Scott Hatteberg Rumors
Ken Rosenthal has his latest column up at FoxSports.com. As usual he is not shy about stirring up rumors. Let's take a look at what the rumor-guru has to say:
- Rosenthal notes that the Dodgers will go with Blake DeWitt at third base who has never played a game above AA. This comes after the Dodgers failed to acquire either the Astros' Mark Loretta, who was unavailable and the Royals' Esteban German, who was too expensive. The Royals were asking for the Dodgers' third best prospect, shortstop Chin-Lung Hu.
- He indicates that the Padres and the Rays are pursuing Matt Murton but the Cubs are holding out for a top pitching prospect in return, knowing Murton will be a starter on another club. Rosenthal quotes one GM as saying that the price "is way too high as of now". As many as five teams have shown interest in Murton.
- The Mets are among a dozen teams that have inquired about Brewers pitcher Claudio Vargas, who will not be in the rotation to begin the season. [Update: Sorry about this one. I had forgotten that the Brewers released Vargas earlier this week]
- The Reds have put Ryan Freel on the market, but more teams appear to be interested in Scott Hatteberg. However, Rosenthal indicates that it is unlikely for the Red to trade Hatteberg even if Joey Votto is named the starter.
- The Tigers, Reds and Orioles all tried to acquire backup catcher Brayan Pena from the Braves, but the Braves do not appear interested in letting him go
- Rosenthal says that Pat Gillick's history in Seattle may have played a part in the Phillies inability to land M's reliever Cha Seung Baek, who is out of options but made the roster as a reliever.
- Finally, Rosenthal notes that Mike Piazza is still working out with hopes of landing a gig at some point in '08. Rosenthal thinks that Piazza may have to come to the realization soon that his career may be over.
Let's round up some Monday morning links.
- The Cardinals are taking another look at Sidney Ponson. Insert your own punchline in the comments.
- Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun could see the O's making a minor trade for a veteran second baseman if they acquire Ronny Cedeno but not Eric Patterson in a Brian Roberts deal with the Cubs.
- Brandon Inge is trying his best to talk his way out of town. The Dodgers' recently reported nibble hasn't been publicly shot down, so that's a plus.
- South Side Sox thinks speedy infielder Eugenio Velez is the type of player the White Sox could desire for Joe Crede.
- Jonathan Papelbon wants $900K in his last year before arbitration eligibility. Ryan Howard set a scary precedent last year. If Papelbon doesn't get offered something close, he'd rather make a statement and be renewed near the minimum.
- Buster Olney suggests Dan Johnson and Doug Mientkiewicz could be possibilities for the Mets in their quest for a backup first baseman. Olney speculated on Nick Johnson, Scott Hatteberg, Richie Sexson, Tony Clark, and Kevin Millar the day before.
If John Halpin is right, Scott Hatteberg of the Reds ought to be looking forward to a lot of bench time this coming season.
Writing about fantasy baseball on foxsports.com, Halpin is wild on Joey Votto. The Cincy first baseman ranks second in Halpin's list of rookies to watch in 2008. If Votto comes through, would Hatteberg be trade bait at mid-season? Hatteberg will earn $1.85MM this year after Cincinnati picked up his option. It's a bargain for a professional hitter who controls the strike zone.
The Yankees may need a first baseman once Joe Girardi gets tired of seeing Jason Giambi play matador at the corner. The A's may be attracted by his pricetag if Daric Barton doesn't provide enough offense. The Royals and Giants also are possibilities, in my estimation.
Votto joins teammates Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce in the list of eleven first-year players. Boston's Clay Buchholz heads the list.
By Big Mike Glab
ESPN reports the Reds have exercised Adam Dunn's $13MM club option. This is expected and activates a full no-trade clause for Dunn through June 15th. As Tim noted here, he'll then have the option to choose 10 clubs to which he can be traded.
MLBTR readers were more or less unanimously in favor of Dunn's return. 40 homers at $13MM seems a no-brainer to me. He's a patient hitter and the Reds' most potent bat. At that price, if the Reds do intend to deal him they will find ample value. But don't forget that Reds CEO Bob Castellini told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the possibility for an extension exists.
The Reds were feeling decisive today and also brought back Scott Hatteberg ($1.84 million option) and Javier Valentin ($1.35 million option) while declining Eddie Guardado's option. Both options exercised make sense for the Reds at those bargain basement prices.
According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds have to make decisions on the options for Adam Dunn, Scott Hatteberg, Eddie Guardado, and Javier Valentin by November 4th.
- Dunn is the big one; his is for $13MM with a $0.5MM buyout. This is an easy decision to exercise, though it will cause full no-trade protection to kick in until June 15th. After that he gets to choose 10 clubs to which he would accept a trade. But I think that if the Reds want him out of town the two parties will find a way to make it work (ie, they'll give him a million or two extra).
- Hatteberg's option is for $1.85MM with a $0.15MM buyout. This is so cheap it's hard to decline, even if Joey Votto is ready. The Reds could definitely exercise it and trade Hatteberg at their discretion. The market for first basemen is weak.
- Everyday Eddie has a $3MM club option with no apparent buyout. He didn't show anything, so I'm guessing the Reds will pass.
- Valentin's option is for $1.35MM with a $75K buyout. I imagine they'll exercise it.
- Since we are talking about options, I should add that Moises Alou's is due on November 15th. His is for $7.5MM vs. a $1MM buyout.
- Additionally in that same Fay article, Baker denies any tampering with Kerry Wood or Mark Prior. They didn't talk about coming to the Reds, and Baker has spoken to over 40 players since he was hired.
ESPN's Jayson Stark has his latest Rumblings and Grumblings column up, and it's chock full o' rumors.
- Stark speaks to one NL exec who thinks any Barry Bonds trade rumor is hogwash. That source believes that there would be no market for him. Personally, I don't buy it. There would only be $8MM or so left on the deal, and as a two-month DH Bonds could make a huge impact on a contender. And he did indicate he'd waive his no-trade clause.
- Word is that the Mets wouldn't trade Lastings Milledge for an impending free agent - Mark Buehrle included. Milledge could go in a Dontrelle Willis deal though.
- The Braves are seen as a more likely suitor for Buehrle, once he's truly made available in a week or two. Atlanta won't settle for a Mike Maroth type. What would the Braves give up for Buehrle? Kenny Williams should pry away Jarrod Saltalamacchia if he can. Otherwise a package involving Brent Lillibridge or Brandon Jones would make sense.
- Meanwhile, the market on Jermaine Dye seems tepid. It would help if he was healthy and hitting. Ah, alliteration.
- Stark debunks the popular Ken Griffey Jr. to Atlanta rumor. He says the Braves aren't looking for big contract commitments and are more focused on pitching than offense. Rightfully so.
- The Yankees have added Scott Hatteberg to their list of first base targets. As if they needed more OBP.
In a minor move today, Reds GM Wayne Krivsky signed first baseman Scott Hatteberg for 2007 with an option for '08.
The 36 year-old slumped to an awful .256/.334/.343 line for the A's in '05. He signed a free agent deal in February for $750,000 with Cincinnati. This year, Hatteberg has surged to a .324/.417/.505 performance in 275 ABs. He's drawn a walk in an impressive 14% of his plate appearances, 12th in the league.
Hatteberg historically performs worse against southpaws, and Jerry Narron has done well to use him primarily against righties. In the previous three seasons, Hatteberg faced lefties in 28% of his at-bats. This year, he's seen them just 19% of the time.
Given the small commitment to Hatteberg, the path is still clear for 22 year-old first baseman Joey Votto whenever he's ready. Votto is hitting .325/.407/.577 in Double A this season. The .984 OPS leads the Southern League. Baseball Prospectus's Kevin Goldstein rates Votto the third best first base prospect in the game behind Daric Barton and James Loney. Throw in Jay Bruce and Homer Bailey and the Reds can have a core of excellent youngsters in place by '08.