Scott Downs Rumors

Red Sox Like Rhodes, Downs, Guerrier, Feliciano

5:32pm: GM Theo Epstein told reporters, including Alex Speier of 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.'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  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 (on Twitter).
  • The Phillies are more likely to pursue free agent left-handers who don't cost a draft pick, according to'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 (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 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.'s Buster Olney can't envision any team guaranteeing Ramirez $5MM and expects the slugger to sign an incentive-laden deal.

American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.

Poll: Scott Downs' Next Contract

Earlier this evening I took a look at the free agent stock of reliever Scott Downs, arguably the best non-closer still available on the open market. Joaquin Benoit broke the ice this past week when he accepted the Tigers' contract offer of three years and $16.5MM, presumably giving Downs and his camp a comparable they can use as a basis for their demands.

There are obvious differences between the two relievers, of course. Downs is just about a year older than Benoit but his health history is considerably better. He also has a much longer track record when it comes to being a top shelf reliever, and being left-handed certainly doesn't hurt. It's reasonable to think that Downs could command a larger contract than Benoit, but it's been quite some time since a reliever landed a deal that big. Time for the poll...

Will Downs land a contract larger than Benoit's?

Click here to vote and here to see the results. Thanks in advance.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Scott Downs

Left-handed relievers are always in high demand regardless of the time of year, and this offseason Scott Downs is the best the free agent market has to offer. Let's examine the former Blue Jay's stock... 

The Good

  • Downs isn't just a lefty specialist, he's perfectly capable of facing right-handed batters as well. Over the last three seasons, he's held righties to a .238/.325/.329 batting line (removing intentional walks) compared to .198/.264/.316 vs. LHB. 
  • He's already proven to be more than capable against the tough lineups that inhabit the AL East.
  • Downs has experience in a variety of roles, so he's an option to both close or set-up.

The Bad

  • Downs will turn 35 in Spring Training, so a three-year deal will carry him through age 37.
  • He's been on the disabled list three times since 2008 with foot and ankle issues, and he also missed the last two-plus weeks of the 2009 season with a hamstring issue.
  • Downs is a Type-A free agent that will certainly be offered arbitration, so it'll cost a high draft pick to sign him.

The Verdict

Joaquin Benoit's three-year, $16.5MM deal might have set the market for Downs, who's the best non-Rafael Soriano reliever on the market. The Red Sox are expected to show interest though the Yankees are reportedly not willing to surrender the draft pick. A reliever of Downs' quality fits with all 30 clubs, but only a few may be willing to offer multiple years at potentially closer money to sign him. Tim projected him to sign with Boston, and the smart money is on Downs joining a contender's bullpen.

Odds & Ends: Headley, D'Backs, Angels, Cardinals

Links for Sunday....

  • Dan Hayes of The North County Times says that Chase Headley's impending raise as a Super Two player is giving the Padres some payroll-related headaches. He adds that GM Jed Hoyer mentioned that this offseason will be similar to last, in that most of the team's signings will occur in January and February.
  •'s John Schlegel looks ahead to some of the big trades we might see this winter.
  • Yahoo's Tim Brown tweets that the Diamondbacks are expected to hire Billy Ryan from the commissioner's office to be Kevin Towers' second in command.
  • The Angels' catching depth will likely be a hot topic at the upcoming GM meetings, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • While the Cardinals have a few positions that could be addressed, John Mozeliak will likely prioritize a shortstop upgrade this winter, writes Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
  • In his latest blog entry (Insider required), Buster Olney explains why Scott Downs' Type A status shouldn't limit his opportunities.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe provides an extensive list of possible trade candidates in his preview of the offseason market.
  • There are a few red flags to consider when weighing the Mets' managerial candidates, says Bill Madden of the New York Daily News.
  • DEA agents intercepted a package containing "nearly 50" pre-loaded syringes of HGH that was sent to Jose Guillen's San Francisco address in September, according to a New York Daily News report. The writers' sources say that MLB is "actively pursuing information about the shipment," since a violation of the league's drug policy could result in discipline for Guillen.

Olney On Huff, Uribe, Upton, Buck, Downs

One talent evaluator told's Buster Olney that Aubrey Huff posted impressive numbers in 2010 because he “got better as a player." Huff has set himself up for a nice payday and he isn’t the only Giants free agent who stands to cash in this offseason, as Olney explains:

  • One GM says players like Juan Uribe, who can hit 20 homers and play in the middle infield, are becoming harder to find. “Five years ago, you could find a lot of guys who could do what he does,” the GM said. “But not now.”
  • Olney surveyed scouts and executives about the A’s-Royals trade and everyone said it was a good deal for both clubs.
  • Rival teams believe the Rays are willing to trade B.J. Upton. What’s more, Tampa Bay wouldn’t have to be overwhelmed to agree to a deal.
  • The Yankees are interested in John Buck, but the catcher could likely command a two-year deal (possibly from the Red Sox) and it seems unlikely that the Yankees would offer more than a one-year contract.
  • In a series of tweets, Olney explains that the Blue Jays may only obtain a second or third round pick for losing Type A free agent Scott Downs (they will also get a compensation pick if they offer arbitration). There's a chance that Downs' new team will sign another free agent with a higher ranking, which would prevent Toronto from getting a first rounder.

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