Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:34 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 6:35 am

Rangers look at Madson but he fits Angels, others

The Texas Rangers have checked in on Ryan Madson, who's still a free agent closer. He doesn't appear to be a perfect fit, but the Rangers front office has proven to be one of the most creative and surprising in baseball over the past several years. So who knows?

The Rangers have their hand in a lot of things (currently their most pressing thing is signing star Japanese starter Yu Darvish). They did previously think about trading for Andrew Bailey, the closer traded from the A's to the Red Sox, and that's at least a sign they are considering improving a very solid bullpen.

The Rangers already have Joe Nathan, Mike Adams and if you want to count Neftali Feliz, who's moving to the rotation, well, they have him, too. Nathan was signed to be the closer after a nice second half in 2011 following his retur from Tommy John surgery, and he surely expects to be the closer. Would Madson come as a setup man? Would they ask Nathan to work in the eighth inning? While Nathan has a vast experience edge, Madson would appear to be the better choice of the two to close, as he saved 32 of 34 chances last year for the Phillies with 62 strikeouts in 60 2/3 innings.

Maybe this is just the Rangers doing their due diligence. Or maybe it's them trying to keep an eye on the rival Angels, who already have made the biggest moves of all this spring by landing big-time free agents Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, the former Rangers ace. The Rangers landed Adrian Beltre late last winter when they already had Michael Young for third base. They find a way.

Several teams have checked in on Madson. Some of them, no doubt, are just looking for a bargain on one of the better closers in the game last year. Even the Phillies are said to hcve checked back in, weeks after a potential deal with Madson blew up (GM Ruben Amaro declined to comment on that). But there's just about zero chance of a reunion there.

There's probably still a better chance Madson winds up with the Angels, who are also considering a run at him, or perhaps the Reds, who are still in the market for a closer. The Angels have publicly downplayed their chances to sign Madson. But behind the scenes, some of their people have talked about how beneficial it would be to have a veteran back-end presence to go with talanted sophomore Jordan Walden. They should have a lot of save chances. So maybe they do make a run at Madson. And maybe they perk up a bit if they think Texas might land him.

Posted on: January 5, 2012 1:59 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:50 pm

Nats, as many as 7 others, shooting for Prince

The Washington Nationals, despite their early suggestions to the contrary, do appear to be deep in the mix for star free agent slugger Prince Fielder. They may even justifiably be seen as a favorite at this point. But with several other teams showing strong interest and as many as seven or eight others showing some level of interest, it may be a bit too early to declare them as “the’’ favorite.’’

Reading all the hints, suggestions and tea leaves (not to mention deciphering the requisite downplaying of many), here’s the way I see things as we head into what might be the final several days (in order of most likely to least).

  1. Nationals. One Nationals player told me last week they were “shooting for’ Fielder, and team officials have seemed to stop downplaying their involvement, as more snippets of interest have gotten out. The Nationals have done a lot of deals with agent Scott Boras and certainly aren’t about to let the $8 million left on Adam La Roche’s contract stand in the way.
  2. Mariners. GM Jack Zduriencik, who picked Fielder No. 1 when Zduriencik was scouting director in Milwaukee, loves Fielder. The feeling apparently is mutual. The one question is whether Fielder wants to play 3,000 miles from his Orlando, Fla. home and in a ballpark that isn’t conducive to home runs (though it’s better for lefthanded hitters than righties).
  3. Brewers. Milwaukee all but publicly wrote it off around the time they signed Aramis Ramirez. But owner Mark Attanasio has built the Brewers into a phenomenon in Milwaukee, and it’s also possible Ryan Braun’s surprise banned substance issue could intensify the interest in keeping Prince. It doesn’t appear Attanasio has dived in yet, but he’s a guy who hasn’t let the small market stop him in the past.
  4. Mystery team. I have no idea even if there is a mystery team. But let’s not overlook recent history. Cliff Lee and Albert Pujols wound up going to the mystery team after weeks of talks and speculation about anyone but the Phillies and Angels, respectively.
  5. Marlins. Some Marlins execs have said they are not going for Fielder. But others have suggested that at least some of their people are quite intrigued. One possible issue: they have a team policy not to give out no-trade clauses.
  6. Rangers. The Yu Darvish pickup (and everyone believes Darvish will be signed, for something just above Daisuke Matsuzaka’s $52-million deal) likely has lessened the possibility of Prince. The Rangers clearly are now focused on Darvish, and while they could possibly afford both thanks to their new TV deal, it might be seen as something of a stretch.
  7. Orioles. They have some interest and seem to have the spending money, but their recent history and prospects for the near future could make this one a tough sell.
  8. Cubs. Cubs people love the idea of adding a young slugger like Fielder to their needy lineup. But club officials have suggested they plan to limit offers to five years. That won’t get it done.
  9. Blue Jays. Like the Cubs, their people are hinting strongly that five years is their limit for anyone, even Prince.  Opinions can change, but they’d have to go a lot longer than five (at least eight) to get into the game.


Posted on: January 3, 2012 5:32 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:52 pm

Darvish's visit to Dallas a sign he'll sign

Yu Darvish just visited the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as the Rangers acknowledged. Nobody is saying yet that Darvish and the Rangers are close to a deal yet. But everyone knows he will eventually have one.

And Darvish's visit can only be seen as another positive sign in a negotiation that is sure to end with Darvish signing with the Rangers and taking over C.J. Wilson's role as Rangers ace. Negotiations are ongoing, and indications are that there's progress being made. They are about halfway through the 30-day negotiating window, but this may be one negotiation that doesn't go the limit.

"There's no reason to think this won't get done. There's no reason to think this has to go to the deadline, either,'' one high-ranking baseball person said.

The parameters were already set by Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed with the Red Sox for $52-million over six years after Boston won the bidding for Dice-K with a bid of $51.111111 million. Figure Darvish will get a bit more than Dice-K's haul, as he is viewed as the better pitcher. Darvish, only 25, went 18-6 with a 1.44 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters and led the Pacific League with 276 strikeouts. The Rangers won the auction for him with a similar $51.703,411 winning bid. (The 34 and 11 at the end were, cleverly, borrowed from the uniform numbers of Rangers president Nolan Ryan and Darvish, respectively.)

The Yankees were learned Tuesday to have bid $15 million for Darvish, while the bid of the Jays, seen as the main competitors for Darvish, still isn't known but said to have been well below Texas' winning bid.

Sources have suggested Darvish would seek at least $65 million for five years. So figure he'll get $10-to-13 million on a deal for five years or so.

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:59 pm

Nats player: We are "shooting for" Prince

There's been a lot of discussion and debate lately about whether the improving Washington Nationals are one of the teams trying to sign free agent slugger Prince Fielder.

And while there's still nothing definitive on the subject, one Nats player told me Thursday, "We're in the market. We're still shooting for him.''

People can scoff at the validity of a player as a source, but this player did not hesitate and sure seemed to know what he was talking about. But who can be sure?

This has surely been a fairly mysterious market to this point. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, who just bolstered the rotation with the addition of young lefthader Gio Gonzalez, downplayed the Fielder chances in an interview Wednesday on MLB Network Radio, saying Adam LaRoche would be their first baseman barring something "extrordinary.''

To be precise, Rizzo said, "We've more or less decided Adam is going to be out first baseman unless something extraordinary, out of the ordinary, happens.'' LaRoche is to make $8 million in 2012 (plus he has a $1 million buyout on his 2013 salary).

If Rizzo is merely downplaying their genuine interest in Fielder as a way not to get fans' hopes up, he wouldn't be the first GM to do that. The Nationals have been considered among about eight teams -- the Rangers, Orioles, Mariners, Marlins, Cubs, Blue Jays and Brewers being the others -- to have some level of interest in the 27-year-old first baseman.

Fielder recently went on a tour of some of the interested teams, flying to a few points around the country. But it isn't known what teams, including the Nationals, were on the tour. Or whether a team that wasn't on the tour might jump into the mix.

Posted on: December 21, 2011 9:15 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 9:04 pm

Texas won in rout on Darvish bid; Jays not close

The Texas Rangers routed the field in the bidding for Yu Darvish, as it turns out.

Indications are Texas' winning bid of $51.7 million was easily the highest bid. While stories have suggested that the Toronto Blue Jays bid was $50 million, meaning less than $2 million separated them and Texas, there is no evidence to support these claims.

There has been a lot of misinformation out there regarding the Darvish post (and especially as it relates to Toronto), and it's no surprise sice the posting process is secretive and the interest is extremely high. Toronto was abuzz over early erroneous reports that they won the bid.

The Blue Jays' exact bid isn't known, but word is that Texas easily won. The Yankees' bid is believed to have been somewehere in the range of $15-to-17 million but isn't exactly know, either. Reports suggested the Cubs also bid, and perhaps other teams did, too.

But no one bid like Texas. 

Category: MLB
Posted on: December 21, 2011 5:29 pm

Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays others like Jurrjens

Jair Jurrjens has drawn some interest from the Orioles, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rockies, Tigers, Rangers and others. However, while Jurrjens is a terrific young starter, he appears to be behind Oakland's Gio Gonzalez on the pecking order of most teams, possibly because of potential concerns about the knee injury that hampered him at the end of last year.

Baltimore has seemed especially interested in Jurrjens. However, one person connected to the teams said they wouldn't consider trading young center fielder Adam Jones straight-up for Jurrjens. "Not even close,'' the person said. There was some suggestion the Braves might need to include the versatile and available Martin Prado to make that deal work. But that duo may be too much for the Braves to part with.

The Braves also have suggested that they will not trade Jurrjens within their division, thereby eliminating the active Marlins as a potential suitor.

Jurrjens had an excellent year in 2011 but was hampered at the end by a knee concern. The Braves say his health shouldn't be an issue, as his velocity was back up to the mid 90s in instructional league and would have pitched in the playoffs had the Braves advanced.

The Braves say they are only considering trading Jurrjens because they have a wealth of starting pitchers, and a need for improving their offense. Jurrjens' arbitration number is expected to be very high, as well, and Atlanta has been limited financially this winter.

One other issue with the Braves is that their history of trading starting pitchers is so good that some others teams are leery about trading with them. It seems they know just went to deal pitchers, right at the height of their value.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 5:21 pm

Oswalt market depends on Gio, Jurrjens

Veteran free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt is waiting for a couple of the hot young starting pitchers on the market to be dealt before finding his spot. Nothing appears imminent with Oswalt, and it may not be until Gio Gonzalez and Jair Jurrjens are dealt.

Oswalt is believed to have drawn some level of interest from the Red Sox, Nationals, Marlins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Rangers and Twins.

However, reasonably the Rangers may be less interested after winning the bid for Yu Darvish, the Yankees seem to have prioritized others and the Twins may not be able to afford him.

Oswalt remains one of the most desirable free-agent pitchers remaining, especially since he may consider a one-year deal.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 9:08 pm

Mariners, Nats, O's among teams eyeing Prince

Indications are the Mariners, Nationals and Orioles are among about a half-dozen teams still eyeing star free agent Prince Fielder.

The Fielder derby is heating up, as some teams have made offers or at least given an indication where they'd be willing to go monetarily for the slugger. The Cubs, Rangers, Blue Jays, Marlins and incumbent Brewers also have been mentioned as possibilities for Prince.

The Mariners are one of the teams that's suggested their price range for Fielder, although it's unclear how serious Fielder might be about willing to play on the West Coast. Some close to the Florida product and longtime Brewer have suggested he'd prefer to stay in the East or Central time zones. Seattle is also said to have financial limitations and are believed unwilling to break their bank for any one player.

The Nationals have been keeping a low profile on their pursuit and it's unknown where they stand but signs suggest they do have Fielder on their radar. He isn't a perfect fit as they already have Mike Morse and Adam LaRoche for first base, though they could move Morse to the outfield and LaRoche is a small expense compared to Fielder.

The Orioles remain interested, according to a person with knowledge of their thinking. They may be geographically desirable to Fielder but it isn't known how their status as a rebuilding team might impact the player.

The Marlis remain a curiosity. Team president David Samson has suggested they lack interest, but owner Jeffrey Loria has give public quotes amounting to something along the lines of "we'll see.'' The Rangers are also believed to have interest even after winning the bid for star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. The Cubs are said to interested but the status of their pursuit, and that of the Jays, remains unclear.

The Brewers have been painted as a long shot but they haven't given up all hope they could retain Fielder.

For more MLB news and rumors from Jon Heyman, follow @JonHeymanCBS.

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