The Dodgers officially announced the signing of Juan Uribe to a three-year, $21 million contract, then cleared second base for him by dealing Ryan Theriot to the Cardinals for swingman reliever Blake Hawksworth. – Ken Gurnick
With two days to go before the contract tender deadline, Russell Martin’s status with the Dodgers remains in the air. Agent Matt Colleran said he spoke briefly with the club Monday night, their first communication in more than a week. Martin is coming off another down offensive season — in which he was paid $5.05 million — cut short by a broken hip. He won’t start running for two weeks or catching for six weeks, so the Dodgers must make a decision without knowing his health. Fox Sports reports the Dodgers are talking to all of the available catchers on the free agent market, and there are several — Miguel Olivo, A.J. Pierzinski, Jason Varitek, Rod Barajas among them — to team with A.J. Ellis. Conceivably, the Dodgers could work a deal with Martin for the maximum allowable pay cut to $4 million plus incentives, but that’s still significant guaranteed money considering the injury. Colleran confirms that Martin has recovered without a setback. – Ken Gurnick
The Mets are “closing in on a deal” for former Padres pitcher Chris Young, according to ESPN.com. The Padres recently declined Young’s 2011 option after a season in which injuries limited him to only four appearances. After posting three consecutive strong seasons from 2005-07, Young has not made more than 18 starts in any of the past three years.
In the last week, the Padres have watched pitcher Jon Garland sign with the Dodgers and, on Monday, catcher Yorvit Torrealba sign with the Rangers.
Big losses? Sure, Garland and Torrealba each played prominent roles on a team that won 90 games and surprised everyone in baseball.
Unexpected losses? Not at all. The Padres offered both players arbitration last week with the expectation they would decline and sign elsewhere. That’s exactly what happened, meaning the Padres have picked up two additional Draft picks as compensation.
For those scoring at home, that’s four Draft picks in the first 60 or so picks — one for Garland, Torrealba, their own first-round pick and a compensatory pick for not signing pitcher Karsten Whitson last year.
If pitcher Kevin Correia signs elsewhere, that will be a that will mean five picks in the first 60 or so overall picks. The Padres, like other teams, want to build from within. The farm system as it stands today is devoid of Major League-ready talent at the top.
But given their payroll constraints — only the Pirates had a lower Opening Day payroll in 2010 — the Padres must get production out of their farm system because, for the near future, they won’t be major players on the free agent market.
-- Corey Brock, MLB.com
The Angels apparently have let bygones be bygones and are meeting with agent Scott Boras, who numbers among his stable of clients Adrian Beltre, Rafael Soriano and Jayson Werth. Boras and the club reportedly had a falling out over the Mark Teixeira negotiations two winters ago, but the agent said he has met with general manager Tony Reagins and other club officials this winter, according to ESPNLos Angeles.com
Reagins confirmed that there have been discussions in the report by Mark Saxon, who suggests that Soriano is the Angels’ top target among the Boras clients to fill the void left by the trade of closer Brian Fuentes to the Twins. The Angels’ primary target continues to be outfielder Carl Crawford, but they could expand their payroll to add Soriano as well. — Lyle Spencer
With one week remaining until the start of the usually-hectic Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., the busy Dodgers made another move, agreeing to terms with Juan Uribe on a three-year deal reportedly worth about $21 million.
With Uribe, the Dodgers swipe a big piece of the Giants’ World Series championship run away from their division rivals and add a much-needed right-handed power bat to the middle of the lineup. Uribe played 103 games at shortstop, 26 at third base and 24 at second while batting .248 with 24 homers and 85 RBIs in 2010 (not including a postseason run that saw him drive in nine runs in 14 games).
In Los Angeles, he figures to start at second base, which will likely lead to the non-tendering of Trade Deadline acquisition Ryan Theriot. Despite dealing with instability up top, the Dodgers had already locked up their rotation by re-signing Ted Lilly and acquiring Jon Garland.
Here’s more from around the league …
* The Rangers signed catcher Yorvit Torrealba to a two-year
contract. Torrealba, a 10-year veteran who played in 95 games for the
Padres in 2010 — batting .271 with seven homers and 37 RBIs while
starting 89 games — fills a void left by Bengie Molina (likely retired) and Matt Treanor (free agent). The deal, according to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, is worth $6.25 million.
* They also avoided an arbitration hearing with Mark Lowe and agreed on a one-year contract. The deal is worth $1.2 million, plus another $100,000 in incentives.
* A source told ESPNNY.com the Yankees believe Derek Jeter and his agent, Casey Close, need to “drink the reality potion.” The unnamed source told the Web site the Yankees are still not budging from their three-year, $45 million offer, and Jeter still seeks a longer contract between $23 million and $25 million per season. Talks between the two sides did not take place during the holiday weekend and none are currently scheduled, ESPNNY.com added.
* While the Jeter negotiations appear heated, ESPNNY.com added that talks between the Yankees and Mariano Rivera are “progressing much smoother.” Rivera will likely receive a bump from his 2010 salary, probably in the $16-17 million range, but the question remains whether he gets one or two years.
* Free-agent first baseman/outfielder/designated hitter Lance Berkman was originally disappointed the Astros didn’t want him back, but the Texas product told The Houston Chronicle “there’s been a lot of interest” in his services. Berkman specifically named the Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, Athletics, Pirates and Blue Jays as teams who have been in touch, but added he hasn’t received a formal offer yet. Berkman has said he’d prefer to play in the National League, adding that he’s still capable of serving as an outfielder and first baseman.
* The Astros have talked about the possibility of an extension with right-hander Wandy Rodriguez, general manager Ed Wade told The Houston Chronicle. Rodriguez hits free agency after the 2011 season.
* The Mets will do their due diligence in shopping shortstop Jose Reyes this winter, but considering his value has never been lower, it would be shocking if they actually went ahead and traded him, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes.
* The Twins have until late December to agree on a contract with Japanese middle infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who sounds like someone excited to play in Minnesota. In quotes passed along by The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Nishioka told the Japanese press he has no preference between shortstop and second base and said, “I don’t think that I will give up the idea of going to the Majors because of the amount of money.”
“Minnesota Twins has been contending to the playoff every year,” he added. “To play for the good team is one of my wishes. I am happy that I could advance one step forward.” The Twins won their exclusive-negotiating for Nishioka on Friday and could use him to fill their middle-infield needs.
– Alden Gonzalez
The Dodgers have targeted free agent infielder Juan Uribe and his productive clutch bat. After rebuilding the starting rotation with the signings of Ted Lilly, Hiroki Kuroda and Jon Garland, general manager Ned Colletti is trying to add Uribe, most likely to play second base and trigger the non-tendering of Ryan Theriot. Uribe also could eventually take over third base for Casey Blake, who is entering the final year of his contract, and provide protection at shortstop, where Rafael Furcal has proved injury-prone. – Ken Gurnick