Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:31 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 3:44 pm
The Angels and Marlins spent plenty, the Astros stood pat, and the Mets did worse than that. Here they, one through 30, from most improved team to least improved.
1. Angels. Anytime you add Albert Pujols when you don't really need a first baseman, that's quite a luxury buy. Maybe 10 years are too many, but he'll obviously make a major impact in the first years of that deal. C.J. Wilson gives them as good a first four as just about anyone. Plus, he comes directly from the main competitor.
2. Marlins. Jose Reyes is a monster get, when healthy, Mark Buehrle fits as the perfect veteran lefthander to pitch behind Josh Johnson and Heath Bell is a very good closer. Ozzie Guillen spices things up. Much more interesting team as they move to their new park.
3. Diamondbacks. Loved that they didn't rest on their laurels. Trevor Cahill bolsters their rotation and Jason Kubel their lineup. Also tried hard for Hiroki Kuroda, offering him $13 million, $3 million more than he got from the Yankees. Terrific effort by a team in an area hit hard by the economic downturn.
4. Nationals. I don't love Gio Gonzalez's 1.48 lifetime road WHIP, but he's a talented, young lefthanded starter who's exactly what they needed. Of course, they still could use a center fielder.
5. Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda is the solid starter they needed, and Michael Pineda has a chance to be better than that, especially if he masters his changeup. Jesus Montero will be a mega star but they needed the pitching, so it was a worthwhile gamble. A.J. Burnett is addition by subtraction.
6. Rockies. Michael Cuddyer is a huge get, even if he did cost $31.5 million over three years. Jeremy Guthrie steps in as the Opening Day starter and Tyler Chatwood has a chance, though rotation questions still remain. Casey Blake might not have a lot left at third base, but super prospect Nolan Arenado looks to be close.
7. Rangers. Yu Darvish is going to be better than Wilson. They flirted with Prince Fielder, but came up a few years short. Had they pulled that one off, too, they would have easily topped this list. A lefthander in the pen wouldn't have hurt, either.
8. Rays. Carlos Pena will bring a lot more punch than Casey Kotchman, and if healthy, Luke Scott brings more still. Somehow, they find a way.
9. Blue Jays. Sergio Santos, Francisco Cordero and Darren Oliver represent a nice bullpen upgrade over Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch. Never made the huge deal folks were expecting, though.
10. Reds. They gave up a lot for Matt Latos, a talented pitcher who'll have to adjust going from pitching-firendly PETCO Park to Great American Ballpark. The pen is better with Ryan Madson in as the closer and strong lefty Sean Marshall over from Chicago. Looks like a contender.
11. Tigers. Owner Mike Ilitch gets props for the $214-million, nine-year band-aid he bought in Fielder after Victor Martinez's brutal knee injury.
12. Phillies. They imported Jonathan Papelbon, who has a longer track record, to replace Ryan Madson. Jim Thome fills the resident nice guy role left vacated by Brad Lidge's departure (and Juan Pierre won't hurt in that dept. either, assuming he makes the team). They have more versatility with Ty Wigginton adding to their bench strength.
13. Pirates. The new killer B's are here -- Rod Barajas, Erik Bedard, Clint Barmes and A.J. Burnett. The Bucs certainly should be better.
14. Mariners. Hong-Chih Kuo, Shawn Camp and Hisashi Iwakuma have a chance to help. But their offseason will turn on whether Montero becomes a bigger star than Pineda. The guess here is, he does.
15. Padres. They maximized the Latos trade. Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal could become stars, and Brad Boxberger may be the closer of the future. Huston Street ably replaces Bell. And Carlos Quentin may thrive back in his hometown.
16. Cubs. David DeJesus is a solid outfielder, and Paul Maholm will help. But their winter will turn on whether slugging first baseman Anthony Rizzo is the player they think he is. The real loss for them was the new rule limiting bonus pools for drafted players.
17. Royals. Jonathan Sanchez is just the type of high-ceiling pitcher who fits, Bruce Chen was needed back and Jonathan Broxton is worth a flyer.
18. Dodgers. They managed to cut to below $90 million as cash-strapped Frank McCourt sells the team, but they pieced it together pretty well. Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang are solid starters but most of the other imports are extras. They also made an exciting secret grab at Fielder but were outbid by the Tigers. Their best move, though, was signing Matt Kemp for eight years at $160 million,
19. Indians. Given the restrictions of the budget, not terrible. Casey Kotchman looks to be on the upswing, and Derek Lowe is a veteran presence needed especially now that Fausto Carmona is better known as Limbo Carmona.
20. Giants. Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan are late bloomers, and they might do as well as the combo of Caros Beltran, Andres Torres and Cody Ross. The comeback of Buster Posey is probably the biggest key. Also like the smaller pickups of Clay Hensley and Ryan Theriot.
21. Cardinals. It's hard to lose Pujols (not to mention Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan) and not feel it. But somehow, the Cardinals seem to find a way. Beltran replaces some of Pujols' lost offense, if not his presence. Adam Wainwright's return is the biggest addition, though.
22. Orioles. Nobody did more different things, but it's tough to evaluate or guess what Wei-Yin Chen or Tsuyoshi Wada will become. Wilson Betemit was an odd signing in that no one saw a two-year deal coming.
23. White Sox. Love the Robin Ventura move (though I suspect they should have made him take a more-experienced staff). The team will be a lot younger, too, with all the kids acquired for Santos and Quentin. Buehrle is tough to replace, though.
24. Braves. Their big deal was for utlityman Jack Wilson, which says a lot. Never found the right deal for Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado.
25. Twins. Josh Willingham has a lot of pressure on him to make up for the loss of Cuddyer and Kubel. Joe Nathan preferred to go to a contender. Not sure how much Jason Marquis has left.
26. Red Sox. I like the way they recovered from the loss of Papelbon by adding Mark Melancon and Andrew Bailey. Cody Ross and Nick Punto are nice complementary pieces. But I think they'll miss Jason Varitek more than think. And they still don't have a No. 4 or 5 starter or starting shortstop after trading Marco Scutaro in exchange for "flexibility.'' Bobby Valentine was a great call for manager, and he does his best work when there are issues, so maybe he pulls it all together.
27. A's. They did a nice job collecting prospects (Jarrod Parker, Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole could be stars) but will be hard-pressed to avoid 90 defeats this year after trading Cahill, Gonzalez and Bailey. Big Talent Yoenis Cespedes and Mannyball spice things up. Interesting offseason.
28. Brewers. Tough to make up for the loss of Fielder. Aramis Ramirez is a nice middle-of-the-order bat, Alex Gonzalez is an upgrade at shortstop and Nori Aoki may work. Also lost some bullpen depth with Takashi Saito and Hawkins gone.
29. Astros. They took a flyer on the oft-injured Fernando Martinez but after failing to unload Wandy Rodriguez, Carlos Lee or Brett Myers, they basically return the same team. Which is not necessarily good news when you lost 106 games.
30. Mets. They lost the heart of the team (though an of-injured one), and Andres Torres wouldn't be my first choice to replace the dynamic Reyes. Actually, Pagan would have been better. But that's nitpicky. Let's face it, no one that cuts an unprecedented $50 million can do well.
Posted on: January 13, 2012 8:41 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:49 am
The Yankees revamped their rotation by acquiring Michael Pineda in a big trade of fine young talents for Jesus Montero and seemingly seconds later coming to terms with Hiroki Kuroda on a one-year deal for about $10 million. And they don't appear to be done yet.
The Yankees turned a weakness into a strength with those two big moves but now are in need of a hitter. With Montero going to Seattle, and they are calling around for offense. One player now on their radar is the power hitter Carlos Pena, but there may be others, as well.
The Mariners needed to upgrade their offense and they did that by getting Montero, in a trade first reported by CBSSports.com. Seattle nearly traded for Montero in the summer of 2010 in a Cliff Lee deal before eventually opting to acquire Justin Smoak instead. In this trade, the Mariners also received righthanded pitcher Hector Noesi, while sending righty Jose Campos to New York with Pineda.
Posted on: January 13, 2012 5:01 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 10:49 am
Top free agent slugger Prince Fielder has embarked on a second tour of teams today, and is expected to meet with multiple teams, perhaps four or more, on this excursion as he narrows his expansive field of free-agent options.
Fielder is in Texas today meeting with the Rangers, as @BNightengale reported. But that shouldn't be seen as prove they are about to sign Fielder. The Rangers are expecting to spend $100 million or so on Japanese pitching import Yu Darvish, and there have been mixed signals as to whether they might be able to sign both Darvish and Fielder.
The Orioles, Nationals, Mariners, Marlins and incumbent Brewers ave been seen as the other main players, but there may be more. The Cubs and Blue Jays are among others to have shown interest.
The other teams on the tour aren't known as of yet.
Posted on: January 5, 2012 1:59 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:50 pm
The Washington Nationals, despite their early suggestions to the contrary, do appear to be deep in the mix for star free agent slugger Prince Fielder. They may even justifiably be seen as a favorite at this point. But with several other teams showing strong interest and as many as seven or eight others showing some level of interest, it may be a bit too early to declare them as “the’’ favorite.’’
Reading all the hints, suggestions and tea leaves (not to mention deciphering the requisite downplaying of many), here’s the way I see things as we head into what might be the final several days (in order of most likely to least).
Posted on: January 3, 2012 7:04 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:55 pm
Veteran Japanese League pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is deciding where to sign between the Mariners and two other American League teams, a source familiar with the situation said. Tim Dierkes of @mlbtraderumors identified one of the two unknown teams as the Orioles.
Iwakuma is the fellow who couldn't quite work out a deal with the A's last winter after they won the right to negotiate with him with a $19.1-million bid. Reportedly, they then offered him $15.25 million over four years, but he didn't accept. So now he is a free agent. No word on whether the A's could be the other unknown team in the mix this time.
Iwakuma, a righthander, has had a lot of success in Japan. But this time around, the pursuits may be slightly muted due to word he had some shoulder trouble in Japan this year. He went 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA for Rakuten.
Posted on: December 29, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:59 pm
There's been a lot of discussion and debate lately about whether the improving Washington Nationals are one of the teams trying to sign free agent slugger Prince Fielder.
And while there's still nothing definitive on the subject, one Nats player told me Thursday, "We're in the market. We're still shooting for him.''
People can scoff at the validity of a player as a source, but this player did not hesitate and sure seemed to know what he was talking about. But who can be sure?
This has surely been a fairly mysterious market to this point. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, who just bolstered the rotation with the addition of young lefthader Gio Gonzalez, downplayed the Fielder chances in an interview Wednesday on MLB Network Radio, saying Adam LaRoche would be their first baseman barring something "extrordinary.''
To be precise, Rizzo said, "We've more or less decided Adam is going to be out first baseman unless something extraordinary, out of the ordinary, happens.'' LaRoche is to make $8 million in 2012 (plus he has a $1 million buyout on his 2013 salary).
If Rizzo is merely downplaying their genuine interest in Fielder as a way not to get fans' hopes up, he wouldn't be the first GM to do that. The Nationals have been considered among about eight teams -- the Rangers, Orioles, Mariners, Marlins, Cubs, Blue Jays and Brewers being the others -- to have some level of interest in the 27-year-old first baseman.
Fielder recently went on a tour of some of the interested teams, flying to a few points around the country. But it isn't known what teams, including the Nationals, were on the tour. Or whether a team that wasn't on the tour might jump into the mix.
Posted on: December 21, 2011 10:04 am
Edited on: January 24, 2012 9:08 pm
Indications are the Mariners, Nationals and Orioles are among about a half-dozen teams still eyeing star free agent Prince Fielder.
The Fielder derby is heating up, as some teams have made offers or at least given an indication where they'd be willing to go monetarily for the slugger. The Cubs, Rangers, Blue Jays, Marlins and incumbent Brewers also have been mentioned as possibilities for Prince.
The Mariners are one of the teams that's suggested their price range for Fielder, although it's unclear how serious Fielder might be about willing to play on the West Coast. Some close to the Florida product and longtime Brewer have suggested he'd prefer to stay in the East or Central time zones. Seattle is also said to have financial limitations and are believed unwilling to break their bank for any one player.
The Nationals have been keeping a low profile on their pursuit and it's unknown where they stand but signs suggest they do have Fielder on their radar. He isn't a perfect fit as they already have Mike Morse and Adam LaRoche for first base, though they could move Morse to the outfield and LaRoche is a small expense compared to Fielder.
The Orioles remain interested, according to a person with knowledge of their thinking. They may be geographically desirable to Fielder but it isn't known how their status as a rebuilding team might impact the player.
The Marlis remain a curiosity. Team president David Samson has suggested they lack interest, but owner Jeffrey Loria has give public quotes amounting to something along the lines of "we'll see.'' The Rangers are also believed to have interest even after winning the bid for star Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. The Cubs are said to interested but the status of their pursuit, and that of the Jays, remains unclear.
The Brewers have been painted as a long shot but they haven't given up all hope they could retain Fielder.
For more MLB news and rumors from Jon Heyman, follow @JonHeymanCBS.
Posted on: December 20, 2011 1:11 pm
Edited on: December 20, 2011 2:20 pm
So now that the Rangers have bid $51.7 million on Yu Darvish, they have to be out of the Prince Fielder sweepstakes, right?
The Rangers have always seemed on the periphery of the Fielder derby, but they still appear to be eyeing the top remaining free agent even after winning the Darvish auction and presumably targeting at least $100 million, and likely more, for the star 25-year-old right-handed pitcher from the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Texas is a threat to win Fielder, too, provided that the Rangers are willing to make the financial commitment it would take, as it is a desirable landing spot with an already stacked lineup and fine hitting ballpark.
Texas had baseball’s third most productive offense last year, but would threaten to possess baseball’s best lineup with Fielder in it. The Fielder pursuit has been pretty quiet, but other teams believed to have some interest in Fielder include the Mariners, Nationals, Cubs, Orioles, Marlins and incumbent Brewers.
The Rangers have always liked Fielder, and it’s not known whether their interest has actually increased in response to the chief rival Angels landing superstar Albert Pujols and frontline pitcher C.J. Wilson, the ex-Ranger. The Angels’ two huge purchases, which occurred the same day at the Winter Meetings, surprised the Rangers and most of baseball and gave Los Angeles of Anaheim a resounding early offseason victory at a cost of $332.5 million.
Word is, Darvish is seeking a deal for about $75 million over five years, which would be on top of the $51.7 million posting fee Texas would be required to pay the Fighters should they sign him, as expected. If they were to pay Fielder, say $206 million, they’d top the Angels in expense for their two players.
The Rangers were not interested in Pujols but do like Fielder because he is only 27 years old and would fit into their star-studded lineup. Texas is also trying to lock up several of their own stars, including Derek Holland, Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton.
Signing Fielder would also give the Rangers some middle-of-the-order insurance against the possibility of losing Hamilton, who is eligible for free agency after next year. While the Rangers want to keep Hamilton, they want to do it with a shorter contract than he will likely want.
For more MLB news and rumors from Jon Heyman, follow @JonHeymanCBS.