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January 21, 2013

Rumor Roundup

Monday, January 21

by Will Woods

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Welcome to another Rumor Roundup. I’m Will Woods, in a rare fill-in spot for resident BP Iron Man Daniel Rathman under our little-known “only Tufts grads can write the Rumor Roundup” rule. I feel like Billy Ripken right now. Anyway, rumors!

Braves Continue Search for Outfielder
With Martin Prado expected to start at third base in lieu of the retired Chipper Jones, the Braves are still short an outfielder despite signing B.J. Upton. To that end, GM Frank Wren has considered putting together a package for B.J.’s brother Justin, who recently invoked his limited no-trade clause to block a strong offer from Seattle. Justin has made exactly zero professional appearances in left field, but one would think he’d be enthusiastic to accommodate his brother and Gold Glover Jason Heyward.

Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has indicated that the Mariners' offer, despite being nixed, has set the market for Upton, and any other suitors would need to do better. (Upton’s no-trade clause is limited to the Mariners, Blue Jays, Red Sox and Cubs, the latter of which also had negotiations go nowhere fast. By the way, the Twins must be wondering how they were left off that list.) So it appears the only teams able to pony up the young talent necessary to acquire Upton may be Atlanta and Texas, as David O’Brien reports. Yet the Upton saga has been so bizarrely public, with Towers so forward about his apparently years-long openness to a deal for his young star, that it’s difficult to imagine Arizona is holding out for a better deal than Seattle offered. Moreover, should the season begin and Upton continue his solid-but-uninspiring performance from last season (.280/.355/.430), the market for him may crash and burn.

Speaking of markets crashing, did you guys know that Michael Bourn is still a person who wants to play baseball for money? The Braves remember, sort of, and O’Brien reports that Fredi Gonzalez recently had a phone conversation with Bourn to smooth things over in the wake of the elder Upton’s arrival. Atlanta hasn’t ruled out bringing him back, says O’Brien, especially if Bourn’s previously reported asking price of $17 million per year has dropped.

There isn’t much to report from around MLB on Bourn, and the whole situation reeks of Scott Boras demanding $17 million from 30 teams, hearing “Um, no,” 30 times, and only now doing another lap around the league at a more reasonable rate. The Rangers, long considered favorites for Bourn, have uttered nary a peep about the Houston native, and it’s tough to gauge through the media whether he’s theirs to lose or it’s a five-horse race. (At HardballTalk, Matthew Pouliot offers a helpful snapshot of 13 teams relative to Bourn, although I would rule out my Mets from contention unless Bourn wants to be paid in a suitcase full of twenties by a bail bondsman on Roosevelt Ave.)

A few quick headlines to bring this ship in to port:

  • Justin Upton must be jealous of his divisional counterparts’ job security: Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweets that the Rockies’ young outfield stars, Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler, are going nowhere for the time being.
  • The big news of the weekend was that arbitration figures were filed; here, courtesy of Danny Knobler, is a handy guide to what players and their employers believe they’re worth. The biggest gap belongs to Chase Headley and the Padres—Headley wants $10.3 million, but the Padres think he’s worth $7.075 million. To me, the real story here is that the arbitration process led to Hunter Pence’s telling the Giants, straight-faced, “I am worth $13.8 million,” and the Giants’ saying, “Yes, yes you are.”
  • Derrick Goold reports that Adam Wainwright is taking a wait-and-see approach to signing a contract extension with the Cardinals. St. Louis GM John Mozeliak seems resigned to not having a deal by the start of spring training, telling Goold, “It’s going to be long… It’s going to be expensive,” which sounds more like something you’d say about a divorce than something you'd say about an extension. Wainwright is in the final year of a six-year deal. Goold also tweets that Cards chairman Bill DeWitt intends to increase payroll in the near future, and with the Cardinals apparently fixated on maintaining a rotation “mentor,” signs still point to Wainwright remaining with St. Louis through the remainder of his prime.
  • It seems the Cardinals’ rotation will be healthier to start 2013, as Jenifer Langosch reports that Chris Carpenter and Jaime Garcia are recovering nicely from their respective injuries and hope to be ready for Opening Day. Should things go wrong for one or both of them in the coming weeks and months, would that affect Mozeliak’s urgency in the Wainwright negotiations? Time will tell.
  • The Rays appear to be turning to some familiar faces to fill their vacant DH spot; Marc Topkin says it’s down to Delmon Young and Luke Scott, which is uninspiring to say the least. It would also appear to put a damper on the Bourn-to-Tampa rumors that have cropped up now and again this offseason; if they’re sifting through the bargain bin at DH, what makes anyone think they’re going to open the checkbook for Bourn?

Finally, not that the Mets are making news right now—it’s my Roundup; I’ll be a homer if I want to—but Lucas Duda told Adam Rubin that his surgically-repaired right wrist is making excellent progress, and he’s on track to be the most productive offensive corner outfielder in the City of New York in 2013, which is such a frightening thought that I want to pretend it didn’t just occur to me. I need to un-think that. Anyway, I post this item just to mention Mets GM Sandy Alderson’s fantastic line at Saturday’s BBWAA dinner (courtesy of Danny Knobler’s Twitter): “I’m in serious discussions with several outfielders I met over the Internet.”

Will Woods is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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