MLB offseason buzz: Nov. 15-21

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The World Series may still be fresh in your mind, but MLB GMs are already focusing on next season. Thankfully, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi have all the latest gossip and buzz. Note: All times listed are ET. Latest free agency news and notes | November 12-14 | GM meetings coverage: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

News and notes: Nov. 15-21

Saturday, Nov. 21

Indians not likely to deal Wood in offseason — 8:52 p.m.

The Indians are in no rush to trade closer Kerry Wood. In fact, they probably will not trade him this offseason. To move Wood, the Indians likely would need to pay a significant chunk of his $10.5 million salary. Even then, so many late-inning relievers are available on the free-agent market the team probably would not receive top prospects in return. Better the Indians should open the season with Wood, then trade him in June or July if they fall out of contention. At that point, Wood would be owed only one-third to half of his salary. The demand likely would be higher. The Indians could make a better deal. There is one caveat: Interested clubs might balk at Wood's $11 million club option for 2011, which will become guaranteed if he finishes 55 games next season. He finished 50 last season.

Friday, Nov. 20

Teahen's flexibility gives ChiSox options

When the White Sox traded for Mark Teahen, they said he would play third base. But as they pursue other players, Teahen's flexibility gives them options. The White Sox, major-league sources say, are considering a wide variety of possibilities, knowing they can move Teahen to first base or right field. Sox GM Ken Williams, however, said Friday that he "loves Teahen at third", adding that while he will never say never to possible adjustments, he remains committed to his original plan. Still, offseason plans are subject to change. If, for example, the White Sox add a third baseman, Teahen could replace free agent Jermaine Dye in right. The same goes if they add a second baseman; Gordon Beckham could stay at third. Finally, Teahen could take over at first if the White Sox trade Paul Konerko or make him a designated hitter. "His preference obviously is to play third base — that's where he is most comfortable," said Teahen's agent, Jeff Berry. "(But) he does bring flexibility to any team."

Boras fielding plenty of offers already — 1:48 p.m.

Scott Boras said business has been brisk for him on Opening Day of the free agent season. Boras told that he's already fielded offers for eight players. "This is a very healthy industry," he said. "A lot of teams are trying to get better. "Every club has the wherewithal to sign premium free agents, because of the money they receive from central baseball and revenue sharing." Boras declined to say which players received the offers, but he said interest has been strong in reliever Mike Gonzalez and third baseman Adrian Beltre.

Would Yanks pass up Holliday, Bay for Crawford? — 12:00 p.m.

Two years ago, the Yankees held off trading for left-hander Johan Santana so they could wait for CC Sabathia to hit the free-agent market the following winter. Might they take the same strategy this offseason, bypassing free-agent outfielders Matt Holliday and Jason Bay in order to wait one more year for Rays left fielder Carl Crawford? The Yankees might not be thinking that far ahead, but Crawford could be available for them at the right time. Say the Yankees re-signed Johnny Damon to a two-year deal and lost their other big free-agent bat, Hideki Matsui. Crawford could take over for Damon in left in 2011, with Damon getting more at-bats at DH. Of course, the Yankees would face competition for Crawford; White Sox general manager Ken Williams loves him, the Angels undoubtedly would see him as a perfect fit, and the Astros would love to bring him home to Houston. And those are just three teams. Then again, the Yankees generally get the players they want. Crawford will be only 29 when he hits the open market. For a team seeking to get younger and more athletic, he would be an ideal choice.

Cards GM gives glimpse of team's plans — 11;40 a.m.

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week that he would not pursue free-agent left fielder Jason Bay if the team fails to retain Matt Holliday. Now scratch another option off the Cardinals' list — moving second baseman Skip Schumaker back to the outfield and signing a free-agent second baseman such as Albert Pujols' good friend, former Cardinal Placido Polanco. Mozeliak said Friday that it was "unlikely" that the Cardinals would go with Schumaker as a possible replacement for Holliday. The GM did not need to elaborate; Schumaker profiles below-average offensively as a corner outfielder. If the Cardinals lose Holliday, they could shift their focus to starting pitching and/or third base; they are willing to go young at third or in left field, but not both. Thus, the signing of Holliday would make it more likely that the Cardinals could open the season with rookie David Freese at third base. Otherwise, they could sign or trade for a veteran. For the record, Polanco has played 322 career games at third, but none since 2005.

Thursday, Nov. 19

M's might move Lopez to first — 11:55 p.m.

Could Jose Lopez be the Mariners' first baseman in 2010? The possibility hasn't been ruled out. "It's too early to lock anything in," general manager Jack Zduriencik said Thursday. Lopez has been Seattle's primary second baseman since midway through the 2005 season. He said earlier this year that he would like to remain there. But he committed 15 errors at the position in 2009, and his range is below average. Lopez has made 29 starts at first base in the major leagues, according to With first baseman Russell Branyan set to hit the open market — and Ken Griffey Jr. capable of serving as the designated hitter — the Mariners could upgrade their infield defense by shifting Lopez to first base and finding a new second baseman. Fortunately for them, the Gold Glove Award winners in both leagues — Placido Polanco (Tigers) and Orlando Hudson (Dodgers) — are available on the free agent market. Shortstop Jack Wilson, recently signed to a two-year extension, is a superb defender when healthy. Third baseman Adrian Beltre, who won a Gold Glove in 2007 and 2008, is a free agent. For the moment, a decision on where Lopez fits into the right side of the infield will have to wait. "All options are left open at this time," Zduriencik said. "It is one that we could talk about."

D-backs acquire reliever Heilman from Cubs — 5:12 p.m.

The Cubs have traded righty reliever Aaron Heilman to the Diamondbacks for minor-league left-hander Scott Maine and infielder Ryne White. Heilman went 4-4 with a 4.11 ERA and one save for the Cubs last season.

Owner: Angels not interested in Holliday — UPDATED 3:18 p.m.

Angels owner Arte Moreno said today that he could envision his team pursuing Jason Bay — but not Matt Holliday — in the event that his team's prominent free agents sign elsewhere. "We are not looking at Holliday at all," Moreno said. "He is not going to be an Angel." As for Bay, the owner said, "You have to look at Bay. It's a great bat. (He) has great makeup." Moreno estimated on Thursday that he has roughly $12 million to spend on improving the club. If Bay is willing to take a back-loaded contract, it's possible that the Angels could afford him. Moreno said he would like to bring back John Lackey, Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero but acknowledged that it's unlikely the Angels can afford all three.

Yankees pitching plan is unclear — 2:14 p.m.

There are a number of ways for the World Series champion Yankees to address their starting pitching. One would be to sign a free agent such as right-hander John Lackey or trade for an ace such as Blue Jays righty Roy Halladay. Another would be to strengthen the bullpen, allowing right-handers Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain to return to the rotation. The Yankees' direction, at this early stage of the offseason, is not clear. The team, according to one rival executive, plans to pursue free-agent relievers Rafael Soriano, a right-hander, and Mike Gonzalez, a lefty. The Yankees have liked both pitchers in the past. However, another source with knowledge of the Yankees' thinking says the team prefers to address any bullpen holes from within, using the same strategy that they employed successfully last season. Yankees officials spent this week in organizational meetings.

Dodgers still "full steam ahead" — 1:36 p.m.

Dodgers COO Dennis Mannion said economic factors are "too fluid" for the team to establish a firm payroll figure for 2010. Mannion said the McCourt divorce hasn't affected planning. "We're full steam ahead on every front," Mannion said.

Cards optimistic on Holliday — 2:06 a.m.

Once the free agent market opens in earnest Friday, we could learn quickly whether the Cardinals will be able to make a competitive bid to keep free agent slugger Matt Holliday.
Holliday is expected to draw widespread interest, and a number of teams with payrolls larger than that of the Cardinals are likely to be involved. For now, though, club president Bill DeWitt III remains optimistic. "Like any club, you have to set your budget and make sure you live within it," DeWitt said in a telephone interview with "As it relates to Matt, we have an internal sense of what we can do. Hopefully, he'll view that as enough. "The process has to play itself out. There's no point in getting into the posturing that seems to be going on out there a little. We're trying to keep him. We love Matt. We're trying to get him signed. If not, we'll move on to a Plan B." The Cardinals began this season with an $88.5 million payroll, according to USA Today salary data, before that figure increased with the acquisitions of Holliday and Mark De Rosa. DeWitt said he's not certain yet what the team's 2010 payroll will be. But he added that the Cardinals' revenue and payroll each tend to rank around No. 10 in the major leagues.

Wednesday, Nov. 18

Washburn could draw big interest — 12:37 p.m

Jarrod Washburn was one of the most coveted starting pitchers on this year's midseason trade market, before the Mariners dealt him to the Tigers. But he was a disappointment in Detroit, going 1-3 with a 7.33 ERA in eight starts. Only later did we learn that a painful left knee — one that required surgery in October — was largely to blame. Now, the 35-year-old left-hander feels healthy. And if teams believe he's capable of replicating this year's first-half success — 6-6, 2.96 ERA — Washburn could become one of the more attractive free agent pitching options this winter. "The surgery on the knee wasn't real extensive," Washburn told in a Wednesday e-mail. "Dr. (Lewis) Yocum said he didn't have to do too much in there — just a little cleaning up. "It feels great now, almost like I didn't even have a surgery. So, I don't see it being a problem for me in the future." Tigers club president/general manager Dave Dombrowski has told reporters that he doesn't plan to offer Washburn a 2010 contract. At the moment, possible destinations for Washburn include Seattle, Minnesota and Milwaukee. Washburn senses there is "mutual interest" in a return to the Mariners. "Not saying it will happen, but I know I enjoyed my time there, my wife and kids loved it there, and I think they have some interest," Washburn said. "So, I see that as a possibility." Minnesota and Milwaukee would both like to add veteran pitching. For Washburn, they hold the additional appeal of being located relatively close to his offseason home in Webster, Wis. "The Twins and Brewers are both on the radar for me," Washburn said. "The thought of playing close to home has always appealed to me, and I think both of those teams would be good fits for me. "I don't know yet if either of those teams have mutual interest, but we will see."

Source: Phils favorite for DeRosa — 5:38 a.m.

Of the dozen or so teams that have expressed interest in free-agent infielder Mark DeRosa, the Phillies loom as the favorite, according to a major-league source. DeRosa attended the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. His hard-nosed style would fit that of the two-time defending National League champions. And his price range might be realistic for the Phillies, too. The Phillies, who declined their $5 million club option on Pedro Feliz, want to spend between $4 million and $6 million on a third baseman, a second source said. DeRosa, 34, is coming off a much lower salary ($5.5 million) than two other prominent free-agent candidates at third, Miguel Tejada ($13 million) and Adrian Beltre ($12 million). The Phillies considered DeRosa before the 2007 season, but opted for Wes Helms in free agency instead. The Mariners could be another possibility for DeRosa, who played for the M's manager, Don Wakamatsu, when Wakamatsu was the bench coach for the Rangers. The concern with DeRosa is that he underwent surgery in late October to repair a torn tendon sheath on his left wrist. However, he is expected to be ready for baseball activities by spring training.

Tuesday, Nov. 17

Sources: Mets hire bench coach — 9:13 p.m.

Dave Jauss is the Mets' new bench coach, according to major-league sources. An announcement is expected Wednesday or Thursday. Jauss, 52, previously has worked as a bench coach for three teams — the Red Sox, Dodgers and Orioles. Full story ...

Yomiuri Giants pitcher seeks Major League contract — 5:35 p.m.

Japanese pitcher Hisanori Takahashi announced Tuesday in Tokyo that he has elected free agency, making him eligible to sign with any Major League team. The 34-year old has spent his entire 10-year career with the Yomiuri Giants of the Japanese Central League. His 10 years of service make him an unrestricted free agent. In 2009, Takahashi posted a 10-6 record with a 2.94 ERA in 25 starts, leading the Giants to their third consecutive Central League Championship. For his career, Takahashi has a 79-66 record, with a 3.70 ERA and 15 saves. "It has always been my dream to pitch in the Major Leagues," said Takahashi, "I made my decision because I believe I can succeed." Takahashi's agent will be Peter E. Greenberg, who also represents Jose Reyes, Bobby Abreu and Johan Santana, among others.

Several teams show interest in Smoltz — 4:27 p.m.

The Cardinals, Dodgers, Mets and Mariners are among the teams that have expressed preliminary interest in free-agent right-hander John Smoltz, according to a major-league source. Smoltz, 42, is open to starting or relieving, and some teams have inquired about him as a closer, the source said. The Astros, Rangers and Orioles also have shown interest in the 22-year veteran. The Dodgers represent a potentially intriguing fit — the team wants to add veteran starting pitching as it braces for the potential losses of free-agent left-hander Randy Wolf and right-handers Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland. Dodger Stadium is pitcher-friendly, as are the Mets and Mariners' home parks. Smoltz likely would prefer to stay in the N.L. — he went 2-5 with an 8.32 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox last season before going 1-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts for the Cardinals.

Shortstop Scutaro open to staying with Jays — 2:10 p.m.

Teams are inquiring about free agent Marco Scutaro not just as a shortstop, but also as a second baseman, according to his agent, Peter Greenberg. One team even asked if Scutaro would consider moving to third. Scutaro, who played Gold Glove-caliber defense for the Blue Jays last season, will "entertain all possibilities," Greenberg said — including a return to the Jays on a one-year deal if, as expected, he is offered salary arbitration. The Jays offered Scutaro a contract extension during the season and another after the season ended, Greenberg said. Scutaro wants to explore the free-agent market, but he likes the city, team and manager Cito Gaston, who gave him his first chance to play every day. "He definitely hasn't closed the door on Toronto at all," Greenberg said. The Mets, who had Scutaro at the start of his career in 2002 and '03, likely are one of the teams interested in him at second base. If they trade Luis Castillo, Scutaro and Orlando Hudson would loom as possible free-agent replacements. The Tigers, Cubs and Dodgers are among the other clubs that could be in the market for a second baseman. The Mariners, Phillies, Angels, Orioles, Twins, Cardinals and Giants are among the teams that could look for help at third.

Brewers could have infield logjam — 1:30 a.m.

The Brewers seemingly have three infielders for two spots — Rickie Weeks plays second base, Mat Gamel third and Casey McGehee both. Yet, as badly as the Brewers need pitching, a trade probably will not happen unless some club offers the pitching equivalent of Gamel, a highly regarded offensive prospect. Of the three, Gamel, 24, draws the most inquiries from rival clubs. But, as a left-handed hitter, he would help balance the Brewers' predominantly right-handed lineup. Weeks, 27, did not play after May 17 last season because of a left-wrist injury that required surgery; he also has had surgery on his right wrist, and is getting pricey as he enters his second year of arbitration. McGehee, 27, finished fifth in the National League Rookie of the Year balloting, but other clubs still are not totally convinced that he is a keeper, mindful that the Cubs waived him at the end of the 2008 season. Brewers GM Doug Melvin is creative, and maybe he will get the deal he wants for Gamel. More likely, Melvin will pursue pitching help in free agency. He included two strong hitting prospects, Matt LaPorta and Michael Brantley in the CC Sabathia trade in July 2008.

Monday, Nov. 16

Giants unlikely to give Molina multiyear deal — 8:47 p.m.

Because top catching prospect Buster Posey arrived in the majors this September — a little more than one year after signing with the Giants — it's unlikely that the club will offer a multiyear contract to incumbent/free agent Bengie Molina. General manager Brian Sabean acknowledged during the general managers' meetings last week that there's a good chance Molina won't be back if another team makes him a multiyear offer. While Posey is very highly regarded, the potential departure of Molina could hurt the Giants in the near term. Not only did he handle the pitching staff well, but Molina hit 20 home runs and drove in 80 RBIs. He was the cleanup hitter for most of the year, too. There is another issue as well: Posey is not ready to catch in the majors, according to a scout who has watched him in the Arizona Fall League. "He needs to play (in the minors)," the scout said. "He doesn't throw real well. And he has trouble catching velocity. If he has to catch (Matt) Cain or (Tim) Lincecum or Brian Wilson in the ninth, he'll struggle. "A lot of it's reflexes. He hasn't caught (hard throwers) enough. He will be able to catch 'em. He's a good enough athlete. His hands are good enough. He just needs to see it."

Pedro 'absolutely coming back — 4:31 p.m.

Not only does Pedro Martinez plan on pitching in 2010, he wants to pitch for the entire season this time.
Martinez's agent, Fern Cuza, told on Monday that the right-hander has decided to come back for an 18th major league season. "Absolutely," Cuza said in a telephone interview. "In the playoffs, Pedro was having fun again. He was feeling no pain whatsoever. It was the first time in three years that he felt that way on the mound. "Based on how he played, and how he responded, he's looking forward to playing next year." Cuza said Martinez feels "rejuvenated" after helping the Phillies win their second consecutive National League pennant, and that the 38-year-old would like to be with a team at the start of spring training in 2010. To read the full story, click here.

Mariners show interest in Tigers RHP Jackson — 3:25 p.m.

Count the Mariners among the teams interested in Tigers right-hander Edwin Jackson. The teams have spoken about Jackson and exchanged names, but the talks "are not all that serious," according to one source with knowledge of the discussions. Jackson, 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA last season, would be a strong complement to ace right-hander Felix Hernandez in the Mariners' rotation. The Tigers, sources say, are seeking minimum-salary pitching for Jackson, whose salary will rise from $2.2 million in arbitration. Mariners right-handers Brandon Morrow and Shawn Kelley both fit that description, and are the types of hard throwers favored by Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski. The Mariners, one of the few clubs seemingly in position to add payroll, also like Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson. However, they prefer Franklin Gutierrez in center and would move Granderson to left. Teams that want Granderson to play center likely would offer the Tigers better packages. Jackson, 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA last season, would be a strong complement to ace right-hander Felix Hernandez in the Mariners' rotation. The M's tried to acquire him from the Rays last December in a three-way trade that would have sent reliever J.J. Putz to Detroit. The Tigers, sources say, are seeking minimum-salary pitching for Jackson, whose salary will rise from $2.2 million in his second year of arbitration. Jackson, 26, is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.

Volatility in outfield free-agent market? — 12:55 p.m.

Could the availability of Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson dampen the market for free-agent outfielders Matt Holliday and Jason Bay? On the surface, no — Holliday and Bay are right-handed sluggers, while Granderson is left-handed. Also, teams would need to part with significant talent for Granderson and lose only draft picks for Holliday and Bay. Yet, as clubs make greater use of defensive and baserunning metrics, they are gaining a greater appreciation for the values of all-around players such as Granderson and free agents Chone Figgins and Mike Cameron. One analyst, Dave Cameron of, recently wrote an article suggesting that Cameron is a better player than Bay. Age figures into their respective values — Cameron is 37; Bay is 31. But Dave Cameron (no relation to Mike) suggests that Mike's superior defense more than compensates for Bay's offensive advantage. Many teams use their own measurements when assessing the impact of baserunning and defense. Those measurements continue to grow more sophisticated, changing the way clubs view players. Does that mean Cameron will get a better deal than Bay, or that he even deserves one? Of course not. But when putting everything together — offense, defense, baserunning and, of course, total cost — teams look at things differently now.

Interest in Wagner still strong — 12:31 p.m.

Teams would have to surrender a draft pick in order to sign Billy Wagner, but interest in the left-hander remains strong. Bean Stringfellow, Wagner's agent, said Monday that eight clubs have called to express interest in Wagner, a Type A free agent. "The best way to put it," Stringfellow said, "is that the teams that called are aware that he's a Type A free agent, and they're calling anyway." Boston, Atlanta, Washington, Houston and Baltimore are on the list, according to Stringfellow, along with three teams that preferred to remain anonymous. Of that group, Stringfellow said only the Red Sox — Wagner's most recent team — would slot him in a role other than closing. The unnamed teams are probably among the contenders interested in upgrading their late-inning relief: the Tigers, Cubs, Mariners, Rangers, White Sox, Rays and Marlins. Stringfellow believes Wagner will receive multiyear offers once teams are able to begin discussing financial terms with free agents Friday. Stringfellow pointed out that Wagner demonstrated his health after elbow surgery by pitching effectively for the Red Sox late in the season. "This is a normal offseason for him," Stringfellow said. "He's not doing any rehab. He'll begin throwing in earnest at the same time he always did. He feels wonderful now."

Reds re-sign Ramon Hernandez — 10:50 a.m.

The Reds have re-signed catcher Ramon Hernandez to a one-year, $3 million contract, according to a major-league source. The deal also includes a $3.25 million vesting option for 2011 that will become guaranteed if Hernandez appears in 120 games next season. The Reds had declined an $8.5 million option on Hernandez and bought out his contract for $1 million. Hernandez, 33, hit .258 with five home runs and 37 RBI in 287 at-bats last season, his first with the Reds. He missed nearly two months after undergoing surgery on his left knee on July 20, appearing in only 81 games. To read more, click here.
Tagged: Orioles, Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Indians, Tigers, Brewers, Twins, Yankees, Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Reds, Astros, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Cardinals, Giants, Diamondbacks, Rays, Paul Konerko, Russell Branyan, CC Sabathia, Johan Santana, Miguel Tejada, Ramon Hernandez, Johnny Damon, Mark DeRosa, Kerry Wood, Adrian Beltre, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf, Jack Wilson, Placido Polanco, Albert Pujols, Rafael Soriano, Orlando Hudson, John Lackey, Marco Scutaro, Chone Figgins, Hideki Matsui, Aaron Heilman, Jose Reyes, Jason Bay, J.J. Putz, Michael Gonzalez, Matt Holliday, Mark Teahen, Jose Lopez, Curtis Granderson, Felix Hernandez, Rickie Weeks, Skip Schumaker, Franklin Gutierrez, Brian Wilson, Phil Hughes, Brandon Morrow, Joba Chamberlain, Casey McGehee, Matt LaPorta, David Freese, Gordon Beckham

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