Thought I'd share some of the rumors on ESPN Insider. I realize a few are already beling discussed; but thought I'd post some of these anyway during this off-season lull.
Percival on many teams' radar
The Yankees, Brewers, Giants, Astros and Rays are among the teams in the running to land Troy Percival, who first must decide what he wants in his next deal, ESPN's Buster Olney reports. Percival went 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in 34 appearances for St. Louis in 2007 and could come back as a closer, set-up man or middle man. Percival may decide within the next week what kind of situation he would prefer.
Staying or going? Francisco CorderoThe Brewers have a strong proposal on the table for closer Francisco Cordero and still hope to keep him, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. But other teams are vying for his services as well. "Francisco has a sincere desire to come back there," agent Bean Stringfellow told the newspaper. "We're continuing to talk. We're at a different stage [in negotiations] in general. Things have progressed, both with the Brewers and other teams. We have some things to consider."
Twins shopping Santana
According to ESPN's Buster Olney, Twins GM Bill Smith is quietly gauging the market for left-hander Johan Santana, determining what deals he might have, after the left-hander reportedly turned down a five-year, $93 million offer from Minnesota. The Mets will be among the most aggressive teams in any Santana bidding.
Ray of light? Cesar Izturis
The Rays and Cardinals are among the many teams which have shown interest in free-agent shortstop Cesar Izturis, ESPN's Buster Olney reports. Izturis would fit the Rays perfectly. He is among the finest defensive shortstops in the game, and the Rays would benefit from his efficiency and infield leadership. Tampa Bay already looks to have what is going to be a good offensive team, so Izturis, a career .259 hitter, would not be required to do a lot offensively.
The growing expectation around the game is that the Angels will land Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera, ESPN's Buster Olney reports. According to The Los Angeles Times, the Marlins want second baseman Howie Kendrick be included in any deal for Cabrera, and they have inquired about catcher Jeff Mathis and top prospect Brandon Wood, who can play shortstop or third. But Florida also covets young pitching, so it's possible the Angels may be able to use two pitchers -- either Ervin Santana or Joe Saunders and top prospect Nick Adenhart -- in a trade for Cabrera and leave either Kendrick or Mathis out of the deal. The Dodgers are not close to acquiring Cabrera, because so far, the cost, in young players, is prohibitive for L.A. The Dodgers reportedly would have to give up four players from a group that includes pitcher Chad Billingsley, pitching prospect Clayton Kershaw, third baseman Andy LaLoche, first baseman James Loney and outfielder Matt Kemp.
Pinstripes want Pettitte back
Yankees manager Joe Girardi hopes to convince Andy Pettitte to return to the Bronx, Newsday reports. The left-hander has yet to decide whether he will pitch for the Yankees in 2008 or retire. "I think it's very important that he comes back," Girardi told the newspaper. "I think that he knows the Yankee way, and he was a big plus in the clubhouse, as well as on the field. I know what Andy Pettitte's all about, and I would love to have him back." Pettitte declined his $16 million player option for next season, but Yankees senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner has said it is a standing offer for Pettitte.
M's on a quest
The Mariners are doing all they can to land free- agent ace Hiroki Kuroda, considered the top pitcher coming out of Japan this season. According to the Seattle Times, Seattle sent a three-man contingent -- including GM Bill Bavasi and manager John McLaren -- to meet with the 32-year-old right-hander in Japan. Unlike Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed with with the Red Sox last winter, Kuroda is not subject to the posting system. He can sign with any team and is being pursued by numerous clubs. The Dodgers are regarded as Seattle's most serious competitors because of Kuroda's reputed desire to play on the West Coast. The M's could make a preemptive signing before he got seriously involved with other teams, as they did two years ago with catcher Kenji Johjima. And Johjima's presence is a potential selling point for Kuroda, whose transition to the major leagues would be easier with a countryman behind the plate. Kuroda is projected as a middle-of-the-rotation starter. He was 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA last season for the Hiroshima Carp, and posted a 103-89 record with a 3.69 ERA over 11 seasons in Japan.
North Side hope
The Cubs are aggressively pursuing Kaz Matsui, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. GM Jim Hendry had lunch with Matsui on Tuesday in Los Angeles at Riviera Country Club. Matsui, a switch-hitting second baseman coming off his best season, turned down a two-year, $7 million offer to stay in Colorado and could be looking at a three-year deal worth between $11 million and $15 million as a free agent. Hendry wouldn't discuss details of his talks with Matsui, but a deal does not appear imminent.
Deal or no deal?
The A's plan to weigh their trade options, ESPN's Buster Olney reports. Oakland executives will consider what they might get in return for trading pitchers Dan Haren and Joe Blanton. The Dodgers, who came close to a Blanton deal in July, have called, and so have the Mets. Arizona might be involved, and so, too, could the Yankees. If Oakland could get a haul of six or seven or eight young players for Haren and Blanton, the A's would have to take a hard look at it, and consider whether the prospective deals would help to fill in the talent gap that the organization is suffering from these days.
Benson ready to throw
Eight teams have expressed interest in free-agent starter Kris Benson, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Benson, who is recovering from rotator cuff surgery, is expected to throw off a mound this week and could be ready for the start of spring training.
Eye of the Tiger
Kenny Rogers expects to speak with the Tigers soon regarding a 2008 contract, the latest indication Rogers will ultimately pitch in Detroit next year, the Detroit Free Press reports. Rogers, 43, is representing himself after firing agent Scott Boras last week. The Tigers have made the best-known offer to Rogers, a one-year, $8-million contract tendered during negotiations with Boras. There appears to be little serious interest in Rogers outside of Detroit. The Rangers have had limited contact with Rogers in recent days, and the Mariners are intensifying their efforts to sign free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, according to the Tacoma News Tribune.
Coco on the move?
Red Sox GM Theo Epstein will consider the many inquiries he's had on Coco Crisp, who could be a major chip in a bigger deal, the Boston Globe reports. The Orioles, A's, Braves and Twins have expressed interest in Crisp. According to Peter Gammons, the Red Sox would like to move Coco Crisp for young pitching and/or catching. Crisp is an attractive option for many teams in need of a center fielder because he's young (28) and affordable ($3.8 million in 2007) compared to the center fielders in the free-agent market.
Mahay to sign with Yanks?
The Yankees appear to be the early front-runner to sign Ron Mahay, the most coveted lefty reliever on the market, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reports. A decision could come as soon as Monday.
Clement drawing some interest
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told the Toronto Sun he has had conversations with the agent for free-agent starter Matt Clement. The Rockies also have expressed interest, The Denver Post reports. "It's preliminary, but it's appreciated," agent Barry Axelrod said of the Rockies' call. "We will see where it goes."
Rowand thinking blue
Sources told ESPN's Buster Olney that the Los Angeles Dodgers, a team beset with internal strife at the end of last season, have decided to make a heavy play for free-agent center fielder Aaron Rowand. Beyond the offense and defense Rowand provides, the Dodgers hope he will also help change the culture of the team. Rowand, 30, hit .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBIs for the Phillies, while playing in 161 games, but he also is regarded as one of the great character players in baseball. "The interest is definitely mutual," Rowand's agent, Craig Landis, told the Riverside Press Enterprise. "He definitely would be interested in hearing what the Dodgers have to say as time goes on." Rowand is seeking a long-term contract with no-trade protection that could garner him up to $15 million per year. One factor working in the Dodgers' favor is that Rowand has Southern California ties. He grew up in Glendora and attended Cal State Fullerton. If the Dodgers do land Rowand -- or another premium center fielder such as Torii Hunter or Andruw Jones -- Pierre would be shifted to left field.
Tiger style for Hernandez?
The Tigers have expressed interest in signing free agent right-hander Livan Hernandez, the Detroit Free Press reports. Hernandez, 32, is renowned for his durability. He has thrown 200 or more innings in nine of his 10 full seasons in the majors. Though he has never pitched for an American League team, Hernandez could satisfy Detroit's need for a veteran pitcher if Kenny Rogers signs elsewhere. Rogers, 43, recently told the Dallas Morning News that he would consider returning to the Rangers. Hernandez played with current Tigers Gary Sheffield and Edgar Renteria on the Jim Leyland-managed 1997 Florida Marlins. Hernandez, then a rookie, was named MVP of the NLCS and World Series as Florida won the title.