Tag:Hot Stove League
Posted on: January 14, 2011 4:41 pm
Edited on: January 14, 2011 4:42 pm
 

Twins, Pavano closing in


We all know Carl Pavano is probably going to sign with the Twins, but for some reason the process is taking forever. Well, it looks like our wait might be over soon, as Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports the Twins expect an answer from the right-hander early next week.

There have been concerns Minnesota might not be able to spring for both Pavano and Jim Thome, but with the Twins bringing Thome back at a somewhat reasonable $3 million and no recent chatter about anyone else actively pursuing Pavano, it looks like he'll be back at Target Field.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: January 14, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Twins bring back Jim Thome; Balfour to A's

ThomeThe Twins are bringing back DH Jim Thome, as the club's Twitter feed announces. Kelly Thesier of MLB.com reveals the deal is for $3 million, with salary incentives based on playing time.

Thome, who played for Minnesota in 2010, cranked 25 home runs and could reach 600 career blasts provided he hits 11 in 2011.

While that normally wouldn't be a problem for Thome, playing time may factor in his chase for 600. Thome largely served as a platoon DH for the Twins, playing primarily against right-handers. However, Justin Morneau's concussion opened the door to ample playing time which may be in short supply with Morneau returning and Delmon Young proving worthy of additional playing time.

While the 40-year-old can't play full-time these days, he may struggle to see 250 at-bats in 2011. The Rangers were speaking to Thome about a possible deal, but Texas would have been hard-pressed to guarantee Thome more playing time than Minnesota.

The Twins will have Morneau at first base, Young in left and Michael Cuddyer in right field. That leaves Thome frozen out along with Jason Kubel in what should be a pretty dire roster crunch.

BalfourIn other news, the Athletics are poised to sign Grant Balfour, with only a physical standing in the way as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. ESPN's Buster Olney adds that Balfour will receive $8.1 million over two years, a pretty penny for a reliever but in a market where relievers are getting outrageous deals, it's not too terrible relatively.

Balfour should setup closer Andrew Bailey and could step in for a few saves himself. The Rays will receive Oakland's second-round pick as well as a compensatory first-round pick, giving Tampa 10 picks prior to the second round.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 14, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: January 14, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Report: Royals to sign Francis

FrancisJeff Francis is headed to the Royals, as ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reports.

The left-hander certainly picked a good spot to go to, as the Royals' starting pitching rotation lacks even one "for sure" starter in no danger of losing his job.

The rotation, expected to be headlined (not the Leonardo DiCaprio-type headlining... more like "The Situation" in Jersey Shore) by Luke Hochevar and Francis figures to slide in the No. 2 spot with Vin Mazarro, Kyle Davies and Sean O'Sullivan behind him. 

Once the beacon of Colorado's future, Jeffrey Franchise finished 2010 with an even 5.00 ERA in 104 1/3 innings (20 games, 19 starts) after missing 2009 thanks to surgery to repair a torn labrum in the left shoulder. 

Francis also finished 2008 with an ERA north of 5.00 at 5.01, but prior to that had a two-year run of success, helping lead the Rockies to the 2007 World Series with a 4.22 ERA in 215 1/3 innings, posting a 17-9 record.

Francis was very unlucky in 2010, as his xFIP revealed a mark of 3.94. His ERA was much higher thanks to a poor defense behind him and poor rate of stranding baserunners. Working against Francis, however, is his propensity to be hit hard as he's given up just over 20 percent of line drives (league average: around 18 percent) in all batted balls in 2008 and 2010.

Someone who struggles to crack 88-mph with his fastball isn't quite a solution for the AL, but Francis is extremely stingy with the walks (1.98 BB/9 in 2010). With just a small change in luck, Francis could end up giving the Royals 180 average to above-average innings in the rotation, which is nothing to sneeze at.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 13, 2011 9:05 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2011 9:35 pm
 

Yankees sign Rafael Soriano

SorianoIn a season wrought with more frustrations than answers, the Yankees have agreed to terms with closer (now setup man) Rafael Soriano, as CBSSports.com's Scott Miller confirms. The deal is thought to be for three years and $35 million according to Yahoo! Sports' Tim Brown.

Both the Yankees and Soriano found the free-agent market chilly, so the two have hooked up on a deal that will put Soriano on track to succeed Mariano Rivera as closer when Rivera's two-year deal runs out.

Soriano posted the best ERA of his career for the Rays in 2010 after coming over in a deal with the Braves. His 1.73 ERA and league-leading 45 saves led Tampa Bay to the playoffs and he was supposed to cash in with a lucrative contract over the winter. While he certainly ended up with a lucrative deal, it was far less than he was reported to be seeking, and he'll be receiving the deal as a setup man, not closer. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay receives a third first-round pick and will have nine prior to the start of the second round thanks to compensation picks. They could yet earn one more pick with Grant Balfour still out on the market.

For those wondering why Soriano would commit to three years when the soonest he can close is 2013, the player retains the right to opt out of the deal after the first and second year, as SI.com's Jon Heyman reports. Don't bank on that happening, as Soriano would be hard-pressed to find a deal dishing out roughly $12 million annually, especially without save numbers to bolster his case. 

Although GM Brian Cashman declared the club was going to retain its first-round pick, clearly netting Soriano has changed things. The Yankees had ample dollars in their budget, but had nowhere to spend it other than Soriano. So hey, might as well. Plus, the lack of a first-round pick is not a major issue in an environment where New York can just pluck players later in the draft with high bonus demands that slip.

Soriano and Mariano Rivera will combine to earn just over $26 million as the eighth and ninth-inning pitchers of choice.

Does it make up for missing out on Cliff Lee? Not at all, but it does help soften the blow as the Yankees will now be able to go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox in the later innings.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: January 13, 2011 5:15 pm
 

Report: Padres to sign Qualls

Chad Qualls
Chad Qualls is in serious need of a bounceback season. Pitching half his games at Petco Park would be helpful toward that end.

Qualls is nearing a one-year deal with the Padres worth about $2 million with a club option for 2012, according to FOXSports.com. A one-year deal was probably all he was going to get after his disastrous 2010, and it's in his best interests to see whether he can re-establish himself. In case he does, this deal gives the Padres another year of Qualls at what they'd hope would be a below-market cost.

The 32-year-old right-hander started last season as Arizona's closer and was the ugliest part of the Diamondbacks' very ugly bullpen. After collecting 24 saves in 2009, Qualls had an 8.29 ERA and 12 saves in 43 appearances in 2010 before the Diamondbacks dumped him on the Rays at the trade deadline for a player to be named later. His peripheral numbers in Arizona suggested he'd be more successful in the second half, and he was, though he was still ineffective with a 5.57 ERA and a 1.429 WHIP.

There was a pretty good amount of reported interest in Qualls this winter, and the Padres could use some bullpen options after losing four relievers since the end of the season. Qualls is a Type B free agent, so the Rays will get a supplemental first-round pick. The Padres will not surrender a pick.

-- David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: January 13, 2011 11:29 am
Edited on: January 13, 2011 4:21 pm
 

D-Backs to sign super sub Bloomquist

Willie Bloomquist
Jon Heyman of SI.com reports via Twitter that the Diamondbacks have agreed on a $1.05 million deal with utility man Willie Bloomquist or 2011 with a mutual option for 2012.

Bloomquist, 33, was traded from the Royals to the Reds in September and put up a combined 2010 line of .267/.299/.380. He's the ultimate utility player, having played every position on the field other than pitcher and catcher each of the past three years. He's not a big hitter (just 13 career homers in more than 2,000 plate appearances), but is a versatile defender and a speedy pinch-runner.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic notes that Arizona's bench is now likely to include catcher Henry Blanco, outfielder Gerardo Parra and primary infielders Bloomquist and Geoff Blum, with the final spot coming down to a battle between Tony Abreu, Cole Gillespie, Ryan Roberts, Brandon Allen, Wily Mo Pena and Collin Cowgill.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: January 12, 2011 9:23 pm
Edited on: January 12, 2011 9:38 pm
 

Pettitte won't start 2011 -- maybe

Andy Pettitte
The Yankees won't have Andy Pettitte in their rotation this season -- at least not for the start of it.

General manager Brian Cashman told the New York Daily News that the left-hander, who has been considering whether to retire this winter, won't be going to spring training.

"I don't think he's determined if he's officially finished or not, but he's chosen at this stage at least not to start [the season] in 2011," Cashman said. "If that ever changes he'll call us. We're not going to hound him or bother him. ... Andy's been very communicative on these issues and right now he's not in play, and if he does decide to play he'll play for us. He's a Yankee from start to finish."

Pettitte, 38, has gone 54-34 with a 4.08 ERA in the past four years, his second stint with the Yankees after three years in Houston. New York hoped to add a starter this winter but thus far hasn't, and the top-shelf options have dried up (except Carl Pavano, who isn't going back to the Yankees). The Yankees at this point will be looking to fill in from within the organization behind CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes.

"I'm actively out there," Cashman said. "It's a very thin market to be flying in right now. That's why we may have to rely on our strong farm system a little bit sooner than we expected."

Pettitte told Cashman the decision to stay home was related to his family, but he also expects to be called upon in the federal prosecution of former teammate Roger Clemens, who is slated to go on trial in July.

UPDATE: Apparently there's some kind of semantic uncertainty regarding Cashman's comments. He's now saying he just used a poor choice of words and should have said "pitch" instead of "start." I'm not sure how "he's chosen at this stage at least not to pitch in 2011" makes it any different, but now Cashman is trying to say there's no news after all. See if you can make sense of it here.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: January 12, 2011 7:58 pm
 

Manny not 'viable option' for Dodgers

Manny Ramirez
The Dodgers need an impact right-handed bat and a left fielder. Manny Ramirez needs a job. So naturally, some have wondered whether Mannywood, Part II, is a possibility.

Given the bitter taste Ramirez left with Dodgers executives when he departed Los Angeles in August, it seemed pretty unlikely they'd give him another chance, and manager Don Mattingly told the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday that it's not going to happen.

"Do I have to answer that?" was Mattingly's response when first asked about the possibility of signing Ramirez. When pushed, Mattingly said, "I don't think Manny is a viable option right now."

Ooh, but did you catch the out he left? "Right now." I think Lloyd Christmas would agree that there's still a chance.

-- David Andriesen

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