MLB Rumors: Are Adrian Beltre and Derrek Lee Ready To Cash In?
It has been an eventful 2010 off-season for Major League Baseball. Some of the league's biggest names have changed uniforms, most notably Cliff Lee (back to the Phillies), Carl Crawford (Red Sox), Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox) and Jayson Werth (Nationals).
Of the remaining free agents, Adrian Beltre and Derek Lee seem to be the best position players still without a contract. Rumors are swirling all over the board as to the possible value of Beltre's contract, and where Derek Lee will choose to play ball for the 2011 season.
Besides Beltre and Lee, trade talks are ever-present, and prospective suitors also have other moves on the brain. Here are the most recent rumors, with speculation as to what they actually mean for Beltre, Lee, other free agents, and the teams involved.
Derrek Lee to Orioles?
The biggest competition Lee currently faces on the open free agent market is veteran first baseman Adam LaRoche. The Orioles were reportedly in hot pursuit of LaRoche, but negotiations have apparently gone stale on both sides.
LaRoche is seeking a three-year deal and the Orioles are unwilling to engage in multi-year talks. As a result of the fallout, the Orioles re-contacted Lee's agent to make another attempt at landing the former Chicago Cub.
The Washington Nationals have been linked to Lee as well, missing out on Carlos Pena.
Phil Wood of MASNSports reported that Lee and the Nationals were close to a one-year deal, but the Orioles were upping their offer to the point where Lee's decision had become more difficult.
Another team linked to Lee was the Padres, but it appears the signing of Brad Hawpe is a silent signal showing they are no longer in the running.
Lee seems like a solid fit in Washington, with Adam Dunn vacating the first base position. However, the concerns are finances for the Nationals, who recently unloaded a massive multi-year deal for outfielder Jayson Werth.
On the next slide: Manny Ramirez's 2011 Options
Manny Ramirez's 2011 Options
Believe it or not, there are rumors that put Manny Ramirez on a National League roster for next season. According to ESPN's Rumor Central, Ramirez may fit in Philadelphia, depending on contract figures. The contract would most likely have to be laden with performance incentives, as Manny would be a significant risk playing every day in the outfield.
The Phillies could move Raul Ibanez to right field, making Ben Francisco the fourth outfielder and placing Manny in left field. It seems like an unlikely situation, but then again, the Dodgers handed the aging slugger $20M to play every third game, so it can't be ruled out just yet.
Other teams that could be suitors for Ramirez include the Orioles and Yankees. The White Sox could still be an afterthought, but Manny's dismal performance down the stretch might be a red flag. The Orioles would also be a difficult fit due to their professional reputation and Manny Being Manny.
The Yankees were frequently linked to Ramirez before the signing of Manny's former teammate in Los Angeles, Russell Martin. It appears now the plan is to move Jorge Posada to a permanent Designated Hitter role. With no other place to put Posada and his productive bat, there may be no room for Ramirez.
It appears it will come down to the wire for Manny, and he may not find a team this season at the value Boras wants for him on a one-year deal. If Manny plays in 2011, it will be in a limited role, and likely for smaller dollar figures.
On the Next Slide: Any Interest for Brad Penny?
Any Interest for Brad Penny?
It seemed the unlikely injury-plagued pitcher that would be a tough sign became the unexpected addition for the Texas Rangers when they signed Brandon Webb.
However, there are still dark horse options out there, and Brad Penny, if healthy, could be a bargain for teams needing to round out their starting rotation. Penny would more than likely be open to an incentive-laden deal, and he could be a bargain for the middle-of-the-road contenders.
The New York Mets, San Diego Padres, and Washington Nationals are possible destinations, and of these National League teams need fillers in their rotation, having lost some starters due to free agency and non-tenders.
A potential back-up could be the Minnesota Twins, who are currently courting Carl Pavano to return to their rotation. Penny has struggled in the American League, so look for him to sign in the NL.
If Pavano doesn't sign with the Twins, any team that signs him will have to forfeit a high draft choice in 2011, given Pavano is considered a Type A free agent. He is still in discussions with the Twins, and they seem to be the likely destination if the two sides can come to terms on salary and years.
On the Next Slide: Brian Fuentes Still Out There
Brian Fuentes Still Out There
Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated reported via his Twitter account that the Mariners have interest in bringing in Fuentes as a closer. The report may just add another team to the list of suitors interested in Fuentes, as other teams include the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, Minnesota Twins, Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees and New York Mets.
Fuentes converted just 24 saves for the Twins in 2010, so the overall worth of a new contract may be smaller than expected.
Another closer that remains on the market is Kevin Gregg, who has recently been linked to the Baltimore Orioles.
ESPN initially reported Gregg and the Orioles had come to a two-year, $12M agreement, but since then the two sides have backed off a bit, with talks still on-going.
The Mariners are also exchanged text messages for Gregg's services, but appear to be deeper into negotiations with Fuentes. The Red Sox are likely out of the hunt, having signed Dan Wheeler. The Nationals may have some interest, but are waiting to hear back from other players before dedicating a lump sum to a closer.
On the Next Slide: Yankees Still Talking Pettitte, Eying Blanton?
Yankees Still Talking Pettitte, Eying Blanton?
We are preparing to usher in 2011 and Andy Pettitte still hasn't made a decision on his career. The Yankees would like to see him back for another season, but are growing increasingly impatient, and have begun talks with other players, most notably Joe Blanton.
There is very little change Pettitte will sign with anyone other than the Yankees if he decides to return, but the Texas Rangers and New York Mets may have room for him in their rotation.
Joe Blanton could be heading to the Bronx by way of trade. The Phillies are obviously in need of shaving payroll, and Blanton is owed $17M over the next two seasons.
For the Yankees, several other options remain as well. Freddy Garcia could be a bargain at the back end of the rotation, but the one-time Yankee Carl Pavano is still out there as well. However, this could be the time the Yankees will always remember as the dry offseason of the early 21st Century.
It appears missing out on Cliff Lee after donating so much payroll to him may have severely hurt the Yankees chancing of filling out their rotation. However, they're still the Yankees...
On The Next Slide: Johnny Damon Available, Possibly Over-Priced
Johnny Damon Available, Possibly Over-Priced
Damon has been linked to several teams in need of outfield assistance. Most notably as of late, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Boys in Blue are still waiting for an established left fielder with offensive production value.
The Dodgers wasted no time in bringing back Jay Gibbons, but adding Tony Gwynn Jr. only increased speculation that the team will use a platoon of the two next season. There has been no noise about Scott Podsednik, who remains a free agent. General Manager Ned Colletti has mentioned he is still interested in bringing back Podsednik, but the chances at this point may be slim.
Bringing in Damon would be yet another eye-popping acquisition for Los Angeles, as an ongoing divorce between the team's owners, Frank and Jamie McCourt, had experts believing payroll would be cut this season. It seems like a long shot at this point, but anything is possible it seems in this eventful offseason.
Other teams that could be a good fit for Damon include the Phillies, Cubs, and Angels. The Halos are also considering Scott Podsednik, but their main focus remains to be on Adrian Beltre.
On the Next Slide: Capuano Hitting The Market
Capuano Hitting the Market
With the additions of Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum, the Brewers have completed their starting rotation for next season and therefore no longer need the services of Chris Capuano. Milwaukee had ties to Capuano over the off-season, but ultimately the two sides could agree on guaranteed money versus incentives.
The Brewers rotation currently looks like this: Greinke, Marcum, Yovani Gallardo, Randy Wolf and Chris Narveson.
Teams interested in Capuano could be: the New York Yankees, New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and Seattle Mariners.
On the Next Slide: Best Starting Pitchers Still Available
Best Starting Pitchers Still Available
Key Law's Top Free Agent List puts pitchers in the following order:
1. Carl Pavano, RHP
2. Andy Pettitte, LHP
3. Rafael Soriano, RHP
4. Brad Penny, RHP
5. Grant Balfour, RHP
Rafael Soriano is ranked as the best available closer, and it appears several players, Soriano included, are waiting on the Angels to make a move. However, the Angels still need a bonafide outfielder and a third baseman.
In the same manner, the Yankees were silent, waiting for Cliff Lee, it appears the Angels are in the same boat, waiting on the decision of Adrian Beltre to determine their next move.
Meanwhile, Balfour is a Type A Free Agent, and teams are debating if he is worth sacrificing a second or third round draft pick for his services. The Mariners and Royals could be front runners, as they both desperately need pitching, and don't stand to sacrifice a first round pick in the process.
On the Next Slide: Angels Still in Hot Pursuit of Beltre
Angels Still in Hot Pursuit of Beltre
It's still a waiting game for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in regards to Adrian Beltre. The Angels were already scorned by Carl Crawford, who signed with the Boston Red Sox.
The Halos appear to be pacing their 2011 off-season on Beltre's decision. Several solid pitchers remain on the market, and also outfielders like Scott Podsednik and Johnny Damon.
Beltre has few suitors, given the dollar amount presumably associated with his contract negotiations. Few teams have the financial flexibility, and the ones that do, don't have the need for a third baseman. The Yankees still have Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter on the left side of the infield.
The Orioles had interest, but signed strikeout-proned slugger Mark Reynolds away from the Arizona Diamondbacks instead.
The Rangers shopped Michael Young, but received no legitimate offers, and decided to retain him, giving Elvis Andrus another chance at Shortstop.
It is likely Beltre will land in the American League West, as the Rangers, A's and Angels are still rumored to be in discussions with the third baseman. The A's may be the most solid alternative to the Angels, with the Rangers being an outside possibility if they decide to move Young back to shortstop, or attempt another trade.
A return to Seattle is not likely, Chone Figgins is still under contract. Dodgers hopefuls are certainly California Dreamin', unless the Dodgers decide to increase their payroll by nearly 30 percent.
On the Next Slide: Final Notes on 2010 Free Agent Signings
Final Notes on 2010 Free Agent Signings
Of the biggest names signed to date, Carl Crawford seems to have the largest impact on his team. The Red Sox were plagued by persistent injuries in the outfield last season, with Jacoby Ellsbury nursing multiple injuries, Mike Cameron missing significant time, and J.D. Drew failing to remain consistent.
With the addition of Crawford, the Red Sox now have several options for the fourth outfield position. Mike Cameron will likely be on the Opening Day roster as the fourth man, but Darnell McDonald may have a Spring impressive enough to earn a spot.
The Red Sox also seem to have outdone their nemesis. The Yankees have missed out on all major deals this off-season, and 2011 just may be the year the Red Sox take over the East for a while, given Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford stay healthy.
The additions of Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks in the bullpen have fueled rumors that Jonathan Papelbon's time in New England is short, but Red Sox officials say his job is safe.
The Nationals look like the team finally ready to contend for the playoffs. As we've seen with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Florida Marlins, expansion franchises need a World Series to boost a small fan base. The Nationals have been steadily growing since their inception, but still need a few more pieces.
Jayson Werth's contract shored up their outfield, with Roger Bernadina and Rick Ankiel competing for the starting job in left field. The Nationals still need bullpen help, and a first baseman is possible, with Derrek Lee still available on the market.
The Dodgers have had the busiest off-season, but don't appear to be done. Johnny Damon is still out there, alongside the possibility of re-signing Scott Podsednik. Landing Juan Uribe solidified their infield, but Casey Blake may not be able to start every game, so Jamey Carroll may have to step in. The Dodgers are currently targeting outfielders, according to GM Ned Colletti, but look for them to possibly make one final free agent splash before 2011, or a major trade.