Day Two of the Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas provided far more action and drama than Day One.
The first big rumor to hit the presses on early Tuesday morning concerned -- who else? -- free agent first baseman Albert Pujols. And the El Hombre chatter didn't stop flowing until late into Tuesday night.
Here's what we know (or, at least, what we think we know) about Pujols' market: the Marlins and Cardinals both have 10-year offers on the table worth over $200 million and there may be a third team involved with legitimate money to spend. Miami is pushing for a quick decision from Albert, while the Cards have publicly preached patience. There's no telling when the big news might break.
Blue Jays Acquire Closer Santos From White Sox
The White Sox and Blue Jays made the first big trade of this year's Winter Meetings just before noon on Tuesday.
Heading to Toronto and taking over immediately as the Jays' primary ninth-inning man will be 28-year-old right-hander Sergio Santos, a former infielder who registered a superb 3.55 ERA and 92/29 K/BB ratio across 63 1/3 innings in 2011 for Chicago. He converted 31 of 39 total save opportunities during his two years in the White Sox 'pen and should have no trouble performing just as well -- or if not better -- on an improving Blue Jays team.
In return, the White Sox were dealt pitching prospect Nestor Molina. A 22-year-old Venezuelan, he dominated batters at Single-A and Double-A this past season to the tune of a 2.21 ERA and 148/16 K/BB ratio in 130 1/3 total frames. Molina won't be ready for big-league action for another few years, but he's capable of injecting life into a Pale Hose farm system that has grown stale on young, projectable talent.
Phillies Out On A-Ram, Brewers Most Definitely In
On Monday the Phillies were said to be heavily involved in negotiations for the top third baseman on the open market this winter: Aramis Ramirez. But offseason strategies tend to change quickly.
According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal, Philly has now backed off Ramirez and ceased shopping Placido Polanco, who would have been dealt in a corresponding move to clear room both on the roster and at the hot corner.
It's not clear what might have scared the Phils away. Ramirez posted a cool .871 OPS and slugged 26 home runs in 2011 for the Cubs, and would have made a fine addition to the Fightins lineup heading into 2012. Perhaps the team's focus has turned to re-signing Jimmy Rollins, who is still demanding a five-year deal.
As for Ramirez, he's now being courted heavily by the Brewers and has also been linked to the Tigers. As a third baseman with decent power potential, he'll be a valuable fantasy commodity wherever he lands.
Big Papi Plans To Accept Arbitration From Red Sox
The report has not been confirmed by the Red Sox, but it seems credible enough.
From Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes comes word that free agent designated hitter David Ortiz plans to accept an offer of salary arbitration from the Red Sox -- a decision that should net him a wage of nearly $15 million in 2012.
Ortiz entered the free agent market this winter with the hope of landing a two- or three-year contract, but suitors failed to line up for the big fella and so he'll return to his comfort zone in Boston for yet another season. The 36-year-old slugger posted a superb .309/.398/.554 batting line in 2011 with 29 home runs and 96 RBI. Every year we want to dock his fantasy value, and every year he defies that thought. Ortiz should make a fine UTIL option in standard fantasy leagues again in 2012.
Mets Find New Closer, Ink Francisco To Two-Year Deal
The Mets' roster for 2012 looks bleak and it's doubtful to see significant improvement via free agency or the trading block over the next handful of months. But the Mets aren't going to throw in the towel either.
On Tuesday evening, New York reached a two-year, $12 million agreement with right-hander Frank Francisco. He will become the team's new closer next season as long as everything runs smoothly in spring training.
Francisco, 32, tallied 17 saves in 2011 for the Blue Jays alongside a respectable 3.55 ERA and 53/18 K/BB ratio (in 50 2/3 frames). He possesses a fastball that is still clocked regularly in the mid-90s and a split-finger pitch that still carries a good amount of deceptiveness. The seven-year major league veteran is a candidate for fantasy sleeper status, even on a Mets team destined to finish at the bottom of the NL East.
Other Notables: The Angels have emerged as the front-runner for left-handed starter C.J. Wilson ... Hanley Ramirez would rather be traded than move to third base to accommodate Jose Reyes ... The Twins have made a three-year, $25 million offer to Michael Cuddyer ... Mets outfielder Angel Pagan was dealt to the Giants for outfielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez ... Mark Buehrle has narrowed his potential landing spots down to five ... The Dodgers signed catcher Josh Bard to a one-year deal worth about $750,000 ... Nate McLouth is back with the Pirates on a one-year pact ... The Diamondbacks are nearing a one-year contract with veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay ... Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook have been made available by the Cardinals ... The Rockies acquired right-hander Kevin Slowey from the Twins for a player to be named later ... Jon Rauch received a one-year, $3.5 million contract from the Mets ... The Marlins are looking into a trade for Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez ... Roy Oswalt is seeking a three-year free agent deal ... Jeff Francis is drawing interest from the Pirates, Mariners and Twins ... The Red Sox and lefty Andrew Miller reached a one-year agreement.