The presence of 23-year-old Mets right fielder Victor Diaz renders Mike Cameron expendable and the club will undoubtedly shop the gold glover this winter. Diaz has posted a career .803 OPS in 100 games and has belted 14 home runs in just 325 at-bats this season.
Cameron, who is recovering from facial surgery after a collision with center fielder Carlos Beltran, has one year remaining on a three-year, $19.5 million contract. There is a club option for 2007 at $7 million. Cameron will be 33 in January.
Mariners Spin?: Due to age, injury concerns and the marginal upgrade factor, Cameron is not likely to find his name being attached to any rumors in Seattle this winter.
Pudge On His Way Out of Motown?
With a decline in production and signs of an attitude problem, Ivan Rodriguez may be following manager Allan Trammell out the back door at Comerica Park in Detroit.
The 11-time all-star catcher dropped 27 pounds between spring trainings over the past two years and his run production has disappeared with his muscle mass. After hitting .334 with 19 home runs last season, Pudge is hitting just .278 this summer, and his defensive skills are deteriorating rapidly.
Mariners Spin?: The M's aren't going to want anything to do with a 34-year-old catcher that is still guaranteed $25 million over the next three seasons.
Piazza to DH in AL?
Hall-of-Famer-to-be Mike Piazza's career is coming to a close, but the greatest hitting catcher of all time is not quite finished with the bat. The 37-year-old will seek a job in the American League for 2006, ready to DH full time.
Likely suitors will include Baltimore, where Piazza could be the backup catcher as well, Los Angeles and Chicago.
Mariners Spin?: If Mariner fans wake up Christmas morning and Mike Piazza is under their tree, it's because Bill Bavasi failed.
Torii Hunter Rumors Shortsighted
While the Minnesota Twins are payroll strapped, it is not necessary for GM Terry Ryan to trade his all-star center fielder. The club will be given wiggle room by managing partner Carl Pohlad – just enough to hang onto Hunter and add a bat to the weakest offense in the American League.
To aid in the payroll efforts, Ryan will lean on uber prospect Jason Kubel to replace free agent Jacque Jones in the lineup, and hope Michael Cuddyer and Terry Tiffee continue to develop at the plate.
Among the bats available are Preston Wilson, Reggie Sanders, Richard Hidalgo and Paul Konerko.
Mariners Spin?: While Hunter is younger than Cameron, they are basically the same player – except Hunter's contract is much harder to swallow for an average offensive player.
Marlins Better Off Dealing Beckett?
All the talk surrounding the Marlins pitching staff this season has been centered around the free agent departure of right-hander A.J. Burnett. But what if the Marlins see more value in getting something in return for one of their big three, rather than letting him go for nothing?
If Burnett can be convinced to stay, which may be a tall order, the Fish can seek to trade Josh Beckett (15-8, 3.38, 166 K) instead. The financial relief wouldn't be seen for two years, since that is when Beckett's free agency will kick in. First baseman Carlos Delgado may be moved in order to handle the payroll responsibilities – some of the monies can be used to retain Burnett.
Mariners Spin?: While Burnett is probably going to be off the radar for Seattle this winter, no pitcher on the trade market should be unattainable for Bavasi and company. If Beckett, or any other viable frontline arm becomes available, the M's will likely make the call.
Adam Eaton, Jason Marquis , Top Winter Trade Targets
With the free agent market as weak as it has been in recent years, the trade route will be a busy road to travel this offseason. Two of the more attractive candidates may be right-handers Adam Eaton of San Diego and Jason Marquis of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Eaton was 9-2 at the all-star break, sporting a shiny 3.42 ERA. But his season was cut down in mid-June when the Seattle-area native strained the middle finger on his right hand. He hasn't been the same since, but the injury is not expected to be bothersome past this season.
Marquis is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA in September and could be the victim of a numbers crunch in St. Louis. With Carpenter signed and Mark Mulder's option surely to be picked up, the Cards must decide between Marquis and two free agent right-handers in Jeff Suppan and Matt Morris. If Morris and Suppan take a little less money to stay in red, Marquis might be the trade bait that fills the bullpen or outfield holes for the NL's best team.
Mariners Spin?: If the M's shed the dead weight of Ryan Franklin and part ways with Gil Meche and Jamie Moyer, Marquis and Eaton could be a second arm to take a look at. Each pitcher is arbitration eligible, but more than worth the figures they will likely receive in the process.
Paul Byrd, Jeff Weaver Underrated Free Agents
Florida's Burnett and Cleveland's Kevin Millwood are the class of a thin market for starting pitching this upcoming winter, but right-hander's Paul Byrd and Jeff Weaver may be more deserving of a sizable payday than it appears on the surface.
Byrd, soon to be 35, is 12-10 for the Halos with a 3.72 ERA, 14th in the AL, a 1.19 WHIP, fifth in the league, and is second in quality starts with 21 – tied with Randy Johnson, among others, trailing only Millwood's 22.
Weaver, 29, is 14-10 with a 4.29 ERA in 33 starts for the Dodgers. The right-hander has posted a solid 154-41 strikeouts-to-walks ratio and has induced a large share of ground ball outs.
Mariners Spin?: Weaver might be a secondary target for Bavasi this winter, if Millwood and Burnett are priced out and if Weaver is still available when the time comes. Byrd's age probably eliminates him from the Mariners crosshairs.
Dunn, Griffey Not Among Most Available Reds
With the rumors flying around that Seattle will attempt to re-acquire prodigal son Ken Griffey, Junior, this winter, the word out of the Queen City is that three other players are far more likely to be shipped elsewhere than Griffey and left fielder Adam Dunn.
First baseman Sean Casey carries his $8.5 million salary into 2006, and if any club is willing to take it, the Reds would gladly hand him over. If Casey is moved, Dunn would slide to first base, making room for another trade-available hitter – Austin Kearns.
Kearns has all-star offensive potential but hasn't put it all together of yet, spending much of this season in the minors.
The Reds are very likely to deal one of their two third-year arbitration eligible catchers, Jason LaRue and Javier Valentin.
LaRue, 30, has posted an OPS of .819 with 14 home runs this season – and has been better on the road (.872 OPS, 8 HR) than at home (.767, 6 HR) in virtually the same numbers of at-bats.
Valentin, 29, is a switch-hitting backstop, but is light years better from the left side of the plate. The Puerto Rico native is hitting .287 with a .903 OPS and 14 home runs this season, but unlike LaRue, has done a lot of his damage in the Great American Bandbox in Cincinnati. As a left-handed hitter, Valentin is hitting .310/.370/.579 with 12 homers on the year.
Mariners Spin?: This is where the Mariners could fill a need, shed some dreck and get solid value in a trade. No, not for Dunn or Griffey, but for Kearns and Valentin.
The Reds are not going to bring both catchers back and because Casey is nearly impossible to trade, Kearns is the best bet to be moved from a crowded but talented outfield that also includes Willy Mo Pena.
If Kearns is the worst the M's can do in left field, be excited for the winter. His potential is not unlike that of a .280/.350/.500 hitter with 30-homer power and very solid defense.
Valentin is a perfect platoon partner with Yorvit Torrealba, who hits lefties at a .295/.369/.518 clip for his career. Nearly identical with the splits Valentin puts up versus right-handed pitching.
Kearns can be acquired simply to be a part of a second deal to acquire a more proven stick in left field, if that floats the goodship Mariner a little bit better than keeping Kearns for themselves.
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