I had to take the weekend off from blogging. Sorry I didn’t let you know, but let’s get back to baseball.
The Angels are out of the running for Mark Teixeira. They pulled out when team owner Arte Moreno concluded that Tex didn’t want to play for the Angels, and would rather go to the east coast. Their 160 million offer is off the table, so Teixeira’s next team will be the Red Sox, Nationals, Orioles, or possibly Yankees. The latter don’t seem completely involved, but you never know about a team that has Hank Steinbrenner as the president.
With the Angels out, the Red Sox seem like the clear frontrunner to me. BoSox president John Henry said that “we’re not going to be a factor,” but I believe that was just a negotiating ploy. Several baseball writers have said that the Red Sox offer of 8 years, 180 million is still on the table. I’m guessing that Scott Boras went to the BoSox and stated that he had a better offer on the table from a different team. It looks like Henry effectively called Boras’s bluff, because if the unknown team was the Nationals, they would’ve signed him by now. It couldn’t have been the Angels, because they’re out, and the Yankees GM Brian Cashman said that they had not made an offer. The Orioles appear reluctant to raise their 7 year, 140 million dollar offer. So it looks like Boston’s offer of 8 years, 180 million is the best on the table. This is just me trying to draw conclusions, though. No one really knows who’s offering what except for Tex and Boras. This is making me crazy!
Now that Tex won’t end up an Angel, who will? They have about 22 million left to spend, and are looking to add a power hitting outfielder. A cheap starter could be under consideration, also. Brian Fuentes could make sense if his price drops down; the Angels are his first choice because they will give him a closer’s job, play on the west coast (where he is from), and are a contending team. I don’t consider the bullpen or the rotation a need, however, and would rather just get a great bat.
You can’t call Manny Ramirez a perfect fit, but he sure does make a lot of sense. He can DH most of the time, and is truly the only bat on the free agent market not named Mark Teixeira that can scare pitchers. If I see Manny hitting behind Vladimir Guerrero, I’m just as scared as if I see Tex. I know that Ramirez doesn’t have gold glove defense, and he has an attitude problem, but there is no difference between the two hitting wise. For some reason I have a feeling that the Angels will pass, but I don’t think they should.
If not Manny, then Adam Dunn makes a ton of sense. Dunn is no Manny or Tex, but he is still a 40 homer bat that will bring you an OBP in the .360 to .380 range. A lot of people get blinded by his poor defense, low batting average, and lack of emotion, but he is one of the most consistent bats in the MLB. He also brings some versatility because he can play both first base and left field. If I were the Angels, I would DH him, because like I said before, he has poor defense. Some other options that would make sense for Anehiem are Milton Bradley, Bobby Abreu, and Pat Burrell.
So the Angels are out on Tex, the Red Sox and Nationals look like the frontrunners for his services, and the Angels could pursue Manny Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Milton Bradley, Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, or Brian Fuentes. I can’t wait to find out how all of this happens.
The deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents was 12:00 P.M. Eastern Time yesterday. You can read all about free agent compensation here, see how the Elias ranking work here, and see those rankings here. Thanks to MLB Trade Rumors for all of these links. Below are players offered and not offered arbitration that I deemed questionable. Ignore the bolded posts; I can’t find a way to get rid of the.
- D’Backs don’t offer arb. to Adam Dunn. This was the dumbest decision of them all. Not to offer Dunn arbitration for fear he would accept is just plain sily. There would have been a 98% chance that he declines to sign for multiple years elsewhere, netting the D’Backs two picks. Even if for some reason he did accept the offer of arbitration, he would be a great trade chip. Dunn on a 1 year, 15 million dollar deal would bring back a lot in return. This makes zero sense to me and proves how cheap the D’Backs are.
- Phillies don’t offer arb. to Pat Burrell. It’s like the same thing as with Dunn. These guys are great players; they deserve an offer of arbitration. I know that the Phils don’t have much money to spend, but Burrell on a cheap 1 year deal would be a great piece to their team. They could either let Jamie Moyer go and keep Burrell, or even if they really wanted to not be stuck with Burrell, they could have just traded him. Like Dunn, he would make a lot of sense for a lot of teams for a year. This one does’t make much sense either.
- Yankees don’t offer arb. to Bobby Abreu. I find this surprising, because I know for a fact that Abreu would’ve declined and signed elsewhere on a multi-year contract. There was no way he was coming back to New York, and even if he did, he would be solid trade chip. I’m not understanding their logic on this one.
- Cubs don’t offer arb. to Kerry Wood. This was just flat out dumb. First of all, what were the chance that Wood would actually accept an offer of arbitration? I’d say around 20%. We all know that he deeply wants to stay with the Cubs, but I doubt he would sacrifice a possible 15-20 million to stick in Chicago. If Woody did accept, they could always just trade him. His salary would be moveable, and they could even get a decent prospect back. To me, this was just utter stupidness.
- Phillies don’t offer arb. to Jamie Moyer. I have no idea why Moyer didn’t get an offer. Wouldn’t the Phils like Jamie back on a 1 year deal at market price? Isn’t that what they are trying to get done this offseason; resign Moyer. I know that he stood a good chance of accepting, but I don’t think that would be a bad thing. At least you know you can get a pick if he does leave for whatever reason. Ruben Amaro has not had a very good start to his general managing career if you ask me.
- Astros don’t offer arb. to Randy Wolf. Remember when the Astros were supposedly the frontrunners for Ben Sheets? Now they can’t even afford Randy Wolf on a 1 year deal. I didn’t know that their payroll was this tight. Like a lot of other players on this list, he would have been very easy to trade had he accepted. Also, wasn’t this the reason for trading for Wolf, so that they could get a sandwich pick for some AAAA reliever? I think that trade is looking even worse now because the ‘Stros had to know at the time of the trade that they couldn’t afford to offer arb. to Wolf or to resign him. The Astros are one of the worst run franchises in all of baseball.
- Dodgers don’t offer arb. to Joe Beimel. This guy made only 2 million last year, and stands a great chance at nabbing at least a two year deal on the open market. I don’t see why the Dodgers wouldn’t offer to him. Beilmel would be a bargain on a 1 year deal, so he is a tradeable asset if the Dodgers truly didn’t want him.
- Cardinals don’t offer arb. to Braden Looper. He would be a great bargain on a one year deal, and is said to be looking for 3 years, making it likely he declines. Looper would’ve provided great depth to their rotation if they wanted him. Even if the Cards didn’t want him, he would be very easy to trade. This was a dumb decision and it will cost the Cards a sandwich pick.
- Cardinals don’t offer arb. to Russ Springer. I though they wanted him back. A 1 year deal at market value would be a good signing for them. I know that they knew he would accept, but that’s a good thing. Well, at least I think so.
- Mets don’t offer arb. to Luis Ayala. I know he was completely terrible last year, but he was solid in his stint with the Mets and has had a great track record his entire career. (except for last year, of course) He made only 1.7 million last year, and would be a solid signing for a year at about 2.5 million. If he declined, they would have gotten a draft pick for him.
As you can see there were a lot of teams that I felt made a mistake by not offering a key player arbitration. It looks like the economy is hurting everyone.
The Red Sox could decide to go all-in for Mark Teixera, offering him a huge contract to get him to come to Boston. It seems like the Angels and Red Sox will be the two biggest suitors because the Yankees will focus on CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett or Derek Lowe. The Nationals have become a dark horse candidate because of a rumor of them offering Tex 10 years, 200 million. I don’t really think they will go that far, however. The Oriols are another possibility, but they seem more interested in AJ Burnett and Rafael Furcal. So this thing is mainly between the Red Sox and Angels. I will now list the backup plans for whichever team that loses the Teixera bidding.
- If the Angels lose out on Tex, they will have to turn to other hitters. Adam Dunn hasn’t gotten much interest from other teams, so he would be pretty easy to lure to LA to be the team’s next first baseman. The Angels could also trade for Garret Atkins should a Teixera deal fall through. Dan Uggla has been rumored, but the Marlins look like they’re done trading veterans after dealing Mike Jacobs, Josh Willingham, Scott Olsen, and Kevin Gregg. Pat Burell is an option. He could be the DH while Kendry Morales will attempt to take over at the cold corner. The same thing would happen in the event of a Milton Bradley signing. It’s also possible they sign CC Sabathia, but he wants to sign right away. The Angels would be basicly droping out of the Teixera bidding if they signed CC. The Halos will get a bat either way.
- If the Red Sox aren’t able to aquire Tex, they will look to add starting pitching instead of hitting. Beyond Tex, there aren’t any first basemen significantly better than Mike Lowell. Plus, they could keep a team leader, while letting Kevin Youkilis remain at first base. A starter like AJ Burnett, Derek Lowe, or Ben Sheets all make loads of sense for Boston. Like I’ve said before, they could always sign both Teixera and a starter. Once Lowell and his 12 million per year is dealt, the Red Sox would have 42 million to drop down on Tex plus a starter.
The bottom line is that either the Red Sox or Angels will have Teixera next year unless something crazy happens.
The Braves have 45 million to spend in an attempt to fix the team that won only a mere 72 games last year. Their main needs: starting pitching and outfield help. Earlier, I wrote that the Braves are out of the Jake Peavy market. Since that is over, I expect them to look toward free agency to fill their holes. They won’t go after CC Sabathia, but Derek Lowe, Ryan Dempster, and AJ Burnett are good options. Bigger market teams like the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, and Cubs will be in on these guys, but the Braves can spend more than all of them. (if the Yankees sign Sabathia first) They might even decide to pursue two of the three. The goal here seems to be respectable in ’09, but truly competing for a world series in ’10. Both Burnett and Lowe will probably get deals in the 4 year, 64 million range. Burnett already has an offer; the Blue Jays want him back for 4 years, 54 million. That won’t get it done. Dempster seems likely to stick with the Cubs, but then again I’m not sure if they’ll go all in. If the Braves offered 64 million, they’d probably get him. The Cubs don’t feel they have to overpay because they don’t have as big of a need at starting pitcher. In the end, I think Dempster gets a bigger offer but accepts the Cubs’ cheaper one. The Yankees could go crazy and offer Burnett up to 5 years, 80 million. They would definatly get him for that amount. Lowe is more likely, because the Yanks will be out of the bidding by then. The Red Sox might be tough to compete against because they are Lowe’s prefered destination. Hopefully for the Braves sake, the Red Sox don’t get involved. If the Mets sign Francisco Rodriguez, they won’t be able to offer the amount other teams could. They aren’t that big of a factor. The Braves could just pursue a cheaper free agent if they can’t get two top-of-the-rotation starters. Jon Garland is an option; so is Oliver Perez.
If the Braves don’t add two starters, they could turn to outfield help. Pat Burrell is an option if they can afford him. Raul Ibanez might make more sense. If they really want to spend, Adam Dunn is possible. Bobby Abreu might be looked into. Through trade, Jermane Dye and Magglio Ordonez are options if they are avialable. Overall, it looks like the Braves will be a solid team next year, but 2010 is the time where they will be really good because their prospects will be in the majors, and Tim Hudson would be back from injury.
The Nationals want a cleanup hitter. I don’t know why they would want to spend the money for him, but I have a feeling that they’ll go after Adam Dunn this offseason. I think the Nats should be rebuilding. Why waste money on Dunn when he won’t help their team at all untill the end of his contract. I mean they are still many pieces away from contention with or without Dunn. I know they have money to burn, but they should just hang on to it and spend a lot on the draft the way they did in 2007 and last year (except for the Aaron Crow incident) Build up some young talent and then go and sign a free agent. However, with Jim Bowden in there, you don’t know what’s going to happen. They have to get him out of there.
There have been rumors going around that the Cubs will consider trading Derrek Lee this offseason. Their reasoning is that it would open up more money to spend on a left handed bat. For example: The Cubs trade Lee to the Giants for Randy Winn and salary. Then they sign Adam Dunn to a big deal and tell him to play first base. They’d add power with Dunn and Winn, but would lose a lot of defense by subtracting Lee and moving Kosuke Fukudome to the bench. I think it would be an expensive way to get maybe an extra 1-2 wins. When you win your division by 8 games and the team 8 games behind you is losing their top two pitchers, 1-2 games doesn’t mean much. Plus the’re ruining the club house chemistry that was so good all year long by trading one of the leaders, Lee. If I was Jim Hendry, I would just try to resign Ryan Dempster and Kerry Wood. Use the money on those guys, while backloading contracts. Trade Jason Marquis and all of the salary possible. Move Jeff Samardzija to the rotation, sign a middle reliever to replace him in the ‘pen, and then explore a trade for Randy Winn or Brian Giles. I would definatly not trade Derrek Lee.
The Angels will have about 30 million to spend this offseason. The big question will be how to spend it. You can see their offseason needs here. Below are some possible scenarios.
- Sign Mark Teixera to a 23 million per year deal. With the remaining seven million, sign a setup reliever, resign Garret Anderson, and also sign a starting pitcher reclamation project. This fills all of their holes.
- Sign CC Sabathia to a 22 million per year deal. I’d only do this if they miss out on Mark Teixera, however. If this happens, sign Jason Giambi to a backloaded 2 year deal, sign a middle reliever, and bring back GA.
- If they miss out on both Tex and CC, then sign Adam Dunn or Pat Burrell to 14 million per year. Next, resign Francisco Rodriguez to a big contract. Finally, add Jason Giambi and a reclamation pitcher.
These are just three possible scenarios, but it’s what I would do if I was the GM of the Angels.