January 2012

Reports: Red Sox have made offers to Oswalt, Jackson

The two most alluring starting pitchers who still remain free agents have both received offers from the Red Sox, according to reports Wednesday.

Roy Oswalt’s received a “significant” offer according to CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler, while Jim Bowden of ESPN reported via Twitter that the Sox have made an offer to Edwin Jackson, whom Bowden cited a source as saying they prefer over Oswalt.

Oswalt was limited by back problems last year, so Jackson could be viewed as a more “sure” thing, at least in terms of innings. Oswalt is also reportedly being selective with possible destinations, turning down an offer from the Tigers.

– Evan Drellich

Marlins primed to bid on Cespedes

Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes is on the verge of becoming a free agent, and the Marlins are expected to make a strong push for the 26-year-old outfielder.

Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic, which had kept him in a holding pattern for months. Now, the outfielder is awaiting approval from Major League Baseball to be declared a free agent.

Recently, Cespedes said the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers and Indians had expressed the most interest.

The Marlins are on record saying they believe Cespedes’ best fit is in Miami, with its strong Cuban community.

The Marlins are prepared to make a substantial offer — between four and six years — for the power-hitting outfielder.

There is a feeling within the organization that another impact bat is needed to reach the postseason, and Cespedes is a five-tool player.

The Marlins also feel Cespedes can handle center field, but some wonder if that is his best position. Because of his size, he may profile more as a corner outfielder. But he has the speed to play all three positions.

In recent weeks, Cespedes got some game experience while playing with Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League. He showed glimpses of his power, but he’s also rusty.

If he signs with Miami, he certainly would get a strong look in Spring Training, but chances are he would open the season at either Triple-A New Orleans or Double-A Jacksonville.

Emilio Bonifacio would then be the frontrunner to start in center field.

What would it mean for the rest of the Miami roster if Cespedes signs? Logan Morrison is slated for left field, and Mike Stanton is an anchor in right.

The way the Marlins are looking at it is, you can’t have enough elite talent.

The team fell apart last year, in part, because of injuries and lack of depth.

When Spring Training gets underway, the Marlins right now will be monitoring several players who are returning from surgeries. Morrison had his right knee scoped in November, and Chris Coghlan (another outfield candidate) had his left knee scoped in the same month. Both should be ready for Spring Training, but they likely will be eased into action.

Hanley Ramirez is coming off left shoulder surgery. The expectation is for Ramirez to be ready for Opening Day, so his playing time will likely be reduced in Grapefruit League games.

If Ramirez has any setbacks, Bonifacio may wind up at third base in the short term.

Even shortstop will be watched closely.

Jose Reyes has had hamstring issues in the past. Should he need a breather, Bonifacio or Ramirez could see some time at shortstop.

Say everyone is healthy, and Cespedes wins the center field job for Opening Day, Bonifacio then could go back to being a super utility player.

The bottom line is the Marlins feel they would be a more rounded and deeper team with Cespedes.

Joe Frisaro

 

 

Cespedes gains residency in the DR

The bidding is about to begin.

Cuban outfield prospect Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic and is now waiting on approval from Major League Baseball to be declared a free agent, his representative Edgar Mercedes said.

Cespedes, who just finished a stint with Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League, recently said the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers, and Indians have expressed the most interest in signing him. He is expected to command a contract greater than the one received by Cuban left-handed pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who signed a six-year, $30.25 million deal with the Reds in January 2010.

Cespedes hit .333 with 33 home runs, 99 RBIs and 11 stolen bases over 90 games in Cuba during the 2010-11 season, and many believe he can be inserted into the 2012 Opening Day starting lineup for the team that signs him.

 He hit .143 with one home run and 10 strikeouts in 35 at-bats for the Aguilas.

– Jesse Sanchez

Yankees could trade for a DH

In a conference call with reporters discussing the Michael Pineda trade, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he’d be more inclined to trade from his pitching depth to acquire a designated hitter than to sign one on the open free agent market.

When the Yankees officially announce the signing of right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, they’ll have seven starters vying for five spots. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Pineda, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Freddy Garcia are also in that mix. 

“Maybe I use our excess pitching to find a bat,” Cashman said. “That’s a possibility. … We stretched the payroll to get (Kuroda) done, so I’m not sure what we have financially. I think we’ll look at the trade market first and foremost and see where that takes us.”

Among the DH options out there, the Yankees have reportedly heard from Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero and Raul Ibanez, but are not thought to consider any of them an urgent priority. 

- Bryan Hoch

Angels still in the mix to land Cordero

Free-agent closer Francisco Cordero expects to pick a team by the end of this week, and the Angels are one of four finalists for his services, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told MLB.com.

The identity of the other three clubs is not known at this point, but one of the four, the source said, is a championship-contending team looking to slot him in the eighth inning. That may be the Phillies, which could use a setup man for the recently signed Jonathan Papelbon. The Orioles have also reportedly been in touch. The Rays, which have a need in the ninth inning, are not one of those other three clubs, however.

At this point in the offseason, with the closer’s market dried up and a return to the Reds seemingly not possible, Cordero is open to signing a one-year deal, which would be huge for an Angels club that has already inked Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson to long-term deals this offseason and doesn’t have much money to spend.

In Anaheim, Cordero would supplant 24-year-old Jordan Walden, who finished last year with a 2.98 ERA and 32 saves but fell off in September. Cordero, 36, is a three-time All-Star with a career 3.17 ERA and 327 saves. Last year with the Reds, he posted a 2.45 ERA and a 1.019 WHIP, and converted 37 of his 43 save chances.

The market for Cordero has taken a while to develop, mostly because teams figured a return to Cincinnati was a foregone conclusion. Once Ryan Madson signed a bargain-rate one-year, $8.5 million deal to be the Reds’ closer, though, interest around the league intensified.

The Angels were one of the first teams to reach out to Cordero’s representative, Bean Stringfellow, and have been in touch throughout the offseason, according to a source. They’ve also been in touch with right-handed reliever Luis Ayala.

– Alden Gonzalez 

Reds add Harris

The Reds agreed to terms with utility player Willie Harris on a Minor League contract, two sources confirmed to MLB.com on Monday.

Harris, who will be invited to camp as a non-roster player, can earn an $800,000 base salary if he makes the club and his overall salary can reach $1 million with incentives.

Last season with the Mets, Harris batted .246 with a .351 on-base percentage, two home runs and 23 RBIs in 126 games while earning $800,000. A left-handed hitter that has played 11 big league seasons for the Orioles, White Sox, Braves, Nationals and Mets, Harris is a lifetime .240 hitter with a .330 OBP.

– Mark Sheldon

Rangers among teams interested in Cuban pitcher Gerardo Concepcion

Free agent pitcher Gerardo Concepcion worked out for the Rangers in front of a contingent that included owner Nolan Ryan at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic on Monday and the club is among the favorites to sign the Cuban left-hander.

The Rangers, Yankees, Cubs and White Sox have expressed the most interest in signing the left-hander, according Concepcion’s agent Jaime Torres. The Marlins, Phillies, Giants, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Royals have also shown interest.

Concepcion has one offer on the table and is expected to sign a Major League contract during the next two weeks, the agent said.

“Everything is great. I really don’t know how to describe it,” Concepcion, 18, said by phone from the Dominican Republic. “All the training and exercise I have done is paying off. I’ve worked so hard to get here. I’m so happy. It’s like a dream come true.”

Concepcion, who was named Rookie of the Year in the Cuban Serie Nacional in 2010-11 after posting a 10-3 record and a 3.36 ERA in 21 games with Industriales de la Habana, defected from Cuba last June during the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands. He later established residency in Mexico and was declared a free agent last week.

He has been working out in the Dominican Republic and starred in a showcase for Major League scouts on the island last Thursday.

– Jesse Sanchez

Millwood reportedly signs with Mariners

Nine days after making the trade that cleared out Michael Pineda’s spot in their starting rotation, the Mariners have apparently signed a possible replacement in veteran right-hander Kevin Millwood.

News of an agreement between the Mariners and Millwood came via his own family, through a posting on Facebook by his sister Erika. It was subsequently confirmed by CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, who reports that it is a Minor League deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Millwood, who turned 37 on Christmas Eve, last season went 4-3 in nine starts with the Rockies, who returned him to the Majors in mid-August after he had spent most of the year in the Minors in the Yankees and Red Sox organizations.

The Mariners would be the seventh club of Millwood’s career, during which he has compiled a record of 163-140 with a 4.10 ERA. He also has a no-hitter to his credit, against the Giants on April 27, 2003 while with the Phillies.

A two-time 18-game winner with the Braves in 1999 and 2002, Millwood reportedly had a chance to remain in Colorado on a $1 million contract with an additional $1 million in incentives.


– Tom Singer

Ayala now on Angels’ radar

The Angels have expressed interest in free-agent reliever Luis Ayala, a source with knowledge of the situation told MLB.com. Right now, though, it appears they’re one of four clubs interested in giving the 34-year-old right-hander a big league contract, an industry source said.

Ayala signed a Minor League deal with the Yankees last February and had a big bounce-back year, posting a 2.09 ERA and a 1.268 WHIP in 56 innings (spanning 52 appearances). For his big league career, he has a 3.47 ERA and a 1.286 WHIP in seven seasons.

Ayala has been lights out while pitching for the Yaquis de Obregon of the Mexican winter league this offseason, giving up just two earned runs in 19 2/3 innings (good for an ERA of 0.92) while striking out 13 batters and walking four. A report out of Mexico said Ayala was choosing between the Angels and Orioles, but a source said that of Saturday, teams hadn’t begun tendering formal offers.

The Angels signed veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins to a $3 million contract in December and are looking to add more depth to a bullpen that was tied for the American League lead in blown saves last season. Ayala could be drawn to Southern California because of its strong Mexican-American presence and its close proximities to Ayala’s native country.

Alden Gonzalez

Scutaro dealt from Red Sox to Rockies

BOSTON — The Red Sox traded shortstop Marco Scutaro to the Rockies in exchange for right-hander Clayton Mortensen, the clubs announced on Saturday.


Scutaro will be Colorado’s starting second baseman. For the Red Sox, the main motive of the deal was to clear some salary space, so they could add another proven starter to their rotation.


Veteran free agent Roy Oswalt is one intriguing possibility. Edwin Jackson is another candidate on the free-agent market. The White Sox are said to be dangling righty Gavin Floyd in trade talks.


Mortensen is a veteran of three seasons, who has compiled a 4-8 record and 5.12 ERA over 24 appearances (13 starts).


– Ian Browne

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