Tomo Ohka Rumors
According to Ken Rosenthal, the Cardinals have signed free agent righty Tomo Ohka to a minor league contract. The Phillies were in on him as well, but the Cardinals gave him a shorter minor league requirement.
The Cardinals talked to Ohka's agent last December, but must have found $1.5MM guaranteed to be prohibitive. It's easier to swallow when the Blue Jays are paying Ohka's salary. I think Ohka's rotator cuff is still kind of messed up, but he might be able to get by in the NL Central.
Check out my profile of Ohka here; he's an interesting character. Unfortunately Ohka likely won't remain a Memphis Redbird long enough to run into Sun-Woo Kim of the Fresno Grizzlies. The two engaged in fisticuffs back in 2000 as members of the Pawtucket Red Sox.
The authority on all trade rumors, Ken Rosenthal has spoken. Let's review.
- As we have heard before, the Dodgers like Adam Dunn. We've also discussed the fact that there's not a clear place to put him. Whether you go with first base or left field, a veteran must move. The Padres like Dunn as well but talks have yet to occur. The Angels may have liked him in the past but they don't seem likely at this point. And the Twins? They just won't break the bank for him unfortunately.
- With Michael Barrett having issues with 40% of the Cubs' rotation, the Cubs could look to trade him. Even though he's a top offensive catcher, his impending free agency might prevent any strong return. Plus, the Cubs would have to go with a Henry Blanco/Koyie Hill tandem. A more likely scenario is that the Cubs will let Barrett walk after the season.
- Finally some clarity on Eric Gagne's limited no-trade protection. Rosenthal reveals that he can veto trades to 12 teams. The Phillies and Indians are again mentioned as suitors. Rosenthal thinks Mark Teixeira could generate a lot of talk but no action at the trading deadline. Kind of like Alfonso Soriano or A.J. Burnett before him.
- The asking price for Brad Lidge, supposedly: a premium young catcher and promising young pitcher. Lidge will probably earn $8MM next year before hitting free agency. The Astros should be happy with a young catcher or a young pitcher, not both. I'd mention Salty here but I think he is worth much more than Lidge. Rosenthal says the Astros could move another bullpen arm like Wheeler or Qualls to get the bat they need.
- Could the Devil Rays simply retain Al Reyes and Carlos Pena? Both players could be valuable contributors to the 2008 club. I like the idea of keeping Reyes around for next year, but I think Pena has peaked.
- Noah Lowry would get the attention of the Braves or Cardinals, but the Giants are unlikely to move him.
- The Phils are likely to pass on Tomo Ohka despite their need for pitching.
According to Cardinals GM Walt Jocketty, there's just nothing out there on the starting pitching market. No decent starters to acquire. The Cardinals are doing OK in second place, 5.5 games behind the Brewers. They still have a fine chance of sneaking into the rotation, but need to upgrade their patchwork rotation. St. Louis starters have combined for a 5.25 ERA, easily the worst in the league. Even worse than the Nationals.
Joe Strauss's article mentions some mild interest in Tomo Ohka, who was designated for assignment yesterday by the Blue Jays. The Cardinals talked to Ohka's agent last December but couldn't get a deal done.
Jocketty is, of course, exaggerating in saying nothing's available. Here are some names for you: Wade Miller, Josh Fogg, Mike Maroth, Odalis Perez, Brett Tomko, Jon Lieber, John Thomson, Tony Armas. Now, if you're talking good starters, well, that always requires a decent bounty. Mark Buehrle should become available soon, and the Marlins would probably listen on Dontrelle Willis. A mid-tier guy who could work is Paul Byrd. Any other ideas for the Redbirds?
Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi has told teams that starters Josh Towers and Tomo Ohka are available, according to the Toronto Sun. The Jays will pick up some salary, too. The Sun's Bob Elliott dogs Ricciardi for not giving Jeff Suppan the four year, $42MM he got from Milwaukee. I think Ricciardi made the right decision there - instead of owing Suppan $12.5MM in 2010, he can already get off the hook for Ohka and John Thomson. Suppan wouldn't have a 2.54 ERA right now had he been pitching in the AL East.
Aside from the 1-2 punch of Halladay and Burnett, the Jays will go young in the rotation. They've got nothing to lose with such a strategy, and maybe the kids will be primed to succeed in '08.
Towers, 30, earns $2.9MM this season. However, he won't be a free agent until after the 2009 season, by my count. He has pinpoint control and pitches to contact. The approach has worked when he's managed to keep the hits per nine innings under 11. It's failed miserably otherwise. Oddly, PECOTA sees Ohka as Towers' #2 comparable. Check out some other names in his top fifteen comps: John Burkett, Lew Burdette, Early Winn, and Brad Radke. There are certainly scenarios under which Towers has a successful big league career. They probably involve the National League.
Ohka, 31, earns $1.5MM this year with additional incentives for games started. I wrote an extensive profile on him here. Two things to know about Ohka: he's pitching with a strained rotator cuff, and he's got a fiery personality (to put it lightly). Since he signed late, many teams are on record having interest in Ohka last winter: the Cardinals, Mariners, Nationals, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Mets. He was actually trying for a three-year deal.
UPDATE: The Blue Jays signed Ohka to a one-year deal with incentives. He's guaranteed $1.5MM and can double it by reaching incentives.
The Washington Post reports that Tomo Ohka will likely decide on a team today or tomorrow. The Nats are unlikely, and he's leaning towards Toronto. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Ohka now only wants a one-year deal. Looks like he couldn't get three years so he'd rather re-enter the market in '08 after a hopefully solid year. The Pirates are definitely out of the running. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review mentions that the Mets are still in on Ohka.
The Bucs, however, have turned their focus to Tony Armas Jr. Several teams are interested in him, with the Pirates in the lead. Though he's not particularly good, he is relatively healthy and on the right side of 30. Beggars can't be choosy.
Ah, the Tomo Ohka saga. What could be more exciting in late January? Football just can't compete. The Pirates have "escalated efforts" to snag the righthander, which I suppose means an increased offer. An Ohka signing for the Bucs would probably push Shawn Chacon out of the rotation, never a bad idea.
The Nats, Blue Jays, and...wait for it...a mystery team are the contenders for Ohka. My guess is that Ohka wants a Jason Marquis type deal.
The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo reports that Tomo Ohka could decide this weekend whether to pitch for the Nationals, Pirates, or Blue Jays. The Bucs are also working on Brian Lawrence, so they'd probably only sign one of the two.
I wonder what happened to the Mets, and whether Ohka is still holding out for a three-year deal. You can read my full profile of the 30 year-old righty here.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, "The Pirates are among the two or three teams that have offered a two-year deal to free-agent pitcher Tomo Ohka. However, Ohka's agent is holding out for a three-year deal."
Three years for Ohka sounds like a bad idea. But hey, can't blame a guy for trying. As far as the two or three teams, it seems possible that they might be the Mets, Nationals, and Mariners.
According to the New York Times, the Mets are interested in Tomo Ohka or Tony Armas Jr. to fill in the middle of their rotation. Both pitchers played under Minaya when he was GM of the Expos. Ohka would likely require a two-year deal, while Armas might be had for one year and $5MM or so.
Meanwhile, the New York Post adds that the Mets could give Jeff Weaver a second chance in New York. They'd be unlikely to exceed a two-year deal, and I have a hunch someone could offer three. Once again, Scott Boras and Weaver are signing a contract late in the free agent season.
According to Ken Davidoff of Newsday, the Mets are likely negotiating with free agent righty Tomo Ohka. Omar Minaya is familiar with Ohka from his time in Montreal.
Three teams have looked at Ohka's medical records, and one NL East team besides the Mets is in the mix. The Marlins and Phillies don't make sense, leaving the Braves or Nats as possibilities. Washington made Ohka an offer a month ago but it wasn't enough.
UPDATE: The Washington Post confirms that the Nationals are still in the mix.
Click here to view my full profile on Ohka.