Baseball's Offseason, Where The Stove Has Been Properly Preheated

The MLB Winter Meetings kicked off the offseason storm of free agent signings and trades. We'll be updating this StoryStream with all the latest deals and rumors as they unfold.

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Source: Nick Johnson Returns to Yankees, Likely Pushing Damon Off Team

The AP is reporting that Nick Johnson, most recently of the Florida Marlins, has signed a one-year, $5.5 million deal with the New York Yankees. A physical is still pending, though, and as we noted earlier, Johnson doesn’t have a great history with physicals.

If this deal is officially completed, Johnny Damon’s career in pinstripes is in serious jeopardy.

While he was popular with teammates and fans, the Yankees were concerned about his age (36). The sides also were far apart on money. Damon at first was seeking a three-year deal worth at least $39 million, while New York was prepared to go no higher than $18 million to $20 million over two seasons.

Be sure to check back with our Yankees blog, Pinstripe Alley, for more thoughts on Johnson’s acquisition and Damon’s possible exit.


Cubs Set To Trade Milton Bradley To Mariners For Carlos Silva

According to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, the Mariners will trade relief pitcher Carlos Silva to the Cubs for the much maligned outfielder Milton Bradley.

The move rids the Mariners of Silva’s overpiced contract — four years, $48 million — of which two years remain. For the Cubs, they dump a player who had a rocky season in Chicago last year, in which he was suspended by the league, sent home by the team and generally underperformed on his $30 million deal.


White Sox Get Pierre, 'Someone Who Isn't Very Good At Baseball'

On Tuesday, the White Sox traded for outfielder Juan Pierre. Inevitably, someone will soon write a story about this is a great move for Chicago, because he's one of those "scrappy" players and insist he should bat lead-off (despite his career .348 OBP). I've really never understood this phenomenon -- the only explanation I have is that it's because he's pretty fast and wears his cap underneath his helmet (this is a topic FJM covered often). This is not lost on SB Nation's South Side Sox.

[Pierre] shouldn't play CF anymore and, with Alex Rios in the fold, hopefully Ozzie won't get any ideas.  He can still cover ground in LF and his arm that makes 12 year old girls laugh isn't as much of an issue there.  He's probably a slightly above average defender if used properly.  Unfortunately, he gives up any gain there on offense.  He's projected for a wOBA of about .310 next season by Bill James, well below the league average benchmark of .330.  That's almost 10 runs below average.  Of course, one can point to his .338 last season and, except for 2008, recent numbers higher than .310 to argue that projection is a little low.  On the other hand, he's 32 and certainly in his decline, a particularly dangerous place for a slap hitter who relies on speed, and his last five seasons look like this: .338, .308, .317, .319, and .309.  Throw out that outlier 2009 and that .310 looks about right.

So, yeah, like they said: "[The White Sox] get someone who isn't very good at major league baseball." But, there is still some silver lining in this deal.

All that said, the overall price, both in terms of dollars and players, is low.  Even if Pierre hits that low projection, he'll probably be worth the salary he's being paid (and whatever value you want to ascribe to the fringe prospects).  And, while based on actual offensive acumen he should be about the second to last player to be considered for the Leadoff Position (thanks Omar!), his mere presence will at least prevent the usual hand-wringing over that perceived void.


Dodgers Trade Juan Pierre To White Sox For Two Minor Leaguers

According to Yahoo!‘s Tim Brown, the White Sox have acquired outfielder Juan Pierre in exchange for two minor league players, yet to be named. The Dodgers will also pay about half of Pierre’s remaining two-year contract, which equates to around $9 million.

For more on the deal from both sides, visit SB Nation’s South Side Sox and True Blue L.A.

2009 - Juan Pierre 145 380 57 117 16 8 0 31 27 27 30 12 .308 .365 .392


Cardinals Reportedly Offer Matt Holliday 'Most Lucrative Deal' In Team History

While the baseball world was occupied following the whereabouts of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and John Lackey, the St. Louis Cardinals were busy trying strike a deal with free agent outfielder Matt Holliday.

According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cards stepped up their negotiating on Monday and "tweaked" their original offer to Holliday, hoping to retain him for a reported eight seasons.

General manager John Mozeliak and agent Scott Boras revisited the framework of the Cardinals' lengthy proposal first tendered last Wednesday. Though both parties refuse to discuss details, the deal is worth around $16 million a season, making it easily the most lucrative deal ever offered by the Cardinals. [...]

"He's still a player we like very much and hope to retain," Mozeliak said. 

St. Louis has apparently become "increasingly impatient" as they try to strike a deal, so, hoping to come to terms before Christmas, and in an effort to appease Holliday's agent, Scott Boras (he's expressed "displeasure" with the average annual salary), the Cardinals added guaranteed money with additional years. The proposed deal would eclipse the seven-year, $100 million extension Albert Pujols signed in 2003.

2009 - Matt Holliday 63 235 42 83 16 2 13 55 26 43 2 4 .353 .419 .604


Red Sox Staying Busy, Reportedly Reach 'Tentative Agreement' With Mike Cameron

Boston is keeping very busy during this Hot Stove season, having already signed John Lackey on Monday. Now, needing a replacement for left fielder Jason Bay, the Red Sox are apparently set ti sign outfielder Mike Cameron, according to the AP.

Boston ... reached a tentative agreement on a two-year contract with outfielder Mike Cameron, according to a person familiar with those negotiations. That deal is subject to a physical, the person said on condition of anonymity because the agreement was not yet final.

Ken Rosenthal at is reporting that it is "about a two-year contract worth in the range of $15.5 million, according to major-league sources."

No word yet on if Cameron would play left or if Jacoby Ellsbury would slide over and allow Cameron to patrol center field.

2009 - Mike Cameron 149 544 78 136 32 3 24 70 75 156 7 3 .250 .342 .452


Red Sox Out: One Less Suitor For Jason Bay

With the Red Sox reportedly signing John Lackey to a large contract on Monday, it would seem Boston no longer intends — or has the money — to re-sign Jason Bay to play left field in 2010.

Considering the Red Sox haven’t been aggressive toward re-signing their left fielder who replaced Manny Ramirez in 2008, it makes the Red Sox’s near re-signing at the All-Star break even more confounding:

According to one source, in fact, the Red Sox and Bay either had agreed or were close to agreement on a contract at the All-Star break when the Red Sox expressed concerns over Bay’s knee, shoulder or both. Whatever the case, the Red Sox balked at roughly the time that Theo Epstein spoke of an “aggressive,” offer to the player, who is now sufficiently disgruntled that agent Joe Urbon is telling the media that Bay is “prepared to move on” from Boston.

The Mets seem to be Bay’s most likely destination at the moment. New York offered Bay a four-year, $65 million contract last week, but may be willing to go to five years, if necessary. The Mets should have more leverage now, with the Red Sox out of the sweepstakes.


Now That Sox Have Lackey, Could Adrian Gonzalez Be Next?

With Monday's signing of John Lackey, the Red Sox now have a six-man rotation: Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz/Tim Wakefield. What will they do with that extra arm? One theory: trade it for a bat, sepecifically, Adrian Gonzalez. From Ken Rosenthal:

One rival GM theorizes that if the Red Sox sign free-agent right-hander John Lackey, they then will lock up righty Josh Beckett long- term and trade righty Clay Buchholz in a package for Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Under that scenario, first baseman Kevin Youkilis would move to third and the Sox would employ a Mike Cameron-Jeremy Hermida type platoon in left.

The Sox's big investments would be Lackey and Beckett; Gonzalez will earn a club-friendly $4.75 million next season, and his deal includes a $5.5 million club option for 2011.

Free agents Adrian Beltre, Matt Holliday and Jason Bay?

All would be shut out in Boston.

2009 - Adrian Gonzalez 160 552 90 153 27 2 40 99 119 109 1 1 .277 .407 .551


Rumors No More: Lackey Deal With Red Sox Reportedly Done

The Red Sox and John Lackey have reportedly agreed on a five-year deal, "worth slightly more than ... $82.5 million."

When the signing becomes official, it will give the Red Sox a rotation of Jon Lester, Josh Beckett, Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Clay Buchholz/Tim Wakefield (assuming Buchholz doesn't get traded to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez) -- arguably the best in baseball, and certainly better than their rivals in the Bronx.

SB Nation's Red Sox blog, Over the Monster, will have plenty more reaction to this deal.


John Lackey's Rumored Deal With Boston: $85 Million, Five Years

Sources are telling Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman that the John Lackey deal with the Red Sox is for five years, and worth about $85 million. 

If Boston does indeed land Lackey as everyone seems to think they will, then expect the Yankees to back off their pursuit of Roy Halladay (besides the fact that he's rumored to be involved in a huge deal with the Phillies and Cliff Lee).

If the Red Sox ink Lackey it’s not likely they will remain in the hunt for Halladay, who has a year left on his contract and will be a free agent following the 2010 season.

While the Yankees would love to put Halladay in between CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and move Andy Pettitte into the fourth starter’s role, Halladay not landing in Boston reduces the urgency to acquire Halladay to keep him away from the Red Sox. [...]

Now with Lackey close to joining a Red Sox rotation headed by Josh Beckett and Jon Lester and not being joined by Halladay, the Yankees may back off and let the Angels and Phillies fight for Halladay.


Rumors Of Blockbuster Deal Involving Halladay And Lee Begin To Fly

For seamheads who love the Hot Stove season, consider Monday's action thus far a mere appetizer to the day's main course: is reporting that the Blue Jays and Phillies are in discussions about a possible deal involving both Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

A three-team blockbuster that would send Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay to the Phillies and Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee to another club is under discussion, according to major-league sources.

A straight trade between the Phillies and Jays also is possible. Either way, there are strong indications that the Halladay talks are approaching a critical juncture.

The third team that could possibly acquire Lee is not yet known, but it would make sense if it was the Angles, since they appear likely to lose John Lackey to the Red Sox.

Halladay likely would agree to a contract extension with the Phillies to waive his no-trade clause. The Phillies would acquire prospects for Lee to help satisfy the Blue Jays' demands for Halladay, and also send prospects of their own to the Jays.

Lee, signed for one more year at $9 million, will be a free agent after next season. The Phillies are uncertain of whether they can sign him, but by acquiring Halladay - and locking him up with an extension - they would secure an ace long-term.

The trade is highly complex, sources say, with the Phillies receiving money from the Jays to help pay Halladay's salary next season. Halladay is owed $15.75 million, but that number could be negotiated down as part of a new contract agreement.

Adding more heat to this Hot Stove: the Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that both Halladay and his agent have checked into a Philadelphia-area hotel.


Angels Reportedly Nearing Deal With Hideki Matsui

According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Angels are in "serious discussions" to acquire free agent Hideki Matsui to be their new designated hitter. It would apparently be a one-year deal, worth "about $6.5 millions" (via Buster Olney).

From Sam Miller in the Orange County Register:

It’s a market fairly heavy with veteran DH types, and Matsui figures to be the most expensive of them all. Not clear he’s the best, or even better than the man he’ll displace, Vladimir Guerrero. The good news is that, with the exception of an injury-filled 2008, he has had an OPS between .855 and .875 every season since 2005. He rarely strikes out, he walks at a decent rate, he’s got a career .867 OPS with runners in scoring position and he can hit lefties nearly as well as righties. His strong 2009 can’t be blamed on his generous home park, as he had a .949 OPS on the road.

2009 - Hideki Matsui 142 456 62 125 21 1 28 90 64 75 0 1 .274 .367 .509


Report: John Lackey Takes Physical With Red Sox; Deal May Be Imminent

After Jason Bay turned down the Red Sox reported offer of four years, $60 million, Boston apparently decided to shift its focus to Angels free agent ace John Lackey. According to multiple reports (here and here), Lackey underwent a physical with the Red Sox on Monday, which could be the first step to a deal between the two sides.

Stay turned here for updates as they come.

2009 - John Lackey 11-8 27 27 1 1 0 0 176.1 177 84 75 17 47 139 3.83 1.27


White Sox Sign J.J. Putz, Who You May Recall Was Once A Good Closer

The White Sox have signed closer J.J. Putz to a one-year, $3 million deal, according to the Chicago Tribune. Putz, you may recall, was one of the league’s best closers in 2007 for the Seattle Mariners, and his 40 saves even earned him his own bobblehead likeness:

Putz struggled with Seattle in 2008, and pitched in just 29 games last season for the Mets before undergoing elbow surgery. With the White Sox, he’ll serve as an emergency closer in case Bobby Jenks goes down, or — as the Tribune points out — Chicago could opt to trade Jenks this offseason.

For all your White Sox needs, head over to SB Nation’s South Side Sox.


Red Sox, Rangers Reach Preliminary Deal In Lowell Deal

Apparently the Red Sox and Rangers figured out the money situation, because the two sides have reached a preliminary deal to send aging Mike Lowell to Texas.

According to's Ian Browne, the deal could be finalized in two to three days.


It's Official: Rich Harden Joins Texas Rangers

Rich Harden passed his physical on Thursday and officially became a member of the Texas Rangers.

2009 - Rich Harden 9-9 27 26 0 0 0 0 141.0 122 74 64 23 67 171 4.09 1.34

For reaction and analysis, visit SB Nation's Lone Star Ball.


Report: Jason Bay Offered Four-Year Deal Worth Around $65 Million From Mets

According to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman, the Mets offered Jason Bay a four-year, $65 million contract ("give or take"). Heyman adds they would most likely "have to bump it to 5 yrs to get him."

The only other known offer Bay has received thus far was from the Red Sox, which was supposedly four years for $60 million.


Red Sox Trade For Boof Bonser; Yes, That's His Real Name

The Boston Red Sox acquired pitcher Boof Bonser in a trade with the Minnesota Twins on Thursday for the ever popular player to be named later. From the Sox:

The Boston Red Sox today acquired right-handed pitcher Boof Bonser from the Minnesota Twins in exchange for a player to be named later. The announcement was made by Executive Vice President/General Manager Theo Epstein.

Bonser, 28, missed the 2009 season after undergoing arthroscopic surgery in February to repair partial tears to the labrum and rotator cuff in his right shoulder. The right-hander made one rehabilitation appearance on September 6 for the Twins Single-A Fort Myers affiliate, tossing 1.0 scoreless frame.

Over the Monster appropriately calls it "Not exactly a Halladay-esque acquisition," and then takes a look at what he could mean for Boston.

For his career, Boof hasn't done anything that spectacular. He has a 5.12 ERA in 96 games, with 60 of those coming in starts. His WHIP sits at an all-too-high 1.45 and batters have hit .286 against him lifetime.

Basically, he's not going to light the world on fire. But he does do some things well.

Specifically, he throws strikes. It sounds obvious, but this is what you want a pitcher to do. Over the course of his three seasons with the Twins, 65 percent of his pitches have gone for strikes. His BB/9 for his career sits at 2.87, which would sit as No. 2 in the Red Sox rotation behind Josh Beckett (2.74).

Boof has also been unlucky over his career. His career BABIP is .326, with a .342 mark coming in 2008. If those numbers were to regress just a little bit -- meaning, he'd get lucky for once in his career -- he may be able to put up some good numbers.


Astros Sign Pedro Feliz, Which Apparently Was A Good Move

Houston has reportedly added free agent third baseman Pedro Feliz to the team, signing the now-ex-Phillie to a one year deal worth about $4 million.

While the gentlemen at SB Nation’s Astros blog, Crawfish Boxes, have a long-standing hate affair with Ed Wade, this is apparently one deal they are in favor of:

The latest [move] is the first one I can totally get behind. The Astros signed Pedro Feliz to a one-year deal for 4 million. Reasonable price for a good player to fill the hole at third base. Let’s all just pretend Ed wasn’t serious when he said the Astros could go into the season with Geoff Blum at the hot corner.

What do the Astros get with Feliz? A little power at the corner along with an underrated defensive player. The Phillies had been pushing Feliz as a possible Gold Glover the past few years. Sure, that push didn’t gain much traction, but with Feliz and Manzella on the right side of the infield, the Astros defensive range will be greatly improved.

Yes, that defense has deteriorated with his age and yes, he doesn’t get on base. But, Feliz is a much better player at this point than Blum and can provide a good stopgap until the club feels Chris Johnson is ready to go.

Feliz’s numbers from last season in Philly:

2009 - Pedro Feliz 158 580 62 154 30 2 12 82 35 68 0 1 .266 .308 .386

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