With Ashland Native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb signing with the Texas Rangers the Kentucky portion of MLB’s offseason appears to be winding down. Have no fear though, there are plenty of storylines to keep you occupied until pitchers and catchers report. Check out a quick rundown of what Kentucky news you can expect from the rest of the offseason:
- Jon Rauch signing — Rauch is the final MLB free agent remaining from Kentucky’s original five-man free agent class. Recent rumors have had Rauch connected to the Orioles, Rays, Rockies and Yankees. Almost every team could use a veteran reliever with closing experience, so Rauch could still end up just about anywhere.
- Joe Blanton trade — The Philadelphia Phillies pulled off the shocker of the offseason by signing Cliff Lee, but now are likely to trade former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton to make room on the payroll for Lee’s massive contract. The Red Sox were rumored to be a landing spot for Blanton immediately after the Lee signing, but those rumors appear to have been silenced in the weeks since. Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe recently speculated the market for Blanton could heat up after free agent Carl Pavano signs with a new team. Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors lists the Brewers, Nationals, Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Mariners, Orioles, Royals and Athletics as teams that might have interest in Blanton.
- MiLB free agents — Kentuckians Matt Wilhite (Bowling Green) and Neil Wilson (Covington) are the state’s remaining unsigned minor-league free agents. Louisville native and former Bellarmine right-handed pitcher Todd Wellemeyer will likely need a minor-league deal if he is to continue his playing career after being released by the San Francisco Giants during the 2010 season.
- Dan Uggla extension — The Atlanta Braves acquire second baseman Dan Uggla, who was born in Louisville, from the Florida Marlins this offseason and are reportedly talking about a long-term contract extension with the slugger. Cafardo recently reported extension talks had slowed as Uggla was seeking more money, but he speculated a deal could still be finished in the first week of January. Two weeks earlier Cafardo tweeted the two sides were close to a five-year extension worth between $60 an $61 million.