Reggie Willits Rumors

22 Triple-A Players Elect Free Agency

A total of 22 players that finished the year in Triple-A elected free agency after the end of the regular season according to the transaction pages of the Pacific Coast and International Leagues. All but one of those 22 players (Matt Carson, formerly of the Rays) played in the big leagues this season. Here's the full list:

Dusty Brown (Pirates), Travis Buck (Indians), Armando Galarraga (D'Backs), Jay Gibbons (Dodgers), Edgar Gonzalez (Rockies), Steve Holm (Twins), Wil Ledezma (Blue Jays), Andy LaRoche (Athletics), Felipe Lopez (Brewers), Lastings Milledge (White Sox), Pat Misch (Mets), Pat Neshek (Padres), Mike O'Connor (Mets), Matt Palmer (Angels), Felix Pie (Orioles), Brad Snyder (Cubs), Brett Tomko (Rangers), Wyatt Toregas (Pirates), P.J. Walters (Blue Jays), Randy Williams (Red Sox), and Reggie Willits (Angels).

Outrighted To Triple-A: Edgar Gonzalez, Reggie Willits

Saturday's outright assignments…

Angels Designate Reggie Willits For Assignment

The Angels designated outfielder Reggie Willits for assignment, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times (on Twitter). They're calling up journeyman right-hander Jerome Williams, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Times (on Twitter), and optioning Trevor Bell to the minors in a related move.

Willits, 30, placed fifth in the 2007 Rookie of the Year balloting after stealing 27 bases and posting a .293/.391/.344 line for Los Angeles. He hasn't matched that level of productivity since and has just one double and four walks in 28 MLB plate appearances this year. He has spent most of this season in the minors, where he has a .255/.378/.296 line in 305 plate appearances.

Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Today is the deadline for players and teams to submit arbitration figures. The sides will then settle on a salary between the team's proposed number and the player's proposed number or go to an arbitration hearing. Arbitration eligible players are under team control, so the clubs don't risk losing them – it's a question of how much the players will earn.

Yesterday, 11 players avoided arbitration. We could see just as many agreements trickle in today and we'll keep you posted on them right here and with our Arb Tracker. The latest updates will be at the top of the post:


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Players To Avoid Arbitration: Tuesday

Noon ET today was the deadline for both the team and player to submit their salary figures for arbitration, however the two sides can come to an agreement at any point before the actual hearing. The hearings are scheduled for the first week of February.

We'll keep track of the players who avoid arbitration today by agreeing to deals here. Make sure you check back in for updates, and be sure to click the "Continue Reading" link to see today's full list of settlements.  Yesterday's list can be found here.

  • Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels avoided arbitration with Mike Napoli and Reggie Willits by signing the duo to one-year deals.  Napoli will earn $3.6MM in 2010 with a $100K bonus if he makes 120 starts.  Willits' contract is worth $625K. 
  • Zach Duke's one-year contract with Pittsburgh is worth $4.3MM with no performance bonuses, tweets Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  • The Padres and reliever Mike Adams have agreed to a contract, reports's Corey Brock (via Twitter).  Brock's follow-up tweet says Adams' deal is worth $1MM, virtually splitting the difference between San Diego's $875K offer and Adams' $1.2MM demands.
  • Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins have agreements in place with all eight of their arbitration eligible players.  In a follow-up tweet, Christensen reports that Francisco Liriano agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.6MM and Jesse Crain agreed to a one-year contract worth $2MM.
  • Marc Carig of the New Jersey Star-Ledger reports that the Mets avoided arbitration with reliever Sean Green (via Twitter).  The one-year deal was worth $975K, according to the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron.
  • The Tigers avoided arb with Gerald Laird and Zach Miner as well according to James Jahnke of The Detroit Free Press.'s Jason Beck tweets the details on the one-year contracts: Laird will earn $3.95MM, Miner will earn $950K.
  • Christensen tweets that the Twins avoided arb with Brendan Harris, signing him to a two year deal worth $3.2MM with another $650K in possible incentives.
  • The Tigers and Bobby Seay avoided arbitration according to's Jason Beck (via Twitter), agreeing to a one year deal worth $2.475MM.
  • Thesier tweets that Matt Guerrier agreed to a one year deal worth $3.15MM with the Twins, avoiding arb.
  • Amalie Benjamin of The Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox have avoided arbitration with Ramon Ramirez and Manny Delcarmen, with Delcarmen getting $905K plus incentives according to Joe McDonald of The Providence Journal. Boston avoided arb with Jonathan Papelbon as well.


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Rays Likely To Fill Outfield Void Through Trade

According to Marc Lancaster, the Rays would prefer to fill their need for a fourth outfielder via trade as opposed to signing a free agent such as Kenny Lofton.

Lancaster notes the Rays are likely to offer one of their surplus of starting pitchers. The Rays have five pitchers competing for the final two spots in the rotation and two of those pitchers (Edwin Jackson and Jason Hammel) are out of options. In addition Lancaster mentions that the Rays have a number of pitching prospects at AA and AAA that could be included in a deal.

The Rays would prefer a player that in addition to regular playing time in right field, can serve as a backup to center fielder BJ Upton. Lancaster lists several players that match this description including Juan Rivera, Reggie Willits, Coco Crisp, Reed Johnson and Ryan Freel. Ken Rosenthal previously said that Willits is untouchable, and Crisp and Johnson seem unlikely as trades rarely occur within a division. The Reds seem like the best fit of this group as they have been rumored to be active in the trade market this off-season for a starting pitcher.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Roberts, Horacio, Willits

Rumor guru and baseball insider Ken Rosenthal has a new column at FOX Sports.  Let’s discuss.

  • Rosenthal does not see the Cubs taking on the salaries of both Brian Roberts and Coco Crisp, even if they shed their Jason Marquis commitment.  Roberts remains the focus.
  • Horacio Ramirez‘s agent says seven clubs have already expressed interest in his client.  Perhaps he meant to say 0.7.
  • Rosenthal runs through many Rocco Baldelli replacement options for the Rays: Reggie Willits, Kenny Lofton, Gabe Gross, and Reed Johnson.  Only Willits seems the perfect fit, and the Angels aren’t making him available. Willits and his .393 career OBP could be headed to Triple A.
  • The Phillies are looking for middle relief help; Rosenthal suggests a possible match with Arizona.  Or, how ’bout signing Bob Wickman?  Is he officially retired?

Rosenthal’s Latest: Crede, Willits, Rivera, Belliard

Ken Rosenthal checks in with all kinds of hot stove info.

  • Continuing on yesterday’s post regarding Joe Crede and the Dodgers , Rosenthal reports that a source close to Dodgers management explained that the team trading for a third baseman like Crede or Brandon Inge is "all about the budget and whether [owner Frank] McCourt will allow them to add money."  Rosenthal continues to point out that Crede is a better deal than Inge in terms of their contracts, and that Crede could also be more attractive to Dodgers management because the White Sox might be willing to trade for prospects, while the Tigers are looking for immediate bullpen help.
  • The Mariners had been in the market for a veteran right-handed hitting outfielder, but have opted instead for in-house options.  It seems Coco Crisp could have filled a need.  Sure, he’s a switch-hitter, but his splits suggest it could have made some sense.  If they didn’t have to part with too much, it might have worked.
  • The Angels have a surplus in the outfield — Juan Rivera and Reggie Willits — and Rosenthal reports that Willits is now untouchable according to the Angels (two teams have inquired after him recently).  The two are blocked by Vladimir Guerrero, Garrett Anderson, Torii Hunter, and Gary Matthews Jr.  While it sounds as if they’d prefer to move Rivera (a free agent at season’s end), it’s hard to imagine that they’d send Willits to the minors (he has options remaining) if they don’t find a good match for Rivera (Umpbump Coley suggested the Padres or Mets yesterday).  As Coley pointed out, the Angels have numerous banged up pitchers, and there are a number of teams out there who are going to be starting center fielders with inferior skill sets compared to Willits (as Tim pointed out a few days ago).
  • The Nationals are dealing with a surplus at second base, and Rosenthal believes that Ron Belliard is the most logical piece to move, what with his $1.6MM salary this season, and his $1.9MM for next.  Rosenthal pinpoints the Rockies (perhaps too little range on the right side with Jeff Baker and Todd Helton), Cardinals, Twins, and White Sox as potential trade partners.

Posted by Matt Birt

Blocked Prospects: Reggie Willits

As a 26 year-old with roughly one full season worth of Major League experience, Reggie Willits may not technically be a prospect.  But with Torii Hunter signed through 2012, Vladimir Guerrero through 2009 and likely to stay longer, and Gary Matthews Jr. through 2011, Willits certainly qualifies as blocked.  Terry Evans and Nathan Haynes are similarly impeded, and the latter is out of options.  But let’s center on Willits.

I want to focus on Willits because he is capable of playing center field.  In their 2007 handbook, Baseball America called him an "above-average center fielder with an average arm and plus speed."  So he clearly won’t embarrass himself with the glove. 

Offensively, Willits profiles as the ideal leadoff hitter.  In 576 big league plate appearances, he’s drawn 80 walks.  A walk rate near 14% and a .393 career OBP makes for a valuable center fielder, even with no power.  Baseball Prospectus sees him dipping to .269/.353/.354 this year, a performance worth $5MM even if he plays only two-thirds of a season.  He’s also a switch-hitter with no discernible split.  And for the next two seasons, Willits will earn less than a million bucks total.

I’ll assume another team would look to maximize Willits’ value by using him in center.  He could help the Twins, A’s, Braves, Marlins, Cubs, and Padres to various degrees.  The first four teams do have more interesting long-term options in center though.  The idea of Willits to San Diego has come up before; that’s the best fit.  The Angels are going with internal options at third base and shortstop as well as in the rotation.  If any of those fail, Willits, Evans, and Haynes could become primary trading chips.

Willits Not On Braves’ Radar

UPDATE, 12-4-07 at 6:50pm: O’Brien corrects himself – Willits is not on the Braves’ radar.  Nor is Josh Hamilton, in case you were wondering.  They’ve got some mild interest in Chris Duffy.

FROM 12-4-07 at 8:26pm:

According to David O’Brien of the AJC, the Braves have talked to the Angels about outfielder Reggie Willits.  The Braves could plug Willits into their center field spot for a few years.  But what could they offer the Angels?