Adding a credible voice to what we at Raysbaseball.co believe about the prospects of both 2011 DH Johnny Damon, and first baseman Casey Kotchman returning for the 2012 season, Rays beat writer, Marc Topkin, had this to say in a Heater (the Times Rays blog) piece today,
Friedman maintained his off-season long position that both DH Johnny Damon and 1B Casey Kotchman are candidates to return. But realistically if the Rays are going to improve they’d have to upgrade at at least one of those positions, so at most only one would return.
As noted yesterday, former Padres first baseman, Anthony Rizzo, was picked up by the Cubs yesterday, leaving free agents Carlos Pena and Casey Kotchman, and the Angels Mark Trumbo, as the three most looked at candidates who could fill Tampa Bay’s hole at first base.
This humble blogger thinks that if it comes down to a case of one-or-the-other, Tampa Bay is more apt to re-sign Damon than Kotchman.
Unless the Rays are willing to trade for a DH, which I don’t think they are, there really aren’t many designated hitters left on the free agent market.
So, what are your thoughts on this minor conundrum?
It was just announced that Anthony Rizzo, the recently displaced (by Yonder Alonso) Padres first baseman, has been acquired by the Cubs for RHP Andrew Cashner, and outfielder Kyung-Min Na. Josh Byrnes, the Padres GM was quoted as saying, “The acquisition of Yonder Alonso provided us the flexibility to make this trade and acquire a quality, young power arm in Andrew Cashner,” and “We are happy to add a pitcher with the pedigree of Cashner and an outfielder with the athleticism of Na,” with reference to the trade. Cashner was 2-7 with a 4.29 ERA over his two years of service with the Cubs. Kyung-Min Na has spent the last two seasons in the Cubs farm system.
It could be speculated that the Rays may have wanted more than the Padres were willing to give for a pitcher like Wade Davis, or Jeff Niemann. This trade marks another young first basemen, that fits the Rays specs, that has been taken off the market. No mentions of a Mark Trumbo or Carlos Pena deal have been made today, nor have we heard anything about the Rays re-signing Casey Kotchman.
This just in: Rays principal owner, Stu Sternberg, and St. Petersburg mayor, Bill Foster, are finally scheduled to meet on January 17th. And you thought the Mayan calendar was supposed to end 11months from now?!
What will be discussed is unknown. I wouldn’t be surprised if the agenda stays on the down-low though, at least for the time being. Presumably, lots of petulant whining from both sides will be audible, and talk surrounding the Rays future in the Trop is expected. More on this as the news becomes available. Until then, I’ll be working on my armageddon bunker.
2:55 PM: The finalized terms of the Fernando Rodney, 34, contract have been released. Rodney will reportedly make $1.75 MM in 2012, with a $2.5 MM option in 2013. There is also $25o K buyout in his contract.
My first thought? I’m not a huge fan of one year contracts, especially with players who, as one Angels fan put it, should “save everyone their time. Next time just walk up and place the ball on a tee.” Rodney, who has some post-season experience with the 2006 Tigers, appeared in 32 innings in 2011, posting a 4.50 ERA with more walks (at 28) than strike-outs (at 26). Ouch.
After careful consideration though, I’m starting to warm up to the idea that this could be a good deal. From a financial aspect, if Rodney does not perform well in 2012, the $1.75 MM is a small chunk of change in what can be considered somewhat of a low risk investment.
He does have a very good change-up, a 95 MPH fastball, and a 49% (50+% in 2011) ground ball rate. If the Rays can straighten out his linger control issues, Rodney represents a break of sorts for Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta, last seasons bullpen workhorses who combined pitched in 124.4 innings. Also, from a long term perspective, he could be an anchor in the 2013 bullpen, assuming the Rays don’t offer either Peralta or Farnsworth a new contract after the 2012 season. Rodney has the potential to be a very good back end, Grant Balfour-like, reliever assuming he can keep his control in check. In the very least, he will be effective in niche of non-leverage situations.
Steve Slowinski of DRaysbay put things into perspective well,
The Rays obviously see something in Rodney, and they seem to strongly believe they can turn him around. He’s a gamble, for sure, but I’ll trust the Rays’ staff on this one. If they think they can fix Rodney, then I’m all for it.
6:56 AM According to DRaysbay, the Rays have signed, or are close to signing, the imposing former RHP reliever from the Angels, Fernando Rodney. The deal is reportedly for one year, and worth somewhere in the $2 MM range. I’ll have more on this later. Until then, check out the DRaysbay piece here.