> Well, it looks like the evil empire got their man. CC Sabathia is said to have agreed to a seven year, $161M contract, worth a smidgeon more than Johan Santana's deal. The key seems to be an "opt out" clause after three years (the same mechanism AJ Burnett used to hit the market) that allows Sabathia to put his services up for bid again or move to the coast in 2012 if his NYY gig isn't all that.
So CC ends up with a minimum of three guaranteed Big Apple years worth $69M and a second four year segment guaranteed at $92M if he so desires. Nice work if you can get it, hey? And you wonder why baseball salaries are so otherwordly? Thanks, young Mr. Steinbrenner.
It'll be easy to spot Derrick Lowe, AJ Burnett, and Ben Sheets at the meetings. They and their agents will be the ones strolling around the Bellagio with ear to ear grins and dollar signs dancing in front of their eyes. Now that the benchmark has been set, they can look for that extra year and $15-17M per season.
> Dejan Kovacevic of the Post Gazette reported a hotstove rumor and squelched it all in one news cycle.
He heard some noise suggesting Pirate C Ronny Paulino and SS Rob Adino of the Fish, both blocked in their current digs, could be exchanged. Five hours later, he says it doesn't look like it's getting past the talking stage. Oh well. It made too much sense to work.
DK added that Pittsburgh's suits are finally talking turkey with Ryan Doumit, Nate McLouth and Paul Maholm. In fact, Doumit's agent, Paul Cobbe, will sit down with them tonight. Thank God for small favors.
Jenifer Langosh says they're going to be offered long-term deals on the Hot Stove Blog.
He noted that C Raul Chavez turned down his assignment to Indy, but the Bucs would like to sign him up for another tour of duty. They'd also like to keep RHP Jason Davis, but John Perrotto thinks he's heading east...way east, to Japan (see below).
> Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune Review writes that there's some interest in Matt Capps. The Mets eye him as a set-up man for K-Rod, who they just signed for 3 years, $37M (must be sweet to have a NY budget) and the Cards are lurking, seeking a closer.
MLB.com says the Mets are looking at Capps and Huston Street, among others, while St. Louis also have JJ Putz and Jon Rauch on their short list.
Jenifer Langosch posted in the Hot Stove Blog that "While it's likely that both clubs have inquired about the possibility of working a trade for the Pirates closer, there are certainly no indications that the Pirates' asking price for Capps is reasonable enough to allow those conversations to develop further."
> John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times offers these tidbits: RHP Jason Davis, DFA'ed by the Pirates, will decline the assignment to Indy for free agency and pursue options in Japan.
Two former Pirates, LHP Dave Williams and RHP Kris Benson, are FAs and at the meetings looking for work. Williams spent last season with the Yokohama Bay Star in Japan while Benson hasn't pitched in the MLB since 2006 while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Ex-Pirate bullpen coach Terry Collins is expected to manage China in the World Baseball Classic.
> Jenifer Langosch at MLB.com checked out Dirt Dog Doug's plans.
His agent, Greg Landry, wants to pow wow with GM Neal Huntington before the end of the meetings. Mientkiewicz has been contacted by several teams, and said "I want an opportunity to win a job. I want the chance to know I'm in the mix. I want the chance to know that if I play well, I'm going to play. That's how I'm approaching this winter."
We wish him well wherever he lands, whether here or someplace where he can get his at bats without sitting behind little LaRoche. He was about all the fire the Pirates had on the field last year and helped make a long season a bit more bearable.
> Scratch another Jack Splat suitor off the dance card. The O's are supposed to have inked SS Cesar Izturis to a 2 year, $6M deal, according to several sources.
> But Gerry Fraley of Fox Sports said Wilson's still poised to change uniforms. "Pittsburgh believes it will soon be able to trade veteran shortstop Jack Wilson. Kansas City, Oakland and the Los Angeles Dodgers are among a group of teams looking for a front-line shortstop."
You can probably add the Twins in with LA and Oakland. The losers of the Furcal free-for-all will almost by necessity have to join in the Jack Wilson waltz. He's a blue light special compared to Orlando Cabrera.
> Tomorrow is the Rule 5 draft. The Pirates have a short list of five players, its been reported, and since they pick fourth...although DK thinks there are only a pair they really want. So tune in.
The suits expect to grab some minor-league draftees, too, for the Buc's barren system. And they'll get to sweat out the futures of OF Jamie Romak and LHP Kyle Bloom, a pair of unprotected Pirate prospects that may change addresses via the draft.
Can they last a year on someone's MLB roster? Pittsburgh bet no by leaving them off the 40-man roster. We'll see what the league thinks of the gamble tomorrow.