Tag:free agency
Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:33 am
Edited on: January 27, 2012 11:54 am
 

Phillies sign Pierre to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

Free agent outfielder Juan Pierre has signed a minor-league contract with the Phillies, the club announced Friday.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

The 34-year-old Pierre is a true pro in every sense of the word, but his on-field value at this point isn't much. He hit .279 last season, but he rarely walks and has no power, so his .657 OPS is pretty poor. Plus, he's a corner outfielder now, so the lack of power hurts his value even more. He did steal 27 bases last year, but was caught stealing 17 times.

Pierre is only going to be providing depth for the Phillies, though it's not too much a stretch to see him playing quite a bit at some point. Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence aren't going anywhere, but the left field job belongs to Laynce Nix right now, with John Mayberry the backup. You'd think Domonic Brown would get another look, but if not, Pierre is waiting in the wings.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 9:43 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 9:45 pm
 

Report: Giants agree to deal with Clay Hensley

Clay HensleyBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Giants have added right-hander Clay Hensley to the bullpen, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports. The one-year, major-league deal is worth $750,000 with another $300,000 in incentives and awards, pending a physical, according to Crasnick.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

The 32-year-old Hensley was originally drafted by the Giants in 2002, but was traded to San Diego when he was still a minor-leaguer. He's pitched six seasons for the Padres and Marlins, going 6-7 with a 5.19 ERA for the Marlins last season, striking out 46 in 67 2/3 innings, starting nine games among his 37 starts.

Hensley had seven saves in 2010 when he put up a 2.16 ERA in 68 appearances -- all in relief -- for the Marlins. Overall he's 24-26 with a 3.94 ERA in 211 games and 49 starts.

With the Giants, Hensley will at the front of the team's bullpen, behind the likes of closer Brian Wilson and set-up men Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, Jeremy Affeldt and Javier Lopez.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 11:11 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 11:18 am
 

Brad Lidge signs 1-year deal with Nationals

Brad Lidge

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Nationals have signed former Phillies closer Brad Lidge to a one-year deal, the team announced on Thursday.

FREE AGENT TRACKER


The 35-year-old Lidge appeared in just 25 games for the Phillies last season because of a shoulder injury. His 2010 was limited by an elbow injury.

Lidge was 0-2 with a 1.40 ERA in those 25 games last season, but managed just 19 1/3 innings, striking out 23 and walking 13, putting up a WHIP of 1.500.

With Washington, the right-hander will likely serve as a setup man for closer Drew Storen and right-hander Tyler Clippard.

Lidge has 223 career saves with the Astros and Phillies over 10 seasons, accumulating a 26-31 record and a 3.44 ERA.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 10:49 pm
 

Reds sign Francis to minor-league contract

By Matt Snyder

Free agent pitcher Jeff Francis has signed a minor-league contract with the Cincinnati Reds, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Francis, a 31-year-old left-hander, was 6-16 with a 4.82 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 91 strikeouts in 183 innings for the Royals last season. He was once an effective starter, but that was back in 2006-07 with the Rockies.

Not only that, but the Reds have plenty of starting pitching. Mat Latos and Johnny Cueto are the top two in the rotation, with Bronson Arroyo, Mike Leake and Homer Bailey in tow as well. Plus, left-handed fireballer Aroldis Chapman is being converted to a starter this spring as well. So even if Francis gets a nod in the rotation before long reliever Sam LeCure, he is the seventh option.

On the other hand, Latos, Cueto, Arroyo, Leake and Bailey are all right handed. If Chapman doesn't cut it as a starter, it's entirely possible Francis gets a look as the fifth starter at some point, just to have a lefty in there.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 8:04 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 10:40 pm
 

Keppinger close to signing with Rays

By Matt Snyder

The Rays are close to an agreement with free agent infielder Jeff Keppinger, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. The news was first reported Wednesday night by the Tampa Bay Times, which reported that we should expect the signing by the end of the week.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Keppinger, 31, split last season between the Astros and the Giants. He only appeared defensively at second base, which was a departure from his utility infielder role in the previous five seasons. He hit .277/.300/.377 with 20 doubles. He is a career .281 hitter with a .332 OBP.

Keppinger won't be counted on as an everyday starter with the Rays. They already have Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez to play up the middle. Reid Brignac can backup shortstop, so Keppinger looks likely to be the backup at second base. That also means he's an available fill-in if Ben Zobrist plays in the outfield, where he started 33 games in 2011. But, again, this won't be happening regularly as the Rays have Desmond Jennings, B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce in the outfield.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:59 pm
 

Marlins sign Austin Kearns to minor-league deal

By Matt Snyder

Tuesday brought us the Prince Fielder signing and -- to an obviously much lesser extent -- Francisco Cordero signing. Wednesday? How about Austin Kearns? Yeah, that's all we've got to pass along in terms of free agents signing on this day. But it is a transaction nonetheless, as the Miami Marlins have signed Kearns to a minor-league contract, which includes an invitation to spring training, the club announced Wednesday afternoon.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

Kearns was a first-round pick of the Reds back in 1998 and was then considered one of baseball's top prospects back in 2001 and 2002. Things haven't quite gone as expected, however, as Kearns will now be joining his fifth franchise. He hit .200/.302/.287 with two homers and seven RBI in just 174 plate appearances last season for the Indians. He's still not old, at age 31, so there's hope of getting him back to a 2007-type level, when Kearns was a full-time player for the Nationals and hit .266/.355/.411 with 16 homers and 35 doubles.

If Kearns does make the team, don't expect him to be a starter. Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are firmly entrenched as the Marlins' corner outfielders. This was a depth signing.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 3:26 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 4:41 pm
 

Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt top free agents left



By C. Trent Rosecrans


With Prince Fielder finally off the market, we're officially in free-agent left-over time, with most of the big-name, big-money guys enjoying new contracts.

So, who is left? That's a good question. The best players available are starting pitchers -- with Edwin Jackson and Roy Oswalt leading the charge -- but in our free-agent tracker, only one position player (Derrek Lee) among the top 25 free-agent position players is available, while three top 25 pitchers remain (Jackson, Oswalt, Javier Vazquez).

Here's the best player -- and the rest -- among the remaining free agents at each position as we get closer and closer to spring training:

Ivan RodriguezCatcher: Ivan Rodriguez. OK, he's a big name, a future Hall of Famer, but he's also 40 -- and a catcher. Rodriguez, 156 hits from 3,000, adjusted to being a backup catcher last season and it's the role he'll play if he can find a team for 2012.
Others available: Jason Varitek, Ronny Paulino, Ramon Castro, Jason Kendall.

Derrek LeeFirst base: Derrek Lee. The 36-year-old finished the 2011 season in Pittsburgh and had a nice finish to the season, hitting .337/.398/.584 with seven homers in his return to the National League Central after struggling in Baltimore for most of the first half of the season. However, he did miss nearly a month after breaking a bone in his left wrist shortly after joining the Pirates. Lee could retire, CBSSports.com Insider Jon Heyman reported.
Others available: Casey Kotchman, Conor Jackson, Ross Gload, Russell Branyan.

Jeff KeppingerSecond base: Jeff Keppinger. The Giants non-tendered the 31-year-old infielder who struggled in his 56 games in San Francisco. Keppinger hit just .255/.285/.333 as the team's everyday second baseman, well off his career .281/.332/.388 line. Keppinger brings versatility with the ability to play any of the infield positions, and he's also played in the outfield. He could be a fit with the Mariners, Yankees or Rays.
Others available: Aaron Miles, Carlos Guillen.

Mark TeahenThird base: Mark Teahen. Our top third baseman was recently released to make room for a 41-year-old relief pitcher, what does that tell you? The Blue Jays acquired the 30-year-old Teahen in three-team deal that sent Edwin Jackson and others to St. Louis and Colby Rasmus to Toronto. Teahen hit .200/.273/.300 with the White Sox and Blue Jays, playing both corner infield and outfield spots, in addition to handling some DH duties. Another positive is that he often tweets pictures of his two adorable boxers.
Others available: Eric Chavez, Bill Hall, Alex Cora.

Ryan TheriotShortstop: Ryan Theriot. Theriot is versatile, with the ability to play pretty much anywhere on the field -- but he's best suited, defensively, to second base. He started the 2011 season as the Cardinals' starter at shortstop, but there's a reason the team went out to get Rafael Furcal. He hit .271/.321/.342 for the Cardinals last season, but at this point he's likely best suited as a utility player.
Others available: Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Felipe Lopez.

Yoenis CespedesOutfield: Yoenis Cespedes. While we have J.D. Drew ranked higher, he's expected to retire soon, leaving the extremely talented Cespedes as the top available outfielder. Cespedes has just recently acquired citizenship in the Dominican Republic, so now the official courting of the Cuban center fielder can begin. The Marlins, of course, are said to be very interested, even if Cespedes is less interested in Miami. Both Chicago teams are said to have interest in him as well.
Others available: Kosuke Fukudome, Raul Ibanez, Juan Pierre, Magglio Ordonez, Corey Patterson, Rick Ankiel, Marcus Thames, Jeremy Hermida, Jay Gibbons, Milton Bradley.

Johnny DamonDesignated hitter: Johnny Damon. The 38-year-old Damon is hardly the prototypical slugging designated hitter, but he still has some value. Last season he hit .261/.326/.418 for the Rays with 16 home runs. He could be a fit in Detroit, where he hit .271/.355/.401 with eight home runs in 2010.
Others available: Hideki Matsui, Vladimir Guerrero.

Edwin JacksonStarting pitcher: Edwin Jackson. At 28, Jackson has already pitched for six different teams and could be looking at his seventh. With the White Sox and Cardinals, the hard-throwing right-hander went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA in 31 starts and 199 2/3 innings. He struck out 148 batters while putting up a 1.437 WHIP. There are recent reports that he's willing to sign a one-year deal, and is drawing interest from the Tigers. He was 13-9 with a 3.62 ERA for Detroit in 2009.
Others available: Roy Oswalt, Javier Vazquez, Rich Harden, Jeff Francis, Brad Penny, Chris Young, Brandon Webb, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Tim Wakefield, Scott Kazmir, Rodrigo Lopez, Kyle Davies, Ross Ohlendorf, Doug Davis.

Arthur RhodesRelief pitcher: Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes turned 42 during the World Series and still appeared in 51 games during the regular season and eight more in the postseason. The left-hander had a disappointing run with the Rangers after signing a two-year deal with Texas. But he returned as part of Tony La Russa's bullpen in St. Louis, earning his first World Series ring in his 19 years in the big leagues.
Others available: Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge, Dan WheelerDamaso Marte, Michael Wuertz, Zach Duke, Javier Lopez, Juan Cruz, Jason Isringhausen, Mike Gonzalez, Todd Coffey, Shawn Camp, Scott Linebrink, Hong-Chih Kuo, Jamey Wright, Chad Durbin, Brian Tallet, Hideki Luis Ayala, Micah Owings, Dan Cortes, Sergio Mitre, Tony Pena, David Aardsma, Pat Neshek, Danys Baez, Ramon Ortiz.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:08 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:50 pm
 

'Mystery Team' goes from joke to major player

Mystery Team

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Once again, the Mystery Team got its man, as Prince Fielder is headed to Detroit -- not Washington or Texas.

Last November, the idea of a "Mystery Team" was a joke -- a meme making fun of writers who dared to suggest there were things they didn't know, a team that could get by the new world order of Twitter and the 86,400 second news cycle. One blogger even called the chance of Cliff Lee signing with anyone other than the Yankees or Rangers "the invention of an agent" who was using a writer who dared to buck the status quo. That blogger even highlighted his jabs at the writer with a picture of the Mystery Machine, the vehicle of choice for Scooby Doo and pals. And it wasn't just snarky bloggers who have more jokes than information, mainstream writers got in on the meme as well.

Prince to Tigers
And then, well… Cliff Lee signed with the Mystery Team.

And so did Adrian Beltre.

But that didn't stop the barbs. After Albert Pujols went to Anaheim and now Prince Fielder to Tigers, the Mystery Team is no joke.

It's almost to the point where for the biggest of the big free agents, the Mystery Team is a favorite. And if we're not there, we're probably to the point where the Mystery Team should never be counted out of the running, and certainly to the point where it shouldn't be mocked.

The biggest reason there's more Mystery Team chatter is because there's more chatter, the people making the biggest decisions are doing so with respect to Twitter and the proliferation of outlets reporting on baseball and sports, in general. We're at the point where fans see an interviewing Theo Epstein in a Chicago Starbucks and it makes national news. The teams aren't laughing about "bloggers in their mother's basements" anymore -- it's serious stuff. If rivals learn of a team's plan, it can cost them on the field and off the field in terms of money.

In response, teams are being much more careful about where they are seen and who they are seen with. At the winter meetings, teams will use service elevators and back hallways, places unavailable to the public -- and the press -- to get around.

Also, when it comes to the highest levels of free agents, the type that could cost $100 or $200 million, you're not talking about a general manager having the final say, it's the owners who have to pull the trigger. That leads to an agent, such as Scott Boras, dealing with the money people, not the baseball people who have less of an incentive to keep quiet. The more people who know that a team is considering signing a player, the more chance it can leak out. At some point, the GM can say, "yeah, I'd love to have Albert Pujols." And that's a no-brainer. It's all up to the owner to decide if he wants to spend the money, so he meets with the agent, and maybe the player.

There are still cases like Jose Reyes, where pretty much everyone assumed he'd end up in Miami, but we're also at the point where you should never, ever count out the Mystery Team.

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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