Matt Lindstrom Rumors
Since their team won the NL pennant in 2005, Astros fans have had reason to feel frustrated. A roster that has included the likes of Lance Berkman, Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt and future Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio has averaged just under 79 wins per year since that World Series appearance.
This unimpressive stretch of play has led some fans to argue that club should give up on its hopes of contending over the next few seasons and focus on re-stocking its minor-league system. However, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes pointed out in his Offseason Outlook piece last October, this is a team that "could contend with the right free agent additions." In the wide-open NL Central, the Astros seem to be perpetually just a player away from a playoff berth. Even in 2006, when the club finished 82-80, they still finished just 1.5 games behind the eventual World Series-champion Cardinals.
This winter has provided the same mixed message from Houston, following its 74-88 record in 2009. Owner Drayton McLane spoke about the importance of developing young talent in an interview with The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice last June, but the Astros' offseason moves (trading for reliever Matt Lindstrom and signing free agents Brett Myers, Brandon Lyon and Pedro Feliz) make it seem like Houston is once again reloading rather than rebuilding.
If the Astros ever did commit to a rebuild, however, the most obvious candidates for a deal would be their three biggest contracts: Berkman, Oswalt and Carlos Lee. Houston has $2MM buyouts on Berkman's contract in 2011 and Oswalt's contract in 2012, but most people agree that these two iconic Astros seem destined to retire with the franchise.
That leaves Lee, who is owed $18.5MM per season through 2012. The outfielder has performed well in his three years in Houston (.305/.354/.524) but may be showing signs of a decline. His 26 homers and .831 OPS last season were his lowest totals in each category since 2002 and 2005, respectively. MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says that between Lee's big contract, poor defense (a -4.6 UZR/150 according to Fangraphs), full no-trade clause and a desire to stay in Texas due to his ranch business, Lee is "about as untradeable as they come."
Let's speculate, for a moment, that Lee could be persuaded (probably through a cash bonus) to leave the ranch behind and agree to a deal. Houston would almost surely have to eat at least half of Lee's remaining contract in any trade, but for a big-market AL team that could afford to pick up the other half, Lee would be an intriguing DH option.
Perhaps the best fit is Chicago. Much has been written about Ozzie Guillen's DH-by-committee plan for the upcoming season, and the White Sox seem committed enough to the idea to pass on signing Jim Thome. But if the Sox find themselves in a pennant race and their platoon of designated hitting options (Omar Vizquel? Really?) isn't working out, then they could make a play for an everyday DH. Lee would fit that bill and, since he spent the first six seasons of his career with the White Sox, might be amenable to waive his no-trade clause to return to a familiar location.
This scenario is, admittedly, a longshot. It's much more likely that, no matter if the Astros choose to keep aiming for contention or commit to a proper rebuilding process, Lee will be a constant in the Astros' outfield. You could say that Lee is Houston's answer to Vernon Wells --- an unwieldly contract that is too big to trade and also takes up enough of the payroll to hamstring the team from making other moves.
Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.
We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements. Yesterday's list can be found here.
- Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals. Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts. Willits' contract is worth $625K.
- Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports MLB.com's Corey Brock (via Twitter). Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
- Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players. In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
- Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter). The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
- The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press. MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
- Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
- The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to MLB.com's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
- Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
- Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.
- Pat Neshek agreed to a one year deal with $625K with another $75K in incentives, avoiding arbitration with the Twins according to MLB.com's Kelly Thesier (via Twitter).
- The Nationals have agreed to terms with Jason Bergmann, Jesus Flores, Wil Nieves, and Josh Willingham according to a team press release. All four players avoided arbitration. MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez tweets that Willingham will make $4.6MM next season, while Bergmann will make $750K according to a tweet from MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- MLB.com's Mark Bowman tweets that the Braves and Peter Moylan have agreed to a deal, avoiding arbitration. He gets $1.15MM.
- Matt Garza avoided arbitration with the Rays, tweets Topkin. The two sides agreed to a one year deal worth $3.35MM,
- MLB.com's Jim Street tweets that the Mariners and David Aardsma have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.75MM.
- The Astros avoided arbitration with Michael Bourn, Matt Lindstrom, and Humberto Quintero according to a tweet from MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Bourn gets $2.4MM, Lindstrom $1.625MM, and Quintero $750K (via McTaggart's Twitter).
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports that the Rockies and Jason Hammel have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $1.9MM.
- The A's agreed to a one year deal with Kevin Kouzmanoff, reports The Oakland Tribune. Oakland acquired Kouzmanoff from the Padres over the weekend.
- Jered Weaver agreed to a one year deal worth $4.265MM with the Angels to avoid arbitration, according to a tweet from Jon Heyman.
- Topkin tweets that J.P. Howell agreed to a one year deal worth $1.8MM, avoiding arbitration with the Rays.
- According to the team's official Twitter feed, the Blue Jays avoided arbitration with Jason Frasor ($2.65MM) and Brian Tallet ($2MM) by agreeing to one year deals.
- Delmon Young avoided arbitration with the Twins by agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.6MM, according to a tweet by Joe Christensen of The Star Tribune. Kelly Thesier of MLB.com tweets that Young will get $25K each for 575 and 600 plate appearances.
- According to a team press release, the Royals have avoided arbitration with Alex Gordon and Robinson Tejeda. Terms of either deal was not disclosed.
- Heyman tweets that Stephen Drew and the Diamondbacks agreed to a one year deal worth $3.4MM, avoiding arbitration.
- The White Sox and John Danks avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year deal worth $3.45M, according to ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine.
- Ken Davidoff of Newsday tweets that the Mets and Pedro Feliciano have agreed to a one year deal worth $2.9MM, avoiding arbitration. There's another $100K in performance bonuses.
- The Star Telegram's Anthony Andro reports that the Rangers and Chris Ray have avoided arbitration. MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan says it's a one year deal worth $975K.
- Russell Martin has agreed to a one year contract worth $5.05MM, avoiding arbitration with the Dodgers according to Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times (via Twitter)
- MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that the Blue Jays and reliever Jeremy Accardo have agreed to a one year deal worth $1.08MM, avoiding arbitration.
- Rafael Perez agreed to a one year deal with the Indians to avoid arbitration according to a team press release. MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince tweets that Perez will make $795K in 2010.
- The Orioles and Luke Scott avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $4.05MM according to Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun. He earned $2.4MM last season, hitting .258/.340/.488 with a career high 25 homers.
- MLB.com's Carrie Muskat tweets that the Cubs have avoided arbitration with Jeff Baker ($975K). Mike Fontenot ($1MM,) Koyie Hill ($700K), Angel Guzman ($825K), and Tom Gorzelanny ($800K). Terms of the deals came from Gordon Wittenmyer of The Chicago Sun Times (via Twitter).
- Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the Pirates and Zach Duke have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one year deal.
- Mike Salk of 710 ESPN Radio reports that Mark Lowe and the Mariners have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $1.15MM salary for next season.
- LaVelle E. Neal III of The Star Tribune tweets that the Twins and J.J. Hardy have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $5MM. He gets a small raise over last year's $4.65MM salary after hitting .229/.302/.357.
- According to the Cardinals' official Twitter feed, the team has avoided arbitration with Ryan Ludwick by agreeing to a one year deal. Heyman tweets that he'll receive $5.45MM next year after earning $3.7MM in 2009.
- The Rangers avoided arbitration with Josh Hamilton, giving him $3.25MM plus awards-based bonuses according to a tweet from SI.com's Jon Heyman. It was his first time eligible. Hamilton hit .268/.315/.426 in 2009, missing time with back trouble and a sports hernia.
- Mark Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times tweets that the Rays and Jason Bartlett have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $4MM salary for 2010. He earned just under $2MM in 2009, hitting .320/.389/.490 with a career high 14 homers.
- Casey Janssen agreed to a $700K deal for 2010 to avoid arbitration, according to the Blue Jays official Twitter feed. It was his first time up for arbitration.
- Juan C. Rodriguez of The Sun Sentinel reports (via Twitter) that the Marlins and Jorge Cantu have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one year deal worth $6MM. Cantu hit .289/.345/.443 while making $3.5MM in 2009, his first year of arb eligibility.
- MLB.com's Adam McCalvy tweets that both Carlos Gomez and Rickie Weeks have agreed to one year deals to avoid arbitration. Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel tweets that Weeks will earn $2.75MM next year, while Gomez will earn $1.1MM as a Super Two.
- Heyman tweets that the Dodgers have avoided arbitration with both George Sherrill and James Loney. Sherrill gets $4.5MM plus incentives in his third year eligible, Loney $3.1MM in his first go around.
- According to the Blue Jays official Twitter feed, reliever Shawn Camp has agreed to a $1.15MM deal for 2010, avoiding arb. He was eligible for the second time after posting a 3.50 ERA in 79.2 innings last season.
- Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald reports (via Twitter) that Leo Nunez and the Marlins have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $2MM salary for 2010. Sticking with the theme of the day, it was his first time eligible for salary arbitration.
- MLB.com's Ken Gurnick tweets that the Dodgers and Hong Chih-Kuo have agreed to a one-year deal worth $950K, avoiding arb. It was Kuo's first time eligible.
- Jon Heyman of SI.com tweets that the Mets and Jeff Francoeur have avoided arb by agreeing to a $5MM deal. Francoeur earned $3.375MM in 2009 and hit .280/.309/.423 for the Mets and Braves.
- Heyman tweets that Howie Kendrick and the Angels have agreed to a $1.75MM deal with incentives. This was Kendrick's first crack at arbitration.
- Heyman tweets that the A's and Rajai Davis agreed to a $1.35MM salary for 2010, plus incentives. This was Davis' first year eligible for arbitration.
- Heyman tweets that Jonathan Sanchez avoided arb with the Giants by agreeing to a $2.1MM deal, plus incentives. He posted a 4.24 ERA in 163.1 innings last year, and was up for arbitration for the first time in his career.
7:56pm: MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says the Marlins will also obtain the Astros' pick in tomorrow's Rule 5 Draft.
5:44pm: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald tweets that the Marlins obtain righty Robert Bono and shortstop Luis Bryan for Lindstrom.
4:22pm: The Astros have acquired Lindstrom, reports ESPN's Peter Gammons. The reliever is flying to Houston for a physical.
3:29pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Astros are close on Lindstrom - swapping medicals (acknowledged by Lindstrom himself). Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel agrees that the deal is close.
3:14pm: MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets of a rumor that the Marlins will make a deal today. He's unsure whether it'll be Lindstrom, Dan Uggla, or Renyel Pinto on the move.
1:55pm: The Astros are close to acquiring reliever Matt Lindstrom from the Marlins, writes Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. Capozzi notes that the Marlins have been close on other deals that failed to materialize, however. The Astros are also considered a finalist for Rafael Soriano; I imagine they won't get both.
Lindstrom, 30 in February, lost his closer job to Leo Nunez midseason as he dealt with an elbow strain. He's arbitration-eligible for the first time.
Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas rounds up some Texas Rangers-related rumors from the second day of the winter meetings. We've heard one or two of these already, but let's check out the highlights of Durrett's recap....
- The Rangers are looking to bolster their bullpen, and names of interest include J.J. Putz, Matt Lindstrom, and Brett Myers. Ramon Ramirez and Chris Ray are also on their radar.
- As FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi indicated earlier today, no Kevin Millwood trade appears imminent. A few teams are interested, but the Rangers will pull the trigger only on "the right deal." Presumably the "right" return is more about money than talent.
- If the club is able to move Millwood, they'd look to fill the hole in their rotation with another veteran starter. Ben Sheets and Rich Harden are potential options, with the Rangers hoping to meet with Sheets' agent this week.
- Dealing Millwood would also allow Texas to free up some money to pursue a right-handed bat. Perhaps Vladimir Guerrero or Jermaine Dye.
- The team is looking for a catcher as well. Durrett names Jason Kendall, Rod Barajas, Jose Molina, and Yorvit Torrealba as targets.
- Durrett and others heard earlier that the Rangers offered top prospects Neftali Feliz and Justin Smoak to Florida in exchange for Josh Johnson. Another official denies that Texas made that proposal, but suggests that the team does have interest in Johnson.
5:32pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Marlins are exchanging names as they discuss potential deals involving Uggla, Pinto and Lindstrom.
3:38pm: John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle heard four teams are in on Uggla.
12:17pm: CBS Sports' Danny Knobler has five or six teams in on Lindstrom, and says talks for the reliever are further along than those for Uggla.
8:15am: The Orioles are in the mix for second baseman Dan Uggla, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro. Since Marlins officials were late to arrive in Indianapolis, Uggla talks with various clubs did not begin until the evening. Frisaro believes Uggla will wind up in the AL, unless the Giants get him. ESPN's Buster Olney heard last night that the Giants were not close to a deal. Frisaro notes that there aren't many clubs seriously interested in Uggla.
A couple of other arbitration-eligible Marlins are hot topics on the trade market: Renyel Pinto and Matt Lindstrom.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec takes a look back at Baltimore's first day of the Winter Meetings:
- The O's targeted pitching heavily, inquiring on Kevin Millwood and attaining the medical record for former Baltimore ace Erik Bedard. The O's would want Texas to eat some of Millwood's $12MM salary. They won't go after Bedard (or any other pitcher) if they're not 100% for Opening Day.
- Andy MacPhail will meet with Bedard's agent in the next couple of days.
- The Orioles were interested in Rafael Soriano prior to his decision to accept arbitration from the Braves.
- Kevin Gregg is an option for relief help, but Baltimore sees him as a 7th or 8th inning guy, not a closer.
- Felix Pie has drawn a lot of inquiries, but MacPhail points out that none of Pie, Nolan Reimold, and Adam Jones have played a full, healthy season yet, and the depth is probably a good thing for the Orioles when taking that into consideration.
- Lots of young O's pitching has come up, including Zach Britton and David Hernandez.
- MacPhail met with Joe Urbon, agent for Mark Hendrickson. Zrebiec says it's only a matter of time before a deal is done.
- There hasn't been much in the way of talks for Dan Uggla recently.
- Baltimore won't be bidders for John Lackey, but they like Hank Blalock, Nick Johnson, and Carlos Delgado as options for first base. Luke Scott is not a full-time first base option. Pedro Feliz is their primary third base target.
- Baltimore isn't in on talks for Edwin Jackson or Matt Lindstrom, but they did meet with the agent for Aroldis Chapman.
- Baltimore may sign another catcher, but it's not a priority.
- Should Rafael Soriano decline the Braves' offer of arbitration, the Orioles are "particularly interested." He'd cost their #39 pick in the June draft (though the pick will be pushed back further).
- The Orioles are reviewing medical records on Erik Bedard as well as other free agents with injury issues. MacPhail downplayed the reviewing as standard preliminary procedure rather than serious talks.
- We can rule the O's out for Edwin Jackson and Matt Lindstrom, while nothing is cooking currently on John Lackey or Dan Uggla.
4:58pm: MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets that about ten teams are in on Lindstrom, and nothing is imminent.
12:21pm: Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald downplays the Rangers' and Rays' interest in Lindstrom. He notes that the Marlins contingent won't arrive in Indianapolis until tonight.
MONDAY, 6:58am: Buster Olney tweets that the Rangers may be the most serious team interested in Lindstrom. Two teams have fallen out of the running, but two other teams are now interested.
SUNDAY, 8:48pm: SI.com's Jon Heyman says two teams besides the Rays and Rangers are in on Lindstrom as well. Any ideas?
8:06pm: Rosenthal says the Rangers are among the interested teams.
7:39pm: ESPN's Buster Olney says a deal is imminent, though we're not sure where Lindstrom is headed.
6:58pm: MLB.com's Joe Frisaro tweets that the Rays are "exploring interest" in Lindstrom.
9:33am: Matt Lindstrom is "virtually certain" to be traded at the winter meetings, if not before, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Of the six teams that have expressed interest in the soon-to-be 30-year-old, three have stepped to the forefront in recent days.
Lindstrom, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career, makes sense as a Marlins trade candidate. Earlier this week we heard that the righty was part of a trio of Florida relievers who could be dealt.
The Idaho native had a down year in 2009, as he was slowed down by an elbow injury. In his third big league season, he posted an ERA of 5.89 and threw just 47.1 innings.
What clubs should be burning up Florida's phone lines in regards to this fireballer?
It's officially Winter Meetings time! New thread for links as the folks in Indianapolis begin to wake up and get going:
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets an interesting situation: the Cubs and Yankees both like Mike Cameron, while the Cubs like the Yanks' Melky Cabrera. The Cubs will need to clear payroll space before they can try for Cameron though. Also muddying the picture: both clubs may have interest in Curtis Granderson.
- ESPN's Buster Olney is hearing that the starting pitching market is "intensifying."
- Larry Stone of the Seattle Times has all kinds of amusing Winter Meetings memories from years past, and he explains why the Meetings were cancelled for five years in the nineties.
- David Lennon of Newsday says Mets COO Jeff Wilpon is not scheduled to come to Indianapolis this week, suggesting the team won't be signing major free agents at the Meetings.
- The Dodgers met with Nick Green's agent, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown. Green, 31, hit .236/.303/.366 in 309 plate appearances for the Red Sox this year while playing all around the infield (mainly shortstop).
- The Mariners have begun preliminary negotiations with Russell Branyan, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Branyan already rejected an offer from the Mariners in November. The Mets appear to be among Branyan's other suitors.
- Jon Heyman reports, via Twitter, that Adrian Beltre is "not likely" to accept Seattle arbitration offer. They'll still likely try to retain him, however. It might be difficult to keep Branyan, Beltre, and Jose Lopez, with Ken Griffey Jr. already signed.
- In case you were wondering, Morosi tweets that nothing is cooking with the Braves and Diamondbacks for Derek Lowe. Nor are the D'Backs in on Bronson Arroyo.
- Dan Uggla doesn't like the uncertainty surrounding what uniform he'll be wearing in five months. The Marlins slugger says he still sees himself as a second baseman, though many teams would like to move the 30-home run machine to third base. Matt Lindstrom is in a similar spot.
- Andy MacPhail told Steve Melewski that free agents are beginning to look at Baltimore in a different light, thanks to the great reviews their farm system is getting in the national media. That said, Melewski still feels that if the O's add a big name this offseason, it'll be through a trade.
- Alex Speier takes a look at what pieces the Red Sox could potentially use as trade bait.
- Joel Sherman explains why Andy Pettitte is so important to the Yankees, why personal relationships matter among GMs, and the Mets struggles in finding a taker for Luis Castillo.
- Mark Feinsand gives Yankee fans five situations to watch this week, including Pettitte, Roy Halladay, Johnny Damon, the Tigers, and Hideki Matsui.
8:48am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the "Rays are growing less hopeful of swapping Burrell to the Cubs."
12:28am: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times has a few pieces of info from Indianapolis as we approach the early stages of the Winter Meetings:
- Joe Maddon has arrived in Indianapolis, but executive VP Andrew Friedman won't arrive until tomorrow, so don't look for any moves just yet.
- The Cubs are confident that they'll move Milton Bradley and his attitude out of Chicago, but if it's going to be to Tampa Bay for Pat Burrell, it will require "serious negotiation." Topkin notes that there's a near $15MM difference between the money owed to the two.
- Brian Shouse is unlikely to accept arbitration.
- The Rays are interested in Matt Lindstrom, as we've heard, but as of Sunday night, nothing is close between the Marlins and Tampa Bay.