Linebrink, 35, made the team out of Spring Training after signing a minor league contract this offseason, but he has not pitched at all due to shoulder inflammation and biceps tendinitis. Linebrink pitched to a 3.64 ERA in 54 1/3 innings for the Braves last season.
Linebrink posted a 3.64 ERA with 7.0 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 38.8% ground ball rate in 54 1/3 innings for the Braves in 2011. The 35-year-old owns a 3.51 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 12 MLB seasons. The Angels were the one team that was publicly linked to Linebrink this offseason. Given their interest in Luis Ayala and others, it appears that GM Jerry Dipoto still seeks relief help.
The Angels are one of five or five teams with "serious interest" in free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, agent Paul Kinzer told Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. DiGiovanna notes that earlier this month Angels GM Jerry Dipoto described his interest level in Ramirez as "lower, but I never close the door on anyone."
Ramirez is open to playing on the West Coast, Kinzer told DiGiovanna. With full no-trade rights this summer, Ramirez was not so flexible. DiGiovanna believes Ramirez could make a decision on his new team at next week's Winter Meetings. On November 14th, Kinzer told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports Ramirez seeks a four-year deal or three years with an option.
The Angels are interested in relievers Matt Capps, Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, and Scott Linebrink, adds DiGiovanna. They're also very interested in starter C.J. Wilson, who's touring the country meeting with suitors.
Angels GM Jerry Dipoto isn’t shying away from the free agent market in his first offseason on the job. Here’s the latest on the Angels from Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times:
- Dipoto and manager Mike Scioscia will meet with free agent left-hander C.J. Wilson tonight. Another GM will meet with Wilson in L.A. this weekend and the 31-year-old starter will meet with multiple teams on the East Coast next week, according to DiGiovanna.
- Angels international scouting director Mark Russo watched Yoenis Cespedes work out in the Dominican Republic last week, according to DiGiovanna. However, 60-70 other scouts were also in attendance to evaluate the Cuban center fielder. It appears that Cespedes will cost more than $35MM.
- The Angels are believed to be interested in free agent relievers Scott Linebrink and Ryan Madson, according to DiGiovanna. They also appeared to have interest in Joe Nathan, who just agreed to terms with the Rangers. This is the first time we've heard of the Angels' interest in Linebrink and Madson.
- Relievers Francisco Cordero, Heath Bell, Octavio Dotel and Matt Capps also interest the Angels, as do starters Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt and Hiroki Kuroda.
Eating money in trades or by releasing players is far from an ideal business practice, but sometimes it's a necessary evil. The Mets believe they are better off paying Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo a combined $18MM not to be on their team this year, and released the two just last month. David Wharton of The Los Angeles Times wrote about the concept of "dead money" today, speaking to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, sports economist J.C. Bradbury, and Scott Boras.
With some help from Cot's Baseball Contracts, let's look at the teams that are paying players to be anywhere but on their roster this season…
- Angels: Gary Matthews Jr. ($11.4MM)
- Astros: Roy Oswalt ($7MM)
- Blue Jays: Vernon Wells ($5MM)
- Cubs: Carlos Silva ($7.25MM, plus $2MM in 2012)
- Diamondbacks: Chris Snyder ($3MM)
- Dodgers: Manny Ramirez ($8.33MM per year through 2013), Andruw Jones ($3.2MM per year through 2014), Juan Pierre ($3.5MM)
- Mariners: Carlos Silva ($5.5MM), Yuniesky Betancourt ($1MM), Josh Wilson ($179K)
- Mets: Oliver Perez ($4MM), Luis Castillo ($6MM), Gary Matthews Jr. ($1MM)
- Rockies: Manny Corpas ($3.55MM, $250K in 2012)
- Royals: Yuniesky Betancourt ($2MM)
- Twins: Brendan Harris ($500K)
- White Sox: Scott Linebrink ($3.5MM)
This doesn't include money the Braves owe Kenshin Kawakami ($7.4MM) or the Yankees owe Kei Igawa ($4MM). Both Japanese imports remain in the organization, but they've since been banished to the minor leagues. It also doesn't include all the money the Mets famously owe Bobby Bonilla for the next two decades.
Yuniesky Betancourt is the only player collecting paychecks from three different big league teams at the moment, but Carlos Silva could join him if he's called up by the Yankees. Gary Matthews Jr. could also be in that mix if he catches on somewhere this summer.
The Braves acquired Scott Linebrink and $3.5MM from the White Sox for minor league pitcher Kyle Cofield. Linebrink, 34, posted a 4.40 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 57 1/3 innings for the White Sox in 2010. He's entering the final year of the four-year, $19MM deal he signed before the 2008 season and will earn $5.5MM in 2011.
The Braves selected Cofield in the eighth round of the 2005 draft. The 23-year-old right-hander spent most of the 2010 season at Double-A, where he posted a 4.39 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 55 1/3 innings. Baseball America ranked Cofield 24th among Braves prospects before the season, noting that he has a low 90s fastball and a plus curveball that he struggles to command.
Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune has a new mailbag up, in which he answers some questions about potential offseason moves for the White Sox. A few highlights….
- Gonzales expects the Sox to hang on to John Danks, whose quality innings still come at an affordable price. He can, however, envision them shopping closer Bobby Jenks, perhaps in search of a leadoff hitter.
- Given Scott Podsednik's consistent production this season and the struggling economy, Gonzales thinks there's at least a decent chance the 33-year-old outfielder will be back in Chicago in 2010.
- He sees the Sox keeping Gordon Beckham at third base, where they expect his power to eventually develop enough for a corner infielder.
- If the White Sox want to make a play for Bobby Abreu this offseason, they'll have to be willing to pay more than the $5MM he earned this year.
- Gonzales doesn't anticipate there being any market for Scott Linebrink, meaning the Sox will have to hold on to him and hope that he bounces back next spring.
11:11pm: Joe Christensen of The Star Tribune notes that the White Sox writers have been told "to sit tight here in (the Metro)Dome pressbox."
10:39pm: Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Tribune says "Thome looks headed somewhere, declined to comment after the game." Stay tuned to MLBTR for updates.
10:31pm: Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun Times says that "Thome might be on the move, or at least thinking about waiving the no-trade clause." Teams would have to acquire players within the next 30 minutes or so for them to eligible for postseason rosters.
10:28pm: FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal adds Scott Podsednik and Jose Contreras to the pool of available Pale Hose veterans. He notes that Contreras "he has negligible trade value."
6:42pm: SI.com's Jon Heyman adds a few more names to list: Paul Konerko and Octavio Dotel. The 33-yr old Konerko is hitting .278-.351-.490 this season with $12MM coming to him next year. Dotel, 35, has a 3.33 ERA in 53 relief appearances and will be a free agent this winter.
6:09pm: ESPN's Buster Olney reports that the White Sox have "distributed a memo to a number of teams in the league informing them that a number of Chicago veterans are available in trade." Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, and Scott Linebrink were among the players listed in memo. The ChiSox are currently 5.5 games back of the Tigers in the AL Central and 12.5 games back in the Wildcard chase, so they're waving the white flag.
Thome, 39, is hitting .252-.375-.499 on the year, while the 35-yr old Dye is hitting .262-.343-.480. Thome is scheduled to become a free agent after the season, while Dye has a $12MM mutual option for next year. Linebrink, 33, has a 3.94 ERA in 48 relief appearances and is owed $10.5MM over the next two seasons.
The club took on over $100MM in future obligations when they acquired Jake Peavy and Alex Rios within the last month. If any teams move on any of the White Sox's veterans, they would have to acquire them by midnight tonight for them to be eligible for the postseason roster.
Random pieces of rumorage…
- The Mets have expressed interest in Livan Hernandez, though he appears to be their Plan C or D.
- Jim Bowden and the Nats will be active in the trade market, perhaps finally pulling the trigger on deals for Chad Cordero and/or Jon Rauch.
- The Rays and Twins have had discussions about shortstop Jason Bartlett. Would a 1 for 1 trade for Rocco Baldelli make sense? Buster Olney believes the Rays should consider trading for the Nats’ Cristian Guzman.
- Update on the Rockies’ reliever situation. They’re probably going to pass on Ron Mahay and Jeremy Affeldt, while they should hear Matt Herges’ decision today. Ron Villone is also in their sights.
- The D’Backs will no longer look at annual payroll. Instead, they have a three-year budget to spend. This may allow for a higher payroll in 2008 than 2009. Jack Magruder guesses the number is around $230-240MM for 2008-10.
- Speaking of Arizona, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic believes some kind of Carlos Gonzalez for Dontrelle Willis swap could make sense. Another D’Back note – they offered an extension to Brandon Webb for 2011-13, but he turned down their offer.
- The Scott Linebrink signing is done, and he gets some kind of no-trade protection.
Let’s kick off the morning with some odds and ends, absent any earth-shattering rumors. I’ll keep adding to this post.
- Awesome inside look at the Torii Hunter deal via Bob Nightengale. Hunter’s first choice outside of Minnesota was the Cardinals, but they weren’t interested.
- Hunter – not overpaid? So says J.C. Bradbury.
- Still some confusion about Johan Santana’s no-trade clause. Buster Olney says it’s full and doesn’t indicate that the rights change on any certain date. Matthew Cerrone says it’s a full NTC only until Opening Day ’08, when it switches to 12 teams. Those are not mutually exclusive comments, so I guess we’ll see.
- Phil Rogers doesn’t think the Cubs will re-sign Kerry Wood. He also sees the Giants in the lead for Miguel Cabrera now.
- My coworker Jonathan makes a good point – thought the Sox wouldn’t give four-year deals to pitchers? They made a huge fuss over Mark Buehrle. Suddenly Scott Linebrink is worthy of breaking the rule again? Some are skeptical.
- Bobby Kielty typically smacks around left-handed pitching (Brian Fuentes for example). He’ll hook on as some team’s fourth outfielder as a free agent. He’d like to return to Boston, but that would require a Coco Crisp trade. Rob Bradford names the Twins, Braves, Rangers, and White Sox as possibilities otherwise.