Ryan Church Rumors
According to SNY via Metsblog as well as WFAN, the Mets have traded Lastings Milledge to the Nationals for Brian Schneider and Ryan Church.
Initial thought: sweet deal by Jim Bowden. Milledge, who turns 23 in April, has star potential or at least will become an above average right fielder (though he should be tried in center unless he's terrible there). The 31 year-old Schneider is strong defensively, but he doesn't hit. The 29 year-old Church has a career OPS over .800, and may be a bit underrated. But he is 29 and not likely to get much better. He's quite a ways away from free agency, at least.
I'm just surprised Milledge couldn't net more.
The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan has the latest on the Cubs this morning.
- It's been known for a few days now that the Red Sox like the idea of adding Kerry Wood as their setup man. Sullivan confirms the interest, and quotes Cubs GM Jim Hendry saying Wood is "getting a lot of action around the industry." In a pitching-starved market, teams will convince themselves Wood can stay healthy and dominant. Sullivan speculates that it could take multiple years at $5MM per. To see a team go 3/15 would not shock me.
- Kaz Matsui is still on the Cubs' radar for a three-year deal. They could consider using him at shortstop or second base. Two days ago Tracy Ringolsby had said Matsui "appeared headed to the Astros," but Ken Rosenthal chimed in noting the Cubs and Rockies are ahead of Houston in the Matsui derby. Hendry met with Matsui yesterday, but no deal is imminent.
- A left-handed hitting outfielder remains on Hendry's wish list. Carl Crawford hasn't yet been made available according to Sullivan, but the Cubs will surely look into it if he is. Kosuke Fukudome remains a possibility as well. Bruce Miles adds Ryan Church to the mix.
- The Cubs expect to increase payroll beyond last year's $110MM.
Jake Peavy will soon add a Cy Young to his resume, and the Padres would like to explore a contract extension with him. Under his current contract, Peavy will earn $6.5MM in '08 and $11MM in '09 once he wins the award. The Padres would like to extend him for the 2010 and 2011 seasons and possibly more.
Peavy realizes the Padres won't give him the $18MM+ per year he could earn on the free market. But an extension for 2010-11 in the range of $32-35MM could work.
It's been assumed that any team trading for Peavy this winter would have him for two seasons. However, that isn't the case - Tom Krasovic says he could opt for free agency after '08 as a player traded during a multiyear deal. I assume Dan Haren has the same right, but Erik Bedard does not. That certainly bumps up Bedard's value.
Krasovic also adds that the Padres have their eye on Jim Edmonds and Ryan Church as center field options. The Padres would expect Edmonds to be a salary dump and the Cards to throw in some cash. Meanwhile Jim Bowden has a high asking price for Church.
Ken Rosenthal has cranked out another rumor-filled column. A summary is below.
- The Marlins are insisting on Howie Kendrick in a Miguel Cabrera deal. The Angels are understandably reluctant.
- The Nationals could sign Andruw Jones long-term if they felt it was a bargain - say, $13MM a year. The Giants, White Sox, and Padres may be in the mix as well. Hmmm, White Sox and Boras? And if Scott Boras changes his tune and hunts for a one-year "rebuild value" contract for Jones, the Red Sox could get involved.
- The Phillies think Aaron Rowand will end up getting a 4/52 contract, though Rosenthal expects him to get the fifth guaranteed year. It's previously been reported that Rowand is looking for a six-year, $84MM deal. Yikes.
- Aside from the Astros and Mets, the Indians, Padres, and Dodgers could get in on Luis Castillo. In the Tribe's case, it would involve a scenario where Jhonny Peralta was dealt.
- Interesting note on Curt Schilling's $2MM in weight incentives - the target weights are aggressively low, and the weigh-ins will be done randomly. So, no cheating the system. By the way, isn't it ridiculous that one Cy vote gets him $1MM? Sportswriters have given out single votes on a whim for much dumber reasons.
- The Red Sox are apparently asking a lot for Coco Crisp, more than the Twins are ready to give up.
- The Indians and Brewers have an excess of starters. Names that could hit the market include Cliff Lee, Dave Bush, and Chris Capuano. The Nationals have their eye on Lee. He came up as an Expo through Double A.
- The Nationals might be able to get something good for outfielder Ryan Church. In general, Jim Bowden desires a young MLB-ready starter like Kevin Mulvey or Kevin Slowey.
MLB.com's Bill Ladson has the lowdown on the Washington Nationals. They've got several pieces they're looking to move.
Chad Cordero and Jon Rauch remain popular names on the market, but it still seems like Jim Bowden is holding out for something amazing. Ladson says Bowden is asking the Mets for Lastings Milledge and Mike Pelfrey in a deal. It is known that the Mets would move Pelfrey in a major trade (per Jayston Stark). Pelfrey would be a great guy for the Nats to acquire; they really need some MLB-ready pitching depth. Another name on the Nats' radar is Double A righty Kevin Mulvey of the Mets - they were openly scouting him on Thursday.
Cordero is aware of the rumors, and will move into a setup role for another team graciously. He hopes to stay in Washington though.
Ladson also says Ryan Church is being offered up; contenders would use him as a fourth outfielder. Church has been connected to the Cubs in the past, but I don't think they'd go for him now. He's at .262/.342/.420 this year, good fourth outfielder numbers. He's capable of knocking 3-4 homers a month.
Finally, Ladson mentions that the Nationals recently scouting the Tigers' Double A Erie affiliate. The SeaWolves' more interesting prospects include Jair Jurrjens, Dallas Trahern, and Jeff Larish. It is known that the Nats were watching Jurrjens' last start.
Ken Rosenthal has a new Full Count video up at FOXSports for your viewing pleasure.
- Rosenthal believes that despite Andruw Jones's lousy May and June, he'll still cash in this winter as the best available center fielder. He'll still provide more offense than Torii Hunter in the long run.
- The Nationals are still asking for the moon in trade talks. If Jim Bowden does start acting reasonable, Dmitri Young, Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, and Ryan Church could be dealt. Word via Bill Ladson of MLB.com is that only the Braves have inquired on Young.
- Brad Lidge is expected to remain an Astro. The main reason: Drayton McLane still doesn't think his team is out of it. Most simulations a 2% chance or less of reaching the playoffs. If the Astros finally do acknowledge reality, they'd prefer to trade relievers other than Lidge (ie, Dan Wheeler or Chad Qualls).
- The Rangers and Brewers were close to a trade: Akinori Otsuka to the Brewers for Tony Gwynn Jr. Rosenthal seemed to dislike it, but I think it made sense for the Crew. Regardless, Bill Hall's injury thwarted the deal as Gwynn will be needed to man center.
- The new plan for the Brewers is to call up 29 year-old Grant Balfour, who's dominated in the minors. He endured elbow and shoulder woes before undergoing Tommy John surgery in May of '05. In the midst of his TJ recovery, Balfour developed the need for shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff and labrum. This guy would be pumping gas if he'd been born a few decades earlier. After the surgeries, the Twins cut Balfour and the Reds snagged him. Balfour rehabbed with the Reds but never made it to the bigs; the Brewers claimed him off waivers in October of '06. He's all the way back; Johnny Estrada was singing his praises back in February.
A new Cubs trade rumor found its way into my inbox this morning courtesy of loyal reader Derek. Yesterday, Jim Williams wrote a column for the Washington Examiner suggesting the Cubs might deal Kerry Wood for Jose Vidro and Ryan Church this spring.
He mentions the health issues surrounding both Wood and Vidro and that both players would have to be ready to play. Williams also says Wood's huge contract could be a concern. Looking at the numbers, Wood makes $11MM in 2006 and has a $13.5MM option for 2007 with a $3MM buyout attached. Vidro will make $7MM in '06, $7.5MM in '07, and $8.5MM in '08. Church makes the minimum, having played just 132 games in the bigs.
I talked to three of my Cubs sources to see if they thought this rumor had any validity. One called it "totally absurd." The another said that given Wood's blanket no-trade clause, the rumor's not feasible. I haven't been able to find Jim Williams's email address to ask him about that aspect of the deal. A third source called the rumor sounded "shaky," saying that Wood would probably approve a deal to the Astros or Rangers, but not the Nationals. He mentioned that Wood will need more than spring training to prove his shoulder is healthy, and a July trade wouldn't be a surprise.
My thoughts on the players: Vidro's decline is coming on fast and he may never be completely healthy again. Church will be a solid Major Leaguer if he gets the opportunity. Wood seems destined for the bullpen in the long-term, perhaps with a Gagne-like run in the cards.