Tag:MLB Hot Stove
Posted on: November 10, 2011 4:49 pm

Indians interested in Japanese righty Fukuhara

By Evan Brunell

There's no shortage of rumors of Japanese players heading across the ocean to play in the MLB. There's Yu Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma, Norichika Aoki and Tsuyoshi Wada.

You can add Shinobu Fukuhara to the list.

Fukuhara has received interest from the Indians, as the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reports. The 34-year-old does not need to be posted as he is an international free agent free to sign with any team. He spent 2011 as a reliever, tossing 48 2/3 innings while punching out 59 and walking 16 en route to a 2.59 ERA. The right-hander flashes a fastball that averages out at 90-91 mph. He also, like many Japanese pitchers, has an array of pitches in his arsenal, including a curveball, cut-fastball, forkball, slider and shuuto (essentially a reverse slider).

He has also started in the past, but his last start came in 2009 and he has not extensively started in his career outside of 2004-06 after being drafted with the No. 3 pick overall in 1999.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 10:02 am

Rockies showing interest in Oswalt, Prado

By Matt Snyder

Being that it's still only November 10, it's going to be a while until most of the offseason activity even begins. It's mostly just a bunch of rumors and speculation at this point as teams get their ducks in a row. So here's your Rockies update.

Martin Prado has reportedly already been made available by the Braves via trade -- as we've previously passed along -- and the Rockies have interest, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post. As far as a return? Seth Smith interests the Braves, reports David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. (Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors)

Prado, 28, could fill a hole at either second or third base for the Rockies, where Jonathan Herrera and Ian Stewart, respectively, likely sit atop the current Rockies' depth chart at those positions. Without Smith, the Rockies could still use Eric Young Jr. or Ryan Spilborghs in the outfield alongside Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler in the outfield. Smith would then likely slide in as the left field starter for the Braves.

Also, MLB.com reports the Rockies have interest in starting pitcher Roy Oswalt to anchor the rotation. We've already heard about strong interest in Oswalt by the Nationals and at least mild interest from the Rangers and Yankees, so add the Rockies to the list.

Oswalt, 34, would definitely be the established, veteran presence if the Rockies brought him in. With Jorge De La Rosa still recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Rockies are left with some mix of Jhoulys Chacin, Alex White, Drew Pomeranz, Jason Hammel and Esmil Rogers in the starting rotation.

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Posted on: November 10, 2011 9:34 am
Edited on: November 10, 2011 4:32 pm

Norichika Aoki to be posted

By Matt Snyder

Japanese star Norichika Aoki will be posted, according to a report from a Japanese news outlet (via Yakyubaka.com). The posting system -- if you might recall from the famous cases of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Ichiro Suzuki and Kei Igawa -- is used when a player already under contract with a team in Japan wants to play in America. A Major League Baseball team submitting the highest sealed bid will pay that fee and is granted an exclusive negotiating window to sign the player. In this case, whoever decides to bid the most will pay the Yakult Swallows of the Japan Central League for the rights to negotiate with Aoki.

Aoki is 5-foot-11, 182 pounds and plays center field. He bats left-handed and throws right-handed.

"When I was in college, I really felt like wanting to play in that kind of an environment," he said (Yakyubaka.com -- translated from Japanese). "It's not without uncertainties. I haven't really compared myself to other players. I want to go the Majors because I want to go. That's it."

Aoki, 29, hit .358 with 14 homers, 63 RBI and 19 steals in 2010. He has signed on with agent Nez Balelo of CAA Sports. The agency provides Shane Victorino as a mild comparison, saying Aoki is "a Gold Glove center fielder with a high average and extra-base power."

Aoki won the Gold Glove 2006-10 and was a member of the "Best 9" (which is like an All-League team) from 2005-10. He was the fastest player in Japanese history to reach 500 hits and won the 2005 Central League Rookie of the Year.

Aoki had a down year in 2011, hitting .292 with just four homers and eight steals. CAA sports attributed Aoki's off-2011 season to being distracted by the earthquake and tsunami's effects on his hometown and adjusting a new ball.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 9:42 pm

Are Red Sox even interested in Papelbon?


By Evan Brunell

Do the Red Sox even want Jonathan Papelbon back?

The Red Sox are on the hunt for a new closer, and despite Papelbon being the best name on the market, the Red Sox don't seem all that interested in hurrying a decision along.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington said on Wednesday that while he has had dialogue with David Ortiz's agent and talks are progressing faster because the market is more easily determined, the same can't be said about Papelbon.

“With Pap, it’s a little bit more difficult, because more options in terms of the National League, more unknown about what’s out there,” Cherington told WEEI. “So [there's been] less dialogue with him, but keep the door open certainly and we’ll talk again I’m sure next week.”

So far, so good, right? Nothing out of the norm that would make you raise your eyebrow. But Cherington wasn't finished talking about Papelbon, and what he said is worth some notice. Cherington said that the Red Sox aren't obligated a courtesy call or right of refusal on Papelbon.

“Those things can happen fast sometimes,” said Cherington. “He doesn’t owe us a call. I don’t think we expect that. We expect we’ll keep the door open and keep talking. But if he gets something that he really wants and there’s a deadline on it he can take it.”

Listen to the type of language being used. As far as bringing the righty back, Cherington said twice that Boston is keeping "the door open." And yet, if Papelbon gets an offer he likes from another team, "he can take it."

It doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement for bringing Papelbon back. The Red Sox might be more interested in promoting Daniel Bard to closer and bringing in some relievers, which would allocate more money to the team to address the starting rotation and right field. Still, it's a bit surprising the Red Sox don't seem all that hurried to strike a deal with Papelbon, which could cost them the closer. Papelbon's agents, Seth and Sam Levinson, are known for working quickly while Cherington is noted to be patient.

Nothing here precludes the franchise leader in saves from re-signing in Boston, and it's possible the Red Sox are intentionally downplaying their interest in Papelbon, but it's still notable how little interest Boston seems to have.

Hot stove report: Boston interested in Carlos Beltran

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 8:25 pm

If Posada plays, won't be with Yankees

By Evan Brunell

Jorge Posada knows his time with the Yankees is done.

"I don’t think there’s even a percentage of a chance that I can come back," Posada told the New York Daily News. "There’s nothing I could control. Everything happened for a reason. I’m not bitter at the Yankees. I’m not bitter at Brian Cashman."

It was never expected that Posada would return to New York. Not after a brutal season saw him stumble to a .235/.315/.398 line in 397 at-bats, easily his worst season as a Yankee. The 40-year-old is not considered by the Yankees anymore to be a viable catcher, and they won't want to carry a backup DH who struggled to hit, even if he showed promising numbers against right-handed batters.

Posada, who has yet to decide if he is even playing next season, feels he could land somewhere as a backup catcher and DH, the New Jersey Star-Ledger writes. His best role might be in the NL, where he can back up catcher, first and be a pinch-hitter against right-handed pitchers. If Posada wants to play again next year, odds are he'll find a place as long as he's willing to play for minimal dollars. However, he sounds as if he may be done, adding in the interview that he would always be a Yankee.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 8:08 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 8:09 pm

Mariners seek a pitcher -- could it be Moyer?

MoyerBy Evan Brunell

The Mariners hope to bring in just one starting pitcher this offseason, leaving Seattle enough time to worry about how to upgrade its offense, Fox Sports writes.

The Mariners are set with Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda topping the rotation. In addition, despite Jason Vargas having a poor second half, it appears he will be back in Seattle for another season. Add in Blake Beavan, who had a solid debut last season in 15 starts, and four rotation spots are taken care of. That leaves just one more spot to go, but Seattle isn't keen on plugging that spot up for several years as three prospects in particular are nearing major-league readiness.

Given the presence of James Paxton, Danny Hultzen and Forrest Snow, who broke out last season after being taken in the 36th round of the 2010 draft, the M's will try to sign someone on a one-year deal. Fox Sports notes Jamie Moyer (pictured) as a potential fit. Moyer spent much of his productive career in Seattle, and the veteran could be a good stopgap until the pitchers on the farm are deemed ready. It's surprising that Seattle may not want someone more established given it is difficult to view Blake Beavan as a pitcher worthy of blocking another, but the Mariners are keen on giving Beavan a shot given he was part of the Cliff Lee trade in 2010.

The Mariners were the league's worst offense in both 2010 and 2011, and historically will rank among the worst of all time. Seattle needs to focus all its energies on finding offense where they can get it in free agency and trades. GM Jack Zduriencik drafted Prince Fielder in Milwaukee and saw him develop into a star, so there have been rumors that the Mariners could go after Fielder.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:32 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2011 12:53 pm

Phillies 'reconsidering' Madson deal?

By Matt Snyder

Tuesday night, it sounded like Ryan Madson re-signing with the Phillies was on the verge of getting done. Some reports indicated a deal was very close, though some other reports -- including from Scott Miller of CBSSports.com -- said nothing was finalized. Wednesday morning, things got even murkier. Miller is now reporting that the four-year, $44 million deal was agreed upon by Madson's agent, Scott Boras, and general manager Ruben Amaro, but that Amaro needed to get the deal approved by Phillies CEO David Montgomery and that hasn't happened yet (but it might).

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that the Phillies are now "reconsidering" their options. Rosenthal notes the Phillies had previously talked to Jonathan Papelbon and that it is "unclear" if they'd pursue him again.

Madson, 31, saved 32 of his 34 chances in 2011 with a 2.37 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 62 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings. It was his first season as a full-time closer.

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Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: November 9, 2011 10:34 am

Rangers 'could' go after Pujols or Fielder

By Matt Snyder

The Texas Rangers were twice within a strike of winning the 2011 World Series and most of the team is going to remain intact for next season, so they're pretty well set up. Still, it's folly for any team to simply stand pat and expect to be in the exact same position next season. So the Rangers are working on starting pitching -- we'll get to that in a second -- but an MLB.com article raised my eyebrows a bit, specifically this line:

"Sources acknowledge they are peeking at other things, and that might even include a nudge in the direction of free-agent first basemen Albert Pujols and/or Prince Fielder."

Now, let's not go crazy, especially with words like "peeking," "nudge" and "might" in there. The Rangers need pitching more than offense and still have the Mike Napoli (when Yorvit Torrealba catches), Michael Young, Mitch Moreland triumvirate that they can use at first. How much the Rangers can afford to increase payroll would also be a question. The article notes pitching is still the top priority, too.

Hot Stove Season
On the flip side, obviously Pujols or Fielder would be a major upgrade and the offense would be downright terrifying when Napoli caught, Young DH'd and either Pujols or Fielder was manning first. Either of the big name free agents would mark a defensive upgrade over Young or Napoli, especially if it was Pujols, a superb defensive first baseman. A big plus on the Rangers' chances here is that many of the large market teams won't be in on the sweepstakes for Pujols or Fielder. The Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies are set at first long-term. The Angels, Mets and Dodgers all have money issues of different varieties. The White Sox probably can't spend more and already have Paul Konerko. Who knows what direction the Cubs take? So it's possible the Rangers could sneak in and snag one of these big boppers with some of the extra revenue two consecutive World Series appearances has created.

To reiterate, though, it still feels like a longshot and pitching is the top priority for the Rangers. On that front, the Rangers are reportedly speaking with C.J. Wilson on bringing him back, in addition to having "at least some interest" in free agents Mark Buehrle, Roy Oswalt and Edwin Jackson. Moving closer Neftali Feliz into the rotation and pursuing a free-agent closer is also possible, with the article noting the Rangers have at least some interest in Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell, Francisco Cordero, Francisco Rodriguez and a few others (MLB.com).

It's still really early in the offseason. All of this could happen or none of it could, but it doesn't make it any less fun to play around with possible scenarios.

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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