Roundup: Damon doesn't fit Yanks' budget
Valverde, Pineiro remain in thinning free-agent market
Big names continue to be plucked away from the free-agent pool, but other notables still remain. So here's a look at the Hot Stove happenings from Wednesday.
Johnny Damon has become arguably the biggest name remaining in the free-agent market, but it doesn't look like he'll sign with the biggest-spending team, The New York Post believes. The newspaper wrote Wednesday morning that the Yankees are telling agents they only have $2 million to spend on a left fielder, a figure that would be too low to nab Damon, who reportedly wanted a two-year deal worth about $20 million earlier in the offseason. The Yankees would like to either get a replacement for current starter Brett Gardner, or perhaps even a right-handed-hitting platoon player. The Post mentioned that Xavier Nady entices the Yankees the most, but the former Bronx Bomber -- also a Scott Boras client -- likely won't sign for $2 million, either. But these are the Yankees, of course, and that $2 million figure can surely increase if it has to. If not, Reed Johnson, Rocco Baldelli, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Marcus Thames are also out there for the taking.
Kemp, Dodgers nearing two-year deal
Matt Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, told XM Radio's MLB Home Plate on Tuesday night that contract negotiations with the Dodgers are progressing, and the focus is on a two-year deal. Stewart suggested that "the uncertainty of ownership" is the reason the terms of the deal would be short, but added, "I think what clearly comes out in our talks is that we both, both the team and the player, want to try to get something done where the player will remain in Los Angeles for a period of time." The Dodgers opened multiyear contract discussions with the 25-year-old outfielder in late December. Kemp is eligible for arbitration for the first time in his career this offseason and will see a significant bump from the $467,000 he made in 2009 after winning Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards. But Stewart said, "It's just a matter of time, I think, before we come up with something" with regard to a contract extension.
Pirates agree to deal with Carrasco, eye relievers
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the Pirates agreed to a Minor League deal with reliever D.J. Carrasco and "have moved deeper into already productive talks" with free-agent right-hander Octavio Dotel. Carrasco is set to make $950,000 if he makes the team and can earn up to $250,000 in performance bonuses, according to the report. The newspaper wrote that management is "equally deep" IN talks to sign a third unknown reliever to a Major League contract. Possibilities include Jamey Wright, Kiko Calero, Brendan Donnelly, Seth McClung, Russ Springer and Chan Ho Park, but not Kevin Gregg, according to the Post-Gazette.
Mets, Molina close?
The two sides have been linked all winter but the Mets are "close" to reaching a deal with catcher Bengie Molina, according to FoxSports.com. Molina is looking for a two-year deal but the Mets have been reluctant to guarantee the second year considering he is 35 years old. Molina batted .265 with 20 home runs and a .285 on-base percentage in 132 games last year.
Valverde to Tigers inevitable?
The Tigers are believed to be the most logical destination at this point in the offseason for free-agent closer Jose Valverde, and according to FoxSports.com, Detroit is believed to have the biggest current offer out to him. The Web site added that the Cubs aren't interested, but one source indicated that the division-rival Cardinals could emerge as a suitor, even though they have All-Star closer Ryan Franklin. Valverde, who led the National League in saves in 2007 and '08, earned an $8 million base salary from the Astros in '09, but the Tigers offer is unknown. Detroit is in need of a closer after losing Fernando Rodney and Brandon Lyon to free agency, and MLB.com's Jason Beck wrote Tuesday that the Tigers "currently stand as the most interested and most logical destination" for the 30-year-old right-hander's services. Many teams have shied away from Valverde because he's a Type-A free agent who declined arbitration, meaning they'd have to give up a Draft pick upon signing him. But Beck adds that the Tigers "are set up to handle [giving up a Draft pick] better this year than most."
Dodgers interested in Pineiro, Padilla
The Dodgers need a veteran fourth starter, and they've zeroed in on Joel Pineiro and Vicente Padilla, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Los Angeles decided against offering arbitration to Randy Wolf last month, and he then signed a three-year, $29.75 million contract with the Brewers. The Dodgers prefer to make a one-year commitment -- a philosophy that would likely take them out of the running for Pineiro -- and are not too keen on Jon Garland, who has said all offseason he'd prefer to sign with a West Coast team, Gurnick added.
Padres in on Dye?
Free agent outfielder Jermaine Dye, a right-handed hitting power threat, has floated onto the Padres' offseason radar. According to a source on Wednesday, the Padres have expressed interest in Dye, who turns 36 on Jan. 28.
Huff, Church official
Two recent free-agent signings were made official on Wednesday by respective clubs, as Aubrey Huff finalized a one-year deal with the Giants and Ryan Church's one-year pact with the Pirates was completed. In Huff, signed for $3 million, the Giants hope to strengthen the middle of their order with a potent lefty bat. The 33-year-old, who's coming off a down year but won a Silver Slugger Award with the Orioles in 2008, will likely play first base, which would move Pablo Sandoval to third and the recently acquired Mark DeRosa to left field. In Church, signed for a base salary of $1.5 million plus another $1.32 million in incentives, the Pirates get an experienced fourth outfielder who could step into the everyday role if needed. The 31-year-old lefty hitter has experience at all three outfield positions and was an everyday player with the Nationals in 2007, when he batted .272 with 15 homers and 70 RBIs in 144 games.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.