Scott Downs Rumors

AL West Links: Downs, Daniels, A’s, Ankiel

Ivan Rodriguez has been hired by the Rangers as a special assistant to the general manager, the team announced today.  "Pudge" spent 13 of his 20 Major League seasons as a Ranger and will now serve the organization as a scout, organizational instructor and ambassador.  Here are some more items from around the AL West…

  • Scott Downs wants to remain with the Angels and the southpaw tells MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez that he would be willing to negotiate an extension during the season.  Downs' representatives at CAA have told the Angels' front office about their client's wishes but have yet to get a response. Downs turns 37 in March and has pitched very well in Anaheim, posting a 2.17 ERA over 99 1/3 innings in his first two years of his three-year, $15MM contract.  He turns 37 in March, however, and Gonzalez speculates that the Angels may let Downs go since Sean Burnett and Nick Maronde are in the fold as left-handed bullpen options.
  • Rangers GM Jon Daniels spoke with Dallas Morning News readers about the team's offseason moves, international signings, the current Texas roster and more in a live chat today.
  • The Athletics have received tentative guidelines from the Commissioner's Office regarding a possible move to San Jose, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports.  This isn't necessarily a sign that the A's will be allowed to move, Shaikin notes, though if the team can comply with these guidelines, it could prompt Bud Selig to put the matter of the proposed move to a vote of the other league owners.  MLB has been studying the Athletics' proposed San Jose relocation for four years, and the Giants are known to oppose the move on the grounds that it infringes on their territorial rights.
  • Rick Ankiel will make $750K if he makes the Astros' Opening Day roster, plus a few small bonuses based on plate appearances, MLB.com's Brian McTaggart reports.  Houston signed the veteran outfielder to a minor league contract in January.

Quick Hits: Zito, Rangers, Morgan, Angels

Links for Thursday night..


Red Sox Notes: Soriano, Crain, Guerrier, Cameron

The AL East is a busy division these days. The Yankees have to finalize their rotation, the Rays have to reconstruct their 'pen and the Orioles are acquiring players in bunches. The Red Sox have added two star players to their lineup, but they're still contemplating more moves. Here's the latest:



Angels Reach Agreement With Scott Downs

The Angels have agreed to terms on a three-year, $15MM contract with Scott DownsPeter Gammons was the first to report the numbers of the deal, while FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal adds that the deal is pending a physical and Downs can earn up to an extra $1MM based on games finished (both Twitter links).  Downs is represented by CAA.

Downs has quietly been one of the AL's best relievers in recent years, posting a 2.36 ERA, a 7.8 K/9 rate and a 2.63 K/BB ratio over the last four seasons in Toronto. 

Since Downs is a Type A free agent, the Blue Jays will receive two draft picks for the left-hander — one a first-round compensation pick, and a second-round pick from Los Angeles since the Halos' first-rounder is protected.  If the Angels were to sign a higher-ranked Type A free agent (such as Adrian Beltre or Rafael Soriano), then the pick they send to Toronto will be bumped down a round.

The Halos have now added two solid lefty arms to their bullpen in Downs and Hisanori Takahashi, who was signed last week.  GM Tony Reagins tells Dan Woike of the Orange County Register that the Angels are now satisfied with their bullpen and rotation and they won't be adding any more relievers (Twitter links), which would seem to take the club out of the Soriano sweepstakes.  If Soriano is too expensive, L.A. could be satisfied with Fernando Rodney as their closer, or perhaps they're looking at a Rodney/Downs righty-lefty closing platoon, which would explain Downs' incentive bonus for games finished. 


Crawford Fallout: Lee, Downs, Ordonez, Beltre

While Boston's agreement with Carl Crawford is, of course, a huge move in its own right, the impact it could have on other free agents can't be overlooked. Here are a few players and teams who may be affected by the Crawford signing:

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post speculates (via Twitter) that the Angels and Rangers, who were in on Crawford, could make a stronger push for Cliff Lee now. Brian Cashman, however, says the move won't affect the Yankees' tactics with Lee (Twitter link). Regardless, Crawford's contract is widely viewed as great news for the southpaw. Newsday's Ken Davidoff writes that "it just gets better and better to be Cliff Lee this winter."
  • As Lou Merloni writes at WEEI.com, the Red Sox could become more interested in Scott Downs now that the Type A free agent wouldn't cost a first round pick. Boston will send its first round pick to Tampa Bay as compensation for Crawford, so they'd only have to surrender a second rounder if they signed Downs.
  • The Red Sox have almost certainly been eliminated as a suitor for Magglio Ordonez now, which is good news for the Tigers. According to Danny Knobler of CBS Sports, Detroit "badly wants to re-sign" Ordonez, and while the veteran has a handful of suitors, it appeared Boston's interest was serious.
  • Having missed out on Crawford, the Angels are expected to turn their "full attention" to Adrian Beltre and perhaps Rafael Soriano, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

Red Sox Like Rhodes, Downs, Guerrier, Feliciano

5:32pm: GM Theo Epstein told reporters, including Alex Speier of WEEI.com that the Red Sox have made "a number" of offers to free agent relievers, some left-handed, some right-handed.

4:36pm: Like the Reds and Phillies, the Red Sox have some interest in Arthur Rhodes, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The lefty does not appear to be close to deciding on his next team.

11:23am: The Red Sox are also in on Pedro Feliciano, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.  Feliciano's other known suitors: the Yankees, Phillies, and Rockies.

2:24am: Signing Type A relievers and surrendering a draft pick is a risky proposition, as the swings in any reliever's performance from year-to-year can be wild, and they simply don't impact a large amount of innings over the course of a season.

WEEI.com's Alex Speier tells us that may not stop the Red Sox from pursuing Scott Downs, however, despite the fact that he'd cost Boston a first-round pick. Speier's source also says that the club wouldn't give up a pick to sign Grant Balfour to the multi-year deal he's seeking, and he cites multiple industry sources saying the club is interested in Matt Guerrier after the Twins declined to offer him arbitration.

As Speier points out, Downs has some of the most dominant numbers in history for a reliever during his age 31-34 seasons, and the Red Sox have taken note of the division rival's excellence. Since 2007, Downs has compiled a 2.36 ERA with a 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 over 236 2/3 innings, while being a stickler for home runs (0.5 HR/9). He's been a menace to left-handed hitters, but it's worth noting that the highest OPS right-handers have managed off him in that timeframe is .643.

Guerrier, 32, has appeared in 70 or more innings every year since his first full season in 2005, with the exception of 2006 — when he came one out short of the mark. While his career peripherals (5.9 K/9, 45.7% GB%, 4.44 FIP) don't dazzle, Guerrier has managed to out-perform them year-in and year-out. He's led the league in appearances twice (2008 and 2009) and has a career ERA of 3.38 to his name to go along with solid control (2.8 BB/9).

Epstein said Monday that the Red Sox will acquire multiple relievers via trade or free agency, but as he points out in this quote relayed from Speier, teams may be waiting for some distance from the Joaquin Benoit signing:

“Sometimes when there’s a contract that exceeds expectations early, it can embolden players and agents within that subset of players who have a similar resume,” said Epstein. “Time will tell whether they get attached to that contract or it’s an outlier contract.”

The Red Sox haven't surrendered a draft pick to sign a reliever since 2004 with Keith Foulke, but Downs could change that trend, especially if the Red Sox end up receiving additional first-round and supplemental picks for the departures of Victor Martinez, Adrian Beltre, and Felipe Lopez.


Orioles Notes: Tillman, Hernandez, Reynolds, Uehara

The Orioles missed out on Victor Martinez and Adam Dunn, but they're still in the hunt for Paul Konerko.  Here's a look at some of their other offseason targets…

  • Chris Tillman's name has been mentioned in connection with the Mark Reynolds trade rumors, tweets Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman.  Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic thinks the D'Backs "seem to like" David Hernandez more, but Hernandez would be just one piece of what's likely to be a pitcher-centric package (Twitter links).   
  • The O's are one of three teams known to be exploring a Reynolds deal, but they're the ones with "the heaviest interest" in the third baseman according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.  The Blue Jays and Padres, in fact, "strongly deny" that they're even pursuing Reynolds.
  • "Some progress has been made" between the Orioles and Koji Uehara, reports Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.  The club has been keeping in touch with Uehara's agent and Zrebiec says team officials "feel pretty good" about their ability to re-sign the reliever.
  • Zrebiec also notes that Baltimore has been in discussions about a number of free agent relievers and have contacted the representatives of Grant Balfour, Jesse Crain, Scott Downs, Brian Fuentes, Matt Guerrier and Kerry Wood.  The O's "have at least one offer out" to one of these pitchers, Zrebiec says.
  • Baltimore has contacted Bobby Jenks' agent, reports Zrebiec in another piece.
  • From that same article, Zrebiec writes "the next person I speak to in the organization who feels the O’s have a shot at Konerko would be the first."  The Orioles' interest in Konerko is "largely overblown" and most insiders feel Konerko will re-sign with the White Sox.

Odds & Ends: Berkman, Edmonds, De La Rosa

On this date in 1998, the Orioles signed Albert Belle to a five-year, $65MM deal. He batted .289/.374/.509 with Baltimore, but didn't play at all after the 2000 season. Here are today's links…

  • Stop by at 2pm CDT for this week's chat.
  • Oakland’s immediate goal is to sign Lance Berkman, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The A's met with Berkman and Adam Dunn yesterday.
  • Rosenthal suggests the A’s likely want to hear back from Scott Boras and Adrian Beltre about the five-year, $64MM offer they reportedly made in November.
  • Yahoo's Jeff Passan asks Bud Selig to leave the playoffs alone and suggests the commissioner could improve the game by introducing more instant replay and asking major TV networks to show a more diverse selection of teams.
  • Jim Edmonds is contemplating playing one more season, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter).
  • The Phillies are more likely to pursue free agent left-handers who don't cost a draft pick, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). In other words, they'd rather not give up a pick to sign Scott Downs.
  • Speaking of relievers, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun explains that the Orioles have interest in any competent veteran reliever and will kick the tires on most.
  • The Mets re-signed former big leaguer Mike O'Connor according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (on Twitter). The 30-year-old left-hander last pitched in the majors for the 2008 Nationals, but he appeared in 51 games at Triple-A Buffalo in 2010, posting 8.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 for the top Mets affiliate.
  • The Pirates made a competitive offer for Jorge de la Rosa before he agreed to a deal with the Rockies, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter). 
  • De La Rosa's agents approached the Padres about a potential deal, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. San Diego couldn't afford the lefty, though they were interested.

American League Free Agent Arbitration Decisions

23 American League free agents were offered arbitration on November 23rd.  Four of those - Joaquin Benoit, John Buck, Victor Martinez, and Javier Vazquez - already have new contract agreements.  Current free agent Kevin Gregg has chosen to decline.  The remaining 18 AL free agents offered arbitration will have their decisions noted here and in our tracker.


Blue Jays Rumors: Frasor, Downs, Lind

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says the organization can afford to be more patient than last offseason, since his team's needs are less pressing than they were a year ago. Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, from MLB.com beat reporter Gregor Chisholm:

  • Anthopoulos doesn’t know whether Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg and Miguel Olivo will accept arbitration, but he hopes to have the players back in Toronto for the 2011 season. Asked to predict the players’ decisions, Anthopoulos guessed they will decline the team’s offers.
  • The club thought Adam Lind played respectably good defense at first base, but has yet to determine the 27-year-old’s position for 2011.
  • The Blue Jays are open to acquiring a player with “baggage” under the right circumstances. "It depends, how significant is it? Would it affect other players?” Anthopoulos asked. “If it's the right player, and the right fit, the right talent, at the right price, then you have to be open to it."
  • That's good news for fans hoping to see Manny Ramirez in Toronto. ESPN.com's Buster Olney can't envision any team guaranteeing Ramirez $5MM and expects the slugger to sign an incentive-laden deal.