Pedro Feliz Rumors
There are a handful of big names that could be moved before this July's trading deadline, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opens his latest column by taking a look at some of the possibilities. Let's check out the highlights from Cafardo's piece....
- There's skepticism within the Astros' organization that owner Drayton McLane would want to trade Roy Oswalt to the Rangers, baseball's other Texas team.
- The return the Royals are requesting in exchange for David DeJesus is higher than any team is willing to pay for now.
- Mariners closer David Aardsma is "already drawing a lot of interest."
- Pedro Feliz, Willie Bloomquist, and Jay Payton could be small-scale trade bait.
- Adam LaRoche on his brief time as a Red Sox: "The ballpark was perfectly suited for the way I swing, and it would have been nice to have stayed there and see what would have happened over a full year."
Since their team won the NL pennant in 2005, Astros fans have had reason to feel frustrated. A roster that has included the likes of Lance Berkman, Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Oswalt and future Hall-of-Famer Craig Biggio has averaged just under 79 wins per year since that World Series appearance.
This unimpressive stretch of play has led some fans to argue that club should give up on its hopes of contending over the next few seasons and focus on re-stocking its minor-league system. However, as MLBTR's Tim Dierkes pointed out in his Offseason Outlook piece last October, this is a team that "could contend with the right free agent additions." In the wide-open NL Central, the Astros seem to be perpetually just a player away from a playoff berth. Even in 2006, when the club finished 82-80, they still finished just 1.5 games behind the eventual World Series-champion Cardinals.
This winter has provided the same mixed message from Houston, following its 74-88 record in 2009. Owner Drayton McLane spoke about the importance of developing young talent in an interview with The Houston Chronicle's Richard Justice last June, but the Astros' offseason moves (trading for reliever Matt Lindstrom and signing free agents Brett Myers, Brandon Lyon and Pedro Feliz) make it seem like Houston is once again reloading rather than rebuilding.
If the Astros ever did commit to a rebuild, however, the most obvious candidates for a deal would be their three biggest contracts: Berkman, Oswalt and Carlos Lee. Houston has $2MM buyouts on Berkman's contract in 2011 and Oswalt's contract in 2012, but most people agree that these two iconic Astros seem destined to retire with the franchise.
That leaves Lee, who is owed $18.5MM per season through 2012. The outfielder has performed well in his three years in Houston (.305/.354/.524) but may be showing signs of a decline. His 26 homers and .831 OPS last season were his lowest totals in each category since 2002 and 2005, respectively. MLB.com's Brian McTaggart says that between Lee's big contract, poor defense (a -4.6 UZR/150 according to Fangraphs), full no-trade clause and a desire to stay in Texas due to his ranch business, Lee is "about as untradeable as they come."
Let's speculate, for a moment, that Lee could be persuaded (probably through a cash bonus) to leave the ranch behind and agree to a deal. Houston would almost surely have to eat at least half of Lee's remaining contract in any trade, but for a big-market AL team that could afford to pick up the other half, Lee would be an intriguing DH option.
Perhaps the best fit is Chicago. Much has been written about Ozzie Guillen's DH-by-committee plan for the upcoming season, and the White Sox seem committed enough to the idea to pass on signing Jim Thome. But if the Sox find themselves in a pennant race and their platoon of designated hitting options (Omar Vizquel? Really?) isn't working out, then they could make a play for an everyday DH. Lee would fit that bill and, since he spent the first six seasons of his career with the White Sox, might be amenable to waive his no-trade clause to return to a familiar location.
This scenario is, admittedly, a longshot. It's much more likely that, no matter if the Astros choose to keep aiming for contention or commit to a proper rebuilding process, Lee will be a constant in the Astros' outfield. You could say that Lee is Houston's answer to Vernon Wells --- an unwieldly contract that is too big to trade and also takes up enough of the payroll to hamstring the team from making other moves.
11:53am: The Astros are close to signing Pedro Feliz to a one-year deal worth about $4MM, writes ESPN's Enrique Rojas. Rojas notes that the Twins and Orioles also showed interest. For the Astros, that's more than $10MM in 2010 contracts added by the Astros during the Winter Meetings, with Matt Lindstrom and Brandon Lyon plugged into to the bullpen. Perhaps the club had a little more to spend than we thought.
Feliz, 35 in April, hit .266/.308/.386 in 625 plate appearances for the Phillies this year. He continued to play above-average defense, based on UZR/150. The Phils bought out Feliz's $5MM club option in November, preferring to sign Placido Polanco instead.
618pm: Stark hears that the Padres offered Kouzmanoff up for Lewis and Frandsen. That doesn't match with the reports below, which suggest the Padres wanted more. Stark agrees with Nightengale that the Padres wanted more than Glen Perkins in return from the Twins.
WEDNESDAY, 5:21pm: Jayson Stark of ESPN.com hears that the Padres are aggressively trying to move Kouzmanoff. The Twins and Giants are interested.
TUESDAY, 5:39pm: The Twins offered Perkins for Kouzmanoff, but the Padres want more, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
1:47pm: USA Today's Bob Nightengale tweets about an NL West trade discussion: the Giants are talking to the Padres about third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, but the Padres want more than Fred Lewis and Kevin Frandsen. I'm guessing the Padres would prefer not to pay Kouzmanoff the $3-5MM he'll get through arbitration.
Meanwhile La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the Padres would like to discuss Kouzmanoff with the Twins. He wonders if they'd be interested in Glen Perkins, who is available. Neal notes that Pedro Feliz's agents would like to talk to the Twins as well.
2:34pm: Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke to DeRosa's agent Keith Grunewald, who said talks with the Twins have been nothing more than preliminary.
10:49am: Neal has more, questioning the Feliz and Uribe links. Also, Neal spoke to someone from Rich Harden's agency and came away thinking the Mariners are the favorite (the Twins have not been in contact recently).
9:28am: Let's take a look at the Twins' third base situation. Yesterday afternoon, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports said they're considering free agents Adrian Beltre, Pedro Feliz, Mark DeRosa, and Juan Uribe, though Beltre and DeRosa might be too pricey. He did not see Boston's Mike Lowell as a target. ESPN's Jorge Arangure Jr. has the Astros and Orioles in on Feliz, in addition to the Twins.
La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote early this morning that the Twins are "very interested in DeRosa." A trade for Kevin Kouzmanoff is another possibility, while re-signing Joe Crede hasn't been ruled out.
WEDNESDAY, 10:02am: Millwood update: Zrebiec says the Rangers originally wanted David Hernandez and a low-level prospect for Millwood, and were willing to pay $3MM of the $12MM owed to the veteran. Meanwhile Zrebiec's colleague Peter Schmuck says Chris Ray could be involved and the Rangers would pick up most of Millwood's salary, in one scenario.
TUESDAY, 9:36pm: Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun reports that the O's are still exchanging trade proposals with the Rangers for Kevin Millwood. T.R. Sullivan reported that the Rangers wanted Chris Tillman initially, but talks have since developed. The Orioles are among the frontrunners for Millwood.
The O's met with the Marlins about Dan Uggla, but the Marlins want two pitching prospects in return and the Orioles are reluctant to hand that kind of package over. The Marlins have one less suitor for Uggla, according to Andrew Baggarly, who says the Giants aren't serious bidders, so that could lower the asking price for the arbitration-eligible infielder.
Here are even more O's rumors:
- Kevin Kouzmanoff and Garrett Atkins interest the O's to an extent.
- Joe Crede and Pedro Feliz remain options for Baltimore, but Adrian Beltre has priced himself out of reach.
- We heard about their interest in Hank Blalock, Carlos Delgado and Nick Johnson earlier today.
- They also have "tepid" interest in Russell Branyan.
- The Orioles aren't particularly intrigued by Joe Blanton and Derek Lowe, who are both available via trade.
- Vladimir Guerrero, Adam LaRoche, Jose Valverde and Kevin Gregg all interest the O's slightly.
- They do have interest in Rafael Soriano, and spoke with the Braves about him.
- They're not interested in J.J. Putz.
- MLB.com's Spencer Fordin reports that the Royals engaged the O's in Felix Pie trade talks without ever coming close to a deal.
The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec takes a look back at Baltimore's first day of the Winter Meetings:
- The O's targeted pitching heavily, inquiring on Kevin Millwood and attaining the medical record for former Baltimore ace Erik Bedard. The O's would want Texas to eat some of Millwood's $12MM salary. They won't go after Bedard (or any other pitcher) if they're not 100% for Opening Day.
- Andy MacPhail will meet with Bedard's agent in the next couple of days.
- The Orioles were interested in Rafael Soriano prior to his decision to accept arbitration from the Braves.
- Kevin Gregg is an option for relief help, but Baltimore sees him as a 7th or 8th inning guy, not a closer.
- Felix Pie has drawn a lot of inquiries, but MacPhail points out that none of Pie, Nolan Reimold, and Adam Jones have played a full, healthy season yet, and the depth is probably a good thing for the Orioles when taking that into consideration.
- Lots of young O's pitching has come up, including Zach Britton and David Hernandez.
- MacPhail met with Joe Urbon, agent for Mark Hendrickson. Zrebiec says it's only a matter of time before a deal is done.
- There hasn't been much in the way of talks for Dan Uggla recently.
- Baltimore won't be bidders for John Lackey, but they like Hank Blalock, Nick Johnson, and Carlos Delgado as options for first base. Luke Scott is not a full-time first base option. Pedro Feliz is their primary third base target.
- Baltimore isn't in on talks for Edwin Jackson or Matt Lindstrom, but they did meet with the agent for Aroldis Chapman.
- Baltimore may sign another catcher, but it's not a priority.
The Orioles aren't expected to be major players on the free-agent market this winter, but if the team does make a move, it will likely be to acquire a veteran presence at first and/or third base.
Speaking to MASN Sports' Steve Melewski, Baltimore team president Andy MacPhail said that given the Orioles' young outfield and second-year catcher Matt Wieters, he would "like to put more proven bats" in the lineup to compliment the team's young stars. The O's have prospects Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell in the pipeline at first and third, respectively, but since MacPhail said he doesn't see either making the leap to the majors in 2010, the experienced hitters that MacPhail wants will have to come at the corner infield spots.
Baltimore already has Luke Scott (a team-leading 25 homers in 2009) penciled in at either first base or DH, and utilityman Ty Wigginton is available to play third. Prospect Michael Aubrey (an .826 OPS in 95 plate appearances last season) is also in the 1B mix, possibly in a lefty-righty platoon with Wigginton that would lock Scott into a DH/LF split with Nolan Reimold and would then leave third base open for either a free agent or a player to be acquired in a trade. The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly predicted the O's would sign Pedro Feliz, while there has been some speculation that the Orioles will make a trade with Florida for Dan Uggla and then move Uggla from second to third base.
In his Offseason Outlook series entry about Baltimore, Tim Dierkes listed names like Adrian Beltre, Carlos Delgado and Nick Johnson as possible targets for the Orioles. These players would fit the "short-term" designation that MacPhail mentioned, but since MacPhail didn't rule out the possibility of "the right deal for the right player, even if it was a longer-term deal," would there be any other bigger-name corner infielders that you could realistically see Baltimore signing?
The Orioles are positioned to be buyers in free agency, according to Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. GM Andy MacPhail says that the club is looking to spend this offseason, but there remains some skepticism in Baltimore as to whether owner Peter Angelos will be willing to open up his checkbook. If the O's decide to dole out dollars this winter, here are some of the players they will and won't be targeting:
- Barring a change in organizational plans, you can cross the Orioles off the list of suitors for outfielders Matt Holliday and Jason Bay.
- The Orioles have contacted the agents of Chone Figgins and John Lackey, but are hardly alone in that regard.
- Adrian Beltre and Pedro Feliz top the O's wish list to replace Melvin Mora at third base.
- At first base, Nick Johnson, Hank Blalock, and Carlos Delgado are options. We know that Baltimore is not the only club keeping tabs on Delgado, as his last employer is said to be keeping an eye on him as well. The 37-year-old slugger ranked #43 on Tim's Top 50 Free Agents list, where it is predicted that he will sign with the Orioles.
- Andy MacPhail & Co. are considering Dodgers pitchers Randy Wolf and Jon Garland, as well as Braden Looper. MacPhail noted that the club is not afraid to take a chance on a hurler with a history of injuries and high upside. Former Oriole Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets, and Rich Harden all fit the bill.
- The O's would gladly add an established closer at the right price. Billy Wagner, Fernando Rodney, and Mike Gonzalez are mentioned as members of a deep crop of available relievers.
- It shouldn't be long before the Orioles agree to terms with pitcher Mark Hendrickson as both sides want to get a deal done. The 6'9 lefty spent time with four different organizations before coming to Baltimore - eight if you count NBA teams.
Some links to read through on Ryan Howard's 30th birthday...
- The White Sox would like to add a true leadoff man and are open to bringing back Jim Thome, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
- MLB.com's Todd Zolecki says the Phillies aren't considered serious contenders for free agent Chone Figgins.
- MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez reports that the Marlins may spend on a corner outfielder, a second baseman or a third baseman if they free up some payroll by trading Dan Uggla. Jamey Carroll is one of the many free agents the Marlins would consider.
- The Brewers are open to bringing Craig Counsell back, according to MLB.com's Adam McCalvy.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says tension is rising between players and owners.
- MLB.com's Corey Brock wonders if the Padres could bring Mike Cameron back.
- Padres fixture Brian Giles won't return in 2010, though he hopes to keep playing.
- MLB.com's Matthew Leach reports that the Cardinals will likely add a veteran bat if they don't re-sign Matt Holliday. However, the Cards say they're still hoping to sign Holliday, according to FOX Sports.
- Leach expects the Cards to sign a pitcher to a one or two year deal to be the club's fourth starter.
- As MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo points out, some of the best free agent signings are the ones that get the least attention.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun says there's a good chance the O's sign Pedro Feliz.