Reid Brignac Rumors
The Yankees made one of their trademark low-risk, high-reward signings last week when they agreed to a one-year, $2MM deal with Travis Hafner that includes another $2MM in performance bonuses. The left-handed hitter has a career batting line of .287/.391/.534 against right-handed pitching and could prove to be a great pickup if he stays healthy. Meanwhile, they still have some business to take care of on the other side of the plate. Here's more on that and other news out of the AL East..
- Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman told Jim Bowden (via Twitter) and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM that he is not finished yet and they are still looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder. The Yankees recently inked Juan Rivera to a minor league deal, but they'll look for a stronger option in the outfield.
- The Rays have a similar need for a right-handed hitting outfielder/designated hitter/first baseman, but they likely won't find their man before spring training with limited options available, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Carlos Lee and Russ Canzler are among the hitters still available on the open market.
- More from Topkin, who writes that there was trade chatter surrounding infielder Reid Brignac last week. Brignac is out-of-options and seems unlikely to make the 40-man roster. Aside from Brignac, the Rays still have to clear two more roster spots. Catcher Stephen Vogt and reliever Dane De La Rosa are candidates to be DFA'd.
Some Winter Meetings rumors courtesy of CBS Sports' Danny Knobler:
- Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado continue to be "as sought after as any players" on the trade market. Atlanta has received calls from 8-10 teams on Jurrjens and "half the teams in baseball" on Prado. Most see Prado as a second base upgrade. The Braves continue to say they don't need to move either player.
- It's been well-documented that the White Sox could trade any combination of John Danks, Gavin Floyd, and Carlos Quentin this offseason, but Knobler says they'll listen on Gordon Beckham as well. Many Sox officials are hesitant to concede to rebuilding, despite the fact that GM Ken Williams used that exact word last month.
- If the Tigers are going to make a big free agent signing, it's more likely to be Yoenis Cespedes than anyone else.
- The Rays are open to trading Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis to improve the offense. They're also looking to deal Reid Brignac and upgrade their catching.
Rays big leaguers B.J. Upton, Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, and Wade Davis are drawing heavy interest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the team's "preference is to use their prospect depth to land a hitter." The Rays specifically feel that they can't match Upton's defensive skills with internal options.
The Rays' farm system is among the best in the game, so they can easily make prospect-only deals. Even if you take Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson out of the mix, Tim Beckham, Matt Moore, Alex Colome, and Matt Sweeney were considered top 100 prospects heading into the season. It's quite possible the Rays go even further down their prospect list. Look at the Angels - they just acquired Dan Haren without surrendering any top 100 guys.
As usual, the Rays have kept their targets close to the vest. Few players have been connected to them in recent weeks aside from Jayson Werth, and Yahoo's Tim Brown tweeted three days ago that a Rays source seriously doubts they get the Phillies outfielder.
Sunday night linkage..
- Ben Goessling of MASNSports.com wonders if the reason Nationals' GM Mike Rizzo has made players like Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham available is because the team's offense is struggling with them as it is, so he'll try to improve other areas of the team.
- ESPNChicago's Bruce Levine says the Yankees could join the mix for Ted Lilly following Andy Pettitte's injury today. Meanwhile, Yanks' GM Brian Cashman told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com that he is "not inclined" to make a move to replace Pettitte yet, saying that he prefers to give internal options a try first. Levine has the Tigers, Twins, Mets, and Dodgers also in the hunt for Lilly.
- Scott Miller of CSBSports.com wonders if this weekend's poor play (three losses to the Padres) makes a Dan Haren trade more likely.
- David Villavicencio of Fox Sports Florida tells us that players like Cody Ross and Ricky Nolasco want to stay with the Marlins, and know they need a strong run to make that a reality.
- Mark Kotsay knows what it's like to be the player who's desired in a trade, but also to be the player who would lose playing time as a result of one, writes MLB.com's Scott Merkin.
- Jose Bautista was honored that Alex Anthopoulos called him to help get Yunel Escobar settled into his new environment, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Bautista says that he loves Toronto and would like to stay there long-term.
- The Yankees, who have been interested bystanders through most of the process, are now getting more interested in Mexican amateur pitcher Luis Heredia, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. However, the Pirates and the Blue Jays remain the frontrunners for the 15-year-old, who is sure to get a bonus of more than $2MM.
- Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweets that Tampa Bay expressed interest in Yunel Escobar before he was dealt to Toronto. He also tweets that Reid Brignac was part of the talks.
- Hayden Penn, a pitcher for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate who was reportedly nearing a deal with the Chiba Lotte Marines, is on his way to Japan, according to Indianapolis Indians Triple-A announcer Scott McCauley (via Twitter). McCauley also says that another Indianapolis hurler is "close to a deal".
- The White Sox, who have been linked to Nationals slugger Adam Dunn, have had a scout present for Washington's series against the Marlins, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post (via Twitter).
- Reliever David Aardsma is a possible fit for the Tigers, tweets Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse.
- R.J. Anderson of Fangraphs attempted to peg Fausto Carmona's trade value.
- Roy Oswalt wants to claim the Astros win record before leaving, writes Bernardo Fallas of the Houston Chronicle.
- Jean-Jacques Taylor of The Dallas Morning News praised the moves made by Rangers GM Jon Daniels.
- Peter Schmuck of The Baltimore Sun senses deja vu all over again as the deadline approaches.
Let's finish off our series with the toughest division in baseball...
- Blue Jays: The Jays already traded away most of their top pieces, but they still have three desirable relievers in Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and Kevin Gregg. All three can become free agents after the season. There might be some interest in first baseman Lyle Overbay, who will also hit the open market after the season.
- Orioles: Considering how poorly he pitched before landing on the DL, I'm sure a large part of the Baltimore faithful wouldn't mind seeing Mike Gonzalez go. Alas, that won't happen anytime soon. There always seems to be interest in Luke Scott, who still has two more years of team control left. If they decide to sell at mid-season, Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie could find their way onto the block.
- Rays: The Rays are a player development machine, and they have enough young players to get get pretty much anyone they want. They have enough depth that they could trade one of Reid Brignac or Sean Rodriguez plus one of Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, or Jeremy Hellickson and not miss a beat. If they fall out of it and decide to sell, it doesn't get much better than Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, and Carlos Pena. I believe the term is "stacked."
- Red Sox: Boston has held onto Clay Buchholz for this long, but with his name appearing so frequently on the rumor circuit, it really wouldn't be surprising if they moved him for a big time player. They might still be able to find a taker for Mike Lowell, and there would be interest in Manny Delcarmen if he were made available. They did lose a valuable chip when Junichi Tazawa went down with Tommy John surgery.
- Yankees: They seem unwilling to trade either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, so their best chip is the semi-blocked Jesus Montero. Of course, the Yankees have the ability to absorb even the ugliest of contracts, so maybe we should consider that their biggest trade chip.
Hank Blalock will report to the Rays' Triple-A affiliate in Durham, according to the Tampa Bay Tribune (via Twitter). Marc Topkin of The St. Petersburg Times tweets that this means the 29-year-old was unable to find a major league job elsewhere.
Late last week, Reid Brignac made Tampa Bay's Opening Day roster, leaving Blalock as the odd man out. Despite his assertion that he does not want to play minor league ball, he told Topkin that he would remain in Durham for the "foreseeable future" if he could not land a gig in the big show (link goes to Twitter).
9:36pm: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter) thinks "it's unlikely anything happens" between Tampa Bay and Hudson, noting that the Rays are happy with Zobrist, Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez at second base. He does say, however, that the Rays "have interest in [a number] of free agents."
8:12pm: ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Twitter) that Tampa Bay is "in on Orlando Hudson talks." The plan would be to install Hudson at second base while Ben Zobrist gets moved to right field. Olney says that the move "all depends on the price," which would presumably have to be significantly lower than Hudson's $9MM asking price.
The Nationals have been considered to be the leaders in the Hudson sweepstakes this winter, and MLB.com's Bill Ladson was told today by a source that the Nats "have a good chance" of signing the free-agent second baseman due to Hudson's close ties to Adam Dunn and Willie Harris.
Ladson also went straight to the horse's mouth and talked to Hudson himself, who told Ladson that "progress had been made." The interview also included this interesting passage from Hudson that cited two other teams in the hunt:
"I will sign soon enough. You can put it on the Internet and on TV. I'm going to sign. I can't say exactly when. It will not be long. I can't say if it's with the Nationals, San Diego or Cleveland. I can't say with whom. Something is getting done."
The Padres could be a longshot if, as MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier today, they've completed their winter shopping following the signing of Jon Garland. The Tribe also seem like unlikely suitors given Hudson's contract demands.
- The Blue Jays will offer Marco Scutaro salary arbitration. Blair hears indications that the shortstop may have a three-year deal coming his way.
- The Jays made a serious run at Orlando Cabrera, but decided against a deal since it would have taken a commitment of about $12MM and two years. The Jays like Cabrera, but have concerns about the former Gold Glover's range and arm.
- Cabrera's agent is telling teams that his client is ready to play second base. The Twins may have interest in re-signing Cabrera to play second.
- The Jays spoke to the Rays about Reid Brignac, but felt Tampa was asking for too much.
- Blair wonders if Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos will try to trade Gonzalez at next summer's trade deadline if the shortstop starts the year well.
A few more evening links....
- Bill Chastain of MLB.com writes that the arrival of Reid Brignac in Tampa Bay could lead to the Rays buying out Akinori Iwamura's option this offseason. The $4.25MM 2010 option can be bought out for $250k. Chastain suggests that the emergence of Ben Zobrist and the recent strong play of Brignac could make Iwamura expendable.
- Todd Zolecki of MLB.com passes on news of Phillies' minor league players of the year Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor being honored before Tuesday's game against Washington. Given the Phillies' talent and depth on the major league level, Zolecki predicts that both prospects will start 2010 at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Like Ryan Howard before him, Taylor has his path to the major league roster blocked by veterans with bigger contracts. Howard eventually took advantage of a Jim Thome injury and excelled in Philadelphia. It will be interesting to see if Taylor and Drabek, who were so coveted at this year's trade deadline, will earn similar opportunities in 2010.
- Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer blogs about a few former Phillies prospects, expressing some concern about the Indians' haul in the trade that sent Cliff Lee to Philadelphia.
3:11pm: Baseball America's Ben Badler reports Brignac will play in the second game of Durham's Saturday doubleheader. His "right leg was bothering him" this afternoon.
1:54pm: Marc Lancaster of the Tampa Tribune tweets, "Word from Durham is Reid Brignac was pulled from the game for not hustling to first base." Well, that's that.
1:51pm: As a handful of readers have noted, 23-year-old shortstop Reid Brignac was pulled from Triple-A Durham's lineup in the third inning Saturday for a non-injury reason. He's definitely a potential trade chip, so we'll keep an ear to the grindstone.