MLB offseason buzz: Nov. 22-28

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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 | Nov. 15-21 | Nov. 12-14 | GM meetings coverage: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

News and notes: Nov. 22-28

Friday, Nov. 27

Will the Red Sox go after Cabrera? — 1:23 p.m.

There is no evidence to suggest that the Red Sox have approached the Tigers about a trade for first baseman Miguel Cabrera. But besides the Red Sox's obvious need for a slugger such as Cabrera, there is another reason to believe that a conversation between the clubs almost certainly will take place. Red Sox owner John Henry. As the Marlins' owner in July 1999, Henry authorized the signing of the 16-year-old Cabrera out of Venezuela for $1.8 million. Less than two months later, the Marlins signed their top draft pick, right-hander Josh Beckett, the No. 2 pick overall, to a four-year, $7 million deal. Cabrera and Beckett were Henry's two most important player acquisitions for the Marlins. Henry, after taking over the Red Sox in Jan. 2002, reunited with Beckett through a trade in Nov. 2005. Acquiring Cabrera from his former Marlins GM, Dave Dombrowski, would complete a circle of sorts — and perhaps put Henry in position to win his third World Series with the Red Sox.

Cubs set to shop for outfield bat — 1:23 p.m.

The Cubs' offseason truly will kick off only after they trade outfielder Milton Bradley. Only then can they begin, in earnest, their pursuit of a center fielder. A left-handed hitter would fit best, which is why a trade for the Tigers' Curtis Granderson, a native of Chicago, at least will be explored. Among the free agents, Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel bat left-handed, while Coco Crisp is a switch-hitter. From the right side, the free agents include Marlon Byrd — who played for new Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo with the Rangers — and Mike Cameron. One agent who has spoken with the Cubs says the left-right issue is not as big a concern for the team as it was last offseason, when GM Jim Hendry was fixated on balancing his lineup with a left-handed or switch-hitter. No, the issue now is how quickly the Cubs can purge the player who was supposed to solve that problem — Bradley — and how much financial flexibility they will gain through such a move. Those factors, as much as anything, might determine the type of player they pursue.

Red Sox left with little choice in SS race — 1:12 p.m

Barring a major surprise, the Blue Jays' signing of free-agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez leaves the Red Sox with virtually no choice but to sign Marco Scutaro.
No quality shortstops are known to be available in trade, and the free-agent market is thin on quality defenders at the position. The shortage, in part, is what motivated the Jays to move quickly on Gonzalez, signing him to a one-year, $2.75 million contract Thursday with a $2.5 million club option for 2011. The Jays did not want to be caught short at the position, the way the Orioles were in 2008. Pitching is difficult enough in the AL East, especially with a young staff. Among the available free agents, Orlando Cabrera's defense has declined, and many clubs believe that Miguel Tejada needs to move off short. Adam Everett is a terrific defender, but an even weaker hitter than Gonzalez. The Jays still will offer arbitration to Scutaro, a Type A free agent; they would play him in left field and bat him leadoff if he accepted a one-year, non-guaranteed deal. Scutaro, though, likely will get a better offer than that from the Red Sox or another club. His departure would net the Jays two high draft picks as compensation. The Jays also could flip Gonzalez for additional young talent at some point — the free-agent market at short next winter also will be thin, and he is under control for ¿11 — but they still lack a long-term solution at the position.

Wednesday, Nov. 25

Are Tigers better off waiting to trade Cabrera? — 5:27 p.m.

A rival executive made an interesting point about Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera on Wednesday: If Detroit officials are confident that Cabrera will (a) report to spring training in terrific shape and (b) address his issues with alcohol, then they are better off waiting to trade him until he improves his trade value with a strong 2010. But if they are afraid he might be at the start of a downward spiral, they have more incentive to trade him now. And remember this: A number of Tigers executives were with the Marlins when Florida signed him as a 16-year-old in 1999. They should know him better than anyone else. So, the extent to which they make him available should speak volumes about where Cabrera stands, on and off the field. Cabrera is owed $126 million over the next six years. That's a reasonable sum for someone who has averaged 33 home runs and 115 RBIs over his six full major league seasons — if that production seems likely to continue. But that's a risky sum for someone whose conditioning has been questioned and who police said registered a 0.26 blood alcohol content some 13 hours before Game 161 this year. Right now, the executive said, it seems unlikely that the Tigers will be able to find a suitor willing to pay the entire $126 million and trade valuable young players in return. But what if Cabrera adopts a Pujols-type offseason regimen, followed by Pujols-type production in 2010? Then there would be no shortage of interested teams. Of course, in that scenario, the Tigers may want to keep their franchise player after all.

Agent: Mets, Dessens nearing deal — UPDATED 5:02 p.m.

The agent for right-hander Elmer Dessens spoke with the Mets on Wednesday and said he is "getting closer" to a deal that would bring Dessens back to New York for the 2010 season. Oscar Suarez has continually indicated that he believes the Mets are a good fit for his client. Dessens, 38, had no record and a 3.31 ERA in 28 relief appearances with the Mets this year.

Jays name Fasano Class A manager — 3:59 p.m.

The Blue Jays have named longtime major-league catcher Sal Fasano as their manager at Class A Lansing of the Midwest League. Fasano played for the Royals, A's, Rockies, Phillies, Indians, Angels, Yankees, Orioles and Blue Jays in a major-league career that began in 1996 and ended in 2008. He spent this season at Class AAA Colorado Springs in the Rockies organization.

Source: Red Sox interested in Duchscherer — 3:26 p.m.

Apart from their interest in Toronto ace Roy Halladay, the Red Sox are checking on a long list of possible pitching upgrades. Justin Duchscherer, an All-Star as recently as 2008, is one of them. The Red Sox are interested in Duchscherer as a starting pitcher, one major-league source said Wednesday. The right-hander didn't pitch in the majors at all this year — in part because of clinical depression — and is now a free agent. Duchscherer pitched out of the A's bullpen from 2004 through 2007, before moving into their rotation in 2008. He went 10-8 with a 2.54 ERA in 22 starts during what was his second All-Star season. Duchscherer underwent hip surgery in 2008 and arthroscopic surgery on his throwing elbow this March. He has been on the disabled list five times in the past four years.

Tuesday, Nov. 24

1B Johnson drawing plenty of interest — 12:32 p.m.

Add free agent Nick Johnson to the list of first basemen drawing interest from the Mariners. Johnson, 31, also has heard from the Giants, Mets and even the Yankees, who view him as a potential fallback at designated hitter if they lose both Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, major-league sources say. The Mariners, meanwhile, are still talking with their own free-agent first baseman, Russell Branyan, who is coming off a 31-homer season. Johnson is one of several other possibilities for the M's, who have talked about moving Jose Lopez to first, but would prefer to keep him at second. Casey Kotchman could emerge as a Mariners target if, as expected, the Red Sox decline to offer him a contract through salary arbitration. The M's also have discussed a trade for the Blue Jays' Lyle Overbay, and the Jays indicated a willingness to pick up part of Overbay's $7 million salary. However, the Mariners would need to give up talent for Overbay, whom they would control only for one year. Johnson and Branyan are seeking multi-year deals, sources say.

Phils, Dodgers both want Castro — 12:10 p.m.

One month after playing one another in the National League Championship Series, the Phillies and Dodgers are pursuing the same utility player: Juan Castro. Castro's agent, Oscar Suarez, told Tuesday that both teams are interested in the 37-year-old infielder. Castro, who has been in the big leagues for all or part of 15 seasons, batted .277 for the Dodgers in 57 games this year. He started games at shortstop, third base and second base and appeared in two games as a left fielder, according to The Phillies view Castro as an alternative to replace utility man Eric Bruntlett, who isn't likely to return.

Rockies may be in market for C, IF — 11:34 a.m.

The Rockies like their position player core but want to add a catcher (if free agent Yorvit Torrealba doesn't return) and a right-handed-hitting reserve infielder (if Garrett Atkins is traded or non-tendered). Torrealba has a bad throwing shoulder and threw out a career-worst 14 percent of potential base stealers this year. But he hit .291 in 64 games, plays with energy and is well-liked by the Colorado pitching staff. Chris Iannetta, 26, has promise and started a majority of the team's games this year, but Torrealba was the Rockies' primary catcher in September and during the National League Division Series. The team hasn't ruled out bringing back Jason Giambi as the reserve infielder, although he's neither right-handed nor versatile in the field. (The Rockies would prefer that such a player be comfortable at first and third base.) Boston's Mike Lowell would match the general description, but the Rockies can't afford to pay $12 million for a part-time player. The Rockies, in fact, would not want Lowell even if the Red Sox picked up $6 million of his $12 million salary, according to a major-league source.

Monday, Nov. 23

Halos more interested in Granderson than Jackson — 8:34 p.m.

The Angels are more focused on center fielder Curtis Granderson than right-hander Edwin Jackson in their discussions with the Tigers, two major league sources said Monday. One reason: Angels officials are said to view Granderson as more of a long-term investment than Jackson. Granderson, 28, is signed through 2012, with a $13 million club option for 2013. At present, there is a $25.75 million guarantee left on his contract. Jackson, 26, is due to become a free agent after 2011, and he's represented by prominent agent Scott Boras, who generally prefers his clients to hit the open market. Boras occupies the most visible luxury suite at Angel Stadium. Last offseason, Boras' top position player free agent (Mark Teixeira) left the Angels to sign with the Yankees. This offseason, Angels owner Arte Moreno said he doesn't intend to pursue Boras' top position player free agent (Matt Holliday). The Tigers have grown mindful of their spending but would likely need to be overwhelmed in order to move Granderson, who will earn $5.5 million in 2010. The Tigers would rather move Jackson than Granderson, according to an executive with another club. Detroit owner Mike Ilitch was asked recently if it would be difficult to trade Granderson or Jackson. "Well," he said, before an extended pause. "I don't know if I want to get into that. It's something I don't want to talk about. There's so many rumors out there now." Then he added: "It's early." One person with close knowledge of the Tigers' organization said the Angels would be one of the best trade partners for them among all the clubs in the major leagues. The Angels have depth in three areas of need for Detroit: catcher, shortstop, and minimum-salary pitching.

Several teams calling Rangers for Cruz — 8:11 p.m.

A number of teams have called the Rangers to express interest in Nelson Cruz, but one major league source said the club is "not motivated" to move the slugging outfielder because of his productivity and reasonable salary. "He's been popular," the source said of the Rangers' discussions with other clubs. Cruz could intrigue clubs such as the Braves, Cardinals and Giants if their other efforts to add an outfield bat fall short. (It's not known if any of them have inquired about his availability.) Cruz, who is not yet eligible for salary arbitration, earned $418,070 this year, including a $10,000 bonus for his first All-Star selection. He batted .260-.332-.524 with 33 home runs and 76 RBIs. With the franchise up for sale, the Rangers have little financial flexibility. That would make it difficult to trade a good player whose salary is close to the league minimum — unless Texas receives high-impact talent in return. The Rangers don't have to remake their lineup. But they haven't ruled out changes, either. The team has shown interest in Rays center fielder B.J. Upton. Still, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels may decide that he's content with where his outfield stands now. Cruz, David Murphy, Josh Hamilton and potential leadoff hitter Julio Borbon could rotate among the three outfield spots and designated hitter.

Treanor ready to state his case on the field — 7:23 p.m.

When Matt Treanor plays his first game in the Dominican Winter League later this week, he will begin the effort to convince interested teams — and himself — that he will be able to return to the big leagues in 2010. Treanor's last two seasons, with the Marlins in 2008 and Tigers in 2009, were cut short due to surgeries. He didn't play after April 23 this year because of surgery to repair an impingement and torn labrum in his right hip. The rehabilitation lasted six months and was "arduous," Treanor said. But he's optimistic that the latest surgery fully addressed the issues that affected him in 2008, too. "To know the cause of my injury gave me hope — that once I rehabbed this completely, I'd be back as healthy as I've ever been," he said during a Monday telephone interview. "I feel like I'm ready to go. Time will tell. I feel like the next couple weeks will probably determine if and when I play again. "I told Joel (Wolfe, his agent) that all I want is an opportunity to come into camp, and I'll take it from there. I trust that my game will put me in a good situation. All I need to do is get to spring training and show everybody what I can do." Treanor, who will play for Toros del Este, could fit with any number of teams as a backup catcher if he can show that he's healthy. He's a career .232 hitter but is highly regarded for his ability to handle pitchers.

Reds unsure of Gomes' role — 5:23 p.m.

The Reds plan to focus their efforts on "low-cost" free agents, one major league source told If that strategy remains true throughout the offseason, it's possible that the Reds will open 2010 with three inexperienced players in significant roles: shortstop Paul Janish and outfielders Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey. One scout who watches the Reds regularly suggested they would do well to find a 2010 role for outfielder Jonny Gomes, as well. Gomes, who is arbitration-eligible, hit .267-.338-.541 with 20 home runs in only 98 games. He's regarded as a defensive liability but committed two errors in 70 appearances as an outfielder. "They've got to bring Jonny Gomes back," the scout said. "He can hit, and his defense wasn't that bad. He got a bad reputation from somewhere, but I think he's very adequate. He made some catches and plays when I saw him, and he's a super makeup guy. They've got to have a spot for him on that team."

Free-agent GM to attend winter meetings — 4:37 p.m.

Former Padres general manager Kevin Towers, a free-agent executive, says he will attend the winter meetings in Indianapolis and meet with three or four clubs. "I'd like to align myself with a winning organization, someone I trust, someone I like working with — to be honest, preferably an American League team, just to become more familiar with that league," Towers says. "I've been in the National League my whole life. The way I look at it, if a GM job opened a year from now in the American League, I'd have a better idea how to put a ballclub together from American League perspective. It's completely different than the National League." Towers worked for Red Sox president Larry Lucchino and helped develop Sox GM Theo Epstein in San Diego, but most in the industry assume he will end up working for the Yankees and their GM, Brian Cashman. "Cash is certainly a good friend of mine, somebody I've got a great deal of respect for," Towers says. "There is nothing done by any means. But if Brian Cashman had interest in my services, he's somebody I'd listen to."

Teams eyeing Dye at first base — 1: 58 p.m.

Free-agent right fielder Jermaine Dye has made only one career appearance at first base, in 2005. Yet teams are asking his agent, Robert Bry, if he is willing to play first, and Dye is open to the idea. Dye, 35, could be a right-handed hitting alternative at first for several clubs, including the Braves, Mets, Giants and Orioles. His willingness to play first alone should only increase his marketability. If Dye is not going to be a DH, he might be better at first than in right at this stage of his career. "It wouldn't surprise me at all if he had some success over there," one executive says. The negative on Dye is that he slumped after the All-Star break last season, batting .179 with a .293 on-base percentage and .297 slugging percentage.

Randy Johnson to return? — 11:48 a.m.

Free-agent left-hander Randy Johnson remains undecided about whether he will return for a 23rd season in 2010. Johnson's agent, Barry Meister, said that he had dinner with Johnson in Chicago over the weekend, and that the pitcher is still not sure about his immediate plans. "We talked about whether he wants to play or not," Meister said. "He's still in the process of evaluating all of his options and thinking through it. "He has played a long time. If anyone has the right to really think it through and figure out what he wants to do, he's the guy." Meister said Johnson has not set a timetable for his decision. Johnson, 46, spent last season with the Giants, and threw only 4 1/3 innings after July 5 due to a strained left shoulder.

Sunday, Nov. 22

Red Sox weigh options for Lowell — 11:02 p.m.

The Red Sox not only are shopping third baseman Mike Lowell but also are willing to pay $6 million of his $12 million salary for next season, according to major-league sources. One rival executive, however, says he would be surprised if a team was willing to pay Lowell even $6 million. Lowell, 35, has appeared in only 113 and 119 games, respectively, the past two seasons. His right-hip issues have limited his range and he ranks as one of the worst defensive third basemen in the majors, advanced metrics say. While Lowell remains productive offensively, he benefited greatly from playing at Fenway Park last season, posting a .932 OPS at home and .713 OPS on the road. The Red Sox will need to trade Lowell if they acquire Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez in a trade and move Kevin Youkilis from first to third. The Sox also could look to replace Lowell even if they fail to land Gonzalez, perhaps by signing a free agent such as Adrian Beltre. Beltre, 30, is coming off an injury-marred season but rates as one of the game's top defensive third basemen. His career OPS, when adjusted for league and park, is only slightly lower than Lowell's.

Mets eye options for starters — 7:19 p.m.

The Mets would love to sign John Lackey, the No. 1 starter on the free-agent market. But if they don't, they want to add from a group that includes Joel Pineiro, Randy Wolf, Ben Sheets and Jason Marquis, according to two sources with knowledge of their plans. As is the case throughout the industry, the Mets aren't sure who the best option after Lackey would be. Pineiro, Wolf and Marquis had successful seasons in the National League this year. Sheets was one of the NL's best starters before elbow surgery; his agent, Casey Close, said Friday that Sheets is "progressing well from his flexor-tendon surgery in February and should be 100 percent by spring training." One source indicated the team believes Sheets has more upside than other pitchers coming back from injury, such as Kelvim Escobar, Erik Bedard, Mark Mulder and Brett Myers. Sheets went 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 31 starts with the Brewers in 2008. He also started the All-Star Game. The Mets aren't pursuing free agent Rich Harden, one of the sources said.

Cubs, Halladay would be a tough fit — 5:43 p.m.

The Cubs would love to trade for Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay, but they would need to clear salary to pull off such a move, major-league sources say. Thus, a deal is unlikely. The Cubs' offseason will consist of trading outfielder Milton Bradley, finding a new center fielder and perhaps supplementing the bullpen. The team also could end up with Mets second baseman Luis Castillo, perhaps in a three-way deal involving Bradley. Halladay? He will earn $15.75 million next season in the final year of his contract. The Cubs already have $42.375 million committed to three starting pitchers — Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Ted Lilly. Left fielder Alfonso Soriano is too expensive to be moved. Ditto for outfielder Kosuke Fukudome. Third baseman Aramis Ramirez probably is too valuable for the Cubs to trade. That leaves first baseman Derrek Lee, who will earn $13 million next season in the final year of his contract and possesses a full no-trade clause. The Blue Jays would not want Lee's money. The Braves are among the teams looking for right-handed power, but they would need to off-load a salary — probably right-hander Derek Lowe's — somewhere else. It's all rather complicated and all speculation at this point. Still, as one friend of Cubs GM Jim Hendry says, "Jim has pulled rabbits out of hats before!"

Boras has base line for a Damon deal — 5:10 p.m.

The Angels awarded right fielder Bobby Abreu a two-year, $19 million contract before he even became a free agent. Rest assured that Scott Boras, the agent for left fielder Johnny Damon, will argue that on the open market, his client deserves more. Such a position could — repeat, could — be bad news for the Yankees if they wish to re-sign Damon to a one- or even two-year contract. Both Damon and Abreu will be 36 on Opening Day. It seems doubtful that Boras could score three years or more for Damon. But all the agent must do is persuade one team. While Damon benefited from playing at the new Yankee Stadium last season, he posted a career-high in OPS-plus, a statistic that is adjusted to a player's league and park. Damon had more home runs than Abreu, 24 to 15. Abreu had more stolen bases, 30 to 12. Neither is a strong defender, but Damon moves better overall. Boras has been talking up Damon's value as a No. 2 hitter behind Derek Jeter. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman does not dispute Boras' points. The question, as always, will be price, and Abreu establishes a baseline for Damon. Two years, $19 million.

Fight over MLB finances rages on — 3:59 p.m.

The debate continues. Rob Manfred, baseball's chief of labor relations, told last week that agent Scott Boras was lying when he said that some clubs received a combined sum of $80 million to $90 million in revenue sharing and contributions from baseball's central fund. Boras later amended his statement to say that some teams are "conservatively" receiving between $65 million and $75 million. Then, in Sunday's New York Daily News, one of Boras' original sources, columnist Bill Madden, reaffirmed his reporting from last August, writing the Marlins received $80 million and the Pirates $75 million, according to sources. "It's interesting to me that Rob personally affronted the messenger when I merely recited a substantive point from Madden's article in August," Boras told on Sunday. "The issue is not the messenger. The issue is the fact that teams are making that amount of money — nearly $80 million, within a $10 million range — in revenue sharing and money from Central Baseball. "If those facts are untrue, baseball would have attacked Madden back in August." The players' union is informed of the amounts each team receives, but cannot release the figures because of a confidential agreement with baseball, according to major-league sources. Madden wrote Sunday, "If (Pirates president Frank) Coonelly and Manfred continue to insist that these figures Boras and I are putting out are a bunch of hooey, all they have to do to prove us wrong is show us their ledger. It would be the first time MLB ever showed anyone its books."
Tagged: Orioles, Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Tigers, Brewers, Yankees, Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays, Braves, Cubs, Reds, Dodgers, Mets, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Padres, Giants, Rockies, Marlins, Rays, Derek Lowe, Russell Branyan, Ben Sheets, Alfonso Soriano, Derek Jeter, Miguel Tejada, Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Joel Pineiro, Scott Podsednik, Roy Halladay, Jason Marquis, Orlando Cabrera, Milton Bradley, Bobby Abreu, Randy Wolf, Aramis Ramirez, Rick Ankiel, Derrek Lee, Ryan Dempster, Adam Everett, Justin Duchscherer, Lyle Overbay, Marlon Byrd, Carlos Zambrano, Yorvit Torrealba, Nick Johnson, Erik Bedard, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, Coco Crisp, Hideki Matsui, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, Rich Harden, Edwin Jackson, Jonny Gomes, Matt Treanor, Jose Lopez, Curtis Granderson, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Chris Iannetta, David Murphy, Kosuke Fukudome, Paul Janish, Julio Borbon

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