Buzz: Latest from the MLB offseason

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Jan. 27 News and Notes

Hudson talks remain fluid -- 1:43 a.m. ET

Free-agent second baseman Orlando Hudson looks like he will have a choice.

Take a strong financial offer from the Nationals. Take perhaps a lesser contract from the Rays. Or take a deal from another club that might put him near the Nats financially and the Rays competitively -- if such an opportunity exists.

The Nationals and Rays both are pursuing Hudson, but his negotiations remain fluid, major-league sources say. At least one, unidentified team might still be in the mix. That team could be the Twins, who are known to have interest in Hudson, major-league sources say.

So far this offseason, the Twins have been linked more with third basemen than second basemen. Nick Punto and Brendan Harris, however, can play both positions. Punto, in fact, was the regular third baseman during the second half of the 2006 season, helping the Twins win a division title.

Hudson, a Gold Glove defender at second, would hold particular appeal to the defensive-minded Twins -- more than say, Miguel Tejada, another player the Twins liked, but who would have needed to move from shortstop to third base.

The question for the Twins would be price, just as it would be for the Rays. Rather than invest in Hudson, the Twins ultimately might prefer to sign a starting pitcher.

The Rays, facing their usual payroll constraints, would require some "interesting accounting" to sign Hudson, one source said. But the move clearly would make the team stronger, with Ben Zobrist moving to right field.

The Rockies only will sign Hudson if they can get him at a bargain price, sources say. The Mariners could add Hudson if they traded Jose Lopez. The Cubs are prioritizing another reliever over a second

baseman, and Tigers plan to play Scott Sizemore at second base.

-- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Jan. 26 News and Notes Washburn's wish list -- 3:47 p.m.

Now that the A's have reached a deal with Ben Sheets, the focus on free-agent starter Jarrod Washburn should intensify.

But in reality, the buzz will probably be muted. One major-league source said Tuesday that there are "a limited number of places" where the left-hander wants to pitch in 2010.

Minnesota is one place. Seattle is another. And the list may not be much longer than that. A separate source said he would be surprised if Washburn signed with a team other than the Twins or Mariners.

Each team has its own appeal. The Twins play close to Washburn's offseason home in Wisconsin. And his family grew to love Seattle during his tenure with the Mariners, which ended with last July's trade to Detroit.

The Cubs and Mets were among the teams that scouted Sheets' recent throwing session, and both remain in the market for starting pitching. It's not clear if they have interest in Washburn -- or he in them -- but one source with knowledge of the left-hander's market said a total of six teams have inquired. -- Jon Paul Morosi

Thome has new AL Central suitor? -- 2:49 p.m.

Jim Thome reportedly isn't returning to the Chicago White Sox, for whom he hit the 134 most recent home runs of his career.

He won't be going back to the team where he hit Nos. 1 through 334, either.

One major-league source reiterated Tuesday afternoon that the Indians aren't pursuing Thome. He would be a good gate attraction for a team that lost 97 games last year, but the presence of designated hitter Travis Hafner has eliminated that possibility.

Hafner is Cleveland's highest-paid player and hasn't started more than 10 games in the field during any season since 2003. As long as Hafner is healthy and productive -- hardly a guarantee -- Thome would have virtually no way of getting into the lineup.

However, the source said the budget-conscious Indians are still checking around for free-agent bargains.

They lack experience in left field, but it's highly doubtful that they can outbid the Yankees for Johnny Damon. With an uncertain rotation, the Indians may gamble on a bounce-back starter -- as they did (successfully) with Carl Pavano last year.

The Twins remained interested in signing Thome as of Tuesday afternoon, a separate source confirmed to

Minnesota can't give Thome an everyday role at the moment, but he could get at-bats in a few different ways. Unless the Twins upgrade at second or third base, manager Ron Gardenhire may want to use a late-inning pinch hitter for those two spots in the lineup. And Thome could be the DH when Jason Kubel has a day off or plays in the outfield against right-handed pitching.

One executive believes Thome could fit with the Rays or Blue Jays, in addition to the Twins.

"I think he knows he is going to be a guy who gets 250 to 300 plate appearances," the executive said. "He still has value when used properly." -- Jon Paul Morosi

Jan. 25 News and Notes Sources: Nats to sign RH reliever Walker -- 5:35 p.m.

The Nationals, continuing a massive overhaul of their bullpen, have reached agreement on a one-year contract with free-agent right-hander Tyler Walker, according to major-league sources.

The deal, pending a physical, will make Walker the fourth addition to the Nationals' bullpen this offseason, joining right-handers Matt Capps and Brian Bruney and lefty Eddie Guardado.

Walker, who turns 34 on May 15, went 2-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 35 1/3 innings with the Phillies last season after getting released by the Mariners in spring training. He also pitched 19 1/3 innings at Class AAA.

-- Ken Rosenthal

Nats sign pitcher Chuck James to minor-league contract -- 5:13 p.m.

Remember Chuck James?

In 2006, the left-hander went 11-4 with a 3.78 ERA as a rookie with the Braves. He also won 11 games for the Braves in '07, then suffered shoulder problems and underwent extensive surgery in September 2008, forcing him to miss all of last season.

Nationals assistant general manager Roy Clark, the Braves' former scouting director, remembers James. Clark watched James throw 88 to 90 mph on Saturday, and the Nats proceeded to sign James to a minor-league contract.

James, 28, figures to fight for the one of the Nationals' open rotation spots behind right-hander Jason Marquis and left-hander John Lannan. At the very least, he represents additional depth for manager Jim Riggleman.

-- Ken Rosenthal

Wang's agent confident about his client's future -- 3:42 p.m.

As the market heats up for Ben Sheets, another free-agent right-hander with physical questions awaits his turn.

Chien-Ming Wang, coming off shoulder surgery on July 29, is expected to throw off a mound in the next week or two, according to one of his agents, Alan Nero.

"Everything is going extraordinarily well," Nero said.

Six teams are evaluating Wang's medical records, Nero said. Wang, who turns 30 on March 31, is training at Fischer Sports in Phoenix.

"We're anticipating a major-league offer with a substantial guarantee and substantial upside," Nero said.

"We're so confident with what is going to happen, if we don't do it until May, we're OK. Whoever shows the initiative to take a little bit of risk is going to win."

-- Ken Rosenthal

Cubs playing catch-up to fill out roster -- 2:24 a.m.

Until they found a new home for Milton Bradley, the Cubs' off-season plans were stuck in neutral. Now they have only a few weeks left to do a winter's worth of work.

On their shopping list: a right-handed setup man, a fourth outfielder and possibly a second baseman.

And oh, they would also like to add a starting pitcher as insurance for the indefinite absence of ace left-hander Ted Lilly. (They had a scout at Ben Sheets' throwing session last week but fear his price tag may be too high.)

Upgrading the bullpen is a top priority, although one source indicated that the team's interest in free agent right-hander Kiko Calero has waned.

The Cubs have interest in former White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye, but he probably wants more money than he would have on the North Side.

Unless Dye's demands come down, one source said the Cubs' top choice among free agent outfielders would be Xavier Nady. Scott Boras, the agent for Nady, told in an email last week that the right-handed hitter is "on schedule to be ready in spring training," following the second Tommy John elbow surgery of his career.

The team has also considered Reed Johnson, Rocco Baldelli and Jonny Gomes for the outfield role, a source said.

Mike Fontenot, who had a disappointing season in 2009, and Jeff Baker, who was a pleasant surprise, are the incumbent second basemen. The Cubs would like to upgrade there, but that's not a high priority; they have previously shown interest in free agents Orlando Hudson and Adam Kennedy, sources have said.

-- Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi

Will Twins, Mauer talk this week? -- 10:44 a.m.

This could be the week the Twins accelerate their contract talks with

catcher Joe Mauer, if only because the representatives for both sides

all will be in one place.

Mauer, his agent Ron Shapiro and Twins general manager Bill Smith will be in attendance Wednesday for ESPN's "Homecoming with Rick Reilly" featuring Mauer.

The show will be taped at Mauer's high school, Cretin-Derham Hall, in

St. Paul, Mn.

The two sides have maintained regular contact, according to major-

league sources, but the talks have yet to progress to the serious


Mauer, eligible for free agency at the end of the 2010 season, will be the most coveted player on the market if he fails to re-sign with the Twins. - Ken Rosentha l

Jan. 23 News and Notes A's show up in full force for Sheets' workout -- 2:22 p.m.

The A's had a strong scouting presence at Ben Sheets' recent throwing session in Louisiana, leading one rival executive to wonder if they have plans to spend the money they had set aside for Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman.

Chapman signed with the Reds, but the A's were believed to be serious contenders until the end. Oakland has a young starting rotation and could benefit from the presence of a veteran such as Sheets.

The Mets would love to sign Sheets, too, after missing out on Joel Pineiro. A number of free-agent starters remain on the market, including Jarrod Washburn, Jon Garland, Pedro Martinez and Chien-Ming Wang. -- Jon Paul Morosi

Agent: Villarreal to hold throwing session -- 1:46 p.m.

Oscar Villarreal will hold a throwing session for scouts Friday in Tempe, Ariz., according to his agent, Oscar Suarez.

Villarreal hasn't pitched since 2008, but Suarez said he is healthy and ready to contribute in the big leagues.

Villarreal, a right-handed reliever, has had some successful seasons in the National League. He is 24-15 with a 3.86 ERA in 258 career games for the Diamondbacks, Braves and Astros. -- Jon Paul Morosi

Jan. 20 News and Notes

Source: Sheets still has long list -- 3:44 p.m.

One day after Ben Sheets' encouraging throwing session, the field of suitors for him remains broad. It doesn't appear that the free agent right-hander has started narrowing his list, one major league source indicated Wednesday.

Sources said the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox, Mariners, Blue Jays, A's, Reds, Mets, Nationals, Rangers and Phillies had representatives in attendance Tuesday at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

One person in attendance said Sheets "looked good," adding that his fastball topped out at 91 miles per hour. -- Jon Paul Morosi

Kennedy down to three teams -- 12:04 p.m.

The representative for free agent Adam Kennedy said he remains in talks with three teams about the infielder.

Two clubs are interested in Kennedy as their everyday second baseman, Paul Cohen said. Another has interest in Kennedy as a super-utility player.

"We have narrowed it down to three teams," Cohen said.

Cohen wouldn't address specific clubs, but the Cubs and Nationals are known to be looking for a second baseman.

Kennedy is coming off a strong season with the A's, in which he batted .289 with 11 home runs and 63 RBIs. He was Oakland's primary third baseman throughout the second half. -- Jon Paul Morosi