This morning I wrote about how Cliff Lee signing with the Phillies leaves Carl Pavano as the top starting pitcher on the free agent market, but Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that Pavano’s “other suitors” aside from the Twins “are pessimistic and think he’s going back to Minnesota.”
That jibes with Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s latest report, which speculates that Brewers general manager Doug Melvin is no longer aggressively pursuing Pavano.
Melvin told Haudricourt that he got in touch with Pavano’s agent yesterday, but “just to gauge interest.”
Pavano resurrected his career in Minnesota, going 22-15 with a 3.97 ERA in 44 starts for the Twins after coming over in a mid-2009 deal from the Indians, so it makes sense that he’d want to re-sign.
However, with the Brewers and Nationals also being linked often to Pavano–and the Rangers perhaps jumping into the bidding late after missing out on Lee–there was speculation that he could be in line for a three-year deal, which seemingly would have taken the Twins out of the mix. If instead he’s choosing between two-year offers, the Twins can indeed be viewed as front-runners.
By waiting until the Cliff Lee domino fell Carl Pavano has put himself in position to be the most sought-after starting pitcher on the free agent market, which is both very smart on his agent’s part and remarkable given how the veteran right-hander was viewed just a couple years ago.
Pavano was a huge bust in New York, winning a grand total of nine games for the Yankees during a four-year, $40 million contract and spending more time on the disabled list than in the rotation.
After leaving the Yankees following the 2008 season his stock was so low and he was viewed as so undependable that Pavano managed only an incentive-laden one-year deal with the Indians that guaranteed him just $1.5 million. In the two seasons since then Pavano has pitched very well and even more surprisingly proven to be very durable, not missing a single start while going 31-21 with a 4.39 ERA in 420 innings.
Even before Lee made his decision Pavano was drawing significant interest from at least three teams and now that the Rangers have missed out on Lee it’s possible they’ll join the Twins, Nationals, and Brewers in pursuit of Pavano. Put aside his history in New York and Pavano would be a pretty good fit for the Yankees too, but you can be certain there’s zero chance of general manager Brian Cashman signing him a second time.
In the span of two years Pavano has gone from oft-injured bust to dependable innings eater and he could be in line for as much as $30 million in upfront money after getting just $1.5 million guaranteed last time he hit the open market.
UPDATE: Done deal. Nieves gets a non-guaranteed contract worth $775,000.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Brewers are close to signing veteran catcher Wil Nieves, who played this year with the Nationals.
Nieves is a run-of-the-mill backup with a good defensive reputation and an anemic bat, hitting .227 with a .570 OPS for his career.
It’s surprising that the Brewers didn’t aim a little higher in their search for a backup catcher given that their starter will be 24-year-old Jonathan Lucroy, who struggled as a rookie this year and had modest production at Double-A and Triple-A.
Lucroy is expected to start 100-plus games and the Brewers no doubt wanted an experienced backup to show him the ropes, but Nieves will be stretched extremely thin if he’s needed more than once or twice a week. Milwaukee also has George Kottaras on the 40-man roster, but all indications are that Nieves will enter the depth chart ahead of him.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post spoke to agent Tom O’Connell about Carl Pavano’s status and reports that the free agent right-hander “will wait until after the weekend to make a decision.”
Pavano is said to be drawing interest from the Twins, Nationals, and Brewers, so it may come down to which team is willing to give out a three-year deal to a 35-year-old pitcher with a lengthy, well-known injury history.
Kilgore writes that the Nationals “would be reluctant to offer Pavano a multi-year contract,” but it seems highly unlikely that they’d still be in the mix for him while offering merely a one-year deal. Minnesota would gladly welcome Pavano back on a one-year deal and would likely be willing to go two years after he went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA in 221 innings this season.
UPDATE: Since this rumor initially surfaced, it has been shot down by Steve Henson of Yahoo! Sports, and most importantly, by Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti. And Colletti should know, because if this was a legitimate offer, he would have taken it in a heartbeat.
Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports hears that the Brewers approached the Dodgers about their interest in Fielder, but there’s nothing to suggest that talks advanced from there. And that’s that. Fun while it lasted, eh?
5:21 PM: Well, this is a juicy one.
According to Tony Jackson of ESPNLA.com “the Dodgers are actively involved in discussions on a possible three-player deal with the Brewers” that would send James Loney and Jonathan Broxton to Milwaukee to Prince Fielder.
Jackson notes “multiple sources” gave him the information, so this might have some legs.
Milwaukee is obviously open to trading Fielder and Los Angeles is said to be shopping Loney pretty heavily at the winter meetings, and Broxton’s status with the Dodgers can be summed up by Jackson calling him “embattled closer.”
On the other hand, I’m just not sure why the Brewers would do that deal. Loney could step in for Fielder at first base, but he’s hardly a long-term building block and they could just as easily sign a better-hitting replacement to a reasonable one-year deal.
Picking up Broxton when his value is perhaps at an all-time low makes some sense, but do they really want the centerpiece of a trade for Fielder to be a 27-year-old reliever who’ll earn $7 million in 2011 and is just one season from free agency himself?