Posted: Wednesday November 29, 2006 11:50AM; Updated: Thursday November 30, 2006 1:28PM
Around the Majors
Drew looks to be heading to Boston, as reported here first, and a deal should be announced by next week.
The Giants are close to bringing back Rich Aurilia for either a two- or three-year deal, agent Barry Axelrod said. Axelrod said Aurilia's dream at one time had been to play for his hometown Yankees, but Aurilia also knows he'll have more chances to crack the Giants' lineup. The Giants are also reportedly bidding on Mark Loretta.
The A's are looking closely at Mike Piazza, who turned out to be one of the bigger bargains last year at $2 million for the Padres (maybe second only to Frank Thomas, who made $3.5 million with bargain-hunting Oakland, most of it in incentives). The Padres also have interest in bringing back Piazza, as do his hometown Phillies.
The Padres' trade of up-and-coming second baseman Josh Barfield is attributable to the fact that they have long struggled to find a third baseman and their believe that Kevin Kouzmanoff may finally be the guy. "It's a position that's easier to fill,'' Alderson said of second base. "Josh had an excellent season, he's a great person and we're taking some risk in that we acquired someone who isn't proven at the major-league level. But third base is a tough spot, as we saw this year.''
Meanwhile, second base is the one position of abundance on this high-priced market. The Padres could turn to any one of five free agents: Even after Adam Kennedy went back to the Cardinals, Craig Counsell, Ronnie Belliard, Ray Durham, Tony Graffanino or even Loretta (if the Giants don't snap him up first) are out there.
The Padres' fine setup man Scott Linebrink still keeps coming up in trade talk.
Catcher Johnny Estrada wanted out of Arizona since he didn't see eye-to-eye with manager Bob Melvin, so Milwaukee is a better spot for him. And Miguel Montero is ready to catch for them, anyway.
A team inquired this week about Jeff Bagwell but agent Axelrod believes Bagwell is strongly leaning toward retirement. He's been in tremendous shoulder pain for five years, and as Axelrod said, "There's a point where you have to say, enough is enough.''
The Mets have to figure by now that Tom Glavine has some hankering for home and is awaiting word from the Braves whether they can come close to matching the deal the Mets are offering, which is believed to be about $11 million (on top of the $3 million buyout he already received). The Mets were kind to have agreed to turn down his option (which would have paid exactly that $14 million) while he's still undecided about what he wants to do. That, in effect leaves this up to him. But they do expect a decision by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, Mets GM Omar Minaya is scouring the league for trade partners. He does like the White Sox's Freddy Garcia and Javier Vazquez.
One Met who wouldn't mind being dealt is versatile pitcher Aaron Heilman. While the Mets don't see him as a starter because he replies mostly on a fastball and changeup, several teams, including the A's and Padres, probably do.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the White Sox and Angels have floated a deal to send Joe Crede and Garcia to Anaheim/L.A. for Chone Figgins and Ervin Santana. That configuration makes sense; considering the contract situations (what else is there now?) you'd have to rank the players' value this way: 1) Santana (young, cheap and talented), 2) Crede (young and talented but only two years from free agency), 3) Garcia (accomplished but only a year from free agency), and 4) Figgins (talented but positionally challenged).
If the Yankees had some buyer's remorse bidding about $33 million on Matsuzaka, I wonder if they have any after winning Hanshin Tigers left-hander Kei Igawa for $26 million. Some teams see the soft-tossing left-hander as a No. 4 or 5 starter or even a situational reliever (the Mets bid about $17 million, for instance). However, the Yankees won't have to pay any luxury tax based on the $25 million and their people thought he ranks right there with solid pitchers like Ted Lilly and others they've been considering for the back end of their rotation. So for them, it makes sense.
Even though George Steinbrenner once angrily referred to Igawa's agent Arn Tellem by a curse word (The Boss wasn't happy with Jason Giambi's production and contract at the time), the Yankees have a long history of deals with Tellem.
Timing is everything dept.: Agent Scott Leventhal scored with $50 million for Gary Matthews Jr. after one very good season, and the market looks strong for another Leventhal client, Jeff Suppan, who had a major October and appears primed for a big payday. Leventhal also pointed out Suppan has more wins than any other pitcher on the free-agent market. Who knew?
Congrats to Yankees exec Ray Negron, whose bestselling book The Boy of Steel, is going to be made into a movie.
If Randy Wolf is the biggest bargain so far this winter at $8 million for one year (he reportedly turned down several two- and three-year offers), his replacement in Philly, Adam Eaton, could be one of the bigger unbargains (I'm coining a word as I'm trying to be kind). Like Wolf, Eaton didn't pitch all that much last year due to an injury, yet Eaton still managed to get $24 million over three years. Eaton's injury was a thought-to-be minor finger injury, and maybe that made teams not worry about it.
Speaking of out a lot, I wonder if Carl Pavano is going to appear in 2007.
Andy Pettitte recently hinted that he was leaning toward retiring. But the Yankees aren't giving up hope he changes his mind.
Derek Jeter handled his disappointment professionally. But some other folks in New York got a little too crazy about Jeter not winning the MVP. Jeter had an MVP-type season. But so did the winner, Justin Morneau. And so for that matter did Frank Thomas. And Johan Santana did, too.