November 2010

Omar heading to the desert?

The Wall St. Journal reported Friday that the D-backs have offered former Mets general manager Omar Minaya a job as a special assistant to new GM Kevin Towers, though Minaya is “in no rush to decide” whether or not to accept the offer.

The Mets dismissed Minaya last month and still owe him more than $1 million next season.

–Anthony DiComo (Twitter: @AnthonyDiComo)

Yankees intrigued by Romero

Derek Jeter’s contract may be stealing all the headlines right now, but a left-handed reliever is also on the list of Brian Cashman’s objectives this winter. J.C. Romero has surfaced among the names on that front, according to FOX Sports.

Cashman said after the season that a lefty out of the bullpen would be a target, now that the Yankees expect Damaso Marte to miss most or all of 2011 following surgery. Boone Logan served as the Yankees’ lone lefty reliever for most of this year.
In addition to the 34-year-old Romero, the Yankees have also been linked to Pedro Feliciano and Scott Downs. New York engaged the Blue Jays about a trade for Downs during the season.
– Bryan Hoch 

Would Red Sox part with Bard?

The Red Sox, without question, are one of the many teams who have been in touch with the Diamondbacks about Justin Upton, the talented outfielder who is still just 23 years old.

The question is this: Would the Red Sox be willing to include Daniel Bard in a package for Upton? Bard is one of the most dominant setup men in the game and should be ready to step in as the closer should Jonathan Papelbon leave as a free agent following the 2011 season.

According to several reports, the D-Backs would be looking for the Red Sox to include not only Bard, but perhaps Jacoby Ellsbury and a signficangt prospect. While it wouldn’t be stunning to see Ellsbury and a prospect get moved, the additional price of Bard could wind up being too high. It all depends on what Arizona’s final asking price ends up being.

 – Ian Browne

Report: Blue Jays express interest in Upton

The Blue Jays reportedly have expressed a strong interest in acquiring Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton.

According to multiple online reports, Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos is in hot pursuit of the 23-year-old who hit .273 with 17 home runs and 69 RBI in 133 games with Arizona last year.

The Blue Jays have the necessary top pitching prospects and young outfielders to complete a deal but it remains to be seen whether they are willing to meet the high asking price.

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has been very open about needing to be a clear winner in any trade that gets completed because Upton is under contract for the next five seasons.

For his part, Upton is keeping his sense of humor about all the speculation.

“What’s up twitter followers?” Upton wrote on his official Twitter page. ” Anyone heard any good trade rumors lately? Lol (Laugh out loud).”

If the Jays were to complete a deal for Upton that likely would require Jose Bautista to assume the full-time position at third base. Last year, the 30-year-old spent the majority of his time in right field but did play 48 games at third and is considered a plus defender at either position.

The Blue Jays are far from being the only team interested in a deal. According to FoxSports.com at least half the league has inquired about Upton’s availability.

– Gregor Chisholm

Rays Reported to Have Interest In Orioles’ Hernandez

According to a report in the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles have discussed trading right-hander David Hernandez to the Rays for shortstop Jason Bartlett, but the report went on to say that a deal seems unlikely at this juncture.

Bartlett will be in his final year as an arbitration eligible player after earning $4 million in 2010.
In addition, the Rays have Reid Brignac waiting in the wings to take over at shortstop. Hernandez can start or relieve, but the Rays would likely be interested in him as a bullpen piece given the strength of their starting rotation.

–Bill Chastain

Roundup: Jeter talks about to kick into high gear

Negotiations between the Yankees and free-agent shortstop Derek Jeter are about to heat up. According to several reports on Thursday, the Yankees are set to offer “The Captain” a three-year contract worth somewhere in the vicinity of $45 million, but the New York Post wrote that the team could go as high as $60 million, and possibly even tack on a fourth year. ESPNNewYork.com reported that the 36-year-old desires at least four and maybe even as many as six years.

Here’s more from the third full day of the General Managers Meetings …

* The Marlins are continuing to look to put that saved Dan Uggla money to good use. ESPN.com reported that Florida is looking to acquire a starting pitcher such as Javier Vazquez, who pitched for the Yankees last season, and Carl Pavano, who played for the Twins. Conflicting reports have the Fish with somewhere between $3 million and $11 million left to spend.

* The Astros traded right-hander Felipe Paulino to the Rockies in exchange for infielder Clint Barmes. Neither player had a very good 2010 season. Paulino, 27, was 1-9 in 19 appearances (14 starts) with a 5.11 ERA, while Barmes, 31, hit just .235 with eight homers and 50 RBIs in 133 games.

* Ron Gardenhire cashed in quickly on his American League Manager of the Year Award, inking a two-year extension that will keep him as the Twins’ skipper through 2013. Last season, he led Minnesota to a 94-68 mark and its sixth AL Central crown in nine years since he took the helm in ’02.

* Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. is cautiously optimistic the team will re-sign superstar Albert Pujols, but says getting a deal done will not be easy. The first baseman is signed through 2011, but is due to hit the open market next November.

* The D-backs acquired first baseman Juan Miranda from the Yankees in exchange for Minor League right-hander Scott Allen. Miranda, 27, hit .253 with four homers and 14 RBIs over the past three seasons in limited duty for New York. Allen, 19, was 5-4 with a 3.95 ERA and 95 strikeouts in 28 games over parts of two seasons in the Minors.

* Wally Backman emerged from his final managerial interview with the Mets optimistic about his chances. He’s in the running along with Bob Melvin, Chip Hale and Terry Collins. The club hopes to pick a new skipper by Monday.

– Jordan Schwartz

Marlins reportedly seek starting pitching

Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria vowed yesterday that, despite acquiring four new relievers in less than a week, he was still not done upgrading the bullpen. But according to ESPN.com, it’s starting pitching the Marlins seek now.

The Web site stated that the club is targeting a starter with the money saved from not signing Dan Uggla to a long-term contract, and listed Javier Vazquez and Carl Pavano as the two pitchers atop their wish list. ESPN.com wrote that even after signing John Buck to a three-year, $18 million deal, the Marlins have between $10 million and $11 million to spend. But FOXSports.com heard recently that the Marlins have only between $3 million and $4 million left.

With Pavano’s estimated price tag, Vazquez seems like the likelier choice. He’s coming off a real down year with the Yankees — meaning he won’t get anything close to the $11.5 million he made in 2010 — and his agent, Sam Levinson, is the same person who represents Buck.

The Marlins have expressed interest in Pavano, but he reportedly seeks a contract similar to the one Ted Lilly got with the Dodgers (three years, $33 million). That’s probably too much for the Marlins.

Loria, for what it’s worth, didn’t sound like a man interested in acquiring starting pitching help when asked about it Wednesday …

“I’m very happy with the starting pitching,” he said. “Like all ballclubs, if we stay healthy, we’re as competitive as anybody.”

– Alden Gonzalez  

Astros acquire Barmes from Rockies

The Astros made their first significant move of the offseason, acquiring infielder Clint Barmes from the Colorado Rockies on Thursday in exchange for right-handed pitcher Felipe Paulino.

Barmes, 31, has appeared in 665 games in his five-plus seasons in the Major Leagues, splitting time mostly between shortstop and second base. He hit .235 in 133 games in 2010 with 21 doubles, eight home runs and 50 RBIs.

Barmes started 69 games at second base and 39 games at shortstop this past season. He started 32 of 33 games at shortstop while Troy Tulowitski was on the 15-day disabled List, hitting .284 in that span with three home runs and 12 RBIs.

Paulino, 27, was 1-9 in 19 appearances (14 starts) for the Astros in 2010 with a 5.11 ERA. For his Major League career, all with Houston, he posted a 6-21 mark in 47 appearances with a 5.83 ERA. Paulino had been in the Astros organization since signing as a non-drafted free agent on July 2, 2001.

Brian McTaggart

Reports: Yanks to make 3-year offer to Jeter

The Yankees are expected to make the first proposal in what could be a long, drawn-out negotiation with icon Derek Jeter. According to several reports, the Yankees will offer Jeter a three-year deal, one “The Captain” may not take too kindly to.

The New York Post wrote recently that the three-year offer could come “very soon,” perhaps by the end of the week. The newspaper expected it to be for a total value of $45 million, but perhaps the Yankees could increase it to $57-60 million, and maybe even add a fourth-year option or a guaranteed fourth year.

ESPNNewYork.com wrote that the Yankees would simply be happy if Jeter accepts a three-year deal for $21 million per season (the same he made in the final year of a 10-year, $189 million contract in 2010). The Web site stated the 36-year-old Jeter would like four years, and maybe even five or six, but there is at least one voice within the Yankees’ brass that is preaching a hard-line approach — though some fear a public relations mess.

SI.com estimated the contract proposal to be three years, $45 million, but heard earlier from a friend of Jeter’s that the shortstop wouldn’t be pleased with anything even in the $50 million range. The Web site added, however, that the Yankees are confident Jeter wouldn’t sign elsewhere anyway.

Yankees president Randy Levine held court during the Owners Meetings in Orlando and stated that the club would be giving him a contract based on his worth as a ballplayer and nothing more, saying, “He’s a baseball player. It’s a player negotiation. Everything he is and who he is gets factored in. But this isn’t a licensing deal or a commercial-rights deal. He’s a baseball player.”

– Alden Gonzalez

A’s reportedly make offer for Beltre

The A’s have reportedly offered free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre a five-year deal worth $64 million, according to ESPNDeportes.com. An A’s executive confirmed Wednesday he saw the report but would not confirm or deny anything. Sports Illustrated’s Jon Heyman also said via Twitter that it “sounds like A’s are willing to pay Adrian Beltre $60-plus million, but that’s apparently not in ballpark of asking price.”

It’s well known by now that Beltre turned down a multi-year deal from the A’s last year and instead chose to go to Boston, where he made $9 million on a one-year contract that included a $5 million player option for 2011 with a $1 million buyout. Beltre took the buyout and is now one of the most attractive free agents on the market, appearing to gain interest from nearly a dozen teams.

The A’s currently have Kevin Kouzmanoff and new addition Edwin Encarnacion as options at third base. Both are eligible for arbitration and either and/or both could be non-tendered or traded depending on Beltre’s status. Encarnacion is a DH option for the A’s, but the club could look to upgrade through several free agent options, including Hideki Matsui. According to Heyman, Oakland is “in the mix” for the Japanese slugger.

– Jane Lee

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