December 2010

12/17 Wood, Hendry & pizza

Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Kerry Wood may have finalized their agreement over pizza at a charity event one week ago in Chicago. Both attended Ryan Dempster’s fundraiser at D’Agostino’s, a restaurant near Wrigley Field, and had a chance to chat. The two had also attended Ron Santo’s funeral earlier in the day. Wood, whom the Cubs selected in the first round of the 1995 Draft, has made Chicago his offseason home, and ignored other multi-year deals so he could do what’s best for his family. He has reportedly agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Cubs, who needed an experienced right-handed set-up pitcher. It’s not exactly Andre Dawson handing the team a blank check, which the Hall of Famer did prior to the 1987 season, but it’s close. Expect an official announcement Friday re: Wood.

– Carrie Muskat

Yanks reportedly bring in LHP Feliciano

NEW YORK — The Yankees have agreed to terms with Pedro Feliciano on a two-year, $8 million deal that includes a third-year option, Jon Heyman of SI.com and MLB Network reported via Twitter on Friday.

His agent could not be reached for comment by MLB.com.
 
The 34-year-old, who has spent his entire eight-year career with the Mets, has led the league in appearances each of the last three years, pitching in a total of 266 games and putting up a 3.44 ERA in that span. For his career, he has limited opposing lefty hitters to a .214 batting average.

– Alden Gonzalez 

A Mota Return?

The Dodgers are among five clubs that have offered reliever Guillermo Mota a Minor League contract, according to ESPN Deportes. Mota, who pitched for the champion Giants this year, would be joining the Dodgers for the third time if he signs. The Dodgers, Giants and Rays are reportedly the finalists. – Ken Gurnick

Joba is not a starting pitching option for Yankees

NEW YORK — There you have it. You can put that to rest now. Joba Chamberlain will not be returning as a starting pitcher for the Yankees, even though the club has serious questions after the first two spots in its rotation.

“No, Joba’s in the ‘pen,” general manager Brian Cashman assured Thursday.

That day, the Yankees announced the signing of Russell Martin as their new starting catcher, which gives them the flexibility to perhaps use highly rated prospect Jesus Montero as a trade chip to acquire pitching help — something the Yankees’ skipper believes his club needs.

“We need to add another guy to our rotation,” manager Joe Girardi said, “there’s no doubt about it.”

Meanwhile, the Yankees have been linked to a few relievers recently. ESPNNewYork.com reported that they’re making “a little progress” with lefty Pedro Feliciano, and Rafael Soriano’s name has come up a lot (though it seems like a long shot because of his asking price). Jon Heyman of SI.com and MLB Network wrote that the Yankees’ search for lefty relief could also turn them to Brian Fuentes and Arthur Rhodes.

– Alden Gonzalez   

Roundup: A’s, Red Sox continue to add

The A’s may never land Adrian Beltre, but that hasn’t stopped an already busy week for them from chugging along.

Oakland landed outfielder Josh Willingham from the Nationals on Thursday in exchange for reliever Henry Rodriguez and Minor League outfielder Corey Brown.
“I’m excited because I know the potential this ballclub has,” Willingham said about an hour after learning of the trade. “I know they have really good young pitching and have already upgraded their lineup a lot. So, I’m excited to be part of that. I think this team is ready to win.”
Willingham joins Rich Harden, Hideki Matsui and Brandon McCarthy as recent A’s pick-ups.
Beltre’s former club the Red Sox continued to add on Thursday — not to the lineup this time, but to the bullpen. Boston was nearing a two-year deal with former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks for $12 million.
An outfielder who was once targeted by Boston decided to stay home. Magglio Ordonez re-upped with Detroit on a one-year deal, according to Sports Illustrated. He’s to be paid $10 million.
Some other moves from around the league:
  • The Rangers added a Japanese ballplayer for the second time this offseason in Hirotoshi Onaka, an outfielder. They signed right-hander Yoshinori Tateyama last month. Texas also announced Thursday it signed right-hander Yhency Brazoban to a Minor League deal.
  • Looking at a drastically changed bullpen next season, Tampa Bay signed reliever Joel Peralta.
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka, a middle infielder, is nearing a deal with the Twins. He and Alexi Casilla are a likely double-play combo in 2011.
  • Kerry Wood might be coming home to Chicago — the Cubs that is.
– Evan Drellich

Guerrier Signs

The Dodgers officially announced the signing of reliever Matt Guerrier, who passed a physical exam on Thursday. The right-hander signed a three-year, $12 million contract for a role setting up Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo. – Ken Gurnick

12/16 Could Wood come back?

There are multiple reports that the Cubs are working on a deal
with free agent Kerry Wood which would bring him back to his original team. The White Sox reportedly offered the
right-hander a two-year contract, but then signed Jesse Crain. Wood had been rumored to be seeking a
two-year, $12 million deal, which would not appear to be a good fit for
the cost-conscious Cubs. GM Jim Hendry is well-versed in Wood’s medical
history — the right-hander has been on the disabled list 14 times in his career because
of his shoulder, elbow, back and blisters. Wood, 33,
isn’t going to strike out 20 in a game but was effective in short
relief with the Yankees last season, compiling a 0.69 ERA in 24 games
(two earned runs in 26 innings, 31 strikeouts). As a starter, he has a
career 71-55 record with a 3.69 ERA, and as a reliever, he’s 12-13 with
62 saves (including 34 with the Cubs in 2008) and a 3.45 ERA.

The
Cubs do want an experienced right-hander in the bullpen to compliment
lefty Sean Marshall, and Wood would welcome coming back to Wrigley
Field. He lives in Chicago year-round.

– Carrie Muskat

Harden to make Oakland return

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday that the A’s have brought back Rich Harden on a one-year, $1.5 million deal with incentives.

Harden was drafted by Oakland in the 17th round in 2000 and spent his first five big league years there before being traded to the Cubs during his sixth, 2008.
Plagued by injuries year-in and year-out, Harden hasn’t reached 150 innings since his career high of 189 2/3 in 2004. Still, on an inexpensive contract — even if his velocity has taken a hit as his injuries have mounted — he’s a perennial low-risk, high-reward guy.
It’s been a busy week for the A’s, who also brought in Hideki Matsui, Brandon McCarthy and Joey Devine.

12/15 Cubs pitching & rumors

You can never have enough pitching but the Cubs may have too much. Teams
will likely start calling GM Jim Hendry about some of the arms on his
roster. With Casey Coleman, Chris Carpenter and Chris Archer on the way
up, plus the possibility that Andrew Cashner could move to the rotation,
the Cubs have a surplus. FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal said
pitching-needy teams unable to land Matt Garza from the Rays or Zack
Greinke from the Royals might inquire about Tom Gorzelanny, Randy Wells
or Carlos Silva.

Rosenthal also says the Cubs are willing to
trade Kosuke Fukudome, who is in the final year of his three-year deal.
However, manager Mike Quade said during the Winter Meetings he’s
prepared to rotate Fukudome with Marlon Byrd, Alfonso Soriano and Tyler
Colvin to keep everyone healthy and fresh.

– Carrie Muskat

Pirates announce deal with Matt Diaz

On the same day the club added a new first baseman, the Pirates announced a two-year deal with outfielder Matt Diaz. News of the agreement came a week ago at the Winter Meetings, though Diaz had to undergo a physical before it became official.

Diaz is guaranteed $4.25 million over the next two years. He will earn a $2 million base salary in 2011 and 2012 and picks up a signing bonus worth $250,000. Diaz can earn up to another $125,000 per year based on plate appearances and has a number of award incentives also built into the deal.

The Pirates had plenty of competition in their pursuit of Diaz, who was non-tendered by the Braves on Dec. 2.

The addition of Diaz gives Pittsburgh the right-handed hitting outfielder that they coveted. The Pirates have been looking for someone who could be a threat against left-handed pitching, and Diaz fits that mold precisely.

He has a career .335 batting average and .533 slugging percentage against southpaws in parts of eight seasons in the Majors. Diaz, 32, hit .273 against lefties last season.

– Jenifer Langosch

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