June 2012

Lee says he’ll decide by Sunday whether to accept trade

Astros first baseman Carlos Lee expects to make a decision by Sunday whether he’ll accept a proposed trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After going 0-for-4 and hitting into a double play in the Astros’ 3-2 loss to the Cubs on Saturday afternoon at Wrigley Field, Lee admitted the weight of trying to decide whether to accept the trade to the Dodgers or stay in Houston has been difficult.

“That’s why I’ll probably decide by tomorrow. Either I’m going or not,” he said. “I’m going to sit down and talk to my wife tonight.”

Lee said prior to the game he was briefed by general manager Jeff Luhnow about the situation earlier in the day. Lee has a limited no-trade clause and said he would have to approve a trade to the Dodgers.

“I met with Jeff this morning and he told me what’s going on and let’s see what happens,” Lee said.

Lee did confirm the Dodgers have made an offer for the 36-year slugger who was hitting .285 with five homers and 29 RBIs this year. His power numbers have dropped off dramatically – he hasn’t any homers on the road – from earlier in his career, but he’s struck out only 17 times in 242 at-bats and could flourish in a better lineup.

“L.A. has made an offer,” Lee said. “I just told Jeff I want to see my options. I just want to wait and see what my options are.”

Luhnow said Saturday he has a policy not to discuss trades.

“The information you guys have learned from Carlos, that’s fine,” he said. “But I’m not going to add anything to that at this point.”

Brian McTaggart

 

Lee mulling whether to accept trade to Dodgers

Astros first baseman Carlos Lee said Saturday he’s mulling whether to accept a trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Lee, upon arrival at Wrigley Field for a game against the Cubs, said he was brief by general manager Jeff Luhnow about the situation earlier in the day. Lee has a limited no-trade clause and said he would have to approve a trade to the Dodgers.

“I met with Jeff this  morning and he told me what’s going on and let’s see what happens,” Lee said.

Lee did confirm the Dodgers have made an offer for the 36-year slugger who’s hitting .290 with five homers and 29 RBIs this year.

“L.A. has made an offer,” he said. “I just told Jeff I want to see my options. I just want to wait and see what my options are.”

Lee, who’s in the final year of a six-year, $100-million contract that has about $9 million left this season, said he wasn’t given a deadline from the Astros to make a decision. He’s got deep business ties in Texas and owns and operates a large ranch not far from Houston.

“We’ll see how it plays out,” he said.

When asked if he’d like to finish out the season in Houston or go to a contending club, Lee said that will weigh into his decision

“That’s one of the things I have to think about,” he said. “There ain’t much I can tell you right now.”

Brian McTaggart

Report: Dodgers pursuing Lowrie

The Dodgers are talking to the Astros about a trade that would send shortstop Jed Lowrie to Los Angeles in exchange for Minor League pitchers Zach Lee and Garrett Gould, ESPN’s Buster Olney reported. Olney wrote via Twitter the chances of a deal going through is about 50-50.

Lowrie, who began the season on the disabled list with a sprained right thumb, has been nothing short of spectacular for the Astros and has put himself into consideration to be chosen as a reserve for the National League in next month’s All-Star Game.

Lowrie leads the team and leads all Major League shortstops with 14 home runs, which is tied for the second-highest total by an Astros shortstop in team history. Through 68 games he was batting .262 with 33 RBIs. Unless he gets hurt or traded, he appears to be a shoo-in to break the single-season club record for homers by a shortstop (Dickie Thon hit 20 in 1983).

– Brian McTaggart

Dodgers Showcasing Zach Lee for Carlos Lee?

When the Dodgers finally lock in on a hitter to acquire, the most likely prospect they will move in return is former first-round pick Zach Lee, even though they spent $5.25 million to buy him away from an LSU quarterback job. The pitcher other clubs will initially ask for is Nathan Eovaldi, but he’s essentially untouchable. Lee was just promoted to Double-A and his feel for pitching could get him to the Major Leagues quickly, but he hasn’t shown the dominant stuff to put him in a Clayton Kershaw category. The Dodgers don’t have many of the kind of top prospects it will take to land the kind of impact players they need. Among the names on their radar are Billy Butler, Michael Cuddyer, Todd Helton, Chase Headley and starting pitchers Ryan Dempster, Zach Greinke and Matt Garza. Because of their lack of top-shelf prospects, the Dodgers might find their best acquisition to be somebody’s bad contract. As they showed with the signing of Cuban Yasel Puig, they now have the money to overpay.

According to Fox Sports, the Dodgers could use Lee in a trade for Houston’s Carlos Lee, who would take over first base for James Loney. Lee would need to approve a trade to the Dodgers. — Ken Gurnick

Mets on the prowl for bullpen help

Though the Mets are still feeling out their own roster before deciding what to do at the Trade Deadline, it’s clear that the top priority here is bullpen help. Despite the offseason acquisitions of Frank Francisco (who is injured), Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez, the bullpen still ranks last in baseball by a significant margin.

Buster Olney indicated Thursday on Twitter that the Mets could be a match for A’s reliever Grant Balfour, which would make sense. The Mets are not going to pay enormous sums of money or prospects to acquire a reliever, but someone such as Balfour could potentially provide a decent return without the Mets having to give up any of their top prospects or take on significant salary.

But with many teams still in legitimate playoff contention and the market for relievers consequently developing slowly, the Mets are not likely to swing a trade until after the All-Star break.

–Anthony DiComo

Cashman: Yankees looking for answers from within

The Yankees were hit with a double-whammy of injuries to left-handers CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte on Wednesday, but general manager Brian Cashman said that his preference is to search for answers within the organization before burning up the telephone lines.

Sabathia (left groin strain) is expected to return to the Yankees after the All-Star break, missing two starts, but Pettitte (fractured left ankle) is expected to miss six to eight weeks.

“I would prefer not to go outside,” Cashman said. “Obviously if we do go outside, we’ve done that before. This is part of the process. You have to have alternatives; this gives opportunities for people to step up. Just like some guys in the bullpen have allowed us to step up and withstand some injuries – that’s what Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and [Cody] Eppley have done – we’re going to have to ask for some other guys to do that for the rotation, as well. Let’s play it out and see where it takes us.”

The Yankees have already assigned starts to Adam Warren and Freddy Garcia, and Cashman said that David Phelps could soon be promoted from Class-A Tampa, where he is building back into a starter. Phelps threw 55 pitches in his last outing at Class-A and could throw 65 to 70 pitches next time.

“Everybody’s dealing with a lot of stuff,” Cashman said. “You’ve just got to deal with it. If you want to be the best, you have to deal with it. Hopefully we’ll be capable of dealing with it.”

- Bryan Hoch

Braves’ Wish List Starts with Greinke

The Braves will keep their starting rotation in place with the intention of spending the next two weeks determining how aggressive they should be leading up to the Trade Deadline.   Barring a drastic change during this period, they will enter the All-Star break interested in the potential to land Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke via a trade and then sign him before he would be eligible to hit the free agent market at the end of this season.

With Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson currently standing as the only reliable assets in their starting rotation, the Braves will likely make landing a starting pitcher a priority before the Trade Deadline.  Greinke, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster and Edinson Volquez would be among their potential targets.

But if the Braves reach a point where they are committed to land a starting pitcher they will target Greinke, who would be the top-of-the-rotation asset that could capably replace the injured Brandon Beachy and have the ability to compete in a postseason setting.

The Braves would like to avoid giving up the prospects that would be required to land Greinke.  But they will likely be tempted to do so unless Jair Jurrjens spends the next couple of weeks proving last Friday’s  start against the Red Sox was not a fluke.

But even if the Braves enter the break confident that Hudson, Hanson and Jurrjens will solidify the front end of their rotation for the remainder of the year, they still might be tempted to add another veteran presence to their rotation.

If the Brewers opt to trade Greinke, the Braves’ interest would hinge on being able to lock the former Cy Young Award winner up with a long-term contract.  They are not interested in landing the right-hander to be a two-month rental.  Under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, they would no longer be eligible to receive draft pick compensation if he exited as a free agent after this season.

This means the Braves would likely have to be willing to offer something similar to the contract recently signed by Matt Cain, who will be guaranteed $112.5 million over the course of the next five seasons (2013-17).

Though the Braves do not have much payroll flexibility this year, they have already discussed the potential of using the money budgeted for 2013 to address their needs via the trade market this year.

With Chipper Jones ($14 million), Derek Lowe ($15 million), Michael Bourn ($6.84 million) among those coming off of the payroll at the end of this year, the Braves will have some money to play with this winter.  But some of these funds will be needed to either re-sign Bourn or acquire at least one more outfielder.    –  Mark Bowman

Let the Greinke trade rumors begin

CINCINNATI – The July 31 nonwaiver Trade Deadline is more than a month away, and teams are probably weeks away from making the first significant swaps, but the Zack Greinke trade rumors are already starting to fly.

FoxSports.com on Tuesday spoke to two rival executives who expect the Brewers to trade Greinke, a free agent-to-be, if they cannot sign him to a long-term contract by the deadline.

The Brewers were in direct talks with Greinke about an extension, but those discussions cooled when Matt Cain signed a $127.5 million extension with the Giants on the same day Greinke re-hired agent Casey Close. Since then, Melvin has not discussed publicly any negotiations, if any exist.

“We’ve got to make a decision on what we’re doing overall,” Melvin told FoxSports.com. “We’re hoping we can put a good week together. If we don’t, we’ve got to be prepared to go both ways. A lot more clubs are starting to call now. Clubs are calling on different players.”

Speaking specifically about the prospect of trading Greinke, Melvin told the website, “I haven’t sat down with ownership. I haven’t talked to any club yet to say, ‘Give names.’ I haven’t had that conversation.”

Greinke is 8-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 15 starts, including a no-decision against the White Sox on Friday in which he pitched nine scoreless innings. Greinke will start again on Wednesday against the Reds.

Keep an eye on the Brewers as the Trade Deadline nears. They entered Tuesday 7 1/2 games behind the National League Central-leading Reds and have some interesting potential pieces to move. Besides Greinke, due to hit the market are starter Shaun Marcum and reliever Francisco Rodriguez, plus starter Randy Wolf if the Brewers decline his $10 million option.

– Adam McCalvy

Rangers will look to upgrade bench

The Rangers will look for bench help leading up to the Trade Deadline. The Rangers have been hit hard by injuries on the pitching staff but believe Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, Neftali Feliz and Koji Uehara will be back before the Deadline. The Rangers are looking for either utility help or a bat off the bench.

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