January 2011

Volquez, Reds sign one-year deal

The Reds announced that RHP Edinson Volquez has signed a one-year contract to avoid arbitration. Terms were not revealed but when numbers were exchanged, Volquez’s side submitted for $2 million while the club countered with $1.3. The midpoint was $1.6 million.

Volquez returned from Tommy John surgery rehab after the All-Star break and was 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 62 2/3 innings. The 26-year-old walked 35 and struck out 67 batters and was also charged with four runs on four hits and was pulled after 1 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the Phillies.

“We’ll see if they’re up for doing more later,” GM Walt Jocketty told me on Sunday from the Reds Caravan stop in Lexington. “We tried to do a multi-year deal. They just wanted to concentrate on the one year now. [The agent] had a few cases and wanted to get the arbitration thing out of the way.”

— Mark Sheldon

Roundup: Sizemore rumors addressed

Sometimes a trade rumor is nothing more than a rumor.

Cleveland general manager Chris Antonetti addressed the recent rumors regarding Grady Sizemore on Thursday night, when he and Indians manager Manny Acta fielded questions from fans during a Town Hall meeting in downtown Cleveland.

“I normally don’t get into individual rumors,” Antonetti said. “This one time, I will comment on it. We have not had a single discussion about potentially trading Grady Sizemore. Now, there are teams that call us all the time to ask about our players — that’s just the nature of the business.”

“They’ll ask about almost everyone on our roster at different points in the offseason, but I can tell you at no point have we contemplated trading Grady, and we have no intention of trading Fausto (Carmona), either.”

Antonetti’s comments came after an online report surfaced Monday on MASNsports.com, citing a scout, claiming that the Indians and Nationals have had “conversations” about dealing Sizemore and Carmona to Washington. The rumor gained steam as the week went on, leading Antonetti to shoot it down publicly.


Around the league:

* The Orioles have taken a step toward adding a significant bat to their lineup, as they have made an offer to designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero, MLB.com confirmed on Thursday.

The amount and terms of the offer have varied from $2 million to $5 million, although FoxSports.com, which first reported the offer, estimated that the deal was in the low $3 million range.

At one point this offseason, Guerrero requested a two-year deal worth $16 million before dropping his price to one year and $8 million. The O’s had a lower figure in mind, and multiple media outlets have reported that the veteran is not pleased with Baltimore’s offer, which a Major League source told MLB.com was a far “more reasonable” figure.


* White Sox general manager Kenny Williams talked to Freddy Garcia’s camp about the White Sox rotation situation, although no numbers were exchanged and Williams said there haven’t been talks with Garcia for at least two or three weeks.


* Joe Beimel is signing with the Pirates, The Denver Post reported on Thursday. According to the report, Beimel said his role on the staff, manager Clint Hurdle and his family in the area were factors in the decision to go with Pittsburgh.

Beimel, who will turn 34 in April, went 1-2 with a 3.40 ERA in 71 appearances for the Rockies last season. He has a home in the Pittsburgh-area, the report said.



Roundup: Wells, Angels an open-ended story

As much as the 2011 offseason will be remembered for Cliff Lee and his suitors, for the Red Sox’s offensive overhaul and for even the Royals and Zack Greinke, it stands to be remembered for the Angels, too.


A week ago, that memory would have been of a team that seemingly sat idle. The Angels’ well-known top target, Carl Crawford, was scooped up in front of their eyes at the Winter Meetings in Florida. Their next free-agent mark, Adrian Beltre — who plays third base, a position where they sorely needed improvement — went to a division rival that seemingly had less of a need at the hot corner, Texas.

Then came Friday, when Los Angeles struck a deal with the Blue Jays to bring in outfielder Vernon Wells. Wells, 32, thus far hasn’t lived up to a seven-year, $126 million deal thus far, and $86 million and four years remain on the deal. The Angels are assuming all of that contract, with Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera sent away in the deal.

On Wednesday, Wells was officially introduced in Anaheim, and the Angels have now officially made a significant move.
Whether they’re significantly improved, though, and improved in a cost-effective manner — that’s still unknown, and is probably the most open-ended storyline of the offseason.

Around the league, others were busy around the Hot Stove Wednesday, even with Spring Training less than three weeks away:

? The Reds and right-hander Johnny Cueto finalized a four-year, $27 million contract, allowing them to skip arbitration. The 24-year-old went 12-7 with a 3.64 ERA in 31 starts last season, setting several career high marks.

? Coming off the worst season of his to-be Hall of Fame career, Yankees captain Derek Jeter started working out in Tampa, Fla., with hitting coach Kevin Long. The 36-year-old shortstop signed a three-year, $51 million deal this offseason after hitting a career-low .270 batting average in 2010 — 44 points below his lifetime mark of .314 — with 10 home runs and 67 RBIs in 157 games.

? Adding another veteran, the Yankees inked right-hander Bartolo Colon to a Minor League deal that reportedly could pay him as much as $900,000 if he makes the Major League club out of camp. Colon, 37, did not pitch in the bigs in 2010, but pitched well in the Dominican Winter League.

? Left-hander Andy Pettitte, could be on his way back to New York. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the door remains open as Pettitte works out in Texas, and according to SI.com, the club’s latest contract offer stood at one season for $12 million. This season would be the 17th for the 38-year-old Pettitte.

? One of the Mets’ marquee names, Johan Santana, has not begun his throwing program as part of his rehabilitation from left shoulder surgery last September, general manager Sandy Alderson said. Santana was cleared Jan. 14. “I think the [physical therapists] recommended that he continue to do certain exercises, and when he feels like he’s ready to toss, he will,” Alderson said. “He’s medically cleared, but to my knowledge, he hasn’t actually started throwing yet.”

? The Mets introduced Chin-lung Hu, a utility infielder on Wednesday, a move that got more attention than might be expected because of the cultural draw. Hu, 26 and acquired from the Dodgers in a trade last month for Minor League pitcher Mike Antonini, would become the Mets’ first Taiwanese-born player if he makes the team. There have only been six Taiwanese-born players in Major League history.

? The Angels and ace right-hander Jered Weaver are discussing a contract extension. Weaver, an All-Star for the first time in 2010 while leading the Majors in strikeouts, has requested $8.8 million in salary arbitration, with the Angels offering $7.3 million. Weaver is eligible for free agency after the 2012 season. Scott Boras is his agent.

? Yasiel Balaguer, an 18-year-old Cuban outfielder, is to work out for the Marlins. Balaguer arrived in Miami in November after leaving Cuba while traveling to Mexico. His athleticism and defense have drawn comparisons to Andruw Jones.

? The Astros and right-hander Wandy Rodriguez, who turned 32 last week, avoided arbitration with a three-year deal that guarantees him $34 million. It also contains a vesting option for 2014 that could bring the total value to $44.5 million.

? The Twins added another experienced arm to their bullpen competition by claiming left-hander Dusty Hughes off waivers from the Royals. Hughes, 28, was 1-3 with a 3.83 ERA, 24 walks and 34 strikeouts over 56 1/3 innings for KC in 2010.

? The Rockies brought back utility man Alfredo Amezaga on a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league camp. The Rockies also signed veteran catcher Chad Moeller to a Minor League deal as a non-roster player.

? San Diego signed Jorge Cantu and also reportedly signed right-handed reliever Greg Burke. Burke is on a Minor League deal.

? The D-backs and catcher Miguel Montero <a href="" http:="" arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com="" news="" article.jsp?ymd="20110126&content_id=16514398&vkey=news_ari&c_id=ari"avoided"" arbitration="" with a one-year, $3.2 million contract.

— Evan Drellich

Red Sox in on Beimel, kicked tires on Bautista

The Red Sox and about four other teams, including the O’s, are going after southpaw reliever Joe Beimel, according to the Baltimore Sun. No teams besides the O’s and Red Sox were named, but one other club is identified as being an American League team.
Turning 34 in April, Beimel went 1-2 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rockies in 45 innings and 71 appearances last season, striking out 21 and walking 15. 
Beimel’s been better been against left-handed hitters (.221 last season vs. .329 against righties) and he’s been durable in a 10-year career, making no fewer than 62 appearances in each of the last six seasons. For Baltimore, Beimel would be a complement to Michael Gonzalez, while for Boston, he’d provide depth behind Hideki Okajima.
Mulitple outlets on Tuesday reported that the Red Sox pursued Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista before landing Carl Crawford, making “multiple offers” for him — a sign of how serious Boston was about upgrading its offense. The lineup took a hit when Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez departed via free agency, but was quickly revamped when Adrian Gonzalez (via trade) and Crawford (via free agency) arrived in the same week.
Other unnamed teams reportedly pursued Bautista, who led the Majors with 54 homers, as well.
“It’s all just rumors to me at this stage…who knows if any of it is true?” Bautista told The Boston Globe by text. “There’s nothing for me to comment on yet.”
The Jays reportedly were never serious about trading Bautista, who is looking for more than $10.5 million in arbitration. Toronto submitted a $7.6 million figure. Bautista is a free agent after this season and, according to FOX Sports, there aren’t current talks of a long-term extension.
— Evan Drellich

Roundup: Rangers, Jays complete swap

For the second time in a week on Tuesday, the Blue Jays pulled the trigger on a trade involving catcher/infielder Mike Napoli. Napoli, acquired from the Angels along with Juan Rivera for Vernon Wells last Friday, is heading back west but this time to the Rangers.
In exchange for Napoli, the Rangers sent right-handed reliever Frank Francisco to Toronto. Francisco, 31, saved 25 games for the Rangers in 2009 and brings a solid resume to the back end of the Blue Jays’ bullpen.
Napoli, on the other hand, could serve in a variety of roles. He slots in as another possible backup catching option as well as provide insurance in case first baseman Mitch Moreland struggles and can take over some designated hitter at-bats. The 29-year-old Napoli also brings a healthy dose of power to the Rangers, having hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last three seasons. 
Tuesday’s swap dominated most of the Hot Stove action, but here’s a look at other news and notes from around the league:
– The Astros avoided a salary arbitration hearing with left-hander Wandy Rodriquez, signing the left-haned starter to a three-year, $34 million extension. The deal includes a one-year option that would hike the deal to $44.5 million.
– The Cubs added a familiar arm, agreeing to terms with Todd Wellemeyer on a one-year, non-guaranteed Minor League deal for $800,000, ESPNChicago.com reported. Working mostly as a starter, Wellemeyer went 3-5 with a 5.68 ERA last season for the Giants.
– Oakland avoided arbitration with left-hander Craig Breslow on Tuesday, agreeing to a one-year, $1.4 million deal, according to MLB.com’s Jane Lee. Breslow, the A’s last remaining arbitration-eligible player, earned a significant raise over his 2010 salary of $425,000. Breslow is also eligible for $25,000 in incentives based on the number of games he finishes, Lee reported.
– The Twins avoided arbitration with Kevin Slowey, agreeing to a one-year, $2.7 million deal, MLB.com’s Kelly Thesier reported. Slowey had filed at $3.1 million and the Twins had filed at $2.3 million, which puts the agreed-upon deal right at the midpoint of the two submissions.
Slowey posted a 4.45 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 155 2/3 innings last year. The 26-year-old has never posted a walk rate above 1.7 per nine or a strikeout rate above 6.7 per nine in four big league seasons.
– After an offseason of additions, the Brewers are still seeking another veteran bench presence, Fox Sports.com reported Tuesday. Mark Kotsay is one possibility for the role, according to the report. The 35-year-old hit .239 for the White Sox last season but owns a .312 career average as a pinch hitter.
– The Os agreed to a Minor League deal with reliever Clay Rapada on Tuesday, MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli reported. The deal, which would include an invite to Spring Training, gives the O’s a candidate for the situational lefty role in the pen.  The 29-year-old appeared in just 13 games last season for the Rangers, but was exceptionally tough on left-handed hitters (1-for-21).
— Bailey Stephens

Roundup: D-backs acquire Galarraga, add Owings

The offseason might be winding down, but with roughly three weeks to go until the start of Spring Training, there’s still plenty of time for teams to try and improve the roster heading into 2011.
The D-backs completed two such moves on Monday, acquiring right-hander Armando Galarraga from the Tigers and signing Micah Owings to a Minor League deal. In exchange for Galarraga, the D-backs sent two Minor League pitchers, right-hander Kevin Eichhorn and left-hander pitcher Ryan Robowski, to the Tigers. Owings, who also got a Spring Training invite, will log time on the mound and at first base with the D-backs if he earns a roster spot, general manager Kevin Towers told reporters on Monday. 
The D-backs aren’t the only team who were active Monday. Here’s a look at news and notes from around the league: 
– The Nationals made their deal with Todd Coffey official. MLB.com’s Bill Ladson first reported the signing, which will give the club a right-handed workhorse in the ‘pen. Washington also designated right-hander Shairon Martis for assignment to make room for Jerry Hairston, whose contract was approved by the league.
– Veteran infielder Jorge Cantu is drawing interest from the Padres, but the team is primarily interested in a Minor League deal, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted on Monday. The Braves had discussed Cantu but aren’t currently pursuing him, as was reported on Sunday, according to Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 
– Where will Vladimir Guerrero land? The latest update comes out of Texas, where team president Nolan Ryan told fans at this weekend’s Rangers FanFest that bringing Vlad back wasn’t off the table, in a quote relayed by the Dallas Morning News. He suggested, though, that the veteran might be looking for more playing time.
“You’d love to have that bat, another right-handed bat on the bench, or him DHing when Michael Young is playing a position,” Ryan said. “That will obviously come into play in the decision of where he’s going to go. How many at-bats he thinks he’s going to get somewhere.”
–Bailey Stephens

Roundup: O’Day agrees to deal, avoids arbitration

Another trip to arbitration was avoided on Sunday as the Rangers reached a deal with reliever Darren O’Day for 2011.
O’Day will earn $1.251 million dollars in 2011, roughly halfway between the two parties’ figures. O’Day filed for arbitration seeking $1.4 million, while the Rangers submitted a potential salary of $1.05 million.
The right-hander earned a significant raise in his first season of arbitration eligibility after putting up impressive numbers in ’10. O’Day registered a 2.03 ERA and allowed just 12 walks in 62 innings last season. 
With O’Day taken care of, the Rangers still have two arbitration-eligible players in outfielder Josh Hamilton and right-hander Frank Francisco.
Here’s a look at some news and notes from around the league on Sunday:
– Royals first baseman Billy Butler will make $3 million this season, plus a $2 million signing bonus, as part of the four-year extension he agreed to with the club on Saturday, Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star tweeted on Sunday. Butler will then make $8 million from 2012-14. The club also holds a $12.5 million option for the 2015 season as part of the deal, with a $1 million buyout.
– Regardless of where the Red Sox sit in the standings, closer Jonathan Papelbon won’t be off limits for possible trades, a team source confirmed to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. 
– Following up with yesterday’s Vladimir Guerrero rumors, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted that the O’s haven’t talked with the veteran in two weeks. There have been several conflicting reports over the Orioles’ progress with Guerrero in recent days, but it seems the slugger’s options are fairly limited at this point.
–Bailey Stephens

Roundup: Billy Butler locked up in Kansas City

Already once this offseason, the Royals were a Hot Stove headliner. That was last month, when they bid farewell to their ace, Zack Greinke.


This time, they’ve topped the day for the talent they’re keeping not letting go.

First baseman Billy Butler has signed a four-year, $30 million contract extension, both sides announced Saturday. Butler, 25-years-old in April, was arbitration eligible and hit .318 with 15 home runs, a .388 on-base percentage and a .469 slugging percentage in 2010.

“I just get to worry about playing baseball, and it’s what’s best for me and my family,” Butler said. “That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t want to have to worry about going to arbitration every year, and this is where I want to be. The city’s great, and we love it here. I can’t express how happy we are right now.”

Another Royals corner infielder (and DH) for so long — 13 years of his 16 big league years — Mike Sweeney has told MLB.com’s Dick Kaegel that he’ll have a decision on his playing future by next Sunday.

Sweeney, 37, made the playoffs for the first time in his career last season with Philadelphia and singled in his lone at-bat. He’s a career .297 hitter who batted .252 between the Mariners and Phils last season.

“I made it clear to my agents that the only way I’m going to play this year is if a contending team offered me a guaranteed deal — and I told them the chance of that happening is next to none,” Sweeney said. “But that’s the criteria I set for them.”

Elsewhere around the league:

? Orioles president Andy MacPhail shot down reports that the Orioles were closing to signing Vladimir Guerrero, although the club is interested. “[The] report is not accurate,” MacPhail told MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli via email.

? Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said that a trade of Armando Galarraga, who has been designated for assignment, is likely by next week. “We’re making some progress on some trade talks at this point,” Dombrowski said. “Not quite sufficient to make any announcements, but I would think by the middle of next week we would be in a position where we would make a deal.”

? Right-hander Jason Hammel is back with the Rockies, signing a two-year, $7.75 million contract on Saturday to avoid two of his three years of arbitration. The 28-year-old is 20-17 with a 4.57 ERA since joining the Rockies in a trade with the Rays in 2009.

? The Giants signed their lone remaining arbitration candidate to a one-year deal. Outfielder Andres Torres is believed to have received $2.1 million. He played for $426,000 last year. The switch-hitter turns 33 on Wednesday.

? SportsIllustrated reported on Twitter that a friend of the Reds’ Aroldis Chapman, Jose Carlos Thompson, has signed with the Astros for $250,000. Thompson attended junior college at Western Oklahoma, and the school’s website lists his hometown as Woburn, Mass.

Dombrowski says Galarraga trade “likely” next week

Dave Dombrowski had finished up his question-and-answer session with fans this morning at Tigers when he did a group interview with the media. Among the topics that came up was an update on trade talks for Armando Galarraga, whom the Tigers have a little less than a week to move (trade, release or outright to minors).
Dombrowski sounded quite confident it’s going to be a trade.
“We’re making some progress on some trade talks at this point,” Dombrowski said. “Not quite sufficient to make any announcements, but I would think by the middle of next week we would be in a position where we would make a deal.”
Asked then if a trade is likely, Dombrowski said, “Yes, I think it’s likely.” 
— Jason Beck

Butler snags four-year, $30-million deal with Royals

Billy Butler and the Royals have agreed to a four-year, $30-million contract extension, the first baseman said Saturday.

The multi-year contract avoids salary arbitration and gives Butler the security of a long-term deal through 2014.

“I just get to worry about playing baseball and it’s what’s best for me and my family,” Butler said. “That’s what it’s all about. I didn’t want to have to worry about going to arbitration every year and this where I want to be. The city’s great and we love it here. I can’t express how happy we are right now.”

Butler had filed in arbitration for $4.3 million and the Royals offered $3.4 million. Now that’s off the table.

His new deal was worked out by agent Greg Genske of Legacy Sports with Royals general manager Dayton Moore.

“It worked out for both sides,” Butler said. “I’ve always been happy to be a Royal. We have a lot of young guys coming up and we plan on doing great things. It just means I’m a big part of it.”

Butler, his wife Katie and their daughter Kenley live in Idaho Falls where Butler made his pro debut in 2004 with a rousing .373 average. He was in Kansas City for the Royals FanFest.

“It’s just what’s best for your family,” Butler said. “We’re happy to be done with it and Dayton and the whole organization were great.”

Butler on Saturday was to receive the Royals Player of the Year Award for the second straight time after setting new career highs in several categories, including average (.318), hits (189), walks (69) and on-base percentage (.388).
Dick Kaegel.