Major Rumor Quick Reactions 7/28

BALTIMORE - APRIL 29: Miguel Tejada #9 of the Baltimore Orioles throws the ball to first base during the game against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards on April 29, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Is anyone else starting to get antsy? We still haven't seen another trade since Arizona and LA agreed to the Dan Haren deal. In fact, more than anything, it seems like we've been seeing major trade candidates fall by the wayside. 

You got the Tigers and Rangers losing interest in Mike Lowell. You got the Rangers telling other teams that they can no longer take on any payroll this season. You got the Marlins trying to sign Dan Uggla and Ricky Nolasco long-term, rather than try to trade them. You got the Chris Coghlan injury seriously impacting the likeliness of a Cody Ross trade. 

But there were a few good rumors last night that I didn't get to touch on, so let's get started and hopefully there are some interesting developments today.

The Phillies aren't the only team with interest in Miguel Tejada. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, St. Louis has interest in the third baseman, too. (MLBTR link)

 

George A. King III of the New York Post is reporting that the Blue Jays asked for set-up Joba Chamberlain from the Yankees, and either Jose Iglesias or Casey Kelly from the Red Sox, in exchange for left-handed reliever Scott Downs. In a separate tweet, Jon Heyman of SI reported that Toronto asked the Yankees for top prospect Jesus Montero. Downs is a free agent after this season, so that's a huge asking price for two months of a relief pitcher. (MLBTR link)

That's an absolutely monster asking price, and one that no team should meet. Downs is a very, very good reliever; one of the best lefties around.

But we're talking about two months of a relief pitcher, which has extremely limited value no matter how you slice it. I know that we're talking about intra-divisional trades here, but this price seems to be exorbitant for that kind of asset. Chamberlain is already a fantastic reliever that's under team control through 2013, and Montero, Iglesias and Kelly are all regarded as very good-to-great prospects depending on who you talk to.

I love what Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has been doing, but I don't think we're going to see Downs in Boston or New York this year with that kind of asking price.

The Dodgers are apparently making a strong push to trade for Scott Podsednik. Jayson Stark of ESPN reported that the Dodgers are getting closer to a Podsednik deal, while Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that LA is talking to the Royals about Podsednik but is also considering another option to shore up their outfield situation. Rosenthal also mentioned a source who said that the Giants are still in it, though. This comes after yesterday's talk about some NL West teams having interest in Podsednik, which I touched on. (MLBTR link)

Podsednik wouldn't be a bad addition for the Dodgers. The Dodgers currently have Manny Ramirez on his third DL stint of the season, and his primary back-up, Reed Johnson, is on the DL as well. Xavier Paul has struggled in his chances so far this season and Garret Anderson has proven to be all but done in the majors at age 38.

Podsednik isn't anything special, as I said yesterday, but he wouldn't be an awful stopgap in left field for a team that needs some help. He's cheap and he's pretty solid.

Oh, and he hit a walk-off home run in the World Series, too!

According to ESPN's Buster Olney, the Chicago Cubs have been telling teams that Carlos Zambrano is available. Once considered the team's ace, Zambrano has spent the past month or so on the restricted list after a dugout tirade in June. The commitment on Big Z is huge: about $6.8M left for 2010, $17.9M for 2011, $18M for 2012 and a vesting option at $19.25M for 2013. (MLBTR link)

Zambrano may be available, but I doubt he's moving this summer. He's still capable of being a high-quality starter given his durability, solid GB rates, and ability to miss bats, but the past couple years his volatile personality has often gotten in the way of his immense talent.

As recently as last season Zambrano put up 3.6 WAR in only 169 innings, so he can clearly still help a team. The problem is that he's paid to be so much more than merely a good starter, as he's one of the highest-paid players in baseball. I fully believe that the Cubs should find interest in Zambrano if they're willing to eat salary; there are enough reasons to believe that Zambrano can thrive once again that for some teams it's likely worth some kind of risk in terms of money and prospects. 

The Cubs will likely have to eat a lot of money, but at same time this guy's value hasn't fallen so far that he'd be worth releasing or anything. My guess is that he doesn't get dealt until the winter, when Chicago can get more bidders involved and get a better grasp on the situation. But as a Chicagoan, there's a small part of me that's worried that the Cubs will trade him and then he'll slide off like three straight 4+ win seasons.

After rumblings came out, including a report by FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, talking about the Rockies as sellers, Joel Sherman of the New York Post has reported that the Rockies are "quietly shopping" starter Aaron Cook. Colorado is apparently willing to include money in the deal to make it work. If he's traded, Cook will be owed about $3.75M for this season along with $10.75M for 2011, and there's a $10.5M mutual option for 2012. He receives $125K bonuses in each year that he pitches 200+ innings. (MLBTR link)

When Cook signed his three-year, $30M extension with Colorado before the 2009 season, he had emerged as one of the best sinkerballers around. Armed with durability, low walk rates and high groundball rates, Cook put up 11.5 WAR from 2006 to 2008 despite some of the worst strikeout numbers for any starter in baseball. 

But in the past two seasons, Cook's seen his velocity decline and his walk rate increase, making him a far less effective pitcher. With the emergence of right-hander Jhoulys Chacin in the rotation, Colorado clearly would like to make room while possibly saving some money and adding some talent. Chacin is currently in the minors as the team's Opening Day rotation is finally intact, but at this point it's become pretty clear that he's one of their five best starting pitchers. 

Cook probably isn't worth what he's owed, but he could end up being a bargain depending on how much of the contract Colorado is willing to eat. Maybe Cook could be a good fit for the Phillies; his groundball tendencies would fit into their ballpark well. And while Colorado is pretty far away from a playoff spot, they could still trade Cook without hurting the team all that much.

 

Oakland's Michael Wuertz will be among the relievers that Boston targets this week, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Wuertz is owed roughly $860K for the rest of 2010 along with $2.8M in 2011, and there's also a 2012 club option for $3.25M. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also reported that it would require a huge offer to pry Wuertz from Oakland, though. (MLBTR link)

It's easy to understand why Boston would have interest in the 2009 version of Wuertz; he was among the best relievers in the AL. He finished 2009 with by far the best whiff and contact rates in baseball (among pitchers with 50+ IP), emerging as arguably the most difficult-to-hit reliever in the game thanks to a slider that's often described with an array of superlatives.

Beginning 2010, a shoulder injury sapped a significant amount of Wuertz's velocity. And the results tumbled along with his velocity, as Wuertz saw significant decline in his numbers across-the-board. In May, Wuertz averaged fastball and slider velocities were 89.1 and 83.5 MPH, respectively. In July, his average fastball and slider velocities are up to 90.2 and 85.1 MPH, respectively. Those marks are much closer to where they were in 2009.

The results aren't quite there yet, but there's some huge upside in adding Wuertz. It's really not surprising that Oakland expects a big haul for him. I'm still trying to figure out how they got him so cheap from Chicago.

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reported yesterday that the Phillies and Rockies have interest in Nationals infielder Cristian Guzman. Guzman can play both middle infield positions, but he's owed roughly $3M in salary through the end of the season. ESPN's Jayson Stark, on the other hand, has reported that Baltimore's Miguel Tejada is Philadelphia's primary target for infield help. Tejada is owed $2.25M through the rest of the season and will receive $250K in bonuses if he's traded and reaches 630 PA. (MLBTR link)

Pretty much the only way that Guzman gets moved is if Washington is willing to eat most, if not all, of his salary. He continues to put up strong batting averages (he's a .300 hitter since the beginning of the 2007 season), but weak walk rates and declining power have made him a firmly below-average hitter.

He's currently got a .283/.327/.362 line in 345 PA for D.C. this season, good for a .304 weighted on-base average. ZiPS actually projects some increased production out of him for the rest of the season, so he could be a pretty solid bench piece. 

As for Tejada, clearly Philadelphia believes that his bat will bounce back. ZiPS doesn't necessarily disagree, projecting a .290/.329/.411 line for the remainder of the season that's much stronger than the line he's currently flashing in Baltimore. Presumably the plan would be to play Tejada at third base and Placido Polanco at second base while Chase Utley is on the DL. If Baltimore wants Philly to pick up most of his salary or give up a solid prospect, though, I'd probably look elsewhere. I know we're talking about Miguel Tejada, but this is a guy with a .292/.323/.418 line in his past 412 games. He's just not much of a difference-maker.

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