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Mike Aviles Rumors
Mariano Rivera recorded his 601st career save yesterday against the Blue Jays, tying Trevor Hoffman for the all-time mark. John Harper of the New York Daily News writes that, while Joe Girardi isn't about to keep Rivera out of a save situation if one arises today, it would be nice if the Yankees didn't have to use their closer again in Toronto. New York begins an eight-game homestand tomorrow, which could allow Rivera to notch the record-setting save in Yankee Stadium. Here are the rest of this morning's AL East notes:
- Mike Aviles told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that he asked the Royals to trade him at the deadline this season, knowing he wasn't a part of the team's long-term plans. Aviles has been an important acquisition for the Red Sox, given the injuries to Jed Lowrie and Kevin Youkilis. The utility man has hit .361/.373/.458 in part-time action since arriving in Boston.
- Within the same piece, Rosenthal notes that you could argue the Rays should have added a bat at the deadline, given their current presence in the Wild Card race. However, the club was 8 1/2 games out of the Wild Card at the time, and didn't want to compromise their team defense for an offensive upgrade.
- John Tomase discusses Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays in a piece for the Boston Herald, and the Jays GM offers a few interesting quotes. Anthopoulos says the primary challenge of the AL East isn't going up against the massive payrolls of the Red Sox and Yankees, but rather competing with a handful of smart general managers who know how to run a team.
- More Anthopolous, on the most efficient way for the Blue Jays to add talent: "The trade route where we are right now is important for us. It's going to be a big part of what we're doing and it is. Free agency is the last route we want to go. At some point we'll have to start delving into it a little more, but I still want to try to avoid it at all costs. If we try to do this through the draft, it's going to be a while. And it's not going to work and we're not going to get it to time properly."
- Bobby Jenks tells Michael Vega of the Boston Globe that he's disappointed the first season of his two-year deal with the Red Sox turned out so poorly. He's optimistic about being ready for Spring Training and being able to contribute in 2012 though. The reliever says that although he hasn't undergone his spine surgery yet, the doctors are talking about "weeks and not months" for the recovery.
A few items of note out of the AL East, where the Yankees lead the Red Sox by 2 1/2 games through Thursday's action …
- Yankees setup man David Robertson has pitched so well this season that Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders whether we're watching the development of Mariano Rivera's heir apparent as New York's closer. Rivera is under contract through next season.
- Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson is in the thick of MVP talks because of his stellar season, writes Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, but he's also an affable, charitable, humble and highly intelligent person. He's the Yankees' player rep for the MLBPA and is one of two league-wide reps along with Craig Counsell of the Brewers. Crasnick's piece is an excellent read.
- Not much was thought of it when the Red Sox acquired Mike Aviles from the Royals, but the utility infielder is preparing himself for what could be an important postseason role, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Aviles isn't a prototypical burner but is an efficient basestealer, according to Bradford, and could pinch-run in the postseason in a big spot — a la Dave Roberts in 2004.
Aviles, 30, has struggled this year, getting demoted in June, but owns a career line of .286/.317/.417 in 1218 plate appearances. He finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2008, and is capable of playing second base, shortstop, and third base. He'll be arbitration eligible for the first time after the season and is under team control through 2014.
Navarro, 23, hit .258/.362/.469 in 149 Triple-A plate appearances this year, playing all over the diamond. Prior to the season, Baseball America ranked Navarro 12th among Red Sox prospects, citing 15-20 home run potential but questioning his maturity. Volz, 23, posted a 3.33 ERA, 9.8 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, and 1.1 HR/9 in 51 1/3 relief innings at High-A this year and is not among the team's top 30.
ESPN.com's Buster Olney has a new Insider-only blog entry up, so let's dive in and take a look at the highlights….
- One American League general manager says that many of the trades we see this July will look like the Bengie Molina deal, in which the Giants picked up the remaining cost of Molina's salary. "There's going to be a lot of salary relief," the GM predicted.
- Expanding on a point from an earlier column, Olney writes that rival general managers consider Brian Sabean the most difficult GM to trade with simply because they can't get him on the phone. According to Olney, many GMs contact assistant Bobby Evans rather than Sabean, since the Giants GM doesn't return calls.
- Sometime this month, the Nationals will have to decide whether to trade Adam Dunn or to fully commit to locking him up with an extension. Olney speculates that four years for about $48MM would get it done.
- Replying to a Nick Cafardo piece for the Boston Globe in which Theo Epstein addresses how the Red Sox will replace Dustin Pedroia, Olney says Mike Aviles, Mike Fontenot, or Ty Wigginton might be good fits for the Sox. If Epstein makes a move, he'll be looking for a player who will have value elsewhere on the field when Pedroia returns to second base.
The Giants and Red Sox are among the teams eyeing Royals players, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. Royals GM Dayton Moore is willing to listen to offers, but anticipating the return for the likes of David DeJesus and Jose Guillen is difficult, even for those in the team’s front office.
“I can tell you this much,” one Royals official told Dutton, “nobody is willing to take on payroll. But teams don’t want to deal prospects, either. So it makes it tough to do anything.”
Dutton reports that the Giants have interest in Guillen on the condition that the Royals absorb most of the $6.3MM or so remaining on his contract. Earlier today, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reported that the Royals are looking to move Guillen and are willing to pick up most of his salary in a trade, but Moore insists that the Royals are not actively looking to trade. Two rival scouts told Dutton that the Royals say they will take on a considerable amount of Guillen’s salary, so it doesn’t appear that Guillen would be tough to obtain.
If the Royals decide to start selling aggressively, they could discuss Mike Aviles and Willie Bloomquist with the Red Sox, who see the infielders as candidates to fill in while Dustin Pedroia's fractured left foot heals. The Red Sox are considering infielders and had some interest in Adam Everett before Pedroia's injury. One scout said Kyle Farnsworth could appeal to teams as a reliever if the Royals decide to part with him.
Following a promising 2008 campaign in which he hit .325/.354/.480 and finished fourth in Rookie of the Year voting, Mike Aviles underwent Tommy John surgery last year. Now that he's playing again and working his way toward full health, a note in ESPN.com's Rumor Central (Insider only) speculates that he could become trade bait for Kansas City.
The Royals' incumbent starter at shortstop, a position where Aviles posted a +31.6 UZR/150 in 2008, is Yuniesky Betancourt. Aviles offers more upside than Betancourt, who displayed little value with the bat (.245/.274/.351) or the glove (-23.9 UZR/150) last season. However, Aviles' recovery from arm surgery has necessitated at least a temporary move to second base, where he'll compete for playing time with Alberto Callaspo and Chris Getz.
Presumably, the Royals are hoping Aviles builds up the arm strength needed for throwing across the diamond, taking away some of Betancourt's playing time at shortstop. Even so, the Royals may end up having more middle infield depth than they need, and GM Dayton Moore could consider moving Aviles or perhaps Callaspo, who was the subject of trade rumors earlier in the winter.
Are there any teams you see as a possible match for Kansas City? If you're a Royals fan, how would you like to see the club handle their potential middle infield surplus?
Links for Friday…
- Chad Jennings of The Journal News reports that Marcus Thames can opt out of his contract with the Yankees if he doesn't make the team out of Spring Training. Thames signed a minor league deal earlier this month that would pay him $900K in the big leagues.
- Alyson Footer, the Astros' Sr. Director of Social Media, tweets that the team has agreed to terms on a one-year deal with infielder Tommy Manzella worth $400K. He's expected to be the team's regular shortstop in 2010, and he has less than a month's worth of service time.
- Mike Aviles and Anthony Lerew agreed to terms with the Royals according to a team press release. Bob Dutton of The Kansas City Star tweets that both deals are expected to be worth less than $500K. Both players are not yet eligible for arbitration.
- Meanwhile, the Marlins also agreed to terms with six of their pre-arbitration eligible players, reports MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reports that Orioles' lefty Brian Matusz has changed agents, and is now represented by CAA Sports. He had a 4.63 ERA in 44.2 innings last year, and is widely considered to be one of the two or three best pitching prospects in the game.
- Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo spoke about the Livan Hernandez signing to MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling, and said that the righty isn't guaranteed a rotation spot.
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports polled nearly 20 baseball people about Carl Crawford's next contract. Many of the agents and executives expect Crawford to command a five-year deal worth $12-16MM per season, but some think the left fielder could make as much as $18MM per year when he hits the open market, probably after 2010.
- Scott Rolen was happy to restructure his contract so the Reds could "free up some money to go out and be more competitive," according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Nationals pitcher Rafael Martin tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson that he agreed to his deal on February 8th (Twitter link).
- Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd told Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports that he wants his players to be driven by "more than money." O'Dowd also told Ringolsby that he did not shop Brad Hawpe this winter.
- The Mets are still looking at lefty and righty relievers, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (via Twitter).
- Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt tells Scott Lauber of the News Journal that he expects Placido Polanco to make a smooth transition to third base.
- Marlon Byrd tells USA Today's Bob Nightengale that he's uncomfortable being compared to friend and former teammate Milton Bradley.
- Big market clubs sent $433MM to small market clubs last year, according to Maury Brown of the Biz of Baseball.
- The Red Sox don't generally use insurance on their long-term deals. Principal owner John Henry tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that "it isn't always easy to get paid," even once players are injured.
- Jose Julio Ruiz may be close to signing, but it won't be with the Nationals, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane, who has "a huge amount of confidence" in GM Ed Wade, would consider selling his team for $600MM or more, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle.
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