Mike Ilitch may be Johnny Damon's only hope

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Mike Ilitch.jpgReally he may be Scott Boras’ only hope, as outlined by Morosi in his latest FOX column.  After recounting the well-known story about how Boras failed to accurately read the market for Damon, Morosi traced Boras’ steps:

Boras retreated to a bunker in his Newport Beach
lair and broke the emergency glass over a seldom-used manual:
How to create a market for stars using duct tape and chicken
wire … two weeks before spring training.

It’s been some time since Boras has delved this deep
into his playbook. He didn’t need to go to extraordinary
lengths at this time last year, when it was widely assumed that
Manny Ramirez was going to be a Dodger. 
This is different. Boras is trying to find a new lead suitor
at a time when many teams are finalizing their rosters for the year

So, he’s doing for Damon what he did for Ivan Rodriguez
in 2004 and Magglio Ordonez one year later. In each case, the
handbook prescribed the same first step.
Get Tigers owner Mike Ilitch on the phone.

And it has to be Ilitch, because GM Dave Dombrowski and others in the Tigers’ front office have already said no-way on Damon.  The owner and his money trumps, however, and given his track record, I could see him finding an extra couple of million for Damon and Boras.

I’m kind of torn about it. On the one hand, I kind of like Johnny Damon as a player, I hate seeing him twist like this, and I think that at his current price — which I figure is going to be a year and maybe $5 million — he’d be a nice addition to the Tigers. On the other hand, I really would like to see Scott Boras get burned in spectacular fashion once in a while because, well, just because.

I try to limit my schadenfreude intake as much as possible, however, so I suppose I’ll root for the former outcome and hope that Damon and the Tigers hook up soon.  And then we can all get on with our lives.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.

Cardinals finished runner-up to Red Sox in David Price sweepstakes

David Price
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

These kind of after-the-ink-has-dried reports have to be taken with a grain of salt for a variety of reasons, but they’re fantastic conversation-starters …

Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the Cardinals “finished runner-up” to the Red Sox in the bidding for free agent left-hander David Price, who signed with Boston on Monday for a record seven years and $217 million.

There were reports early on that the Red Sox were going to have to overpay on Price because he wanted to either stay in Toronto or make the move to the more pitcher-friendly National League. And maybe they did go significantly above and beyond the next-best offer to land him.

But the report from Nightengale serves as an indication that the Cardinals are ready and willing to spend big money ahead of next week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. Does that chunk of change now get directed toward Jason Heyward? Or might the Cardinals pounce one of the falling dominos in this still-loaded starting pitching market? What about both?

St. Louis lost Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery last month and both Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha carry some injury concerns into 2016. There’s money to spend there with a new billion-dollar local television deal about ready to kick in.