The week of the MLB Winter Meetings really is unique. At no other point in the year are reporters, agents, bloggers, managers, players, and team executives alike brought together in some sort of weird melting pot of baseball knowledge. The first two days of the meetings proved to be more exciting than normal. A majority of action usually takes place on day three so hopefully we'll get some excitement as the day progresses.
Jason Collette will be there again today so be sure to check out his updates. We'll once again be updating this thread throughout the day with any rumors or breaking news so be sure to check back.
6:27pm: From Follow the Padres:
Been writing here folks, it's a done deal, we should get official word here tonight. I'll have the details at Padres.com -- Bartlett your SS
The word is the Rays will receive two bullpen arms, Adam Russell and Cesar Ramos, for Jason Bartlett. We'll have a write-up shortly, but wow...this looks great at first glance.
6:08pm: The Winter Meetings are great, if only for these contrasting tweets:
@Dejan_Kovacevic: #Rays will definitely trade Bartlett, very possibly tonite. #Padres v. #Pirates
SPTimesRays: #Rays Friedman said deal(s) possible tonight, but nothing sounds imminent as is being rumored elsewhere
Joel Hanrahan would be a nice reliever for the Rays to receive in return from the Pirates.
3:56pm: Dioner Navarro is close to signing a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I don't have anything nice to say, so I'm just going to leave it at that.
3:46pm: Jon Heyman is reporting that his "Rays peeps" say the Rays may keep Bartlett. For some reason, this makes me envision Heyman in a room with 30 different marshmallowy yellow birds, getting trade rumors and taking little nibbles when hungry.
3:24pm: THIS IS GETTING INCREDIBLY BORING.
Since I want to talk about something, the Braves are close to a deal with reliever George Sherrill. We'd tossed his name around as a potential buy-low candidate since he's very effective against lefties, so oh well...looks like another name off the board. We still have RJ Swindle sitting in our minors, though, and I'm somewhat excited about him getting a chance at a major-league job.
2:12pm: This is a new name to me. Ed Price is reporting that the Rays are interested in Edwin Encarnacion. He's a free agent, and Price is suggesting that the Rays would use him at DH and 1B.
Encarnacion is an interesting suggestion, and one that we haven't covered here before. During some of his first few seasons in the majors, Encarnacion was a valuable offensive player; he had over a .350 wOBA for three seasons in a row with the Reds. His fielding was always horrible (coming in at around 10 runs below average at third base), but he made up for it with his patience (9% career walk rate) and power (career .452 SLG, .198 ISO). He had a down year in 2009, but bounced back this past season with the Blue Jays, posting a 7.9% walk rate, .238 ISO, and .339 wOBA in 367 PA. He won't light the world on fire, but he'd be a great bargain grab; in fact, he reminds me a lot of Nolan Reimold.
2:01pm: From Marc Topkin, Joe Maddon's quote of the day: "Matt Garza will be pitching for us."
1:58pm: Scott Boras has been quoted saying the market for Magglio Ordonez is aggressive. This would seem to put the Rays out of the running - agressive equals more money - but I'm not willing to trust Boras's word. Of course he's going to say the bidding is aggressive.
Also, according to Dan Connolly (yes, the same person bringing us the Barty rumors), the Orioles are going hard after J.J. Hardy. Much like the Bartlett rumors, who knows how much of this is true. Hopefully this trade doesn't happen, though, as it would limit the possible teams interested in Bartlett.
1:25pm: Carlos Pena's press conference is going on now, officially announcing him as a Chicago Cub. There have been plenty of good tweets with updates from it, so here are some of the better ones:
Harry Pavlidis: Pena's platitudes over replacement are exceeding my estimates.
Jason Collette: Pena happy to be reunited with Rudy Jamarillo. Said #Rays were not as aggressive as he would have liked but recognizes club's limitations.
Amanda Rykoff: Chance to work with Cubs pitching coach and hit in Wrigley Field factored into decision.
12:46pm: He seems to be the only one saying this, but Peter Gammons was recently on MLBN and is still claiming that a Jason Bartlett - Orioles trade is coming soon. It's very tough to know what to believe at this point.
12:01pm: According to Susan Slusser, Jack Cust is going to sign with the Seattle Mariners. Scratch one more name off our non-tender wish list...
11:43am: Jon Heyman is saying the Yankees with make a huge offer to Cliff Lee today, somewhere in the range of 6 years, $140-150M (that's $23-24M per season). I still think he's going to end up with the Yankees; the only thing still up in the air is how much he'll receive.
11:01am: The Cubs are interested in Matt Garza, reports Bruce Levine. Toss another hat into the ring. So far, that makes it the Brewers, Nationals, Rangers, and Cubs that have expressed interest in Garza. The Rays are reportedas being interested in prospects in return.
10:46am: The first base market is crazy: reports are out that Paul Konerko has reached a three-year, $37.5M deal with the White Sox. He'll get paid $12M for the first two seasons, and $13.5M for the final year. Three guaranteed years with that much money...for a player that will be 35 next season? Dan Johnson, it sounds like first base is all yours.
Then again, taking a more rational approach, $12-13M per season isn't bad if you expect Konerko to age slowly. He posted 4.2 WAR last season, and if he averages 2.5 WAR over the next three years (like he did over the last three), he'd be paid approximately equal to his value: slightly overpaid, but with some market inflation it wouldn't be too bad. Maybe this deal isn't as insane as it looks at first glance.
10:29am: Finally some news. Jayson Stark recently tweeted some interesting tidbits, commenting that if Andy Pettitte decides to retire, the Yankees are hinting they may go after both Lee and Crawford.
Also, he mentioned that Scott Kazmir has been told he needs to win the fifth starter spot. Ouch...now that he's no longer on our payroll, I can only feel bad for Kazmir.
9:12am: Why isn't anything happening? If you're as bored as I am, take a look at Jason's recent thoughts on Bartlett. In short, Barty could net someone Type-A draft pick compensation after next season, which likely boosts his trade value. How screwed up is that?
Update: What in the world was going on at the bar at the Dolphin hotel last night? Per Mark Topkin:
Both Johnny Damon and Gary Sheffield said Tuesday night they are interested in signing with the Rays.
Damon, 37, talked with the Rays last spring before signing with Detroit, but they didn’t have a regular role for him, not with Carl Crawford in leftfield and Pat Burrell at DH. Now the Rays have an opening in leftfield, and Damon - who is looking for a team close to his Orlando home - would like to fill it.
Tampa’s Sheffield, 42, wants to play again after sitting out last season, and very much would like to do so as the DH for his hometown team. Sheffield, who has 509 career homers, said financial terms wouldn’t be an issue: "We can work that out.’’
Damon is a possibility on a low base salary. If that happens Desmond Jennings likely starts the season at AAA. As far as Gary Sheffield...well...good for him for having dreams.
Update: Even later last night it appears the Chicago Cubs have signed 1B Carlos Pena to a one year $10 million deal, per Carrie Muskat. The ten million would match what Pena made last season, so if that report is true then Scott Boras really is a genius. I feel good for Pena though, one of the nicest guys in the business.
First Update: Late last night OF Matt Diaz signed a two year deal with the Pirates. Diaz was someone I liked as a right handed platoon bat, but I'm guessing the guarantee of multiple years was too much for him to pass up