Mike Hampton Rumors
Richard Justice of The Houston Chronicle writes that the Astros are "unlikely to be significant players in free agency this winter." The team is trying to lower payroll and get younger, something signing free agents generally won't accomplish. Justice does say that the club would like to retain relievers LaTroy Hawkins and Jose Valverde, both of whom will be free agents after this year.
Houston started the season with close to a $103MM payroll according to Cot's, but they could shed $17.75MM by letting Miguel Tejada, Mike Hampton, and Darin Erstad walk as free agents. However, a significant chunk of those savings will probably end up being redistributed to Wandy Rodriguez and Hunter Pence, both of whom should receive big raises in arbitration (Pence will likely qualify as a Super Two).
In their effort to incorporate more youth into their lineup, Justice says we could see third baseman Chris Johnson, shortstop Tommy Manzella, second baseman Edwin Maysonet, and catcher Jason Castro in the Opening Day lineup next year. The team will also probably ask reliever Wesley Wright to come to camp next year prepared to compete for a rotation spot.
Some links to start the week off...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues that the Yankees were smart to spend on elite free agents last offseason. Mark Teixeira and C.C. Sabathia have contributed to the Yankees' dominance this year.
- Johnny Damon repeated to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that he wants to return to the Yankees next season.
- The Toronto Sun notes that Mike Hampton won't pitch again this year.
- Billy Wagner didn't expect his Red Sox debut to go as smoothly as it did, according to Julian Benbow of the Boston Globe.
- As Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes, Paul Byrd earns incentives for every start he makes with the Red Sox.
- Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News says Barry Zito and Edgar Renteria, whose contracts have often been criticized, have helped keep the Giants in the race.
More links for the morning...
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports hears that Reds will pay Scott Rolen $11MM next year without help from the Blue Jays.
- Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star wonders if the Royals should lock Billy Butler up long-term. The 23-year-old has hit well this year, but he doesn't figure to be a free agent until after 2013, so the team has time to deliberate.
- Bill Rankin of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Braves reached an agreement with an insurance company for an undisclosed settlement. The Braves sought compensation after paying an injured Mike Hampton last year.
- Tom Verducci of SI.com says the Yankees are the best team in the AL right now.
Links for Tuesday...
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post heard that Eric Hinske cleared waivers two weeks ago.This means the Mets, Yankees or any other team could have had him for the $800k remaining on his salary.
- Sherman believes the Pirates won the other trade they made today, acquiring Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan from the Nats.
- Tom Verducci of SI.com names his All-Star team and it's heavy on youth.
- Astros first rounder Jiovanni Mier told MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo that the pace of the game is noticeably faster in the pros.
- Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle says Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz are making Ed Wade look smart.
- Just one month to go until the trade deadline, so be sure to follow MLBTR on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
Richard Justice at the Houston Chronicle thinks Ed Wade's one-year gamble on Mike Hampton might come to an end soon. Hampton was "the guy they could afford, not the guy they really wanted," Justice says. The guy they wanted was Randy Wolf, who's sporting a nifty 3.02 ERA and 50/19 K/BB ratio for the Dodgers. After an ugly start today Hampton sits at a 5.62 ERA for the season and 7.04 in his last six.
Should a shakeup be in order, the 'Stros have their eye on Triple-A farmhand Bud Norris, who's pitching well for Round Rock. But as we noted here last week, Paul Byrd, Odalis Perez and Pedro Martinez are still waiting for a phone call--could they be a good fit? Or could Wade swing a deal?
And greetings folks, I'm one of the new guys in class. Feel free to throw spitballs if need be.
A few notes popping up:
- The Houston Astros will have tryouts for the starting rotation at Spring Training. Felipe Paulino and Fernando Nieve are both young arms that will be considered, Alyson Footer of MLB.com reports. The Astros are tentatively counting on Roy Oswalt, Mike Hampton, Brandon Backe, Wandy Rodriguez and Brian Moehler to fill out their rotation.
- The New York Mets have finalized deals with utilityman Rob Mackowiak, right-handed pitcher Kyle Snyder and left-hander Jon Switzer to minor-league deals. The three will be competing for 25-man roster spots at Spring Training, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports.
Today is free agent Orlando Hudson's 31st birthday and the 29th birthday of Garrett Atkins, the subject of many recent trade rumors.
Also, on this date 10 years ago, Kevin Brown became the first player to sign a contract worth at least $100MM, when he signed a seven-year/$105MM contract with the Dodgers. The deal came when Brown was 34, one season after going 18-7 with a 2.38 ERA. Brown's first two seasons with the Dodgers (18-9, 3.00 and 13-6, 2.58) were solid, but he would only make 29 starts in years three and four combined. Since then, two pitchers have signed deals for at least six years. Mike Hampton and Barry Zito. That doesn't bode well for C.C. Sabathia, but it's a small sample size...With the winter meetings now wrapped up, let's take a look at what is being said in the Blogosphere...
- Take 75 North feels the Tigers are going to regret acquiring Edwin Jackson and lament the loss of Matt Joyce.
- The Detroit Tigers Weblog does not get the Edwin Jackson/Matt Joyce deal noting that at least Joyce has shown signs of being a very good player.
- When Sid Slid weighs the merits of acquiring Jake Peavy or A.J. Burnett and sees Burnett as the better option.
- Infield Chatter warns the Red Sox about signing Mark Teixeira, feeling Theo Epstein should be more concerned with acquiring a pitcher and noting the Red Sox have Lars Anderson waiting in the minors.
- Pirate Revolution feels the Pirates need to move Adam LaRoche, Freddy Sanchez, Jack Wilson and John Grabow to unblock the paths of younger players.
- DraftInfo has a Q&A with Max Stassi, a high school catcher that is projected to be selected in the first round.
- Fire Brand of the American League takes a look at the impact C.C. Sabathia will have on the AL East.
Links for Wednesday...
- Common misconception Joe and I keep running into: signing one of the 15 Type A free agents who were offered arbitration will only cost the signing team one draft pick. The player's old team also gets a second pick, but it doesn't come from the new team. It's just squeezed into the supplemental round. Check out a deeper explanation here.
- Nuggets from a Frank Coonelly chat: he expects the Pirates to make room on the 40-man roster for a potential Rule 5 addition, and they'd still like to re-sign Doug Mientkiewicz.
- Pirates pitcher Jason Davis looks like a non-tender candidate.
- Twins manager Ron Gardenhire doesn't have Delmon Young in his preferred starting outfield.
- The Cubs signed pitcher Chad Fox to a minor league deal.
- Ken Griffey Jr.'s agent Brian Goldberg says he's fine with DHing but is capable of playing the field. Goldberg thinks Junior can bounce back and have a 30 home run season.
- Click here to listen to free agent reliever Russ Springer talk to The ITD Morning After radio show on 1380 AM. He's gotten calls from teams in both leagues, including "World Series participants." Springer is known to be on the Phillies' radar.
- Recently I talked to Sarah Small of the Daily Illini.
- SI.com's Tom Verducci looks at the supposed shortstop revolution that seems to have petered out.
- Dave Cameron respects the Astros' signing of Mike Hampton.
- Tony Jackson says the Dodgers offered a minor league deal to Juan Castro.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore did a Q&A with fans at MLB.com. His priority is adding right-handed relief help after trading Leo Nunez and Ramon Ramirez. Also, he says Mark Teahen is "more important to our team today then he was in all of 2008 -- and he was very important to our team in '08."
- McCovey Chronicles is skeptical of all the teams blaming the economy.
- Drunk Jays Fans predicts Kevin Mench's Japan experience.
- Jesse Spector looks at comparable pitchers for C.C. Sabathia.
- Trevor Hoffman may meet with the Mets soon. Also, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon spoke of "addition by subtraction" yesterday.
- East Windup Chronicle disputes a Richard Griffin column.
- The Phillies are still willing to sign Type A free agents who were offered arbitration, such as Raul Ibanez or Juan Cruz.
- Evan Grant's latest Rangers mailbag, always a good read.
- Joe Sheehan discusses various poor arbitration decisions by teams.
- Minor league deals for the Mets: Nelson Figueroa, Adam Bostick, and Rene Rivera. Marty Noble adds Andy Green.
- Rany Jazayerli figures Mark Grudzielanek agreed in advance to reject the Royals' offer of arbitration.
- As usual, ESPN will be all over the Winter Meetings. I'm told they'll be doing daily Baseball Tonight specials and will have a team of seven on the scene in Vegas.
- ESPN's Peter Gammons says the free agent and trade markets are flooded with corner/DH type bats. There will be bargains.
- Bruce Miles thinks Milton Bradley would be a nice match for the Cubs. The biggest issue would be his ability to play right field every day.
WEDNESDAY: The Astros are having a press conference for Hampton in about 25 minutes, implying that he passed his physical.
TUESDAY: Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Hampton turned down a slightly higher offer from the Braves to be closer to his children, who are in Arizona.
MONDAY, 3:31pm: Ken Rosenthal says it's a one-year, $2MM deal with another $2MM in appearance-based incentives. Hard to find fault in that.
2:44pm: According to FOX 26 Sports in Houston, the Astros signed pitcher Mike Hampton today. He needs to complete a physical to make it official. Hampton pitched for the Astros from 1994-99 before he was traded to the Mets.
Hampton sought a one-year deal with no option, so I imagine that's what the Astros offered.
Links for Tuesday...
- Big League Stew names Scott Boras' ten most notorious deals. Darren Dreifort also probably belongs on the list. Any others?
- Roch Kubatko of MASN Online debunks a rumor about the Orioles offering Brian Roberts a three-year contract with a soft deadline.
- ESPN's Keith Law likes the Astros' signing of Mike Hampton.
- The Brewers signed first baseman Scott Thorman to a minor league deal. He hit .251/.283/.465 at Triple A this year. Also, Salomon Torres officially retired.
- C.C. Sabathia attended a Golden State Warriors game last night, for what it's worth.
- Dodgers GM Ned Colletti paid lip service to the idea of re-signing Rafael Furcal.
- Joel Sherman says Andy Pettitte is a phony if he signs with a team other than the Yankees. He says the Yanks made a $10MM offer. Craig Calcaterra weighs in on Sherman's column at Shysterball.
- I did a Q&A with Mets Fans Forever.
- Blue Jays owner Ted Rogers passed away.