Dodgers Sign Howell and Other Updates

On random blogs and Twitter streams, it was reported that the Mets were interested in lefthanded reliever J.P. Howell. Well, scratch him off the list — he’s agreed to sign with the Dodgers.

The Dodgers will sign Howell to a one-year deal reportedly in the neighborhood of $2.75M. He becomes LA’s main lefty reliever, and joins, among others, Brandon League, who was signed to a three-year, $22.5M contract earlier this winter.

Another LHP, Dontrelle Willis, signed a minor-league contract with the Cubs that included an invite to spring training. Willis returns to his original organization; he was drafted by the Cubs and eventually traded to the Marlins as part of a trade that sent Matt Clement to Chicago. Who remembered that? I didn’t. Willis apparently had a change of heart after retiring last July. You know what? I always liked D-Train’s bat, and would’ve liked to have seen the Mets sign him to try out for LF. No kidding. At least it would have been an interesting story. How about Dontrelle in LF, Jason Jennings in RF, and bring back Adam Loewen for another shot in CF?

The Dodgers also signed outfielder / utility man Alfredo Amezega to a minor-league deal. Ho-hum.

In other news, the Rangers have signed Lance Berkman to a one-year, $10M contract that includes a vesting option. Wow. I did expect Berkman to land somewhere, but not for that kind of money. Berkman played in only 32 games last year as a 36-year-old, posting a .826 OPS. I wonder if this deal affects Scott Hairston‘s market value, considering that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Orioles had all been kicking the tires on Berkman. I realize Berkman hits from both sides and Hairston is only from the right, but I think teams considered the two players for similar roles.

In a quieter move, the Rangers also signed reliever Jason Frasor. I know I thought about Frasor on my “scrap heap” post, but can’t remember why I didn’t include him. Maybe all the other names I went through exhausted my energy and inspiration.

Remember Scott Proctor? The Giants signed him to a minor-league deal. He pitched in Korea last year.

Finally, the Yankees have DFA’d outfielder Chris Dickerson. You know what? The Mets should look into the 30-year-old. He’s pretty fast, is a decent outfielder in all three spots, and has always shown an ability to get on base. If given the chance, I bet he’d perform better than Andres Torres did last year, and the Mets would have to pay him only the MLB minimum.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. TexasGusCC January 6, 2013 at 3:58 am
    Joe, what about giving Valdespin a chance? I know he’s a diva, but when he hit that pinch homer in Philly the announcer for ESPN was gushing at how the ball jumps off his bat. Furthermore, he plays infield and outfield, he has some speed and some pop. Why aren’t we hearing about him getting a chance to fill in an outfield spot?
    • Joe Janish January 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm
      At this point it appears that Valdespin will get a chance in the Mets OF — unless more OFs are brought in between now and February.

      There probably hasn’t been much talk of Valdespin because he’s more diva than performance, and continued to display behavioral issues in winter ball. Other than the occasional dramatic HR, he didn’t really show enough offense to make up for his erratic defense. Maybe he’ll finally mature at age 25; if so, he’s in the right place to receive an opportunity.

  2. The King January 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm
    Dickerson? Another no-pop LH OF? Why?
    • Joe Janish January 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm
      Simple. Because there aren’t any RH OFs available with pop.

      So either the Mets start considering the LH OFs with no pop, or they’ll have to consider putting seven infielders behind the pitcher for defense.

  3. NormE January 7, 2013 at 12:36 am
    If no other team offers him a deal, and his asking price drops enough, I still think the Mets will sign Austin Kearns simply because some team will be foolish enough to offer Scott Hairston more than Alderson will.
    • Joe Janish January 7, 2013 at 9:01 am
      Norm, I think you’re right. My bet is Hairston lands with someone in the AL East.

      But, what if someone scoops up Kearns in the meantime?

  4. TexasGusCC January 7, 2013 at 8:36 am
    OK, one more opinion on what the Mets can do and then I will go back to caring more about my job than theirs. [That's more a confession than anyone else's care, lol.] Even though I prefer Upton for Niese, if Towers is too rediculous in his demands, then move on. Several things have been written about Upton’s home/road splits, but the same things were written about Holliday, and the truth is a good player will be a good player somewhere else.
    However, now that the Rangers signed Berkman, Olt is slated for the minors. If Olt was supposedly athletic enough to play outfield in November, why can’t he now? The Rangers are putting Kinsler at first to make room for Profar. Trade Niese and Turner for Olt and a prospect. If the Rangers feel Niese can handle Arlington, he can help them win now. Turner would help backup third, second and first as they don’t have anyone now. Olt can help the Mets win later.
    • Joe Janish January 7, 2013 at 9:14 am
      I’m not sure the Mets would do that deal. The Mets like that Niese has a very team-friendly, affordable contract for the next several years. Signing Marcum might cost more, and may be more risky considering his past injury issues. Niese has established himself as a legit middle-rotation MLB starter. Olt had one big year in AA and, at 24 years old, should be getting his chance to play right now — yet the Rangers seem to be shopping him. That makes me curious — if Olt is a big-time slugger, and sluggers are difficult to find these days, and you just lost Josh Hamilton, shouldn’t you be talking about Olt fighting for a starting job, rather than sending him away? What do the Rangers know about this kid that everyone else doesn’t?

      On the other hand, there’s probably nothing “wrong” with Olt, and the Rangers are simply trying to get a big-time, MLB-ready hitter in return for him. My feeling is they are still using Olt as bait for Justin Upton.

      But, if the Mets can trade Niese and get Olt in return, I think they’d have to think about it. Getting another prospect in the deal, such as Leonys Martin or one of their better pitchers, might take a more complicated trade. I doubt Turner would be enough of an addition to get another top prospect out of Texas.

  5. TexasGusCC January 7, 2013 at 8:37 am
    Oh yeah, and sign Marcum to replace Niese. Marcum will fit into Niese’s pay slot so it’s like trading Niese for Marcum and Olt.