Winter Meetings Rapidly Approaching!!

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In only 4 short days, the best time of the baseball offseason begins.  Yes, that’s right, the Winter Meetings.  On Monday, December 3rd, the meetings will kick-off in Nashville, Tenn.

There are so many huge names being thrown around in the trade market, and this will surely dominate the talks among GM’s.  Some of the bigger stories to follow:

  • #1 will be the availability of Twins ace Johan Santana – Yankees, Red Sox, Angels and Dodgers will be the most likely destinations.
  • The possible trade of Miguel Cabrera to the Angels or Dodgers – the team that gets him or Johan will likely be out of the other race
  • Mets will be looking for an ace pitcher – Bedard, Haren and Blanton remain the most likely prospects; Pelfry/Humber/Gomez are bargaining chips
  • D-Backs will also be in the market for another ace to slot behind Brandon Webb – they appear to be in on the Haren/Blanton sweepstakes as well; Carlos Quentin and Carlos Gonzalez look like the trade bait here
  • The possible trade of Miguel Tejada – we probably won’t see this until after (if) Cabrera gets traded
  • Phils are also looking for pitching depth – Hiroki Kuroda looks like their main target
  • Cubs are looking to upgrade their offense – main target will be Japanese OF Fukudome, who would improve their much-needed OBP; they will also likely fleece themselves on Kaz Matsui
  • Detroit will look to upgrade their bullpen – Dotel? 

Man, I absolutely live for this time of year!  I hope you all are as excited as I am?!  We will keep you abreast of all the rumors, trades and signings. 

Santana Update: Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers

Time for a quick update on the Johan Santana trade rumors involving three of the major players:  

  • Boston currently has the best offer on the table, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  The offer would send Coco Crisp and lefty Jon Lester to Minnesota along with prospects Jed Lowrie (SS,2B), and Justin Masterson (RHP).   If the Red Sox could land Santana without giving up Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury, it would be huge fleece for the World Champions.
  • The New York Post is reporting that the Twins are looking for a package of “well beyond” Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera from the Yankees.   This is surprising, as I think Hughes has more potential than anyone in the Red Sox current offer, including Jon Lester.  I also think Cabrera is already better than Crisp.  Maybe the Yankees haven’t technically made that offer, though.
  • According to NBC’s Rotoworld, “A source with knowledge of the Twins’ position told the Los Angeles Daily News that the club is asking the Dodgers for a package of three or four players from a pool of six: Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Andy LaRoche, Jonathan Broxton and Andre Ethier in Johan Santana discussions.”  Getting 3 of those players would be a huge fleece for Minnesota.   Two of them would be more than adequate.

Rockies Close to Re-signing Torrealba and Herges

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According to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post, the Rockies could announce the signings of catcher Yorvit Torrealba and relief pitcher Matt Herges as soon as Thursday.  Both players played solid roles in getting the Rockies to their 1st World Series apperance in franchise history, where they were ultimately swept by the Boston Red Sox. 

Torrealba hit .255 last season, with 8 HR’s and 47 RBI in 113 games for the Rox.  He was however battling a shoulder injury, and his defensive numbers also suffered because of it.  Matt Herges was a wonderful surprise for the Rockies, posting a 5-1 record with a 2.96 ERA in 35 appearances.  He also boasted a sensational .198 BAA for the season and a remarkable 0.89 WHIP after the All-Star break! 

Yorvit Torrealba has had quite an odd offseason so far.  He was all but signed to a multi-year deal with the New York Mets about a week ago, when it seems that Omar Minaya had a change of heart in the final hours.  The logical move for Torrealba after that was to return back to the Rockies.  Assuming he gets a 3-4 year deal from the Rox, it all turned out alllllriiight for him in the end.  The rumor is however that the Rockies will give him a 2-year deal at around $7M, with a 3rd year option.  Herges may call for a 2-year deal to get it done. 

Also mentioned in the article, the Rox are interested in bringing back RP LaTroy Hawkins as well.  2B is still a postion of need this offseason.  Maybe they play star prospect Ian Stewart there?

Joe Nathan Rumors: Brewers, Cubs, Red Sox?

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Ken Rosenthal reports this morning that if the Twins trade Johan Santana, look for them to also move closer Joe Nathan this winter.   The logic fits.   If Minnesota loses Santana in addition to Torii Hunter, they may be better off long term by dealing Nathan now and moving ahead with the youngsters they acquire for the two pitchers.

Rosenthal speculates that the Brewers would be a perfect fit for Joe Nathan, who has become one of the most dominant closers in baseball, averaging 40 saves over the last 4 years with miniscule ERA’s hovering around 2.0 during those years.   Most likely, the Brewers would have to part with either JJ Hardy or Corey Hart in a deal for Nathan.   Receiving either one of those two young stars would be a nice bounty for the Twins – perhaps even a good fleece.

Rosenthal also mentions the Cubs and Red Sox as suitors.  The Cubs would be a great fit for Nathan, but one would think they’d have to give up center field prospect Felix Pie – among others – which could be a deal breaker.  The Red Sox would use Nathan as a setup man for Jon Papelbon, but I do not envision the Sox giving up top prospects for 1 year of a setup man.  I’m fairly confident in dismissing that speculative rumor.

Crisp to Minnesota?

Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe is reporting that talks between the Twins and Red Sox are “intensifying” today.

What does this mean? A Santana package perhaps? Or a smaller deal involving a Twins mid-level prospect perhaps?

Cafardo Rumors: Cabrera, Lincecum, Andruw, etc.

  • The most significant rumor from the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo this Sunday:   “It appears (Giants GM) Sabean is after Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera and is willing to offer a package that could include prized right hander Tim Lincecum.”   Could that deal be straight up?  Not sure who would wear the fleece in that one.  That would be a nice bounty for Florida although Lincecum’s size and delivery worry me.  I think they’d want at least one more top prospect.  But if Lincecum is available, the Giants have to be considered the new Cabrera front runners, especially since…..
  • If you listen to Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, it seems like LA will not be making any major moves this offseason but instead moving forward with their young crop of prospects (Matt Kemp, Andy Laroche, James Loney, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw) and hoping 2007 acquisitions like Jason Schmidt and Juan Pierre can step up in 2008.  Says McCourt: “I think we’re in a good position right now.  We don’t have to make a deal. We made the biggest move we needed to make in signing Joe (Torre).  I don’t anticipate any nonsense in that clubhouse. He gives us instant credibility and we’re thrilled to have him.”
  • Andruw Jones will not accept a one year deal, according to Scott Boras.  The Nationals seem to be the most interested in Jones.
  • Bump the Chicago White Sox up the list on prospective teams that may acquire Coco Crisp from Boston.   According to Cafardo, the ChiSox might be interested after being spurned by Torii Hunter.  An obvious match for Chicago and Boston doesn’t jump out at me, however.
  • Cafardo speculates that the A’s trade of Marco Scutaro could be a signal that the team will take the rebuilding route this year, meaning Danny Haren, Joe Blanton and Huston Street could be traded next month in three separate fleeces for Oakland.
  • Cafardo ruins the Mets acquisition of Johnny Estrada, pointing out that Estrada threw out only 6 of 79 baserunners last year and had clubhouse issues.  Apparently he “had conflicts with Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux, and got into a shouting match in the dugout with teammate Tony Graffanino late in the season.”

Johan and Twins Remain Far Apart

John Heyman has the scoop once again.   The Minnesota Twins have now offered Johan Santana the $20M annual salary that he deserves….but only for four years.

Heyman quotes Minnesota GM Bill Smith as saying, “Our first choice is to sign him (Santana). He’s about the best pitcher in the game.  He is signed for next year. Beyond that, I’m not commenting on contracts, trades or anything else.”

Previously, the Twins had reportedly offered the best pitcher in the game 5 years and $93M in what seemed like a PR stunt to make it seem like their billionaire owner Carl Pohlad at least tried to sign Mr. Santana.   This latest offer makes it clear that the Twins are not interested in a long term deal for Santana but are willing to give him the annual salary he deserves.  

Still, it would be a fleece.  Barry Zito’s 7 years and over $120M should be the floor for Santana.  I speculate Santana would obtain 7 years and close to $140M on the open market.   If he declines this offer, look for his name to be tossed around even more-so at next weeks winter meetings, with the Yankees, Red Sox, Mets, Angels and Dodgers as the prime suiters.

Update: Joe Christensen of The Minneapolis Star Tribune states that Johan Santana has 1 year left on his deal worth $13.25 million. The 4 year $80 million would have been tacked onto the current deal as an extension, hence previous reports of a 5 year deal for $93 million.

Johan is now said to be seeking a 6 year extension, and we already know he is seeking $126 million from Minnesota. Simple math suggest he is asking for $21 million per season.