Ty Wigginton Rumors
The typical Winter Meetings barrage of links...
- There's trade interest in newly-blocked third baseman Josh Bell, Orioles manager Buck Showalter told Yahoo's Steve Henson, though Bell can play first (Twitter link).
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka's agents are meeting with the Twins today, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. He says the Japanese infielder seeks a three-year deal.
- Dan Uggla and the Braves have talked a bit about an extension, tweets Heyman.
- The Angels have deflected trade talks about other closers because they're focused on Rafael Soriano, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.
- Ty Wigginton is the Rockies' top target for a right-handed bench bat, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, and they're meeting with his agent today.
- MLB.com's Scott Merkin talked to free agent reliever Bobby Jenks, who would like to return to the White Sox if possible. Manager Ozzie Guillen told Merkin that if Jenks does return, he would not be guaranteed the closer job (Twitter link).
- Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters, "Joey Votto told me he wants to stay. He just wasn't ready to say he wants to stay the rest of life."
Wigginton, 33, hit .248/.312/.415 in 649 plate appearances for the Orioles in 2010. The veteran utility man saw time at first base, second base, and third base for the Orioles, and also has experience in the oufield. He'd been previously identified as the Rockies' top target for a right-handed utility bat.
The Orioles made a curious decision this summer in not trading Wigginton, as he was certain to finish the year as an unranked free agent. Rather than acquire some minor league depth or salary relief, they will instead receive no compensation for his departure.
The Rockies are looking for versatile right-handed hitters and have been in contact with the agents of Russell Martin, Jeff Francoeur and Ty Wigginton, reports FOXSports.com's Tracy Ringolsby. Martin is already drawing significant interest since being non-tendered by the Dodgers yesterday, though only Colorado could re-unite him with manager Jim Tracy. With the Rockies set on Chris Iannetta as their regular catcher, Martin might want to sign for a team that gives him a clearer path to a starting job behind the plate. If he isn't set on catching, however, Martin would find plenty of at-bats in Colorado spelling Ian Stewart and Todd Helton at third and first, respectively, against left-handed pitching.
The Phillies and Royals have also shown some interest in Francoeur, but Ringolsby notes that the Rockies would have Francoeur play some first base as Helton's backup. Francoeur has played only in the outfield in his career and is the least-versatile option of the three players. If he were to struggle playing first, the Rockies could find themselves still in the market for a reliable backup corner infielder once the season began.
Wigginton has been linked to the Rockies already and could fit right in as a right-handed bench bat. The Orioles are the only other club known to have an interest in Wigginton this winter, but it seems like he'd have more opportunities for playing time in Colorado.
- MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli reports that the O's continue to have discussions with Koji Uehara, Ty Wigginton, and Cesar Izturis. The issue with the first two is contract length, and the fate of the last two is tied to what kind of bat the team brings in.
- Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun wonders if Victor Martinez is exactly what the Orioles need. He says that "by all accounts," Peter Angelos, Andy MacPhail, and Buck Showalter are high on V-Mart and he is "one of their top offseason priorities."
- MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko speculates that Jon Garland could again be connected to Baltimore, as he has been for the last two offseasons. He doesn't see either Zach Duke or Manny Ramirez fitting in with the O's.
The Rockies have expressed interest in Athletics' third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff, tweets Troy Renck of The Denver Post. He adds that Jose Lopez, Jorge Cantu, and Ty Wigginton are also on Colorado's radar in a second tweet, calling the team "quietly aggressive" during the GM Meetings.
Kouzmanoff is a non-tender candidate, even moreso now that the A's have brought in Edwin Encarnacion and are aggressively bidding on Adrian Beltre. Renck adds that he would fill the role of Melvin Mora for Colorado, pushing Ian Stewart at third base and potentially platooning with him. Cantu, Lopez, and Wiggington could all do the same as well. Earlier today we learned that the Rockies also have interest in Alex Gordon.
Rockies GM Dan O’Dowd told Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post that he’s looking for the "right player" this offseason, not the "best player." As Armstrong explains, that could be bad news for the Rockies fans hoping to see Victor Martinez in Denver:
- The Rockies aren’t likely to make the winning bid on Martinez, though he caught the team’s attention as a potential free agent target.
- Colorado would pursue an innings eater if Jorge de la Rosa proves too expensive to re-sign. The lefty is drawing interest from multiple teams, including the Yankees and Nationals.
- Joe Beimel could return to Colorado, but the Rockies have other left-handed relievers including Matt Reynolds and Franklin Morales, so their need for Beimel isn’t pressing.
- Adding a right-handed hitter is a priority for the Rockies. Their list of candidates includes Conor Jackson, Ty Wigginton and Jermaine Dye. Jackson is a non-tender candidate and may join Wigginton and Dye on the free agent market within a few weeks. The Rockies have already contacted Dye about a potential deal.
We heard a few Orioles-related tidbits earlier today, and now MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli provides another handful. Ghiroli discussed the Orioles' offseason with president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, and MacPhail shared some thoughts on how the O's intend to approach free agency and trades this winter.
- The team's primary goal will be obtaining a middle-of-the-order hitter, with no specific position in mind. MacPhail suggests that adding an impact bat would benefit the rest of the lineup, by taking some pressure off the Orioles' current hitters.
- MacPhail sounds skeptical about acquiring pitching through free agency or trades, calling that approach "fragile and expensive" compared to developing young arms. However, he acknowledged that the club could once again look into acquiring a Kevin Millwood-esque veteran: "You want to have an innings eater because you never know what to expect from the youngsters. So someone like that would certainly be attractive to us."
- When approaching the free agent market for hitters, the Orioles would rather not take a flier on a Garrett Atkins type again. They are hoping to add players who are less risky than Atkins was, though MacPhail concedes that sometimes the way the market develops makes it necessary to take a gamble.
- Ghiroli speculates that, while the O's may not be able to attract the very best free agents like Cliff Lee and Carl Crawford, they will likely look hard at the group of players in the tier or two below: Victor Martinez, Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Jon Garland, and Brandon Webb, to name a few.
- Ghiroli predicts that the Orioles will stay in contact with most of their impending free agents, especially Ty Wigginton, Cesar Izturis, and Koji Uehara.
- The O's also made a minor roster move today, adding reliever Jim Hoey to their 40-man roster, reports Ghiroli.
Coming off an .876 OPS season with Houston in 2008, Ty Wigginton signed a two-year, $6MM deal with the Orioles. He had a .258/.313/.409 line in 1085 plate appearances for Baltimore and was named to the AL All-Star Team after a superb April and May last season. Let's see what a team will get by signing the 33-year-old this winter...
- Wigginton appeared in 98 games at first, 40 games at second and 22 games at third last season. A lot of clubs could use a utility infielder able to cover three positions, plus he also has corner outfield experience.
- As MLBTR's Tim Dierkes noted last week, the free agent market for third basemen is very thin once you get past Adrian Beltre.
- Wigginton is coming off a 22-homer season, though just nine of those home runs came after May 23. He has always had some pop in his bat, compiling a .446 slugging percentage in his career.
- Wigginton may be versatile, but he has a below-average UZR/150 at all three of his infield positions, especially at second and third. He does have a 9.5 UZR/150 in the outfield, however.
- The right-handed hitter has a career .816 OPS against left-handed pitching (and a .755 OPS against righties), but his numbers against southpaws have dipped considerably over the last two seasons. Wigginton posted a .650 OPS and a .679 OPS against southpaws in 2009 and 2010, respectively.
Wigginton is probably in line for a one-year contract worth no more than $2-$2.5MM. It's unlikely he'd be used in anything but a platoon or bench role, though his declining numbers against lefties will concern teams looking for a veteran right-handed bat.
Since Wigginton can play all over the diamond, any number of teams could see him as a useful bench option. He could return to Baltimore at a lower price since there appears to be mutual interest between he and the Orioles, plus the O's would prefer a known quantity to fill in should Josh Bell not be able handle the everyday third base job. MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli notes that Wigginton will be looking for a multi-year commitment, which Baltimore isn't keen to offer (Twitter link).
Wherever Wigginton plays in 2011, expect him to draw interest at the trade deadline as he did last July. Wigginton's versatility makes him a candidate for any team looking to fill a hole created by a midseason injury.
You might see Ty Wigginton in an Orioles uniform next season, but it’s less likely that the club re-signs Kevin Millwood or Julio Lugo. Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun that he has preliminary interest in re-signing some of Baltimore’s free agents, though final decisions are months away. Here are the details:
- Ty Wigginton: The Orioles have interest in re-signing Wigginton, and the infielder told Connolly that he would consider returning in 2011. "I enjoy getting to go out and compete and put on a Baltimore Orioles uniform,” Wigginton said. “I think I can definitely be a good fit; we'll just have to see how everything works out."
- Koji Uehara: The reliever said he’s not thinking about next year, but confirmed that he wanted to pitch for an MLB team. Uehara, who projects as a Type B free agent under the Elias Rankings, would do well to sign for a couple million, as Tim Dierkes explained today.
- Cesar Izturis: The shortstop says he’d like to spend the rest of his career in Baltimore, and the O’s have’t ruled out bringing him back.
- Corey Patterson: Connolly points out that if Patterson re-signs, the sides will likely reach a deal late in the offseason.
- Kevin Millwood: Millwood may seek out a pitcher-friendly environment after years of pitching in Baltimore and Texas. An arbitration offer seems unlikely for the projected Type B free agent.
- Mark Hendrickson: The Orioles have a $1.2MM option for the lefty’s services in 2011, so he could return.
Ty Wigginton and Luke Scott will not be traded this season. Both players were claimed when the Orioles placed them on waivers earlier this month, according to Dan Connolly and Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles pulled Wigginton and Scott back, so a trade is no longer possible. Technically, the Orioles could re-expose the players to waivers, but they would no longer have the option of pulling them back.
Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail could not confirm which players have been claimed, but he told the Sun that it’s “highly unlikely” that the Orioles make any trades in August. The Braves and Cardinals, two teams that appear to be monitoring the market for infielders, can cross Wigginton off of their respective lists.
Wigginton hits free agency this winter, but the Orioles have ample time to consider offers for Scott, who has 22 home runs and a .932 OPS. The 32-year-old is under team control through the 2012 season.