Oakland’s big fish is gone, Matt Holliday having been traded to the Cardinals last week. But a recent rumor suggested that the A’s and Cards are talking again, this time about 40-year-old righty reliever Russ Springer, who enjoyed the best two years of his career working for St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan in 2007-2008.
One of Springer’s best friends on the A’s, fellow righty Michael Wuertz, has seen his name bandied about in a number of ways over the past few weeks, but given the constitution of Oakland’s bullpen, it’ll take a solid return package to prompt A’s GM Billy Beane to surrender his most reliable reliever.
Shortstop Orlando Cabrera is will being mentioned in trade rumors, too, most notable with the Twins, but Cabrera isn’t in any hurry to leave. He’s on a one-year deal with the A’s and seems to be very happy living in the East Bay, and with no clear heir at the position, Oakland might decide to keep and re-sign him as one of the few veterans to anchor what will almost certainly be an extremely young team next season.
The first major deal of the period leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline took place Friday, with Matt Holliday moving to St. Louis. As far as the White Sox adding a major piece to their playoff pursuit puzzle, or any piece, for that matter, manager Ozzie Guillen doesn’t see it happening.
“To be honest with you, we haven’t even talked about that,” said Guillen prior to Saturday evening’s game in Detroit. “What we have is pretty good. We got six, seven starters right now.
“Obviously, people have talked about (Roy) Halladay, but we’ve got something going good right now, and for the future very good. To break that up now, that’s a chance you would have to take if you break that up. Right now, everything is quiet with the White Sox. Unless something crazy happens in the next couple hours, we’re going to go with what we have.”
Halladay has been loosely linked to the White Sox due to the aggressiveness of general manager Ken Williams and his utter lack of fear in making the big move to help his team. See Williams’ attempt to acquire Jake Peavy earlier this season, as an example. But with top young players such as Gordon Beckham, John Danks and/or Gavin Floyd figuring to be part of the return package, don’t look for Halladay on the South Side of Chicago.
A Major League source has confirmed that a deal is in place for the Cardinals to acquire Matt Holliday from the A’s in exchange for Brett Wallace, Triple-A right-hander Clayton Mortensen and Double-A outfielder Shane Peterson. ESPN reports that Oakland will send some cash to St. Louis to help offset some of the remaining cost of Holliday’s contract.
Holliday has long been a target of the Cardinals, who talked trade with Colorado over the winter before the Rockies shipped the three-time All-Star to Oakland. He bolsters the team’s outfield and offers the cleanup hitter that manager Tony La Russa has long coveted to slot behind Albert Pujols in the Cardinals lineup.
Holliday, 29, can be a free agent at the end of the 2009 season. His current contract pays him $13.5 million, of which approximately $6 million is still due.
Wallace, 22, was St. Louis’ first-round pick in the 2008 Draft and has rocketed through the Minor Leagues. He is currently playing at Triple-A Memphis. Mortensen, 24, is also at Memphis and was a supplementary first-rounder in 2007. Peterson, 21, was a second-round selection in 2008.
Considering the Tigers’ offensive woes, including another 2-1 loss Wednesday to the M’s, perhaps it isn’t a Halladay Detroit needs, but a Holliday. The San Jose Mercury News reported Wednesday that several teams had scouts this week in Oakland, where Matt Holliday put on a hitting display over three games against the Twins. The Mercury News names the Tigers and Giants among teams “known to have at least a degree of interest” in Holliday.
The Tigers have had internal discussions about Holliday, but their level of interest likely depends on how much the A’s demand in return. The Tigers arguably don’t have the depth in their farm system to offer Oakland enough talent to top the two First-Year Player Draft picks the A’s would receive if they lose Holliday as a free agent this winter instead of dealing him now.
For now, that doesn’t seem to be enough. Foxsports.com’s Ken Rosenthal suggests the Tigers would need to include lefty pitching prospect Casey Crosby, which is a deal-breaker for Detroit. Though Crosby was a fifth-round Draft pick in 2007, the same year the Tigers selected Rick Porcello in the first round, they view Crosby with top-round talent.
For now, no deal appears to be close for the Tigers, on Holliday or anyone. Any deal they make will likely come in the final days leading up to the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, given their history over the past several years.
“Normally if [president/general manager] Dave [Dombrowski] gets something going, he’ll fill me in on it,” manager Jim Leyland said Wednesday about Tigers dealings in general. “But we haven’t had any conversations about that.”
Again, Carlos Guillen’s situation could impact any decision the Tigers make on offense. He began the Triple-A portion of his Minor League rehab stint Wednesday at Toledo, and he could return as soon as this weekend. That would give Tigers officials at least the three-game series at Texas through next Wednesday to evaluate him and figure out how much he can help. That said, the Tigers could use more offense with or without Guillen.
— Jason Beck