Zach Duke Rumors
Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette informs us that while it may be an unlikely scenario, general manager Neal Huntington does have the payroll flexibility to make a big move at the meetings if he sees value in it for the Pirates. Says Huntington:
The Pirates are currently projected to have a $34MM payroll, down significantly from the $49MM they spent on their 40-man roster in 2009. So the "value" that Huntington mentions doesn't necessarily have to mean "inexpensive."
"The key word you're going to be hearing from us is value... We could do something big just so that we can feel good about ourselves and show everybody that we did something or that we're spending up to a certain level. But we're not going to do that unless it makes sense and unless there's a real value to the Pittsburgh Pirates."
Still, Kovacevic calls any real interest in Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, Rich Harden, or Mike Gonzalez "unlikely," and reminds us that the Pirates free agent contact so far has consisted of Rick Ankiel, Hank Blalock, Justin Duchscherer, Noah Lowry, J.J. Putz, Ron Villone, and Kameron Loe.
Danny Knobler from CBS Sports seems to think the Pirates have some money as well though, as he's heard them linked to Juan Pierre. Knobler reports that the Dodgers would like to acquire Zach Duke or Paul Maholm in any deal, meaning they'd have to eat a significant portion of Pierre's salary. Personally, I'd assume they'd have to include some prospects as well to make the deal make sense for Pittsburgh.
While the Pierre scenario may not entirely make sense for the Buccos on the surface level, it does add to the thought that Pittsburgh may be in line to surprise us at this year's meetings. Any thoughts on an ace that Huntington may have up his sleeve?
The Diamondbacks "are more focused on trades than free agents" in their search for a starting pitcher, according to a source of Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. The writers suggest the D'Backs will look for a cheap back-end rotation type, speculating on non-tender candidates Dave Bush, Brian Tallet, and Tim Redding. It sounds like the D'Backs don't want to give up a ton in trade, as they're reluctant to meet the asking price for Edwin Jackson and haven't inquired on Pirates starters Paul Maholm and Zach Duke.
Back on November 12th, we named about 30 potentially available starters, including Tallet and Bush.
Dejan Kovacevic has a new column up focusing on a number of Pirates topics:
- After liking what they've found in Rule 5 Draft picks Evan Meek and Donnie Veal, the Pirates are actively scouting available players and have identified some potential targets to use their #2 pick on in this year's Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 10. Meek posted a 3.45 ERA out of the 'pen for the Buccos in 2009. And, while Kovacevic points out that Veal's numbers this season were ugly, he recently dominated the Arizona Fall League. Veal posted a 2.14 ERA through 21 innings, allowing only a .221 opponent average, striking out 22 and walking seven.
- Last offseason, the Pirates locked up Ryan Doumit, Nate McLouth, and Paul Maholm, but Kovacevic says not to expect any long-term deals this time around. That includes Zach Duke, who will be eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.
- Tyler Yates, who underwent Tommy John surgery back in July, is back to playing pain-free long-toss and is discussing a minor league deal to keep him in the Pirates organization.
Some Saturday evening links...
- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports write that the Brewers asked the Pirates for Zach Duke or Paul Maholm in exchange for J.J. Hardy. Pittsburgh hoped to land the shortstop in exchange for closer Matt Capps or catcher Ryan Doumit. When the Pirates refused to budge, the Brewers pulled the trigger on the deal with Minnesota for Carlos Gomez.
- Also noted is that the Mets are considering former Indians skipper Eric Wedge as a candidate for their bench coach vacancy. The position could be a stepping stone to the head job as Jerry Manuel is in the final year of his contract. Bob Melvin and former Orioles bench coach Dave Jauss are also in the mix.
- After recently signing GM Tony Reagins to a new contract, the Angels have made a few front office changes, reports Lyle Spencer of MLB.com.
- John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer implores the Reds not to trade Bronson Arroyo or Brandon Phillips to clear payroll.
- Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun suggests that Dan Uggla would make a good fit for the Orioles. Based on conversations that Schmuck has had with beat writer Jeff Zrebiec, it doesn't seem as though the O's front office agrees.
- Marquis Grissom will not return as the Nationals' first base coach, writes MLB.com's Bill Ladson.
- Chat today, 2pm CST.
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette spoke with commissioner Bud Selig, who was adamant that the Pirates are not pocketing their profits.
- Pirates starter Zach Duke was pulled last night from an 11-1 game, one out away from a complete game, with 103 pitches thrown. Talking to Kovacevic, team president Frank Coonelly "strongly rejected" the idea that manager John Russell made the move to weaken Duke's bargaining position at the arbitration table. Joe Posnanski questions Russell's explanation of his decision.
- Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News feels that Giants managing partner Bill Neukom will retain GM Brian Sabean when that decision comes due in a week.
- Brewers second baseman Rickie Weeks is strongly opposed to moving to center field, according to Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Weeks has explained his stance to GM Doug Melvin.
- Nomar Garciaparra told Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle he hasn't thought about whether he'll play next year. Slusser says Nomar won't be back in Oakland, regardless.
- Reliever Doug Brocail is also undecided about 2010, according to MLB.com's Brian McTaggart. An upcoming MRI on Brocail's shoulder will influence his decision.
According to Dejan Kovacevic of The Pittsburgh Post Gazette, the Pirates plan on tendering contracts to their three key arbitration eligible players: closer Matt Capps, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, and starter Zach Duke. Jeff Karstens may also qualify as a Super Two.
Capps earned $2.3MM this season, the second year of the two year, $3.05MM contract he signed last April. With three more years of arbitration ahead of him, Capps may have been a non-tender candidate after posting a 5.68 ERA and sky-high homerun rate (1.7 HR/9 IP) in 2009."I don't see a situation in which we non-tender Capps unless we get completely unrealistic financial demands," [GM Neal] Huntington said. "From the standpoint of our belief in his ability, that's absolutely there."
Duke and Cedeno, on the other hand, earned $2.2MM and $822K this season, respectively. Duke was an All Star for the first time in 2009, although Cedeno hasn't hit much after coming over in the Jack Wilson deal. The team could approach Duke about a long-term extension, similar to the three year, $14.5MM deal they gave Paul Maholm earlier this year.
Links for Monday...
- The Pirates have not approached any players about extensions, according to Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Kovacevic guesses Zach Duke is the likeliest extension candidate. Also in that article, Kovacevic notes "no new exchanges" between the Bucs and Miguel Angel Sano.
- ESPN's Buster Olney speculates that Prince Fielder will be traded to the Red Sox this winter. Thoughts?
- Mark Zuckerman of the Washington Times runs through possible free agent targets for the Nationals. He figures they can spend nearly $20MM without increasing payroll.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis weighs in on the returns in the two Mark DeRosa trades this year.
- Hideki Irabu was granted his release from his independent league team in Japan, according to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker.
- MLB.com's Jim Street addresses the future of Felix Hernandez and Adrian Beltre in his latest Mariners mailbag.
The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports...
- Rosenthal says Florida's Chris Coghlan deserves the NL Rookie of the Year award. Andrew McCutchen, Garrett Jones, J.A. Happ, Randy Wells, and Tommy Hanson are also in the mix...who do you like?
- For the AL ROY, Rosenthal sticks with his preseason choice of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. Jeff Niemann, Andrew Bailey, Nolan Reimold, and Gordon Beckham are other top contenders.
- Rosenthal has a few possible Nationals managerial candidates: Diamondbacks third base coach Chip Hale, Bobby Valentine, and Bob Melvin. It's also possible Jim Riggleman is retained.
- I was not aware of this - Freddy Garcia's deal with the White Sox has a 2010 option with a $1MM base and $2MM in incentives. Garcia has an 89mph fastball these days, but he's posted quality starts in three of four tries (against the Yankees and Red Sox).
- The Pirates would only trade starters Paul Maholm or Zach Duke if they receive "a young major league starter of similar quality, plus another piece." I mentioned that the Bucs look pretty good for 2011, but Rosenthal says team officials are not conceding 2010.
- Rosenthal's source describes a Jonathan Papelbon trade as "pretty unrealistic." Jayson Stark's sources had a similar opinion.
- Rosenthal rattles off the teams that have had past interest in Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, who is getting pricey: the Orioles, Twins, Giants, D'Backs, Dodgers, and Cardinals.
According to Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Pirates are "probably, but not necessarily," done dealing. The writers suggest the Bucs will listen on pitchers Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, and Matt Capps, but are not shopping them.
9:53pm: Henry Schulman at the San Francisco Chronicle and Gordon Edes at Yahoo have both heard that a deal sending Sanchez to the Giants was close to completion last night, but were halted due to aforementioned concerns about Sanchez's knee. Schulman hears conflicting reports on what the Pirates are demanding in return, but says any prospects involved will be on a higher level than the previously-dealt Scott Barnes.
9:35pm: Though scratches of Sanchez and Wilson from the Pirates' lineup made people curious tonight, Kovacevic says that there's "nothing likely" to happen tonight with them.
5:35pm: Kovacevic has updated his previous report, saying that "primary" talks about Sanchez have been with the Giants, and they "were believed to have intensifed last night." But Kovacevic says the Twins are still in the mix as well.
3:28pm: A Pirates official tells Kovacevic that the club doesn't need to move either Sanchez or Wilson and won't trade them unless they see a good offer.
Meanwhile, Jon Heyman of SI.com hears that the Giants are pretty seriously involved in talks for Sanchez.
2:16pm: Jeff Fletcher of AOL Fanhouse hears that the Angels are "likely looking" at Sanchez. The way Howie Kendrick and Maicer Izturis are hitting lately, that'd be a curious acquisition.
1:33pm: ESPN.com's Jayson Stark hears that the Pirates plan on dealing Freddy Sanchez and Jack Wilson this week. The Giants could be suitors for Sanchez and the Red Sox have considered Wilson in the past.
9:58am: Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hears that the Pirates have put off extension talks with Sanchez and Wilson until after the deadline and will instead entertain trade offers for them. The trade talks may not stop this Friday; if either player clears wiavers, the Pirates will be able to deal him until the end of August.
Kovacevic hears the Pirates may be open to paying some of Sanchez's 2010 contract to acquire better prospects in a possible trade.
8:27am: The Pirates still have a number of players attracting interest from other teams. Here's the latest on their trade candidates, from John Perrotto of PiratesReport.com:
- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is trying to persuade his GM to go after Zach Duke, who won't become a free agent until after the 2011 season.
- The Cubs have stepped up their pursuit of reliever John Grabow, but they may not have the prospects to interest the Pirates.
- The Twins and Braves have checked in on Freddy Sanchez, but some executives believe the Pirates will have trouble moving him without contributing to the $8.1MM option for next year that's likely to vest.
- The Red Sox are once again "kicking the tires" on Jack Wilson.