Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting (via MLB Trade Rumors) that the Pirates are very interested in signing Rocco Baldelli.

The Pirates have had several conversations with Baldelli’s representatives, according to one high-ranking team executive, and their pursuit is serious. General manager Neal Huntington has acknowledged wanting a right-handed power bat for the outfield — Nate McLouth, Brandon Moss and Nyjer Morgan all are left-handed — and Baldelli could fit that, the Pirates believe, even if he continues to require regular rest.

Despite the recent upgrade in Baldelli’s medical prognosis, there are still questions about how much of a recovery can be expected and how quickly he can recover.

And herein lies Rocco’s Dilemma…Rocco almost certainly would prefer to play in the American League, but a National League club is more likely to pursue him.

In the AL, Rocco could DH on a regular basis. But unless a team has a need for a full-time DH, Rocco could handcuff a team’s roster. With only four bench spots, an AL club may not be able to risk having a player on the bench that can’t play the field regularly should an injury to a position player occur.

On the other hand, a young NL ball club like the Pirates or Reds, that doesn’t expect to compete for a couple of years, can more easily hide Rocco with the extra bench spot.

In the worst-case scenario, a NL club could use Rocco as part of a platoon, giving him 2 starts a week in the outfield against lefties, and utilizing him as a pinch-hitter in the remaining games. The upside for the team is that Rocco could become healthy enough to once again become an everyday outfielder in 2010 or 2011 when those clubs are ready to compete. But for Rocco, that would mean 50 starts in 2008 with a mediocre club instead of 100 with an AL contender.

In the end, Rocco may have to decide between the security of a long-term deal from the Pirates or Reds, or an incentive-laden contract with the Red Sox or Rays.

Pirates pursue recovering Baldelli [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
Pirates Pursuing Rocco Baldelli [MLB Trade Rumors]

DEVIL DOGS WEBTOPIA

  • The Rays are one of the five choices for Joe Nelson a free agent relief pitcher that was non-tendered by the Marlins. Originally a fourth round selection in 1996, Nelson has played in six organizations, including a short stint in the Rays’ system, at Durham, in 2005. Last season, Nelson posted a 2.00 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 22 walks in 54 innings…In the same piece Marc Topkin is reporting that Dave Wills and Andy Freed signed new contracts to return to the Rays’ radio booth in 2009. Wills received the highest approval in our Media Approval Ratings. [The Heater]
  • Dayn Perry is the latest to say the Yankees still haven’t done enough to overtake the Rays and Red Sox. [Fox Sports]
  • Baseball Analysts break down the AL East. [The Baseball Analysts]
  • Rays Prospects compares the organizations of the Rays and the Astros. [Rays Prospects]
  • David Chalk of Bugs and Cranks is nearing the end of their all-time Devil Rays Advent calendar. Today is #23. [Bugs and Cranks]
  • Rays Prospects takes a look at the 2008 performances of the Vero Beach hitters. [Rays Prospects]

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22 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    What should we think about Nelson?

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  2. The Professor says:

    his peripheral stats suggest that he wasn't quite as good as his 2.00 ERA suggests. He was more like a 3.50 ERA guy. Good, not great.

    He is a journeyman middle reliever, who could be serviceable as the 6th or 7th guy in the bullpen as long as he doesn't cost very much.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Could make the trade of a Wheeler or Bradford much easier. Money saved in such a trade could go towards the DH we sign. With the addition of nelson and subtraction of Wheeler or Bradford, leaves one spot in the bullpen to be filled internally (Thayer, Salas, Talbot) or with recent rule 5 draftee Rodriguez.

    CL Percival
    SU Balfour
    SU Howell
    RP Nelson
    RP Bradford/Wheeler
    RP Thayer/Salas/Rodriguez
    LRP Niemann

    - bossmanjunior333

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  4. Anonymous says:

    btw Nelson's tRA last year was 3.95

    - bossmanjunior333

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  5. TP says:

    Changing the subject, does the Yankees acquisition of Texeira give the Rays more of a sense of urgency to spend to get that bat in the lineup? I'd hope it serves as an impetus to aggressively go after a bat that we'd want (Bradley, for me) rather than wait for a lesser one to come at a bargain.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    The Rays should see how much interest Griffey has in playing here, its my understanding he would take a smaller contract to play here and stay in the home run race(works great for a DH). Then the Rays should try to sign free agent Jerry Hairston Jr. a right hander who can play outfield and 2nd base. Adding these 2 guys for 3-4 million for the 2 would be a steal.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    For better or worse the Rays won't ever "react" to what other teams do. They have a plan and they will stick to while wearing blinders.

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  8. James says:

    For better or worse the Rays won't ever "react" to what other teams do. They have a plan and they will stick to while wearing blinders.

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  9. The Professor says:

    Griffey would sign with the Rays in a heartbeat. He lives in Orlando and would like to play closer to home. The Rays k ow that. I think he is the top choice if they can't land one of the top bats for the right price.

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  10. Jason in PA says:

    Whatever, let those idiots overpay for players, give them too many years- they will get stuck with those contracts, and when Texiera all of a sudden is injury prone, and broken down- the Yankees will be stuck with it...

    You cannot buy a championship- you must field a "TEAM" with chemistry. Thae Yankees bullpen is still a mess, they're outfield covers as much ground as I do, and they are depending on CC Sabathia's arm that took an absolute beating last year... He is due for TJ surgery any day now...

    We need a slugger-DH, and will be just fine pitching and playing defense, and scoring runs with Upton, Longo, big 'los et al... No worries for me =)

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  11. Steve O says:

    Yankees are going to be a problem in 2008. But it is going to be funny to see them in 3 years with $60mm tied to 3 players who will be starting their big fade.

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  12. Clayton says:

    Do we have a dream right fielder? Who would we pick if we could have anyone?

    I kind of like the idea of signing Griffey and bringing in a true stud in RF. I just can't even come up with anyone we'd want. I saw that the Pirates negotiations with McClouth broke down. Think they might want to trade him a couple years early?

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  13. Anonymous says:

    Joyce should be a very solid RF for us next year and in the future. He plays gold glove caliber defense, is capable of 20+ HR and gets on base at a very solid clip. Crawford, Upton, and Joyce is arguably the best outfield defense in baseball, to go along with the best overall defense in baseball. Joyce might not wow you with his batting average (likely in the .250-280 range), but has great power and makes great diving catches that should get your attention. Next year we can expect a Hinske type offense and Gross esque defense. Could easily blossom into a 25-30 HR corner outfielder soon, given enough playing time.

    - bossmanjunior333

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  14. Anonymous says:

    And I am willing to bet he easily out-hits Griffey next year. And you cant even argue that Griffey will even come close to his defense. Joyce plus one of Burrell/Bradley/Dunn/Giambi/Abreu will make for a much better offense next season. Not even to mention a full year of Longoria and a healthy Upton and Crawford all year.

    - bossmanjunior

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  15. Joe D. says:

    I think the Rays will sign some one lower on the national radar someone like a Reggie Abercrombie, Corey Patterson, or Willy Taveras and if they decide to go for a more veteran person I see them getting someone like a Gabe Kapler. I also wouldn't doubt that the Rays would bring back a Rocco or Hinske next year.

    I just don't see the Rays shelling out the money that it would take to get the likes of Dunn, Aberu, or Giambi.

    I think Bradley or Griffey though might be real possibilities.

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  16. Anonymous says:

    1. Signing Griffey is stupid he sucks now.

    2. I thought you were the editor of the internet yet you link Baseball Analysis that has a lot of mistakes. If that was DraysBay you would just bash it.

    -Joe from Oldsmar

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  17. James says:

    joe from oldsmar,

    Shut the fuck up. It is jackasses like you that keep bringing that shit up. Who the fuck cares? Besides there is a big difference between mistakes and just saying stupid shit.

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  18. Anonymous says:

    "I think the Rays will sign some one lower on the national radar someone like a Reggie Abercrombie, Corey Patterson, or Willy Taveras and if they decide to go for a more veteran person I see them getting someone like a Gabe Kapler. I also wouldn't doubt that the Rays would bring back a Rocco or Hinske next year.

    I just don't see the Rays shelling out the money that it would take to get the likes of Dunn, Aberu, or Giambi.

    I think Bradley or Griffey though might be real possibilities."

    ok so none of this is even plausible.

    First off, the rays arent going to bring in Tavarez, Patterson, Kapler, or Abercrombie. They already have Perez, Gross, and Ruggiano. Perez is more talented than the afore mentioned players, Gross had a better season than any of the afore mentioned players, and Ruggiano is still a good young talented outfielder that has done very well at AAA and is waiting for a chance. The rays dont need any more fourth outfielders. Further, there is a good chance Aybar will gets some reps in the outfield as well.

    The rays will sign one of Bradley, Giambi, Dunn, Burrell, or Abreu. With the state of the market and glut of DH free agents, none of these guys are likely to get paid more than 10 million dollars, and a few will fall a couple below that. The Rays have enough money and will sign one of these guys to be the everyday DH. Friedman has already said we will acquire an impact bat and we have been in talks with all of these guys.

    Not sure why you gouped Bradley with Griffey, considering he is the most talented of the bunch. The only way he doesnt get the most amount of money is injury concerns. Still likely to make 8-10 million. He led the AL in OBP, OPS and was top 5 in SLG. Griffey will be lucky to even be an everyday player next year and would be well below league average for a DH and cant stay healthy on the field.

    - bossmanjunior333

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  19. Anonymous says:

    Rays just signed Joe Nelson. 1 year 1.3 million

    - bossmanjunior333

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  20. Joe D. says:

    BJ333,

    I think that Dunn would be a big hit in the bay area, and Giambi would be a great addition to the lineup. I just don't see the signing someone for like 12.5 million for 1 year with a 15 million dollar mutual option. I think Bradley would be several million less than that, more in the 6-8 dollar range with a 9-10 million dollar option.

    The reason I grouped Griffey with Bradley is that I think they both might be in the Rays price range, and make sense for the Rays. Bradley because he can fill the need for a guy that can DH, and still play the outfield, and Griffey, because he might be able to play a little outfield, but because he fits a bit of the mold that had in Cliff Floyd.

    I agree with you 100% about the guys that we already have, I like Perez and Ruggiano quite a bit and think they may very well be some of the guys competing for the RF and 4th OF spot with Gross and Joyce. I was a little surprised that the Rays didn't have more interest in keeping Dan Johnson around, he's a guy that has shown the potential to hit 25 HRs with an AVR of .250 to .280 and drive in 80or more RBIs and take as many BB as Ks(key word there is potential).

    We'll see, and keep faith that maybe the Rays can afford a guy like Bradley, Giambi or Dunn.

    -jtd

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  21. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you on certain fronts.

    If i had to group guys together in salary, Id say Abreu and Dunn at the top (10+million), Bradley and Burrell in the middle (8-10 million), Giambi (7-8 million), and Griffey and Anderson at the bottom (3-5 million). Abreu is demanding way too much (15 or so million), Dunn is the youngest and is still in his prime worthy of the longest deal, Bradley is asking for a multi-year deal even with injury concerns, Burrell probably wants to sign a one year deal until the market improves, Gimabi is the oldest one here at will sign a 1-2 year deal, and Griffey and Anderson will be lucky to be everyday players.

    You have to remember that Raul Ibanez, considered one of the premier corner OF/DH free agents, set the market by signing for 10 million dollars. Its highly unlikely any of the afore mentioned players sign for more.

    It does make sense to group Griffey with Floyd, but not Bradley. Floyd and Anderson are both veterans past their prime with a great career behind them. Both are unlikely to be above average DH canidates. Bradley however, is still young and just produced the best year of his career leading the AL in OPS, OBP, and top 5 in SLG. He is the best of the group handsdown as long as he stays healthy.

    I think you will be pleasently suprise with who we end up with this offseason.

    - bossmanjunior333

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  22. Sean from Who Gives A Shit says:

    Joe,

    1 nobody gives a shit where you are from
    2 yes Prof would probably bash DRB if they said Gomes is penciled in as the starting DH a week after being non-tendered. They are a Rays blog and should know better. If a non Rays site says it in a piece that was probably written before Gomes was cut, nobody cares.
    3 it is really annoying that readers like you and the writers at DRB are so thin-skinned. Quit you whining already. It is jackasses like you that perpetuate a myth about some "blog war" that doesn't exist and cry because you think Prof is being a bully. Get over it. If you don't want Prof editing the mistakes at DRB, tell them to stop making mistakes. Otherwise please stop crying. Nobody cares and it is very annoying.

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