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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.
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.
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
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.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Chicago White Sox | Chris Iannetta | Colorado Rockies | Conor Jackson | Hiroki Kuroda | Houston Astros | Jamey Carroll | Jeff Francoeur | Josh Willingham | Julio Borbon | Kansas City Royals | Lastings Milledge | Los Angeles Dodgers | Michael Bourn | Oakland Athletics | Reed Johnson | Ryan Spilborghs | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers | Tyler Clippard | Wandy Rodriguez | Washington Nationals
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.
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.
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).
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.
- Despite their recent ownership issues, the Rangers seem to have no problem with spending big. One of the reasons that they claimed Manny Ramirez on waivers was to prevent him from getting to two of their potential postseason foes, the Rays and the Yankees. It's probably for the best that they didn't submit the winning claim as seeing Ramirez or Vladimir Guerrero in the outfield would have caused some problems. Right now they should be fine offensively with Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler, two big right-handed bats, coming off of the DL soon. However, they had been interested in obtaining a fourth outfielder such as Reed Johnson.
- The Dodgers could let Ramirez go to the White Sox regardless of where they are in the standings. Rosenthal notes that he has played in just three of six games since coming off of the disabled list. In the last hour we learned that the twelve-time All-Star will not start in tonight's contest against the Rockies.
- Based on this week's events it appears that Major League Baseball is doing better financially than we are led to believe. Leaked financial reports showed that the Marlins and Pirates are taking in a decent amount of money and the small-market Rays took a $4MM gamble on claiming Manny Ramirez. Rosenthal asked a GM how three teams could take that chance and the GM replied that no one really could take that risk but everyone wants to win.
The Dodgers officially signed outfielder Reed Johnson to a one-year, $800K deal today. He can earn another $250K in incentives. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the near-agreement on Sunday, with Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times adding contract details.
Johnson, 33, hit .255/.330/.412 with the Cubs last season, seeing time at all three outfield positions, though primarily in center field. He was limited to just 65 games as a result of a fractured left foot. The Cubs non-tendered him after the season rather than pay him a salary in the $3MM range.
We've heard recently that the Dodgers have been in touch with Garret Anderson, but the Johnson acquisition likely puts an end to that. Johnson makes more sense as a fourth outfielder, given his ability to play anywhere in the outfield, though UZR suggests that his only strong spot is in left.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.