Posted on: February 17, 2010 10:48 am

Indians, Rays, Red Sox looking at Branyan

Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting the Indians are in a three-team chase for free agent Russell Branyan, who can play outfield, third base and first base. The other interested teams are believed to be the Rays and Red Sox.

Drafted in the seventh round in 1994, Branyan started his career with the Indians. The left-handed hitter played one game in 1998, followed by 11 games in '99, 67 in 2000, 113 in '01 and 50 in '02 before being dealt to the Cincinnati Reds.

Branyan, 34, had a career year last season, hitting career-bests 31 homers and 76 RBI with a 2.51 batting average in just 116 games with the Seattle Mariners.  A bad back kept him from playing a full season and is likely the reason the Mariners weren't willing to offer a multiyear deal.

The Plain Dealer is also reporting the Indians are looking at free agents Hank Blalock (.234, 25 homers, 66 RBI last year) and Jermaine Dye (.250, 27, 81).

Posted on: February 17, 2010 10:35 am

Dice-K to miss start of spring

John Tomase of the Boston Herald is reporting Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka is expected to miss the start of spring camp because of a sore back. However the Red Sox don't expect the right-hander to miss the start of the season,

Matsuzaka was 4-6 with a 5.76 ERA in just 59.1 innings last year. He was 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA in 2008.

If for some reason Dice-K isn't available at the start of the season, the Red Sox still have right-handers Clay Buchholz (7-4, 4.21 ERA last season) and Tim Wakefield (11-5, 4.58), who are expected to battle for the final spot in the rotation.

Posted on: February 17, 2010 10:23 am

AL Central rivals in chase for Damon

George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press reports the Tigers are closing in on signing free-agent outfielder Johnny Damon.

But the Chicago Tribune reported that Damon, who hit .282 with 24 homers and 82 RBI for the Yankees last year, was being wooed while playing golf with White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski and White Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson on Tuesday, as the two Chicago .

While the Tigers are reportedly offering the 36-year-old, left-handed hitter a deal for two years at $14 million or one year at $7 million, the ChiSox are offering less and are showing no intentions of budging.

Posted on: February 15, 2010 11:16 am
Edited on: February 16, 2010 8:10 am

Lefty Mulder to retire

TMJ4 in Milwaukee is reporting left-hander Mark Mulder has decided to retire. The nine-year veteran hasn't pitched a full season since 2005 after having rotator cuff surgery.

If the report is true, the two-time All Star will finish his career 103-60 with a 4.18 ERA. He led the AL with 21 victories in 2001, finishing second to Roger Clemens in the Cy Young race.

The Michigan State product started his major league career in 2000 with Oakland, where he was 81-42 with a 3.92 ERA over five seasons. He signed as a free agent with St. Louis, where he was only able to pitch one full season, going 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 2005. Because of the shoulder injury, he managed just 23 starts from 2006 on, struggling to a 6-10 mark and failing to record a victory in his final two seasons.

Pitching in seven postseason games -- four with the A's and three with the Cardinals -- Mulder was 3-4 with 2.34 ERA. He never pitched in the World Series, though he won a ring with the Cardinals in 2006 despite not being on the postseson roster.

Posted on: February 15, 2010 11:00 am

Cuban prospect close to signing

Reports indicate Cuban first-base prospect Jose Julio Ruiz is close to signing with a major league club. Saturday's edition of El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-based newspaper affiliated with the Miami Herald reported on Saturday that negotiations have "intensified."

"By next week, he should be signed already," one of Ruiz's agents, Jorge Luis Toca told El Nuevo Herald. "Perhaps Wednesday we'll announce something."

Toca said the Blue Jays, Rangers, Red Sox Giants and Rockies have shown the most interest in the 6-3, 240-pound prospect. Toca added they are also "waiting on an offer from the Yankees."

Ruiz, who defected last season, has been working out at the Yankees' complex in the Dominican Republic.

The slugger, who turns 26 on March 24, was batting .305 with a .408 on-base percentage and a .467 slugging percentage through 52 games for his National Series team before defecting. He sports a .330 career batting average.

Posted on: February 11, 2010 2:50 pm

Mets closing in on Japanese lefty Takahashi

Brian Costa of the Newark Star-Ledger reports the Mets reached an agreement with left-hander Hisanori Takahashi on a minor league deal.

The 34-year-old Japanese hurler was 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA for the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants last season.

Posted on: February 11, 2010 2:40 pm

Cardinals optimistic Ryan ready for opening day

Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Dispatch reports that the Cardinals believe shortstop Brendan Ryan will be ready for the regular-season opener.

Ryan, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist Tuesday, is expected to start rehabbing next week and won't swing a bat for 3-6 weeks.

Ryan, who is about to begin his fourth year in the majors, batted .292 with three home runs and 37 RBI last season for the Cardinals.

If Ryan isn't ready, Tyler Greene and Julio Lugo are possible replacements at short.

Posted on: February 11, 2010 2:20 pm

Giants-Lincecum negotiations not going well

The Giants and Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum are likely headed to an arbitration hearing in Florida on Friday.

John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports a source said the Giants have made a three-year, $37 million offer and that Lincecum is asking for $40 million-plus.

If the two sides don't agree, the arbitrator will decide between the $13 million Lincecum submitted or the $8 million the Giants submitted.

The right-hander posted a 15-7 mark with a 2.48 ERA last season as he claimed his second consecutive Cy Young Award.   

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