Posted on: July 23, 2010 6:01 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2010 6:14 pm

A's give Suzuki four-year deal

The A's have reached agreement with catcher Kurt Suzuki on a four-year contract, according to several sources.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the deal includes $16.25 million in guaranteed money, with a vesting option for 2014 that would push the total value to $25-26 million. The option vests with 120 games in 2013, which doesn't seem like a problem if he's healthy -- he has played 148 and 147 games in his two full seasons. Not bad for a guy who's making $420,000 this season.

Suzuki, 26, is batting .257/.316/.408 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI.

-- David Andriesen

UPDATE: To clarify, apparently the vesting year in 2014 would be the fifth year of the deal. The four guaranteed years start now, with this contract superseding his current 2010 deal. Somebody's getting a nice check for back pay pretty soon.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 22, 2010 4:05 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2010 4:31 pm

Top international bonuses

Baseball America today released a list of the top 15 all-time international signing bonuses, and four of them have come during this year's international signing period, which began July 2.

This year's signings include No. 4, Venezuelan pitcher Adonis Cardona (Blue Jays, $2.8 million); No. 5, Dominican outfielder Ariel Ovando (Astros, $2.6 million); No. 11 (tie), Dominican outfielder Phillips Castillo (Mariners, $2.2 million); and No. 11 (tie), Venezuelan third baseman Renato Nunez (Athletics, $2.2 million).

The top signing bonus ever, $4.25 million, was given by the Athletics in 2008 to Dominican right-hander Michael Ynoa. He missed 2009 with elbow problems and has pitched three games this year in the Arizona Rookie League

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: July 20, 2010 11:29 pm
Edited on: July 21, 2010 5:20 pm

Report: Phils eyeing Oswalt, try to ship Werth

Jayson Werth Earlier today, we learned that the Phillies may make a deal for a starting pitcher who could then take the rotation spot vacated by Kyle Kendrick on Saturday.

Now, ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets that the Phillies are working on a "major deal" for a starting pitcher. Jayson Werth would be moved in another deal, likely to offset the salary Philadelphia would absorb in the acquisition of the starter. Coworker Buster Olney concurs, saying that Roy Oswalt is a logical fit.

The two starting pitchers on the market that could qualify as a major acquisition are Oswalt and Dan Haren, but Oswalt is far easier to pry. Plus, as Olney says, the Phillies have not discussed Haren, Ben Sheets (who has been linked to Philadelphia before) or any of the Rays pitchers. The Rays have been linked to Werth as they seek a major upgrade with the bat.

All that makes Oswalt the most likely name to be headed to Philly, especially given Oswalt's next start is -- surprise, surprise -- Saturday.

Complicating things is that Oswalt has a full no-trade clause and may want to be convinced by the Phillies that they have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. The Phillies may also be forced to pick up the $16 million club option for 2012, although Oswalt may not make that part of his demands. AOL Fanhouse's Ed Price reports the Astros are very close to putting the deal before Oswalt for a decision.

As for where Werth could go, that's not as obvious. Here are some candidates:
  • Braves: The Braves are thought to be 50/50 on adding another outfielder as Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports . If Nate McLouth can return from his concussion at full strength, the Braves would be fine given a hot Matt Diaz and the return of Jason Heyward. Complicating matters is that the Braves are a division rival, although Atlanta has young pitching Philadelphia undoubtedly covets.
  • Giants: The Giants are looking for a big bat, but GM Brian Sabean has been adamant that he will not acquire any rental players. Could the chance to get Werth change his mind for a suddenly streaking team who is now tied for second place, 3 1/2 behind the Padres? The Giants could move Jonathan Sanchez to Philadelphia or a stable of prospects. The Phillies will certainly have a desire to restock its farm system.
  • Padres: The division-leading Pads of the West have made no secret of their desire for Corey Hart. They can only wait so long, however, and Werth is not a bad consolation prize at all and could even be considered better than Hart, as the Philly right fielder is a five-tool player. It's unclear what pitching the Pads could possibly cough up, though, especially with Mat Latos on the DL. While they have some intriguing pieces down the farm, there are none that jump out.
  • Rays: The Rays have been seeking a big bat for quite a while, and Werth would certainly be that bat. They have a ton of pitching to deal along with prospects and could match up perfectly, with the Phillies spinning some prospects to Houston by way of Tampa. The Rays could give up Wade Davis or Jeremy Hellickson, as well as no shortage of position player prospects -- especially shortstop, where Houston might love to plug in Reid Brignac or add Tim Beckham to its farm. Olney and Stark both heard the Rays are involved in discussions with Werth, although that doesn't necessarily mean they're the front-runner.
  • Red Sox: The Red Sox could certainly use a big thumper, but the team is about to have a plethora of injured players return, one of which is an outfielder. While Jeremy Hermida doesn't make anyone quake in their boots, their outfield production has been surprisingly effective. They have inquired as to David DeJesus but find the price prohibitive, according to the Boston Globe 's Nick Cafardo. Cafardo also reports that Hart's price is too expensive, so imagine what Werth's price would be to them.
  • White Sox: The ChiSox have been hungry for Adam Dunn, but the Nationals aren't budging on an exorbitant price. A scout says that the Nationals are acting as if Dunn is like Ryan Howard -- which is not all that far off an actual comparison. Bottom line, if Dunn doesn't happen, you can't count Kenny Williams out of a deal for Werth. If Williams made Chicago's farm system available for Dunn, wouldn't it be so for Werth?
  • Yankees: The Yankees are miffed that they missed out on Cliff Lee, and despite their sudden need for a starting pitcher with the Andy Pettitte injury, certainly wouldn't turn down adding a bat to an outfield that needs it. It's unlikely Jesus Montero would be swapped, but they have enough complementary prospects to make a deal happen -- but not to the level as other teams on the list.
You can't have trade rumors without a dark horse, though.

My surprise team? The Athletics.

Think about it: They have no interest in trading Ben Sheets, which has to count for something. Then you have the team 8 1/2 games out of first but very much still in the hunt. They lost Ryan Sweeney for the year and need a stick in the middle of the order -- even when they had Sweeney. And of course, they'll recoup draft picks if/when Werth leaves as a free agent.

It'll certainly be an interesting storyline to follow.

UPDATE : And the Phillies may have just lost a little leverage. Starter Jamie Moyer left Tuesday's game with an injury and the latest report from Todd Zolecki has the lefty headed to the disabled list. Manager Charlie Manuel compared the injury to J.A. Happ's, who took over three months to get back on a mound. Ironically enough, Moyer's replacement will likely be Happ.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 15, 2010 12:05 pm

Braden a long way from perfection

Dallas Braden Ubaldo Jimenez's no-hitter has been the crown jewel of an amazing season, as he won 15 games before the break and started the All-Star Game.

Since Roy Halladay threw a perfect game May 29, he has a 2.47 ERA, has pitched seven or more innings in all but one of his starts, and ended the first half with a nine-inning shutout.

For Dallas Braden, his unforgettable perfect game on Mother's Day has been the peak of an otherwise forgettable season. He's had nothing but bad luck ever since, as the A's have lost all eight of his starts and he's gone 0-5 with a 4.31 ERA and a .304 batting average against.

The post-perfecto blues are not unheard of, points out the San Jose Mercury News. The last man to pitch a perfect game, Mark Buehrle of the White Sox, didn't win again for six weeks.

For Braden, the issue has been a bum elbow, which has kept him from throwing all his pitches. He's not a power pitcher, and without his complete repertoire, he is at a significant disadvantage. The A's finally put him on the disabled list July 3, and Thursday night he will return to action for the first time, making a rehabilitation start for Class A Stockton, which is the left-hander's hometown.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: July 4, 2010 9:47 am

Yet another young pitcher shines for A's

Clayton Mortensen The Oakland Athletics boast one of the best young starting staffs in the AL, a large reason why its future is still bright even as the squad falls further behind the AL West-leading Rangers. Even their backup starters are quality, as Vin Mazzaro has stepped in impressively for an injured Brett Anderson.

Now, Clayton Mortensen has stepped in for Dallas Braden, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with elbow tightness. The 25-year-old fired six innings, whiffing seven, walking two and allowing three earned runs in his 2010 debut after posting a 7.81 ERA over six starts.

Those six starts came between the Cardinals and A's as Mortensen was dealt to Oakland along with Brett Wallace for outfielder Matt Holliday. Mortensen has been pitching in Triple-A where he posted a 3.58 ERA in 15 starts, although that doesn't tell the whole story. In his last six starts, he's twirled the ball for a sparkling 1.85 ERA. The groundballer figures to have a future in the rotation at some point -- whether for Oakland or elsewhere.

Ben Sheets is a free agent after the year, and with Mortensen and Mazzaro (4.25 ERA in nine starts) both pitching admirably, it's likely Oakland will let Sheets walk. Even though Mazzaro received the call ahead of Mortensen, his 24/20 K/BB ratio in 42 1/3 innings may actually place him behind Mortensen for a 2011 starting gig. Despite being two years younger, he's already been lit up for seven home runs and has benefited greatly from Oakland's flyball-surpressing park and tight defense.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Posted on: July 2, 2010 11:04 am

International gold rush under way

Baseball's international signing period began at 12:01 a.m. Friday, which means we can soon expect to hear about teams throwing a cash at a bunch of 16-year-old kids in Latin America whose names you might never hear again.

Baseball America has come out with its list of the 33 players expected to get the biggest signing bonuses this year -- 16 Dominicans, 14 Venezuelans, two Colombians and one Mexican. At the top of the list is Dominican shortstop Esteilon Peguero. You can see video of him here.

Signing bonuses for international players have jumped in recent years, with nine of the 11 bonuses in excess of $2 million coming in the past two years. The record, paid in 2008 to 16-year-old Dominican pitcher Michael Ynoa by the Athletics, is $4.25 million.

About 40 percent of major-league players are from outside the United States, and most of those come through this process. Teams devote a huge amount of scouting resources to the international game, and while there are more misses than hits, players such as Miguel Cabrera ($1.9 million bonus at age 16 from the Marlins in 1999) and Felix Hernandez ($710,000 from the Mariners at age 16 in 2002) make the risks worth taking.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 30, 2010 1:51 am

Change in offensive approach sunk Fox in Oakland

Jake Fox feels that his time in Oakland didn't work out because the club asked him to change his offensive approach.

Speaking prior to Tuesday night's game in which he he didn't play, Fox said Oakland asked him to take pitches and work counts which runs contrary to his offensive approach.

"The misconception they had of me was that I'm going to go up there and swing," Fox told the San Jose Mercury News

Oakland hitting coach Jim Skaalen said it wasn't aggressivenes that the A's wanted Fox to change. It was over-aggressiveness -- "swinging at stuff that was out of the zone early in the count," he said. " I didn't mind that he was going up there ready to hit. But there's got to be a clear cut plan in mind. That was the thing that he might have taken issue with. But there's talent there."

Fox, who hit .214/.264/.327 in 106 plate appearances for Oakland was dealt to Baltimore for minor league pitcher Ross Wolf June 22. Even though Fox had problems with Oakland's offensive approach, he wasn't pleased that he had to move on.

"We wanted it to work out in the worst way, and it didn't," Fox said. "There's always a part of you that says you missed out on a really good player and you let me go before you really knew what I could do."

The utility player is 2-for-12 in his tenure with Baltimore.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 23, 2010 2:48 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2010 4:31 pm

Athletics need strong offer to move Sheets, Crisp

Ben Sheets With a 2-7 record and 4.95 ERA, Ben Sheets hasn't exactly been worth the $10 million the Athletics are paying for his services.

And yet, Oakland may not be interested in trading the right-hander. And if they do, it won't be financially motivated, says FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.

Sheets is not available unless an offer truly makes sense as the organization can absorb his $10 million deal without any difficulty. The fact he is proving to be a mentor for the squad's young pitchers is also factoring into the decision.

Rosenthal notes that even with this revelation, it doesn't mean the A's won't be sellers at the trade deadline. Coco Crisp, who was just activated off the disabled list and will finally get his season started after just three games at the big-league level. Crisp hit over .500 in his most recent rehab assignment and if he keeps it up, could be an intriguing option for teams seeking an outfielder. (Crisp was part of a discussion on Wednesday's fantasy baseball podcast , talking about the impact of the A's activating the center fielder.)

Like Sheets, however, it would take a compelling offer to move Crisp. The team has a $5.75 million option on the center fielder, and Rosenthal notes the figure can easily be fitted into the 2011 squad, where the team has a scant $39 million committed.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter.

Category: MLB
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