Tag:2012 MLB Hot Stove
Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:02 pm

NL Rookie of the Year honor belongs to Kimbrel

By Evan Brunell

While the NL was saturated with quality rookies, there was one clear candidate that stood out: closer Craig Kimbrel.

On Monday, Kimbrel's excellent season was recognized, as he was named NL Rookie of the Year. Kimbrel's 46 saves blew past the previous rookie record for saves, set by Neftali Feliz in 2010 with 40 saves. While Kimbrel was lucky enough to both hold off and benefit from dominant setup man Johnny Venters, he was wholly deserving of the award. The righty struck out an incredible 127 batters in 77 innings, posting a 2.10 ERA.

Kimbrel beat out two of his teammates in first baseman Freddie Freeman and starter Brandon Beachy for the honors. He also had to hold off Phillies starter Vance Worley and Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa. The last time an Atlanta player won Rookie of the Year was in 2000, when Rafael Furcal took home the win.

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 2:01 pm

Jeremy Hellickson named AL's best rookie

By Evan Brunell

In a race to the end, Jeremy Hellickson has emerged as the American League's top rookie, giving their Rays their second Rookie of the Year.

Hellickson, who now pairs with teammate Evan Longoria (2008) as victors, entered the season with high expectations. Tampa Bay dealt away top pitcher Matt Garza in anticipation of Hellickson stepping in seamlessly, which he certainly did. In 29 starts, he posted a 2.95 ERA. He was actually very lucky, as he struck out just 117 and walked 72, but the Rays' dazzling defense behind him didn't disappoint. Hellickson gave up just 22.1 percent of all batted balls for hits, which is remarkably below the league average of 29 to 30 percent.

But while Hellickson's peripherals pointed to a poorer season than it may have otherwise appeared, the righty still put up remarkable numbers and is poised to break out into an ace in the coming seasons.

Hellickson beat out Mariners starter Michael Pineda and Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, among others, for the honor.

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: November 15, 2011 7:00 am

Dodgers, Kemp agree to 8-year, $160 million deal


By Evan Brunell

Matt Kemp has agreed to a contract extension with Los Angeles for the next eight years, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller confirms. The deal is done, pending the outcome of a physical exam.

Kemp is set to earn $160 million on his deal with the Dodgers, which will tie Mark Teixeira for the fifth-richest contract ever signed. The deal would also become the most expensive deal in team and NL history. Teixeira's deal with the Yankees is also for eight years, running through 2016.

One interesting aspect to this deal is that the owner responsible for signing Kemp in Frank McCourt won't be around to pay the center fielder. McCourt is set to sell the Dodgers after coming to an agreement with MLB to do so, bringing to a close a saga that has plagued baseball since McCourt and his wife had an ugly divorce. Still, the incoming owner is likely to be thankful for the deal, as the Dodgers also have right fielder Andre Ethier set to be a free agent after 2012. As one of the better players in baseball, re-signing Kemp was a no-brainer although it cost a pretty penny to do so.

Previously, Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, said that it was important for Kemp to be paid and be considered among the elite players at his position. After bouncing back from a poor 2010 to join the 30-30 club and miss out on 40-40 by one homer, Kemp certainly earned the money, but is it too much? Kemp has spent six seasons in the majors, exactly three of which delivered on expectations. It was just one year ago that Kemp, coming off a down year, was thought to have a lot to prove. Apparently, he's proven worth $160 million. With the extension, Kemp would no longer be a part of the free-agent class next winter. Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal earlier reported the possibility of such a deal.

The Dodgers are also set to sign second baseman Mark Ellis to a two-year deal.

Check out CBSSports.com's Free Agency Tracker.

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 11:13 pm

Report: Diamondbacks to sign Aaron Hill

HillBy Evan Brunell

Aaron Hill will be back with the Diamondbacks next season, agreeing to a two-year deal worth $11 million, SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

Hill was left for dead in Toronto, coming to Arizona on a lark. Once someone who bashed 36 homers (2009), the 29-year-old had slid to .225/.270/.313 for Toronto this season, after yet another poor year in 2010, although he did hit 26 homers that season. Hill was sent to Arizona along with backup infielder John McDonald for another underperforming second baseman in Kelly Johnson. He liked the dry heat, breaking out for a .316/.386/.492 line in 142 plate appearances the rest of the way, slugging two homers.

However, that wasn't enough for 'Zona, who declined Hill's two-year option and set him into free agency. GM Kevin Towers declined to pay Hill an additional two years and $16 million. But a $5 million paycut was enough for Hill to agree to return as the second baseman. But Arizona won't lack for replacements just in case Hill gets off to a poor start. The club also resigned McDonald, as well as Willie Bloomquist as a hedge against Stephen Drew coming back healthy in time for Opening Day.

The team also has infielder Geoff Blum, who missed much of the season with injury. In addition, Ryan Roberts' job security at third is tenuous, so while there are quite a few infielders under contract, they don't have a sure bet at any infield position. That includes first base, which may be handed to Paul Goldschmidt after being called up in August.

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 9:13 pm

Melvin 'might' talk to Boras on Fielder


By Evan Brunell

While Brewers GM Doug Melvin said he "might" meet with superagent Scott Boras and discuss parameters around Prince Fielder, he acknowledged that there was pretty much no way the first baseman would be back in town.

“Things have changed since two years ago," Melvin told Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "We had an opportunity (to sign Fielder) and couldn’t do it. We gave money to other players who were going to be free agents. Markets can change from year to year, too.

“It takes time to see how the market develops. You never know how it’s going to play out. You don’t get a lot of information from agents at this point. They’ll listen but you don’t get a lot of direction from them.”

The Brewers offered Fielder a five-year, $100 million contract in spring of 2010, but never heard back from Fielder or his agents. Since then, there has been zero dialogue. In the meantime, the Brewers' finances changed, as it inked second baseman Rickie Weeks, right fielder Corey Hart and starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo to long-term deals. They also extended left fielder Ryan Braun for essentially the same amount of money offered to Fielder -- five years and $105 million, slated to kick in for the 2015 season. In addition, they traded for Zack Greinke, who makes good money and is a free agent after next season. Then of course, there are arbitration cased to consider. The takeaway? The money isn't there for Fielder anymore.

“It’s simple math,” said Melvin of a payroll that would inch over $70 million with half the roster to complete. The Brewers had a payroll around $95 million this past season, where they aim to remain. No Fielder, and more importantly, no big-ticket free agent. With that little flexibility, it's difficult to comprehend how Milwaukee could take on Jose Reyes without trading away another player. 

Melvin said he doesn't have any plans to tender an offer for Fielder, and if there was any offer, it would come after Fielder and Boras tested the market to know exactly what type of contract would work for Milwaukee. If Fielder does leave, and it's more like when, Melvin tabs minor-league first baseman Mat Gamel as someone who has been getting internal support to replace Fielder at first. The 26-year-old failed as a third baseman, necessitating the shift. He's had small stints with the Brewers the last four seasons, getting 61 of 85 games in 2009, when he hit .242/.338/.422.

He appears to be ready for prime time after slashing .310/.372/.540 with 28 homers in Triple-A after a successful move to first in expectation of losing Fielder. It's possible, if not likely, the club will bring in a solid veteran to complement Gamel and, if needed, step in to replace him. But Milwaukee don't need Fielder because it already has his replacement.

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Posted on: November 13, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:05 pm

Report of Reyes signing with Marlins premature

ReyesBy Evan Brunell

Despite a report by SiriusXM's Dino Costa saying Mets shortstop Jose Reyes was a Miami Marlin, CBSSports.com's Scott Miller reports that no deal has been reached yet, according to sources. Costa has already backed off his report, saying that Reyes will only be a Marlin provided Hanley Ramirez agrees to move to third base.

Earlier reports did have Reyes closing in on a deal with the Marlins, who have come out guns ablazing as they move into their new stadium next season. However, for Reyes to sign so quickly would be premature, and Miller notes that while the Marlins really want Reyes, Miami has not closed in on any deal.

For Reyes to sign with the Marlins, a spot at shortstop needs to be freed up. That's where Ramirez comes in, who has to agree to move to third -- or possibly center field -- to make room for Reyes. Earlier this week, Ramirez did not sound keen on making such a move.

Reyes hit .337/.384/.493 in 126 games for the Mets in 2011, missing time with hamstring issues but still swiping 39 stolen bases.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 10:17 pm

Cardinals won't up offer to Pujols


By Evan Brunell

The St. Louis Cardinals don't intend to up their spring-training offer to Albert Pujols anytime soon, SI.com's Jon Heyman reports.

In spring training, the Cardinals made an offer in which Pujols would have re-upped for about nine years and $210 million. Pujols rejected the offer and closed negotiations, and there was speculation that Pujols was not particularly happy with the organization. But this isn't really a surprise. That offer is still extremely competitive, with a $23.3 million annual salary that stretches across nine years. That's a very long investment for a baseball player.

Right now, only the Marlins are thought to be the other team with an offer out to Pujols. While it may well be competitive, that's not known just yet. Either way, whatever Miami submits likely will not be significantly more than St. Louis' offer. Until there are more details, more teams enter the fray and talks advance a bit deeper, there is no rush for the Cardinals to up their deal. When it comes time, though, it's difficult to imagine St. Louis not increasing their offer.

The Cardinals also made other news Saturday when GM John Mozeliak said he has Daniel Descalso projected to be the starting second baseman next season, as he tells Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

If so, this means that Skip Schumaker's time with St. Louis may be drawing to a close. Schumaker is not a particularly good defender at second base, having come up through the organization as an outfielder, debuting in 2005 and then making the switch for 2009. However, his offense has tailed off dramatically the last two seasons, and with a rising salary, Schumaker is expendable. The 25-year-old Descalso got a ton of playing time this past season, eating up a lot of time at third base when David Freese was injured.

Descalso hit .264/.334/.353, which is as good as Schumaker did and comes with a better glove and cheaper salary. Really, it's a no-brainer to non-tender Schumaker no matter what and go with Descalso if you don't find an upgrade in free agency or the trade market. Mozeliak also said he would be comfortable with Tyler Greene at shortstop, assuming they don't address their shortstop hole via other avenues. Greene is best used as a backup, and it's tough to see the Cardinals leaving short alone. But Descalso gives Mozeliak the ability to worry about other positions, knowing he will be a capable second baseman if they need him come Opening Day.

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Posted on: November 12, 2011 9:11 am

Angels won't join bidding for Fielder, Pujols

Jerry DipotoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

While owner Arte Moreno's deep pockets and the rich California market make the Angels a perceived potential landing spot for any high-priced free agent, new Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said Friday that he probably wouldn't pursue either of the two biggest names on the free agent market, Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols.

"You have to be open to the possibility, but it's not something we're going to aggressively pursue," Dipoto told reporters, including the Los Angeles Times. "I don't think you're going to get a financial bargain swimming in that pool."

That pool is already $120 million deep for 2012, including the sucking vortex that is $48 million for Vernon Wells, Torii Hunter and Bobby Abreu. Moreno has reportedly capped the team's spending for 2012 at $140 million.

"Right now, it creates confinement, but it doesn't necessarily have to say that way," Dipoto said. "That's where you can be creative in building a 25-man roster, by not including all 25 guys who are on it today."

Dipoto did acknowledge the team had contracted the agents for top free agent starter C.J. Wilson

However, Dipoto said he'd prefer to explore the trade market than sign free agents.

"A complete overhaul isn't necessary," Dipoto said. "There are tweaks to make, holes to fill. We'll exhaust all possibilities."

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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