Unconventional Wisdom (cont.)
Their entire offseason is on hold until Sabathia decides to stay or move on, and owner Mark Attanasio is ready to increase his original five-year, $100 million offer. Ben Sheets is also a free agent, so finding at least one starting pitcher is likely to become a priority. Late-game relief help is also needed, following Salomon Torres' retirement. Centerfielder Mike Cameron is expected to be used as trade bait for pitching, though shortstop J.J. Hardy, the subject of plenty of trade speculation, will probably stay put.
They could use bullpen help and upgrades at every infield position except first base, but they would also be satisfied to come back in 2009 with the same roster that lost a one-game playoff to the White Sox for the AL Central title. Talks with Blake have broken down, and they will not try to go the trade route, with their top targets being the Mariners' Adrian Beltre and Atkins to replace the Brian Buscher/Brendan Harris platoon at third base. They have also expressed interest in Braves shortstop Yunel Escobar as an upgrade over incumbents Harris and Matt Tolbert. They're willing to trade starting pitching, and while they would prefer to deal Boof Bonser or Philip Humber, they would consider parting with Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins or Nick Blackburn in the right deal. There is also an excess of starting outfielders, and Delmon Young could be dealt.
New York Mets
Their primary need is a dependable closer, and they would love to land K-Rod, but only if he would settle for a three-year contract. If not, then their sights will be set on two other free agents, Brian Fuentes and Wood. They have determined that Lowe is out of their price range, and are instead trying to re-sign left-hander Oliver Perez to bolster the rotation, with Garland and a trade for the Rays' Andy Sonnanstine as fallback options. They want to add to the bullpen beyond closer, and have talked to the Rockies about acquiring Huston Street as a set-up man. A new leftfielder is also on their wish list, and they have interest in Ibanez.
New York Yankees
They're waiting to see if Sabathia accepts their six-year, $140 million offer before proceeding. They would also like to sign Lowe and Burnett, and if they fail to add rotation help they'll target Teixeira and Ramirez and simply try to outscore everyone in 2009. If that ends up being their tack, then someone from their group of corner outfielders (Johnny Damon, Xavier Nady and Swisher) will be traded for a starter. They also have interest in upgrading defensively in centerfield, and have pursued Taveras and Cameron.
They made a surprise strike by acquiring Holliday, though their efforts to sign Furcal as a free agent have apparently fallen through. They're reportedly trying to lure left-hander Randy Johnson back to his native Northern California and bring designated hitter/first baseman Jason Giambi back to his professional baseball roots as free agents, while also considering a trade for Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson, the pride of McClatchy High School in Sacramento.
New GM Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to continue to bolster the pitching staff. After becoming impatient in their attempts to re-sign left-hander Jamie Moyer, they have made Lowe their primary focus. Regardless of public statements to the contrary, they have no desire to re-sign Burrell. While they have interest in signing Ibanez as a possible replacement in leftfield, they're more likely to add someone to platoon with a holdover such as Greg Dobbs, Geoff Jenkins or Matt Stairs.
Topping their wish list are young players with upside, followed by more young players with upside, as they try to continue their latest rebuilding project. Wilson has drawn interest from the Tigers, Dodgers, Orioles and Twins; also available are first baseman Adam LaRoche, second baseman Freddy Sanchez, left-handed reliever John Grabow and catcher Ronny Paulino. They would really like a young left-handed hitter with power and pitching of all types, which is why they're willing to take a flyer on free-agent local boy Matt Clement, who's making a comeback from shoulder surgery that has kept him off a major league mound since 2006.
St. Louis Cardinals
They've already made over their infield by trading for Greene to play shortstop, and are now trying to trade Kennedy while finding someone to replace him with at second. They've also signed Trever Miller as a free agent, and want to add a second veteran left-handed reliever, with Rhodes being one of their top targets. Their search for starting pitching lessened this week when it was determined that Chris Carpenter should be ready for the start of the season after undergoing a nerve conduction test on his right shoulder.
San Diego Padres
San Francisco Giants
With their charge to cut the payroll somewhere in the $30 million range, partly because of owner John Moores' divorce, Greene has already been shed, and Peavy is being shopped heavily. While it appears that they've parted ways with all-time saves leader and franchise icon Hoffman, those close to the situation say never say never. They also want to upgrade their young talent inventory, particularly starting pitchers and middle infielders, along with a veteran catcher to share tim
They have already filled two needs by signing Affeldt, Bob Howry and shortstop Edgar Renteria as free agents. Ideally they would acquire a young corner infielder with major pop, but they aren't willing to pay the price being demanded: one of their young frontline starting pitchers, Tim Lincecum or Matt Cain.
New GM Jack Zduriencik has plenty of holes to fill, including leftfield, centerfield and designated hitter, while free-agent signee Russell Branyan might not be the full-time answer they're looking for at first base. They're more likely to try to fill needs through trades, with Beltre and Putz as their main chips, while also making available a trio of overpaid starting pitchers in left-hander Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista and Carlos Silva.
Tampa Bay Rays
They're looking to add a couple of hitters to fill holes in rightfield and at designated hitter, and among the free-agent targets are Giambi, Burrell and Rivera, while they have also inquired about dealing for Hermida. They have many young trading chips, including Sonnanstine and fellow starting pitchers Edwin Jackson and Jeff Niemann, shortstop Reid Brignac and outfielder Justin Ruggiano.
They have catching in quantity, something that many clubs desire. They're willing to trade at least one and possibly two catchers for young pitching, dealing from a group made up of Laird, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden. Corner infielder Hank Blalock can also be had, and veteran starting pitchers Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla are available if someone wants to take on a large salary.
Toronto Blue Jays
They're trying to re-sign Burnett, though losing ground on that front every day. If they can't retain Burnett, interim club president Paul Beeston says that they'll likely stick that money back into their pockets, despite having a rotation at present that thins out quickly after Roy Halladay, with Jesse Litsch, David Purcey and Scott Richmond.
After filling two holes by acquiring Olsen for the rotation and Willingham for left field, their primary goal is to find a first baseman. Teixeira is who they want, though he seems out of their price range, and they already have Johnson and Dmitri Young under contract. This is a logical landing spot for Dunn, a favorite of GM Jim Bowden.
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