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Tag:Winter Meetings
Posted on: December 9, 2010 7:23 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 7:25 pm
 

Winter meetings: Parting shots

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If I hear one more plastic Christmas song over the irritating speakers here at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort before heading to the Mouse City Airport for the trip home, I'm going to. ...

Sorry, lost my head there for a moment.

What I meant to say was, a couple of quick parting thoughts as the Winter Meetings wrap up. ...

IN A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

Red Sox: It's not even close. The acquisitions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford make them more dangerous

RUNNERS-UP

White Sox: In U.S. Cellular Field, the country-strong Adam Dunn might hit 75 homers (OK, so I exaggerate, but just a bit). In the returning Paul Konerko, the White Sox have their soul back. Another nicely done job by the ultra-aggressive general manager Kenny Williams, his right-hand man Rick Hahn and, yes, owner Jerry Reinsdorf in arranging the funding to bring in both Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko.

Diamondbacks: Turn new GM Kevin Towers loose for his first winter meetings in charge of the D-backs, and already Arizona's bullpen -- historically bad in 2010 -- is better. The Snakes signed J.J. Putz to close and acquired Daniel Hernandez and Kam Mickolio from the Orioles. And clearly, that's just the start.

LOSERS

Rays: The mass exodus has begun for the poor Rays. Left fielder Carl Crawford signed with Boston (seven years, $142 million), first baseman Carlos Pena with the Cubs (one year, $10 million), set-up man Joaquin Benoit with Detroit (three years, $16.5 million), shortstop Jason Bartlett was traded to San Diego and free agent closer Rafael Soriano is on deck to leave.

Of the eight pitchers who threw the most relief innings for manager Joe Maddon last year, seven of them are free agents. And of the total number of relief innings pitched, those seven accounted for 78 percent of those innings. Yikes.

Orioles: Not only did AL East-rival Boston become exponentially better, but the Orioles were stonewalled every which way they turned looking to acquire a first baseman (Pena, Dunn, Konerko). Then outfielder Luke Scott showed up at the winter meetings and shot his mouth off in a Yahoo Sports interview that started about his deer hunting and wound up with Scott saying he thought President Obama was born outside of the United States and that Obama "does not represent America. Nor does he represent anything what our forefathers stood for." The Orioles rushed to put out a news release distancing the club from Scott's comments. Not exactly your typical winter meetings strategy. On the other hand, the Orioles finally got a shortstop by acquiring J.J. Hardy from the Twins, and a third baseman by acquiring Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks.

Athletics: Reminiscent of Baltimore back in the day when then-GM Syd Thrift became so flustered at failing to land impact free agents that he said if was as he were trying to spend Confederate money. It was like that for Oakland when free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre essentially ignored a five-year, $64 million offer until the A's pulled it. Oakland also lost designated hitter Jack Cust, who signed with Seattle. The A's are desperate for offense. They likely will wind up with free agent DH Hideki Matsui, who is earnest and hard-working but can't play much anymore, or Vladimir Guerrero if he doesn’t return to Texas.

Posted on: December 9, 2010 1:12 am
Edited on: December 9, 2010 1:15 am
 

Twins to ship Hardy to Baltimore

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Having spent much of the week looking for a shortstop, the Orioles have found one: The Twins have agreed to send J.J. Hardy and infielder Brendan Harris to Baltimore in exchange for minor-league pitchers Brett Jacobson and Jim Hoey.

The deal is in place, pending medicals, according to sources, and could be formalized on Thursday.

Hardy, who batted .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games for the Twins in 2010, became expendable when Minnesota won negotiating rights to Japanese free agent shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins are expected to sign the middle infielder to a three-year deal worth between $9 and $12 million soon.

A wrist injury knocked Hardy out for nearly two months last season. He earned $5.1 million in 2010 and, arbitration-eligible, will earn more in 2011.

The Twins are looking for pitchers in return for Hardy, especially because it appears that they will lose two key relievers from last year's club, Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain.

 

Posted on: December 8, 2010 11:47 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2010 2:27 am
 

Red Sox stun baseball world, sign Crawford

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox struck again in a stunning late night move Wednesday, agreeing to terms with free agent outfielder Carl Crawford on a seven-year, $142 million contract. The deal is contingent on Crawford passing a physical exam, which is scheduled to happen on Thursday.

The move is the second monumental deal in a week for the Red Sox, who acquired slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego last weekend.

The reaction in the lobby at the Swan and Dolphin Resort here in the minutes before midnight as news of the Red Sox/Crawford deal broke was one of pure shock.

And, it should have been. Nobody, not even the hundreds of trained baseball professionals gathered here at the winter meetings, saw this one coming.

The Red Sox, spending so much money over the past six days that it would have made the late George Steinbrenner blush, have added two of the game's premier offensive stars, each of whom owns Gold Gloves and together add a perfect blend of speed and power.

This to a lineup that already ranked second in the American League in runs scored last year, and though the Sox already had lost Victor Martinez (Detroit) and Adrian Beltre (free agent), Crawford and Gonzalez, on paper at least, make Boston even more dangerous.

The Red Sox's moves not only are enough to give the Yankees acid reflux, it makes it imperative that New York close a deal with free agent ace left-hander Cliff Lee.

Because Boston's rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Daisuke Matsuzaka is far, far superior, as things currently stand, to the Yankees' CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Three Schmoes Praying Not to Lose.

Crawford, 29, becomes the second-highest paid outfielder in the history of major-league baseball, behind another Boston outfielder -- Manny Ramirez, who signed an eight-year, $160 million deal before the 2001 season. But the average annual value of Crawford's deal -- $20.28 million -- surpasses Ramirez's $20 million.

Which is an absolutely jaw-dropping feat, given that Crawford never has had a 20-homer season.

Meantime, not only have the Red Sox struck a mighty blow against the hated Yankees, they put a major hurt on the Los Angeles Angels, who were considered heavy favorites to sign the outfielder who became a free agent this winter after a long run with the Tampa Bay Rays.

"That hurts my heart, man," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter told CBSSports.com in a late-night telephone conversation Wednesday. "That hurts my heart. But hey, what can you do? You've just got to go on to the next one.

"Congratulations to him. He deserves it."

Crawford last season led the American League with 13 triples and was fourth in the league with 110 runs scored. A four-time All-Star, in 154 games for the Rays, Crawford batted .307 with 19 home runs, 90 RBIs and 47 steals.

He has led the AL in steals four times, and his 105 triples lead all active major leaguers.

Crawford and Gonzalez together will give manager Terry Francona two more huge weapons to deploy in a lineup that already includes Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and an aging -- but still dangerous -- David Ortiz.

"That's crazy," Hunter said. "I'm disappointed, man. I really wanted to play with him."

Some in the industry were sure that the Red Sox would veer in a direction other than Crawford after they acquired Gonzalez over the weekend.

Though a 48-hour negotiating window the Red Sox had with Gonzalez expired on Sunday without a contract extension, word here at the winter meetings is that Gonzalez and the Sox have agreed on the framework of a multi-year deal that will be announced sometime after Opening Day 2011. That way, the Sox can delay the millions they will owe in luxury tax until 2012.

The parameters of the Sox/Gonzalez deal are seven years at $154 million, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions. Combined, the Red Sox in the past six days have committed a total of $302 million to Crawford and Gonzalez.

"They have made some serious improvements," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told the YES Network's Jack Curry late Wednesday night. "They are going to make it tough on us."

Because of the Gonzalez deal, many in the industry had handicapped the Angels as the clear favorites to land Crawford, though Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126 million deal with the Washington Nationals figured to extend the Crawford negotiating process.

However, a source close to Crawford said earlier Wednesday that he was getting antsy to sign and remove the uncertainty from his future. And late Wednesday night, he certainly did that.

The Angels are believed to have offered Crawford a six-year deal for somewhere in the $105- to $110-million range. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman had dinner with Crawford and his representatives earlier this week, but the Yankees have been concentrating on ace pitcher Cliff Lee and it is not believed that they made an offer to Crawford.

Texas also had made contact with Crawford, a move some were watching given the fact that Crawford is from Houston and lives there during the offseason. But the Rangers, like the Yankees, are primarily focused right now on Lee.

The move is another crushing winter blow to the Angels, who were out-bid on both Mark Teixeira and Sabathia by the Yankees before the 2009 season.

Now, they lose Crawford -- a player they were supremely confident would gravitate their way -- to the Red Sox.

And the real question now becomes, even at this early stage of the winter, whether anybody can keep pace with the Red Sox in 2011.

That, or who in the world the Red Sox are going to land next.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 8:53 pm
 

Angels hold steady as Crawford favorites

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Whether it was a misdirection ploy by the Angels or an agent taking a liberty or two to help jack up the market, put those Cliff Lee/Angels rumors on the back burner.

The Angels, multiple sources said on Wednesday, are continuing to plunge into these winter meetings with speedy outfielder Carl Crawford as their clear No. 1 priority.

And just for good measure, attempting to make sure they fix a declining offense somehow, they met with the agent for third baseman Adrian Beltre on Wednesday.

Yes, they did reach out to Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, on Tuesday and are keeping in touch. But a source with knowledge of those talks called them "benign." No, he said, Crawford remains the top target.

Many in the industry -- as well as sources close to the outfielder -- are handicapping the Angels as the clear favorites to land Crawford, though Jayson Werth's seven-year, $126 million deal with Washington may slow things down until (if?) the Yankees, Red Sox or another big market team enters the bidding.

And here's where things get murky, much murkier than the Lee talks. With Crawford, it's much more of a moving parts-type of market.

The Yankees are expected to veer toward Crawford if they fail to sign Lee. Some industry sources believe they may take a run at both Lee and Crawford though, even for the Yankees, that seems awfully pricey. General manager Brian Cashman had dinner with Crawford and his representatives here on Tuesday night.

The Red Sox were believed to want either Werth or Crawford initially, but having acquired Adrian Gonzalez from San Diego and with parameters surely in place for a monster extension there, it's difficult to see the Red Sox signing up for two contracts of at least seven years in length in one winter.

The Tigers need a left-fielder, have money to spend and showed initial interest in Crawford but seem to have disappeared in these talks in recent days.

One wild-card who recently met with Crawford's representatives, according to sources, is the Rangers. While they're clearly focused on Lee, Crawford could represent a stunning backup plan if Lee signs with the Yankees. The Rangers also could be the Angels' worst nightmare: If they do lose Lee and go strong after the Houston native, that might be too tempting for Crawford to ignore.

People close to Crawford, a Houston native, say he loves the West Coast and would be happy in Anaheim.

Certainly, this is setting up with the Angels as the clubhouse favorites, so to speak.

But it's also clear that the road could curve ahead.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 7:12 pm
 

Twins talking Hardy with O's, Pirates

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With one shortstop off the board after Tampa Bay agreed to send Jason Bartlett to San Diego for a couple of pitchers, the Twins continued Wednesday night to shop J.J. Hardy.

The Twins are talking with both the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates on Hardy in a deal that sources said could happen by the end of the day Wednesday. Both the O's, who acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds from Arizona earlier this week, and the Pirates have been scouring the market for a shortstop.

Hardy, who batted .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games for the Twins in 2010, became expendable when Minnesota won negotiating rights to Japanese free agent shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins are expected to sign the middle infielder to a three-year deal worth between $9 and $12 million soon.

The Twins are looking for pitchers in return for Hardy and, according to the Baltimore Sun, would receive a couple of minor-league pitchers from the Orioles in return for Hardy. A wrist injury knocked Hardy out for nearly two months last season. He earned $5.1 million in 2010 and, arbitration-eligible, will earn more in 2011.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 5:16 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 6:12 pm
 

Shortstops on the move? Hardy, Bartlett dangled

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Indications are that at least one shortstop will be dealt by night's end as the Minnesota Twins continue shopping J.J. Hardy and the Tampa Bay Rays work toward moving Jason Bartlett multiple sources tell CBSSports.com.

The Twins are talking with both the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates on Hardy in a deal that sources said could happen by the end of the day Wednesday. Both the O's, who acquired third baseman Mark Reynolds from Arizona earlier this week, and the Pirates have been scouring the market for a shortstop.

Hardy, who batted .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games for the Twins in 2010, became expendable when Minnesota won negotiating rights to Japanese free agent shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. The Twins are expected to sign the middle infielder to a three-year deal worth between $9 and $12 million soon.

The Twins are looking for pitchers in return for Hardy and, according to the Baltimore Sun, would receive a couple of minor-league pitchers from the Orioles in return for Hardy. A wrist injury knocked Hardy out for nearly two months last season. He earned $5.1 million in 2010 and, arbitration-eligible, will earn more in 2011.

Bartlett, 31, is coming off of a very disappointing season and, as the Rays look to cut payroll, will give way to Reid Brignac at shortstop in 2011. Bartlett earned $4 million in 2010 and is due more through arbitration in 2011. He batted .254 with four homers and 57 RBIs in 2010, his third full season in Tampa Bay after the Rays acquired him, along with right-hander Matt Garza, from the Twins in the Delmon Young trade.

Talks between the Orioles and Rays for Bartlett have run alternately hot and cold this week. Tampa Bay is looking for relief pitchers to patch a bullpen decimated by free agency this winter.

The Pirates and San Diego have been talking to the Rays as well. The Padres desperately need middle infielders and they have surplus relief pitching that Tampa Bay is requiring.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 4:53 pm
 

Braves add LH help to pen with Sherrill

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves strengthened their bullpen Wednesday by agreeing to terms with veteran free agent left-hander George Sherrill.

The deal, contingent on Sherrill passing a physical examination that will take place either later Thursday or Friday morning, is a one-year agreement for a base salary of $1.2 million with appearance bonuses that could earn Sherrill as much as $1.4 million.

Sherrill, 33, whittled the list of half-a-dozen or so interested clubs to three and chose Atlanta in the end partly because of the organization itself and partly because, as a Tennessee native, it will allow him to play close to home for the first time in his career after moving from Baltimore to Seattle to Los Angeles.

In 65 appearances for the Dodgers last season, Sherrill went 2-2 with a 6.69 ERA. The former closer for the Orioles has a 3.76 lifetime ERA with 56 saves in 389 career appearances.

Sherrill can begin earning a portion of his $200,000 in incentives with 60 appearances. He'll earn $50,000 at that benchmark, followed by $50,000 each for 65 appearances, 70 and 75.

Posted on: December 8, 2010 4:27 pm
Edited on: December 8, 2010 4:40 pm
 

Beltre market beginning to take shape

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Talks for free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre heated up Wednesday with several clubs scheduling meetings with Beltre's agent, Scott Boras for the afternoon and evening.

Among others, the Los Angeles Angels, quiet so far this winter, finally made a move into the Beltre conversations, according to CBSSports.com sources. The Rangers also are believed to be interested. Another AL West club, Oakland, made a significant offer last week of five years and at least $64 million according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle, but pulled the offer on Sunday when Beltre didn't bite.

After reestablishing himself in Boston last season on a one-year deal, Beltre is looking for a multi-year deal with a winning club.

Beltre, a two-time Gold Glove winner, batted .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI for the Red Sox in 2010. He compiled a .365 on-base percentage and ranked fifth in the AL with a .919 OPS.

Currently, there is enough interest in Beltre that there is a chance he could sign before the conclusion of the winter meetings here on Thursday.

Sources re-iterated to CBSSports.com on Wednesday that while the Angels are interested in Beltre, free agent outfielder Carl Crawford remains their top priority.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com