January 2011

Roundup: Coming to Terms

Monday proved to be an eventful day in baseball as several teams came to terms with players.

Will the rest of the week be as busy?

In the National League East, the Nationals acquired left-hander Tom Gorzelanny from the Cubs for three Minor Leaguers — outfielder Michael Burgess, right-hander A.J. Morris and left-hander Graham Hicks — according to two baseball sources. According to another source, Gorzelanny became expendable after the Cubs acquired right-hander Matt Garza in a trade with the Rays.

Gorzelanny is one of eight pitchers who will compete for a rotation spot. He is coming off a season in which he went 7-9 with a 4.09 ERA in 29 games (23 starts) with Chicago.

The Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year, $2.75 million contract with left-hander John Lannan to avoid salary arbitration.

Also in the NL East on Monday, the Mets agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Chris Young, according to a baseball source. The deal, which the Mets have not confirmed, is pending a physical.

Young is 48-34 with a 3.80 ERA over a seven-year career with the Rangers and Padres.

In the AL East, the Blue Jays added another reliever into the mix for their vacant closer’s role by signing right-hander Jon Rauch to a one-year contract worth $3.5 million.  His contract with Toronto also includes a club option for 2012 valued at $3.75 million. 

The Blue Jays also reached agreement with right-handers Shawn Camp, Casey Janssen and Jesse Litsch on one-year contracts with each pitcher to avoid arbitration. Janssen will earn $1,095,000 in 2011, and Litsch will earn $830,000.  Camp’s one-year deal is worth $2.25 million.

Around the league:

* B.J. Upton and the Rays reached an agreement on a one-year deal for $4.825 million to avoid arbitration.

* The Rockies have reached a Minor League agreement with Jason Giambi, who has served as a pinch-hitter and backup to Todd Helton at first base with the team since late in the 2009 season. Giambi’s deal is pending a physical. The club also reached a two-year contract with a club option for 2013 with newly acquired right-handed reliever Matt Lindstrom.

* The Marlins reached agreement on one-year contracts with closer Leo Nunez and right-handed setup reliever Edward Mujica to avoid arbitration.

* The Indians reached agreement on a one-year contract with Asdrubal Cabrera to avoid arbitration with the shortstop. The deal is worth $2.025 million.


* The Royals reached agreement with pitcher Robinson Tejeda for $1.55 million to avoid arbitration.

* The Tigers reached agreement with Armando Galarraga for $2.3 million to avoid arbitration, according to Sport Illustrated’s Jon Heyman.

Dodgers Close on Thames

The Dodgers are close to an agreement with free-agent outfielder Marcus Thames as a potential right-handed hitting platoon-mate for Jay Gibbons in left field. The club also has interest in third baseman Eric Chavez and outfielder Gabe Kapler. — Ken Gurnick

Report: Pujols’ agent targeting A-Rod deal

Both the Cardinals and Albert Pujols’ agent, Danny Lozano, are staunchly avoiding giving updates regarding Pujols’ contract negotiations. However, an SI.com report on Monday gave some impression as to what Pujols’ camp may be seeking — something in the neighborhood of Alex Rodriguez’s 10-year, $275-million pact with the Yankees.

According to a story at that site on Monday, “early word is that Pujols has used A-Rod’s contract… as the only comp.” The report goes on to suggest that the Cardinals have little stomach for terms such as those, and that they “are said to have initially suggested” a deal with a similar average annual value but over fewer years.
As the report suggests, it is difficult to envision the Cardinals guaranteeing 10 years to a player who will be 32 at the beginning of his next contract. However, if the sides are already talking about a similar average annual value to Rodriguez’s $27.5 million, that would seem to remove one major potential stumbling block.
Pujols is entering the final year of a contract that will end up paying him $111 million over eight seasons. He has told the club that he will not continue to negotiate once Spring Training starts.
–Matthew Leach

A’s near deal with Brian Fuentes

The Oakland A’s, who can already claim being the most improved team in the American League West, could be on the verge of acquiring another important piece.

According to various media reports, the A’s are nearing an agreement with free-agent left-hander Brian Fuentes. The deal would be for two seasons for at least $5 million per season, plus include numerous bonus clauses covering the possibility that Fuentes becomes Oakland’s closer.
Fuentes led the AL with 48 saves for the Angels in 2009, and added 23 saves with Los Angeles last season prior to being dealt to the Twins at the end of August. The Athletics’ incumbent closer is Andrew Bailey, who earned 25 saves in 2010.
Tom Singer

Roundup: An MVP type of day

The reigning Most Valuable Players in both leagues ended Sunday with good news.
The Rangers’ Josh Hamilton, the American League winner, was discharged from an Arlington hospital, six days after he was admitted for what was described as an early case of pneumonia. He is expected to be able to resume baseball activities in the near future.
Health is more important than a contract, but Sunday was still a pretty good day for the Reds’ Joey Votto, too. The National League MVP avoided arbitration with a three-year, $38 million deal, pending a physical on Monday.
Hamilton, too, filed for arbitration and is likely to receive a raise from his $3.25 million salary last season by February, when arbitration hearings begin. He has a busy week ahead of him, including appearances at the Rangers Mid-Winter Banquet at the Grapevine Texan Resort on Friday and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America dinner in New York on Saturday.
Elsewhere around the hot stove:
  • The A’s continued a busy offseason — and the revamping of their bullpen — with the pursuit of left-hander Brian Fuentes. Fuentes, 35, recorded 24 saves, a 2.81 ERA last season for the Angels and Twins and is said to be looking for a multi-year deal. Right-hander Grant Balfour, formerly of the Rays, signed with the A’s earlier in the week.
  • A day after it came out that Albert Pujols‘ camp has set a deadline of the start of Spring Training for his contract to be extended, he said little of the situation Sunday at the Cardinals’ annual Winter Warm-Up fan festival. “Let’s set it up and straight,” Pujols said when the topic was first raised. “My agent is talking with Bill [DeWitt, the club’s principal owner] and [general manager John Mozeliak], and let’s leave it up to that. We’ll tell you guys. Whenever we get a deal done, I think everybody’s going to know. And that’s it.”
  • At the same festival, right-hander Ryan Franklin said he wants to continue his career beyond 2011. Franklin, who turns 38 in March, had previously discussed retirement. “If I keep healthy — which I don’t see why I shouldn’t — I don’t see any reason why [I couldn’t continue]. My family’s kind of told me, hey, just keep playing.”
  • The Twins and infielder Alexi Casilla avoided arbitration on a one-year, $865,000 deal for the 26-year-old switch-hitter.
  • The Pirates are to sign 30-year-old right-hander Jose Veras, according to a Twitter report from ESPN Deportes. It’s reportedly a Minor League deal that could see Veras make more than $1 million if he makes the Majors.
— Evan Drellich

Votto agrees to new deal with Reds

This just in — the Reds and Joey Votto have agreed to terms Sunday on a three-year, $38 million contract with 1B Joey Votto, baseball sources told MLB.com. This is pending a physical, which is scheduled for Monday.

This would cover all of Votto’s arbitration years and allow him to reach free agency after the 2013 season — which is when he is first-time eligible.

The Reds have yet to make any announcements. A message was left with GM Walt Jocketty.

— Mark Sheldon

Roundup: A deadline for Pujols

A trio avoided arbitration on Saturday, while Bruce Chen
re-upped with Kansas City and Kyle Farnsworth signed on with the Rays. Most of
those moves, though, paled in comparison to the news of St. Louis’ negotiations
with Albert Pujols.

Pujols, almost certain to be a Hall of Famer, will not
discuss a contract extension
once Spring Training is underway, Cards general
manager John Mozeliak said Saturday.

Mozeliak was told of the deadline by Pujols’ agent Danny
Lozano. St. Louis infielders and outfielders report to camp on Feb. 18 in
Jupiter, Fla.

Pujols, whose 31st birthday is Sunday, is in the
last season of an eight-year deal.

With Zack Greinke out of the mix, Chen returns to the
off a strong 2010 in which he matched Greinke for a team-best ERA among
starters: 4.17. Chen also led the club in wins with 12. The 33-year-old’s
one-year deal is worth $2 million plus incentives and is pending a physical.

The Rays this offseason have seen six relievers
depart via free agency and they recouped some of their losses by bringing in
. The 34-year-old
went 3-2 with a 3.34 ERA in 60 appearances last season with the Royals and
Braves. His deal is for one-year at $3.25 million, and includes a club option
for 2012.

After 119 players filed for arbitration on Friday, four
signed deals on Saturday:

  • Carlos Villanueva and the Blue Jays agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.415 million according to Sports
    Illustrated’s Jon Heyman. The 27-year-old right-hander came over from the
    Brewers via trade in December.
  • Sidearming right-hander Brad Ziegler, 31, agreed to a one-year deal
    with the A’s worth $1.25 million.
  • Phillies outfielder Ben Francisco, 29, is back on a one-year, $1.175 million deal.
  • Right-hander Kyle McClellan, 26, avoided arbitration with St. Louis for an
    undisclosed amount of money.
— Evan Drellich

Spring Training deadline in Pujols talks

Albert Pujols has no interest in continuing contract negotiations once Spring Training starts, general manager John Mozeliak told reporters on Saturday.

Mozeliak said that he had been told by Danny Lozano, Pujols’ agent, that there is a deadline for getting a new deal done.
“We have been notified that Spring Training would be the deadline,” Mozeliak said.
The GM declined to give any further specifics regarding negotiations. Pujols is entering the final year of a contract that will end up paying him $111 million over eight seasons.
–Matthew Leach

Roundup: Thome returns to Twins, helps get Pavano

We are now exactly one month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, but there is offseason work to be done. And several teams were busy on Friday.

The Twins made the most noise with one move, signing Jim Thome to a one-year, $3 million contract that includes performance incentives based on plate appearances. Now, not only do they have a productive, veteran lefty slugger — one who was critical for them while Justin Morneau went down for the final three months of the season — but they may have a nice recruiting chip.

Thome is back, but the Twins still want to resign right-handed starter Carl Pavano, who was big for the Twins rotation behind staff ace Francisco Liriano. Thome, of course, feels the same way. So on Friday, while addressing his own new contract, he said: “Trust me, when I get off the phone with you [reporters], I will definitely be recruiting him and be sending him some text messages.”

General manager Paul Smith said the Twins are continuing in their negotiations with Pavano’s representation and hope to get a decision one way or another next week. Bringing back Thome certaintly can’t hurt their chances.

Here’s more from around the league Friday…

* The Athletics beefed up a bullpen that was already brimming with talented young arms, signing righty Grant Balfour to a two-year deal
with a third-year club option. According to The Associated Press,
Balfour is guaranteed $3.75 million in 2011 and $4 million in 2012.

* The Royals helped their thin rotation, signing left-hander Jeff Francis to a one-year contract that’s worth $2 million and includes performance bonuses.

* The Nationals introduced first baseman Adam LaRoche at a Friday afternoon

news conference at Nationals Park. It came after the two sides agreed
to terms a two-year deal worth about $16 million last week.

* The Mets and Cardinals dished out a few interesting Minor League contracts. New York inked Willie Harris, who’s all but guaranteed to be the backup outfielder and get somewhere between 250 and 400 plate appearances. St. Louis, meanwhile, brought in right-handers Miguel Batista and Ian Snell.

— Alden Gonzalez   

Twins bring back Thome

The Twins have resigned Jim Thome to a one-year contract, the club announced Friday. The deal is worth $3 million plus performance bonuses based on plate appearances.

The 40-year-old lefty slugger batted .283 with a .412 on-base percentage and 25 homers in 108 games last year. Thanks in large part to Thome’s production, the Twins became the first team to clinch a division title, even though their biggest run producer, Justin Morneau, didn’t play past July 7 because of a concussion.

For his 20-year career, Thome is a five-time All-Star with a .278 batting average, 589 home runs and 2,216 hits.

— Alden Gonzalez, Kelly Thesier