November 2010

Cubs looking at Webb

Add the Cubs into the mix of teams looking at free agent right-hander Brandon Webb.
Fanhouse’s Ed Price reported Saturday night that Chicago has had contact with Webb’s agent and is “seriously” considering the former Cy Young winner.
Webb, 31, reportedly has also drawn interest from the Dodgers, Pirates, Twins and Rangers. Webb missed all of last season after undergoing shoulder surgery in 2009, but he could be a high-reward signing if healthy in 2011.
– Evan Drellich

Roundup: Jeter camp lowers figure?

With the holiday weekend coming to a close, the Hot Stove could heat up quickly heading into the rapidly approaching Winter Meetings. On Saturday, though, it continued to simmer with rumors and speculation surrounding Derek Jeter’s contract negotiations with the Yankees.
While rumors continue to swirl, there has yet to be much confirmed progress. Both sides have previously expressed their desire not to play out negotiations publicly, but prospective figures continue to leak out in the media.
One day after Jeter’s agent, Casey Close made a statement claiming the reports of Jeter’s six-year, $150 million contract request were “simply inaccurate,” the Jeter camp has lowered their price to the neighborhood of five-years, $22-24 million per year, the New York Daily News reported on Saturday citing sources close to the talks. 
In addition to negotiating with Jeter, the Yankees took a step to add some depth to their stable of arms on Saturday. The Bombers have agreed to terms with right-hander Brian Anderson and left-hander Andy Sisco on Minor League deals, according to a FoxSports.com report. According to Ken Rosenthal, both also received invites to the Yanks’ Major League Spring Training camp. 
The Yankees, however, haven’t yet confirmed or commented on the report. 
Anderson, who was recently cut by the Royals, is formerly an outfielder who recently coverted to pitching. Sisco, who pitched in the Giants’ Minor League organization in 2010, is reported to finally be healthy after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2008.  
On the other side of town, Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano is “strongly considering” accepting the club’s offer of arbitration, according to a tweet from Newsday’s Ken Davidoff on Saturday. Feliciano, who has until Tuesday to accept the offer, is a Type-B free agent who is expected to see a raise next season from his $2.9 million salary in 2010. 
Feliciano, 34, has been heavily used in the past three seasons, compiling 92 appearances last season. While there figures to be a host of suitors interested in signing the southpaw, his age combined with the loss of a Draft pick could deter teams from signing him. 
If Feliciano accepts, the Mets will have to offer him a one-year contract at a figure that will likely approach $4 million.
–Bailey Stephens

Tigers might not be done shopping

The Tigers found the hitter who can protect Miguel Cabrera in the lineup
with their Victor Martinez signing. But just because Martinez can fill
the job, doesn’t mean that he will.

Jim Leyland said Friday afternoon that he’s up in the air whether to bat
Martinez third or fifth. The reason for the indecisiveness is that the
offseason moves are potentially incomplete.

“It depends on what our team looks like by the time we get to Spring
Training,” Leyland said by phone. “He’s either going to hit right in
front of [Cabrera] or right behind him.”

Asked if the fact that Martinez is a switch-hitter will play into the decision, Leyland came up with the line of the day.

“No, the fact that he’s a great hitter,” Leyland said.

Dave Dombrowski didn’t give a firm answer either way when asked if they
have the wiggle room for one more signing — which pretty much should mean
they have room. If they knew they were up against it on payroll, there
would be no reason to play coy. Whether they have the realistic potential to
compete on another big free agent, such as Carl Crawford or Jayson
Werth, is another question. So is the potential for bringing back
Magglio Ordonez, which Dombrowski didn’t want to address Friday.

He did indicate that the one area where they have the opening for an addition is in the corner outfield.

“We’ve actually made four signings this wintertime, so I think what
we’ll probably do next week is sit back [and analyze],” Dombrowski said.

– Jason Beck

Twins win bidding for Nishioka

The Twins have been identified as the team submitting the high bid for Japanese shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who had been posted by the Chiba Lotte Marines according to rules between MLB and Nippon Professional Baseball.

Minnesota thus has a 30-day exclusive negotiating window to try to sign the 26-year-old shortstop, who won the 2010 batting title in the Pacific League with his .346 average.

Dodgers corral Garland

The Dodgers have reached an agreement with free-agent right-hander Jon Garland, pending results of a physical examination.
Garland was classified as a Type-B free agent after going 14-12 for the Padres while logging 200 innings for the sixth time in the last seven seasons.
This will be the 31-year-old right-hander’s second tour of duty with the Dodgers, who acquired him from Arizona for the final month of the 2009 season. Garland went 3-2 in six starts with the Dodgers, helping them claim the National League West title.

Roundup: Kaz Matsui off the market

The Major League hot stove remained torrid on Thursday, but offseason speculation was replaced on the front burners by other delights of the season: gastronomic ones like stuffing and sweet potatoes. Still, several negotiations continued to simmer on back burners on Thanksgiving, and one conversation reached a rolling boil.

Infielder Kazuo Matsui agreed to a contract with Japanese club Rakuten Eagles, according to The Associated Press. Matsui, most recently of the Colorado Rockies, likely concluded his Major League career after seven seasons. If, indeed, the 35-year-old’s career in the big leagues has concluded, he will finish with a .267 career average, 32 home runs and 102 stolen bases.


Elsewhere, the negotiations continued
between closer Mariano Rivera and the Yankees. Rivera would like a two-year contract worth $18 million per year, according to the New York Daily News. The Yankees, according to Daily News sources, would prefer to give the soon-to-be 41-year-old a one year deal.

The Red Sox have an opening at catcher, and FOXsports.com reports that the club may be pursuing Rod Barajas. Barajas became a free agent on Tuesday when the Dodgers declined to offer him arbitration. Barajas cranked 17 home runs last season, which he split between the Mets and Dodgers. He’s reached double-digits in home runs in each of the past three campaigns.

Left-handed reliever George Sherrill has a minuscule
chance of remaining with the Dodgers, reports the LA Times. Sherrill, who closed for the Orioles from 2008-09, had a disappointing 2010 season, but he still held left-handers to a .192 average.

–Sunil Joshi

(more…)

D-backs acquire Zach Duke

The Pirates have traded Zach Duke to the Diamondbacks for a player to be named later, the club announced on Wednesday.

Duke had been designated for assignment on Friday, which gave the Pirates a 10-day window to trade the left-hander. He would have become a free agent if Pittsburgh had not made a deal.

Pittsburgh removed Duke from the 40-man roster after deciding that the club would not tender him a contract. The starter was to be arbitration eligible for the third time this offseason and was likely to see his $4.3 million salary increase to around $5 million.

Duke, who was selected by the Pirates in the 20th round of the ’01 First-Year Player Draft, ends his tenure in Pittsburgh with a 45-70 record and 4.54 ERA in 160 games (159 starts). He went 8-15 with a 5.72 ERA last season.

Jenifer Langosch

11/23 Berkman wants to play

The Cubs are in pursuit of a first baseman this offseason and one option could be Lance Berkman. He told FoxSports.com that the Cubs are one of the teams that has inquired about him. Berkman said the A’s have been the “most aggressive” in terms of contact. He would like to return to the National League, which would work in the Cubs’ favor. He made $14.5 million last season and would have to accept less money to sign with the Cubs.

Berkman, who will be 35 on Feb. 10, said he was limited in 2010 after arthroscopic surgery to clean out his left knee.

“I’m probably viewed as a declining player,” Berkman told FoxSports.com. “I don’t blame teams for thinking like that. But I don’t view myself that way. If I was to honestly assess where I’m at, I feel like last year was the result of me being hurt.

“My knee was hurt all year. The kind of injury I had prevented me from using my legs when I hit. In my mind, I can scratch that off and say that I’ll be healthy next year, be the player I was prior to the 2009 season. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it.

“Obviously, I’ve got to get an opportunity,” he said. “I’ve got to go out there and prove it.”

– Carrie Muskat

Roundup: Tigers snatch V-Mart from Red Sox

The arbitration deadline was expected to rule the day, but
it wound up being the Tigers that made the big splash. In a rather surprising
turn of events in this offseason, coveted free-agent catcher Victor Martinez
said no to the Red Sox and wound up agreeing to a four-year,
$50 million contract
with the Tigers.

The agreement, which a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com, is probably still pending a
physical and should be completed shortly.
At that point, the Tigers would officially be able to add Martinez to a middle
of the lineup that includes fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera.

Here’s more from around the league Tuesday …

* After a bounce-back year that saw him make $3 million, Aubrey Huff inked
a two-year contract reportedly worth $22 million with the Giants. The
deal also includes a club option for 2013.

* Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert that
of all the clubs expressing interest in outfielder Justin Upton, only
“two or three” teams
have the players to make a deal work. Towers
says he seeks Major League-ready players in return, not just prospects.

* The Yankees prefer to give standout free-agent closer Mariano Rivera
just a one-year deal worth upwards of $18 million, according to Yahoo! Sports.
But Rivera, 41 next week, seeks two guaranteed years at that rate.  

* As for the Yankees’ other aging pitcher, Andy Pettitte is leaning towards a return to the Bronx, according to the Twitter account of Newsday’s Kevin Davidoff.

* And as for the free-agent pitcher the Yankees hope to land, an industry source told Yahoo! Sports on Monday that New York offered Cliff Lee a six-year contract worth nearly $140 million. But Lee seeks a seventh year.

* Jarrod Washburn, the 36-year-old left-hander who sat out all of last season, “continues to generate interest as a free agent,” according to Yahoo! Sports. The Brewers are believed to be one of the teams that have contacted his agent.

* Arbitration Day is in full swing. So far, Jayson Werth, Adam Dunn, Adrian Beltre and Paul Konerko have been among the ranked free agents being offered arbitration, while Derek Jeter, Mike Lowell, Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon have been among those who have not. The deadline is 11:59 p.m. ET.

– Alden Gonzalez 

Cardinals add lefty depth

ST. LOUIS —  Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed on Tuesday that the club has agreed to a Minor League deal with left-handed reliever Raul Valdes, who spent 2010 with the Mets. Valdes will receive a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.
Valdes, 33, hails from Cuba but came to the United States in 2004, when he signed with the Cubs organization as a free agent. He has started and relieved in the Minors, and made one start for New York in 2010 as well. In his only Major League season, Valdes went 3-3 with a 4.91 ERA, 56 strikeouts, 27 walks and seven home runs allowed in 58 2/3 innings.
“We’re trying to add some depth,” Mozeliak said, “and more importantly, we certainly think he’ll have a chance to compete for a job when he comes to camp.”
The lefty had an extreme reverse platoon split in ’10, shutting down right-handed hitters while getting blasted by left-handers. Righties batted .216 with a .339 on-base percentage and a .331 slugging percentage against Valdes, while lefties posted a line of .330/.366/.625.
However, in 36 Minor League innings in 2010, Valdes showed a more conventional split, holding left-handed batters to a .226 average while right-handers hit .265 against him.
The Cardinals are still likely to add a more established left-handed reliever to their bullpen. Currently, only Trever Miller is set as a lefty in the St. Louis relief corps for 2011. Still, Valdes provides some depth to an area of the club where depth had been lacking.
–Matthew Leach
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