Dunn won't break the bank (cont.)
Clock ticks: Deadline deals won't include Cole
About half of the first-round draft choices from June's amateur draft remain unsigned heading into deadline day today. Most, though not all, are still expected to sign today before the midnight deadline.
Many of the unsigned were picks made by teams that could use help, like Vanderbilt hitting star Pedro Alvarez (Pirates), polished left-hander Brian Matusz (Orioles), high school slugger Eric Hosmer (Royals), all-around Florida State catcher Buster Posey (Giants), power hitter Yonder Alonso (Reds), accomplished University of Missouri pitcher Aaron Crow (Nats), hard-throwing University of Georgia closer Josh Fields (Mariners) and slugger Allan Dykstra (Padres). Multiple reports suggest Matusz, the University of San Diego pitcher, is close to a deal, and the San Jose Mercury News reports Posey is close, as well.
One pick appears headed to college, though. The Yankees' first choice, hard-throwing Orange County, Calif., high school pitcher Gerrit Cole is expected to refuse the Yankees' offer to sign with UCLA, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reported. Cole will likely instead follow his dad's advice to go to school. Can't blame him for that.
A picture of a young Cole holding up a pro-Yankees sign at the 2001 World Series in Arizona was aired soon after he was drafted, giving the impression he wouldn't turn down the Yankees. However, the Yankees appear to have understood this was a possibility from the start. The reason they took the chance was that they thought he was special enough to be worth the risk. Can't blame 'em for that, either.
A Pirates person told me a few weeks ago, "We're signing Alvarez.'' No one expected that one to be easy, though, as the negotiations pit Scott Boras against new Pirates president Frank Coonelly, the driving force behind baseball's draft slotting system.
While most of the above players will sign, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus suggested it was "no better than 50-50'' for Crow to sign with the Nats. If he doesn't, that's a major loss for a team that doesn't need any more losses.
Around the Majors
The Twins were the surprise winner of the claim on Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn, as SI.com reported first, but no trade was consummated in time. It's still not known whether the Twins did it to block the White Sox or someone else (White Sox GM Ken Williams made it pretty clear he had no interest) or actually wanted Washburn. The Twins' rotation has been very good, but it's possible they considered taking Washburn and moving a starter into the bullpen, which could use some help. Regardless, competing execs were shocked the Mariners didn't move Washburn considering he's making $9.35 million this year and $10.35 million in 2009.
The Tigers, ever aggressive, won the claim on Raul Ibanez, also reported here first. Several teams put in a claim on Ibanez, understandable considering his below-market $5.5 million salary. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times reported that the just-as-aggressive Twins were one of the many teams to put in a losing claim. In any case, a deal wasn't worked out with Detroit, either, raising the question of why the Mariners didn't trade Ibanez before the deadline. Now they'll just get the draft choices when he leaves.
There have been some rumblings that longtime Padres GM Kevin Towers, a native of the Northwest (he's from Medford, Ore.), could be a candidate for the Mariners GM job. But Towers' job status in San Diego appears very solid despite the team's disappointing season and the presence of an obvious potential successor in the front office, Paul DePodesta
Never big spenders, some believe the Padres will really keep a tight lid on their wallet this winter as owner John Moores goes through a divorce.
What's chemistry worth? Well, maybe not so much. The Brewers won eight straight before finally losing one after Prince Fielder went after Manny Parra in the dugout. The Brewers have talent, which counts more.