Reed Johnson Rumors

Quick Hits: Strasburg, Rangers, Hunter, Cubs

Cody Ross was a walkoff hero for the Red Sox tonight, slugging a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off White Sox closer Addison Reed to give Boston a 3-1 win in the Battle Of The Sox.  Here are some links from around the majors as we wrap up a busy Thursday of trade rumors…

  • The Nationals have decided on to shut down Stephen Strasburg at some point this season though it may not be at the 160-inning limit, GM Mike Rizzo tells ESPN's Pedro Gomez.  "There is no magic number," Rizzo said. "It will be the eye test. (Manager) Davey (Johnson) won't decide and ownership won't decide. It will be the general manager, and that's me."
  • The Rangers have "a very small list" of pitchers on their wish list and may be out of the pitching market entirely if Cole Hamels signs an extension with the Phillies, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
  • If Torii Hunter is really willing to take a big discount to re-sign with the Angels, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal speculates that the Halos could save money by keeping Hunter and Peter Bourjos at low costs and then non-tender or trade Kendrys Morales to free up more money to pursue pitching.
  • The Cubs are unlikely to make a major free agent signing this winter, as Theo Epstein tells CSN Chicago's Patrick Mooney that the team isn't far enough along in its rebuilding process.  “Free agency’s definitely a nice way to add talent to an organization without giving up talent," Epstein said. "But you cannot make an organization that way. And we have a lot of steps ahead of us that we need to take care of before we’re in a position to add a finishing piece or two through free agency.”
  • Beyond their big-name talent, the Cubs are also getting calls about right-handed hitting bench players Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson, reports Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link).
  • The Twins led all teams in draft spending this year, as Baseball America's Jim Callis breaks down how much each club spent on their draft picks.
  • Matt Eddy of Baseball America recaps the week's minor league transactions.
  • Dodgers president Stan Kasten hinted that his team isn't likely to splurge in a blockbuster trade deadline deal, saying any trade the Dodgers make will "have to be governed by reason" and "make sense long term," he tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
  • Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest told reporters (including MLB.com's Joe Frisaro) that his team is running out of time to prove they're contenders before the Fish could be forced to sell some pieces at the deadline.  “In terms of decision making, I don’t how that’s going to go,” Beinfest said. “I really don’t. We need to win games here to make sure we’re on the periphery of even thinking about getting into things….You believe in your talent and hope we get hot. I think that’s where we are right now. But every day that goes by, it gets tougher and tougher to do that.” 

Cubs Reach Agreement With Reed Johnson

The Cubs and Reed Johnson have agreed to terms on a one-year, Major League contract, the team announced. It's a $1.15MM deal, according to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the agreement on December 21st (via Twitter).

Johnson, 35, has spent three of the last four seasons with the Cubs, and is coming off one of his best years. In 266 plate appearances, the veteran hit .309/.348/.467 while spending time at all three outfield positions.

Coming off a down year in 2010 (.657 OPS), Johnson signed a minor league deal for $900K with the Cubs, so the Wasserman Media Group client should be in line for a slight salary bump after his solid 2011.


Quick Hits: Dempster, Wright, Kubel, Bell, Thome

Let's take a look at some links as the northeast prepares for Hurricane Irene..

  • Cubs starter Ryan Dempster was non-committal when asked about his player option for 2012, but he doesn't sound like he wants to leave town either, writes Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.  The 34-year-old's 2012 option is worth $14MM.
  • Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com wonders if the Cubs will keep Reed Johnson in the fold in 2012.  Johnson, he points out, could help groom top prospect Brett Jackson next season.  This year the 34-year-old is hitting .347/.385/.539 in 209 plate appearances.
  • Despite his insistence to the contrary, the swirl of trade rumors throughout the season have bothered David Wright, a Mets staffer told Andy Martino of the Daily News.  The third baseman surprisingly cleared waivers this week.  Wright is owed $15MM next year and can void a $16MM club option for 2013 if he is dealt.
  • Jason Kubel is happy to still be a member of the Twins, tweets Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com.  Earlier this evening we learned that the Indians were the team to place the winning claim on him, not the White Sox as once thought.
  • Padres closer Heath Bell didn't let the recent round of trade speculation get to him, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com.  Earlier today, Ben Nicholson-Smith outlined the club's options regarding Bell this offseason.
  • Veteran Jim Thome is happy to return to the Tribe as the elder statesman, writes Zack Meisel of MLB.com.  The slugger will celebrate his 41st birthday tomorrow.


Stark On Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies

ESPN's Jayson Stark posted a new column yesterday; let's take a look.

  • Stark speculates on four players the Cubs could attempt to trade Carlos Zambrano for: Carlos Lee, A.J. Burnett, Barry Zito, and Derek Lowe.  I posted 11 Zambrano trade scenarios yesterday; check it out.  A few baseball insiders Stark spoke to did think that with the right veteran team or manager Zambrano could be useful.
  • Cubs players Kerry Wood and Reed Johnson were claimed on waivers and pulled back, reports Stark.  Carlos Pena has yet to be placed on waivers, but the Cubs may not be motivated to move him.
  • One baseball man who is close to Bud Selig told Stark the commissioner has "basically promised a lot of people he'll get them slotting by next year."  
  • The Red Sox are poking around for a right-handed bench bat, while the Yankees and Phillies seek veteran left-handed relievers.  

Cubs Rumors: Aramis, Pena, Johnson, Gillick

A collection of links for all the Cubs fans out there…

  • Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena may have played their way into the Cubs' plans for next season, reports CSNChicago.com's Patrick Mooney.  The Cubs hold a $16MM club option on Ramirez for next season and while Ramirez has the right to void that option, his refusal to waive his no-trade clause would seem to indicate he wants to remain in Chicago. 
  • As for Pena, while the Cubs have been rumored as suitors for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder this winter, Mooney says "next year’s payroll – as well as ownership’s appetite for a megadeal – is still to be determined."  Pena could be brought back on a less-expensive contract to play first base.  
  • The Cubs continue receiving calls on Sean Marshall, but are telling all inquirers that the lefty setup man is going nowhere, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. The 28-year-old has a 3.11 ERA and a 49/10 K/BB ratio through 46 1/3 innings this year.
  • ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that while outfielder Reed Johnson is cheap, a trade partner likely wouldn't make the Cubs a very strong offer to acquire his services.
  • Former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick denied a Chicago radio report that he'd spoken with Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts about joining their front office, writes MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Gillick says he's never even met Ricketts, and offered praise for Cubs GM Jim Hendry. Gillick is currently a senior advisor in the Phillies front office.

MLBTR's Mark Polishuk also contributed to this post


Gammons Talks Trade Market

Peter Gammons spoke with a host of scouts, general managers, and MLB executives, all of which is compiled in his latest piece at MLB.com, which is chock full of trade-related news:

  • The Astros are asking for as much in return for Wandy Rodriguez as the Rockies are for Ubaldo Jimenez. General manager Ed Wade is in a difficult position, caught between an ownership change.
  • Half a dozen teams are looking for right-handed offense, but the Rockies won't trade Ryan Spilborghs and the Cubs are holding onto Jeff Baker. Gammons says that reduces that market to Conor Jackson, Josh Willingham, Reed Johnson, Lastings Milledge, and Jeff Francoeur. The Twins recently announced they won't trade Michael Cuddyer as well.
  • The Dodgers want to shed salary, but don't have much to shed besides Jamey Carroll and Hiroki Kuroda. Gammons spoke with two East coast executives that said Kuroda, who has a full no-trade clause, won't accept a deal to an East Coast team.
  • The Athletics will move veteran bats and probably a reliever or two.
  • The Mariners won't have a fire sale, and aren't likely to get much for Erik Bedard in light of his injury.
  • The Nationals are willing to trade Tyler Clippard, and have been continually pursuing Michael Bourn. They're also one of several teams who showed interest in Julio Borbon prior to his injury.
  • Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail is in a tough spot because he doesn't know which way owner Peter Angelos wants him to go, according to a rival GM.
  • Jordan Pacheco and Wilin Rosario make it possible for the Rockies to trade Chris Iannetta, but the Red Sox seem content wth their catching options.

NL Central Notes: Cardinals, Keppinger, Johnson

Heading into today's action, no first place team in either league holds a lead of more than two and a half games, and no division is tighter at the top than the NL Central. Not only are the Cardinals, Brewers, and Pirates separated by a single game in the standings, but all three teams are dead even in the loss column. Here's the latest on the Central, as we look forward to what should be a fun playoff race:

  • The Cardinals' pursuit of pitching is "taking shape," tweets Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, though he cautions in a second tweet that he's unsure of the timetable for a deal.
  • Discussing the Cardinals' need for arms, Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch says that while prioritizing relief help makes sense, the team could also try to acquire a starter and move Kyle McClellan to the bullpen.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders (via Twitter) if the Astros will receive more interest in Jeff Keppinger than Brett Myers, given Myers' struggles this season.
  • In a separate tweet, Morosi notes that Cubs' outfielder Reed Johnson is another useful complementary player who could be available on the cheap this month.

Cubs Sign Reed Johnson

The Cubs and outfielder Reed Johnson have agreed to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training, according to a team press release.  This marks a return to Wrigley for Johnson, who spent the 2008 and '09 seasons with the Cubs before hooking on with the Dodgers last season. 

Johnson was less-than-impressive in Dodger blue, turning in a slash line of .262/.291/.366 in 215 plate appearances.  The 34-year-old has a career .748 OPS and a solid 4.6 UZR/150 in the outfield.  Johnson is represented by WMG.


Mets Notes: Reyes, Alderson, Reed Johnson

On the 26th anniversary of the trade that sent Hall-of-Famer Gary Carter from the Expos to the Mets, it's only appropriate that we look at some Mets-related news items….

  • Carl Crawford's deal "virtually guarantees" that Jose Reyes won't pursue an extension with the Mets before hitting the free agent market, writes Newsday's David Lennon.  Reyes would have to have a big 2011 season and stay healthy first, but even then, it's hard to see a team giving a Crawford-esque contract to a player with Reyes' injury history.
  • From the same piece, Lennon thinks it's unlikely that Sandy Alderson would sign a free agent to a six- or seven-year mega-deal akin to those signed by Crawford or Jayson Werth.  "Alderson just doesn’t believe in building a team that way, and really, what’s so wrong with that?", Lennon asks.
  • Speaking of Alderson, he took part in a conference call today with several Mets bloggers.  Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.com has the recap, with Michael Baron providing the transcription.
  • The Mets have some interest in Reed Johnson but "nothing is close" and Johnson is one of several options being considered, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (both Twitter links).

Rangers Continue Search For Right-Handed Bat

Teams have just two more days to acquire postseason-eligible players, but the Rangers haven't yet given up their search for a right-handed hitter. Richard Durrett of ESPN.com writes that, after missing out on Manny Ramirez, Jon Daniels and the Rangers continue to "work the phones" in hopes of landing a bat.

Our list of players that we know have cleared waivers is noticeably lacking in right-handed options, with switch-hitters Carlos Beltran and Geoff Blum the only healthy possibilities. Durrett, however, lists a few names he thinks may be available, including Ryan Spilborghs, Reed Johnson, Jeff Francoeur, and Marlon Byrd. It's also possible that the Rangers are the unknown team that won a waiver claim on Mike Napoli, though he would have had to make it past the Tigers and White Sox, among other clubs.

The Rangers were hoping Jorge Cantu would provide the right-handed pop they needed, but the 28-year-old has struggled since Texas acquired him a month ago. Cantu has yet to record a homer or RBI for the Rangers, hitting .226/.281/.283 in 58 plate appearances.