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Tag:2012 free agency
Posted on: November 4, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Phillies 'in serious pursuit' of Michael Cuddyer

By Matt Snyder

Earlier Friday evening, reports surfaced that Jim Thome had agreed to terms on a one-year contract with the Phillies. On the heels of that, Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly is now reporting that the Phillies are "in serious pursuit" of utility player Michael Cuddyer.

Cuddyer, 32, has played his entire 11-year career for the Twins. He's played everywhere except shortstop and catcher in a major-league game before (yes, he even has one inning on the hill under his belt), but he's best used at the corner outfield spots or first base. Team that with the fact that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and left fielder Raul Ibanez is a free agent, and Cuddyer appears to be a perfect fit. He could fill in at first base while Howard recovers, if Thome can't handle the position defensively (which is a decent bet), or serve as the everyday left fielder throughout the season.

Cuddyer made the All-Star team for the first time in 2011. He hit .284 with 20 home runs, 70 RBI, 70 runs, 11 stolen bases and an .805 OPS. He has the reputation as a high-character player and would absolutely be a fit for the Phillies. Oh, and if it matters, word is that Cuddyer and Thome are good friends.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 7:03 pm
Edited on: November 5, 2011 4:33 pm
 

Jim Thome signs with Phillies

By Matt Snyder

Jim Thome spent three seasons in Philadelphia and now he's headed back for one more. He has agreed to a one-year contract with the Phillies, the team announced Saturday. The contract is worth $1.25 million.

One would expect Thome's role to simply be a left-handed power bat off the bench, as he hasn't played more than a three games in the field in a season since 2005. General manager Ruben Amaro said as much after the signing:

“We’re very happy to be able to bring Jim back to Philadelphia at this point in his career,” said Amaro in a statement.  “He will be an option for Charlie to use off the bench each night and brings a great attitude to the ballpark every day.”

Other than a symbolic appearance at third base to end the 2011 season, he's been either a designated hitter or pinch hitter since 2007.

The interesting thing here is that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is recovering from surgery that repaired his torn Achilles tendon shortly after the Phillies lost to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLDS (Howard suffered the injury on the final out). Reports have indicated Howard could make it back by opening day but he's going to have to avoid any setbacks and that the timetable still seems pretty aggressive. So perhaps the Phillies try to use Thome at first in the early weeks of the season? It all depends on how much they want his bat in the lineup in comparison with how much defense they're willing to sacrifice. Thome has said that he's going to come prepared to play defense when he reports to camp this spring.

Thome, 41, became just the eighth man in baseball history to slug at least 600 career home runs when he hit No. 600 this past season as a member of the Twins. He was then traded to the Indians -- where he began his career -- in late August. Thome was with the Phillies from 2003-05, but he was only the full-time starter for the first two years. By the third year, Howard had taken over as the starter at first base as Thome battled injuries -- clearing the way for the Phillies to trade Thome to the White Sox after the season. Still, Thome definitely likes the organization.

"Every player sees the way the Phillies have done things," Thome said. "They've set the bar very, very high."

And his relationship with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is really solid.

"Everyone knows my relationship with Jimmy," Manuel said. "But he's not here because of that. He's here to contribute to our team in a positive way, both on and off the field."

The 2012 season will be the 22nd of Thome's illustrious career. He played in the World Series in 1995 and 1997, but still doesn't have a ring. Winning the World Series would seem to fill the only void left in Thome's career.

RELATED: Phillies reportedly "in serious pursuit" of Cuddyer

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 6:05 pm
Edited on: November 4, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Mets not confident in retaining Jose Reyes

By Matt Snyder

Considering free agency just began and we aren't likely to see any big names sign contracts with new teams any time soon, we have to fill the void with rumor talk. So here we are with the latest word from New York on dynamic Mets shortstop Jose Reyes. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote Friday morning about the Mets' current situation with Reyes. Basically, the Mets are showing their hand. They want Reyes back, but don't want to pay what other teams are likely to pay. The most telling quote was from a Mets "official:"

“My instinct is no shot. I think if [GM] Sandy [Alderson] asked for it, ownership would follow his recommendations. But where the money is going to go it is not going to be the best way to spend the money, not on one player and not one player with this hamstring thing.”

Hot Stove Season
Ah, yes, the hamstring "thing." Reyes was one of the most durable players in baseball from 2005-08, when he averaged 158 games per season. Since then, however, his highest number of games in a season was 133 in 2010 and he just can't seem to shake his hamstring issues, even if it's just nagging 15-day-at-a-time stints on the DL. With a guy who relies on speed, that's a problem, especially as he gets closer to 30 years old (Reyes turned 28 this past June).

Are the Mets trying to keep his value down? Or simply bracing the fan base for a Reyes departure? Or merely just telling the truth, that they'd like Reyes back but fear someone else is going to knock him over with a colossal offer?

Whatever it is, it sounds like -- as of Nov. 4, that is, as things can easily change in a matter of minutes -- that Reyes is headed to a new employer.

Hat-tip: Hardball Talk

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Nationals interested in Roy Oswalt

By Matt Snyder

After the Jayson Werth signing last season, we know the Washington Nationals aren't shy about throwing around big bucks in free agency. And just in case you aren't convinced, consider that Ted Lerner is the richest owner in baseball. So it shouldn't be a shock if the Nationals are in on some of the bigger names in the free agent market. Thus, the Friday afternoon rumor -- via Bill Ladson of MLB.com -- that they're interested in former Astros and Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt should come as no surprise.

The Nationals already have four spots on their rotation filled, assuming everyone is healthy and there are no trades involving the foursome of Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, John Lannan and Chien-Ming Wang. According to Ladson's report, general manager Mike Rizzo wants to add a veteran to sit atop the rotation.

"The type of pitcher we are looking for is a good leader-type of guy that throws a lot of innings, has shown that he can win in the big leagues and really lead our staff," Rizzo said without mentioning any names (MLB.com). "It's not by having the best stuff on the staff, but showing how to be a professional, how to be a winner, how to pitch 200 innings in a season many, many times in a career. That's kind of the guy we are looking for."

Hot Stove Season
The Nats can easily fill the final rotation spot from within the organization if they so choose. Young pitchers with pretty good potential like Ross Detwiler, Tommy Milone and Brad Peacock would be legitimate options, but it appears Rizzo doesn't want to wait. After a third-place finish -- the best-ever for the Washington Nationals -- he appears ready to become a contender. And, again, factor in the deep pockets of Lerner. Why take the chance on a youngster when they could just overpay for a proven veteran? Oswalt could fit. He might not be an ace anymore, but Strasburg as a two, Zimmermann as a three, and Lannon/Wang as the four/five guys looks like a pretty deep rotation.

Oswalt, 34, was 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 93 strikeouts in 139 innings in 2011. He battled back issues and also had a family issue at one point (when a tornado ravaged his hometown). He had thrown at least 208 innings in seven of the previous nine seasons.

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Posted on: November 4, 2011 1:46 pm
 

Agent: Mark Buehrle open to any team

BuehrleBy Evan Brunell

It's always been assumed that free agent starting pitcher Mark Buehrle would either return to the White Sox or bolt for his hometown Cardinals, but his agent assured Fox Sports that the left-hander is open to joining any team.

Buehrle should be in demand this winter as he is coming off his 11th straight season of at least 200 innings pitched. He doesn't have the stuff that makes him an ace, but he can chew up innings and with his sharp control, the 32-year-old will be coveted. Agent Jeff Berry is doing what he can to open up Buehrle's market and says he may even prefer to pitch in the National League.

“Mark is not going to eliminate any team from free-agent consideration,” Berry said. “But having pitched 12 years in the American League, the National League certainly will have some appeal to him. There is no DH. It’s obviously less of a hitter’s league. And Mark has had great success in his career against the National League.”

Buehrle has a career 3.32 ERA against NL teams, running up a 24-6 record in 271 innings with 164 strikeouts and 50 walks. Compare that to his career, which sports a 3.83 ERA. It's no surprise that Buehrle is more successful against the NL than AL as you can say that about virtually any pitcher. But the soft-tosser may especially be suited to the NL and if he lands in a situation where his home stadium is a pitcher's park as opposed to Chicago's launching pad in U.S. Cellular Stadium, he could be in line for some impressive seasons.

The only NL team that has been attached to Buehrle other than his hometown Cardinals are the Marlins, who are on the hunt for a starting pitcher and have as manager Ozzie Guillen, who oversaw Buehrle in Chicago for eight seasons.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 9:08 am
Edited on: November 3, 2011 5:58 pm
 

Juan Rivera returning to Dodgers

Juan RiveraBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Outfielder Juan Rivera may not know who will be signing his checks next year, but he does know he'll be getting one -- as the 33-year-old has agreed to a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Dodgers. The team officially announced the move Thursday afternoon.

Rivera was acquired in a trade from Toronto for a player to be named and cash after disappointing in his his first 70 games with the Blue Jays, hitting .243/.305/.360. In Los Angeles, he played more to his career averages, hitting .274/.333/.406 in 62 games, playing mostly right field, as well as left and at first base.

Rivera spent six years in Anaheim before being part of the trade that sent Vernon Wells to Anaheim in January. He was in the final year of a three-year, $12.75 million deal.

Free agent tracker: Position players | Pitchers | Outfield rankings 

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 10:05 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 5:00 pm
 

Predicting where baseball free agents will sign

Free agents

By Evan Brunell


This winter's free agent crop bolstered by some elite players hitting the market, led by Albert Pujols, who will hold the mantle of being the best player of the 21st century for quite some time. Where he ends up has been one of baseball's burning questions for two years, and the answer is finally here... and if my psychic chops are up to par, I have him returning to St. Louis.

As many as four contracts totaling $100 million could be handed out with Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes and C.J. Wilson all vying for the honor. (Five if you include CC Sabathia extending with New York for $122 million). For comparison, last winter saw three players score at least $100 million in their new deals -- Carl Crawford, Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth.

Jonathan Papelbon, Carlos Beltran, Heath Bell, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson and Mark Buehrle round out the list of 10 predictions. Hang onto your hats, because there are a couple interesting destinations I have players ending up in. If you can't get enough free-agent news, check out the predictions by all CBSSports.com experts. Or how about the free-agent tracker?

Let's get to it.

Free Agency Predictions
Player Prediction
1B Albert Pujols Cardinals
It's just too difficult to see Pujols leaving the Cardinals, and it doesn't work in his favor that many teams that could have paid for his services are all set at first base. Given the increasing likelihood that Pujols won't match Alex Rodriguez's record contract of 10 years and $275 million, it will put him squarely in St. Louis' price range, but the club has to be ready to boost its offer. If the Cards dig in and aren't willing to compromise, he will leave town. Skipper Tony La Russa retiring does throw a wrench into things, but in the end, why would Pujols leave a place he is beloved and knows he will win?
Three other possibles: Cubs, Nationals, Rangers
1B Prince Fielder Mariners
The Mariners have money -- they just haven't had an impetus to spend it just yet. But with a rapidly improving rotation, the M's are not far off from contention and can build around Fielder and second baseman Dustin Ackley, as well as Justin Smoak (they hope). Seattle's offense has been so horribly bad the last two years they really can't afford not to go after a big thumper that can change the complexion of the lineup. Having the DH works in Seattle's favor too, as they have a place to play him in the future, if and when he becomes even more of a liability on D. Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik was the one to draft and develop Fielder in Milwaukee, but has yet to really play in the free agent market since taking over the team.
Three other possibles: Orioles, Brewers, Nationals
SS Jose Reyes Giants
The Giants need a hitter and can withstand the loss of Carlos Beltran in the outfield, so expect the team to focus on a position of dire need by signing Reyes. The club has pretty much zero shortstop depth, which was exposed last year with a decrepit Miguel Tejada falling out of favor and the club cycling through shortstops the rest of the way. Reyes would be a dynamo for the Giants and would give the club the perfect leadoff man. The club has never been one to worry about losing a draft pick as compensation, and could actually work in their favor by giving them more money to allocate to Reyes.
Three other possibles: Mets, Giants, Nationals
SP C.J. Wilson Royals
Wilson is a solid pitcher, but he's a bit overrated. Teams trying to get over the hump and contend again will overlook his deficiencies to make a statement, and Kansas City is motivated to find a major-league starting pitcher that can top the rotation and bring the youngsters along. The Royals will have money to spend and can also entice Wilson by showing him how the team is on the rise, and how his signing will allow them to trade some minor-league pitchers for major-league help. He should land an A.J. Burnett/John Lackey-type deal of five years and north of $80 million.
Three other possibles: Nationals, Angels, Yankees
CL Jonathan Papelbon Papelbon
The Red Sox can't afford to let Papelbon go, not after having one of his best seasons to date. There are reports that Papelbon started emerging as a leader in 2011, which Boston obviously needs following the wake of clubhouse issues last season. In addition, retaining Papelbon allows Boston to keep Daniel Bard in his setup role where he is more valuable than he would be as a closer. Papelbon will be looking for lots of money, but will be well within Boston's price range. The club has enough issues to deal with without worrying about having to fill the closer's spot, which is one of heavy responsibility -- something Papelbon craves.
Three other possibles: Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays
RF Carlos Beltran
Marlins
The Marlins have money to spend and will be looking to make a splash heading into their new stadium. Beltran would be a popular name, especially given he is a native Puerto Rican, which the Marlins have tried to cultivate as a fan base (and have held regular-season games in Puerto Rico). There isn't any space currently in the Marlins outfield, but nothing that can't change to accommodate Beltran. Despite Beltran's advanced age, he would fit nicely in the order on a team expected to contend.
Three other possibles: Giants, Red Sox, Pirates
CL Heath Bell
Phillies
I was tempted and go rogue here, tabbing the Phillies. I do believe that Philadelphia would love Bell to be its next closer, especially if Ryan Madson doesn't return. But I can't ignore the fact that Bell would be willing to accept arbitration to stay with the Padres, which would lock him to San Diego for just one season. The small-market Pads would love having that flexibility of an elite closer under contract for just one year. Despite Bell wanting a three-year deal, the mere fact he would accept arbitration -- and said so publicly -- means that a deal will happen between both sides.
Three other possibles: Phillies, Dodgers, Twins
SS Jimmy Rollins
Phillies
Rollins probably won't get the five-year deal he thinks he deserves, but Philadelphia can't afford to mess around here. Rollins is very popular in town and while his MVP days are behind him, he is still a very good shortstop. The Phillies could be in serious trouble if Reyes and Rollins sign elsewhere, as the club has very poor infield depth. Not getting Rollins back (or Reyes as a fallback) would force the team into making a trade for a shortstop, and this is a club that needs to start hanging onto its minor-league talent. With an entire infield in flux, it makes no sense for Philadelphia to compromise what depth they have in prospect Freddy Galvis, who is 21 and looks to need at least another full year in the minors.
Three other possibles: Giants, Brewers, Mariners
Buerhle SP Mark Buehrle Yankees
The White Sox are "letting the kids play" in 2012, but that doesn't necessarily signal a rebuilding. There is enough talent on the squad that, if things break right, could leave Chicago in contention. Any deal would likely be predicated on what Chicago does with Carlos Quentin and John Danks, the two prime pieces that could be traded. Buerhle's loyalty factors in here too -- he wants to either be a White Sox or pitch for his hometown Cards. But if St. Louis resigns Pujols and closes its checkbook and the White Sox raze the team, he'll have to seek employment elsewhere. The guess here is Buerhle comes back, even if a ring isn't likely.
Three other possibles: Yankees, Cardinals, Marlins
CL Ryan Madson Blue Jays
The Blue Jays need a closer and are an up-and-coming team. Their market is large, and that club can eventually support a payroll north of $100 million. While Toronto is better off keeping much of its finances in its back pocket until a better free-agent class, Madson makes too much sense for the Jays to pass up. His market will be depressed thanks to the amount of closers available in free agency, plus the fact he doesn't have a history of closing beyond 2011. The Jays will want a young closer, and Madson will fit the bill as one of the youngest available -- he's the same age as Papelbon, but will come at a lesser price.
Three other possibles: Phillies, Red Sox, Rangers

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 10:05 pm
Edited on: November 3, 2011 1:49 pm
 

2012 CBSSports.com free agent predictions

By Evan Brunell

Which free agents will end up where?

That's the burning question facing the CBSSports.com experts, who have submitted predictions for where some top free agents on the market will go.

Eye on Baseball's Evan Brunell further explains his predictions here, while Larry Dobrow thinks that Prince Fielder will stay in the NL Central, but move a bit south and join Theo Epstein in Chicago. Meanwhile, Gregg Doyel cheekily predicts New York and Boston will open up their wallets and dominate the market. One question, Gregg: With Derek Jeter, Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins all Yankees, where do they play!?

2012 Free Agency
Position rankings
Resident baseball columnists Danny Knobler and Scott Miller agree that Pujols will return to St. Louis and Rollins to Philadelphia, but past that it's a free-for-all. The biggest surprises? Knobler has Jose Reyes joining the Tigers, presumably shoving Jhonny Peralta to third. Scott Miller likes Reyes to the Giants, while calling for Carlos Beltran to join the Pittsburgh Pirates. Yes, really. Knobler, on the other hand, tabs Beltran to the Marlins.

Eye on Baseball's C. Trent Rosecrans and Matt Snyder have their own surprise picks. For one, Rosecrans has Albert Pujols to the Marlins. Can you imagine? Snyder, meanwhile, is the only person to predict a shortstop heading to Seattle with Rollins apparently headed northwest. Brunell was the only other person to believe Seattle will play in the free-agent market, as Fielder heads to Seattle in his predictions.

Speaking of Fielder, no one could agree on his landing spot. He could be headed virtually anywhere in the United States. It will be a major surprise if he doesn't land at one of the places projected, but with Fielder, anything goes. The person with the biggest consensus as to his destination is closer Jonathan Papelbon, with five of seven experts predicting he'll return to Boston.

Oh, and that guy named Pujols? Most see him back in St. Louis.

2012 MLB free agent predictions
  Evan
Brunell
Larry
Dobrow
Gregg
Doyel
Danny
Knobler
Scott
Miller
C. Trent
Rosecrans
Matt
Snyder
Albert Pujols
Prince Fielder
Jose Reyes
C.J. Wilson
Jonathan Papelbon
Carlos Beltran
Heath Bell
Jimmy Rollins
Ryan Madson
Mark Buehrle

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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