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.
- 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.
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
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
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
Royals 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
Farnsworth. 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
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.
Albert Pujols has no interest in continuing contract negotiations once Spring Training starts, general manager John Mozeliak told reporters on Saturday.
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
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
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
The Royals and Jeff Francis have agreed to terms on a one-year contract, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reported via Twitter on Friday. Francis, whose deal is reportedly pending a physical, is expected to join Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies, Vin Mazzaro and Sean O’Sullivan in Kansas City’s starting rotation.
The 30-year-old left-hander went 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) for the Rockies in 2010, before Colorado declined its $7 million 2011 option on him in November.
Francis led the Rockies to their only World Series appearance in 2007 by winning a then-franchise record-tying 17 games. He then missed the 2009 season because of shoulder surgery.
The Rockies’ No. 9 overall Draft choice in 2002 is 55-50 with a 4.77 ERA and a 2.10 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 150 games (149 starts) through his six-year career.
– Alden Gonzalez
Jay Gibbons, tentatively penciled in as the Dodgers left fielder, said the blurriness that brought him home from winter ball in Venezuela is no big deal.
“At the very worst, I just wear glasses again,” said Gibbons, who won a big-league roster spot for 2011 after slugging five homers in 37 games after an early August call-up last year. “It should be fine.”
Gibbons had laser surgery several years ago and another procedure before leaving for Venezuela. – Ken Gurnick