Posted: Wednesday January 17, 2007 11:16PM; Updated: Thursday January 18, 2007 11:34AM
Around the majors
The Cubs offered $11,025,000 to workhorse Carlos Zambrano, who is eligible for free agency next offseason.
Oakland's talks involving Darin Erstad appear to have broken off, although Trot Nixon still remains a possibility for them. But they don't seem anxious to take at-bats away from Dan Johnson, who was very good two years ago.
Erstad may still return to his roots. He's likely to give the Angels the last crack but is still hoping for a guaranteed big-league contract.
As if $300 million wasn't enough of a winter spending spree for the Cubs, Carlos Zambrano will cost Chicago at least $11.025 million more (the club's arbitration filing figure), and probably more than that. Zambrano's filing number, $15.5 million, actually seems more than reasonable considering five-year players like him are allowed to compare themselves to free agents, and Zito got $18 million and Jason Schmidt $15.67 million.
And that doesn't even take into account the Cubs' interest in staying out of the arbitration hearing room with a pitcher they absolutely have to lock up long term. The last thing they should want to do is fire bullets at the man they envision anchoring their rotation for many years to come.
The Cubs were pretty generous with free agents but they are playing hardball with Mark Prior. They filed at $3.4 million, a cut from the $3.65 million he made last year, when he went 1-6 with a 7.71 ERA. Prior filed for $3.87 million.
The filing numbers on Miguel Cabrera ($7.4 million by Cabrera, $6.7 million by the Marlins) are interesting because Florida's stated policy is not to settle once the figures are exchanged. Taking the team at its word, it has committed to this potentially ugly process with one of the greatest young talents in the game.
It's uncertain how Pittsburgh is going to defend a filing price of $2.15 million for batting champion Freddy Sanchez when it gave that exact amount to Xavier Nady. Sanchez filed at $3.1 million.
In talks involving Rocco Baldelli, the Devil Rays have focused on the Marlins' Anibal Sanchez, Josh Johnson and Scott Olsen and have tried to find a third team to acquire one of those pitchers as bait for Baldelli. But as one GM put it, "If I could get one of those [Marlins pitchers] myself, I'd probably keep him.''
U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan is leaving his San Francisco post, but Luke Macaulay, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco, told SI.com regarding the Barry Bonds and baseball steroids investigation, "[Ryan] made sure these cases were on solid footing. Anything can happen, but these cases should move forward. They will move forward.''
Jeff Weaver and the Cardinals are making progress, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Weaver thrived working with pitching coach Dave Duncan, so it makes sense for him to return.
Jason Jennings is believed to have been looking for about $36 million for four years when the winter started. But after some of the wallet-busting signings, his price has understandably risen, to around $48 million for four years. People around the game believe the Astros will find a way to keep the Texas native.
When Rodrigo Lopez said he was excited about his "change of scenery,'' he didn't mean moving from Baltimore to Coors Field; he meant leaving Leo Mazzone. Lopez didn't exactly thrive under Mazzone, but Lopez's real beef stemmed from his good friend Bruce Chen's poor relationship with Mazzone, going back to their Braves days. Nobody had a bigger dropoff last year than Chen, who went from 13 wins to zero (13-10 to 0-7 to be exact). But he's pitching lights out in winter ball. He's 5-0 with a 0.72 ERA for Caguas in Puerto Rico, allowing 19 hits in 50 innings.
While some GMs call Sammy Sosa nothing more than a "sideshow'' now, maybe he'll find his groove in hitter-friendly Ameriquest. To this point, exactly one of Sosa's 588 career home runs came as a member of the Texas Rangers. However, it's probably a little late for them to make amends for the 1989 trade that sent Wilson Alvarez, Scott Fletcher and a 20-year-old Sosa to the White Sox for Fred Manrique and Harold Baines, one of the worst deadline deals ever.
Congrats to baseball lifer and good guy Tony Siegle, who's landed back in the Giants front office for a third time. Siegle was fired by Nationals GM Jim Bowden shortly after Bowden promised he'd be staying.
And a hearty congrats to Pirates GM Dave Littlefield and Braves GM John Schuerholz, who finally are about to complete their trade to send Mike Gonzalez to Atlanta for Adam LaRoche. The deal makes such perfect sense for both teams that it's a little surprising it took this long.
At one time, the Braves and Pirates were talking about a three-way trade that would have involved Melky Cabrera. With Cabrera remaining a Yankee, a platoon signed for first base and 12 pitchers, the chances of Bernie Williams making the team look unpromising. Williams has told friends it's the Yankees or no one, so he may wind up retiring after a year in which he played well. I can't help but wonder why the Yankees needed Doug Mientkiewicz so bad. His signing might have come at Bernie's expense.