Tag:free agent tracker
Posted on: December 14, 2011 3:49 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 10:08 pm

Nick Punto signs with Red Sox

By Matt Snyder

The Boston Red Sox have signed utility infielder Nick Punto to a two year contract, the club announced Wednesday night. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned the contract is worth $3 million and has up to $500,000 in incentives.

Having traded Jed Lowrie to the Astros earlier Wednesday, the Red Sox had an opening as a backup around the diamond, and Punto fills that need. Punto can play second, third or shortstop, just like Lowrie.

Punto, 34, hit .278/.388/.421 for the Cardinals last season, but that was in the small sample of just 166 plate appearances. His career on-base percentage is just .325, though, so signs point to that .388 mark being a bit out of character. Still, he has value in being able to fill in at those three positions, especially with Marco Scutaro (36) getting up there in age and Kevin Youkilis having recently battled injury woes (no more than 136 games played since 2008).

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 4:22 pm

Josh Willingham headed to Twins

By Matt Snyder

The Minnesota Twins has signed free agent outfielder Josh Willingham, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has confirmed. The deal, which is pending a physical, has been reported to be three years for $21 million by the Star Tribune.

The Twins preferred to have free agent Michael Cuddyer return to the club and were reportedly offering him a three-year, $25 million contract, but Cuddyer was initially seeking three years, $36 million -- reports CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler -- and has lowered his asking price to three years and $30 million.

Hot Stove Tuesday
Still, the Twins seem content to move on to Willingham as talks did not progress to their liking with Cuddyer.

Willingham, 32, hit .246/.332/.477 with 29 homers, 98 RBI and 26 doubles in 136 games last season for the A's.

The Twins still have several decisions to make with their outfield -- and designated hitter spot, for that matter -- so it's unclear exactly where what the depth chart looks like. That being said, Willingham will absolutely be an everyday starter, probably in left field. Ben Revere, Denard Span (long rumored in trade talks) are already on hand. At DH, the Twins can use some combination of Justin Morneau, Ryan Doumit and Joe Mauer -- whichever of the three isn't playing the field -- or even Willingham. Jason Kubel is a free agent.

As for Cuddyer, as has previously been mentioned by Heyman, the Rockies have interest in him as well as Carlos Beltran. With the Twins off the board for Cuddyer, it would seem Cuddyer now needs to turn to Colorado. And the Rockies may just get to choose between the two. We'll see.

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 7:18 pm

Red Sox ink Shoppach, Varitek very likely gone

By Matt Snyder

The assumption throughout the entire offseason was that Jason Varitek's 15-season stint with the Boston Red Sox was over, and it seems pretty official now. The Red Sox have signed Kelly Shoppach to a one-year deal. Multiple outlets are reporting (WEEI.com) that it's a $1.35 million contract. Shoppach is to serve as the backup to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Hot Stove Tuesday
Shoppach, 31, has been mired below the Mendoza line the past two seasons, hitting .196 in 2010 and .176 last season. He does have power, as he hit 11 home runs in 253 plate appearances last season and once hit 21 in a season for the Indians. The most important thing, however, is that Shoppach had an MLB-best 41 percent caught stealing percentage from behind the plate. Contrast that to dreadful 14 percent Varitek threw out, and it's easy to see why this move was made.

Keep in mind, 24-year-old Ryan Lavarnway is also providing organizational depth. He made his big-league debut last season and hit .290/.376/.563 with 32 home runs and 93 RBI in 503 plate appearances across Double-A and Triple-A. So Shoppach backs up Saltalamacchia to open the season while Lavarnway continues to grow in Triple-A, meanwhile the Red Sox can promote him when they see fit. The smart money is on Shoppach only being with the Red Sox for this one year and Lavarnway figures heavily into plans in 2013, assuming he doesn't have any setbacks. 

Varitek is a three-time All-Star and had served as the Red Sox team captain for years. He was a regular starter on the 2004 and 2007 World Series champion teams. At 39, though, he's definitely in the twilight of his playing career. It's possible some other team picks him up as a backup, but his days as a useful regular are long since past and he could very well be forced to retire.

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:48 am

Left-hander Wada nearing deal with Orioles

By Matt Snyder

Tsuyoshi Wada is nearing a two-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles, sources have confirmed to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman. The news was first reported by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.

Wada, 30, is a left-hander who is said to be a soft-tosser cut in the Jamie Moyer mold. He went 17-8 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.81 WHIP in Japan last season. He did strike out 169 batters in 169 1/3 innings, so he must be crafty.

There's already a logjam of potential starting pitchers for the Orioles. The starting five, as of now, appears to be Jeremy Guthrie, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz, but Tommy Hunter could easily figure into the mix. Plus, there's been talk of moving closer Jim Johnson into the rotation and we know Alfredo Simon can start if need be. If Wada is added, there are even more bodies vying for the five spots. It will be interesting to see what happens from there, as Guthrie -- to name just one -- has been mentioned in trade rumors for quite a while. With new leadership in place, massive changes could be on the horizon.

List of MLB free agents

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Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:32 am

Dontrelle Willis signs with Phillies

By Matt Snyder

The once-relevant Dontrelle Willis has gotten another shot -- this time on a team with a great pitching staff. The 29-year-old left-hander has signed with the Phillies, CBSSports.com Jon Heyman is reporting. The signing is pending a physical.

Willis won the NL Rookie of the Year in 2003 and was the runner-up in Cy Young voting in 2005, but he regressed in 2006, fell apart in 2007 and hasn't been able to do much of anything since. He was even demoted all the way to Class A at one point. Last season, he started 13 games for the Reds, going 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA and 1.52 WHIP.

With the Big Three, Vance Worley, Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick in Philly, don't expect the artist formerly known as D-Train to see the rotation anytime soon.

List of MLB free agents

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 9:23 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 9:40 pm

Brewers deal McGehee to Pirates

By Matt Snyder

On the day they learned Aramis Ramirez would be signing with them, the Brewers have now traded former third baseman Casey McGehee. He is headed to Pittsburgh in exchange for relief pitcher Jose Veras, the Pirates announced Monday night.

McGehee was likely to shift across the diamond and play first base, upon the arrival of Ramirez. Instead, he's out the door and headed elsewhere, and the Brewers will likely give Mat Gamel a full-time look to see if he sticks. He's yet to get an extended chance at the big-league level.

Brewers' offseason
Gamel, 26, hit .310/.372/.540 with 28 homers, 96 RBI and 90 runs in 128 Triple-A games last season. Of course, he's garnered 194 plate appearances over the past four major-league seasons and owns an MLB triple-slash line of .222/.309/.374. It could be that he's one of those "Quadruple-A players," who is really good in Triple-A but can't transition to the bigs, that he just needs time to develop in the bigs or that he's simply going to be one of those late bloomers (like Alex Gordon, though Gordon was much more heavily hyped in his younger years). We'll find out this season, unless the Brewers are able to afford Carlos Pena, which may be possible -- oh, and they're 100 percent out on Prince Fielder.

McGehee, 29, was a great find for the Brewers in 2009 and he had another good offensive year in 2010, but badly faltered last season. He hit just .223 with 13 homers and a brutal .280 on-base percentage. Still, if he rebounds to his 23-homer, 104-RBI form of 2010, this has a chance of helping the Pirates. He provides insurance in case Pedro Alvarez flops at third base again and also gives flexibility at first base, where the Pirates can use Garrett Jones, or play McGehee at first and use Jones in the outfield on occasion.

Veras, 31, is a 6-foot-6 right-hander. He had a 3.80 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 71 innings last season. He struck out 79 hitters, which is a great rate. The Brewers needed an arm in the bullpen after having lost both LaTroy Hawkins and Takashi Saito in free agency.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 5:55 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 3:11 pm

Diamondbacks sign Takashi Saito

By Matt Snyder

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms on a one-year, $1.75 million contract with relief pitcher Takashi Saito, reports CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.

Saito spent the first three seasons of his MLB career in the NL West, serving as the closer for the Dodgers for most of the 2006-08 seasons. He was an All-Star in 2007. He'll turn 42 before next season, but is still productive -- and that's a pretty cheap salary for a pitcher of his caliber.

Saito worked in 30 games last season for the NL Central champion Brewers, putting together a 2.03 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. He'll join David Hernandez in setting up for J.J. Putz, giving a very formidable trio at the end of the ballgame for Arizona. Brad Ziegler is no slouch either, and the D-Backs will now have a full season from him, so the bullpen as a whole will be improved.

List of MLB free agents

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 4:44 pm
Edited on: December 13, 2011 12:07 am

Cardinals re-sign Skip Schumaker to two-year deal

By Matt Snyder

The deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players was midnight Monday, and Skip Schumaker was one of many players facing the possibility of either arbitration or free agency -- only that did not happen. The Cardinals have re-signed Schumaker to a two-year deal with the second baseman/outfielder, the club announced via press release.

This contract buys out the final year of Schumaker's arbitration eligibility and also his first year of free agency.

Schumaker, 31, hit .283/.333/.351 in 400 plate appearances last season. He can play all three outfield positions and second base. He's played his entire career with the Cardinals and sports a career .290 batting average with a .346 on-base percentage.

Daniel Descalso is slated to open the season as the starting second baseman for the Cardinals, but with Allen Craig's injury, Schumaker could very well be the opening day starter in right field. If not, he provides depth at both positions.

Ryan Theriot has been non-tendered, so he's now a free agent.

Free Agent Tracker

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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