Nick Johnson Rumors

Odds & Ends: Prospects, Livan, Cardinals, Damon

Some links for Wednesday night…

  • MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo released his list of the top 50 prospects in the game. Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg rank one-two.
  • Livan Hernandez sent a contract proposal to Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo back in December, but he never received a response according to a tweet from MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
  • MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that Cardinals' GM John Mozeliak confirmed that any pickups from here on out would be on the offensive side of the roster.
  • Scott Boras said that "The Yankees never even made an offer to me regarding Johnny Damon during the entire process," according to a tweet from Tyler Kepner of The New York Times. In a second tweet, Kepner says Boras indicated that the two-year, $14MM offer the team reportedly made was conditional on whether or not Nick Johnson would sign. 
  • ESPN's Jorge Arangure reports that 17-year-old righty Rafael DePaula is back on the market after being suspended for a year by MLB after lying about his age. His agent hopes to have him signed within the next 15-20 days, and Arangure mentions that both the Yankees and Red Sox are interested.
  • Pirate relievers Anthony Claggett and Steven Jackson both cleared waivers according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, and have been outrighted to Triple-A Indianapolis. Claggett was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Octavio Dotel, Jackson for Ryan Church.  
  • Astros' GM Ed Wade said that signing Wandy Rodriguez to a long-term deal would become a "front-burner discussion for us" if he repeats his 2009 success in 2010, reports MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. Wandy had a 3.02 ERA with an 8.4 K/9 in 205.2 innings last season.
  • Craig Calcaterra of NBCSports.com says that the Braves have discussed Johnny Damon recently, but came up with three reasons why he wasn't a fit.
  • David Murphy of The Philadelphia Daily News lays out the Phillies' payroll commitments for the next four years. As of right now, the team stands to shed almost $70MM off the books following the 2011 season.

Odds & Ends: Epstein, Cards, Contracts, Greene

Links for a snowy Thursday…


Discussion: Johnny Damon and Jason Bay

While its difficult to criticize negotations from the outside, two major free agents appear to have negotiated their way out of ideal situations this year.

In 2009, Johnny Damon closed out his four-year, $52MM contract in style, hitting .282/.365/.489 with 24 HRs.  This offseason it was clear that Damon wanted to re-up with the Yankees, but of course, at the right price.  Early in the offseason, reports suggested that Boras was seeking a three-year contract at roughly the same rate ($13MM/year) as his last deal. 

After the Bombers signed Nick Johnson to take his place, word got out that Damon would have settled for $20MM over two years.  While the Yanks' proposal of $14MM still wasn't quite close enough, it is possible that the two sides could have reached an accord.  The Giants could be a suitor, as they were in on the Johnson chase, but it's doubtful that they would want to put him in the outfield.

Meanwhile, after rejecting a four-year, $60MM offer from Boston in July, Jason Bay appears to be having some trouble finding a new home. 

The signing of Mike Cameron likely means that the Red Sox will be moving on, leaving the Mets as the top suitor.  While some suggest that Omar Minaya & Co. will be willing to fork over the five-year pact that agent Joe Urbon has been asking for, it has been said that he does not want to play in Queens.

Regardless of what kind of contract each player fetches, it is difficult to imagine either player getting the money they wanted from their respective teams.



Odds & Ends: Johnson, Kouzmanoff, Berkman

Here's a stocking stuffed with news items on this Christmas Eve…

  • Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues breaks down the details of Nick Johnson's contract with the Yankees.  If Johnson reaches all of his incentives and his mutual option for 2011 is picked up, he can make a total of $14.5MM over his two-year deal.
  • MLB.com's Corey Brock says the Kevin Kouzmanoff trade talks that were swirling at the winter meetings have "cooled," and he thinks Kouzmanoff will remain a Padre unless San Diego receives an overwhelmingly good offer.  Perhaps the Padres want to keep Kouzmanoff to anchor their lineup in case they happen to deal away Adrian Gonzalez
  • In a discussion of Lance Berkman's future plans, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com says that "the older [Berkman] gets, I think the less likely he is to play elsewhere."  The Astros star is under contract next season and the team has a $15MM option on Berkman for the 2011 season that it will surely pick up if Berkman matches his 2009 line of .274/.399/.509.  McTaggart notes that the Astros have been hesitant to rebuild since they still feel they can contend with quality veterans like Berkman and Roy Oswalt in their relative primes.  As we learned last September, however, Berkman might rather retire after 2011 than be a burden on the organization.
  • From that same piece, McTaggart says Houston's acquistions of Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz last winter have made the team leery of signing another injury-prone starter like Ben Sheets, especially since Sheets would come at a much higher price.
  • Top Reds prospect Todd Frazier seems to be capable of playing anywhere on the field, but doesn't appear to be Cincinnati's answer at shortstop, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
  • What team made the best trades in the 20th century?  According to one author, it was the Cleveland Indians.
  • Speaking of Cleveland, Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com says the Tribe will put Rafael Perez back in the bullpen next season in spite of the left-hander's excellent starting outings in winter ball.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Matsui, Mariners, Callapso

On Christmas Day way back in 2001, Hideki Matsui became the highest paid player in Japanese baseball history, agreeing to a one-year contract worth $4.7MM with the Yomiuri Giants. In his seven-year (and counting) Major League Baseball career, Matsui has never earned less than $6MM annually.

Let's see what's being written around the blogosphere…

  • River Ave. Blues takes a look at the economic impact of Matsui leaving the World Champs for the Angels.
  • U.S.S. Mariner runs down some potential first base options for the Mariners, covering players available through trades, free agency, and those already in-house.
  • It's About The Money, Stupid! compares Nick Johnson and Curtis Granderson to the two guys they're replacing, Johnny Damon and Matsui.
  • South Side Sox provides some thoughts on Kenny Williams' busy offseason.
  • Royals Authority says Kansas City needs an outfielder, and proposes a few deals centered around Alberto Callaspo.
  • Viva El Birdos has some concerns about signing Matt Holliday to a long-term contract.

If you have a suggestion for this feature, Mike can be reached here.


Odds & Ends: Delgado, Johnson, Igawa

Some links as Hanley Ramirez celebrates his 26th birthday…

  • The Mets may have reduced interest in Carlos Delgado, according to Marty Noble of MLB.com. The slugger won't start playing baseball in Puerto Rico until mid-January; no reason was given for the delay.
  • The Yankees have about $4MM to spend on a left fielder, according to the New York Daily News.
  • Nick Johnson's deal with the Yankees is official, according to MLB.com's Brian Hoch.
  • David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution points out (via Twitter) that Troy Glaus will be the Braves' 11th opening day first baseman in 12 seasons if he signs in Atlanta, as expected.
  • Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News says (via Twitter) that the Cubs were willing to take on Kei Igawa's salary (two years, $8MM) before the Yanks acquired Javier Vazquez.
  • Brandon Morrow tells Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that he hopes to start in Toronto.
  • Dustin Parkes of Drunk Jays Fans says there's no point thinking of Roy Hallladay as a saint, even if he did buy ad space in the Toronto Sun.
  • An unnamed source tells Bill Shaikin of the LA Times that the Dodgers broke even last year. Check out Shaikin's interview with team president Dennis Mannion.
  • The Phillies have been in touch with former Nats reliever Mike MacDougal, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. MacDougal's agent says "a good number" of teams are interested, which is what we heard earlier in the week.

Yankees Rumors: DeRosa, Damon, Matsui

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News hears that Scott Boras and Johnny Damon talked with the Yankees yesterday and would have considered a two-year deal.  The New York Times' Tyler Kepner says he would've taken $20MM, while Newsday's Ken Davidoff says the Yanks' best offer was $14MM (both links via Twitter).  Now it appears that Damon's tenure with the Bombers is over. Damon will have other suitors, but leaving the Yankees behind won't be easy.

"I know there are some teams interested," Damon told Feinsand. "But the Yankees are the best organization I've been a part of so far in my career."

One source suggests to Feinsand that Damon could land in San Francisco. Nick Johnson was a rumored Giants target until it became apparent that the Yanks were nearing a deal with him. Johnson will make less than Matsui next year, but Feinsand says the Yanks' decision to let Matsui walk has more to do with the DH's knees than his salary demands.

The Yankees' next moves?  Starting pitching and a look at Mark DeRosa, according to ESPN's Buster Olney and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.  For now, the Yankees are unwilling to meet DeRosa's $18-21MM asking price over three years (understandably).  Rosenthal says the Giants, Cardinals, and possibly Braves are other suitors.


Yankees Near Deal With Nick Johnson

FRIDAY, 1:14pm: ESPN.com's Buster Olney says Johnson will make $5.5MM next year, plus incentives based on plate appearances. The deal includes a mutual option for 2011 worth $5.5MM.

THURSDAY, 6:13pm: The deal is now near completion, says Davidoff. Pending a physical, Johnson will agree to a one-year deal with the Yankees worth about $5.5MM.

5:14pm: Newsday's Ken Davidoff agrees that the Yankees and Johnson are engaged in "serious discussions," but notes that Johnson has yet to take a physical.

4:24pm: King now says the Yankees are "moving toward" a one-year deal with Johnson, which could be announced tomorrow.

3:17pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the Giants increased their offer to Johnson to the $5.5-6MM range.  Johnson earned $5.5MM this year to finish a Jim Bowden-authored contract signed in March of '06.  The Mariners remain in the mix as well.

9:00am: We've known of the Yankees' interest in Nick Johnson since at least December 7th, when ESPN's Jayson Stark put them among seven teams to inquire.  Today, George King of the New York Post has a little more detail on the Yankees' interest.

King says the sides are discussing a one-year deal, which is important to note since Johnson was said to be seeking two years.  Said Johnson's agent Rex Gary of the talks:

"We have had dialogue, things are moving forward.  Something could happen to speed things up, but it’s hard to predict."

Given Mark Teixeira's presence, Johnson would spend most of his time at DH.  King suggests a Johnson signing might eliminate the chances of Johnny Damon returning.  Johnson would be coming home if he signed with the Yankees – he was drafted by them in '96 but traded to the Expos in '03 with Randy Choate and Juan Rivera for Javier Vazquez.  Interestingly, all four players involved in that six-year-old deal were productive in 2009.

Johnson, whose .426 OBP this year leads all free agents, is also known to have interest from at least the Mariners, Giants, and Red Sox.


Orioles Seeking Closer, Corner Infielders

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun dishes the latest Orioles hot stove news…

  • The Orioles contacted the agents for a few of Saturday's non-tendered players, including reliever Matt Capps.  Capps' agent has mentioned his client's desire to close as a major factor, and the Orioles could accomodate.  However, Connolly names Fernando Rodney as Baltimore's top target at closer.  Mike Gonzalez, Jose Valverde, and Kevin Gregg are also of interest, though Gonzalez and Valverde are dinged for the draft pick cost.
  • The Orioles need help at the infield corners, and they've contacted the agents for a long list of free agents: Carlos Delgado, Hank Blalock, Joe Crede, Nick Johnson, Ryan Garko, Garrett Atkins, and Mike Jacobs.  I think they'd be best-served by adding Delgado and Crede.  Your thoughts?
  • Connolly indicates that about 25, rather than 15, teams were on hand to watch Aroldis Chapman yesterday.  So the list of teams not monitoring Chapman is shorter.  The Orioles remain involved.

Odds & Ends: Wang, Yankees, White Sox

Some Sunday links…

  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) says that three AL teams and three NL teams have shown interest in Chien-Ming Wang.  However, the Dodgers are not one of those teams "yet."  Rosenthal notes that Wang is a favorite of Joe Torre and his staff.
  • In his running blog, Rosenthal says that Kevin Youkilis' versatility gives the Red Sox a number of options this winter.  Boston could sign Adrian Beltre to play third or, for a much lower price, Nick Johnson to play first.
  • Regardless of where Wang signs, we can safely assume that it will not be for a split contract.  The Yankees made the 29-year-old a minor-league offer that would become a major-league deal once his shoulder was healthy.  Wang's agent demanded guaranteed money, according to Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.
  • Earlier today, Buster Olney mentioned the Yanks as a possible destination for free agent outfielder Brian GilesMarc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger hears that the club is just doing its "due diligence" by checking in on the soon-to-be 39-year-old.
  • The White Sox have signed Freddie Bynum and T.J. Bohn to minor league deals, according to the FutureSox twitter page.
  • Kevin Correia's agent Barry Axelrod told Dan Hayes of the North County Times that the Brewers and Rays both showed interested in trading for his client.  While GM Jed Hoyer gave him no guarantees that the one-year deal won't be a sign-and-trade, Axelrod is confident that the 29-year-old will pitch for San Diego in 2010.
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke to Mike Rivera, who was non-tendered by the Brewers yesterday.  Rivera says he was caught off guard by the decision but was told by GM Doug Melvin that the organization might reach out to him again at some point.