Tyler Flowers Rumors

The White Sox And A.J. Pierzynski

Not long ago, it seemed unlikely that the White Sox would have room for A.J. Pierzynski after 2010. They had Tyler Flowers, a minor league catcher who ranked among baseball's best prospects. Flowers, 24, was coming off his second consecutive season with a .900 OPS and seemed ready to hit in the majors.

But Flowers has slumped in Triple A this year and Pierzynski has posted the lowest on base and slugging percentages of his career. The White Sox appeared to have two sure things just five months ago, but now a lot of that certainty has vanished. Despite his slump, Flowers is hitting .220/.334/.434 with 16 homers in Triple A, so the White Sox don't have to fret too much. Their catching prospect can still hit – he has just struggled to produce like he did earlier in his minor league career, when he posted an .800 OPS everywhere he went.

Flowers still hasn't made the transition from heir apparent to everyday player, so GM Kenny Williams will likely want a veteran catcher on the roster going into 2011. The Indians (Carlos Santana) and Giants (Buster Posey) both cautiously ushered young catchers into the majors this year and the White Sox could aim to do something similar. Santana and Posey hit so well in the minors that their teams created space in the majors and called them up by mid-season. 

Pierzynski is still just 33 and he hit well in 2009, but this year he's hitting just .265/.297/.381. He was consistently productive in Chicago from 2005-09 and it's doubtful that the White Sox are going to weigh five so-so months over five full seasons when they decide whether they're interested in re-signing Pierzynski this offseason.

If the White Sox offer Pierzynski, a projected Type A free agent, arbitration, he could accept and return to Chicago on a one-year deal. If he turned it down and signed elsewhere, the White Sox would obtain two high picks in next year's draft.

The White Sox may let Pierzynski walk and rely on Flowers and a veteran catcher, as we would have predicted before the season. But if they don't want to hand the starting catcher's job to a rookie whose minor league numbers are fading, the White Sox can always offer Pierzynski arbitration and deal with the consequences if and when Flowers hits his way to the majors.

Adam Dunn Rumors: Tuesday

New teams inquired about Nationals slugger Adam Dunn within the past day, tweets Ed Price of AOL FanHouseFOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi tweets that the Nats are more likely to trade Dunn than Josh Willingham, while ESPN's Jayson Stark hears that Washington might trade one but not both. 

Check back throughout the day for updates, as the Nationals discuss possible deals with other teams and consider keeping their first baseman in Washington long-term:

  • Dunn wants a four-year deal, but would consider a three-year offer if the Nationals make him one, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Dunn explained to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he does his best to ignore trade rumors and understands the business side of the game.
  • The Nationals want Daniel Hudson plus one of Jordan Danks, Tyler Flowers or Brent Morel for Dunn, a source told Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago. The Nationals offered Dunn for Gordon Beckham, but the White Sox turned the proposal down.
  • Another source told Levine that six teams are bidding for Dunn: The White Sox, Angels, Tigers, Rangers and two NL clubs. As you can see below, the Rockies and Giants have been linked to Dunn, but it’s not certain that those two teams are pursuing him now.
  • The Rays like Dunn, but don't want to push him into a DH role, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. As much as the Rays likes Dunn's bat, they don't want to risk conflict with the slugger. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports that the Nationals asked the Rays for Matt Garza last week. Despite those demands, the Rays will keep an eye on Dunn and Jayson Werth this week, according to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).
  • The Giants also expressed interest in Dunn, according to Knobler.
  • Sherman says the Rockies talked about Dunn, but don't like his poor defense.
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals have yet to offer Dunn an extension in any form, so the trade market is likely to heat up.  Rosenthal and colleague Jon Paul Morosi name the White Sox as the most serious suitor, and add that the Tigers, Rangers, and Yankees maintain interest. 

White Sox Willing To Move Top Prospects In A Trade

According to MLB.com's Scott Merkin, notable Chicago minor leaguers such as Jordan Danks, Tyler Flowers, Dan Hudson or Dayan Viciedo could possibly be dealt if the right acquisition becomes available.  White Sox GM Kenny Williams spoke to the media on Wednesday and hinted that now that the Sox have played themselves back into contention, he wouldn't hesitate to trade part of the team's future for further success this season.

"Well, if there's an opportunity to win a World Series, you got to do what you got to do sometimes — within reason," Williams said. "But it's got to be, you have to have a real opportunity. I think we have an opportunity."

Chicago's apparent trading strategy, if they do indeed make a deal, would be to move largely unproven talents rather than players who have already had an impact in the majors.  Merkin notes that the likes of Gordon Beckham, John Danks and Gavin Floyd are all but untouchable for the near future.

Of those prospects, a Flowers trade would probably have the most impact on Chicago's major league roster.  It had been widely assumed that A.J. Pierzynski would be allowed to leave after his contract expires this winter, since Flowers would then step in behind the plate for the Sox in 2011.  (Indeed, there were even rumors that Pierzynski would be traded before his ten-and-five rights kicked in on June 14.)  If Flowers was dealt, however, the White Sox might well look to re-sign their veteran catcher over other soon-to-be free agents like John Buck or Bengie Molina.

In a separate piece, Merkin highlights how surprising it is that the Sox are now considered to be buyers at the trade deadline given that the club looked to be out of the race just a few weeks ago.  Chicago has been linked to Adam Dunn and other left-handed bats, though Williams told Merkin that the team might also stand pat.  Such a decision wouldn't sit well with the Chicago media and fanbase, but it's prudent of Williams to wait and see if his team really is as good as they've seemed of late before dealing a key prospect.

Pierzynski Discusses Future With White Sox

WEDNESDAY, 6:20pm: Cowley follows up on Pierzynski's comments by getting a few reaction quotes from Ozzie Guillen. The White Sox skipper attempted to quell speculation about a possible trade or Flowers promotion, saying of Pierzynski: "He's not going to lose his job. I'm very happy with what I've got and I have a lot of optimism with what I have and I think A.J. is my catcher…. As long as I'm here, I don't see why he's not going to be my catcher."

TUESDAY, 9:28pm: Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times caught up with A.J. Pierzynski about his future with the White Sox. As pointed out by Tim earlier today, the catcher would achieve 10-and-5 rights this June, meaning he could veto any trade.

Pierzynski, 33, wanted to work out an extension with the White Sox, but with that off the table for now, he's looking for a resolution about his future.

‘‘Everyone knows my situation, I’m a free agent at the end of the year," Pierzynski told Cowley. "But I also know this, if it gets to about June then they can’t trade me, so they’re going to have to make a decision here pretty quick.’’

He added that Chicago is his first choice. Pierzynski is hitting just .171/.227/.195 in his first 44 plate appearances this season, but says his status has nothing to do with the slow start.

With Tyler Flowers in the wings, it is hard to imagine that the White Sox will keep Pierzynski around for anything other than a pennant race.

For his part, White Sox GM Kenny Williams is preaching patience.

Top Trade Chips: AL Central

Let's continue our look at each club's top trade chips today with the AL Central…

  • Indians: The Tribe have dealt their Opening Day starter in each of the last two seasons, and there's a good chance they'll do it again with Jake Westbrook in 2010. The 32-year-old righty will earn $11MM this season, the last one on his contract. After dumping Cliff Lee and Victor Martinez in cost-cutting moves last year, expect them to shop Westbrook around for prospects this summer.
  • Royals: All four of Kansas City's outfielders come off the books after this season (assuming some options are bought out for six figures), so Rick Ankiel, David DeJesus, Scott Podsednik, and even Jose Guillen could be moved in a deal for a young player. The team would obviously have to eat a lot of money to move Guillen. The contracts of relievers Juan Cruz and Kyle Farnsworth also expire after the season, so there might be some interest in them.
  • Tigers: Detroit isn't going to move any of their young power arms, but if they eat a large chunk of salary like they did with Nate Robertson, there might be interest in Jeremy Bonderman and/or Dontrelle Willis. Young backstop Alex Avila could make Gerald Laird expendable as well. The Tigers have four lefty relievers on their 40-man roster (Phil Coke, Fu-Te Ni, Daniel Schlereth, and Brad Thomas), and that demographic is always in demand.
  • Twins: Minnesota has one of the best trade chips in the league, blocked catching prospect Wilson Ramos. Lefty Glen Perkins is pitching in Triple-A and seems to have fallen out of favor with the club after filing a grievance, so he could be made available as well. He has four years of team control left.
  • White Sox: GM Kenny Williams isn't shy about emptying out the farm system in a trade for an established big leaguer, which has left him with little minor league ammo. Their best young prospects are catcher Tyler Flowers and starter Daniel Hudson, who would seem to have a future with the club, but I'm not going to put anything past Williams. Flowers could make A.J. Pierzynski or Ramon Castro expendable, ditto Hudson and Freddy Garcia. Gordon Beckham should be untouchable, obviously.

Odds & Ends: Halladay, House, Felipe Lopez

Links for Wednesday…

White Sox Announce Spring Invitees

The Chicago White Sox have announced their Spring Training invitees.

The White Sox invited 18 players: Left-handed pitching prospect Aaron Poreda and infield prospect Gordon Beckham; catchers Tyler Flowers and Donny Lucey; right-handed reliever Mike MacDougal joins fellow White Sox minor leaguers Poreda and Beckham as non-roster invitees.

These 13 signed minor-league deals with the White Sox: Infielders Javier Castillo, Bryan Myrow, Sergio Santos and Eider Torres; catchers Corky Miller and Chris Stewart; outfielders Josh Kroeger and Michael Restovich; right-handed pitchers Ryan Braun, Franklyn German, Brad Salmon and Jon Van Benschoten ; left-handed pitcher Randy Williams.

Why The Braves-Peavy Trade Fell Apart

Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune had an article yesterday involving a couple of failed Padres trades.

Krasovic says the Padres and Braves were discussing a 4-for-1 Jake Peavy deal in November.  Yunel Escobar and Gorkys Hernadez were agreed upon.  The conflict came as the Padres wanted Charlie Morton over Jo-Jo Reyes as well as Jeff Locke or Tyler Flowers over Blaine Boyer.  To me that gap looks pretty sizeable, so maybe the trade was never close.  At this point it seems like the Braves could end up with Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami as their rotation upgrades.  They’ve reportedly made Escobar unavailable, leading Dan Hayes of the North County Times to suggest the Braves would have to remove Tommy Hanson‘s apparent "untouchable" tag to get Peavy.  Everything I’ve read about Hanson has said the Braves are adamant about keeping him.

Krasovic also says the Giants made a run at shortstop Khalil Greene before he was dealt to the Cardinals.

Javier Vazquez Trade Reactions

The word yesterday evening was that the Braves acquired starter Javier Vazquez and lefty reliever Boone Logan for Tyler Flowers, Brent Lillibridge, Jon Gilmore, and Santos Rodriguez (MLB.com’s Mark Bowman confirms the prospects).  Look for the trade to become official tommorrow.  Reactions to the deal:

  • South Side Sox expects a couple of accompanying moves: the trade of Jermaine Dye for a young starter and the signing of an affordable free agent outfielder.  They don’t see the White Sox benefitting from the Vazquez trade in 2009, but at least Ozzie cleared out his doghouse.
  • Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune says the Sox will still have power if Dye is dealt.  Gonzales also provides info on the prospects received for Vazquez.
  • Yahoo’s Tim Brown says the White Sox are also willing to trade Paul Konerko and Jim Thome.
  • Sox Machine provides a more in-depth look at the prospects.
  • From the Braves’ point of view, J.C. Bradbury sees this as a solid win-now move that won’t affect the ’09 team.
  • Ken Davidoff says the Braves will now have less of a need for Jake Peavy or A.J. Burnett.  I think, though, that they’ll still aggressively try to acquire one of the two.  Most of the rumored packages for Peavy didn’t involve the prospects sent to Chicago, with the possible exception of Flowers.
  • Dave Cameron notes Vazquez’s career-long underachievement.  This always baffled me when trying to do fantasy baseball projections based on component stats.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Hardy, Flowers, Wolf

Another day, another column from Ken Rosenthal.

  • With multiple vacancies in the rotation and bullpen, the Brewers may need to see what kind of pitching Mike Cameron and/or J.J. Hardy can bring in return.  GM Doug Melvin is not ready to shop Hardy.  He’s received interest, but most teams have not given names (one team suggested swapping him for a pitcher Melvin termed, "a fifth starter.")
  • The Padres have asked the Braves to substitute catcher Tyler Flowers for center fielder Gorkys Hernandez in their Jake Peavy offer.  Dave O’Brien sees this as unlikely.
  • If they can’t sign Mark Teixeira, the Angels are ready to shift gears to C.C. Sabathia, Francisco Rodriguez, or other players.  The idea of a Manny Ramirez pursuit was "tabled rather quickly."
  • The Cardinals plan to add one or two lefthanded relievers, probably free agents.
  • In his quest for righthanded power, Reds GM Walt Jocketty inquired on Matt Holliday and Josh Willingham before they were traded.  Purely speculative – Jermaine Dye could be a nice fit.
  • At least half a dozen teams have expressed interest in free agent starter Randy Wolf.