December 2011

Brewers win posting bid on Aoki

The Brewers won the exclusive negotiating rights to Japanese outfielder Norichika Aoki, after posting a $2.5 million bid for the three-time Central League batting champion. Milwaukee will now have 30 days to sign Aoki or his rights will return to the Yakult Swallows.

The Brewers have not commented on the report or confirmed their status in the Aoki posting.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound left-handed hitter slipped to a .292 average and four homers in 2011, after going for career highs of a .358 average and 209 hits in 2010. He was the 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year, batting .344 in his first full season.

Sherrill reportedly inks deal with Mariners

Left-hander George Sherrill is reportedly set to rejoin the team he broke into the Major Leagues with back in 2004. According to CBS Sports, the reliever has agreed to a deal with the Seattle Mariners, after last pitching for the club in 2007.

The Mariners have not confirmed the report or announced any details of the contract.

Sherrill, 34, spent 2011 with the Braves, posting 3-1 record, 3.00 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 36 innings mostly as a middle reliever. The left-hander spent one and a half seasons with each the Orioles (’08-’09) and Dodgers (’09-’10), compiling a 6-8 record and 52 saves. Sherill went 10-8 with a 3.65 ERA and four saves in four seasons (195 appearances) with the Mariners.

- Jon Star

Reds get Latos in five-player deal with Padres

The Reds acquired right-hander Mat Latos from the Padres Saturday in exchange for right-hander Edinson Volquez and three of the club’s top prospects.

In acquiring Latos, who went 9-14 with a 3.47 ERA and help opponents to a .233 batting average for the Padres last season, the Reds gave up four young players with big upside. Along with Volquez, the Reds also sent infielder Yonder Alonso, right-hander Brad Boxberger and catcher Yasmani Grandal to San Diego.

“Our offseason objective was to try to upgrade our rotation and add a top-of-the-rotation starter, and Mat Latos, of the potential players available, he’s still young at [24] and he’s a power pitcher we think will pitch well in our park,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said on a conference call with reporters. “He’s definitely a top-of-the rotation guy who will slot in well behind [Johnny] Cueto and, in time, will develop into a No. 1 starter.”

Quinn Roberts

Rollins agrees to three-year deal with Phillies

Two sources confirmed an ESPN.com report Saturday that Jimmy Rollins agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract with the Phillies, along with a vesting option for a fourth season that will give him the opportunity to finish his career in Philadelphia.

“I see you all know by now,” Rollins said on his Twitter account @JimmyRollins11. “Gotta deal with me for 3 (4) more years!”

Rollins entered the offseason saying he wanted a five-year contract or a four-year deal with a player option for a fifth season. But the market never materialized as the Milwaukee Brewers signed Alex Gonzalez and the St. Louis Cardinals signed Rafael Furcal.

Quinn Roberts

12/16 Cubs reportedly interested in Maholm

The Cubs are reportedly talking to lefty Paul Maholm’s agent. ESPN.com reported the interest on Friday. Maholm, 29, became a free agent after the Pirates declined to pick up the $9.75 million option on the pitcher’s contract for 2012. A ground ball pitcher, he would be a good fit at Wrigley Field, where Maholm has a career 6-2 record in 11 starts.

– Carrie Muskat

Cubs, Jays, Rangers among Darvish bidders

It’s been a full day since the deadline for teams to submit their posting-fee bids for Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish has passed, and it’s the Blue Jays, Rangers and Cubs who are generating the most buzz.

The Jays are said to have posted between $40 million and $50 million for Darvish, according to the New York Post on Thursday, making the club the favorite to land exclusive negotiating rights for the Japanese right-hander.

Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos had no comment for MLB.com when asked about Darvish, citing club policy, but multiple reports pinned his club, GM Jon Daniels’ Rangers and Theo Epstein’s Cubs as the teams with heavy interest. CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported a rumor that at least one Darvish bid is supposed to be very high, north of $50 million, but he said that was not confirmed

Gio Gonzalez rumors continue to swirl

On Thursday, the list of suitors for Athletics starter Gio Gonzalez was deemed by FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal to essentially look like this: Mets, Mariners, Marlins, Red Sox, Reds, Rangers and Nationals. On Friday, a few more-specific rumors were thrown around regarding the 26-year-old left-hander.

CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman tweeted that the Mets wouldn’t include Jonathan Niese, Ike Davis, Matt Harvey, Jenrry Mejia or Jeurys Familia in a deal for Gonzalez, making it really hard to even fathom them in the race considering the A’s previous demands. Oakland, Heyman added, seeks a huge package for Gonzalez, who’s arbitration-eligible for the first time after combining to go 31-21 with a 3.17 ERA with 368 strikeouts and 183 walks the last two seasons.

The Tigers are only deemed to be on the “outskirts” for Gonzalez, according to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, and the Yankees are unwilling to surrender top prospects Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances, according to Heyman. MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports that the Nationals are “all but out” on Gonzalez because of that asking price.

The Rangers, however, could be in play, considering they have top prospect Mike Olt and the A’s are looking for a future third baseman, notes FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi. However, as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney says, 20-year-old Rangers lefty Martin Perez would “almost have to be” included in a deal between the A’s and Rangers.

For now, the situation remains awfully fluid.

And it should gain a lot more steam once the Yu Darvish situation is settled.

– Alden Gonzalez 

Marlins seeking starting pitching

MIAMI — Already, the Marlins have made significant upgrades with the free agent signings of Jose Reyes, Heath Bell and Mark Buehrle.

What’s next?

Speculation remains that Miami has interest in slugger Prince Fielder. That’s not the case.

The organization is focusing its attention on bringing in more starting pitching. They’d like to add another veteran, mostly likely through a trade.

Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez is high on the list. But the asking price also is high. So it’s a matter of how comfortable the club is parting with players already on their big league roster, along with prospects.

Lefty Joe Saunders is on the market, but he doesn’t appear to be a fit.

Joe Frisaro

 

12/16 Sveum on Prince: “It’s the media talking”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday he hasn’t been asked to recruit Prince Fielder and denied that the team was involved in the free agent slugger.

“At this point, I think it’s a lot of media talking more than us doing anything,” Sveum said Friday. “We haven’t had any talks with Prince and I haven’t had any conversations with him. It’s more the media and other people bringing this to the table than what we’re doing. We haven’t initiated any kind of contact at all. That’s the media bringing it out right now.”

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Friday the Cubs and Mariners were believed to be involved in talks with Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras. However, Rosenthal noted the Cubs were unlikely to give Fielder a 10-year contract, which is what the first baseman is reportedly seeking.

– Carrie Muskat

Rox, Cuddyer reach three-year, $31.5 million agreement

The Rockies are putting the final touches on a three-year signing of outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a three-year, $31.5 million contract, a Major League source confirmed to MLB.com on Friday morning.

The right-handed hitting Cuddyer, 32, hit .284 with 20 home runs and 70 RBIs for the Twins last season. He has hit at least 20 homers three times in his career, including a career-high 32 in 2009. In 1,139 career games, all with the Twins, Cuddyer is a .272 hitter with 141 homers and 580 RBIs.

Cuddyer figures to fit in the lineup in left field, but also could move to first base on days Todd Helton is not in the lineup. The Rockies could use him in the No. 5 spot behind shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, or at No. 6 if the Rockies want the left-handed hitting Todd Helton to continue to bat behind Tulowitzki.

The Rockies also were looking to re-make the flavor of the clubhouse, after finishing 73-89 last season and not showing the toughness that had become a trademark of the club in recent seasons. The team has added a pair of veterans via free agency – catcher Ramon Hernandez for two years and $6.4 million, and Cuddyer.

The Rockies still aren’t likely to be done with building the 2012 roster. Left-handed hitting left fielder Seth Smith is the team’s main trading chip, who figures to be supplanted by Cuddyer, is the team’s main chip in attempts to deal to fill other holes. A key one is the need for a starting pitcher capable of 200 innings, with left-hander Jorge De La Rosa having to come back from Tommy John elbow surgery and out until sometime around June .

The Rockies rid themselves of $7 million in salary by dealing relief pitcher Huston Street to the Padres and further trimming the payroll of a projected $2.6 million when they sent arbitration-eligible third baseman Ian Stewart to the Cubs as part of a four-player trade, the Rockies achieved enough payroll relief to make an offer to an outfielder.

But signing Cuddyer means the Rockies will not be able to continue to pursue Hiroki Kuroda, a right-hander reportedly looking for a one-year deal in the $13 million range.

The Rockies began pursuing Cuddyer early in the free-agency period, but needed the market to fall into place. That occurred on Tuesday, when news surfaced that outfielder Josh Willingham moved toward accepting an offer from the Twins. The original thought Twins were not going to sign both players, but the Twins remained in the running.

According to reports, the Phillies and Mariners were still trying to sign Cuddyer as of Thursday.

– Thomas Harding

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