– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports the Yankees are poised to make a “monster” 6-year/$140-150M offer to LHP Cliff Lee worth $23-25M per season. The Yankees might not be willing to go to seven years, but they can blow away just about anybody in terms of annual salary. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Yankees have grown frustrated at the slow pace of negotiations. Lee, 32, registered a sparkling 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP this past year while striking out 185 batters and issuing only 18 walks.
– According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the White Sox have agreed to a 3-year/$37.5M contract with 1B Paul Konerko. He’ll get a slight raise in annual salary from the $12M he made in 2011. GM Ken Williams was pessimistic about reaching an agreement on Tuesday, but the process moved only quickly after chairman Jerry Reinsdorf got involved in negotiations.
– Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago reports that the Cubs are interested in Rays’ RHP Matt Garza. According to Levine, the Cubs are one of four teams who are currently talking with the Rays. Garza earned $3.35M this past season and stands to make even more in arbitration this winter, so the Rays could move him in order to create payroll flexibility and upgrade in other areas. The 27-year-old went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA over 204 2/3 innings this past season.
– According to George A. King III of the NY Post, Yankees’ LHP C.C. Sabathia said he won’t exercise the opt-out clause in his contract after next season. Some have speculated that LHP Cliff Lee’s big money contract could lead to Sabathia testing the market after next season, but it’s hard to imagine him doing much better than what he already has. Sabathia is owed $23M nper seaso through 2015.
– Bill Ladson of MLB.com writes that the Nationals will likely focus on 1B Adam LaRoche. “In the next few days, we are going to start some conversations with the Nationals. If we come on the same page, I would definitely have interest in playing for them.” The 31-year-old batted .261/.320/.468 with 25 home runs and a career-high 100 RBI with the D’Backs this past season.
– According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the Rangers have told 3B Michael Young that he will not be traded. There was some momentum behind a rumour that Young could be traded to the Rockies, opening the door for the Rangers to sign 3B Adrian Beltre, but too many roadblocks were in the way for that deal to work, namely, finding a compromise for the $48M remaining on Young’s contract.
– The Cubs have signed 1B Carlos Pena to a 1-year/$10M contract. A .196 hitter won’t get $10M very often, but the Cubs did pretty well here. Pena has topped 28 home runs in each of the past four seasons and should enjoy hitting in Wrigley Field. If the 32-year-old is able to rebuild his value in 2011, he will be able to find a more lucrative multi-year contract next winter.
– Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com report that the Red Sox, Tigers, Orioles and Dodgers have all “checked in” on Padres’ OF Ryan Ludwic, despite the club being reluctant to trade him. The 32-year-old batted .251/.325/.418 with 17 home runs and 69 RBI this past season and figures to be an important part of the lineup. The right deal could change their minds, though, especially since Ludwick will be a free agent after the 2011 season.
– Multiple sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN.com that OF Carl Crawford remains the Angels’ No. 1 offseason priority. One source told Stark that after speaking with Angels’ people, he was stunned about confident the team was about coming to an agreement with Crawford. Said the source, “it was almost like he was already on their team.”
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Pirates have signed OF Matt Diaz to a 2-year contract. Diaz fielded interest from several teams after being non-tendered by the Braves last week, including the Yankees, D’Backs, Red Sox, Royals, Mariners, Dodgers, Mariners and Blue Jays. He probably wanted guaranteed playing time, thus opting for the Pirates.
– The Twins will meet Tuesday with RHP Carl Pavano’s agent. Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 Twin Cities says there is “mutual interest” in working out a deal, but Pavano is one of the few remaining quality starters on the free agent market and Minnesota will probably be bidding against several other team. Pavano, who turns 35 in January, went 17-11 with a 3.75 ERA over 32 starts this past season and is a Type A free agent.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Brewers have fielded calls from the Dodgers, White Sox and Rangers in regards to the availability of 1B Prince Fielder. Heyman writes that the Brewers are resigned to the fact that they will be unable to re-sign Fielder in the long-term and are currently gauging the marketplace. Fielder, who turns 27 next May, batted .261/.401/.471 with 32 homers and 83 RBI this past season. He figures to make somewhere around $14M through the arbitration process this winter and will be a free agent after the 2011 campaign.
– Adam Rubin of ESPN NY reports that the Red Sox have talked internally about acquiring OF Carlos Beltran from the Mets. Beltran is owed $18.5M in 2011 and the Mets would have to eat a sizable chunk of that salary for a deal to work. A source told Rubin that the Red Sox are simply trying to “explore all options” and that the 33-year-old Beltran “could theoretically be an option.” At this point, a trade between the two clubs seems unlikely.
– OF Gary Sheffield told Steve Kornacki of MLive.com that he wants to play next season and that his hometown Rays are his first choice. “I’ve taken a year off from playing, but can see the difference I would make on some teams. It opened my eyes, and I look at things differently. I want to play close to home.” Sheffield, now 42 years old, batted .276/.372/.451 with 10 home runs and 43 RBI in 312 plate appearances with the Mets in 2009. He made similar comments last winter, only to end up on the sidelines. A spring training invite wouldn’t be crazy, but we’re betting against a comeback.
– According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Rays and Orioles are working toward a 2B Jason Bartlett-for-OF Nolan Reimold swap. Both players had strong showings in 2009 and then faded in 2010, but Reimold is four years younger than Bartlett and far more likely to bounce back. Tampa is hoping to unload the aging and unproductive Bartlett with the intention of starting Reid Brignac at shortstop next season. They didn’t have much luck in trade talks with the Cardinals and Giants earlier this offseason. The O’s might get duped again.
– According to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald, the Marlins are “gauging interest” in RHP Ricky Nolasco and RHP Leo Nunez. Both pitchers are arbitration-eligible this winter, so dealing them would hypothetically give the Fish about $10M towards upgrading in other areas. The Marlins have talked about a contract extension with Nolasco, but those talks have supposedly stalled. Spencer writes that the club will listen to offers, but that they aren’t committed to trading either pitcher if they don’t find the right deal.
– According to Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse, it “sounds like teams are upping their offers” to Royals’ ace RHP Zack Greinke. This year’s free agent market is extremely thin on quality starting pitching and most teams won’t be able to afford to jump into the chase for a guy like Cliff Lee. Greinke presents a far cheaper option, though it’s going to take a serious package of prospects to lure him away from the Royals’ grasp. So far the Blue Jays have been the most aggressive potential suitor, followed by the Rangers, but the Nationals have also inquired. Greinke, 27, boasts a fantastic 3.82 career ERA and 1.26 WHIP.
– The D’Backs have officially signed RHP J.J. Putz to a 2-year/$10M contract with a $6.5M club option for 2013. A reasonable contact for someone who will be the team’s closer moving forward. Putz, who turns 34 in February, will earn $4M next season, $4.5M in 2012 and either a $6.5M club option or a $1.5M buyout for 2013. The D’Bbacks had a very difficult time protecting leads in 2010, but now that he’s healthy, Putz figures to be a pretty reliable late-game option.
– Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reports that the Mets have agreed on a 2-yea/$2.5M deal with RHP D.J. Carrasco. Carrasco, 33, posted a respectable 3.68 ERA and 65/34 K/BB ratio in 2010 for the Pirates and D’Backs. He is your run-of-the-mill middle reliever, so a guaranteed two-year contract is a bit of a shock. He should settle in fine as a middle reliever.
– ESPN.com is reporting that the Mets have agreed to a 1-year contact with free agent C Ronny Paulino for about $1.3M plus incentives. The deal is pending a physical. Paulino was non-tendered by the Marlins last week after batting .259/.311/.354 with four home runs and 37 RBI over 316 at-bats in 2010. The 29-year-old still has a few games to serve on the 50-game PED suspension that he was slapped with in August, but will serve as a backup once that penalty is served.
– Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy was released from a hospital Tuesday after mild arrhythmia caused him to collapse shortly after midnight at the baseball winter meetings. Tracy and his family headed back to their home near Bradenton in the afternoon. Rockies spokesman Jay Alves said it was not known whether Tracy had previously been diagnosed with arrhythmia—an irregular heartbeat. Tracy, who turns 55 on December 31, was with Colorado coaches Carney Lansford and Tom Runnells when the episode occurred. Tracy was ready to get onto an elevator at the meetings hotel when he collapsed around 1 a.m. He was carried out on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in the Orlando area. Alves, who said he was with Tracy at the time, said the manager didn’t lose consciousness. Tracy had driven over to the meetings on Sunday night from his home.
– Blackhawks’ F Patrick Kane (left leg) is projected to miss up to 3 weeks. Coach Joel Quennville said, “Kane’s probably going to be out upward of three weeks. We’re hoping that’s the maximum. He’s progressing right now.” Kane has been a model of durability in the early part of his career, missing only two games the previous three seasons.
– Leafs’ captain D Dion Phaneuf (deep leg cut) might return to the Toronto lineup as early as Saturday’s game against Montreal. Assistant coach Rob Zettler said, “He’s getting close, he had a great workout (on Monday in Washington). I think you’ll probably see him within the next three or four days now.” He is being listed as day-to-day and has been a participant in three straight practices. Stay tuned.
– Oilers’ F Shawn Horcoff (damaged right MCL) suffered the injury Tuesday night and is expected to miss 8 weeks. Horcoff suffered the injury in the first period when he collided with Ducks’ F Corey Perry and felt his knee pop. He did not return to the game and will have an MRI done on Wednesday.
– Blues’ F Andy McDonald (concussion) is out indefinitely. The injury occurred on Saturday when he drove himself head-first into the knee pad of Oilers’ F Shawn Horcoff after falling while skating at full speed. McDonald leads the team with eight goals and is tied for the team lead in points with 17.
– A judge in Winnipeg has granted bail for Graham James. The bail hearing for James, a convicted sex offender and former junior hockey coach, began last week and continued Tuesday, before the judge issued bail. Last week, the Crown asked for more time to prepare arguments in the bail hearing. James is facing nine counts of sexual assault against three people who were boys years ago, including former NHL star Theo Fleury.
– Rockets’ F Yao Ming (ankle/leg) will not practice this week. The Rockets claim Yao hasn’t had a setback, but the original target date for his return was last night. His new status is out “indefinitely.” Stay tuned.
– Lakers’ F Andrew Bynum (knee) is now targeting Tuesday’s game against the Wizards for his return, according to ESPN.com. Keep in mind that this is a tentative date. Bynum has pushed back his return over and over again, frustrating everyone. We would expect Bynum to start immediately upon his return, but his minutes will be ramped up slowly.
– Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald reports Dolphins’ WR Brian Hartline (hand) underwent surgery to repair the injury Tuesday. Hartline may be lost for the final four weeks, but the Dolphins will hold off on a decision until doctors see how he responds to the procedure. The injury comes at a bad time for Hartline, who had averaged 82 YPG from Weeks 9-12.
– Vikings’ QB Brett Favre (shoulder) is expected to sit out practice Wednesday and return on Thursday. Interim coach Leslie Frazier will determine Favre’s playing status after seeing how he looks in practice. The key will be Favre’s range of motion and whether the sprained SC joint will allow him to raise his shoulder high enough to throw the ball. Frazier is confident that Favre will play against the Giants.
– The Colts have placed CB Jerraud Powers (forearm) on the IR, ending his season. Powers underwent surgery Tuesday morning to insert six screws and a plate into his right forearm. He’ll return as a starter in 2011.
– The Colts have signed RB Dominic Rhodes, 31. Joseph Addai (shoulder) is not expected to return, and Mike Hart (ankle) and Donald Brown (ankle) are both questionable to play on the short week. Rhodes is familiar with the Colts offense and could step in as Javarris James’ backup at Tennessee.
– After calling Shawn Michaels one of the biggest drug abusers and hypocrites in the history of pro wrestling and a “cock-eyed cross-eyed piece of sh*t,” former WWE star Shane Helms is back with some more words for the Heartbreak Kid. Helms wrote on Twitter this week:
“I wonder if I backstab a bunch of people and hurt careers & families and slaughter animals for fun but then pray on stage, that make it ok? Just wondering? But enough about that hypocrite, I’m home after a great but hard working tour and got to catch up on my DVR’s.”
Shawn Michaels has issued his first comments regarding Helms’ verbal attack, responded to his fans on Twitter who asked if he’s heard what Helms said about him. Michaels wrote:
“From u all I hav. Verbal attack? Wow pretty scary. Thoughts? Sticks & stones I guess? ”
Later, Helms has gone on Twitter and essentially called Michaels a hypocrite for claiming to be a devout Christian while still “murdering animals” and hanging their heads on his wall (ie. hunting). Helms wrote:
“I think I might go murder some animals for fun and hang their heads on my wall cuz that’s what Jesus would do. Right @ShawnMichaels_ ?”
Once again, HBK was prompted by his Twitter followers to respond to Helms’ remarks. Like last time, Michaels takes a cool, laid back approach and signs off with another smiley face..
“Jus got bak. Wow u guys r fired up! Sorry u have 2 deal w/it. Don’t worry, I don’t. Comes w/the territory. have zero desire 2 do the internet stuff other than corresponding w/u. U can make ur own decisions & I will respect them. May I now return to having fun w/ u all please. Life is 2 short 4 me 2 go thru High school again:-) “
– The latest word on Triple H (torn biceps tendon) is that he is not expected to return to WWE programming until January at the earliest. He’s been sidelined since April.
– An Austin/Rock DVD set is booked to come out in late 2011 that chronicles their history together.
– WWE officials are looking to hold a 5th season of NXT , which is why the company’s top developmental talent were held off the new season premiering tonight on WWE.com. Officials are hopeful that the program will find a home on U.S. television.
– Goldust (shoulder) announced on his Twitter account that he will be sidelined for “five to six months” after undergoing surgery Friday.
– On Raw, we saw the debut of Tyson Kidd’s new (huge) bodyguard, former developmental star Jackson Andrews. Andrews has been billed at over 7 feet tall in FCW and has been working live WWE events in recent weeks. From what we’ve heard, WWE was very happy with Kidd’s match with DH Smith on last week’s Superstars and their rematch on RAW where Jackson Andrews was introduced. Kidd getting a new bodyguard is a good indication that WWE is behind his character.
– The December. 6 episode of Monday Night Raw drew a 3.1 cable rating, drawing 4,800,000 viewers over the course of two hours. The show did hours of 3.0 and 3.29. Last week’s King of the Ring themed show garnered a 3.4 cable rating during its regular time slot.
– Josh Mathews is now the new lead SmackDown announcer, passing Todd Grisham.
– Mike Tyson, whose meteoric rise to the pinnacle of boxing and stunning fall from grace was legendary, was selected Tuesday for induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame and Museum. Three-division champion Julio Cesar Chavez of Mexico and Russian-born Kostya Tszyu, a junior welterweight champion, also were selected along with Mexican trainer Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain, referee Joe Cortez, and screenwriter Sylvester Stallone. Posthumous honorees to be enshrined June 12, 2011 include: bantamweight Memphis Pal Moore, light heavyweight champion Jack Root, and middleweight Dave Shade in the old-timer category; British heavyweight John Gully in the pioneer category; promoter A.F. Bettinson; and broadcaster Harry Carpenter. Inductees were voted on by members of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a panel of international boxing historians.
– Former WrestleMania celebrity and boxing champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been charged with criminal battery after poking his finger on a man’s face, according to TMZ.com. Security officer Shayne Smith alleges that he got into a verbal dispute with Floyd Mayweather, who got physical with him and left a bruise on his cheek. “The willful and unlawful use of force and violence upon Smith caused redness and discoloration to the area which was battered by Mayweather,” reads the complaint.
– Tara suffered an arm injury during her match with Mickie James at last night’s Impact taping in Orlando, Florida and is expected to be sidelined for several weeks. “Tore a ligament in my elbow last night in a match against @mickiejames. It was my good elbow, but we made history. We were main event.”
– TNA Wrestling has released Knockouts Tag Team Champion Hamada from her contract. She held the title alongside Taylor Wilde. Beginning this week on Impact, a tournament is being held for the vacated belts. The first match will feature Sarita and Daffney vs. Angelina Love and Velvet Sky.