Lastings Milledge Rumors

Yakult Swallows Sign Balentien, Milledge, Barnette

The Yakult Swallows of Japan's Central League have signed three prominent players to multi-year contracts, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes has learned. Outfielder Wladimir Balentien obtains a three-year, $7.5MM contract for the 2014-16 seasons. Outfielder Lastings Milledge obtains a three-year, $4.4MM contract on a deal that includes a mutual option for 2016. Lastly, closer Tony Barnette obtains a two-year, $3.2MM contract.

Balentien, 28, will earn $950K in 2013 because an option in his previous contract vested. The Octagon client hit 31 home runs and posted a .272/.386/.572 batting line in 422 plate appearances this past season. Balentien, a three-year veteran of the big leagues, last appeared at the MLB level in 2009.

Milledge, a former first round pick and top prospect on this side of the Pacific, produced at the plate in Japan this past season. The 27-year-old posted a .300/.379/.485 batting line and added 21 home runs in 546 plate appearances.

Barnette saved 33 games for the Yakult Swallows in 2012. The 29-year-old right-hander posted a 1.82 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 54 1/3 innings.

Yakult Swallows Sign Lastings Milledge

The Tokyo Yakult Swallows have announced the signing of outfielder Lastings Milledge, according to a Sanspo report passed on by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker. The deal is worth approximately $570K plus performance bonuses and includes a club option for 2013.

The Mets selected Milledge, now 26, with the 12th overall selection in the 2003 draft. He made the Major Leagues in 2006 and posted a .787 OPS in '07 as a 22-year-old. However the Mets traded him to Washington after the 2007 season and before long the Nationals sent him to Pittsburgh. Milledge signed with the White Sox before the 2011 season, but appeared in just two games for Chicago. He spent most of the season at Triple-A, where he posted a .295/.364/.441 line in 505 plate appearances.

NL Central Notes: Pujols, Oswalt, Pirates, LaHair

The Cardinals and their fans may still be celebrating Friday's World Series victory, but it won't be long before a pair of the club's most prominent members will face decisions on their futures. Cards president Bill DeWitt III spoke to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports about Albert Pujols and Tony La Russa, two men without contracts for 2012:

"I don't want to prognosticate at all, but in the next week or so we'll hear from [La Russa]…. Albert may take a little while, I guess…. Who knows? Maybe we'll get something done in the quiet period (during which teams are only permitted to negotiate with their own free agents). But if you've waited this long, you're probably going to see what's out there."

Here are the rest of the morning's notes and rumors from the NL Central:

  • Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is surprised by DeWitt's lack of urgency regarding Pujols, and wonders if it's a good idea to allow the slugger to be wooed by teams who may be more aggressive than the Cardinals.
  • Fielding Reds-related questions for the Dayton Daily News, Hal McCoy says it's unlikely that Cincinnati makes a play for Roy Oswalt.
  • The Pirates will likely look at second- or third-tier free agents, but they won't make a huge splash this winter, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Biertempfel says the Bucs will be shopping for a catcher, a first baseman, and starting pitching, naming Jason Varitek, Rod Barajas, Jeff Francis, and Chris Young as a few possible targets.
  • In a Twitter exchange, Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus discuss Bryan LaHair of the Cubs and former Pirates outfielder Lastings Milledge, two players being eyed by Japanese teams. Goldstein suggests the Cubs would like to hang on to LaHair, but hears rumblings that Milledge could sign in Japan as early as next week (all four Twitter links).

22 Triple-A Players Elect Free Agency

A total of 22 players that finished the year in Triple-A elected free agency after the end of the regular season according to the transaction pages of the Pacific Coast and International Leagues. All but one of those 22 players (Matt Carson, formerly of the Rays) played in the big leagues this season. Here's the full list:

Dusty Brown (Pirates), Travis Buck (Indians), Armando Galarraga (D'Backs), Jay Gibbons (Dodgers), Edgar Gonzalez (Rockies), Steve Holm (Twins), Wil Ledezma (Blue Jays), Andy LaRoche (Athletics), Felipe Lopez (Brewers), Lastings Milledge (White Sox), Pat Misch (Mets), Pat Neshek (Padres), Mike O'Connor (Mets), Matt Palmer (Angels), Felix Pie (Orioles), Brad Snyder (Cubs), Brett Tomko (Rangers), Wyatt Toregas (Pirates), P.J. Walters (Blue Jays), Randy Williams (Red Sox), and Reggie Willits (Angels).

Gammons Talks Trade Market

Peter Gammons spoke with a host of scouts, general managers, and MLB executives, all of which is compiled in his latest piece at, which is chock full of trade-related news:

  • The Astros are asking for as much in return for Wandy Rodriguez as the Rockies are for Ubaldo Jimenez. General manager Ed Wade is in a difficult position, caught between an ownership change.
  • Half a dozen teams are looking for right-handed offense, but the Rockies won't trade Ryan Spilborghs and the Cubs are holding onto Jeff Baker. Gammons says that reduces that market to Conor Jackson, Josh Willingham, Reed Johnson, Lastings Milledge, and Jeff Francoeur. The Twins recently announced they won't trade Michael Cuddyer as well.
  • The Dodgers want to shed salary, but don't have much to shed besides Jamey Carroll and Hiroki Kuroda. Gammons spoke with two East coast executives that said Kuroda, who has a full no-trade clause, won't accept a deal to an East Coast team.
  • The Athletics will move veteran bats and probably a reliever or two.
  • The Mariners won't have a fire sale, and aren't likely to get much for Erik Bedard in light of his injury.
  • The Nationals are willing to trade Tyler Clippard, and have been continually pursuing Michael Bourn. They're also one of several teams who showed interest in Julio Borbon prior to his injury.
  • Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is in a tough spot because he doesn't know which way owner Peter Angelos wants him to go, according to a rival GM.
  • Jordan Pacheco and Wilin Rosario make it possible for the Rockies to trade Chris Iannetta, but the Red Sox seem content wth their catching options.

Lastings Milledge Clears Waivers

TUESDAY: Milledge cleared waivers and accepted a Triple-A assignment, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.

THURSDAY: The White Sox designated Lastings Milledge for assignment to create roster space for Jeff Gray, the team announced (on Twitter). Milledge broke camp with the team after signing a minor league deal and appeared in two games (he went 1/4 with a double), but the White Sox needed relief, particularly after consecutive extra innings contests against the Royals.

Ozzie Guillen's relievers have combined for 11 1/3 innings of work since Tuesday, so Gray gets the call. The former Cubs reliever has a 4.91 ERA with 6.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 40 1/3 innings at the Major League level. The White Sox signed him last November, after the Cubs granted him free agency.

AL Central Links: Chisenhall, Milledge, Buehrle

Some links for your Sunday reading pleasure…

White Sox To Sign Lastings Milledge

The White Sox agreed to sign Lastings Milledge to a minor league deal, the team announced. Milledge will earn $500K in the majors and his deal doesn't include incentives, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Milledge, 25, has played in parts of five seasons for the Mets, Nationals and Pirates.

The Pirates non-tendered the 2003 first rounder after he hit .277/.332/.380 in 412 plate appearances. He played left and right for the Pirates last year, but before that had spent most of his career in center field. Milledge has a below-average -8.0 UZR/150 on defense in his career and the only position at which his defensive numbers are above-average is left field.

The White Sox lost Andruw Jones, last year's fourth outfielder, via free agency. If Milledge has a strong spring, he could make the team and provide manager Ozzie Guillen with depth behind Juan Pierre, Alex Rios and Carlos Quentin.

When MLBTR's Mike Axisa discussed Milledge a month ago, he suggested it would be better to gamble on Milledge than hope that "an aging veteran fights off Father Time for another year."

Cafardo On Sizemore, Carmona, Delcarmen, Milledge

Rocco Baldelli tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that, despite having to retire at age 29, he considers himself fortunate to have had as much time as he did in the majors. "I have no regrets," Baldelli said. "I played major league baseball. I got to the big leagues and I had some moments I'll never forget." Cafardo opens this week's column by wondering what might have been, had Baldelli stayed healthy throughout his career. The Globe writer also shares a handful of hot stove notes….

  • Although recent trade rumors involving Grady Sizemore and Fausto Carmona were quickly shot down, Cafardo says if both players are healthy and playing well this year, they could be "major trade deadline chips."
  • Four teams are in discussions with agent Jim Masteralexis, regarding client Manny Delcarmen. We heard earlier this month that the Rays had interest in the ex-Red Sox, so they're likely one of the four.
  • One executive told Cafardo that he's surprised Lastings Milledge is still available. While the exec's team doesn't need another outfielder, he argued that "you just don't give up" on a talent like Milledge.
  • Scott Schoeneweis, who hopes to play this season, is being considered by the Diamondbacks.
  • Friends of Pedro Martinez say the right-hander has yet to get pitching out of his system. Pedro will turn 40 later this year, and didn't pitch in the bigs in 2010, but he had success for the Phillies in 2009, compiling a 3.63 ERA, 7.5 K/9, and 1.6 BB/9 in nine starts.
  • Cafardo speculates that Boston could be a good fit for Jeremy Bonderman on a minor league deal.

New York Notes: Dickey, Murphy, Posada's Jon Heyman tweets that the 2013 All-Star Game will be played at Citi Field, making it very possible the stadium will host an All-Star Game before it hosts its first playoff game. Let's check out the rest of today's Mets- and Yankees-related links….