Nate Robertson Rumors
According to Lynn Henning of the Detroit News, the Tigers could trade a starting pitcher. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski listed off seven Tigers starters and said "trade possibilities come up" involving the team's pitching.
This doesn't mean Dombrowski seriously considered dealing pitching. The Tigers go to Spring Training with Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Armando Galarraga, Edwin Jackson, Nate Robertson, Dontrelle Willis and Zach Miner. They have more arms than rotation spots, but this is by no means a deep rotation.
According to Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald, the Tigers' talks for Julio Lugo have stalled and a deal is unlikely. It seemed simple on the surface: Lugo for Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson.
Also, the Red Sox plan to offer arbitration to Type A free agent Jason Varitek. McAdam says Tek "almost certainly won't accept the offer." In a recent poll, about 40% of MLBTR readers surveyed expected the Red Sox to offer arbitration to Varitek.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo has a new article up with a few Red Sox rumors, and one for Oakland:
- Cafardo thinks Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez will not change jerseys this offseason because, while their teams might struggle to afford them, they can't afford to lose them. Teixeira is the protection and future replacement for Vladimir Guerrero that they have been seeking for a long time. He doesn't rule out the Yankees however.
- Rocco Baldelli could be Coco Crisp's replacement as Boston's fourth outfielder. Cafardo says Baldelli met with the Red Sox last week.
- He continues to hit on the Julio Lugo for Dontrelle Willis or Nate Robertson deal, but now suggests Theo Epstein may also eat some of Lugo's salary and deal him elsewhere.
- The A's are looking closely at Rafael Furcal.
MONDAY: Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski is casting a wide net for his shortstop vacancy, but no deals are close.
SUNDAY: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports on a trade that seems too obvious to actually happen: the Tigers are "contemplating a deal with Boston to send either Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis for Julio Lugo, but some money issues must be resolved.
In the same article, he mentions Lugo had the lowest average with runners in scoring position in the majors, .139, and wishes him a happy 33rd birthday.
Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press had speculated on this in September.
Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press doles out the latest Tigers rumors.
- How will the Tigers resolve their catching situation? GM Dave Dombrowski calls an Ivan Rodriguez reunion a longshot, and Scott Boras is asking the moon for Jason Varitek. The Tigers may not have the goods to swing a trade for Gerald Laird. Morosi likes the idea of Henry Blanco, but says the Tigers have yet to contact his agent. Check out the other free agent options here.
- Morosi considers a bad contract swap for Julio Lugo a viable option for the Tigers. He notes that Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson have similar commitments. Lugo for Robertson does seem reasonable for both sides.
- Morosi believes the Tigers match up well with the Reds, who are looking for a power-hitting outfielder. Magglio Ordonez is the marquee name, but Morosi likes the fit with Marcus Thames.
A few notes on the Red Sox...
- Scott Boras met with Theo Epstein about Jason Varitek. Boras is still seeking a deal similar to the one signed by Jorge Posada (four years/$52.4MM).
- Epstein continues to look at other catchers including Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden. Cafardo also notes that the Red Sox could go after a veteran through the trade market like Bengie Molina.
- Other teams have expressed interest in both Coco Crisp and Julio Lugo, but noted that Lugo would not be part of a deal to the White Sox. Cafardo says the Tigers could be a good match for Lugo if the Red Sox take Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis noting they could even eat some of Lugo's remaining contract.
- The Red Sox are likely out of the market for CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.
Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald adds to the Lugo and Crisp rumors.
One executive at the general managers meetings talked to the Sox recently estimated that “five or six” teams have shown a willingness to discuss a deal for Crisp...The line being formed to bid for shortstop Julio Lugo, on the other hand, is not nearly as long - though it isn’t nonexistent.
McAdam lists several teams that could be interested in Crisp, including the White Sox, A's, Braves and Padres. However, McAdam notes that the Cubs are not interested. He also lists some clubs that could have a need for a player like Lugo, including the Cardinals, Twins, Indians, Tigers, O's and Giants. McAdam sees the White Sox as the best fit, but notes that they will seek more than Lugo in return for Javier Vazquez or Nick Swisher.
"I never really understood why there aren't more "swap meet" type deals in baseball. As in, 'You take what I can't use and I'll take what you can't use.'"
It's a valid question if you believe a change of scenery can help a player and yet these deals rarely happen. Cafardo then goes on to list all of the players he considers "overpriced, underperforming, too old, or not useful to their present teams." Here's the list:
Table 1, starting pitchers: Barry Zito (Giants); Dontrelle Willis and Nate Robertson (Tigers); Adam Eaton (Phillies); Carlos Silva, Miguel Batista, and Jarrod Washburn (Mariners); Daniel Cabrera (Orioles); Jeff Suppan (Brewers); Ian Kennedy and Kei Igawa (Yankees); Scott Olsen (Marlins).
Table 2, relief pitchers: Mike MacDougal (White Sox); Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoenweis (Mets); Jason Frasor (Blue Jays); Luis Vizcaino (Rockies); Kevin Gregg (Marlins); Justin Speier (Angels); Brandon Backe (Astros).
Table 3, infielders: Julio Lugo (Red Sox); Jack Wilson and Freddie Sanchez (Pirates); Scott Rolen (Blue Jays); Miguel Tejada (Astros); Melvin Mora (Orioles); Rickie Weeks and Bill Hall (Brewers); Mark Teahen and Ross Gload (Royals); Nick Johnson and Dmitri Young (Nationals); Luis Castillo (Mets).
Table 4, catchers: Yorvit Torrealba (Rockies); Ramon Hernandez (Orioles); Bengie Molina (Giants); Kenji Johjima (Mariners).
Table 5, outfielders: David Dellucci (Indians); Eric Byrnes (Diamondbacks); Nick Swisher (White Sox); Dave Roberts and Randy Winn (Giants); Kosuke Fukudome and Alfonso Soriano (Cubs); Gary Sheffield (Tigers); Gary Matthews Jr. (Angels); Austin Kearns and Wily Mo Pena (Nationals); Jeremy Hermida and Josh Willingham (Marlins); Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, and Melky Cabrera (Yankees); Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones (Dodgers); Willy Taveras (Rockies); Jeff Francoeur (Braves).
Cafardo says the reason we don't see more of these "swaps" is that GMs fear ridicule if these deals don't pan out for them and that matching salaries can be tricky.
He cites a few examples: Julio Lugo for Nate Robertson or Dontrelle Willis as being a possible - this has been discussed here before as a longshot idea. Or what about Kosuke Fukudome for Gary Matthews?
See anything better?
How about some weekend odds and ends?
- Free agent reliever Russ Springer intends to pitch next year, and he prefers the Cardinals. The Cards haven't discussed a contract with him, though, and they might prefer their younger (and cheaper) righthanded relievers.
- Dave Cameron thinks Nate Robertson might be a sleeper, based on his peripheral stats. Boof Bonser is another pitcher whose ERA didn't match up with his other numbers this year.
- Peter Woodfork apparently bowed out of the Mariners GM job competition after his interview. The Ms could decide between Tony LaCava, Jerry DiPoto, Kim Ng, and Jack Zduriencik by Tuesday.
- Scott Boras won a $550K decision against former client Gary Sheffield. Will Sheff make good on his February promise to say "ugly things" about Boras now?
- Phil Rogers speculates on Manny Ramirez in a Cubs uniform, but admits they'd have to somehow move Alfonso Soriano first. Small obstacle: $106MM owed to Soriano over the next six years, plus his full no-trade clause.
- Yahoo's Tim Brown says Barry Bonds could be awarded $100MM or more if the players union wins its collusion case. Bonds would like to play in 2009, but no one expects it.
The Tigers 2009 season is going to be reliant on some bounce back candidates to do just that.
According to Jon Paul Morosi, the Tigers will need to guess which of Justin Verlander, Jeremy Bonderman, Dontrelle Willis, and Nate Robertson will bounce back. And aside from Verlander, they will more than likely want to deal one of them to scale back an already unsustainable projected team salary of $130MM.
Some speculation by Morosi: The Tigers need a shortstop and could swap Dontrelle Willis for Boston's Julio Lugo. Both guys are signed through 2010, Willis making $22MM and Lugo making $18MM. The Red Sox have shown a willingness to take on reclamation projects in pitchers like Wade Miller and Bartolo Colon, so why not Dontrelle when they have a more favorable (and fan-friendly) option at shortstop in Jed Lowrie? The Tigers could also use the spare $4MM and the Red Sox could afford the risk. Morosi quotes Jim Duquette:
"That can be an effective way to swap players who've had below-average years," Duquette said, when asked about that approach. "Lugo would not be a bad player in that situation, as long as you're not taking on any more money. It would be a break-even proposition. "You take the position player and hope that Lugo has more of a bounce-back year."
Another week in the books, and we keep seeing big names moved after the July 31 non-waiver deadline. Let's look back on the past week:
- The Dodgers acquired Greg Maddux from the Padres for two minor league players to be named later. Nice acquisition to bolster their rotation, and does anyone want to place bets on how excited 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw is to get tips from Maddux every day for the rest of the season?
- The Pirates are exploring the idea of trading Jack Wilson this offseason more and more. Given the slim free agent market for shortstops, he would likely gather a lot of interest.
- Nate Robertson's struggles this season have lost him his spot in the rotation, but have they also lost him a spot with the Tigers after 2008?
- Orlando Hernandez needs surgery on his foot, and that could likely mean that El Duque's career would be over.
- Lots of speculation lately about where Ben Sheets is going to land after 2008. And while there's no way to tell right now, Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman have stepped up and said they would like the Astros front office to go out and sign him in the offseason.
- A lot of minor-league deals signed this week: Kip Wells signed with Kansas City, the Mets added Al Reyes, the Astros signed Jose Castillo, the Red Sox signed Dave Ross, and the Braves took a flyer on Rodrigo Lopez following his Tommy John surgery last year. The Jays made a trade to acquire Jose Bautista for a PTBNL as well.
- The Rangers would like Milton Bradley back in 2009, and the feeling is mutual, though negotiations will wait until after the season. Similarly, Frank Thomas would prefer to stay with the A's in 2009.
- Eric Gagne, David Riske, and David Weathers all cleared waivers this week. The first two make sense to me, but given Weathers' success this year, his affordable contract for the rest of the season, and all of the teams desperately seeking bullpen help, it seems strange that no one would place a claim on him. Here's an updated list of all the players who have been confirmed to have cleared waivers this year.