With Spring Training fast approaching, many elite free agents have found their home for 2011, but there are more than a few impact players still on the market. Two such players, Andruw Jones and Jim Thome, headline a group of veteran role players aiming to prove they can still be difference-makers.
Jones has reportedly drawn interest from the Yankees in recent weeks. At this point, the Bombers see Jones as their best option, SI.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted on Monday, but the two sides are still apart on the money. Jones would seemingly be a strong fit for New York, serving as a fourth outfielder with significant pop off the bench. Jones, 33, would also fit the bill of a right-handed hitting outfielder, which the Yanks have been seeking this offseason.
Thome, another aging yet still productive slugger, is drawing interest from the Rangers, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Buster Olney. Olney reported that the team is “actively trying to lure” the slugger to Texas. After the Rangers signed Adrian Beltre, it began to look unlikely that they’d try to keep Vladimir Guerrero around as the designated hitter. After hitting 25 homers last season, it seems likely that Thome could help fill the power void left by Guerrero.
Here’s a look at other news and notes from around the league on Monday:
— Jose Bautista could be facing a position switch this season, moving from the outfield to third base, Fox Sports reported on Monday, citing an unnamed team official. Unless the Jays add another starting infielder, Bautista figures to be moving to third to start the season. Bautista, who lead the Majors with 54 home runs in 2010, is scheduled to be a free agent after this season, so it’ll be a key year for the 30-year old, the report noted.
— Catcher Max Ramirez was
claimed off waivers for the second time in less than a week, this time by the Cubs from the Red Sox. Boston claimed Ramirez from the Rangers on Jan. 5. Ramirez, 26, gives the Cubs some additional depth behind the plate. Ramirez, who is out of Minor League options at this point, hit .217 in 28 games with Texas last season.
— The Padres completed a two-year deal
with shortstop Jason Bartlett
on Monday, which will pay the infielder $11 million over the life of the deal. There is also a vesting option for 2013, which could bring the total of the deal to $15 million according to MLB.com’s Corey Brock.
— The Red Sox made their one-year deal with left-hander Hideki Okajima
official on Monday. After non-tendering him earlier this offseason, the Sox have re-signed Okajima for $1.75 million. Okajima, 35, could increase that figure to the neighborhood of $2.3 million with incentives, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick.
— The Astros and Phillies completed a minor trade, swapping two Minor League players
on Monday. Houston sent second baseman Albert Cartwright to Philly in exchange for left-hander Sergio Escalona. Escalona was recently designed for assignment after the Phils re-signed J.C. Romero.
– Bailey Stephens