Hot Stove MLBlog: News, notes and analysis
MLB.com | 01/14/12 3:14 PM EST
The offseason maneuvering is in full swing. Stay up on all the trades, signings, rumors and analysis with the Hot Stove MLBlog.
A's negotiating with Colon
The Athletics are negotiating with free-agent starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, ESPN's Buster Olney reported via Twitter on Saturday.
Colon, 38, had a surprisingly resurgent season for the Yankees in 2011, posting a 3.29 ERA in his first 18 games (15 starts) before falling off a bit down the stretch.
Colon's 2011 performance, which finished with an 8-10 record and a 4.00 ERA, came after being out of the big leagues for the entire 2010 season.
The Diamondbacks had also expressed interest in the former American League Cy Young Award winner, and the Yankees were interested in bringing him back before acquiring Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda on a busy Friday night.
-- Alden Gonzalez
Yankees begin work of rebuilding rotation
The Yankees may have solved the lingering questions of their starting rotation in just one night, nearing completion on deals that will fit right-handers Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda for pinstripes in 2012.
In Pineda's case, the price proved to be a steep one, as New York agreed to part with power-hitting catcher Jesus Montero, shipping their top prospect to the Mariners in a four-player trade.
Though the teams have not made an official announcement, a source confirmed that Seattle is set to send Pineda and Minor League pitcher Jose Campos to the Yankees for Montero and 24-year-old right-hander Hector Noesi.
-- Jesse Sanchez
Rangers, Fielder meet in Dallas
The Rangers met on Friday with free-agent first baseman Prince Fielder at a Dallas-area hotel, according to multiple media reports.
Fielder is the highest-profile free agent remaining on the market. The Nationals also are believed to be heavily involved with Fielder, who, according to reports, is seeking a long-term deal with a no-trade clause. The Mariners have also been connected with Fielder.
-- Jesse Sanchez
Marlins among six clubs interested in Cespedes
The Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes appears to be down to six teams.
The center fielder from Cuba told a reporter from The Associated Press in the Dominican Republic that the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers and Indians have expressed the most interest.
Cespedes, 26, made his debut on Thursday for Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Republic Winter League.
-- Jesse Sanchez
D-backs talking to Bartolo Colon
Could Bartolo Colon be the fifth starter the D-backs have been looking for?
The D-backs seem to believe so as a baseball source said they were in talks to sign the right-hander.
Colon was 8-10 with a 4.00 ERA in 29 games (26 starts) for the Yankees last season. The 38-year-old did not pitch in 2010 and signed a Minor League deal with the Yankees after undergoing stem-cell treatment for elbow and rotator cuff injuries.
Thanks to a strong performance in the spring, Colon made the Yankees roster and was an effective starter before seeming to tire down the stretch. In September, Colon posted a 5.96 ERA and was not on the team's postseason roster.
The D-backs' rotation currently consists of Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill and Josh Collmenter with the fifth spot to come from a group of young pitchers that includes, among others, Wade Miley, Barry Enright, Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer and Charles Brewer.
Given the youth and inexperience of that group, the D-backs had hoped to add a veteran fifth starter as added depth in case none of the young starters are able to make the jump to the big leagues.
-- Steve Gilbert
Indians interested in Pena, Kotchman
It has been well-documented throughout this winter that the Indians have checked in on just about every available first baseman not named Prince Fielder. As spring approaches, two names high on Cleveland's list are Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman.
On Thursday, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Indians GM Chris Antonetti has approached ownership about potentially providing the necessary funds to afford the likes of Pena. The Scott Boras client is a coming off a season in which he slugged 28 homers and it is believed that he is seeking a multi-year deal.
The more realistic option might be Kotchman, who could improve the Tribe's average, on-base percentage and strikeout rate. A year ago, the Indians whiffed 1,269 times, marking the most in team history and the fourth-highest total in American League history. Kotchman hit .306 with 66 strikeouts in 500 at-bats last season, while Pena hit .225 with 161 strikeouts in 493 ABs.
With only 10 homers a year ago, though, Kotchman obviously does not boast Pena's power potential.
Pena netted a one-year, $10 million contract with the Cubs last offseason after hitting .196/.325/.407 with 28 homers and 84 RBIs in 2010 with Tampa Bay. This past season with Chicago, he improved in batting average, OBP (.357) and SLG (.462), while offering his typically sound defense.
Another consideration is Cleveland's current situation at first base. Regular catcher Carlos Santana (a switch hitter) figures to see some playing time at first -- most likely against left-handed pitching. While the general thought has been that the Indians could benefit from a power-hitting, right-handed first baseman (to replace a struggling Matt LaPorta), Cleveland's decision-makers believe a lefty-hitting first baseman such as Pena or Kotchman might make more sense.
On days when Santana does not start behind the plate, the Indians project to feature catcher Lou Marson, who hit .297 against left-handed pitching last year. So having Santana (1B) and Marson (C) in against a left-hander and a lefty-hitting first baseman paired with Santana (C) against right-handers is something the Tribe is evaluating.
One unanswered question is whether Pena or Kotchman would be willing to accept that kind of playing time situation. It seems more likely that Kotchman -- coming off a year in which he earned $750,000 after signing a Minor League contract with the Rays -- would be open to a platoon-like scenario. Kotchman is also more affordable for an Indians team that does not have much financial flexibility.
If the Indians do not add a first baseman before Opening Day, the team's top internal candidates currently consist of LaPorta (who has a Minor League option remaining) and Shelley Duncan (who is out of options).
Marlins not strongly interested in Fielder
MIAMI -- Prince Fielder, the highest-profile free agent remaining on the market, is once again being linked to the Marlins.
According to Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post, Miami owner Jeffrey Loria had a discussion with Scott Boras, Fielder's agent, Wednesday night at the owner's meetings in Arizona.
The Nationals, the Post reports, are "patiently and aggressively" pursuing Fielder.
As for the Marlins, the fact that Loria and Boras spoke is not that unusual considering they are both in Arizona. Because the team never says never, it's natural for them to get a feel for what Fielder is seeking. But that doesn't mean the club is making a strong push for the power hitting first baseman.
In fact, there are strong indications from within the organization that they are not aggressively pursuing Fielder.
Their more realistic free agent target remains Yoenis Cespedes, who is expected to gain his temporary residency in the Dominican Republic within the next few days. Once that happens, the outfielder should be granted free agent status.
-- Joe Frisaro
Wood close to deal with Cubs?
FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi tweeted Wednesday that the Cubs were close to a one-year deal with Kerry Wood, which could include a club option for 2013.
During a stop on the Cubs Caravan on Wednesday, Cubs president Theo Epstein said he was hopeful the two sides could come to an agreement.
"If we can't figure this out, something's wrong," Epstein said.
Wood, 34, posted a 3.35 ERA in 51 innings for the Cubs last season. He did miss time because of a blister and ended his season in September because of a torn meniscus in his left knee. The right-hander gave the Cubs a hometown discount in 2011, signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal to come back. He has said he wants to stay in Chicago, and last year, started the Wood Family Foundation, which is hosting a fundraiser Friday prior to the Cubs Convention.
-- Carrie Muskat
Bucs to sign Slaten to Minor League deal
Though terms of the agreement have not all been finalized, left-hander Doug Slaten has chosen to sign a Minor League deal with the Pirates, a source confirmed on Wednesday. The addition of Slaten will give the club another reliever to consider for its bullpen.
Slaten became a free agent in December when the Nationals decided not to tender a contract to the arbitration-eligible pitcher. His contract with the Pirates will include an invitation to participate in Spring Training.
Slaten, 31, spent close to three months on the disabled list in 2011 due to a left elbow injury. As a result, he made just 31 appearances and logged only 16 1/3 innings. His season ERA finished at 4.41. Slaten struck out 16 and walked three.
Now healthy, Slaten had multiple offers this winter before ultimately deciding that the Pirates provided him with the best fit and opportunity. Though the Pirates haven't prioritized including a left-handed specialist in the 'pen in several years, Slaten profiles as an option for that type of role.
-- Jenifer Langosch
Angels, Kendrys avoid arbitration
The Angels avoided arbitration with recovering first baseman Kendrys Morales by agreeing on a one-year contract Wednesday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Morales was expected to get about $3 million via arbitration.
Since batting .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs in '09, Morales has missed the last 1 1/2 seasons with a broken left ankle, which he suffered while stomping on home plate after a game-winning home run in May 2010 and has since had two procedures on.
Morales' signing leaves infielders Erick Aybar, who general manager Jerry Dipoto has begun extension talks with, and Alberto Callaspo as their lone remaining arbitration-eligible players. Aybar is one season away from free agency, while Callaspo -- like Morales -- has two years left before hitting the open market.
-- Alden Gonzalez
Nothing has changed for Tigers with Garza
Tigers president/general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Detroit News "nothing has changed" in regards to his remarks from last week on the Tigers' approach to starting pitching and their prospects, despite recent rumors. Another source indicated to MLB.com Tuesday that there's nothing going on with the Tigers in regards to Cubs right-hander Matt Garza.
MLB Network and MLB.com's Peter Gammons had similar sentiments Tuesday night on Hot Stove.
"I'm told it's not going to happen," Gammons said of a potential Garza deal to Detroit.
Gammons cited sources saying the Tigers are more likely to open the season with top prospect Jacob Turner in the rotation, and that they wouldn't trade Turner for Garza, let alone package him.
Former Reds and Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, now a host on MLB Network Radio, suggested on ESPN.com that the Tigers could get a deal done for Garza if they included top positional prospect Nick Castellanos with Turner, their top pitching prospect. The Tigers were not willing to include them both in a package to the A's for Gio Gonzalez, on whom they had serious discussions and seemingly valued more.
Gonzalez, whom Oakland traded to Washington last month, is four years away from free agency, as well as left-handed. Garza, a right-hander, has just two years left before he can hit the open market. Detroit's rotation currently has four right-handers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer and Rick Porcello.
-- Jason Beck
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.