Ty Wigginton Rumors
We've heard that Ty Wigginton is the Rockies' top target for a right-handed bat, but the club has other targets for that role, as well as interest in several other players, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post. Let's go over some of them:
- Jorge Cantu is one alternative to Wigginton, despite a miserable second half to the 2010 season. GM Dan O'Dowd acknowledged that they'd prefer someone who can play in the outfield, but that's not critical.
- The Rockies have soured on Josh Willingham due to Washington's asking price and concerns over the 31-year-old's knee. They've also called about Jeff Francoeur, believing he could handle first base.
- Colorado would have interest in Rich Harden in a bullpen role, if the righty would be willing to make the switch from starting pitching. There's also the question of whether or not the injury-prone Harden could hold up physically. Renck says the Rox have tried to acquire Harden numerous times in the past, but to no avail.
- Colorado is also looking at Kevin Gregg, Bobby Jenks, Brian Fuentes, Jesse Crain, and Pedro Feliciano, though the first three prefer to close, which won't happen in Denver.
- The Rockies also haven't closed the door on Joe Beimel, who tells Renck he'd love to come back to Colorado.
5:30pm: The Blue Jays have checked in on Ty Wigginton, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The Orioles maintain interest in the infielder, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
4:24pm: The Orioles still have interest in Pena, though his asking price is currently too high, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli (on Twitter).
2:02pm: The Blue Jays are "in hard" for free agent first baseman Carlos Pena, ESPN's Gordon Edes heard from another club with interest (Twitter link). The Cubs and Nationals are also known to be eyeing the Scott Boras client. Like recently-traded slugger Mark Reynolds, Pena slipped below the Mendoza line this year but isn't far removed from 40 home run power.
4:38pm: The Orioles have had internal discussions about Willingham, potentially as a first baseman, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The O's haven't ruled out bringing Ty Wigginton back.
1:56am: The Nationals added one huge piece to their outfield today, but could subtract another key contributor before Opening Day. MLB.com's Bill Ladson hears that Josh Willingham will "most likely" be traded by the Nationals sometime this offseason. The 31-year-old isn't the only National on the trade block either; earlier today, we heard that the club would listen to offers for everyone on its roster besides Werth and Ryan Zimmerman.
There would be room in the Nationals' outfield for both Willingham, a left fielder, and Werth, who is expected to play right. However, Ladson writes that Washington would like to get something back for Willingham rather than letting him leave via free agency after the 2011 season.
Last month, it appeared Willingham and the Nationals would be unable to work out an extension to keep the outfielder in Washington. GM Mike Rizzo indicated that the team would go year to year on Willingham, with Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post suggesting that a trade was also a possibility.
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.