Friday, January 30, 2009

Jason Varitek signs with Red Sox, Standoff Ends

The Red Sox and free-agent catcher Jason Varitek agreed on a contract according to a report out of The deal is for one year at $5 million with an option for 2010 that Boston could activate at $5 million (or Varitek could at $3 million).

Varitek could make another $2 million in 2010 via incentive clauses, as reported by the Boston Globe, meaning the total value of the contract will be as low as $8 million or as high as $12 million.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Twins, Jason Kubel Avoid Arbitration

The Twins avoided arbitration with DH/OF Jason Kubel yesterday, signing him to a two-year contract that media sources claim is for about $7 million and contains a team option for 2011 that is worth $5 million. Kubel batted .272 with 20 HR in 141 games last year.

Diamondbacks and Jon Garland Agree to Terms

The Diamondbacks and free agent right-hander Jon Garland have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with an option for 2010, according to major league sources, worth between $6-8 million.

It appears the contract is similar to one of the proposals the sides discussed a few weeks ago, in which the deal would include an option that could be exercised by either the player or team. The value of the buyout would vary depending on which side declines the option.

This will probably lead to other free agent signings of starters on the free agent market.

Andy Pettitte Takes Yankees Deal

The Yankees and Andy Pettitte agreed on an incentive laced deal that is worth roughly $5.5 million guaranteed, much lower than the $16 million earned last year by the left handed starter. The incentives are reportedly enough for Pettitte to reach $12 million. It is unknown where Pettitte will be in the rotation, but it is speculated he will start the season as the #5 so as to make the first start in the new Yankees stadium.

David Weathers, Reds Avoid Arbitration

The Reds signed reliever David Weathers to a one-year contract on Wednesday with a club option for 2010. Weathers will earn $3.5 million this season and can make an additional $700,000 in incentives. The option is worth $3.7 million and carries a $400,000 buyout clause.

Astros Sign Geoff Geary and Wandy Rodriguez

On Monday the Astros inked their final two arbitration-eligible players to one-year deals, signing right-hander Geoff Geary for $1.7 million plus incentives and left-hander Wandy Rodriguez for $2.6 million plus incentives.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Cubs Avoid Arbitration and Ink Kevin Gregg

The Chicago Cubs avoided arbitration, but maybe not controversy, by signing reliever/closer Kevin Gregg in a one year, $4.2 million deal. Gregg, who was acquired from the Marlins, had 29 saves last year with a 3.41 ERA. Gregg is expected to compete with nasty slider throwing Carlos Marmol for the closing job (Marmol had a 2.68 ERA with 114 strikeouts in 87 innings pitched).

Phillies Avoid Arbitration and Lock Up Ryan Madson

The Phillies avoided arbitration and were able to extend the contract with reliever Ryan Madson with a three year, $12 million contract. Madson was 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in the post season during the Phillies track to the World Series title.

Felix Hernandez signs one year deal with Mariners

The Seattle Mariners re-signed 22 year old RHP Felix Hernandez to a one year, $3.8 million contract to avoid arbitration. Hernandez showed ace-like signs last year, finishing with a 3.45 ERA with 175 strikeouts in 200 2/3 innings. In his 11 no decisions for the lowly Mariners he had a 2.72 ERA.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Phillies Lock Up Cole Hamels

Avoiding arbitration, the Phillies signed LHP Cole Hamels to a three year, $20.5 million deal. The Phillies starting pitcher, who at 25 years of age went 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA (and 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in the post season) last year, will make $4.35 million in 2009, $6.65 million in 2010 and $9.5 million in 2011.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Rumor that Red Sox, Jason Varitek Showdown Tonight

Looks like Jason Varitek and the Boston Red Sox will be sitting down to discuss potential contract terms in a meeting. Varitek had rejected the reported one year deal, seeking a multiyear deal worth Jorge Posada type money. One wonders, after testing the market under these trying conditions, if perhaps Varitek will come off those demands. Time will tell.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

San Diego Padres sign David Eckstein

Seeking help in the middle infield after trading Khalil Greene, the San Diego Padres signed SS / 2B and former Cardinal David Eckstein to a one year deal, terms undisclosed. Eckstein hit a combined .265 with Arizona and Toronto last year.

Red Sox Sign Kevin Youkilis to Four Year Deal

The Boston Red Sox avoided arbitration with 1B Kevin Youkilis with a four year, $40 million contract with a club option for 2013. Youkilis, a Gold Glover, was third in the balloting last year for Most Valuable Player and hit .312 with 29 HR's and 115 RBI's.

Tigers ink Fernando Rodney and Marcus Thames to Avoid Arbitration

The Tigers, looking at free agent closers but have not yet signed one, have avoided arbitration with their existing closer Fernando Rodney as the club agreed to terms Wednesday on a one-year contract worth $2.7 million. Rodney, who will turn 32 years old in March, saved 13 games this year to go with an 0-6 record and a 4.91 ERA. He became Detroit's closer near the end of July while Todd Jones battled shoulder problems. In addition to Fernando Rodney, the Tigers avoided arbitration with outfielder Marcus Thames by agreeing to terms on a one-year deal, terms not immediately disclosed. Thames is projected to return as Detroit's reserve outfielder and in 2008 batted .245 with 25 home runs and 56 RBIs over just 316 at-bats.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mets to Sign Infielder Alex Cora

According to a report on, the New York Mets have reached a deal with 2B/ SS Alex Cora on a one year, $2 million contract to be the Mets' utility middle infielder. Cora played last year with the Boston Red Sox and hit .270 in 75 games.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Uehara Signs with Baltimore Orioles

Right-hander Koji Uehara finalized a $10 million, two-year contract with Baltimore, making him the first Japanese-born player in franchise history. The 33-year-old Uehara, who agreed to terms last week, gets $5 million a year and could make more in incentives. Reportedly if Uehara makes 34 starts and pitches 200 innings in each season, he would earn $16 million.

Astros Agree to Minor League Deal with Russ Ortiz

Russ Ortiz, who has struggled with injuries over the past couple of years, agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training to compete for a roster spot with th Houston Astros. Ortiz, 34, missed all of 2008 with Tommy John surgery, but was last with the San Francisco Giants.

Guillermo Mota and Los Angeles Dodgers Agree to One Year Deal

The Mota Reunion is official...The Los Angeles Dodgers, who traded Guillermo Mota to the Florida Marlins in the Brad Penny trade a few years ago, agreed to terms with Mota for a return to the Dodgers' bullpen. Last season for the Millwaukee Brewers Mota posted a 5-6 record with a 4.11 ERA in 58 games.

Gabe Kapler signs with Tampa Bay Rays

OF Gabe Kapler signed a one-year, $1-million contract with the Rays Monday, which came as a little bit of a surprise after a weekend in which he was rumored to be headed to Philadelphia. Kapler hit .301 with Milwaukee last year.

San Diego Padres sign 2b Chris Burke

Chris Burke, former Houston Astros 2b of the future, signed with the San Diego Padres for a minor league deal. Burke hit .195 with 2 HR last year for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Burke was part of the Astros deal to acquire Jose Valverde last year.

Mark Prior signs with San Diego Padres

Mark Prior, the former Cubs ace that has had massive injury problems (and missed all last year due to an additional arm surgery), has signed with the San Diego Padres with a minor league deal. Prior will be paid $1 million if he makes the Padres roster.

Atlanta Braves and Derek Lowe Talks Getting Serious

There are many reports that the Atlanta Braves, after feeling much fan blowback after letting John Smoltz sign with the Red Sox, are showing some real Benjamins to try to land Derek Lowe. Reportedly the Braves have offered Lowe 4 years, $60 million in an attempt to bring the former Red Sox and Dodger pitcher into the fold. The 35 year old right handed Lowe was 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA last year with the Dodgers.

UPDATE: Many reports that Lowe has agreed to the four year deal, pending physical.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Brewers Avoid Abitration with JJ Hardy

The Brewers signed shortstop J.J. Hardy to a one-year, $4.65 million contract on Monday and avoided arbitration, a raise from Hardy's $2.65 million contract from 2008. Hardy, 26, batted .283 with 24 home runs and 74 RBIs in 146 games last season.

Astros Avoid Arbitration with Jose Valverde

The Houston Astros avoided arbitration with closer Jose Valverde by inking him to a one year, $8 million contract. The hard throwing right handed Valverde had a very slow start to the 2008 season, but really settled down to return to his premiere closing position by the end of the season. Valverde, who lost his arbitration claim prior to the 2008 season, was also probably happy to avoid the arbitration process and chose one year certainty over a repeat of 2008. Valverde made $4.7 million in 2008, so the $8 million is quite a raise for the organization. The Astros now are able to move toward signing their other arbitration eligble players knowing what their most expensive player in that process is going to make.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Red Sox Keep the Signings Coming With Takashi Saito

The Boston Red Sox remained busy with the signing of Takashi Saito, the right handed reliever who spent the last three years with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Saito's deal is reported to be guaranteed $1.5 million for the first year, but with incentives that could make it worth $7 million. It is a one year deal with the Red Sox, with a club option for 2010.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Braves Nearing Deal with Kenshin Kamakawi

The Atlanta Braves, clearing becoming a little more active after John Smoltz took the deal with the Boston Red Sox, are reportedly nearing a deal with 33 year old Kenshin Kamakawi from Japan to be a starter in their rotation. No rumors yet on the size of the deal (although original reports that the demand was in the 3 year, $30 million plus range). Previously the Mets, Orioles, Angels, Cardinals and Twins had been rumored to have been previously interested in Kamakawi's services. Kamakawi's fastball is supposed to be clocked around 92 with a nasty splitter, 2 seam fastball and curve that keeps batters off guard. He also, apparently, can handle a bat, which is definitely helpful in the National League.

Mets sign Tim Redding to One Year Deal

Home-state boy Tim Redding, a former top prospect in the Astros organization who spent all of 2006 in the minors, only to seem to find his way last year, signed a one year, $2.25 million contract with the New York Mets to be a starter with that organization. Redding, 30, was 10-11 with a 4.95 ERA with the Washington Nationals last year but was non-tendered by that team. Redding likely will battle rookies Jonathon Niese and Bobby Parnell for the fourth or fifth spot in the Mets' rotation. The Colorado Rockies had been showing interest in Redding over the last few weeks before the Mets got it done.

Royals Find Their Utility Man in Willie Bloomquist

Willie Bloomquist, the utility man who played seven years for the Seattle Mariners, is reported to be signing with the Kansas City Royals in a two year deal worth $3 million total. Bloomquist, who nearly played every position for the Mariners, is more speed than power, and hit .279 last year in 71 games without a home run, but had 14 stolen bases in those 71 games.

Red Sox, Mark Kotsay Agree to One Year Deal

Continuing the news out of Boston, the Red Sox have agree to a one year, $1.5 million deal with OF/1B Mark Kotsay. It was thought that Kotsay would not be re-signed due to the recent signing of Rocco Baldelli, but the deal did indeed get done. Kotsay, 33, was acquired by the Sox from the Atlanta Braves last year and hit .226 in the 33 games he played in the AL, but was hitting .289 with the Braves when he was acquired. He is expecte to be a left handed bat off the bench and reserve OF.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Brewers and Trevor Hoffman Reach One Year Deal

The Milwaukee Brewers seem to have found their closer, opting for likely future Hall of Fame closer and all time saves leader Trever Hoffman on a one year, $6 million contract. Hoffman, who is 41 years old, had been the closer for years in San Diego, but recent ownership problems and financial issues with the Padres, along with other issues, made Hoffman expendable. After a rough start, he finished last season with a respectable 30 saves and a 3.77 ERA. The Brewers, pardon the beer pun, hope he still has something in the tank.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

John Smoltz to sign with Boston Red Sox

Reports abound that John Smoltz's days with the Atlanta Braves may be over, as the 41 year old right handed pitcher will sign with the Boston Red Sox. Smoltz, formerly a starter, had been moved to the pen in Atlanta (a team he has been with since he broke into the majors), and is coming off shoulder surgery. The deal is reportedly worth a guaranteed $5.5 million with incentives that could reach $10 million, and they are projecting him to be in the rotation when his rehab is complete.

Red Sox and Rocco Baldelli Reportedly Close to Deal

Rocco Baldelli, recent recipient of the Tony Conigliaro Award for overcoming adversity (he had been diagnosed with mitochondrial disorder which causes chronic fatigue), is reportedly close to signing with the Boston Red Sox to be their fourth outfielder. Baldelli was limited in action last year due to the disease, but reportedly Baldelli was recently diagnosed with a different disorder that is more treatable, channelopathy. Baldelli had also battled injuries in other years since his impressive debut in 2003 with the Tampa Bay Rays, but is a lifetime .280 ish hitter with decent speed.

Chad Cordero to Have Throwing Session for Interested Teams

Chad Cordero, the 26 year old former Washington Nationals closer who is recovering and rehabbing from shoulder injury, is planning to have throwing sessions with teams that might be interested in his services. Current teams reportedly in the hunt are the Nats, Diamondbacks, Brewers and Tigers.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Jason Giambi to Sign with Oakland Athletics

The A's reunion with Jason Giambi is merely a physical away from completion, according to The deal for the (ahem) 1B and more likely DH is reportedly a guaranteed one year deal worth $3.5 million with a club option for 2010 for $5 million with a $1 million buyout. This is probably a win win...the A's basically get a decent bat in the lineup for relatively cheap $3.5 million, and Giambi goes back to a team before that whole steroids thing made Giambi a bad name. Giambi, of course, was not offered arbitration by the New York Yankees (which freed up some necessary payroll), and hit .247 with 32 HR's last year after an injury plagued 2007. This offer from the A's is just a little less than the $23 million he made last year.

Carl Pavano to sign with the Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians have agreed to a one year, incentive laden contract with the much injured former New York Yankee Carl Pavano. If anyone thinks that the New York Yankees are guaranteed to win the Series, one need only look at how much the Yankees paid for Pavano. Pavano was paid $40 million over four years with the Yanks and made a total of 26 starts in those four years, 7 last year, or almost $1 million a strikeout. The Indians deal is reported to be $1.5 million guaranteed with incentives that could bring the deal to $6.8 million.

Jerry Hairston to Remain on Reds Roster

Jerry Hairston, Jr., a utility player largely used as a SS/2B, has agreed to a one year, $2 million deal to remain with the Reds. It is apparently an incentive laden deal worth as much as $4 million. Hairston had been approached by a couple of other teams after hitting .326 with 15 steals in 80 games last season, but Cincinnati reeled him back in to the fold.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Andy Pettitte Rejects New York Yankees' Offer

The New York Times is reporting that Andy Pettitte rejected the one year, $10 million offer to pitch in pinstripes again next year in the new Yankee Stadium. Pettitte made $16 million last year, so the pay cut would be substantial, and apparently too substantial for Pettitte and his agents. Pettitte had originally indicated that he would pitch for the Yankees or retire, but he wanted to return. The Yankees are in a position where they'd like to have him, but now after their free agent signings, don't really need him. I'm betting this deal gets done eventually.

Report: Milton Bradley to sign with Chicago Cubs

According to a report on, Milton Bradley is traveling to Chicago for a physical after the team agreed to a three year, $30 million contract for the AL's on base percentage leader. Bradley, playing for the Texas Rangers, hit .321 with 22 HR's as a switch hitter. The Cubs sought a left handed bat for their lineup, due to the wealth of starting righties of Alfonso Soriano, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto, and Bradley is a capable switch hitter with some pop.

Jason Marquis to Rockies?

It appears as if Jason Marquis, long rumored to be in need of a new home to save Chicago Cubs payroll, is going to be headed to Colorado in exchange for middle reliever Luis Vizcaino (although reportedly details are still being worked out). Although many may surmise this means the Cubs are back in the Jake Peavy hunt, likely the Cubs ownership situation (and all of the political hub-bub surrounding criminal investigations related thereto with the Illinois Governor) will need to be resolved before committing to Peavy's $60 million left on his multi-year deal. The longer that goes on, the less likely that Peavy will swap teams prior to pitchers and catchers reporting.

Now if this had been done by the Winter Meetings, it would have been a completely different story. How quickly things can change.

Pat Burrell Takes Pay Cut, Signs with Tampa Bay Rays

Pat Burrell, who made nearly $14 million last year (but was not offered arbitration by the Philadelphia Phillies), took a pretty massive pay cut by signing a two year, $16 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. It had been expected that Burrell's locations were limited, as he was looking like a DH candidate, but he did receive more than a one year deal. This is probably a win, win...The Rays, in a division with the Red Sox and Yankees, needed an extra right handed power bat, and Burrell gets a two year deal to be a DH for a contender.

This is showing, however, the difference that free agents on the market are facing this off season. With the car makers struggling (one of the most dedicated advertisers and promotions industry for middle and smaller market teams), teams are projecting significantly less revenue and are therefore holding down the number of years and keeping their offers significantly lower as a rule. Ultimately Burrell signing for $8 million may make the Ty Wiggington's of the world think twice about asking for too much in their negotiations. Burrell is a pretty consistent bat that is well proven (and has playoff and World Series experience), and if he's taking $8 million, some of the less proven players are likely trying to get the coal out of their Christmas stockings.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Andruw Jones and Dodgers Part Ways...

In a move largely seen as a way to free up payroll for the offer to Manny Ramirez, Andruw Jones and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed to defer portions of Jones' remaining contract amounts and Jones agreed to waive his no trade clause. The Players Association agreed to the deal because Jones would still be paid his entire contract amount, it will just be spread out over several years. It is likely no coincidence that Jones and Ramirez have the same agent, Scott Boras.