Posted on: December 1, 2010 7:50 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2010 8:04 pm

Rockies 'close' to signing Berkman

Lance Berkman Lance Berkman is "close" to joining the Rockies, Troy Renck of the Denver Post tweets .

"Berkman told me that he would like to play for the rockies during the alcs," Renck wrote.

On Wednesday, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported Berkman was the A's top target for its designated hitter spot. The Cardianls, Cubs, Pirates and Blue Jays have also apparently shown interest in the 34-year old switch-hitter.

UPDATE: Renck "clarifies" with this tweet: "Rox have made agressive push for berkman. In berkman's hands at this pt. Rox hopeful"

Renck notes Berkman would play in the outfield and spell Todd Helton at first base. Berkman came up as an outfielder, but hasn't played in the outfield since 2007.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: November 30, 2010 5:41 pm
Edited on: November 30, 2010 6:12 pm

Blockbusters in Winter Meetings history

From December 6-9, baseball's offseason will kick into high gear as team officials, agents, players and media descend upon Orlando, Fla. This week, MLB Facts and Rumors will preview an aspect of the Winter Meetings each day. Today: Big news from past meetings.

Baseball teams have been holding winter meetings since the 19th century, and even back then big news broke. In the first offseason meetings of the National League in 1876, the New York Mutuals and Philadelphia Athletics were kicked out of the league for running out of money and skipping late-season road trips.

These days, the Winter Meetings are all about wheeling and dealing. It’s the one time of year when all the owners, general managers and agents are in one place, and all the exploratory phone calls turn into full-fledged bargaining and bidding wars.

Today we look at five of the top trades, signings and acquisitions in recent Winter Meetings history.

The Athletics send future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson to the Yankees in a massive seven-player deal: Henderson, Bert Bradley and cash to the Bronx for Stan Javier, Eric Plunk, Jose Rijo, Jay Howell and Tim Birtsas. Henderson wound up playing so long, in so many places, that the idea of him changing teams doesn’t sound like a big deal now. But at the time, he was a 26-year-old superstar who in his first five full seasons had led the league in stolen bases every year with an astonishing average of 92 per season, batted .294, was a four-time All-Star and was a Gold Glove outfielder.

The Blue Jays make a trade that helps lay the foundation for back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993, acquiring Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar from the Padres for Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff. In retrospect, this was one of the bigger trades in baseball history – all four were All-Stars who ended up with a combined 27 appearances, and three of them (sorry, Tony) have a shot at landing in the Hall of Fame.

The Rangers shock the world by giving a staggering 10-year, $252 million contract to former Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez. Even after 10 years of rapidly escalating contracts, no other player has come close to that total number or even eclipsed the single-season average salary. It was an industry-changing contract.

2006: AN MVP FOR $50,000
The Cubs snag troubled former No. 1 pick Josh Hamilton, who has fallen so far he's not even worth a spot on the Rays’ 40-man roster, for just $50,000 in the Rule 5 draft. The Cubs immediately flip Hamilton to the Reds for a $50,000 profit – think they’d give $50,000 to get him back now? The Reds weren’t the beneficiaries of Hamilton’s MVP comeback, but they did turn him into Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera a year later in a trade with the Rangers.

There was word the Marlins might be looking to deal stars Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis, but nobody anticipated them both going to the same team in a single deal. The Tigers sent six players – Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller, Dallas Trahern, Burke Badenhop, Eulogio de la Cruz and Mike Rabelo – to Miami, and amazingly, none of them really panned out. For that matter, neither did Willis. But Cabrera was a big score for Detroit.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 29, 2010 11:42 am
Edited on: November 29, 2010 12:51 pm

Giants' WS share: $317,631.29

If you're lucky, you might be getting a Christmas bonus -- but it's not going to be one like the San Francisco Giants just got.

Major League Baseball announced postseason shares for the eight playoff teams and four second-place finishers Monday morning, and the World Series champion Giants will be splitting nearly $20 million. One of the 50 full "shares" is worth $317,631.29. This is nothing to sneeze at for even the high-paid players, but it's life-changing money for some people whose names most fans don't know.

Before the postseason begins, players on contending teams traditionally have a team meeting at which they decide how shares will be divvied up. At this point, they don't know whether they are talking about second-place money (a share for the Cardinals is worth $9,679.42) or huge World Series shares. Players who have been on the team all or most of the season get full shares, as do some number of players who were with the team for part of the year (even if they ended up on different teams, which means Bengie Molina could be getting money from both the Giants and Rangers).

But players usually assign at least half-shares to the people who take care of them every day. Clubhouse attendants, trainers, clubhouse chefs, batboys. Players are usually generous toward these people anyway, tipping them at the end of the season, and giving them playoff shares is a way to reward them without directly taking money out of their own pockets.
So imagine you're a modestly paid guy who washes jockstraps for the Giants, and you wake up today to find yourself in line for a bonus worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. It's going to be a very happy holiday season.

Heres' the breakdown of payout by team, as released by MLB:


San Francisco Giants (Share of Players' Pool: $19,764,779.19; value of each full share: $317,631.29) - 50 full shares, 9.89 partial shares and 5 cash awards.


Texas Rangers (Share of Players' Pool: $13,176,519.46; value of each full share: $246,279.55) - 44 full shares, 8 partial shares and 12 cash awards.


Philadelphia Phillies (Share of Players' Pool: $6,588,259.73; value of each full share: $123,140.50) - 43 full shares, 10.42 partial shares and 1 cash award.

New York Yankees (Share of Players' Pool: $6,588,259.73; value of each full share: $110,302.97) - 43 full shares, 15.75 partial shares and 1 cash award.


Minnesota Twins (Share of Players' Pool: $1,647,064.93; value of each full share: $30,883.43) - 42 full shares, 10.17 partial shares and 16 cash awards.

Atlanta Braves (Share of Players' Pool: $1,647,064.93; value of each full share: $29,510.57) - 48 full shares, 7.03 partial shares and 35 cash awards.

Tampa Bay Rays (Share of Players' Pool: $1,647,064.93; value of each full share: $28,141.51) - 45 full shares, 10.48 partial shares and 20 cash awards.

Cincinnati Reds (Share of Players' Pool: $1,647,064.93; value of each full share: $26,910.27) - 48 full shares, 10.01 partial shares and 20 cash awards.


Chicago White Sox (Share of Players' Pool: $549,021.64; value of each full share: $10,885.57) - 43 full shares, 6.33 partial shares and 9 cash awards.

San Diego Padres (Share of Players' Pool: $549,021.64; value of each full share: $10,118.84) - 47 full shares, 6.75 partial shares and 1 cash award.

Oakland Athletics (Share of Players' Pool: $549,021.64; value of each full share: $9,832.05) - 43 full shares, 12.5 partial shares and 3 cash awards.

St. Louis Cardinals (Share of Players' Pool: $549,021.64; value of each full share: $9,679.42) - 44 full shares, 12.05 partial shares and 4 cash awards.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 29, 2010 10:06 am

'A bunch of teams' contact Berkman

Lance Berkman
Lance Berkman is still coming to grips with not being welcomed back by the Astros, but after briefly considering retirement, he's ready to see what the next chapter will be.

"After a couple of days, I realized I can still be a really good player and would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't play," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I believe God blessed me to be able to play baseball at a high level, and that's not something I take lightly."

After 12 years, the Astros, Berkman's only team, shipped him to the Yankees at the trade deadline for reliever Mark Melancon and prospect Jimmy Paredes. His agent called the Astros after the season to inquire about Berkman returning to finish his career there, but was told the team is moving on.

"It wasn't a long conversation," Berkman said.

The first baseman is still just 34, and even though his production has fallen off -- his .781 OPS in 2010 was his lowest for a full season by more than 100 points -- he said early indications are that there will be plenty of opportunities for next season.

"After initially being pretty disappointed, I've gotten over it," he said. "Now my focus is on who is going to contend that wants me to play for them. There's been a lot of interest — Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, A's, Pirates, Blue Jays, a bunch of teams. I haven't had a single offer in terms of X amount of dollars, but I think this is the time of the year when there's a lot of tire-kicking."

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: November 23, 2010 9:31 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 9:31 pm

Fully healthy, Berkman plans to bounce back

Berkman Lance Berkman doesn't think he's a declining player, although he's aware he's viewed that way.

Berkman, who may be ticketed for the Hall of Fame one day, hit .248/.368/.413 in 481 plate appearances between the Astros and Yankees last season and was largely limited to DH duties for New York. Berkman attributes his poor play on offense and limited ability on defense to his arthroscopic surgery, performed on March 12.

“My knee was hurt all year," Berkman told FOX Sports . The kind of injury I had prevented me from using my legs when I hit. In my mind, I can scratch that off and say that I’ll be healthy next year, be the player I was prior to the 2009 season. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it.

Berkman hit .312/.420/.567 in 2008 with 46 doubles and 29 home runs. While the expectation to produce at that level for someone who wil be 35 by Opening Day is a long shot, he certainly has the potential to rebound with a strong season.

"Obviously, I’ve got to get an opportunity. I’ve got to go out there and prove it. Guys get to be 34-35-36, their production starts to drop off for whatever reason. There is always that [red] flag or question mark. But in the history of game, there are plenty of guys who have been extremely productive into their middle and late 30s.

"I plan to be one of those guys who bounces back and re-establishes myself."

And it might not be at DH or first base.

"I can go back and play either left field or right field," Berkman said. "I don’t think I’d have any problem with that at all. I’ve talked to some teams that agree with my assessment of where I am physically, that think I’m still moving around good enough to play out there."

Berkman notes that Oakland has been the most aggressive about trying to get Berkman, but he simply isn't ready to DH.

"I’m certainly talking to them," Berkman says of the A’s. "But that’s a situation where they’ve got a very good young first baseman defensively [Daric Barton], and a glut of outfielders.

"I think they’re looking for a DH. I’m not ready to be a full-time DH. I’m not ruling them out. But I’m not jumping up and down excited about going out and DHing."

Berkman may not have to, as he says the Cubs have called about him filling their first-base vacancy, while a source tells FOX Sports that the Rockies have also inquired.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: November 23, 2010 5:35 pm
Edited on: November 23, 2010 5:53 pm

Orioles, Athletics interested in Reynolds

Reynolds As Kevin Towers continues to settle in as Arizona Diamondbacks general manager, there's one major problem.

Tower's hasn't pulled off a big trade yet.

OK, so he's made one small trade (Juan Miranda from the Yankees for prospect Scott Allen), but that's it. And that's not Towers' M.O., especially as he works to address Arizona's problems with striking out far too much.

Mark Reynolds is the poster boy for strikeouts, setting the single-season record for whiffs in 2008 with 204 -- and breaking it in 2009 with 223 punchouts. In 2010, he fell in between both years with 211 whiffs. (Whew -- thank goodness Reynolds only has three full years in the bigs -- not sure what fourth adjective could be used for strikeouts.)

Reynolds is coming off a brutal year where he hit just .198, but made up for it with a .320 OBP and 32 home runs. However, that's a far cry from 2009's .260/.349/.543 mark and 44 home runs. He's an elite power bat, but his strikeouts are just too staggering to ignore.

Power is in demand, however, and there are teams interested. Jayson Stark of ESPN hears that the A's are interested despite Oakland landing on Reynolds' no-trade list. In an interesting twist, Stark notes that there is "no indication [the A's would] have interest if they weren't" on the no-trade list.

Huh. Hearing that makes one recall the words of agent Don Nomura , speaking about how Oakland's trade talks broke down with Japanese client Hisanori Takahashi. Nomura said that the club's five-year, $64 million offer to Adrian Beltre was simply a PR move.

Another team interested in the third baseman's services are the Orioles, who may have soured on Josh Bell slightly after his rough introduction to the majors. An alternative that the O's may be thinking, however, is shifting Reynolds to first.

As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes, free agents consistently walk away from any offers the Orioles tender, in large part to the club's history of not contending ever since Jeffrey Maier stole a postseason victory for New York back in 1996. It doesn't help that Baltimore plays in an AL East in which all four of its contemporaries finished above .500.

Reynolds is a near lock to be traded this offseaosn, and while other teams are likely in on the hunt, it makes too much sense for Baltimore to emerge as the victor.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 22, 2010 10:42 am
Edited on: November 22, 2010 12:43 pm

Iwakuma's agent blasts A's for contract talks

Iwakuma Agent Don Nomura took to Twitter early Monday morning to correct some misinformation about the breakdown of discussions between the Athletics and Hisashi Iwakuma.

Earlier, it was revealed that Iwakuma was asking for "Barry Zito" money -- that's seven years, $126 million. However, Nomura refutes that, saying he would have accepted less than $9 million annually for Iwamura's services and that the "Zito money" comparable has the posting fee factored in. The key here is that it would have been less than $9 million annually, but payable directly to Iwakuma.

Meanwhile, Oakland was adamant about factoring in the posting fee, reported to be $19.1 million by Nomura in any contract. Using Colby Lewis' two-year, $5 million pact and Kei Igawa's five-year, $20 million deal as comparables, the A's offered $3.81 million per year over four years payable directly to Iwamura.

That wasn't going to fly with Iwamura nor his agent, who countered with Hiroki Kuroda's three-year, $35.3 million salary and Daisuke Matsuzaka's six-year, $52 million contract as comparables. Matsuzaka, for one, has an average annual salary of $17.2 million when including posting fee -- but a posting fee is not calculated for payroll concerns, so as Nomura points out, it didn't make sense for him to factor the posting fee in.

Nomura also vented about the A's blaming the player camp for asking for a lot of money after Oakland attempted to play hardball and tendered the offer as take-it-or-leave it, with a deadline Saturday to inform the public that negotiations ground to a halt. Nomura called the A's bluff and now talks are essentially dead although the actual deadline is Dec. 8. Given how the Red Sox and Matsuzaka needed every last minute of the deadline, don't be so quick to consider these talks dead.

If talks are indeed dead, Iwakuma will just play in Japan one more year and then come to the States as a free agent, open to any team for bidding. Meanwhile, Oakland will chase two free-agent pitchers as Nomura reveals, adding that the reported five-year, $64 million offer tendered to third baseman Adrian Beltre is simply a PR move.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: November 21, 2010 5:22 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2010 5:33 pm

Iwakuma poised to stay in Japan

Iwakuma When the Athletics won the posting bid for Japanese starter Hisashi Iwakuma, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Iwakuma would be MLB-bound.

Indeed, winning the bid seemingly gave the club confidence to trade Vin Mazzaro and prospect Justin Marks to the Royals for outfielder David DeJesus.

Except that negotiations have hit a snag -- Iwakuma (photo courtesy NBP ) is demanding Barry Zito money to move to Oakland, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. We're talking San Francisco Giants Barry Zito, not the cost-controlled, major-league minimum Zito that played for Oakland prior to departing as a free agent. That means Iwakuma wanted something in the neighborhood of seven years and $126 million, which no team was going to give someone who has yet to play in the majors.

Yes, Iwakuma is one of the best pitchers in Japan, but so was Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideo Nomo. It's simply not worth the risk of investment, especially when you consider Oakland is the one doing the talking. The deal wouldn't make sense even for the Yankees, but doubly (triply? quadruply?) so for the A's.

Slusser does add that the Zito comparison includes the posting fee of roughly $15-$16 million, but even factoring that, it's an outrageous request to make.

Talks have now broken off, as team and industry sources report, over the demand. Iwakuma is now poised to announce his return to the Rakuten Golden Eagles at the upcoming fanfest, although the club and player do still have until Dec. 7 to come to an accord.

Without Mazzaro, that leaves Bobby Cramer, Tyson Ross or Josh Outman as fifth starter candidates if Iwakuma does not come to the States.

Oakland will be repaid its posting fee should the two sides not come to an accord, so the A's could still strike to sign a free agent starter although the club's focus is on adding power bats.

-- Evan Brunell

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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