Friday, December 12, 2008

Burnett to Yanks; Peavy deal dead

Just when you thought the Yankees had made their big splash, a second cannonball has landed.

New York and A. J. Burnett have just agreed to a 5-year, $82.5 million deal, merely hours after the Yanks opened the coffers to sign C.C. Sabathia to a 7-year, $161 million contract. 

First-name initials must be all the buzz in the Bronx this offseason. Too bad B. J. Ryan wasn't available.

The scary part after these two signings is that the Yankees might not be done. How can that be, after cutting checks worth $243.5 million in the past 48 hours? Consider both Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi had huge contracts both come off the books.

And don't forget the Yankees open up a new revenue-streaming stadium in April. 

But even with the deepest pockets in pro sports, landing a third big fish, Mark Teixeira, is probably not doable. Teixeira reportedly has 8- and 9-year offers on the table from Baltimore and Washington in the $150-$160 million range and the Red Sox are said to be serious bidders as well.

Look for Teixeira, a Maryland native, to sign with either the Red Sox, Orioles or Nationals -- probably in that order -- as the Angels appear to be both too far from home and not desperate enough to hand out a 10-year deal, which Teixeira reportedly covets.

The aging Yanks, however, will still try to upgrade their lineup as a Melky Cabrera-Mike Cameron swap is very possible. A Robinson Cano-Matt Kemp swap has also been rumored.

Peavy-Cubs deal dead: In the end, Cubs GM Jim Hendry just couldn't justify adding to the already bloated payroll of the Cubs, without adding the coveted left-handed bat. 

The sticking point in a complicated three- or four-team deal was how much money the Cubs would have to eat of Jason Marquis' $9.5 million contract.

As a Cubs fan, it pains me to see the Cubs getting cheap, right at the doorstep of adding one of the Top 5 pitchers in baseball. After all, what is the best way to get out of the first round? Exactly. Elite pitching.

But I understand the ownership situation is dicey at best. And I would love the chance to land a Brian Roberts or Rafael Furcal, although it sounds like Milton Bradley is the most likely bat headed to the Windy City.

Phillies sign Ibanez: The biggest news out from the World Champs had been Cole Hamels calling the Mets, "Choke artists," until Philadelphia shored up its outfield by giving Raul Ibanez a three-year, $30 million contract.

Indians close with Wood: Talk about a deal taking forever to close. Sounds like this deal is done, just held up by Kerry Wood passing a physical, which is no small feat. Terms are reportedly $20 million over 2 years, with a third-year option.

In other news: The Blue Jays are buying into the Matt Clement comeback trail, giving the rotator-cuffed pitcher  a minor league contract... the Orioles are trying to move the control-plagued, strikeout phenom Daniel Cabrera ... a Julio Lugo-Eric Byrnes deal fell apart, probably after the Diamondbacks looked at splits of Lugo last season ... on a related note, Felipe Lopez, who was a stolen base fool for the Reds before falling off the fantasy map in Washington, signed a one year deal worth $3.5 million with Arizona to replace free agent Orlando Hudson ... the Indians tendered a contract for C Kelly Shoppach and why not after the backup catcher hit 21 HR, filling in for Victor Martinez ... the Cubs, Rays, Angels and Dodgers expressed interest in RBI-machine Bobby Abreu, although the Angels and Dodgers appear to have a glut in the OF, especially if the Dodgers sign Manny Ramirez, who is reportedly miffed at the lack of offers flooding in ... the Mets traded for J.J. Putz on Thursday, giving them possibly the best back end of the rotation, after having arguably the worst before the week began. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Yanks sign Sabathia; Peavy to Cubs?

Really, not much has transpired since the end of that wacked-out World Series. 

Until the past 24 hours, that is.

The Winter Meetings usually yield some big-name free agent signings and like clockwork, this morning, sources say the Yankees have signed C.C. Sabathia, the most coveted free agent pitching prospect. The deal is worth $161 million over 7 years, which would be the largest deal ever for a pitcher, fourth largest for any player.

There had been so much talk that Sabathia wanted to go to the left coast. Of course, by most accounts, no team could offer him more than $100 million. So now with the extra money, he can just buy a private jet to fly to his northern California home. Sheesh. So much for the downturn in the economy.

Fantasy spin: Not a huge fan of Sabathia, after the Brewers rode him into the ground, throwing him approximately 4,000 innings in the month of September. Weight has also been an issue for Sabathia and you wonder if the new contract will impact his size and/or effectiveness. Still, pitching for the Yankees, he'll undoubtedly be a top 5 pitcher in almost every publication, starting in a couple weeks. I'd stay away, unless he drops outside the top 10.

K-Rod to Mets: So, a three-year, $37 million deal for former Angels closer Fransisco Rodriguez, who set the saves record this year with 62? This is about half the money K-Rod wanted, according to initial reports. Call it a perfect storm that cost him a fortune. Economic downturn. Glut of free agent closers. Few suitors from big markets. And truthfully, the Mets were bidding against themselves on this one. There is a $14 million, fourth-year vesting option, which sounds tricky, but even still, the Mets have immediately upgraded their bullpen and with one signing are suddenly the favorites in the NL East again.

Fantasy spin: Closers are so interchangeable in fantasy, I wouldn't waste a top pick here. K-Rod was fourth or fifth on most expert's lists going into 2008 and he finished with 62 saves. Nobody saw that coming. And nobody will be shocked if he only saves 35 for the Mets, which could happen as the Angels' small ball mentality tends to maximize save opportunities, which reminds me, don't sleep on whoever wins the Angels closer job. Could easily be 50 saves this year and he'll probably be cheap.

Peavy to Cubs? Well, not just yet, but no rumor has had more legs and a longer shelf life than this one. I've never seen a GM be so forthright to try to trade a player to one specific team. Partly because Peavy has a very limited no-trade clause and the Braves backed out and decided to pick up Javier Vazquez (cough, bit mistake), from the White Sox. Only the stock market sank lower than Ozzie Guillen's faith in Vazquez down the stretch.

But back to Peavy. The latest rumor has the Cubs, Padres and Phillies set to pull off a three-way deal. These are tricky, but occasionally done, as opposed to fantasy, where I've never seen it happen, despite many attempts. The skinny: Peavy goes to the Cubs; Jason Marquis to the Padres (with the Cubs eating half or more of the $9.5 million owed). Mark DeRosa goes to the Phillies, who in turn send the Padres more pitching prospect and possibly a top catcher prospect.

Let's see: Peavy for Marquis and DeRosa....uh, where do I sign? Yes, Peavy had a stint on the DL, but when you check out his stats the past four seasons, the guy has simply been the best pitcher in baseball not named Santana. DeRosa was money last year and is a nice, sturdy, flexible player. Marquis had his moments the past two seasons, mostly mixed. If the Cubs can pull this off, someone needs to just go ahead and mail Jim Hendry GM of the Year award.

Fantasy spin: Won't spend too much time, since it hasn't happened yet, but uptick Peavy slightly as a 20-win season becomes a legit possibility. His ERA/WHIP might take a hit, though, going from Petco to Wrigley.

Wood to Indians? Keeping it close to Wrigley, the Cubs closer Kerry Wood is now a free agent after the Cubs decided they had other pressing needs (and capable Carlos Marmol locked up). The Cleveland Indians, who have tried 75 options in the past two seasons at closer, are close to giving Wood a two-year deal with a vesting option (argyle, I presume). Nobody knows the exact terms, but the Detroit Free-Press says it's worth around $20 million. Not sure why they're the only ones reporting this.

Fantasy spin: Mid to late rounds, after all the name brand guys are gone, take a flier on Wood, but temper the expectations. Wood has been to the DL so often (12 times), I think he's built a summer home there.

Other tidbits: Mike Lamb re-signed with the Brewers....the Dodgers gave Casey Blake $17.5 million over 3 years and Mark Loretta $1.25 million over 1 year ... the Rockies are close to locking up former A's RP Alan Embree ... the Orioles sent Ramon Hernandez and between $2 and $3 million to the Reds for Ryan Freel, which has to have Cincy fans holding their breath, hoping that surely, they're not putting their trust in Corey Patterson.

There's also a bazillion rumors out there, 85 percent of them never come to fruition, but I'll be reporting on the key chatter as the Hot Stove season really heats up.