Posted on: December 20, 2010 11:56 am
Edited on: December 20, 2010 12:24 pm

Chan Ho Park heads to Japan

ParkChan Ho Park could have gotten a job as middle reliever with any number of teams but has instead chosen to head to Japan.

The Korean agreed to a one-year deal with the Orix Buffaloes, and Park's 17 seasons in the majors may be coming to a close. Given he would have received minimal guaranteed dollars and likely will make a similar amount in Japan, this move actually makes sense. Park can pitch closer to home and in the country where his wife grew up and will likely do well against the lesser competition.

Park split 2010 between the Yankees and Pirates, falling flat on his face in New York and recovering as a Pirate. He finished with a 4.66 ERA over 63 2/3 innings and interestingly enough, posted his best strikeout-to-walk ratio since a four-inning stint in 1995.

UPDATE: Yep, Park got over $1 million to play for the Buffaloes as SI.com's Jon Heyman reports. Hard to imagine Park doing any better stateside.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 19, 2010 1:04 pm

Lerew headed to Japan

Lerew Add another MLB player to the ranks in Japan.

NishiNippon.co.jp (translation by Yakyubaka.com) is reporting that Anthony Lerew is close to inking a deal to head to Japan. The 28-year-old will reportedly make $50 million yen for one season as Sponichi reveals. In other words, Lerew will make a shade under $600,000.

Lerew was drafted by the Braves in 2001 and had cups of coffee as a 22- 23- and 24-year-old before spending all of 2008 in the minors. He joined the Royals (surprise, surprise) and made eight starts for K.C. over the last two seasons. While his 2009 portended some promise, he got his braines beat in during 2010 despite improved K/BB numbers.

Lerew had inked with the Athletics on a minor-league deal before choosing to pursue opportunties in Japan.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Posted on: December 16, 2010 12:29 am

Darvish changing mind about majors?

Could Yu Darvish be on the way to the States?

Previously, Darvish had announced he was staying in Japan one more year, as Japan's best pitcher is going through divorce proceedings.

However, Darvish tweeted to the masses that "The situation has changed a little. Actually, a lot. Don't know what's going to happen." (Translation via Yakyubaka.com .)

What does this mean? Could it mean Darvish has changed his mind about heading to the states?

One has to think that Darvish may have gotten word of Cliff Lee jilting the Yankees... and perhaps it was made known to him that he could be in line for a major windfall should the Yankees end up bidding for his services via the posting system. Of course, if Darvish was to be posted, you'd have to expect the Rangers, plus even the Nationals, Angels and other clubs in the thick for his services.

Hang tight. If Darvish does indeed get posted, this Hot Stove season is far from over.

-- Evan Brunell

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Category: MLB
Tags: Japan, Yu Darvish
Posted on: December 14, 2010 6:07 pm

Where do Yankees go from here?

Zambrano Now that the Yankees have lost out on Cliff Lee, who could the club go after?

Well, for starters, the club has agreed to a minor-league contract with Mark Prior. Who knows, it could work out. But probably not.

Good thing there's always Andy Pettitte. The Yankees could up their offer to entice him out of retirement, but even with Pettitte, the Yankees are seeking a strong option for the rotation. Right now, it would be comprised of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova and... who knows, maybe Sergio Mitre?

Carl Pavano is the only starter left on the market that fits the bill. Any other starter would fill in at the back of the rotation, while Pavano would make a strong case to be the No. 3. One problem: The Yankees and the fans have already had their fill of Pavano. However, New York did give Javier Vazquez a second try, so you never know.

Other options reside in trade. There's obviously Zack Greinke, but there are too many reports that New York doesn't have what it takes to acquire Greinke, plus there's far too many questions on whether Greinke would even want to pitch in New York, nevermind if he could.

Other trade options include the White Sox and Gavin Floyd as the club has been willing to listen on the righty. You can bet the ChiSox would also love to listen to deals involving Edwin Jackson as Jackson was only acquired in a desperate gambit to land Adam Dunn from Washington in what remains a curious decision from the Nats in passing. However, is Jackson better than what's left on the free agent market sans Pavano? Mmm... probably not.

The name of Ricky Nolasco is also making the rounds, but Florida has said it has no plans to move Nolasco even with the two sides struggling to agree to a contract extension.

Perhaps the Cubs could be enticed to part with Carlos Zambrano (pictured). It's no secret the two sides are tired of each other, but Big Z has a hefty contract and blew away the competition near the end of 2010, so would require a strong package in return. Still, the Yankees have the money and perhaps the will to pry Zambrano away.

Past that, the Yankees could come calling for Matt Garza or James Shields, although the Rays may not want to deal within the division. Jesus Montero may be enough to change their minds.

Another option New York has is to slot in with an average pitcher and wait until 2012 to make their move for a top starter.

Problem: Unless Philadelphia declines Roy Oswalt's 2012 option, the best starter on the market is C.J. Wilson. And granted, if Wilson repeats his 2010 season, he'll be an enticing name. But that should tell you all there is to know about 2012's free-agent market.

Except there's one very important person in the Pacific that will be posted and could make major waves.

That's Yu Darvish, who has opted to stay in Japan one more season but has essentially conceded he is headed east for 2012. The Yankees -- as well as any other team -- would love to get Darvish's services, and you can bet New York will be hot to trot after the righty.

But so will any number of teams such as Washington and the Angels, so Darvish to the Yankees isn't quite a sure thing. And no, simply expecting New York to outbid everyone in the posting process is not a sure thing. For one, the Red Sox blew the Yankees away for Daisuke Matsuzaka. And second, the Oakland A's not agreeing to terms with Hisashi Iwakuma in what some believe was a gambit to keep him away from the Rangers underscored a flaw in the posting system. That is, you can bid any amount for the player but do not have to pay the fee if no terms are agreed to.

What's stopping Boston from bidding an outrageous $100 million fee (double Matsuzaka's fee) and then just simply letting him walk away?

This much is clear: the Yankees have a lot on their hands to build their rotation now that the Cliff Lee saga has ended.

-- Evan Brunell

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

Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:40 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 1:27 pm

Iwakuma hopes for changes to posting system

Hisashi Iwakuma Hisashi Iwakuma said in a news conference in Japan on Wednesday that he still hopes to pitch in the United States, likely in 2012 as he will be an international free agent next season and won't have to go through the posting system.

YakyuBaka.com has all the translations from the news conference.

"I still have my dream, but I'll need to think about things again once I earn the [international free-agent] option," Iwakuma said. "I really can't say anything right now."

Iwakuma will return to his team, the Rakuten Eagles. He said the Japanese players association is discussing possible changes to the posting system and he is "grateful"  that it's an issue.

"I don't really know what needs to be improved, but I'm hopeful things will get better," he said.

Iwakuma said he didn't hear much from the A's after they won the posting system, instead letting his agent handle everything.

"A lot of things were mentioned in themedia and I felt confused, but I don't think things ended badly," Iwakuma said. "I wasn't really sure if they needed me after I heard about the first negotiations. And then as I watched and heard about the negotiations, I was deciding I wanted to stay."

Some have speculated the A's never had much interest in Iwakuma, but just wanted to make sure he didn't end up with a divisional rival. In the end, this could bring some changes to the bidding system, but we'll see.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

Posted on: December 6, 2010 8:02 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 8:49 pm

Monday night Winter Meetings notes

Winter Meetings Day 1 of the Winter Meetings is quieting down as most media are either posting their end-of-day wraps or schmoozing in the lobby.

While many prepare for dinner and drinks, here's the latest...
  • It's a done deal: J.J. Putz has signed to close for the Diamondbacks at two years and $10 million. In one day, GM Kevin Towers has acquired three relievers. Sounds just like him.
  • Twelve -- count 'em, 12 -- have inquired on reliever Taylor Buchholz as the Providence Journal reports. The righty was one of the better relief pitchers in 2008 but has struggled with injuries the last two seasons. Buchholz was shipped from Colorado to Toronto late in 2010 and then to the Red Sox after the season. Boston then non-tendered him and would like to bring him back but the Sox will have quite the competition to work against.
  • Rays GM Andrew Friedman had a busy first day behind the scenes, even if he didn't get anything done. But enough groundwork has been laid, as he "wouldn't be surprised" to swing a trade or two by the end of the Winter Meetings, as the St. Petersburg Times relays. He needs to rebuild a bullpen and complement the offense.
  • Speaking of rebuilding the bullpen, Friedman believes he can convince reliever J.P. Howell to rejoin the Rays on a contract by the end of the week as the Times adds.
  • AOL Fanhouse's Ed Price notes that six to eight teams are interested in reliever D.J. Carrasco, who has been among the most underrated relievers the last two seasons in this humble scribe's opinion. The Mets are one such team interested.
  • Edgar Renteria appears in an Associated Press story out of Columbia and via MLB Trade Rumors , is saying there are "three options" for a 2011 deal. All options are in the NL and one of the teams is the Giants, who are thought to be interested in Renteria as a backup infielder. Renteria has said previously that he would like to end his career playing for the Cardinals or Marlins, so those could be the other clubs in play.
  • Braves GM Frank Wren says some things have caught his attention and he would like to explore these avenues as the meetings evolve. There's no indication what those avenues are, but one such avenue in Lorenzo Cain from the Brewers is probably not happening as Milwaukee is not as interested in moving Cain as the Braves were led to believe, as MLB.com notes.
  • The Reds want Miguel Cairo back and expect things to be wrapped up by the end of the week with a big-league deal as MLB.com reports.
  • The Indians are interested in talking long-term extension with Shin-Soo Choo now that Choo has received his military exemption from South Korea. He is coming off back-to-back 20-20 seasons and is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason as MLB.com relays.
  • Cleveland wants to find a defense-first third baseman to help take the pressure off the rotation that is built around groundballers. However, if a deal makes sense for the Indians for a defensively-challenged third baseman (like Edwin Encarnacion), GM Chris Antonetti wouldn't rule out such a move, says MLB.com .
  • The Twins have offered Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka a three-year deal worth $9 to $10 million. This is on top of the $5 million posting fee to be paid to Nishioka's Japanese team as AOL Fanhouse reports.
  • Doug Melvin refused to comment on Carl Pavano as Adam McCalvy of MLB.com tweets. "I'd rather not get into that," Melvin said. "I'll leave that to the rumors. You don't want to tip your hand." Sounds like Melvin just tipped his hand.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 6:20 pm

A's and Iwakuma unlikely; Cubs want Pena

Pena News and notes from around the Winter Meetings, courtesy of CBSSports.com's Scott Miller...
  • Miller spoke to A's GM Billy Beane, who says the club has not spoken to pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma in the last 24 hours. The deadline is midnight, so it looks like Iwakuma will have to wait another year to come stateside.
  • Beane also said the club wants to sign someone from a group of DHs on the market. Hideki Matsui is a possibility, and Matsui has indicated he would like to play for Oakland.
  • While the Cubs were indeed talking about Adrian Gonzalez with the Padres, nothing was ever close. The White Sox and Mariners, however, were "in hard" but Boston won out -- obviously.
  • Lastly, the Cubs need a first baseman and some pitching. A source tells Miller it could be either a starter or reliever. Carlos Pena (pictured) would be an ideal solution at first, but his price tag may be too high courtesy of agent Scott Boras, so will adopt a wait and see stance.

-- Evan Brunell

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: December 6, 2010 5:17 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 6:13 pm

Iwakuma, A's deal looking less likely

Hisashi Iwakuma With about seven hours to go to the deadline to sign Japanese right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, it doesn't look like the Athletics will be able to get a deal done.

An A's source tells CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler that they're "not even in the same ballpark" with Iwakuma.

Japanese news outlets are reporting Iwakuma is back in Japan and ready to have a press conference Tuesday or Wednesday to say that he'll pitch for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan in 2011 and then try to come to the United States in 2012.

An interesting theory was thrown out there early today by the Dallas Morning News ' Evan Grant -- could the A's have bid on Iwakuma with no real intention to sign him, but just to block him from going to divisional rivals Texas and Seattle?

Under the current system, the A's would get back all of the $19.1 million posting fee from Rakuten if they are unable to sign Iwakuma.

There's no rules prohibiting the blocking through posting, but it seems like a loophole teams could exploit. If there's no penalty, why not bid the moon in posting for every player, and keeping them from going to a rival, even if you have no interest in signing him.

The A's did trade starter Vin Mazzaro to the Royals for David DeJesus, and when that deal was done, it seemed like that would open a spot in the A's rotation for Iwakuma. Oakland will likely look elsewhere to fill that need now.

UPDATE: A's general manager Billy Beane tells CBSSports.com senior writer Scott Miller that he hasn't had any talks with Iwakuma's representatives in the last 24 hours.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com