HOT BOARDS- RECENT Transaction Trends

RECENT Transaction Trends

 

 

 

Francisco Cordero

Francisco Cordero

 

 

(Tor – RP)No new player Notes
22 328 0
350
(Det – C,1B)New player notes
93 223 1
317
(LAD – RP)No new player Notes
7 301 0
308
(NYY – SP)No new player Notes
6 299 2
307
(Tex – SP)No new player Notes
9 252 0
261
(ChC – OF)No new player Notes
21 228 0
249
(StL – RP)No new player Notes
7 222 0
229
(NYM – 1B,2B,3B)No new player Notes
30 152 2
184
(Was – OF)Player notes
11 156 0
167
(Atl – SP)No new player Notes
133 29 2
164
(StL – SP)No new player Notes
9 154 0
163
(SF – 1B,OF)No new player Notes
141 10 0
151
(Mil – RP)No new player Notes
8 136 0
144
(LAA – OF)No new player Notes
119 22 1
142
(Was – RP)No new player Notes
15 120 1
136
(Pit – SP)No new player Notes
105 24 1
130
(Bos – RP)Player notes
88 35 0
123
(CWS – OF)No new player Notes
108 12 0
120
(Pit – OF)No new player Notes
111 7 1
119
(CWS – OF)No new player Notes
102 13 3
118
(Oak – RP)No new player Notes
65 49 2
116
(TB – 1B)No new player Notes
31 82 2
115
(Atl – 3B)Player notes
32 81 1
114
(Min – SP)No new player Notes
75 38 1
114
(Ari – OF)No new player Notes
95 16 2
113
(SF – RP)No new player Notes
88 24 1
113
(LAA – OF)Player notes
32 79 1
112
(SD – SP)No new player Notes
99 10 1
110
(Oak – OF)No new player Notes
1 109 0
110
(NYY – RP)No new player Notes
11 92 0
103
(SF – OF)No new player Notes
63 39 0
102
(Min – 3B)No new player Notes
9 92 0
101
(NYM – OF)No new player Notes
85 16 0
101
(LAD – 1B)No new player Notes
87 13 1
101
(KC – SP)No new player Notes
63 38 0
101
(Ari – 1B)No new player Notes
84 11 4
99
(CWS – OF)No new player Notes
87 10 1
98
(CWS – 1B)No new player Notes
77 18 3
98
(Det – OF)No new player Notes
49 48 0
97
(Tex – 1B,OF)No new player Notes
79 16 2
97
(SF – SP)No new player Notes
7 88 1
96
(Mia – SP)No new player Notes
73 23 0
96
(SD – 3B)No new player Notes
85 7 3
95
(Cin – RP)New player notes
45 50 0
95
(Ari – SP,RP)No new player Notes
18 74 0
92
(SD – SP)No new player Notes
78 13 0
91
(StL – OF)No new player Notes
38 53 0
91
(Col – OF)No new player Notes
82 7 1
90
(Tex – RP)No new player Notes
22 67 0
89
(Cle – 2B)No new player Notes
63 23 3
89

 

Note: Data on this page reflects transactions made in Fantasy Baseball.

 

The Heart Of The Order, 3-4 Power Combos

Dynamic 3-4 duos abound around big leagues

Pujols-Hunter, Fielder-Cabrera latest in long list of power combos

By John Schlegel / MLB.com
The conversation about the greatest 3-4 combinations in baseball history begins with Ruth-Gehrig, whose uniform numbers, one-name notoriety and Hall of Fame credentials tell you why.
English: Manny Ramirez in 2008.

Manny Ramirez

In more recent years, there have been some venerable combos, like Barry Bonds-Jeff Kent and Manny Ramirez-David Ortiz, and there remain many solid power duos taking up the Nos. 3 and 4 spots in lineups throughout the Majors today.

But the 3-4 conversation has changed a bit this offseason.

No longer will Braun-Fielder be a hyphenated word in these discussions. Pujols-Holliday didn’t last very long, and the Tigers came up with a pretty solid Plan B for losing half their 3-4 combo to injury this winter.

With the pieces seemingly in place now, here’s a glance at some of the best 3-4 combos in the game heading into 2012:

Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth's Monuments

Gehrig - Ruth by Espino Family

WINTER ADDITIONS

It’s hard not to put Miguel Cabrera-Prince Fielder right at the top of the list before they have even played their first game together, because their potential together is so spectacular.

English: Prince Fielder (left), Ryan Howard (c...

The Tigers already had a great combo with Cabrera and Victor Martinez, but the blockbuster Fielder acquisition takes it up a notch. Fielder was already part of one of the game’s best while teaming with reigning National League Most Valuable Player Award winner Ryan Braun in Milwaukee, and he’s on to another good thing in Detroit — on paper, at least.

Of course, that new combo under the halo has some pop to it as well. Albert Pujols-Torii Hunter combines the best hitter of his generation with an All-Star who has put up 20-plus homers in 10 of the past 11 seasons.

Another boffo offseason move altered a 3-4 combo, albeit indirectly. With Jose Reyes installed at the top of the Marlins’ lineup, Hanley Ramirez-Mike Stanton hope to have more opportunities to knock in runs and, in Stanton’s case, knock baseballs to the moon. Heading into only his second full season in the Majors, Stanton is emerging as one of the game’s must-see power hitters behind the star Ramirez, who will be shifting to third base.

CLASSIC COMBOS

Alex Rodriguez sharing his thoughts on a calle...

The American League East’s beasts have the middle of the order covered with veteran hitters who have a powerful list of accomplishments. Mark Teixeira-Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees stands out as having perhaps the game’s best switch-hitter and the active leader in career homers, although a rebound year for A-Rod is in order.

In Boston, the Adrian Gonzalez-Kevin Youkilis combo is only one year in, but it has great potential. While Gonzalez delivered as advertised in his first season after being traded from the Padres, Youkilis has a two-year downturn to rebound from in the final year of his contract with the Sox.

And in the category of young duos taking over where Braun-Fielder left off, Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez-Troy Tulowitzki emerged the last few years as an up-and-coming combo. CarGo experienced a dip from his 2010 MVP Award-caliber season, but he still came close to matching Tulo’s 30-homer, 100-RBI effort.

The current combo with the most quality miles together is Philadelphia’s Chase Utley-Ryan Howard, but they’re on the mend. Utley lost much of last season to chronic knee pain, and Howard will be on the shelf at least into May with the Achilles tendon injury he suffered in the Phillies’ postseason finale. When on their games and healthy, Utley-Howard has been hard to top.

The Rangers, meanwhile, had an unorthodox 3-4 combo most of last season and into the playoffs, with Josh Hamilton-Michael Young, the latter of whom delivered just 11 homers — but also more than 200 hits and 100 RBIs — in the cleanup spot. But Young shared that spot for half the season, so Hamilton-Adrian Beltre might be considered one of the stronger combos around, too.

ON THE RISE As seen in Pujols’ career, if you have an MVP Award candidate as half of a combo, you have a good combo.

In Toronto, Jose Bautista-Adam Lind isn’t a one-man show by any means, but it doesn’t hurt that Bautista is hitting the last couple of years like he’s a Triple Crown winner waiting to happen. Ditto in L.A., where Andre Ethier-Matt Kemphas been a buzz combo for a few years now. But while Kemp’s star rose high in the sky last year, Ethier has seen his numbers dip each season since his career year in 2009.

Joey Votto

And in Cincinnati, Joey Votto-Jay Bruce really began to mesh as a formidable duo in 2011. They actually came the closest to any of these current 3-4 combos to hitting for 30-100 last year, falling one Votto homer and three Bruce RBIs short.

Then there was Braun-Fielder both crashing that barrier for the third time in the past four years. Meanwhile, the top power duo in the game was the 2-3 combo of Curtis Granderson and Teixeira, who combined for 80 homers and 230 RBIs.

Curtis Granderson at bat during a game between...

Every team has a 3-4 duo, and perhaps 2012 will bring others into the discussion. Maybe Ryan Zimmerman-Jayson Werth will get something going in Washington. Maybe Minnesota’s Joe Mauer-Justin Morneau will get back on track, together. Maybe a new combo will emerge for us to admire, or one we’ve known will take it to the next level.

For now, there are plenty of 3-4 duos to keep pitchers on their toes and put their teams in position to make noise offensively.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

COMBO PLAYERS

Links to Bio, stats, photos and highlights

Jungle Fever In Detroit, Tigers Land Big Game With The Prince

Prince, Tigers reach nine-year deal

Powerful free-agent first baseman agrees to $214 million contract

By Jason Beck / MLB.com

DETROIT — The Tigers spent a week reacting to Victor Martinez‘s season-ending left knee injury. Their eventual reaction was big enough to be worthy of a Prince.

After supposedly looking for a short-term solution to the void in the middle of their order, the Tigers went big, physically and financially, with All-Star slugger Prince Fielder. On Tuesday, the two sides agreed to terms on a nine-year contract worth $214 million.

Tiger

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports and Jon Heyman of MLB Network and CBSSports.com first reported the talks and ensuing agreement. A source confirmed the terms to MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez.

The Tigers have not commented on the reports. The team has a policy of not commenting on reported deals until the players involved have passed physicals.

The move caught the rest of baseball by surprise, not so much regarding the Tigers’ interest but by the lengths they pursued Fielder to get a deal done. What was expected to be a short-term replacement became a cornerstone acquisition, reuniting Fielder with the team he followed as a child.

With a nine-year deal, Fielder would be under contract with Detroit through 2020. Even then, however, he’ll be 36 years old, which made a long-term deal for the 27-year-old an intriguing one. That intrigue just wasn’t expected to include the Tigers.

Prince Fielder

Until Martinez tore his left anterior cruciate ligament in a training mishap a week and a half ago, the Tigers were set at designated hitter. Martinez hit .330 with 103 RBIs last year to help lead Detroit to its first division title in 24 years and protect Miguel Cabrera in the lineup on the first baseman’s way to his first American League batting crown.

Though the Tigers supposedly had contact last week with Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, in the wake of Martinez’s injury, the fit didn’t look realistic. Team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski downplayed the chances of a Fielder deal just last Thursday, telling MLive.com’s Angela Wittrock that they probably would be focused on a short-term deal.

“Of course we’d consider it,” Dombrowski said of Fielder at the time, “but realistically, it’s probably not a good fit. … We anticipate Victor Martinez coming back in 2013 and playing at the level he was at last season.”

Dombrowski wouldn’t completely put the Fielder speculation to rest but stuck to his statement that the “fit really is not there at this point.”

As recently as Monday, Dombrowski told the Detroit News, “We’ve got a lot of names to consider.”

However, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch has a history of putting together deals with Boras late in the offseason. In 2004, Ivan Rodriguez surprised many with a four-year contract to join a Tigers team coming off a 119-loss season. A year later, Magglio Ordonez signed what ended up being a six-year deal with the Tigers.

English: Miguel Cabrera at Dodger Stadium.

Both deals came together late in the offseason with pursuers dwindling. So did Johnny Damon’s one-year contract with the Tigers two years ago. That decision was strongly believed to have come directly from Ilitch, who, at the age of 82, has made his drive to win a World Series well known.

Ilitch’s push is believed to have been the driving factor behind the Fielder deal as well. The owner remembers Fielder from the first baseman’s childhood days tagging along with his father, former Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder, around Tiger Stadium and the Tigers clubhouse during the early 1990s.

Defensively, the fit also seemed unlikely. Fielder has played his entire Major League career in the National League at first base in Milwaukee, having played just 17 career games at DH during Interleague Play. The Tigers have installed Cabrera as a cornerstone player at first base, where his defense has improved markedly over the last two years.

A source close to Cabrera said the Tigers front office approached the slugger to see if he would be all right with the club adding Fielder and possibly pushing Cabrera away from first base. Cabrera, according to the source, told the team he was fine with it, and that he’s looking forward to playing alongside Fielder.

Jim Leyland hitting balls to Miguel Cabrera be...

Cabrera told the Venezuelan newspaper Lieder in Deportesthat he’s moving to third base. Whether that’s on a full-time basis or part-time remains to be seen. At the very least, the Tigers are expected to use a rotation that makes sure neither is relegated to a being a full-time DH. Cabrera manned the hot corner for several seasons with the Florida Marlins before the Tigers moved him to first early in 2008.

What the Tigers will do a year from now, when Martinez is expected to be back at full strength, will be another challenge. Martinez spent most of last season at DH while filling in at catcher on some days as essentially a backup to All-Star Alex Avila. An August knee sprain, however, limited Martinez to DH down the stretch, and manager Jim Leyland said at season’s end he planned not to catch the 33-year-old Martinez again for the rest of his contract.

In the end, however, the Tigers had an offensive hole that Ilitch and management felt they needed to fill. They’ll deal with the roster ramifications later, certainly next year.

The move caught even Cecil Fielder by surprise, the former slugger told MLB Network Radio. The father and son have had an estranged relationship in recent years stemming from debts the elder Fielder accumulated in retirement, reportedly costing the family their home. However, they have kept in touch in recent years.

“I didn’t see Detroit in the picture,” Cecil Fielder said.

Very few people did. But with one big financial swing, it happened.

“I know Mr. Ilitch is probably excited,” Cecil Fielder said. “He’s been wanting that kid since he was a little kid, so he finally got his wish.”

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck’s Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Playing The Field- Where Will Fielder Land?

Fielder leads list of players in limbo

The Sports Xchange

By now, Prince Fielder surely expected his own celebratory press conference, when he would join the flurry of activity for baseball’s offseason elite players. He would flash a big grin, don a jersey and cap, and prepare for a season as a poster child for his franchise, the way Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson and Jose Reyes had before him.

But, with just a month to go before spring training, Fielder—despite his .299 average, 38 home runs and 120 RBI last season for the Milwaukee Brewers—remained a man with no cap or jersey to wear and no contract to celebrate Friday.

Instead, Yu Darvish, the Japanese pitching sensation, was expected to be feted by the Texas Rangers—his own lavish deal potentially damaging Fielder’s ability to sign with Texas.

Prince Fielder (left) and Derrek Lee

 

Fielder, who at 27 has 230 career home runs, topped the list of a few high-profile names who remained unsigned at that point, including Roy Oswalt, Edwin
Jackson, Johnny Damon and Cuban power hitter Yoennis Cespedes.

None were as surprising to see still listed as free agents as Fielder, who was the most talented slugger available this side of Pujols. He could become the first player to sign a $100 million or more contract this late in the offseason, according to SI.com.

Or he could continue to be surprised at his lack of activity.

While it made sense to think teams were initially waiting out the fellow first baseman Pujols before committing to Fielder, it’s now been more than a month since he signed with the Angels, leaving Fielder alone atop the free agent class.

But while there are reports of interest from the Rangers (even after the Darvish signing) and Washington Nationals and a few other rumors, Fielder has remained in limbo. Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum has already ruled out Fielder as a possibility because the club recently acquired young, power-hitting first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

The usual big-spending New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox are set at first base.

So, Fielder’s choices have been limited.

“I think everybody thought he would have signed by now,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “In that regard, I’d have to say it’s a little surprising.”

Despite missing all but one game in the past three seasons, though, there have been reports that Fielder’s 5-foot-11, 275-pound frame have caused some suitors to fret over the prospect of a long-term deal.

Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks at Spring Trai...

With Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, notorious for working out mega-contracts for his biggest clients, the Brewers never made a formal long-term offer to retain the first baseman who had not played for another team, according to the Journal Sentinel.

Instead, the team early in the offseason attempted to get Fielder to sign for one year and the chance to hit the free-agent market again next year, but he didn’t bite, according to the paper.

The Nationals could make a push, according to SI.com, as they have built a star-studded young rotation and would like to supplement it with Fielder’s bat.

The Rangers are not quite out of the running. Multiple reports have indicated Texas could still try to pull off their own version of the 1-2 punch the division rival Angels did in landing Pujols and Wilson, by pairing Fielder with Darvish. Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reporters signing Fielder was “very unlikely” after the huge financial commitment Texas made in acquiring Darvish from Japan—nearly $120 million in posting fees and a six-year contract.

But reports persisted that Texas, after reaching the World Series, but losing two years in a row, could still land Fielder.

Oswalt, 34, owns a 159-93 career record, but struggled with back pain last season for the Philadelphia Phillies. That has likely scared off teams. Reports indicated there could be some interest by the Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox, but that neither team was likely to commit.

Damon has reportedly drawn the interest of his old team, the Yankees, who are looking for a cost-effective DH. With Carlos Pena re-signing with the Tampa Bay Rays, that gives the Yankees one less option, though they were also reportedly talking to another ex-DH, Hideki Matsui.

Jackson, another Boras client, went 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA last year, and reports have indicated his price tag has scared teams off. The Yankees had deemed him too expensive for their budget, and they added two big names to the rotation in Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda.

The Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Florida Marlins have reportedly been interested in Cespedes, with the Cubs reportedly leading the race for the slugging outfielder’s services.

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Coronation Delayed For Unknown Kingdom, Thy Prince Shall Be No Pauper

Prince stretching free agency into new territory

Prized first baseman heading toward ‘latest’ big signing ever

By Tom Singer / MLB.com | 01/11/12 10:00 AM EST

Agent Scott Boras continues to pound the market for his prime client, Prince Fielder, and he may yet achieve his goal of a record deal for the free-agent first baseman.

English: Prince Fielder doing pre-game stretch...

Perhaps not financially, although there is a very good reason for believing that Boras is angling for a deal worth something like $24.7 million annually: Albert Pujols’ recent 10-year agreement with the Angels breaks down to about $24.6 million a year.

Fielder may not get there, but with the meticulous way it’s going, he remains likely to sign the latest mega-deal in baseball history.

Elite players and their bounties normally do not take this long to find each other. The clock is ticking, and with each gong, Fielder slides past someone else on this timeline.

On Tuesday, Fielder passed Carlos Beltran, who agreed to his seven-year, $119 million contract with the Mets on Jan. 10, 2005.

If he remains unsigned through Wednesday, Fielder would jump Vladimir Guerrero, who struck his five-year, $70 million deal with the Angels on Jan. 11, 2004.

Beyond that, there would be only one more remaining target date: Jan. 26, the day in 2005 on which Carlos Delgado ended a long free agency by signing a four-year, $52 million pact with the Marlins.

Certainly, free-agent signings regularly occur up to and even through Spring Training. But the leading men are usually all accounted for long before the trucks head to Arizona and Florida.

Cropped version of Prince Fielder (929557698).jpg

A year ago, the latest prominent free-agent agreement occurred on Jan. 5, between the Rangers and Adrian Beltre, also a Boras client (another of his guys, Jayson Werth, was first out of the gate on Dec. 6, when he signed with the Nationals).

Here are timelines of the top free-agent deals of the previous eight offseasons.

• 2010-11: Werth (Dec. 6), Carl Crawford, Red Sox (Dec. 11); Cliff Lee, Phillies (Dec. 14); Beltre (Jan. 5).

• 2009-10: John Lackey, Red Sox (Dec. 16); Matt Holliday, Cardinals (Jan. 5); Jason Bay, Mets (Jan. 5).

• 2008-09: CC Sabathia, Yankees (Dec. 11); A.J. Burnett, Yankees (Dec. 12); Mark Teixeira, Yankees (Dec. 23).

• 2007-08: Torii Hunter, Angels (Nov. 23); Alex Rodriguez, Yankees (Dec. 13); Aaron Rowand, Giants (Dec. 13).

• 2006-07: Alfonso Soriano, Cubs (Nov. 21); Carlos Lee, Astros (Nov. 27); Barry Zito, Giants (Dec. 29).

• 2005-06: B.J. Ryan, Blue Jays (Nov. 26); Rafael Furcal, Dodgers (Dec. 7); Burnett, Blue Jays (Dec. 7); Johnny Damon, Yankees (Dec. 21).

• 2004-05: Beltran (Jan. 10); Pedro Martinez, Mets (Dec. 14); Delgado.

• 2003-04: Gary Sheffield, Yankees (Dec. 1); Bartolo Colon, Angels (Dec. 9); Miguel Tejada, Orioles (Dec. 16); Guerrero (Jan. 11).

Of the other nine-figure deals in history, none were struck beyond December. They range from Dec. 9 (Mike Hampton, with the Rockies in 2000) to Dec. 21 (Kevin Brown, with the Dodgers in 1998).

Tom Singer is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow @Tom_Singer on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Related articles

Hot Stove MLBlog: News, notes and analysis

The action didn’t disappoint at the Winter Meetings in Dallas, and the offseason maneuvering is still in full swing. Stay up on all the trades, signings, rumors and analysis with the Hot Stove MLBlog.

AL teams talk to Cubs about Soriano The Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano to the Marlins on Thursday. Could Alfonso Soriano be the next to go?

Alfonso Soriano ---- This image was moved from...

Soriano

According to reports, the Orioles were one of a few American League teams who talked to the Cubs about a possible deal involving Soriano. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported Thursday the Cubs could not find a match for the outfielder after talking to a few teams. Soriano, who turns 36 on Saturday, is owed $54 million over the final three years of his contract.

On Thursday, Theo Epstein was asked about Soriano, and said the outfielder is still a valuable offensive player and that it’s up to the Cubs to get the best out of him.

— Carrie Muskat

Prado, Jurrjens likely to remain with BravesResponding to MLB.com’s early November report that Jair Jurrjens or Martin Prado might be traded this offseason, Braves general manager Frank Wren said he felt both players would still be with his club at the start of Spring Training.

Jair Jurrjens

Jair Jurrjens

With the start of Spring Training a little more than six weeks away, this is starting to look more like a possibility.

The Braves have spent the past couple months talking to a number of clubs about these players. But with questions surrounding both Prado and Jurrjens, there is growing reason to wonder if Wren should wait until June or July to trade these players with the hope they will have had time to regain some of their respective values.

This might not be comforting news to those anxious Braves fans that have increasingly become more uncomfortable as the Marlins and Nationals have made significant attempts to strengthen their respective bids to end the Phillies’ supremacy in the National League East.

The Marlins stole the headlines in early December with free-agent signings of shortstop Jose Reyes, left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle and closer Heath Bell. They grabbed more attention this week by trading with the Cubs for Carlos Zambrano, who will make manager Ozzie Guillen‘s clubhouse even more interesting and possibly strengthen the starting rotation.

The up-and-coming Nationals bolstered their starting rotation with the Dec. 23 acquisition of left-handed pitcher Gio Gonzalez. This week, they may have emerged as the favorites to land Prince Fielder.

But instead of reacting to these moves in a knee-jerk fashion, Wren has dealt with the reality of an extremely tight budget and avoided the temptation to significantly upgrade his lineup by trading any of his coveted top four pitching prospects — Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, Arodys Vizcaino and Mike Minor.

The Orioles learned that this last month when they inquired about acquiring Jurrjens, Prado and two other “premium guys” in exchange for outfielder Adam Jones.

The Braves obviously declined that offer. But they still have interest in Jones and could continue talking about the outfielder if the Orioles are willing to make a more reasonable offer that would likely be void of pitching prospects and not include both Prado and Jurrjens.

While the Braves have shown a willingness to talk about Prado and Jurrjens, they understand that both players could still provide significant value to this year’s team.

Prado’s history shows that he could easily bounce back from last year’s injury-plagued, frustrating season and provide some production in left field while serving as dependable insurance for soon-to-be 40-year-old third baseman Chipper Jones.

The Tigers and Rockies are among the teams who have shown the most interest in Prado and expressed the belief that he could regain the form he had when he was an All-Star second baseman in 2010. The 28-year-old Venezuelan’s .260 batting average this past summer was likely influenced by the fatigue he battled after missing a month with a staph infection.

Jurrjens’ value was at its highest level when he entered this year’s All-Star break with a National League-leading 1.87 ERA. But he struggled mightily as he posted a 5.88 ERA after the break and then missed the stretch run for a second straight year because of a troublesome right knee. Jurrjens believes his right knee will be sound as he wears a knee brace while pitching this year, and the Reds were among the teams that expressed interest in him. In fact, the Braves thought they might have been nearing a deal before the Reds landed Mat Latos from the Padres in December.

With some health-related questions surrounding Tim Hudson, who underwent back surgery in November, and Tommy Hanson, who missed 2011’s final two months with a sore right shoulder, the Braves could seemingly benefit from keeping Jurrjens around for at least the season’s first couple months.

If Jurrjens finds early-season success and proves his knee is sound, the Braves could certainly find his value on the trade market to be more significant this summer. At that time, the club might be in position to feel more comfortable about adding yet another young pitcher to its already rather green starting rotation.

— Mark Bowman

Angels discussing long-term deals with Kendrick, AybarThe Angels have begun extension talks with the representatives for second baseman Howie Kendrick and shortstop Erick Aybar, general manager Jerry Dipoto confirmed Thursday.

Kendrick and Aybar are both lifelong Angels, are both heading into their final years before free agency and are both coming off arguably their best seasons.

“It’s certainly something we’re exploring, and something we feel is important, otherwise we wouldn’t be exploring it,” Dipoto said. “Howie and Erick are both career-long Angels. We want to make sure that continues. We have four arbitration-eligible players remaining and they’re all important to us, and we want to make sure that each one of them is given the appropriate attention, and we’ve already taken the initial steps in the case of Howie and Erick, and making sure we can make them a part of what we’re doing here moving forward.”

The Angels’ other two arbitration-eligible players are first baseman Kendrys Morales and third baseman Alberto Callaspo, both of whom have two seasons to go before hitting free agency.

Dipoto said there is no timetable for the Kendrick and Aybar negotiations, but that those are the only two they’re negotiating with right now. Kendrick’s agent, Larry Reynolds, declined to go into specifics.

“We’re going to see where the process takes us; that’s all I can say at this point,” Reynolds said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s really kind of early in the process.”

— Alden Gonzalez

Dipoto says Angels are “very unlikely” to sign MadsonContrary to swirling Internet rumors — and essentially a process of elimination — the Angels are “very, very unlikely” to sign free-agent closer Ryan Madson, general manager Jerry Dipoto told The Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

Dipoto’s statements are consistent with those he made from the Winter Meetings in early December, when he said he was looking for someone to “complement [current closer] Jordan Walden, not replace” him. But Madson’s market has dried up considerably as teams have used a deep talent pool of closers to fill their ninth-inning needs, and it took a major hit when the Red Sox traded with the Athletics for Andrew Bailey.

Madson’s present scenario, his Orange County, Calif., roots and the Angels’ bullpen struggles last season seemingly made the two a fit. But the Angels have already spent nearly $330 million on Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson this offseason. And now, Dipoto has basically shot down his team’s chances of adding a proven closer like Madson.

“We’re trying to add depth, and in a perfect world, we’d like to find another guy to join Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and [offseason addition] LaTroy Hawkins to help with those last nine outs,” Dipoto told the LA Times. “But closer has never been the real priority.”

You probably shouldn’t completely rule it out just yet, though. Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, can be real creative and Dipoto has already displayed an element of surprise. If Madson is willing to take less money, and perhaps even sign a backloaded deal — like Pujols and Wilson did — maybe, just maybe there’s still a glimmer of hope.

As we’re experiencing with the Nationals and those links to Prince Fielder that don’t seem to go away, there are very few certainties in the free-agent market.

— Alden Gonzalez

Reds sign BrackmanThe Reds completed the signing Wednesday of right-handed pitcher and local product Andrew Brackman to a one-year contract. Terms were not immediately available.

The 26-year-old Brackman, who was the first-round Draft pick of the Yankees in 2007 (30th overall), was born and raised in Cincinnati and was a two-sport star at Moeller High School.

Signed by New York to a four-year, $3.35 million Major League contract out of North Carolina State, Brackman’s selection came with risk since the club knew he would promptly require Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

In three Minor League seasons, Brackman was 15-29 with a 5.11 ERA. The Yankees declined his 2012 option after last season.

— Mark Sheldon

Dombrowski: Tigers aren’t in trade talks on startersThough the Tigers have been linked in rumors with talks on Cubs right-hander Matt Garza, team president/general manager Dave Dombrowski said Detroit has no trade talks ongoing on any starting pitchers.

And while Dombrowski won’t call any of his top prospects untouchable, a term he rarely uses on anybody, he made it clear they aren’t looking to deal Jacob Turner. That doesn’t mean Turner isn’t available for the right deal, but it indicates they aren’t going out and shopping him for a veteran starter.

At this point, Dombrowski said, the Tigers haven’t reversed course on their plans to go after a fifth starter to compete with prospects such as Turner, Drew Smyly and Andy Oliver.

“Our plan hasn’t changed,” Dombrowski said. “We’re in a situation where we really have been consistent all along. We like our young guys. We feel that one of them will step up and be our fifth starter. Somehow [our approach] has been mistaken.”

Dombrowski said the Tigers have not called about any starting pitchers on the trade market. Any conversations on veterans starters, he said, have been initiated by other club. “We are not looking,” he said. “There are some guys that are out there and are very good and clubs haved called us about them. But we have four veteran starters, and sometimes you have to break in young pitching.”

They’ll still listen, he said, but they’re not looking. And the inquiries that have been made, he said, haven’t gone far.

“Probably the only guy we had serious conversations on was Gio Gonzalez,” he said, “and we just weren’t prepared to pay the price. Other than that, we really haven’t talked about a starting pitcher.”

Dombrowski also said Al Alburquerque’s recent elbow surgery won’t put them in the market for another reliever. They signed Octavio Dotel knowing that Alburquerque was dealing with off and on injuries. Dombrowski didn’t rule out re-signing Joel Zumaya if he accepts a minor-league contract, but that nothing has changed on that front either.

Padres nearly done with roster constructionFew general managers have been as busy this offseason as Padres GM Josh Byrnes, who on Saturday pulled off his sixth trade of the winter in trading for White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin.

With that trade, the Padres are already close to being a finished product — well before heading to Arizona for the start of Spring Training next month.

“We’re getting close,” Byrnes said on Tuesday.

The Padres could still add a late-inning reliever and have to decide if they’re going to hold onto first-base prospect Anthony Rizzo or move him before Spring Training. In their deal with the Reds last month — when they acquired right-hander Mat Latos — the Padres received first baseman Yonder Alonso, who will get first crack at winning the first-base job.

— Corey Brock

Pirates sign Jo-Jo ReyesLefty Jo-Jo Reyes has agreed to a Minor League deal with the Pirates, a source confirmed to MLB.com. Terms of the deal were not immediately known, though Reyes is expected to participate in the Pirates’ big-league camp this spring.

Reyes, 27, became a free agent last month when the Orioles opted not to tender a contract to the left-hander, who was arbitration eligible for the first time in his career.

In 2011, Reyes made 20 starts for the Blue Jays before being designated for assignment in late July. He was subsequently picked up off waivers by Baltimore, which used Reyes in nine games (five as a starter) over the season’s final two months. Reyes combined to finish with a 7-11 record and 5.57 ERA.

A former second-round pick in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, Reyes has made 70 career appearances (62 starts) in parts of five seasons in the Majors. He spent the first nine years of his professional career in the Braves organization.

— Jenifer Langosch

Yankees discussing Edwin JacksonThe Yankees are balking at a high asking price for the Cubs’ Matt Garza and have instead turned their attention to free-agent right-hander Edwin Jackson, CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman reported Tuesday.

Noting that the Yankees and Jackson “aren’t in any way close to a deal,” Heyman suggests that New York and agent Scott Boras could eventually find middle ground. Boras has been reported to be looking for a four- or five-year pact for Jackson worth approximately $15 million per season.

That could prove too high for the Yankees, who have been preaching fiscal responsibility this winter and would not get involved with free agents C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle, despite their stated need for a starting pitcher to slot behind CC Sabathia in the rotation.

— Bryan Hoch

Matt Garza & the YankeesThe Cubs are not going to deal Matt Garza unless they get significant players in return, and the asking price apparently is too high for the Yankees. ESPNNewYork’s Wallace Matthews reported Tuesday the Cubs’ asking price is “out of the question” for the Yankees.

The Cubs reportedly want at least two and possibly three of the Yankees’ top prospects Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances. The Red Sox, Tigers, Marlins and Blue Jays also have been linked to Garza, but FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reported the Blue Jays also have reportedly balked at the Cubs’ requests.

— Carrie Muskat

Cordero and Reds still talkingThere could be some movement, one way or another, in the next few days on free-agent closer Francisco Cordero. The Reds are still in the running.

“We’re still talking with [Cincinnati] and a couple of other clubs,” Cordero’s agent, Bean Stringfellow, said on Tuesday. “We’re making progress on a lot of fronts. Multiyear contracts are definitely involved.

“The Reds are involved and are still interested in bringing him back. I am talking with them on a regular basis.”

Stringfellow declined to detail the specific numbers being bandied about with the Reds in negotiations. It seemed like he was optimistic about where talks were going with the different clubs and that a deal was possible.

“It could be today or 10 days from now. I don’t know,” Stringfellow said. “I do know that we’re closer now than we’ve been. I don’t think it will carry on too much longer.”

— Mark Sheldon

Crisp returning to Oakland?Though the A’s are in full rebuilding mode, they may be close to reeling back in a veteran outfielder. According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, Coco Crisp is on the verge of re-signing with Oakland, for which he hit .264 with eight home runs and a career-high 49 steals in 136 games last season.

Crisp’s desire to join a winning ballclub on a multiyear deal has been well documented, but so has his interest in remaining on the West Coast, given his California roots. At one point, Crisp was heavily linked to the Giants, another time the Cardinals and on Monday evening it was the Orioles who were reportedly in on the center fielder. But if Bowden’s report holds true, the A’s would add experienced depth to what right now is an unproven outfield boasting the likes of Michael Taylor, Collin Cowgill and Josh Reddick.

— Jane Lee

Report: Nationals front-runner for FielderA report from the Journal-Sentinel in Milwaukee says the Nationals are the front-runner to land All-Star first baseman Prince Fielder.

The Nationals have repeatedly denied such rumors, continuing to publicly say that Adam LaRoche will be the club’s first baseman in 2012, but the Journal-Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt cites an MLB official who says Washington is leading the chase for Fielder.

The report says the Nationals may not offer the eight- to 10-year deal that Fielder’s agent, Scott Boras, is seeking. They club might want a shorter deal, but Haudricourt believes if the Nationals can match or exceed the $25.4 million annual salary that Albert Pujols is getting from the Angels, Boras and his client should still be pleased.

— Joey Nowak

Garza reportedly on Marlins’ wish listToss Matt Garza’s name into the mix of possible Miami trade targets.

Acquiring another front-line starting pitcher remains a priority, and reportedly Garza fits the mold.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com claims the Marlins have “serious interest” in Garza. No deal is close, but the interest makes sense.

To seriously compete in the National League East, the Marlins are looking for as much starting pitching depth as possible. They’ve already signed free agent Mark Buehrle, and they made a strong push for C.J. Wilson, who eventually signed with the Angels.

Miami also pushed hard for Gio Gonzalez, who ended up being traded from the A’s to the Nationals.

Garza, 28, is projected to make between $9-10 million in arbitration in 2012, and he isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2013 season.

The Cubs reportedly are seeking a trade package similar to the deals that sent Mat Latos from the Padres to the Reds and Gonzalez to Washington.

There is stiff competition for Garza, who also is being coveted by the Yankees and Blue Jays.

The Cubs are looking for top prospects, and the Marlins are willing to part with some of their high-end young talent for an established starter.

Outfielder Christian Yelich, part of Class A Greensboro’s championship team, is highly coveted.

The Marlins have made it clear that Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton are off limits, but they would be willing to move other young players, if the deal made sense.

— Joe Frisaro

Quentin dealt to Padres for two hurlersThe White Sox and Padres pulled off a trade Saturday afternoon that sends outfielder Carlos Quentin to San Diego in exchange for two Minor League pitchers.

The White Sox will receive 23-year-old right-hander Simon Castro and 22-year-old lefty Pedro Hernandez from the Padres.

Quentin, 29, is a two-time All-Star who has hit at least 21 homers in each of the last four seasons with Chicago. He was drafted by the D-backs in the first round of the 2003 First-Year Player Draft and spent two seasons with Arizona.

His first year with the White Sox, in 2008, was his best so far, as he hit .288 with 100 RBIs and 36 homers. He has played either left or right field his entire career.

“Improving our offense is a priority this offseason,” Padres general manager Josh Byrnes said. “And the acquisition of Carlos gives us a proven middle-of-the-order bat. We specifically targeted Carlos because of his production and his hard-nosed style of play.”

Castro, the Padres’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, split time between Double-A San Antonio and Triple-A Tucson in 2011, posting a 7-8 record with a 5.63 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 22 starts overall. He began the season with San Antonio, where he was 5-6, before moving up to Tucson, where he was 2-2 with a 10.17 ERA.

He has been in the Padres’ Minor League system for six seasons, and he was named to the Texas League mid- and postseason All-Star teams in 2010, while also pitching for the World Team in the All-Star Futures Game in Anaheim.

Hernandez spent time at Class A Lake Elsinore this season, along with Tucson and San Antonio, posting a 10-3 record with a 3.49 ERA in 28 games (18 starts) overall. He recorded 94 strikeouts in 116 innings of work.

The southpaw is 25-11 over five seasons in the San Diego Minor League system.

— Joey Nowak

Blue Jays ink Laffey to Minor League dealThe Blue Jays have signed left-hander Aaron Laffey to a Minor League contract, the club announced Saturday.

The 26-year-old has spent five seasons in the big leagues, most recently with the Yankees after starting the 2011 campaign in Seattle. He was drafted by, and spent the first four years of his career with, the Indians.

Last season, Laffey was 3-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 47 relief appearances. He held left-handed hitters to a .242 average. He has made 49 starts in his career and owns a lifetime 4.34 ERA.

The Blue Jays also announced they have signed the following four Minor League free agents with invitations to Spring Training: right-hander Jerry Gil, right-hander Garrett Mock, right-hander Robert Coello and shortstop Brian Bocock.

— Joey Nowak

Blue Jays close to deal with OliverToronto is close to signing veteran reliever Darren Oliver to a one-year contract with a possible option for 2013, MLB.com’s TR Sullivan has reported.

Oliver has spent at least a part of 18 seasons in the big leagues, the most of which (10 seasons) were with the Rangers. He was with Texas from 1993-98, then again from 2000-01 and for the last two seasons.

In 2011, the 41-year-old right-hander was 5-5 with 16 holds and a 2.29 ERA through 51 innings of work. He allowed six hits and four runs in 6 1/3 innings of postseason ball. The Blue Jays would be the ninth Major League club that Oliver has suited up for.

— Joey Nowak

Matt Garza hot topicCould the Cubs deal Matt Garza? They are apparently still listening to teams interested in the right-hander. The Cubs are most likely looking for a package similar to what the Padres received from the Reds for Mat Latos and what the Athletics received from the Nationals for Gio Gonzalez, which means a lot of talented prospects.

According to reports, the Blue Jays and Yankees may be the front-runners. What makes Garza attractive to the Jays and Yankees is his 23-15 record, 3.34 ERA in 56 career games vs. the AL East. Plus, he’s 7-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 19 games against the Red Sox.

Chicago helped its system by dealing Sean Marshall to Cincinnati for Travis Wood and two other players. Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, has said Garza is “exactly the type of pitcher we want to build around” but is willing to listen as the team re-tools. They’d have to be overwhelmed to move Garza, who is under team control through 2013. Gonzalez, 26, and Latos, 24, will be under team control for at least four years.

— Carrie Muskat

Shrinking market making Madson to Angels possibleExactly how possible remains to be seen. But on Wednesday afternoon — after the Red Sox acquired Andrew Bailey from the Athletics in exchange for three young players — it became more possible than ever.

With the Red Sox, a team with money to spend, filling a huge need in the back end of their bullpen by acquiring the young Bailey, the market for Madson has reached a new low.

It’s now pretty clear that the 31-year-old right-hander won’t get anything close to what the Phillies reportedly offered him before turning their attention to Jonathan Papelbon (a four-year, $44 million contract).

But just how much of a pay cut he takes is the big question.

It’d have to be a pretty sizeable one for the Angels to be a fit, now that the team has committed more than $330 million to Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson. But it’s interesting to note that Wilson turned down a larger contract for the Marlins in order to sign with the Angels and return to Orange County, Calif. — where Madson was also born.

Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto said during the Winter Meetings that his mission was to “complement [closer] Jordan Walden, not replace Jordan Walden.” In tune with that, he signed veteran right-hander LaTroy Hawkins to potentially help lefty Scott Downs in a setup role. But getting Madson would be a far bigger step towards improving a bullpen that was tied for first in the American League in blown saves last season.

So far, it appears the Rays and Reds are the two main teams that still need a closer. But the Reds and Francisco Cordero reportedly want a reunion, and the Rays don’t have the financial wherewithal to allocate a lot of money to the ninth inning.

Time for Scott Boras to get creative with Madson.

— Alden Gonzalez

Signing Dobbs Marlins’ top priorityExploring the market for a frontline starting pitcher is high on the Marlins’ shopping list.

But it’s not the club’s most immediate priority.

Right now, bringing back free agent Greg Dobbs is a main objective, and the team is hoping to finalize a deal done soon.

In 2011, Dobbs provided veteran leadership as well as some timely hits. Of late, the Marlins have been working on getting a deal done. If they can lock up Dobbs before New Years, it would cap a highly productive month of December for the Marlins.

The Marlins made a big splash early in the month by signing free agents Heath Bell, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle.

Dobbs, a non-roster invitee with an invitation to Spring Training last year, enjoyed a highly productive 2011. Initially, the 33-year-old was used as a left-handed bat off the bench, but he ended up getting regular playing time, mainly at third base, and batted .275 with eight home runs and 49 RBIs in 411 at-bats.

As a pinch-hitter, Dobbs made a big impact, posting a .370 (10-for-27) batting average with a home run and eight RBIs. If Dobbs comes back, he will fill the important role of left-handed bat off the bench.

The Marlins are not expected to sign any more big ticket free agents.

Miami is looking at trade possibilities for a starting pitcher, primarily a front of the rotation-caliber starter. The team isn’t seeking competition for the back end of the rotation. A major trade is more likely to find a starter than signing a free agent.

From an organizational standpoint, the Marlins have hired Bobby Ramos as their Latin American player development coordinator.

Ramos, formerly the Rays’ bullpen coach, is taking on a new position in the organization.

— Joe Frisaro

Stanton, Morrison off limitsWith Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison regarded as “off limits,” the Marlins are finding it difficult to trade for frontline starting pitching. Miami pursued Gio Gonzalez for more than a month, but Oakland’s asking price always included either Stanton or Morrison. Because the Marlins are not willing to part with either, they are finding it difficult to lure in a legitimate All-Star pitcher.

If the Marlins had more high-end prospects, perhaps they would have been able to swing a deal for Gonzalez. They don’t, and the A’s on Thursday dealt their All-Star left-hander to the Nationals.

Miami’s search for a frontline starter continues. For Gonzalez, the Marlins were willing to part with any number of their top Minor Leaguers. They just weren’t willing to do it at the expense of their every day lineup. So what’s next?

Javier Vazquez, who had a remarkable second half, maintains he is retiring. The Marlins aren’t expecting him back, and they’re looking in other directions. Left-hander Joe Saunders has been mentioned, but don’t count on it.

The Marlins already signed Mark Buehrle, who is not overpowering. They aren’t looking to have two soft-tossing southpaws, especially for the $7 million that Saunders commands.

Keep in mind, Miami seeks a top of the rotation pitcher, not just an innings eater. James Shields is in the mix, but not at the price of Stanton or Morrison.

Wandy Rodriguez and Roy Oswalt may be more realistic options.

As of now, the Marlins’ rotation is Josh Johnson, Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez, Ricky Nolasco and Chris Volstad. Lefty Wade LeBlanc was obtained by the Padres to add experienced depth. Clearly, the Marlins would like to add another established arm, but they won’t force the issue. If need be, they may continue their search into Spring Training, ideally finding someone before Opening  Day.

— Joe Frisaro

Cubs sign Corpas to one-year deal

The Cubs have agreed to a one-year Major League deal with reliever Manuel Corpas, an industry source confirmed to MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Corpas was in Chicago on Thursday for a physical.

The 29-year-old right-hander last pitched in the Majors in 2010 with the Rockies. He underwent Tommy John surgery later that year, and the Rangers signed him to a Minor League contract in April. He pitched in the instructional league and played winter ball in Panama.

Corpas has a 12-16 record with a 3.93 ERA for his career, striking out 206 batters and walking 80 in 286 innings. He was never a strikeout artist, averaging 6.5 K’s per nine innings in five Major League seasons. But he limited his walks (2.5 per nine innings for his career) and induced ground balls at a respectable rate.

He is best known for his work during the Rockies’ run to the World Series in 2007, when he saved 19 games with a 2.08 ERA in 78 innings of work. He finished the 2007 postseason with five saves and a 0.87 ERA.

— Adam Berry

Beltran deal done

The Cardinals have officially announced that they’ve agreed to a two-year deal with free-agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, pending a physical.

The deal is reportedly worth $25 million-$26 million. That would be the largest outlay by the Cardinals to a free agent not already in the organization since Jason Isringhausen received a guaranteed $27 million before the 2002 season.

A switch-hitting outfielder, Beltran has one of baseball’s most well-rounded offensive games. He is a lifetime .283 hitter with both on-base ability (a career .361 average) and power (.496 slugging percentage). He’s one of the most efficient basestealers in Major League history, with 293 steals in 334 attempts for an 87.7 percent success rate. In 2011, he put up a combined .300/.385/.525 line in 142 games with the Mets and Giants.

Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove winner in center field, moved to right field in 2011 as he made his way back to full strength from knee surgery. He will likely start the 2012 season in right field, with Lance Berkman moving to first base in place of Albert Pujols, while Allen Craig is out due to his own offseason knee operation.

Once Craig comes back, Beltran would probably still play plenty of right field. But he also could get more time in center field, spelling Jon Jay against left-handed pitchers and allowing new manager Mike Matheny a great deal of flexibility in making out his lineup.

— Matthew Leach

Twins, Marquis close to reaching deal

The Twins are close to reaching an agreement with free-agent starting pitcher Jason Marquis, according to a FOXSports.com report.

The Twins, however, have not commented on the report.

Marquis, 33, posted a 4.43 ERA in 23 starts with the Nationals and D-backs last season. He also struck out 76, walked 43 and allowed 11 homers in 132 innings.

The right-hander has a career 4.55 ERA in 12 seasons with the Braves, Cardinals, Cubs, Rockies, Nationals and D-backs. Marquis would fill a need as a back-of-the-rotation starter, as left-hander Brian Duensing remains a likely candidate to be moved to the bullpen this season.

Twins starters combined to post the third-worst ERA in the American League last season (4.64) while striking out just 617 batters in 961 innings.

— Rhett Bollinger

Marshall for Wood nearly done?The Reds appeared close Wednesday to completing a trade that would land left-handed reliever Sean Marshall from the Cubs in exchange for young lefty starter Travis Wood and two Minor Leaguers.

According to ESPNChicago.com, the deal was agreed to pending physicals. A source confirmed the Reds’ interest in Marshall to MLB.com, but did not expect the trade to be consummated on Wednesday.

Cincinnati currently has a vacancy for the closer’s role, but are looking at Marshall as a lefty set-up man.

— Mark Sheldon

Braves did not offer Prado, Jurrjens to O’sThe Braves did express interest in Adam Jones.  But they did not offer Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens to the Orioles in exchange for the outfielder.

A source with knowledge of the Orioles’ negotiations disputed a Baltimore Sun report that indicated the Braves were rejected when they offered Prado, Jurrjens and a pitching prospect for Jones.

The source said the Braves were told Jones was unavailable when they asked about him a couple weeks ago.  The Orioles later called the Braves to see if they would trade Prado, Jurrjens and two other “premium guys” in exchange for Jones. The Braves said they were not interested, and the two clubs have not had any recent discussions about these players.

—  Mark Bowman

Angels may still be in play for bullpen helpDespite a lack of financial flexibility, the Angels continue to seek ways to address their bullpen situation.

Depending on his price, one option may be veteran closer Francisco Cordero. His agent, Bean Stringfellow, told WEEI.com on Tuesday that the Angels are one of four teams in play for the right-hander, along with the Reds — his former team, which reportedly wants him back — the Red Sox and a fourth, unidentified club.

Cordero is perhaps the best — and most expensive — free-agent reliever remaining after Ryan Madson, making the Angels the least likely fit among the above-mentioned clubs. Beanfellow told WEEI.com Cordero is looking for a multi-year deal and is only interested in going into a situation where he’s the clear-cut closer (which, in Anaheim, would mean the young Jordan Walden is supplanted).

The Angels have also reached out to former reliever Darren Oliver, a source familiar with his thinking told MLB.com. Oliver’s preference is to return to Texas, but is “not ruling out other contending teams,” a source said, adding that in order to accomodate the Angels, Oliver would be willing to defer most of his salary. Oliver put up a 2.29 ERA in 61 appearances last year, but is 41 and would come in as the third lefty in the Angels’ bullpen — along with Scott Downs and Hisanori Takahashi.

Some other, cheaper options in the free-agent bin: Luis Ayala, Juan Cruz, Scott Linebrink, Guillermo Mota, Dan Wheeler and Jamey Wright. Most of them, however, may not sign deals until more materializes later in the offseason. Sources told MLB.com the Angels have yet to reach out to Ayala or Wheeler in particular.

Another interesting candidate is Joel Zumaya, the former Tigers flame-thrower who missed all of 2011 after undergoing exploratory surgery on his right (throwing) elbow. Zumaya performed in front of what was believed to be about 50 scouts in Houston on Wednesday, and someone in attendance told FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal he threw his fastball from 93-96 mph and had a decent curveball and OK command.

The Angels previously added LaTroy Hawkins — on a one-year, $3 million contract — in hopes of improving a bullpen that was tied for the American League lead in blown saves last season. General manager Jerry Dipoto previously said he’s looking for someone to “complement Jordan Walden; not replace Jordan Walden.”

— Alden Gonzalez

Cubs re-sign Johnson to one-year dealThe Cubs have reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with free agent outfielder Reed Johnson, pending a physical. Johnson, 35, batted .309 in 111 games last season with the Cubs. He’s a perfect extra outfielder and great guy in clubhouse, and  he batted .305 vs. left-handed pitchers. FOX Sports reported the agreement; the Cubs have yet to confirm.

— Carrie Muskat

An offer for Fielder?The line to sign Prince Fielder may start in Seattle. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported Tuesday that the Mariners have made Fielder an offer to continue his career in the American League West, the same division that snapped up Albert Pujols earlier this month.

Fielder, an All-Star in three of the last five years, has hit at least 32 home runs in five straight seasons. Fielder is the son of former All-Star Cecil Fielder, and together, they are the only father-son combo to hit for at least 50 home runs in a big-league season.

The younger Fielder, a former first-round draftee, batted .282 and drilled 230 homers and 656 RBIs in his first seven seasons with Milwaukee. The hulking first baseman matched his career high with a .299 batting average last year, and he established a new personal best with a .415 OBP. Fielder has walked at least 100 times in three straight seasons, and for his career, he’s a .279 hitter on the road.

Fielder, just 27 years old, is reportedly seeking a long-term contract that approaches the 10-year deal Pujols signed with Los Angeles earlier in the winter. The Cubs and Rangers may also be potential suitors for Fielder, and Heyman reported Tuesday that the Orioles may also be involved.

— Spencer Fordin

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.