Will Ohman Rumors

AL East Links: Orioles, Hayhurst, Andruw, Crawford

The Orioles agreed to sign Kevin Gregg today, but that's far from the only news to emerge from what's arguably baseball's toughest division. Here's the latest:

  • Brian Cashman told MLB.com's Bryan Hoch that he's "monitoring what the necessary requests are, financially or player wise. If some drop, then maybe we'll get a little more serious [about making a move]." Earlier tonight we heard that the Yankees were interested in Jeremy Bonderman.
  • The Orioles would still like to add a left-handed reliever, according to MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli (all Twitter links). Will Ohman is an option, but not the leading option or the only one, according to Ghiroli.
  • The Orioles would like to add a veteran starter and the feeling in the front office is that a trade is more likely than a free agent signing. Kenshin Kawakami and Joe Blanton come to mind as possible trade targets, but that's just my speculation.
  • Dirk Hayhurst will not be back in the Blue Jays organization next year, the pitcher (and best-selling author) announced on his blog.
  • The Yankees will consider Andruw Jones, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (Twitter link). He bats right-handed and can play all three outfield positions, so he could provide the Yankees with some pop as a fourth outfielder and spell Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.
  • Heyman suggests the Yankees will go for a lockdown bullpen with Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera if Andy Pettitte retires (Twitter link). Click here for more Yankees rumors.
  • Carl Crawford's trainer explained the left fielder's offseason workout program to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com.

Orioles Interested In Grant Balfour

The Orioles have "definite interest" in free agent reliever Grant Balfour, according to MASN's Roch Kubatko.  Kubatko notes that signing the Type A-designated Balfour would require the Orioles to hand over their second-round pick to the Rays.  A year ago, the Orioles were willing to give up the 53rd overall pick to sign Mike Gonzalez.  This pick would be later in the draft.  

Other former Balfour suitors such as the Red Sox and Rockies have filled bullpen needs, so the Orioles have some leverage.  The O's still have lingering interest in Kevin Gregg, a situation that's starting to drag.  Kubatko says they'd also like to sign a lefty reliever, and "the door still hasn't closed" on Mark Hendrickson and Will Ohman.   



Mets Notes: Elvin Ramirez, Ohman, Rhodes, Okajima

The latest on the Mets as the third day of the Winter Meetings wraps up…

Odds & Ends: Hardy, Punto, Dunn, Marlins, Lee

Some items to wrap up the week…

Hoffman Drawing Interest, Undecided On Future

Trevor Hoffman told MLB.com’s Barry Bloom that he wants to test free agency before deciding whether to play in 2011. If he sees an offer he likes, the 43-year-old could return for a 19th season. If not, the all-time saves leader says he’s prepared to retire.

Hoffman has drawn preliminary interest from a number of teams, according to his agent. Rick Thurman, who also represents free agents Brian Fuentes, Arthur Rhodes, Will Ohman, Octavio Dotel and Chan Ho Park, spoke with the D’Backs last Friday about potential fits for their bullpen.

That’s one possible destination for Hoffman, who can envision playing in Arizona under Kevin Towers, the D’Backs GM who ran the Padres when Hoffman pitched in San Diego. Towers repeated that re-building the bullpen is a priority for the D’Backs this offseason, but Hoffman isn't sure how much interest he'll draw. 

"I'm coming off a tough year,” Hoffman told MLB.com. “I don't know if people are going to be turned off by that or not. I hope the strong second half I had will compensate."

Hoffman won’t find many closing jobs available outside of Arizona, but there are many potential closers available, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes pointed out yesterday. Though he started slowly, Hoffman recovered to pitch considerably better after early May. ESPN.com’s Keith Law warned interested teams about the risks associated with Hoffman earlier today. However, Towers told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that "you'd be nuts if you didn't at least consider somebody like Trevor Hoffman" (Twitter link).

Marlins Notes: Olivo, Rodriguez, Nolasco, Bullpen

The Heat and the Dolphins may be dominating the headlines in Miami at this time of year, but there's some news out of the Marlins camp as well.

Five Potential Bargain Lefties For 2011

Teams are perpetually searching for effective left-handed relievers, so here are five southpaws who could become useful pieces at a bargain price next year. Some of the pitchers below are inching closer to 40, but Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver proved this year that there's no age limit for lefty specialists. The list focuses on pitchers who will likely sign for a couple million dollars at most, so I haven't included Hisanori Takahashi, Scott Downs and others:

  • Randy Choate – The 35-year-old hits the open market as your prototypical 'left-handed one out guy.' He made 85 appearances in 2010, but logged just 44.3 innings. His numbers are strong (8.1 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 4.23 ERA) and suggest he could play anywhere, but teams that play in homer-friendly parks such as the D'Backs, Rockies and Brewers may take note of Choate's ability to keep the ball on the ground. His 60% ground ball rate ranked 15th among big league relievers with at least 20 innings.
  • Will Ohman – Ohman, 33, recovered from a poor 2009 season and posted a 3.21 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 4.2 BB/9 between the O's and Marlins. He's going to walk hitters, but he can still get lefties out.
  • Ron Mahay – Mahay turns 40 in June, but that didn't stop him from posting a 3.44 ERA this year and striking out three times as many batters as he walked. He's not in position to demand a multi-year deal, but he could help someone's bullpen in 2011.
  • Taylor Tankersley – The 27-year-old is the least predictable of the options listed, but possibly the most intriguing. Tankersley, a former first rounder, has struck out nearly a batter per inning in his big league career and has held lefties to a .223/.313/.372 line. There are drawbacks – he missed the 2009 season with a stress fracture in his pitching elbow and has trouble against righties – but Tankersley would be a good fit for the Pirates, Mets or Mariners at the right price. Why those clubs? As a fly ball pitcher, he probably fits best in a park that limits home runs and as an unproven pitcher, he fits best on a non-contender. That makes Pittsburgh, New York and Seattle potential fits.
  • Brian Tallet – Unlike the pitchers above, Tallet won't necessarily hit the free agent market, but the 33-year-old is a non-tender candidate so he may be available by early December. Tallet, another fly ball pitcher, limited lefties to a stellar .176/.228/.343 line this year with a 28/6 K/BB ratio.

Dennys Reyes' 2010 numbers look OK, but don't let that 3.55 ERA fool you. Reyes posted a 0.54 ERA through May and a 5.91 ERA afterwards. He can induce grounders, but he walks more than one batter per two innings pitched.

Odds & Ends: Ankiel, Ohman, Tigers, Mets, Rangers

Links for Sunday, as a handful of players suit up for new teams….

Marlins Acquire Will Ohman

The Marlins aggressively pursued bullpen help on deadline day, and ultimately acquired veteran lefty Will Ohman from the Orioles for 25-year-old righty Rick Vanden Hurk.

Ohman, 33 in August, has a 3.30 ERA, 8.7 K/9, and 5.4 BB/9 in 30 innings this year with three home runs allowed.  He came a long way since signing a minor league deal in February, even spending a few days as the Orioles' closer.  He hasn't displayed any special ability to retire lefties since the '08 season.

Vanden Hurk seems an acceptable return for two months of Ohman.  This year at Triple A he posted a 4.68 ERA, 8.0 K/9, and 3.7 BB/9 in 98 innings, allowing 11 home runs.  He's had multiple stints at that level and also has 155.6 big league innings under his belt.  Strikeouts have been there, but everything else has been an issue (including health).  Baseball America ranked Vanden Hurk 13th among Marlins prospects before the '07 season, noting that he was signed at 17 out of the team's Dutch academy.  Did you know the Marlins had a Dutch academy?  BA described Vanden Hurk as "smart and coachable."

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun first tweeted that Ohman was traded, and Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel tweeted that Vanden Hurk was the return.

Twitter Rumors: Lowell, Ross, Dotel, Heilman

A home for today's random Twitter rumors…