Hot Stove MLBlog: News, notes and analysis
MLB.com | 01/10/12 10:45 AM EST
The action didn't disappoint at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, and the offseason maneuvering is still in full swing. Stay up on all the trades, signings, rumors and analysis with the Hot Stove MLBlog.
Could Kerry Wood leave Cubs?
Kerry Wood sounds as if he is moving on. Wood appeared on WGN Radio's Sports Night on Monday and said he wants to keep pitching. But he has yet to reach an agreement with the Cubs for 2012.
"Regardless of what happens, we're still in Chicago, we're dedicated to the city," Wood said. "Things will work out for me in the city of Chicago because we're dedicated to the city, we're dedicated to the community, we're dedicated to helping children, and again, we're staying here, we're raising our family here.
"I'm a Texas boy, but I feel like I've become a Chicagoan, so we're happy to be here whether I finish here or whether I don't. We plan on being here a long time."
Last year, Wood unveiled the Wood Family Foundation, dedicated to helping children in the Chicago area. On Friday, he will host "Woody's Winter Warmup" at Harry Caray's on Navy Pier, a fund raiser for his foundation. Theo Epstein was scheduled to attend. Wood has been part of the Cubs since he signed at 18, returning last season when he agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. He understands the fans want him to stay.
"There's always time for change and there's always room for it so we'll just have to wait and see," Wood said.
Last week, Epstein said the team was negotiating with Wood's agents about a new deal.
"Kerry Wood is exactly the type of guy we want to build a winning culture [around] here in Chicago," Epstein said. "I would be greatly, greatly disappointed if we're not able to bring him back."
The Phillies are one of the teams that has shown interest in Wood.
-- Carrie Muskat
Cubs sign Paul Maholm
The Cubs have signed free agent Paul Maholm to the rotation, a move first announced by the left-handed pitcher on Twitter.
"I hope to get to continue some things when I visit [Pittsburgh] during the year and start some great things as I start my Cubs career," wrote Maholm on Monday.
Maholm, 29, will receive $4.25 million this year with a club option of $6.5 million in 2013, or a $500,000 buyout. The lefty, who has spent his entire career with the Pirates, gives the Cubs more depth, something GM Jed Hoyer has said they're trying to do. The team does not want to be short-handed as it was last season when both Andrew Cashner and Randy Wells were hurt after their first starts of ths season. The candidates for the rotation now include Maholm, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Travis Wood, Chris Volstad, Randy Wells and Casey Coleman. Wood is the only lefty in that group. However, there has been interest in Garza this offseason by teams such as the Tigers, Yankees and Blue Jays.
-- Carrie Muskat
Angels have checked in on Cordero
The Angels have recently had dialogue with the representative for veteran Francisco Cordero -- though they may only be in the periphery right now -- an industry source familiar with the discussions told MLB.com.
The source pinned the market for Cordero as down to three or four teams, with the Angels and Reds being two of them. At this point, however, it's hard to gauge where the Angels stand in that race considering the money they've spent this offseason and general manager Jerry Dipoto's recent statements -- that he already has a good ninth-inning man in Jordan Walden, and that finding a closer has never been a priority this offseason.
Cordero is only looking to go into a situation where he can close, and he'd probably have to take a big paycut or backloaded deal -- or both -- to find a fit in Southern California. All along, his former team, the Reds, have seemed to be the favorite for Cordero (as Reds reporter Mark Sheldon outlined recently). But the Angels checked in with his agent, Bean Stringfellow, within the first 24 hours of the free-agency period and up until two days ago, the source said.
Asked on Thursday about the chances of landing high-profile closer Ryan Madson, Dipoto called it "very unlikely," adding: "Through the course of this offseason, we have never prioritized a closer, and while it's certainly appealing to think about the option of adding a guy like Ryan Madson, it just doesn't fit what we're trying to do right now, and that's from a variety of different perspectives."
-- Alden Gonzalez
Wood to make decision
Kerry Wood expects to announce Friday if he's returning to the Cubs. Wood told NBC-5 Chicago on Sunday night he'll make a decision by then, which is when the Cubs Convention opens and also when he hosts a fundraiser for his foundation in Chicago.
The Phillies are reportedly interested in the right-hander, according to ESPN.com. Before the 2011 season ended, Wood said he would retire rather than pitch for another team. However, the Cubs and Wood apparently have been unable to agree on length of contract or money. Wood gave the Cubs a hometown discount when he signed a $1.5 million contract last December. Wood, 34, was 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 55 games last season, which ended in mid-September when he suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee. He had surgery in October.
-- Carrie Muskat
Angels reportedly sign Kendrick to four-year extension
The Angels have signed second baseman Howard Kendrick to a four-year contract extension, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported via Twitter on Saturday night.
The deal, which Rosenthal said is still pending a physical, would take care of Kendrick's final season of arbitration and his first three free-agent years. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said recently that he had begun extension talks with Kendrick and shortstop Erick Aybar, his two arbitration-eligible players who are a season away from hitting the open market.
Kendrick is coming off arguably his best season in 2011, one that saw him bat .285 with 63 RBIs, 14 stolen bases and a career-high 18 homers. The 28-year-old right-handed hitter, who's expected to bat in front of Albert Pujols this season, was a 10th-round Draft pick by the Angels in 2002 and has compiled a .292 batting average, .329 on-base percentage, 50 homers and 61 stolen bases in his first six seasons with them.
The Angels' two other arbitration-eligible players are Kendrys Morales and Alberto Callaspo, both of whom are two years away from free agency.
-- Alden Gonzalez
Three teams eying Hawpe
At least three teams have expressed interest veteran outfielder Brad Hawpe and he could be close to signing a Minor League deal that includes an invite to Spring Training, according to an industry source.
Hawpe, who had Tommy John surgery in August, is said to be healthy and eager to compete for a spot on a big league roster this spring. He fits best with a team in need of depth at first base and at the corner outfield positions.
Hawpe, 32, hit .231 in 62 games for the Padres last season and .245 in 103 games with the Rockies and Rays in 2010. Signed by Colorado in the 11th round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, he hit .280 in 816 games during his seven seasons with the Rockies. An All-Star in 2009, he averaged 25 home runs, 93 RBI and 33 doubles for four consecutive seasons while with Colorado starting in 2006.
Angels reportedly nearing deal with INF Cantu
The Angels are nearing a deal for free-agent infielder Jorge Cantu, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported via Twitter on Friday afternoon.
Cantu, a 29-year-old with experience at third, second and first base, could provide the Halos with some flexibility in the infield in case they want to make a trade. Whether or not the Halos gave him a Major League contract is still not known.
Cantu was a steady presence in the middle of the Marlins' lineup from 2008-09 -- batting a combined .283 with 45 homers and 195 RBIs -- but has struggled ever since.
The Padres signed him to an $850,000 contract last offseason, then released him in June after he hit just .194 in 57 games for them. The Rockies picked Cantu up in late July, and he spent the rest of the season in Triple-A.
-- Alden Gonzalez
Cespedes still on Marlins' shopping list
Sometime in the next 10 days, Cuban sensation Yeonis Cespedes is expected to become a free agent. When that day comes, the Marlins will be in the mix for the 26-year-old outfielder.
An industry source said Jan. 15 is the tentative day that Cespedes will establish residency in the Dominican Republic and then petition MLB for free-agent status. Even that date isn't etched in stone, because there previously was a belief he'd be cleared on Nov. 30.
A few months ago, Marlins officials, including team owner Jeffrey Loria, attended a private workout for Cespedes in the Dominican Republic. The team continues to have interest and plans on eventually negotiating with the outfielder's agent, Adam Katz.
The Marlins believe Cespedes is a natural fit in Miami, a city with a strong Cuban influence. The club's new ballpark is located in the Little Havana section of the Miami.
Cost also appears to be working in the Marlins' favor.
A couple of months ago, it was believed Cespedes was seeking an eight-year deal worth more than $60 million. Several teams have backed away from that number, and a source said Cespedes' cost appears to be coming down.
More realistic numbers are four years in the $32 million range, the source said.
A four-year deal would get the outfielder to age 30, and he then could test the market again.
-- Joe Frisaro
AL teams talk to Cubs about Soriano
The Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins on Thursday. Could Alfonso Soriano be the next to go? According to reports, the Orioles were one of a few American League teams who talked to the Cubs about a possible deal involving Soriano. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday the Cubs could not find a match for the outfielder after talking to a few teams. Soriano, who turns 36 on Saturday, is owed $54 million over the final three years of his contract.
On Thursday, Theo Epstein was asked about Soriano, and said the outfielder is still a valuable offensive player and that it's up to the Cubs to get the best out of him.
-- Carrie Muskat
Prado, Jurrjens likely to remain with Braves
Responding to MLB.com's early November report that Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado might be traded this offseason, Braves general manager Frank Wren said he felt both players would still be with his club at the start of Spring Training.
With the start of Spring Training a little more than six weeks away, this is starting to look more like a possibility.
The Braves have spent the past couple months talking to a number of clubs about these players. But with questions surrounding both Prado and Jurrjens, there is growing reason to wonder if Wren should wait until June or July to trade these players with the hope they will have had time to regain some of their respective values.
This might not be comforting news to those anxious Braves fans that have increasingly become more uncomfortable as the Marlins and Nationals have made significant attempts to strengthen their respective bids to end the Phillies' supremacy in the National League East.
The Marlins stole the headlines in early December with free-agent signings of shortstop Jose Reyes, left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell. They grabbed more attention this week by trading with the Cubs for Carlos Zambrano, who will make manager Ozzie Guillen's clubhouse even more interesting and possibly strengthen the starting rotation.
The up-and-coming Nationals bolstered their starting rotation with the Dec. 23 acquisition of left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez. This week, they may have emerged as the favorites to land Prince Fielder.
But instead of reacting to these moves in a knee-jerk fashion, Wren has dealt with the reality of an extremely tight budget and avoided the temptation to significantly upgrade his lineup by trading any of his coveted top four pitching prospects -- Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Mike Minor.
The Orioles learned that this last month when they inquired about acquiring Jurrjens, Prado and two other "premium guys" in exchange for outfielder Adam Jones.
The Braves obviously declined that offer. But they still have interest in Jones and could continue talking about the outfielder if the Orioles are willing to make a more reasonable offer that would likely be void of pitching prospects and not include both Prado and Jurrjens.
While the Braves have shown a willingness to talk about Prado and Jurrjens, they understand that both players could still provide significant value to this year's team.
Prado's history shows that he could easily bounce back from last year's injury-plagued, frustrating season and provide some production in left field while serving as dependable insurance for soon-to-be 40-year-old third baseman Chipper Jones.
The Tigers and Rockies are among the teams who have shown the most interest in Prado and expressed the belief that he could regain the form he had when he was an All-Star second baseman in 2010. The 28-year-old Venezuelan's .260 batting average this past summer was likely influenced by the fatigue he battled after missing a month with a staph infection.
Jurrjens' value was at its highest level when he entered this year's All-Star break with a National League-leading 1.87 ERA. But he struggled mightily as he posted a 5.88 ERA after the break and then missed the stretch run for a second straight year because of a troublesome right knee. Jurrjens believes his right knee will be sound as he wears a knee brace while pitching this year, and the Reds were among the teams that expressed interest in him. In fact, the Braves thought they might have been nearing a deal before the Reds landed Mat Latos from the Padres in December.
With some health-related questions surrounding Tim Hudson, who underwent back surgery in November, and Tommy Hanson, who missed 2011's final two months with a sore right shoulder, the Braves could seemingly benefit from keeping Jurrjens around for at least the season's first couple months.
If Jurrjens finds early-season success and proves his knee is sound, the Braves could certainly find his value on the trade market to be more significant this summer. At that time, the club might be in position to feel more comfortable about adding yet another young pitcher to its already rather green starting rotation.
-- Mark Bowman
Angels discussing long-term deals with Kendrick, Aybar
The Angels have begun extension talks with the representatives for second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Erick Aybar, general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed Thursday.
Kendrick and Aybar are both lifelong Angels, are both heading into their final years before free agency and are both coming off arguably their best seasons.
"It's certainly something we're exploring, and something we feel is important, otherwise we wouldn't be exploring it," Dipoto said. "Howie and Erick are both career-long Angels. We want to make sure that continues. We have four arbitration-eligible players remaining and they're all important to us, and we want to make sure that each one of them is given the appropriate attention, and we've already taken the initial steps in the case of Howie and Erick, and making sure we can make them a part of what we're doing here moving forward."
The Angels' other two arbitration-eligible players are first baseman Kendrys Morales and third baseman Alberto Callaspo, both of whom have two seasons to go before hitting free agency.
Dipoto said there is no timetable for the Kendrick and Aybar negotiations, but that those are the only two they're negotiating with right now. Kendrick's agent, Larry Reynolds, declined to go into specifics.
"We're going to see where the process takes us; that's all I can say at this point," Reynolds said. "We don't know what's going to happen. It's really kind of early in the process."
-- Alden Gonzalez
Dipoto says Angels are "very unlikely" to sign Madson
Contrary to swirling Internet rumors -- and essentially a process of elimination -- the Angels are "very, very unlikely" to sign free-agent closer Ryan Madson, general manager Jerry Dipoto told The Los Angeles Times on Thursday.
Dipoto's statements are consistent with those he made from the Winter Meetings in early December, when he said he was looking for someone to "complement [current closer] Jordan Walden, not replace" him. But Madson's market has dried up considerably as teams have used a deep talent pool of closers to fill their ninth-inning needs, and it took a major hit when the Red Sox traded with the Athletics for Andrew Bailey.
Madson's present scenario, his Orange County, Calif., roots and the Angels' bullpen struggles last season seemingly made the two a fit. But the Angels have already spent nearly $330 million on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson this offseason. And now, Dipoto has basically shot down his team's chances of adding a proven closer like Madson.
"We're trying to add depth, and in a perfect world, we'd like to find another guy to join Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and [offseason addition] LaTroy Hawkins to help with those last nine outs," Dipoto told the LA Times. "But closer has never been the real priority."
You probably shouldn't completely rule it out just yet, though. Madson's agent, Scott Boras, can be real creative and Dipoto has already displayed an element of surprise. If Madson is willing to take less money, and perhaps even sign a backloaded deal -- like Pujols and Wilson did -- maybe, just maybe there's still a glimmer of hope.
As we're experiencing with the Nationals and those links to Prince Fielder that don't seem to go away, there are very few certainties in the free-agent market.
-- Alden Gonzalez
Reds sign Brackman
The Reds completed the signing Wednesday of right-handed pitcher and local product Andrew Brackman to a one-year contract. Terms were not immediately available.
The 26-year-old Brackman, who was the first-round Draft pick of the Yankees in 2007 (30th overall), was born and raised in Cincinnati and was a two-sport star at Moeller High School.
Signed by New York to a four-year, $3.35 million Major League contract out of North Carolina State, Brackman's selection came with risk since the club knew he would promptly require Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
In three Minor League seasons, Brackman was 15-29 with a 5.11 ERA. The Yankees declined his 2012 option after last season.
-- Mark Sheldon
Dombrowski: Tigers aren't in trade talks on starters
Though the Tigers have been linked in rumors with talks on Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Detroit has no trade talks ongoing on any starting pitchers.
And while Dombrowski won't call any of his top prospects untouchable, a term he rarely uses on anybody, he made it clear they aren't looking to deal Jacob Turner. That doesn't mean Turner isn't available for the right deal, but it indicates they aren't going out and shopping him for a veteran starter.
At this point, Dombrowski said, the Tigers haven't reversed course on their plans to go after a fifth starter to compete with prospects such as Turner, Drew Smyly and Andy Oliver.
"Our plan hasn't changed," Dombrowski said. "We're in a situation where we really have been consistent all along. We like our young guys. We feel that one of them will step up and be our fifth starter. Somehow [our approach] has been mistaken."
Dombrowski said the Tigers have not called about any starting pitchers on the trade market. Any conversations on veterans starters, he said, have been initiated by other club. "We are not looking," he said. "There are some guys that are out there and are very good and clubs haved called us about them. But we have four veteran starters, and sometimes you have to break in young pitching."
They'll still listen, he said, but they're not looking. And the inquiries that have been made, he said, haven't gone far.
"Probably the only guy we had serious conversations on was Gio Gonzalez," he said, "and we just weren't prepared to pay the price. Other than that, we really haven't talked about a starting pitcher."
Dombrowski also said Al Alburquerque's recent elbow surgery won't put them in the market for another reliever. They signed Octavio Dotel knowing that Alburquerque was dealing with off and on injuries. Dombrowski didn't rule out re-signing Joel Zumaya if he accepts a minor-league contract, but that nothing has changed on that front either.
Padres nearly done with roster construction
Few general managers have been as busy this offseason as Padres GM Josh Byrnes, who on Saturday pulled off his sixth trade of the winter in trading for White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin.
With that trade, the Padres are already close to being a finished product -- well before heading to Arizona for the start of Spring Training next month.
"We're getting close," Byrnes said on Tuesday.
The Padres could still add a late-inning reliever and have to decide if they're going to hold onto first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo or move him before Spring Training. In their deal with the Reds last month -- when they acquired right-hander Mat Latos -- the Padres received first baseman Yonder Alonso, who will get first crack at winning the first-base job.
-- Corey Brock
Pirates sign Jo-Jo Reyes
Lefty Jo-Jo Reyes has agreed to a Minor League deal with the Pirates, a source confirmed to MLB.com. Terms of the deal were not immediately known, though Reyes is expected to participate in the Pirates' big-league camp this spring.
Reyes, 27, became a free agent last month when the Orioles opted not to tender a contract to the left-hander, who was arbitration eligible for the first time in his career.
In 2011, Reyes made 20 starts for the Blue Jays before being designated for assignment in late July. He was subsequently picked up off waivers by Baltimore, which used Reyes in nine games (five as a starter) over the season's final two months. Reyes combined to finish with a 7-11 record and 5.57 ERA.
A former second-round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Reyes has made 70 career appearances (62 starts) in parts of five seasons in the Majors. He spent the first nine years of his professional career in the Braves organization.
-- Jenifer Langosch
Yankees discussing Edwin Jackson
The Yankees are balking at a high asking price for the Cubs' Matt Garza and have instead turned their attention to free-agent right-hander Edwin Jackson, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported Tuesday.
Noting that the Yankees and Jackson "aren't in any way close to a deal," Heyman suggests that New York and agent Scott Boras could eventually find middle ground. Boras has been reported to be looking for a four- or five-year pact for Jackson worth approximately $15 million per season.
That could prove too high for the Yankees, who have been preaching fiscal responsibility this winter and would not get involved with free agents C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle, despite their stated need for a starting pitcher to slot behind CC Sabathia in the rotation.
-- Bryan Hoch
Matt Garza & the Yankees
The Cubs are not going to deal Matt Garza unless they get significant players in return, and the asking price apparently is too high for the Yankees. ESPNNewYork's Wallace Matthews reported Tuesday the Cubs' asking price is "out of the question" for the Yankees.
The Cubs reportedly want at least two and possibly three of the Yankees' top prospects Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. The Red Sox, Tigers, Marlins and Blue Jays also have been linked to Garza, but FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported the Blue Jays also have reportedly balked at the Cubs' requests.
-- Carrie Muskat
Cordero and Reds still talking
There could be some movement, one way or another, in the next few days on free-agent closer Francisco Cordero. The Reds are still in the running.
"We're still talking with [Cincinnati] and a couple of other clubs," Cordero's agent, Bean Stringfellow, said on Tuesday. "We're making progress on a lot of fronts. Multiyear contracts are definitely involved.
"The Reds are involved and are still interested in bringing him back. I am talking with them on a regular basis."
Stringfellow declined to detail the specific numbers being bandied about with the Reds in negotiations. It seemed like he was optimistic about where talks were going with the different clubs and that a deal was possible.
"It could be today or 10 days from now. I don't know," Stringfellow said. "I do know that we're closer now than we've been. I don't think it will carry on too much longer."
-- Mark Sheldon
Crisp returning to Oakland?
Though the A's are in full rebuilding mode, they may be close to reeling back in a veteran outfielder. According to ESPN's Jim Bowden, Coco Crisp is on the verge of re-signing with Oakland, for which he hit .264 with eight home runs and a career-high 49 steals in 136 games last season.
Crisp's desire to join a winning ballclub on a multiyear deal has been well documented, but so has his interest in remaining on the West Coast, given his California roots. At one point, Crisp was heavily linked to the Giants, another time the Cardinals and on Monday evening it was the Orioles who were reportedly in on the center fielder. But if Bowden's report holds true, the A's would add experienced depth to what right now is an unproven outfield boasting the likes of Michael Taylor, Collin Cowgill and Josh Reddick.
-- Jane Lee
Report: Nationals front-runner for Fielder
A report from the Journal-Sentinel in Milwaukee says the Nationals are the front-runner to land All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder.
The Nationals have repeatedly denied such rumors, continuing to publicly say that Adam LaRoche will be the club's first baseman in 2012, but the Journal-Sentinel's Tom Haudricourt cites an MLB official who says Washington is leading the chase for Fielder.
The report says the Nationals may not offer the eight- to 10-year deal that Fielder's agent, Scott Boras, is seeking. They club might want a shorter deal, but Haudricourt believes if the Nationals can match or exceed the $25.4 million annual salary that Albert Pujols is getting from the Angels, Boras and his client should still be pleased.
-- Joey Nowak
Garza reportedly on Marlins' wish list
Toss Matt Garza's name into the mix of possible Miami trade targets.
Acquiring another front-line starting pitcher remains a priority, and reportedly Garza fits the mold.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com claims the Marlins have "serious interest" in Garza. No deal is close, but the interest makes sense.
To seriously compete in the National League East, the Marlins are looking for as much starting pitching depth as possible. They've already signed free agent Mark Buehrle, and they made a strong push for C.J. Wilson, who eventually signed with the Angels.
Miami also pushed hard for Gio Gonzalez, who ended up being traded from the A's to the Nationals.
Garza, 28, is projected to make between $9-10 million in arbitration in 2012, and he isn't eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.
The Cubs reportedly are seeking a trade package similar to the deals that sent Mat Latos from the Padres to the Reds and Gonzalez to Washington.
There is stiff competition for Garza, who also is being coveted by the Yankees and Blue Jays.
The Cubs are looking for top prospects, and the Marlins are willing to part with some of their high-end young talent for an established starter.
Outfielder Christian Yelich, part of Class A Greensboro's championship team, is highly coveted.
The Marlins have made it clear that Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are off limits, but they would be willing to move other young players, if the deal made sense.
-- Joe Frisaro
Quentin dealt to Padres for two hurlers
The White Sox and Padres pulled off a trade Saturday afternoon that sends outfielder Carlos Quentin to San Diego in exchange for two Minor League pitchers.
The White Sox will receive 23-year-old right-hander Simon Castro and 22-year-old lefty Pedro Hernandez from the Padres.
Quentin, 29, is a two-time All-Star who has hit at least 21 homers in each of the last four seasons with Chicago. He was drafted by the D-backs in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and spent two seasons with Arizona.
His first year with the White Sox, in 2008, was his best so far, as he hit .288 with 100 RBIs and 36 homers. He has played either left or right field his entire career.
"Improving our offense is a priority this offseason," Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. "And the acquisition of Carlos gives us a proven middle-of-the-order bat. We specifically targeted Carlos because of his production and his hard-nosed style of play."
Castro, the Padres' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, split time between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson in 2011, posting a 7-8 record with a 5.63 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 22 starts overall. He began the season with San Antonio, where he was 5-6, before moving up to Tucson, where he was 2-2 with a 10.17 ERA.
He has been in the Padres' Minor League system for six seasons, and he was named to the Texas League mid- and postseason All-Star teams in 2010, while also pitching for the World Team in the All-Star Futures Game in Anaheim.
Hernandez spent time at Class A Lake Elsinore this season, along with Tucson and San Antonio, posting a 10-3 record with a 3.49 ERA in 28 games (18 starts) overall. He recorded 94 strikeouts in 116 innings of work.
The southpaw is 25-11 over five seasons in the San Diego Minor League system.
-- Joey Nowak
Blue Jays ink Laffey to Minor League deal
The Blue Jays have signed left-hander Aaron Laffey to a Minor League contract, the club announced Saturday.
The 26-year-old has spent five seasons in the big leagues, most recently with the Yankees after starting the 2011 campaign in Seattle. He was drafted by, and spent the first four years of his career with, the Indians.
Last season, Laffey was 3-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 47 relief appearances. He held left-handed hitters to a .242 average. He has made 49 starts in his career and owns a lifetime 4.34 ERA.
The Blue Jays also announced they have signed the following four Minor League free agents with invitations to Spring Training: right-hander Jerry Gil, right-hander Garrett Mock, right-hander Robert Coello and shortstop Brian Bocock.
-- Joey Nowak
Blue Jays close to deal with Oliver
Toronto is close to signing veteran reliever Darren Oliver to a one-year contract with a possible option for 2013, MLB.com's TR Sullivan has reported.
Oliver has spent at least a part of 18 seasons in the big leagues, the most of which (10 seasons) were with the Rangers. He was with Texas from 1993-98, then again from 2000-01 and for the last two seasons.
In 2011, the 41-year-old right-hander was 5-5 with 16 holds and a 2.29 ERA through 51 innings of work. He allowed six hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings of postseason ball. The Blue Jays would be the ninth Major League club that Oliver has suited up for.
-- Joey Nowak
Matt Garza hot topic
Could the Cubs deal Matt Garza? They are apparently still listening to teams interested in the right-hander. The Cubs are most likely looking for a package similar to what the Padres received from the Reds for Mat Latos and what the Athletics received from the Nationals for Gio Gonzalez, which means a lot of talented prospects.
According to reports, the Blue Jays and Yankees may be the front-runners. What makes Garza attractive to the Jays and Yankees is his 23-15 record, 3.34 ERA in 56 career games vs. the AL East. Plus, he's 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 19 games against the Red Sox.
Chicago helped its system by dealing Sean Marshall to Cincinnati for Travis Wood and two other players. Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, has said Garza is "exactly the type of pitcher we want to build around" but is willing to listen as the team re-tools. They'd have to be overwhelmed to move Garza, who is under team control through 2013. Gonzalez, 26, and Latos, 24, will be under team control for at least four years.