Matt Thornton Rumors
10:44am: Money appears to be the only holdup in a trade that would send Jackson to the Cardinals and Rasmus to the Blue Jays, tweets Rosenthal. An exchange of more than $1MM awaits approval, and of course the Cards will get more than just Jackson for Rasmus.
10:37am: Jackson is now being told a trade is official, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. He's shaking hands with staffers, tweets Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune from the White Sox clubhouse.
10:30am: The Cardinals continue to talk about Rasmus deals with the Blue Jays and other teams, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney, and the outfielder appears to be "very much available."
10:09am: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that this deal is close but not complete, because the money exchange requires approval and the Jays are trying to spin Jackson to another team. That team may be the Cardinals, based on tweets from Joe Strauss, Jon Heyman, and Sherman. Sherman believes the Cardinals could also get a reliever and Colby Rasmus may be involved, but nothing is official. The Blue Jays have interest in Rasmus, tweets Morosi.
9:21am: The White Sox are in serious talks for a deal that would send starter Edwin Jackson and third baseman Mark Teahen to the Blue Jays for reliever Jason Frasor and a prospect, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal's colleague Jon Paul Morosi says this deal is close and money could be involved. The rumor was first reported ten hours ago on Twitter by a fellow named Doug Seyller.
The Jays' motivation for renting Jackson for two months and taking on a bad contract in Teahen is unclear. There doesn't appear to be a draft pick angle, as both Jackson and Frasor project as Type Bs. Perhaps Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is considering flipping Jackson to a contender.
The White Sox were known to be seeking bullpen help, and Frasor has a club option for next year. The Sox could also subtract a reliever, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that they're talking to the Cardinals about Matt Thornton. Maybe Kenny Williams' goal in the Jackson trade is to shed the $9.7MM left on the contracts of the two veterans, though we need to see the quality of the prospect involved. Sox pitchers John Danks and Gavin Floyd are also on the market, according to Rosenthal. The White Sox are currently 4.5 games out in the AL Central with another game against the Tigers tonight.
MONDAY: White Sox GM Kenny Williams told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that the report was not entirely accurate. "That, as reported, is incorrect," Williams said, without denying its validity outright (Twitter link).
SUNDAY: Despite publicly insisting they don't intend to trade Colby Rasmus, the Cardinals have engaged in discussions with the White Sox about the outfielder, reports Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Strauss says talks between the two teams have "accelerated" within the last few days.
According to Strauss, Edwin Jackson and Matt Thornton are among the players who could interest the Cardinals. The Cards would also be looking for minor league talent from the White Sox, and a third team "may be sought to facilitate a deal."
The White Sox "jumped the market" in signing reliever Matt Thornton to a two-year, $12MM extension with a club option for 2014, in the opinion of ESPN's Buster Olney. With free agent relievers cashing in this offseason like never before, the Sox moved early on Thornton to avoid guaranteeing a third year. Olney would not be surprised to see other relievers get similar deals in the coming months; let's look at a few possibilities.
- Ryan Madson is the best candidate, as he turns 31 this year and passed on the free agent market once before despite being represented by Scott Boras. A vintage Madson season puts him in line for three years and $15MM at the least.
- Heath Bell's agent is expected to talk with the Padres during Spring Training, but it's hard to picture the team doing something even in the Huston Street range of three years, $22.5MM. Bell might need to be traded before finding a suitable extension offer.
- Matt Capps is probably only an extension candidate with the Twins if they decide to let Joe Nathan leave after the season. Three-year deals for setup men at top dollar are not the Twins' style, as they seemingly didn't consider the possibility with departing free agents Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain.
- Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox have been content to go year-to-year, so this is probably his last season in Boston. If he's dealt midseason for some reason, maybe his new team would consider an extension.
- Frank Francisco might fit the criteria with a good showing, though the Jays may prefer to bring in new veterans on one-year deals.
- Jonathan Broxton could return to form this year as the Dodgers' closer. If so, the team could try to pluck him off the market early.
- Check out the relievers on our 2012 free agent list - do you see any other candidates to be locked up before the season ends?
Links for Sunday, as Opening Day inches a little closer....
- Ken Fidlin of The Toronto Sun spoke to Lyle Overbay, who said several teams showed interest in him this offseason, but "Pittsburgh was real aggressive." Overbay joined the Pirates on a one-year deal worth $5MM.
- Jeremy Accardo told Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun that the Orioles made it obvious how highly they valued him when they pursued him this offseason. "I'm happy to get a new, fresh start, a fresh look, a fresh mindset," said Accardo. "I think I stumbled into something pretty special here."
- The Twins are high on Scott Diamond, their Rule V Draft pick, and could swing a trade with the Braves to keep Diamond but send him to Triple-A, tweets Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
- Jordan Lyles could win the Astros' fifth starter job out of Spring Training, writes MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Lyles, just 20 years old, was selected 38th in the 2008 draft -- a supplemental pick for losing Trever Miller to free agency. His main competition includes Nelson Figueroa and Ryan Rowland-Smith.
- Jason Giambi may have been joking when he informed Troy Renck of the Denver Post that he was going to try to stick around until teammate Troy Tulowitzki's contract expires in 2020. However, Giambi told SI.com's Jon Heyman that he does plan to play for as long as he can (Twitter links).
- After his two-year extension with the White Sox was announced, Matt Thornton spoke about the deal and expressed a desire to finish his career in Chicago. Scott Reifert has the details and quotes at MLB.com.
- In his latest Indians mailbag, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer discusses the signings of Orlando Cabrera and Chad Durbin, as well as the possibility of a Fausto Carmona trade.
- One of the minor leaguers the Marlins acquired in last summer's Jorge Cantu trade saw his first game action today since returning from Tommy John surgery, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
The White Sox and Matt Thornton have agreed to terms on a two-year contract extension with an option for a third year, according to a team release. The deal will pay Thornton $5.5MM annually in 2012 and 2013, while the club option for 2014 is worth $6MM ($1MM buyout). The contract will not affect Thornton's 2011 salary, as the Sox exercised their $3MM option in the fall.
Thornton, who is represented by Diamond Sports Management, has spent the last five seasons in Chicago, emerging as one of the top left-handed relievers in the game. The 34-year-old has recorded a 3.19 ERA and 10.1 K/9 in 336 appearances with the White Sox, and earned his first All-Star berth in 2010. Thornton is viewed as a front-runner to replace Bobby Jenks as the team's closer this season, with Chris Sale, Sergio Santos, and Jesse Crain also potentially in the mix.
The $12MM price tag for Thornton seems about right, considering how much American League teams have paid for southpaws in recent years. A year ago, the Orioles signed Mike Gonzalez to a two-year, $12MM contract, while this winter Brian Fuentes received a two-year, $10.5MM guarantee from the Athletics and the Angels locked up Scott Downs for three years and $15MM. Of course, those three lefties head into 2011 as setup men, so if Thornton ends up in closing in Chicago, his contract has the potential to be a bargain.
On this date back in 1974, Catfish Hunter met with Oakland A's owner Charles Finley and Peter Seitz of the American Arbitration Association in New York after the team failed to make a $50,000 payment into a long-term annuity fund. The right-hander claimed that his contract had been violated, and Seitz eventually ruled in his favor. Hunter became the first big name free agent in baseball history, later signing a five-year, $3.5MM contract with the Yankees that made him the highest-paid player in baseball history.
Here's a helping of links that go well with Thanksgiving leftovers...
- In the spirit of the holiday, Wahoo Blues lists ten things Indians fans have to be thankful for.
- Bucs Dugout lists some Rule 5 Draft possibilities for the Pirates.
- Baseball Time In Arlington examines the Paul Konerko option for the Rangers.
- Phillies Nation looks at Matt Thornton as a potential trade target for Philadelphia.
- We Should Be GMs wonders how much Derek Jeter is worth.
- Pine Tar And Pocket Protectors believes Justin Upton should be traded.
- The Blue Jay Hunter wants to see Toronto sign Chad Qualls to be their closer.
- Examiner tries to figure out what would constitute a fair return for Gavin Floyd.
- Sports of Boston explains why Cliff Lee should sign with the Red Sox.
- Meanwhile, The Ghost of Moonlight Graham tries to figure out who will catch for Boston in 2011.
- Halos Heaven dispels the Adrian Beltre contract year myth.
- A Diehard Cubs Fan Speaks Out and wonders if the Cubs should shift Starlin Castro to second base.
- SPANdemonium lists every player eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 Draft.
If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.
Links for Thursday night..
- The Yankees will pursue Carl Crawford if they do not land Cliff Lee, writes Newsday's Ken Davidoff.
- There's mutual interest between the Giants and Aubrey Huff, but talks between the two parties have not advanced lately, writes Mychael Urban of CSNBayArea.com.
- The Dodgers have signed a pair of Japanese amateur pitchers, Kazuya Takano and Kazuki Nishijima, according to Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times.
- Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin is "untouchable" in trade talks, a team source told Troy Renck of The Denver Post.
- Brian McTaggart of MLB.com writes that the Astros got better in the long run by dealing for Clint Barmes this afternoon.
- Matt Thornton of the White Sox told MLB.com's Scott Merkin that he isn't concerned about hammering out a long-term deal with the club.
- The Phillies have decisions to make on several players in advance of tomorrow's midnight deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft, writes MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.
- The Braves have named Jonathan Schuerholz, son of team president John Schuerholz, the manager of their Gulf Coast league affiliate, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The White Sox exercised their 2011 options on reliever Matt Thornton and catcher Ramon Castro, tweets MLB.com's Scott Merkin. The Sox also requested release waivers on righty Carlos Torres so he can pursue a job in Asia.
Thornton's $3MM option, which had a $250K buyout, was a given after his dominant 2010 season. The hard-throwing southpaw posted a 2.67 ERA, 12.0 K/9, and 3.0 BB/9 in 60.6 innings, the only blemish being an August forearm injury. After Thornton's strong '06 campaign for the Sox, GM Kenny Williams wisely signed him to a three-year deal with club options for 2010 and '11. Talking to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, Thornton said he's confident he can close in 2011 if needed. Many consider Bobby Jenks a non-tender candidate.
Castro had a $1.2MM option with a $200K buyout, so his option was also an easy choice. In his second season as A.J. Pierzynski's backup he hit .278/.328/.504 with eight home runs in only 128 plate appearances.
Torres, 28, was ranked 16th among White Sox prospects by Baseball America heading into the season. He repeated Triple A, posting a 3.42 ERA, 7.9 K/9, and 4.0 BB/9 in 160.3 innings. BA wrote that Torres "profiles as a long reliever/sixth starter." His repertoire: "a heavy 90-92 fastball and a plus cutter that frustrates lefthanders." They described him as an organizational favorite for his fearlessness and durability.
The Yankees are not actively looking for a utility infielder, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Rosenthal names Willie Bloomquist, John McDonald and Jayson Nix as options the Yanks could consider should they decide that they want more experience than Kevin Russo and Ramiro Pena can offer. Here are the rest of Rosenthal's rumors:
- Adrian Beltre will almost certainly reject his player option after the season and re-enter free agency. He has been one of the game's best players this year, rating characteristically well on defense (according to UZR) and hitting .336/.371/.528.
- The Mariners won't necessarily get a first round pick in next year's draft if they hold onto Cliff Lee. First of all, a losing team could sign Lee (the first 15 picks are protected). Secondly, a team could sign Lee and a free agent who ranks higher under the Elias system. That would mean the Mariners get a supplementary rounder and a second rounder.
- If the Rangers are sold before the winter, they could be a potential landing spot for Carl Crawford, one executive suggested.
- Rosenthal hears that Astros owner Drayton McLane is not against the idea of trading Roy Oswalt to Texas, though the Rangers' ability to take on payroll and the pitcher's no-trade clause could prevent a deal from going through.
- The Marlins inquired on Matt Thornton back when the White Sox were sellers. Now, the White Sox would not consider dealing the left-hander.
- If White Sox GM Kenny Williams becomes a buyer, he may pursue a left-handed bat.
- The Mariners want major league or major league-ready hitters for Cliff Lee, but the Dodgers' best prospects are a few years away from the majors.
- The Rockies are interested in Ty Wigginton, according to Rosenthal's colleague, Tracy Ringolsby.
- The Rays will look for impact players at the trade deadline.
A few more links for Friday evening, as the Reds homer for the 17th straight game....
- Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times explains what it means to be "out of options" and takes a look at how it affects Brandon Wood's current situation.
- Several teams have contacted the White Sox about Bobby Jenks, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Cowley doesn't categorize any of the discussions as serious, but notes that Jenks is "very available." Earlier in the week, we heard that the Phillies were scouting the Sox' struggling closer.
- Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle explains in a tweet why he doesn't want to see the Giants attempt to acquire Prince Fielder.
- Schulman also tweets that although no deal is official yet, Pat Burrell is "leaning heavily" toward becoming a Giant.
- According to the Miami Herald's Fish Bytes blog, it'd make sense for the Marlins to pursue left-handed bullpen help later in the summer if they're still in contention. The piece names Will Ohman and Matt Thornton as possible targets.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that the Indians are being patient with their roster for now, but changes could eventually be made.
- Cuban minor-leaguer Amaury Sanit has been suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy, tweets Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. The right-hander had been pitching for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate.