Omar Vizquel Rumors
The Blue Jays have signed 44-year-old infielder Omar Vizquel to a minor league contract that contains an invitation to the Major League Spring Training camp, the team announced. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link) had the scoop first, hearing the news from Adam Katz, Vizquel's agent. The infielder would earn $750K if he makes the Blue Jays, Mike Wilner of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 tweets.
An 11-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop, Vizquel has played mostly second and third base over the last few seasons and provides the Jays with depth at both positions behind starters Brett Lawrie and Kelly Johnson. The Blue Jays are Vizquel's sixth different club over his long career, which would reach 24 seasons if he plays in 2012. Vizquel still has an outside chance at the 3000-hit club (he has 2841 career hits) if he can keep playing through 2013, judging by his recent offensive output.
Some links as Monday turns into Tuesday...
- Joe Strauss of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says (on Twitter) Tony La Russa is seriously weighing his career options and hopes to have an answer soon, perhaps before Spring Training. It's been speculated that La Russa could join a team in a front office role after retiring from managing.
- The Angels have talked to Francisco Cordero's representatives recently according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. He says it's hard to gauge where the team is in the race for the right-hander given all the money they've already spent this offseason, among other things.
- The Yankees maintain interest in re-signing reliever Luis Ayala according to MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith (on Twitter). Ayala posted a 2.09 ERA with a 50% ground ball rate in 56 IP for New York last season. Last month we learned that six teams were pursuing the righty.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter) that the Rangers didn't offer Darren Oliver anything close to the $4.5MM he got from the Blue Jays. He says they remain in the market for left-handed bullpen help, and Mike Gonzalez still fits.
- Omar Vizquel hinted at retirement on his Twitter account today, saying "[if] there is no contract [offer] there will be no other option but to start a new career, [as a] coach," according to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes (link in Spanish).
- Troy Renck of The Denver Post reports that Casey Blake will have to come to the plate 550 times this season to max out the $1MM in incentives in his contract with the Rockies. He'll earn the first $350K in bonuses at 350 plate appearances.
- Within the same piece, Renck says that Aaron Cook's minor league deal with the Red Sox will pay him $20K per month in the minors. He can make an additional $2MM by making 30 starts in the big leagues, and the escalators kick in at 15 starts. Cook can request his release if he's not on the 25-man roster on May 1st and again on June 1st.
It’s been a quiet day from a transactions standpoint, but we’ve got some late night links to pass along as Tuesday turns into Wednesday...
- The Rockies have some interest in free agent infielder Ryan Theriot, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (Twitter links). The Rockies are considering many options at second base and there’s no indication that the team is seriously pursuing Theriot at the moment, but it’s the first time he’s been linked to Colorado since the Cardinals non-tendered him earlier this month.
- It’s “very likely” that the Rockies will trade Seth Smith before Opening Day, Renck writes.
- Athletics managing partner Lew Wolff told Jane Lee and Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that the club isn't any closer to moving to San Jose to his knowledge. "We're still looking for a 'yes' or 'no' answer," he said. USA Today recently reported that the A’s may soon obtain permission to move.
- Free agent infielder Omar Vizquel suggested on Twitter that he wouldn't consider signing with the Mets. The 44-year-old has indicated that he would be interested in signing with the Giants.
- Billionaire Steven Cohen is bidding for the Dodgers, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times. Agent Arn Tellem and former deputy commissioner Steve Greenberg are allies with Cohen, who has already met with some MLB owners, according to Shaikin.
Happy birthday to Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who turns 33 on December 17. Utley is looking to rebound from his most disappointing full season in the majors, as he posted just a .769 OPS and didn't play until May 23 due to an unusual knee injury.
Some news from around baseball as we head into the weekend...
- Carlos Beltran has at least one offer worth $10MM per year on the table, tweets Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com. With the Rockies out of the picture after signing Michael Cuddyer, Beltran's known market includes the Blue Jays, Cardinals and two mystery teams.
- Responding to fans on his Twitter feed, Omar Vizquel says he plans to play in 2012, isn't returning to the White Sox and would "go now" if the Giants offered him a one-year deal (all links are via Twitter).
- Pirates players and officials took part in a Q&A period at today's Piratefest fan event and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was there to tweet some pertinent hot stove information. Manager Clint Hurdle said the team is still interested in re-signing Derrek Lee and team president Frank Coonelly said the Pirates were prepared for the cap on draft signings in the new collective bargaining agreement.
- Reggie Willits intends to play in 2012 and has discussed opporunities with MLB teams, tweets MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
- GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates want to keep Andrew McCutchen "as long as we can (but) we've got to be smart about it" (via Biertempfel's Twitter account). McCutchen's name was floated in trade rumors earlier this winter but they were quickly shot down by Bucs management.
- The Tigers should keep pursuing Gio Gonzalez, writes John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press, even though he doesn't think the Tigers would deal the Athletics' asking price of prospects (Jacob Turner, Drew Smyly and Nick Castellanos) "for any one player."
- The Rule 5 draft is losing relevance and could soon be abandoned "in history's dustbin," writes Baseball America's John Manuel.
- The Astros, Athletics, Cubs, Padres and White Sox are "the five most intriguing sellers" in baseball according to FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, who lists each club's biggest trade chips and what teams could fit as trade partners.
The Venezuelan Winter League's annual home run derby took place last night at City University (Ciudad Universidad) in Caracas, with longtime Mariners minor leaguer Luis Jimenez besting a host of MLB talent including Pablo Sandoval, Carlos Gonzalez, Andruw Jones, Bobby Abreu, Miguel Montero, and Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano, a surprise entry, made a decent showing, hitting his first offering out to left field and ultimately tying Gonzalez with two bambinazos, according to Oscar Alonso Delgado at Correo del Carroní. He also had the quote of the night. Links are in Spanish...
- Talking to reporters at the derby, Zambrano outlined his re-commitment to the Cubs following a disastrous 2011 season. "I'm preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape," he said, as relayed by Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes. "I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I'm not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors."
- Alas, Ozzie Guillen didn't participate in the derby, but he did speak to the press, contesting recent reports that Hanley Ramirez has resisted moving to third base. "It never came from Hanley that he was upset. That was from the press," Guillen said, according to Manuel Lira at Líder. "He's calm. I've talked with him through Miguel Cabrera. He knew before the signing what the Marlins were going to do, and afteward, he talked with the front office for 20 minutes and didn't express any unhappiness. I want Hanley to be happy, and I'll talk with him when things quiet down."
- Guillen also shared the mic briefly with Omar Vizquel, who complained to the Venezuelan press earlier this offseason that that the White Sox treated him like he was "in intensive care" last season. Guillen joked, "They booted me [from Chicago] because of Vizquel," but apparently feelings aren't too raw, because in a separate piece in Líder by Joiner Martinez, the new Marlins manager added, "Omar Vizquel is a possibility for our team... We don't know which players we're going to sign, but Vizquel could play two or three more years in the big leagues." Guillen clarified, however, that Zambrano isn't in his plans at the moment.
Here's the latest from the NL East, including several aftershocks from the Albert Pujols signing...
- After missing out on Pujols, it has been speculated that the Marlins could turn their attention to Prince Fielder. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported yesterday that Miami wasn't interested, and today adds that the Marlins' club policy against no-trade clauses would probably keep them out of the running for Fielder anyway. The Marlins' insistence on avoiding no-trade clauses was a "big reason they lost" Pujols. (All links are to Rosenthal's Twitter account.)
- It seemed as if the Phillies could have been the last suitor left for Jimmy Rollins after the Brewers signed Alex Gonzalez, but with Pujols gone, the Cardinals have money to spend on a Rollins contract, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Gelb's Inquirer colleague Bob Brookover wonders if a Rollins/Cardinals match could be impacted by the fact that Rollins' agent Dan Lozano also represents Pujols.
- When asked if he would sign with the Phillies, Omar Vizquel told Manuel Lira of the Venezuelan newspaper Lider en Deportes (passed on by ESPN's Enrique Rojas) that "We're working on it." Vizquel turns 45 in April and would be playing his 24th Major League season in 2012. Vizquel played under Charlie Manuel when Manuel managed the Indians from 2000-02.
- David Wright may be the only "untouchable" on the Mets roster, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post. The Mets seem willing to listen to offers on everyone, though young, controllable players such as Ike Davis would naturally require a high price.
- What the Mets are paying new bullpen acquistions Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez isn't out of line with other reliever contracts this winter, notes Andy McCullough of the Star-Ledger.
- Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider thinks the Nationals should look at Pujols leaving the Cardinals as incentive to re-sign Ryan Zimmerman to an extension. Zimmerman is under contract in Washington through 2013 and Zuckerman says the club's desire to save money for a Zimmerman extension is a reason the Nats haven't pushed for Fielder this offseason.
Links for Sunday..
- Mets lefties Pat Misch and Mike O'Connor declared minor league free agency, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. O'Connor posted an ugly 5.22 ERA but strong 9.8 K/9 in 60 1/3 innings at Triple-A, while Misch posted a 4.00 ERA, 6.0 K/9, and 2.6 BB/9 in 141 2/3 innings.
- The Rockies will look to bolster their rotation this winter, writes Jim Armstrong of The Denver Post. General Manager Dan O'Dowd says that he'll especially be looking for an innings eater.
- Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated (via Twitter) believes that Tony La Russa can have the White Sox job if he really wants it, though that is a big if. Heyman also tweets that he doesn't see Francona coming to the South Side of Chicago.
- Shortstop Omar Vizquel talked with Edgar Leal Suarez of La Verdad (Spanish link, translation provided by Nick Collias) about the 2011 campaign and his future plans. The veteran reiterated that he hopes to continue playing next season and will evaluate his opportunities after the World Series.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter) expects the Braves to go target shortstops, corner outfielders, and utility infielders this winter.
- Yankees left-hander C.C. Sabathia is expected to opt-out of his contract but earlier today he confessed that New York is the best place to play baseball, tweets David Waldstein of the New York Times.
GM Kenny Williams told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he offered to move out of his current role until chairman Jerry Reinsdorf encouraged him to continue running the team (Twitter link). Here's the latest on the White Sox, who obtained two prospects for former manager Ozzie Guillen and are now looking for a permanent replacement...
- Don Cooper, the pitching coach and interim manager, and Harold Baines, the first base coach, agreed to multiyear deals with the White Sox, according to the team. They won't announce decisions on the rest of the coaching staff until they hire a new manager.
- Sandy Alomar Jr., a 20-year veteran who interviewed for the Blue Jays' managerial opening last year, told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that he'll listen if the White Sox are interested in talking to him.
- Williams told Gonzales that Buddy Bell, the organization's director of player development, is not interested in the managerial job (Twitter link).
- White Sox infielder Omar Vizquel told Gonzales that he doesn't expect to sign with Guillen and the Marlins after the season, when he hits free agency (Twitter link).
- Williams hinted that the White Sox won't be spending on big name free agents this winter, according to Gonzales (on Twitter).
- Tigers manager Jim Leyland told David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press that he wasn't surprised to see the shakeup in Chicago take place.
- For more on the White Sox click here and for more on Guillen click here.
Omar Vizquel wants to play a 24th Major League season in 2012, reports Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times. The veteran infielder still believes he can contribute, though he doesn't believe he'll return for a third season with the White Sox.
"I would love to have an opportunity to play another year,'' Vizquel said. "I'm not expecting to play every day but I think I have the ability to play....When you don't win you have to make changes. That's one of the reasons I doubt I will be here next year.''
Vizquel is hitting .245/.282/.294 in 178 plate appearances for the White Sox this season, splitting time at third, second and shortstop, with even one game played at first base. The 13-time Gold Glover's once-legendary defense has fallen off according to UZR/150, though it's hard to properly gauge his fielding given the small sample size of playing time.
There's also a slim chance that Vizquel can reach the 3000-hit plateau for his career. He currently has 2839 career hits (tied with Charlie Gehringer for 45th all-time), though since Vizquel has averaged just 60 hits a year since 2008, he would have to play until at least 2013 to join the 3000-hit club if he continues his current pace.
Generally speaking, young players tend to have athleticism, upside and a salary right around the MLB minimum. It’s no wonder that teams tend to gravitate to those players when constructing their rosters. There’s not much demand for aging, positionless sluggers in this era, yet a small group of older players are contributing to winning teams. In honor of Jason Giambi’s three-homer game, here’s a comprehensive list of every 40-plus player to don an MLB uniform in 2011:
- Tim Wakefield (44) - The knuckleballer is once again a member of Boston's rotation. He has a 5.40 ERA with 4.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 23 1/3 innings this year.
- Omar Vizquel (44) - The active leader in games played is showing few signs of age. Vizquel isn't on this list for his bat, but his .327/.358/.388 line is excellent. The 11-time Gold Glove winner has played second, short and third this year.
- Matt Stairs (43) - Stairs, who figures to DH in interleague play this weekend, needs to turn his season around. The New Brunswick native has just two hits and six walks in 28 plate appearances. Give Stairs credit for staying in the majors this long; Bryce Harper wasn’t even born when Stairs made his MLB debut with the ’92 Expos.
- Takashi Saito (41) - Before hitting the disabled list with a left hamstring injury, Saito appeared in just two games for the Brewers.
- Mariano Rivera (41) - How is Rivera this effective at 41? He leads the league in saves (13) and has a 1.80 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9. His average fastball still checks in at over 91 mph.
- Arthur Rhodes (41) - Rhodes hasn't quite matched his 2010 performance so far, but a 3.97 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 isn't bad at any age.
- Craig Counsell (40) - The 16-year veteran has a .234/.321/.255 line in 55 plate appearances at second, third, short and left field. Consider that the average MLB shortstop has a .254/.312/.361 line and Counsell's numbers look a little better.
- Jason Giambi (40) - Giambi has an unusual .194/.306/.581 line after his three-homer game.
- Miguel Batista (40) - Batista has a 1.69 ERA through 16 innings despite having an equal number of walks and strikeouts (9).
- Darren Oliver (40) - Oliver has a 2.95 ERA with 6.4 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9 in 18 1/3 innings of relief. He and Rhodes provide the Rangers with a pair of dependable lefty relievers.
- Jim Thome (40) - After a tremendous 2010 season, Thome's numbers have fallen off and he has spent time on the disabled list. He hit a pair of homers and posted a .214/.333/.375 line before hitting the DL with an oblique strain.