Jerome Williams

Former top prospect Jerome Williams returns to majors with Angels

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Jerome Williams, who was last seen going 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts with the Nationals in 2007, is back in the majors after being promoted by the Angels on Wednesday.

Williams, a native of Hawaii, debuted with the Giants in 2003, finishing 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 21 starts as a rookie.  Along with Jesse Foppert and Kurt Ainsworth, he was part of a trio of Giants right-handers all ranked among the game’s top pitching prospects in the early part of the decade.

Unfortunately, none of those three went on to have substantial careers, while Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan, who were dealt to the Twins for A.J. Pierzynski, turned into big-time successes.

Unlike Foppert and Ainsworth, Williams didn’t deal with any major arm problems.  He just lost his best stuff early on, and while he possesses a perfectly respectable career record of 23-29 with a 4.25 ERA (from back when a 4.25 ERA was actually above average), he wasn’t viewed as having any upside because of his lack of a consistent low-90s fastball or a strikeout breaking ball.  It also certainly didn’t help matters that he wasn’t too concerned about conditioning; he probably weighed over 250 pounds by the time he was let go by the Nats in 2007.

Williams is getting the call now after going 7-2 with a 3.91 ERA and a 60/15 K/BB ratio in 73 2/3 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake.  That he gave up 10 homers in 10 starts and one relief appearance doesn’t bode well, but that is a very tough environment for pitchers.  At best, maybe he’ll hold his own and prove to be a decent middle reliever for the Angels.  It doesn’t seem likely that he could succeed as a starter in the AL.

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, 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.