– The Mariners are now considered the front-runners for free agent 1B Prince Fielder, according to ESPN’s Jim Bowden. The Brewers, Cubs and Blue Jays all want the 27-year-old to agree to a shorter contract, which has knocked them down a peg. The Brewers offered 6-years/$120M, but Blue Jays’ GM Alex Anthopolous said they’re not willing to offer more than a 5-year contract, and the Cubs’ strategy is to offer a higher annual salary for fewer years and will not go beyond eight or nine years. The Rangers have been quiet on this front and could step in with a large offer at any time.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Marlins are not ruling out signing both 1B Albert Pujols and LHP C.J. Wilson. He adds that owner Jeffrey Loria is “pushing” the team’s interest in Wilson. As for Pujols, president David Samson said Tuesday afternoon that the club’s 10-year/$200M offer does not include a no-trade clause. The Marlins have never given a no-trade clause to a free agent and apparently aren’t willing to suddenly change that philosophy this winter. That offer appears to be the highest one on the table so far, though the Cardinals are believed to be preparing a counter-offer. The Fish are fresh off signing SS Jose Reyes and RHP Heath Bell, so it’s unlikely that they’ll have enough to add two more big-name players–if they do sign both players, they might end up dealing the disgruntled SS Hanley Ramirez.
Sticking with Hanley, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports that HanRam does not want to play third base and wants to be traded if he can’t play shortstop. President of baseball operations Larry Beinfest has given no indication that he’s planning to deal Ramirez, but his hands may be tied of Hanley forces a holdout.
– Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com reports that the Red Sox have offered DH David Ortiz a 2-year/$18M contract. McDonald says Ortiz is looking for 2-years/$25M. If that’s Boston’s max offer, Ortiz would be wise to accept arbitration, as he could make that total for just one season.
– According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies met “late into the night” with SS Jimmy Rollins’ agent. A chat between the two sides on Monday morning ended poorly, but progress may have been made later in the evening. Rollins, 33, is thought to be holding out for a 5-year contract. He posted a .268/.338/.399 batting line with 16 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 142 games this past year for Philadelphia. The Brewers are also known to have some interest.
– According to SI’s Jon Heyman, Mark Buehrle has narrowed his list of potential destinations to five. He posted a 3.59 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in 31 starts this past year and has surpassed 200 innings in 11 consecutive seasons. The Marlins, Rangers, Nationals, Cardinals and Angels are among the clubs known to have interest.
– Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record reports that the Yankees have spoken to the Athletics about the availability of LHP Gio Gonzalez but that something would happen only in an “overpay” situation. Gonzalez will draw plenty of suitors, assuming GM Billy Beane lowers his asking price.
– The agent for 3B Aramis Ramirez said Tuesday that the Brewers are a “favourite” for his client. A-Ram is also drawing free agent interest from the Phillies and Tigers. The 33-year-old registered a bounceback season with an .871 OPS, 26 home runs and 93 RBI in 149 games this past year for the Cubs. He remains the top third baseman available on the market.
– According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, the Rockies are “willing to eat all money for prospects” in trading RHP Huston Street. Street posted a solid 3.86 ERA and 55/9 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 innings this year, but he’s owed $7.5M in 2012 and has lost his closer’s job to RHP Rafael Betancourt. The Padres, Reds, Marlins, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Mets and Orioles have all been linked to Street this offseason.
– The Blue Jays acquired RHP Sergio Santos from the White Sox for RHP Nestor Molina. Santos will take over at closer for the Jays in 2012. The former infielder posted a stellar 3.55 ERA and 92/39 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings this past year while converting 30 saves in 36 chances.
– FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Nationals and Rays have discussed a trade involving OF B.J. Upton trade. A report from ESPN’s Buster Olney on Monday suggested that Tampa Bay would have to be blown away to move Upton. Washington also tried to land Upton at this past summer’s trade deadline. The 27-year-old batted .243/.331/.429 with 23 homers, 81 RBI and 36 steals over 153 games in 2011.
– C.J. Wilson’s agent, Bob Garber, is scheduled to meet with Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels on Tuesday night. The Rangers are expected to present Garber with an official offer. Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reported Monday that the Angels are “making a serious push” to sign Wilson. His next contract will likely be at least four or five years and over $15M annually. The Nationals, Marlins, Cubs and Red Sox are all also known to have interest.
– According to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times, a trade that would potentially send LHP Matt Thornton to the Braves is “picking up steam.” Thornton, 35, posted a 3.32 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in 59 2/3 innings this past year. He’s owed $12M over the next two seasons.
– Cardinals’ OF Allen Craig (right knee) underwent surgery around Thanksgiving and is expected to miss 4-6 months, jeopardizing his availability for Opening Day. Craig originally injured his right knee in the middle of the summer when he ran into an outfield wall in Houston while trying to make a catch in foul territory. He had screws inserted into the knee as part of the surgery. Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch suspects that the 27-year-old will be ready in May.
– FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Angels have trade interest in the Mariners’ RHP Brandon League. League, 28, posted a strong 2.79 ERA and 45/10 K/BB ratio in 61 1/3 innings this past season for Seattle. He’s due a raise over the $2.5M he earned via arbitration in 2011, so the M’s may be looking to both dump salary and acquire prospects.
– Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com reports that that Orioles are willing to listen to offers for OF Adam Jones. Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com says that the O’s are telling teams Jones is “off limits,” but at least seeing what they can get for him.
– The Cubs’ interest in Rockies’ 3B Ian Stewart has waned, according to Thomas Harding MLB.com. ”The situation remains fluid, however, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that they’ll jump back in,” writes Harding. A handful of names have been thrown around in trade talks between the clubs, including INF Blake DeWitt, OF Tyler Colvin, INF D.J. LeMaiheu and LHP Scott Maine. The 26-year-old Stewart batted just .156/.243/.221 with zero homers and a .464 OPS over 136 plate appearances at the major-league level this year, but could be a buy-low candidate. He projects to make around $2M in his second year of arbitration.
– The NHL has suspended Predators’ F Jordin Tootoo two games for his hit on Sabres’ G Ryan Miller. Tootoo received a major for charging and a game misconduct for running Miller during the second period of Saturday’s game. He will forfeit $13,513.52 in salary.
– Archie Manning believes Colts’ QB Peyton Manning and Stanford’ QB Andrew Luck do not want to be teammates in Indy next season. Luck has participated in the Manning Family’s passing camp. His father, Oliver, was a teammate of Archie’s, so the families may have already touched base on the possibility. Despite team president Bill Polian’s comments to the contrary, the Indianapolis Star’s Bob Kravitz has been adamant that Manning and Luck can’t co-exist together next season. It’s very possible that we could see a rebuild in Indy, with Manning being traded as they begin to build around Luck.
– The NFL announced Tuesday that Redskins’ TE Fred Davis and LT Trent Williams will be suspended for the final four games of the 2011 regular season. The suspensions commence immediately and end January 2. According to a report from SI.com, both players have failed three tests for marijuana. If they get caught violating the NFL’s substance policy again, it’s likely that a 1-year suspension would be handed out. The ‘Skins are expected to try and sign Davis long-term this offseason, but because of the suspension, Washington may be able to reduce the amount of guaranteed money involved.
– On Monday’s RAW, we saw the third installment of the “It Begins” video trailers, with this week’s promo titled, “Look within.” According to a report on PWInsider.com, insider sources continue to state that the person returning to WWE at the January 2nd edition of RAW from Memphis will be Chris Jericho. Some had speculated that the “It Begins” videos were leading up to the return of the Undertaker, but the latest on his return is that he won’t be back until after the Royal Rumble.
– After The Rock claimed that his new “Boots To Asses” t-shirt was the best selling WWE t-shirt, CM Punk responded by re-tweeting the following message from one of his followers:
“The Rock comes up with another lie..Claiming his shirt is the most sold in WWE. We all know it’s the @CMPunk T-Shirt, that’s most sold.”
Punk also updated fans on the x-rays he had done on Tuesday, revealing that it was his right hand that might be fractured. Punk posted the following picture of his x-ray – coincidentally doing one of John Cena’s hand gestures with the caption, “Hustle. Loyalty. Respect.”
– CM Punk stated Tuesday on Twitter that he was undergoing an X-ray examination today. He wrote,
“Heading for X-rays, then gym. Because broke shit don’t stop me.”
“Soon to be a dirt sheet headline: Punk gets X-rays.
“Going to go jump in a volcano then gym. Because hot lava don’t stop me.
“Soon to be dirt sheet headline: Punk jumps into volcano.”
– Regarding rumours of WWE changing the appearance of the WWE Championship, while some in the organization are pushing to get rid of the “spinner” strap, no official change is currently planned.
– Randy Orton was recently interviewed by THQ to promote the new WWE ’12 video game. Here are some highlights of what Orton said about:
His Favorite Rivalry In WWE: “John Cena in ’09. I had a four month storyline where we exchanged titles. We had a memorable “Iron Man” match, and we traded wins and losses. I’m the anti-John Cena. If he’s kissing babies, wearing necklaces, then I’m doing the opposite. He’s a beast in the gym, and beast on the mic. He’s also in movies and everything, but I don’t see myself doing much more of that. I’m a WWE Superstar to the bone.”
His Health & When He’ll Retire: “I’d like to make it into my 40?s and compete and retire, but not because my neck is bad or anything like that, but so I’m able to go out on top on my own terms, like HBK. So many in the business can’t say that, but I want to finish on top and stay healthy. I’ve been using a lot of the advancements in preventative medicine more recently. I took a page out of John Cena’s book to do things for my muscular/neuro connection. I’m training specifically for what I do in the ring. Explosive movement or plyometrics. I just want all of my limbs stay in their sockets, so at the final bell, I can say that I did it all.”
His Dream Opponent From Any Generation: “My dad (“Cowboy” Bob Orton) got to wrestle his old man, but it’d be cool to do that as well. He was one of the best ring technicians, and everyone always had good things to say about my father. He was the innovator of a lot of moves, and he helped bring the business to where it is. I’d want to wrestle him in a straight up, babyface hour broadway.”
– Tough Enough contestant and former Miss USA Rima Fakih is scheduled for a court hearing on December 21, 2011 in 30th District Court in Highland Park, Michigan due to her arrest Saturday on suspicion of drunken driving. If convicted, Fakih faces up to 93 days in jail, plus fines, court costs and the possibility of community service.