Marlins sign Jose Reyes – let the winter meetings begin

New York Mets Jose Reyes reacts in the dug out in the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field in New York City on July 16, 2011. UPI/John Angelillo

It appears as though both Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez will have new homes next season.

Pending a physical, the Reyes and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a six-year, $106 million deal. The 28-year-old shortstop hit .337 last season for the Mets and with Miami trying to draw good attendance for its new stadium, the Marlins put on a full-court press in attempts to sign Reyes over the past few weeks.

Reyes, who gives the Marlins an upgrade at shortstop defensively, will essentially force Ramirez to move to third base. When previously asked if he would be willing to change positions following reports that the Marlins were interested in Reyes, Ramirez said that, “I’m a shortstop.” But apparently he has agreed to play third now that Reyes is heading to Miami.

With the winter meetings starting up this week, more big signings could be on their way. Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Carlos Beltran and C.J. Wilson are some of the biggest names that could be heading to different cities next season. There was a report last week that the Cubs were interested in signing Pujols, although that may just be a ploy in order to drive up the price for the Cardinals, who are Chicago’s most bitter rival. It’s assumed that Pujols wants to stay in St. Louis, but only if the price is right. His last contract was rather owner-friendly and he has already said that he isn’t willing to give a hometown discount to the Cardinals, although that could change.

While Fielder’s next destination is largely unknown, it appears as though it won’t be Milwaukee, where the first baseman has spent his entire career to this point. There has been at least one report, however, that said Fielder has narrowed his choices of where he wants to sign to the Blue Jays, Rangers and Brewers, with Toronto thought to be the favorite.

Now that Reyes is off the market, Jimmy Rollins should become the most sought after shortstop. There is speculation that the Brewers and Cardinals are the Phillies’ primary competition when it comes to signing Rollins, who batted .268 with 16 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 142 games this past season for Philadelphia. Rollins just turned 33 on November 27.

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Quick-Hits: McNabb’s feelings hurt, the Giants’ steep price for Beltran & Jets loading up

Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb watches game action from the sideline during the second quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland on November 15, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch

In Wednesday’s Quick-Hits, I rant about Donovan McNabb’s feelings, the steep price that the Giants are willing to pay for Carlos Beltran, the Jets’ desire to build the best cornerback duo in the history of mankind, and much more.

– I’ll have more once the deal becomes official, but I’m rather surprised by the reports that the Giants are willing to give up top prospect Zack Wheeler in order to acquire Carlos Beltran. Yes the Giants need offense and yes Beltran provides said offense. But if Beltran walks at the end of the year when he becomes a free agent, then the Giants just gave away one of the top pitching prospects in baseball for a rental (albeit a very good rental, but a rental nonetheless). I guess it all comes down to philosophy. I wouldn’t give up a top prospect for a rental unless I had a good feeling that the rental would re-sign with me at the end of the year. And at this point, the Giants can’t possibly know if they can re-sign Beltran. Granted, if he helps them win another World Series then it was worth the price of Wheeler. A lot of people didn’t like the Tim Alderson-for-Freddy Sanchez trade a couple of years ago, or the deal that netted Javier Lopez from the Pirates last July. But without Sanchez or Lopez, the Giants wouldn’t have won last year, so maybe this is what GM Brian Sabean had to do in order to take another shot at a World Series title. (And really, isn’t that the point?) But assuming this deal comes to fruition, I like it a lot better from the Mets’ point of view. They didn’t care about Beltran’s contract – they wanted a prospect, and got one. The Giants seemingly didn’t want to give up a good prospect…so they gave up their best one. Beltran better have been worth it.

– Apparently Donovan McNabb had his feelings hurt when he learned that the Vikings tried pursuing Tyler Thigpen before calling the Redskins about a trade for him. If this is true, somebody should remind McNabb that he’s about to be traded for a sixth round pick and, perhaps more importantly, was a team’s backup plan when they couldn’t acquire Tyler freaking Thigpen. If that doesn’t paint a clear picture of your worth as a quarterback, nothing will. Considering he gets to stay in a West Coast Offense and will have Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin (and Sidney Rice?) to play with, McNabb has nothing to sulk about.

– NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi is reporting that the Jets are prepared to pay free agent Nnamdi Asomugha $12 million per year. Could you imagine being an opposing quarterback playing the Jets next year? I would check to a run or dump the ball off to my tight end damn near every play. Offensive Coordinator: “What happened on that audible, Anthony? That’s the 17th time you checked off to a run.” Me: “Ha! You want me to take a trip to Revis Island while flying Asomugha Airlines? Go f&$k yourself. I’ll be over here if you need me – I’d keep our running backs fresh if I were you.”

– If you got sick of hearing about Rex Ryan and the Jets last year then grab a brown paper bag and some TUMS because it’s only going to get worse this season. Re-signing Santonio Holmes was huge for Mark Sanchez and the offense, but wait until they sign Asomugha and Randy Moss. All of Bristol, Connecticut will explode due to ESPN trying to figure out how to cram one hour of Yankees and Red Sox highlights and Jets training camp coverage into SportsCenter.

-Depending on what the compensation winds up being, I think the Dolphins are about to make the most underrated move of free agency when they acquire Kyle Orton from the Broncos. Orton will never win a Super Bowl by himself a la Tom Brady (who had little marquee offensive talent around him when he won his three rings), but he’s a smart, competitive quarterback who can prosper if he has enough talent around him. Reuniting him with Brandon Marshall is incredibly smart on Miami’s part.

– Speaking of Orton, how pissed were the Eagles when they found out the Broncos made him available? The Eagles know they have a suitor for Kevin Kolb in the Cardinals, but the Broncos essentially just gave Arizona another option at quarterback. The Cardinals can now say to Philadelphia, ‘Why should we give up a first round pick for Kolb when we could have Orton, another guy we like, for less?’ Granted, it looks like Orton is a slam-dunk to land in Miami and Kolb is still a shoe-in for Arizona, but Philadelphia couldn’t have been too pleased when the quarterback market became more crowded.

– I’m not wild about the Colby Rasmus trade for the Cardinals. Edwin Jackson should pitch well under Dave Duncan in St. Louis this season, but he’s a free agent at the end of the year. If he doesn’t re-sign with the Cardinals, they essentially traded Rasmus (plus Brian Tallett and P.J. Walters) for Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepcynzki and Corey Patterson. I know the Cardinals had grown tired of Rasmus (and possibly his too-involved father), but that’s not enough compensation for a 24-year-old outfielder that is under team control through 2014. It’s not like Rasmus has cashed in on his potential yet, but St. Louis could have done better than this, right? What am I missing here?

MLB Trade Rumors: Are the Rays willing to trade B.J. Upton?

Seattle Mariners catcher Josh Bard throws back the baseball after the Tampa Bay Rays B.J. Upton got a called strike during the third inning of their MLB American League baseball game in St. Petersburg, Florida September 26, 2010. REUTERS/Scott Audette (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

I’ve put together a small buffet of latest MLB trade rumors for your reading pleasure. So bon appetit, douche bag. (That wasn’t very nice.)

Rays listening to offers for Upton?
ESPN’s Buster Olney believes that the Rays “will listen to just about every trade proposal thrown their way” in regards to centerfielder B.J. Upton. The 26-year-old is hitting just .237 on the season and is due $4.825 million before hitting free agency. He has yet to match his output from 2007 when he slugged .508 as a 22-year-old, but he’s entering the prime of his career and his defense is solid. The problem is that the centerfield market is relatively strong this year compared to other positions. Coco Crisp and Marlon Byrd are viable options and David DeJesus sometimes passes as a Major League Baseball player. If Colby Rasmus and/or Michael Bourn become available as well, contenders won’t feel the need to pay big for Upton.

Mets 100 percent certain to keep Reyes?
Olney tweets that the Mets are now “100 percent certain” that they won’t trade shortstop Jose Reyes before the deadline. A couple of months ago it seemed like a slam-dunk that the Mets would trade the 28-year-old, but obviously their stance on the topic has changed. Even though they’re are a long shot to win the NL Wild Card this year, it appears as though they don’t want to anger fans by trading away one of their beloved players. Now they’ll have to figure out how they’re going to pay Reyes the Carl Crawford-type money that he’s allegedly seeking.

Beltran given a list of possible trade suitors
Tim Brown and Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports are reporting that the Mets gave Carlos Beltran a list of possible trade suitors to consider. It’s unclear what teams are on that list but Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Cleveland have all been mentioned as potential landing spots over these last couple of weeks. That said, I want to officially go on record as predicting that the Giants will eventually bow out of the Beltran sweepstakes. New York sports radio was abuzz last week with the possibility of the Mets landing top prospect Zach Wheeler in exchange for Beltran. But New York sports radio is also drunk. The Giants aren’t going to give up Wheeler or Brandon Belt in any deal, so unless the Mets want to settle for a package centered around Johnny O. Sanchez (which is highly doubtful), I don’t think San Fran and New York will be a fit.

Pirates looking at the A’s Willingham, Breslow
It looks like the first place Pirates will be buyers at the trade deadline this year. I don’t know what alternate universe I’ve stepped into to start a paragraph by saying the “first place Pirates will be buyers” but I’ll go with it until I wake up. According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Bucs are mulling a potential trade with the A’s for outfielder Josh Willingham and left-hander Craig Breslow. I, along with other media members, believed that the offseason additions of Willingham, Hideki Matsui and David DeJesus would give the pitching-stacked A’s enough offense to win the AL West this year. But I, along with other media members, am not that bright. Biertempfel also speculates that Garrett Jones would likely be “out the door” in a potential swap with Oakland.

Reds targeting James Shields?
Olney tweets that James Shields is on the Reds’ radar right now, noting that the Rays’ scouts have been scouting Cincinnati’s minor leaguers this week. Shields signed a four-year extension with the Rays in 2009, but his contract is flexible in that he has club options for 2012, 2013 and 2014. The 29-year-old has been solid this season, compiling a 2.60 ERA with 145 strikeouts over 148 2/3 innings, so he won’t come cheap in terms of prospects. MLBTradeRumors.com speculates that other teams that may be interested are the Indians, Rangers, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Rangers.

Francisco Liriano-to-Yankees talk heating up

Over the weekend, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Yankees were keeping a close eye on Twins’ starter Francisco Liriano. On Monday, Nightengale told Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio that he thinks Liriano will be traded to New York sometime in the next two weeks.

From Rotoworld:

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Francisco Liriano throws against the Chicago White Sox in the third inning at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago on August 12, 2010. UPI /Mark Cowan

We’ve heard discussion about the Twins possibly trading Liriano from a variety of sources, so it appears this rumor has legs. The Yankees have an obvious need in their rotation, but the Twins would be trading away the closest thing they have to an ace at the moment. According to Nightengale, the Twins would acquire either Ivan Nova or Joba Chamberlain, in addition to other pieces. Stay tuned, because it sounds like things are about to get very interesting.

If the Twins acquire Chamberlain, I wonder if they’ll consider him a starter or a reliever. Because obviously the Yankees’ brass doesn’t feel that he’s a starter or else he would be mentioned along with the other 25 candidates that are trying out for the No. 4 and No. 5 spots in New York’s rotation.

If they do wind up trading Liriano, it’s hard to like Minnesota’s chances in the AL Central this year. The White Sox and Tigers have retooled and the Twins’ bullpen took some big hits in the offseason. Getting healthy seasons out of Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer would become even more vital given the losses the Twins have (or will) absorbed in their pitching staff.

Assuming Liriano could handle pitching in the Bronx, he would give immediate hope to the Yankees’ pitching situation. Now all of a sudden, less would be expected of A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes, which is huge in the case of Burnett (who succumbed to the pressure last season after pitching well in 2009).

Yankees keeping a close eye on Liriano?

Minnesota Twins pitching coach Rick Anderson (R) and catcher Joe Mauer (L) talk with starting pitcher Francisco Liriano during the sixth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago on September 14, 2010. UPI/Brian Kersey

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that the Yankees are keeping a close eye on Twins’ starter Francisco Liriano, while Minnesota is keeping a close eye on the Yankees’ prospects.

From Rotoworld.com:

Interesting. We heard earlier this month that the Twins’ front office could be open to the idea of dealing Liriano, and the Yankees, of course, immediately popped up as a potentially interested party. The southpaw is under team control through the end of next season, but if the Twins don’t think they’ll be able to lock him up on a long-term deal, exploring a trade does make some sense. Liriano, who had 201 strikeouts in 192 innings last season, would force the Yanks to give up at least one blue chip prospect.

The Yankees will need to make a move at some point because their starting rotation looks like a poorly constructed Jenga tower right now. CC Sabathia is the bottom holding everything together, while Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre comprise the rest of the shaky tower.

But I wonder whether the Yankees and Twins are a match. The Bombers have two catching prospects in Jesus Montero (who is probably viewed as un-tradeable) and Gary Sanchez that would fetch them a major-league starter, but it’s not like the Twins need a catcher. It would be interesting to see what Minnesota would ask for in exchange for Lirinao.

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