The Friday Night Rumor Mill–February 10, 2006

The consensus is in: most of major league baseball, from Derek Jeter to the Astros’ front office, seems to think that Roger Clemens will pitch this season. That leaves just one question: which team will be the lucky recipient of his 43-year-old services? Given that Clemens has already said he doesn’t think he can put in a full season at his age, the Astros seem to be the odds-on favorites. Houston can’t sign him until May 1 anyway, which would give Clemens a month to six weeks off at the beginning of the season. The biggest obstacle to the Astros’ re-signing Clemens will be, of course, the money. They won’t go anywhere near the $20 million mark, instead trying to get Clemens to sign a deal in the $10 to 12 million range. If Clemens decides that’s not sufficient compensation, then he’ll probably turn to the Yankees, who have both a place in the rotation and the payroll maneuverability to give Clemens a contract in the range of $16 to $20 million. If Clemens were to turn down the Yankees, his next options would be the Red Sox, who are already planning a substantial one-year offer to “The Rocket.” That would leave the Rangers in fourth place in the Clemens Sweepstakes…

The Devil Rays haven’t given up on the idea of trading Julio Lugo, but are simply being cautious and waiting for the right offer to come around—preferrably one that is centered on young pitching. The Rays can afford to be patient since there are many in the organization who feel B. J. Upton isn’t ready to play shortstop and may need two or three months of seasoning in the minor leagues or some time as a DH. If the Devil Rays do come around and deal Lugo, the likeliest destination would be the Cubs, who are itching to supplant Todd Walker and his declining range…

The Nationals made one good move and one questionable move this week in signing Matthew LeCroy to a one-year contract and offering a similar contract to Sammy Sosa. LeCroy’s powerful right-handed bat will make him a serviceable backup and complement to left-handed hitters Nick Johnson (first base) and Brian Schneider (catcher), while also giving Frank Robinson a potentially good pinch-hitter for the late innings. As for Sosa, giving him a guaranteed major league contract seems like a stretch (especially with Ryan Church available to play left field), given Sammy’s abysmal production the past two seasons. If Sosa has a good spring, it will probably increase the chances of either Alfonso Soriano or Jose Vidro being traded sometime between now and Opening Day. Soriano still wants no part of left field, while Vidro’s diminishing range at second base has become a concern. One team that may be interested in Soriano is the Cubs, who are not satisfied with either Walker or Jerry Hairston and would like to add a premier second baseman (at least one who can hit, because Soriano can’t field). But they may be unwilling to give up prized left-hander Rich Hill as part of any package. The Nationals are encountering the same problem once faced by the Rangers. No one wants to give up quality pitching for a hit-or-miss player like Soriano. The fact that Soriano lost his arbitration case and will “settle” for a $10 million salary will make him only slightly more attractive in a potential trade…

While Soriano’s presence on the trade market is no surprise, another player has strangely moved onto the block. The Brewers are quietly letting it be known that they will consider offers for Carlos Lee, who played well in his first season in Milwaukee. Why would the Brewers want to trade Lee? Well, there are two reasons. “El Caballo” can be a free agent after this season, and the Brewers are worried that they won’t be able to sign him longterm. The Brewers also have some depth in the outfield, with prospect Corey Hart and the newly acquired Gabe Gross available as potential replacements. If the Brewers do decide to unload Lee, they’ll have several serious suitors, including the Angels, Blue Jays, and Cubs.

2 Comments

Do you think the Red Sox are going to be able to trade David Wells?

Kellia, yes, assuming that Wells shows his knee to be OK this spring, the Red Sox will be able to trade him. There’s always a market for a quality starting pitcher, even one with Wells’ baggage. Wells to the Padres could be a scenario that unfolds this spring.

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