So Taguchi Rumors
Some links on this frosty Saturday night...
- Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic spoke to Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes, who took full responsibility for Eric Byrnes' three-year, $30MM contract. Arizona designated Byrnes for assignment on Friday.
- The Rays have four remaining arbitration-eligible players in Jason Bartlett, Matt Garza, J.P. Howell, and B.J. Upton. The club will stick with their policy of cutting off negotiations after exchanging figures, which happens at noon on Tuesday, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Tampa Bay does this to try to bring about a settlement and to avoid settling at an artificial midpoint between the two figures.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com isn't terribly upset that the O's weren't the club to land Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kubatko understands frustrations over the Orioles' lack of production at third, but notes that the 28-year-old's offensive production was nothing to write home about in 2009. Kouzmanoff hit .255/.302/.420 with 18 HRs for the Padres last season.
- As we heard earlier today, a committee is being formed to work on changes to the amateur draft. The committee will look into making the draft worldwide and instituting a slotting system. Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues doesn't see any changes being made until after 2011, when the collective bargaining agreement expires.
- The Orix Buffaloes are close to signing So Taguchi, according to a report from Sponichi passed along by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker (via Twitter). The 40-year-old emerged with the Cubs at the end of last season, making 12 plate appearances in six games.
Some overnight links for your viewing pleasure as we start to get into the real late hours of the night:
- USA Today's Bob Nightengale says good morning with a series of tweets; Nightengale says he continues to hear Edwin Jackson's name floated about, and that "most executives" feel he'll be traded soon. He also wouldn't be surprised to see Adrian Beltre fall into Boston's lap if he declines arbitration. Not sure where he envisions Mike Lowell in that scenario.
- Jeff Zrebiec lists ten trade targets for the Orioles, though he admits that some are highly unlikely. In a separate piece, Peter Schmuck opines that it's not a waste of money if the O's spend money on free agents this offseason to add a few wins and show future free agents that Baltimore is trending in the right direction.
- Alex Speier of WEEI.com explains why it would be unlike the Red Sox sacrifice a high draft pick for a free agent reliever such as Mike Gonzalez or Rafael Soriano. As you know, Boston currently owes their first-round #29 pick to the Blue Jays for signing Marco Scutaro.
- Anything can happen at the Winter Meetings, writes Peter Schmuck, who reminds us of the 1990 deal between the Blue Jays and Padres that sent Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez to San Diego for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter. That trade started off as a minor discussion.
- The Boston Herald has ten things to keep in mind at this year's Winter Meetings.
- Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at how the economy will affect this year's Winter Meetings, and poses five key questions to keep in mind this time around.
- Gordon Wittenmyer looks at why the Cubs are optimistic that they can move Milton Bradley this offseason.
- Count Tim Wakefield and Daniel Bard among those in the Jason Bay camp for the Red Sox, says Michael Silverman. While Matt Holliday may be a more complete player, Wakefield and Bard would prefer their friend and proven AL East commodity. Good read, if for no other reason than Wakefield's quote at the end on how closely he follows the offseason: "...We’ll be sitting in the dugout in spring training in Fort Myers and I’ll look across and be, ‘How the hell did he get over there?’ ”
- John Tomase touches on the Red Sox needs this offseason. Tomase hits most of the names we've already heard, and throws Mark DeRosa and Jamey Carroll into the mix as well.
- Quick! Who do you see spending the most money on the draft in 2010? Bet you didn't guess the Blue Jays (unless of course you took into consideration the large hint I provided in the title of this post). Reports are that the Jays will have a ridiculous $16MM to spend on the draft in 2010. The Jays have eight picks in the first three rounds (nine if Rod Barajas signs elsewhere), and plan to take full advantage of it.
- El Lefty Malo takes a look at the possibility that the Giants sign Jason Kendall as their starting catcher because of the belief that Buster Posey isn't ready. Apparently, it's not a thought that sits well.
- MLB.com looks back at some of the best trades and free agent signings by each club in the National League and American League since the era of Divisional play began. They've also got a more generic list of the best moves of the past 40 seasons.
- Per Kyodo News, several teams have expressed interest in So Taguchi, according to his agent Alan Nero. Several teams? Can't say I expected that one.
According to MLB.com's transactions log, the Cubs have released outfielder So Taguchi. The 39-year-old Taguchi spent most of the 2009 season with Triple-A Iowa, hitting .248/.347/.333 in 304 plate appearances. He got into six games for the Cubbies in September, picking up three hits in 12 trips to the plate.
As the first Japanese-born player to win the World Series with two different teams, Taguchi will one day be the answer to a trivia question. He was on the 2006 Cardinals, and last year's Phillies.
Links for Monday...
- Yakyu Baka translated a recent Yusei Kikuchi press conference. Kikuchi has yet to decide between the U.S. and Japan. The Mets and Tigers attended the conference.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis has the 2010 draft order, and he also explains which picks are protected from Type A free agent signings.
- Jermaine Dye talking to Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald on possibly finishing his White Sox career: "I don't really have a feeling."
- Talking to WEEI's Alex Speier, Jason Varitek would not address next season (he has a $5MM team option and $3MM player option). Manager Terry Francona made sure Varitek received an ovation yesterday.
- MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan gives one-liners on 35 Rangers players.
- Tyler Bleszinski of Athletics Nation talked to A's GM Billy Beane. Beane chatted about Matt Holliday, stolen bases, and the first base depth chart, among other things.
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star tells us about new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.
- Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times explains how advanced defensive metrics influenced the team's acquisition of Franklin Gutierrez.
- Outfielder So Taguchi hopes to play in 2010, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times.
According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Cubs signed outfielder So Taguchi to a minor league deal potentially worth $900K. Taguchi, 39, hit .220/.283/.297 in 103 plate appearances for the Phillies in '08.
8:28pm: Alyson Footer says the Astros are not interested in Taguchi.
12:44am: According to Kyodo News, So Taguchi's agent Alan Nero says the Astros are interested in his client. He's talked to five teams about the free agent outfielder.
Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald has a few new Red Sox rumors:
- The Sox are not interested in Jay Payton or any Craig Landis client (he also reps Jon Garland). They're also not in on So Taguchi.
- Josh Bard could be a Plan B or C at catcher. Ronny Paulino has also been discussed.
Let's round up the Phillies links. By the way, I am hoping to get to their Offseason Outlook on Friday.
- The first issue is Pat Burrell, to whom the Phillies will probably make a two-year offer (according to Buster Olney). It is true that Burrell added a Philly-based agent (Ed Hayes), but he's also keeping Greg Genske. The confusion with agents is one reason negotiations haven't begun with the Phils. Burrell would love to return. If he doesn't re-sign, the Giants may be interested. Keep in mind that Burrell does not want to DH.
- If Burrell leaves, the Phillies hope to add a righthanded hitter to replace him. Magglio Ordonez, Matt Holliday, and Manny Ramirez are considered long shots. Milton Bradley would be interesting, if the Phillies believe he can play the field every day. It'd also make sense for the Phillies to inquire on Ryan Ludwick, Jermaine Dye, Josh Willingham, Casey Blake, and Mark DeRosa.
- The Phillies have had one brief conversation with Jamie Moyer's agent. Moyer wants a multiyear deal, but Olney does not believe the Phils are inclined to do that.
- Scott Eyre would take a one-year contract to stay, and the Phillies hope to re-sign him before November 14th.
- Olney says the Phillies are expected to explore talks with Ryan Howard's agent regarding a long-term deal.
- Don't forget starting pitching; Scott Lauber figures they'll be in the market.
- Outfielder So Taguchi was released today.
Some Japanese baseball-related rumors, courtesy of Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker:
- Seven teams have surfaced in Japanese media reports as suitors for free agent amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa: the Red Sox, Braves, Mariners, Pirates, Tigers, Cubs, and Phillies. David O'Brien of the AJC says the Braves are "legit players" for Tazawa. The Red Sox are seen as the frontrunner, according to Paul Hoynes. Sean McAdam of the Boston Herald agrees that Boston is in the lead, and adds the Marlins to the mix.
- Reliever Hitoki Iwase will remain in Japan. Shortstop Tomohiro Nioka is a free agent, but may not necessarily come to MLB.
- So Taguchi and Tadahito Iguchi may return to Japan for the '09 season.
- Saburo Ohmura is a 32 centerfielder with an eye on MLB. Newman tells me he profiles as more of a fourth outfielder.
Alright, time to lump today's remaining options together in one post.
- The Pirates declined Jason Michaels' $2.6MM option. He could re-sign for less.
- The Phillies declined their options on So Taguchi ($1.25MM with a $150K buyout) and Tom Gordon ($4.5MM with a $1MM buyout). The moves may have been Pat Gillick's last as GM.
- The Brewers declined Craig Counsell's $3.4MM option, paying a $400K buyout.
- The Athletics declined Alan Embree's $3MM option. As a Type B free agent, the A's could offer him arbitration. Susan Slusser spoke to Embree, who didn't mind having the option declined.