Scott Rolen Rumors

Stark’s Latest: Halladay, Hamilton, Rays, Dickey

In his latest blog post, ESPN's Jayson Stark points out that just five teams have $100MM+ committed to their 2013 payroll right now: the Dodgers, Yankees, Phillies, Tigers, and Blue Jays. None of those teams appear to be done this offseason either. Here's the rest of Stark's rumors…

  • The Phillies have kicked around the idea of a contract extension for Roy Halladay, though GM Ruben Amaro said that "a lot has to do with how he feels and how he performs. So that's a decision and a conversation that would probably have to go into the spring, and maybe into the season."
  • The two sides actually had preliminary talks about a new contract that would raise Halladay's annual salary north of $24MM and keep him with the Phillies beyond next season. Talks were shelved when the right-hander's shoulder began to act up, however.
  • Stark hears that Josh Hamilton is no longer on the Phillies' list, and Amaro said they "haven't been given a real budget. I know it's not unlimited, but that's not usually how we work."
  • Teams continue to check in with the Rays about their starting pitchers, and the asking price for James Shields is in the neighborhood of the five-player package Tampa received for Matt Garza two winters ago.
  • Those same clubs don't believe the Mets have really put R.A. Dickey on the trade market yet.
  • Rumors swirl that Zack Greinke is seeking a six-year contract, but his agent Casey Close has yet to ask for specific offers.
  • Scott Rolen has told the Reds he may play next season, but he isn't ready to make a final decision tweets Stark. The team wants him back in some role.

NL Notes: LaRoche, Phillies, Reds, Cardinals

Today is the 63rd anniversary of Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American player to win the MVP Award. This would be the only such honor during Robinson's Hall of Fame career. Here's the latest news from the Senior Circuit:

  • Negotiations between the Nationals and Adam LaRoche are going slowly, a source tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The source also says LaRoche's top priority is to return to the Nationals, but the free agent first baseman is thinking about his two children, which is why he wants a three-year deal and has talked with several teams. 
  • A five-year, $75MM contract might be accurate for B.J. Upton but expect Michael Bourn to seek more, tweets Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Despite the declining influence of home runs to change a game, as typified by the Giants winning the World Series after slugging the fewest home runs in baseball, the Phillies still need a power surge in 2013, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Bob Brookover.
  • Centerfield is one position where the Phillies could seek to boost their power output. ESPN's Buster Olney breaks down their various centerfield options in his latest Insiders-only blog.
  • John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer sees the Reds' 2013 payroll being $92MM, but a team insider tells him the actual number could start with an eight. This would make it difficult, in Fay's opinion, to do anything in free agency except sign a closer or re-sign Ryan Ludwick.
  • Within the same piece, GM Walt Jocketty says he will wait until after Thanksgiving to speak with Scott Rolen, who is contemplating retirement.
  • The Cardinals' needs are simple for 2013, writes Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The team needs to reinforce a thin bench by adding some right-handed power and find a fourth outfielder who can generate some offense. Miklasz adds the health of shortstop Rafael Furcal is also a significant question.
  • Blessed with the deepest of pockets, the Dodgers' desire to pursue an elite starting pitcher reveals myriad ways the team can approach the process, writes Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. Common sense, however, may still prevail at Chavez Ravine as Dodgers controlling partner Mark Walter once eloquently stated, "Pitchers break." 

Daniel Seco contributed to this post.


Reds Notes: Baker, Rolen, Jocketty

Earlier today, we learned that Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty was set to meet with manager Dusty Baker to offer him a short-term contract.  For his part, the 63-year-old has said that he is definitely looking to continue his managerial career.  Here's more on Baker and other news out of Cincy..

  • Jocketty wouldn't confirm whether he offered the veteran skipper a contract when they met, but he seems confident that there will be some news on that front on Monday or Tuesday, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.  The GM added that the contracts of the team's coaches will be addressed after Baker's situation is taken care of, but he also said yesterday that they are all expected to return.
  • Meanwhile, Jocketty has also heard the reports of Scott Rolen planning to retire, but he isn't so sure that will be the case, Fay writes.  “He hasn’t told us that,” Jocketty said. “I’ve talked to him. I don’t think he knows what he wants to do.”  If Rolen wants to continue playing, the GM said that the Reds would be interested in having him back in some capacity.
  • A baseball source familiar with the Baker situation told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that the forecast was "optimistic" that Baker and his staff would be back.


Scott Rolen Expected To Retire

Veteran third baseman Scott Rolen is preparing to retire, though he will delay an official announcement until later in the offseason, reports USA Today's Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).  Rolen was non-committal about his future when talking to reporters (including John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer) following the Reds' elimination from the NLDS today, just noting that his contract with the Reds was up and that he was "going to go home and be a dad."

It's a tough ending for Rolen, who struck out in the final at-bat of the series and also made an error in the 10th inning in Game Three that led to the Giants scoring the game-winning run.  Rolen hit .245/.318/.398 in 330 plate appearances for Cincinnati this year, with his playing time limited by both injuries and the Reds' desire to fit rookie Todd Frazier into the lineup.  Rolen signed a two-year, $13MM extension with the Reds in December 2009 that covered the 2011-12 seasons.

Injuries plagued Rolen throughout the latter years of his career, though his credentials could still end up earning him a spot in the Hall of Fame.  Highlights include the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year Award, seven All-Star appearances, a .281/.364/.490 batting line over 17 seasons, 316 homers and a World Series ring with the 2006 Cardinals.  Despite his impressive hitting numbers, Rolen may be best remembered as one of the game's great defensive third basemen, as the eight-time Gold Glover trails only Brooks Robinson (16) and Mike Schmidt (10) for number of Gold Gloves won at the hot corner.


Reds Notes: Votto, Madson, Rolen

Much of the recent chatter surrounding the Reds has focused on a possible extension for Brandon Phillips. Here are a few links about Phillips' teammates as Spring Training gets started in Goodyear, Arizona…

  • Joey Votto said he prefers to keep contract talk to himself, his agent and the Reds, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “As much as people, players want to say, ‘no, it’s not a distraction.’ It’s exhausting. It’s a lingering issue," he said, before making reference to Prince Fielder 's new deal. Last month I suggested it could cost upwards of $160MM in additional commitments to keep Votto in a Reds uniform through 2020
  • Reds closer Ryan Madson told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that he remains a Scott Boras client.“I plan on being with Scott for the foreseeable future,” Madson said. “Everything is the same." Madson signed for $8.5MM this offseason — less than originally anticipated.
  • Scott Rolen told Mark Sheldon of MLB.com that he’s focused on the upcoming season, not whether he’ll continue playing beyond 2012. The third baseman turns 37 in April and is entering the final year of his contract.

Odds & Ends: Kasten, Pirates, Rolen

Links for Thursday as we congratulate Jose Bautista and Ichiro Suzuki. Bautista hit his 50th homer of the season in Toronto today and soon afterwards, Ichiro reached the 200-hit plateau for the tenth time in his ten-year career…

  • Nationals president Stan Kasten will not return to the team after the season, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter links). Owner Ted Lerner released a statement saying the organization respects Kasten's decision and "will continue to call upon him for his vast knowledge of the game."
  • Pirates manager John Russell tells MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch that the Pirates are closer to respectability than some think. Russell, who faces speculation that he could be dismissed, says he isn't worried about his job security.
  • Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports admits that his initial assessment of the Scott Rolen trade was off-base. Like many analysts, Morosi questioned the Reds' decision to give up top prospects (Zach Stewart and Josh Roenicke) for a third baseman who appeared to be past his prime.

Odds & Ends: Rolen, Yankees, Astros, Jeter

Links for Sunday, as the celebration continues in Spain….


Discussion: Yonder Alonso

Cincinnati has a long tradition of National League baseball, but the Yonder Alonso situation must make Reds fans wish for the designated hitter rule.  Reds manager Dusty Baker and GM Walt Jocketty both spoke about Alonso's future at the team's spring camp in Arizona today, and MLB.com's Mark Sheldon sums up the situation within a larger piece about Alonso's development.

The basic problem is that Alonso, the top prospect in Cincinnati's system, is blocked at his natural first base position by the Reds' best player, Joey Votto.  As John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer points out, Alonso will be out of options after the 2011 season since he signed a major league contract for five years and worth $4.55MM after being taken seventh overall in the 2008 June Amateur Draft.

At one point it seemed as if Votto, who has some experience playing in left, would move back to the outfield when Alonso was ready for the majors.  But as Fay notes, Votto "doesn’t want to move and he’s worked hard at first base."  Fangraphs lists Votto as having an above-average 3.8 UZR/150 rating at first base, though it's taken from a sample size of just 291 games.

As Sheldon and Fay both report, Alonso has been worked out this spring as a corner outfielder and at third base, where he would presumably serve as the heir apparent to Scott Rolen if all things worked out perfectly for the Reds.  There has even been some talk of trying out Alonso at catcher.

Provided that Alonso doesn't sink to Incaviglia-esque depths in left or right field, he should be able to handle life away from first.  But if the position switch doesn't take or, even worse, affects Alonso's bat, then the Reds have a real issue on their hands.  Alonso's name popped up in the Rolen trade talks with Toronto last summer, and there would be no shortage of teams that would be interested in acquiring the young slugger if he were put on the market. 

The other alternative, albeit the more unlikely one, is that Votto would be traded.  Votto is eligible for arbitration after 2010 and is under team control through 2013; combine that with his proven major league production and the Reds could net a gold mine of players and prospects in a deal.  But, Votto's big league track record is exactly the reason why it's far more probable that Cincinnati would hold onto him and move Alonso if it came to a choice between the two.


Odds & Ends: Thames, Manzella, Royals, Marlins

Links for Friday…


Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Rolen, Sweeney, Twins

On this date in 1990, the Tigers signed free agent Cecil Fielder after he hit 38 homers as a member of the Hanshin Tigers the year before. Fielder went on to lead the league with 130 HR and 389 RBI over the next three years, landing a five-year, $36MM contract that made him the then-second-highest paid player in baseball history behind Barry Bonds. Believe it or not, Prince is already more than halfway to his father's career total of 319 homers despite having fewer than half as many plate appearances.

Let's see what's being written around the baseball blogosphere…

  • The Phrontiersman goes back in time to see how things would have played out for the Phillies if Scott Rolen signed a contract extension and was never traded away.
  • DRays Bay wonders if Matt Sweeney could take over first base for the Rays if Carlos Pena leaves as a free agent after 2010. Sweeney was acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade.
  • Fack Youk compares Vladimir Guerrero to Hideki Matsui to Nick Johnson, the three biggest DH signings of the offseason.
  • Lookout Landing says the Mariners did just fine to acquire Casey Kotchman, even though Adam LaRoche agreed to a relatively cheap deal yesterday.
  • Meanwhile, Jorge Says No! thinks the Mets may have made a mistake by not signing LaRoche.
  • Nick's Twins Blog wonders if Michael Cuddyer or Joe Nathan could be expendable as Minnesota's estimated payroll will approach nine-figures in 2011.
  • AdamAdkins.net thinks the Tigers will regret signing Jose Valverde.
  • Pinstripes Published takes a look at the market for Johnny Damon, or lack thereof.
  • TurnTwo looks at all the movement going on with the Giants' defensive alignment.

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