– According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Brewers’ highest offer to free agent 1B Prince Fielder will likely be in the range of 6-years/$120M. Fielder is thought to be seeking a deal worth closer to $200M. The 27-year-old owns a stellar .929 career OPS and slugged 38 home runs this past year for Milwaukee.
– According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Marlins have signed RHP Heath Bell to a 3-year/$27M deal, pending a physical. Bell, 34, has posted a dominant 2.36 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over the past three seasons in San Diego and is likely to make a fine closer for the Marlins. His strikeout rate, however, been on a steep decline, and $9M a season for a closer is a lot of money.
– Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the White Sox have been shopping LHP John Danks around in trade talks. GM Kenny Williams said last month that he would be reluctant to part with Danks. The return price is obviously steep, as a source from another team told Cowley that Williams “asked for everyone on our roster in return” for the left-hander. Danks is set to make around $7-8M in his final year of arbitration.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Nationals have identified LHP C.J. Wilson as their top target and are “going to push” for him. Most expect the Nationals to make at least one free agent splash this offseason. They appear dead set on adding a lefty starter, and although they’ve also been linked to LHP Mark Buehrle, Wilson appears higher on their priority list. Wilson is believed to be seeking a contract upwards of $100M.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Marlins are “pretty optimistic” on SS Jose Reyes but are considering upping their first bid to try for a “quick resolution.” Initial reports said the Marlins offered him a 6-year/$90M deal, but Heyman then reported that it was actually significantly lower than that. The Fish probably would need to sweeten the deal if they want to lock him up. The Tigers, Brewers and Giants have also been connected to Reyes.
– According to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the Angels have visited 3B Aramis Ramirez and an offer is likely coming. The Halos have been linked to Ramirez for the past month. A-Ram is also drawing interest from several other teams, including the Brewers and Tigers, so the Angels’ offer will have to be substantial in order for a deal to be struck anytime soon. The 33-year-old posted .871 OPS, 26 home runs and 93 RBI this past year for the Cubs. He’s the top third baseman on the market this winter.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Astros “will do whatever it takes” to hire Rays’ executive VP Andrew Friedman as their new general manager. Per Heyman, however, it’s iffy as to whether he’d consider taking the job. Houston is facing a long rebuild, but maybe Friedman enjoys the challenge if the salary is enough.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that DH Jorge Posada would like to continue playing in 2012 and his preference would be to sign with the Marlins. Posada lives in Miami and would probably be fine with being a backup. The Marlins have Brett Hayes to back up John Buck, but Posada’s leadership and ability to fill in at first base might come of value.
– Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies have asked the Cubs for UTIL Blake DeWitt in a deal for 3B Ian Stewart. Renck said talks between the two clubs have “cooled” but could be revisited at the winter meetings. DeWitt holds a career .260/.329/.385 batting line across 1,087 at-bats. The Rockies appear willing to give up on Stewart after an ugly 2011 season that saw him bat just .156/.243/.221 with zero homers over 136 plate appearances.
– Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that not only are the Astros shopping RHP Wandy Rodriguez, but they’ve put RHP Brett Myers and OF Carlos Lee on the trade block, as well. New owner Jim Crane obviously wants to clean house. Even with teams desperate for starting pitching, the Astros aren’t likely to get much prospect help in exchange for Rodriguez (due $36M over the next three years if his 2014 option is picked up) or Myers (due $21M through 2013). With an $18.5M contract for 2012, Lee won’t be dealt unless the ‘Stros pick up a significant chunk of his salary.
– According to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi, the Rangers are “optimistic” about signing C Mike Napoli to a multi-year contract extension this offseason. Napoli, who batted .320/.414/.631 with 30 homers and 75 RBI in 113 games this year for Texas, is currently slated to become a free agent after the 2012 season. He’s eligible for aribtration for the final time this winter.
– The Marlins plan to non-tender RHP Juan Carlos Oviedo. Formerly known as Leo Nunez, Oviedo is still trying to re-enter the United States after turning himself into authorities this fall for a long-running identity scheme. It’s not known whether he’ll be back by spring training. Oviedo posted a 4.06 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 64 1/3 innings in 2011 while saving 36 games in 42 opportunities.
– Marlins’ OF Logan Morrison (right knee) is scheduled to undergo arthroscopic surgery Monday. LoMo is fully expected to be back to 100% health by the start of spring training. The 24-year-old posted a promising .247/.330/.468 batting line and 23 home runs this past year for the Fish.
– The Giants are talking to free agent SS Alex Gonzalez, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Gonzalez was not offered arbitration by the Braves last week after batting just .241/.270/.372 across 593 plate appearances in 2011. He’s likely seeking a 2-year contract.
– Marlins’ RHP Josh Johnson (shoulder) is scheduled to resume his throwing program at some point this weekend. Johnson hasn’t felt discomfort in his surgically-repaired shoulder for a couple of months and is fully expecting to be back to 100% health by the start of spring training next February.
– CSN New England’s Donny Marshall reported Thursday that his sources say Celtics’ G Rajon Rondo “might have started to wear out his welcome (in Boston) a little bit.” Rondo expressed his displeasure about the Kendrick Perkins trade along with a few others. Expect Boston to test the market for him.
– ESPN’s Marc Stein said Thursday that there is a growing sense among NBA executives that the Magic will trade F Dwight Howard before the season starts. The new CBA has taken away a good amount of the players’ power to play where they want to play, but not completely, and has also given incentive to teams to make trades sooner rather than later if they want to get value for their exiting stars. This is not a hard report, but more opinion from a well-connected insider.
– Zach Lowe of Sports Illustrated discussed a loophole for Hornets’ G Chris Paul to get to the Knicks without taking a huge financial hit. Paul would get traded to the Knicks with a behind the scenes agreement to re-sign with them once his current contract has expired. Since he would be traded along with his Bird rights, he would be allowed to sign a 5-year/$100M extension while the Knicks stay under the cap. The risk for the Knicks is that he double-crosses them and signs elsewhere. Stay tuned.
– G Arron Afflalo is the most coveted free agent other than the league’s top FA big men, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein. Stein has heard this from “a handful of GMs,” and writes that the Bulls and Lakers both “lust after Afflalo.” Afflalo is an RFA, meaning the Nuggets can match any offer, and only teams under the salary cap (not the Bulls and Lakers) are likely to make a significant offer.
– Hawks’ GM Rick Sund has confirmed that Kirk Hinrich (shoulder) will miss “at least the first month of the regular season” after surgery to remove a cyst and repair the labrum in his left shoulder.
– The NBA regular-season schedule is set to be released live on Tuesday at 7 p.m. on NBA TV.
– Blazers president Larry Miller said Thursday that it would be easier to keep F Brandon Roy if he was willing to accept a lesser role. ”If Brandon were to accept mentally that ‘I’m not that guy anymore, but I will do whatever I can to help the team,’ it would make it easier to keep him around,” Miller said. Roy complained publicly about playing time last season.
– Suns’ G Steve Nash told the AP that it is “very, very important” for the team to re-sign free agent F Grant Hill. ”I’m sure he’s going to be highly coveted by a lot of teams so Phoenix will have to make him a great offer and put him in a position where he can’t say no to coming back.”
– Sources close to free agent F Andrei Kirilenko said Thursday that the Jazz are not actively trying to sign him at this time. The source did add that multiple teams have been in contact with him, but his recent shoulder injury was probably enough to put him on the ‘B’ or ‘C’ list of free agents being hunted.
– Multiple Blazers sources have reported that the team seems genuinely interested in free agent F Carl Landry. Landry has made public comment about his interest in Portland and F LaMarcus Aldridge has proclaimed his interest in Landry. Portland, however, is already thick at the wing, just as the Kings were.
– Multiple reports surfaced that the Clippers have reached out to free agent F Tayshaun Prince, and in that scenario F Chris Kaman could be sent to the Pistons in a sign-and-trade deal.
– Howard Beck of the NY Times reported Thursday that the Players Association announced that a majority of NBA players voted to re-form the union, another crucial step in officially ending the lockout. The new CBA couldn’t be completed and ratified until the union was re-formed, and a vote on ratification is expected to happen next week. And once that’s done, this thing is essentially in the books.
– Dr. Robert Watkins issued a statement Thursday indicating that exams show Colts’ QB Peyton Manning’s neck fusion has “achieved firm fixation.” Manning is still without a timetable for a return to practice, but he can increase his workload in rehab. It’s been 3 months since Manning’s most recent surgery, so he remains on schedule. He’s still waiting on the nerve regeneration before he can resume football activities.
– When asked if WR DeSean Jackson’s head was in the game Thursday night, one teammate told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “No, he’s [messing] around.” Jackson didn’t warm up with his position group, didn’t finish his routes, and didn’t bother to look teammates in the eye last night. He was more friendly with Seahawks’ RB Marshawn Lynch than anyone on his team. Jackson didn’t seem to be heavily involved in the game plan, either, though coach Andy Reid attributed his disappointing production to Seattle rolling a safety over the top. Jackson went off on reporters after the game when asked about his attitude. His relationship with the Eagles is ending.
– Eagles’ coach Andy Reid revealed after Thursday’s game that LB Nnamdi Asomugha (head/neck) has been diagnosed with a concussion and a stinger. Asomugha’s helmet slammed into the turf a split-second before Big Mike Williams landed on his head and neck. Asomugha will have 10 days to recover before the Eagles play in Week 14 at Miami.
– Raiders’ MLB Rolando McClain has been arrested in connection with a Wednesday evening shooting in his hometown of Decatur, Ala. He has been charged with discharging a firearm within city limits, third degree assault, menacing and reckless endangerment. According to the Decatur police, McClain is alleged to have stood over another man with his gun to his head, prompting him to beg for his life. McClain then allegedly fired a shot past the man’s ear. He remains in custody. Obviously, his status for Sunday’s game against the Dolphins is now in severe doubt, while it’s possible he’s played his final down of the season.
– The Dolphins waived QB Sage Rosenfels from the non-football illness list. The Texans are reportedly fine with their three quarterbacks, but that will be tested with Rosenfels now available for a waiver claim. Rosenfels has three years of experience in coach Gary Kubiak’s offense and would be an immediate upgrade if he’s over the mysterious blood infection that sent him to the NFI list in late October.
– The Bruins have signed F David Krejci to a 3-year/$15.75M extension with a $5.25M AAV. Krejci has a 6-team no-trade clause for the second and third year.
– Blue Jackets’ F Derick Brassard’s agent Allan Walsh, ripped Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel for his treatment of the center. Brassard had been a healthy scratch in six of seven games before Tuesday’s contest in Vancouver and Walsh ripped Arniel in a statement. “While I have tremendous respect for (general manager) Scott Howson and the rest of Columbus’ management team, the situation regarding Derick Brassard has become untenable,” Walsh’s statement read. “The coach has a history of burying players and using them as scapegoats to mask his own lack of success on the ice. Derick has been singled out, almost from the very beginning of the season, to be the fall guy in case things don’t go well. The Columbus organization cares about Derick and has been good to him, but at some point, one has to say, enough is enough.” Yikes. Stay tuned.
– Ducks’ GM Bob Murray has denied reports that the team is continuing to shop F Bobby Ryan. Murray said that he wants to see how team responds to new head coach Bruce Boudreau. Ryan spoke to the media about the rumours:
“I wouldn’t be surprised. That’s all I’ll say about that.”
“At the same time, it’s the business side of things that all comes back to. If they feel like it’s got to be the right move for the team, then I’d certainly welcome it.
“If they feel like the Ducks are going to get better and I’m going to get chance to play somewhere else, I guess I would. But I’m certainly not thinking about it day in and day out.”
– Ducks’ head coach Bruce Boudreau spoke to the media about his firing in Washington on Monday.
“When nothing happened Sunday, I thought, ‘Okay, we’re playing St. Louis and Pittsburgh and maybe that’s going to be the telltale.’ But I was driving to work at 6:10 on Monday and I got a text. It was George. He said, call me when you wake up. I said, ‘Uh oh, that’s not good.’ He told me to come to his house.”
“I told George this on Monday: I tried every trick that I knew in 18 years and nothing was working.” Boudreau said. “I told him, ‘You’re doing what you have to do.’ I thought I was going to be here forever, but this was something I thought that had to be done. Am I disappointed? Absolutely.”
“(Ovechkin) called me Monday and I didn’t feel like talking. I answered the phone [Tuesday] and he was really gracious. He said he really enjoyed working with me and I said, ‘I loved every minute of it.”
“I think we were really close. Every summer we thought we could win the Stanley Cup [the following season]. When I was dreaming about winning the Cup, I thought it was a legitimate dream.”
“I’m so naive, I never thought that could happen until people started bringing it up to me in the last day or two. I have to go back and look at the games because I can’t imagine that. When I played, I would always play for the guy next to me, not the coach.”
– Rangers’ D Marc Staal (concussion) has begun skating on his own. He has yet to play this season.
– Stars’ G Kari Lehtonen (groin) is still at least 3 weeks away from returning. Lehtonen is currently working out in the pool as he is looking to strengthen his pulled groin as he suffered the injury on Saturday.
– F Mike Grier announced his retirement today from the National Hockey League (NHL) following a career that spanned 14 seasons. Grier, 36, appeared in a total of 1,060 regular season NHL games, recording 162 goals and 221 assists for 383 points. He also played in 101 NHL playoff games, as his teams qualified for the playoffs in 11 of his 14 seasons in the league.
“I was very fortunate to be able to play 14 seasons in the NHL with some great players. The memories and friendships that I have built during my time in the league will last a lifetime. I would like to thank my former teammates, family and fans for helping make my career so memorable for me. It was a great ride, and I am now excited and looking forward to my post-playing future.”
– WWE.com has published an article pleading for WWE to abandon the present “Spinner Title” design and return to the pride and tradition radiated by past WWE Titles. The article lists the prestigious replacements from which to pick and offers opinions from John Cena, The Miz and current strap holder CM Punk. Punk weighed in with his thoughts:
“YES! [The current title] is old and passé. It’s gaudy and ugly. It says “Champ” instead of Champion! That’s ridiculous. I need a dignified title, not a blinged out rapper accessory.”
– During CM Punk’s appearance on the latest edition of Colt Cabana’s Art Of Wrestling Radio podcast (available on WeLoveColt.com and iTunes), the reigning champion took a swipe at WWE’s Twitter initiative.
“I am on Twitter at CMPunk; that is my satirical way of making fun of how the WWE has beat the living shit out of Twitter in the last couple of weeks,” he said.
– After serving a 30-day suspension due to a violation of WWE’s Wellness Policy, WWE tag champion Evan Bourne has been cleared to return to action. Bourne will be appearing in Kansas City, MO this weekend.
– Thursday night on Twitter, Vickie Guerrero posted a fan’s remark knocking TNA Wrestling personality Karen Jarrett, who has drawn comparisons to the temperamental WWE manager. The comment reads “@KarenJarrett = @ExcuseMeWWE #TNAAwful.” This is not Guerrero’s only taboo tweet as she posted earlier “just voted “The Undertaker and Michelle Mcool” on “Who is the best real life wwe couple.”
– R-Truth, who was written off television last week via Skull Crushing Finale onto the Raw SuperShow stage, posted a message on Twitter regarding his whereabouts.
“Hopefully today I will find out when the Doc will release me to return back to the ring,” he wrote.
He then wrote the following in response to his followers remarks:
“I see we got sum smart azz Lil Jimmy’s about..”
– After recently ditching his jean shorts in favor of camouflage shorts, John Cena debuted a totally new look at Thursday’s WWE live event from Japan. Cena came to the ring wearing a long red and white pants and a silver jacket with the word “Ribera” on it – a nod to the local Ribera steak house, which has been frequented by wrestlers for decades. We’ll see if Cena returns to his camouflage shorts when WWE returns to the United States this weekend:
– TNA tag champion Matt Morgan answered a few fan questions on Twitter on Thursday and shed some light on his future in TNA and a possible WWE return. Morgan revealed that he is under contract for two more years and replied to a fan who asked whether he’d return to WWE when he becomes a free agent. Regarding TNA, he said:
“Happy where I’m at. Biz changes so often though,that’s why u keep options open.”
When asked directly about whether he’d consider another WWE run, he said:
“Yes. But I’m ecstatic where I am now,so…I’m good.”
Morgan was also asked about John Morrison’s WWE departure:
“JoMo has been 1of my best friends so I’d be happy4him.”
Whether he watches WWE:
“I DVR EVERY SHOW from any co.” .
He stated that his best friend in TNA was Kevin Nash, but now it’s Ken Anderson. He also said that Zack Ryder is “killing it.”