The Cubs are notorious for their off-season player fire-sales. Rumors spread just last week that the Rays would be interested in Carlos Pena, who’s one year $10 million contract expired at the end of the 2011 season. It was also rumored that the Cubs might be interested in shopping around their best SS since Shawn Dunston, Starlin Castro.
According to MLB sources close to Fox Sports writer Jon Paul Morosi, a potential one year deal with former Blue Jays catcher and current type-B free agent, Jose Molina, are not only rumored, but imminent. Morosi writes,
How much the contract and option are worth is undetermined at the moment.
Molina is coming off his best offensive season ( .281/.342/.415) and is known for his excellent handling of pitchers, calling of games, and cannon of an arm. Too, Molina has post-season experience and could benefit the Rays with his intimate knowledge of the AL East, as well as offering some well needed defense against runners on the base paths.
This is only a temporary means to an end, and something will still need to be done to fill the gaping hole that is a good, long term catcher. At 36, one could assume that Molina is near the end of his career. Odds are that he wouldn’t be playing all 162 games, especially when you consider that he played in 55 games in 2011. However, this could buy Tampa Bay at least a year (at most two) to allow both Lobaton and Chirinos to develop in AAA Durham. It could also let the Rays (cough, ahem) dump John Jaso and re-sign Kelly Shoppach on the cheap.
In other Hot-Stove news, the baseball owners and players have agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Of note, a second wildcard team from each league will be added to the post-season, and to move the Houston Astros from the NL to the AL.
It has yet to be determined whether the two wildcard teams will be facing one another in a one game sudden death playoff, or in a best of three or best of five game series. Whatever the case, this gives teams, like the Rays, that are in ultra competitive divisions a bit more wiggle room and opportunity to make it to the post-season. Hopes are high that this could start as early as the 2012 season. In any case though, this will go in effect no later than the 2013 season. Also, expect the Houston Astros to join the AL in the 2013 season. Good move? Indeed! With the Astros in the AL, the conundrum that is Interleague Play is solved because there will be 15 teams in each league. By the by, perhaps this will silence the jackals that assumed both the Rays and the A’s would be contracted…at least for the next five years.
Finally, Jon Heyman of SI.com recently tweeted that,
The Rays are hopeful of extending the contract of manager Joe Maddon.
Maddon’s three year contract extension from 2009 ends at the end of the 2012 season. After leading the Rays to three playoffs in four years including a 2008 World Series appearance, and winning the AL Manager of the Year twice in the last four years, we too at Raysbaseball.co hope the organization will extend Merlot Joe’s contract.
In addendum: I hastily failed to mention another huge (and positive) change that will be enacted in the 2012 season, the expansion of instant replay. At the moment, only home-run calls are subject to review. However, you can now tack on fair/foul and trapped/caught plays that will be subject to review, once MLB and the umpires agree on a method to conduct such reviews. How the instant replays will be reviewed is still in the air, and we’ll just have to wait and see how MLB will enact the change. Sadly missing from the change in expansion of instant replay are safe/out calls. Nevertheless, this change is a move in the right direction, and hopefully further change to include safe/out calls is not too far down the line.
This just in: tacit rumors are spreading that the Rays are on the verge of signing a Molina…Jose Molina to be precise. Molina, 36, hit .281 with three homers last year with Toronto. More to come.
As if Helly (2.95 ERA/.210 OBA/1.15 WHIP) winning the AL rookie of the year on Monday, and James Shields (2.40 ERA/.217 OBA/1.04 WHIP, cough… not to mention 225 K’s and 11 complete games) coming in third behind Jared Weaver and Justin Verlander for the Cy Young Award on Tuesday weren’t enough, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America just announced that Joe Maddon is the 2011 AL manager of the year!
In an almost unanimous vote, Maddon was listed first on 26 of the 28 of the ballots cast by two writers in each league city. The Tigers Jim Leyland, and the Rangers Ron Washington took the other two spots. Maddon received 133 manager of the year points, finding his closest competitor, Jim Leyland, 78 points behind him at 54. By the by, how Joe Girardi at only 14 points was even listed on the ballot is beyond me?!? This is the second time that Joe Maddon has won the AL manager of the year in the last four years.
Maddon led the Rays from an 0-6 start, to a spectacular (read: history changing) September run, which culminated when the Rays reached the playoffs for the third time in four years.
Huge congratulations go out to HellBoy, Shields, and Maddon! Now, let’s re-sign Damon and Kotchman, dump Upton and Howell, and get back to the business of putting together another dominating team!
According to MLB Trade Rumors (see quote below), the Rays are reportedly looking at the possibility of trading Davis to an, as of now, unspecified team.
When all is said and done, the Rays are expected to be willing to deal right-handerWade Davis this offseason. A major league source says that while Tampa Bay will listen on James Shields, Davis is the pitcher they will likely end up dealing for an outfielder or a catcher.
That begs the question, would BJ Upton be included in a package with Wade Davis? I’m intrigued. After all, why would the Rays look for an outfielder if BJ was expected to be a Ray in 2012? Even with the Joyce/Zobrist platoon in RF, the Rays have a solid outfield With Desmond Jennings and Upton holding down the fort in LF and CF respectively. Two that end, Tampa Bay also has two capable fourth outfielder candidates in Sam Fuld and Justin Ruggiano in case an injury pops up, etc. Fuld and Ruggiano aren’t everyday players, and I can’t conceive that Tampa Bay would be looking for another outfielder if they weren’t intending on making a hole open up somewhere for one. Me? I’d prefer to see a package made up of Niemann, Upton, and Elliot Johnson.
Why Niemann? Simply put, he was the Matt Garza of the 2011 season; a liability, not an asset. To give him credit, when he was healthy and kept his pitches down, he could hold his own ground. But, his lingering health and control issues made him inconsistent at best. Maybe it’s not fair to compare him solely to Garza because after all, Garza was a walking, talking head case. Nevertheless, you know what I mean. Why Johnson? Must I really defend myself on Elliot Johnson? I’ll throw one stat at you if I must: .197 BA.
David Price’s name has popped up lately as a potential trade candidate, though I don’t see him going anywhere in the near future. Price is still under contract until the end of the 2012 season. He’s also only projected to make $1.5 million this year, so he’s still relatively cheap. In all honestly, if Price is going to go anywhere this year, it will be after the 2012 All-Star break in my opinion. Why? The Rays presumably would want to see how much trade value could be accrued in him in 2012, after a slightly off 2011 season.
There is still no word on Johnny Damon, but that’s to be expected. Over the course of the last two off-seasons (2009 when the Tigers picked him up and 2010) Damon wasn’t signed until just prior to the start of spring training. If his comments while in a Rays uniform are anything to hang hope on, he’ll be a Ray again in 2012. Then again, his agent is super agent, Scott Boras, so making predictions aren’t really the best means to determine what’s or if’s.