While Kosuke Fukudome has yet to formally announce his decision, the report from the Associated Press early Sunday morning indicated he will leave Japan and play Major League Baseball. A report from Tokyo on JapanBall.com Sunday afternoon stated the Yomiuri Giants have withdrawn their offer to Fukudome, clearing the way for him to “pursue a career in the major leagues.”
The upcoming week could have a large impact on the Cubs upcoming season, as well as the entire game of baseball. Now that Fukudome has decided to play in the states, Jim Hendry’s focus will likely turn to signing their number one off-season target….but the Cubs also must determine Mark Prior’s future with the organization. Wednesday is the deadline for the Cubs to tender Mark Prior a contract for next season. Then on Thursday, the little report from Senator Mitchell is supposed to be made public and depending on the names on the list, it could turn the game upside down.
Here is the rest from the mill, including more on Fukudome with video, Roberts and Prior…. Kosuke Fukudome
Fukudome Mania…..There are five teams, other than the Cubs, rumored to be very interested in signing Fukudome….the Giants, Padres, Rangers, Royals and White Sox and each of these teams should not be taken lightly.
The Giants interest has largely been unnoticed, but they showed last year they are willing to spend a large amount of dough on a team that appears to be finishing in the basement of the NL West, unless changes are made, for many years to come. The Giants have the starting pitching but lack offense and everyday players under the age of 35. Adding Fukudome and using funds that have been allocated to Barry Bonds in the past, could change the outlook in San Francisco.
The Padres, like the Giants, have the starting pitching but lack offense. Fukudome could help with their offensive woes, but where do they play him in the field? Brian Giles is their right fielder, when healthy, and they appear to be looking at Fukudome to fill their vacancy in center. Milton Bradley signed a 1-year deal with the Rangers, so he is out of the mix but Mike Cameron could return.
The Padres have been very vocal in the press of their desires to sign Fukudome. While the Cubs have tried to honor Fukudome’s culture, Kevin Towers has been the opposite. The Padres were expecting Fukudome’s decision at the end of last week. The San Diego Union Tribune stated Fukudome is apparently taking longer to make his decision than the Padres expected. Bruce Levine stated on Saturday morning that his sources told him the Padres offered Fukudome a 4-year, $40 million dollar deal.
If Levine’s report is accurate and the Cubs are planning on outbidding the Padres, the Cubs offer to Fukudome could be a 4-year deal worth between $48-$60 million dollars. Levine did mention the Cubs could end up bidding against themselves.
The Kansas City Royals have one thing going for them the other teams do not….Trey Hillman. Fukudome knows Hillman and there would be a comfort level for Fukudome to play for Hillman. Plus, the Royals appear to be willing to overpay to turn their organization around….Gil Meche last season and Jose Guillen this year.
The White Sox could end up being the Cubs chief competition in trying to land Fukudome. The Sox have lost out on two of their off-season targets already (Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera) and losing Fukudome to their crosstown rival would not sit too well with their fanbase….or Kenny Williams.
“All this has done is put the Tigers in a better position to contend with us.”
Williams made that statement after he lost Cabrera to the Tigers. If he believes what he said, there very well could be a bidding war between the North Side and South Side for Fukudome.
Fukudome from YouTube
Ken Rosenthal doubts Peter Angelos will allow Andy MacPhail to trade Brian Roberts.
Phil Rogers thinks it could take more than Sean Gallagher and Matt Murton to pry Roberts away from Angelos and the Orioles.
Mark Prior does not appear willing to accept a 1-year deal with an option for 2009 according to the Tribune. The Cubs were rumored to be trying to trade Prior but with his injury history and the fact they could get him without having to give up anything, but money….Jim Hendry apparently could not find any takers.
Dave Kaplan talked about the Cubs interest in Chone Figgins during last week’s Winter Meetings. An absurd report on ESPN mentioned the Cubs might have to give up Aramis Ramirez to the Angels in order to obtain Figgins. Ramirez is not going anywhere, besides the whole no trade clause thing, the Cubs have their best third baseman since Ron Santo manned the hot corner. Ken Rosenthal, however, thinks the Cubs might have a better chance to land Figgins than Brian Roberts. Rosenthal said Figgins is not currently available but if the Angels find a third baseman, he could be. The Angels are rumored to be interested in trading for Scott Rolen.
From Around the League
While the deal has not been officially announced, it appears Eric Gagne has agreed to a 1-year, $10 million dollar deal with the Brewers. The Brewers signed David Riske last week to a 3-year, $13 million dollar deal with an option for a 4th year valued at $4.75 million. Milwaukee lost Scott Linebrink to the South Side and Francisco Cordero to Dusty’s Redlegs and in the process could have made their bullpen better.
The Pirates are interested in trading for Michael Barrett according to Ken Rosenthal.
According to Bruce Levine, his sources told him Juan Pierre is planning on meeting with Ned Colletti in the next week to ask for a trade. Pierre does not consider himself a left fielder and with Andruw Jones under contract, and 10 Gold Gloves on his resume, Pierre could only play left field for the Dodgers.
Former Cub, Michael Restovich has signed on to play in Japan next season with the Softbank Hawks.
Jacque Jones and his days in Detroit could be over before they started according to Phil Rogers.
The Cardinals are also interested in Erik Bedard and might be willing to include Colby Rasmus in the deal….their number one prospect according to Baseball America.
The Yankees have agreed to terms on a 1-year, $3.75 million dollar deal with LaTroy Hawkins according to a report on ESPN….and he thought there was pressure to perform in Chicago.
Dayn Perry checked in on Sunday with the five worst off-season signings, so far. On his list….Kaz Matsui, Scott Linebrink, Francisco Cordero, Torii Hunter and Jason Kendall.