Many roster moves made, many more to come
Jackson finds a home with Nats; Oswalt's destination unknown
By Doug Miller / MLB.com | 02/05/12 11:51 PM EST
Spring Training practice fields are being manicured, rolled and lined to perfection. The weather is getting warmer in Florida and Arizona. Trucks full of gear have departed ballparks for their annual Grapefruit and Cactus League timeshares.
But the certainties of this continuing offseason end there.
With mere days until the first pitchers and catchers report, the fates of more than a handful of big-name players are up in the air, and trade winds appear to be swirling. That means we might see quite a bit of roster turnover in the coming week, just like we saw in the previous seven days.
To catch up on the week that was:
We saw Edwin Jackson finally sign. The hard-throwing right-hander inked a one-year deal with the Nationals, who suddenly appear to be boasting one of the most impressive rotations around.
The Nationals' projected stable of six starters -- Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Jackson, Chien-Ming Wang and Ross Detwiler -- is so talented and deep that the team reportedly is shopping lefty John Lannan.
And though Washington's pitching looks great, it's not even the best rotation in their division. The Phillies, with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels fronting a deep staff, remain the group to beat in that department.
They're not heavily in the mix to bring back Roy Oswalt -- and speaking of Oswalt, where is he going to end up, anyway?
That might be the biggest unanswered free-agent question at the moment.
The latest on Oswalt is that his believed-to-be-preferred destinations, St. Louis and Texas, haven't made him concrete offers yet, but Cincinnati and Boston have been mentioned as potential suitors. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking fast for the best free-agent arm still out there.
Last week saw a useful bat taken off the board when the Indians inked a one-year deal with first baseman Casey Kotchman, and the Mariners and Nationals took Minor League-deal chances on veterans Carlos Guillen and Rick Ankiel, respectively.
The Cubs struck a deal with what could be an intriguing arm in Cuban left-hander Gerardo Concepcion, and relievers Todd Coffey (Dodgers), Chad Qualls (Philadelphia) and Micah Owings (San Diego) also found homes.
This week, which began with a Monday-morning trade that sent veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie from Baltimore to Colorado for righties Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom, could bring more action.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that his club is in the hunt for a left-handed hitter, and he mentioned free agent Raul Ibanez as the type of player who could be a good fit.
Then again, there are still good names out there. Among them:
Yoenis Cespedes: The latest on the Cuban defector is that the Marlins have aggressively jumped in the fray. Other teams that have been mentioned as possibly having interest in the slugging outfielder are the White Sox, Tigers, Orioles and Cubs. Cespedes' agent, Adam Katz, said recently that he expects his client to be in someone's camp when Spring Training begins.
Vladimir Guerrero: There's not much tire-kicking happening on the Vlad front, it seems, what with the aging designated hitter reportedly looking for somewhere in the realm of $5 million.
And the same seems to be happening with Johnny Damon, who, according to an ESPN.com report, also wants to hit that $5 million mark for a 2012 contract but hasn't found it yet, although the Yankees are reportedly thinking about bringing him back.
If Guerrero and Damon don't fit a team's fancy, there are still more options on the board, even at this late date.
They include Magglio Ordonez, whom the A's might be willing to look at in March, Hideki Matsui and Manny Ramirez.
And if a team needs pitching, starter Javier Vazquez is probably second to Oswalt on the desirable list, with such reliable bullpen arms as Scott Linebrink, Michael Gonzalez and Michael Wuertz still looking for work.