Posted on: January 4, 2011 8:42 pm
With the first base market coming down to the nitty gritty, the Nationals and Adam LaRoche finally agreed to pair up, with the former Diamondback accepting a two-year deal, according to Peter Gammons of MLB.com.
The Orioles and Nats were doubly courting LaRoche and Derrek Lee, and when Baltimore (which reportedly offered LaRoche three years) signed Lee this deal became almost a foregone conclusion. No word yet on the financial details.
LaRoche, 31, becomes the replacement for Adam Dunn in Washington. He put up a .261/.320/.468 line at the plate with 25 home runs and 100 RBI last season and has hit 20-plus homers for six consecutive years.
Gammons reports LaRoche will take his physical on Thursday, so this deal should become official soon. He's probably just happy to know he's staying put for a couple of years after moving from the Pirates to the Red Sox to the Braves in 2009 and then staying just a season in Arizona.
-- David Andriesen
Posted on: December 31, 2010 3:53 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 4:02 pm
Your first baseman free agent signings are heating up.
First, the Orioles have signed a one-year deal with former Braves/Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee, the Baltimore Sun 's Dan Connolly tweets .
And then there's Adam LaRoche, who has been offered a two-year deal by the Nationals (tweeted by MLB.com's Bill Ladson).
The Orioles had been courting LaRoche and there were reports that he'd been offered a three-year deal worth upwards of $6 million per, but the Orioles didn't get the answer they wanted and moved on to Lee.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: December 21, 2010 5:44 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2010 5:48 pm
With no movement on coming to an agreement with free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche, the Orioles have turned their attention to Derrek Lee, Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun writes .
The Orioles had reportedly focused on LaRoche and offered him a three-year deal. That hasn't been accepted yet, and so the team has started talking again with Lee's agent, Casey lee, this week.
LaRoche, 31, hit .261/.320/.468 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI for the Diamondbacks last season, while earning $4.5 million. He's likely looking for a raise and the security of a multi-year deal, coming off his "show-me" one-year deal with the Diamondbacks.
Lee, 36, hit .260/.347/.428 with 19 home runs and 80 RBI with the Cubs and Braves last season. He was in the final year of a five-year deal with Chicago and made $13.25 million last season, a salary he's unlikely to get for 2011.
Honestly, with reports of the Orioles offering LaRoche three-years and $21 million, this sounds like a smokescreen to try to hurry LaRoche's decision to sign the deal.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: December 20, 2010 9:48 pm
Apparently Brandon Webb likes red, white and blue, because a source tells MLB.com's Bill Ladson that the Cubs and Rangers are the front-runners for former Cy Young winner Brandon Webb. The Nationals also fit the patriotic bill, but they apparently have fallen back in the running for the former Diamondback.
The Nationals have been clear about wanting a top-shelf pitcher, but might be focusing on Carl Pavano. Washington also is looking for a first baseman, and is thought to be in the market for Derrek Lee. After the Jayson Werth signing, there's going to be only so much the Nats can do financially.
-- David Andriesen
Posted on: December 20, 2010 1:58 pm
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports that Derrek Lee is seeking a deal worth about $8 million to $10 million for a one-year deal.
Carlos Pena inked for $10 million with the Cubs and Lance Berkman's deal calls for $8 million in 2011, so Lee is not being unreasonable. However, that figure may price the Padres out of Lee's budget, limiting his market to just the Nationals.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: December 18, 2010 4:46 pm
The Orioles may be closing in on a deal with first baseman Adam LaRoche, offering the former Diamondback a three-year deal worth "at least $15M and could be between $16-$18M or more," writes MASN's Jen Royle .
The Orioles haven't exactly hidden their desire for a first baseman and willingness to spend some money.
LaRoche, 31, hit .261/.320/.468 with 25 homers and 100 RBI in 2010. He's hit at least 20 home runs in each of his six full seasons in the majors, including 25 in each of the last three seasons.
LaRoche, who signed a one-year deal worth $4.5 million last January, had reportedly been looking for a three-year deal. If he's got one on the table from the Orioles for anywhere from $5 million to $6 million, it may be his best option.
The Rays, Nationals, Padres, Diamondbacks and Mariners are all still in the market for first basemen, with LaRoche and Derrek Lee the top of a depleted first base market left. Jorge Cantu, Troy Glaus, Casey Kotchman, Nick Johnson and Jason Giambi are also available.
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
Posted on: December 16, 2010 12:17 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 4:08 pm
You know, it might be time to start keeping an eye on the Athletics.
They went 81-81 last season, and their weakness was clear: They pitched great, but they couldn't hit. But Oakland has made big moves on offense so far this winter and could be poised to make another. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the A's are in "serious discussions" to get outfielder Josh Willingham from the Nationals.
When you consider that the three outfielders who made the most starts for the A's last season combined for seven homers -- yes, seven -- they're looking at a big outfield upgrade. Coco Crisp played in just 75 games last season due to injuries, but if he returns to form he'll be productive in the leadoff spot. The A's got David DeJesus, a high average guy with a little power, in November. Adding Willingham, who's good for 20-plus homers when healthy, would give Oakland a formidable outfield.
The Nationals' motivation for moving Willingham would be money. He made $4.6 million last season and is arbitration-eligible, and Washington needs to pay Jayson Werth. They also could have other moves in the works, reportedly pursuing trades for pitchers Zack Greinke and Matt Garza and bidding on first basemen Adam LaRoche and Derrek Lee.
Rosenthal said the Nationals would get two minor leaguers from the A's in exchange for Willingham.
UPDATE: Buster Olney of ESPN.com says via Twitter the teams have a deal in principle, with the Nats getting "two young players, one of whom has major league experience."
-- David Andriesen
UPDATE : The deal is done. Washington receives fireballing reliever Henry Rodriguez, who can touch 100 mph, and minor-league outfilelder Corey Brown. Reports had GM Mike Rizzo demanding more for Willingham so this is a bit of a surprise, but the motivation may have been to get the left-fielder out of town after Rizzo refused to extend Willingham.Rodriguez is the man with MLB experience and threw the second-fastest fastball in the bigs in 2010, touching 103.2 mph. He appeared in 29 games, hurling 27 2/3 innings of a 4.55 ERA, punching out 33 but walking 13. The 23-year-old will compete for the closer's job in Washington, which is wide open.
Brown, meanwhile, is a left-handed outfielder who appeared in Triple-A for the first time in 2010 as a 24-year-old. He hit just .193/.253/.378 in 148 plate appearances. He did, however, bash Double-A to the tune of .320/.415/.502 in 386 PA. With 22 stolen bases on the season, Brown could develop into a solid fourth outfielder for Washington.
Still, this package feels light for Willingham. Oh well, that's to Oakland's benefit who now have to figure out which starting outfielder hits the bench.
-- Evan Brunell
Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 9:40 pm
Okay, so all the big names are off the board now, and quite a few solid names are gone as well.
Now teams are left to fight over the scraps, and how clubs go about filling their holes with the remaining names can have major implications on a season. There will be teams who are done spending and shopping for bargain-bin pickups, teams who have been jilted and can spread money around and more.
No more Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth or Victor Martinez may not be exciting, but there's still plenty more machinations ahead. The trade market may also start heating up now that teams can more clearly identify their holes or surplus players.
So who are the top 10 free agents left?
10. Kevin Gregg
Gregg closed for Toronto in 2010 and surprisingly held his own in the AL East after years of being a miscast closer and flaming out of Chicago. He's still not a great option, but as someone willing to ink for just two years, Gregg's market may open up what with the crazy three-year pacts being handed out.
How about: The Orioles seem to be the top (only?) suitor for Gregg, so let's take the safe route here and tab Gregg to the O's. This would push Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara to setup roles, and give the O's what suddenly looks like an intriguing top three in the bullpen that could do wonders for the young rotation's confidence in nailing down wins.
9. Brian Fuentes
Fuentes is another mediocre closer but as a left-hander with strikeout stuff, is in plenty of demand as both a setup man and closer. Fuentes is looking to max out the years on his contract but has a top team in the Red Sox chasing him, plus plenty of other clubs with the financial wherewithal to import Fuentes.
How about: The Yankees. New York has money to toss around and a need for a left-handed reliever. Fuentes ranks above Pedro Feliciano in the remaining market for lefties and Fuentes may be willing to pitch just in front of Mariano Rivera. He's likely too pricey for Colorado.
8. Bill Hall
Hall revitalized his career in Boston as a super-utilityman and rediscovered the pop he left behind mid-decade in Milwaukee. Another good season would really open up his career prospects. He's been closely linked to the Dodgers, but there's no shortage of teams that would want him as a backup. The club that can offer him the most playing time is likely the team that snags him.
How about: The Dodgers. L.A. has made a habit of collecting average players and hoping quantity beats out quality. Problem: they still haven't solved their left-field conundrum. Hall makes a lot of sense here as he can back up at multiple positions and serve as insurance in case they need to move him out from left field.
7. Jim Thome
Thome is 40 years old and still bashing home runs, cranking 25 in 340 plate appearances for the Twins. However, he looks to be squeezed out by the impending return of Justin Morneau and emergence of Delmon Young. As someone who will come on a one-year deal and a cheap base salary, any team with a hole at DH has to be interested.
How about: The Rays. The market for DHs is small, but Tampa Bay are one such team that could use Thome's thump and have a DH spot -- and no potential for losing the spot -- waiting for him. In addition, Thome could benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium and the moving in of the right-field fence in Boston.
6. Bobby Jenks
Jenks has often had a tumultuous career in Chicago as Ozzie Guillen hs never been a fan. However, Jenks was actually better than Rafael Soriano in 2010. Jenks's xFIP was 2.62, while Soriano checked in at 2.81. Over the next three years, Soriano is certainly the better property, but the point is that Jenks has actually been a better pitcher these last few years than given credit for.
How about: The Rays. Yes, Tampa Bay is slashing payroll, but they still have some room to spend dollars. They have an empty bullpen, putting them in position to pick and choose from any remaining reliever out there and handing them the closer's job. Jenks, however, is the only one who would likely accept a one-year deal to rebuild his value before hitting free agency again after the year. Tampa won't complain about that. (The Jays were the original pick here, but a Hardball Talk report that has Jenks and Tampa Bay close to an agreement changed that.)
5. Derrek Lee
Lee started the year hobbled by a thumb injury, and Aramis Ramirez's own struggles compounded the issue for the Cubs. Lee bounced back in the second half and showed he wasn't cooked with the Braves. However, his stock is down enough that a one-year deal could work in his best interest -- and teams would be only too happy to oblige.
How about: The Padres. Lee is a Northern California boy, and is the best first baseman remaining on the market. The Orioles seem focused on Adam LaRoche, and the Nats are talking to LaRoche as well, but Lee should provide the bigger bang for the buck in 2011. The Padres desperately need a first baseman and could make the case to Lee that they are better positioned to win in 2011 than either the Nats or O's.
4. Magglio Ordonez
Looking past how much Ordonez was overpaid the last few seasons, you see an outfielder still capable of hitting with the stick. His agent, Scott Boras, is currently being unreasonable in salary demands but since when is that news? Of the outfielders left on the market, Mags is the best bet of all to produce in 2011.
How about: The Tigers. Detroit still needs a bat, and that outfield as comprised (Ryan Raburn-Austin Jackson-Brennan Boesch) does not look pretty. There's motivation on both sides to get a deal done.
3. Carl Pavano
Pavano is a quality starter, there's no doubt about that. He can soak up innings and function as a solid No. 3 in any rotation, but he seems to be benefiting from a positive groundswell of support as there's not much differentiating him from Joe Blanton. He's understandably trying to capitalize on a market run amok, but Pavano's injury history and advanced age is working against him here.
How about: The Twins. Minnesota wants Pavano back and Pavano wants back in the Twin Cities. It's possible that Pavano, seeking a three-year, $30 million contract, could leave money on the table to do so.
2. Rafael Soriano
Soriano is a lights out reliever but seems to be suffering from a curious lack of interest. Yes, his pedigree as a closer is one reason for that as teams are balking at four years and a high salary. One might think teams are learning their lesson when it comes to overpaying for relievers, but unfortunately it appears that teams are only getting smarter when it comes to paying closers, not relievers as evidenced by the ridiculous three-year deals handed out to relievers. But riddle me this: if someone like Matt Guerrier can get three years, how can Soriano not demand four?
How about: The Rangers. Texas is scrambling to find a pitcher to replace Cliff Lee. Pavano's a possibility, but how well can he play in that park? It may be better to go for the quality arm in Soriano and convert Neftali Feliz to a starter.
1. Adrian Beltre
The best player left on the market, Beltre can pick it with the best of them and enjoyed a strong season at the plate. There's enough question marks about Beltre's offense that he's going to have to move significantly off his salary demands unless he phones Oakland and asks for the five-year, $65 million deal to be put back on the table.
How about: The Angels. It makes too much sense for the Angels to sign Beltre. They have a gaping hole at third and missed out on Crawford. Beltre, meanwhile, has seen his suitors dwindle as the market hasn't broke in his favor. This is a match for both sides that is too obvious. Then again, the Crawford-Angels match was obvious as well. As long as Los Angeles continues to negotiate as if there are no other teams involved, they will continue to miss out. The Halos could stand to be more aggressive.
-- Evan Brunell