Consider this the open thread for the day. While Tommy and Erik are both home today, Jason Collette is still reporting live from the Winter Meetings. We'll be updating this thread with news from him and other reporters throughout the day.
5:26pm: While the Bartlett - Reimold trade seems to have fallen apart again, the Brewers are now rumored to have inquired about Matt Garza. Earlier today, the Rangers mentioned Garza as their back-up plan in case they didn't sign Lee, and the Nationals have been linked to Garza as well. With a starting pitching free agent class that's very thin behind Cliff Lee, the Rays could find themselves in a perfect spot.
4:48pm: And now the most recent report is claiming that the Rays and Orioles won't be making a trade today. In fact, Brittany Ghiroli seems rather pessimistic on a deal happening. Of course, you never know with these things...
4:21pm: Joel Sherman is reporting that the Rays have hired Dave Eiland to work with the front office.
3:41pm: The most recent report is that Friedman is asking the Orioles for Reimold and pitcher Alfredo Simon for Bartlett. Holy cow.
Simon may not be the most impressive reliever (he had a 4.93 ERA / 5.67 FIP last season), but he does have some upside: a high swinging strike percentage, high groundball rate, and good minor league numbers. Nevertheless, I find it odd if he's the name holding up the deal. For more on Simon, see RJ Anderson's profile of him over at The Process Report.
2:57pm: Joe Maddon is in the middle of his press meeting right now, and he's said some pretty awesome things so far. We'll have a more complete rundown after the presser is finished, but here are some quotes (from Amanda Rykoff and Eno Sarris):
On B.J. Upton: "He's got a great mind for the game. His problems are mechanics."
Des. Jennings a good makeup guy and he runs good routes, good instincts - from football. Defense will be spectacular
2:35pm: Per Mark Topkin, the Rays and Orioles are talking on Bartlett, but it's about more than Reimold. Could this be a multi-player deal? I mean, Matt Wieters would look good in blue and white...
2:13pm: The retiring managers were given a chance to speak this morning, and Lou Piniella had some really nice things to say about the Rays (from Bill Chastain):
"They've done a heck of a job over there with that franchise. They've made some really astute trades and free-agent acquisitions. They've got some really good players coming through that system. They've had a marvelous team for four, five years. Now Andrew has another challenge ahead of him. He knows baseball. My last year there, we would talk almost every day. I could tell he was a bright young kid. I didn't know he'd be the general manager, but it worked out that way. I tip my cap to him. He's done a nice job."
1:18pm: Jon Paul Morosi is stating that the Rays and Mariners are interested in Mark Hendrickson. Yes, this Mark Hendrickson. Since leaving the Rays back in 2007, Hendrickson has found success out of the bullpen. While he had an ugly 2010 season on the surface (5.26 ERA), his peripheral statistics still looked as good as always (6.5 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 42% GB%). He's a good buy-low, bounce-back candidate.
12:56pm: According to Dan Connolly, the Bartlett - Reimold rumors from last night are heating up again. It sounds as though a deal could happen today.
For those unfamiliar with him, Nolan Reimold is a 27 year old outfielder / DH that walks a bunch (career 10.9% rate), strikes out frequently (career 21.7% rate), a hits for mediocre power (career .432 SLG, .171 ISO). He had an off-year last season, but in 2009 he had a .365 wOBA. Also, as a right-handed batter, he performs better against lefties (.349 wOBA) than against righties (.339 wOBA). Considering he's still under team control for a number of years - and is not yet arbitration eligible - he'd be a great get for Bartlett.
12:08pm: Also, it looks as though there are a couple teams vying for Josh Willingham, including the Athletics and Red Sox. Theo Epstein has stated that they don't need another outfielder and that he won't be pursuing Crawford, so I'm not exactly sure what to believe. My guess is the Sox would be willing to upgrade in the outfield for the right price, and they consider Crawford too expensive at the moment. But the Nationals are asking a lot for Willingham, so they may not be any better off there.
12:00pm: Apparently the Nationals are not willing to offer Cliff Lee seven years. Oh well, it was a fun rumor while it lasted.
11:02am: Jason has an update over at ESPN1040, taking a look at Rich Harden and why he might be a good bullpen candidate. I heartily agree - Harden has excellent stuff and as a high-strikeout pitcher, he could be filthy out of the bullpen. The one issue I see is that with so many teams reportedly interested in him - seven, at last count - someone is likely to offer him a starting job and more money. Then again, his injury history and wildness probably turn some teams off, but the Rays have had success with similar pitchers in the past. My guess is he won't slip through the cracks and fall to the Rays, but you never know.
10:30am: The buzz going around seems to be that the Nationals are going throw a big package at Cliff Lee. The Yankees have publicly said that they don't want to go any higher than six years and $161M (the package they gave to Sabathia), and the Nationals are supposedly willing to throw in a seventh year. If the Yankees don't get Lee....wow. But the problem is, would they then go after Crawford?
The Rays have also inquired about Rich Harden, supposedly as a reliever.
First update: As Jason notes, Joe Maddon will be talking with the media at 2:30 this afternoon. Jason will be collecting audio of the event and sending it in to ESPN1040; we'll be sure to let everyone know when that is available.
Also, the first deal of the day is already completed: Ty Wiggington has signed a 2 year, $7.5M deal with the Rockies. Talk about a role player getting a large contract. Thanks to everyone for reassuring me that there will still be plenty of bargains for the Rays to find; I know there will be many players left over once the flurry of over-excited moves dies down, but its contracts like this that get me on edge. The market is definitely more aggressive than it has been the past couple years; I'm sure everything will be fine - there are always bargains to find if you look hard enough - but this is a very different market environment than what the Rays have shopped in recently.
With prices this crazy right now, don't expect the Rays to be signing any free agents anytime soon (unless its JP Howell).