Jason Bay Being Shopped?

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GM Neal Huntington of the Pittsburgh Pirates insists that management is not shopping RF Jason Bay, but according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, his name is being heard all around baseball circles (The Indians could be a possibility: Rotoworld.com). This could simply be a case of people calling to ask Huntington about the availability of his players, but this is the second time this week a major player is being mentioned in possible trade talks (Ian Snell Rumors).

The Pittsburgh fans would not take kindly to such moves, as it would set back the franchise a few “more” years. They are not close to winning now, and they would move further away should they trade their talent for prospects. If Huntington was to move any of his “prime talent”, a major fleece would have to occur to justify it to their fanbase.

Miguel Cabrera Packing his Bags for SoCal?

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According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Miguel Cabrera could be traded before the Thanksgiving holiday.  It is just a question of which California team accepts the Marlins request first, if at all.  As earlier reports have indicated, the two teams at the front of the pack are the Angels and Dodgers, with the White WSox and Indians considered long-shots in this sweepstakes. 

The Marlins appear to be demanding Howie Kendrick and Nick Adenhart from the Angels in a four-player package – possibly including RP Chris Bootcheck and another player (Santana, Mathis, Wood?).  As far as the Dodgers go, the Marlins are going for a big-time fleece, asking for Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw (considered by many scouts as the best left-handed pitcher in the minors, and maybe best overall), along with 2 other players, believed to be Andy LaRoche and James Loney. 

The Dodgers appear to be scared of the Marlins fleece offer, considering the premium placed on young talent in baseball these days, but the addition of Joe Torre might accelerate the team’s goals, and force them to pull the trigger.  Plan B for the Angels remains Miguel Tejada of the O’s, if they don’t make the trade for Cabrera.  Stay tuned… 

More Japanese Free Agent Rumors: Kobayashi, Kuroda

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  • Courtesy of Fox Sports, the Cleveland Indians are having Japanese reliever Masahide Kobayashi in for a physical Tuesday and could potentially complete a deal later this week.  Kobayashi, 33, has spent his entire nine-year career with the Chiba Lotte Marines and has an impressive 2.79 ERA with 227 saves over that span.   A signing by the Indians would be great fleece insurance against the Joe Borowski signing from last year.  They can’t possibly press their luck and roll the dice on Borowski again, can they?  Plus, Rafael Betancourt was used heavily last year and could use some help.
  • In other Japanese free agent news, the Mariners are considering sending front office memeber to Japan in order to negotiate with free agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.  Kuroda has a career record of 103-89 with an ERA of 3.69.  Last season, he tossed 180 innings with a 12-8 record, 3.56 era with 123 K’s.  Scouts say Kuroda has a 96 mph fastball, a slider and forkball.  Sources told the Tacoma News Tribune that Kuroda is asking for three or four years at $11 million per season.  If you ask me, this has FLEECE written all over it.  Besides the Mariners, the Rangers, Cubs, Dodgers and Phillies have expressed interest in Kuroda.

Update: Kobayashi has signed a 2-year pact with the Indians. 

Japanese Royalty?

king-spades.pngAccording to Marc Lancaster, the Devil Rays are in the mix for 34-year old Japanese relief pitcher Yasuhiko Yabuta.  Five teams seem to have expressed interest – Rays, Royals, Pirates, Indians and White Sox.  It’s also noted in the article that U.S. media reports have Yabuta close to signing with Kansas City. 

Yashuhiko Yabuta had a 2.73 ERA last season in Japan in 58 relief appearances with a 1.18 WHIP.  He can also makes some bats miss, notching 45 K’s in 62 2/3 innings.  Yabuta played for Japan on their champion World Baseball Classic team, as noted by Rotowire.com, and had strikeouts of A-Rod, Damon, and Derek Lee during his four appearances. 

Update: Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that Yabuta is set to sign a 2-year deal with the Royals, with a player option for a 3rd season.  $$ was not disclosed. 

Royals Close to Signing Reliever Yabuta

kclogo.gifKen Rosenthal is reporting that the Royals “are close to signing” Japanese right handed reliever Yasuhiko Yabuta.   Contract details are unconfirmed but speculated to be for two years with a possible third year option.   

In 63 innings last year for the Chiba Lotte Marines, Yabuta went 4-6 with 4 saves and a 2.73 era.  He struck out 45 batters.  I don’t really have a good scouting report so please comment if you’re more familiar with Yabuta.  New manager Trey Hillman, of course, is a former Japanese league manager and is probably playing a large role in the recruiting.

Other teams that appear to be interested are the White Sox, Indians, Rays and Pirates.  They are probably trying to follow Boston’s lead, who fleeced Hideki Okajima into a favorable deal last winter that worked out pretty well.

Where do the Mets go from Here?

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Now that Yorvit Torrealba and the NY Mets have broken off contract talks, Omar Minaya finds himself in a difficult situation. The Mets have made in clear that they are not interested in bringing back Paul Lo Duca for a second tour of duty with the team. The free agent class is suspect, with Jason Kendall & Michael Barrett as options, but far less intriguing options. The Mets had turned their attention to Torrealba because they found the asking price for trade candidates too steep. Ramon Hernandez & Kelly Shoppach are two options Omar is said to have looked into, but the Orioles and Indians are said to want a “top-end” prospect, and Omar would prefer save his chips to try and acquire a front-end starting pitcher.

Keith Law of ESPN writes this morning about 10 intriguing trade candidates. Making the list is Texas backstop Gerald Laird. Laird, 29, has become expendable with last year’s acquisition of Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Laird is a fine defensive catcher, throwing out over 39% of base-stealers. He had a disappointing season with the bat in 2007, hitting just .224 with 9 HR and 47 RBI. Law feels the Mets could have interest here, as 2007 is viewed by some as a fluke. Omar has some tough decisions to make. Ramon Castro recently signed a 2 year $4 million offer, and the Mets could consider giving him a crack at the full-time job behind the plate. If they opt to go another route, however, Minaya once again leaves himself open to get fleeced. Regardless, Yorvit Torrealba turning down the Mets’ 3 year $14.4 million offer at the last minute could be a blessing in disguise.