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. 

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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.

Percival to the Devil Rays?

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This one comes courtesy of Buster Olney. Troy Percival, who had a nice year last season with St.Louis (1.80 ERA in 40 IP), is working on a deal with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. As Buster Olney reports, one should expect the D-Rays would be promising Percival the closer’s role next season. Terms to a possible deal are not yet available.

Percival has 324 career saves, and will be 39 years old in August of 2008.

The Devil Rays have been active today, as they have also been rumored to be on the verge of acquiring SP Matt Garza (among others) for OF Delmon Young.

Update: According to Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are offering Percival the setup role in front of Mariano Rivera, and the Brewers are looking to possibly put Percival in the closer’s role, on a short-term deal. 

Update: Percival and the Devil Rays have inched closer on a multi-year contract (expected to be a 2 year deal).

Rays and Twins Complete Trade

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The Star Tribune is reporting that the Twins are close to acquiring Delmon Young for Matt Garza. These two seem to be the principles in the deal, although, the deal is rumored to include 6 players.

The rest of the deal breaks down as follows: Jason Bartlett and Juan Rincon (steroid cheat) to the Rays and SS Brendan Harris and OF Jason Pridie to the Twins.

I like the Rays side of this deal. They have an abundance of OF talent and lack the SP to go along with their offense. In this deal, they get a #2-type SP, a legit set-up man and a very good defensive SS with some offensive spunk. They get rid of the headache that was Young in the process.

Update: It’s official. Tampa Bay gets SP Matt Garza, INF Brendan Harris, and OF Jason Pridie. Headed to Minnesota are OF Delmon Young, SS Jason Bartlett RP Eduardo Morlan.

Garza to Seattle?; Bedard to the Mets?; and Jason Bay

We touched on the main news from Ken Rosenthal today – that being the Joe Nathan rumors.  But Rosenthal also had some other good tidbits.  Let’s take a look.

  • According to Rosenthal, “Matt Garza remains the young pitcher the Twins are most likely to move.”  Rosenthal mentions the Mariners as a potential partner with centerfield stud prospect Adam Jones as a return package.  I think that would be an absolute fleece for Minnesota, given their pitching depth (even after a Santana deal) and need for a center fielder.  Adam Jones is a future star.  And that’s no disrespect towards Matt Garza, who looks poised to be at least a future #2 starter.
  • The New York Mets made a “strong run” at Erik Bedard in last months GM meetings, but Baltimore president Andy McPhail wasn’t quite ready to deal the young ace then.  One would think the Mets would have to include Carlos Gomez and Lastings Milledge in a deal, among others.   Bedard is exactly what the Mets need in my opinion, and Baltimore is a team that Minaya has fleeced before (John Maine and Jorge Julio for Kris Benson).
  • Rosenthal speculates that the Pirates will try to hold on to Jason Bay until next winter to see if he can increase his trade value this season.  But if they get the right offer at next weeks winter meetings, they’ll pull the trigger.  Pittsburgh is looking at building around top prospects Andrew McCutcheon (CF) and Neil Walker (C), both 21 years old.  So look for Pitt to get younger for a potential run around 2010.
  • The Yankees will not be fleeced when signing middle relievers this year.  They apparently have a budget (yea, right) and will not overpay for the likes of Ron Mahay.  I say, FALSE.  

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?