Matt Stairs Rumors
A wrap-up of items from Wednesday...
- We've heard that the Brewers have begun to explore the possibility of extending Prince Fielder's contract, but ESPN's Keith Law thinks "it makes no sense for the Brewers to keep Fielder" given that the team doesn't look like a contender this season or next. Law also describes Fielder as, "the type of player who doesn't age well."
- Kerry Wood isn't bothered by trade rumors linking him to Minnesota to fill the Joe Nathan void, reports Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Castrovince adds that it's "hard to imagine" the Twins acquiring Wood given the veteran closer's $10.5MM salary in 2010 (plus an $11MM option for 2011 that vests if Wood finishes 55 games this year).
- Speaking of Wood, Paul Hoynes of The Cleveland Plain Dealer argues that the Tribe shouldn't deal Wood to a division rival until the Indians know what kind of a team they have this season. If they contend, then they could keep Wood for a pennant race. If they don't contend, Wood will still have trade value at midseason.
- Tyler Kepner of the New York Times talks to Matt Stairs, who is enjoying his role in the Padres camp as "the grandfather of the team." Stairs said he won't go to the minors if he doesn't make San Diego's opening day roster, and he might just return to his job as a hitting coach for the University of Maine's baseball team.
- MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that Chris Duncan doesn't blame the Cardinals for dealing him to Boston last summer.
- Anthony Ranaudo, thought by some to be the top pitcher available in June's Amateur Draft, may fall down the draft board after battling elbow problems, reports ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill.
- Nationals GM Mike Rizzo told MLB.com's Bill Ladson that despite Stephen Strasburg's strong outing on Tuesday, "it's not going to change my plans" about how Strasburg will be brought along. Strasburg may well start the season in the minors, but ESPN's Buster Olney thinks it could be a brief stay: "You get the feeling that his time in the minors may be as short as it was for Tim Lincecum." Lincecum, for the record, has made only 13 lifetime appearances in the minors and made just four minor league starts in 2007 before being called up to San Francisco.
TUESDAY, 4:06pm: MLB.com's Corey Brock tweets that the deal is now official.
SATURDAY, 4:05pm: The Padres will sign Matt Stairs, according to a tweet from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The soon-to-be 42-year-old has a minor league deal with a major league invite, though Crasnick says (via Twitter) that it appears he has a very good chance of making the roster.
Stairs is hoping to be San Diego's left-handed bat off of the bench. Earlier in the week, Crasnick reported that Stairs dropped a whopping 31 pounds in order to get himself into shape for Spring Training.
Stairs hit .194/.357/.379 with 5 HRs in 129 plate appearances for the Phillies last season.
Thursday night linkage..
- Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN Radio talked to M's GM Jack Zduriencik, who declined to disclose how much money the club had left to spend this offseason. One baseball source told Drayer that the M's likely have "a little left, but not much."
- Scott Lauber of The News Journal tweets that Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was less than impressed after watching Eric Gagne throw yesterday, saying "He was okay." We first heard about Gagne's comeback back in December, when the 34-year-old said he would be open to pitching in the minors.
- Matt Stairs, who is still hoping to land a job at the age of 41, has dropped 31 pounds in order to get himself in game shape, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. In 129 plate appearances last season, Stairs posted .194/.357/.379 with 5 HRs.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke to recently signed Octavio Dotel who told him that the Pirates were the only team to offer him the role of closer. Dotel says that he's not worried about being rusty after not closing since 2007.
Some Thursday night links...
- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports note that the Phillies had a creative idea for third base before signing Placido Polanco - they asked Orlando Hudson if he'd make the position change. He passed.
- Cardinals president Bill DeWitt III spoke openly about the club's limitations in retaining Albert Pujols beyond his current deal, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Signing Pujols and free agent Matt Holliday to new contracts would almost definitely mean committing upwards of 40% of the team's payroll to two players.
- If the Tigers cannot re-sign free agent relievers Brandon Lyon or Fernando Rodney, they may have to look into a pair of Type A free agents, writes James Schmehl of MLive.com. Atlanta's Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano could appeal to Detroit, but they would require the forfeiture of a first-round pick.
- Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes conducted a live chat today on MLB.com. It sounds as though Byrnes would be content to more or less stand pat this offseason, telling one fan that most of the club's impact players evolve within their system rather than "arrive via offseason splash." Don't expect Arizona to go after a second baseman this winter either as Byrnes says he looks forward to competition over the spot this season, featuring late-season acquisition Tony Abreu.
- More from Arizona as the club outrighted a pair of prospects to their Triple-A affiliate - pitcher Kyler Newby and catcher Luke Carlin, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic writes that the move was not made in anticipation of a free agent signing or trade.
- Matt Stairs told Larry Mahoney of the Bangor Daily News that he would like to play next season. Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer says not to expect Stairs back in Philadelphia next season, as Phils GM Ruben Amaro offered him the opportunity to audition for other teams at Spring Training.
- Jacque Jones also wants back in baseball, according to MLB.com's Thomas Harding. The 34-year-old last played in 2008, seeing time in 42 games in which he recorded an OPS of .446. However, his agent insists that teams will be impressed with his physical conditioning and desire to continue his career.
A few links to start the day...
- Andy Martino of The Philadelphia Inquirer tweets that the Phillies will prioritze defensive versatility over power when filling Matt Stairs' roster spot, though Stairs, Miguel Cairo, and Paul Bako are welcome to come to Spring Training on minor league deals.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com has an update on the Orioles' negotations with Mark Hendrickson. Last month we learned that Hendrickson hoped to re-sign quickly.
- ESPN's Keith Law wrote about players coming off injury, and notes that Ben Sheets is worth gambling on, considering his upside.
- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com say that despite the Brewers' logjam on the infield, a trade will probably not happen "unless some club offers the pitching equivalent of (Mat) Gamel."
- David Murphy of The Philadelphia Daily News takes a look at the Phillies' pitching staff to see which free agents may or may not fit.
- R.J. Anderson at FanGraphs wrote about free agent (and good luck charm) Eric Hinske, while his blogmate Dave Cameron took a look at some interesting minor league free agents.
- Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan took the time to speak with Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com about several of the team's 2009 draft picks.
- Buddy Carlyle has joined the Nippon Ham Fighters, according to Kyodo News.
- Not only do players truly hit the open market on Friday, but teams must also set their 40-man rosters for next month's Rule 5 Draft that day as well. Dave O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal Constitution writes about a player the Braves may choose to protect, while Erik Hahmann of DRays Bay looks back at Tampa Bay's history in the Rule 5.
- Speaking of Morosi and O'Brien, make sure you follow both guys on Twitter!,
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki runs down the Phillies offseason, looking at how the club is planning to improve coming off back-to-back World Series appearances. Here's some highlights:
- The Phillies are looking to upgrade at third base, as we've heard before. Chone Figgins figures to be too expensive for their liking, and they'll look for a shorter, more affordable contract. Zolecki names the same possibilities we heard earlier in the week: Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, and Placido Polanco.
- Philadelphia has interest in Fernando Rodney, but it may not be mutual, as Rodney likely would prefer a team with whom he can close. As Zolecki writes, that is "not an option" in Philly.
- The Phillies have seven impending free agents: Paul Bako, Miguel Cairo, Scott Eyre, Pedro Feliz, Pedro Martinez, Chan Ho Park, Matt Stairs, and Jack Taschner. Zolecki says Park and Eyre are the two most likely to return, with Ruben Amaro Jr. already having contacted Park's agent.
- Bako's return hasn't been ruled out, but Amaro has said that he's seeking a backup catcher. Feliz is in a similar situation, with his return not being ruled out but the team looking to upgrade.
- If Stairs returns, it will be on a minor league contract. Taschner and Martinez are not expected to return.
- The futures for Eric Bruntlett, Clay Condrey, and Tyler Walker are in question.
4:32pm: MLB.com's Todd Zolecki tweets more info on the Phillies. He says that if Matt Stairs returns, it would be a minor league deal. The team will wait to see how Scott Eyre's elbow surgery turns out. And they've contacted Chan Ho Park's agent about a possible new contract.
1:33pm: Pitcher Brett Myers was told today by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. that the team will not pursue a new contract with him, according to Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Myers told Salisbury he's open to starting or relieving with his new club.
Myers, 29, posted a 4.84 ERA in 70.6 innings this year. The Phillies' Opening Day starter missed time with hip surgery and a back strain. He could be an interesting buy-low opportunity for many teams.
Matt Stairs will be 42 by the time Spring Training starts next year, but he says he has another year left in him and wants to spend it with the Phillies, according to Andy Martino of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Stairs, who makes a base salary of $1MM this year, becomes a free agent after the season.
Stairs knows his future depends on the team's interest in bringing him back, but assistant GM Scott Proefrock said it's too early to think about free agents. Despite his recent struggles, Stairs has four homers and a .739 OPS in just over 100 plate appearances this season.
The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports...
- The White Sox are still trying to figure out their center field situation, but they are not involved on pricey veterans such as Juan Pierre and Gary Matthews Jr.
- Fantasy alert: Rosenthal names David Aardsma as the likely leader for the Mariners closer job, with Chad Cordero and Brandon Morrow lingering.
- The Dodgers "continue to balk at Pedro Martinez's $5MM asking price."
- Rockies utility man Jeff Baker, who is out of options, is drawing interest from the Phillies, Astros, and Pirates. Rosenthal suggests recently-demoted Kyle Kendrick as a possible target for Colorado, assuming the Phils can move Geoff Jenkins or Matt Stairs to clear a spot. Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post says the Yankees are unlikely to acquire Baker.
- The Blue Jays have been scouting shortstops Chin-Lung Hu, Juan Castro, and others in hopes of finding someone they can stash at Triple A for insurance.
- Was Willy Taveras a bad move for the Reds? Rosenthal says rival executives think so.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports posted a new column last night.
- Rosenthal wonders if the eventual emergence of Yankees shortstop prospects Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez will prompt the team to ask Derek Jeter to change positions in the future. Neither player ranked among the Yankees' top 30 prospects in the Baseball America 2009 Handbook, however. Jeter's current contract runs through 2010.
- Rosenthal says Boston's talks for catchers Miguel Montero and Jarrod Saltalamacchia "remain stalled because of those clubs' respective asking prices."
- Rosenthal believes the Phillies are unlikely to trade Geoff Jenkins or Matt Stairs.
- The Reds are considering trading infielder Jeff Keppinger, and Rosenthal wonders if the Astros would be a fit. He also speculates on Juan Uribe for Houston. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer talked about the Keppinger possibility on Friday.