Willy Aybar Rumors

Rays Reach Impasse With Dioner Navarro

2:22pm: A quote from Navarro’s agent Kendall Almerico, via Topkin:

"It appears that we have reached an impasse and that we will be going to arbitration on Monday.  After that, I hope to resume negotiations on a long-term deal so Navi can play in Tampa for the rest of his career. But that may depend on how the Rays present their case and whether the Rays treat Navi respectfully at the hearing as Navi has instructed us to treat the Rays throughout this entire process."

11:04am: According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays are still in talks with their two remaining arbitration-eligible players, Dioner Navarro and Willy Aybar.

The Rays are only $150K apart with Aybar, and the sides are discussing a possible two-year deal.  Aybar, a Super Two player, is under team control through 2012.

Navarro faces a $400K gap with the Rays, and they’re also discussing multiyear possibilities.  He’s under team control through 2011.

Rays Rumors: Navarro, Aybar

According to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times, the Rays are looking at multiyear deals for Dioner Navarro and Willy Aybar.

DRaysBay echoes Tampa Bay’s desire to lock up the two, which would allow the team to avoid arbitration hearings.

Navarro will have three arbitration years: ’09, ’10 and ’11; and Aybar will have four years: ’09, ’10, ’11 and ’12. The Rays, who don’t typically negotiate once arbitration figures have been submitted, appear to be willing to negotiate with these two.

Rays Avoid Arb With Jason Bartlett

12:11pm: The noon filing deadline passed without an agreement for Navarro or Aybar, so Marc Topkin anticipates hearings for both.

10:50am: According to Marc Topkin, the Rays avoided arbitration with shortstop Jason Bartlett by signing him at $1.98125MM for ’09.  Bartlett is under team control through 2011.  The Rays’ other two arb-eligibles are Dioner Navarro and Willy Aybar; they’re making progress with Navarro.  The Rays have a policy of not negotiating once figures are exchanged.

Arb Hearings For Aybar, Bartlett, Navarro?

According to Marc Topkin, three Rays players appear headed for February arbitration hearings: Willy Aybar, Jason Bartlett, and Dioner Navarro.  The Rays have a policy of ending talks when figures are exchanged, and that happens Tuesday.

Odds and Ends: Pokey, Lowe, Boss

Before you fire up the grill, check out these links.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Bruce, Longoria

Yesterday Rob Neyer of ESPN.com wrote about the fates of Baseball America’s top two prospects, Jay Bruce and Evan Longoria. While Bruce start the season in the minors, Neyer notes that the Reds could be a playoff contender if Bruce and Joey Votto receive 1,000 plate appearances. On the other hand, a decision has yet be made on where Longoria will start the season. Neyer feels that the Rays may wish that Longoria was not playing so well in Spring Training. He thinks the Rays should forgo the potential savings of keeping him in the minors and buy some goodwill with the fans by showing them that the team is serious about winning.

Keeping top prospects in the minors to begin the season is likely to become a growing trend. Decisions in both of the above cases may at least in part be based on future arbitration and free agency eligibility. A team can delay free agency by just postponing a player’s debut a few weeks. And as arbitration figures continue to rise, team’s can delay the start of the arbitration clock by waiting until June to promote a prospect. Last season the Brewers accomplished this with their top prospect Ryan Braun by waiting until May 24th to promote him to the majors. In doing so, Braun will not be eligible for arbitration until after the 2010 season.

Let’s take a look at what is being written about Bruce and Longoria in the Blogosphere…

  • Redleg Nation understands starting Bruce in AAA, but laments the idea of having Corey Patterson batting leadoff. They worry that this confirms the belief that Dusty Baker prefers veterans even if they are less talented.
  • Red Reporter is split on the issue of Bruce noting that the issue is not as clear as we would like it to be. They also wonder if the Reds are staggering the debuts of their prospects so their arbitration and free agency clocks are also staggered.
  • Bugs & Cranks wonders if the Reds had already decided Bruce’s fate even before bringing Patterson on board, for the sole purpose of delaying Bruce’s arbitration clock.
  • At Fanhouse, Pat Lackey tries to justify the demotion of Bruce, noting that he may be better off developing under the tutelage of somebody other than Baker, getting more experience and delaying his arbitration clock.
  • On the other hand, Eamonn Brennan of Fanhouse thinks any team not managed by Baker would have kept Bruce on the roster.
  • Rays of Light notes that Longoria’s future teammates may not be happy if he is demoted. Rays of Light wouldn’t be happy with a demotion but they understand the reasoning.
  • Outs Per Swing notes that if Longoria is demoted, Willy Aybar will start at third. They do not believe that Aybar’s recent hamstring issues will have an effect on the team’s decision regarding Longoria.
  • Sports Indeed notes that Longoria is receiving a lot of playing time in the spring and wonders if this is an indication that he will be on the opening day roster.
  • Rays Index predicts a May 26 debut for Longoria based on his arbitration clock.

Cork Gaines writes for Rays Index and can be reached here.

Rays Acquire Aybar, Fontaine For Ridgway

The St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays acquired infielder Willy Aybar today along with Chase Fontaine for Jeff RidgwayDRays Bay caught wind of this one several days ago.

Aybar is out of options, so he’ll stick with the big club as a super-utility guy.  He can bridge the gap at third base if Evan Longoria needs a little time.  Aybar would be most interesting at second; he’ll be 25 and sports a career OPS over .800.  However a few years ago Baseball America questioned whether he could handle second base defensively long-term.  Regardless, if Aybar can get past the substance abuse problems this could be a steal.      

BA doesn’t expect the 22 year-old Fontaine to stick at shortstop; he might have to move to second eventually.  He’s considered a line-drive hitter.

Ridgway is a 27 year-old southpaw reliever; Frank Wren sold low on Aybar if this is all he could get.

Odds and Ends: Aybar, Wang, Selig

How about some late morning odds and ends?  You don’t really have a choice, do you.

  • The Rays have talked to the Braves about acquiring Willy Aybar, according to Marc Lancaster.  Aybar has had some off the field problems.  But he turns 25 in March and could still be a useful player.
  • Reader Yu Hsing Chen checks in from Taiwan with news that Chien-Ming Wang might be heading to an arbitration hearing with the Yankees.  MLBTR had 228 visits from Taiwan yesterday – welcome!  Taiwan is our fifth biggest traffic source, behind the U.S., Canada, UK, and Japan.
  • According to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times, the Dodgers have spoken to free agents Mark Sweeney and Rudy Seanez about bringing them back, but the discussions have stalled.
  • Bud Selig’s contract extended through 2012.  Thoughts?

Braves Swap Betemit For Baez, Aybar

I step out for a twenty minute jog, and another deal goes down.  Ned Colletti and the Dodgers made a nice move by snagging Wilson Betemit from the Braves for Willy Aybar and Danys Baez.

The Braves add another free-agent-to-be reliever with closer credentials in Baez.  While the 28 year-old has been more hittable than ever this season, he’s compensated by posting career-low walk and home run run rates.  The hits may stem from a strikeout rate that’s become dangerously low at just 5.26 per nine innings.  While Baez is a decent reliever overall, he’s not the shutdown guy the Braves needed to differentiate their bullpen.

In Betemit, the Dodgers get an acceptable stopgap at third base for the rest of the season.  More importantly, though, they’ve acquired a young, cheap second base candidate who could put up an .800 OPS in regular duty for several years

Willy Aybar profiles as a poor man’s Betemit and profiles as more of a utility infielder.  There’s a good chance Willy can commiserate with his brother Erick soon enough.  Erick is the Angels’ primary trade bait. 

Seems like John Schuerholz and Wayne Krivsky are a step behind the other GMs lately, trading away solid, affordable regulars for very questionable bullpen help.