Hot Stove: Holiday cools market
Many baseball officials taking short break for Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving eve was a relatively quiet session on the Hot Stove front as most teams, free agents and their representatives took a break from business to get home for the holiday.
Not much is expected to happen until after turkey day, as negotiations on several fronts took a brief hiatus and it was status quo across the board, with top free agents Andruw Jones and Torii Hunter, still available.
Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens remain free agents undecided about their respective futures. Agent Randy Hendricks, who with his brother Alan represents both free-agent pitchers, informed MLB.com via e-mail Wednesday that his clients' position hasn't changed.
The Miguel Cabrera rumors continued to swirl, as did the Miguel Tejada speculation.
Here's the latest on the Hot Stove front on Wednesday as teams headed off for the Thanksgiving holiday:
Angels: According to FOXSports, the Angels have offered Florida second baseman Howard Kendrick, right-hander Ervin Santana, right-handed reliever Chris Bootcheck and another player -- possibly pitcher Nick Adenhart -- for Cabrera. Sources, however, say the Angels did not offer that combination of names -- and the Marlins probably would not want Santana, who is only a year away from arbitration and 7-16 with a 7.06 ERA on the road the past two seasons.
Astros: Houston is considering no fewer than seven free agents, including relievers Doug Brocail, Scott Linebrink, Troy Percival and Jeremy Affeldt, starters Randy Wolf and Jon Lieber, and second baseman Kazuo Matsui.
Blue Jays: Toronto may not be in on free-agent catcher Michael Barrett after all. Toronto has talked to Barrett's agent, but the club is very hesitant to surrender a draft pick in order to sign the catcher.
"We've had talks with Michael Barrett, but it's less likely that we'd sign a Type A [free agent]. We don't want to give up a first-round pick," Ricciardi told the Toronto Sun.
Braves: Free agent center fielder Andruw Jones has told some of his friends that he'll only take a one-year deal if it's his last option. His agent Scott Boras says that won't be an option.
Despite Jones' dismal performance last year, Boras remains confident that he'll gain his client a highly lucrative deal.
"You're talking about a guy with 10 Gold Gloves in a row and 25 home runs 10 years in a row," Boras told ESPN.com. "The fact is, this guy in his worst year had 26 home runs, 94 RBIs and a Gold Glove. When you go back and look at the best center fielders out there today, Andruw's year of [power] production is very close to theirs. And this was his worst year."
The Nationals are the only team known to have publicly expressed an interest in Jones' services. More teams will likely become involved once Torii Hunter and Aaron Rowand fall into place.
"For some team out there, he can make a dramatic difference just by having a normal, average season for Andruw Jones," Boras told ESPN.com.
Brewers: The Brewers have offered free agent catcher Jason Kendall two different contracts, one that is longer-term and offers some security, and another that is shorter-term and would give Kendall a chance to re-establish his value after a poor offensive 2007 season and cash in on his next contract.
That general manager Doug Melvin pulled the trigger on trading starting catcher Johnny Estrada on Tuesday night -- leaving the Brewers with Mike Rivera as the only catcher on the roster with any experience -- either shows how strongly he feels that a compromise will be reached with Kendall, how badly the team wanted to part with Estrada, or both.
Estrada played through injuries in his only year as a Brewer, but was disappointing offensively and did not mesh with some members of the pitching staff. Estrada told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Tuesday night that he's upset about that characterization, but conceded that he did not work well with pitching coach Mike Maddux.
Cubs: The Chicago Sun-Times reports Cubs GM Jim Hendry had lunch Tuesday in Los Angeles with free agent Kazuo Matsui. The Sun-Times said Hendry would not discuss details of his talks, but added a deal does not appear imminent.
Hendry also told Chicago media on Tuesday that he has been in contact with Kerry Wood's agent, Pat Rooney, and that there is a lot of interest in the right-hander, whom teams are looking at as a possible setup pitcher. Hendry said Wood may finalize his decision before the Winter Meetings begin Dec. 3.
Giants: The Rocky Mountain News has reported that the Giants have made catcher Bengie Molina available. Molina, who hit .276 with 19 home runs and a career-high 81 RBIs last season, might have been San Francisco's most valuable player in 2007. But after the year he had, his value might have peaked, explaining why the Giants might consider dealing him if they could fill more than one hole by including him in a trade.
Mariners: After reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Mariners were "considering" sending a contingent to Japan to pursue free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on Wednesday that general manager Bill Bavasi, manager John McLaren and scout/interpreter Hide Sueyoshi arrived in Japan on Tuesday to set up meetings with Kuroda. After the Thanksgiving holiday, the Mariners hope to talk with Kuroda's agents, Joe Urbon and Steve Hilliard.
Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima and/or outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, both of whom are in Japan, might meet with Kuroda in an attempt to help the Mariners make their case. And Hiroshi Yamauchi, the former Nintendo chief who has the controlling interest in the club, might also meet with Kuroda, according to the newspaper.
The 32-year-old Kuroda had a 13-6 record for the Hiroshima Carp last season and is 40-26 over the past three seasons. He has emerged as the Mariners' top priority in filling one of the potential two spots in the starting rotation. Right-hander Jeff Weaver won't return and left-hander Horacio Ramirez is considered a candidate, primarily as a backup in case right-hander Brandon Morrow is unable to make the transition from reliever to starter.
Marlins: Other than the Angels' reported offer for Cabrera, there was nothing new on the various story lines involving the Marlins.
Orioles: Rumors regarding Tejada, specifically if and where the shortstop might be traded, continue to swirl, but otherwise nothing of substance out of Baltimore on Wednesday.
Pirates: In order to make room for some adjustments on their 40-man roster on Tuesday, the Pirates designated first baseman Josh Phelps for assignment. Because Phelps is out of Minor League options, the Pirates will try to trade him in the next 10 days or be forced to release him.
Pittsburgh may also look to deal left-hander Shane Youman or right-hander Josh Sharpless as well, both of whom were also designated for assignment Tuesday evening.
Yankees: With their attention on improving a bullpen that Joe Girardi acknowledges has several holes to be plugged, the Yankees had interest in acquiring free agent Francisco Cordero to set up for Mariano Rivera, but Cordero wants to close. The Post also reports that the Yankees are interested in left-handers Jeremy Affeldt and Trever Miller.
According to the New York Daily News and the New York Post, outfielder Shelley Duncan was hospitalized with an unknown arm ailment last week in Arizona. The Post reports that the problem is believed to be a blood clot in an arm, but Yankees GM Brian Cashman and agent Barry Meister have declined comment.
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.