Joe Blanton; Photo via Wikimedia Commons
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.
Wladimir Balentien; Photo from Wikimedia Commons
Matt Eddy of Baseball America recently posted the complete list of Minor League free agents and several Kentuckians are on the list. I’ve copied the Kentucky MiLB free agents below with organization and 2010 team:
- RHP Jesus Delgado — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville Bats
- RHP Jason Isringhausen — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- RHP Chad Reineke — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- C Wilkin Castillo — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- OF Wladimir Balentien — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- OF Sean Henry — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- OF Luis Terrero — Cincinnati Reds — AAA Louisville
- RHP Matt Wilhite (WKU) — Colorado Rockies — AAA Colorado Springs
- C Neil Wilson (Covington) — Florida Marlins — AAA New Orleans
- RHP Cory Wade (Ky Wesleyan) — Los Angeles Dodgers — AAA Albuquerque
- 3B Neil Sellers (EKU) — Philadelphia Phillies — AAA Lehigh Valley
- LHP Zach Jackson (UofL) — Toronto Blue Jays — AAA Las Vegas
- RHP Zach Dials (UK) — Washington Nationals — AA Harrisburg
You can see the full MiLB free agent list here.
News of minor league free agent signings is always scarce unless a player signs with an invitation to Spring Training like Somerset-native Josh Anderson or Louisville-native Chris Burke. For lower level minor league free agents spots contracts are signed as teams seek to fill organizational holes. The best resource for following these signings is usually Baseball America‘s weekly minor league transaction feature.
With that in mind here my most up-to-date Kentucky minor league free agents list with the players 2009 organization and level listed.
- C Neil Wilson — Covington, Ky. — Florida Marlins — AAA
- 3B Tanner Townsend — WKU — Florida Marlins — 2009 DNP
- LHRP John Switzer — Covington, Ky. — New York Mets — AAA
- RHRP Matt Ginter — Winchester, Ky. (Morehead) — Milwaukee Brewers — AAA
- RHRP Zack Pitts — Elizabethtown, Ky. (UofL) — St. Louis Cardinals — 2009 DNP
- RHRP Matt Wilhite — Bowling Green, Ky. (WKU) — Colorado Rockies — AAA
- RHRP Andrew Albers — UK — San Diego Padres — 2009 DNP
- SS Ryan Wilkes — UK — New York Yankees — 2009 DNP
Chris Burke; Photo by grovesa16 via Flickr
The always useful Baseball America has published the full list of minor league free agents. As you might expect several players with Kentucky ties are looking for work this offseason. I’ve listed them below, with their 2009 organization, classification and Kentucky tie.
- 2B Chris Burke — Louisville, Ky. — Braves (AAA)
- RHP Greg Atencio — Louisville Bats — Reds (AAA)
- RHP Frederico Baez — Louisville Bats — Reds (AAA)
- RHP Jeff Kennard — Louisville Bats — Reds (AAA)
- LHP Camilo Vazquez — Louisville Bats — Reds (AAA)
- C Korey Feiner — Louisville Bats — Reds (AAA)
- 1B Wes Bankston — Louisville Bats — Reds (AAA)
- 2B Luis Bolivar — Louisville Bats — Reds (AAA)
- OF Lew Ford — Louisville Bats — Reds (AAA)
- RHP Ryan Speier — Frankfort, Ky. — Rockies (AAA)
- RHP Matt Wilhite — Franklin, Ky. — Rockies (AAA)
- SS Ronald Ramirez — Lexington Legends — Astros (Hi A)
It’s a long list so I might have missed one or two. If you see an omission shoot me an email or comment on the post.