Monday, December 6, 2010
Here and there from the winter meetings
By Gordon Edes
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. -- What we've learned and heard around the lobby Christmas tree here at the Swan and Dolphin hotel in Disney, site of baseball's winter meetings:
* The Padres could have had shortstop Jose Iglesias in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, but not Iglesias and Kelly. San Diego needs a shortstop, but decided to pass on Iglesias because of questions about how much he'll hit. "He'll fit perfectly with Boston,'' our source said, "because they can bat him ninth and he'll give them unbelievable defense.''
* The two Chicago teams, the Cubs and White Sox, were the other top bidders for Gonzalez. After the Padres said no to the White Sox, the White Sox signed free agent Adam Dunn. The Padres went to the Cubs with the offer the Red Sox had made, and the Cubs said they could not match it. The Cubs aren't moving their terrific young shortstop, Starlin Castro.
* The Red Sox will not be in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes. The darkhorse team to watch in the high-stakes bidding for the left-hander: the Angels. The consensus has been that it will come down to the Yankees and Rangers. "We're pretty set with our starting pitching,'' one club source said.
* Theo Epstein, at the Fenway Park press conference announcing the Gonzalez deal, reiterated that the Sox are still in the market for a right-handed bat. According to a major league source, one that is available is Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham, who is a year away from free agency and posted a .264/.384/.446/.830 line hitting from the right side last season. How much interest do the Sox have? "The asking price has always been high,'' one team source indicated.
Willingham was paid $4.6 million and is eligible for arbitration. The Nationals do not feel pressured to move him -- once they add a left-handed hitting first baseman to go with Ryan Zimmerman and Werth, they could have a pretty fair offense.
"We’re going to continue to focus on the bullpen as an area we want to shore up on the club,” said Epstein. “Now that we have Adrian in the fold, we can focus on maybe bolstering the lineup more, adding perhaps a right-handed hitter if we can find one that’s the right fit. Or add an outfielder if we find a right fit, but we’re also confident to play out with the group [of outfielders] we have. I know going down there that we have less need than we did 24 hours ago, but more opportunities to fill out the rest of squad.”
* What about Carl Crawford? Indications are that Crawford will get the eight years he's seeking, especially after the Werth deal, and the Red Sox are unlikely to go there.
* Don't rule out the Angels turning to Adrian Beltre as an alternative to signing Crawford.
* The Sox are in play for free agent left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes, who is attracting a lot of interest.
* Hideki Okajima's Boston-based agent, Joseph Rosen, said he expected to speak "soon" with the Sox, but indicated "pretty strong interest" from other clubs. The Hanshin Tigers are also expected to offer Okajima a multi-year deal to return to Japan, according to Japanese media reports.
* Andrew Miller, another left-hander nontendered by the Sox after coming from Florida in a trade for Dustin Richardson, is attracting plenty of attention here, according to his agent, Mark Rodgers.
"Andrew Miller is still a very young player who has never been hurt,'' Rodgers said. "[Nontendering] opened the floodgates for other clubs to openly express interest.
"The Red Sox are clearly on the list of teams Andrew would be interested in playing for. The Red Sox haven't gone away in this process. They've made it clear they're absolutely interested in signing him.''
* Arizona GM Kevin Towers, who created a stir during the GM meetings when he said he'd listen to offers for outfielder Justin Upton, said Monday that he'll "probably" be holding onto him. The Red Sox were one of the clubs that immediately engaged Towers, but Arizona didn't receive any offers that led them to pull the trigger.
* The Pirates have heard from a couple of clubs about their gifted young outfielder Andrew McCutchen, but the Red Sox aren't one of them. The Pirates would have to be "overwhelmed" to move him, according to a big-league source.
* The Blue Jays were making a strong bid for first baseman (and Haverhill native) Carlos Pena, according to another club with strong interest in Pena.