Tag:2012 MLB Hot Stove
Posted on: January 24, 2012 4:46 pm
 

Report: Blue Jays sign Francisco Cordero

By Matt Snyder

The Blue Jays have signed free agent reliever Francisco Cordero to a one-year, $4.5 million contract, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. Cordero appeared to be the last remaining closer on the market, but apparently he wasn't even considered that. The Blue Jays will use Sergio Santos -- who they acquired from the White Sox during the Winter Meetings -- as the closer while Cordero will set up, Rosenthal reports.

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Cordero, 36, had 37 saves in 43 chances with a 2.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings last season for the Reds. With 327 career saves, only the great Mariano Rivera has more among active pitchers.

Still, the report states Santos is the Blue Jays' man. He's only 28 and got his first closing gig last season for the White Sox. He converted 30 of 36 save chances with a 3.55 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and an astounding 92 strikeouts in 63 1/3 innings.

If nothing else, Cordero provides insurance for Santos and gives the Jays' an excellent 8th-9th inning combo. Don't underestimate the upgrade from the likes of Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch, either, as the Blue Jays tied the Angels with an AL-worst 25 blown saves last season. They finished 81-81 and 10 games behind the wild-card winning Rays.

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Posted on: January 24, 2012 3:02 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 7:04 pm
 

Prince Fielder signs with the Tigers



By Matt Snyder


Chalk up one more for the so-called mystery team. First it was Cliff Lee going to the Phillies, then Albert Pujols heading to the Angels. Now Prince Fielder has shocked the baseball world by signing with the Detroit Tigers, a team that hadn't even been remotely connected to him in rumors the entire offseason. The robust first baseman has signed a nine-year contract worth $214 million, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned.

The Tigers were recently dealt what appeared to be a pretty severe blow, as Victor Martinez tore his ACL and could miss the entire 2012 season. So there went Miguel Cabrera's lineup protection, right? Think again. Owner Mike Ilitch really wants to win a World Series championship and this signing indicates one of the strongest reactions one can even imagine to news like that.

Prince to Tigers
Heyman also notes that the finalists to land Fielder were the Nationals, Tigers and one other "mystery team." So it's entirely possible the Nationals would have come away with Fielder had Martinez not torn his ACL. It's funny how things work sometimes.

A Fielder-Cabrera combo in the middle of that order will dominate AL Central pitching. Throw Justin Verlander into the mix, and the Tigers have three of baseball's biggest stars.

Fielder, 27, hit .299/.415/.566 with 38 homers, 120 RBI, 95 runs and 36 doubles last season for the NL Central champion Brewers. He finished third in MVP voting and also took home the All-Star Game MVP. Though Fielder is a large man, he is as durable as they come. He hasn't played in less than 157 games in a season since becoming a regular. He played in all 162 last season, following up seasons where he appeared in 161 and 162 games, respectively.

The smart money with Fielder and Cabrera is a split at first base, with the other serving as the designated hitter. Then again, what if the Tigers got nuts and tried to shove Cabrera back across the diamond to play third base again -- where he began his career? That would mean the infield defense would be awful, but would also leave room for a better hitting DH than Brandon Inge (who, at this point, looks like the third baseman). And if Victor Martinez comes back healthy? It works even better.

The Tigers won the AL Central by 15 games last season. Even if Martinez misses all of the 2012 season, Fielder is a pretty sizeable upgrade to the offense. So it would appear the division is the Tigers' to lose.

For now, though, the only details that really matter are that Prince Fielder is heading to Detroit -- where his father once held down the middle of the order -- and he's going to make a whole lot of money.



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Posted on: January 23, 2012 10:33 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 6:53 pm
 

Orioles sign Wilson Betemit

By Matt Snyder

The Baltimore Orioles have signed free agent infielder Wilson Betemit to a two-year contract worth $2.75 million, according to CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman. There's also a $500,000 signing bonus and a $3.25 million vesting option for the 2014 season.

Betemit began 2011 with the Royals and was then traded to the Tigers, where he hit the ball well as their most frequently started third baseman the last two months of the season. He's a journeyman, no doubt, as the Orioles will mark his seventh team in 10 seasons.

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Betemit, 30, hit .285/.343/.452 with eight homers, 46 RBI and 40 runs in 359 plate appearances last season. He was terrible in the playoffs, however, and the Tigers let him walk.

Betemit can fill many different potential needs for the Orioles. Mark Reynolds is an absolute butcher at third, so the O's could use Betemit at third and DH Reynolds. Betemit could also DH himself. And if Brian Roberts doesn't recover from his concussion symptoms, Betemit is an option there, too, along with Robert Andino. Then there's strikeout machine Chris Davis at first base, who has still yet to prove he can hit major-league pitching for large samples at a time.

Simply put: Betemit will have plenty of chances to earn playing time these next two seasons in Baltimore. The only question is where he slots.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 9:08 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 10:04 pm
 

Free agent Cody Ross agrees to sign with Red Sox

By Matt Snyder

Free agent outfielder Cody Ross will sign with the Red Sox, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has confirmed. Heyman has learned the contract is for one year and $3 million.

Ross provides necessary insurance in the outfield for the Red Sox now that Carl Crawford had to undergo surgery on his wrist and is questionable for opening day. Plus, it's possible Ross ends up being the starter over Ryan Sweeney in right field anyway.

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Ross, 31, hit .240/.325/.405 with 14 homers and 25 doubles last season. It marked a disappointment, as this was coming on the heels of him playing postseason hero for the 2010 World Series champion Giants.

So, yeah, not exactly impressive numbers from Ross in 2011, but Sweeney's triple slash line was .265/.346/.341 and he only hit one home run. And if Crawford isn't ready to start the season, these are the starting corner outfielders. The other alternatives at this point are Mike Aviles -- who may be splitting time at shortstop with Nick Punto -- and Darnell McDonald.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:44 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 8:09 pm
 

Blue Jays sign Omar Vizquel

By Matt Snyder

Omar Vizquel's career will be extended yet another season. The now-utility infielder has signed a one-year contract with the Blue Jays. He confirmed the news himself on Twitter Tuesday night. Assuming Vizquel makes it to opening day with the Jays, it will be his 24th season in the majors.

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Vizquel, 44, used to be an All-Star shortstop and routinely took home the Gold Glove while providing good offensive production, but those days are far in the rearview mirror. Now he's simply a bench player. Last season, he appeared in just 58 games for the White Sox, hitting .251/.287/.305 with 18 runs scored. He played all four infield positions at some point.

The Blue Jays will be Vizquel's sixth team.

Amazingly, Vizquel is not likely to be the oldest player in baseball -- even though he'll turn 45 in late April. Tim Wakefield has him beat and 49-year-old Jamie Moyer just signed a minor-league deal with the Rockies.

Vizquel is just 159 hits away from the coveted 3,000, but he only had 137 hits combined in the past two seasons. Still, he could very well make it there if he keeps finding work.

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Posted on: January 23, 2012 7:09 pm
 

Report: Cordero narrows field to four teams

By Matt Snyder

With Andrew Bailey traded and Ryan Madson's signing out of the way, the market for free agent closer Francisco Cordero has finally surfaced. The latest report comes from MLB.com and says that Cordero expects to sign by the end of this week. He is reportedly choosing from four suitors, including the Angels. The other three teams are not mentioned in the report.

If Cordero does land with the Angels, it wouldn't be surprising at all. They currently have Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins at the back-end of the 'pen and don't seem comfortable with any of the three closing. Walden did so last year and even made the All-Star team, but he blew 10 of his 42 save chances.

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It wouldn't be surprising if the 24-year-old Walden ended up being the Angels' closer of the future, as he has great stuff, but adding a veteran like Cordero would be preferable for manager Mike Scioscia.

Cordero, 36, had 37 saves in 43 chances with a 2.45 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 42 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings last season for the Reds. With 327 career saves, only the great Mariano Rivera has more among active pitchers.

As for who the other three interested teams are, your guess is as good as mine. The short list of teams who are in need of a closer (Astros, White Sox, Orioles) doesn't seem to include teams willing to spend. The Angels really seem like the most logical fit.

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Posted on: January 22, 2012 6:04 pm
Edited on: January 22, 2012 10:21 pm
 

Mariners agree to sign Kevin Millwood

By Matt Snyder

The Seattle Mariners and free agent pitcher Kevin Millwood have come to an agreement on a contract, CBSSports.com insider Jon Heyman has learned. It is a minor-league contract with an invite to camp, but Heyman notes Millwood has a good chance to make the team -- maybe even the rotation -- as Mariners skipper Eric Wedge managed Millwood in Cleveland.

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Millwood, 37, nearly retired last season as he failed to find work for much of the spring. Finally he struck up a minor-league deal with the Yankees. After not making the majors come May 1, he was granted free agency and signed by the Red Sox. Then, in August, the Red Sox released Millwood and he was scooped up by the Rockies. For Colorado, Millwood went 4-3 with a 3.98 ERA and 1.22 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings.

The right-hander was an All-Star for Atlanta, but that was all the way back in 1999. In addition to the familiarity with Wedge, Millwood played in the AL West for four seasons, as he was in the Rangers' rotation from 2006 through 2009.

As I alluded to earlier, the Mariners could have a rotation spot for Millwood. After having traded Michael Pineda to the Yankees, the only certainties in the Seattle rotation are Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas. Hisashi Iwakuma is probably the third man, with Millwood, Blake Beavan, Charlie Furbush and Hector Noesi competing for the final two spots. And, of course, last season's first-round draft pick Danny Hultzen is waiting in the wings -- possibly even breaking camp in the rotation and causing that aforementioned group to fight for one spot.

Millwood is 163-140 with a 4.10 ERA and 1.32 WHIP in his 15-season career.

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Posted on: January 21, 2012 11:02 am
Edited on: January 21, 2012 1:46 pm
 

Ryan: Rangers unsure of Fielder's demands

Prince Fielder

By C. Trent Rosecrans


Prince Fielder is still a free agent, but it may be because Fielder and agent Scott Boras haven't told anyone exactly what they're looking to get in a new contract.

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Rangers president Nolan Ryan said he doesn't know what it would take to sign Fielder, despite having meetings with the slugger and the superagent. Speaking to ESPN Dallas 103.3 (via the Washington Times), Ryan said he didn't know what it'd take to sign Fielder.

"Hard to say," Ryan said. "Because they've never made a firm proposal to us. They talk in generalities and numbers and other people's contracts, and so you can speculate what it is. One time they're talking eight years, one time they're talking 10 years, one time they're talking about a contract bigger than Ryan Howard's in Philadelphia."

Howard signed a five-year, $135 million extension in 2010 that begins in the 2012 season. Howard's contract will pay him $20 million in the next two seasons and $25 million in the last three with a $23 million club option  for 2017 with a $10 million buyout. Fielder, though, is five years younger than Howard.

There's also Albert Pujols' megadeal out there as well for comparison. Pujols signed a 10-year deal worth $240 million.

Another member of the Rangers' brass, co-chairman of the board Bob Simpson, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the Rangers aren't necessarily out of the bidding for Fielder, but would need Fielder's price to come down and accept a backloaded deal.

"If they come around to something we can do, we'll take a look at it," Simpson told the newspaper.

However, Simpson told reporters (via the Star-Telegram) that the team would rather re-sign Josh Hamilton than Fielder. Hamilton is a free agent after the season. Simpson said it's unlikely the team could afford both.

"My personal preference, at this moment, would be to re-sign him instead of having Fielder. But we could all debate that," Simpson said. "The organization has its feelings. Everybody dreams about having both. Sometimes you can’t have both at some level. If they came around to something we’d do, we’d look at him. But we don’t think it’s likely."

The Nationals and Rangers are the teams most often linked to Fielder, but don't be surprised if a "mystery team" gets involved -- and remember the "mystery team" has a pretty good track record the last two seasons, signing both Cliff Lee and Pujols.

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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