Tag:Winter Meetings
Posted on: December 8, 2010 10:52 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:11 pm
 

White Sox wrap up Konerko deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It didn't carry the drama of Derek Jeter's talks with the Yankees, but in his own way, Paul Konerko has similar meaning to the White Sox. And now that will continue: Konerko and the White Sox have agreed to terms, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

It is a three-year deal worth $37.5 million. Konerko will be paid $12 million in 2011, another $12 million in 2012 and $13.5 million in 2013, though only $6.5 million is in straight salary in '13, with the rest deferred at $1 million a year over the next seven years.

If the Adam Dunn deal fleetingly looked like it could spell the end for Konerko in Chicago, who has been a fixture at first base on the South Side since 1999, the White Sox made sure to communicate to him nearly as soon as the four-year, $56 million deal with Dunn was done that they wanted him back.

"When I talk about Paul Konerko, I first have to talk about the first-class person he is," White Sox general manager Kenny Williams said. "Believe me, that factors into our equation when we make a commitmentof this nature.

"One thing Craig Landis [Konerko's agent] and I talk about all the time is the type of guy he is not just on the field, but in the clubhouse, on the team bus, in the hotel.

"This is certainly about talent, but the message to young players out there is if you conduct yourself in this type of manner, something like this could happen."

Though talks briefly turned rocky Tuesday, it has been considered a fait accompli that Konerko would return to Chicago. He is one of owner Jerry Reinsdorf's favorite players, and he's been a cornerstone of the franchise for more than a decade.

"Paul Konerko has good teammates," Williams said. "One thing that helped us get this done was Adam Dunn caring more about winning than about getting the last dollar this year. He was more than accommodating in moving some of his money to the back of his deal. A.J. Pierzynski did the same thing."

Konerko had talked with a handful of other clubs, including the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.
The D-backs were hoping that the fact that Konerko lives in Scottsdale might sway him in their direction.

"I think he would have looked awfully funny in another uniform at this point," Williams said.

At 34, Konerko is coming off of his strongest season in years in 2010. An All-Star for the fourth time, Konerko slammed 39 home runs and collected 111 RBI in '10, his best power numbers since 2005-2006. He also hit .312 with a .393 on-base percentage. He was fourth in the AL with a .977 OPS and finished fifth in this year's AL MVP balloting.

Konerko and Dunn are both expected to see time at first base and designated hitter.

As for the White Sox, Williams says they're about "tapped out" money-wise. He intends to add bullpen help, but that likely will be via trades.

"We'll take a look at a third left-handed situational guy," said Williams, who already has lefties Matt Thornton and Chris Sale in the pen. "Someone who can get Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer [of the Twins] out."

Posted on: December 8, 2010 1:53 am
Edited on: December 8, 2010 4:01 pm
 

Cubs get their 1B: Carlos Pena

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Moving to plug their hole at first base, the Cubs have agreed to terms with first baseman Carlos Pena on a one-year, $10 million deal that is expected to be announced Wednesday, sources with knowledge of the discussions said late Tuesday night.

Pena, part of Tampa Bay's surge toward the top of the AL East during the past three seasons, gives the Cubs the first baseman they need, the left-handed bat they desire and an excellent defender. Pena was awarded a Gold Glove in 2008.

A 10-year veteran, Pena over the past two seasons has become more of an all-or-nothing hitter. He slumped to a career-worst .196 batting average with a .325 on-base percentage over 144 games for the Rays in 2010, though he did hit 28 homers with 84 RBI.

He is just two seasons removed from a 39-homer, 100-RBI campaign, and in helping Tampa Bay to its first-ever World Series in 2007, Pena hit .282 with a career-high 46 home runs and 121 RBIs.

Among other things, the Cubs are hoping hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo can help Pena make more contact.

"Even if he hits .230 or .240," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "If he hits .240, that might take him to 40 Johnsons [homers].

"He's a good defensive player, he's good in the clubhouse, he's great in the community."

Looking to re-tool last season's highly disappointing club under new manager Mike Quade, the Cubs this winter need a first baseman and are planning to add pitching depth -- a starting or relief pitcher, whichever comes their way and makes the most sense.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 12:28 am
 

The Yanks, Rangers, Nats, Angels and Cliff Lee

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Late into the night Tuesday, with the Angels having become the latest team to make a move toward the top starter on the free agent market, there were more Cliff Lee rumors than ornaments on the giant Christmas tree in the lobby of the Dolphin hotel here.

With no end game yet in sight -- executives with multiple teams believe that this thing will drag out beyond the winter meetings and into next week -- four clubs appear to be serious players for the left-hander at the moment (and by Wednesday, that number could be adjusted up or down):

Yankees: Still viewed as the favorites because they intend to put on the full-court press, they've got the deepest pockets and they generally get what they want. Various reports Tuesday insisted that the Yankees would not go beyond a six-year offer for Lee and other clubs might go seven years. But it's instructive to remember that, two winters ago, CC Sabathia clearly wanted to play on the West Coast ... until New York general manager Brian Cashman's stealth, overnight flight to visit Sabathia at his Bay Area home sealed the deal.

In New York, Lee would have a chance to win every year, be reunited with his friend and former Cleveland teammate Sabathia and make a boatload of money -- likely $20 million a year or more. Cashman was scheduled to meet with Darek Braunecker, Lee's agent, again late Tuesday night.

Rangers: Still badly want Lee and are making it their No. 1 goal. Still feel they have an inside track because they got a three-month head start on him when they acquired Lee last summer, the pairing worked well, the geography works (they're close to Lee's Arkansas home), Lee pitched in a World Series and the Rangers are set up to win for the next several years.

"I'd like to think that the longer the process goes, the less news you hear about it, the more encouraged I am," Rangers president Nolan Ryan told colleague Danny Knobler on Tuesday afternoon. "There's not any earthshaking news that has come out that concerns me. We don't have anything definitive by any means, but I think they have targeted one or two places, and I think they have a feel of where it's going."

The Rangers already have met twice with Braunecker.

Nationals: Still the darkhorse, though they have grabbed their share of attention with the wild seven-year, $126 million contract bestowed upon Jayson Werth. Lee wants to play with a winner, and while the Nationals' money will be just as authentic as anybody else's, their wins total may not be for a few years.

One industry source said Tuesday that he thinks Werth is one wild-card in the Nationals' pursuit of Lee: The two played together on the 2009 Phillies team that advanced to the World Series before losing to the Yankees, and the two were said to have developed a pretty good friendship.

Angels: The late entrant, the Angels were said to have made contact with Braunecker on Tuesday and indicated their intention to stay in touch. While an Angels official stopped short of confirming that late Tuesday night, he did say, "We talk with everybody."

If their pursuit of Lee is serious, the Angels are in the midst of a misdirection play because manager Mike Scioscia repeatedly told reporters during a briefing Tuesday that improving an impotent offense is the club's top priority. Within that, the Angels have visited with free agent outfielder Carl Crawford, long said to be the club's top target this winter.

A move toward Lee would be fascinating in that the Angels, who were toppled from their AL West throne by Texas last year, could spirit him away from their biggest division rival -- Texas -- and from one of their long-running October rivals -- the Yankees.

However, their history of bidding against the Yankees is an open wound: New York out-bid them on both Sabathia and Mark Teixeira in recent winters, leaving them scrambling toward their backup plans. And, Anaheim might start with an "A" like Arkansas, but it is thousands of miles from Cliff and Kristen Lee's beloved native state.

However, by bidding on Lee, the Angels could accomplish one of two things: They could either win him in a surprise bid and block Texas from getting him ... or they could at least drive the price up to hurt the Rangers and the Yankees.

Earlier Tuesday, Scioscia said, "We need to add offensive depth. It might not be one impact guy, but it definitely needs to be guys that have an idea of what to do in the batter's box."

But he also talked about Lee.

"A pitcher of Lee's caliber makes you better," Scioscia said. "There is no doubt about that. Whether he's a fit for us or not depends on more than just the talent aspect. Obviously, a free agent, it's complicated. He's obviously commanding a lot of attention.

"But he's certainly a guy that a number of teams would look at and know that they can make you substantially better in that area."

One other thing to remember: In their recent past, the Angels have always gone for pitching: They took a hard run at Sabathia when he was a free agent. They made a serious effort to acquire Jake Peavy from San Diego a couple of years ago. They were in on the Lee and Roy Halladay trade talks before each was shipped elsewhere in the past couple of seasons. And they signed Bartolo Colon as a free agent before the 2004 season.

Stay tuned.

 

Posted on: December 7, 2010 4:55 pm
Edited on: December 7, 2010 5:25 pm
 

Guerrier talking with clubs, below Benoit Line

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Matt Guerrier's agent, Joe Bick, checked in Tuesday afternoon to dispute my report that the reliever is looking for a Joaquin Benoit-like, three-year, $16.5 million deal.

Not true, Bick said of Guerrier, who went 5-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 74 appearances (71 innings) for Ron Gardenhire's Twins in 2010.

"We have interest from several clubs," Bick said. "That's all I'm going to say about it."

Posted on: December 7, 2010 3:00 pm
 

Cubs targeting 1B Adam LaRoche

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Looking to plug their hole at first base, the Cubs are targeting free agent Adam LaRoche, according to CBSSports.com sources.

There are several available first basemen on the market, including Carlos Pena, Casey Kotchman, Paul Konerko (who is widely expected to agree to terms with the White Sox soon), Lyle Overbay and former Cub Derrek Lee.

The Cubs, who essentially created this opening when they traded Lee to Atlanta last summer, have talked with several of them but would like to close the deal with LaRoche soon.

Pena is being courted by the Nationals and Diamondbacks, among other clubs.

LaRoche, 31, played in 151 games for Arizona last season, hitting .261 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI. He compiled a .320 on-base percentage and a .468 slugging percentage.

The seven-year veteran broke into the majors with Atlanta in 2004 and since has played for Pittsburgh, Boston and Arizona.

Currently, the Cubs' only option at first base is Tyler Colvin, who had a big rookie season at the plate in 2010 (.254, 20 homers, 54 RBI in 135 games) while spending all of his time in the outfield.

Looking to re-tool last season's highly disappointing club under new manager Mike Quade, the Cubs this winter need a first baseman and are planning to add pitching depth -- a starting or relieving, whichever comes their way and makes the most sense.

Posted on: December 7, 2010 1:02 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 12:41 am
 

Slow-footed Angels risk getting left behind

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Paging the Los Angeles Angels, attention Angels.

Anybody there?

Anybody?

Free agent Carl Crawford is still out there. So are free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre and free agent closer Rafael Soriano ... and, yes, free agent ace Cliff Lee.

Are you?

After getting aced out of Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia two years ago and failing to produce a leadoff hitter to replace Chone Figgins last year, the heat is on the Angels to swing and connect this winter. On something.

Crawford has been a high priority, according to sources, though late Tuesday night it was confirmed that the Angels were in contact with Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, and that that dialog is expected to remain ongoing.

As for Crawford, his price certainly will be sky-high after the Nationals signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal Sunday.

"I don't have a reaction," Reagins told a small group of reporters Monday night when quizzed on how the stunning Werth contract will affect Crawford's value. "We still have to conduct business with any free agent. Teams are conducting business and this is just part of the process that happens at this time of year. ...

"We're conducting business. What other clubs do doesn't affect how we operate."

Maybe that helps explain why the Angels, who took hard runs at both Teixeira and Sabathia two winters ago, have swung and missed lately. What other clubs do does affect the rest in this game, because market values are set.

Here in Florida, Crawford's market is still taking shape, and you bet the Werth contract will be a barometer.

The Angels are one of the few teams with pockets deep enough to pull up a chair at Crawford's table. One break they may have gotten in the past few days is that in acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, the Red Sox may be out on Crawford -- at least, at seven or eight years.

The Red Sox are said to have agreed with Gonzalez on the parameters of a seven-year deal worth between $161 and $168 million that likely will be finalized sometime around Opening Day. It's hard to see Boston signing two players to contracts that long in one winter.

Other than the Angels' interest, things have been awfully quiet here regarding Crawford.

The Angels always operate with the secrecy of a CIA spy, but until Tuesday night and the Lee revelation, there was little indication that much of anything was happening.

Beltre? The Angels currently are not taking an aggressive path there, according to a source with knowledge of the club's thinking.

Soriano? No indicators there, either.

Lee? Hmmm.

Reagins, scrambling because of a flight delay Monday, was among the last GM's -- and, far as anybody can tell, the last -- to arrive at the Winter Meetings.

Owner Arte Moreno is known for being aggressive. But over the past couple of years, he hasn't been aggressive enough.

The Angels got worse last year. They looked old. They were slow.

The decision to let Figgins walk backfired when Erick Aybar did not develop into a leadoff hitter. The decision to let Guerrero walk blew up when he had a great year and Hideki Matsui was disappointing.

Suddenly, the shift of power in the AL West is becoming evident.

Texas not only won the division, but the Rangers are loaded with good, young talent. They're not going anywhere.

The A's have the kind of good, young pitching that has them poised to recapture some of the glory of old.

Seattle? Well, let's not get carried away here. Not everybody in the division is on the move.

Right now, though, in terms of forward momentum, the Angels are more Seattle than Texas.

Mike Scioscia said Tuesday that the return to health of first baseman Kendry Morales, who slammed 34 home runs and collected 108 RBIs two summers ago before suffering a season-ending broken leg early in 2010, will be a boon in 2011.

As for the rest. ...

"It's kind of like the offseason becomes fantasy baseball for the players, too," Scioscia said. "You look at who's out there and who might be in the lineup and think, 'Man, if we had this guy or that guy, we'd be a better team.'"

So far this winter? The Angels' big move was to fire head trainer Ned Bergert, who had been with the organization for 36 years.

Oh, and they fired a scout, Dale Sutherland, who had been with them for 19 years (and was primarily responsible for the club claiming David Eckstein off of waivers from Boston, and acquiring Figgins from Colorado in a trade). Oh, and scouting director Eddie Bane.

Looks like a whole lot of scapegoats. And so far, not much else.

Posted on: December 6, 2010 4:41 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 4:43 pm
 

Dodgers open to listening on Broxton

The Dodgers, among the most active clubs of the winter, are in a bit of a holding pattern now as they look to sort out their left field situation.

But as they do, and as several rival clubs look to add bullpen help, sources say that the Dodgers are open to inquiries regarding closer Jonathan Broxton.

Not that the Dodgers are actively shopping the man who eventually was removed from the closer's role as their 2010 season swirled down the drain. But they'll listen.

Broxton was 5-6 with 22 saves in 64 appearances last season and, as things went south for him, started "pitching scared", in the words of one scout.

Los Angeles is hopeful that pattern reverses itself in 2011. But the Dodgers also are re-tooling and conceivably could package Broxton in a deal that would bring back a left fielder.

Currently, Jay Gibbons projects as the starter. The Dodgers would be fine with bringing back Scott Podsednik. But he prefers to test the free-agent market and, as he does, the Dodgers prefer to wait it out until the prices become a little more realistic.

Or, until something attractive might present itself on the trade market.

Posted on: December 6, 2010 3:52 pm
Edited on: December 6, 2010 4:24 pm
 

"Highly unlikely Justin Upton leaves the desert"

While the Diamondbacks shipped out third baseman Mark Reynolds and his 211 strikeouts in trading him to Baltimore on Monday, Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said outfielder Justin Upton probably will not follow him out of town.

"It was going to take a lot to move him," Towers said. "He's a young player, 23, he'll only get better with time.

"If someone is willing to overpay, then maybe. We're not one player away. We'll have a better idea when we leave here, but I'd say it's highly unlikely that Justin Upton leaves the desert."

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks, on a mission to fix a horrible bullpen, moved toward agreeing to a two-year deal with free agent J.J. Putz to serve as their new closer, according to sources with knowledge of the talks.

The Diamondbacks were among the most active teams as the winter meetings started on Monday. Immediately after announcing the Reynolds trade, Towers said the Snakes have agreed on a one-year deal with free agent third baseman Melvin Mora. In replacing Reynolds, the Diamondbacks currently project Mora and Geoff Blum to split time at third.

Meantime, the Reynolds deal was the first move in Towers' stab at rebuilding what was one of the worst bullpens in the last half-century in 2010. Coming to Arizona for Reynolds are right-hander Daniel Hernandez, the former starter, and right-hander Kam Mickolio.

"Believe me, it was on my mind that when you're dealing with Kevin Towers, you're dealing with the foremost bullpen expert in our business," Orioles president and general manager Andy MacPhail said.

"I like power arms, and we had [Hernandez] up to 98 m.p.h.," Towers said. "And in the pen we saw a power spike. He has huge sink down in the zone, and he can pitch above the belt because of his velocity."

Towers also likes the "downward angle" the 6-foot-9 Hernandez brings to the mound.

The new Arizona GM called this deal the first move in the process of overhauling the Diamondbacks bullpen. He also said he is confident that the club will leave the winter meetings this week with a new closer. Looks like Putz is on deck.

 
 
 
 
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