and could appeal to any number of teams in search of a third baseman. The Twins, Orioles, and Astros could all use help at third base, to name a few teams.

The Padres find themselves in need of another catcher, a right-handed hitting center fielder, rotation help, and a backup middle infielder who can be a defensive asset. Can Jed Hoyer find a way to make this a reality while maintaining a reasonable payroll?


Odds & Ends: Jaramillo, Varitek, D’Backs

Links for Wednesday…


Padres Rumors: GM, Cameron, Correia

FRIDAY, 5:53pm: Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports writes that the Padres and Diamondbacks could work out a compensation package for Arizona VP of player personnel Jerry DiPoto.  San Diego CEO Jeff Moorad has what he characterized as a "gentleman's agreement" not to raid his former club for candidates, but Morosi says that the stipulation could be waived for the right price.  Moorad is said to have a "very high opinion" of DiPoto.

In addition to labeling Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer as a "strong candidate" (per industry sources), Morosi writes that some in the industry expect Dodgers assistant GM Kim Ng to be considered.  Rangers assistant GM Thad Levine has drawn the interest of the Padres, but the team has yet to seek permission to interview him.

WEDNESDAY, 2:02pm: MLB.com's Corey Brock, via Twitter, says Forst has not been interviewed and the Gillick rumor below is untrue.  Furthermore, the A's emailed the AP to say the Padres have not asked permission to interview Forst.  SI's Jon Heyman's sources believe Hoyer is the favorite.

WEDNESDAY, 8:37am: Center says the Padres have two more GM interviews in addition to the three they've already conducted.  He says Hoyer, David Forst, and Pat Gillick "have surfaced in connection with the Padres vacancy."  Meanwhile, Newsday's Ken Davidoff says via Twitter that the Padres have not contacted the Yankees for permission to speak with Eppler.

TUESDAY: Let's discuss the latest buzz around the Padres.

  • MLB.com's Corey Brock says the team's baseball operations department will be run by manager Bud Black, executive VP Paul DePodesta and assistant GM Fred Uhlman Jr. until CEO Jeff Moorad finds Kevin Towers' replacement at GM. 
  • Moorad has interviewed three candidates for GM, with more to come.  He hopes to make the hire within a few weeks.  Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer and Yankees director of pro scouting Billy Eppler have been rumored.
  • Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes about the Padres' offseason needs (they have roughly $10MM to spend).  Center says the team needs a right-handed hitting center fielder, and Mike Cameron's name surfaced.
  • Center suggests that to save money the Padres might have to shop Kevin Kouzmanoff, Heath Bell, or both.  He even wonders if they'd non-tender Kevin Correia and attempt to sign him more cheaply (presumably using his desire to play near home as leverage).
  • On his blog, DePodesta writes about the difficult realities of working within baseball.
  • Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues suggests the Yankees should add Towers to their front office.