THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10
The Mets have offered free agent outfielder Jason Bay about $65 million over four years.
Mets people like the fact that they see Bay as a pull hitter who can hit home runs in Citi Field and believe he can cover enough ground in the outfield there, as well.
The Red Sox, Mariners and Angels are among the other teams that are interested in Bay.
The Mets are in the market for a run-producing outfielder. They fear that another vaunted slugger, Matt Holliday, would require a protracted contract negotiation and would cost more than Bay.
The Mets are also still negotiating with free agent catcher Bengie Molina.
The Mets, Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers are among teams interested in free agent pitcher Joel Pineiro.
The Nationals are trying to make some bold moves, and can't be counted out here.
Pineiro seeks $40 million over four years after resurrecting his career in St. Louis. Following Randy Wolf's three-year deal for $29.75 million, it's become clear viable starters are going to do well in this market.
What isn't clear is whether the Dodgers can dive into the market, considering their ownership situation.
The Mariners already have stolen Chone Figgins from the divisional-rival Angels and now appear focused on ace pitcher John Lackey as a free-agent target.
Lackey, the Angels' ace the past few years, is believed to be seeking a contract of about $100 million. He feels he should slot between A.J. Burnett's $82.5 million contract and Johan Santana's $137.5 million deal.
Seattle has money to spend with several big players coming off the books. The Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Rangers, Brewers and incumbent Angels all have shown interest in Lackey, as well. But a couple of those teams have already signed a pitcher and a couple more seem bit more focused on offense right now.
The Angels have been pushing for trade target Roy Halladay, and are believed to have offered pitcher Joe Saunders, shortstop Erick Aybar and minor league outfielder Peter Bourjos. However, it isn't known whether Halladay would accept a trade to the Angels, so they could jump back in on Lackey.
The Red Sox appear to be trying to land Adrian Beltre as a potential third-base replacement for Mike Lowell (as detailed below, Boston may trade Lowell to the Rangers).
The Giants and Mariners are among the other teams interested in Beltre.
The Red Sox and Rangers are hammering out a trade that would ship four-time All-Star 3B Mike Lowell to Texas.
The two teams appear to have an agreement on the particulars of the deal -- Boston would send Lowell plus $9 million to the Rangers in exchange for catching prospect Max Ramirez. However, it might take a few days because Texas wants to take a very close look at Lowell's medical situation. Lowell had surgery last winter to repair a torn labrum in his right hip and remove a bone spur on a thigh bone.
Commissioner Bud Selig would need to approve the $9 million transfer (which would cover most of Lowell's $12 million salary for 2010), but that appears likely.
Lowell would play 1B and DH for Texas.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9
The Braves have traded reliever Rafael Soriano to the Rays, SI.com has learned. The deal will be complete after medical data is reviewed.
Soriano will approve the deal. He accepted arbitration, but the Braves didn't have a spot for him after signing Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito.
Soriano, who turns 30 on Dec. 19, should make about $7 million in arbitration.
Soriano saved 27 games in 31 chances last season with a 2.97 ERA, and struck out 102 in 75 2/3 innings.
The Giants, Red Sox and Mariners are among the teams pursuing free agent third baseman Adrian Beltre, who is coming off a five-year, $62 million contract.
The Red Sox have been talking about trading Mike Lowell, possibly to the Rangers.
Right-hander Brandon Lyon is closing in on a three-year deal with the Astros worth about $15 million, according to sources.
The deal, which was first reported by MLB.com, will be completed once Lyon passes his physical.
Rich Harden has agreed to a deal with the Rangers, pending a physical. The talented yet injury-prone right-hander landed with Texas right after the Rangers found money with the trade of Kevin Millwood to the Orioles for Chris Ray.
NBC Sports reported the deal is worth a guaranteed $7.5 million.
The Cubs did not offer Harden salary arbitration after he made $7 million this year, so they will not receive draft-pick compensation.
The Phillies are believed to have joined the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees in the derby for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay, sources said.
The Phillies have the prospects to make a deal, but it isn't certain whether they can fit Halladay into their budget. They want to keep their payroll in the $140 million range and might have to free up money by trading a player or two.
The Phillies were among the most prominent pursuers of Halladay last summer before they traded four prospects for Cliff Lee instead. Halladay is known to have interest in the Phillies and believed willing to waive his no-trade for them, assuming the finances can be worked out.
Most executives believe Halladay is likely to seek a contract extension before agreeing to any deal, though nothing has been said publicly about this. One more complication is that Lee's deal is up after 2010 and he's in line for an extension, as well.
The Jays sought outfield prospect Dominic Brown plus young pitchers J.A. Happ and Kyle Drabek for Halladay last summer. But with free agency coming after next season, the price has to drop.
From the Yankees, the Blue Jays want Jesus Montero and either Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes plus more.
The Rangers have traded starting pitcher Kevin Millwood to the Orioles in exchange for reliever Chris Ray.
The move is considered a salary dump by the Rangers, as Millwood is owed $12 million in 2010.
Millwood looked rejuvenated last season, posting his best ERA (3.67) since 2005 and going 13-10. After missing the entire 2008 season following Tommy John surgery, Ray struggled throughout the '09 campaign. In 46 relief appearances for Baltimore, the right-hander had a 7.27 ERA, giving up 35 earned runs in 43 1/3 innings pitched.
The deal was first reported by cbssports.com.
Reliever LaTroy Hawkins has agreed to a two-year deal with the Brewers, sources confirm. The deal was first reported by FoxSports.com.
The Angels appear to be in play for Jason Bay and/or Roy Halladay. Angels owner Arte Moreno has said Bay interests him, and they would seem to be a solid threat to the Red Sox retaining him. Seattle's expansive ballpark may not be a perfect fit for Bay, but the Mariners are another option. The Mets are showing some interest, as well.
The Angels would only be interested in Halladay if he'd be willing to sign long term for them, and since he prefers to spend spring training in Florida that could be a complication. However, they surely fit his main requirement for a new team, which is that they play to win every year.
Angels GM Tony Reagins would only say, "I have lots of balls in the air.''
The Orioles are in talks with the Rangers about possibly acquiring Kevin Millwood. It is believed the Orioles will pay most of Millwood's $12 million salary in any potential deal.
The Nationals are trying to sign a veteran starting pitcher to lead their young staff. They've thrown in the towel on any John Lackey pursuit, but they'll try several others.
Veteran left-hander Randy Wolf is expected to agree to a three-year deal with the Brewers on Wednesday for close to $30 million (the final number could be $29.5 million, though that is unconfirmed). Wolf made $5 million last year with the Dodgers, who didn't offer him arbitration.
The Mets are now talking to the agents for John Lackey, Jason Bay and Matt Holliday with renewed optimism that they will try to land one of the three biggest free agents on the market.
The purse strings appear to have been loosened today for Mets GM Omar Minaya, who also will try to land top catching target Bengie Molina, the free agent who's most likely to become a Met. Minaya is talking to Molina's agent, Fern Cuza, as well as several other free agents.
The Mets remain uncertain whether the Texas native Lackey will come to New York but have a clear interest in him, as well as Bay and Holliday. Lackey is drawing interest from the Angels, Mariners, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers (who will have to wait for their ownership change before spending) and Brewers. Bay has strong interest from the Angels, Mariners and Red Sox, while Holliday is being pursued by the Cardinals, Red Sox and others.
Young superstar pitcher Felix Hernandez and the Mariners appear to be about $50 million apart in the beginning stages of a negotiation that's being monitored by several other major league clubs. While the gap is predictably huge, both parties seem to believe the talks are friendly, and there appears to be somewhat more optimism than the numbers suggest. It will take a good long while, however.
Hernandez is seeking about $100 million on a six-year deal, while the Mariners are believed to be thinking about a deal for four years or four years and an option that guarantees less than half that $100 million figure.
Hernandez, who made $3.8 million last year when he was 19-5 and finished second in Cy Young voting, is a priority for the Mariners, the team that failed to keep superstars like Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson long term. If Hernandez, who's only 23, gets his wish and a six-year deal, he still would be a free agent at 29. Another agent estimated Hernandez could wind up making $300 million over his career.
Andy Pettitte is returning to the Yankees in 2010. The veteran left-hander agreed to a one-year, $11,750,000 deal with New York on Wednesday.
Pettitte, who won his fifth World Series title with the Yankees in November, went 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA in 32 starts in 2009. With incentives, he earned $10.5 million last season.
Pettitte has spent 15 years in the majors (12 with the Yankees, three with the Astros), compiling a 229-135 record with a 3.91 ERA and making two All-Star teams. Some of his finest performances have come in the postseason, where he holds a 18-9 mark and 3.90 ERA.
The imminent signing was first reported by SI.com.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 8
The market for John Lackey is "heating up," according to someone familiar with the negotiations. One reason seems to be that with middle-rung pitchers looking for something in the range of $10 million annually, Lackey begins to look like a better deal as an ace pitcher for less than double the annual take.
The Mets are one such team that appears to be taking a closer look at Lackey after getting some sticker shock upon hearing the prices of middle-of-the order guys such as Randy Wolf (who appears headed for Milwaukee), Joel Pineiro and Jason Marquis. The Mets aren't quite sure Lackey wants to come east (though agent Steve Hilliard hasn't suggested there's any geographical preference, some wonder whether Texas or the West Coast is preferred for the Abilene native and longtime Angels ace).
Lackey's people have made clear he should be slotted higher than the $82.5 million, five-year contract for A.J. Burnett, which is perfectly understandable. And the large field may ensure he does beat that mark. Even if the Brewers drop out, assuming the Wolf signing is finalized, all these teams are viewed as being interested: Mariners, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Nationals and Mets.
Though the Mets have yet to make an official offer to free agent catcher Bengie Molina, there is optimism a deal can be done.
A few other teams have a need for a catcher (Toronto, Kansas City, Colorado, Texas to name a few) but the Mets have to be confident they can outbid those teams, none of which has a budget to rival that of the Mets. The best guess for a Molina deal might be $12 million for two years.
The Red Sox are apparently unwilling to give up either of Toronto's top targets -- Casey Kelly and Clay Buchholz -- in deal for Roy Halladay.
The market is not fabulous right now for Halladay, maybe because he only has one year to go before free agency.
The Mets' late effort for Randy Wolf looks like it's going to come up short. Wolf is still believed likely to go to the Brewers on a three-year deal for about $9 million per season.
Outfielder Curtis Granderson is on the verge of being shipped to New York and pitcher Edwin Jackson to Arizona in a three-way blockbuster trade involving the Yankees, Tigers and Diamondbacks. The three teams have reached an agreement on players, but they are still reviewing medical records.
In the latest form of this trade, the Yankees, who balked late Monday night, would surrender slightly less. It is believed they'd send top outfield prospect Austin Jackson and reliever Phil Coke to Detroit, plus pitching prospect Ian Kennedy to Arizona, in order to land Granderson from Detroit. The Diamondbacks would purportedly wind up with the two pitchers, Edwin Jackson and Kennedy, while the Tigers would allegedly get Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Austin Jackson and Coke.
The Yankees and Tigers were believed to have been dissatisfied with the trade late Monday, and the removal of Yankees prospect Michael Dunn from the deal seems to have allayed their trepidations.
The Tigers have been looking to pare down their payroll, and trading Jackson and Granderson is a way to do it. Jackson is arbitration eligible, while Granderson has $25.75 million and three years remaining on his contract.
To this point, the Yankees and free agent outfielder Johnny Damon seem to be apart in contract talks, with the Yankees looking to pay him about $20 million over two years and Damon believed to be seeking a four-year deal while trying not to take a pay cut from the $13 million a year he made.
If the Yankees get Granderson, they could still sign Damon, but it might mean trading either Melky Cabrera or Nick Swisher. Or they could simply let Damon go elsewhere.
A proposed blockbuster may be on life support after the Yankees declined to give up Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, Michael Dunn and Phil Coke for Curtis Granderson in a deal that would have sent Edwin Jackson and Kennedy to Arizona and Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth and the other prospects to Detroit. One person familiar with the talks said they appeared "dead" while another held out a small hope to resurrect them.
The Mets and Brewers have discussed a trade that could send pitcher John Maine to Milwaukee for outfielder Corey Hart. It appears Mets GM Omar Minaya wants to wait to acquire more pitching before trading a pitcher. But that deal seems to have a chance. Hart is a solid all-around player, but another questions is whether he'd provide the needed power Mets seek.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 7
The Yankees have been spending the day trying to acquire Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson, and if they pull off a trade Johnny Damon's chances to return could be diminished.
The Yankees told Damon's agent Scott Boras they are interested in him but asked Damon to name his price rather than make him an offer. Granderson has $25.75 million remaining on his contract over three years, reasonable for a player of his ability.
According to a report on foxsports.com, a three-way trade where Edwin Jackson would go to the Diamondbacks, Granderson to the Yankees and Max Scherzer and prospects to the Tigers has been discussed.
The Braves are now considering a trade for reliever Rafael Soriano after Soriano surprised them by accepting arbitration. Soriano made $6.3 million last year and could earn $7 million, or more, in arbitration. The Orioles, Astros and Yankees are among teams that showed interest in Soriano before he accepted arbitration late Monday night.
The Milwaukee Brewers made a bold three-year offer to free agent Randy Wolf and appear to be the frontrunner to win his services, SI.com has confirmed.
Wolf missed out on a three-year deal with the Astros last year when Houston pulled the offer from him, but that's not going to happen this time. Sources say the Brewers have a very good chance to complete this deal within the next couple of days.
Closer Jose Valverde declined the Astros' offer to arbitrate and thus remains a free agent, sources say.
Rafael Soriano accepted the Braves' offer to arbitrate, sources say. Soriano had outside interest from the Orioles, Astros and Yankees but has a chance to make $7 million, or more, after earning $6.3 million last year and having another excellent year. He has a lifetime WHIP of 1.03. The Braves will now have a dynamic back-end of their bullpen, along with closer Billy Wagner, who signed for $7 million. Atlanta may be surprised by Soriano's decision. But it betters them.
Tigers set-up man Brandon Lyon declined the Tigers' offer for arbitration, sources say. Lyon, 30, went 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA with the Tigers. He remains a free agent.
The Mets met with the agents for Randy Wolf, Joel Pineiro and Jason Marquis here in Indy and came away discouraged when learning that Pineiro wanted a four-year deal and Wolf already had a three-year offer.
General manager Ned Colletti's new Dodgers deal is a five-year contract through 2014, sources say.
Colletti's agreement was announced in October, but the club declined to divulge the contract length. Colletti's Dodgers teams have advanced to the NLCS, where they lost to the Phillies in each of the last two years.
The Mets are considering a bid of about $6 million for one guaranteed year plus a second-year option for free-agent catcher Bengie Molina, whom they have made their top catching target.
It's possible the Mets go to two years for Molina. But their hope is that the demand will be limited by a lack of big-market teams looking for a frontline catcher. The Royals, Blue Jays, Rockies and Giants all have catching needs but may not be seen as threats to outbid the Mets.
Brad Penny has signed a one-year, $7.5 million deal with St. Louis. The deal includes an additional $1.5 million in innings-based bonuses. Penny went 11-9 last season with the Red Sox and Giants.
Carl Pavano will accept arbitration with the Twins. He went 5-4 with a 4.64 ERA in Minnesota last season after being traded from Cleveland. He made $4.3 million last year.
Speaking at a news conference to mark his election into the Hall of Fame on Monday, former Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog talked about the Cards' attempts to sign free agent outfield Matt Holliday. Always outspoken, Herzog said St. Louis shouldn't overpay for talent:
"They could win the division without Holliday," Herzog said. "You can't commit suicide in baseball. Sign one contract that's bad, you're going to suffer, so you've got to be careful."
Holliday's agent, Scott Boras, responded to Herzog's comments later on Monday:
"Congratulations to Whitey on an extraordinary managerial career and his Hall of Fame selection today. It's understandable that a man who was a GM 20 years ago when the revenues were $1 billion -- over six times less than the $6.5 billion revenues of today -- questions the modern-day contract structure. I don't think modern GM's, particularly [Brian] Cashman, with a new ring on his finger, characterize signings like Mark Teixeira, who, akin to Holliday, have achieved near-MVP status (both second in the MVP voting in their career) and have taken teams to the World Series as "suicide". In addition, I'm sure if Whitey asks [Albert] Pujols, [Chris] Carpenter and other Cardinal players, they would confirm the value of Holliday's division-winning contribution. Again, we congratulate Whitey on his admittance into the Hall of Fame."
The Tigers re-signed shortstop Adam Everett to a one-year deal.
Known for his defense, Everett hit .238 with three home runs and 44 RBIs in 118 games with the Tigers last season, his first in Detroit.
The Angels will enter the Roy Halladay derby here at the Winter Meetings, but they are only interested if he's willing to agree to a long-term deal with them, people familiar with their thinking told SI.com.
The Yankees, Red Sox and perhaps Phillies are among other teams interested in what's expected to be a select group in the bidding for the Blue Jays superstar.
Executives with multiple teams interested say they believe Halladay's value is enhanced if he's willing to sign on long term, and that Toronto's take will be diminished greatly if Halladay prefers to wait to sign until he becomes a free agent after the year. But the Angles are at least one team that will walk away from talks without a long-term deal in hand.
Halladay has a full no-trade clause and is known to want to go to a perennial winner. He is also believed to strongly prefer a team that trains in Florida, as his winter home is just outside Tampa. Halladay rejected the Rangers last year but could be slightly more open to the Angels. Halladay's agent, Greg Landry, has said they will consider opportunities on a "case-by-cases basis.''
The Yankees and Red Sox seem to be the most logical fits, and new Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has said he's willing to consider trading Halladay within the division.
The Tigers are seeking offers on fine young pitcher Edwin Jackson, and most executives believe he will be traded. They are asking for young pitching in return. From Seattle, they sought Brandon Morrow and Shawn Kelley.
Reliever Brandon Lyon is leaning toward rejecting arbitration from the Tigers. Lyon went 6-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 78 2/3 innings last season for Detroit.
Mariners superstar Felix Hernandez will be seeking to become baseball's next $100 million man, SI.com has learned.
Hernandez, perhaps the most valuable property in the game, will be looking for about $100 million over six years in meetings with the Mariners here at the winter meetings, according to people familiar with their talks.
Hernandez and the Mariners have a meeting set up here in the next day or two. Several teams have their eye on these talks, although Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik has said he will not trade Hernandez this winter.
Hernandez, who made $3.8 million last year as an arbitration-eligible player, is due to at least triple that in arbitration this year and is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season.
The comp Hernandez will use for the free-agent years is the $23 million annual salary of CC Sabathia, with a small discount because he isn't yet a free agent. Zack Greinke took a $38 million, four-year extension before his Cy Young season but did so at a discount because of his extreme comfort level in Kansas City. Josh Johnson asked for more than Greinke, and people familiar with those talks say he and the Marlins are "far apart."
But at 23, Hernandez is a special case. Hernandez went 19-5 with a 2.49 ERA and finished second in AL Cy Young voting this past year.
The Mariners have said they intend to try to lock him up in a long-term deal, and have no intention to trade him. They believe he has sound mechanics and isn't an injury risk.
The Mariners are one of the most active teams this winter, as they have already signed Chone Figgins for $36 million over four years and are pursuing Jason Bay and John Lackey, as well. They have nearly $50 million coming off the books in expiring contracts and the will to challenge the Angels.
The Dodgers are talking about Juan Pierre in trades. The Mets have some interest, and would consider a swap of Luis Castillo for Pierre. Pierre has $18 million left on his contract over two years, Castillo $12 million.
Third baseman Adrian Beltre plans to decline the Mariners' offer of arbitration by the midnight deadline on Monday night. The Mariners still have interest in retaining Beltre, but even if they don't, they still have Chone Figgins at third base.
Beltre hit .265 last season with eight home runs and 44 RBIs in 111 games.
World Series hero Andy Pettitte has told the Yankees he wants to pitch in 2010.
The Yankees have identified Pettitte as their first priority and have begun negotiations to try to sign him to a one-year deal. Last year negotiations took months before Pettitte agreed to an incentive-laden contract that guaranteed him $5.5 million but paid him about $11 million in total.
There is every expectation they will be able to sign him, as it is well known he wants to be in New York. The Yankees are expected to make an offer of slightly more than $10 million to Pettitte today.
The Yankees traded Brian Bruney to the Nationals for a player to be named. Bruney appeared in 44 games for the Yankees as a reliever in 2009, going 3.92 with 36 strikeouts and 23 walks in 39 innings.