December 2010

Roundup: Clubs wrap up smaller prizes

As the push to land big name free agents Brandon Webb and Adrian Beltre intensifies, many clubs have begun using the final days before the Christmas holiday as a chance to wrap up some smaller signings. 
A host of these type of signings and announcements occurred on Tuesday, including the Blue Jays inking of outfielder Corey Patterson and the announcement of Rich Harden’s deal with the A’s.
Here’s a rundown of Tuesday’s top news from around the league: 
- Patterson was just one of a group of six that received contracts from the Blue Jays on Tuesday. The others who officially inked contracts include right-hander Winston Abreu, catcher Ryan Budde, left-hander Sean Henn, left-hander Mike Hinckley and right-hander Brian Stokes. 
- The talk surrounding Brandon Webb seemed to gain some steam on Tuesday. While there is no deal imminent as of yet, there are indications the Rangers are having an on-going dialogue with Webb and his agent, Jonathan Mauer, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan reported Tuesday. Sullivan points out that for a deal to be reached, there are likely several key factors to consider with regard to how the contract is structured. The Nationals and Cubs also reportedly have interest in the free agent right-hander.
- The Halos are still quite interested in bringing in Beltre and haven’t rescinded their earlier offer, contrary to conflicting Internet reports, a source told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick Tuesday. The only other team believed to have serious interest in Beltre is Texas, but they could be priced out at those terms, according to the source. The Angels are believed to have made a five-year, $70 million offer for Beltre, who is said to be seeking a six-year deal in the neighborhood of $90 million. 
- The Red Sox made their signing of reliever Bobby Jenks official on Tuesday, announcing a two-year, $12 million deal. Jenks, who successfully passed his physical, will add significantly more depth to the back of the Red Sox ‘pen. 
- In a minor trade, the Padres picked up catcher Rob Johnson from the Mariners, in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. Johnson would seemingly slot in behind Nick Hundley in a back-up role. 
- The Brewers picked up another arm for their bullpen, claiming right-hander Roque Mercedes off waivers from the D-backs. Mercedes, 24, returns to Milwaukee nearly a year and a half after being sent to Arizona in the July 2009 trade that brought infielder Felipe Lopez. 
-The Nats made Rick Ankiel’s signing official on Tuesday, inking the 31-year-old outfielder to a one-year deal. 
– Bailey Stephens

Roundup: Garcia, Pavano, Webb still on market

Several big-name arms have already been spoken for in the Hot Stove market, but there are still plenty of starting pitching options left including Carl Pavano, Freddy Garcia and Brandon Webb.
With the Brewers now out on Pavano, the market for the veteran is seemingly down to the Twins and Nationals at this point. 
Garcia, who went 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA for the White Sox last season, is coming off a season in which he suffered back pain. The Yankees and Mets have asked for the 35-year-olds medical records, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted. The White Sox also have reportedly have checked in Garcia. 
Garcia’s situation isn’t altogether different from Webb, who is trying to prove he is healthy and can still be effective on a Major League mound. While several teams have expressed interest in the 30-year-old, including the Cubs, Rangers and Nationals, Chicago doesn’t appear to be a good fit for the right-hander, according to MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. For a deal to be struck, Webb would likely have to take a Kerry Wood-type discount, Muskat suggested.
Here’s a look at Monday’s other happenings around the league: 
- The Nats added some outfield depth on Monday by adding veteran Rick Ankiel with a one-year deal, pending a physical. Ankiel will likely compete with Roger Bernadina for playing time in left field, a source confirmed to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson.
-Infielder Craig Counsell agreed to a one-year deal with his hometown Brewers on Monday.  The deal, which has not been made official as of yet, essentially was a win for both sides as Counsell remains close to home while the Brewers retain a veteran presence in their clubhouse who also is a strong utility player off the bench. Counsell batted .250 in 2010, but put up a .333 (13-39) mark as a pinch-hitter.  
- Royals GM Dayton Moore has no plans to part with his closer Joakim Soria, even after sending ace Zack Greinke to Milwaukee, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.com tweeted on Monday. The club has been getting calls on the closer, but for many reasons isn’t intersted in moving him, according to the report.
-One of the bigger bats still left on the free agent market, first baseman Derrek Lee, is looking for a deal in the neighborhood of $8-$10 million, Rosenthal tweeted Monday. At that price, he notes, the Padres are probably priced out, but it might not be too high for the Nats.
- The Indians added two free agent outfielders to the fold on Monday, in Austin Kearns and Travis Buck. While Buck agreed to a one-year Minor League deal with a Spring Training invite, Kears accepted a one-year big league deal. Buck, whose deal has not been made official as of yet, has appeared as an Opening Day outfielder for the Athletics in each of the last three seasons. For Kearns, the deal brings him back to Cleveland where he began last season before a midseason trade sent him to the Yankees. 
“We think [Kearns is] a great fit for our team,” Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said. “We recognized the makeup and composition of our team would be predominently left-handed, especially in the outfield. Austin provides great balance to that with his ability to play all three outfield spots and the fact that he’s a right-handed hitter.
–Bailey Stephens

12/20 Cubs & Brandon Webb

Don’t start fitting Brandon Webb for a Cubs uniform. There was a report that the Cubs and Rangers have jumped ahead of the Nationals in the bidding for the right-hander, who has not pitched since one start in April 2009. The Cubs have checked Webb’s medical records — he’s been sidelined with shoulder issues — but it doesn’t appear to be a good match. Webb may want to pitch in Chicago but he most likely would have to give the Cubs the type of discount Kerry Wood did (one year, $1.5 million plus incentives).

– Carrie Muskat

Roundup: Pavano next chip to fall?

As the Brewers added an ace to their deck with the acquisition of Zack Greinke on an otherwise quiet Sunday, attention turned to the next top-tier pitcher on the market: free agent Carl Pavano.
While the Twins have been seen as the favorite to land Pavano this offseason, the addition of Greinke to the Brewers may have only increased that possibility, as FoxSports.com suggested on Sunday. 
Milwaukee was another team that had reportedly been in contention for Pavano’s services, but with their No. 1 starter taken care of, the Brewers are likely out of the fray.
The Nationals and Rangers, who had been seriously working to land Greinke, haven’t seriously pursued the 34-year-old starter, sources told Fox Sports.com.
Here’s a look at other moves from around the league: 
- Greinke’s disappearance from the trade market could have boosted interest in Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco, who is arbitration eligible this offseason and next, but the Marlins put the kibosh on that. Nolasco is near to signing a three-year extension worth $27 million, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reported Sunday night. The deal, which runs through 2012, is pending a physical.
- Guillermo Mota is returning to the Giants for a second season, ESPN Deportes reported. Mota, who won a World Series ring with San Francisco in 2010, did not receive a Major League deal, but will have an invite to big league Spring Training.
- ESPN Deportes reported that the Braves have signed 25-year-old southpaw Yohan Flande and invited him to Spring Training. Flande went 10-8 with a 4.38 ERA in 27 starts at Double-A for the Phillies last season. 
- The Blue Jays have signed catcher Ryan Budde to a Minor League deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweeted on Sunday. Budde, who has seen limited Major League action with the Angels over the last several years, owns a career average of .212.
- Right-hander Anthony Lerew has signed a one-year deal with the Softbank Hawks of Japan’s Pacific League according to the NPB tracker. Lerew struggled in six starts with the Royals last season. 
- The Yankees have given right-hander Luis Vizcaino a Minor League deal and an invite to big league camp, The Star-Ledger reported. Vizcaino, 36, has been out of pro ball since 2009, but pitched well this offseason in the Dominican Winter League.
- The Nationals had reached a deal with the Royals for Greinke, before the right-hander exercised his no-trade clause to veto the deal, a source confirmed to MLB.com’s Bill Ladson. No reason was given for Greinke’s decision, but the ace had previously expressed a desire to play for a title contending team.
– Bailey Stephens

Roundup: Wheeler goes home

Dan Wheeler signed on with his hometown club on Saturday,
joining the Red Sox and leading an otherwise low-key day around the league.

The right-handed Wheeler grew up in Warwick, R.I., and
rooted for Boston as a kid. 

“I’m very excited,” Wheeler told MLB.com’s Ian Browne on the phone Saturday. “I guess there’s always been a
little part of me that’s always wanted to wear the Red Sox uniform, there’s no
question about that. The first goal was to make it [to the Majors], now that
I’m going to have a chance to put that actual uniform on, I’m real excited
about it.” 
Wheeler, 33, agreed to a one-year
deal and joins Bobby Jenks in a revamped Red Sox bullpen. 
Wheeler will be
reunited with Carl Crawford, his teammate in Tampa Bay from 2008-10. 
The Rangers announced the signing of
three players
, all of whom will receive big league spring training invites: right-hander Seth McClung, outfielder Endy Chavez, and
infielder Brian Barden. Colorado also added a spring training invitee, signing
first baseman Mike Jacobs to a Minor League deal. 
Adrian Beltre, perhaps the biggest name left on the market,
has received a “significant” offer from the Angels, their owner Arte
Moreno told the Los Angeles Times. The Times speculated
that the offer is for five years, $70 million, while Beltre is believed to be
seeking a six-year, $90 million deal. 
Not far up the interstate, the Dodgers are looking at the
Hairston brothers, Scott and Jerry
, as well as Marcus Thames as candidates for
left field, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reported.
– Evan Drellich

The Dodgers and Left Field

Although Bill Hall has signed with Houston, the Dodgers have been in contact with Marcus Thames and Scott and Jerry Hairston as possible free agent candidates for left field. Hall was at the top of the club’s list because of a combination power and versatility (he can also play the middle infield). Thames has had seasons of 26 and 25 home runs, but hit only 12 this year with the Yankees. Scott Hairston lacks Thames’ power and hit only .210 this year for San Diego. He hasn’t played the infield since 2008. Jerry Hairston has even less power than his brother and hit .244 with the Padres in 2010, playing primarily in the infield. – Ken Gurnick

Greinke reportedly asks to be traded

Royals right-hander Zack Greinke has asked to be traded, Fox
Sports reported on Friday.

Greinke also changed representation earlier in the day, as
he fired his agents at SFX and hired Jeff Berry and Casey Close of CAA,
according to the report.

A high-ranking executive from another team also told the Web
site that the pitcher “really wants out of K.C.” Royals general manager
Dayton Moore, however, declined comment.

Greinke, 27, won the Cy Young in ’09 and has a career 60-67
record with a 3.83 ERA in seven seasons with Kansas City.

- – Rhett Bollinger

Astros reach deal with Hall

The Astros have reached an agreement with the versatile Bill Hall, sources confirmed to MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart on Friday. According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, Hall will become the Astros’ new second baseman on a one-year contract that’s worth about $3 million and includes a mutual option for 2012.

Hall, 31 on Dec. 28, signed with the Red Sox last offseason as a utility man but wound up playing in 119 games and getting nearly 400 plate appearances due to a rash of injuries. In that time, the right-handed hitter batted .247 with 18 homers and 46 RBIs while appearing in left field (55 games), second base (51), right field (nine), center field (seven), shortstop (six), third base (five) and even pitching an inning.

For his nine-year career – which saw him spend his first seven-plus years with the Brewers – Hall is a.250 hitter with a .310 on-base percentage and 122 homers. Of his 940 games in the field, 155 have been played at second base.

Brian McTaggart

Roundup: O-Dog (fittingly) headed to PETCO

It turns out Orlando Hudson may be team-less no more.

Hudson broke the news himself on MLB Network Radio that his next destination is San Diego, and FOXSports.com reported that the Padres and the free-agent second baseman agreed to terms on a two-year, $11.5 million contract.

Hudson — a two-time All-Star joining his fourth team in four years — will fill the role played last year by David Eckstein, who’s a free agent and said recently that the Padres have not contacted him about a return.

Here’s more from around the league …

* The Yankees, according to multiple reports, have agreed on a two-year contract with veteran reliever Pedro Feliciano. Feliciano, the former Met who has led the Majors in appearances each of the last three seasons, joins Boone Logan to give the Yanks two lefties in the bullpen.

* Reigning World Series MVP Edgar Renteria was none-too-thrilled with the $1 million offer the Giants tendered him this offseason. “That offer from the Giants was a lack of respect,” Renteria told ESPNdeportes.com. “A total disrespect.” Renteria has previously stated he’d like to finish his career with the Marlins or Cardinals. 

* The Astros reached an agreement with the versatile Bill Hall to be their starting second baseman, sources told MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart. According to FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, the two sides agreed on a one-year contract worth about about $3 million and with a mutual option for 2012. 

* A couple of notable deals have been made official: The Cubs’ with Kerry Wood, and the Tigers’ with Magglio Ordonez.   

– Alden Gonzalez  

12/17 Mets interested in Gorzelanny?

The New York Post reports the Mets have inquired about Cubs pitcher Tom Gorzelanny. The lefty made $800,000 last year, and will receive a raise through arbitration but would still be a fairly economical addition. Gorzelanny was 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 29 games (23 starts) last season with Chicago. You can never have enough pitching, but the Cubs do have a surplus with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, plus up and coming youngsters such as Casey Coleman, Chris Carpenter, Chris Archer and Thomas Diamond.

– Carrie Muskat

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