Sean Rodriguez Rumors
Rodriguez, in his first year of arbitration, was projected by MLBTR to earn about $1.2MM, so his $1MM salary for 2013 seems about right. The utility infielder spent extensive time at second base, shortstop, and third base for Tampa Bay in 2012, posting a slash line of .213/.281/.326 in 342 plate appearances.
Rays big leaguers B.J. Upton, Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, and Wade Davis are drawing heavy interest, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, but the team's "preference is to use their prospect depth to land a hitter." The Rays specifically feel that they can't match Upton's defensive skills with internal options.
The Rays' farm system is among the best in the game, so they can easily make prospect-only deals. Even if you take Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson out of the mix, Tim Beckham, Matt Moore, Alex Colome, and Matt Sweeney were considered top 100 prospects heading into the season. It's quite possible the Rays go even further down their prospect list. Look at the Angels - they just acquired Dan Haren without surrendering any top 100 guys.
As usual, the Rays have kept their targets close to the vest. Few players have been connected to them in recent weeks aside from Jayson Werth, and Yahoo's Tim Brown tweeted three days ago that a Rays source seriously doubts they get the Phillies outfielder.
Let's finish off our series with the toughest division in baseball...
- Blue Jays: The Jays already traded away most of their top pieces, but they still have three desirable relievers in Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, and Kevin Gregg. All three can become free agents after the season. There might be some interest in first baseman Lyle Overbay, who will also hit the open market after the season.
- Orioles: Considering how poorly he pitched before landing on the DL, I'm sure a large part of the Baltimore faithful wouldn't mind seeing Mike Gonzalez go. Alas, that won't happen anytime soon. There always seems to be interest in Luke Scott, who still has two more years of team control left. If they decide to sell at mid-season, Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie could find their way onto the block.
- Rays: The Rays are a player development machine, and they have enough young players to get get pretty much anyone they want. They have enough depth that they could trade one of Reid Brignac or Sean Rodriguez plus one of Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis, or Jeremy Hellickson and not miss a beat. If they fall out of it and decide to sell, it doesn't get much better than Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano, and Carlos Pena. I believe the term is "stacked."
- Red Sox: Boston has held onto Clay Buchholz for this long, but with his name appearing so frequently on the rumor circuit, it really wouldn't be surprising if they moved him for a big time player. They might still be able to find a taker for Mike Lowell, and there would be interest in Manny Delcarmen if he were made available. They did lose a valuable chip when Junichi Tazawa went down with Tommy John surgery.
- Yankees: They seem unwilling to trade either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain, so their best chip is the semi-blocked Jesus Montero. Of course, the Yankees have the ability to absorb even the ugliest of contracts, so maybe we should consider that their biggest trade chip.
9:36pm: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter) thinks "it's unlikely anything happens" between Tampa Bay and Hudson, noting that the Rays are happy with Zobrist, Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez at second base. He does say, however, that the Rays "have interest in [a number] of free agents."
8:12pm: ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Twitter) that Tampa Bay is "in on Orlando Hudson talks." The plan would be to install Hudson at second base while Ben Zobrist gets moved to right field. Olney says that the move "all depends on the price," which would presumably have to be significantly lower than Hudson's $9MM asking price.
The Nationals have been considered to be the leaders in the Hudson sweepstakes this winter, and MLB.com's Bill Ladson was told today by a source that the Nats "have a good chance" of signing the free-agent second baseman due to Hudson's close ties to Adam Dunn and Willie Harris.
Ladson also went straight to the horse's mouth and talked to Hudson himself, who told Ladson that "progress had been made." The interview also included this interesting passage from Hudson that cited two other teams in the hunt:
"I will sign soon enough. You can put it on the Internet and on TV. I'm going to sign. I can't say exactly when. It will not be long. I can't say if it's with the Nationals, San Diego or Cleveland. I can't say with whom. Something is getting done."
The Padres could be a longshot if, as MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier today, they've completed their winter shopping following the signing of Jon Garland. The Tribe also seem like unlikely suitors given Hudson's contract demands.
2:38pm: The Rays acquired Rodriguez as the player to be named later in the Kazmir trade, according to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse (via Twitter). Rodriguez, 24, is hitting a robust .299/.400/.616 at Triple A this year. A few days ago the Rays acquired Alexander Torres and Matt Sweeney as initial pieces of the Kazmir deal. My question: why didn't another team claim Rodriguez on waivers, just to prevent the Rays from getting a look at him in September?
The Rays seem set in the middle infield for 2010 with Ben Zobrist, Jason Bartlett, and Rodriguez. Just speculating, but they could choose Akinori Iwamura's $250K buyout over his $4.25MM option.
TUESDAY, 12:33pm: The Angels promoted Wilson but not Rodriguez, causing Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times to speculate that the former is in the Kazmir deal.
MONDAY: Triple-A infielder Sean Rodriguez and catcher Bobby Wilson are candidates to be the player to be named later in last weekend's Scott Kazmir trade, according to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com. It is unclear if those two are part of a pool of prospects the Rays could consider, or if they've already made their decision.
Both players have big league experience. Rodriguez, 24, is a .282/.381/.502 career hitter in the minors, and has gotten 216 plate appearances with the Angels spread out over the last two seasons. Wilson, 26, has hit .283/.338/.423 in his minor league career, but he's come to the plate just seven times for the Angels over the last two year. Baseball America's 2009 Prospect Handbook notes that he "draws praise for his game calling ability."