December 13, 2008
The Major League general managers have come and gone from the annual meetings that were held in Las Vegas, with relatively few blockbuster deals so far. Manny Ramirez is still available, if any team wants him badly enough. Kerry Wood passed the necessary physical exam to complete the deal with Cleveland, a good sign that the Indians are determined to stay in the race even after letting C.C. Sabathia go. Also, the Yankees have reached a tentative deal (pending a physical) with pitcher A.J. Burnett on a five-year contract totalling $82.5 million. He went 18-10 with the Blue Jays this year. See MLB.com. Along with C.C. Sabathia, that ought to give the Yankees strong enough pitching staff to at least make it to the postseason next year. (But why don't they sign a pitcher who uses his real first name?)
I was glad to hear that the Washington Nationals signed young outfielder Willie Harris to a two-year contract, though with comparatively modest compensation of $3 million. He grabbed attention last May, diving to make a spectacular catch in left field at Shea Stadium, and in in July he was named National League player of the week. He is one of the real bright spots in the Nats' future, and he is eager to keep playing in Washington. They also offered salary arbitration to pitcher Shawn Hill and and third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and to two others. Zimmerman had a very sluggish start to the season, and was out for a few weeks with an injury, but he showed great improvement late in the season. However, the Nationals declined to offer arbitration to Tim Redding, their most reliable pitcher until mid-year, after which he fell into a slump. Negotiations with the Rockies on a trade for Redding fell through. See MLB.com.