Rumors: The Yankees, Omar Vizquel and Milton Bradley Edition

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The latest from FOX’s Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi:

  • If the Yankees decide not to re-sign Johnny Damon, they could look at a centerfield replacement, like Mike Cameron, rather than a leftfield replacement.  This would seem to make some sense in the short term: Melky is OK, but not a transcendent player, and especially not compared to the All-Star at every position approach the Yankees seem intent on taking these days. You’d certainly create a bit of an offensive hole in left field, however, as neither Cabrera nor Brett Gardner’s bats are strong enough to respectably carry the position. Wait, what am I thinking? This is the Yankees. They don’t play “either-or”.  They could sign Cameron and Holliday or Damon.
  • Omar Vizquel doesn’t want to go back to Texas. It’s not a playing time thing, though. He’s happy with his backup role which gave him 195 at bats. He just wants to play for a higher profile team. It’s not often you hear 42 year-old backups making those kinds of demands, but Vizquel is still a useful player and teams could do worse than to have him around in a utility role.
  • The Rays and Cubs are within $2-3 million of making a Milton Bradley for Pat Burrell deal happen.  What on Earth the Cubs would do with Burrell — a guy probably less suited to play defense than even Bradley is anymore — is beyond me, but when it comes to unloading Bradley, the Cubs are definitely in “Great trade! Who’d we get?” territory. I can see the baseball argument for Bradley in Tampa Bay — anyone would improve their DH production after what Burrell pinched off in 2009 — but why a team that usually hums along nicely would want someone like Milton Bradley around is beyond me.
  • Wilson Betemit is expected to sign a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals.  This, I think, means that Dayton Moore only has to go after Dale Murphy, Phil Niekro and Rico Carty before he can say that he has had every last former Brave under contract in Kansas City.
  • Jacob deGrom open to extension with Mets

    New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom talks during media day for the Major League Baseball World Series against the Kansas City Royals Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
    AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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    The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.

    While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.

    “I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’

    It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.

    DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.

    Royals, Mike Moustakas avoid arbitration with two-year deal

    Kansas City Royals' Mike Moustakas celebrates after hitting an RBI single against the Toronto Blue Jays during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Seriesagainst the Toronto Blue Jays  on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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    The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

    The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.

    The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.

    Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

    Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Tommy Hunter throws to the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Miami, Friday, May 22, 2015. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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    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.

    Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

    Cory Luebke Getty
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    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.