While the Yankees wait for Andy Pettitte to decide if he wants to play in 2011 or retire, Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that they “have shown interest in” former Tigers right-hander Jeremy Bonderman.
Once upon a time Bonderman was a very promising young starter, going 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA and 202 strikeouts as a 23-year-old in 2006, but since then he’s just 22-24 with a 5.19 ERA in 427 innings, including a 5.58 mark in 171 innings last season after coming back from shoulder surgery.
He’s still just 28 years old, but Bonderman is five years removed from his last healthy and effective season and showed significantly decreased velocity in his return from injury last year, averaging just 89.8 miles per hour with his fastball compared to 93 mph at his peak.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman confirmed reports that he’s been in touch with Johnny Damon’s agent, but called it “just part of our canvassing process” and downplayed the outfielder’s chances of returning to New York.
“It’s something we do with every free agent,” Cashman told Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com. “I can’t tell you if anything’s going to happen there. There’s not a clear role for him here.”
Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher are established as the Yankees’ starters in the outfield and Jorge Posada is expected to be the primary designated hitter, leaving no room for Damon in a regular role unless a trade occurs. He could potentially serve as a bench player, but the Yankees would likely want a right-handed hitter to fill that role and Damon has also indicated that he has other teams offering him starting gigs.
Last month the Tigers declined their $15 million option on Magglio Ordonez for 2011, but after shopping around for a new team Ordonez has decided to return to Detroit on a one-year deal worth two-thirds the salary.
Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that Ordonez turned down two-year offers elsewhere to re-sign for $10 million, citing his loyalty to Tigers owner Mike Ilitch. That may be true, but $10 million for one year is the same deal Carlos Pena got from the Cubs and several other veteran corner outfielders and designated hitters signed for less, so it’s hardly a big discount for the 37-year-old.
Ordonez can still hit at age 37, batting .303/.378/.474 this season and a combined .311/.376/.466 over the past three seasons, but he missed the final 65 games of the year with a fractured ankle and had become a liability defensively even before suffering the injury in late July. Victor Martinez’s presence makes hiding Ordonez’s glove at DH unlikely, but the Tigers are willing to give up some defense to keep another big bat in the lineup.
UPDATE: Done deal. Laird gets $1 million guaranteed, plus $300,000 in incentives.
Matthew Leach of MLB.com hasn’t been able to confirm the news yet, but Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Cardinals are close to signing veteran catcher Gerald Laird.
Laird is coming off a career-worst season in Detroit, hitting just .207 with a .567 OPS, but it’s still surprising that he wasn’t able to land somewhere that could offer more playing time.
With the Cardinals he’ll serve as Yadier Molina’s backup, which tends to be a pretty easy gig. Molina has started 136 and 130 games behind the plate in the past two seasons and has averaged 118 starts in six full seasons in St. Louis. That leaves Laird playing once or maybe twice per week, which will be a big change for a 31-year-old who’s averaged 100 starts in the past four seasons.
Laird would be replacing Jason LaRue, whose career was ended by a concussion suffered from a Johnny Cueto kick to the head.
After trading for Adrian Gonzalez the Red Sox’s lineup is heavily left-handed and Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reports that they may try to balance things a bit by signing Magglio Ordonez.
Ordonez is 37 years old and missed half the season with an ankle injury, but he hit .303 with an .852 OPS when healthy and has always destroyed left-handed pitching. He’s a career .325 hitter with a .954 OPS versus southpaws, including .347 with a .956 OPS off them during the past three seasons.
Early in the offseason the Red Sox were viewed as a possible destination for Jayson Werth before he signed a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Nationals. Ordonez is six years older, far less durable, and much worse defensively than Werth, but offers comparable production offensively at a fraction of the price.
In the past three years Werth has hit .279 with an .889 OPS, while Ordonez has hit .311 with an .843 OPS.