Hot Stove: Taking stock pre-break
Player movement likely to pick up again in 2008
Friday was the last business day of the year for Major League Baseball and the 30 club offices, which all close beginning Monday through New Year's Day.And while that doesn't mean that player movement will come to a complete standstill, it perhaps means that the big deals will have to wait until 2008. Thus, 2007 will close with Carlos Silva having signed with the Mariners, but six of the more coveted pitchers remaining right where they are: Johan Santana with the Twins, Erik Bedard with the Orioles and Mark Prior, Kris Benson, Bartolo Colon and Livan Hernandez as free agents. When everybody returns from the holiday break, there will be less than six weeks remaining before the start of Spring Training. Where has the offseason gone? Keep in mind that there's no pressure on any of this. The non-waiver trade deadline extends to July 31, and there are no longer any deadline restrictions to sign free agents in the current Basic Agreement. But with time beginning to dwindle as clubs try to fill holes, here are four prominent teams that still have them: Mariners: Seattle is still looking for starting pitching after signing Silva to a four-year deal and remain in the running for Bedard. But if the Orioles want the Mariners to include right-hander Brandon Morrow in a deal for the left-handed starter, that might put a kibosh on it. Though Mariners GM Bill Bavasi didn't completely rule out a trade that would include the hard-throwing Morrow during Thursday's press conference introducing Silva to the Seattle-area media, he told reporters: "[Morrow] is highly, highly unlikely to leave. I'm not saying he couldn't be traded, but it's unlikely." Morrow has been starting in Venezuela after working out of the Mariners' bullpen in 2007, and Bavasi added that he can't view the club's future without him. "If we add a starter, then he pitches in the bullpen," Bavasi said. "If we don't, then either Brandon or Horacio Ramirez would be the fifth starter. And if it's Ramirez, Morrow would be at the end of the bullpen." Yankees: Hard to believe that the Bronx Bombers, heading into their final year at the current Yankee Stadium, have spent in excess of $400 million this offseason, but haven't made significant upgrades at any position. And this is with Joe Girardi replacing Joe Torre as manager. Since getting boxed by the Indians in their American League Division Series, they've re-signed veterans Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte, while picking up an option on Bobby Abreu. That sends them back out against defending World Series champion Boston and much-improved Detroit with virtually the same roster as last season, albeit a year older. They could still use a first baseman, plus pitching help in the bullpen and starting rotation. The latter ended the season almost in tatters, with Chien-Ming Wang being blasted twice in the playoffs by the Indians and Mike Mussina so ineffective he was in and out of the bullpen. They remain in the Santana sweepstakes, but the Yanks will create another hole in center field if they trade Melky Cabrera to the Twins in that deal. Considering the condition of their legs, neither Johnny Damon nor Hideki Matsui are capable of replacing Cabrera out there. Dodgers: Heading into their 50th anniversary season in Los Angeles, the Dodgers made a big splash this month by signing free agents Andruw Jones and Hiroki Kuroda. This coming after Torre left the Yankees and replaced Grady Little as manager.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.