Sammy Sosa Rumors
ESPN's Buster Olney makes a pretty strong case for the Mets signing Barry Bonds. Bonds is a lot like Moises Alou, only a better hitter with more baggage. Jeff Sackmann only saw six teams as possible fits for Bonds; the Alou injury might make the Mets the seventh (although Alou missing a month of the regular season was a given). The Mets could get a ton of value from left field if they somehow kept these two from being injured simultaneously.
Olney argues that Bonds is the one available impact bat who can be acquired for only money. And the Mets haven't been terribly concerned with a few steroid-linked players coming through town. I agree with everything he's saying, and I think New York fans wouldn't mind so much if Bonds helped them win a World Series. However, Omar Minaya mostly dismissed the idea of signing Bonds or Sammy Sosa.
A more likely option is Marcus Thames, though Jon Paul Morosi believes Jim Leyland's fondness for him might preclude a trade.
TODAY: Royals GM Dayton Moore denies interest in Sosa, saying he's not looking to acquire any free agents currently.
THURSDAY: According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, the Royals' talks for Sammy Sosa have some life again. However, a Royals official told ESPN last week that the team prefers to go young. Meanwhile, Jose Guillen is campaigning for Sosa.
Really, Sammy taking away ABs from any current Royal doesn't seem to make any sense. You'd hate to see Billy Butler affected, and even a trickle down minor loss of opportunity for Joey Gathright, Ross Gload, Mark Teahen, or Ryan Shealy would be counterproductive. It's time for Sosa to settle in as a bench player who can mash lefties, rather than shoot for 400+ ABs.
Jon Heyman talked to Sammy Sosa's agent, who indicated that Sosa is intent on finding a near full-time offer. Sammy hit .252/.311/.468 last year, earning $1.85MM. Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA system sees a .256/.327/.470 line in 282 plate appearances this year, worth about $3MM.
Sosa's splits indicate he should be playing part time: .328/.410/.613 against lefties, .222/.267/.410 against righties. Plus, who has an open full-time DH job? Many of the 14 spots are occupied with no flexibility. Actually Sosa in a strict platoon with Jack Cust would be interesting.
Some random links and whatnot for Saturday...
- Joe Cowley says the White Sox have backed off on Bartolo Colon because he wants a two-year deal. He believes the Royals are the frontrunner.
- Rangers guru Jamey Newberg doesn't think Marlon Byrd would be enough to get Matt Murton from the Cubs.
- The Rangers might've entertained Sammy Sosa in a limited role, but he's looking for 400-500 plate appearances. Good luck with that!
- Heard an unconfirmed whisper that the Red Sox may have some interest in Brad Wilkerson.
- RotoAuthority takes a fantasy baseball look at Yovani Gallardo and Tim Lincecum.
UPDATE, 12-4-07 at 11:19pm: Ah, the truth comes out. Sammy Sosa's people approached the Royals, but they weren't interested.
FROM 12-4-07 at 3:17pm:
ESPN has a huge team at the Meetings; here are some tidbits that haven't appeared elsewhere on MLBTR.
- Enrique Rojas says the Royals have interest in Sammy Sosa. Could that indicate a Mark Teahen trade is in the works also? Teahen is expected to move to first base to accomodate Jose Guillen, which would push Billy Butler to DH. But Sammy can only DH.
- Buster Olney says the Rangers and Padres are in on Mark Prior.
- The Padres also like lefties Glendon Rusch and Shawn Estes, and may sign both after the Rule 5 as a means of adding starting depth.
- Jayson Stark says the Mariners made an offer to Hiroki Kuroda in the range of four years, $45MM.
- Jerry Crasnick says Anthony Reyes is generating a lot of interest. The Cards, by the way, are open to trading Rick Ankiel, Chris Duncan, or Jim Edmonds.
- The Rockies have gotten in touch with Marcus Giles' agent.
- The Astros aren't interested in Jon Lieber, despite previous reports. They liked Matt Clement a bit among the injury guys but are over him now.
- Ryan Howard's agent and the Phillies will sit down soon to talk about a long-term deal.
I was waiting for someone to name a few players of interest to the Royals, and Bob Dutton came through tonight with some names.
Specifically, the team is after a run-producer, ideally a right-handed hitter. That puts Jose Guillen atop their list. Dayton Moore might need to go a little north of three years, $30MM to get him.
Failing that, the left-handed hitting Geoff Jenkins is on the radar. He'd probably go for a one-year, $6-7MM contract in my estimation.
Dutton notes that the Royals have interest in Torii Hunter, but he's likely to be priced out of their range.
Dutton also hints that Sammy Sosa could be a consideration for the Royals, as he does have pop if nothing else. They are one of a handful of teams with an open DH spot.
Sammy! Sammy Sosa apparently misplaced a decimal point today, declaring that he wants a $7MM contract for 2007. OK, that's not fair. He's worth more than $700K. He did post a better slugging percentage than the average DH, with a .468 mark.
However, the average DH also had a .355 OBP in 2007. Sammy was at .311. He hit .328/.410/.613 against lefties and .222/.267/.410 against righties.
Idea time! GMs in the audience, you can thank me later. If you're an AL team with an open DH slot, sign Sammy for $4MM. Then trade for Scott Hatteberg. You've got a $6MM DH combo right there. Sosa only faces lefties, Hatteberg only faces righties. If this pair had been combined like that in 2007, you'd have gotten a .324/.411/.524 line from your DH spot. Booyah! Where else are you going to get a .900 OPS for that price?
Sullivan's article mainly discusses the possibility of bringing Sammy Sosa back as a platoon designated hitter. Not a terrible idea if Sosa is limited to facing southpaws and perhaps Jose Lima. But here's an interesting throwaway line in the article:
Club officials have made it clear they will not be interested in pursuing Barry Bonds as a free agent.
You may recall that the Rangers got some press in June as the "mystery team" that had pursued Bonds the previous winter. Jon Daniels confirmed the discussions but said no offer was made. In browsing that USA Today article again, I also noticed that Bonds apparently would've retired if he didn't receive an offer of at least $10MM. So that might be his bare minimum this winter.
So far the Rangers and Tigers have already distanced themselves from Bonds.
Pretty much the same old story with the Mets, though Joel Sherman and Mark Hale of the New York Post do have some new tidbits.
- The authors name Chad Cordero, Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, and Eric Gagne as relievers on the radar. However it seems the asking price is too high for Gagne and the Indians have become the frontrunner for Dotel (they may have passed the Dodgers). Shawn Chacon doesn't catch the Mets' eye, and they don't want Chad Bradford's three-year commitment. They had that option with Bradford this winter. I think that logic is silly - Bradford's pitched well this year, and acquiring him now would be akin to a two-year contract. Sometimes it seems GMs pass over certain players because they simply want to add a fresh name.
- You can add Al Reyes to the mix for the Mets, according to the St. Petersburg Times.
- The Mets think many of the available starting pitchers could be traded in August - Jose Contreras, Kyle Lohse, and Steve Trachsel for example. I don't agree on Lohse - he'll be traded today or tomorrow. But Contreras's contract would probably get through waivers without a claim.
- The Post reports no substantive talks to the Royals about Mark Grudzielanek. An inquiry has been made on Mark Loretta.
- Meanwhile, Newsday says the Twins are open to trading Luis Castillo but don't want any of the current Major League Mets. Dan Graziano of the Newark Star-Ledger seems to disagree, citing a Twins scout at Shea yesterday. Graziano does not believe Castillo would get through waivers unclaimed. He believes the Twins want Double A starter Kevin Mulvey and then some (perhaps Ruben Gotay).
- Graziano says a deal for Castillo could be expanded to include 28 year-old righty reliever Juan Rincon. Rincon had been consistently solid for three years (perhaps aided by steroids) but has seen his strikeout rate and overall performance plummet in 2007. Rincon is under control next year and will make at least $2MM again.
- Graziano notes that the Mets have talked to the A's about Joe Blanton, but Billy Beane wants Lastings Milledge. The Mets can't do that without damaging the current team. The Mets could actually add an outfielder in Jay Payton; the Cubs' interest has waned. The Sammy Sosa rumor also has some legs, as the Mets could bring him in to platoon with Shawn Green if they decide they can tolerate the sideshow.
Kenny Lofton is the perfect mercenary. He's been with a million different teams, and has 84 games of playoff experience. Even at age 40, he provides an OBP spark atop the lineup. He makes $6MM this year for the Rangers, so there's about $2.6MM left on his contract. He gets another $100K if he's traded.
According to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, Lofton has "drawn significant interest from Cleveland and Milwaukee." Other teams are checking him out as well. It'd be fun to see Lofton back with the Tribe, the team he's best known for. He actually came up as an Astro though.
As a Cubs fan I'd welcome Lofton back to Chicago. After abandoning the Alfonso Soriano experiment, the Cubs have employed Angel Pagan, Jacque Jones, and Felix Pie in center. None have hit particularly well. I would've signed Lofton this winter, working Pie in carefully.
Grant's column also mentions Sammy Sosa, who is drawing a little bit of interest. With his OBP down to .294, Sosa is being sold as a lefty-masher instead of a regular. Grant believes the Twins and Yankees might find him useful.