According to FOXSports, the Angels have agreed to deal catcher Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera to the Toronto Blue Jays for outfielder Vernon Wells, who waived his no-trade clause in the report by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi.
Wells has $86 million coming in the remaining four years on his contract and can opt out after drawing $23 million in 2011. He could move into center field or play left with Peter Bourjos in center field and Torii Hunter in right. Wells had 33 homers and 88 RBIs in 2011 and owns three Gold Gloves. He is 32 and has spent his entire career in Toronto, emerging as a regular in 2002.
The Blue Jays could combine Napoli with former Angels teammate Jose Molina behind the plate, along with J.P. Arenciba and also give the slugger playing time at first base, where he performed capably last season in Kendry Morales’ absence. Napoli is arbitration-eligible and has asked for $6.1 million while the Angels proposed an offer of $5.3 million. He led the club with 26 home runs last year.
Rivera is owed $5.25 million on the final year of his contract. Combined, Napoli and Rivera would account for roughly half of Wells’ 2011 salary. Adding Wells would lift the Angels’ payroll into the $150 million range, but they are receiving an unspecified amount of cash in the trade.
The swap would leave the Angels with Jeff Mathis, Bobby Wilson and Hank Conger as their catchers. — Lyle Spencer
The free-agent market has definitely thinned, now that less than one month remains before the start of Spring Training. But as of Friday, several big names remained in the veteran corner outfielder/designated hitter category.
That may change soon.
The Rays, an industry source told MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, are nearing a one-year deal with Johnny Damon and are also in the mix for his former Red Sox teammate, Manny Ramirez.
But Tampa Bay may have some competition for Ramirez’s services, since sources told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan that the Rangers and Angels are also interested. Sullivan notes that it’s the Rangers and Rays that are the front-runners at this point, with the Angels seemingly lagging behind.
Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com heard from sources that Vladimir Guerrero, like Ramirez and Damon, could also be close to signing, saying the Orioles and Angels have interest. The Rangers, Sullivan added, also haven’t closed the door on bringing back Guerrero.
The problem is the soon-to-be-36-year-old — coming off a season in which he batted .300
with 29 homers and 115 RBIs as Texas’ full-time DH — may still be
trying to land an everyday job.
Here’s more from around the league…
* The Red Sox were trying to reel in free-agent closer Rafael Soriano
on a lucrative one-year contract, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com and
MLB Network. If they would have succeeded in that, they could’ve dealt
current closer Jonathan Papelbon to the Athletics or White Sox. Boston also made Yankees closer Mariano Rivera an offer this offseason, so there’s seemingly concern in Beantown about Papelbon.
* When Prince Fielder hits free agency at the end of the 2011
season, the slugging first baseman expects to yield a contract of at least eight
years and for about $200 million, Heyman added.
* The Reds have been all about locking up their own players this
offseason, and they still may not be done. Regarding unsigned starter
Edinson Volquez, Reds general manager Walt Jocketty told the Cincinnati
Enquirer, “We’re looking at both — one-year and multi-year” deals.
Volquez, arbitration-eligible for the first time, made $445,000 in 2010. Bronson
Arroyo, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto and Joey Votto have all inked
multi-year deals with the Reds this offseason.
* The Cardinals signed veteran infielder Nick Punto
to a one-year contract. The 33-year-old switch-hitter will serve as a
utility infielder and an insurance policy at third base for David Freese.
* The Mariners reduced the signing bonus of Dominican shortstop Esteilon Peguero, from $2.9 million to $1.1 million, according to Baseball America.
— Alden Gonzalez
According to Yahoo’s Tim Brown, via Twitter, the Rays are close to reaching a deal with veteran Johnny Damon, but the report goes on to say a lot of work needs to be done to finalize the deal.
Damon would seem to be an excellent fit for the Rays, who could use him in left field and at DH. In addition, he would provide leadership inside a young clubhouse.
Fifteen years after Andruw Jones became the youngest player ever to homer in the Fall Classic against the Yankees, Jones has joined them.
- The Cubs and their fifth-round Draft pick from 2010, Matt Szczur, agreed on a new Minor League deal worth a reported $1.5 million that commits Szczur officially to baseball. The two-way standout was a star receiver at Villanova, and was permitted to play his senior season this fall after signing a $100,000 deal after the Draft. This summer, Szczur was impressive in his brief pro baseball debut in 2010, opening with a 21-game hit streak.
- The Giants settled on a one-year deal with arbitration-eligible left-hander Javier Lopez, who went 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA in 77 appearances between Pittsburgh and San Francisco last season. The deal is said to be worth close to $2.4 million. The Giants have only one arbitration-eligible player left to strike a deal with, Andres Torres.
- The Giants are also nearing a deal with right-hander Jeff Suppan. The 36-year-old made half of his 30 appearances last year with Milwaukee and St. Louis as a reliever, going 3-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 101 1/3 innings.
- The Blue Jays bolstered their farm system with the signing of 16-year-old Dominican lefthander Jairo Labour for $350,000, according to Baseball America. The 6-foot-4, 185-pounder has reportedly hit 92 mph.
- Eric Chavez, previously linked to the Blue Jays and others, worked out for the Dodgers at their complex in Arizona. A California native, Chavez is only 33 but coming off four years of injuries, primarily to his shoulder and back. He hasn’t played more than 90 games in a season since 2006.
The Angels, searching for offense, appear to be interested in both Manny Ramirez and Vladimir Guerrero as free agents, according to a report by Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes. Citing sources, Rojas reports that both players are closing in on deals. One source suggests Ramirez is likely to sign by the beginning of next week.
The Angels, Twins, Rangers, Rays and Blue Jays have shown some interest in Ramirez, but Minnesota is out after signing Jim Thome. The Angels, Rangers and Rays appear to be pursuing him most aggressively. Rojas hears that Ramirez is determined to redeem himself after a disappointing season, and money is not his primary concern.
Guerrero, according to a source, believes the Orioles have the inside track on signing him, but the Angels are another possibility. – Lyle Spencer
Later on Wednesday, Pavano finalized a two-year, $16.5 million contract with the Twins, whom he helped lead to the AL Central championship last season.
He went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA and led the team in wins, along with innings pitched (221). Since being acquired by the Twins in August 2009, Pavano is 22-15 with a 3.97 ERA in 44 starts.
In other news Wednesday:
- Entering the last season of a four-year deal, Mets’ shortstop Jose Reyes said he wants to talk an extension as soon as possible. “I don’t want to talk about my contract during the season,” Reyes said Wednesday at a Citi Field Kids charity event. “I want to focus on doing my thing, trying to help this team win a lot of ballgames.”
- With Jim Thome in Minnesota, the Rangers are still looking for a hitter, Rangers president Nolan Ryan told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. “It’s always nice to have a veteran bat off the bench. It gives you an opportunity late in the game if you don’t like the matchups. I’m not sure that person is out there.” Ryan also said an extension for general manager Jon Daniels is a priority.
- Left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes‘ deal with the A’s is official. According to The Associated Press, the deal is worth a guaranteed $10.5 million over two years, with a $6.5 million club option for 2013. The Nationals’ acquisition of Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs also became official.
- The Rockies and Joe Crede agreed on a Minor League deal. Crede sat out the 2010 season with a multitude of injuries. He turns 33 in April.
- Crede’s one-time team, the White Sox, announced the invitation of 14 to big league camp, including right-hander Brian Bruney and Jordan Danks. The latter is the 24-year-old younger brother of White Sox starter John Danks. Jordan hit .245 with 27 doubles, eight homers and 42 RBIs in his first season at Triple-A in 2010.
- The mother of Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has passed away in the Dominican Republic.
The Cubs are on the verge of sending Tom Gorzelanny to Washington for prospects. Joe Blanton no longer looks like a sure bet to be traded out of Philadelphia. The quality of the remaining free-agent market drops precipitously after Carl Pavano.
What’s a team looking for starting pitching left to do?
Could they go for Armando Galarraga?
That’s what Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski is counting on. He’s strong enough about it that he thinks he stands a better chance of trading Galarraga now than Spring Training. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have designated him for assignment Tuesday to make room for Brad Penny.
Instead of waiting until March, the Tigers have 10 days to try to deal Galarraga.
“I’m confident,” Dombrowski said Tuesday when asked about his chances of finding a trade partner for his former fifth starter. “You never know until you get it done. We’ve had enough clubs express some interest. It’s not like I have a for-sure deal, but I do have enough clubs that have asked me about him.”
By no means is Galarraga an answer for teams looking for a front-line starter. For teams needing a fifth starter who has been through a few seasons, though, Galarraga is an option. That list could be longer than expected, now that waiting for the Tigers to release Galarraga in Spring Training is no longer an option.
The Tigers’ return for Galarraga might be only marginally better than what they received last spring for Nate Robertson. Galarraga doesn’t have an untradeable contract, or a significant injury history, but he’s coming off an up-and-down season and a stretch.
Considering Galarraga’s issues with attacking the strike zone last summer, he’s the type of pitcher who might benefit from a pitching coach who views him as a bit of a project to restore his confidence.
The Tigers could still end up bringing Galarraga to camp if no team claims him on waiver. He could then be outrighted to Triple-A Toledo and brought to Spring Training as a non-roster invite. But with the Tigers rotation clearly set, and prospects Andy Oliver, Charlie Furbush and Jacob Turner also likely to get stretched out in terms of innings, the Tigers could have a problem finding the innings to showcase Galarraga for anybody.
— Jason Beck
First baseman James Loney is seeking a salary of $5.25 million and reliever Hong-Chih Kuo is asking for $3.075 million, while the Dodgers are offering Loney $4.7 million and Kuo $3.075 million in arbitration numbers exchanged Tuesday. Kuo is coming off a 2010 salary of $975,000 and Loney of $3.1 million.
The only other arbitration-eligible on the club, starting pitcher Chad Billingsley, settled for $6.275 million before numbers were exchanged. — Ken Gurnick
Right-hander Kyle Davies, expected to step it up as part of the Royals’ rotation this year, signed a one-year contract for 2011 on Tuesday and avoided salary arbitration.
Davies signed for $3.2 million, a sizable increase over the $1.8 million he earned last year.
That leaves first baseman Billy Butler as the Royals’ only arbitration-eligible player unsigned.
Davies made a career-high 32 starts last season, just one fewer than staff leader Zack Greinke and posted an 8-12 record with a 5.34 ERA. Now Davies is tasked with helping to fill the void left by Greinke’s trade to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Tigers will go another winter without an arbitration hearing,
continuing their streak by agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with
right-hander Armando Galarraga.
The deal, announced Tuesday, is reportedly worth $2.3 million for the
first-time arbitration eligible Galarraga. It bridges what was expected
to be a potentially difficult gap between what Galarraga wanted after
the better part of three seasons in Detroit’s rotation, and what the
Tigers wanted for someone whose rotation chances for 2011 now look shaky
after last week’s signing of Brad Penny.
Galarraga had a statistical conundrum of a season, and his would-be
perfect game ruined by umpire Jim Joyce’s blown call was just the start
of it. Galarraga could never turn that June 2 outing into momentum for
the summer, and finished the year with a 4-9 record and 4.49 ERA. He made $438,000 last year.
Not since Eric Hillman in 1993 had a Major League pitcher won four games
or less in a season when they posted a 4.50 ERA or less over at least
140 innings. Just three others besides Hillman had pulled off that feat
since 1985: Larry McWilliams and Zane Smith in 1989, and John Dopson in
1988. Galarraga was the first American League pitcher to do it since
Frank Tanana in 1981.
Galarraga’s puzzling 2010 season came two years after he came out of an
obscure minor-league trade with Texas to lead the Tigers in victories in
2008, going 13-7 with a 3.73 ERA. He has gone 10-19 in the two seasons
since, seen his walk-to-strikeout ratio deterioriate and struggle to
pound the strike zone with the same effective he enjoyed as a rookie.
The Tigers have not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since
Dave Dombrowski took over as general manager in 2002. Galarraga’s
agreement, on the heels of a two-year contract for Ryan Raburn and a
one-year deal for Joel Zumaya earlier in the month, means that streak
will continue for another year.
— Jason Beck