I think that this is a solid move by the Dodgers. They bring back Blake, a very important part of their team, and don’t break the bank to do so. 6 million per year isn’t that much, and it leaves the Dodgers with 44 million to spend in order to fill their remaining holes.
Manny Ramirez could be resigned for 20 million per year, and the remaining money could be used to sign a starting pitcher. It looks like the Dodgers are fine with the idea of Chin-Lung Hu starting the season as their shortstop. The 14 million would be wisely used on a short term deal for a pitcher like Randy Johnson. If the Dodgers miss out on him, Oliver Perez could make some sense. Ben Sheets, also, if his price falls down and it’s a short term deal. Jon Garland and Paul Byrd are some other cheap alternatives. If a shortstop is aquired, I think it would be through a trade because they can’t afford Rafael Furcal and a pitcher. Orlando Cabrera would require a draft pick, and the starting pitcher would have to cost only about 7 million. I guess that Garland and Cabrera are possible, but I would rather get the better pitcher in Big Unit or Perez. The other shortstop options are just flat out bad. Through a trade, Jack Wilson could be a target. He plays great defense, and is available for the right price.
Whatever the Dodgers are moves are, signing Casey Blake is a good way to start it off.
The Twins’ talks for Casey Blake have reached an impasse. They didn’t want to offer 3 years, but rather 2 years with an option for a 3rd. Blake apparently thought he stood a good chance of getting that 3 year deal from a different team. It’s possible that Blake could still end up in Minnesota, but he would have to be unable to land that 3 year deal.
The point may be moot, however, because the Dodgers have made a 3 year offer to Blake. They expect to hear back on Blake today. I’m guessing he will accept the contract offer, because no other team seems willing to offer 3 years. If he does indeed sign, it will be a solid move for the Dodgers. With their remaining money, they will try to resign Manny Ramirez and Rafael Furcal. They would also like to squeeze a starting pitcher in, but I’m not sure how they’ll do that. It looks like they may have to chose between Furcal and a starter. Of course, this all depends on the amount of money they give Blake. I can’t imagine it will be more than 6 million per year, though. If it is 3 years, 18 million, it will have been a solid signing in my opinion.
Even if Blake doesn’t sign in L.A. today, the Dodgers are still the unquestioned frontrunners.
The Indians have 3 big holes to fill this offseason, but limited resources. Can 15 million buy a quality player for the rotation, infield, and bullpen? The Indians will have to get creative with trades or free agent signings. It doesn’t seem like the Tribe’s way to spend big money on a starter, so expect most of the money to go toward the bullpen and/or infield. Instead of paying for a top notch closer like Francisco Rodriguez or Brian Fuentes, it would be smarter to give the job to a set-up man like Juan Cruz. Trevor Hoffman is the exception because he is a possible bargain. So, 4-7 million goes toward the ‘pen. A reclamation project could be imported on the cheap. Freddy Garcia could make sense for 5 million. With the remaining money, a guy like Mark Grudzielanek or Joe Crede could be added on a short-term deal. This could be the way it happens; they sign Hoffman, Grudzielanek, and Garcia all to short-term contracts. It seems like the thing Mark Shapiro would do: no risk, some upside.
A big free agent could be signed, however. Orlando Hudson finds himself in a bad market for second baseman, and could come at a below market price. Maybe for 8 million or so he could make sense. Then use 7 million on Hoffman and hope for the best with your starting pitching. Maybe even sign a guy like Jon Garland. Use the remaining money on Grudzielanek or Cruz and settle with internal options for the other positions.
The other possibility would be to make a trade. Kelly Shoppach could be moved to fill one of the holes. With so many teams interested in catching help, he could draw something nice. If they believe that Michael Bowden can make a good impression in his rookie year, he could be aquired for Shoppach. Ty Wiggington from the Astros is an option if other pieces are involved. Don’t bring up Jose Valverde; he will cost the same as Trevor Hoffman for the same amount of years, one. The Tribe would be much better off with Hoffman and Shoppach rather than Valverde and Ryan Garko. A deal could be worked out if the Tigers offered Placido Palonco, but that makes little sense for Detroit. So maybe it would be smarter to just keep Shoppach.
In that case, the other catcher could be moved. Victor Martinez has two years left on his contract and could be a very appealing option to many teams. He’ll earn only 5.2 million next year, so it wouldn’t clear much salary, but think about the possible return. I recently wrote about how Victor Martinez for Mike Lowell made sense.
So it looks like Indians’ GM Mark Shapiro will have a very busy offseason in front of him. He will have to get creative if he truly wants to fill all of his holes.
The Giants are considering some of the top names on the free agent market. Guys like CC Sabathia, Rafael Furcal, Orlando Cabrera, Casey Blake, Joe Crede, and Orlando Hudson are possible players the Giants could have interest in. The goal is to upgrade the infield where there is no sure thing. A couple of young, decent players are on the team, but they really need a veteran. Emmanuel Burres could be a solid middle infielder. Pablo Sandoval could take a corner position. John Bowker is decent and so is Kevin Frandsen. Overall, I think they just have to add somebody.
Sabathia makes some sense as they could then deal Matt Cain to the Brewers for Prince Fielder. Or just trade Jonathan Sanchez and head into ’09 with 3 stud pitchers. I talked in depth about CC to the Giants here.
Furcal would make a particually good aquisition. He could lead off for them and would really change their image as a slow, old team. I would shy away from Furcal, however, because of the price. It will take a lot of money to lure Furcal away from all the other teams seriously interested in him such as the Dodgers, A’s, Royals, Cardinals, and Blue Jays.
Cabrera would be easier to sign than Furcal, but he doesn’t do much anymore. Yes he can play good defense and hit for a decent average, but he has no power and little speed. It might be a better idea to save the money for a different position and continue playing Frandsen and Burres everyday.
Blake and Crede could be solid additions as well. I would rather pursue middle infield help, though. Pablo Sandoval is a pretty solid prospect. I know he could move to first if there is a third baseman aquisition, but he would then block top prospect Akinori Iwamura.
Hudson is the one that makes the most sense to me. There won’t be many serious bidders for him; only the Cardinals and Indians seem truly interested. Both teams have other big holes, so it wouldn’t be that hard to make them shy away to fill a different hole. Hudson would make a very nice aquisition for San Fran.
The Giants don’t have to get the infield bat via free agency, however. They could always just trade Jonathan Sanchez for an infield bat. They might even make a signing and a trade. Sign Furcal and trade Sanchez for Kelly Johnson. Just like that you have a middle infield. Whatever they do, it will be tough to compete in 2009 unless the Dodgers screw up in free agency.
The Dodgers are up for some major spending this offseason. They have 50 million to spend and have many needs. They need to adress the rotaion, resign Manny Ramirez, find out what to do at shortstop and third base, and possibly add a second baseman. 50 million seems like a lot, but when you add it up, they are very limited in trying to fill all of their holes with good players. Manny will cost at least 20 million per year, Rafael Furcal might take 15 million per to convince him to resign, and that leaves only 15 million to sign a starter and a third baseman. Casey Blake could return for 8 million, and then a cheap starting pitcher could be signed. Or they could go after a better starter like Derek Lowe, Ben Sheets, or Ryan Dempster. They would have to settle with a cheap third baseman in this scenerio. Nomar Garciaparra might be resigned to play third. If they are willing to either let Manny leave or to abandon other needs, CC Sabathia could enter the mix. He’s from LA and would be willing to sign for 120 million to go to the west coast. With Manny and CC going to the Dodgers, the remaining 10 million could be used to resign Casey Blake. Then give the shorstop job to Chin-Lung Hu. I could see this scenerio, but I find it unlikely. This is going to be a very important offseason for the Dodgers.
Casey Blake leads the third base free agent market. There will be tons of suitors for him. Not only because he is the best third baseman available, but also because of his versatility. Let’s take a look.
Dodgers (frontrunners) You can’t trade one of the best third base prospects in the game and then just take a pass on his replacement. I know it will be hard locking up Blake, but you’d have to think the Dodgers would have to go all in to get him. Casey is more of a small-town guy, but with the Dodgers possibly offering 3 years, 24 million, he might take the money over the geography. I think he stays in Dodger Blue.
Braves (frontrunners) His versatility would make him a very valueable asset to the Braves. He could play either outfield corner, so they’d have flexibility if Jeff Francoeur continued struggling. The’d also be able to move Blake to third base in the event of a Chipper Jones injury. They also have the money to get a deal done. Don’t be surprised if he goes here.
Twins (frontrunners) They need a third baseman, and Blake makes a lot of sense here. They will go hard to try and trade for Adrian Beltre, but if they miss out Blake is a great fall-back option. He would also be nice to help out in the outfield if Michael Cuddyer reinjures himself.
Mets (possible) He could sign on in New York with the Mets and see a lot of time in the outfield. The only problem is that they’ll have to outbid the Dodgers and give Blake possibly up to 30 million over three years. That’s way to much. It would be far smarter to add a few million and sign Raul Ibanez. They get a far superior bat for only a little more money. Or Jaun Rivera could make sense for a lot less on a one year deal.
Giants (possible) There will always be the Giants – Dodgers rivalry. It is both on an off the field. The Giants could decide to spend a lot on Casey Blake to improve the infield and keep him from the Dodgers. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see them aggressively pursue him.
Reds (not likely) They will probably have interest because of his good bat for left field, but he will be grossly overpayed for an outfielder. Especially with all the better ones available via free agency. The only thing that might cause a discount from Casey Blake is Great American Ballpark.
Rays (not likely) The Rays had interest in him at last year’s trade deadline. They probably will pursue him to an extent this year, too. But instead I find it more likely they go with cheaper options.
Phillies (not likely) They’ll want him as a left fielder to replace Pat Burrell, but they don’t have a lot of money to spend. It might be smarter to use Citizens Bank Park as a lure for Jaun Rivera to sign on the cheap.
Indians (dark horse) The Indians are a dark horse candidate to resign Casey Blake. He still makes a lot of sense for their team. Although there might be a little bad-blood, a deal could still get done.
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