Tag:MLB Rumors
Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:42 pm
 

If you need a third baseman, good luck



By Matt Snyder


Say what you will about Aramis Ramirez -- as many fans seem to have an extreme dislike of him for some reason -- but he was the only starting-caliber third baseman available this offseason.

No, Michael Cuddyer doesn't fit as an everyday third baseman. He played 14 games there in 2010 and zero last season. So he's not included in this discussion and it would be a huge reach to try and claim he is.

The best remaining free agent third baseman is Wilson Betemit. He is a pretty good hitter and is versatile, but he hasn't played in more than 97 games since 2007. And there's a reason he's played for six teams in nine seasons -- he's just not an everyday player.

Hot Stove Season
The other free agent third baseman? Yuck. Casey Blake, Eric Chavez, Greg Dobbs, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Omar Vizquel, Bill Hall, Jorge Cantu, Andy LaRoche and Alex Cora.

It's possible the Phillies trade Placido Polanco, as he's been mentioned in some light rumors, but would it really be a great idea to deal for a 35-year-old who had back issues last season? He's definitely in decline and has very little power.

So unless the Mets shock everyone and put David Wright up for sale, it would appear the guy currently atop the depth chart at third base for all 30 teams will remain there until opening day. The Tigers are probably stuck with Brandon Inge -- and maybe they just bring back Betemit and stick with the same situation as late last season. The Rockies will need to use internal options. The Marlins need to convince Hanley Ramirez he's happy at the hot corner. The Angels have to go with Alberto Callaspo or move Mark Trumbo across the diamond like they've discussed. And, yes, the Phillies are probably stuck with Polanco.

Put simply, the third base market this offseason consisted of one important name. And that name is now on a contract given by the Milwaukee Brewers.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Brewers land Aramis Ramirez with three-year deal



By Matt Snyder


Brewers fans are in need of good news, and it's possible this will suffice. Slugging third baseman Aramis Ramirez has signed a three-year deal with Milwaukee, pending a physical, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has confirmed. The news was first reported by ESPN.com. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned the contract will be worth about $36 million.

Considering free agent Prince Fielder is headed elsewhere -- which is cemented with this signing -- and 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun will likely be serving a 50-game suspension to open the 2012 season, there was a gaping hole in the middle of the prospective opening-day roster for the defending NL Central champs. While Ramirez isn't anywhere close to being as good as Fielder or Braun in the batter's box, he's a bona fide cleanup hitter.

Brewers' offseason
Ramirez, 33, has been with the Cubs since a midseason trade back in 2003, so he's been a member of three NL Central division championship clubs. He hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers, 93 RBI and 35 doubles last season, winning a Silver Slugger award. He's a two-time All-Star and has garnered MVP votes in four different seasons. And playing for a contender was important, which Ramirez believes the Brewers are.

"That was one of his criteria," agent Paul Kinzer said, via the Associated Press. "There were about four teams that he liked that were contenders, and Milwaukee was at the top of his list."

The move rounds out the left side of the Brewers' infield, as they signed Alex Gonzalez to play shortstop last week. Casey McGehee will flip across the diamond and play first base, with Mat Gamel also being in the mix there as well.

Ramirez has played his entire 14-year career in the NL Central.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:25 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:43 pm
 

News, notes from final day of Winter Meetings

By Matt Snyder

MLB Winter Meetings
DALLAS -- Other than the two gigantic signings Thursday morning, the activity at the Winter Meetings has slowed to a crawl as everything wraps up. Still, there is never a complete void of buzz, so here are some of the latest news and notes from the media room, courtesy of CBSSports.com senior writers Scott Miller and Danny Knobler.

• The Marlins are going to be in on top remaining free agent Prince Fielder and Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes. One thing to keep in mind, the Marlins were ready to spend almost $100 million on C.J. Wilson, so there's no reason to believe they're done spending -- or at least trying to spend.

• One Nationals person said there's a "95 percent chance" prospect Bryce Harper opens the season with the big-league club.

• The Angels are not trading anyone. They're all in with what they have. They are expecting Kendrys Morales to start the season injured and Mark Trumbo can either play third base or be the designated hitter.

• The Reds are heavily pursuing starting pitching via trade, with their top targets being Jair Jurrjens and a few guys from the Rays' staff. No real progress was made during the meetings, however.

Also of note:

Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports the Rockies have become a serious suitor for free agent outfielder/corner infielder Michael Cuddyer. The Twins have reportedly offered Cuddyer three years and $25 million, but Renck says the Rockies are willing to go three years as well. 

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 4:11 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 5:51 pm
 

Brewers sign Alex Gonzalez

By Matt Snyder

DALLAS -- The Milwaukee Brewers have filled one of their infield holes, as they've signed free agent shortstop Alex Gonzalez, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has confirmed. The news was first reported by Fox Sports.

Yuniesky Betancourt was the Brewers' shortstop last season, but he's a free agent, so he'll be packing his bags and heading elsewhere.

Gonzalez, 34, hit .241/.270/.372 with 15 homers for the Braves last season. In 2010, he had a career-high-matching 23 home runs, so there's certainly power potential. Even more important here: Gonzalez is a markedly better defensive shortstop than Betancourt. Though Gonzalez isn't elite, he's very solid, while Betancourt is widely considered one of the worst defensive shortstops in the majors.

It would still behoove the Brewers to find a corner infielder with power -- like retaining Prince Fielder or adding Aramis Ramirez -- but money is definitely a factor on those two, especially Fielder.

Full Winter Meetings Coverage | Free Agent Tracker

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:59 pm
 

Angels swoop in, steal Marlins thunder -- for now



By Matt Snyder


DALLAS -- In one fell swoop, the Miami Marlins had their thunder stolen.

First, let's set the scene.

The annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings always come to a close on a Thursday. In most years, the hotel lobby is hopping like mad for Monday through Wednesday but is a veritable ghost town come post-lunch time Thursday. There's the Rule 5 Draft Thursday morning, and by late afternoon most writers are either already home or preparing to fly out.

At about 7 a.m. Thursday morning, the Marlins were the huge story of the Winter Meetings. Not only had they landed a trio of All-Stars in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell -- committing $191 million in future payroll to the three -- but they were also attached to rumors on Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and sometimes even Prince Fielder throughout the week. When Marlins' brass Jeffrey Loria, Larry Beinfest and David Samson walked through the lobby earlier in the week, a flock of reporters and cameramen were following them like paparazzi clings to Kim Kardashian or Brad Pitt. New manager Ozzie Guillen had a Joker-like permanent smile on his face. The Marlins were, as one writer remarked on Twitter, the "belles of the ball."

MLB Winter Meetings
Thursday morning, however, the Angels went out and signed the biggest name in baseball: Albert Pujols. Then, within minutes, they added All-Star starting pitcher C.J. Wilson. New Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto held a press conference to announce both signings and field questions.

And when everyone leaves the meetings for good, the top team that will stick out in everyone's mind is the Los Angeles Angels, not the Miami Marlins.

This was not what owner Jeffrey Loria wanted. This was supposed to be the Marlins' time. They are moving into a new stadium that they'd waited on for years. They have a new name and new uniforms. They want people to buy them as legitimate contenders and take them seriously. They very well could be contenders and might be transforming into a legitimate large-market team, but the thunder of the three signings has been completely stolen by the already-large-market Angels swooping in and getting a bigger star position player and a better starting pitcher than the Marlins landed.

Will this anger the Marlins, causing them to go hard after Prince Fielder -- a player most reported was not on their radar at this time Wednesday? It's hard to tell.

But for now, the Marlins get second billing at these Winter Meetings. The Angels were the top dog.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 8, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Angels now boast stellar starting rotation



By Matt Snyder


DALLAS -- While the big news of the Winter Meetings was the Angels adding superstar Albert Pujols via free agency, they also made a big splash on the pitching front, adding C.J. Wilson with a five-year contract. Now, the Angels boast a top four in the rotation that is likely the envy of the entire American League. Just look at the AL Cy Young balloting for last season. Jered Weaver finished second to the Tigers' Justin Verlander -- who had a historic season -- while Wilson came in sixth and Dan Haren was seventh. Ervin Santana's no slouch, either. The Angels now have to be mentioned in the same breath as the Giants and Phillies when it comes to lock-down, top-to-bottom rotations.

The Angels ranked fifth in starting pitching ERA in 2011 for the entire MLB. And they're now replacing Joel Pineiro (5.13 ERA) with Wilson (2.94 ERA).

"I know Jered and Dan, and those are good dudes," Wilson said Thursday. "I haven't talked to Santana yet, but I will. We're gonna push each other to make each other better."

"I know back in Texas, pitching with so many other good pitchers, it was incentive to compete and get better," he continued. "It makes you want to work harder and do your part."

Wilson certainly did his part during the 2011 season, going 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 206 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings, qualifying for his first All-Star Game. Also keep in mind the Rangers played in the most hitter-friendly park in the majors in 2011, and Wilson's road ERA was 2.31. His career numbers in Angel Stadium of Anaheim -- a big-time pitcher's park the past two seasons -- are good, too. Wilson has thrown 38 1/3 innings there, putting together a 2.79 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with 32 strikeouts. One of his five starts there was a complete-game effort, too.

MLB Winter Meetings
As for his new teammates? Not too shabby ...

Weaver, 29, was the All-Star Game starter for the AL in 2011. He went 18-8 with a 2.41 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 198 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. Haren, 31, was 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 192 strikeouts in 238 1/3 innings. Santana, 28, was 11-12 with a 3.38 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 178 strikeouts in 228 2/3 innings.

Add it up, and you have a rotation that can work deep into the game and give you a great chance to win four out of every five games. The four combined for 15 complete games, seven shutouts and over 900 innings last year alone. As for the fifth starter, it's likely Jerome Williams, but does that even matter? The bullpen will be so well-rested 80 percent of the games that they'll be able to bail out Williams any time he needs it. Mike Scioscia may even grow bored in the dugout as he sits back and watches his big four eat innings night-in, night-out.

And it's not just the innings. It's the overall value to the ballclub.

According to Baseball-Reference.com's wins above replacement stat, the front four starters of the new Angels' rotation were worth 18.7 wins more than a replacement-level player last season. By comparison, the Phillies vaunted "four aces" had a combined WAR of 21.4. The Giants' top four? Just 14.8.

So while the Angels may not have the top three the Phillies do, they certainly have every bit of an elite starting rotation. Considering Pujols just got added to the offense, the rest of the American League has plenty to fear.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 11:10 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 2:07 pm
 

C.J. Wilson headed to Angels, too



By Matt Snyder


DALLAS -- Remember back in October when Angels' owner Arte Moreno said the team had no money to spend in free agency? He was evidently playing an incredible ruse on the rest of us. Not only did the Angels land the biggest fish of all Thursday morning -- signing Albert Pujols -- but they have also nabbed free agent starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, the club announced Thursday. Wilson has been signed to a five-year, $77.5 million contract, reports Jon Heyman. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler has confirmed the news and the dollar figure.

Wilson, 31, is a born-and-raised Californian. He was born in Newport Beach and attended high school at Fountain Valley. He then played college ball at Loyola Marymount -- in Los Angeles. In fact, the Marlins offered Wilson a six-year deal worth a good amount more money. Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reports the Miami offer was up to $99 million -- and Wilson's representatives believe the Marlins would have gone over $100 million. Plus, there is no income tax in Florida. So, as opposed to the what appears to have happened in the Pujols situation, Wilson wasn't chasing the money. Sure, he's not anywhere close to being poor, but it appears he left lots of money on the table to go back home.

"The Marlins definitely were the frontrunner for a while -- they offered the most lucrative deal and the most freedom, too," Wilson said in the Hilton Anatole lobby Thursday. "But by no means was I trying to break the bank here. If it was about the money, I'd be a Marlin."

"You could say it's a hometown discount," he said, noting he's been getting tons of calls and text messages from excited family and friends back in California.

MLB Winter Meetings
Wilson went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 206 strikeouts in 223 1/3 innings during the 2011 regular season, qualifying for his first All-Star Game. Also keep in mind the Rangers played in the most hitter-friendly park in the majors in 2011, and Wilson's road ERA was a sparkling 2.31.

On the flip-side, Wilson had a bad showing in the postseason, specifically with control -- this coming from a guy who constantly throws up the hash-tag #throwstrikes on Twitter before his starts. In 23 innings during the ALCS and World Series, Wilson surrendered 20 walks. He entered Game 7 as a reliever in a pivotal moment and forced home an inherited runner with a hit-by-pitch. In his career, Wilson is 1-5 with a 4.82 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 52 1/3 postseason innings.

Also, Wilson has only been a starting pitcher for two years. From 2005-09, he worked exclusively out of the Rangers' bullpen, even serving as closer for a bit. He was pretty good in 2007 and 2009, but had an awful 6.02 ERA and 1.64 WHIP in 2008 -- the season in which he accrued a career-high 24 saves. Prior to 2010, however, Wilson made the switch to being a starter at the big-league level. It stuck. He went 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA and 1.25 WHIP in 204 innings. His walk rate was bad, as he coughed up an AL-high 93 walks, but he still was a quality starter by nearly every measure. He got even better in 2011, serving as the Rangers' ace en route to their second consecutive World Series appearance.

Wilson did note he was disappointed that the Rangers didn't push for him very strongly.

"I would have shot myself in the foot to stay in Texas," he said.

He just didn't have the chance. In fact, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels jokingly said to Wilson, "any chance I can get you to sign with the Marlins," instead of going to an AL West rival (per Scott Miller).

Instead, Wilson has gotten his big payday and returned back home -- still in the AL West.

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Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:52 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 11:06 am
 

What's next for the Cardinals?



By Matt Snyder


DALLAS -- A Cardinals legend is leaving St. Louis and headed to Los Angeles, as Albert Pujols has signed with the Angels. For many, the main question here is, where do the Cardinals go from here?

There are several moving parts. Let's sort through them.

• As far as first base, the Cardinals already had a backup plan. Lance Berkman can shift right back to first, where he's best suited defensively anyway. This eliminates an awful defensive hole in the outfield, though it is obviously a defensive downgrade at first base, as Pujols is one of the best in the game. It was very unlikely the Cardinals would pursue Prince Fielder or even a lesser free agent first baseman like Carlos Pena before we knew about the Allen Craig injury. With the injury, do the Cardinals get hasty and go large after Fielder? It doesn't seem like a good bet, but we do know the Cardinals had a truckload of money they were about to spend and now haven't been able to do so. So feel free to speculate away.

MLB Winter Meetings
• It's entirely possible this changes the landscape for free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Multiple reports had Rollins close to signing with the Phillies, but instead his agent didn't meet with them Wednesday night. Interestingly enough, Rollins' agent is Dan Lozano. Yes, the same Dan Lozano who represents Pujols. And the Cardinals have a need at shortstop ... and for a leadoff hitter. They were said to be interested in Rollins a bit ago, but obviously all efforts were focused on Pujols until Thursday morning. He's gone now, though, so we may very well see Rollins get a nice offer from the Cardinals. Maybe even a panic-type deal. There is still a feeling Rollins is headed back to Philly, but the Pujols signing very much affects the market for the All-Star shortstop.

• In the outfield, the Cardinals now have a predicament. They were set to go with Berkman, Jon Jay and Matt Holliday. If Pujols left, Berkman would slide to first base and Craig would become the everyday right fielder. The problem is, Craig is likely out until May. And you never know how players will bounce back from knee surgeries. What if there are setbacks? So this poses a big problem. It looks like it's Skip Schumaker in right, for now, and there isn't really much better the Cardinals can do -- assuming their free agent focus turns to Rollins, which I fully expect.

• One last thing, we have to remember the Cardinals are getting back a healthy Adam Wainwright. They won the World Series last season without their ace. And now he's back. So the starting pitching will be improved.

And it better be, because the Cardinals just lost the best player of the last decade.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com