Paul Konerko Rumors
In his latest edition of Full Count, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link) gives the Yankees credit for realizing that Vernon Wells still had a lot left. The big stumbling block in trade talks between the Yankees and Angels was how much of the $42MM deal the Bombers would pay for. Discussions stalled until the spring when the Yankees lost Mark Teixeira to injury and their interest was renewed. Here's more from Rosenthal..
- If the Phillies fall out of contention, Cliff Lee could become a trade target once again. They declined to trade him last August after the Dodgers claimed him on waivers, but it would make sense to make a deal if they're not winning. However, Lee is earning $25MM per season through 2015 and has a $27.5MM vesting option for 2016. On top of that, he can only be traded to nine teams without his permission. The Phillies may have trouble making a deal for Lee because of those issues, but a shortage of quality starting pitching could lead to a swap with a contending team. Rosenthal lists the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Cardinals as teams that could be interested, depending on their needs.
- Don't expect a Mariano Rivera-style victory lap for Paul Konerko as he won't make up his mind about his future until after the season. The decision will likely hinge on multiple factors, including how he plays, whether the White Sox want him back, and whether another club would be a potential fit. The D'Backs made a run at Konerko the last time he was on the open market, but that first base job now belongs to Paul Goldschmidt.
- Francisco Rodriguez could look elsewhere if he doesn't make the Brewers' roster in 30 days, but Milwaukee is probably his best option. He'll earn the prorated portion of a $2.25MM salary if he makes the squad, plus incentives.
The signing of Felix Hernandez marks a major move in the history of the Mariners organization but will only matter if the deal is the first of many to come, writes Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times. “This signing, given the size and length of the contract, is the best evidence that the ownership group is committed to winning and doing what it takes to win,” Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln said. Here's the latest news and stories making headlines from around the American League.
- Yunel Escobar made his first comments about his trade to the Rays, reports the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin. Escobar, with teammate Jose Molina acting as his interpreter, said he "felt really happy" about coming to Tampa Bay adding manager Joe Maddon made him feel very welcome and having former teammates like Molina and Kelly Johnson on the team makes him feel like he's "in the family already."
- GM Chris Antonetti discussed the Indians' starting rotation with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (audio link).
- White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko reiterated he will not make any decision on his future until after the 2013 season, reports Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com.
- The 2013 Blue Jays offer a lot to like and dislike as CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler breaks down what he's seen so far this Spring Training.
Daniel Seco contributed to this post.
Rangers shortstop Jurickson Profar tops MLB.com's list of the top 100 prospects in baseball for 2013. Profar has been the subject of many trade rumors this winter but the Rangers are unwilling to move him, for good reason given his high ceiling. Of the six prospects atop MLB.com's list, two (Wil Myers and Travis d'Arnaud) were dealt to new teams this offseason and another (Taijuan Walker) would have been on the move were it not for Justin Upton's no-trade clause.
Here are some items from around the Majors...
- Joe Saunders has been offered a two-year deal worth roughly $15MM from an unknown team, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports, though his sources aren't directly involved in the negotiations. The Orioles aren't the mystery team, as Baltimore would prefer to sign Saunders to a one-year deal with a team option for the second year. Connolly says the O's are still interested in Saunders despite their recent agreement with Jair Jurrjens. Besides the O's, the Mariners and Twins have also been linked to Saunders this winter, and the Twins have offered Saunders a one-year deal.
- The White Sox are still looking for a left-handed hitter, MLB.com Scott Merkin tweets. Such a player is likely to be a platooner or bench depth at this point in the offseason.
- Paul Konerko tells CSN Chicago's Chuck Garfien that his on-field performance won't be the key factor if he decides to retire after the 2013 season. "Don't look at the numbers, that if things are going well [in 2013], that necessarily means I would play [after this season]. And the reverse of that is true, too," Konerko said. It was almost a year ago that Konerko told Garfien that he was pondering retirement once his contract is up.
- It's hard to find ace-level pitching available in a trade, but Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal cites Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy and Jarrod Parker as pitchers who could be on the block should their teams fall out of contention next season. Parker may seem like a premature trade target but MacPherson notes that "the Athletics have a history of trading young pitchers for even younger pitchers."
- The Rangers have signed the most international prospects that appear in Baseball America's 2013 Prospect Handbook, B-A's Ben Badler writes. Fifteen international players originally signed by the Rangers are ranked either among their own top 30 prospects or in the top-30 lists of other teams, as determined by Baseball America. At the bottom of the list are the Astros, who have just two international signings ranked.
Paul Konerko said 2013 could be his final season as a player, according to Chuck Garfien of CSNChicago.com. The first baseman turns 36 next month and it's not a given that he'll continue playing after his contract expires following the 2013 campaign.
"Yeah, in all reality I would see it ending after next year or maybe another year,” Konerko said. “I mean, at some point you got to go home and be around your kids and have other things to do."
Konerko expects to consider playing opportunities after the 2013 season, but he doesn’t intend to “hang on for another year and kind of go through the motions.” The White Sox briefly considered making Konerko a player-manager this offseason, and though he doesn’t expect to manage any time soon, it could happen at some point. He posted a .300/.388/.517 line with 31 homers in 2011, when he was named to the American League All-Star team for the fifth time in his career.
The Tigers defeated the Rangers tonight and they now trail two games to one in the ALCS. Detroit could even the series at two games if they win at home tomorrow afternoon. Here are today's links...
- The Angels have D'Backs exec Jerry Dipoto and Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer on their list of GM candidates, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link). We recently introduced Dipoto and Oppenheimer as part of our GM Candidates series.
- Astros owner Drayton McLane told Stephen Goff of the Houston Astros Examiner that he'll complete the ownership transfer to Jim Crane, though it could take three or four weeks (all Twitter links).
- The Astros announced that they have agreed to one-year deals with hitting coach Mike Barnett and pitching coach Doug Brocail.
- MLBTR's Tim Dierkes learned that Jason Bartlett's $5.5MM club option for 2013 vests if he picks up 432 plate appearances in '12 (Twitter link). That would give the Padres infielder 1050 trips to the plate in 2011-12.
- White Sox GM Kenny Williams admitted to reporters that he considered Paul Konerko as a possible player-manager before hiring rookie skipper Robin Ventura. "He would probably drive himself nuts right now playing and managing at the same time," Williams said, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune.
- Nolan Ryan wouldn't predict the Rangers' chances of re-signing C.J. Wilson, according to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com. Ryan says the Rangers will start negotiating with Wilson's agent once their season ends.
- Joel Zumaya told reporters, including Jason Beck of MLB.com, that he'd like to re-sign with the Tigers after the season. The hard-throwing right-hander didn't pitch this year because of elbow soreness and has started throwing again.
- As J.J. Cooper of Baseball America explains, young players are being squeezed out of independent baseball. But some, such as Marshall Schuler of the Frontier League, could become options for MLB teams.
Congratulations to the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals, who will meet in the NLCS after each club won a superb Game Five tonight. This is the first all-NL Central NLCS since the Astros topped the Cards in 2005, and this is the first time Milwaukee and St. Louis have met in the postseason since the 1982 World Series. The NLCS begins on Sunday at Miller Park, with Zack Greinke getting the Game One start for the Brewers.
Some more news as we head into the weekend....
- There is plenty of reaction to Andy MacPhail's decision to step down as the Orioles' president of baseball operations. Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun credits MacPhail with leaving the team in better shape than when he arrived, though this wasn't reflected in the win-loss column. MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli provides a recap of MacPhail's most notable moves in Baltimore. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com expects the next O's GM to have "a more aggressive approach [in free agency]...for better or worse" as opposed to MacPhail's practice of "letting the market play out."
- The White Sox seem to be looking to 2012 as a rebuilding year, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin. After a year of seeing how young players develop in the Majors and seeing how rookie manager Robin Ventura adapts to the job, Merkin says Chicago could push for contention in 2013 if all goes well.
- With this youth movement in mind, Merkin thinks A.J. Pierzynski and Paul Konerko could be approached about waiving their no-trade clauses. Both players were somewhat open to the idea, though both clearly stated they wanted to end their careers with the White Sox.
- How did Juan Carlos Oviedo (a.k.a. Leo Nunez) keep his identity hidden for years? Frances Robles of the Miami Herald examines Oviedo's situation and the risks that some Latin American players take to escape poverty and reach the Major Leagues. Oviedo "was able to keep the secret for long, because he was living the dream that every Dominican boy imagines growing up. If he lied and succeeded, then the end justified the means,” said Charles Farrell, head of the Dominican Republic Sports and Education Academy. “No one was going to fault him for that, no one was going to blow his cover."
- Farrell also tells Robles that by his estimate, there are at least 30 current Dominican players using false identities.
- Ron Gardenhire says the Twins aren't likely to sign a top free agent pitcher like C.J. Wilson, reports MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger as part of a mailbag piece. "I think we're all smart enough to figure out that free agents out there, as far as pitchers go, if they're really good they're probably going to require a little bit more money than we're willing to pay them," Gardenhire said. "All the big shooters. And there's going to be a market for the rest of them."
- Mark DeRosa could be a good fit as a versatile bench bat for the Braves, provided he can stay healthy, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
- With the Astros' possible move to the AL West in mind, Fangraphs' Reed MacPhail analyzes how each of this season's National League teams would've fared playing in the AL West.
Congratulations to Tim Wakefield, who won his 200th career game tonight. Here are this evening's links, starting with updates on two players who were traded for one another 13 years ago...
- White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he might retire after 2013, when his current contract expires. The 35-year-old has a terrific .308/.395/.528 line with 29 homers in the first season of the three-year, $37.5MM deal he signed last offseason.
- The Marlins released Mike Cameron because of conduct detrimental to the team, according to MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro.
- The Braves have increased the responsibilities of three front office members following the departure of director of player personnel Kurt Kemp, according to Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Assistant GM Bruce Manno will oversee player development, Ronnie Richardson was promoted to director of minor league operations and John Coppolella was promoted to director of professional scouting.
- Troy Renck of the Denver Post can see the Rockies pursuing Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham this offseason (Twitter links).
- Renck also suggests Jason Hammel is available. Hammel's strikeout rate (5.0 K/9) and ground ball rate (43.5%) dropped this season, while his ERA (4.91) and walk rate (3.7 BB/9) rose, so his trade value is considerably lower than it would have been last winter. The 29-year-old is under contract for $4.75MM in 2012.
- Fernando Rodney told Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com that he would have liked more chances to close with the Angels this year. The right-hander will look to sign with a team that can provide him with more regular work when his two-year contract expires after the season.
The waiver wire is heating up with one week remaining for teams to trade for postseason reinforcements. Here’s a refresher on how August trades work and here are the latest rumors...
- The Indians placed a claim on Jim Thome, according to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (on Twitter). However, the White Sox, who have a worse record than Cleveland, also placed a claim, so they would have priority over the Indians.
- It appears unlikely that the Giants, who won the claim on Heath Bell, will complete a trade for the reliever, Jon Heyman of SI.com reports (on Twitter).
- Though the Padres would find if difficult to accept a weak offer for Bell, it might beat the alternative of keeping him and potentially paying him big money in 2012, Ken Rosenthal writes at FOX Sports.
- The White Sox placed John Danks, Gavin Floyd, Paul Konerko and Matt Thornton on waivers, according to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com.
- The Giants are a fit for the recently waived Ramon Hernandez, but the catcher will likely be a Type A free agent so a different team could claim him for draft picks, ESPN.com's Buster Olney notes (on Twitter).
- Hoynes suggests the Indians likely claimed one of Thome and Jason Kubel (Twitter link). Unknown teams claimed both Twins sluggers this week.
- The Rockies were one of the teams that put in a claim on David Wright this month, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Though it's unclear which team won the claim, it probably doesn't matter at the moment, since the Mets aren't trading their third baseman. As Renck points out, it's a reminder that the Rockies will be interested if the Mets ever make Wright available.
A few items from the middle section of the American League map...
- Shin-Soo Choo says he hasn't heard from agent Scott Boras or from the Indians about the status of contract extension talks, or if the two sides are even currently talking, reports Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. Boras and the Tribe were negotiating earlier this winter, and Choo has said that he doesn't want the talks to stretch into the season. The fact that Boras has described the Indians as "a developmental team" is not a good sign for Cleveland fans, though since Choo is under contract through 2013, it gives the club a couple of years to break in their young prospects.
- Kevin Slowey is the Twins pitcher that's most likely to be traded, not Francisco Liriano, writes Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. We heard during the Winter Meetings that Minnesota was considering using Slowey as trade bait.
- From the same item, Souhan reports the Rangers (in addition to the Yankees) also inquired about Liriano's availability.
- Paul Konerko had "a feeling of closure" last season in Chicago and "was preparing himself emotionally to devote himself to a new organization," writes Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com. Isaacson talks to Konerko about his free agency and how he ended up back with the White Sox.
Links for Tuesday evening, exactly one year after the Mets signed R.A. Dickey to one of the most successful minor league deals of the 2009-10 offseason. One year later, the Amazins are still looking for arms...
- The Mets aren't engaging Freddy Garcia in serious discussions, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). We heard earlier today that the Mets are waiting for starters' asking prices to drop, but pitching is the team's priority.
- Across town, Leonel Vinas signed a minor league deal with the Yankees, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. The 19-year-old right-hander played on a local team sponsored by Hank Steinbrenner called "Hank's Yanks."
- The Bronx Bombers also make their share of major deals and, as Ronald Blum of the AP notes (via the Miami Herald) the Yankees were hit with an $18MM luxury tax for their 2010 spending. The Red Sox were the only other team hit with a tax; they owe $1.5MM.
- As Alex Speier of WEEI.com points out, "the cost of player acquisition for the [Red] Sox is more than meets the eye," because the team pays them salary and pays a luxury tax premium.
- Boston signed Bobby Jenks, but Red Sox GM Theo Epstein says Jonathan Papelbon is still the team's closer, according to Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com (on Twitter).
- White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn told MLB.com's Scott Merkin that the team was prepared to pursue other first basemen "aggressively" midway through their negotiations with Paul Konerko. However, the White Sox made one final push for their captain and brought him back on a three-year deal.
- The Brewers have taken lots of criticism for their failure to put together better pitching in recent years, but Dave Cameron of FanGraphs likes what GM Doug Melvin is doing. Because the free agent market has been player-friendly, Cameron would also "abandon the free-agent market, keep [his] potential free agents, and trade prospects for guys headed towards free agency" were he a GM.