Tag:free agency
Posted on: December 26, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Cubs sign Andy Sonnanstine to split contract

By Matt Snyder

The Cubs have signed free agent pitcher Andy Sonnanstine to a split contract, the club announced Monday. A split contract means the player will be paid a different salary for minor-league days than he will be for major-league days. It's a little-known contract, but beneficial to use on players the club expects to be shuttling back and forth between Triple-A and the majors often -- meaning you can expect Sonnanstine to be nothing more than organizational pitching depth.

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One of new Cubs president Theo Epstein's goals upon taking the Cubs' job was to increase pitching depth throughout the entire organization. Remember, this is a Cubs ballclub that lost two starting pitchers to injury in April and would use reliever James Russell as a starter for an average of 3 2/3 innings for five starts. After that experiment failed miserably, the Cubs went outside the organization for the the likes of Doug Davis, Ramon Ortiz and Rodrigo Lopez. Obviously, Epstein doesn't want to have to go through a similar situation, so he's just grabbing all the arms he can find.

Sonnanstine, 28, fits the bill of merely providing depth. He started four games and appeared in 11 as a reliever for the Rays last season, while also making nine starts and one relief appearance in Triple-A. He was a valuable member of the Rays' rotation in their 2008 AL championship season, but hasn't been very good at all since then at the big-league level.

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 7:58 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 8:18 pm
 

Beltran signs two-year deal with Cardinals



By Matt Snyder


The St. Louis Cardinals and free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran have agreed to a two-year contract worth $26 million, both Jon Heyman and Scott Miller of CBSSports.com have confirmed. The deal also includes a full no-trade clause. The news of this deal was first reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The World Series champion Cardinals found out a few weeks ago that long-time face of the franchise Albert Pujols was headed to the Angels via free agency. Also, that same week, news broke that outfielder Allen Craig -- who was slotted to move to right field as Lance Berkman moved to first base to replace Pujols -- had surgery and will miss around two months of the 2012 season. So the Cardinals were left with a glaring hole in their lineup. Beltran easily fills that void.

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Beltran, 34, is a switch-hitter and had a big bounce-back season in 2011. He hit .300/.385/.525 with 35 doubles and 22 home runs, making his sixth All-Star Game. He battled injuries in 2009 and 2010, but -- aside from a down year back in 2005 -- Beltran has been extremely productive with the bat whenever he's in the lineup, sporting a career .857 OPS.

Beltran will now join a still-potent Cardinals batting order. Yes, losing Pujols hurts, as he's only the best player in baseball, but here's how the lineup could look for the 2012 Cardinals:

1. Rafael Furcal, SS
2. Jon Jay, CF
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Lance Berkman, 1B
5. Carlos Beltran, RF
6. David Freese, 3B
7. Yadier Molina, C
8. Skip Schumaker or Daniel Descalso, 2B

With a healthy Adam Wainwright re-joining the starting rotation and the bullpen in better shape than it was when the 2011 season began, don't underestimate the Pujols-less Cardinals. 

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 7:11 pm
 

Logan Morrison: Fake Twitter reporter

By Matt Snyder

Marlins outfielder Logan Morrison is quite the character, and he's built a pretty big following on Twitter based mostly on his sense of humor. I'll say this, even if he's not always hilarious, he's definitely interesting. Thursday afternoon, Morrison decided to play a prank on his followers by "reporting" that "Prince to Seattle is a done deal." Screen-grab:



Obviously, Morrison wasn't serious -- as he later pointed out -- but even more obviously, a good amount of people believed him. My first thought when I saw the tweet was, "here we go, tons of people will believe him." Sure enough, a good amount did -- witness the "50+" retweets (though, in fairness, lots of them knew it was a joke). Still, chalk one up for Morrison on the prank front for today, as he achieved exactly what he wanted to.

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 3:46 pm
 

Jason Marquis signs with Twins

By Matt Snyder

The Minnesota Twins have agreed to terms with free agent starting pitcher Jason Marquis. He has signed a one-year, $3 million contract, the Twins announced Thursday afternoon in a press release.

Marquis, 33, will be joining his seventh team in 13 big-league seasons. He went 8-6 with a 4.43 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 132 innings last season for the Nationals and Diamondbacks. He was a trade-deadline acquisition by the NL West champion Diamondbacks last summer, but a line drive fractured his right fibula and ended his season August 16.

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Marquis was an All-Star for Colorado in 2009 and has pitched in five different postseasons -- for the Braves, Cardinals (twice), Cubs and Rockies, respectively. He has pitched in at least 190 innings in five of the last eight seasons.

He appears to fit at the back-end of the Twins' rotation, with Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano being counted on as the top three. That leaves Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak and Marquis for two spots. The best guess is Duensing heads to the bullpen and Marquis will almost certainly be the No. 4 starter.

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Posted on: December 22, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Nats, Mets each make depth signing

By Matt Snyder

The Washington Nationals have agreed to sign utility infielder Mark DeRosa, pending physical, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned. Also in NL East news, the Mets announced via press release that they have signed catcher Rob Johnson to a minor-league contract.

DeRosa, 36, hit .279/.351/.302 in just 97 plate appearances last season for the Giants, as a serious wrist injury badly hampered him. He was a key cog in the Cubs' 2008 division championship and hit 23 home runs in 2009, but injuries and inconsistency have held DeRosa back since then. Still, he's said to be a great clubhouse guy and can still play three infield positions. Perhaps most importantly is first base, as DeRosa can back up Adam LaRoche -- who is returning from a season-ending injury -- and leave Michael Morse in left field. It's also conceivable that DeRosa could make spot starts at third to spell Ryan Zimmerman.

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Johnson, 28, hit a paltry .190 with a .544 OPS last season in 199 plate appearances for Padres. So he's a really poor hitter. There's a reason he keeps finding work, however, and that is because he works well with pitchers. He also threw out more than 35 percent of would-be base stealers in 2010 for the Mariners. As things currently stand, the Mets have Josh Thole slotted as the starting catcher, with Johnson competing for the backup job with guys like Mike Nickeas and Lucas May.

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 11:06 am
 

Beltran expected to pick between 5 teams soon

Carlos BeltranBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran will likely pick his new team before Christmas, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, noting the Cardinals are one of five teams still in contention for the switch-hitting outfielder.

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Goold writes that Beltran has "varied offers from five different teams," according to a source. The Cardinals could certainly use him in right field, the spot Lance Berkman has vacated to take over for Albert Pujols at first base. The Cardinals are also without Allen Craig, who has undergone knee surgery this winter.

Yahoo's Tim Brown wrote the Blue Jays, Red Sox and "perhaps" the Rays are interested in Beltran, while Goold notes there's another National League team in the bidding. Brown reports the 34-year-old Beltran is getting offers of two years and three years.

Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove winner, is known to want to continue to play in the field, as opposed to DH, which could give the Cardinals an advantage over the American League teams.

Goold notes the Cardinals are still interested in 32-year-old outfielder Coco Crisp, who unlike Beltran can still play center field.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 9:55 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 7:43 am
 

Blue Jays', Yankees' bids on Darvish reported

By Matt Snyder

Monday night, we found out the Rangers placed the highest bid on highly-coveted Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, a bid that was in excess of $51.7 million. Between the posting deadline and the revelation that the Rangers won, we heard a small handful of teams that were said to have placed a bid on Darvish: The Rangers, Blue Jays, Cubs and Yankees were the most named ballclubs. We know the Rangers' bid. Tuesday, we saw reports of two others.

Darvish to Texas
The Yankees put in a bid, but evidently not a very serious one. The bid by the Bronx Bombers was less than $20 million, according to ESPN New York. Many Chicago-area reporters have speculated the Cubs did something very similar. The bids basically say that they'd welcome Darvish with open arms if other teams didn't get nuts in the bidding, but had no intention of coughing up anywhere near $50 million-plus.

The Blue Jays were reportedly not in that camp. [UPDATE: CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has heard otherwise.]

The Jays reportedly posted over $50 million, according to TheStar.com, and if that was the case, they barely lost out on landing the rights to negotiating with Darvish.

“I understand the passion and the interest levels in our team,” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said (TheStar.com). “I have people come up to me in the street every day. It’s on us to provide a winning product. That’s what you want, but we want to make sure it’s done the right way.”

It's interesting to note the Jays were reportedly fully prepared to spend over $100 million -- the player is certainly going to want something in the ballpark of the posting fee, after all -- in this case. Might it be a precursor to going hard after a certain slugging first baseman? We'll see ...

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 5:37 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 6:05 pm
 

Rockies sign Casey Blake to one-year deal

By Matt Snyder

The Rockies have agreed to sign free agent third baseman Casey Blake to a one-year contract, general manager Dan O'Dowd announced to reporters during a press conference to introduce new right fielder Michael Cuddyer. The deal is worth $2 million, according to CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman. It is still pending a physical, which is especially important to remember here because Blake battled a neck injury all season. In fact, he had season-ending surgery to repair it in September.

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Blake, 38, appeared in only 63 games last season and wasn't really 100 percent when he did play. In 2010, he hit .248/.320/.407 with 28 doubles and 17 home runs.

The Rockies have a hole at third base until highly-touted prospect Nolan Arenado is ready. The 20-year-old spent last season in High-A ball, so there's no way he's ready to make the jump all the way to the bigs in time to be the opening day starter in 2012. Perhaps inking Blake to a one-year deal shows the Rockies are confident he'll be ready to take over by 2013? It's entirely possible. Of course, if Arenado's not ready, the Rockies can surely find another stopgap to sign to a one-year deal. Arenado hit .298/.349/.487 with 20 homers and 122 RBI in 134 games for the Modesto Nuts in 2011.

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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