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- Cubs Expected To Pursue Ben Zobrist
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Mark Teixeira Rumors
If you're in the Northeast, here are some links to check out while you take a break from shoveling…
- ESPN's Jayson Stark ranked baseball's ten-year contracts, with Derek Jeter's soon to be completed ten-year, $189MM deal coming in as the best.
- The Marlins agreed to one-year contracts with 12 of their pre-arbitration eligible players according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, including Sean West, Chris Volstad, Emilio Bonifacio, and Dan Meyer.
- Brewers owner Mark Attanasio confirmed that he will be involved in long-term contract discussions with Prince Fielder, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter). Haudricourt also tweets that Attanasio and GM Doug Melvin met today to discuss the situation and there will be no deadlines imposed on the 25-year-old.
- Rich Aurilia, who stopped by the Giants' camp today, says that while he's still looking for a job, he will retire if he doesn't have one by the end of spring, tweets Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse. The 38-year-old has a broadcasting deal in place if he is unable to find a job on the field.
- Shin-Soo Choo says that he would like to stay in Cleveland long-term, writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. Choo, like Morales, cut ties with his former agent (Alan Nero) in favor of Scott Boras.
- Michael Weiner, the executive director of the players' union, confirmed that the union is participating in an investigation into alleged unauthorized withdrawals from Kendry Morales' bank account by a former employee of his former agents, Hendricks Sports Management (Bill Plunkett of the OC Register reporting). Morales recently dropped HSM and hired Scott Boras.
- Bernie Miklasz of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch provides a few quotes from Albert Pujols about his contract situation. "Do I want to do this right now and take care of this so we don't need to worry about it? Of course," said Pujols. "If it happens, it happens. But there are some things I am able to control and there are other things that are out of my hands that I can't control. And that's the truth."
- The Mariners signed righty Tom Wilhelmsen to a minor league contract, according to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. The 27-year-old had been out of baseball since 2005 because of substance abuse issues, though he resurfaced with an independent league team last season.
- Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a report indicating the the Orix Buffaloes are moving towards a deal with Freddie Bynum. The White Sox released Bynum last week so he could pursue opportunities in Japan.
- Meanwhile, Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says that Felipe Lopez will provide the Cardinals with a great amount of flexibility.
- Joel Sherman of The New York Post calls the contracts of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia and other Yankee players "time-bomb contracts."
- John Tomase of The Boston Herald says the Red Sox have a deep bench with Mike Lowell, Bill Hall, Jeremy Hermida, and Jason Varitek.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Albert Pujols | Alex Rodriguez | Bill Hall | Boston Red Sox | C.C. Sabathia | Chris Volstad | Cleveland Indians | Dan Meyer | Derek Jeter | Emilio Bonifacio | Felipe Lopez | Freddie Bynum | Jason Varitek | Jeremy Hermida | Kendrys Morales | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Mark Teixeira | Miami Marlins | Mike Lowell | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Yankees | Prince Fielder | Rich Aurilia | San Francisco Giants | Sean West | Seattle Mariners | Shin-Soo Choo | St. Louis Cardinals | Tom Wilhelmsen | Transactions
On this date back in 1983, Dodgers' hurler Fernando Valenzuela became the first player in baseball history to receive a seven-figure award through the arbitration process. During his first two-plus seasons as a big leaguer, Fernandomania had been named the Rookie of the Year, appeared in two All Star Games, and won a Cy Young Award. The arbitration panel awarded him a $1MM salary in his first year of eligibility, nearly tripling his 1982 salary.
As the last few present day arbitration cases wrap up, here are some links to check out from around the baseball blogiverse…
- Mets Paradise reviews the Amazin's offseason, and says they aren't a finished product even if the team believes they are.
- Capitol Avenue Club examines a potential Adrian Gonzalez-to-Atlanta trade, and notes that it's the same situation as the Mark Teixeira swap of 2007.
- Turn Two looks at some AL and NL position battles.
- The Sports Banter tries to find homes for the best remaining free agents.
- Phillies Nation grades the Jose Contreras pickup.
- Gear Up For Blue Jays Baseball breaks down Kevin Gregg and the rest of Toronto's bullpen.
- Tipi Talk wonders if Rafael Perez could contribute to the Indians as a starting pitcher.
- Dodgers Digital answers questions about how the Dodgers' roster decisions will affect their Triple-A affiliate.
- AdamAdkins.net ranks the top five catchers in the game today.
- Brew Crew Ball provides an easy-to-use guide for creating your own Spring Training story.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.
Here are some links on an understandably slow Thanksgiving night…
- Baltimore GM Andy MacPhail tells Steve Melewski of MASN Sports that the Orioles are willing to offer a big contract under the right circumstances. MacPhail points out that the club offered $140MM to Mark Teixeira as evidence that they are willing to spend. Given their recent history, do you believe him?
- The Padres are keeping close watch on first round draft pick Donavan Tate, writes Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune. The third overall pick is recovering after undergoing sports hernia surgery in October.
- Despite plans to shift Ryan Theriot from shortstop to second base, Cubs GM Jim Hendry tells Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune that he has faith in the soon-to-be 30-year-old. Theriot has been told to prepare for a shift to the other side of the bag to make room for Starlin Castro. Recently it has been reported that the Cubs are interested in Mets second baseman Luis Castillo.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona was on WEEI's Dale & Holley earlier today (audio here, transcript courtesy of Alex Speier here), and spoke about a variety of Red Sox offseason topics. Let's round it all up…
- The team is currently interviewing candidates for openings in their coaching staff. Bench coach Brad Mills has since moved on to take over as Astros' skipper.
- Francona hopes the team re-signs Jason Bay, but he acknowledges that he's going to have other options. "You know we’re going to be a major player. We always are."
- He also thinks Bay won't drag out his decision until mid January.
- Francona says he has gone on free agent recruiting trips before, most notably to speak to John Smoltz and Mark Teixeira.
- Whenever GM Theo Epstein talks to him, Francona always tells him to get a pitcher.
- The team has met with John Lackey's agent, and Francona considers him "one of the best." He also notes that you're talking about a lot of years when committing to a player like that.
- Francona acknowledged that Alex Gonzalez stabilized the shortstop position, but "you look at that .310 on-base percentage, for a full year, if that’s what you’re going to go with, you’ve got to recoup that somewhere else."
Francona also spoke about how they mix stats and scouting, and how they "try to look at both and make good decisions."
Add Washington to the list of clubs vying for the services of free-agent starter John Lackey. Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nats are interested in Lackey for the obvious boost he would provide to their National League-worst 5.00 team ERA, but also to serve as a mentor for their young starting corps of Stephen Strasburg, Ross Detwiler and John Lannan.
If nothing else, Washington's pursuit of Lackey is another sign to the rest of baseball (and to other prospective free agents) that the Nats aren't willing to stand pat after posting the worst record in the majors in each of the last two seasons. The Nationals made a strong push for Mark Teixeira last winter before signing Adam Dunn to a two-year/$20MM deal in February. Bringing Lackey into the fold might also help sell some tickets in Washington, as attendance at Nationals Park dropped by over 500K from 2008 to 2009.
Ladson also said that, contrary to a previous report, Washington isn't interested in signing Adam Everett. The defensive specialist's .648 career OPS is apparently the big turn-off for the club, who would prefer to sign someone with more pop if they decide to sign a shortstop at all.
Scott Boras believes Mark Teixeira and Matt Holliday are both "blue-collar superstars," learned Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. Boras considers both to be "complete players," and finds Holliday unique in the upcoming free agent class. Boras' comments imply that Holliday's advantage over Jason Bay is his defense.
No matter how well Boras pitches Holliday, it seems highly unlikely the outfielder will sniff the eight-year, $180MM deal Tex received. Speculation so far has focused on the typical big-market clubs, but here in October it's too early to say which teams will make legitimate, $100MM+ bids.
It's always fun to read Boras' hyperbolic statements about his clients. His other free agents include Ivan Rodriguez, Jason Varitek, Felipe Lopez, Adrian Beltre, Joe Crede, Garret Anderson, Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez, Rick Ankiel, Andruw Jones, Xavier Nady, and Jarrod Washburn (Varitek and Manny have 2010 options).
The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly details the questions facing a Baltimore team with some young offensive talent, some terrific young pitching on the way, and a lot of extra cash.
Connolly writes that while the 64-98 record Baltimore had in 2009 was the third-worst in team history, "there is a sense that the future has promise because of the emergence of young starting pitchers Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergesen, catcher Matt Wieters and outfielders Nolan Reimold and Felix Pie."
Left unsaid, of course, is the emergence of Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continuing to be a tremendous player.
The good news? The Orioles, according to Connolly, went from roughly $77MM owed in payroll at the start of the 2009 season-including $9MM to Jay Gibbons and Ramon Hernandez– to a $30MM commitment for 2010, not including raises through arbitration.
The bad news is that there aren't many marquee free agents (though there is Jason Marquis), and those that do qualify- Jason Bay, Matt Holliday, John Lackey– aren't great fits, particularly Bay and Holliday in an overcrowded outfield.
Connolly captures the problem of desires vs. realistic options perfectly here:
"The preference is to find a right-handed or switch-hitting first baseman in his prime, like the New York Yankees' Mark Teixeira. But there's no one who fits that profile in this year's class. The best free-agent options might be left-handed-hitting first basemen Russell Branyan and Hank Blalock or right-handed do-it-all Mark DeRosa."
So what's an Oriole to do?
The Washington Nationals are a series of contradictions, as Thomas Boswell points out in this terrific Washington Post piece. They are a large market, but spend like a small-market team. They have great young talent and more than 100 losses. The future is bright (Stephen Strasburg) and not-so-bright (if they don't put talent around him).
"We are tremendously excited. The next big step is right there to be taken," President Stan Kasten, who speaks for the team, told Boswell. "This is not a great year if you want a [free agent like CC] Sabathia or Mark Teixeira. But the players who are available are just what we need: a veteran starter in the rotation, two more arms in the bullpen and a middle infielder who helps our defense."
So who should Washington look to acquire? How close are they, really, to that next step? And if the team has more than 100 losses, isn't the next step more like 90 losses?
Here's some links to start off a gorgeous Sunday (at least around these parts)…
- After calling out teammate Hanley Ramirez, Bill Shaikin of The LA Times wonders if Dan Uggla might get a ticket out of Florida. If so, he says Uggla could be a fit for the Dodgers, who he says "are not expected to engage in a bidding war to retain second baseman Orlando Hudson."
- Sam Mellinger of The KC Star presents a few ways to improve the Royals for 2010. In addition to not handing out albatross contracts to players like Kyle Farnsworth and Jose Guillen, Mellinger suggests the team trade Alberto Callaspo, nontender Mike Jacobs, and resign Coco Crisp.
- Joel Sherman of The NY Post rates which teams "succeeded and failed in bringing new blood to their organizations" over the last year. The Yankees take home top honors thanks to additions of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher. The Mets … well they come in last.
- Make sure you follow MLBTR on Twitter for the fastest rumor updates around.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: A.J. Burnett | Alberto Callaspo | C.C. Sabathia | Coco Crisp | Dan Uggla | Hanley Ramirez | Jose Guillen | Kansas City Royals | Kyle Farnsworth | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mark Teixeira | Miami Marlins | Mike Jacobs | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Nick Swisher | Orlando Hudson
Links for Wednesday…
- Due to Bengie Molina's injury, the Giants have changed their mind and called up top prospect Buster Posey according to Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. So Posey's clock starts earlier than planned.
- Speaking of service time, MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith tells me Cameron Maybin's call-up gives him 129 days of service time after this year. That puts him on the fringe of Super Two status after the 2011 season.
- ESPN's Jerry Crasnick ranks the impact of trades made by contenders in July. He talked to an exec who thinks Matt Holliday "could make an extra $3MM a year as a free agent this winter because of his strong finish."
- Yahoo's Gordon Edes has his trade deadline winners and losers.
- Ryan Doumit's agent Matt Sosnick shot down recent negativity surrounding his client, while Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gets to the bottom of the catcher's recent benching.
- Brad Penny still hates the Dodgers, a team he'll face twice this month according to Baggarly. Baggarly also has a quote from Penny ripping on the Marlins.
- Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has more from Brewers shortstop J.J. Hardy, who knows he gained trade value when the team delayed his free agency.
- J.C. Bradbury of Sabernomics wonders whether the Braves should pick up Tim Hudson's $12MM option for 2010. Hudson has the right to void that option, not that he would. Back in January Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said the Braves "fully intend to exercise it, barring some unexpected turn of events."
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs notes that Kendry Morales has matched the production of the Angels' former first baseman, $180MM man Mark Teixeira.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic has comments from Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes on the team's Jon Rauch–Kevin Mulvey swap. Piecoro says the D'Backs have about $23MM to work with this winter as they presumably look to add pitching.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times guesses Ken Griffey Jr. will retire after this season.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Brad Penny | Buster Posey | Cameron Maybin | J.J. Hardy | Jon Rauch | Ken Griffey Jr. | Kendrys Morales | Kevin Mulvey | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Mark Teixeira | Matt Holliday | Miami Marlins | Milwaukee Brewers | Minnesota Twins | Pittsburgh Pirates | Ryan Doumit | San Francisco Giants | Seattle Mariners | St. Louis Cardinals | Tim Hudson