Randy Johnson Rumors

Stark On Free Agent Pitchers

"I don't think there's one pitcher in this entire group I'd invest a lot of money in. Not one," said one general manager to ESPN's Jayson Stark. This year's collection of free agent pitchers doesn't have the star power that last year's CC Sabathia highlighted crop had, or that next year's group led by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will have, but there will still be plenty of money thrown around.

As Stark explains, club officials seem to be down on available starters this year, describing them as "risky," "weak," "terrible," and "mediocre" among other things. One AL executive said that "There are some guys in this group who are dependable. Except they're dependable to give you 5.00 ERAs and 180 innings. And that's not what you want to build a staff around."

Regardless, Stark ranks the top ten starting pitching options in this year's free agent class. Here's a roundup of his list, with quotes from various sources...

  1. John Lackey: "He's the best name on the list," one exec said. "But if Anaheim shies away from this guy or doesn't make a serious attempt to sign him, I'd have concerns. They know him better than everyone else. So that would send out some serious red flags for me."
  2. Randy Wolf: He's "durable, dependable and left-handed," one GM said. And he's also "two 190-plus-inning seasons removed from any health issues."
  3. Joel Piniero: One GM said "I'd have interest in Pineiro, but I'd never invest multi-years in that guy. Just too inconsistent a track record."
  4. Jason Marquis: "He's having a great year," said an official of one team. "But I'm just not sure how to look at it. Was this a turning point in his career? Or do you look at it as somebody who turned it up and figured it out when he had the most to gain? I really don't know."
  5. Rich Harden: "I'd be scared to death to commit years to this guy," one AL exec said. "He's been used kind of like Pedro [Martinez] was used in the past, where they're always trying to build in an extra day's rest. And he's just a five-inning guy, in the National League. He might strike out 10, but he'll only go five innings, so he still kills your 'pen. He'll get some money. I just don't see anybody giving him more than a year."
  6. Andy Pettitte: One exec described his situation as "will probably either stay in New York or shut it down."
  7. Jarrod Washburn: One GM said, "he's 35 years old, and [before this year] his last winning season was [2004]."
  8. Jon Garland: "He doesn't have the stuff the other guys on this list have, but he's proven he's durable, and durability counts," said an official of one team. "It's like they say in golf: Most putts that you hit short don't go in. Well, most pitchers that don't make a start don't win. This guy at least makes his starts."
  9. Doug Davis: "Made for the NL West."
  10. Brad Penny: An executive said "He's the kind of guy who, if you give him a multiyear deal, he'll crush your franchise. Is somebody going to sign him for four years and expect 120 starts? Good luck."

Stark also names several players he calls "X-Factors," which are guys who could enter the market with major question marks. Included in this group are Brandon Webb, Erik Bedard, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Brett Myers, and Vicente Padilla. We could even add Chien-Ming Wang's name to that list.

Odds And Ends: Hardy, Johnson, Mets

More links as we await the next waiver trade...

  • The Brewers put off J.J. Hardy's free agency until after 2011 by keeping him in the minors for 20 days, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out. This should boost Hardy's trade value after the season, when the Brewers will presumably listen to trade offers, now that Alcides Escobar is contributing in the majors.
  • Randy Johnson expects to return to the Giants as a reliever, according to the AP (via FOX Sports).
  • MLB.com's Marty Noble suggests Jayson Werth and Derrek Lee would be good fits for the Mets this offseason.  

Odds And Ends: Sanchez, Strasburg, Big Unit

Links for Saturday...

Will Randy Johnson Pitch To Age 50?

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times talked to Giants starter Randy Johnson, who is 45 years old.  The Big Unit doesn't seem ready to hang up his spikes after reaching 300 wins:

"Who's to say that I can't pitch just because I'm 50 years old?  If I'm 48 years old and I'm still throwing 93 [mph] and still winning 10 or 12 games and still having fun and still being competitive, why would age matter? I'll retire when I feel like the fire had gone out of my belly. But I still have that fire and that will to compete. That's why I went through those back surgeries."

If Johnson comes anywhere close to his stellar '08 performance, he'll continue to find work easily.  Jamie Moyer got a two-year deal at age 46.  Johnson does have a minor Spring Training injury, described by Bruce Bochy as "a tiny touch of biceps soreness."

Odds & Ends: Marte, Wilkerson, Bowden

Links for Wednesday as we enter the short post-Manny phase of the offseason...

Cafardo's Latest: Players Out Of Options

Lots of stuff in Nick Cafardo's column in the Boston Globe to go over.

With around 100 free agents vying for less than 20 remaining roster spots, things become more interesting with 227 players on big-league rosters who are out of options. If a player is out of options and is not rostered, he has to either be traded or designated for assignment. If designated, that player has to clear waivers. This could affect remaining free agent signings. Cafardo makes note of a few who are out of options and may wind up as trade fodder or designated for assignment before the season begins:

Red Sox: George Kottaras
Yankees: Melky Cabrera
Cubs: Chad Gaudin, Rich Hill (possibly heading to Baltimore?)
Brewers: Tony Gwynn Jr.
Indians: Anthony Reyes, Andy Marte
Twins: Boof Bonser, Philip Humber
Rays: Jeff Niemann
Orioles: David Pauley

  • With Jason Varitek re-signed, the Red Sox will either have to trade catcher Kottaras or designate him for assignment.
  • Cafardo notes Niemann is a former No. 1 pick and the righthander should garner some attention.
  • Bonser or Humber could be traded to land a reliever. Cafardo also mentions Delmon Young as a possible trading chip.

A few more bullets from Cafardo's notebook:

  • Scott Boras thinks the World Baseball Classic will showcase Ivan Rodriguez and generate "even more" interest for the 14-time All-Star catcher.
  • Cafardo mentioned Manny Ramirez to Omar Minaya and Minaya laughed it off saying, "We'll look into adding some offense, but only if it makes sense."
  • All quiet on the Jake Peavy front.
  • Cafardo calls Randy Johnson's $8MM deal from the Giants as "a stroke of genius" by his agents.
  • In case you missed it, Bobby Kielty signed a minor-league deal with the Mets last week.

Big Unit Vs. Garland

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic explains that the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson vs. Jon Garland decision was not as clear-cut as many (myself included) made it out to be.

Piecoro walks through Arizona's timeline.  At one point in November, they expected to receive (and budgeted for) first-round picks as compensation for Adam Dunn, Orlando Hudson, and Juan Cruz.  They wisely changed their minds on Dunn on December 1st, and the Hudson/Cruz market has developed slowly.  Along the way, several million dollars were added to the team's starting pitcher budget.

Still, Piecoro guesses that the Diamondbacks preferred Garland to Johnson and didn't want Johnson back that badly.

Diamondbacks Continue to Strike Out

As Nick Piecoro reports, Randy Wolf is the latest free agent starting pitcher to decline an offer from the D'backs this off-season. Brad Penny, Randy Johnson, and Jon Garland are some of the others who have already indicated their desire to pursue other options.

Not much is known about the offer made to Penny, but Johnson was apparently offered a one-year deal in the $2-3MM range, and Garland is rumored to have been offered both a one-year deal that included two option years and a guaranteed two-year deal worth at least $13 million.

Piecoro notes that the rapidity with which Arizona appears to be cycling through its options could turn out to be an effective strategy for getting the right player at the right price. Pedro Martinez, perhaps? Of course, this is all assuming that they can get someone to actually say yes.

Giants Will Listen To Proposals Involving Sanchez

Now that the San Francisco Giants have lefty veteran Randy Johnson locked up, they are willing to listen to offers involving Jonathan Sanchez. Chris Haft of MLB.com asked Giants general manager Brian Sabean about the possibility after signing Johnson.

From Haft:

"We're going to have to be open-minded," Sabean said, although he repeated that he wouldn't obtain a player who's eligible for free agency after 2009.

The Giants have been listed as one of the teams who might be a good trade partner with the New York Yankees for a corner outfielder, in particular Xavier Nady, but he doesn't meet Sabean's requirement regarding free agency. Nady's contract ends after the '09 season.

Odds And Ends: Otsuka, Orioles, Johnson

I'll keep this updated as more comes in, but for now these are your Saturday links...

  • Patrick Newman found that Akinori Otsuka will work out in front of reps from all MLB teams next month. Apparently Padres GM Kevin Towers is interested if Otsuka's healthy.
  • Roch Kubatko knows there's pitching talent coming from the minors, but he doesn't love the current Orioles rotation and expects them to add two more starters.
  • The difference between 69 and 72 in 2009 wins isn't worth much to the Orioles, Peter Schmuck writes.
  • The Red Sox move on after missing out on Mark Teixeira.
  • Eric Wedge doesn't seem bothered by the Yankees' big acquisitions.
  • Vernon Wells knows how hard it will be to compete now that former-teammate A.J. Burnett's in pinstripes along with a couple other big names.
  • Keith Law says the Randy Johnson signing moves the Giants "toward 2009 respectability, if not outright contention."
  • Vlae Kershner doesn't like the possibility of Garret Anderson on the A's.
  • Bleed Cubbie Blue argues that Adam Dunn's patience-power combination would work well for the Cubs. Last week Dunn said he thinks so too.
  • Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi revealed his favorite meal and dream date in a Q&A with the Sporting News.

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