Mark Loretta Rumors

Astros Decline To Offer Arb To Wolf, Brocail, Loretta’s Alyson Footer makes it official – the Astros did not offer arbitration to Type B free agents Randy Wolf and Mark Loretta or Type A free agent Doug Brocail.  The Astros still hope to re-sign Brocail.

Just like the Cubs with Kerry Wood and the D’Backs with Adam Dunn, Wolf is a quality player who was not offered arbitration due to payroll concerns.

Richard Justice figures it may have come down to Wolf or Jose Valverde for the Astros, and they chose Valverde.  Another note in Justice’s post – the Astros had their eye on Jose Ceda before he was traded to the Marlins.

At Least Four Teams Interested In Loretta

According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, at least four teams are interested in free agent infielder Mark Loretta.  Among them: the Phillies, Pirates, Diamondbacks, and Dodgers.  The Pirates have talked to Loretta’s agent twice.

Crasnick figures the Astros won’t offer Loretta arbitration this time around; he accepted last year.  He lost his case but still earned $2.75MM.  The 37 year-old hit .280/.350/.383 in 297 plate appearances while playing a below-average second base and an above-average third base.

D’Backs Rumors: Easley, Loretta, Vazquez

5:54pm: The D’Backs offered Vazquez a one-year deal with a club option for 2010, according to his agent.  Vazquez has a better offer from another club, and awaits a counteroffer from Arizona.  He wants a multiyear deal.

10:20am: Jack Magruder of the East Valley Tribune says the D’Backs offered a one-year contract to Vazquez, but he seeks a multiyear deal.

10:08am: According to’s Steve Gilbert, the Diamondbacks have talked to the representatives for free agent infielders Damion Easley and Mark Loretta recently.  They’ve already offered a contract to Ramon Vazquez; Easley or Loretta could form a platoon with him.

Easley hit .297/.366/.459 against lefties the past three seasons, while Loretta batted .300/.383/.424.  Easley earned $950K last year.  Loretta accepted the Astros’ arbitration offer but lost his case and was paid $2.75MM.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic says Arizona’s conservative offseason agenda could leave them little margin for error in 2009.

Wolf Will Test Market

THURSDAY: Wolf told KRIV-TV in Houston last night that he’s flattered by the Astros’ efforts, but he plans to test the market.  His main goal is playing for a winning team, and he says his urge to play on the West Coast is overstated.  Astros GM Ed Wade says he’ll look at alternatives starting Friday.

WEDNESDAY, 5:30pm: The Astros also made an offer to reliever Doug BrocailHis agent says about a dozen teams have inquired, the Red Sox among them.  The Astros would also like to re-sign Mark Loretta, but conversations have not yet begun.

1:46pm: According to Brian McTaggart of the Houston Chronicle, the Astros made an offer to free agent lefty Randy Wolf.  They’re hoping to get him signed before he hits the open market Friday.

Wolf, 32, tossed 190.1 innings of 4.30 ball for the Padres and Astros this year.  According to Ken Rosenthal, at least six other teams have expressed in Wolf already.  He could pull in a three-year deal north of $30MM.

D’Backs Interested In Loretta

According to Jack Magruder of the East Valley Tribune on Friday, the D’Backs have second baseman Mark Loretta on the radar and have spoken to his agent.  Loretta has his eye on a full-time job.  Loretta accepted the Astros’ offer of arbitration last year when he couldn’t find a starting gig.  Loretta is again a Type B free agent; will the Astros offer arbitration this time?

Loretta, 37, hit .280/.350/.383 in 297 plate appearances while playing below average defense.  He earned $2.75MM, the result of a lost arbitration case.

Waiver Trade Possibilities For Red Sox, Rays

The Red Sox, three games behind the Rays in the standings, have the advantage when it comes to waiver claims.  Both teams are dealing with injured third basemen for the next few weeks, and may choose to bring in some veteran assistance. 

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe names four players who may be of interest to the Red Sox and Rays: Rich Aurilia, Mark Loretta, Gary Sheffield, and Kevin Millar.

Even after he clears waivers, a deal for Sheffield seems unlikely.  The Rays have already expressed their disinterest.  Sheffield doesn’t expect a deal, noting that he’s been put on waivers many times. Cafardo says the Rays do have interest in Aurilia, while the other names are speculation for both teams.

Molony’s Latest: Mahay, Loretta, Erstad, Guzman

Let’s check in with’s Jim Molony.

  • The Rays are scouting lefty relievers Brian Fuentes and Ron Mahay.  The issue?  The price for Fuentes seems exorbitant, and Mahay may not be available.  Troy E. Renck names the Yankees, Mets, Cardinals, and Marlins as the main suitors for Fuentes aside from the Rays.
  • A few contenders have inquired with the Astros as to the availability of Mark Loretta and Darin Erstad.
  • As you might imagine, the Rangers are open to trading Frank CatalanottoWe mentioned yesterday that his contract is a bit of a burden.
  • It seems that Jim Bowden is listening to offers for Cristian Guzman while also trying to sign him to an extension.  From Guzman’s point of view, it might make sense to enter a weak shortstop market this winter.
  • The Matt Capps injury apparently affects Damaso Marte‘s availability.
  • The Marlins may make Mark Hendrickson available.  The big lefty was replaced in the rotation by top prospect Chris Volstad.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Lidge, Daniel Cabrera, Bonds, Edmonds

Ken Rosenthal has a new column up.  I put the Griffey info in a separate post; let’s discuss the rest.

  • Rosenthal suggests that Brad Lidge would be harder to replace than Pat Burrell, and for that reason the Phillies will make a bigger effort to re-sign him.  I imagine Phillies fans would prefer that course of action.  The problem?  The Phillies have little chance of offering four years, according to Jayson Stark.
  • The Rangers will face a delicate situation in coming years: moving Michael Young to a different position.  The chain reaction could make Hank Blalock available.  Blalock has a club option for ’09 at $6.2MM.
  • Aside from Rick Porcello replacing Kenny Rogers at some point, the questionable Detroit rotation is set and signed through 2010.
  • One scout seems to think Daniel Cabrera has turned the corner and shouldn’t be traded.  He’ll become a free agent after the 2010 season and earns $2.875MM this year.
  • Though it might be seen as a desperation move, the Tigers don’t have much to lose by signing Barry BondsGary Sheffield endorsed it.
  • Rosenthal says the Rays and Jays are teams with "possible interest" in Jim Edmonds but are likely to pass.  That leaves the Cubs.
  • Will Jason Giambi find a job next year after the Yankees decline his option?  He plans to try.
  • The Red Sox asked about Mark Loretta during Spring Training as "infield insurance."  Rosenthal suggests the Sox consider Omar Vizquel, a defensive upgrade over Julio Lugo.

Stark’s Latest: Roberts, Crisp, Loretta

ESPN’s Jayson Stark has a new Rumblings and Grumblings column up.  Let’s examine some of the hot stove material.

  • There’s nothing cooking with the Cubs and Brian Roberts.  The O’s still intend to trade Roberts this year, along with pretty much all of their other veterans.  Their hot start is unlikely to halt the farm sale.
  • The Red Sox don’t want to eat any of the $11MM owed to Coco Crisp over the next two years, and for now there are no trades in the works.  Roberts, Crisp, and Joe Crede were three trades we all expected to go down.
  • Once Kaz Matsui and Ty Wigginton are fully healthy, the Astros will look to trade Mark Loretta.  He makes $2.75MM this year, a bit much for a utility guy.  Stark says the Dodgers and Giants don’t appear interested at present, so there’s no obvious suitor.  The Orioles could re-engage if they trade Roberts and don’t get a second baseman back.

Helms Designated For Assignment

3:07pm: According to David Murphy, Helms has been DFA’d.  Any suitors will probably try to wait it out so as not to pay his salary.

8:53am: Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News says it’s likely that Wes Helms will be moved by Saturday, when closer Brad Lidge is set to come off the DL.  Hagen suggests the Dodgers as a good fit.  Ned Colletti could offer up a player to be named later, or just wait and see if the Phils release Helms.  He has $2.9MM left on his contract.

The Dodgers had been eyeing Alex Cintron and almost signed Marcus Giles.  Helms doesn’t quite fit their profile, as he’s never played second base.  And Dylan Hernandez believes Helms might prefer opportunities with Florida or Atlanta, if possible.  The Braves just signed Scott Spiezio though.  Hernandez adds that the Astros told the Dodgers Mark Loretta isn’t available, at least not until Kaz Matsui comes back.