Willie Harris Rumors
Links for Monday night, as Jorge Posada hits his third home run in two days...
- Pedro Feliciano told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork that he was upset to hear that Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen suggested he was overworked last year (Yankees GM Brian Cashman says he was "abused."). Feliciano maintains that he likes to pitch a lot and predicts he'll strike out Ike Davis when the Yankees face the Mets this year. Feliciano says he didn't sign with the Mets because they weren't willing to offer a multiyear deal.
- As MLB.com's Anthony DiComo explains, the decade-long partnership between Jose Reyes and David Wright of the Mets may come to an end in 2011.
- Willie Harris, who is off to a hot start with the Mets, drew interest from a half-dozen other teams this offseason, according to DiComo.
Some links for St. Patrick's Day as players don green uniforms in Arizona and Florida...
- Chase Utley has made "minimal" improvement since taking a shot for his injured knee, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Though Utley can hit and field, he can't run, so Wilson Valdez will play second base for the time being.
- Adam Wainwright told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he's anticipating a high-stakes rehab, since the Cardinals may not exercise his $21MM option for 2012-13 if he struggles. "There's a lot of money resting on me coming back healthy next year," he said.
- Willie Harris can opt out of his contract with the Mets on March 27th, according to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). There seems to be a good chance that Harris will make the team and the opt-out won't be an issue.
- Michael Young told Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas.com that he has found it tough to develop a rhythm this spring, partly because he has been bouncing from one position to another.
- Not surprisingly, Ben Sheets isn't negotiating with any teams, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). Sheets' 2010 season ended early when he needed flexor tendon surgery.
The Mets have signed Willie Harris to a minor league deal and invited him to Spring Training, according to the team. Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com first reported the agreement. The utility player will have a good chance of making the team's Opening Day roster, Rubin writes.
We heard last week that Harris had two offers and would not return to Washington, where he played from 2008-10. Harris played all three outfield positions and backed up at third base last year. The 32-year-old posted a .183/.291/.362 line with 10 homers in 262 plate appearances. Harris bats from the left side and generally maintains an above-average strikeout to walk ratio.
The Mets, who had been looking for a fourth outfielder, now figure to continue their search for starting pitching.
Willie Harris has two offers, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (Twitter links). A Nationals source tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that there's "no chance" the utility player returns to Washington.
Harris played all three outfield positions and backed Ryan Zimmerman up at third base last year. In the process, the 32-year-old posted a .183/.291/.362 line with 10 homers. Harris bats from the left side and generally maintains an above-average strikeout to walk ratio.
Links for Thursday, as Juan Pierre picks up his 500th career stolen base...
- Pedro Martinez said he has recently received offers to pitch this year, but still doesn't intend to play in 2010, according to this AP report on ESPN.com.
- Mets owner Fred Wilpon implied to Mike Puma of the New York Post that Omar Minaya will definitely be his GM in 2011.
- Top Astros draft pick Delino DeShields Jr. told MLB.com's Brian McTaggart that he's excited to begin his pro career. DeShields' deal could be finalized today.
- Astros GM Ed Wade told Tom Krasovic of AOL FanHouse that he has no concern about Brett Myers' health. "He's a 29-year-old horse," Wade said.
- Chuck Greenberg's group, which won the auction to buy the Rangers for hundreds of millions, plans to pursue Cliff Lee when he hits free agency after the season, according to Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (on Twitter). Yesterday, we saw that GM Jon Daniels has interest in bringing the left-hander back.
- Tim Redding, who had been pitching in the Yankees system, signed with the Samsung Lions of the Korean Professional Baseball League, according to Donnie Collins of the Scranton Times-Tribune (Twitter link).
- Over at RotoAuthority, Tim Dierkes wonders what to expect from Mike Minor as a fantasy baseball option this year.
- The Yankees had interest in Willie Harris before the deadline, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter).
- The Rockies 'kicked the tires' on Derrek Lee last month, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter).
MLB.com's Bill Ladson talked with Nationals GM Mike Rizzo about the upcoming trade deadline. Let's run down an abbreviated version:
- Rizzo is pleased with his rotation's performance in spite of losing Jason Marquis for nearly all of 2010 thus far. Still, starting pitching is his biggest priority in any potential trades. As he points out, you can never have too much good young pitching.
- Rizzo says he doesn't make any calls attempting to shop Matt Capps, Adam Dunn, or Josh Willingham. He does, however receive a lot of calls on the trio, which he says he's not surprised by:"There is a reason everyone is asking for those three players: They are good players."
- Asked about a possible extension for Dunn, Rizzo was brief in saying that they're in talks and have been since Spring Training, but that's all he was going to say. The White Sox have been pursuing Dunn for weeks, and as of today it looks like the Tigers have joined the fray as well.
- The Nationals have received calls about Willie Harris, and he's available, but not being shopped. Rizzo specifically mentions Harris' presence in the clubhouse as a positive.
Was a better bargain than Andruw Jones signed this winter? The White Sox added him on a one-year deal worth $500K, and all he's given them so far is a batting line of .260/.360/.604. Meanwhile, the man patrolling his old Atlanta center field home, Nate McLouth, checks in at .167/.302/.271, and Gary Matthews Jr., who will make twice what Jones does from the Mets this year (and next year!), is hitting .152/.235/.196.
The problem is, this hasn't allowed the White Sox to move into contention. Thanks to a 14-20 start, combined with Minnesota's 22-12 beginning, Chicago is already eight games out, with Memorial Day still weeks away. So it may well be that the White Sox can, and should flip Jones to a contending team down the stretch. And that reasonable short-term deal means some of the smaller-market contenders are likely to be in the Jones sweepstakes.
What are some possible destinations?
- Washington could be a good fit. Willie Harris is hitting just .182/.313/.418, and with Willy Taveras also getting outfield at-bats, so Jones could be a good fit for regular corner outfield time. The Nationals have several pitchers set to join the big league team, but little in the way of outfield prospects at the top of their system. For now, the Nationals say they're content with Harris and Roger Bernadina.
- Cincinnati has seen Drew Stubbs struggle in center field so far; he's hitting just .196/.283/.321. It shouldn't be hard to convince Dusty Baker to play the veteran Jones over Stubbs, either. It's not clear that Jones is still an every day center fielder, but Chicago has already played him there four times in 2010.
- The Padres have Kyle Blanks in left field, Tony Gwynn Jr. in center field, and Will Venable in right field. Of the three, only Blanks profiles as a top prospect, so the other two could be vulnerable to a Jones acquisition, should San Diego remain in the race.
- With Eric Chavez and Jake Fox struggling, and Rajai Davis reverting to form, the Athletics could use Jones in either center field or at designated hitter to support an imposing starting rotation. The move sounds a lot like acquiring Frank Thomas, doesn't it?
- And don't fall asleep on Seattle, either. Currently 6.5 games out, the Mariners have the talent to climb back into the race, but their DHs, Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Sweeney, simply aren't hitting. Jones could also slot into left field.
In the wake of losing an everyday outfielder when they released Elijah Dukes, the Nationals have had discussions with several teams about a trade for a right fielder according to MASNSports.com's Ben Goessling. Among the targets: Corey Hart, Kosuke Fukudome, and B.J. Upton.
Goessling says that none of those trade talks have been particularly substantive, but it's clear the Nats aren't necessarily looking for a cheap solution. The two sides weren't able to find a common ground for Hart, and the Nats came away with the impression that the Rays won't move the elder Upton brother unless they fall out of the AL East race this summer. Fukudome still has two years and $26.5MM left on his deal, so he's unlikely to be moved unless the Cubs eat a large portion of that commitment.
Washington feels right field is a thin position around the league, so for now they'll try to get by with a combination of Willie Harris and Willy Taveras. They'll have to hope their defensive skills make up for their collective lack of offense.
ESPN's Jayson Stark has a new blog post up with some trade rumor nuggets for us. It's behind the Insider wall (if you don't have a subscription yet, what are you waiting for?), so I can't give away too much...
- Stark lists 16 players currently on the trade block. Among the names we haven't seen mentioned recently: Willie Harris, Andy Marte, Tim Stauffer, Omir Santos, and Brad Thomas.
- The Mets are looking to move one of their extra catchers, either Santos or Chris Coste, and are looking to add "major league-ready triple-A pitching depth." Aren't we all...
- The Phillies are looking to add all sorts of pitching depth, and have interest in the recently released Chad Gaudin.
- Scott Sizemore's rocky spring has the Tigers looking for a second base upgrade.
- Kansas City is shopping Brayan Pena in their perpetual search for starting pitching.
- The Braves have told other clubs that David Ross is available, "possibly in a catcher-for-catcher swap for a younger backup-catcher type."
9:36pm: Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (via Twitter) thinks "it's unlikely anything happens" between Tampa Bay and Hudson, noting that the Rays are happy with Zobrist, Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez at second base. He does say, however, that the Rays "have interest in [a number] of free agents."
8:12pm: ESPN's Buster Olney reports (via Twitter) that Tampa Bay is "in on Orlando Hudson talks." The plan would be to install Hudson at second base while Ben Zobrist gets moved to right field. Olney says that the move "all depends on the price," which would presumably have to be significantly lower than Hudson's $9MM asking price.
The Nationals have been considered to be the leaders in the Hudson sweepstakes this winter, and MLB.com's Bill Ladson was told today by a source that the Nats "have a good chance" of signing the free-agent second baseman due to Hudson's close ties to Adam Dunn and Willie Harris.
Ladson also went straight to the horse's mouth and talked to Hudson himself, who told Ladson that "progress had been made." The interview also included this interesting passage from Hudson that cited two other teams in the hunt:
"I will sign soon enough. You can put it on the Internet and on TV. I'm going to sign. I can't say exactly when. It will not be long. I can't say if it's with the Nationals, San Diego or Cleveland. I can't say with whom. Something is getting done."
The Padres could be a longshot if, as MLB.com's Corey Brock tweeted earlier today, they've completed their winter shopping following the signing of Jon Garland. The Tribe also seem like unlikely suitors given Hudson's contract demands.