Angels top teams with shopping left to do before spring training
The Angels missed on Adrian Beltre and still need a 3B, leadoff hitter and closer
The Yankees could make a play for Rafael Soriano and make him a set-up man
The Giants would be wise to bring World Series MVP Edgar Renteria back to SF
There's still plenty of shopping for several teams to do, and not just for the Angels, who have taken the collar so far this winter and are up to plan D. Or is it plan G or even plan M?
Whatever it is, it doesn't look like they've had their heads in the game this entire winter.
The L.A. (south) squad began the offseason with owner Arte Moreno proclaiming that they'd do what it takes to win. Then they made lowball offers with deadlines attached, and struck out time and again. They claim not to have made any offer at all to top target Carl Crawford, disputing reports they offered an absurdly low $108 million for six years and other reports they were prepared to go to $140 million or more, if only they'd gotten their act together in time. They did offer Adrian Beltre $70 million over five years, and apparently they set a short three-day deadline that wasn't taken very seriously. "I don't understand their ultimatum strategy,'' one competing executive said.
Meanwhile, with Crawford long since signed with the Red Sox and Beltre now gone to the Rangers, the Angels still need a third baseman, plus leadoff help and probably a closer. Which is a lot to acquire with only six weeks to go before spring training, especially for a team whose owner seems to think that free-agent contracts are out of whack.
Lucky for them there are plenty of free-agents remaining, if --and that's a big word there -- they are willing to pry open their wallets. They have looked into outfielder Scott Podsednik, but there's no word if they've issued any ultimatums to him yet.
Here are some of the other teams with late shopping to do.
Yankees. They have their fingers crossed that Andy Pettitte will say yes to a 17th season, and while he's been telling folks he's "leaning'' toward retirement, Yankees people have decent hope he'll start leaning their way soon.
If Pettitte retires, it's likely they'll make a play for top free-agent closer Rafael Soriano with the hope of converting him to the world's best set-up man the next two years and thereby forming baseball's best back-end bullpen combo, to go with iconic closer Mariano Rivera. If Pettitte returns, though, there seems to be a sense they will pass on Soriano.
No matter what Pettitte decides, it may behoove them to look into another starter, and there seems to be at least a modicum of interest in Freddy Garcia and Kevin Millwood. If they don't make a play for Soriano, perhaps they'll consider reliever Brian Fuentes more closely. They also seek an outfield bat and will weigh Andruw Jones and ex-Yankee Johnny Damon, and will also look at a spare infielder, preferably someone who has the arm for third base to give aging superstar Alex Rodriguez a spell here or there.
Nationals. They made the big early splash by spending $126 million on five-tool outfielder Jayson Werth (that's more than $25 million per tool for those scoring at home), and just closed the deal on a $16-million, two-year contract for Adam LaRoche. But they still have some work to do. They were badly disappointed not to be able to get Zack Greinke, their top pitching choice, in a trade with Kansas City despite the best offer to te Royals (which they accepted) and a big offer to Greinke (which he rejected). GM Mike Rizzo said he didn't want to discuss something that didn't happen, but sources suggest they offered something along the lines of $18 million annually on a long extension, believed to be for about five years.
The Nationals now are looking at Carl Pavano as a possibility to anchor the rotation until phenom Stephen Strasburg returns from injury, but they will have to outbid at least the incumbent Twins to get him. If they don't, they are looking at a decent-sized dropoff. They also wouldn't mind adding to the bullpen.
The new plan under GM Mike Rizzo is to emphasize pitching and defense, which is why first baseman Adam Dunn was allowed to leave as a free-agent. LaRoche is only solid defensively but represents a major upgrade from Dunn.
Orioles. They wouldn't mind adding a veteran starter after bulking up the bullpen with a $10 million, two-year deal for Kevin Gregg that carries a vesting option that could make the deal worth $16-to-20 million over three years. But despite a spate of early rejections, they have already significantly enhanced their team with trades for Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy and the signing of Derrek Lee.
Rays. They've lost the vast majority of their bullpen, including Dan Wheeler, Randy Choate and Joaquin Benoit, and could lose Soriano as well. Fuentes would be a nice start toward rebuilding it, but how to make up for all the other defections? Their catching situation also is in need of repair.
Mets. They will continue to shop at the bargain bin. They still need a starter or two, and have been eyeing Chris Young for weeks. Word is, his medicals don't look great, but he's said to be willing to accept a guarantee under $2 million. They also need a second baseman, as no one really believes Luis Castillo will be their starter. Oh yes, and an extra outfield bat.
White Sox. They've done a very nice job this winter but still would like to add a pitcher, probably a reliever. Ozzie Guillen wouldn't mind it being Soriano, but that seems like a stretch considering they are already at or near their budget. The plan seems to be to move second-year phenom Chris Sale from the bullpen to the rotation. But if they find a starter to their liking, they could also keep Sale in the 'pen. While they flirted with trading Gavin Floyd earlier, they don't seem to be shopping any pitchers now.
Twins. They want one veteran starting pitcher, and the obvious choice is Pavano, who fit nicely on their team and in their clubhouse last year. He's drawing interest from the Nats and others now, so there's no certainty Pavano stays in the Twins Cities. But that is their hope. They have room again for a part-time DH, and Jim Thome would be ideal after his stellar performance for a bargain $1.5 million last year. Like the Rays, they also need to address their 'pen after losing Matt Guerrier, Jese Crain and quite possibly Jon Rauch.
Giants. The World Series champions are telling folks all they need is a backup infielder to round out their team. It would be nice to see them bring back World Series MVP Edgar Renteria after Juan Uribe left for their arch rival Dodgers for $1 million more than they offered ($21 million to $20 million).
Phillies. After making the biggest winter score (Cliff Lee for five years, $120 million), GM Ruben Amaro needs to balance a lineup that's way too lefty-heavy a bit with a righthanded-hitting outfielder. Andruw Jones, a player they've considered before, makes some sense. Domonic Brown doesn't look ready to hit lefthanders, and Raul Ibaņez appears to be going downhill over the last year and a half. They also are interested in bringing back reliever Chad Durbin.
Cardinals. They also seek a little infield depth. How about a return for infielder David Eckstein?
Reds. They could use a starting shortstop, just like a year ago. Wouldn't a return for Orlando Cabrera make sense? They also might look at a leftfielder who can lead off, and Podsednik is someone they've targeted. Jeremy Hermida was recently signed, but he probably shouldn't be seen as a starter at this point.
Padres. No team can fully withstand the loss of Adrian Gonzalez for no major league ready players. But the Padres have done a decent job of piecing things together, with a trade for shortstop Jason Bartlett and free-agent deals for second baseman Orlando Hudson and outfielder Brad Hawpe. They could still use a spare infielder with plans to send Evereth Cabrera to the minors for more seasoning and perhaps also a little 'pen and catching help.
Rockies. Their two best moves were to lock up Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez to long-term contracts, but they also brought back Jorge De La Rosa and traded for Jose Lopez and Matt Lindstrom. They might look into bringing back starter Jeff Francis, as well, as they liked their team, and understandably so, after they won 83 games and challenged for a playoff spot deep into September.
Rangers. The Beltre signing makes Michael Young the primary DH, which means they are out of the market for Vladimir Guerrero, unless they find a trade partner for Young. They may still seek a bat off the bench, however
A's. Reports suggest they seek some more bullpen help, but after missing out on Beltre, don't count them out for yet another bat (following Hideki Matsui and David DeJesus).
Cubs. Fresh off the deal of the winter (stud reliever Kerry Wood for just $1.5 million, though he's going to get a personal services deal, as well), GM Jim Hendry is still looking for pitching. Their pursuit of Rays starter Matt Garza is well-documented.
Tigers. They've accomplished most of what they wanted to do this winter, which tends to happen when a team had $50 million coming of the books and a resolve to win. A fifth starter type would help, though.
Pirates. A veteran starting pitcher couldn't hurt -- though how much it would help is debatable.
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