Matt Murton Rumors

Cubs Still Talking To Rangers About Byrd

MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan writes today that the Cubs’ talks for Marlon Byrd still have some life.  Not much has changed – the Cubs would give up Matt Murton, but the Rangers want young pitching.

Since the potential Brian Roberts acquisition seems to be on the frontburner, perhaps talks for Byrd would move to the next level if that’s completed.  The Rangers may have to wait and see whether the Cubs bring Jay Payton in and which pitching prospects they give up.

Ken Rosenthal quoted a scout today who suggested the Cubs will never fully commit to center fielder Felix Pie and let him work through his growing pains.  Rosenthal believes the Cubs would do well to give Pie a legitimate shot, as the Yankees and Red Sox are doing with their young center fielders.


Cubs-Orioles Roberts Talks Getting Serious

According to Jon Heyman of SI.com, the Cubs and Orioles are talking Brian Roberts trade again.  A source of Heyman’s "indicated discussions were starting to get serious."

Heyman says one scenario has the O’s sending Jay Payton along with Roberts to Chicago.  Although he’d fill the Cubs’ desire for a right-handed hitting fourth outfielder who can handle center, Payton has to have negative trade value with a $5MM salary for ’08 and a .668 OPS last year.  The Cubs could send Jason Marquis back, but his two years and $19.25MM might be overcompensating for Payton’s bad contract.

Heyman names the usual suspects as possible Orioles targets: Sean Marshall, Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, and Ronny Cedeno.  Murton could again be stuck as a fourth outfielder in Baltimore; blocked prospect Eric Patterson might make more sense.


Coco Still Possibility For Cubs, White Sox

Two suitors for the affable Coco Crisp, both in the Windy City.

According to Chris De Luca at the Chicago Sun Times,

"The Cubs and Red Sox have had talks centering on Crisp in recent weeks, though the subject was broached by Boston, sources say, and evidently the Red Sox were not interested when the Cubs dangled outfielder Matt Murton.  Talks could resume during spring training, however, depending on the Red Sox’ need for starting pitching — an area where the Cubs are expected to have some surplus with Ryan Dempster or Jason Marquis getting nudged out of the rotation."

And also from the same source,

"They, too, could find themselves in the market later in camp if Jerry Owens doesn’t pan out in center. Manager Ozzie Guillen has long admired Crisp, but the White Sox don’t figure to have a surplus of starting pitching by the end of spring training."

On a related side note, I caught the BoSox/Twins preseason game on Friday night and got a chance to watch Twins CF incumbent Carlos Gomez unload a scud missile from centerfield to get Dustin Pedroia at homeplate. With Gomez in house, I can see why rumors of the Twins as an option for Coco have cooled.  Thoughts?

By Nat Boyle



Hairston Key To Pads’ OF Dealings

The Padres still may need more outfield help. Centerfielder Jim Edmonds and rightfielder Brian Giles both are well into the brittle phases of their careers.

Sean Devaney of the Sporting News has Kevin Towers casting his left field lot with Scott Hairston – for the time being. Look for more chatter about Jason Bay, Matt Murton and any other available outfielder if Hairston fails to lock the job down within three weeks.  It’s unclear whether Gabe Gross (who is out of options) is currently of interest.  Kenny Lofton could be a free agent possibility.

Would Towers be willing to part with relievers Wilfredo Ledezma (LH) or Clay Hensley (RH) alone or part of a package to fill an outfield hole?

Hairston put in a nice month’s-worth of games with the Pads last year, slugging .644. That spurt was uncharacteristic of the 27-year-old’s major league career, though.

By Big Mike Glab


Gammons’ Latest: Bonds, Murton

ESPN’s Peter Gammons has a new blog post with some hot stove info.

  • Gammons has a quote from Andrew Friedman that should be the final word on Barry Bonds to Tampa Bay: If I didn’t entertain ideas, be it a signing of a great hitter like Bonds or a trade, I should be fired.  But that is past.  Let’s take Friedman at his word and rule Bonds out for the Rays.
  • Gammons notes that the Cubs have discussed Matt Murton with the Rangers and Red Sox, but he alone wouldn’t get them Marlon Byrd or Coco Crisp.  Murton was drafted 32nd overall by Boston in ’03, and then traded to the Cubs a year later in the Nomar Garciaparra deal.  Murton would remain pretty well blocked in Boston though.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Gross, Weaver, Encarnacion

Ken Rosenthal is on the scene with some new rumors.

  • Astros president Tal Smith arguing other teams’ arbitration cases.   Rosenthal finds it a bit awkward, while Keith Law finds it to be a hilarious conflict of interest.
  • Possible trades of Matt Murton to the Padres or Rangers seem to have fizzled.  The Padres may turn to the Brewers’ Gabe Gross, a player who previously caught the eye of the A’s, Indians, and Braves.  Our good friend PECOTA sees a .267/.366/.467 line from Gross this year.  With Gross and various veteran starters, the Brewers have some surpluses to work with.
  • Rosenthal believes the Cardinals’ interest in Jeff Weaver to be not especially serious.  They’ve got in-house candidates to start, and Matt Clement needing some time is not a revelation.
  • We’ve read about extension possibilities for Matt Capps and Alex Rios.  To that mix, Rosenthal adds Edwin Encarnacion.  The Reds might want to do it now; he seems primed for a big year.


Cubs’ Talks For Byrd Reach Impasse

The Cubs have been interested in Rangers’ center fielder Marlon Byrd for some time now, apparently offering Matt Murton.  However, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers’ insistence on good young pitching in the deal has caused a stalemate.  The Cubs like Byrd, but not at that price.

Evan Grant wrote recently that one of Jason Botts, Nelson Cruz, or David Murphy is likely to be dealt before Opening Day.  A Byrd trade might allow the Rangers to keep all three.


Cubs’ Talks For Byrd Reach Impasse

The Cubs have been interested in Rangers’ center fielder Marlon Byrd for some time now, apparently offering Matt Murton.  However, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan says the Rangers’ insistence on good young pitching in the deal has caused a stalemate.  The Cubs like Byrd, but not at that price.  Jeff Wilson and Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram say Byrd is still "drawing considerable interest" from the Cubs, however.

Evan Grant wrote recently that one of Jason Botts, Nelson Cruz, or David Murphy is likely to be dealt before Opening Day.  A Byrd trade might allow the Rangers to keep all three.


Murton Reads MLBTR

It was pretty cool to learn today that Cubs outfielder Matt Murton reads MLBTradeRumors.com.  Welcome!  Unfortunately, I can’t imagine it’s thrilling to read about yourself in trade rumors all winter.

Murton is a left fielder, and the Cubs obviously have Alfonso Soriano there.  Right field is now filled by Kosuke Fukudome.  Lou Piniella couldn’t help but admit that Murton’s role on the Cubs is as a fourth outfielder.  The Herald’s Bruce Miles has heard rumblings that the Cubs will try to trade Murton to a team where he can play regularly. ESPN’s Keith Law thinks Murton would be good for a .290/.360/.470 line in regular duty.

Baltimore wouldn’t make sense, now that the team has accumulated an outfield surplus of their own.  San Diego remains a strong option, though those talks were said to be slow going last time we checked.  And the Rangers appear to want more than just Murton for Marlon Byrd, something the Cubs may be reluctant to do.  My own speculation – the Indians could be a fit.


Angelos To Nix Roberts Trade?

Some owners make headlines by talking to the press or releasing statements. This is best exemplified in New York, where the Steinbrenners aren’t strangers to reporters. Some owners, though, like to make headlines in other ways. Take Peter Angelos for example. People know him not because he speaks to the press, but rather because he’s always about to kill a certain move — a free agent signing or a trade. Yes, despite dealing Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada this off-season, Angelos still isn’t keen on dishing Brian Robers.

Jon Heyman is hearing that the haul for Roberts might not be enough for Angelos’s liking. The reported package includes pitcher Sean Gallagher, outfielder Matt Murton, and infielder Ronny Cedeno. This isn’t the first deal for Roberts that Angelos has reportedly killed.

Heyman has an interesting bit on Angelos:

There is also a sense that Angelos has an unreasonable attachment to Roberts, who may well remind the owner of himself: a little guy who’s scrapped his way to the top of his profession (no, not baseball; Angelos is at the top of the legal profession, at least in terms of dollars earned).

Of course, there is no way to verify that this is the case. But if Angelos is holding back a possible Roberts deal, he might be doing a disservice to his team. They stand to benefit more in the future from the young talent they’d receive than they would from Roberts, who is 30 this year.

- Joe