December 5, 2007
Winter Meetings, Day Three
8:00 p.m. ET: The big rumor of the day was a three-way deal between the Mets, Twins, and A's. By the time the sun went down, the rumor had been quashed. I won't go into the details here, but it involved Haren, Reyes, Santana, and parts. Both Billy Beane and Omar Minaya denied speaking on this, or any other deal.
The Mets have been a bit more active, at least in terms of rumors. A possible move for Dontrelle Willis was floated, but no one was willing to confirm any discussions, leaving this just something to discuss in the lobby. The Tigers have been active, looking to see where Brandon Inge could go. The Twins are a possibility, as are the Brewers and Angels, but with the Twins, the Tigers could try to add in something and make a run at Joe Nathan. They don't have much left in their farm system, and it's hard to trade in division, so I'm not expecting this to get much steam.
The Cubs have been "simmering" for days, but they haven't been able to get anything big done. Kosuke Fukudome is evidently going to wait until next week to visit teams in person, Brian Roberts is a rumored possibility, and in the more interesting story, there is a circulating rumor that the team would like to acquire a center fielder. With Felix Pie seemingly at the ready, this one's going to have to flesh out a bit more.
Finally, an explanation--sometimes, I'm told things that work out, but then again, some don't. With the Santana item posted yesterday, I had two solid sources that told me that it was "very close." I translated that as "all but done" and now... it's not. I can't explain why it didn't, but at the time I wrote it, I believed it. There are times I get suckered by misinformation--such as I was yesterday about the Tigers-Marlins deal at mid-day--and also times where things don't work out as I was told. Rumors and facts are tough to distinguish at times, especially when they change by the second.
3:30 p.m. ET: A Minnesota official said Wednesday that he is "99 percent sure" that left-hander Johan Santana will still be a Twin when the meetings end Thursday. The Twins still figure to deal Santana sometime before spring training, though it now seems no longer a complete lock that he will be traded to the Red Sox or the Yankees.
Blue Jays President Paul Godfrey created a stir when he was quoted in Tuesday's editions of the Toronto Globe & Mail as saying Toronto would like add a high-profile Canadian-born player, namely Baltimore left-hander Erik Bedard or Pittsburgh left fielder Jason Bay. However, a Blue Jays official said Wednesday that Toronto hasn't talked to either the Orioles or Pirates during the Winter Meetings, and dismissed the idea that either player is coming home to his native land.
Milwaukee and St. Louis have the framework of a deal set in which the Brewers would get third baseman Scott Rolen from the Cardinals for left-hander Chris Capuano. What is holding the deal up is haggling over other players that might included in the trade, and also how much, if anything, St. Louis will pay of the $36 million left on the final three years on Rolen's contract.
A five-player trade between Cleveland and Pittsburgh has been discussed, and while it likely won't go down in Nashville, the talks could be rekindled at some later date during the offseason. The Indians would send left-hander Cliff Lee, catcher Kelly Shoppach, and outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to the Pirates for Bay and catcher Ronny Paulino. However, the Pirates are said to prefer a young left-hander, either Aaron Laffey or Jeremy Sowers, in Lee's place.
Steve Finley was released by Colorado last season after hitting .181/.245/.245 in 102 plate appearances, but he's attending the Winter Meetings in an attempt to land an invitation to spring training. Finley is 42 and looks at least 10 years younger, but his performance last season leads to obvious questions about whether he has anything left.
2:45 p.m. ET: When you run into someone you know from a team, you always lead off with something open-ended like, "So, what do you guys got going on?" This is usually met with a canned response but also an occasional insight, and often ends with, "And we're always looking for another arm."
One 'another arm' getting a surprising amount of attention lately is Glendon Rusch, who missed off of 2007 due to some blood clot problems. Healthy and in excellent shape, Rusch has made some changes, especially with his off-speed stuff under the tutelage of pitching instructor Lenny Strelitz, and he's been impressive in private workouts. He's not going to get big money or anything, but plenty of clubs are interested in getting Rusch into their camp, with the leaders looking like the Padres on the one hand, and the Reds on the other; Cincinnati's new manager, Dusty Baker, is a big Rusch fan.
2:30 p.m. ET: The lobby is a little quiter this afternoon, a combination of teams suddenly getting busier in their suites with both trade talks and Rule Five Draft preparation, but also a bit of 48 hours of standing around drinking and talking about baseball taking its toll. Nonetheless, the quotes are still entertaining...
On The Sprawling Opryland Complex: "Look around at this place. This is why people in other countries hate America."
On A Minor League Pitcher I Haven't Hard Anything About For Two Years Suddenly Pitching Well In A Lesser Latin American League: "Yeah, he's been dealing in Colombia... oh wait, that didn't come out right."
1:00 p.m. ET: Trent Rosencrans from the Cincinnati Post bought a pedometer to mark his progress around the Opryland. His results didn't suprise me, and while I'm not sure I walked quite as much as he did, I don't think I walked a lot less either.
The vultures are starting to nip at Johan Santana. While the "very close" deal has remained in "very close" status for better than 24 hours now, some other teams have started making inquiries. From my sources, none have been very serious, more along the lines of asking the pretty girl for her number at last call, on the off-chance that she likes you. It looks like the Red Sox or nothing at this stage, though I can't believe that the Yankees wouldn't get back in it.
Teams that have been surprisingly quiet? The Rangers and D'backs.
So what's the holdup? The long-known Sox and Twins deal for Johan Santana is on hold again due to medical issues. Jon Lester might need to see the Twins or an independent physician before the deal is finalized. While many are focusing on his history of cancer, that's not likely the issue here; the Sox, with their connections to The Jimmy Fund, have access to some of the best oncologists in the world. The Twins, I'm told, want to know that "his arm is pristine."
In the shadow of the Cabrera-Willis deal, the meetings came to a screeching halt. The Angels stopped dead, people stopped fawning over Erik Bedard, and many are making a quick re-assessment. The deal doesn't appear to have made any team panic, but it might make teams a little bolder and a bit more willing to deal prospects, this year's hot commodity.
Could the Brewers deal Ben Sheets? Not likely, but it's possible. The Mariners are the most interested, shifting down to Sheets (and other targets) after they realized that Johan Santana was out of their reach. The Brewers would be interested by the prospect mix that the M's could offer, especially catcher Jeff Clement.
There's a lot of talk about the Mitchell Report suddenly, but it's not yet affecting how any team is acting. With the report once again scheduled to come out imminently, there's discussion of names it might name, and how the report's revelations will be handled. One name everyone expects to read is Barry Bonds, who most believe will sign with Oakland on a one-year, incentive-laden deal.
The hot name in discussions today? Andy Marte. Several teams have asked after the former top prospect in deals. He's still very cheap, and many believe that he could thrive in the right situation. Of course, no one seems to be able to articulate what that 'right situation' might be, nor will they give up much for him, but he's a cheaper option than Scott Rolen.
The Pirates and Indians have discussed a deal centering on Jason Bay, but the deal has been on and off for two days. According to one official, it's a matter of "verbal ping-pong rather than a negotiation." We'll see if a swap centered on Bay and Indians outfielder Franklin Gutierrez will get more serious today.
The teams involved on Kosuke Fukudome are all cursing the Royals today. Jose Guillen's signing his three-year, $36 million deal raised the price for Fukudome, and left several teams looking for a Plan B. Both Chicago teams are in on the bidding, including a strong move from the White Sox, who don't want to miss out on yet another off-season target.