Gordon Edes talks managers. Among the tidbits:
* Eric Wedge is almost certain to be fired;
* Dave Trembley is going to be gone and Jim Riggleman may very well be too;
* Ken Macha is probably safe for now;
* No matter how much the Wilpons talk about Jerry Manuel being safe, Bobby Valentine is being considered in Queens;
* Ed Wade needs to hire someone to clean up the mess, and based on the names floated — everyone from retreads like Jim Fregosi to newbies like Jeff Bagwell — he hasn’t yet figured out what he’s going to do.
Take all of this with a grain of salt, however, because based on what Edes says about Bobby Cox and the Braves, he may not be as plugged in as he would have you believe.
Citing “a major league source,” Edes claims in the piece that Cox and Braves’ GM had a big falling out last spring over the way John Smoltz’ situation was handled and that the poor relationship between the men could very well mean that Cox won’t be back in 2010. On the surface that sounds plausible, but according to both Cox himself and Mark Bradley at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the report is bunk. Cox says “everything is fine” and that Wren has been “outstanding.” Wren is a little more reserved, but calls Edes’ report “inaccurate.”
I’m guessing Cox and Wren aren’t big pals like Cox and Schuerholz were, but Cox is a pro who has been around forever. He survived Ted Turner for crying out loud, so I can’t feature a couple of personnel decisions by Wren causing such a rift.
If Cox isn’t back in 2010 it’s because he’s tired of managing, not because he can’t get along with the boss.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.
Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.
Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.
It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.
Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.
After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.
Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.
Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.
O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.
It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.