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.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.